Monday, November 17, 2008

And while we are at it - at the NY Times Mag piece that I mentioned earlier - could someone please explain to me what exactly Condoleezza Rice meant when she said this about Russia's problems:


They’ve got problems, and the basis of this is that the legitimacy of the Russian government is not ideology; it is not a pretension to a different route for human development as Communism was. It is the ability of Russians to, if they can’t afford those Cartier shops near Tverskaya, to be able instead to go to the Ikea store that now completely dominates the Tank Trap Monument that celebrates the repulsion of the final push of the Germans into Moscow.

The footnote to this says the following:

A branch of Ikea, in Khimki, a small city just northwest of Moscow, borders the Tank Trap Monument, which lies on the spot where the Soviet Army repelled the German advance on Moscow.

I'll leave my theory to myself for now - because it confuses me.


  1. ...In my opinion, it's a really clumsy attempt to point out that the legitimacy of the Russian government isn't based on nationalism or any other ideology, so much as it is based upon its ability to keep the wheels of commerce turning.

    This reads fuzzy as hell to me, too, because that interpretation begs the corollary that in the speaker's opinion, Russian government needs an ideological basis to be entirely legitimate. ...Which is a foreign academic's perspective if ever such a thing existed!

  2. it is just stupid what you are trying to say, How do you explain legitimacy of having face of russian tennis player promoting Kodac film all over USS Intrepid in New York ???

  3. I've no idea what this second comment is really about, but I think that in general it's all about "capitalism" - Cartier and IKEA in Moscow, Sharapova (or whoever) in NYC, "wheels of commerce turning"...

    And if this isn't "a different route for human development as Communism was" - then what is?

    And I, of course, understand that there are different shades of "capitalism" and the one that Russia's wearing isn't the most appealing - but it seems weird that Condi would be so ambiguous about it...

    On a different note, I can't wait for them to open an IKEA store in Kyiv - but it's not going to happen any time soon, unfortunately.

  4. Somehow I can relate (for once) to what C.Rice is saying, even though it is childish.

    As Americans may be, I think we were (are) fascinated by the sort of "laboratory" of human development produced by communism. The Lenin parades, the mottos, the dream of singing tomorrows. Giving up the vision that this must produce another humankind is still an unfinished business for us. Whence the fascination...

    That is why here, any piece on Russia you come across stresses that race to consumerism ... even though we as Swiss live just the same way and also make trips to IKEA or whatever we can afford.

    And ideology? This sounds ridiculous when politics is just swept away by economics all over the world, and has no grip over anything, as we observe now.

    Was Condi a member of komsomol when she studied in USSR?
    (nice to read a talkative Neeka again..)
    Genia from Switzerland

  5. I've read elsewhere that building an IKEA is a symbol of a country's growing middle class, and this is what Condi is alluding to.

    Her point is that Russian capitalism is not just oligarchs in Moscow shopping at Cartier, but it is the emerging middle class shopping at IKEA in Moscow, Nizhnyi and other cities.

    She is trying to say that ordinary Russians have more fervor about buying SULTAN HOGBO mattresses and GROGGY martini shakers than they are about the Soviet past, embodied by the XX barricade monument outside of Moscow.

    By the way, Neeka, your Swedish furniture name is SVERÖNNIKA KHÖKHLLÖFA according to the Swedish Furniture Name Generator.

  6. "Was Condi a member of komsomol when she studied in USSR?"

    As far as I know, Condi never studied in the USSR, or Russia.

    "... I think that in general it's all about "capitalism"..."

    I entirely agree with you. It was easy to "hate" the Soviet Union for its "evil" communist ideology because this made it perfectly black and white in the American psyche. Now that the "evils" of Russia manifest themselves in a context of capitalist ideology, things are no longer so black and white for Americans. We suspect something is not quite right with Russia, but we can't possibly fault the capitalist ideology for that, it has to be something about how the Russian leadership perceives capitalism and goes about implementing it. If we claim that capitalism lead to our freedoms and liberties in the western world, we can't simply cry fowl on capitalism in Russia. Americans have a tough time wrapping their heads around that one, I certainly do as a Canadian living in the USA.

    PS: The "Misha" videos are adorable.