The Disintegration of the Monolith
In this book Boris Kagarlitsky offers a trenchant analysis of the break-up of the Soviet Union and the transformation of a section of the old nomenklatura into a new possessing and ruling elite.
Kagarlitsky shows that Western commentators have been misled by the street theatre of events like the bungled coup of August 1991 into supposing that a fundamental break has been made with the confused politics and economics of the late Soviet period. He analyses the ill-considered and self-interested attempts made by the nomenklatura to privatize assets and inaugurate a free-market economy, finding an essential continuity between the plans of Gorbachev’s and Yeltsin’s advisers. He reveals, too, how the new Russian President has displayed a greater capacity to assert dictatorial powers than did the last General Secretary, a tendency which has brought him into repeated conflict with elected bodies.
Boris Kagarlitsky is himself a Socialist member of the Moscow Soviet and one of the founders of Russia’s new Party of Labour. The Disintegration of the Monolith furnishes both a memorable indictment of the greed and irresponsibility of Russia’s new/old rulers and a fascinating account of the slow but unmistakeable awakening of forces of resistance as the peoples of Russia and the other states of the former Soviet Union confront the hyper-inflation, shortages, unemployment and general havoc wreaked by the free-market experiment. Kagarlitsky describes the gradual emergence of a new Russian trade unionism, but warns that popular discontent is also being exploited by nationalist demagogues, such as the leader of Russia’s new Liberal Party. For those seeking to understand what has changed in Russia—and what has remained the same—The Disintegration of the Monolith is required reading.