Russia's defeat in the Crimean War cast new doubt upon the fundamental political traditions, social structures, national myths of the Nikolaevan era. It precipitated wide-ranging reforms, including military reforms, which were predicated on a shift in mentality. This essay examines the new notions of heroism that circulated among Russia's emerging public sphere during and after the war. It analyzes the types of heroes that were celebrated as reflections of critical changes in attitude and mindset, which prefigured the liberalizing era of Alexander II.
15 Years after the “Collapse” of Soviet Socialism: The Role of Elite Choices, Class Conflict, and a Critique of Modernization Theory
In this paper, it is argued that the abandoning of the command administrative economy in the Soviet Union and its transformation into an ostensibly market capitalist system in post-Communist Russia was a reaction by the Soviet elite to emerging threats to their accumulated privileges and power presented from the campaign for ³socialist legality² launched by Andropov and later Gorbachev in the 1980s. Threatened by the prospect of being purged for corruption and of losing their entitlements, the Soviet elite responded to the campaign for socialist legality by transforming itself into an official bourgeoisie that could legally claim the power and property it already controlled. ³Capitalist legality² was embraced to protect this power and property from possible reappropriation from below. The challenge of Andropov and Gorbachev to the Soviet ³New Class² was ultimately defeated when the elite pushed ahead with laws that destroyed the socialist economy. The alternative explanation for the transition put forward by the modernization theory is criticized in detail.
The Geopolitics of Oil, Gas, and Ecology in the Caucasus and Caspian Sea Basin. 1998 Caucasus Conference Report.
In the early 1990s, energy companies around the world began to realize the enormity of the still-untapped oil and natural gas reserves of the Caspian Sea basin, igniting a scramble to develop new extraction and transport networks to bring these resources to the world market. The result has transformed the region into a fulcrum of geopolitical interaction: Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have formulated long-term plans to use the anticipated windfall of "petro dollars" from their reserves; the United States and Russia have vied to influence the placement of pipeline routes; and attention to the region's resources has increased pressure on disputes between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, Russia and Georgia over Abkhazia, and Russia and Chechnya. And all of these developments are unfolding against a backdrop of deepening ecological problems: the condition of the Black Sea, Turkish concerns over oil tankers travelling through the Bosporous Straits, the legacy of Soviet oil production in Azerbaijan, and the crisis of the Caspian Sea resulting from its unresolved legal status. This is a report from a conference held in 1998 that addressed: the relation between energy policies, ecological problems, and regional political dynamics in the contemporary Caucasus and Caspian Basin. The outcome of these struggles to influence regional energy policies will shape the long-term prospects for energy, ecological, and political stability on a global level.