Publikation Soziale Bewegungen / Organisierung Challenges of Russian Left

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April 2004

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Ilya Ponomarev’s speech

Date: April 16, 2004.

Place: Stockholm.

First of all, I wanted to thank you all for the invitation to come and speak here. Why we came to this seminar? Why we think that relationships between European left and their Russian counterparts are so important?

I think there are two major reasons. First reason is that Russia is in fact the place of great social experiments with the longest history in the world. We had different periods in the recent century in our life. We now have history of military, social and economical exercises of all types. During this time we switched between absolute monarchy, constitutional monarchy, bourgeois democracy, totalitarism, military communism, socialism, new liberalism, etc. We’d witnessed brilliant victories and bitter defeats. We saw collapse of world largest empire and most rapid transition of national wealth from private hands into public domain and then back, to people we know now as “oligarchs”. As the result, understanding of many good words, like “communism”, “liberalism”, “socialism” is completely compromised. More – the word “politics” is compromised. So the main result of all the experiments is tremendous social apathy. And European left are complaining about lack of trust of people to traditional political institutions, I say: “Guys, come to Russia! You’ll see that your parties are just adored by your citizens!” ...

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