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Analysis & Opinion
24.11.08 Ready Or Not, Here I Come
Comment by Alexander Arkhangelsky

The prosecutor’s office has announced its intent to urgently find out who is responsible for stirring up the crisis. Which media are involved? You’ve been told loud and clear: there is no crisis in our country. What we are experiencing are mere consequences of the world’s financial crisis, provoked by America. And if this is not clear, then someone is in violation. And if the rules have been violated, someone has to be punished.

This is a symptom of the current state of the social class that calls itself “the managerial elite.” People actually believe that the processes of upturn and recession are really the result of somebody’s informational power, that social, economic, political and other processes are not adjusted (aggravated or improved) but directly managed by streams of real and fictitious, non-partisan and deceitful information. They are convinced that the media world is not a mixture of everything, of collusion with chaos, of subordination with willfulness, of personal ambitions with orders from above, but the realm of total conspiracy, a model of completed commissions. And it is useless to try to convince them that this is completely not so. You get a polite yet insolent frown from an all-knowing bureaucrat: we know, we know. Or the brazen grin of a businessman: oh, you’re telling us, huh? Remember the recent open letter by billionaire builder Sergey Polonsky: Reporters! Stop saying what you really think of the construction industry! We’re already down on our backs! Don’t report on the collapse, write about an upturn, and we’ll all be just fine. Just like the protagonist of a Scandinavian myth who made boats by singing; he sang and a boat would appear.

The mass media cannot breed a crisis, unless the crisis, like a rockslide in the mountains, has already ripened, and it’s enough to sneeze to launch an avalanche. So instead of dealing with the issue of economic passion fomentation or with the question of who here refused to lie about the real state of things, it would be better to deal with the problem of fomentation of interethnic strife, the issue of real threats our society is faced with. Whether you investigate the mass media or not, the pattern of the crisis’ development (which flares up on its own and is not kindled) is as plain as the nose on your face. By January, financiers, journalists, marketing specialists and owners of large grocery chains will have gotten bonked on the head. After January, the office desk pen-pushers will have
been refused their bonuses; they will not be able to make their loan payments and the growth of consumption will slow.

All this makes for trouble, but not the too serious kind; after all, the financiers, the journalists, the marketing specialists, the retailers and the office intelligentsia have been making decent salaries and profits in the past few years (except for the really young ones who only yesterday got their first jobs and haven’t yet had a chance to fatten up, and the really old honorable experts who were kept on staff mostly out of respect and were thus paid very little). If these people were well-off and careless, that is, if they had abundant earnings and at the same time did not prepare for the inevitable economic recession, did not accumulate any savings for a rainy day but spent recklessly – that’s their problem. The squirrels probably also truly enjoy the summer and the early fall, they want to bask in the sun and breathe in the scent of fusty leaves; however, they do not just enjoy the weather, but bury provisions for the winter.

Something more serious, though, is bound to start later, at least in the large cities. The construction companies, which now are only freezing new projects, will start closing down current construction projects en masse – until better times, no matter what Polonsky writes in his proclamations. Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers will be left without jobs. They won’t go back home; there is abject poverty in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, Turkmenistan is struggling; and in Moldavia, the situation is “stuff today and starve tomorrow.” These unemployed migrants will inevitably permeate the cities, they will hide in cracks and nooks and lead half-starving lives, but they will remain. Some of them might find underpaid jobs, some will not; the rates of ethnic crime will inevitably skyrocket, which means that the masses will become inevitably more racist.

So far – if you don’t take into account scattered gangs of skinheads– racism is manifesting itself rather bashfully, with reservations. However, if even the pro-Kremlin movements like Molodaya Gvardiya (“The Young Guards”) are already coming out into the streets for paid-off clean meetings with slogans that too greatly resemble the ones Dmitry Rogozin was once banned from Moscow elections for, then this is a portent of trouble. And no amendments to the Constitution can help here; it is okay to competitively compare the lengths of presidential terms with America during peaceful times. During the tempestuous periods of half-life this means of political freezing just stops working. Only the salaries get frozen. The disgusting perception of the world, on the contrary, defrosts and starts rotting.

And instead of, as our young supervisor puts it, “nightmaring” the media, start working together with them, in a preventive effort to create an atmosphere of tolerance, to soften the public morals. This – softening or hardening of public morals – is something the media really are good at. Although, the hardening usually happens much faster than the softening; in this sense, a huge segment of historical time is already lost, whatever will be, will be. But, first of all, history will probably not be over tomorrow, and it’s better late than never. Secondly, it is still possible to soften the upcoming blow. At least slightly. At least a little bit. And if it’s possible, then it needs to be done.

Or would this also be classified as rousing?
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