The Russian Hallucination
Russia’s most valuable company, Gazprom, has a market capitalization about $150 billion. That seems impressive, until you know that Exxon, America’s most valuable company, has a market capitalization more than double that of Gazprom.
Flip your perspective, and you see something even more amazing. Gazprom’s value constitutes more than ten percent of the total gross domestic product of Russia. Exxon’s value? It’s less than two percent of America’s GDP.
In other words, because the American economy is ten times larger than Russia’s, Exxon can fail and America will go merrily on, almost oblivious. But if Gazprom fails, Russia crashes into poverty and absolute collapse. And competing head to head in Russia’s area of greatest strength, America still wins hands down, in dominating fashion.
How is it, then, that Russians dare to continue to adopt such a provocative and hostile attitude towards the USA?
The answer is simple: With television technology at third world levels and TV news limited for most people to government-controlled propaganda just as in Soviet times, Russians remain oblivious of basic economic facts like these. They don’t realize how totally their government is failing because almost all the information they get about their society comes from the government itself.
Gazprom recently ran a propaganda item about itself on its website under the headline: “Gazprom ranked #8 in Fortune magazine’s ‘World’s Most Admired Companies.'” Only if you read the fine print do you then learn that Gazprom omitted the word “Energy” from the headline — it’s not #8 overall but just among energy companies. In fact, it’s not even in the top 50 overall, and virtually no other Russian firms are on the list of 350 most admired companies. Gazprom also, of course, fails to mention the gaping chasm between itself and Exxon even though Exxon is just one of many competing American firms while Gazprom is a national monopoly.
The Russian media teams with outrageous lies and misleading propaganda just like this every single day, and there is basically no countervailing force to correct the record — exactly the same as was the case in the USSR. It’s hard to expect Russians to demand that their government make better decisions and adopt better policies when they have no idea what their government is doing.
But the fact that they don’t know is their own fault, of course. What else could they expect from allowing their country to be governed by the KGB?
A recent public opinion poll revealed that a stunning two-thirds of the population take no interest in politics or public life, and the rest rarely go beyond voting in elections. Sixty-one percent of Russian respondents said they ignore politics, up from 39 percent in 2007. Allowing the KGB to assume control of the country and then totally disengaging from any effort to monitor its behavior will likely go down in history as the single most reckless, outrageous and self-destructive act of an national population in this century.
In other words, Russians deserve the misery that is rapidly heading their way. They have chosen to repeat history, to do the USSR thing all over again. The consequences will be no different. If anything, they will be worse.
Exactly. The Russian people deserve the governments they have and had. I do not understand such pasivity in view of the horrible poverty reaching from the outlying villages to the inner rings of Moscow. When will the natives become restless? When will the villagers grab torches and pitchforks and go slay the monster in the Kremlin?
If you give russians some freedom and some food, this barbaric idiocy called ‘russian empire’ would collapse in days….so the government plays the card of imperial russia and those russian fools are buying it…they will ALWAYS suffer for mother russia – but mother russia is rather small part of the ’empire’..so they have to suffer to keep it under russian control.
For one there are no villagers with pitchforks and torches any more. For instance the Smolensk region where I live is full of ghost villages – clusters of abandoned houses.
The passivity that you describe, well, as always in Russia appearances are most of the time more important than the substance. People do come out on the streets and protest, people get detained by the police and held for days without charge, etc., however the government-run mass media never report on these events while public opinion surveys commissioned and/or controlled by the government invariably report high approval ratings for United Russia and Putin. They do that to create a feeling of isolation among the people. Everybody hates the current government and United Russia and Putin but everybody thinks they’re in the minority and on top of that even when independent agencies organise surveys a lot of people still think that those surveys are monitored by the FSB (not without reason) and choose to say they’re not interested in politics. The Russians have lived in oppression for centuries thus fear has become part of their nature and it’s really a miracle that there still are people in Russia today, few though they might be, who do publicly stand up and challenge the current authorities. And I’m not even talking about such high profile individuals as Nemtzov, I’m talking about the ordinary people that join him on his protest marches and get beat up and detained by the police.
Well said Igor.
What’s more , they would help to destroy the guy who would encourage them to do it . The slave mentality of the moscovite
is boundless . They are far more intent in medling in their neighbors’s
affairs , fanthasizing about empirical grandeur , than realisticaly
improve their miserable lot .
