Youth Politics in Putin's Russia: Producing Patriots and Entrepreneurs

By Julie Hemment | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION

ACCORDING TO THE COLD WAR BINARY LOGIC THAT CURRENTLY prevails in Western commentary about Russia, Putin-era state-run youth projects such as Nashi and Seliger 2009 mark the apotheosis of postBolshevik political culture. I have suggested that it is more profitable to consider them within a “broader political geography” (Gal and Kligman 2000, 4), that is, within the context of twenty-five years of development assistance in postsocialist states, and within global processes of neoliberal governance, welfare restructuring, and shifts in governmentality in the post-9/11 era.

Western observers who summarily dismissed state-sponsored civil-society organizations in Russia failed to acknowledge the very real problems with the civil society of NGOs brought into being by Western governments and agencies during the nineties. These critical commentaries also fail to acknowledge the depth of disenchantment many Russians experienced with the so-called transition period, an era that Western governments and international foundations helped usher in and legitimize. As has been well documented, the decade of the nineties was a period of intense economic and social dislocation. In addition to the material hardships people encountered, they grappled with a grave sense of loss in the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s passing, leading in turn to disappointment and disillusionment with the promises of market democracy. Any analysis of contemporary Russian civil society must be mindful of these experiences and appreciative of the fact that this emotion is productive and capable of shaping political outcomes (Ost 2006; Oushakine 2009). Moreover, such analyses need to acknowledge

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