Написал, наконец, только сейчас - был занят. Подавать куда-либо уже поздно, выборы в следующий вторник. Но, написал всё равно, раз запланировал (это в моём характере - привычка, надо сказать, доволько скверная). Поэтому, для памяти, хотя бы тут сохраню.
US Election: Reading Between the Lines – Russian-Style
This year marks an anniversary, of sorts, for me. I’ve spent roughly one half of my life in the Soviet Union/Russia and another half outside of it. When I point out that a majority of Russians do not have an objective view of the world – due to an increased Internet censorship, poor knowledge of foreign language(s), plus influence of propaganda, which denigrates the value of ‘Western thought’ – many of them grudgingly agree, yet keep insisting on superior skills related to processing of what information is available to them. ‘What are those skills, specifically?’ – I ask. Same answer is provided, over and over: “We can read between the lines. We know the history much better. We can draw from the past.”
Well, alright, I thought. I’d like to try same. I am a Russian, after all – and I did grow up during the last decade and a half of the Soviet regime. So, with the historic election in the US coming up – I decided to “read between the lines” and “draw from the past” with regards to the presidential candidate whose one accomplishment so far was getting millions of Russians enamored with him. Below is what I believe a typical mid/upper-class Russian with a Soviet-style education would immediately think of after following the US election cycle of the past six months. It is all based on free association and a (burdensome) acquaintance with history of his native country.
* * *
I am thinking of a large state that is involved in war. The war is going kind of alright, but not great, seemingly (it will be won by the state’s allies alone in about a year, decisively, though). The economy – and general well-being of the people – is a mixed bag at best. Another war had happened and went badly – oh, say a dozen years ago – that was supposed to be a cakewalk. Some blamed the ‘elites’ for this. To be sure, the ‘elites’ had paid the price – their power was reduced, the national mandate was weakened. The general mood was sour, especially among the less educated.
On this background, a peculiar face had popped up – as if from nowhere. One distinct feature of the ‘face’ was his affinity for simple talk. He could connect to common folk quite well. “Simplification was a major oratorical technique of his”[*] – as researchers later noted. Improvisation, quips, coarse language – sometimes, borderline vulgar or crude; speaking categorically, without any equivocation whatsoever…that was his style, which came to be liked by some. And what was it that he spoke about? Well – grievances. He spoke about war as if it was not winnable and that a true patriot should wish for the current government to lose[†]. He spoke about the elites, which, in his speeches, got the country into this mess. He spoke about the foreign allies – which, again, were taking advantage of his country’s people and getting everything deeper into this mess. Things were bad – he would say – and they would only get worse.
Rotten elites! Venal government oppressors! Incompetent generals! Dumb intellectuals! (Well, he would use a bit more graphic language later: “…intelligentsia, who fancy themselves a brain of the nation. In truth, they are not a brain, but the shit of the nation!”[‡]). Elections?! What elections? They are rigged! “Only we can satisfy the needs of the people (peasantry).”[§] So, it would follow naturally that the power had to be taken. Not through the formal means – after all, “Waiting for a formal majority is naïve: No revolution should wait for that.” The people are tired. Any formal election can be fixed by the elites. ‘We have to take the power now’ – the narrative went.
And take the power they did. “The universal faith in revolution already is the starting point of the revolution itself.”[**] After less than one hundred days in power, following the overthrow of the dreaded elites, the proud – if bewildered – winner had declared that their new government surpassed the famed Paris Commune of 1871, which lasted only 71 days. This was a crowning achievement that no one else in his entourage likely had ever believed would be attained. In the immediate aftermath of this achievement, about a quarter to third of the country’s population would be lost to the ensuing civil war, famine, mass emigration and executions.
It is, of course, evident by now that the man in question was Vladimir Lenin. There is more than circumstantial evidence of his being (one of several) German ‘agents of influence’ sent to Russia in the waning months of World War I to help take the major opposing power out of the game. It did not help the Germans much, but it did destroy what was a semi-European government and state, replacing it with Soviet despotism responsible for many millions of dead (one of them was my grandfather, taken away from his family and executed in 1937, whose burial location is still not known to our family to this day). Can it happen again? Well, “nikogda ne govori nikogda,”[††] as my Russian counterparts would say.
[†] https://www.gazeta.ru/science/2015/07/26_a_7656873.shtml (In Russian)
[‡] http://revolucia.ru/lenin51_47.html (In Russian)
[§] https://www.marxists.org/russkij/lenin/works/lenin004.htm (In Russian)
[**]https://ru.wikiquote.org/wiki/%D0%92%D0%BB%D0%B0%D0%B4%D0%B8%D0%BC%D0%B8%D1%80_%D0%98%D0%BB%D1%8C%D0%B8%D1%87_%D0%9B%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%B8%D0%BD (In Russian)
[††] “Never say never.”