A Long Echo of 1991: Social Meaning of Country's Disaster

A Long Echo of 1991:
Social Meaning of Country's Disaster

Semenov E.V.

Dr. Sci. (Philos.), Prof., Chief Researcher, Institute of Sociology of FCTAS RAS, Moscow, Russia eugen.semenov@inbox.ru

ID of the Article:

For citation:

Semenov E.V. A Long Echo of 1991: Social Meaning of Country's Disaster. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2021. No 8. P. 14-21


The article deals with social meaning of the collapse of the USSR (seen as a result of the actions of the Soviet Nomenklatura) in context of the struggle between socialist and capitalist wolrd-systems. The social structure of Soviet society, according to the theory of Yu.V. Yaremenko, had a pyramidal structure and consisted of four strata-estates. The bureaucratic nomenclature that made up the ruling class, unlike other strata, did not have opportunities for internal vertical growth and was focused on integration into Western society. This ruling class, despite sluggish resistance of other social groups, destroyed society and the state altogether. A new ruling class took shape mainly due to the denationalization of property and through large-scale redistribution of social wealth, complemented with drop in production and consumption, rather than their growth. In a geopolitical sense, the collapse of the global socialist system (1989) and subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union (1991) meant complete victory of the world capitalist system at a particular historical moment. From that moment on, the continuing absorption of the fragments of the defeated system by the winning system began. Collapse of the USSR in 1991 is of fundamental practical importance for contemporary Russia. First, because the nomenclature and the administrative-command system have re-formed in the country, and, second, because victorious global capitalist system has begun to directly absorb Russia, as the last remaining large fragment of the defeated system. Such absorption became possible either due to the fragmentation of the country, or due to its transformation into the periphery of the developed capitalist world. This, in turn, presupposes an isolation of the country and keeping it in a state of technological and economic backwardness. The direction of further global development fundamentally depends on Russia’s ability to withstand this geopolitical struggle.

collapse of the USSR; putsch of 1991; contemporary Russia; perestroika; Gaidar’s reforms; ruling class; nomenclature


Afanasiev Yu.A. (ed.) (1988) Nothing Else is Given. Мoscow: Progress. (In Russ.)

Gorbachev M.S. (1987) Perestroika for our Country and for the Whole World. Мoscow: Politizdat. (In Russ.)

Gorbachev M.S. (1989) The Socialist Idea and Revolutionary Perestroika. Kommunist [Communist]. No. 18: 3–20. (In Russ.)

Korshunov M.M., Kochetkova M.V. (2014) Historiography of the Soviet Collapse. Gumanitarnye nauchnye issledovaniya [Humanities Scientific Researches]. No. 6. URL: https://human.snauka.ru/2014/06/7259 (accessed 28.05.2021). (In Russ.)

Krastev I. (2021) Thorns of “Normality”: The End of the Era of Imitation. In: Rogov K. (ed.) Dismantling of Communism: Thirty Years Later. Moscow: NLO: 46–65. (In Russ.)

Markevich A., Harrison M. (2013) World War I, Civil War, and Reconstruction: Russia’s National Income in 1913–1928. Мoscow: Mysl’. (In Russ.)

Nisnevich Yu.A. (2018) Regeneration of the Nomenclature as a Ruling Social Stratum in the post-Soviet Russia. Sotsiologicheskiye issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. No. 8: 143–151. DOI: 10.31857/ S013216250000769-8. (In Russ.)

Novokreshchenov A.V. (2020) Nomenclature as Personnel Technology and a Mechanism of State Administration (regarding Yu.A. Nisnevich’s article). Sotsiologicheskiye issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. No. 1: 132–137. DOI: 10.31857/S013216250008331-7. (In Russ.)

Ozherelyev O.I. (2016) Ideals and Crimes. Recent History of Russia: Dialectics of Events. Moscow: Hud. lit-ra. (In Russ.)

Rogov К. (2021) Introduction: Drama of Expectation/Drama of an Understanding: Thirty Years of a Transit and Disputes About it. In: Rogov K. (ed.) Dismantling of Communism: Thirty Years Later. Moscow: NLO: 8–45. (In Russ.)

Rumyantseva N.M. (ed.) (2016) Russian Economy: Isolation and Stability. On the 25th Anniversary of Market Reforms. Iss. 83. Moscow: Nikitskiy Кlub. (In Russ.)

Semenov E.V. (2021) A Failed Reform of Science. EKO [ECO]. No. 3: 122–139. DOI: 10.30680/ECO0131- 7652-2021-3-122-139. (In Russ.)

Semenov E.V. (1993) Meaning of Things Happening, Contours of Things Coming. Alma mater. No. 5. Iss. 2: Faces of Russia: 26–30. (In Russ.)

Toshchenko Zh.T. (2015) Phantoms of a Russian Society. Moscow: TsSPiM. (In Russ.)

Yakovlev A.N. (1987) Achieving a Qualitatively New State of Soviet Society and Social Sciences. Kommunist [Communist]. No. 8: 12–13. (In Russ.)

Yaremenko Yu.V. (1998) Economic Conversations. Recorded by S.A. Belanovsky. Мoscow: TsIS. (In Russ.)

Content No 8, 2021