Vacationing recently in the high Mojave desert with family and friends, we all drank a lot of water to stay hydrated. "Look!" said a vivacious French woman, pointing into her glass. "It says 'Made In Russia.'" I peered into the glass like a telescope, remarking: "It also says Ikea. Ikea must have the glasses made in Russia because it is cheaper to do so than in Sweden. Russia is Sweden's Mexico."
I realized that that I had never seen "Made In Russia" on a consumer product. Did this portend a trend or was it just a random incident in globalization?
I was reminded of the novel "A Minor Apocalypse" by Tadeusz Konwicki which I translated from Polish in the early 1980s. One character tells Poles they should be grateful for Soviet communism: "You should pray every day and thank your gods that the Russians have been rendered inert by that idiotic doctrine. … Imagine a free, democratic Russia with a capitalist economy. In a few years, a Russia of that sort would be producing art of such genius they would have the world on its knees. A Russia like that would truly overtake America in industry."
So why is nobody reading current Russian novels, buying Russian paintings or watching Russian films?