Monday, October 11

Prosto Koshmar

Granted there are times when I would have to plead guilty to being the boy in the plastic bubble, flicking the fluff from my navel, lost in Coleridge's "delicious, diligent indolence". After all, it's not my role to keep a finger on the clitoris of the world - that's the job of the president of the United States (or, should there ever be an effective one - and a certain Tony Blair should be available in three or four years time - the Secretary-General of the United Nations). But I simply had no idea of the dishevelled state that Russia is in.

You read the link - from the New Yorker.

Then you do the maths.

It's simple: Russia is over.

You want to hear about some real flip-flop? Try this:

For most of its history, Russia has defined itself physically: as the biggest country on earth and as the place where Europe and Asia come together. Today, however, a nation’s significance is determined more by people than by land. Twenty-five years ago, the population of Russia was a hundred and forty million, and that of its neighbour Pakistan was eighty million. Within twenty years, that ratio will have reversed itself. If United Nations projections hold true, even Yemen will soon have more people than Russia.

Or consider this, from the same article:

In the past decade, life expectancy has fallen so drastically that a boy born in Russia today can expect to live just to the age of fifty-eight, younger than if he were born in Bangladesh. No other educated, industrialized nation ever has suffered such a prolonged, catastrophic growth in death rates.

The New Yorker piece concentrates on the Aids epidemic about to hit Russia, and how the government's lack of relevant action is endemic of the social, economic and political mess that the country is in. Prosto koshmar, they say in Russian: it's simply a nightmare.

What about President Putin? What's he doing?

Frankly Putin is looking more and more like a clown - but a sinister clown (trained in the KGB circus), not least when you read about his crackdown on the remnants of Russia's intellectual community, nor when you realise that it's sheer hubris on his part to pretend that Russia is still a major player, a net giver rather than taker of aid, when it needs all the international help it can get. As things stand, his solution is to establish a fascist dictatorship, based on fear, whose chief business is the dissemination of lies. Hello . . .

The worse part of all? That the Russian people are probably going to go along with this. They're so scared of the future - on top of everything else, there's terrorism: how many more atrocities will there be after what happened in Beslan? - that they want to go backwards, back, back, back into the benighted past.*

Funnily enough, of late I've been allowing myself a mirthless chuckle as to how our world was 'safer' when it was run by 'Bonzo' Reagan and - in turn - by those other two walking lobotomies, Brezhnev and Andropov. Those were the days, eh?

Don't worry, I see through the superficiality of my own argument, though as a schoolboy I did feel safe back then. Soft southern bastard safe, to be succinct about it. I certainly felt no fear. But it was the safety of ignorance.

I didn't know how fucking horrible life - life? merely existing is not life, is it? - was under 'Uncle' Joe; I didn't know how fucking horrible life continued to be under his successors; I had no grasp of Russia's terminal malaise. In truth, after the Berlin Wall came down, I thought that things would only get better for them.

For Russia the twentieth century was a lost century. But sadly, that was just the prologue.

Leaving aside the separate issue of Pakistan's leaping demographics and what that may entail, Russia's forthcoming social, economic and political collapse will hit us too, possibly in ways that don't bear too much thinking about.

* The rationale for the return of fascism? As quoted here: "A totalitarian state cannot be blackmailed by the threat of death of civilians," said Mikhail Leontyev, one of Russia's most prominent pundits, in his nightly commentary on federal Channel One, the most-watched network. "Terrorism happens only in democracies."

Link

posted by DD @ 13:02 

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