The 1990s Are Gone

People keep asking why Putin is bringing more troops to the border with Ukraine.

The answer is: because oil prices are up. He was always going to do it but after the oil prices collapsed in 2014, he couldn’t afford it.

As Putin always says, the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the twentieth century was the end of the USSR. He’s trying to bring the USSR back.

By the way, next week I’m giving a talk about the post-Soviet 1990s and what a beautiful time it was.

Who else here misses the 1990s? The music has totally gone to the dogs since then.

8 thoughts on “The 1990s Are Gone

  1. When watching him speak, the sense I got was that he thought it tragic that a functioning, centralised government was destroyed by the collapse. Any politician would probably say something similar, since I haven’t met any politician, ever, who would want power to be wielded by someone other than them.

    Generalisations aside, he does have a reasonably good point. Russia would be a total nightmare to run. Not only is it huge, but it’s full of Russians.

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  2. “Who else here misses the 1990s? The music has totally gone to the dogs since then.”

    At the end of 1999 I should have said “Leave me lying here cuz I don’t wanna go.”

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  3. “Who else here misses the 1990s?”

    I would … except that we in America have gone so very far away from where we were only 20 years ago (as late as April 2001, we were still living in what could be reasonably described as a free country) that remembering the 1990s now feels like remembering sunken Atlantis.

    The only way out, I am afraid, is through. Eventually we might see a revival of free America. But not quickly, and not unless a lot of people are willing to work and endure difficulty first.

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    1. As a student asked me last semester, “Professor, doesn’t it feel weird that you left your country to escape from a totalitarian mentality, and the same mentality is now conquering America? It must feel very disconcerting to you.”

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  4. 90-ies seem to be quite unpopular among the people of the FSU… I’d say significantly more than 50% are looking back at them in horror (this is main reason for Putin’s quite real popularity, his attempts at restoring the empire is only the second one*). People who enjoyed the 90-ies in the FSU belong to three main groups:
    a) criminals (official ones and “businessmen”)
    b) young educated people like me and Clarissa who knew they are doing better (not just in terms of income, but broadly-defined, including freedom-wise and psychologically) than they would be doing if Soviet Union continued.
    c) older liberals (I am using this word in its 90-ies meaning, not necessary today’s one) who did not lose their jobs and could continue their life’s work. Like my mother who was among the 30% who did not lose her scientist job. And at least in our part of the FSU, that meant she kept getting decent salary by country’s standards, established international collaborations, has traveled the world, etc. But early 90-ies were rough anyway.

    *and Putin is quite smart about restoring the empire – he is mostly taking territories populated by pro-Russia people. (Does not mean it is fair, as many of those pro-Russian populations emerged as a result of Soviet policy of diluting the peoples they conquered by migrants from the inner ares of Russia.)

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    1. Oh yes, absolutely. Most people got nostalgic over totalitarianism very soon.

      In my family, though, we were all really into the nineties. The first time in my life I had an item of clothing that was my own and not a hand-me-down was in 1990. I’ll never forget what that item was and what it felt like. We finally started having enough food. It started becoming possible to buy books. I began to work as a translator, bringing in very good money in 1990 when I was 14. By the time I was 20, I was making $2,000-4,000 a month, which in Ukraine at that time was a lot. A good salary was $100 a month.

      My father still perks up when anybody mentions the nineties.

      But we were always quite unusual people.

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  5. I figure it was after the 1980s that “the music went to the dogs”
    …and I’m being generous. A lot of folks figure “after the 1960s”, or “sometime during the ’70s, with disco and ‘the onset of corporate rock'”. Some even claim it was “in the 1950s with Elvis Presley and rock and roll”
    ….and so on and so on …..

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