Musings on Contemporary Waffle
Not Your Grandfather’s Smart Phone
How is the game different today? I would submit that America and Europe have been better at what seems to be squarely within the blind spot of the born-again Soviet heroes of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle. The last 20 years have seen the greatest progress in technology since the Industrial Revolution. But where is the Russian smart phone? The Russian tablet? The Russian car? The Russian wind turbine?
Mr. Putin just wants to sell gas and to play blackmail. And like schoolyard bullies his loyal accomplices are going to bash in the heads of the smart guys for their smarmy braininess and their modern ideas about freedom and democracy.
Mr. Putin’s neo-Soviet heroes have no better ideas in 2014?
Even the supposedly “progressive” Dmitry Medvedev has been mobilized to perpetuate the theatrics of being appalled by Ukraine’s continued self-realization, attempting to legitimize the fantasy of justification for the taking of Crimea. This is the man who wanted Russia to build a techno city modeled after Silicon Valley to make Russia more competitive in tech, and in so doing respond to the dreams of millions of young, bright, talented Russian’s who could move their country a few inches into the future. That project is now under threat. Maybe they’ll build it in Crimea.
But these young people are real, and they are instead leaving Russia in droves to live and work in the West.
There, their only “ideology” is to want to realize their dreams without being forced to march in phony demonstrations for Putin and the TV cameras against Ukraine. I have worked with these young people. They will not go back to the way it was, a time they never knew. They are the ticking time bomb against Putin’s plans. Push them too far, take away too much from these young people who want to build better lives for themselves and who see in the West a multitude of examples of how opportunity can be realized, and you have the makings of another revolution.
But, of course, this is what Mr. Putin is afraid of. But with no better ideas than bloated nationalism, he has suddenly become the wrong man at the wrong time. And so, the progressive West that holds the lead in this technological revolution has written him off, because we know how his story ends.
Betrayal of a Generation
The actions of Mr. Putin have, therefore, not only been an attack on Ukraine’s legitimate torment over the near destruction of its civil society by Viktor Yanukovych, but has also been an attack on Russia’s own young people, the youth of Russia who do not remember Soviet days and who have been irrevocably tainted by their taste for thinking and acting freely.
As described beautifully in Part One of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, the civility and intellectual accomplishments of this class of Russian society will need to come to terms, for the time being, with the gall of the class of goons and thugs who are being given an increasingly free hand in doing the Interior Ministry’s bidding to ensure loyalty to the old ideology that Putin has now – like a feature in Photoshop – brought to the front to continue to protect a savagely corrupt system that denies due process and due access to a better future for those who want it on their own terms.
But freedom is freedom. There is no “American” freedom or “German” freedom or “Russian” freedom. There are just people who either feel free or feel they are being restricted. People know if they are being treated fairly or not. Even in Russia.
I am not saying that there will be a revolution soon – I am not quite so naïve. But Russian history has shown that, despite its size and power, the country has always been affected more by its own internal inadequacies than by external forces. The Tsar fell not because of foreign provocation. The Soviet system fell not because America launched any missiles at the motherland.
The absurdity of forcing us all to pretend that it is 1978 again has created its own “reset” in the minds of free people everywhere that will gradually end the reign of Vladimir Putin, or at a minimum contribute to eventually make him irrelevant in our sensibilities as we learn to live without his gas, his oil, and his corrosive sense of history.