Khodorkovsky and the Subconscious By the Polittechnologist In response to a number of questions I’ve received about whether Russia is ready to take on the Western model of existence, with all of its values, I can answer with great certainty – nyet! Russia is not ready to do this, because Russians are afraid to do the things they actually want to do. They fear their subconscious. I won’t be saying anything much today about politics and politicians, because everybody knows everything about them anyway. Let’s talk about psychology instead. I should immediately state, in the interests of full disclosure, that my knowledge in this field can only be described as strictly amateur. In truth, almost nobody in Russia has any real interest whatsoever in how much Khodorkovsky supposedly stole or how. They can’t even imagine what a billion dollars is, let alone 25 billion. The Russian people are more interested in geography. Nowadays, many Russians have rediscovered for themselves that we’ve got a city named Chita. And they’ve learned that political prisoners have always lived there, starting in the mid-1600s with the Protopope Avvakum [one of the founders of the Old Believer sect—Trans.], who dared to question the correctness of the policies of the first Russian Emperor, Peter the Great. Now Chita is home to Khodorkovsky, and the newspapers and glossy magazines have begun to write more about the place. Chita has become cool. To talk about Chita means to talk about Khodorkovsky, and that means being a little risqué – like the thrill you get from smoking marijuana in a public place or crossing the street on a red light or sneaking a glance at your boss’s hot wife.
Protopope Avvakum with other Old Believer martyrs murdered for their opposition to Peter the Great
Khodorkovsky has taken up residence in the Russian people’s subconscious. They have unexpectedly taken a fancy to him – because he’s prohibited. They’re afraid to admit this to themselves, but one way or another their true thoughts come to the surface. Khodorkovsky is beginning to acquire the traits of a mythological hero. Neither Putin nor Berezovsky – and certainly not anyone in Putin’s inner circle – will ever be that. Russians find former procurator Ustinov gruesome and unsavoury. Nobody has ever made a joke about him. But there are many jokes in circulation about Khodorkovsky – and in Russia, you know someone’s arrived when the people start telling jokes about him. People will never reveal what they really want. We’ve already heard this in one of “The Godfather” movies, where Michael Corleone gives another mafioso some sage advice to “never let anyone know what you’re thinking”. Russians never let anyone know what they’re thinking either. They have always lived in a country that was run by something not very different from a mafia; and they were afraid. Now the mafia has returned, and in one of its worst incarnations. But today the people have Khodorkovsky, and the worse things get in the country, the more myths and legends will be created about him. Khodorkovsky’s photo alone, glimpsed on the page of a magazine, will be enough to create an immortal myth about the man, beloved of all the people, who was so unjustly punished. His enemies will never understand this, because they are cowardly and greedy. If Khodorkovsky is being kept out of the news, then he shows up unexpectedly in the movies. One recent Russian film has been holding the rapt attention of moviegoers even during the final credits. Ordinarily, the audience leaves the theatre during the credits, but in the case of this particular film, everybody stays. Why? Because the credits roll against a background of many small photographs, one of which is clearly of Khodorkovsky. If you can’t find Khodorkovsky in the official newspapers, you can catch glimpses of him between the lines, in someone’s remark or personal opinion – if the reporter is clever enough to slip it past the censor, of course. And if the real-life Khodorkovsky is sitting behind bars, he seems to be all over the place in the virtual world of the internet. Go ahead – do an internet search on the word “Ходорковский” in any search engine and see how many hits you get. And so we have a most entertaining paradox before us. Instead of some myth about a united Russia or whatever else the Kremlin’s political technologist Surkov has concocted and is trying to impose on the Russian people from above, the Russian people have begun to create their own myth – about Khodorkovsky. They keep Khodorkovsky hidden away in their subconscious, afraid to let him out lest someone punish them. As long as the Russian people remain afraid of being punished for their true desires, they will remain enslaved. But as soon as the Russian people lose this fear of prison – a fear that eats away the soul – we will see the Russian people at their absolute finest. I’m saying this in response to the polemical question about whether it is worthwhile to allow Russians into Europe. It is very worthwhile indeed. They won’t set up camp there like other migrants. They will simply realize what they really want after all, and will return home. If I’m not mistaken, Khodorkovsky wanted – and wants – the same thing for Russia.