PE 101 August 15 Guest Lecture: Inequality and Globalization
The Second Coming of Norman Angell

Welcome to Weimar Russia!

Hoisted from the Archives: Welcome to Weimar Russia!

Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: A Weblog: The Emergence of Weimar Russia: Chris Bertram marks another stage in the emergence of Weimar Russia:

Crooked Timber: Putin's speech : I just read the transcript of Putin’s speech following the murders in Beslan. In it, Putin expresses nostalgia for the old USSR. Obviously it is intended for a domestic audience and plays to their concerns and expectations. What should we make of the following passage? And who are the “they” of the penultimate paragraph below?

Today we are living in conditions which have emerged following the break-up of a vast great state, a state which unfortunately turned out to be unable to survive in the context of a rapidly changing world. But despite all the difficulties, we have managed to preserve the core of the colossus which was the Soviet Union.

And we called the new country the Russian Federation. We all expected changes, changes for the better. But we have turned out to be absolutely unprepared for much that has changed in our lives…

On the whole, we have to admit that we have failed to recognise the complexity and dangerous nature of the processes taking place in our own country and the world in general. In any case, we have failed to respond to them appropriately.

We showed weakness, and the weak are trampled upon. Some want to cut off a juicy morsel from us while others are helping them.

They are helping because they believe that, as one of the world’s major nuclear powers, Russia is still posing a threat to someone, and therefore this threat must be removed.

And terrorism is, of course, only a tool for achieving these goals. But as I have already said many times, we have faced crises, mutinies and acts of terror more than once.

When I was in the Clinton administration in 1993-95, one of the background ideas was that it was desperately important to avoid the emergence of a "Weimar Russia"--a country that felt that things had gone downhill, that the promises of a better tomorrow had been lies, that projected aid and promises of economic partnership and integration had been a screen behind which had taken place the real maneuvering to weaken Russia. In my view, U.S. attempts to prevent the emergence of a "Weimar Russia" ran into three major obstacles:

  1. The Reagan-Bush budget deficits that precluded aid on a Marshall Plan-equivalent scale--and thus greatly weakened the U.S.'s ability to shape institutions.

  2. The lack of a political consensus within Russia on what the future should be like--eastern Europe, which felt certain that in a good future they would be like western Europe--has had a much easier time.

  3. Bill Clinton's excessive empathy for Boris Yeltsin: Clinton's view that Yeltsin was a good man playing a difficult hand who did not need his life further complicated by pressure from Treasury technocrats was, I think, in the end not a plus. (Even worse, I think, has been Bush's excessive empathy for Vladimir Putin.)