Questioning Geopolitics: Political Projects in a Changing World-System

By Georgi M. Derluguian; Scott L. Greer | Go to book overview

13
The Process and the Prospects of
Soviet Collapse: Bankruptcy,
Segmentation, Involution

Georgi M. Derluguian

Russia . . . is merely logistics attached to an arsenal.
Alexander Herzen in the early 1850s

The dates on the tombstone of the USSR, 1917-1991, mark the true beginning and end of the twentieth century. It was the century of turmoil, grave fears, and enormous hopes, but above all it was the epoch of gigantic corporate agencies. The current globalization originates largely from the reactions to the past attempts of applying the historically unprecedented power of states and parties toward the presumably rational channeling of every kind of social action. Thus globalization cannot be properly understood without accounting for the nature and the outcomes of socialist experiences that were a major variety of statebound reformism--perhaps an extreme variety, but nonetheless no more than a variety within the range of modern state practices.

The successful seizure of state power by a tightly organized group of radical intellectuals (which is what actually happened in Russia in 1917) established the precedent that for the rest of the twentieth century remained the dominant pattern of antisystemic contestation worldwide. The second Soviet revolution was unleashed from above during 1929 to 1938 in reaction to the market failures. It was a ruthless bid to break up the peasantry and subordinate every kind of social action to the mobilizational state. The success of Stalinist industrialization, validated by the victory in World War II, showed the further potential as well as the stringent limits of socialist experiments within the capitalist worldeconomy.

Here we encounter the intersection of systemic possibilities with Russia's

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