Breaking Myths: The Ideas that Ruined Bolshevism

Vladimir Tismaneanu is professor of politics at the University of Maryland (College Park) and author most recently of "The Devil in History: Communism, Fascism, and Some Lessons of the Twentieth Century" (University of California Press, 2012).


lpHistorian Martin Malia defined the Soviet-type regimes as ideocratic partocracies.  Other authors, including celebrated Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz, author of the classical book The Captive Mind, called them logocracies. Ideology was the only legitimizing principle for those corrupt, corruptive, and fundamentally mendacious regimes. The revolutions of 1989-1991 that swept away communist regimes in East-Central Europe and the USSR started, in fact, earlier. What Pope John Paul II called an annus mirabilis, a miraculous year, could not have taken place without the radical changes in the USSR that were initiated and promoted by Mikhail Gorbachev.

Leon Aron’s book, Roads to the Temple: Truth, Memory, Ideas, and Ideas in the Making of the Russian Revolution, 1977-1991 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012),  a genuine tour de force, is a fascinating chronicle of the main ideas that caused and inspired the revolutionary upheaval in the USSR. A respected student of Soviet and post-Soviet affairs, Aron is the author of a major Yeltsin biography and of numerous articles dealing with Russia’s political culture.  For him, what happened in the USSR between 1987 and 1991 amounted to the complete disbandment of all political myths that had served as justification for the Leninist Leviathan.

Aron is right to highlight what the liberal philosopher, sir Isaiah Berlin, called the power of ideas. In other words, material forces, always emphasized by Marxists, matter, but they are not the only and not even the most significant factor that leads to political revolutions. The Soviet Union had long been in terminal crisis, but this agony could have lasted for many other decades had the revolutionary ideas associated with Gorbachevism not come to fore and imposed a new political vision. Aron contrasts Gorbachev’s ideological revolution to Khrushchev’s half-hearted and inconclusive reforms. The most important distinctions were related to two areas: the imperial identity of the Soviet Union and the Stalinist legacies.  Whereas Khrushchev avoided a radical response to these two challenges, Gorbachev and his supporters moved boldly ahead and engaged in a fundamental overhaul of  the communist party’s monopoly on power and ideas. Homo Sovieticus was exposed as ideologically bogus, the opposite of classical humanism.

Leon Aron’s main contribution is to luminously retrieve a whole universe of ideas, aspirations, values, emotions, and sentiments put forward by the main proponents of historical fairness, political openness and moral frankness. The book is a superb archeology of what can be called the symbolic matrix of Gorbachev’s revolution. In fact, the philosophy of glasnost, as liberation of mind, developed even before 1987 in the writings of banned authors such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Vassili Grossman (the great novelist about whom Aron writes with intense empathy).  Its thrust was the absolute opposite of the long-held set of mendacities that formed the foundation of Soviet ideology.

Many of Gorbachev’s close associates were party intellectuals whose political itineraries moved from early infatuation with Stalin and Stalinism, to disappointments and disgust with the bureaucratic despotism, and finally to the deep desire to change the system. Yes, the Gorbachevites did not say it explicitly, pretended that their goals were intra-systemic, but the more they attacked Stalinism’s legacies, the more the revolutionary impetus gathered momentum.

Often called the architect of glasnost, Aleksandr Yakovlev is a main hero in Leon Aron’s captivating discussion of the myth-breaking endeavors of those years. A World War II veteran, recruited into the propaganda apparatus during Stalin’s times, Yakovlev was indeed what is called a child of the 20th Congress. This is a reference to the February 1956 party conclave when, during a closed session, Nikita Khrushchev dealt a mortal blow to Stalin’s myth. After that shock, Yakovlev could never accept uncritically the official line, though, for decades, he maintained his doubts for himself and very few confidants.

As an opponent of the increasingly xenophobic direction of Soviet ideology under Leonid Brezhnev, Yakovlev lost his job at the party headquarters (he was the head of the propaganda department) and was sent into diplomatic exile as ambassador to Canada. Gorbachev met him there, was impressed with his intellectual acumen and fresh ideas, and, once in power, brought him to Moscow. Yakovlev became the chief ideologue and, in this quality, was instrumental in allowing for an extraordinary relaxation in cultural life and the launching of radical de-Stalinization. He surrounded himself with other party intellectuals, including many who had worked in Prague at the international journal “World Marxist Review” (the Russian edition was titled “Problems of Peace and Socialism”) and who had been contaminated with neo-Marxist, revisionist ideas, especially regarding the dignity of the individual and universality of human rights.

