George Walford: Takeovers

Takeovers come in various sizes, and the attempt by Boris Yeltsin and his supporters to take over the USSR is one of the biggest yet. His autobiography [1] is much what one would expect, but it does raise a few striking points. After graduation in civil engineering Yeltsin was offered a job as foreman on an industrial building site. He refused, feeling he ought first learn the construction trades in order to do the work properly, and went on to do so; one month for each of the twelve trades.

Ekaterinburg, where the Tsar and his family were murdered in 1918, has hardly been heard of in any more recent connection. It was renamed Sverdlovsk, and the Ipatiev house, in which the killings took place, later destroyed by Yeltsin under orders from Moscow.

Western reformers work to end the predominance of money and the market, but Yeltsin takes a different approach. Saying that special stores for the privileged bureaucracy should be done away with, he looks forward to a time when “the only yardstick of all material values will be the honestly earned rouble“; his movement, receiving widespread support from the Russian masses, seems to stand closer to Thatcherism than to socialism.

[1] Against the Grain London: Jonathan Cape 1990

from Ideological Commentary 46, July 1990.