How have the fall of the USSR and the long dominance of Putin reshaped Russian politics and culture?
Ilya Budraitskis, one of the country's most prominent leftist political commentators, explores the strange fusion of free-market ideology and postmodern nationalism that now prevails in Russia, and describes the post-Soviet evolution of its left. He incisively describes the twists and contradictions of the Kremlin's geopolitical fantasies, which blend up-to-date references to "information wars" with nostalgic celebrations of the tsars of Muscovy. Despite the revival of aggressive Cold War rhetoric, he argues, the Putin regime takes its bearings not from any Soviet inheritance, but from reactionary thinkers such as the White émigré Ivan Ilyin.
Budraitskis makes an invaluable contribution by reconstructing the forgotten history of the USSR's dissident left, mapping an entire alternative tradition of heterodox Marxist and socialist thought from Khrushchev's Thaw to Gorbachev's perestroika. Doubly outsiders, within an intelligentsia dominated by liberal humanists, they offer a potential way out of the impasse between condemnations of the entire Soviet era and blanket nostalgia for Communist Party rule--suggesting new paths for the left to explore.
About the Author
Ilya Budraitskis writes regularly on politics, art, film and philosophy for e-flux journal, openDemocracy, LeftEast, Colta.ru and other outlets, and teaches at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences and the Institute of Contemporary Art Moscow. The Russian edition of his essay collection Dissidents among Dissidents was awarded the prestigious Andrei Bely prize in 2017.
“Ilya Budraitskis is a gifted writer—non-conformist, insightful, sharp and polemical. Essays collected in this volume succeed to challenge both liberal and illiberal clichés about Putin’s Russia.” —Ivan Krastev, author of Is It Tomorrow Yet?
“Ilya Budraitskis brings immense historical knowledge, moral clarity, and political insight into these crucial essays on twenty-first century Russia. From his critical analyses of Russian culture wars and the ‘geopoliticization of Russia’ to his path-breaking history of socialist dissidence and contemporary Left discontent, Budraitskis proves an adroit guide through the post-Soviet landscape. He directs us not simply to persistent authoritarianism and reaction but also to the unrealized political alternatives that remain to be activated by Left anti-capitalists today.” —Jodi Dean, author of Comrade
“Refusing the neo–Cold War nonsense that depicts Putin’s Russia as an anti-imperialist bulwark or a reincarnation of Stalin’s empire, Ilya Budraitskis has more important things to think about than this confected Clash of Civilisations. Whether uncovering the forgotten socialists among the Soviet-era dissident movement or tracing the emergence of a true post-Soviet left into the present day, his work is sophisticated, invigorating and ethically rigorous.” —Owen Hatherley