Perestroika vice-versa: why inventors in Russia stopped inventing

Perestroika vice-versa: why inventors in Russia stopped inventing
Perestroika vice-versa: why inventors in Russia stopped inventing
27 May 2021, 12:48Economy
This was at the very beginning of "perestroika", when the smell of "socialism with a human face" was still just the beginning. On the line of young specialists, I was asked to conduct an anonymous survey at a very well-known aviation scientific organization...

Andrey Zlobin, candidate of technical sciences, mathematician

Among many, the following question was asked: "Do you have breakthrough technical ideas that you do not want to tell anyone about?" After processing the questionnaires, it turned out that 15% of young scientists and engineers answered this question in the affirmative. Considering that even a smaller percentage of ideas usually turn out to be really breakthrough, it followed from the questionnaire: by the end of the 1980s, Russian techies began to hide all their breakthrough discoveries. When the results of the questionnaire were announced to the management of the organization, it caused a real shock.

It seemed that everything should be the other way around. The beginning development of democratic freedoms was supposed to activate creative processes and lead to the flourishing of science and technology. Alas, it has not only increased freedom of creativity, but also freedom of industrial espionage. And if in the Soviet Union the authors and their important scientific and technical ideas were defended by the state, then after the collapse of the USSR, the results of brain activity began to be “grabbed” for free by all and sundry. Young Russian scientists and engineers felt the predatory habits of privatizers earlier than others and preferred to work “on the table”, in the hope of better times. This is how the "perestroika" took place, as a result of which everything was privatized except for the main component - human intelligence. And without a human being, perestroika was doomed to be meaningless and unviable. Today's frail state of the Russian engineering industry is a vivid confirmation of this.

History knows many examples when representatives of the scientific and technical intelligentsia independently defended their ideas from industrial espionage and outright piracy. This often hindered scientific and technological progress, however, it guaranteed copyrights and decent wages. In the process of meteorite research, I needed to get acquainted with the works of one of the founders of Russian cosmonautics, F.A. Tsander. It shocked me that a significant amount of manuscripts were encrypted using the old and rare Gabelsberger stenography system. In order to read at least a small part of the notes of a famous scientist and engineer, special studies were carried out and a Ph.D. thesis was defended! Of course, Friedrich Arturovich could keep his notes in Russian, but preferred a complex system of shorthand. Why? And yet a large share of his works has not been deciphered...

The current Russian bureaucracy has knocked off its feet, trying to understand what almost half of the population is doing? The same population, which until recently was proud of the world's best education. They even came up with a mocking term - "self-employed." I answer: the self-employed have been working on the table for 30 years and are not going to give up the example of F.A. Tsander. A creative person cannot but work, but if something does not suit him in his relationship with the employer, he will work just for himself, preferring a drawer to the shameless plundering of his ideas and a beggarly salary. How the self-employed manage to survive is a separate question. But if today we again conduct a survey on the topic indicated at the beginning, the percentage of affirmative answers, most likely, will be close precisely to the percentage of self-employed. This is food for thought for those who want to see modern Russia as a strong and respected power. Without a dialogue with the intelligentsia, intellectuals, there is no chance.

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