Feygin: Ukraine’s post-Soviet condition

13 03 2014

In “Ukraine is Stuck in a Post-Soviet Condition,” Yakov Feygin provides a very perceptive and interesting analysis of the country’s situation based on the relationship between economic realities and political affiliations.

Some excerpts:

“Soviet enterprises were not just sites of production, they were also the core of the Soviet welfare state. Factories, in addition to employment, also provided housing, medical care, child-care, education and holidays. Essentially, what many of the Western-minded reformers of the 1990s did not understand was that capitalist property rights would not displace this complex and embedded network of authority, perks and exchange. The post-Soviet state – not only Ukraine – is thus a weak state with extremely strong institutions and local networks; and they are especially strong in Eastern Ukraine, and have been since the death of Stalin.” [. . .]

“But Western Ukraine had something else: it was the capital of the underground trade in black market goods coming in from the satellite states of Eastern Europe. That was part of its history – a multicultural and multilingual entropôt that had been part of many empires, which had naturally become, in Soviet times, a hub for illicit exchange: not only goods but also ideas and culture including Western rock ‘n roll, which was pouring in from the relatively more liberal Eastern European socialist states.”

“Western Ukrainians had less industry to be privatised during the 1990s, thus creating a less powerful network of oligarchs to control not only the economic, but also political, life in the region. […] the smaller scale of these networks meant that the same kind of hegemony over the economy and politics does not exist.”

“In Eastern Ukraine, deeply connected networks of managers and functionaries were able to scoop up large, vertically integrated Soviet industries and their attendant networks of patronage and power.”

“The lesson is that leaders like Putin and Yanukovych are not strong dictators ruling over powerful states but in fact weak leaders of weak states balancing strong institutions.”

“Viewing the events in Ukraine in terms of the political-economic networks of the ‘post-Soviet condition’ explains why Eastern separatism is being sustained by Russian military pressure, and has so far had difficulty mobilizing a sustained protest movement. Outside of occupied Crimea, whose economy is deeply tied to the Russian military and Russian tourism, we have not yet seen pro-Russian mobilisation on the scale that can establish political hegemony.”

“What lessons can be drawn from the above, for those who want to see a liberal democracy emerge not only in Ukraine but all across the post-Soviet world? Most immediately, the problems in Eastern Ukraine should be seen not so much as an ethnic conflict as a conflict between clans of rent seekers who have lost the stabilising factor of Yanukovych mediating between them. More importantly, Ukraine and the rest of the post-Soviet states need to become strong states. If the European Union, the United States or any other international actor really wants to build a liberal democratic society in Ukraine or the post-Soviet world as a whole, it needs to encourage the transfer of what should be the welfare and protective functions of the state away from rent-seeking oligarchs who have managed to hold entire governments hostage, into an independent state. This means doing something that European and North American policy-makers might consider anathema: weakening ownership rights. Instead of austerity, we need to encourage the formation of a functional and strong welfare state that can liberate citizens from networks of patronage linked to old Soviet industrial structures; and encourage the formation of independent unions that can represent the economic interests of workers, before the state. Only through these institutions can the ‘post-Soviet condition’ finally be relegated to history, and ‘liberal capitalism’ built. Until then, the peoples of Ukraine and many other post-Soviet countries will remain stuck in a post-Soviet state.

The entire article can be read at Open Democracy. 



4 responses

28 08 2018

EIjZiQpFYb Feygin: Ukraine’s post-Soviet condition the 8 best 2 in 1 laptops under 700 http://the8best.com/best/the-8-best-2-in-1-laptops-under-700

10 09 2018

dlTIgbW0OT Feygin: Ukraine’s post-Soviet condition lenovo tb3 730x root http://bestandroidtoroot.com/post/lenovo-tab3-730x-tb3-730x-lenovo-tb3-730x

12 09 2018

TMbabfKzGA Feygin: Ukraine’s post-Soviet condition the 8 best laptops for college students under 400 http://the8best.com/best/the-8-best-laptops-for-college-students-under-400

19 09 2018

IZqbqRM8Lc Feygin: Ukraine’s post-Soviet condition the 8 best 13 inch laptop under 600 http://the8best.com/best/the-8-best-13-inch-laptop-under-600

Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar