Russia fell apart when its leaders overrated its strength and that could happen again, Inozemtsev says

The Battle of Port Arthur by Torajirō Kasai. The print shows, in the foreground, a Russian battleship exploding under bombardment from Japanese battleships; a line of Japanese battleships, positioned on the right, fire on a line of Russian battleships on the left, in a surprise naval assault on the Russian fleet at the Battle of Port Arthur (8–9 February 1904) in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. (Image: Library of Congress)

The Battle of Port Arthur by Torajirō Kasai. The print shows, in the foreground, a Russian battleship exploding under bombardment from Japanese battleships; a line of Japanese battleships, positioned on the right, fire on a line of Russian battleships on the left, in a surprise naval assault on the Russian fleet at the Battle of Port Arthur (8–9 February 1904) in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. (Image: Library of Congress) 

Analysis & Opinion, Russia

Twice in the last “long century,” Russia has fallen apart because its leaders overrated the strength of their own country and got involved in foreign actions Russia could not afford, Vladislav Inozemtsev says, a pattern that is especially disturbing now because once again Russia’s leaders appear to be making the same mistake.

Vladislav Inozemtsev, Director of the Research Center for Post-Industrial Society

Vladislav Inozemtsev

In an essay for the Intersection Project, the Moscow economist says that “the collapse of the Russian Empire and of the Soviet Union were not accidental: in large measure, both these events occurred as a result of the exceptional overrating by the powers that be of the potential strength of their own country.”

The mistaken assessment of Russia’s strength in both cases led them to seek foreign expansion, something that was not justified and to form their economies “on the basis of political utility.” Today, Inozemtsev argues, exactly the same kind of over-assessment of Russia’s strengths and of its involvement abroad cannot fail to be a cause for concern.

Indeed, he argues, “instead of escaping from ‘the long 20th century’ in the 1990s, [Russia] has confidently gone around for a third time according to this paradigm from the past.” One might have expected better, given the attention that Russia’s history is attracting as it enters the centennial of the 1917 revolutions, but unfortunately, that history is not being used properly.

Today, he continues, Russia “just like a century ago is meeting a new year imaging itself as surrounded by enemies – and as Petersburg then hadn’t yet been renamed Petrograd, one feels that such suggestion of a parallel is no accident.” But if history is repeating itself, it will be “not as a tragedy but as a farce,” although just how much of one remains to be seen.

In the years before World War I, “the political and intellectual elite dreamed of its ‘turn to the East,’” something that ended with Port Arthur and the Tsushima Straits; “the emperor presented himself as the inspiration for universal disarmament” only to become “one of the chief actors of a global war.”

The Russian economy of that time had begun to attract investment from abroad. Indeed, it was one of the directions in which European investors placed the most confidence. But “after several decades, it experienced a horrific collapse.” And “Orthodoxy became the state’s ‘ideological entrepreneur,’” only to suffer massive martyrdom shortly thereafter.

“Today, all this recalls the time in which we now live; but we do not want to remember the past as it was preferring instead to draw idealized pictures of a state which fell apart completely by accident and soon was reborn in an absolutely different form.”

In Soviet times, “in a country which also was more powerful than today, there existed an authoritarian one-party system whose leaders had the formal support of almost the entire population … and who naively thought they could conduct a quick and effective military operation in a distant Muslim state.”

As Russia enters this anniversary year, Inozemtsev says, the current powers that be “seek to use all possible symbols” from the two predecessor states but to do so in a way that “cleanses” them of all aspects that might trigger concerns about what the Kremlin is doing now and where it might lead.

Such a use of the past is “completely unacceptable,” the Moscow economist says not only because it deprives Russia of “the most important thing history can give us: the possibility of drawing lessons for the present” but also because this false history become “a serious obstacle” for having discussions about it and coming up with ideas about the future.

“The powerful wave of clericalization objectively blocks scientific progress and technological modernization,” he suggests, and “the formation of a vertically integrated and subordinate to the state production structures is destroying the little genuinely new that appeared over the course of recent decades, markets and competition.”

Inozemtsev says that he would very much like to see 2017 become “a catalyst for the formation of a completely new approach to domestic history, one based on a mantra not used up to now: a commitment to accuracy” because only that will allow history to help Russia rather than hold it back.

“The history of Russia,” he writes, “should not ‘inspire the people to new achievements’ but explain how ‘particular mistakes’ of the ruling elite twice led to the destruction of the country and ‘certain miscalculations’ of the command to the loss of almost half of its territory and 40 million lives.”

