Chapter 10: Hindsight and Foresight
No one can deny that clouds are once again gathering over Russia, promising great storms. Maxim Gorky There is no shame in not knowing; the shame lies in not ﬁnding out. Russian proverb As we have seen, the collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union and the economic liberalization that followed created an unprecedented opening for business leaders. In just over a decade these New Russians built empires worth billions of dollars; transformed inefﬁcient mammoth State enterprises into cashproducing machines; created whole new industries; and changed the lives of tens of millions of people. This book attempts to provide enough insights to answer the intriguing questions that most people ask when they consider the tremendous changes in Russia in the past decade: ‘Are we seeing a new kind of Russian leadership? Can the lessons learned by the handful of successful New Russians be shared with their compatriots? Are they the right role models, as imperfect as they might be, for a stable social and economic future for Russia?’ It is worth another short detour into historical context in our search for answers. RUSSIA’S ROBBER BARONS? Americans like John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Jay Gould, J.P. Morgan, and Collis Huntington and their peers were long thought of as ruthless and unscrupulous ‘robber barons’ whose primary goal was to accumulate personal wealth at any cost.1 This view was criticized by later historians for being too simplistic and sometimes inaccurate, but the fact remains that there was a high level of...
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