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Toward Win-Win

28.02.2002 10:18
In response to “Russia’s Transition Is Over,” a comment by Paul Saunders, Feb. 23.

Editor,

Saunders proposes to stop trying to influence Russia’s domestic situation, relying instead on the national missile defense. I view these recommendations as extremely dangerous.

I believe that in several years Russia could become the world capital of heroin, AIDS, TB, computer crime, advance weaponry research and prostitution. It will engage in active military cooperation with anyone else who is hell-bent and has a buck. Its territory may split into several pieces, affecting other countries of the NIS and unleashing waves of refugees. In these circumstances, Russian leadership may become extremely confrontational or could simply lose control over the situation. This scenario represents a greater threat to the security of the United States and Europe than in anytime since the Cuban missile crisis.

In my books “Understanding Russia” and “How to Make Russia a Normal Country” (http://matthew-maly.ru), I distinguish two types of people: producers and claimants. Producers create and all they need is a fence, made of rights and laws, that protects their creativity from the envy of others.

Claimants cannot produce and are afraid of becoming successful. All they want is to make it impossible for others to succeed, and that is why they stand for a legal system that makes everyone defenseless and lets the envious rule.

Societies also can be either creative or claim-based, and a transformation from one type to the other, though entirely possible, is difficult.

Now the communist dream is gone, but this did not turn people into creators. The basis of their relationship still was lose-lose, and since we are in Russia, loose-loose. Transformation from a claim-based lose-lose society to a creative society securely based on win-win has indeed been happening in Russia, but is far from over.

The West should have told Russia that bread that you steal or receive from your master is bitter, while the bread that you grow is sweet. We are ready to help you start earning your own bread. Creators eat their own bread, and they grow kind and respectful of others. Effective protection of creative rights of every individual, necessary to establish win-win in every interaction is called “law.” A community of creators, coexisting on the basis of win-win, is called “democracy.”

Instead, we picked out a few Russian “economists” and asked them to implement “reforms.” America’s founding fathers were not economists: They sought freedom, justice, honor and individual opportunity. The “economists” we picked out did not know what fairness is and saw people solely in terms of their usefulness.

These “economists” could never build democracy, which is a community of people who improve their own condition not at the expense of someone else. If your heart does not feel a fundamental difference between a human and a bolt, you are incapable of grasping what democracy is all about. I am convinced that President Putin wants democracy; I am equally convinced he has no conception of what it is.

A program of morality-based economic reform can help Russia recover. If everyone were creating, Russian gross national product would at least triple. But for that we must help the Russians grasp the concept of win-win. Saunders talks of pressuring the Russians on a “laundry list of issues,” but without win-win as an option, the Russian state will remain boorish, incapable of sharing our concerns.

We should create an American university (with an American style curriculum, and most importantly, with an American code of honor) in every major Russian city. We should establish law schools and business schools that would start by teaching their students the magic of win-win and true respect for other people.

We should establish schools of social work to reveal what no one here knows: Instead of hiding from the state, Russians should act as true citizens and get their state modified. We should also establish in Russia several equivalents of American national laboratories. The West should support civil society in Russia by helping to develop free enterprise and the legal framework necessary for it. Independent democratic media or citizens’ organizations should also be supported. Communism posed a great moral challenge to the world. We cannot get away from this challenge, and it cannot be reduced to a technical task.

Matthew Maly
Moscow

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