The russiablog.org had a very interesting post by Nikolai N. Petro today. He argues that the young people have a stronger weberian protestant ethic than you find in Western Europe. Wikipedia quotes Max Weber as having written:
In order that a manner of life well adapted to the peculiarities of the capitalism… could come to dominate others, it had to originate somewhere, and not in isolated individuals alone, but as a way of life common to the whole groups of man.
This fits very well with what Petro reports from Russia. He writes that:
Recently, however, young Russians have begun to display new patterns of both political and economic behavior that have led pollsters to refer to them as the “Putin Generation.” … They tend to be bolder than their parents, viewing aggressiveness as a manifestation of self-confidence and initiative. Unlike their parents and grandparents, who are appalled by the emergence of the “super rich,” they are proud that Russia has the world’s second largest number of billionaires and either hope to make the list of Russia’s richest individuals themselves or see their children on it. … A 2007 study of 17-26 year olds, conducted by the Russian Academy of Sciences, concludes by describing them as “relaxed about planning for the future. They not only talk of wanting to achieve success in various forms – they actually believe they can do it.”
I believe this is great news. While I don’t long for yet another big supercapitalist country, I do believe that Russia only can rise to the heights that she should and could reach if the people of Russia shed the lethargy of Soviet communism. My experience from living in Vladivostok (OK it is 10 years ago and a lot has changed) was that most individual responsibility for the common good had disapeard, and I believe been destroyed by soviet communism. If the new generations of Russia can work not only for themselve but also for the common good Russia can again be a force for good in the world.