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The original is at http://www.wmin.ac.uk/~seamang/Personal/bio.html

Who is Boris Kagarlitsky?

Boris Kagarlitsky was, and is, a Russian left-wing dissident. Born in 1958, he became involved with politics as a sociology student in the 1970s, and was imprisoned for 18 months for distribution of a left-wing journal. His first book, The Thinking Reed (a history of the evolution and survival of the Russian intelligentsia under state socialism) appeared in samizdat form soon after his release.

Other books soon followed. In 1984 Kagarlitsky began work on The Mirage of Modernization. Written at a time when the western left was either collapsing under the onslaught of the liberal right or dissolving itself into the mush of postmodernism, this bravely tried to create a coherent picture of the possibilities for the left on a world scale.

The Dialectic of Change, produced under Gorbachev, explicitly describes itself as 'an attempt at a Marxist analysis of the problems of reformism'. Unlike the `marxists' of the CPSU Kagarlitsky does not uses marxism as a collection of sacred texts used to justify whatever policy has been selected for quite other reasons, but as a framework for his ideas which can be continuously tested against reality. Other Eastern European dissidents had also turned towards Marx - Jacek Kuron in Poland, Rudolf Bahro in the GDR, Miklos Haraszti in Hungary, among others. As the Communist Parties of the eastern bloc collapsed they moved in various directions: some to the right, some to the church, some to the greens, and some becoming 'pure' democrats in the rerun of 1848 that were the 'velvet revolutions'. Kagarlitsky, however, remained a Marxist, as well as an active politician.

In October 1992, he became one of the founding members of the Party of Labour, and was elected to the Moscow City Council. He and two other leading members of the party were briefly arrested after Yeltsin's attack on the White House in September 1993, but released after an international campaign organised by email. The democratic institutions such as the City Council created during the years of perestroika were abolished in the constitution imposed after Yeltsin's coup; the events of the time were described by Kagarltisky in Square Wheels: How Russian Democracy Got Derailed.

Kagarlitsky has since become adviser to the Duma as well as continuing his involvement with a range of left-wing political groups and the trade union movement. He has continued to publish a stream of articles and books on Russia as well as wider topics; his latest major work, Restoration In Russia: Why Capitalism Failed appeared in English in 1995. The links included on these pages are to a mixture of general articles and journalism from 1996 to the present scattered across various sites on the web.

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