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[P]
Is Russia Finished? Is k5 pertinent?

By rowla in Culture
Tue May 01, 2001 at 05:33:45 PM EST
Tags: Round Table (all tags)
Round Table

Jeffrey Taylor has a story at the Atlantic Monthly Online detailing what most of us already know to some degree: Russia is in a bad way. What are we gonna do about it?




Taylor is an American expat in Russia, with a Russian wife and a job that provides security to businesses, mostly those from outside Russia. Taylor has lived there since 1993, and seems to know what he's talking about.

What he's talking about are the collapsed promises of perestroika and the sense of resignation he sees and hears every day from Russian citizens. Taylor verifies western impressions about the mafiya running the country with disturbing specificity. He deatils the "byzantine" workings of the national and local governments, and their role in enabling the power of organized crime there.

It seems much more likely that there are Russian k5'ers than there are Russian Atlantic readers. I want to explore the utility of forums like k5 in verifying the general outlines of Taylor's article, from the point of view of anyone with firsthand experience.

Beyond mere corroboration, I want to see what e-forums can mean when analyzing the relationship between Russia and...everywhere else. Are we just solipsistic 'bloggers? Or do we represent some kind of nascent, improved means to understanding based on dialectic? In short, we have this tool, k5 --thanks, rusty, et al! Can it be made pertinent and useful to huge issues like the "demise" of Russia?

Yeah, these questions apply to any issue any one cares to name, including the dire state of commercial toast. I had to jump in somewhere.

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How interconnected are we?
o I don't care that the porous, graft-y Russian government possesses smallpox specimens. 10%
o I kind of care. 26%
o You are shittin' me. (I care and am concerned) 27%
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Is Russia Finished? Is k5 pertinent? | 75 comments (56 topical, 19 editorial, 0 hidden)
do about it? (3.83 / 6) (#1)
by Seumas on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 02:47:46 PM EST

"What are we going to do about it"? I guess it depends who you're really asking that question of. I'm certainly not going to do anything about it, and I hope that my government won't either. We already gave them a couple billion dollars in the 90's. Welfare is bad enough. Corporate welfare is even worse. Government welfare is beyond insult. I don't want to be responsible for financially bailing out every government that runs on an out-moded or un-maintainable structure. One (my own) is enough.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
so.... (none / 0) (#19)
by mircrypt on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 07:33:55 PM EST

Just curious...are you suggesting that the US system of government is either outmoded or un-maintainable?

Also...given that the whole point of post-socialisit economic reform is to get people out of the welfare state modality and into a more market oriented approach to life, and taking into account that there are still a few ICBMs with our local addresses on them...wouldn't it be in our (US) security interests to see at least some semblance of stability in the Russian government?
"Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you". - Aldus Huxley -
[ Parent ]

loans are not gifts (3.50 / 2) (#20)
by eLuddite on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 07:37:15 PM EST

We already gave them a couple billion dollars in the 90's.

Which was deftly pocketed by the oligarchy and redeposited in US bank accounts wherever it was not used to strip Russia of resources at bargain basement prices favoring Western industry. As in any transaction, follow the money.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Regardless (4.00 / 1) (#49)
by Sheepdot on Tue May 01, 2001 at 04:34:46 PM EST

What is to say they won't do it again? I fail to see the reason for making that point unless you are suggesting that somehow the US would be justified in handing over more money this time around.


[ Parent ]
in that case, why loan money to russia at all? (none / 0) (#60)
by eLuddite on Wed May 02, 2001 at 06:32:24 PM EST

What is to say they won't do it again?

Who do what? The US makes profitable loans, which is why the US would do it again. Why are they profitable? Because their contingencies are counter to Russia's interests.

I fail to see the reason for making that point

The point contests the opinion that the loans were "bad." They were bad for Russia, not the US. I was replying to an opinion which held the loans were bad for the US.

unless you are suggesting that somehow the US would be justified in handing over more money this time around.

No, I am suggesting they -- and the IMF, in general -- make scrupulous loans.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

I agree with you, but (3.00 / 1) (#21)
by skim123 on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 07:52:09 PM EST

I tend to think of such loans as money being spent on our national defense. As a previous poster noted, Russia still has working nukes aimed at the US. So, perhaps instead of spending $50 billion dollars on building a new bomber, we "loan" those $50 billion dollars to Russia for economic reform?

(Granted, the $50 billion shouldn't be taken from us, the citizens, and spent in either case, but, eh, whatcha donna do?)

Sorta like being gay: you're walking around, you know something's up, you just don't know what it is yet.
[ Parent ]

we call that.... (2.00 / 1) (#28)
by Seumas on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 11:12:34 PM EST

Where I come from, what you just described is extortion. I'm not comfortable with the Russians extorting money out of us. We're already big enough pushovers as far as super-powers go. I fear that one of these days, our entire nation will just roll over and hand Canada a jar of Vaseline...
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]
Well (none / 0) (#32)
by skim123 on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 01:39:39 PM EST

It's wrong if Russia says, "We're going to attack you if you don't give us money," but what is a better approach? To say, "As is, we think Russia might attack us, therefore we are going to: a.) Build a new bomber. b.) send over the money that could have built the bomber to help make Russia more in line with us ideologically and economically." I would hope B would be chosen. Preventative steps are always best, IMHO. Would you rather spend one million dollars on housing drunk drivers in prison, or one million dollars on building an alcholics anonymous program? I opt for the latter. (Granted, the citizens shouldn't be taxed for either, but, assuming the money's already been taken and it's going to be spent, how would you like to see it spent?)

Sorta like being gay: you're walking around, you know something's up, you just don't know what it is yet.
[ Parent ]

better idea (3.50 / 2) (#42)
by Seumas on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 01:05:23 PM EST

I'd prefer leasing Siberia from the Russians and shipping all of our criminals there to live out their sentences. They'll have to fend for themselves and other than the cost of a ticket to Siberia and a ticket back when their sentence is up (if they're still alive!), we have no expenses. Russia makes a buck, as long as they're willing to house some criminals (like they aren't already housing enough of their own, of course!).

Maybe I'm just dreaming... ;)
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

re - extortion.. (none / 0) (#55)
by Rainy on Wed May 02, 2001 at 03:38:04 AM EST

The crucial difference here is that with extortion case you can go to the police and they lock the criminal up. In this case, there is no police. Another crucial difference is that Russia isn't explicitly threatening us, a better analogy would be a neighbour whose house is on fire and he has a big pile of gasoline tanks, and if they blow up, both your houses will go up in flames; and you have a fire extinguisher. The rub is that the fire extinguisher here is quite expensive, but hey, if you don't wanna lose it all...
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
Naive (none / 0) (#58)
by darthaggie on Wed May 02, 2001 at 11:08:13 AM EST

I tend to think of such loans as money being spent on our national defense. As a previous poster noted, Russia still has working nukes aimed at the US. So, perhaps instead of spending $50 billion dollars on building a new bomber, we "loan" those $50 billion dollars to Russia for economic reform?

