When people think about Perestroika in the USSR the general sense most have is that it was a liberal and democratic movement. We talk to Russian political philosopher Artemy Magun about how it was actually something else: a conservative revolution — and that the foundation for the hard conservative turn of Russian elites under Putin today was laid back then.
We cover a lot of ground — from Soviet history to the liberalism of the 1990s and all the way to the present war. Along the way we talk about why Putin now identifies as a White Russian, what Russian liberals mean when they talk about “the natural course of history,” and why Alexei Navalny just now — while in prison — realized that the democrats and liberal reformers and privatizers of the 1990s were bad.
The jumping off point for our talk was a recent article by Artemy — “Perestroika in the Soviet Union: Triumph of Democracy or a Conservative Revolution?” The article is based his book Negative Revolution, which you can also read in English.
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