What is to be done to move Russia into the 21st century world? It always has been a very tough question, but more possible of success today than ever before. It will lift Russians who can accomplish so much more if they develop an environment of cooperation and mutual need and respect. But it’s not easy. While it does not require sleeping on a bed of nails, as the hero did in Nikolai Chernyshevsky’s famous novel What Is To Be Done to prove his dedication to his Markist ideals, it does require a clear and serious intent, dedication, perservance, and many other things.
In a land historically devoid of the predictability of law, the cement of Russian society is built on personal relationships. That interwoven matrix is complex. That is why one never makes commitments he cannot deliver. It is deeds, not words that count. Character is more important than contracts. Once that trust develops, I found the Russians reliable, resourceful, dedicated, and extremely hard-working. New leadership can develop out of that growing pool of forward-looking younger men and women. And contracts can be a result.
William Lytle Schurz was an unforgettable professor of mine at Thunderbird School of Global Management, my graduate school. He stated incredulously to us at the time, just a few years after Stalin’s death, that Russians and Americans were more alike than any two peoples on earth. He said they were both people of the soil; they both loved their country, were an egalitarian lot, could laugh at themselves, and were hard workers. He was right. Americans and Russians make good partners. They are straight-speaking, self-confident, and work well as a team. When both the Russian and American understand the other’s personality and culture, good teamwork and mutual benefit can be achieved. Look at the space program for example.
One of the perplexing answers to “What is to be done,” comes from Victor Chernomyrdin who in 1997, at the end of his stint as premier of The Russian Federation said, “We hoped for the best, but it turned out like always,” Or another of his historical remarks, “If one considers what could have been done, and then what we did do over this long time, one can conclude that something was done.” But, things are changing.
Learn more about Russians. Buy here “Walking on Ice, An American Businessman in Russia”. Your comments are welcome.