Such a task, Inozemtsev points out, will require the promotion of a broad and free discussion, the opening of archives, and the rise of Russians not afraid to challenge the shibboleths of today; but unfortunately, the current powers that be are just as afraid of such things as their predecessors and so Russia may not avoid yet another, third, disaster.


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Edited by: A. N.

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  • zorbatheturk

    RuSSians seem to create their own disasters. They must have a death wish.

    • laker48

      Fuhrer Shorty the Shirtless will collapse RuSSia sooner than anyone expects. Peter Coy seems to be right when he writes in his Bloomberg column: “It’s sometimes said that Putin, hailing as he does from the land of chess grandmasters, is playing a “long game.” That would be comforting if true, because playing a long game implies thinking holistically and judiciously. But Putin’s sport isn’t chess. It’s judo, which puts a premium on tactics, not strategy; surprise, not long-term thinking.”
      https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-01-05/trump-needs-a-win-win-deal-putin-is-a-win-lose-guy

      • zorbatheturk

        Putin just makes it up as he goes along. He will trip up soon.

        • Eddy Verhaeghe

          A very good description of how the powers that be in the Kremlin operate is to be found in Mikhael Zybar’s ‘All the Kremlin’s Men’. A must read.

          • zorbatheturk

            Yes, I have read it. A good book. David Satter’s recent book on RuSSia is also worthwhile: ” The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep – Russia’s Road to Terror and Dictatorship under Yeltsin and Putin. ” The title says it all.

          • laker48

            This George Friedman’s book is also very good. The first decade of his forecast has fulfilled almost to the tee. http://www.mysearch.org.uk/website1/pdf/715.2.pdf

          • Eddy Verhaeghe

            And up to today the results for Russia are not as good as he predicted.

    • RedSquareMaidan

      Every so often the Sons of Genghis need to be reminded of their superiority complex.

  • Quartermaster

    And “Orthodoxy became the state’s ‘ideological entrepreneur,’” only to suffer massive martyrdom shortly thereafter.
    Kirill has sold the soul of the Russian Orthodox Church to Putin. Instead of doing the Christian thing, and decrying the sins of Putin, he has enabled and abetted Putin’s actions.

    • laker48

      Orthodox Christianity is a subservient religion, as its head is always the head of the state it is practiced in, so it’s not Kiril but Fuhrer Shorty the Shirtless who is the real head of the Orthodox Church of Moscow Rite except for its autocephalous rite.

      • Quartermaster

        Alas, that’s correct. As a result the head of state may sin, as Putin has been doing routinely, and the Church says nothing to call him down. There are going to be many Orthodox Priests that will be in for a rude shock when they stand in front of Christ.

        • Rafael Hernandez

          lol, what a lie

          • Quartermaster

            Care to explain what the lie is and why it’s a lie?

          • Rafael Hernandez

            You would probably dismiss it anyway, and wouldn’t understand it either

          • Quartermaster

            Hilarious. Why don’t you try me? After all, what do you have to lose other than your delusions? Frankly, it’s far more likely you have no idea what you are talking about and you simply don’t like what was said.

          • zorbatheturk

            Chilly in Petersburg today, comrade?

          • Mykola Banderachuk

            too lazy to respond is more like it

  • Mykola Potytorsky

    hopefully this Russian federation or Russian empire will collapse in 2017. that would be a great international geopolitical event

    • laker48

      Well, it may take a bit longer to freeze this dinosaur to death, but we never know. The time bracket 2017-2020 seems more viable.

      • Rafael Hernandez

        Nope If it didn’t in 1812 or 1941, it never will. On the other hand I predict a disastee in Ukraine within a year or 2

        • laker48

          LOL! Never say “never”!

          • Rafael Hernandez

            But it is the truth, and you know it

          • laker48

            What truth?

          • Rafael Hernandez

            That Russia will never collapse

          • laker48

            LOL! It already did twice and the Yanks were stupid enough to throw it a lifeline each time. Let’s hope Trump will eventually let it die a painful and shameful death.

          • gmab

            Ahah. Russia just downsizes every few decades until its’ final demise.

          • Mykola Banderachuk

            prove it!!!!

        • zorbatheturk

          Ukraine makes sense as a country, unlike the fascist nonfederated so-called RuSSian Federation, lol.

          • Rafael Hernandez

            No it doesn’t lol Ukraine is 90% stolen lands

          • Eddy Verhaeghe

            Please elaborate. If one thing is certain, it is the fact that most of the RF are stolen lands…

          • zorbatheturk

            RuSSia is 100% stolen lands.

