W. George Krasnow (also published as Vladislav Krasnov), b. Feb. 24, 1937, Ph.D., runs the Russia and America Goodwill Association, a non-profit organization of Americans for friendship with Russia. Formerly, he was a professor and director of Russian Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. Under the name of Vladislav Krasnov he published three books: Solzhenitsyn and Dostoevsky: A Study in the Polyphonic Novel; Russia Beyond Communism: A Chronicle of National Rebirth, Soviet Defectors: The KGB wanted List. His op-ed columns have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, International Herald Tribune, San Francisco Examiner, San Diego Union, and Dallas Morning News.
Vladislav Krasnov. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Relevance Today:
Vladislav Krasnov. Gandhi and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn,
the Two Giants Who Blessed the 20th Century:
Sighing at the Secrets of Jewish Genius/Rebuttal to Bret Stephens’s The New York Times Column
VLADISLAV KRASNOV •
FEBRUARY 3, 2020.. •10,000 WORDS •244 COMMENTS •3 NEW •REPLY
In English: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=752
In Russian: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=ru_c&key=697
Today is the birthday of Vladislav Krasnov, the GHA Board member, RAGA President, outstanding Russian/American biographer of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, historian, humanist and peacemaker (https://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=752). He made a great contribution to the support and development of global peace from the spherons Gandhian truth in the GHA books.
Happy birthday and many years of creativity to Vladislav on the GHA members’ behalf!
GHA Founder and Honorary President,
My very dear friends Leo and Vladislav,
I cannot find words strong enough to express my deep gratitude to you for your encouraging words and for circulating the link to the website. Inspired by your encouragement, I will continue to work as hard as I can.
I wish you both great success in your own vitally important work for peace and rationality in these dark and dangerous times.
With love, solidarity, and gratitude to you and to other dear GHA friends throughout the world,
John Avery, Nobel Peace Prise Laureate
My dear friends John and Vladislav,
Your wonderful works and deep evaluations were published also on your personal pages of the GHA website "Peace from Harmony":
“John Scales Avery: Books and Articles for System Harmonious Vision of Peace”: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=672
“Vladislav Krasnov. Good Will and Peace from Harmony for Russia and America”: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=752
Unfortunately, we must recognize the obvious fact and the bitter reality that the dominant patriarchal world order of disharmony, hatred, wars, lies in a pseudo-democratic wrapper of the totalitarian freedom of violence and deception is powerless, unable and not seeking to destroy neither the institution of war, nor the absolute evil of nuclear weapons nor other pathologies. They are profitable to it, that's why it need in them and therefore it is not going to leave them. He cherishes them, fueling them with the fattest militaristic budgets that prepared the nuclear self-destruction of humankind by 100%. From it we are separated only by one American push of the trigger nuclear hook.
A way out of this deadly patriarchal impasse can offer only new women with their harmonious nature armed with the soft force of "Global Peace Science". only they are able to establish the thinking paradigm of the world order of Harmony, Love, Peace, Truth and full genuine Democracy, instead of the militaristic democracy of the American Congress, which impose by force the institution of a global war and the order of war globalization by unchanged policy "from the position of strength." Another position it is deprived and does not demonstrate.
To the women's exit from the male impasse of violence is dedicated the new GHA project, which we invite you to support. Women's leadership can ensure the realization of your and our ideas of harmony, goodwill, destruction of the institution of war with its absolute evil of nuclear weapons. This project is published here: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=815. Its banner, expressing its essence - in the attachment.
With love and hope for understanding the need for women's leadership.
your intellectual vitality and concern for the spiritual health of humankind is an inspiration to all of us! Below is my comment on the EACPE site:
I will send your link to my RAGA Peace List. http://eacpe.org/about-john-scales-avery/
W George Krasnow (http://wiki-org.ru/wiki/Êðàñíîâ,_Âëàäèñëàâ_Ãåîðãèåâè÷)
PS. John Scales Avery's personal page: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=672
Happy birthday in polyphony!
The GHA is happy to congratulate you on your birthday, wish you good health, creative success, harmony and strengthening of the goodwill of two peoples: Russia and USA through your organization of the same name! It is reflected on your personal page:http://www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=ru_c&key=697.
