Ilya Budraitskis, one of the country’s most prominent leftist political commentators, explores the strange fusion of free-market ideology and postmodern nationalism that now prevails in Russia, and describes the post-Soviet evolution of its left. He incisively describes the twists and contradictions of the Kremlin’s geopolitical fantasies, which blend up-to-date references to “information wars” with nostalgic celebrations of the tsars of Muscovy. Despite the revival of aggressive Cold War rhetoric, he argues, the Putin regime takes its bearings not from any Soviet inheritance, but from reactionary thinkers such as the White émigré Ivan Ilyin.
Budraitskis makes an invaluable contribution by reconstructing the forgotten history of the USSR’s dissident left, mapping an entire alternative tradition of heterodox Marxist and socialist thought from Khrushchev’s Thaw to Gorbachev’s perestroika. Doubly outsiders, within an intelligentsia dominated by liberal humanists, they offer a potential way out of the impasse between condemnations of the entire Soviet era and blanket nostalgia for Communist Party rule—suggesting new paths for the left to explore.