Marina Shapovalova, writer
A little about the "subjunctive mood" and the role of personalities in history.
One of the points on the scale of history, where the "alternatives" glow directly, unfolding with a bright Chinese fan, is the disintegration of the Soviet Union, which took place 30 years ago. It was always interesting for me to think how things could have turned out differently. I remember about my moods thirty years ago that the USSR was not sorry at all, but there was anxiety. No, I did not expect then that independent Russia would slide towards authoritarianism (the Central Asian republics did not bother me, forgive me), and Ukraine would completely lose its economic potential. But something suggested that it was naive to wait for one good thing.
Now I think that the Union under the leadership of Gorbachev would have been better off then. Firstly, because it was by his will that this colossus was removed from the totalitarian foundations. If he had enough will and strength to further reconstruct the Union on new treaty principles, he would have lost power later, since he did not hold on to it like his modern “heirs”, but in a completely different configuration throughout the post-Soviet space. Secondly, because in the reconstruction of the Soviet Union under Gorbachev, I see the possibility of real regionalization.
The subjects needed independence. But not national, but economic. Moreover, within the framework of a space that is obviously uncompetitive on the international market. Having received full economic independence under the general conditions of the new union rules, regional players would simply have to find a market for their products, simultaneously adjusting and rebuilding to meet demand. This is also a breakdown, but in the context of the economic interest of the regional elites. At least. And they would have formed, these elites, not on fairy tales about the "thousand-year history" of indigenous peoples, but on the real interests of their pockets, which directly depend on the level of filling of regional budgets.
That would be an American-style divorce. Although there was a marriage, not a divorce, the essence is about the same: the subjects developed independently according to the general rules of one economic space, from which there is nowhere to escape.
Only here the American space of the 19th century was limited by the oceans. None of the states was tempted to dock alone on a more prosperous shore. And then it seemed to everyone that it was possible, after secession, to join rich Europe with its Soviet factories and collective farms. Or just throw them overboard, since they interfere with mooring. A stuffed carcass and with inside out holey pockets. The results after thirty years are different, but not good.
Yes, and about the personality in history. She promised.
Most people, including political elites (especially immature ones), cannot expect rational decisions at the peak of their emotions. Emotions in 1991 were enough - of all stripes. It is easy to captivate the masses with them, promising from three boxes. It is immeasurably more difficult to calm them down and convince them of the advisability of what contradicts or does not agree with emotions. To set such a task for himself, a politician must be an outstanding personality.
Such was Lee Kuan Yew, whom people like to quote here without reading. Such was De Gaulle, capable of squandering his own authority on what he considered necessary for the country. This was Gorbachev. If he remained president of the Union, that would be the best guarantee against authoritarian tendencies. At least for a while until the complete divorce, it is not known which republics. But here there is already a space for arbitrarily baseless fantasies about something that has not happened.
Original is here.