We highly appreciate your contribution to peace of our peoples, to its deep polyphonic understanding, the source of which in your scientific work has become the philosophical and religious comprehending the polyphony of the Russian spirit, most vividly manifested in the works of such Russian geniuses as Pushkin, Dostoyevsky, Bakhtin, Solzhenitsyn and Glazunov. Its historical personification you consider the figure of Mikhail Alexandrovich - the last Russian tsar de jure: http://www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=ru_c&key=759.
You have penetrated the GHA new scientific ideas, revealing polyphony at the genetic level of structural harmony of Spherons, to the statistical research of which you are actively involved in our countries. Indeed, polyphony, as a deep genetic harmony of the indivisibility, unityin the good, beauty and truth, has not only aesthetic, philosophical and religious, but also scientific expression in the cybernetic/tetrasociological theory of the Spherons. Polyphony, as the idea of higher complexity and eternal spiritual value, requires its disclosure and comprehension on all the floors of the human spirit: in religion as sobornost, in philosophy as unity, in literature and aesthetics as polyphonic choral consonance, in science as the genetic structural harmony of Spherons. The latter concentrates the spiritual power of the preceding and opens the prospects for a conscious political, economic, social and educational embodiment of universal polyphony in the practice of the 21st century.
Your goodwill as a polyphonic intention has a unique value meaning for the present, for your multi-year organization of benevolent cooperation between Russian and American peoples, in which the GHA assists you in every possible way.
Happy birthday to youand great life!
Dr. Leo Semashko,
GHA Honorary President,
thank you very much for remembering me so eloquently, both in English and Russian, on my birthday. Since the GHA is open to all peace-loving people, I displayed your greeting on RAGAforPeace facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RAGAforPeace/
Also, since my photograph where I am holding an icon of St. Michael appears prominently on Facebook and GHA website, I have to explain it's significance.
The icon celebrates the life and martyred death of Mikhail Romanov, the younger brother of Tsar Nicholas II who abdicated in his favor in February 1917. Instead of accepting the crown, Michael let the Constituent Assembly elected by universal ballot decide the fate of monarchy in Russia. Meanwhile Lenin and the Bolsheviks seized the power in a violent revolution and dissolved the Constituent Assembly since they lost the election. The Civil war followed in which the Bolsheviks won after millions of lives were lost. All the Romanovs were executed. Michael was the first to go. on June 12, 1918 he was shot, along with his secretary Johnson, by a revolutionary goon squad in my native city of Perm. In 1981 Michael was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church as a peace-maker. In the photograph I am holding his icon during a Cross-bearing procession in St. Michael's memory in Perm on June 12, 2008.
I am convinced there will be no PEACE on EARTH until people in every country abandon the Marxist theory of class struggle and violent revolution in favor of peaceful cooperation and HARMONY of the SPHERONS and otherwise walk in the footsteps of such people as Leo Tolstoy, MahatmaGandhi, Martin Luther King, and Michael Romanov, the tsar-democrat. Let people of all nations raise their voice in polyphony of different and rich cultural identities.
Last Russian Tsar Was Michael, Not Nicholas - The Moscow Times
Jul 10, 2013 - Thus, Michael II, not Nicholas II, should be remembered as the last tsar. ...
They preferred to talk about tsar Nicholas II's autocracy rather than Michael II's one-day stellar rule that planted the seed of democracy. ... W. George Krasnow is president of Russia & America Good Will Association in Washington.
The Last Tsar: Emperor Michael II Paperback – January 25, 2012
The late Donald Crawford was a good friend of mine and of the people of Perm. He passed away last year. PEACE via HARMONY
W George Krasnow (http://wiki-org.ru/wiki/Êðàñíîâ,_Âëàäèñëàâ_Ãåîðãèåâè÷)
Dear Dr. Leo Semashko and all GHA members and associates,
On behalf of the Russia & America Good Will Association (RAGA.org) I gladly congratulate you on the GHA 13th anniversary on February 15. Although RAGA is about twice as old, we are proud to be friends and allies of the GHA which is younger, more energetic and has a truly global outreach.
