Russia's Past, Russia's Future
Russia in the last few years has been a great disappointment to those of us who, after the collapse of the Soviet regime, had expected the country to embark on a slow, probably uneven, but still irreversible course of Westernization. What we had in mind was the path followed, in various ways, by the Baltic states, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary, all of which had also been recently liberated from Communism. What we did not have in mind was what many Russians themselves, in the initial flush of post-Communist euphoria, envisioned: namely, that merely by declaring Russia democratic and market-oriented, they would, in a year or two, transform it into another United States.
In the event, neither scenario has materialized. After an auspicious beginning, Russia has ended up with a nondescript regime that is unable to provide its people either with the prosperity and freedom of capitalist democracy or with the rudimentary social security of mature Communism.
About the Author
Richard Pipes is professor of history emeritus at Harvard and the author most recently of Russian Conservatism and Its Critics (Yale).