Writing in Foreign Policy about who got left of the magazine’s Top 100 list of global thinkers, Moisés Naím shows that there’s no love lost between him and contemporary Russia. Ouch! But if pressed to contradict this statement, I can’t come up with too many names (isn’t Sorokin a literary heavyweight by now? What about everyone who gets killed for their beliefs? Are they just not that bright?). Hit up the comments if you can contradict Naím.
A generation ago, dissidents from inside the Soviet Union such as Andrei Sakharov and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn drew an enormous global following for their ideas on how to resist the totalitarian state. Today, Russian thinkers are absent from our list. That the Russians are missing may reflect the world’s ambivalence about post-Soviet Russia. If the global marketplace of ideas truly does prioritize those thinkers who come from either very successful or very threatening countries, then the international disinterest in what Russian thinkers have to say is likely because Russia is neither perceived as a miracle economy nor a global threat. Sadly, it’s also true that while the demand for Russian thinkers may be weak, the supply is also far from booming. These days Russia is simply not a major producer of the kind of ideas the world wants to hear. There are no modern Sakharovs or Solzhenitsyns. If there were, we’d put them on the list.