That helps only if the so-called loan actually provides some reform, and isn't pocketed or mis-spent. But why should they spend it on something as silly as "economic reform" when they can buy a new car, a dachau for their mistress, and diamonds for the wife?

If they need more money, they can always come back for another "loan".

As someone from another time said: Millions for defense, but not one damn penny in tribute.

I am BOFH. Resistance is futile. Your network will be assimilated.
[ Parent ]

Myopic.... (4.00 / 1) (#46)
by Tezcatlipoca on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 04:36:10 AM EST

What would have happened if the US goverment after WW2 did not have helped European countries to recover from the wreckage (Marshall plan)?

The US leaders had the vision then that a peaceful, propsperous Europe was far a better alternative. It is distressing to see so many people that did not understand that the same was necessary for Russia and the former communist countries.

It is in your interest to be friendly to Russia, business with Asia and Eastern Europe could depend on it, not to mention the lost posibility to have isolated China that most US people seem to fear quite a bit now a days (don't know why, but go figure), it would also allow a healthy Russian goverment to take control of its nukes. As things stand now who know if Russian mafia have any influence in such delicate matters...



Might is right
Freedom? Which freedom?
[ Parent ]

Marshall Plan (4.00 / 1) (#71)
by rgrow on Sun May 13, 2001 at 05:52:18 AM EST

You could also argue that we funded Europe so they could help us stave off the Russians. Once the Russians collapsed, what good did it do us to finance them? Not much, but it was probably worth a shot. Turning that part of the world into a productive society under the rule of law and no longer antagonistic towards us would have been beneficial to all of us. Alas, it wasn't to be, and it really wasn't all that hard to see even then, though optimism is always nice.

If you want to defend us from Russia now, there are certainly surer ways to do it than giving them a bunch more money. How about attacking and destroying their nuclear capability? How about continued mutually assured destruction as a deterrent? How about implementing a missile defense?

Appeasing dictators like Chamberlain did Hitler didn't work then, and appeasing dictatorships like Russia and China today does nothing but embolden them. We need to show them who's boss.

[ Parent ]
You lose (2.80 / 5) (#5)
by aphrael on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 03:57:06 PM EST

Everyone knows that K5 is impertinent. :P

This is ridiculous... (4.16 / 12) (#7)
by cezarg on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 04:19:20 PM EST

We are supposed to do something about the demise of Russia? Why us? If Russia as a country wanted to pursue their imperialistic ambitions instead of paying attention to their economic situation whose fault is it that they are bankrupt now? Being a Pole I feel that I've subsidised the Russian state for long enough now! If you happen to be American rest assured that you've already had some of your taxes spent on some of Russia's pointless ventures including their war on Chechnya.

Considering the fact that Russia had much stronger economic support from the US and international organisations than all other post communist states and still like a stupid dotcom they blew it all away. Big investors were waiting at the door to jump into investing in Russia but the stupid Russian government and incredible corruption prevented anybody who wasn't willing to risk their lives from taking the plunge. Given that initial help and the excitement in the business world that Russia enjoyed they should now be waaay ahead of Poland or Czech Republic or Hungary, at least in economic terms.

Perhaps we should talk about Poland's and Hungary's near-miraculous economic recovery in less than a decade? Oh, I see. Nobody's interested because there are only forty million Poles AND they don't have nuclear weapons to boot. Thus our economic success is not worth nearly as much attention as Russia's social and economic demise. Yes, I am this nasty in real life too.

It isn't that they deserve help (3.66 / 3) (#10)
by error 404 on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 04:47:03 PM EST

It's that Russia's problems are likely to spill over to the rest of the world.

A country that big, with that level of resources and technology, being used as a base for organized crime, is a serious problem for the entire world.

My bastard neighbor may not deserve my help getting the dead cow out of his yard, but if I don't help, my yard's going to stink too.


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

Hey man (4.60 / 5) (#12)
by aphrael on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 05:09:58 PM EST

calm down. :)

Russia is interesting because it is close to being a completely failed state. Failed states are interesting because they touch on the question of what makes a state viable; how do we keep *our* state from failing?

Then too, Russia is threatening. It's got nukes, it's got a lot of people, and it's the *largest country in the world*. That's a massive area for instability, and if it goes away, the geopolitical situation in all of europe and all of asia changes. The US is a status quo power now; it's interested in maintaining things as they are as much as possible.

Perhaps we should talk about Poland's and Hungary's near-miraculous economic recovery in less than a decade?

That's been amazing. On the other hand, it proves something the Czechs and Slovenians have been maintaining all along: the countries in east-central Europe which were occuppied by the Soviets had always been part of Europe, and were culturally, economically, and technologically part of the west before the war; when communism lifted it allowed the countries to revert to their natural social order, and adapting that to the modern western European economy was, while not painless, not impossible either.

Russia's a different situation. It was a peasant society when Lenin took over; it has been outside of the mainstream of European culture and thought since the Mongols invaded. In the days when Poland was a center of learning and wealth, Russia was a backwater. It stopped being a backwater by sheer force of will carried out over a decade, but when that willpower collapsed, the entire structure of the state and society collapsed. We should have seen that coming, but we didn't, and the question of what do you do about it when a nuclear power completely collapses is an important one.

[ Parent ]

Re: Hey man (3.00 / 1) (#27)
by MeanGene on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 09:43:35 PM EST

> Russia is interesting because it is close to being a completely failed state.

It's very sad for me to say these things now, but what can I do? Russia is no more a failed state than Brazil. How the sudden plunge into capitalism demoted Russia to the present level is a different question.

> On the other hand, it proves something the Czechs and Slovenians have been maintaining all along: the countries in east-central Europe which were occuppied by the Soviets had always been part of Europe

A little bit of Catholicism goes a long way, doesn't it? :-)

> ... it has been outside of the mainstream of European culture and thought since the Mongols invaded. In the days when Poland was a center of learning and wealth, Russia was a backwater.

Due to the religious-cultural reasons Russia has been outside of the "Western European" culture for a good reason. We were not Catholics, and we developed a destiny of the "Third Rome" at the time Constantinopolis was taken by Turks and the "First Rome" mounted Crusades against us (actually mostly against the Baltic states, but they conveniently prefer to forget about it).

