Russia: An "Oasis of Nonchalance"

Global Voices Online
Friday, August 24, 2007

August 19 marked sixteen years since the beginning of the Soviet Union's collapse. On this day, LJ user galerist (Marat Guelman, gallery owner from Moscow) happened to post a sketch (RUS) on his visit to a rich client's estate - a sketch that, in a way, highlighted some of the changes that have - and have not - occurred since 1991:


I was visiting a client yesterday. A very rich one. A huge estate, beautiful. Everything looks untouched. It's clear that he is using 5 percent of this luxury. And only when he's in Russia.

I stayed overnight. Woke up at 11 and went out for a walk. Tons of people. Families of construction workers are relaxing by the lake. Servants are drinking tea in a gazebo. The cook sits by the computer in a study (I'm taking up his space right now).

Anyway - they are making full use of this estate, while the one who owns it, works for them, basically. Because he is funding this oasis of nonchalance.

Below are some comments from Marat Guelman's readers:


It's always been like this. But then, out of ignorance, they'd plunder the place, killing the master... and then lived [in misery].


If everyone of the top 10 percent has a dozen people working on them, then it's not surprising why gastarbeiters [migrant workers] are in such demand...


He just doesn't have a normal manager, someone who wouldn't allow violations of the work discipline. To allow a cook to roam around a study and use the owner's computer - it's too much. Each worker of any kind of enterprise has to have clear boundaries that would set apart what's allowed and what's not after work. This owner's problem isn't that he's using his estate not often - it's his right, he can use it as much as he wants to. The problem is that responsible people, and not some bums, have to be in charge of overseeing the state of the property.


It seems to me that he himself cultivates [this sort of relaxed attitude].


[...] He makes sure that a large number of people are employed. Many here don't understand what it means to provide employment to a HUGE MASS of people.


I'm one of those who don't get it. What's your point?


The point is that [one person] [...], through his creative plans and effective management, provides a well-paid and socially-protected employment to [thousands of people], and, indirectly, maybe even to millions.

This is the essence of a state's social policy on creation of work places. But our state and its political strategists don't seem to understand it, they only call for stability, but don't really know how to achieve it - all they know is how to provoke new sources of instability and other problems.

And this rich guy, [...], without any affected blah-blah-blahs, is just doing his work, willingly, providing employment and social stability, and even their growth, on a scale he's capable of. And since it looks like there's production growth, it means he knows his market well. It wouldn't hurt to have someone like him as president.


It's nothing but a post-Soviet lack of employer-employee relationship culture. It is very hard to make oneself forget that "all are equal." Hard both for the servants and for the master. Especially when everyone are from the same area. It's easier when servants are from another country, and it's good if they speak a different language and haven't experienced Soviet upbringing. [...]

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