At RAGA we work on the assumption that better relations between the USA and Russia benefit the entire world which, so unfortunately, continues to stand on the threshold of nucleasr self-immolation.The GHA efforts to promote the study of spherons and scientific tetranet thinking under the auspices of the United Nations is a project deserving universal support--for the sake of PEACE.
W George Krasnow (http://wiki-org.ru/wiki/Êðàñíîâ,_Âëàäèñëàâ_Ãåîðãèåâè÷)
The SPHERONS’ Argumentation:
Lev Semashko has joined a long list of Russian truth-seekers and visionaries who believed that the most reliable path to PEACE comes from a deep based social harmony, which, according to his scientific conviction, stems from SPHERONS, that is classes of population engaged not in Marxist class struggle but in cooperation. Their structure is universal and eternal; it affects the soul and character of a person and leads to a harmonious development of humankind. Among Semashko’s predecessors are the Saints of Russian Orthodox Church, as well as secular Russian authors, such as Leo Tolstoy and Fedor Dostoyevsky, Vladimir Solovyov, Nikolai Fyodorov, Elena Blavatskaya and Nikolai Roerich, Boris Pasternak, Mikhail Bakhtin and Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Semashko has not only challenged Marxist-Leninist "science" of the class struggle, but also endeavored to create a science of social harmony based on deep spheral structure of society that by itself excludes violent conflict both inside a country and abroad. In this endeavor Pythagoras, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Plato, Aristotle, Montesquieu, Leibniz, Teilhard de Chardin, Gandhi, Mandela, Noum Chomsky and other thinkers inspired him. The spheron science cannot automatically prevent accidental wars and social conflicts in all states. However, it teaches that the way to do it is not violent revolutions, but a harmonious peaceful universal education and a harmonious peaceful arrangement of national governments and all international organizations. Dr. Semashko chose not to sit on the laurels of this science, but took on the heavy task of an active organizer of the worldwide peacekeeping network. God help!
Doctor of Philosophy and History, Founder and President of the "Goodwill" and Friendship Association between the United States and Russia (www. RAGA.org),
Moscow / Washington,
Personal page: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=752
On behalf of Russia & America Goodwill Association, I am happy to congratulate you and all GHA colleagues on the Victory Day. As you have seen from my previous forwarded letters from ROOTS action and the World Beyond War, hundreds and thousands of Americans share antiwar sentiments of the Russian people and are determined not to allow current tensions between our countries to degenerate into something worse. We agree with you that it is not enough to be antiwar. We need to do something for PEACE. I just came back from Dubrovnik, Croatia, where our friend and colleague, Professor Rudolf Siebert conducted a forum "The Future of Religion: Civilization or Barbarism?" All forum participants agreed that US undeclared wars and military actions such as drone strikes constitute a descent to barbarism. Professor Siebert asked me to thank you for your book collection "Global Peace Science". Another copy went to the library of the Inter-University Center. (Previosly I gave a copy to the Library of Congress, USA, and another to a library in San Francisco). Below are links that resulted from RAGA's cooperation with the GHA, as well as how the Victory Day is celebrated in New York and Washington.
Dear Dr. Krasnov,
Many thanks from the GHA members to you and your wonderful PEACE RAGA Association for your congratulations on the Victory Day, for your scattering our unprecedented “Global Peace Science” on the world Libraries: Congress, San Francisco, Dubrovnik, etc. and for your publication of the GHA PEACE Projects on your web. I was happy to publish your great letter on your personal page with my answer: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=752
You are absolutely right that peacemakers cannot be limited to anti-war actions. “It is not enough to be antiwar. We need to do something for PEACE.” - - These are the golden words of peacemaking!!!
The first thing for PEACE is Global PEACE Science, which equips peace with the most powerful weapon that it does not have until now, although the war is armed with the military SCIENCE strongest weapon more than two centuries!!! PEACE lags behind the war on the strongest weapon FOR TWO CENTURIES!!! Therefore, can we be surprised that PEACE completely lost the WAR two centuries? It will continue to lose, if PEACEwill be left unarmed, WITHOUT GLOBAL PEACE SCIENCE. Unfortunately, traditional pacifist peacemakers are far from this understanding. They are limited mainly to anti-war actions and neglect the PEACE work ignoring PEACE SCIENCE. This is weakness of the world civil society: It has a lot of anti-war organizations, but there are very few organizations that "do something for PEACE", primarily for GLOBAL PEACE SCIENCE, leaving PEACE spiritually unarmed before the war. In addition to yours and little several other organizations, I do not know other organizations calling themselves "peacemakers" who would support the first peacemaking weapon - GLOBAL PEACE SCIENCE. I have to admit with bitterness that the organizations with which the GHA has been cooperating for a long time and whose leaders have contributed to this science have not done this.
