While browsing through a major Moscow bookstore recently, I happened to notice one bookshelf with a tersely written label that read, simply, “Jews.” It contained a randomly arranged collection of books on the ancient history of Palestine, tracts on Judeo-Masonic conspiracy theories, memoirs of escaped Holocaust victims, pamphlets written by “revisionist historians” arguing that the Holocaust never happened, Russian-language publications from Israel, and a large number of books that I would classify as practical guides for organizing a pogrom. In
The triumph of liberal ideas turned Eastern Europe into an intellectual desert where only ethnic nationalism weeds sometimes flourished. The positive influence of the economic crisis upon the society is that the crisis makes people think and be open to other ideas.
The government isn't prepared to face the contradictions of a policy that takes over and nationalises enterprises from inefficient and corrupt owners at taxpayers' expense, yet then seeks to restore the same companies to the same corrupt private hands.
The more the authorities refuse to change the system, preferring stop-gap measures, the more they will be caught in a downward spiral and the more they will lose control of their policies — and the economy as well.
It’s hard to imagine that the political establishment in Russia believe themselves in magic and fairytale decisions made to meet the crisis, but they can’t abandon their ideology, without affecting their authority.
Of all the former Soviet republics, perhaps Latvia has been the most assiduous and zealous adherent to the neoliberalism economic school. The country's political elite assimilated all of the fashionable theories and popular ideas with unbridled enthusiasm and put them into practice with a speed and diligence that surprised even their Western adherents.
Because of its overvalued currency, Latvia's manufacturing sector has fallen so drastically that not a single factory remains.
“The economic crisis ended in people’s minds a month ago”, told me a high-ranking Russian official.
Those words puzzled me rather than made me happy. The other day the press wrote about Vladimir Putin’s triumph as an anti-crisis manager who could resume the hot water supply to the town of Pikalevo, and who had made the owners of the Pikalevo enterprises pay wages to the workers.