Why isn't Russia a rich nation?

Paul Fiolkowski
6 min readJun 13, 2023

Because Russia has shat its opportunities to become wealthy.

Of course, they certainly did not shit their opportunities into a toilet, because those can be uncommon outside of Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Heck, even an urgent care centre sends it staff and patients to shit in a hole in the ground.

And after that, well, where do you do laundry? A washing machine? LOL oh my you sweet innocent child … let's go down to the river and bang your knickers against some rocks to get rid of those stains.

Yeah, such a rich & powerful country

Let's face reality: Russia is not a part of Europe and it does not belong in the Western cultural sphere. Russia is the westernmost and northernmost territory of the Asiatic cultural sphere. Russia belongs to the Asiatic cultural sphere — its values, view of society, humanity and world, and mindset is completely Asian. Let us put this blunt: The Western world is the outcome of Hellenic philosophy, Western Christianity and Roman jurisprudence. Russia is the outcome of Genghis Khan. What else do you need for explanation?



The future of Russia was predestined in 1237. Russia was conquered and enslaved by Ögödei Khan’s army. Russia spent the consequent 243 years under the Mongol Yoke — in slavery of the Mongols, namely the Golden Horde of Jochi Khan. They dared to rebel only in 1480 when the Golden Horde had weakened enough, and at that time Russia had been Mongolicized thoroughly. Russia had irrevocably changed — into Authoritarian Patrimonialism, and there was no turning back into Western-style Feudalism any more.

Ever since 1237, Russia has been an Authoritarian Patrimonialism. This style of statehood has never existed in Europe, but it is commonplace in Asia — the Ottoman Turkey was an Authoritarian Patrimonialism. It is wrong to call Russia “feudal”, since Russia has never had Feudalism in the Western sense. The boyars have never been independent landholders, lords and strongmen as in Europe, but mere officials of the Czar. In Russia, all power and all economic ownership has always been concentrated to one man — the Czar, the Premier, the President.

According to Aleksandr Pushkin, the Mongols brought “neither algebra nor Aristotle” with them when they came to Russia. What they did was plunge Russia into a new Dark Age. The Mongols, by isolating Russia from the West, had a profound impact on the Russian development. Perhaps the most fundamental consequence of the Mongol rule was the divergence of Russian civilization from the West. During the period of Kievan Rus’, Russia was on a parallel track with Europe and its Latin Christian civilization. Following the Mongol invasion and the destruction of Kiev, the distance between Russia and Europe widened, and Russia slid irrevocably from the European cultral sphere to Asian. The Russian society evolved along more distinctly different lines than it had a few centuries earlier. While the ideas of freedom and justice were gaining strength in Europe, Russia was institutionalizing serfdom, which was another direct result of the Mongol rule (which I recently described in How Russians distort their own history). While Europe was witnessing extraordinary development with new ideas and the introduction of scientific methods, particularly during the Renaissance, Russian society was experiencing a traditional, stagnant life based on small-scale agricultural production. This period severed the Russian European roots and ties to Europe, and bound it irrevocably to Asiatic sphere of culture. The last vestige of the Western cultural tradition — the republic of Novgorod — was razed and destroyed by Muscovy in 1471.

Russia has never been Capitalist either. The Authoritarian Patrimonialism has essentially existed to keep the ruler in power and opulence, and the populace in poverty and repressed lest they rebel. The ordinary Russian has always been poor as a church mouse — and the rulers have done the utmost to prevent any economical ascension. The two things Capitalism requires to evolve is the rule of law and the recognition of the judicial rights (including right to property) and Russia has never had either. Since there is no protection of ownership and property — the ruler or his cronies can seize your assets at whim — there has never been a middle class and entrepreneur class in Russia. Instead, all wealth in Russia has been concentrated to the ruler, cronies of the ruler (boyars, nomenklatura, oligarchs) and various middleman minorities (Jews, Armenians, Georgians etc). The ordinary Russian is too poor, too repressed, too peasant and too drunk to realize his squalour.

Here is the scheme on how the West became wealthy.

This was first presented by Max Weber. Ever since the 1100s and recovery from the Dark Ages Climate Pessimum, Europe has been a hotbed of culture, sciences, technology and economy. Basically all philosophy, all music, all science and all litterature today are Western. Feudalism gave basis for the Proto-Capitalism, which itself evolved in true Capitalism.

Nothing like that has ever existed in Russia. Russia has had only two cities — Moscow and St. Petersburg, and a plethora of humongous villages. Russians have always been backwards — technologically backwards, ethically backwards, culturally backwards and mainly illiterate until the Communist rule and Likbezh. Since all chances of social mobility has been prevented, Russians have preferred to either drink themselves to death or turn into religious fanaticism.

This is the famous Volga Boatmen by Ilya Repin. Note the squalor in which the boatmen are. You may notice a cloud of smoke in the horizon — it is a steamboat, of German origin. All scientists, innovators and businessmen in Russia have always been of non-Russian stock — Jews, Germans, Armenians, Georgians, Latvians etc. Why isn’t that steamboat Russian? Because if it was, how could you keep the peasants in squalour any more?

The Russian state apparatus — Authoritarian Patrimonialism — is astonishingly immune to any attempts to reform it or renovate it. Russia will always return back to Authoritarian Patrimonialism, no matter what is done. In this sense, Russia is beyond redemption — it has been that way soon 800 years, and it is not going to change in the forthcoming 500 years. In fact, I had even discussed how Russia is going backwards.

Okay. Russia has incredible opulence on natural resources, 150 million inhabitants, long coastline to Arctic, Black Sea and Pacific and its second largest city at Baltic. Why is it the way it is?

The Russian economy is based on extraction of resources (extractive economy). Russia has sharply deindustrialized and the primary production (mining, oil pumping, gas extraction, agriculture) has grown in importance. Russia gets its foreign currency from iports of low degree of refining: oil, gas, minerals, scrap metals, energy etc. The only industrial products Russia really can make are foodstuffs, vodka and weapons.

But even sadder the situation becomes when we remember Russia is constantly in a low intensity conflict with the whole world. Russia is the original warmonger. This is well explained by Keir Giles, and it is another sad legacy of the Mongols. Russia actively seeks conflicts with all its neighbours — Rusia sees security as a zero-sum game. This is well explained by Keir Giles.


Russia is thoroughly militarized, and this militarization begins already in the kindergarten. Russia puts the military sector above everything, and channels its export incomes into the military. Sadly, as the current ruler is not a military dictator but one from the secret police, he has intentionally kept the military weak and corrupt lest they threaten his chair.

This system — Authoritarian Patrimonialism, lack of rule of law, lack of citizen society, keeping the citizens as peasants, lack of the respect of even the most trivial human dignity and preventing social ascension — with thorough militarism and extractive economy — means Russia is so poor as it is.



Paul Fiolkowski

I am just another American expat, who found that yes indeed, the grass can be greener elsewhere.