The Moscow Spring was to a great extent a resumption of the Prague Spring, suppressed by Warsaw Pact tanks in August 1968. Arguably the most anti-Stalinist of all the members of Gorbachev’s entourage, Yakovlev championed the themes of de-Bolshevization, de-ideologization, and democratization. He became the nemesis of party conservatives who organized vicious media attacks on him. Later, after the demise of the USSR, he authored several devastating books about the fundamentally criminal nature of Leninism. He prefaced the Russian edition of the “Black Book of Communism” and chaired the Commission for the Rehabilitation of the Victims of Terror.

Aron’s book is essentially about the democratic ideas that corroded the Soviet edifice during the Gorbachev revolution. Among those, most important were the rediscovery of human freedom as a non-negotiable, universal value. For more than seven decades, the Soviet utopian experiment was based on duplicity, subservience, conformity, fear, suspicion, and hypocrisy. This dismal moral situation led to rampant cynicism, demoralization, and despair. The book’s title comes from a great film by Georgian director Tengiz Abuladze, “Repentance.” The major question in that masterpiece was human salvation. Redemption is impossible without atonement. Democracy and memory are inseparable. In order to achieve reconciliation, the former tormentors must be subjected to justice. By justice I don’t mean only legal procedures, but also the  moral indictment of former criminals.

If individuals lost any axiological reference point, they would not be able to find a road to the temple, to the church. They will be, as Polish poet Aleksander Wat, once put it, children in the fog. The men and women of the Russian Revolution, this world-historical event masterfully explored by Leon Aron, looked for a moral and political compass and they found it. All the post-1991 dismay, disenchantment, and dereliction notwithstanding, there was something sublime in that rediscovery of freedom, dignity, and honor. Leon Aron’s book succeeds marvelously in resurrecting what Hannah Arendt called the lost treasure of the revolutionary tradition.

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  • Steeloak

    Gorbachev was at heart a Communist, not a democrat. He sought to make Communism better, not to replace a failed system with a new one.
    What really happened is that he was far enough removed from the original revolutionaries like Lenin, Dzerzhinsky and Stalin to not know how communism is really instituted and maintained in a country – by naked force. Gorbachev only knew the propaganda taught to him by Soviet institutions instead of having first hand knowledge of the truth. Reliance on self-serving propaganda is what led him to believe that communism could be reformed. Therefore when uprisings began to happen in the Soviet colonies of Eastern Europe, he talked about Glasnost and Perestroika, instead of sending in the tanks like his more realistic predecessors.
    When the people of Eastern Europe realized the tanks weren’t coming, they rose en-masse and threw off the Soviet shackles. The movement quickly spread back to the Soviet Union and by the time the coup plotters attempted to remove Gorbachev and re-establish a traditional Soviet regime it was too late – the people and the military refused to obey anymore.
    Gorbachev is given far to much credit for the fall of the Soviet Union, it was his idealistic failure to use force that caused its fall. His reforms and idealism only served to blind him to the necessary actions he would have had to take to preserve the Soviet Union.

    • mikidiki

      A very informative comment and one which seems to nullify a large part of the book’s adulation of Mf Gorbachev whose ignirance apparently was the spark which allowed the destruction of the Soviet booc.
      However, Mr Putin seems adroit at re-establishing coercion and fear as prongs of Russian diplomacy.

      • A Z

        I don’t know. Russian economic growth is stagnant. Their oil production is falling. How adroit is Putin?

    • A Z

      Like mikidiki said, a very informative comment. Gorby is given so much credit because the Western left does not want to give any credit whatsoever to The Gipper.

      The U.S. and Saudi Arabia colluded to depress world oil prices. Oil exports were one of the main economic props of the Soviet Economy.

