There is an assumption that with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the Second World ceased to exist. Yet the demise of the Communist bloc as a geopolitical reality did not mean that it stopped exerting a defining influence over how people think and behave. This article examines how the postsocialist state in Kazakhstan deals with potential crises such as earthquakes and the extent to which the Soviet legacy still shapes intellectual debates, state structures, and civil society organisations in in that country. Drawing on fieldwork and interviews, this paper re-examines the Second World in its historical context and re-establishes it as a conceptual framework for considering disaster risk reduction in the former Soviet bloc. It argues that it is essential to pay attention to this legacy in Kazakhstan both in policy and practice if earthquake risk reduction is to be made more effective.