On 9 October 2019, The Times published the article Putin’s enemy Mikhail Khodorkovsky on Citizen K, the film that tells his story. Here are my comments posted on the newspaper’s website.
Comment 2 is a response to another reader’s post, who argued that
1. careers in politics or economy were reserved for the Communist party members.
2. “after the regime change the people who were best placed to become political and business leaders were the ones who had worked their way up under the old system.” This was argued to be entirely logical. Some dissidents have also made good careers but there enough of them to replace the incumbents.
3. The same thing happened in Germany after WWII, where only the top Nazis were purged.
Isn’t it funny that throughout entire Communist block the best way to achieve capitalist and/or political success is to be a Communist or come from Communist circles?
Khodorkovsky’s story is not credible.
Knowing how stories are fabricated in Poland, for example, where Communists where presented as liberals, enlightened democrats and pro-capitalist, I would remain highly skeptical of the article’s subject.
Paragraph 1. You suggest a surprisingly limited scope of control exercised by the Communist dictatorship. Only two areas of activity are mentioned, politics and economy. What about the judiciary, the military, lawlessness enforcement (not to be confused with the law enforcement in a normal country), education, science, etc.? Was there an area of activity remaining outside a strict control?
There was not.
Also religion was no exception.
Paragraph 2. “So of course after the regime change …”. What regime change? You mean the new guys, who are the same as the old guys? There was no regime change. Change was superficial and involved mostly the stage props. The control remained in the same hands.
The “leading dissidents” were performing the roles assigned to them by the Communists. In Poland the entire Solidarity movement of the 1970s and 1980s was created by the Communists themselves. The dissidents were fake.
The future “capitalist reformer”, “author of the big-bang transition to capitalism” was an earlier member of the Communist party and a former employee of the Institute of the Fundamental Problems of Marxism and Leninism in Warsaw.
I remember how some years ago the Polish Minister of Internal Affairs at the time and a former Communist Party member explained that those working in the Communist secret services where natural partners of western businesses, because of their knowledge and qualifications.
You write “it is entirely logical”. Whose logic do you follow?
The last sentence of Paragraph 2 contradicts the first one.
There was no regime change. The regime hasn’t changed not only at the top, but in the middle and in the lower layers of the hierarchy as well. In other words, the Communist system of the selection of the cadres remained firmly in place. These cadres remained fully operational in the same sense as before 1990. They are fully operational today. I happen to know this first-hand.
Paragraph 3. “The same thing happened in Germany after the war.” No, it has not. Germany after WWII and the Communist countries post-1990 are two different things.