Possibly the most cataclysmic and tragic event of the post WWII period was the illegitimate and manipulated demise of the Soviet Union in 1991. As then President Gorbachev was inching toward democratic reform and opening Soviet society to the west, his Western “partners” – Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, James Baker and others were orchestrating the complete collapse of the Soviet economy and society under the program known as “shock therapy.” Many true Russian democrats and socialists were working toward a renewal of a workers’ state with equal benefits to all. Under Chubais’ voucher privatization reform program, for a moment there was a chance of a different outcome for Russia – something more egalitarian and democratic than the oligarchic, authoritarian state that exists today -- one built on worker ownership and worker control of the means of production.
In his talk, Prof. Buzgalin will review the unknown forms of workers’ democracy that existed in the USSR, the general characteristic of post-soviet capitalism in Russia and the three stages of its development from the crisis of the 1990s to the growth of the basis of high oil and gas prices in 2000; and finally to the stagnation of the last 10 to 20 years. It is a tragic story of hope and failure – the workers’ hopes for a better future after the Soviet Union to its inevitable crushing by western imperialist development swallowed up by a local elite for its own profit. The present situation could be so different and our present world could have realized the peace overtures offered by Gorbachev.
Prof. Buzgalin is an economics professor at Moscow State University and Director of Modern Marxist Studies.