          • Mykola Banderachuk

            from who?

    • Rafael Hernandez

      More likely Ukraine will be dismembered when they can’t pay back their debts

      • zorbatheturk

        What debts? RuSSia has far more debt than Ukraine.

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        If I were you I’d worry about Dwarfstan’s debts, not Kyiv’s. Dwarfstan’s (semi-) state companies and banks (e.g. Gazprom, Sberbank) collectively owe the west some 600 billion: $$$ that is, not rubbles. Then there’s the $50 billion or so that Dwarfstan will have to pay the Yukos shareholders. That’s already $650 billion, which Dwarfstan doesn’t have.
        But the real killer is the debt Dwarfstan owes the US, and we’re talking trillions of $$$ here, not billions. Dwarfstan is broke, and pretty soon the dwarf won’t even be able to afford the cheap rotgut samogon he pays you Savushkina trolls with any longer. Eventually you and your fellow lobotomised troll chums will be kicked out into the streets of St Petersburg. Forget about getting a REAL job; putting “I was a Savushkina troll” on your resumé won’t impress any serious employer in the least.

        • Rafael Hernandez

          Lol, Ukraine is bankrupt, and if you had any insight as to how Ukraine survived 2014-2016 you would know this. They have borrowed untoald amounts of money from Imf and Poland, and it is just a question of time before they seek payment back(money or Land) Like I said Russia will blossom WHEN oilprices reach 65$, and it can finally start to modernize Crimea, which Ukraine hasn’t done in 23 years

      • laker48

        Ukraine and Syria are two millstones that will drown the fascist RuSSian Federation in a cesspool of its own making. It’s already started.

      • gmab

        Deflection again, RT troll from UAToday?

  • Rafael Hernandez

    But Euromaidan press won’t say anything when Russian ssr crushed Japan 40 years later? No wonder it brainwash other masses so quickly

    • Quartermaster

      Entirely different situation, and it doesn’t make the point that needs to be made. Putin is in much the same situation as Russia in 1905.

      • Rafael Hernandez

        Exept that at the time it was led by a criminal and inexperienced Tsar, who didn’t know anything. Russia nowdays is 100x times stronger than in 1905, and you know it very well

        • laker48

          LOL! A gas station masquerading a s a country with its GDP 60% of the state of California and 80% of the state of Teas. A real superpower!

          • Rafael Hernandez

            Maybe now, but wait a few months when the oil prices reaches 65$. Then Russia will blossom

          • laker48

            LOL! Over 70% of US shale producers can lift oil to the wellhead level at $20 per barrel, while at $50 per barrel ALL US SHALE PRODUCERS ARE HIGHLY PROFITABLE. They need between one and four weeks to return to pumping full blast. Since this winter in the US is more severe than usually, we may see longer delays, but the glass ceiling of the $50-$60 per barrel trading range has been hit. All vertically integrated US and Canadian majors are profitable above $25 per barrel. Do the math! They’re not OPEC members.

          • Eddy Verhaeghe

            Even at 65 $/barrel the RF will not have the means to develop its economy properly.

          • Mykola Banderachuk

            you are right but the thing is putin and his gang of mafioso’s do not want to develop and diversify–they just want to steal all the money they can and hide it in western bank accounts. Sure there will be photo ops of a potemkin project but that is all it is – for show. Meanwhile the thievery will continue unabated.

          • Eddy Verhaeghe

            Blossom like it did since 1917? Some extra reading suggested to you : http://euromaidanpress.com/2017/01/07/like-crimea-trump-is-ours-russian-products-proclaim-and-other-neglected-russian-stories-euromaidan-press/

            I very much like this gem :

            ’12. Russia has Lower Share of World’s GDP Now than It Did in 1922

            All of Soviet and post-Soviet efforts to expand the economy there have been in vain: the Russian economy today is smaller as a percentage of the world’s GDP than it was at the end of the Russian Civil War of 1917-1922, a reality that calls into question all the sacrifices the peoples of that country have been forced to undergo.’

          • Mykola Banderachuk

            yeah like poison ivy-keep dreaming komrade

        • Quartermaster

          What I know is that The Russian Army is smaller now than it was under the Tsar in 1905. I also know that the Current Russian Army is using old technology, except in Air Defense, and that can be defeated. The best Tank they have available to them now can not come close to matching either the German Leopard and is wildly outclassed by the M1A1 Abrams.

          I imagine that if Putin’s Army were pitted against the Tsar’s Army of 1905, the Tsar’s Army would probably have a pretty hard time with it. By comparison to other modern Armies, Russia could beat most of the Arab Countries, but would have a very hard time against Turkey. China could roll over them by simply running them out of ammo. NATO countries, even their current sorry state, would destroy Russia. Russia would have a hard time even with Japan.

          Russia is nothing like the Soviet Union.

          • Rafael Hernandez

            Probably Russia could throw a couple of Tsar bombas on it

          • Eddy Verhaeghe

            When you lost the argument, you start threatening with nuclear weapons. Very much like most nowadays RF retoric…

          • Rafael Hernandez

            No, one thing that definetly makes Russia stronger than 1905 is that they have satan rockets and Tsar bombas(Stationed in Vorkuta)

          • laker48

            Or the bombers wiil be shot down with the bombs in their bays over the fascist RuSSia’s territory.

          • Rafael Hernandez

            Or they would reach their target (99%)

          • laker48

            Over 99% of RuSSian missiles or bombers will be neutralised seconds after they leave their launchers, most over the fascist RuSSian Federation’s territory.

          • Mykola Banderachuk

            is that the tsar bombas like a fart?

          • Rafael Hernandez

            No, but I very much would like one dropped on the Rada

          • Eddy Verhaeghe

            No person in his right mind wants to drop an atomic bomb on the parliament of another nation.

          • Mykola Banderachuk

            you mean a fart???

        • zorbatheturk

          RuSSia’s economy is on the point of collapse.

    • Eddy Verhaeghe

      As for what really happened : the USSR attacked Japan on the 9 of August 1945 when the war was essentially lost for Japan. So the USSR ‘crushed’ a defeated country… For your enligthenment I suggest some extra reading before you post more preposterous USSR type propaganda. You could maybe start with https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet%E2%80%93Japanese_War_(1945)

      • Mykola Banderachuk

        rafael cannot read

        • Eddy Verhaeghe

          Mykola, it is not a problem that ‘rafael cannot read’. Other visitors to the Euromaidan can all to well. And they will read that he spouts nonsense 😉

    • Mykola Banderachuk

      “Russian ssr crushed Japan 40 years later?” what are you talking about son? please elaborate, thanks

  • http://www.taboogenocide.com kris dietrich

    There is no accurate historical account of 20th century Russia and the two world wars without considering the western connection to take over the Russian empire and control war plan against Hitler and Germany. Read Taboo Genocide Holodomor1933. 2 volumes

    • Mykola Banderachuk

      what are you talking about-you make no sense

    • Turtler

      “There is no accurate historical account of 20th century Russia and
      the two world wars without considering the western connection to take over the Russian empire and control war plan against Hitler and Germany.”

      if that was the case, they failed. Utterly.

      Considering WWII began with Hitler and Germany on one side and the Soviet controlled Russian Empire joining hands to destroy the peace the West depended on in 1939.

      But hey, I imagine a Jew hating moron such as yourself will conveniently skim over that.

    • laker48

      General George Patton’s knowledge of the world’s history was outstanding and he also knew history of RuSSia very well. As far as I remember, Patton was a great enthusiast of RuSSia and RuSSians. Here are some quotes of his:

      “The Russians are Mongols. They are Slavs and a lot of them used to be ruled by ancient Byzantium. From Genghis Khan to Stalin, they have not changed. They never will and we will never learn, at least, not until it is too late.”

      “Poland is under Russian domination, so is Hungary, so is Czechoslovakia, and so is Yugoslavia; and we sit happily by and think that everybody loves us.”

      “We have destroyed what could have been a good race of people and we are about to replace them with Mongolian savages and all of Europe with communism.”

      “General Anders of the Polish 2 Corps told me that if his corps got between a German Army and a Russian Army he would have trouble deciding which direction to fight.”

      “If we have to fight them, now is the time. From now on, we will get weaker and they will get stronger.”

      “The difficulty in understanding the Russians we do not take cognizance of the fact he is not a European, but an Asiatic, therefore thinks deviously. We can no more understand a Russian than Chinese or a Japanese. From what I have seen of them I have no particular desire to understand them except to ascertain how much lead or iron it takes to kill them. In addition to their other amiable characteristics, the Russians have no regard for human life and they are all out son of bitches, barbarians and chronic drunks.”

      “It is said that for the first week after the Russians took Berlin, all women who ran were shot and those who did not were raped. I could have taken Berlin if I had been allowed.”

      “The Russians have a lot of new heavy tanks of which they are very proud. The Marshall asked me how I like them. I said that I did not and we had quite an argument. Apparently I am the first person ever to disagree with him.”