Poland hasn't amounted to much since 1600's, while at the same time Russia gained it's status. The whole history of Russia at the time was like a huge pendulum oscillating between the "guns & conquest" and "prayer & philosophy" camps.

The great Euler (just a name you could recognize) could've chosen any place in "Europe," but he worked his golden years in Russia.

> It stopped being a backwater by sheer force of will carried out over a decade

Er, what decade would that be? 1700s? 1800s? 1900s?



[ Parent ]
Re: This is ridiculous... (3.50 / 2) (#17)
by MeanGene on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 07:27:43 PM EST

Cesar,

Didn't we have the same discussion not long ago?

Exactly how did Socialist Poland subsidize USSR? I don't remember buying any (presumably heavily subsidized) Polish goods while I lived there. I do know (from a high-school friend of mine who lived a bit in Poland in the mid-80s) how Poles were lining up for Soviet vaccuum cleaners. I do know that Polish economy would've been a toast without Russian oil and gas that Poland was getting on "friendly" terms way below the "world prices".

A few issues back, The Economist had a nice table of the distribution of foreign aid. All former Warsaw block countries are getting more per capita than Russia.

The only structural advantage (given the current circumstances) that Poland, Hungary, etc. have is that they're smaller and less developed in the heavy industries.


[ Parent ]
I beg your pardon (4.50 / 2) (#23)
by cezarg on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 07:59:50 PM EST

I do know that Polish economy would've been a toast without Russian oil and gas that Poland was getting on "friendly" terms way below the "world prices".

Guess where all your food was coming from sire. Once we stopped exporting food to Russia and got out of those "fantastic" deals with Soviet Union all of a sudden we have a huge overproduction of edible goods in Poland. Explain to me if you wish WHERE that food was going before 1989. Don't tell me our farming has become ten times as productive in the last decade! Before 1988 every-fucking-thing was rationed in Poland. We had a scarcity of every consummable goods. It will take a lot more than a single K5 poster to convince me that we as a nation became so much more productive in less than fifteen years.

Since 1989 USSR quickly fell from the top spot as our main business partner and slipped to number three (behind US and Germany). We're not as closely tied economically as you'd like to think. As for natural gas and oil we seem to be doing just fine without the "deals" from the Russian state. In fact our government is already finalising a deal with Norway to switch to their natural gas supplies. Yes it will take some years to implement it but we'll get there. Anyways I think you're confusing us with Belarus or Ukraine. Poland got fuck all from Russia. Even Bulgaria and Romania had it better under the communist regime because they didn't have those pesky "freedom" movements like Solidarity. We were always the misfits (along with Hungarians) and always got the worst deals with Moscow.

Perhaps you're trying to tell me that Russia's so fucked now because former communist states are leeching off her? Get a clue. Your country is terribly run by a bunch of morons whom you treat like gods. Plus you want everyone to fear yous. That's why you're fucked.

As for vacuum cleaners, I've always bought Zelmer. They were harder to buy (we must've been exporting too many) but so much more reliable than the stuff from the "brother nation".

Kuritza ne Ptitza a Polsha ne Zagranitza. -- this best sums up the Russian attitude towards Poles which shows through and through in your posts.

[ Parent ]

Re: I beg your pardon (3.00 / 2) (#24)
by MeanGene on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 09:06:02 PM EST

I really don't have a clue where Polish agricultural production went - I didn't eat any of it. But during "perestroika" we started to have our own "deficits du jour." Last time I checked, Poland didn't produce any sugar, did it?

Solidarity was a big joke. I recall reading recollections of one Italian trade union leader. He was invited to make a speech at a Solidarity meeting. So, he started to talk about the usual trade union things - how to organize a strike and fight the management in the coming capitalist future. And he was dragged off the stage by the Solidarity officials for "communist propaganda."

> Your country is terribly run by a bunch of morons whom you treat like gods.

Now, that's patently false. I have never seen the critisism and cynicism towards the gov't in the "Western" press as I see it every day in the Russian newspapers.

Why the Russian people don't start another revolution is a rather complicated question though...

> Kuritza ne Ptitza a Polsha ne Zagranitza. -- this best sums up the Russian attitude towards Poles which shows through and through in your posts.

You're very angry, aren't you? So, let me shed some light here. Within the Warsaw Pact Poland was a buffer zone, within NATO it's going to be a buffer zone again. That's the geopolitical reality and the ugly truth. You're stuck, and there's no way out in the foreseeable future. The only thing you can be angry with is history - rather pointless, isn't it? I am not angry with Poland, because you can't be angry with a centuries-old pocket change between Germany and Russia. Just want you personally to smell the coffee.


[ Parent ]
Solidarity a joke?! (4.50 / 2) (#29)
by cezarg on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 01:05:23 AM EST

You are truly trying to insult me and all I've always stood for. Whilst solidarity was formed as a trade union the only reason they operated under that banner was because they weren't allowed to use any other title. Had they called themselves a political party they would've got banned the minute they registered. They got banned anyways once they got too visible and Moscow demanded that the "Solidarity issue must be solved". Of course they ridiculed some italian commie when he started preaching the wonders of socialism(!) to them. If you can't understand that they had to call themselves a trade union to get around the ban on opposition parties (which was instilled throughout the eastern bloc) you're being very thick my friend.

Solidarity was the first real opposition to the communist regime in the eastern bloc. The fact that they survived eleven years of complete ban and repression throughout the eigthies is absolutely awesome. It span people from many backgrounds from blue collar factory workers to actors and musicians. The whole nation was behind them.

The climax of this phenomenon was on the 4th of June 1989 when the first free election was held in a communist country. Solidarity won every single seat in the parliament that they were allowed to hold. Those huge queues I saw that day to the polling venues still bring tears of joy to my eyes. This was more than the nation voting for it's new parliament. There was something massive happening, something bigger than I ever witnessed before, bigger than most people will ever witness in their lifetime. The entire nation was showing a huge middle finger to the communist regime.

Sure Solidarity has fractured since. They struggled to define themselves as a political entity given their trade union label. Some of their latter leaders were less than stellar. BUT it does not in any way undermine their huge accomplishment. Maybe if Russia had its own Solidarity with the nation's backing that we had you wouldn't be in the state of despair you're in now. We survived poverty because we had something to believe in, something we held very dear. You just had poverty.

