A Long Echo of 1991:
Social Meaning of Country's Disaster

Semenov E.V.

Dr. Sci. (Philos.), Prof., Chief Researcher, Institute of Sociology of FCTAS RAS, Moscow, Russia eugen.semenov@inbox.ru

DOI: 10.31857/S013216250015528-3
ID of the Article: 8751

For citation:

Semenov E.V. A Long Echo of 1991: Social Meaning of Country's Disaster. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2021. No 8. P. 14-21


The article deals with social meaning of the collapse of the USSR (seen as a result of the actions of the Soviet Nomenklatura) in context of the struggle between socialist and capitalist wolrd-systems. The social structure of Soviet society, according to the theory of Yu.V. Yaremenko, had a pyramidal structure and consisted of four strata-estates. The bureaucratic nomenclature that made up the ruling class, unlike other strata, did not have opportunities for internal vertical growth and was focused on integration into Western society. This ruling class, despite sluggish resistance of other social groups, destroyed society and the state altogether. A new ruling class took shape mainly due to the denationalization of property and through large-scale redistribution of social wealth, complemented with drop in production and consumption, rather than their growth. In a geopolitical sense, the collapse of the global socialist system (1989) and subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union (1991) meant complete victory of the world capitalist system at a particular historical moment. From that moment on, the continuing absorption of the fragments of the defeated system by the winning system began. Collapse of the USSR in 1991 is of fundamental practical importance for contemporary Russia. First, because the nomenclature and the administrative-command system have re-formed in the country, and, second, because victorious global capitalist system has begun to directly absorb Russia, as the last remaining large fragment of the defeated system. Such absorption became possible either due to the fragmentation of the country, or due to its transformation into the periphery of the developed capitalist world. This, in turn, presupposes an isolation of the country and keeping it in a state of technological and economic backwardness. The direction of further global development fundamentally depends on Russia’s ability to withstand this geopolitical struggle.

collapse of the USSR; putsch of 1991; contemporary Russia; perestroika; Gaidar’s reforms; ruling class; nomenclature


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Content No 8, 2021