An Island of Instability
by Valeriya Novodvorskaya**
Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel
The experts have already expounded on the financial crisis. And although our crisis is linked at one of the chain to the crisis in the West, it has its very own, Soviet, source. That source is rather closer to 1991 (when minister of defence Yazov decided to give the people a treat, opened up the Motherland’s strategic reserves and found that they contained nothing but mice and the equivalent of one dried up MRE each to distribute), than to the Great Depression, which was a crisis of overproduction as a result of which it was e.g. necessary to pour petrol on mountains of oranges and burn them rather than allow them to be sold at dumping prices.
The current crisis in the West is a also a crisis of overproduction. Ours is one of scarcity, a crisis of shortages and arrears.
The West has been through such times before: after years of reaping the golden fruits of success, it relaxed and stopped counting. Dickens’ Mr. Micawber, denizen of debtor’s prison, and the monetarists share a saying: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.” Not spending more than you earn means not getting yourself into thirty-year mortgages and not being too open-handed with social security. A healthy economy has one basic principle: you’ll reap what you sow.
If one considers the life of Eduard Limonov, who lived off American welfare payments and used the time that money gave him to abuse the America which gave it [TN: Limonov was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1974 and lived as an émigré in New York, where he wrote novels], the USA spends too much on social security, though it has a long way to go before it reaches Europe’s heights. In 70s Germany, unemployed youth spent their welfare cheques on the beaches of Latin America and in today’s France many immigrant families live off the allocations familiales they get for having children and thereby provide political fodder for racists like Le Pen. It’s not the Arabs who should be run out of France, but the Communists. They’re the ones who brought about increased unemployment (and rising welfare payouts) thanks to the world’s shortest working week. Furthermore, allocations familiales should be abolished not just for migrants from the Maghreb but also for the inhabitants of the basins of the Seine and the Loire because the free trough rots them all equally: it’s welfare that leads to the fantastic demands of the French trade unions, especially of her most damaging and left-wing one, the Confédération générale du travail.
So I’m very surprised that in America the rating of Democrat candidate Obama should be on the rise while McCain’s drops. People understand that the Republicans don’t hand out money for nothing and don’t raise taxes while the Democrats are all too keen on handouts for false claimants of all sorts. I would not indulge in cooking for the homeless so that they can picnic on beaches, as the first lady does. One should ask oneself if these people aren’t homeless precisely because they don’t want to work, pay taxes, or pay for their housing. It’s warm and pleasant on the beach, particularly if your food is brought to you there.
But we Russians are going to feel the effects of this worst of all. Putin’s and Medvedev’s fairy tales about an “island of stability” are completely divorced from reality. Our reality is a swamp and we are standing on the last clump of earth in it. Actually, we were standing there but are not any more. We’re already sinking. The USA and and EU will pull themselves out of the crisis on the back of their strong economies whereas we don’t have an economy, just a pipeline. The West has its traps and we have ours. The West is reducing oil consumption and its price will fall to $10 a barrel (not my opinion, experts have suggested this). And what are we, who live on imported food which we pay for with exports of oil and gas, going to do then? Just tighten our belts?
It gives me no pleasure to say this; I’m not Limovov with his “Long live the crisis!”. When people weep, Limonov’s National-Bolsheviks laugh. We’ve seen it before and we’ll see it again. Of course, it’s nice when the cat gets its payback for being horrid to mice, by which I mean it will be good if the West gives the Chekists a good slapping. But, knowing Russians as I do, hunger and starvation probably won’t make Westernisers of them or lead them to love freedom. And we’ll just have to pray they don’t march up the Rublevka, brandishing pitchforks, for a repeat of the February and October 1917 revolution scenarios.
Barricades feed no one and the last of the food will disappear. While we still have some, we should use the time left to help the people not get lost at the bottom of the pit into which we are diving. Help them see that we need to drive out the red-shirts and the brown-shirts, that you can’t steal what’s already been stolen, that Gaidar [TN: a liberal economist, under Yeltsin Minister of Economic Development from 1991 until 1992, and Minister of Finance from February 1992 until April 1992] should be brought back. No tears for Chekists – let them drown. But don’t let the country founder once more.
*Note from the translator: Grani.ru is a zone of good sense amidst the madness that is Russia. I rather like this take on the world and the Russian crisis.
**Note from the publisher: Ms. Novodvorksaya is one of the most patriotic living Russians, a credit to her nation and a valourous warrior for democracy and justice. We are always honored to have her work appear on our blog.