15 June 2007

Russian VIP

Like all suddenly-rich-from-nothing countries, Russia also hasn't yet resolved its social issues and the transformation from a so-called classless society to a marginally classified society has been a painful one that hasn't yet come to a peaceful solution.

The case in Russia demands a closer look because of the fact that I have mentioned above: The classless society. As one of the uber-utopic goals of communism, the society would somehow in the future achieve a state where there are no classes and a no visible line separating the welfare of the citizens. Of course, it wasn't the case in USSR (a safeheaven for communism) where there was a visible linebetween two classes of the society: the nomenklatura (the ones who govern) and the others who are governed. Since everything from nuclear warhead production to sewing needles were planned and distributed from center (a.k.a Moscow), being a member of nomenklatura meant being in the very center of the show and guaranteed a safe reach to products and services. So it made the very essence of the concrete and die-hard support of nomenklatura to the system. A friend of mine hillariously commented on this "Asking about USSR to a nomenklatura is asking Donald Trump about capitalism". So the ruling class hang on to the ideals although it was clear that the system was running through ultimate bankruptcy; it was maybe they were so blinded by the light of communism or didn't care at all while they fed themselves fat from the milk of Mother Russia. They would have special markets full of products in their special housing blocks while the citizens would wait in queues for toilet paper or faced empty shelves. (When I first came to Moscow and began my hopeless quest for an apartment, my real estate agent took me to a house which had 4 rooms and luxurous (but old) interior design. She remarked that it once belonged to a communist party official...I don't need to tell you that the others I have been to that day were all "one rooms")

Everything was a lie??

The years of ignorence and decadence passed by till the handling of the office by Gorbachov who had already reliased that he was in command of the greatest nuclear arsenal and the worst social economy in the world. So he decided to let the citizens see the awful truth and the citizens (who were already awestruck by the accomplishments of communism by the soviet propaganda machine) must have had some shock to see the remnants of 60 years of ignorance and underproductivity. After letting them see what he has inherited, Gorbachov triggered (a rumored) attempt to make a swift and a bloodless turn to a market economy and he wanted it to be done by the people the state can trust, the nomenklatura. Anyway, they were the state, after all....

No Comment

After the dissolution, the state gave every employee a coupon representing his share in a state enterprise; because every citizen had its rightful share in anything with a CCCP stamp on it. But to most of the citizens those coupons meant nothing but colorful and valueless pieces of paper (because nobody gave milk to a mother for a coupon %0,01 share in the Gorky Telephone Cord factory) and wanted them for exchange of another colorful but more valuable piece of paper: the ruble. Here came the nomenklatura to the rescue, because they had the cash and needed the installations badly and the citizens had the shares and badly needed food and provisions to save the day. So they sold it to the nearest nomenklatura representative: the factory manager, governor...etc. So here came the myth that every factory owner got control of its factory after the collapse of USSR; actually they bought it legally from the soviet people for a sum of roubles and just let it quadruple its value in a short time. That is also why now Russia has more millionaires than England.

Nothing has really changed for millions of Russians

Welcoming the new era of prosperity, riches and welfare, came the new classes of Russia: The Rich and The Poor. It is inevitable that a capitalist society is unlikely to have a propsperous middle class but Russia took it to the unbearable limits. As the rich got richer (i mean, hell richer) the poor had to live on kasha and grechka (two russian food that you may not want to eat unless really-really hungry) The rich ordered gold plated sports cars for their 14 year old boys and the poor had to sell their olympic medals in a Parisian flea market (I have personally bought a 1976 olympic medal in Paris from a Russian emigre in 1996)

Russian Gold Youth

Now, the market has almost stabilized and Putin is heading steadfast to re-nationalise the revenues from petrol and gas and giving it back to the people. It slowly creates a new middle class that has access to western media and share the same tastes and decadences with their european counterparts. But Russians hasn't yet relieved of their strange class consciousness; that is why you can see a VIP in every corner of Russia. For example, one can pay 200 (~4$) rubles more for a VIP pass, where the VIP is just a balcony over the dance floor and the drinks served there are overpriced from below. The only thing is the attitude of being in the VIP and scream to the others that you can afford to be apart from them. But somebody should tell them that nobody except other so-called VIP's can see them in there...idiots. And why not check the VIP Metro trains for Moscow :)

He can be a VIP, so can you

Note: Turkish Invasion VIP (TIVIP) will soon be online. Please send money (not Russian Rubles) to Dinc for VIP access to TIVIP where you can read the blog as a VIP reader.

1 comment:

Hans A.H.C. de Wit said...

Nice blog.
You take Moscow, I will take Istanbul...))
Greetings from a Dutch in Istanbul