Russia Will Warm Up to Greta Thunberg, Eventually

The Swedish activist’s speech has sparked a backlash in Russian society

By Kirill Martynov
Sept. 27, 2019

Judging from my compatriots’ angry reactions to Greta Thunberg’s speech at the UN, it looks like Russia is proud to be a country that is stuck in the past.

Just as in the 17th century — when we imported chemists and metallurgists from Germany — and in the 19th century — when we accepted philosophies and political ideas from all of Europe — in the 21st century we are again borrowing new words and theories that, for some reason, we were unable to come up with ourselves.

A new revolution is unfolding now in the West, and we are once again observing it from our Russian periphery — the same place that Karl Marx envisioned us to be in his international division of labor. To truly be shocked into action by Greta’s speech, we must definitively accept the backwardness of our social development.

Members of the Russian government have long accepted the truism that economic growth is good, but not many of them will be able to tell you what is so good about it — especially after a country reaches a certain standard of living.

Up until now, Russia’s conception of economic growth has looked much like the following: Having two massive shopping malls instead of one, building monolithic apartment blocks in place of Soviet-era housing and making sure that every pothole on the street is matched with an SUV that is parked nearby.

Our collective vision of prosperity hasn’t grown beyond this, which is quite unsurprising, given the events of the 20th century in Russia.

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