January 01, 2012

The New Russian Philanthrophy

The New Russian Philanthrophy

In the twentieth century, Russia performed two supremely difficult somersaults: at the beginning of the century, it cast off monarchism; at its end, it embraced capitalism. In both instances, the foundations of society, and therefore society itself, were fundamentally altered, not always for the better.

The new Russia, which has only existed since 1991, has created much from scratch, but has also resurrected many things from the Russia of old. And so it is not clear if the grand philanthropy we are now witnessing from New Russia’s oligarchs is a continuation of Old Russia’s traditions – of the Morozovs, the Rukavishnikovs and the Tretyakovs – or if it is a merely a vanity bazaar, unfolding on a grand scale in order that said oligarchs may insert their names into history.

More than likely, it is a bit of both.

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