[ Parent ]

Oversimplification. (3.00 / 1) (#45)
by Tezcatlipoca on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 04:23:10 AM EST

Look at a map of Russia. Count the nationalities, square kilometers, distances, languages, religions, etc. that form it. Count its neighbours. Count the atomic bombs, count the popularion, count the members of the army

. Compare that to Poland's situation.

Those are the differences. To imply that because Poland has been successful Russia should be is just pointless, both countries could not be more different from each other

One thing you should not forget in your rantings is that today's Russia is not the USSR.



Might is right
Freedom? Which freedom?
[ Parent ]

what happened to my Zelmer link? (none / 0) (#35)
by cezarg on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 05:44:21 PM EST

It seems to have been censored out... Why? People link to company sites all over this forum. Can someone explain?

Anyways Zelmer's website is www.zelmer.pl if anyone cares to check out. This is not entirely offtopic as Zelmer is one of the "miracles" of Polish transformation. It was state owned and became a public company in the nineties with the majority shares owned by the employees. They are competing v. effectively with western corps like Hoover and whirlpool.

[ Parent ]

absolutely right (5.00 / 1) (#66)
by khallow on Thu May 03, 2001 at 07:20:53 PM EST

Guess where all your food was coming from sire. Once we stopped exporting food to Russia and got out of those "fantastic" deals with Soviet Union all of a sudden we have a huge overproduction of edible goods in Poland. Explain to me if you wish WHERE that food was going before 1989. Don't tell me our farming has become ten times as productive in the last decade! Before 1988 every-fucking-thing was rationed in Poland. We had a scarcity of every consummable goods. It will take a lot more than a single K5 poster to convince me that we as a nation became so much more productive in less than fifteen years.

As I understand it, the Eastern bloc existed to sustain the USSR which in turn sustained Russia which in turn sustained a smaller minority (the Communist party in Russia) which in turn sustained the elite which ran the whole ballgame. I don't know just how "cheap" Russia oil actually was. I bet no one else really knows either because of the flexible nature of USSR economics. I.e., Poland may have "officially" paid some miniscule price for the oil, but then they had to ship to Russia a whole bunch of stuff "below cost" as well. And buy Russian vacuum cleaners.

Ironically enough, the best analogy I can think of is the East India trading company (based in London?) which traded opium from India to China, tea from China to Great Britian, and textiles from Great Britian to India. They also had in India a bunch of monopolies on things like trains and salt. Make a guess who really benefited from that trade triangle? Just as China and India supplied the East India company, the Eastern bloc supplied a small group in the Russian communist party.


Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

How central Europe subsidised the USSR (none / 0) (#72)
by Nomad on Tue May 15, 2001 at 03:06:53 AM EST

It is well known that in the bizarre soviet accounting systems, central Europe exported manufactured value-added goods to the USSR in return for their low grade rubbish. In this way billions were shifted into the Soviet black hole.

On another point. Russia doesn't need 'help'. It has been shown time and time again that help just ends up in the foreign bank accounts of a hugely corrupt elite.

The only thing that will save Russia is to get rid of the scum which runs the country. Revolution anyone? ;)

[ Parent ]
The Czech example (none / 0) (#75)
by golek on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 12:21:23 PM EST

Let me give you a clearer example of Soviet exploitation in East Central Europe. Czechoslovakia was a heavily industrialised country with a long tradition of producing quality finished goods. One of their largest industries during Soviet occupation was the arms industry. Ever hear of Semtex? How do you think all those Czech made small arms found their way to every Third World pro-Soviet government or guerilla group? Do you really think the Soviets weren't controlling and benefiting from this arrangement?

[ Parent ]
you've missed the point (4.80 / 5) (#18)
by mircrypt on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 07:30:14 PM EST

Poland's "economic" miracle was not spontaneous. To boot, the reform effort of "shock therapy" applied to Poland came with much in the way of IMF/WB funding that Russia has had little access to. Russia did not have much stronger economic support. Check the figures and you'll see that Poland got disproportionately more money. Additionally, the system of privatization in Poland went about much differntly than in Russia. Poland was spared the cronyism of the nomenklatura that pervaded the Russian state. Yes, there was a degree of insider privatization, but the market mechansisms available to Poland at the time of transition were far superior to those in Russia.

You've distorted the picture somewhat in presenting the Russian situation. NO American tax funds have gone to fund Chechnya. Not even by the greatest stretch of the imagination it it conceivable to think that the loans earmarked through the IMF for Russia have in any way played into the Chechan conflict.

Now...I hate to touch on this, but since you raised it, I suppose I have to....Do you realize the Russian state subsidized the majority of Polish industry during the time that your nation was under their sphere of influence? Are you aware of the materiel transfers from Russia to Poland? If any part of the former Soviety Union can be said to have been subsidizing the rest, it was Russa. Take a look at the annual budgets leading up to the Soviet break-up. GOSNAB's plan allocations can only be considered to have been generous and below even the pathetically simplistic central planned costs when they were provided.

Russia is not way ahead of Poland and the Czech republic for reasons different than the ones you put forward. Poland got off without the rancor and distruct...essentially the cold-war enmity...the Russia received. There may or may not have been investors waiting at the door. That is a moot point. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Russia was left with a tiny fraction of its industrial (manufacturing) and human (intelligentsia...I exclude the party members or nomenklatura for obvious reasons) capital. GOSNAM pervasiveness in the mentality of the Russian state was and still is far above and beyond anything that Poland might have experienced. Hell man, you already had about 2.3 million small to medium enterprises comprising some 45-60% of the workforce (depends on whose figures you look at) at the time that the transition to a market economy began. Russia had maybe 900,000...the majority of those went bankrupt in the first few years under Yeltsin from inadequate funding, or because of pressure from the larger state enterprises.

Nobody's interested in Poland because your countries successfully on its way to transition to a market oriented system. Why should anyone care now? You've succeeded. Russia is failing because of people with your attitude that are too short-sighted to see that Russia was faced with inefficient, parasitic, and untrained leaders in government. Personal issues aside, if what is happening to Russia now were happening to Poland instead, wouldn't you find the remarks you've made just a tad bit callous and uninformed?
"Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you". - Aldus Huxley -
[ Parent ]

Poland was subsidised... (4.50 / 2) (#30)
by cezarg on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 01:38:51 AM EST

In transfer Rubles! What a joke that was. Moscow just printed more paper when they drew up those "budgets". They weren't worth the paper they were printed on. What really mattered was the transfer of goods. According to my experiences and the documents that only now are being presented to the public that exchange was not at all favourable to Poland and other "satellite" states.

