One of the reasons for the rise in nationalist sentiments in the Soviet republics was that they had almost no independence in determining their economic policy, almost all decisions required the approval of the USSR State Planning Committee and the Council of Ministers. The last Minister of Labor and Social Affairs of the USSR told about this in an interview with “Lente.ru” Valery Paulman.
“As chairman of the State Planning Committee of the Estonian SSR, while defending the drawn up plan, I had to coordinate every detail with Moscow. For example, the construction of any facility up to a toilet, “he stressed, adding that the union republics” literally howled under this oppression. “
Are the lessons learned from those events? After all, Moscow is still distributing financial flows, only instead of the State Planning Committee we have the presidential administration. Is economic separatism supported by nationalist sentiments possible in Russia?
“Recently, some Russian media have begun to actively revive representatives of the former Soviet nomenklatura, who are ready to share some exclusive memories from the perestroika past,” notes Director of the EAEU Institute Vladimir Lepekhin.
– In fact, we see how the Soviet Mohicans are used in the interests of certain groups in the current government.
In any case, these Mohicans once again confirm the fact that the overwhelming majority of Soviet officials in the 80s and 90s. of the last century, in principle, they did not understand the essence of what was happening, and if someone understood the meaning of the events and used them in their own interests, then today they are carefully casting a shadow over the fence.
The position of the former Estonian minister, who asserts that “the union republics literally howled under the yoke of the center,” is from this area. Under what “economic oppression” lived, for example, Estonia subsidized from the RSFSR and favored by the Soviet authorities?
In 1988, I brought to the Estonian Central Committee of the Komsomol a project for the formation of the Democratic Youth Union of Estonia on the basis of the republican Komsomol, which was coordinated with the ideological department of the Central Committee of the CPSU. But did the authorities of this republic begin to modernize at least one of the elements of the republican political system? Unfortunately no.
Estonian elites were already looking to the West – and not because they were oppressed by the leadership of the USSR, simply because Europe had promised the republic a higher and more comfortable way of life.
The growth of consumer sentiment and the associated growth of political and other ambitions with a corresponding inadequate response to this, obsessed with the dogmatic rhetoric of the party nomenclature, is the main reason for regional separatism in the late USSR.
“JV: – What other reasons caused it? And what is the share of the economy in the totality of reasons?
– The growth of consumer claims is not so much an economic reason as a mental and political reason.
The main problem of the centralized management of the economy in the USSR was not even its directiveness (in China, directiveness and strict administrative control do not interfere with the dynamic growth of the country’s population’s living standards), but rather in the absence of an adequate strategy of economic development in power, which ultimately led to glaring disproportions, for example – to a serious shortage in consumer goods and, first of all, in clothes, shoes, household appliances, in some food products, VCRs, cars
Hollywood, with its propaganda materials, reached every Soviet apartment by the beginning of the 1980s; for this reason, the images of American freedom, money, comfort, chic won the competition with the Soviet images of “boring” life back in the 70s.
Soviet youth, watching the film “Rocky IV” (1985), for the most part already rooted for the American boxer, and not for the “Russian” monster Ivana Drago…
“JV: – Are we making the same mistakes now? In our country, like 40-50 years ago, everything goes through Moscow, the regions are in an extremely squeezed position. If the region does not have oil, metal, other strategic raw materials, a large industrial base, or the Kremlin’s interest in the development of the region, willy-nilly, it will go to Moscow to get money. The one who is more naughty and knows the “approaches” knocks out the money. But not enough for everyone. Hence the discontent in the provinces. People see everything. Have you built a “vertical” that can collapse at one moment?
– The new ruling class is not going to learn from history. And this lesson is not at all that it is necessary to abandon centralized management and the vertical of power …
In fact, a competent, effective and tough role of the state in our country is absolutely necessary, but it must be combined with feedback and interaction with the economically active population, it must be accompanied by demonopolization and de-oligarchization of the economy, a pro-national tax system, and adequate measures in law enforcement.
