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The Tragedy of Property

Private Life, Ownership and the Russian State

by Maxim Trudolyubov

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   Not today
Russian novels, poetry and ballet put the country squarely in the European family of cultures and yet there is something different about this country, especially in terms of its political culture. What makes Russia different?
Maxim Trudolyubov uses private property as a lens to highlight the most important features that distinguish Russia as a political culture. In many Western societies, private property has acted as the private individual’s bulwark against the state; in Russia, by contrast, it has mostly been used by the authorities as a governance tool. Nineteenth-century Russian liberals did not consider property rights to be one of the civil causes worthy of defending. Property was associated with serfdom, and even after the emancipation of the serfs the institution of property was still seen as an attribute of retrograde aristocracy and oppressive government. It was something to be destroyed – and indeed it was, in 1917.
Ironically, it was the Soviet Union that, with the arrival of mass housing in the 1960s, gave the concept of private ownership a good name. After forced collectivization and mass urbanization, people were yearning for a space of their own. The collapse of the Soviet ideology allowed property to be called property, but not all properties were equal. You could own a flat but not an oil company, which could be property on paper but not in reality. This is why most Russian entrepreneurs register their businesses in offshore jurisdictions and park their money abroad.
This fresh and highly original perspective on Russian history will be of great interest to anyone who wants to understand Russia today.

Publication Details

Publisher:
Wiley
Imprint:
Polity
Publication Date:
2018

Format

  • OverDrive Read
  • Adobe PDF eBook 1.6 MB
  • Adobe EPUB eBook 546.5 KB

Maxim Trudolyubov (Author)

Maxim Trudolyubov is a Senior Fellow at the Kennan Institute and the Editor-at-Large of Vedomosti, an independent Russian daily. He is also Director of Research at the independent think tank InLiberty.ru, Moscow, and a contributing opinion writer ...

More about Maxim Trudolyubov
The Tragedy of Property
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