[ Parent ]
reference (4.50 / 2) (#33)
by mircrypt on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 01:47:25 PM EST

Just FYI, I came across a text published last year that seems to be the most comprehensive treatment of post-socialist reform...it's called, "From Shock to Therapy" by Gregorz W. Koldoko. If you're interested, it's well worth a read.
"Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you". - Aldus Huxley -
[ Parent ]
Sure I'm interested (4.66 / 3) (#34)
by cezarg on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 05:23:44 PM EST

Just remember that Grzegorz Kolodko is a left winger now and if I remember correctly he used to be a member of PZPR (the communist party). I would balance his views against those of Leszek Balcerowicz to get a full objective picture.

[ Parent ]
looking into it (none / 0) (#38)
by mircrypt on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 07:37:17 PM EST

Many thanks...I wasn't aware of Kolodko's background. I should have some time on my hands next week; I'll see about picking up on what Balcerowicz has to say. Ciao.
"Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you". - Aldus Huxley -
[ Parent ]
Kolodko (none / 0) (#39)
by cezarg on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 09:45:47 PM EST

is still a very smart guy though. What he writes is usually correct and insightful. You're welcome to pass me the links to whatever you've got by him.

[ Parent ]
just texts (none / 0) (#43)
by mircrypt on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 02:27:02 PM EST

Wish I had some links to pass along, but right now what I'm working off is the shock therapy text that Kolodko published last year. That and a few other pieces by Blanchard, von Mises, and Stiglitz are the not so grand sum total of my info on the shock therapy process. Also, of course, the EBRD and IMF reports...but they're useful only insofar as background stats. Thanks again for the suggestion to expand the range of readings. Ciao
"Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you". - Aldus Huxley -
[ Parent ]
book excerpt online (5.00 / 1) (#69)
by sebastard on Mon May 07, 2001 at 06:15:43 PM EST

A sample of the book is available in PDF from Oxford Press. It's 41 pages, in PDF: http://www.oup.co.uk/pdf/0-19-829743-2.pdf

[ Parent ]
I must agree... (none / 0) (#74)
by golek on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 12:00:00 PM EST

I must agree with Cezarq on this. The Soviets were exploiting their satellites, buying finished goods produced by the Czechs or the Poles for non-convertible rubles and selling them abroad for hard currency. Only when the satellites became too great an economic liability did the Soviets allow them to break away.

[ Parent ]
Wrong and shortsighted comments. (1.33 / 3) (#44)
by Tezcatlipoca on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 04:09:58 AM EST

First of all, it was the USSR, not Russia, who pursued what you call imperialistic ambitions. Russia is not the USSR and viceversa. Also Russia, like any other country, has the right to maintain its integrity as a country, so you can't call Russia's attempt to get rid of the Chechen separatists an "adventure": they are just trying to keep the country together! (the methods used by the Russian army are very questionable, but that is another matter). Last time we all checked Chechnia was part of Russia (I know, we could go back 100, 200 or 300 years and perhaps they were independent then).

If Russia had imperialistic ambitions now, Poland and Hungary would not join NATO and the EU at all.

We are suppossed to learn from history: after WW2 the US instituted the Marshall plan that aided amongst others no other than Germany (and perhaps Italy as well, I don't remember). Russia, and in general all the former communist countries, required a new Marshall plan to help them recover from the wasteage that the Cold War was, unfortunately they where left mainly on their own by George Bush the first and Billy Clinton (private investment does not count, that flies away as soon as there are problems, which was shown in the colapse of the stock markets in 1998).

As remarkable and important as Polish and Hungarian recoveries are, we should not fool ourselves, a World with an unstabale Russia does not benefit anybody, specialy Russia's neghbours (like Poland) that know quite well that such a big country can always look for foregin adventures if things are not going as expected at home.

As a citizen of one of Russia's neighbour countries you should be begging the Western countries to help the ailing Russia's economy, it is in your own benefit in the long term.



Might is right
Freedom? Which freedom?
[ Parent ]

Lies or ignorance? (4.00 / 3) (#47)
by cezarg on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 08:47:31 AM EST

First of all, it was the USSR, not Russia, who pursued what you call imperialistic ambitions.

Bollocks. Russia had an imperialistic streak even when they did not call themselves USSR. The snake changes the skin but it bites just the same. USSR was centrally controlled from Moscow which as you're well aware is the capital of Russia. USSR was essentially Russia + smaller enslaved nations. Their expansionist policy was directed from Russia. We can therefore safely assume that Russia on its own would pursue the exact same foreign policy even if it wasn't called Soviet Union at the time.

Last time we all checked Chechnia was part of Russia (I know, we could go back 100, 200 or 300 years and perhaps they were independent then).

Chechnya WAS an independent nation in the 19th century (conquered by Russians around 1857 IIRC). Do you sire think that 150 years is long enough for a nation to forget its own identity? You are either very uninformed or just lying! Poland did not have a country for over hundred years (when we were invaded by Russia Prussia and Austria) but the nation preserved its identity which in turn kept the battle for freedom going. Chechens are in the same situation we were in in the 19th century. Even the same reasoning and propaganda gets used (Poles were also called barbarians when Russia, Prusia and Austria invaded us).

If Russia had imperialistic ambitions now, Poland and Hungary would not join NATO and the EU at all.

Russia does have imperial ambitions. They were strongly opposed to the central Europe countries' joining of NATO. Eventually the deal was struck when the US threatened to cut off some of the aid. They are now protesting further expansion of NATO.

private investment does not count, that flies away as soon as there are problems

Let me tell you how these things work. It is governments' main role to attract investment into the country and to maintiain enough stability to keep that investment from moving elswhere. There is nothing inherently wrong with private investment. Russia just failed the part about maintaining stability.

As a citizen of one of Russia's neighbour countries you should be begging the Western countries to help the ailing Russia's economy, it is in your own benefit in the long term.

No. No and once again no. Strong Russia benefits only one country: Russia itself. Strong Russia will just pursue its expansionist policy once more because they still haven't swallowed the fact that USSR is no more. To prove my point I will cite a Russian proverb to you: "A hen is not a bird and Poland is not a foreign land". This just proves their attitude towards us as an independent country. So just to sum up I don't think strong Russia would benefit my country. Socially sensitive, democratic Russia would but that will take centuries, maybe milleniums to accomplish. Don't assume that stable and strong Russia will equate with democratic Russia. Actually things over there are going in a different direction: independent TV is silenced, human rights are violated (Chechnya), KGB is back in power (Putin). Things are quickly receding over there. And while Russia is taking this particular course of action I'm glad that economic winds are not blowing in their direction. Until Russia becomes a better neighbour I'm not going to shed a tear after their demise. Actually I'm going to sit back and enjoy the show.

