The Good Russians: Poorest Give to Others Even When They Don’t Have Enough to Eat
November 23 – One of the many things those Russian officials and their allies who
condemn any critic of the Russian government as a Russophobe don’t understand
is that the objects of such attacks make a distinction they do not – between
the horrific government and the many good Russians who suffer under its
as some in Moscow do not understand as well, a major reason why many in the
West came to the study of Russia and continue to be fascinated by it is because
they have always been struck by the fundamental goodness of so many ordinary
Russians and the stark contrast between their qualities and the horrors of the Russian
these students of Russia have usually been horrified by the insistence of many
in the regime and its supporters that the Russian government and the Russian
people are one and the same thing, a specious claim such people use to deflect
criticism from within and without by suggesting that the people are the same as
the state when that is clearly not the case.
this American Thanksgiving Day, when we pause to reflect about the many good
things we have been blessed with, it is appropriate to recall the good Russians
of whom there are millions who despite their suffering continue to choose to
give to others poorer than themselves even when they don’t have enough to eat.
this week, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported the results of a survey by experts from
the Higher School of Economics showing that despite hard times, 57 percent of
Russians give to charitable causes with many of them giving more now precisely
because times are hard than they did earlier (ng.ru/economics/2017-11-21/100_poorrussians.html).
As anyone who knows
Russians would expect, much of their charitable giving is directed at children,
those that are ill in particular, but also those who are orphans or who have
been left in difficult circumstances far beyond their control.
most important and timely finding of this study is the following, as Nezavisimayagazeta makes clear: “the greatest average sum of gifts to those
people do not know directly comes form the least well-off strata of the
population, who often ‘don’t even have enough money to feed themselves.’”
poor people do this, the study suggests, “out of solidarity” with those who are
suffering a difficult fate like their own, a finding that those Russians who
insist that Russians are incapable of solidarity and thus remain atomized
victims of the state need to recognize is incomplete if not completely