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12:14PM

Russia: Give pace a chance

Democracy as a controllable condition (Russia)


Datelineóabove the garage, Portsmouth RI, 21 April


Reference: "Give Me Liberty, but Not Too Much: This Is Russia," by Seth Mydans, New York Times, 21 April, p. A4.


Ah the perplexing mystery that is Russia Ö


It has opened its borders like never before in history. It has embraced markets like never before in its history. It currently poses less of a military threat to the West than ever before in its history (except when we were beating on it in this or that European war).


And yet we are somehow disappointed, yes? Not enough democracy. Russia has become almost boring in its political functioning, and now we have a new name for this odd conditionócontrollable democracy.


Former Soviet experts who adeptly adjusted their career paths to become Russian experts tend to be a fairly sullen lot. Almost none ever have anything good to say about RussiaóMarshall Goldman being the prime example. Russia, in their view, is always going to hell in a handbasketóexcept it isn't. It's situation is . . . kak skazat pa-Amerikansky? Kontrollable.


Da, all is in order. So I guess our main disappointment is that Russia is taking its own sweet time in replicating American-style democracy. It's going slowly along that pathway, much like dawdling China. And judging by the lack of raging protest in each, and the rising incidents of class-action lawsuits and people trying toóget this!óactually sue the government for wrong-doing in certain limited instances, I guess we can say that the masses in both countries are reasonably satisfied by the pace of political change and their outlets for making their dissatisfaction known.


Might it always be faster? Sure. But going slow has its virtues, like staying out of the front pages and avoiding any slippage in the direction of the Gap.


I say, give the pace a chance.

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