I must honestly and directly, without fear of condemnations of my criticism, for the sake of positive peace and not belittling their other outstanding merits call these organizations-outsiders of positive PEACE and positive PEACE Sciences:
1.Int. Association of Educators for World Peace, President, Dr. Charles Mercieca
2.Int. Forum of Literary and Art for Peace, President, Dr. Ada Aharoni,
3. World Wide Peace Organization, President, Maria Cristina Azcona,
4. TRANSCEND Network for Peace, TRANSCEND Peace University, Founder, Prof. Johan Galtung,
5. World Citizens Association, President, Dr. Rene Wadlow,
6. World Without War, President, David Swanson,
7. Nonviolence Charter Movement, Founder. Dr. Robert Burrowes,
8. Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies (HumanDHS), President, Dr. Evelin Linder, and etc.
This is a fact of sociological observation and analysis, accessible to every honest scientist.
I constantly publish on the GHA website “Peace from Harmony” the peacemaking materials of these organizations and their leaders, but in response the GHA cannot even get a one-page review from them about the theoretical center and the heart of Global Peace Science - about the discovery and logical argumentation of SPHERONS (http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=747). WHY such a priori hatred, neglecting, violating peace solidarity and disdain to the main instrument/weapon of PEACE? If you have criticism of this center, why you did not express it earlier? If you have criticism of this center, why you did not express it earlier? Why you cannot express it through a year and a half after publication of this science, which spreads around the world, across all continents? What is the reason: in science, or in Western Russophobic racism, or in the political preferences of America, or in envy,or in what else? The conflict within the peacemakers has matured long ago, and it requires an honest dialogue, discussion and recognition of the need to develop internationally Global PEACE Science, which has many shortcomings awaiting joint resolution.
Sincerely, best wishes for peace from harmony,
Dr. Leo Semashko,
GHA Honorary President,
OWS, RT, Russia, What’s Next?
RT (Russia Today TV News Network) has covered the Occupy Wall Street movement so extensively and boldly that it begs the question: What does the Kremlin have to do with the OWS movement?
From what I have observed in both Russia and the USA, the answer is: Very little or nothing at all, to my regret, which I’ll explain later.
More than a month– from September 17 when the OWS started in New York to October 21 when I returned from Moscow to Washington–I watched OWS the way Russians see it, through government-controlled TV channels.
I was struck by how little attention Russian media paid to this massive explosion of discontent that was clearly embarrassing to US government and media pundits who would much rather talk about “lack of democracy” in Russia than American about 1% “plutocrats.” After checking online reports from Truthout, I realized that in OWS did not receive a coverage it deserved.
So I had remained unaware of the movement’s huge scale until I came back to my Alexandria home—and to a new TV set supplied with dozen channels, including RT. Now I’m glued to RT every morning. And what do I see?
- A dapper Iraq war veteran, US Marine Corps sergean reminds policemen after their brutal assault on peaceful occupiers that “this is not a war zone.”
- Another veteran is struck with a tear-gas canister on his head so viciously that he required hospitalization.
- Horror-stricken face of an 84 year old woman occupier disfigured by pepper spray.
- A row of students, peacefully sitting, heads down, arms interlocked, in a gesture of defiance against the overwhelming force of 1% conscience; and policemen dozing them with pepper spray.
- Dozens journalists arrested and manhandled by police.
- Retired Philadelphia police captain among the protesters in New York; he says his comrades could also be laid off, and many obey their orders only reluctantly.
I am not much of a TV watcher. Last time I watched RT was more than a year ago at my friend’s home. Now I am pleased with how much RT programming has grown and matured. I hear RT buzz from my neighbors, tennis partners and casual acquaintances. I hear them saying: “We learn more about the USA from RT than from any American channel.”