[ Parent ]

People vs. countries (4.50 / 2) (#51)
by Eccles on Tue May 01, 2001 at 11:14:39 PM EST

Russia had an imperialistic streak even when they did not call themselves USSR.

Y'know, listening to you all, I see you thinking of countries as people. They're not. Yes, the Tsarist leaders of Russia were often expansionist (face it, which country hasn't been?). But what most Americans care about is the fate of the average Russian. Average Russians (and Ukranians, and...) died by the millions from Stalinist programs. Average Russians cleared minefields by walking through them, with Commisars behind them to kill them if they retreated. Average Russians stood in long lines for scarce consumer goods under communism, and can't afford them now. I don't want the return of the Tsars or the Communist party chiefs, I want Russians (and Africans and Indians and Chinese and North Koreans and...) to have the economy and freedom I and my fellow Americans -- and other participants in the primarily Western economy -- generally enjoy.

Part of this is self-interest. I'd rather there be fewer nuclear weapons in the world, and fewer people who might seek to do me harm. But part of it is simply that my concern for others doesn't stop at the border, I don't like to see suffering and unhappiness anywhere. So if there's something the U.S. could do for/with Russia that would help with these goals, I'm all for it. I have nothing to fear from an economically strong Poland or Hungary. I believe if the same can be done for Russia and the Ukraine and Georgia, I would be better off.

[ Parent ]

Ignorance or different opinions? (5.00 / 1) (#63)
by Tezcatlipoca on Thu May 03, 2001 at 10:21:37 AM EST

It is sad that when confronted with an opossing opinion you decide that it is either somebody unifnormed or malicious.

Had you stated I was misinformed and tried to probe this, then I would have been more appreciative of your efforts (not that it would matter to you I guess), but any way.

Now lets see: Bollocks. Russia had an imperialistic streak even when they did not call themselves USSR. The snake changes the skin but it bites just the same.

May I just say I never wish to have you as minister of foreign relations of Poland (or any country for that matter). That view is far too simplistic, attributing to nations traits found on individuals is not very sound.

USSR was centrally controlled from Moscow which as you're well aware is the capital of Russia. USSR was essentially Russia + smaller enslaved nations. Their expansionist policy was directed from Russia. We can therefore safely assume that Russia on its own would pursue the exact same foreign policy even if it wasn't called Soviet Union at the time.

This is utter nonsense.

The fact that Moscow was capital of the former USSR and of Russia does not necessarily imply that a Russian state, specialy if it had not been a communist one, would have pursued expansionist policies. It may or may had not, we will never know, but to be so forceful about what is not more than especulation is silly IMHO.

Todays Russia is a completely different thing from the USSR in many aspects, which for anybody that has seen the news during the last 20 years is to say the obvious, so to equate today's Russia with the former USSR is to ignore with one sweeping brush the contributions of many Russian pro-democracy personalities as well as the contributions of people like Gorbachev and Yeltsin.

Chechnya WAS an independent nation in the 19th century (conquered by Russians around 1857 IIRC). Do you sire think that 150 years is long enough for a nation to forget its own identity? You are either very uninformed or just lying!

You are prone to qualify people in a gratuitous and unecesary way. I said two things, one is fact: Chechnya is part of Russia. Deal with it (I did not say that it was a good thing, a fair thing, or a just thing, but the fact stands to scrutiny in all legal and practical terms, not in moral terms perhaps, but international law and hard real policy facts are what regulate modern relationships between nations). The second was clearly an explicit declaration of my own ignorance regarding how Chechnya became part of Russia. So your "you are uninformed or just lying" is unecessary and unwelcomed.

Russia does have imperial ambitions. They were strongly opposed to the central Europe countries' joining of NATO. Eventually the deal was struck when the US threatened to cut off some of the aid. They are now protesting further expansion of NATO.

And what is Russia supposed to do? To be all happiness and cooperation? Give me a break! Why Russia is not invited to join NATO? Would not you be unhappy if they had invited all your neighbour countries to join NATO but not Poland? I guess Poland (or any other country for that matter) would have a sneaky feeling about it. But Russia, being Russia, should be all compliments and colaboration to isolate itself I guess. What nonsense. Please let us know what would be the correct Russian attitude.

Don't you see that Russia could have genuine feelings and fears of being isolated? I have still to see any statements from the current Russian goverment threateaning to invade Poland or sending the army to the borders. So please explain what those imperialistic threats are to the uninformed like me, please.

Let me tell you how these things work. It is governments' main role to attract investment into the country and to maintiain enough stability to keep that investment from moving elswhere. There is nothing inherently wrong with private investment. Russia just failed the part about maintaining stability.

What you forget is that first a goverment needs to exist and work. For all practical purposes, the Russian goverment dissapeared from many areas of Russian life (due mostly to lack or resources to keep the goverment running). That is why Russia needed foreign help: to keep a workable goverment structure. All those voids left in the power structure where filled by corrupt people or outhright criminals. An stock market and normal capitalism can't work under those circumstances.

To prove my point I will cite a Russian proverb to you: "A hen is not a bird and Poland is not a foreign land".

That proves nothing, it is at most anecdotal folklor. Where are the hard facts about Russia pursuing expansionist policies?

Until Russia becomes a better neighbour I'm not going to shed a tear after their demise. Actually I'm going to sit back and enjoy the show.

Enjoy the show? You know what, those people suffering are real people. Russia is just an artificial creation, like Poland or any other country, they are entities we have created with the intention of somehow organize our human endeavours. Russia does not suffer, russians do. If you enjoy that, so be it, I don't, and in a more selfish tone, it is not convenient. If you think the demisse of Russia will not affect Poland or other countries in that area then I believe you could be for an ugly surprise, which I truly hope no country in that area will need to experience.



Might is right
Freedom? Which freedom?
[ Parent ]

You got the wrong side of the story (4.50 / 2) (#67)
by cezarg on Sun May 06, 2001 at 12:01:14 AM EST

I think you imagine me as a Russian hater who throws stones at every passing Lada with white number plates. Well if you do then you're off to lunch here. I work with two guys from Russia and we get on just fine. When I talk about Russia in negative terms I mostly talk about its corrupt and unstable government structure. I don't enjoy the fact that many ordinary Russian citizens are facing incredible hardship. Having lived in Poland for seventeen years I got to know a lot of Russians and made friends with many of them. But I still see Russia the country as a potentially aggressive empire if it ever raises from its ashes. Maybe it's irrational maybe it's prejudice but I do FEAR the Russian state. Can't help it sorry.