And the people in the regions are not at all dissatisfied with the centralization of decision-making, but with the thieves’ nature of power both in the center and at the local level, with the unrestrained appetites of the new nomenklatura, which is not going to create any “vertical” of management: it is easier to steal in a completely disorganized state.
“JV: – In which regions is the greatest danger of nationalism and separatism? Can we talk about the growth of separatist sentiments in the national republics? What about the regions of Siberia and the Far East inhabited by Russians? Is the danger of economic separatism great? What if they decide it’s enough to “feed Moscow”?
– The danger of separatism in the Russian Federation is not at all in economically weak regions (for example, what kind of separatism can there be in the bankrupt Kostroma region? But in economically strong Tatarstan or Bashkortostan, such sentiments can flare up once or twice).
Russia is not threatened by economic separatism, but national separatism in the absence of any reasonable federal strategy in the following areas: foreign policy, integration policy, interethnic policy, demographic policy, migration policy, information policy, cultural policy, and national security policy.
“SP”: – Did the authorities of the USSR understand the destructiveness of that policy? Do the present ones understand? Or is it all the same to them: after us there is even a flood? But the flood can happen with them too …
– By the 80s, the authorities of the USSR degenerated into bureaucrats with strong backs and a tiny brain. Back in the 80s. of the last century, I was familiar with such members or candidate members of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU, such as Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Ligachev, Yakovlev, Medvedev, as well as with the leading ideologues of the time. I was surprised, to put it mildly, at their reasoning.
The current nomenclature for the most part is a continuation of the Soviet nomenclature. It is more effective in achieving personal and corporate interests, but even more vicious in matters that relate to the interests of the country and the state.
“IP:” – The regions are in an extremely tight position. Shoigu proposes to build million-plus cities in Siberia. Will help? What other options are there? Or can you do nothing with the current structure of the economy?
– Shoigu does not offer anything. Speaking about the construction of new cities in Siberia, he voices alien and actually harmful ideas that are actively promoted during the election campaign.
I believe that after the election campaign these ideas will be debunked and disavowed at the very top.
– Hypertrophied centralism in the economy is fraught with separatism, not nationalism, – believes Director of the Institute of Freedom Fyodor Biryukov…
– Paulman simply translates from a sore head to a healthy one. Like all the leadership of the USSR.
It was believed that the nationalisms of small peoples are tolerable and even good, but Russian nationalism is absolutely unacceptable. Therefore, the Bolsheviks flirted with local nationalisms.
Yes, later Russian elements took a prominent place in the theory and practice of Soviet patriotism, but only as details of the formulation of the state concept of development.
The hymn sang: “The unbreakable union of free republics has been united forever by Great Russia.” But the republican authorities remained in practice so free that they retained the traditional clan system, supported everyday nationalism, and by the time the USSR collapsed, this had already acquired a clear socio-political character.
We must not forget what was happening in many republics in the late 1980s and early 1990s. How Russian people were killed, their houses were smashed, they were threatened, they were forced to leave.
Local authorities were extremely denationalized and corrupt. For decades, the Soviet republics that lived literally at the expense of the RSFSR became Russophobic ethnocracies overnight. And the new RF has actually adopted Western multiculturalism. And the economy has nothing to do with it. This is an ideology.
Nationalism is an element of spirit, not money. And today’s Paulman’s “revelations” only prove once again that the Soviet leadership did not understand anything about the essence of interethnic relations.
The only ideology that could have saved the USSR was Russian imperial nationalism. As an idea of integration, constructive and patriotic. But Russian nationalists were declared “fascists”, which continues in Russia to this day. But local nationalisms were given the green light, which almost led to the collapse of the Russian Federation itself in the mid-nineties.
Today, the state-forming status of the Russian people is enshrined in the Constitution of the Russian Federation, in relation to the state language. But in fact, little has changed. Corrupt officials continue to import into Russia a huge number of completely foreign-speaking migrants, with a different culture, with different moral guidelines. And this is by no means cheap labor.