The Russia that Could Have Been

Than you for your feedback. I have always thought of Russia with some sadness. At so many important junctures in history you have one wrong turn and it had really bad impact for the rest of your history.

The way the Soviet Union broke up was a disaster. But I suppose that is the problem with taking a system in an extreme direction. You easily get an extreme counter reaction. People wanted something that was completely opposite of the USSR in every possible way rather than trying to salvage the good parts.

We where big fans of Gorbachov and perestroika here in Norway. If he had pulled it off I think Russia could have turned out quite well. However he should probably have followed a more Chinese model, by beginning economic reforms first and then begin democratic reforms a bit later.

I cannot say I have a good understanding of what the current Russian model is like. You have some similarities with us I suppose in that you have more government owned business than in say the US, and you still have free public education at university level.

As far as I can tell, a big difference is that we have stronger democratic traditions. We got lucky in that state power was never that strong in Nordic countries, and hence transition to democracy was much easier for us than in Russia. A central element in the Nordic model I don’t see as much elsewhere is the emphasis on transparency. All tax returns are public information. You can lookup how much taxes every politican makes. The point is to put in place systems to expose corruption easily.

I don’t know how to build a successful hybrid capitalist-socialist model. But I think getting democracy and transparency right is probably crucial. We put in place a lot of laws to limit the ability of the rich and powerful from influencing politics. E.g. you cannot buy political ads on TV in Norway. This is to not give an advantage to parties with powerful economic connections.

A lot of the press gets government support. But we have tried to make the criteria for receiving support as objective as possible so this is not abused to finance your buddies. Hence there is a fairly broad press in Norway of different political persuasion which I think is important in a democracy.

The biggest problem as I see it today is that the main media outlets care more about sensationalism and gossip than actual important news. It is not as bad as Britain but we have some elements of their reporting.

I really hope Russia can find its way. I am against the east-west divide. I don’t think the west has done a great job the last years in approaching Russia. Sure Putin has done some provocations but so have we. Norway has allowed more US soldiers on our soil which I think will just escalate tensions with Russia. But I kind of blame our current conservative government for that.

The Norwegian left has been far more open towards getting good relations with Russia. Especially in Northern Norway relations have been quite good after the cold war. Many people cross the border back and forth. Many Russians get scholarships to study in Northern Norway.

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Geek dad, living in Oslo, Norway with passion for UX, Julia programming, science, teaching, reading and writing.

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