I'm going to enjoy the collapse of the Russian government if it ever happens. Why? Because I think it's for the best to an average Russian citizen if their country separates into small self governing structures. Russia still seems to centralize a lot of its governing in Moscow instead of letting the local authorities run each region. If Russia splits Russia will become better off. This country is just to unwieldy to be run effectively.

Don't you see that Russia could have genuine feelings and fears of being isolated?

Er, quite frankly no. If Russia wanted to be part of the western structures they'd not play nice with Iraq or defend Milosevic's government. If Russia wants to become an accepted member of the international community they can't keep playing awkward on everybody. Russian pride blinds Russia and prevents it from thinking straight. Naturally the attrocities committed in Chechnya don't help Russia's reputation a bit. Have you seen the recent pictures of Djovkhar Ghaala (yes, I refuse to call it Grozny)? It's a ghost town. It looks like Warsaw in 1945.

Why Russia is not invited to join NATO?

Actually there were talks at one point about actively engaging Russia in the process of joining NATO but again Russian pride kicked in and Boris Yeltsin ridiculed the idea. Russia isn't a part of NATO mainly because Russia doesn't want to.

Chechnya is part of Russia.

Same way Poland was part of Russia, Prussia and Austria in the 19th century? And you keep telling me that Russia did not pursue expansionist policies only USSR did? C'mon, get your history right.

Epologue: I have a dream. I have a dream that one day Russia will be reborn as a new country. A new country that is socially responsible, a country that exists to serve its citizens and not the other way round, a country that respects its neighbours and doesnt treat them as its prey. That new Russia will not be the mightiest military power on earth maybe it may not even be a significant one but the new Russia won't care because it will no longer be paranoid about "threats from the west". The new Russia will be a respected international community member that engages in peacekeeping and humanitarian aid. The new Russia will be a safe country to visit for everyone irrespective of their nationality, race or creed.
Will I live long enough to see my dream come true? Frankly, I honestly doubt it. But I'm still allowed to keep on dreaming.

[ Parent ]

Blame Game (3.00 / 1) (#68)
by geomon on Mon May 07, 2001 at 06:12:27 PM EST

Russia, and in general all the former communist countries, required a new Marshall plan to help them recover from the wasteage that the Cold War was, unfortunately they where left mainly on their own by George Bush the first and Billy Clinton (private investment does not count, that flies away as soon as there are problems, which was shown in the colapse of the stock markets in 1998).

You seem to be arguing against yourself here. In an earlier paragraph, you are strongly defending the right of Russia to conduct its own affairs, but in this paragraph you seem to be blaming the current crisis in Russia on the US.

Russia demands respect due to the nuclear inventory it possesses. That is the only reason the US should intervene on its behalf economically. Until the political situation is resolved by the Russian people, the US should only provide the assistance necessary to ensure that their nuclear arsenal is secure from theft, accidental detonation, or unauthorized launch.

Blaming the US for Russia's problems will not cure them. That strategy is about as effective as the US blaming England for its current racial problems. The fact that slavery began under British rule doesn't mean we shouldn't take responsibility for correcting our own problems.

[ Parent ]

Well.. (4.00 / 1) (#53)
by Rainy on Wed May 02, 2001 at 03:26:56 AM EST

Yes, russia got nukes and big army, so its instability is a concern for everybody. I don't see anything hypocrytical about that, as you seem to imply.. it's merely common sense. Besides, the fact that russia is getting all those money may be the reason why it's not pulling itself out of the hole - it's just easier to buy grain from canada rather then rebuild agriculture industry, hm? And when you compare poland and russia, don't forget how much bigger russia is, and don't forget the fact that when the change came, eastern europe was already far more advanced and much more liberal than russia.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
Unfair criticism of Russia (4.50 / 2) (#56)
by nickwkg on Wed May 02, 2001 at 08:19:12 AM EST

Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary have been able to come up to speed so much better than Russia because they:

1. Were communist for less time than Russia.
2. Had a tradition of the rule of law, free commerce etcetera to fall back on.

When you look at the history of the Russian people, you can see the cause of their current malaise... They simply have no real experience of liberal law and governmet. From Peter the Great to Tsar Nicholas, the ill-fated Duma and the October revolution, they have no experience of what we in the west take for granted.

Sadly it will take Russia a long time to catch up...

[ Parent ]
Russia catching up (4.00 / 3) (#65)
by khallow on Thu May 03, 2001 at 07:03:38 PM EST

I don't believe that institutional memory is as important as that. I.e., Russia has no "history" of democracy and capitalism, but that doesn't mean that they can't adopt it in a reasonable time (as compared to Poland and other countries). Instead, the real problem is that Russia was the center of the old Communist web. For a lot of the other nations, it was easy to throw off the shackles because that was imposed from the *outside*. In Russia's case, it's damage was self-imposed, and (IMHO) much more difficult to remove as a result.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Russian mentality (4.62 / 8) (#13)
by weirdling on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 05:45:35 PM EST

I was stunned back during the Borodin incident to find out the Russians consider their governing class 'elite'. They expect people in such a class to be above the law and to, by right, run roughshod over the lower classes. There's a lot of your problem right there. As long as a country puts up with an elite, they will have to deal with the graft and coruption an elite class inevitably causes.
For those who do not know, Borodin was some higher-up in Russian government who was arrested in the US on charges of graft pressed by the Swiss. Apparently, he'd accepted bribes from a Swiss construction firm for work in Russia. Two things amazed me: one, the Russian newspapers explained that a certain amount of bribery is acceptable in a government, and two, that Americans would likely simply treat him as a common man rather than recognize him as an 'elite', meaning that he would get no special treatment despite being a dignitary.
This story, of course, got very little play in the US and I wouldn't even have known about it were it not for the fact I was corresponding with a Russian girl at the time...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
Read _the economist_ (3.80 / 5) (#14)
by aphrael on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 06:05:00 PM EST

if you're interested in news like this; their coverage is *much* better than time, newsweek, etc.

[ Parent ]
Re: Russian mentality (4.85 / 7) (#15)
by MeanGene on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 07:11:21 PM EST

As a Russian, I'd venture to say that we think of these "elite" the way Americans think of Gotty.

It's a great feature of human mind to forget, so perhaps not many Americans associate the names like Rockefeller and Kennedy as representatives of vulgar banditism.