RT’s American Success Story
I switch back to CNN, Fox, and NBC I’ve watched for years. Cindy Lohan is in trouble again, as she was half a year ago; Herman Cain’s sexual peccadillos are on display. So is Sandusky’s alleged pedophilia. The brutality of some, NOT ALL, Middle East dictators is routinely condemned.
Click RT. It’s not just OWS coverage. RT deals with serious domestic and global issues. An array of competent reporters covers all corners of the world. Max Keiser dissects financial and economic woes. Thom Hartman frames them into The Big Picture. Peter Lavelle’s Crossfire juxtaposes diverse views from a broad political spectrum.
Who else but RT would break the taboo on a discussion of Israeli nuclear arms? Among RT guests former US Senator Mike Gravel or Paul Craig Roberts andf former Assistant Secretary in the Reagan administration. Both call attention to Benjamin Netanyahu’s dangerous gambling with world peace, as he plans an Israeli attack on Iran’s alleged nuclear weapon production sites. As US media retches up Iran’s demonization, the task of a gadfly of US politics falls on RT shoulders.
No wonder that now RT is the second most-watched foreign language channel in the States after BBC. In fact, RT’s coverage of the United States is so good that it could be just as well called UST.
But where is Russia?
If RT’s coverage of US is commendable, this cannot be said of its coverage of Russia. To be sure, it has some good Russian programs, from Al Gurnov’s Spotlight to a raucous travelogue with Mark Ames. American viewers enjoy watching reels on the revival of Buddhism in Kalmykia, fate of Jewish diaspora in Caucasus and survival of exotic languages in Siberia.
With the approach of December 4 Russian elections, the Spotlight is aptly focused on leaders of major political parties vying for the seats in the State Duma. Still, I wish there were more RT discussions of Russian politics and foreign policy.
What is missing on RT is Russia herself. There is no sustained narrative of Russian history, religion, literature, philosophy, architecture, art, and culture in general. RT.com has a link to Russian language instruction, but “The Sexiest Philologist in the World” is more likely to distract from language leaning. There seems to be no room for a discussion of Russia’s socio-political system. There is no indication that there might be a special Russian perspective on the unrest in Middle East, EU financial crisis and the OWS movement.
Is Russia Still Shocked?
Since the disintegration of the USSR in 1991, Russia seems still dazed by “Shock Therapy” of early 1990s. It regained its historical name but not yet its national conscience. Russia remains a country of divided mind.
On the one hand, the country’s traditional name is now restored. After all, ethnic Russians constitute over 80% of the population. The remaining 20%, assimilated in various degrees, can handle Russian language. Russia’s national symbols, the Eagle and the Tricolor flag, have replaced the ideological Hammer and Sickle, Red Star and Red Flag.
On the other hand, Russia’s official name, The Russian Federation, harks back to the USSR. President Yeltsin made it a successor state to neither Russia of the tsars nor the Provisional Government which had ran the country until the Bolsheviks overthrew it on November 7, 1917. It was Tsar Nikolai’s successor, his younger brother Mikhail, who empowered the Provisional Government to conduct general election to Constituent Assembly which was to decide on the form of government. (For more read my 2010 article “June 12: Russia Day or Remember Tsar Mikhail II Day?”)
Upon learning that they lost the election, Lenin’s Bolsheviks forcibly dispersed democratically-elected Constituent Assembly. Willingly or not, Russia’s present leaders got stuck with this illegal and violent legacy of Soviet State that goes against the grain of their democratizing aspirations.
Lenin’s embalmed body still lay in the Mausoleum on the Red Square as a symbolic reminder that Russia’s 73-year-long dalliance with Communism has not yet been buried. The question remains: Would Russian leaders want to emulate Russia’s first democratic enterprise with universal suffrage and Constituent Assembly? Or do they feel fealty to dictatorship that spurned the will of the people?
That’s where I wish that “the Kremlin,” or whoever manages RT, would provide a Russian perspective on OWS and global unrest in general. Since the Kremlin pays for RT’s budget, one would expect that RT would serve Russia’s national interests, while eschewing censorship. one would expect that RT handling of OWS would be infused with a Russian perspective.
