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Environment and History

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Environment and History

Nature Mastered by Man: Ideology and Water in the Soviet Union

Bernd Stvens Richter

Environment and History 3(1997): 69-96

The former Soviet Union suffers from environmental degradation of huge areas and the plundering and misuse of natural resources. Its unfavourable natural geological and climatic preconditions are not the only cause for the frequent environmental catastrophes. Neither can the Marxist ideology nor the lack of competent administrative and technological personnel be solely blamed. Yet the vision of a new kind of society without private ownership, and thus profit interests, of natural resources had promised a utopia of man and nature in harmony. What went wrong? I focus on the complexities of reasons and highlight the intertwining and interdependence of economic, historical, political, ideological, and aesthetic aspects.

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