"The great plunder of Russia" occured less than a decade ago, so Russian people realistically expect the people "who made it to the top" to be corrupt and criminal. The same cannot be said about the "established democracies." There's this great saying: "Rich and poor know what the middle class doesn't: the law is corrupt." Now, since 90% of Americans would rather get a cavity search instead of admitting that they are not "middle class"...

FWIW, the arguments in the Russian media were not about recognizing Borodin a "elite," but about the possible actions of the Russian gov't - should it fight diplomatically for a high-level bureaucrat or should it let him grin'n'bear it. IMHO, Borodin disgraced the office he occupied (surprise!) with his stupidity - not travelling under the diplomatic passport as he was supposed to according to his rank.



[ Parent ]
Huh? (4.00 / 2) (#52)
by Rainy on Wed May 02, 2001 at 03:21:48 AM EST

I haven't read newspaper articles about these particular case, but being born and raised in ussr and later russia, i can tell you that nobody there thinks that elite should be above the law or anything of that sort. Perhaps you misunderstood or mistranslated?
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
Stop the aid (4.33 / 6) (#50)
by winitzki on Tue May 01, 2001 at 07:14:04 PM EST

I am from Russia (left in 1992)... and I agree that Russia is "finished" at least for the next 30 years. Too much culture has been destroyed by the Communists. The contemporary Russian people who would be businessmen ("rich kids") are a dishonest, cynical, self-serving, and brutal bunch.

The main reason Western companies didn't invest in Russia was the dishonesty of their prospective Russian partners. A few companies lost a few millions on joint ventures where the Russian never delivered their promises, and it was a clear message to the rest.

What Americans can do is stop or at least decrease financial aid to Russia. It does not help Russian people but it gives money to the criminals who are conventially referred to as Russian government. The political character of that government has not changed since the USSR times, they merely changed names and appearances.

Here is what I know about the Borodin issue. He was not considered a diplomat by the U.S. because he was not diplomat of any kind. He stole money en masse, from bribes for renovation of Kremlin to U.S.-source financial aid. I heard that he stole $200,000,000 of financial aid money. A ridiculously phony government position was invented for him ("Secretary of State of the Russian-Belorussian Union") and they proceeded to make a lot of noise about his diplomatic immunity.

My impression is that the general political direction Russia is going has been unchanged since 1970s, for all the "perestroika" hoopla, name changes, and "freedoms." The people's mentality has barely started to shift. The Western public opinion would not have been under so many illusions about the Russian reform, had there been wide access to things actually said and shown on Russian TV today...

beg to differ.. (2.50 / 2) (#54)
by Rainy on Wed May 02, 2001 at 03:30:50 AM EST

30 years is a long time. How long did it take for western germany to rebuild an utterly annihilated state? I think they were doing rather well in 60s already, and world is much richer today, not to mention technological advances and what-not. Who knows, it may be 5-7 years, it may be never. I'm not a fortune teller and I doubt you are.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
poor analogy... (3.50 / 4) (#57)
by darthaggie on Wed May 02, 2001 at 10:43:53 AM EST

30 years is a long time. How long did it take for western germany to rebuild an utterly annihilated state?

Well, they did host the Olympic games in 1972, and that's 27 years after the end of WWII.

That said, however, they where a defeated country, divided amongst the conquerers, and told what to do and how to do it. The area controlled by the western Allies got significant amount of aid from those Allies. There was positive control over that money -- it didn't get siphoned off into someone's secret Bahamian bank account, it actually went where it was supposed to go.

And that is the biggest problem facing modern Russia. There's no way to get that positive control. As long as the ruling class thinks that it is OK to take their cut first, that is how it will be.

I am BOFH. Resistance is futile. Your network will be assimilated.
[ Parent ]

Re: aid (3.00 / 1) (#59)
by Rainy on Wed May 02, 2001 at 05:28:32 PM EST

Isn't russia also getting aid? I agree though that russia has corruption thing working against it, but hey, US had alot of that too (especially during prohibition, chicago in particular). It's not *that* big of a deal. Saying that corruption will keep russia from recovering for 30 years is a bit too pessimistic.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
How corrupted is the US? (2.00 / 1) (#64)
by khallow on Thu May 03, 2001 at 06:58:02 PM EST

I apologize for sliding off topic here.

Isn't russia also getting aid? I agree though that russia has corruption thing working against it, but hey, US had alot of that too (especially during prohibition, chicago in particular). It's not *that* big of a deal. Saying that corruption will keep russia from recovering for 30 years is a bit too pessimistic.

The difference is that the US had a somewhat healthy economy and the FBI rooted out a lot of the corruption. There are examples of endemic corruption problems that never go away. For example, water rights in the US were a problem back in the 20's and are still a problem. In California and elsewhere in the US West, big farmers have been the main beneficiaries of irrigation projects. Often the water project was created merely to benefit a particular landowner.

This corruption has continued to the present day, and frankly, water consumption in the West is still out of control. So problems *can* stick around for decades. In summary, I don't find the estimates to be overly pessimistic.


Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Germany had banks and Police and ... (none / 0) (#70)
by Grey42 on Fri May 11, 2001 at 05:12:37 PM EST

Read the article.

German had numerous thing going for it that Russia doesn't have and it looks like isn't going to happen in my life time.

Banks: There are no basically no banks in russia no one trust them. No banks on why for normal people to get loans or saving to help small buisnesses, which in most Captiallis econmies are 25-50% on the econ. and where more during the industrial revoloution. Like more in the information age too.

Police: The polcie are inefective and most things.

A belive that the goverment is out of the good of the people. All the russians I've me look at me like I'm stupid of something when I complian about corrupt policties of course politians are corrupt. The sky is blue.

Orgnised crime undercontorl. Even in the 30s I don't think that "Contract Hitman" was a popular career choice in chicago, it is in russia.

Acording to the article and what I've meet. there is not even the infrastucture of law and order and investment in Russia, nore the beleivf that it is possible. These are very hard to change, and won't be done over even one generation.
-- Grey 42(Chris Lusena)
[ Parent ]

One BIG difference... (none / 0) (#73)
by golek on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 11:31:36 AM EST

One big difference between post-war Germany and post-Communist Russia is that West Germany was occupied by foreign armies whose mission, apart from defending against Soviet invasion, was to promote political and economic stability. It was in the Western Powers' interest to create an environment where the billions in economic aid they were providing could bring maximum positive result. I think things would have turned out much differently in Europe if Nazism had just collapsed of its own accord and the Allied powers had just thrown money at the existing political and economic infrastructure.

[ Parent ]
Is Russia Finished? Is k5 pertinent? | 75 comments (56 topical, 19 editorial, 0 hidden)
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