Goodbye to McDonald’s in Russia, goodbye to an era?

In the spring of 1984 Margaret Atwood began writing her novel the maid’s tale, that after a successful run in sales and accumulated millions of readers over the year became a classic and culminated in the famous HBO series. It is a fiction about an ultra-conservative society rooted in an imagined future in the US where the crisis and environmental pollution put fertility at risk and brutally subjugate women. Atwood herself, born in 1939, says that He did not want to use implausible and extravagant elements in his story: he limited himself to drinking from the fears and experiences with which he grew up. He remarks it in the prologue to one of his books when he points out that his conscience was formed in the WWIIand made him see that “The established order can vanish overnight. Changes can be lightning fast. Under certain circumstances, anything can happen anywhere.”

watch or read The Handmaid’s Tale It is a journey through the chill, but it is paralyzing a moment that could seem trivial, when women no longer have access to credit cards, to bank accounts. It happens overnight but it is so symbolic that the bewilderment and terror that grips you in the face of such a possibility is almost physical, real.

The closure of McDonald’s and Starbucks in Moscow

I keep the memory of the arrival of the first McDonald’s in Moscow. It was in the winter of 1990, and it was the most exotic, unthinkable and surprising thing that came to us through television, a symbolic giant step after the long cold war and the times of the iron curtain.

To this day, with weeks of war, horror and death in our retinas due to the advance of the war in Ukraine, the Russia that emerged from that January 1990 has moved its chips into the past on so many fronts that the withdrawal of the franchises of western companies feed the memory of times of harsh communism, perhaps a dystopia of horror.

Jobs that the earth has swallowed in hours, precarious economies, erased cultural references. The arrival of McDonald’s in Moscow was a spearhead of glasnost, the emeritus professor of Russian Darra Goldstein pointed out this week on CNN, who defined that “crack in the iron curtain” as relevant as the company’s withdrawal now. “If in 1990 a new era opened in Soviet life with greater freedoms, the closing of the business is that of the company as a whole“, he warns.

On Google Maps, the red temporarily closed signs complete the indications of the twenty Starbucks that a few days ago were still serving Moscow. McDonald’s has not yet had time to update the information. Express deglobalization has occurred in a matter of hoursand it does not respond only to a boycott, it is an important piece in the great strategic board of the Russia that designs Putin, now with the clearest path to deploy his model of society for the Russians. In this “rewind” of history that we are witnessing, the only thing left is the question of how far back we will go. Until the missile crisis of the 1960s, which we already cherished? Beyond?

‘Goodbye Lenin’

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The Russians can live these days the nightmare as a setback in history after that turning point that marked the arrival of a fast food to Pushkin Square 30 years ago. A traumatic historical and cultural lurch, a substitute for that endearing cinematographic tragicomedy of 2003, good bye lenin, in which a woman who fell into a coma in the Germany of the two blocs wakes up years later when the wall has fallen and the family tries to hide the new historical reality so that it does not go into shock. The information curtain that Putin extends with his censorship of social networks, journalists and the media also aims to control the story.

The other battle in this war involves accepting, as Margaret Atwood warned, that “this here can not happen” is a false belief. And that the third world war is on the lips, even if it is only in the form of a warning, of leaders such as Biden or the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, does not reassure.

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