Almost two decades out from the USSR's collapse journalists in Latvia continue blaming everything, from the economy to the weather (practically) on the Soviet Union. While we are all products of our historical experiences, it's time to recognize that not all current failures are rooted in the Soviet experience. Two examples from your current issue illustrate the point. The first is higher education. The USSR viewed Latvia as a backwater in terms of higher education. Yet, it produced top quality mathematicians serving as computer programmers the world over. Post Soviet Latvia saw its academic quality plummet under the neo-liberal order adopted in the USSR's wake.
The bridge: Soviet era bridges still stand, including the Salu tilts constructed in the 1950s. Yet, problems surrounding the new bridge are somehow rooted in the Soviet past? Indeed, corruption plagued the late Soviet Union, as it has under neo-liberalism. Latvia rejected the mixed economies of its West European neighbors for the fashionable free-market theories of the 1990s. The latter have been thoroughly discredited by events from Wall Street to Riga. When will Latvians awake to this reality and reassess their past 20 years, as well as what preceded it?