September sat down with Quinn Slobodian, author of Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism and Crack-Up Capitalism: Market Radicals and the Dream of a World Without Democracy to discuss his books, the history of neoliberal and libertarian ideas in the 20th and 21st centuries, the war in Ukraine and the current state of the left-wing movement.
Quite a lot of Russians, including President Vladimir Putin, even though outspoken opponents of the ideas of socialism, nevertheless regard the collapse of the Soviet Union as a personal tragedy. For them, it represented national humiliation for Russia and a chain of major territorial losses. They see in the Soviet project a kind of continuation of, in Putin’s own words, “the thousand-year Russian statehood.” But how did it happen that the revolution that destroyed the Russian Empire, aka the “Prison-house of Nations”, gave rise to a project, certain features of which evoke feelings of nostalgia and revanchism among highly reactionary Russian chauvinists? We publish an excerpt from Marxist historian Vadim Rogovin's book “Stalin's neo-NEP”, in which he describes the transition from the revolutionary deconstruction of the imperial legacy in the early Soviet years to its partial revival in the 1930s. Perhaps it was precisely these changes in the Soviet state that led many to consider it the “same Russia under a different name” and, after its collapse, encouraged the elites of already capitalist Russia to unleash a war to “gather together Russian lands”.
"September" met with mathematician and Russian left-wing politician Mikhail Lobanov to discuss his foreign agent status and his dismissal from the university. We also discussed the potential approaches to anti-war political organizing in Russia and beyond, and learned about Mikhail's plans for the "long-term political mission trip" he embarked on a month ago.
Andrei Yagoubov, climate activist and DIE LINKE member, who participated in the defense of the village of Lützerath against police forces and the RWE coal company back in January, gives his perspective on the standoff. This fight between grass-roots activists and united forces of corporations and the government presents itself as a part of the global struggle for democracy and the planet's and humanity's future. Lützerath might be lost but what comes next?
We live in historic times. Historians have long noted that in some periods time seems to thicken, and social contradictions which had previously unfolded gradually are now aggravated and can no longer find room for further coexistence. Current leaders might assure the masses that they are in control of the situation, but if the system goes haywire, this very attempt at mistimed control only worsens the conditions. Gigantic underlying processes are grinding at the superstructural mechanisms, and rulers do not realise the moment that in the long run will make them ex-rulers.
Big business, it seems, is that segment of the Russian elite which has lost most of all in the last year. Russian oligarchs have transformed from yesterday’s welcome guests in London, Monaco or Nice into personae non-grata. Their accounts are emptying, the list of Forbes billionaires is shrinking, and maintaining their usual standard of living is no longer sustainable. However, the ‘revolt of the oligarchs’ expected by many did not happen. We will try to understand how realistic such expectations were, why big business remains an organic part of the Russian political regime without requesting democratisation, and what has changed in its position within the system over the last year.
1991, Leningrad. The private office of the deputy mayor of the city. A reporter for the city's television channel interviews a young official from Anatoly Sobchak's team. In the frame — a man with a childish face in a white shirt. Behind him, you can see window blinds, a television, a table lamp, a telephone, open folders with papers. A typical Soviet office environment. But something does not add up. From behind the scenes, the voice of the journalist says that yesterday, he could still see a bust of Lenin in this office, but today it had disappeared somewhere. What had happened?
Murad Gattal on the causes and prerequisites for a new escalation in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and the transformations that it caused in Azerbaijani society.
September met with Zhanna Chernenko, founder of two volunteer groups – Fempodmoga and Lingvo Volunteers, which help Ukrainian refugees in Europe in solving a variety of problems: from translating documents to cases of harassment and violation of labour rights.
Ukraine aid, like the war itself, is a point of contention on the international left. Supporters see aid as essential for Ukraine’s defense against an imperialist invader. Skeptics regard it as a giveaway to the war industry at best, a fig leaf for the US empire at worst. The dilemma is that both sides have a point. Aid has enabled Ukraine to push back its occupier, but — funneled through the military-industrial complex of the United States — this success is bound up with both war profiteering and the maintenance of US hegemony. Supporters of aid, among whom I count myself, need to grapple with this ambiguity, which is indicative of the complex issues anti-imperialists will face as great power competition heats up in an increasingly multipolar world.