    • lith4788

      The tanks did come. More than once. Several incidents culminated in the January 13th, 1991 rolling of tanks into unarmed crowds in Lithuania. 13 dead. The backlash across the globe was so intense that this became a turning point. The choice to use force would have to occur under the eyes of the world – he had to blink and the rest is history. I suggest reading Vytautas Landsbergis autobiography. His understanding of Gorbachev is enlightening.

      • ReyR

        Right. Now compare those tanks to the US bombers over Belgrade, mate.

        • lith4788

          Ah yes… the preferred method of argument by people of your ilk…relativism. now compare the bombers to the forced Ukranian famine and much more.

        • lith4788

          and let’s compare that to: Ukranian forced famine, GULAG, etc. and so forth.
          …just another Zhirinovsky type.

          • ReyR

            and let’s compare that to the Irish potato famine, and multiple holocausts of native Americans, from the Great Lakes down to Southern Mexico, don’t forget to throw in the West Indies, witch burning well into the 18th century, repeated interventions into Russia from the west, etc., and so forth.
            … just another boo-hooing Ball-Tick ethnic minority attention-seeker. Where are you better than the mooslime?

      • Steeloak

        I remember the incident well. The difference was that Gorbachev, unlike his predecessors in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 was afraid to use violence.

  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

    What’s most important for us is how did the Russian people learn about “human freedom as a non-negotiable, universal value” given the tight grip on the educational system and media by the Communist state? We have a university system that is controlled by the left and our children seldom hear about “human freedom as a non-negotiable, universal value” except as an empty platitude. As a consequence we are going down the road to a totalitarian state. I’d like to know more about how the Russians learned about liberty … or did they just learn to hate communism?

    • Shmalkandik

      What is the evidence that the Rusians ever loved liarty? They have a milder Tsar and a new set of boyars. “Poor Russian folk, hungry folk”.

  • 1Indioviejo1

    There is a body of work such as Leon Aron’s book which should be a required course in the Liberal Arts. The cost to humanity of the XX Century experiment was so high that we should never let our children forget it. It has to become part of our political knowledge in order to avoid future horrors in neo-Comminism today. Why do we have new generations willing to try the “new XXI Century Socialism” and have our college students wearing proudly “Che” Guevara T-Shirts, if not out of ignorance? If we drop the ball, we will repeat the bloody horrors.

  • Chezwick

    Interesting how the Chinese liberalized the economy but kept a tight reign on politics….while the Soviets took the opposite approach…and watched it all slip away. Perestroika was never more than just minor tinkering of the command-economy, while Glasnost really was a major transformation of the political culture. The latter unleashed popular disaffection; the former was entirely inadequate in channeling that disaffection constructively and productively.

    In the end, the evolutionary change of an intrinsically corrupt system was destined to fail; the ’91 coup would have come sooner or later, in one form or another. The tragedy is that today, Russia remains an autocracy.

    • ReyR

      The tragedy is that today, the US has become a tyranny – a fact ignored by the tireless Russia-hating hirelings playing into the hand of the US establishment.

      • Chezwick

        The US certainly has its problems, but it’s hardly a “tyranny”. The same can’t be said for Putin’s Russia.

        • ReyR

          You wish.

          • reader

            He does not wish, genius. But, apparently, unlike you, he is not in denial. Your Seliger orgies aren’t quite enough to reverse the current demographic trends.

        • http://www.themadjewess.com/ The Mad Jewess

          America is becoming VERY tyrannical. Reporters are scared to confront this government.

          Russia had 80 years of failed left wing policies, death, genocide and starvation.
          In order to remain a Christian country, he cannot let Communists have their way–EVER.

          Thats the problem in America: We ALWAYS allow the Communists to have their way, and now we have no country.

          • Chezwick

            Unlike in Russia, the US government is “confronted” EVERY DAY by reporters, TV pundits and commentators, radio talk-show hosts, bloggers, etc.There is no shortage of free speech in America.

            As for Russia remaining a “Christian country”, demographic trends project a Muslim majority later this century.

          • ReyR

            You are a pro-establishment liar and a troll.

          • Chezwick

            On the contrary, I am a staunch opponent of the DEMOCRATIC PARTY establishment.

