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March 21, 2005

Comments

abb1

This Zizek guy is good. I just finished reading this: Somewhere over the rainbow!, and I think he has some good points there.

BTW, Belomors are not called 'cigarettes', they are papirosas.

peBird

Time adjusted paths are great - the US killed over 400,000 working class Japanese in 3 days (Tokyo Raid, Hiroshima and Nagasaki). Which do you admire more: ideology or efficiency?

Matt

I'm no fan of the communists- either the ones in the soviet union, or the hopeless fools who have that name now in Russia. And seeing Stalin nastalgia there is very sad and depressing for me. But, I'd not put too much credence in what Applebaum says on most things, both in history, which she does like a journalist, and on Russia in general, which she does like a typical westerner who rarely, if ever, gets beyond Moscow. She's not quite hopeless, but not much better. Take what she says here. She's right that former communists are apposed to saying bad things about the soviet union. But she's quite wrong if she thinks that there is a clear majority of people there who are not ex communists in any interesting sense who want to have the badness of the soviet union brought to light. She'd know this if she spent time talking to more normal Russians in more parts of Russia. This is similar to the fact that, despite how things seem around universities, many, perhaps most, Americans think the lesson of vietnam is that we should have fought harder. When you are one of the losers of history, this is even hard to take. I'm rambling a bit now, but this is just becuase it annoys me how Applebaum has become something of an authority on Russia when she's pretty clearly got a simple-minded view of it. She's a journalist in the pejoritive sense of the word.

joe o

Matt

The full excerpt seems to deal with your points. She gets out of Moscow in the first paragraph.

she also says:

>Many Russians experienced the collapse of the Soviet Union as a profound blow to their personal pride. Perhaps the old system was bad, they now feel—but at least we were powerful. And now that we are not powerful, we do not want to hear that it was bad. It is too painful, like speaking ill of the dead.

Matt

Thanks, Joe
I'll take your word on the full article. So many things I've read by Applebaum are so simple-minded and simplistic that I can't bear to read the full thing now. But, you might be right. (I still doubt she really spends much time in the real Russia, at least not when not on a self-serving "assignment", but I may be wrong. Her writing rarely reflects it.) but, what you quote here is at least better (though still a bit condesending, I think.) Having lived there for some years, and having friends and family there, I take such things a bit personally. Also, that bit, at least, still doesn't accept, as is clearly true (and clearly true to anyone who has bothered to look!) that for _many_ russians that old system was, in fact, better for them. The percentage now is less than it was, say, 5 or 10 years ago, but 5 or 10 years ago at least it was a very significant percentage, and even today it's not a small number. That's not just hurt pride.

Rich Puchalsky

I like the way that peBird carefully specifies the number of _working class_ Japanese killed. I guess the middle and upper class deaths were good riddance?

And abb1, your liking for the linked Zizek piece is as odd as your previous implication that Lenin was a social democrat. Do you really think that "what's the matter with Kansas" is that liberals created conservatism by being tolerant and humane? Or is it the proposed Communist-Conservative alliance against the liberals that caught your fancy?

JRoth

Good God! Not only is "Real America" now defined as non-urban, but so is "Real Russia!" How about Singapore?

What is it about cities that makes their denizens non-citizens of their nations?

I suppose there's an argument that most (educated) city-dwellers are cosmopolitan, and thus, by definition, citizens not of their nations but of the world, but really, isn't that a bit of a stretch?

Of course, it's similar to the VP that the only opinions that count (that are "real") are uneducated ones. Like that an amount of force that was sufficient to beat Hitler _and_ Tojo was just a little bit less than what it would've taken to beat Uncle Ho. Westmoreland was such a p****.

Yan

"It's this kind of thing that makes you really glad to have been born in America in the '70's."

Tell me about it. In 70's Canada, people were just gettin' gulagged right and left.

"I like the way that peBird carefully specifies the number of _working class_ Japanese killed. I guess the middle and upper class deaths were good riddance?"

Sidestep much?

abb1

Rich,
of course Lenin was a Social Democrat. Russian Social Democratic party split into two fractions: Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, he was the leader of the Bolsheviks; but all of them were Social Democrats.

As far as the Kansas thing - yes, something like that. Not "Communist-Conservative alliance" and not "against the liberals", but I think the Democratic party has been very much weakened by the liberals. There's nothing wrong with being tolerant and humane, but the economic interest should be the foundation and the stuff like gay rights only an addition; it's nice, but it's secondary. Putting the carriage before the horse is not going to get you anywhere.

Adam Kotsko

Atlantic Monthly has a good review of Frank and others this month, in which he makes the point that counterculture has basically replaced socialism as the basis of radical thought.

eb

What's remarkable - to me, anyway - about Applebaum's article is not so much the lack of remembrances and commemorations for the victims of the Soviet era, but the fact that this absence is remarkable to so many today. While there is a long history of commemorating and dedicating monuments to wars, the idea of doing the same for the victims of brutal regimes who suffered as a result of the everyday cruelty of their societies seems to be a much more recent one. The use of trials and truth and reconciliation commissions to investigate not specific incidents, but the general conditions of the past, seems to be a product of the post-WWII world. (Or perhaps post-WW1 - in the US the WPA did interview ex-slaves.)

As an example, consider the American Civil War. There are plenty of war monuments, national parks, battlefields (some of which are also national parks), cemetaries, etc. But monuments to those who suffered under slavery? There are some now (I think, and I believe others are being planned if not already under construction) but how many existed back in the 1880s as Reconstruction was coming to an end?

At the same time, however, this is - like Applebaum's piece - an argument for facing the past rather than burying - or at least not unearthing - it.

eb

Good God! Not only is "Real America" now defined as non-urban, but so is "Real Russia!"

And the "Real Internet" is actually off-line.

Gary Farber

Why is it that I post a bunch of excerpts from this article, and no one comments, but you guys get plenty? Ditto most posts I make, versus most posts y'all make.

This isn't related to the way commenting here results in comments from the future, is it? Is that the key?

Matt

JRoth,
I called non-moscow "real russia" becuase that's what Russians do. Note that one need not be non-urban to be out of Moscow- there are many large cities, including the one I lived in (about 600,000 people) that are clearly urban, and very, very different form Moscow. The standard joke is that Russia needs to open an embassy in Moscow to represent the country to the people who live in the capital. (Petersburg is even less typically Russian, though in some rather different ways.) An example- the numbers people threw around when I lived there (I have no way to confirm them) was that 80% of the wealth of Russia was in Moscow, 10% in Petersburg, and 10% in the rest. That's why it's not "real russia".

Bruce

Brilliant! You will have to teach me how to do this.

Cheers and beers from New Zealand.

Bruce

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