Monday, 28 March 2022


Imagine a world without Coca Cola, McDonalds, PepsiCo, Nike or Adidas. Imagine a world without your “favourite” social media. Imagine a world without Adele. Imagine a world hurtling backwards to the 1970s.

Sounds like where you’d prefer to be? Not if you’re under 50 and have learnt to enjoy the new and the good things in life. There are 60 million Russians aged 15-50 and right now the lifestyle they’ve got used to and expect is being destroyed by a war they didn’t sign up to.

A friend of mine, a fluent Russian speaker and Russophile went over there recently to deliver a lecture (in Russian) about Chekhov. He hadn’t been there for many years but was struck strongly by the sense of plenitude and almost western relaxation, by the streetlife and cafes in St. Petersburg full of bright young people. It felt like Britain in the 1980s.

For my part about eight years ago a Russian Director of Innovation for a major American company was sent to me to see if I could help her present better and more clearly in meetings. She was certainly very bright, late 20s and refreshingly light on theory but strong on pragmatism and team management. The assignment was a success. We enjoyed talking – I did anyway. She was reticent about politics except to note she was well paid but her highly qualified parents – her mother was a doctor – earned between them less than £15,000 a year. She was going to be promoted and moved to the UK but she got pregnant instead.

Surely old-Russia Putin has miscalculated his young people. Does he think they buy into his story about Ukraine? They are as sceptical, I’d guess, as our young people are about politics. In fact, shoot all the oldies on both sides and they’d be no war. It would all be like Woodstock all over again. Remember these lines:

And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation

Already stories from the Ukrainian front suggest youthful unrest. Allegedly a Russian Commander was not only disobeyed by his troops but was then run over by his own tank. The young Russian army is being routed by the homeless young Ukrainians – this feels like a civil war with increasingly the combatants on the same side, culturally.

I look at Old Putin as a hangover from the Berlin Wall past.

I look at old Biden who became a Senator when Richard Nixon was President and Vietnam was going wrong for the USA. And then I look at Vlydimir Zelynsky .44 years old – a rock star – who gets youth, is youth but most of all, youth get him. There is only one real world – it’s the future – not the world of old has-beens like Erdogan, Lukashenko, Biden and Putin – and Kim Yong-Un (born an old man). It’s a world of music, technology and companionship. It’s also a highly fluid word of hand- luggage travel across the world, sharing ideas. Get in a plane go to Berlin meet some guys. Talk, discover, eat and fly back.

As an old-has-been I have resolved to die young looking forwards as opposed to reminiscing. I want to encourage the abundant young talent throughout the world and learn from them.

I’ve heard this is the end of globalization. No. It’s the end of old thinking. The world is still mostly open and welcoming.

Think young. Embrace change. Think peace.

We are stardust
We are golden
And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden.

No comments: