'Liberals' versus 'Democrats': Ideational Trajectories of Russia’s Post-Communist Transformation
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'Liberals' versus 'Democrats': Ideational Trajectories of Russia’s Post-Communist Transformation
Annotation
PII
S0321-50750000617-4-1
Publication type
Article
Status
Published
Abstract
This article analyzes the struggle between the contradictory ideas of modernization in Russia’s post-Communist transformation in the 1980s and 1990s. I concentrate on the genesis and evolution of two major ideational trends, namely, the “liberal” (which prioritized market economic reforms) and the “democratic” (which prioritized political freedoms and democratic institution-building). What are the sources of the contradiction between these trends? What are the causes and consequences of their divergence? And how did these ideas affect the outcomes of Russia’s transition? I argue that the ideational struggle and the political conflict between Russian “liberals” and “democrats” is rooted in the intergenerational tensions between the “sixtiers” and the “seventhiers”, whose political attitudes, life experience and perceptions of the country’s problems were very different in many respects. While the democrats (the representatives of the sixtiers) had a very limited understanding of the market reforms and in fact underestimated the importance of the economic aspects of transition, the liberals (seventhiers) remained skeptical about democratization being an obstacle to market reforms. These differences in the priorities and the perceptions, inflated through the political conflict of the 1990s, greatly contributed to the major political schism between the two camps of Russia’s reformers. As a result, both the liberals and the democrats failed politically, which had a strong negative impact on the political and ideational landscape in twenty-first century Russia.
Keywords
political ideas, post-Communist transformation, Russia, liberalism, democracy, market reforms
Date of publication
01.01.2020
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12
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1035
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