            You are a pro-establishment liar and troll for the Russian government.

          • ReyR

            You are a staunch opponent of a system that is doomed to fall and is failing as we speak. A disingenuous system that has been demonizing my nation for a century in pursuit of its petty benefits. A system that gave us Marx and smuggled Lenin into our country in 1917. A system that time and again has invaded us and others. A system of international thuggery, blackmail and slander that is responsible for more deaths than all communist regimes in history. A system that is bankrupt both monetarily and morally. Obama is not the cause, but he’s a catalyst, the quintessence of your system’s failure. And it is a good feeling to see you entering the final collapse slide.

          • Chezwick

            So, America is responsible for smuggling Lenin into your country, eh? And Russians had nothing whatsoever to do with his revolution…or Stalin’s slaughter of 20 million, eh?

            My God…talk about displacement of responsibility.

          • ReyR

            Not America – the anglosphere. All our “revolutionaries”, including Stalin, were on the West’s payroll for decades. In this sense, yes, Lenin is your responsibility. It’s common knowledge. Your system must die – and is dying.

          • Chezwick

            “The Anglosphere”…?….common knowledge….?

            Gee, and all this time I thought it was Germany, then AT WAR with the Anglosphere, that transported Lenin from Zurich to Russia.

            Me thinks you need a history lesson or two. But by all means, go on hating the “Anglosphere” with all your heart and soul if it helps you cope with life’s complexities and vicissitudes.

          • reader

            Lenin received money from Russian beneficiaries and from Reichswehr, which was at war against Entente. So, unless your IQ is about as high as a grasshopper, you ARE a edinoros troll by definition.

          • ReyR

            Balderdash, Mr. Grasshopper. Immediately before each of the two revolutions Lenin lived in London, and the party held most of its congresses in London. They played with the Brussels scenario for a while and met there in 1903 for the 2nd Congress, but got busted by the local police, so the entire bunch of them – 40 unemployed “professional revolutionaries” – immediately moved to London to finish the palaver. Every single time when the SHTF, the whole party would be in London of all places. Karl Marx wrote his magnum opus in London, Mr. Grasshopper, he’s there even today, ain’t he? You don’t know the first thing about the Russian revolutions, Mr. Grasshopper. Wanna play? You move the Tismaneanu pawn, I move the Sidney Reilly bishop, check. In defense, you move the Bukovski pawn, I move the Trotsky knight, check, then HRM Nicholas II Diaries – the King, checkmate. All your pieces were worthless, Mr. Grasshopper, just as you are.

          • reader

            Impeccable. So, since you mentioned Chechens living in London, how many Chechens are living in Russia? Does not it make Russia their sponsor, according to your own logic? And what about loads of money that the Bolsheviks received from the likes of Savva Morozov, a perfectly Russian pawn, as it were?

          • ReyR

            Wrong, Mr. Grasshopper. None of the Chechens living in Russia are wanted by the Interpol for terrorism. Ahmed Zakayev is free.
            Morozov’s donations were a drop in the ocean, don’t exaggerate his rain of gold. According to Gorky, Savva’s sponsorship was not even enough to pay for publication of the Iskra. Let alone the lavish lifestyle that Lenin and his cronies enjoyed in Europe. Next you’ll echo the Soviet “historians” that Lenin mostly relied on financial aid from his mother, a provincial widow of modest means who allegedly supported the entire revolutionary clan.

          • reader

            Lenin was not wanted in Europe either. And his lifestyle was far from being lavish. Morozov’s contribution was one drop, Schmidt’s estate was the other, bank robberies across Russia were a few other drops, and then Reichswehr started to transfer regular drops to top all of the other drops. All of this is well documented. What’s not documented and non-existent is that any other government’s involvement with the Bolsheviks prior to 1917.

          • lith4788

            Bull. please provide real documented proof.

          • lith4788

            Your description of the US defines Russia and the USSR perfectly. It is your system that has smuggled its Communist “religion” into this country and many others. Time will tell which nation fails first.

