Post-Communist Nationalism

Courtesy Reuters

The time has come for the West to confront as a policy issue a problem that for years most Western scholars have tended to ignore and that all Western policymakers still consider to be taboo: the rising tide of nationalism in Eastern Europe and especially in the Soviet Union itself. This long-dormant issue is now becoming, in a dynamic and conflictual fashion, the central reality of the once seemingly homogeneous Soviet world. Indeed, whereas Marx once described the tsarist Russian empire as the prison of nations, and Stalin turned it into the graveyard of nations, under Gorbachev the Soviet empire is rapidly becoming the volcano of nations.

Until recently, the West preferred to downplay the reality of East European national aspirations and to downgrade the implications of non-Russian national awareness within the Soviet Union. Moreover, most Westerners perceived the Soviet Union as identical with Russia and assumed almost automatically that

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