When is a Russian not a Russian?
Last week a “Russian” won a Nobel prize for Physics. Two of them, actually: Andrei Geim and Konstantin Novoselov. They invented a new material so strong that a single layer of it stretched across a coffee cup could support the weight of a tractor trailer pressing down on a pencil point. Yet, it’s also the thinnest material ever made.
It will surprise no regular reader of this blog to learn, however, that neither one of them is really Russian.
Any Slavic Russian could tell you that about Geim just be seeing his last name. Instantly, they’d say: ”He’s not Russian, he’s Jewish.” And Geim is even less Russian than that, because he fled Russia many years ago, defected from his native land and became a Dutchman. He performed his path-breaking research not in Russia but in Great Britain, working there with Novoselov at the University of Manchester.
Upon learning of his victory, Geim immediately trashed Russian science, saying it was “fifty years behind the times” and saying the entire national apparatus was plagued by critical structural faults that could not be cured any time soon, leaving no doubt as to why he no longer dwells there.
In our lead editorial in this issue we cite an article in the Moscow Times by former Duma member Vladimir Ryzhkov, who writes:
What’s more, Russian and foreign “historians” who reinforce the myth of Russia’s historically predetermined path toward enslavement and authoritarianism make their own intellectual contribution to the continued suppression of human rights in Russia today. They are providing a valuable service to Putin and his cohorts. But they should also remember that each new article or book that promulgates these sham theories leads directly to two main consequences: Russia’s continued backwardness, poverty and enslavement and an increase in Russians who immigrate to the West seeking a free and prosperous life.
Geim is a perfect example of Ryzhkov’s point. Shocked and offended by Russian racism and corruption, Geim fled the country and became a huge success. Had he remained in Russia, he would have been surely crushed by Russian barbarism, and the world might never have benefited from his discovery.
There are many, many other stories just like Geim. The loss of people like him explains why Russia remains such a totally pathetic, backward and failing nation, while tiny Great Britain can sport a GDP that easily rivals that of “mighty” Russia.