I’ve read some of your posts and theyr are really rus-hating. How come? Do you have a jew ancestry perhaps? Have you even been to Russia the past 10 years? I thought jews or at least russian jews had a sense of patriotic feeling towards Russia but I guess your no Trumpeldor you’r the average backstabbing american who is oppurtunistic as an hyena. Russias infrastructure has been greatly enhanced during the 10 years, salaries have went up and the trend is going what are you complaining about? They are modernizing the western european parts before the asian.
Slav, the only infrastructure that works in russia is a gulag system, russians know very well, that it is a matter of opening the gates and march them to these horror chambers, russians also know that with putin back in power this is a strong possibility, he wants ‘restore’ old russian/soviet ’empire’ by any means.
Slav, I’ve lived in Russia in the past 10 years and I’m no Jew and yet I have to agree the article is spot on, what infrastructure are you talking about? Come to Smolensk and take a look at the horrible states of the roads here, they didn’t even bother to have them mended before Medvedev’s visit here on April 10th (or 11th) when he came here to commemorate the plane crash that killed the Polish president one year ago.
Btw, did you perchance here about how the Russian authorities, the backstabbing bastards that they are, replaced the plaque at the site of the crash just one day before the Polish delegation arrived in the city. The original plaque that the Poles put up soon after the crash mentioned that the Polish delegation that died in the crash were coming to commemorate the murder of the Polish officers in the Katyn forest by NKVD in 1940, the plaque that the local authorities put up in place of the original Polish one, just says that a Polish delegation died here in a plane crash in 2010; there is no mention of the Katyn massacre. Now how is that the same people that unleashed an unprecedented smear campaign in the media and organised mass protests in Tallin several years ago when the Estonian authorities ‘dared’ to move a controversial monument to Soviet soldiers and their graves underneath it from a location in central Tallin to a more appropriate place at a military cemetery?
Now about salaries etc, the real income in Russia has been falling over the past several years and I know that first hand, people’s pay has not been keeping up with inflation which has been totally out of hand in Russia since even before the global financial crisis, which the Russian government now blaming for their own blunders. And btw, Smolensk is one of the most western most localities in Russia, historically it has more informal ties with Belorussia than with Moscow and yet so far we’ve seen none of the modernisation they’re talking about on TV. It looks like it’s just another one of those new type of Potemkin villages that exist only on TV and have nothing to do with real life in Russia.
@Come to Smolensk and take a look at the horrible states of the roads here, they didn’t even bother to have them mended before Medvedev’s visit here on April 10th (or 11th) when he came here to commemorate the plane crash that killed the Polish president one year ago.
For example, lights at this sorry excuse of an airfield (its “control tower” was really a shac, a tiny, literally decaying barrack with equipment dating from the 1960s) were changed to working ones only after the crash.
@Now how is that the same people that unleashed an unprecedented smear campaign in the media and organised mass protests in Tallin several years ago when the Estonian authorities ‘dared’ to move a controversial monument to Soviet soldiers and their graves underneath it from a location in central Tallin to a more appropriate place at a military cemetery?
And morever, there are still millions of missing Red Army soldiers in the forests of Russia, even just outside Moscow (or St Pete for that matter), but the “authorities” and sponsored “patriotic youths” are not busy searching for them to make them a proper burial, somehow. Only small groups of unpaid volunteers do this work, on their own. How strange! (Not.)
For a comparison, US government paid the North Koreans 2 million dollars to return a half-century old skeleton of an American soldier, Israelis swap live prisoners with Hezbollah in eschange for remains of their soldiers, and so on.
Your words of real, honest and pure “Pravda” about the real Russia are a delight to read!
So unlike the trash put out by Putin’s blind cohorts.
But wait comrade Bohdan!!! Can he possibly not be the savage, vodka-swilling perfidious piece of trash that seems to only populate Russia!? Is it possible that there is an exception to the rule of Russian barbarism!?
No! No! It cannot be!
Comrade Runet! for your information there are good and bad in all nations.
Russia excels in the bad type, if it didn’t it would be free and surging ahead to claim it’s rightful place in human society. Remember, “how you sow, so shall you reap”.
For your information I never, ever belonged to any communist party. Nor do I intend to join one at this stage of my life, as history has long ago shown them up for what they really are. So you calling me ‘comrade’ is badly misconstrued, it’s like calling white, black; and furthermore they were and still are “filthy, lying and murdering thugs”.
I’m certain that in a country of 140 million persons there are people who are exceptions, it’s statistically impossible to be otherwise. Of course, you don’t seem to belong to that exceptional group, Mr. Runet, since you have made it abundantly clear that for you the gulags were no big deal, just your garden variety prisons. And never mind millions of innocent people who were ruthlessly exterminated there
Gazprom is very important for Russia so they should work carefully.