Isn't the Internet an amazing thing?
I am old enough that this thought still pops into my mind every now and then, just like in the old days when I would pause in wonder while doing a live chat session online with a friend of mine in New Zealand.
Anyway, I would like to flash back to my earlier post that ran with this title: "Dear Washington Post international desk: Does Russia's 'Putin Generation' have a soul?" It focused on an international desk Post feature built on poll data showing that young Russians are among the biggest fans of that Vladimir Putin guy.
This alleged "Generation Putin" liked their nation's current stability and its economic prospects. The Post feature, however, noted that they have, in the past, "taken to the streets in protest" of some Putin policies and that there are many who like Putin despite the fact that they "espouse some liberal values."
This made me curious what kinds of values we might be talking about -- especially on issues linked to religion, culture and morality.
What about faith? What about marriage and family? In other words, I wondered if this interesting piece was haunted by "religion ghosts."
At the end of the post I added this note:
Read the whole piece and let me know if you sense the same hole in this piece, the gap where the Russian soul is often discussed.
I know, in particular, that GetReligion has readers in Russia. Care to drop me a note?
Sure enough, I veteran GetReligion reader chimed in with feedback. Thus, I'd like to do something that I wish I could do more often -- which is run a long, news-focused note from a reader. I know who this reader is and confirm that he is a professional in Moscow. So here goes:
I have only read this post and watched the interview clips on the page of the Washington Post article, but I am already cringing.
Where did they find these people? Especially the theater director -- he is remarkably inarticulate, even in his own language. Would any TV channel include an interview with such an unremarkable speaker? No. Of course not. Unless (key word here) that channel were trying to make the point that this guy has nothing to say because/hence his opinion is indefensible. And that's what I suspect is happening here. ...
I suspect that the author missed out on something vital that I have observed in my own 5+ years in Moscow. I work in an IT company with lots of people my age and slightly older (I am 29, my colleagues range from 23-36 generally). I attend an Orthodox church in a residential (perhaps a bit rough) neighborhood outside of the center of Moscow, where I interact with parishioners that I have known for years, ranging in age from children to women in their 80s, from different social and economic backgrounds. I also teach English to teen-agers. So I get a pretty solid view of Moscow across various age groups.
The article misses something big.
The generalization that can be made about age and attitudes toward Putin is that generally, those who have no PERSONAL memories of the 1990s are more likely to not support Putin. This group includes today's teenagers (who were too young) and those who lived abroad (like friends of mine whose parents were working in Cyprus, the Middle East, South America in the oil industry or Russian consulates) during this horrible period of chaos, inflation, currency devaluations, street violence and general lawlessness.
I am certainly not suggesting that everyone who was in Russia in the 90s supports Putin, but a large majority certainly do. Russians I interact with from all over the country quite simply associate Vladimir Putin with establishment of order in the country (a task, by the way, that people across the board agree is not yet complete).
People often say things like Russians loathe chaos and will do anything for order, but this is a ridiculous statement. The reality, I'd say, is that HUMANS loathe chaos and will do just about anything for order. The difference is that my sister and I, growing up in the States, and our parents, growing up in the US and Canada, have (glory to God) never simply never been tested in this regard. We have never experienced mass chaos on a national level, so it is absolute folly to make any claim about the Russian character (in comparison to that of any stable Western country). We are untested metal! We have no idea what our makeup is, as our lives have been amazingly stable (even in rough patches). ...
I'm immediately intrigued by your sentence, "It's a materialistic story, even though it's supposed to be describing matters of the mind and heart."
Think about it -- a country that suffered for 70-plus years under Marxist dialectical MATERIALISM, now being subjected to an entirely materialist analysis by a Western newspaper.
The (fall of the) Soviet Union proved, I would say, that any attempt to understand Russia in a completely materialist (in philosophical terms) manner will be entirely insufficient (if not useless). The Bolsheviks believed materialism was the way forward into the bright future. Is it not fascinating, does it not seem almost offensive to then try and analyze "Putin's Russia" (a term I loathe) from a strictly materialistic viewpoint?
That's all for now. I expect to update this post, since "Moscow Calling" wants to spend more time reading the Post piece carefully.
MAIN ART: The Moscow Times graphic for its "Generation P" site. FIRST ART: The "Mother Russia" statue.