Russia will collapse just like Soviet Union did
At about this time 32 years ago, the Soviet Union ceased to exist
This marked the second stage of the empire's collapse. The initial stage occurred in 1917 when Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia (the last three for a brief period) seceded from the empire.
The second stage of the collapse brought independence to 14 republics, including Ukraine.
I don't know when and how the war will end, but in the event of a Russian defeat, the third stage of disintegration is very likely to be the result. Most likely, the final one, though perhaps the penultimate one.
Today we have a situation that resembles 1991 in almost every way:
- An unsuccessful imperial war – its goals have not been achieved.
- The economic crisis – there is not enough money for redistribution, and this is the most important "staple" for Russia.
- The collapse of ideology and attempts to create a common identity.
- Lack of basic security for the masses and elites.
- Demonstration of the insufficient capacity of the security forces to reduce fear.
But in addition, there are several factors that did not exist in 1991:
- Sanctions: the West was helping Russia back then, now it's the other way around.
- The Internet: a means of communication and self-organization, even when under control.
- The presence of major players with their own interests: China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, etc.
- Estonia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, etc. as success stories and role models.
- Lack of career prospects for local elites, which were given great importance in Soviet times (the career journey is often overlooked when considering the list of imperial "staples," but it played a crucial role in the downfall of many empires).
All these factors contribute to the collapse, while there are no new factors supporting preservation.
What lessons can we derive from 1991 that are applicable to our present circumstances?
- No empire lasts forever. The USSR was immeasurably more powerful than the current Russian Federation, but it collapsed nonetheless.
- Unity and legitimacy erode gradually and then plummet suddenly to zero.
- An empire is incapable of presenting a vision of the future; this task falls solely to new leaders.
- The dismantling of an empire is often instigated by the old elites, but liberation movements also play a crucial role. Despite their limited legitimacy, the old parliaments serve as a focal point.
- The path from independence to a capable state is long and difficult, but it is important to start.
- The passive majority plays no role. The main role belongs to the old elites and an active minority, which can be very small. The passive majority wants stability and security, it accepts the agenda and the picture of the future developed by a microscopic active minority and broadcast by the old elites to the public.
- The West seems to lack comprehension, ensnared by Moscow-centrism and the allure of a "great culture." Fearful of the repercussions, it attempts to cling to the empire until its final days, and then accepts reality.
- The empire needs to be destroyed, otherwise it will seek to recover.
About the author. Valeriy Pekar, lecturer at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.
The editors do not always share the opinions expressed by the blog authors.