This colorfully drawn and acutely observed book explores Russia by engaging all our senses. Today's Russia smells different from the Soviet Union. The country looks and sounds different, its touch is different and its food tastes different. Thus, Christoph Neidhart argues, Russia is truly a changed country from the Soviet Union it was, little more than a decade ago. Russian society is rapidly urbanizing and modernizing, as can be perceived by all senses, including the awareness of space and the conception of time. After almost a century, space can be privately owned and freely traded; time too has become commodified. New role models and new ways to express social status are emerging. Russia has become a 'monetized' economy as the old Soviet practice of provision by networking has grown obsolete. Russia thus readies itself gradually to grow into a Western-style, middle-class society with a free market and democratic polity. The author assesses these rapid changes using the evocative metaphor of the carnival to understand the chaotic inversion of the Communist structure of society. He explores the transition's traps and shortcomings-such as the privatization of politics and the looting of the state's assets-and compares this process to the modernization Western society underwent a century earlier.
Christoph Neidhart is a senior columnist for Die Weltwoche, Switzerland's leading newsmagazine. As its correspondent, he lived in Russia for almost ten years. He wrote Russia's Carnival as a visiting scholar at Harvard University's Davis Center, and is also the author of the book Nach dem Kollaps [After the Collapse], describing the transition of the former Soviet republics into emerging states.
Chapter 1 Introduction: Is Democracy Visible? Chapter 2 Carnival or Revolution? When Russia Suspended Time and Space Chapter 3 Sight: The First Sense Chapter 4 To Fake Is To Make Believe Chapter 5 Sound, Scent, Taste, and Touch Chapter 6 Space: The Sixth Sense Chapter 7 A New Time for New Times Chapter 8 To Buy Is to Be: Money Replaces the Fences Chapter 9 Mafiosi and Prostitutes: The New Role Models Chapter 10 Conclusion: Ikea, or the Furniture for a Modern Russia