The Stupidest Thing yet written about Putin’s Russia?
Famously unafraid of sticking its neck out, this blog would like to nominate for consideration as the stupidest thing yet written about Vladimir Putin’s Russia a Moscow Times op-ed column entitled “Rebranding Russia from Communism to Cool” by Andrej Krickovic, a research fellow at the Institute of International Studies at the University of California Berkeley, and Steven Weber, a professor of management and senior research fellow at the Infrastructure Research Center at the Skolkovo School of Management in Moscow.
After proving that Russia’s PR work under Vladimir Putin has been an abject failure as if it were a revelation, when in fact it’s something everyone in the world, even Russians, knows perfectly well, the authors then suggest three “narratives” that Russia could use to market itself to the West: Multicultural Russia, Ecological Russia and Resilient Russia. Each one is stupider and more inconceivable than the last.
Multicultural? Are they kidding? Haven’t they heard about the pandemic lynchings of black folks, two per week on average, killings that make it impossible for dark-skinned people to ride the subway or walk the streets at night? Aren’t they even vaguely aware of the roaring, unchecked conflagration that is the Russian neo-Nazi movement? Haven’t they heard about the state-sponsored murder and torture in Chechnya for which Russia has been repeatedly convicted in the European Court for Human Rights? Only white men who never read La Russophobe could be this oblivious of the tortured existence of minority races in Russia.
Ecological? Russia is toxic and contaminated from sea to oil-slicked sea, and it has crushed the life out of its nascent environmental movement, labeling them traitors. Only days ago, writing on Robert Amsterdam’s blog, hero journalist Grigiori Pasko exposed the shocking manner in which Russians are neglecting and destroying their forests. Russia is one of the most unhealthy large civilizations on the planet, and does not rank in the top 130 nations of the world for adult lifespan. It is riddled with leaking, creaking Soviet-era nuclear facilities and citizens with no more regard for ecological heritage than for democracy.
Resilient? What?! Surely, the single most ridiculous single statement ever written about Putin’s Russia. If the authors would be so daring as to read Russian history, even on Wikipedia, they’d know that Russian civilization has totally collapsed not once (the Tsar), not twice (Kerensky), not three times (Gorbachev) but four different times (Yeltsin) in the past century alone, so that today Russia is governed by a proud KGB spy. Russia is one of the least “resilient” nations which has ever existed, it has proven itself time and time again totally unable to adapt to new circumstances. Thus, Russians insist on jamming the square peg of the KGB into the round hole of the modern, pluralistic globe, repeating over and over the mistakes of a failed past. The United States is an example of resilience, with just one form of government through two centuries, including a civil war. Russia is an example of brittle, stubborn self-destruction.
We’re genuinely stunned by the rank stupidity and insularity of this “analysis.” It’s really as if the authors were smoking opium when they wrote it, laughing as they tried to outdo each other with progressively more unhinged statements about Russia. It’s so bizarre, in fact, that we feel the obligation to suggest three alternate marketing strategies which have at least some vague connection to reality: Sexy Russia, Horror Russia and Bleak Russia.
Russia has lots of pretty women and men who are prepared to get pretty nasty and jiggy with it. So go with that. Focus on turning Russia into the Vegas of Europe.
Russia makes you feel so much better about your own life when you leave, because of all its unspeakable horrors. Go with it. It’s like an affordable intensive therapy session for people who feel depressed, which means a goodly share of the world’s inhabitants. Think you’ve got it bad in Spain? Spend a week in Russia. You’ll feel better about things, we guarantee it.
And Russia can certainly appeal to those who have an interest in visiting someplace like the moon. It has huge swaths of territory that are just that bleak, and can give you a remarkable feeling of isolation that can even be contemplative (if you ignore the peril your life is in, which in fact can serve to concentrate the senses remarkably). It could almost be viewed like a trip to Walden Pond, at least for those who are disposed to such things as the writing of Doestoevsky.
Sure, these schemes won’t make the whole world beat a path to Russia’s door. But they’d be one hell of a lot more effective than any of the insane ravings of the MT authors, wouldn’t they? Then again, so would the slogan: “Russia. Hey, at least we’re not Sudan!”