Dear readers: You may have noticed that I have taken something of a hiatus from writing for the last two months. This was due to a coalescing of several factors, some personal, others professional, not least of which is my now considerable graduate school workload. You might have also noticed that I have remained conspicuously silent on the situation in Ukraine. This has been in part because I believe that there are ultimately no good guys in this conflict — neither the Ukrainian government and its Western backers nor Vladimir Putin’s Russia. It is also because, while I believe strongly that this all could have been avoided had the West honored its post-Cold War promise to leave Ukraine out of NATO, I also do not wish to appear to endorse the decision to invade or the actions of the Russian military throughout the course of the conflict. Moreover, these arguments have already been well made by others more qualified to do so than I and so I have decided not to repeat them myself. However, I have decided to break my silence and contribute something that I hope provides a unique perspective that has received less attention in both the corporate-owned and independent media — namely, an assessment of what led to the rise of Vladimir Putin in the first place.
In this essay, published at Popular Resistance, CounterPunch and LA Progressive, I hope to provide a compelling account of the historical context in which this happened. I ultimately conclude that the best hope for the country’s future is for the Russian people to elect a Communist Party-led government. Saying this, however, does not constitute an adulation of the Soviet system, an excusal of the many errors that its leaders made (especially during the counterrevolutionary Stalinist period), or an endorsement of communism as an ideology. But the fact remains that the Communist Party has gone through a process of reform and modernization and now advocates for a more moderate form of socialism. It has, however, retained its name in order to neither disavow nor deny its history and also, as I hope to show, because of the lasting popularity of some aspects of the Soviet era. Finally, I wish to make clear that this essay is a piece of independent political analysis and I do not speak for or on behalf of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. Thank you for your continued support and interest in my writing. Peter Bolton, New York City, March 30, 2022