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Why Ukrainians Are Ukrainians

A Commentary on Mykola Riabchuk's "Ukraine: One State, two Countries"?

Roman Szporluk comments in this text on Mykola Riabchuk’s concept of ‘ambivalence’ in the Ukraine. The divide betweeen Western and Eastern Ukraine and the resulting ‘ambivalence’ have to be understood in more historical terms: Ukraine has only existed as a political entity since 1991 in contrast to other post – Soviet countries.Therefore, nation building and the emergence of a civil society will take more time.

Political ambivalence as a socio-political phenomenon characterizes virtually every post-communist country but especially the Ukraine. Here, the country’s regional, cultural and linguistic discrepancies and the atomizing impact of Soviet totalitarianism on Ukrainian society serve to explain the deep socio-political rifts within. Mykola Riabchuk argues that the post-Soviet elite currently in power cunningly uses this situation for its political survival. Will the Ukraine be able to overcome this ambivalence and usher into an era of more democratic plurality and subsequent unity?

Sergei Parkhomenko argues that a new middle class is emerging in Russia but its definition depends on much more than just economic factors. A changing self-perception plays a vital part in reshaping the economic and social structures of the Soviet Union. How will this affect the democratisation of the Russian society?

Maya Turovskaya examines what constituted the “Soviet middle class’s survival kit” in the Soviet Union: In a society in which even basic commodities had to secured through a series of complex and lengthy exchanges, not luxury goods but the enjoyment of culture was at the core of the middle class identity.

This article investigates the point made my Maya Turovskaya in her article “The Soviet Middle Class”. Frumkina argues that while culture was a central concern, cultural status could not necessarily be conversted into commodities and services.

What is the current state of globalisation, how are we to understand the processes involved and where will a globalised world system lead us? These are some of the questions Boaventura de Sousa Santos aims to elucidate in a thorough and wide ranging essay.
Arguing that our current globalisation is indeed something unparalleled in history, Santos discusses the unequal economic and political realities between North and South which globalisation enforces. Globalisation is to be understood as a non-linear process marked by contradictory yet parallel discourses and varying levels of intensity and speed. Even states however have to adopt as the supremacy of the nation state is eroded, giving way to new transnational alliances and the convergence of the judicial systems as the supreme regulator of a globalised economy. Will all these processes usher into a new model of social development, or will this lead to the crisis of the world system as others fear?

The End of Illiberal Democracy in Slovakia?

An Analysis of the 1998 Election

As Slovakia is about to go to the polls in September, Samuel Abraham looks back at the pivotal elections of 1998. These elections, Abraham argues, signalled an end to the era of the “illiberal democracy” under Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. But what has the current government learned from these elections and how well has it fulfilled its mandate?

The Russian sociologist Aleksei Levinson argues in this article, that the Russian society has learned to live with the Chechen war. Medical doctors, university professors and others benefit from it in indirect ways.

The authors of this essay question the statist response to the terrorist attacks of September 11 and offer some vision of how the United States and other global actors might have and can still conceive of their possibilities for action under a cosmopolitan vision of political responsibility. They argue that a different response to the attacks, based on the rule of law and international co-operation, could have been equally effective to combat terrorism in the long run, and could have also opened the way to a more just and stable world order.

Analysing the process of reconciliation with the Communist past in Russia during the decade from the fall of Communism to the turn of the century, Alexei Miller finds that many of the most painful problems have not been touched on and it would be optimistic to say that Russia has to a fair degree extricated itself from communism in this respect. However, one should not forget, that, viewed from the point of its beginning, it has been an extraordinary process.

Cleaning Up

"Sanitisation" in Chechnya

Under the banner of War on Terrorism, the russians have taken advantage of the license to kill, writes Anna Politkovskaia.

Over the last quarter century, every country, every social, ethnic or family group, has undergone a profound change in the relationship it traditionally enjoyed with the past. Pierre Nora looks at where this “memorialism” came from and why.

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