By Mark Lawrence Schrad
Russia is legendary for its vodka, and its tradition of maximum intoxication. yet simply as vodka is valuable to the lives of many Russians, it's also principal to realizing Russian historical past and politics.
In Vodka Politics, Mark Lawrence Schrad argues that debilitating societal alcoholism isn't really hard-wired into Russians' genetic code, yet fairly their autocratic political method, which has lengthy wielded vodka as a device of statecraft. via a sequence of ancient investigations stretching from Ivan the negative via Vladimir Putin, Vodka Politics provides the key historical past of the Russian country itself-a historical past that's sopping wet in liquor. Scrutinizing (rather than pushing aside) the function of alcohol in Russian politics yields a extra nuanced realizing of Russian heritage itself: from palace intrigues lower than the tsars to the drunken antics of Soviet and post-Soviet management, vodka is there in abundance.
Beyond bright anecdotes, Schrad scours unique records and archival facts to respond to provocative old questions. How have Russia's rulers used alcohol to solidify their autocratic rule? What function did alcohol play in tsarist coups? used to be Nicholas II's ill-fated prohibition a catalyst for the Bolshevik Revolution? might the Soviet Union became a global energy with no liquor? How did vodka politics give a contribution to the cave in of either communism and public health and wellbeing within the Nineties? How can the Kremlin triumph over vodka's hurdles to provide higher social health, prosperity, and democracy into the future?
Viewing Russian historical past in the course of the backside of the vodka bottle is helping us to appreciate why the "liquor question" continues to be very important to Russian excessive politics even today-almost a century after the problem were positioned to mattress in so much some other sleek kingdom. certainly, spotting and confronting vodka's devastating political legacies could be the maximum political problem for this new release of Russia's management, in addition to the following.
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Additional resources for Vodka Politics: Alcohol, Autocracy, and the Secret History of the Russian State
67 This was still an impressive hoard of the world’s favorite precious metal. At ﬁrst, however, it did the Bolsheviks little good. Gold bullion was heavy, difﬁcult to move, and, perhaps most signiﬁcantly for the outlaw regime created by Lenin, easy to trace. Imperial Russian ingots were clearly marked with a tsarist stamp, familiar to bankers all over the world. Any gold exported from Russia with this stamp after 1918 would excite a great deal of scrutiny. Predictably, following the Bolsheviks’ repudiation of Russia’s entire public and private debt, the bulk of which was held by Entente creditors, a ban on transactions in looted Russian gold would be enforced in the capital markets of London, New York, and Paris, and (after the Entente powers won the war) in most of the neutral countries as well.
The Bolsheviks, to save trouble, did not even change the stamps, instead continuing to print (ever-cheaper-looking) kerenki, which were soon referred to contemptuously as “soviet rubles” or sovznaki. 59 A dual-track system of economic exchange inevitably evolved, in which the Bolsheviks used billions of (ever-more-worthless) sovznaki to discharge ﬁduciary obligations for the millions of ordinary Russians thrown onto the payrolls of nationalized enterprises, while reserving “real” tsarist rubles and gold coin to pay security organs on whom the regime depended for survival: Chekists, Red Guards, The Banks Latvian Riﬂes, and later, Red Army ofﬁcers.
33 All of these unpaid bills represented individuals (or powerful groups of individuals) likely to be very angry when they learned their payments were being held up indeﬁnitely. Nonetheless, Sokol’nikov pressed on. Not satisﬁed with having declared war on the banking community and holders of safe-deposit The Banks boxes, the Bolsheviks now targeted ever-subtler distinctions of “capitalist,” such as bond and equity shareholders, along with those who had issued the shares. ”34 Still, without cooperation from bank employees bonds and equities could not be done away with in a physical sense.