There is none. What is really Russia’s view of OWS? I suspect that not only RT managers, but the Kremlin too cannot articulate one. Of course, the Kremlin likes to see the US embarrassed by OWS as well as by rough police tactics to suppress it. The brutality of Russia’s own police in curtailing Moscow’s own demonstrations begins to look “not so bad” when compared with the American pepper sprayers, man-handlers, and tear-gas canister throwers. The Kremlin can indeed feel a perverse pleasure at the fact that all Russian demonstrations are MINISCULE compared with those in the States.
Which is worse, Oligarchy or Plutocracy?
But this is not a perspective. It’s more like a glee at the distress of your competitor. The Kremlin is not too eager to show OWS scenes to Russian viewers lest they get inspired for Occupying Russian Banks.
The truth is that Russia’s economic system is not so much different from that of the USA. After all, the implementation of Jeffrey Sachs’s “shock therapy” reforms was entrusted to a Harvard team of Neo-Liberal economists headed by Professor Andrei Shleifer and overseen Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers, both of whom headed Treasury under Clinton. Comparing what the two did to the US economy with what the now jailed swindler Bernard Madoff did to his investors, the columnist Robert Scheer came to the conclusion that the two secretaries are “Too Big to Jail” as his recent Truthdig article is titled.
As to what the Harvard team has done to Russia, via the Anatoly Chubais clique next to Yeltsin, read Janine Wedel’s “Collision and Collusion: The Strange Case of Western Aid to Eastern Europe,” E. Wayne Merry’s PBS interview and my own 2006 article “Would Harvard Ever Help Russia?”
The US-sponsored “Russian reforms” resulted in the oligarchic system of state-controlled crony capitalism. With Vladimir Putin’s rise to power, the wings of a few oligarchs were clipped, but the oligarchic system has remained intact, insinuating itself into all pores of Russian economy.
Using their access to the Yeltsin government during 1991-1997, a score of unscrupulous “reformers” simply robbed Russia of its collective wealth. The wealth had been accumulated, first, by “communization” of all factories, shops, private property and farms during and after the civil war. Then it was greatly increased by the labor of all Soviet people, including GULAG prisoners, during 73 years of “sweat, blood, and tears” Soviet rule. The robbers came to be collectively called the “oligarchs.” Now economic disparity in Russia between the super-rich and ordinary people is most certainly greater than in the USA. It is more like .01% versus 99.99%
The oligarchs have both the means and the reasons to keep the corrupt system intact. Powerless to rein them in, the government seems content with maintaining a semblance of stability, helped by wind-fall profits from sales of hydrocarbons and other natural resources. Whatever political and even military-strategic differences the Kremlin may have with the US and NATO, these are overshadowed by the fact that Russian economy has been subordinated to the demands of “global economy” which, in turn, is controlled by the might of US dollar and US military machine.
The “success” of Neo-Liberal intervention in Russia has sent its US sponsors on a spree of manipulating “deregulated markets” at home. This spree precipitated the 2008 global crisis. The American big media bemoans the death of democracy in Russia under Putin. But if Bill Moyers, speaking of the United States, is right that “Plutocracy and Democracy Don’t Mix,” then one can surely say that the greatest obstacle for democratic development in Russia is not Putin, but the oligarchy.
Is the Kremlin Learning from OWS?
Far from being the Kremlin’s “puppet”, RT may yet teach the Kremlin important lessons. If it watches RT coverage of OWS, the Kremlin may well realize that Russian revolutionaries have misled Russia nation into not onE, but TWO most tragic follies of the 20th century.
First, following Karl Marx’s dogmas, they revolted against capitalism, nationalized all factories and collectivized all farms. Second, some seventy years later, their descendants reversed the course 180 degrees. Setting Russia on the course of Milton Friedman’s “unfettered capitalism,” they “privatized” just about everything. Russia moved back to Square one. However, property was not returned to its original owners, but went to crooks and the offspring of those who had once nationalized it.
