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Boris Yeltsin's attempts at democratic reform have plunged a long troubled Russia even further into turmoil. This dramatic break with the Soviet past has left Russia politically fragmented and riddled with corruption, its people with little hope for the future. In a fascinating account for anyone interested in Russia's current political struggles, Tim McDaniel explores the inability of all its leaders over the last two centuries--tsars and Communist rulers alike--to create the foundations of a viable modern society. The problem then and now, he argues, is rooted in a cultural trap endemic to Russian society and linked to a unique sense of destiny embodied by the "Russian idea."
In its most basic sense, the Russian idea is the belief that Russia can forge a path in the modern world that sets itself apart from the West through adherence to shared beliefs, community, and equality. These cultural values, according to McDaniel, have mainly reversed the values of Western society rather than having provided a real alternative to them. By relying on the Russian idea in their programs of change, dictatorial governments almost unavoidably precipitated social breakdown.
When the Yeltsin government declared war on the Communist past, it broke with deeply held Russian values and traditions. McDaniel shows that in cutting people off from their pasts and promoting the West as the sole model of modernity, the reformers have simultaneously undermined the foundations of Russian morality and the people's sense of a future. Unwittingly, the Yeltsin government has thereby annihilated its own authority.
McDaniel lived in Russia for three years during both the Communist and post-Communist periods. Basing his analysis on broad historical research, extensive travels, countless interviews and conversations, and friendships with Russians from all walks of life, McDaniel emphasizes the perils of assuming that Russians understand the world in the same way that we do, and so can and should become like us. Challenging and provocative in its claims, this book is intended for anyone seeking to understand Russia's attempts to create a new society.
Norms and Everyday Practices of Parenthood in Russia and Eastern Europe
Takes a comparative perspective on family life and childhood in the past half century in Russia and Eastern Europe, highlighting similarities and differences. Focuses on the problematic domains of the institutions and laws devised to cope with family difficulties, and discusses the social strains created by the transition from communist to post-communist national systems. In addition to the substantial historic analysis, actual challenges are also discussed. The essays examine the changing gender roles, alterations in legal systems, the burdens faced by married and unmarried women who are mothers, the contrasts between government rhteoric and the implementation of policies toward marriage, children and parenthood. By addressing the specifics of welfare politics under the Communist rule and the directions of their transformation in 1990–2000s, this book contributes to the understanding of social institutions and family policies in these countries and the problems of dealing with the socialist past that this region face.
This study offers original perspectives on the politics of everyday life in the Soviet Union by closely examining the coping mechanisms individuals and leaders alike developed as they grappled with the political, social, and intellectual challenges the system presented before and after World War II. As Rittersporn shows, the little tactics people employed in their daily lives not only helped them endure the rigors of life during the Stalin and post-Stalin periods but also strongly influenced the system’s development into the Gorbachev and post-Soviet eras.
Rethinking the Pogrom in East European History
Although overshadowed in historical memory by the Holocaust, the anti-Jewish pogroms of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were at the time unrivaled episodes of ethnic violence. Incorporating newly available primary sources, this collection of groundbreaking essays by researchers from Europe, the United States, and Israel investigates the phenomenon of anti-Jewish violence, the local and transnational responses to pogroms, and instances where violence was averted. Focusing on the period from World War I through Russia's early revolutionary years, the studies include Poland, Ukraine, Belorussia, Lithuania, Crimea, and Siberia.
A Life in Music
The first modern biography in English of Russian composer-pianist Anton Rubinstein, this book places Rubinstein within the context of Russian and western European musical culture during the late 19th century, exploring his rise to international fame from humble origins in Bessarabia, as well as his subsequent rapid decline and marginalization in later musical culture. Taylor provides a balanced account of Rubinstein's life and his career as a piano virtuoso, conductor, composer, and as the founder of Russia's first conservatory. Widely considered the virtuosic heir to Liszt, and recognized internationally as an equivalent cultural icon, he performed with most leading musicians of the day, including Liszt himself, Joachim, Clara Schumann, Vieuxtemps, Wieniawski, Saint-Saens, and Ysaÿe.
Ruins and Historical Conciousness in Modern Russia
Despite attempts to promote the aesthetics of ruins in Russia—from Catherine the Great’s construction of fake ruins in imperial parks to Josef Brodsky’s elegiac meditations—ruins have never achieved the status they enjoy in Western Europe. While the Soviet Union was notorious for leveling churches, post-Soviet Russia has only intensified the practice of massive destruction and reconstruction. Architecture of Oblivion examines the role of ruins in the development of Russia’s historical consciousness from the 18th century to the present. Investigating the meaning and functions ruins have acquired in Russian culture, Schönle looks at ideological reasons for the current disregard for the value of ruins and historical buildings, in particular by political authorities, and reveals how ruins have often become a site of resistance to official ideology and an invitation to map out alternative visions of history and of statehood. An interdisciplinary study of Russia’s response to ruins has never been attempted, although the topic of ruins has garnered considerable interest in Western Europe and in the U.S. This original work from a leading authority on the subject will appeal to historians of Russian culture and thought, literature and art scholars, and general readers interested in ruins.
What did the Russian revolution of 1917 and the Iranian revolution of 1978-1979 share besides their drama? How can we compare a revolution led by Lenin with one inspired by Khomeini? How is a revolution based primarily on the urban working class similar to one founded to a significant degree on traditional groups like the bazaaris, small craftsmen, and religious students and preachers? Identifying a distinctive route to modernity--autocratic modernization--Tim McDaniel explores the dilemmas inherent in the efforts of autocratic monarchies in Russia and Iran to transform their countries into modern industrial societies.
Originally published in 1993.
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