Velvet Reprivatization and Cool Hand Luke

coolhandluke.gifIn the 1967 popular American film “Cool Hand Luke,” the prison guard captain threatens the incorrigible prisoner played by Paul Newman, telling him that he’s got to “get his mind right.” By “right”, of course, he means that the prisoner will stop acting out and start behaving like he should. Such was the comparison drawn by the Streetwise Professor (economist Craig Pirrong) in two posts with regard to the comments shared by Oleg Shvartsman in the Kommersant interview, which described his role under state direction to “bend” and “torment” the business sector toward the right kind of social activeness. Pirrong notes that Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s social activism, which included civil society initiatives, orphanages, schools, and computer training courses – making him Russia’s most generous philanthropist at the time of his arrest, was apparently not the right kind of social activism. The very fact that Shvartsman admitted that Igor Sechin had ordered him to form a committee to police businesses on their CSR activities underscores the political nature of the charges against Khodorkovsky.