I don’t usually talk smack about Russia, not for a lack of material but because Russia has lately been of trifling importance in my world; when I can spend a minute on China or a minute on Russia, China usually wins.
But not today.
Former (and the last) Soviet President Gorbachev (remember the guy with the jelly stain on his bald forehead you may have seen on TV in the 80’s?) decided that it is time to draw attention to the way Putin has been angling to reestablish totalitarian control over the people of Russia, draw the former Soviet satellite States back into a rough orbit, and antagonize the rest of the developed world. The fastest (but certainly not best) Russian route back to superpowerdom would be to reinstitute total control, stifle the market economy, kill everyone who disagrees, and return to forced labor, as per left-wing socio-communist procedure.
The most important piece of such a social shortcut would be to reinstitute political myths of the sort Stalin was famous for… and in fact, this is what is happening.
But its a little more scary than that. The Authority in Russia (and I say it that way to mean the unified will of the Authorized Ones, not just Putin himself) is not simply recreating historical myths and rewriting history, they are recreating the Stalin myth itself. This is easier than Putin-izing all the former Soviet history because everyone who was previously programmed to think Stalin was the Saviour of the People (and other such flimsy titles with currently bring Kim Jong Il to mind) don’t have to learn anything new, they only have to learn additional things, such as how Putin is carrying on the legacy, and how horrible of a person Gorbachev is. Its nuts to think that you could actually whitewash Stalin’s crimes or justify them in any way, but nothing is impossible when you exert enough control over what people think and/or believe is morally right.
There are plenty of examples in history of horrible things being remembered as good, marginally bad things being written down as horrible, horrible things not being remembered at all, horrible things that never even happened being fabricated for political gain, and horrible things being completely forgotten (perhaps scariest of all?). If Putin succeeds in making the Russian population generally agree that Stalin was a good thing and that his reign was a “Golden Age”, it will rate on the same level as Mao making the worst famine in history disappear in the minds of the people that it happened to. [Here is another good China famine link.]
Take a moment to remember what the Soviet really was and contemplate on it. Then watch this: The Soviet Anthem (don’t worry, in English), to help put a face on things. Its sad and frightening if you fully appreciate the human condition.
Other scary new that nobody seems to care about: Syria has nerve gas. Whoops…