Associate Professor Andrei Znamenski, who teaches history at the University of Memphis and received his undergraduate degree from St. Petersburg Herzen Pedagogical University, Russia, emails:
Thanks much again for the great talk, which I hope all folks in Russian studies listen to. As you correctly mentioned, the mainstream view (especially in academia among the left-liberals) is that it was not so much systemic failures of socialism that killed the S Union but the Ronald Reagan arms race. Yes, here both neocons and libs share the same view with some variations. The popular neo-con argument that it was Reagan who exhausted and destroyed the S Union is widely also used today by the "red-brown" circles in Russia (the proponents of socialism in Russian today normally speak with a strong nationalism accent; hence, the nickname "red-browns") to nostalgically dream about the glorious S Union: "if it had not been for Reagan, the glorious union would have still existed"
This semester I am teaching a course on S Union, What I am planning to do is to give the students (35 people) the video of your talk and have them critically reassess it relative to what they will find in a textbook that I am currently using. Thanks much again. Your talk arrived just in time: we are still doing the Brezhnev (stagnation) period, but in a week we are going to deal with the causes for the collapse of the Soviet Union, and that is when I am going to bring up your talk.
My speech is here.