This 2002 study examines the process by which the seemingly impossible in 1987 - the disintegration of the Soviet state - became the seemingly inevitable by 1991, providing an original interpretation not only of the Soviet collapse, but also of the phenomenon of nationalism more generally. Probing the role of nationalist action as both cause and effect, Beissinger utilizes data and case studies from across the USSR during its final years to elicit the shifting relationship between pre-existing structural conditions, institutional constraints, and event-generated influences in the nationalist explosions that brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union. As Beissinger demonstrates, the 'tidal' context of nationalism - i.e., the transnational influence of one nationalism upon another - is critical to an explanation of the success and failure of particular nationalisms, why some nationalisms turn violent, and how a crescendo of events can overwhelm states, periodically evoking large-scale structural change in the character of the state system.
• The most detailed comparative investigation of the rise and development of nationalist movements in the Soviet Union and their role in the collapse of the Soviet state currently available in the literature • An important contribution to the study of nationalism and of mobilizational politics more generally through its original interpretation of the politics of nationalist mobilization • The broad social scientific sweep of the analysis, systematically investigating the interaction between pre-existing structural conditions, institutional constraints, and event-generated influences
1. From the impossible to the inevitable; 2. The tide and the mobilizational cycle; 3. Structuring nationalism; 4. 'Thickened' history and the mobilization of identity; 5. Tides and the failure of nationalist mobilization; 6. Violence and tides of nationalism; 7. The transcendence of regimes of repression; 8. Russian mobilization and the accumulating 'inevitability' of Soviet collapse; 9. Conclusion: nationhood and event.
'… a very serious analytical work, which, no doubt, will attract the attention of many political scientists, especially those studying political processes in Russia and in the post-Soviet area … important for the understanding of nationalism as a social and political phenomenon.' e-Extreme
'… a fresh-minded intervention … fascinating reading …'. Nations and Nationalism