In Russia, It’s Just Like the Old Times
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  • WigWag

    If Putin had aspirations of emulating Lee Kwan Yew, that dog was never going to bark. Yew may have led his nation with a velvet fist, but the citizens of his nation were mostly hard working, industrious and enterprising men and women of Chinese, Malay and Indian descent. Putin has a more cantankerous, less educated and far less entrepreneurial group of people to lead. Singapore also had the tremendous advantage of being mentored by their British overlords for more than a century; the civilizing impact of the British could not have been more advantageous to Singapore’s ultimate economic performance? While Singapore was being tutored by the British who was running Russia? First the Romanovs and then the communists; it’s obvious who was better off.

    Finally Singapore had two other advantages Russia never had; it never suffered under the stifling influence of the Orthodox Church and it never adopted vodka as its national beverage of choice.

    • Jim Luebke

      Wow. Anti-religious bigotry has its place on VM again, I see.

      What business does the Orthodox Church tax? What onerous regulations do they impose?

      Isn’t Singapore the country that enforces conformity to hyperconservative social norms with a 30-foot bamboo cane? This (and the vodka issue) suggests that if anything, the Orthodox Church is far too lax in its enforcement of values.

      • Tom

        One does not have to be an anti-religious bigot to see the Orthodox Church as a stifling influence on Russia, primarily regarding culture and such.
        That being said, the real problem with Russia is that it was invaded by the horse lords of Central Asia multiple times. They have never forgotten this, and have been a garrison state ever since.

      • wigwag

        Jim, I’m surprised you suggest that my comment is bigoted. Are you really suggesting that religion has nothing to do with the achievement of success in a capitalist system?

        There’s a reason, don’t you think, that Protestant northern Europe was historically so much more economically successful than Roman Catholic southern Europe? Is the Orthodox Christian world really all the filled with economic success stories? Can you name even one economically vibrant nation where a majority of citizens are Orthodox?

        I think that the relative lack of success in the Orthodox and Roman Catholic worlds as compared to the Protestant world has alot to do with how Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism interfaced with feudal society to stifle rather than encourage a culture of entrepreneurialism but I am sure that there were other factors as well.

        If you are interested in the subject, let me recommend two books to you. Professor Mead’s opus “God and Gold: Britain, America and the Making of the Modern World” describes in fascinating detail how the British Reformation and the Protestant values that it came to embody helped Britain and later America out compete the rest of the world. Jerry Z. Muller’s “Capitalism and the Jews” outlines how normative Judaism and the peculiar features of Jewish history interfaced to produce the idiosyncratic success that Ashkenazi Jews have enjoyed in the economic sphere.

        The idea that culture has nothing to do with economic success seems silly to me. Isn’t religion one of the anchoring tenets of any culture?

        By the way, for the argument that Orthodox Christianity doesn’t promote economic success in a capitalist system to be bigoted, one has to assume that economic success is inherently virtuous. Christianity in particular has an ambivalent relationship to economic accomplishment. There are some Christians who view prosperity as a sign of virtue; there are other Christians who view poverty as a sign of piety. Both points of view seem ridiculous to me. Being prosperous isn’t emblemmatic of being either good or bad; neither is being impoverished.

        There is simply nothing bigoted in pointing out that the historic role of the Orthodox Church in Russia hindered rather than propelled Russia’s economy,

        • Jim Luebke

          I will treasure your positive comments about Protestantism. 🙂

          That said, I agree with Tom’s assessment of Eastern Europe’s real problems — Mongols, Magyars and Turks.

          Northern Europe had their own barbarian problems with the Vikings, which resolved themselves when the Vikings Christianized.

          • wigwag

            Nations where a majority of the citizens are Orthodox Christians: Greece (95%), Moldolva (93%), Georgia (89%), Romania (87%), Belarus (85%), Serbia (84%), Bulgaria (83%), Cyprus (80%), Ukraine (80%), Russia (75%), Montenegro (74%), Macedonia (65%)
            Not a single economic powerhouse in the bunch.

          • Jim Luebke

            Are there any of these that have not suffered from invasions of various steppe peoples (including Ottoman Turks) or, more recently, communism or flirtations with communism?

  • rheddles

    And the Soviets were nostalgic for the Tsarist Ohkrana. Let the Russians be Russian. If you were caught between the Mongols, Chinese, Mulsims and Europeans you’d probably develop an attitude. Every day we should be thankful our neighbors are Canada and Mexico. It’s a beautiful day in our neighborhood.

  • You’d think the land of Tolstoy and Chekhov could somehow do better than that.

    • WigWag

      Luke, I would argue that reading Tolstoy and Chekov is a perfect way to gain insight into why contemporary Russia is the way it is.

  • drschilling

    14 Hairless Cats That Look Like Vladimir Putin – By Elizabeth F. Ralph | Foreign Policy Good read

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