Cognative Dissident

Sunday, January 2

Post Cold War Russia

There's a good article by Niall Ferguson about Russia's descent into authoritarian rule in the Telegraph today. It discusses the paralells between post cold war Russia and post World War One Germany.
Born in 1919 in the wake of Germany's humiliating defeat in the First World War, the Weimar Republic suffered hyperinflation, an illusory boom, a slump and then, starting in 1930, a slide into authoritarian rule, culminating in 1933 with Hitler's appointment as chancellor. Total life: slightly less than 14 years.

Born in 1991 in the wake of the Soviet Union's humiliating defeat in the Cold War, today's Russian Federation has suffered a slump, hyperinflation and is currently enjoying a boom on the back of high oil prices. Its slide into authoritarian rule has been gradual since Putin came to power in 1999. Is it going to culminate - 14 years on - in a full-scale dictatorship in 2005? That is beginning to look more and more likely.

While these comparisons, and the others that Ferguson makes in the article, are accurate, he leaves out what I think is one important difference. In the inter-war period, Germany was treated as a pariah, and the reperations it had to pay according to the treaty of Versailles were crippling. Today, neighboring countries would like nothing more than to have Russia smoothly integrated into the global economy.

Putin's flirting with fascism is certainly alarming, however.


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