Did Russian reformers have any choice but follow the Neo-Liberal “Washington consensus”? Would it not have been better to take a more gradual approach and follow, say, the Swedish model which combined the principles of free-market with socialist welfare state? They would probably reply that the IMF, to whom the Russian government was indebted, gave them no choice. They simply had to follow Neo-Liberal precepts then in vogue—and in power—and ignore such outstanding critics of “market fundamentalism,” as Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, the author of “Globalization and Its Discontents” (See especially his June 2000 interview in The Progressive magazine) or Russia’s native son Wassily Leontief, also a Harvard economics professor and Nobel laureate.
A Third Way for Russia?
At any rate, Russia should not have thrown away its unique experience in running centrally-planned economy, no matter how ineffective it was. Instead, it plunged back to the very same “capitalism in its highest imperialist form,” from which Lenin’s Bolsheviks allegedly “freed” Russia in 1917 and which meanwhile evolved into “disaster capitalism,” as Naomi Klein aptly calls it. Post-Communist Russia should have tried a third way that takes advantage of all the virtues of free market while retaining national planning and social justice for all.
In the very least, Chubais should have distributed the “vauchers” not into the pockets of oligarchs, but to factory workers to make them co-owners. To be sure, Western advice was needed in both organizing such enterprises and marketing their products. There was already considerable international experience in running such enterprises, like the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) in the United States which includes dozens of successful companies employing over 10 million people.
All that US government had to do was give the Russians a realistic choice of different forms of private enterprise, including ESOPs, so that they could take what was most compatible with their already “socialized” economy and their national tradition. Instead, US government gave the “Russian reform” contract to the now defunct Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID). According Wedel, the exclusive contract was granted after normal bidding procedure had been waived “for foreign policy considerations.”
As it turned out, the Harvard team not only set Russia on a wrong macroeconomic course, but also violated US law. In 1997 the contract was cancelled as two team leaders, Professor Andrei Shleifer and Jonathan Hay, were accused of illegal investment in enterprises they “reformed.” After a long litigation, in 2005 Shleifer and Hay agreed to repay the Treasury $2 million each, and Shleifer’s wife was fined for $1.5 million. Harvard University, where Larry Summers became president, was forced to pay $26.5, the largest penalty in its history, back to US tax-payers. (For more see my article “Would Harvard Ever Help Russia?”)
Secure a Free Market for Ideas First
First and foremost pre-condition for a normal functioning of free-market in global economy is the existence of “free market” for ideas, including the idea that each country has the right to choose an economic model that is suitable to its national character and history. Unless there is a free exchange of ideas, beyond the Neo-Liberal fetishism, the “free market” for finance and commodities will inevitably favor those who want to impose it, by guile (as in Russia) and force (as in Serbia, Iraq, Libya etc.), on the rest of the world.
What do we do next?
On Thanksgiving afternoon, November 24, I went to McPherson Square in Washington to see what occupiers were doing there. There was a camp of dozens makeshift blue-colored tents and a crowd of about two hundred people. The weather was balmy, the mood relaxed; some occupiers were throwing football; others small-danced, ate sandwiches, talked to onlookers and took camera shots. I talked to some of them. None complained about police harassment.
The overwhelming concern was “What do we do next? Where do we go?”
The consensus was that “we are not against capitalism as such, but against CRAPITALISM,” that is against financial manipulation of global market by the 1% or fewer people. These manipulations threaten to undermine the very idea of free enterprise of which America is a great practitioner. After all, the US gave rise to such high-tech giants as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg. Perhaps their wealth is excessive but, unlike Russian oligarchs, they did not gain it by exploiting access to the White House.
Recently, Bill Gates joined forces with Warren Buffett, the financier, asking American billionaires to give half their wealth to charities. Russian oligarchs, by contrast, are not in a rush to embrace charitable causes.
Finally, this article could not have been written without yet another American high-tech invention, the online non-profit Wikipedia, founded by Jimmy Wales in 2001. It has since become the most reliable, accessible, and quick (Wiki!) source of information for millions around the world, in their own languages.
Wikipedia has upheld the good image of the United States by far more effectively than all US/NATO wars “to spread democracy and globalization.” Since Wikipedia staff upholds its operational integrity by refusing to accept commercial advertisement, they ask all users for donations. I am happy to contribute whatever proceeds I get for this article to Wikipedia. Oh, yes, don’t forget to click Occupy Wall Street!
(Page in work)