Russia: Patterns of Interaction

Is it any wonder that Russians lean toward a socialistic and strong authoritarian government? The country geographically is of immense size and ethnically diverse; keeping control may very well have required its rulers to be strong with a central control backed by force. History shows us that Czars held tight control over people’s lives, through fear and domination. The Russian people were petrified under the Soviet regime, but it lasted 74 years, and constitutionally guaranteed jobs, housing and living supplies. Attempts to reform by Khrushchev included a proposal to decentralize the Soviet economy, boost the production of consumer goods over heavy industry, and eliminate the class differences by making everyone work before attending college (even the children of the privileged). But it was under the leadership of Gorbachev and later Yeltsin that many Russian’s realized a Western style society might not work in Russia. For example, Gorbachev’s glasnost of the Soviet media, albeit honest and an acknowledgement to diversity, only flared up the notion of nationalistic independence among the many nationalities (including Russians). Yeltsin’s reform of the Russian economy through “shock therapy. Lowered trade barriers, removed price controls, and ended subsidies to state- owned industries. Yeltsin’s plan resulted in soaring prices and high inflation. Many factories dependent on government money had to cut production or shut down completely. This forced thousands of people out of work. The Yeltsin years brought danger and decay, and in such times, Russians tend to gravitate toward strong, authoritarian type leaders, such as Vladimir Putin.

Questions to consider:

  • Why might a Western style society not work in Russia?
  • What is “Shock Therapy” and why did it not work in Russia?
  • Why are youth gravitating toward Putin’s authoritative leadership?

Comparing and Contrasting

Communism Free Market
Government decides what products to make Business mangers decide what products to make
All people have jobs People can be unemployed
People work in assigned jobs People can choose their job
Limited goods and services available Wide choice goods and services available
Prices of goods and services kept low Prices of goods and services rise and fall with supply and demand