Archive | 2019

Autocratic Ideology as an Obstacle to Liberal Democratic Thought in Post-Soviet Russia



The autocratic nature of Bolshevik ideology gave rise to the mass bloodshed and atrocities of Stalinism. Although the ideology moderated somewhat after Joseph Stalin’s death, it continued to impose severe constraints that blocked the rise of deep-rooted liberal thought in the USSR. After Mikhail Gorbachev launched wide-ranging reforms in the late 1980s that shook the foundations of the Soviet system, many erstwhile staunch adherents of Marxism-Leninism began to have doubts about the legitimacy of what they had believed. The wholesale demise of Communism in Eastern Europe greatly reinforced those doubts, causing many to begin renouncing what they had long believed. But the process was so compact in time that it did not permit the rise of genuine liberal democratic thought as an alternative. The “democratic” thinking that briefly took root in post-Soviet Russia was shallow and did not really fit into the liberal democratic tradition of Locke, Kant, Rousseau, and Mill. But because officials in the new Russian government used the term “democracy,” the very concept became discredited in the eyes of many Russians, who came to associate it with hardship and instability. As a result, Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian retrenchment proceeded with little public opposition and was even widely supported. Because the autocratic nature of Soviet ideology had prevented the emergence of deep-rooted liberal democratic thought, an ideological abyss was left after the demise of the USSR, and Putin stepped in to fill it with his personalistic autocratic rule.

Volume None
Pages 89-106
DOI 10.1007/978-3-030-05784-8_7
Language English
Journal None

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