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Why not Russia?

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pinguin View Drop Down
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    Posted: 18 Jun 2011 at 02:29
Something that fascinates me is why Russia has fall down so much. Yes, today is recovering from the disaster of the fall of communism, but still I can't understand why that country has failed to the expectations. After all:

(1) It has a large population.

(2) Russians are very creative people, able to design all kind of weapons, space gear, technology and projects.

(3) The have an educated population.

(4) They have a country with a long tradition.

(5) They are a hard working people.

How come they were left behind by the U.S., Europe and now by East Asia? Is it something wrong with Russia? Or the wrong is to believe that education and creativity are all what it is need to create a sucessful country?



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The Hidden Face Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2011 at 02:59
According to some, it's because the communist past that still affects Russian people. They are new at capitalism so struggling to establish fully capitalist open society. They need time I guess. Secondly, I believe that the west doesn't want Russia to become too strong economical player in the region because Russia is not like some other east asian countries which are quite passive at the world politics, so when Russia has strong economical system, she will also become a very strong political player again. 

Edited by The Hidden Face - 18 Jun 2011 at 03:01
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote whalebreath Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2011 at 06:23
OP has a somewhat idyllic even naive view of Russia.

Alcoholism & corruption have always been the axis of doom for Russians-some things never change.




Edited by whalebreath - 18 Jun 2011 at 06:23
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2011 at 06:48
Quote (1) It has a large population.


Widely dispersed over a large area, and very multicultural - these present challenges to administration.

Quote (2) Russians are very creative people, able to design all kind of weapons, space gear, technology and projects.


As you said, they have a large population in control of vast territory and a lot of wealth. Of course they will invent some things, but they doesn't make them especially creative as a culture. Germany is much smaller and produces more patents.

Quote (3) The have an educated population.


That is only a very recent development. Prior to the mid 20th century the Russian people were generally poorly educated and overwhelmingly rural by Western standards.

Quote (4) They have a country with a long tradition.


Fairly irrelevant to geopolitical success most of the time.

Quote (5) They are a hard working people.


How did you measure that? And hard working compared to whom?

So with all of those myths debunked, let's look at some of the challenges: rampant nepotism and corruption, lack of political accountability, alcoholism, the difficulty in administering a vast territorial area with an often inhospitable climate, strained relations with some of its neighbours due to historical grievances, a very obviously struggling criminal justice system, declining population and birth rate. Russia has potential, certainly, but she has some very serious obstacles often of her own making that she needs to overcome before reaching that potential.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2011 at 07:42
1:Russia is mostly an inland, continental part of the world - or are alternatively bordering icy waters. that means it could not be that affected by the expansion in communication, transortation and expansion of commerce and exchange of  ideas during the centuries were ships were all-important for Western Europe.
2:Its rather uniform great plains made it easier for one center (Moscow) to gain control by force (not least cavalry), and that increased the opportunities for all-powerfull princes to crush anyone opposing them.
3: Therefore the state could concentrate on building up itself as a military force, at the cost of other forms of "development" of the country. If it had to chose between investment in commerce, improvement of living standards, science and technology versus crushing a rebellion/conquering a new territory it mayu have had a greater tendency towards the later choice.
4:Finally, the fear of invasion by outside enemies - and not least real invasions, must have put a heavy drain upon the country, especially when we keep the carachter of diverse "russian wars" in mind.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2011 at 07:49
Originally posted by whalebreath whalebreath wrote:

OP has a somewhat idyllic even naive view of Russia.

Alcoholism & corruption have always been the axis of doom for Russians-some things never change.


 
Alcohol consumption in Russia is less than in the Czech republic and Hungary (both countries made a successful transition from communism) and close to that of South Korea, Ireland and several other countries so it is a myth.
 
As for corruption, yes it has a detremental effect on a country's economic performance it doesn't explain the problem. There are many countries much poorer than Russia and yet far less corrupt. Its primarily the potential to be corrupted that is the problem.
 
 
In my opinion, Russia's true problem is its identity crisis. Russia is one of the world's most diverse societies with nearly 100 different ethnicities and God knows how many languages. Yet unlike during the Soviet era when communism was welded into the psyche of the overwhelming majority of the population and it was the idea that brought people together, Russia now lacks such a thing as the idea of Russia for all (like the US for all).
 
Russian nationalism, Islamism, fascism and contemporary Orthodox movements all struggle to be the new idea of Russia and none of them promotes democracy, freedom or economic achievement. All of them promote a dictatorial form of government and between them there is a tiny minority of liberal (in the classical sense) minded Russians who promote a modern state.
 
 
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Edited by Al Jassas - 18 Jun 2011 at 08:01
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2011 at 09:19
On the topic of alcohol consumption, what matters is not only the amount of alcohol consumed but also the manner in which it is consumed. If you have two beers per day over the course of a week then you will be fine. If you consume only 14 beers in one sitting each week then you are doing serious damage to yourself. And in different countries the way in which people drink does differ - some cultures are more inclined to binge than others.

As to whether the Russians are more inclined to binge drink than other cultures - I don't know. I'll leave that question for someone who knows about their culture more intimately than I do.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2011 at 13:29
Originally posted by whalebreath whalebreath wrote:

OP has a somewhat idyllic even naive view of Russia.

Alcoholism & corruption have always been the axis of doom for Russians-some things never change.





Well, alcoholism, drug addictions and corruption are also widespread in the U.S., and that doesn't seem to be the difference at all. Besides, countries like Italy or China are corrupt to the bone, with maffia included, but they managed to progress.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2011 at 14:26
Originally posted by The Hidden Face The Hidden Face wrote:

According to some, it's because the communist past that still affects Russian people. They are new at capitalism so struggling to establish fully capitalist open society. They need time I guess.


