Chapter 17 To leave the crisis: Emigration?
I will lie, steal and kill, but my family will never be hungry again!
I remember this phrase, because when I heard it for the first time, it sounded in unison with the soul of almost all of my generation.
I know what the desperation of a man who is not able to buy a beloved woman warm socks, without which she will catch cold and get sick.
I remember well the year 1991, when Gaidar and Shokhin announced in mid-October that they intended to liberalize prices from the beginning of 1992 – and there were practically no goods in trade for two and a half months. Empty counters and silent queues behind the herring heads, which are so fond of showing on TV as an illustration of life in the Soviet Union, were usually removed at this time.
Then to me after the operation before my eyes – after which three months at all it is impossible to read – I had to work hard enough, and not simply, but on a computer – and every day for half a year I felt impaired vision and experienced the horror of the possibility of blindness at all.
At the same time, my classmates who had just given birth to a girl lived in the literal sense of the word on past tea without sugar and breadcrumbs; even the carrot was eaten only by a young mother, because the nursing baby needs vitamins.
Over the past 20 years, I almost every week have to answer to others on the question of why I risk exposing myself to the repetition of all this (and even more dangers, if we recall the “blood baths” that accompanied the collapse of the Soviet Union), my family and, in particular, unable to make meaningful decisions of children.
I have to answer this question to myself every day, – because I am a normal person and I, too, are scared.
And I see an increasing wave of “quiet emigration” of various people who have left the country for the last few years, frightened by the disgusting and aggressive nature of power, the lack of opportunities for self-realization, the rapid degradation of society.
They travel scientists and plumbers, students and owners of newsagents, to the bondage of 10-hour illegal labor and “to retire” at 35, to London, Kiev and Goa.
They do not pass a passport, do not make loud statements, often keep apartments in Russia, hoping to return.
If it’s where.
This wave rose long before the crisis, but it is clear that its cruelty and destructiveness, the maximum in Russia due to the corruption nature of the state built in the 2000s, will strengthen this wave.
I see and feel it on the growing number of questions about why I did not leave, being asked by a wide variety of audiences – knowledgeable people who also think about it and try on my answers.
The answer to the question of emigration depends on what you want for yourself and your children.
There are quite a few professions, whose owners have no perspective in modern Russia. So, for example, if you are an expert in the field of almost any high technology, you will at best earn substantially less money than in developed countries, having little opportunities for professional growth, while living in a rather aggressive and degrading social environment. It is very likely that your manager will be not just an illiterate administrator, but also a tyrant who perceives your self-esteem (partly connected with your own qualification) as a constant insult to the person.
This is a natural projection on the corresponding spheres of the state structure created by Putin; this is why a significant number of high-tech specialists are still leaving Russia.
Yes, in developed countries they face cultural difficulties and, in particular, a much higher level of domestic and professional hypocrisy – however, these difficulties are of little significance compared to the possibility of professional growth. Unfortunately, the source of this growth is the Russian (and in fact still Soviet in nature) higher education, inaccessible in most even developed countries simply because it is not there.
There is excellent business education and management education, there are skills of competition and much more – but with high technology a big problem. Actually, that’s why Russian graduates have this opportunity.
If you have a different specialty (or, after graduating from most Russian universities, do not have any), you do not have an urgent, objective need for emigration, and you need to make this choice based on the interests of your children.
You will have to make this choice for them – as, indeed, all other choices that parents make.
In the world there are a sufficient number of well-off countries in which living conditions, including consumption and safety, are much better than average Russian and in which citizens of our country, having fulfilled this or that volume of formalities and having mastered certain skills (including, of course, knowledge of the language) , can start a “new life”.
I do not want to deal with emigration consulting here and I will not consider the “trap countries”, whose leadership consciously supports unacceptably high expectations about the living conditions in their country, so emigration often turns into not only disappointment, but also a nightmare.
There are countries in which the situation will dramatically worsen, and the departure in them will resemble a ticket to the Titanic (it is enough to recall the Muscovites, who left for Kyiv “for peace and democracy” in 2004-2005 and fell into a sharp deterioration in living conditions, reaching prolonged shutdowns of hot water).
It is important that countries, where life is calm and equipped, really is. Of course, the crisis will reduce their need for workers and, accordingly, dramatically hamper emigration in them, but for people of Russian culture, strictly speaking, there are no barriers: if we really want to, we will do it – not by washing or by rolling.
However, these countries have a significant disadvantage: your children will not be able to advance in them along the social ladder any further.
Of course, there are exceptions, and there are many, but they only emphasize the rule: the linguistic, cultural and social barrier will not allow your children to reach a high social status.
Yes, they will have a relatively high standard of living, they will grow and live in safety and, most likely, they will be happy.
If you want your children simple human happiness, if you want them to be well, calmly and safely – emigration makes sense to be considered as a serious opportunity.
Because Russia will not be a prosperous country in the coming years.
I had to prove it in different audiences throughout the 2000s, and I am deeply disappointed that the growing crisis confirmed my correctness.
However, in Russia, your children will be available to what they are most likely not able to get in fashionable countries: the happiness of personal achievements, the happiness of growing social status.
Yes, they do not necessarily achieve these achievements.
Yes, they can reach them at an unacceptable price, living in danger, and often poverty and lies.
Yes, they may well become aggressive morons, and even criminals, because not every family can resist society and save their children from the culture imposed by this society.
Both ways have their risks, but I want to focus your attention on their fundamentally different goals.
You should think about emigration if you agree on the personal well-being of your children at the cost of losing many of our natural feelings (from language to the feeling of “all-humanity”, direct participation in world history) and refusal to grow social status.
You should not even think about it if you want your children to “be happy with achievements”, not “happiness of consumption,” aware of the fact that all country risks of Russia will be at the price of this.
It is very likely that Russia’s development will not go well and if you decide to live here your children will have to answer the same question after a while. Try to properly motivate them and give them the best education possible – at least for them to make this choice, like everyone else, as much as possible consciously and freely.
If you are not thinking about emigration, but about a temporary exit from the country in order to wait out the crisis in this or that cheap and comfortable corner of the world – you need to take care of the sources of income and where you will return.
The main rule of survival in a crisis is the preservation not of the level of income, but of its source.
Having left the country, you, most likely, will lose this source and will start to eat the saved up savings. If you have already been deprived of this source, and the rate of consumption of savings on some Goa is two orders of magnitude lower than in Moscow, this approach is relatively rational. However, you should understand that being in your country you will find a new job easier and faster and get a new source of livelihood than in a foreign country, and also cheap (since low prices are usually a sign of low business activity).
Of course, when renting an apartment in Moscow, you can rent an apartment somewhere in Europe, but still live on the difference – but a cheaper rental in Moscow can seriously complicate the implementation of this scheme. In addition, leading the life of the rentier, you can lose your work skills by the time you really need them.
And finally, the main thing: if you do not want to leave permanently, namely, to wait out the crisis, think about where you will return when the crisis is finally over, and also to whom and why you will be needed there.
This is the main issue of the option of “waiting for the crisis,” and I do not see a universal answer that is suitable for many.