Wednesday, 29 September 2010

08. June 24, 2009

Esteemed Lyudmila,

Thank you very much for your letter and I am very glad for the opportunity to intellectually spar, even though you feel sorry for me in your comments. This, by the way, is not unsportsmanlike: you are depriving me of the right to argue my very briefly outlined assertions, with which you, as I understand, do not agree.

If you write something more derogatory, “not for publication” - I will not be offended at all.

I am indeed a “statesman”, i.e. I think that over the next 20-40 years (I do not look behind that), the state's role in the life of Russia (of Russian society) must be more important than today. However, by no means I favor a “tough hand”. I am convinced that the state should consist of well-working institutions, financed by the taxpayer and working in the interests of the taxpayer. Over time, many of them should be replaced by social structures. I.e. cease to live at the expense of the taxpayer, and become an element of self-organization and civil service. And, of course, I am certainly against the continuation of the “Tatar-Mongol” traditions, in which the state is the occupier, collecting contributions from the submissive people without being accountable for the use of those contributions, not interested in the wishes of the citizens and dictating them the rules of life.

As for globalization, I’m a globalist. Read my article about the causes of the crisis. However, I’m convinced that the national-territorial division itself will not become obsolete soon. And if in the realm of economics, the environment etc. globalization is necessary and positive, then in the realm of culture I doubt very much. I personally want to live in Moscow, to which I’m so familiar since childhood, and not in Baku or Chinatown. Even if because of this my city is short of some kind of income. Please understand me correctly, I do not judge people by their origin or nationality, but if a person comes to “my city”, he should follow my rules and not impose his own.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky

And many people think this way. Comfort is created by the cultural environment, not everyone likes New York.

If I stay in the minority, then I'll go to look for a place where people live the way I am used to since my childhood. And this desire to find a community of shared cultural roots is a very strong incentive. Stronger even than the purely economic incentive is to many people.

As for the “honest men”... I'm afraid you are mistaken. With an “honest soldier” we would have found understanding, because what was happening was even harmful to the state. Everything is much worse - we are dealing with a totally depraved part of the bureaucracy, which is not meaningful to society and not even to the state, but only to its own pocket, its own selfish interests. That’s the issue: we live in a country of cynics who have no ideology, not even the “Soviets”.

I am afraid that even a “great Russia” is for most people purely a slogan, from which they can easily abandon in the name of money. They would simply leave the country for the same dollars, if they can find security guarantees there, at the risk of losing what was "prohibitively acquired" here.

Now, about equality of opportunity. I am convinced, and I will do my utmost to get us in Russia, equality of opportunity for every child. The ideal is unattainable, as in everything. But I wouldn’t mind to spend a lifetime to realize this ideal. I believe that the “right opportunity” is the main thing that we must ensure to all children in Russia. And throughout the world. Ecology, education and political freedom are the means not only to ensure a minimum standard of living and comfort for everyone, not only to raise the average standard of living, but also to provide every child and every person with an opportunity to fully realize themselves, regardless of in what family (or country eventually), he was born.

I will not try to answer for the whole world, but I want to fight for the next Russian generation. I am convinced that this is not only one of the main objectives, but the main resource of social development.

And about what to do “after”, I rarely think in abstract terms. Life will show. In my opinion one should do what he can, here and now, as if every day were the last. Then there is no time to be afraid. Do as much as your strength and talent allow you, then it would not be “excruciatingly painful” when suddenly you find out that your time is over… If your talent is not so good, then follow at least an example. That’s exactly what I’m trying to do.

Once again thank you for your letter.


M. Khodorkovsky

P.S.: Forgive me for the excessive pathos and awkwardness in this letter. I write to divert somewhat from the “trial”.

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