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Interview Transcript

Sergei Kapitsa   (cont)
Interviewer:  Why is that?

Mr.  K:  Well, I told you when I was under pressure and had to write my Ph.D., I did it twice, spending two years on both jobs.  Most students, with all the facilities and all that, can meander on for three or four years.  Maybe it's the same.

Interviewer:  And you think of the pressures Dostoevsky had to live under...

Mr.  K:  Certainly, and contributed to him, although, say to gain it for us, landed gentry, spent half of his time squandering money in Paris.  Nicorosov was a great gambler.  And Dostoevsky was a gambler also.

Interviewer:  So it's hard to generalize?

Mr.  K:  Yeah, Tolstoy was, again, of aristocratic origins and wrote for the landed aristocracy.

Interviewer:  Sergei, do you miss anything that existed before Perestroika?

Mr.  K:  Well, I miss the support of science; that's the terrible thing.  There's nothing that can really explain or excuse what happened.  And I think this can have terrible consequences for the country.  We have the example of Germany.  Hitler kicked out all the Jews, was very narrow minded in his support of science.  After the war, after the defeat, after the buildup of the German economy, the rate at which science was sort of brought back to normal levels, put huge sums into German science, but never came back to what it was before Hitler, even in the early days of the thirties.

Interviewer:  So this is going to have dire consequences?

Mr.  K:  It may have very dire consequences in the future.  Although, again, it's not easy to generalize on these matters.

Interviewer:  Anything else you miss?  What has been lost since Perestroika?

Mr.  K:  Well, I think there is a thing that really matters, and this I think goes to the very high levels of sort of political and leadership.  It is the sense of purpose in a society.  Even take such thing as military service.  It was never in Soviet Russian or Czarist Russia except during the Revolution, it was considered to be the noble duty of a citizen.  That's the last thing that anybody wants to do, to begin with.  Or say the attitude of even our own of this new fast money.  Why is all that money leaving the country?  We are trying to ask investors to invest in Russia, but Russian money is illegally leaving the country at much greater rates than all these miserable investments that come from the West--a negative balance.  That can lead to very grave consequences.

Interviewer:  But what has been gained that you treasure the most?

Mr.  K:  Well, I don't know.  It's, again, very difficult to say, you see.  But I think these losses are of a very peculiar nature.  The freedoms, I say, well, maybe I've had the freedom to tell before.  Maybe not as grand as today, but today most people are limited by money rather than by political control.  In the past science is in a very dear state, it's a very separate thing.  This exclusion of superstitions, low-grade culture, this pulp literature--we're exporting from the West the worst products you have.  Or maybe that is the new world that we were striving for, I don't know.

Interviewer:  So it's not that clear cut?

Mr.  K:  It's not clear cut at all. Well, something should have happened, but again, they just had no alternative, you see.  Then there's an old saying that's from London, Britain, that you say, "My country, right or wrong."  You learn these things in Britain, not in America, by the way.


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RAO > Catalgoues > Transcripts > TRAC > Sergei Kapitsa p.15


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