May 22, 2005

Russia's Slow Suicide

This was predictable. Of course the breakup of the Soviet Union was going to be blamed for Russia's national drinking problem. The money quote: "Dr. Alexey Magalif, a prominent Moscow psychiatrist whose private clinic specializes in the treatment of alcoholism and depression, thinks Russian society has 'very deep psychological problems in the wake of the breakup of the Soviet Union'".

But the same article provides a statistic that refutes this as the cause of suicide by alcohol: "Drinking began to rise dramatically in the Soviet Union about 50 years ago...per-capita consumption in 1950 was the equivalent of 0.8 gallons of pure alcohol per year. By 1985 it had soared to 3.75 gallons per person. In recent years it's climed again, to 4 gallons per person."

So it's at 3.75 gallons per person in '85 - before the fall of the Soviet Union in '89 - and we're supposed to think that the breakup was the cause? It's irritating to read this and have to pretend that there's no spiritual dimension to all of this. Nowhere in the article did it dare be politically incorrect enough to suggest that perhaps a society which cultivated atheism might eventually spiral downwards.

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