China was also governed by the communist party, and still is. So, why things work in China and not in Russia.

Originally posted by The Hidden Face The Hidden Face wrote:


Secondly, I believe that the west doesn't want Russia to become too strong economical player in the region because Russia is not like some other east asian countries which are quite passive at the world politics, so when Russia has strong economical system, she will also become a very strong political player again. 


The West has the power to stop small countries, like Afganistan and Iraq, but I doubt it really could stop Russia. Russia stops itself.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2011 at 14:28
Originally posted by fantasus fantasus wrote:

3: Therefore the state could concentrate on building up itself as a military force, at the cost of other forms of "development" of the country. If it had to chose between investment in commerce, improvement of living standards, science and technology versus crushing a rebellion/conquering a new territory it mayu have had a greater tendency towards the later choice.

I like that hypotesis. However, Russia has invested quite a bit in science, technology and culture of its people. It fails in the practical rutinary things, like to make a decent appartment or a car. The Soviet Union before and Russia now, can build very reliable space rockets but theirs commercial goods are low quality. Why?


Edited by pinguin - 18 Jun 2011 at 14:31
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SPQR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Jun 2011 at 19:07
Russia (when it was the USSR) was always a militaristic, and spartan society that focused on just about any type of technology that could be used for war. This utilitarian outlook on things stifled creativity and innovation which is why people weren't lining up for their cars. It was like this because of the old system of Communism, that forbid private ownership where entrepreneurs could build something other than guns and tanks.

Russia as of now resembles a junkie coming off a bad drug and even after all these years it is still recovering. However Russia is changing, there is even an international business district that resembles some of the big cities today.

source: Moscow International Business District

Russia has a very bright future, especially if it can one day tap into the vast resources that Siberia offers. If I am correct they are poised to become a superpower once again.

Edited by SPQR - 25 Jun 2011 at 19:07
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Jun 2011 at 21:08
Russia is blessed even more than most other large countries, by vast territory, ressources and population. Or we may question who is bklessed  by all this? is it the inhabitants or
"the state"? Who gets the benefits of the great state and the "great power status"? A similar question may be relevant towards other states, especeially those commanding most people and ressources, and possesing largest territories. We lacks any convincing evidence to decide if bigger or smaller states are "better".
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jun 2011 at 01:14
Originally posted by SPQR SPQR wrote:

Russia (when it was the USSR) was always a militaristic, and spartan society that focused on just about any type of technology that could be used for war. This utilitarian outlook on things stifled creativity and innovation which is why people weren't lining up for their cars. It was like this because of the old system of Communism, that forbid private ownership where entrepreneurs could build something other than guns and tanks. .


Interesting concept: an spartan society.
I must confess I admire Russia and in several ways I felt very bad when I saw it falling so down.

Two examples of Soviet Union's creativity compared side by side with the Americans. The spaceship to reach the moon and the Buran space suttle.




















Edited by pinguin - 26 Jun 2011 at 01:16
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hugoestr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jun 2011 at 14:16
Penguin,

In the technological realm, the USSR lagged from the West. It painfully lagged. That was thanks to the great purges of Stalin, which killed a whole generation of scientists and engineers.

That was part of the shocker with Sputnik: a country which never achieved food security was able to launch satellites and manned missions to space.

I don't know about the lunar module, but the Soviet shuttle was a "me too" move. It was so derivative of the U.S. shuttle that those responsible for it had to explain why the similarities.

Nice picture though :)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jun 2011 at 14:59
Yes, the USSR lose the moon race, but that shouldn't blind us to the fact they pioneered serveral fields where the USA failed.

For example:

Space Stations. Mir Space station



Submarines. Typhons class submarines, the biggest ever built




The heaviest transport aircraft: Antonov 225



Tupolev 144, a supersonic airplane



The largest helicopter



Not that bad, eh?









Edited by pinguin - 26 Jun 2011 at 15:00
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Anton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jun 2011 at 17:36
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:



How come they were left behind by the U.S., Europe and now by East Asia? Is it something wrong with Russia? Or the wrong is to believe that education and creativity are all what it is need to create a sucessful country?



Why do you think they are left behind? There still lots of cultural sectors where they are in the front edge. Classical music, theaters, ballet, physics, heavy machines, space, metallurgy, military sector, sport are some of the examples. No doubts, there are problems, especially in modern technologies, such as electronics and  biotech, but hey, give her some time, a decade or two of wealth will bring her on top again. It already happens. Some Russian software companies are becoming famous in their sectors. Examples are 1C or SPB Software house. Quite a few biological groups from Moscow, such as Laboratory of Molecular Technologies  are world leading. Many world leading Russian scientists immigrants are opening second labs in Russia.  Of course, it is still not comparable to USA or Europe and there is lots of problems, but I see a positive trend.

As for the reasons of problems, there is one obvious problem -- Russia adopted a wrong economical model that clearly didn't work and now she is at the period of transition to more effective one. I do not see how alcoholism could be a problem. It mainly concerns lower class not the intelligentsia.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jun 2011 at 19:00
Good for Russia. Let's hope she comes back.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jun 2011 at 19:28
Originally posted by Anton Anton wrote:

  There still lots of cultural sectors where they are in the front edge. Classical music, theaters, ballet,
Aah, Ulanova! She finally came to London the year I moves there...toughto think that the 100th anniversary of her birth was only a month ago.
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