Chapter 1 introduces the book and outlines its main argument. Rather than
cooperating with European counterparts so as to maximize joint outcomes,
labour movements rely on national institutions; this instigates zero-sum
forms of competition between regimes in different member states, albeit
through largely unintentional means. Lack of solidarity during resulting
crises reinforces effects of competition. The arguments of individual
chapters are also set out.
This chapter explores the reasons for the state of surprise, sketching them out from the starting point of the significant impact of the collapse of the USSR on Western understandings of Russia. It also explores the practical ramifications for the decline of Russia as a political priority on the wider political stage. The chapter outlines some of the problems of the current mainstream discussion of Russia, which is drowning in a discourse of speculation and rumour, 'Putinology' and historical analogies. Despite the dominance of transitological/regime question approach and the perceived eccentricity of Kremlinology, for many it has remained a truism of Russian political life that the final decisions are made behind the closed doors of the Kremlin. In fact, the collapse of the USSR has had serious ramifications for the study of Russia in the West, resulting in a major reassessment of Soviet studies, often bitter and acrimonious.