This volume is made up of 13 chapters covering the politics, economics, international relations and culture of contemporary Russia. It can be seen as the largely Australian contribution to that post-Soviet genre which covers the Russian 'transition' experience through the prism of a range of chiefly social science disciplines. As such Russia in Search of its Future more than stands comparison alongside Lapidus's edited volume The New Russia; Troubled Transformation (Westview, 1995) and the 1994 update of White, Pravda & Gitelman's Developments in Russian and Post-Soviet Politics (Macmillan, 1994), which likewise cover the issues of democratisation, marketisation, foreign policy, and the conceptualisation of Russia in the 1990s.
There is a consistency in the contributions to Saikal & Maley's volume which will please students seeking a comprehensive account of the key areas of Russia's development between 1991 and 1994. First, little space is wasted in back-tracking over the Soviet era. Though unstated, the approach of the editors seems to have been that the Gorbachev years are adequately covered elsewhere. Second, almost without exception each contribution begins by placing the topic under discussion within the framework of its discipline and contemporary developments within that discipline as a whole, before proceeding to more area-specific questions. For example, Maley's chapter on the Russian macroeconomy begins with the rise of post-Keynesian perspectives before fitting Russia - as best she can be fitted - into the global picture, and T. H. Rigby's concluding chapter briefly outlines why Russia's attempted transformation must be distinguished 'from other "transitions from authoritarianism"' (p. 208) before considering the specifics of the Russian case. Third, each contribution, again almost without exception, attempts a reasoned measure of 'futurology' through the identification of trends emerging as 1991's maelstrom of imperial collapse began to subside a little by the middle of 1994.
The topic coverage of Russia in Search of its Future is broadly similar to the other volumes mentioned above, dealing equally with domestic politics, economics and international relations. The differences come in the specifics of each of these topics and the additional inclusion of two contributions focusing on post-Soviet literature.
Three chapters each are devoted to economics and international relations, and four to politics. In relation to politics, however, these divisions are my assessment rather than that of the Contents page. The editors separate off Rigby's chapter as the conclusion, and, more bizarrely, John Miller's useful conceptualisation of prevalent political traditions is tucked away under the heading 'Culture and Society', a heading which more suits A. V. Oblonsky's not totally convincing argument for the prevalence of 'the conservative syndrome in Russian mass consciousness' (p. 17).
There is a measure of overlap in the political science contributions. Both Oblonsky and Miller consider Russian political culture. The former is evidentially weak offering 'my own reading' (p. 18) of a limited sample of opinion polls to buttress a fairly standard account of Russian conservatism. Miller's conceptualisation of the likely nature of future government in Russia opts for a less prescriptive approach in defining the key elements as statism, nationalism, communitarianism and reformism, but wisely declining to specify the exact mix of these elements. The other two political science chapters, by Rigby and Archie Brown, also overlap a little in their detailed accounts of the president versus parliament conflict of 1992-93. However, Brown's focus is predominantly on El'tsin whereas Rigby assesses and groups the political forces fighting for power in Russia.
Contributions on the economy cover the macroeconomy, agriculture and industry between 1991 and 1994. In each case the importance of the topic is outlined, excellent summaries of developments are given, and progress and potential in each of these key economic reform areas are assessed. If the central economic issues select themselves to a large extent, this is not so true with regard to international relations. The coverage in this area though is astutely chosen. The editors themselves jointly contribute a summary chapter on broad developments, tracing the rise of the resurgent Russian agenda of the mid-1990s. There then follow contributions from Leslie Holmes and Amin Saikal (again) on Russia's relations with, respectively, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Both of these topics are comparatively neglected questions treated here in usefully detailed accounts. Holmes' assessment that the problems of Eastern Europe's turn to the West may cause 'a partial return to the status quo ante' (p. 136) in relations with Russia, and Saikal's account of how Russia's domestic agenda may increasingly destabilise the Muslim states of Central Asia both offer pessimistic interpretations on the post-Soviet world order, but not unduly so.
The two chapters on Russian literature and culture in the post-Soviet period perhaps fit a little uneasily alongside the other contributions. Sergei Serebriany aptly describes his own account of 'cultural' developments as 'a mosaic of impressionistic notes' (p. 160). Peter Sawczak's account of literature in the late Soviet and early post-Soviet period makes fascinating literary criticism, but it only seems to gel with the volume as a whole when he turns his attention to the interaction of literature and popular culture. The apparent decline of high-brow culture as intellectual liberty has increased raises significant socio-political considerations which are touched upon - 'Jackie Collins might replace Dostoevsky in the popularity stakes in years to come' (p. 187) - but might usefully have-been analysed and quantified further.
In all, Russia in Search of its Future is a first-class volume of its type. Its commitment to placing contributions within their disciplinary framework avoids the trap of being simply a product of the time in which it was written, merely projecting the latest significant events across the next decade. At the same time though, its detailed accounts of developments during the years 1991-94 in the areas covered will be invaluable to specialists and more general observers alike.
EDWIN BACON University of Birmingham
COPYRIGHT 1996 Carfax Publishing Co.
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