from Russia Insider:
Nation Contributing Editor Stephen F. Cohen and John Batchelor continued their excellent weekly podcast about the new US-Russian Cold War. (Previous installments, now in their fourth year, are at TheNation.com.)
It is easy to listen to these on computer or using a smartphone podcasting app.
Synopsis and audio follow below.
Some hypothetical but fateful questions are rarely, if ever, discussed. Cohen argues that one such question is this: As the long-established “world order” collapses and a new one struggles to emerge, where will Russia, still the world’s largest territorial country, end up politically? The outcome will be fateful, for better or worse.
Geographically, of course, Russia cannot leave the West. Its expanses include vast Far Eastern territories and peoples and a long border with China, but they also include major European cities such as St. Petersburg. For that reason alone, Russia has long been, to varying degrees at various times, both a European and non-European country. Geography, it is said, is destiny, but Cohen makes the following historical points:
§ The profound divide in Russia’s political and intellectual elites between Slavophiles, who saw Russia’s true destiny apart from the West, and Westernizers, who saw it with the West, originally debated passionately in the 19th century, has never ended. Arguably, it was only exacerbated by the country’s subsequent political history.
§ It was evident in the Soviet Communist Party in the 1920s, when rival factions debated and fought over the nature and future of the 1917 Revolution.
§ The long Stalin era, from 1929 to 1953, imposed aspects of Western modernization on the country, such as literacy, industrialization, and urbanization, but also elements of what some observers called “Oriental Despotism.” These conflicting elements of the West and the East underlay the struggle, mostly inside the Communist Party, but not only, between anti-Stalinist reformers and neo-Stalinist conservatives during subsequent decades.
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