taking stock of a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

The reality is that Russia’s rank in the world has been irreversibly transformed. It was a great power continuously for three centuries: longer – this is often forgotten – than any single country in the West. In square miles, it is still the largest state on earth. But it no longer has a major industrial base. Its economy has revived as an export platform for raw materials, with all the risks of over-reliance on volatile world prices familiar in First and Third World countries alike – over-valuation, inflation, import addiction, sudden implosion. Although it still possesses the only nuclear stockpile anywhere near the American arsenal, its defence industry and armed services are a shadow of the Soviet past. In territory, it has shrunk behind its borders at the end of the 17th century. Its population is smaller than that of Bangladesh. Its gross national income is less than that of Mexico.
Perry Anderson, Russia’s Managed Democracy, LRB, Vol. 29 No. 2 dated 25 January 2007

12 thoughts on “taking stock of a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”

  1. “The authorities had gone to some lengths to divert Anna Politkovskaya’s funeral from the obvious venue of the Vagankovskoe, where Sakharov is buried, to a dreary precinct on the outskirts that few Muscovites can locate on a map.”

    It is of common knowledge that Sakharov is buried at Vostriakovskoe. Conseqently, the rest of the article isn’t true either.

        1. i see what you mean:

          By 1997, budgets for higher education had been slashed to one-twelfth of their late Soviet level. The number of scientists fell by nearly two-thirds. Russia currently spends just 3.7 per cent of GDP on education – less than Paraguay. University salaries became derisory. Just five years ago, university professors got $100 a month, forcing them to moonlight to make ends meet. Schoolteachers fared still worse: even today, average wages in education are only two-thirds of the national rate. According to the Ministry of Education itself, only 10 to 20 per cent of Russian institutions of higher learning have preserved Soviet standards of quality. The state now provides less than a third of their funding. Bribes to pass examinations are commonplace.
          — Perry Anderson, Russia’s Managed Democracy

          What is the going rate for a passing grade in Ethics?
          How about Metaphysics/Epistemology?
          Do transcendental idealists qualify for discounts?
          Would a solipsist still have to pay?

  2. At the same time, the U.S. trade deficit, the largest component of the current account deficit, soared to an all-time high in 2005 of $782.7 billion, the fourth consecutive year that America’s trade debts set records. The trade deficit with China alone rose to $201.5 billion, the highest imbalance ever recorded with any country. Meanwhile, since mid-2000, the country has lost nearly 3 million manufacturing jobs.
    <…&gt
    It is difficult to predict the course of a democracy, and perhaps even more so when that democracy is as corrupt as that of the United States.
    <…&gt
    It appears for the moment, however, that the people of the United States prefer the Roman approach and so will abet their government in maintaining a facade of constitutional democracy until the nation drifts into bankruptcy.

    Of course, bankruptcy will not mean the literal end of the United States any more than it did for Germany in 1923, China in 1948, or Argentina in 2001. <…&gt Certainly, such a bankruptcy would mean a drastic lowering of the current American standard of living, a loss of control over international affairs, a process of adjusting to the rise of other powers, including China and India, and a further discrediting of the notion that the United States is somehow exceptional compared with other nations. The American people will be forced to learn what it means to be a far poorer nation and the attitudes and manners that go with it.

    1. How is a historian’s dissection of what has happened in Russia, answered by a journalist’s prognostication of what might happen in the United States?

        1. manifest dissection

          You seem to be cut to the quick, for one.

          Please support your allegation of Perry Anderson’s dedication to russophobia.

          Please cite your evidence of his self-satisfaction, as expressed in the foregoing article.

          Please do so without descending into epithets that fail to make the grade with tiphareth.

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