Economic Change and the National Question in Twentieth-Century Europe

By Alice Teichova; Herbert Matis et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWENTY
Economic change and the national question in twentieth-
century USSR/Russia: the enterprise level
Andrei Yu. Yudanov

The break-up of the USSR brought to a close the history of the state which had been the largest multinational entity in Europe over the preceding three centuries. For a long time to come, historians will probably go on discussing the role the national factor proper had to play in this, the greatest cataclysm of the late twentieth century — notably, the extent to which the peoples within the Soviet Union yearned for independence. After all, in the referendum held democratically some six months before the demise of the USSR, a majority of the population of the country as a whole and of each of the subsequently independent states (apart from the Baltic countries) came out in favour of retaining the Union. However that may be, the ultimate results of the break-up indisputably had a national hue: in place of the polyethnic superpower there emerged some fifteen states organised, in most cases, on the monoethnicprinciple.

The break-up of the USSR came as a terrible upheaval for the economy of all the successor countries. Nor is it only a matter of the actual consequences of the destruction of the single state, but also of the kind of state that went to pieces in this case. The Soviet Union (in contrast, say, to Austria-Hungary, the other multinational Great Power that fell apart in the twentieth century) was based on the so-called single national economic complex principle, the implication being that Soviet enterprises were not autonomous organisms, but were parts of a centralised macroeconomic superstructure.

It should be noted that, both in the prehistory and in the very course of these painful adaptation processes, the national factor played a noticeable role, above all because, in virtue of various historical factors, the core of this single national economic complex developed as the Unionwide web of Russian enterprises even beyond the boundaries of the age-old Russian lands.

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