          • ReyR

            Right. We were knocked out by the West in the 1990s. But now we’re back on the feet, standing strong again, and so are the Chinese. The US bully is collapsing under its own weight though, and your flawed system will never rise up from dust, destroyed by its own cheating “elites”. Barbarians will get you in the end as they looted the fallen Rome. America is swarming with demented wildlings today. We don’t even have to help you fall, all we need is patience to wait out your agony.

          • Cold_Drake_80

            How can being a grinning slave of the US extreme right make you anything but pro-establishment? You do realize they are thoroughly entrenched in the political power structure and owned bag and baggage by monied interests?

          • reader

            So, those who wants to limit and literally shrink the Federal Government are pro-establishment? Orwell got nothing on you, apparently. But, of course, we do know that Marx made errors in writing his Manifesto. Should have consulted you first.

          • Cold_Drake_80

            You still believe that? The repubes have been pumping more and more money into the military for decades. They pushed HARD for the creation of the US police state and have embraced it’s expansion so long as it targets people they hate – which is a really long list.
            Your mind is to primitive to grasp something as complex as reality so I am waiting for your inept, childish and totally off topic response.

          • reader

            This is is an incoherent mesh once again. First of all, not all Republicans are Conservatives. Republican Party is infested with big government much – that’s why Tea Party came into being. Secondly, anybody who knows the first thing about American history knows that the US Constitution would never even be ratified if not for the need to have a strong military protection for the States. All federal powers were to be carefully enumerated, but in a little over a hundred years the “progressives” (aka commies like you are, only smarter) managed to erode this provision.

          • reader

            “the big government mush”, not “much”

          • Cold_Drake_80

            You’re an embarrassment. The repubes are wired into the military industrial complex. Like cancer infesting healthy tissue right-wingers have spread throughout out all levels of government and have pushed for massive spending. So long as it benefits them. Occasionally red meat is tossed to the religious nut bars and white supremacists who making up their “base”.

          • reader

            This sort of infantile rubbish would fit huffington and other mindless “progressive” sites just fine. Here it looks ridiculous. I’m surprised you haven’t called anyone fascist yet. Perhaps, you got a memo that it’s gotten old, comrade.

          • Cold_Drake_80

            Calling FPMers fascist is like declaring water is wet. It’s pretty obvious. It also doesn’t cover the true depth of the genocidal bigotry that passes for thought on this site.
            Now try to actually address the points I’ve raised instead of indulging in childish name calling, lying and evasion.

          • reader

            Yeah, yeah, projecting and deflecting is your marxist troll ammo – we’ve seen that on every thread. So, without lying and evasion, why don’t you admit that you support Obama because he is a marxist, just like you are?

          • Cold_Drake_80

            Because Obama isn’t a marxist you nitwit. Also I don’t support Obama he had his chance and ruled as an American centrist (read center-right) and we don’t need more of that.
            Now get to work and answer some of the points I’ve raised. Even a grinning FPM slave like yourself can’t escape reality forever.

          • reader

            you did not raise any points – not that a rational person like myself can see anyway. but, unless you’re lying like marxist compulsively do often, by not supporting Obama, you deviate from the Party line, because the US commies endorsed him. I’d look over your shoulder. The Party does not tolerate dissent, you know.

          • Cold_Drake_80

            What is hilarious is your inability to do anything but indulge in name calling and you whine about me not making a point. Read my other comments pinhead this isn’t just about you.
            By the way I’m not a communist just like I’m not a Muslim. Good FPMers such as yourself can’t seem to rap their enfeebled minds around that.

          • reader

            Yes, you are. You’ve pretty much admitted to being a marxist on another thread. Marxism=communism=”progressivism”. If you really believe that there are some substantive nuances, you are a schizo. Well, all marxists are schizos to a degree anyway.

          • reader

            and , by the way, if you were really on to the so-called military-industrial complex, you’d be supporting Ron Paul, who is essentially for abandoning the Constitution and the Federal Government and returning to the Articles of Confederations. But you’re not. You’re a big government drone stuffed with meaningless soundbites you don’t even understand completely.

          • Cold_Drake_80

            If we “ALWAYS” allow Communists to have their way this country would be Communist. Instead of just yammering in FPM’s vast circle jerk step back and look around you. You will see an entrenched power structure built around corporate power. THAT is the source of the misery and totalitarian forces ruining this nation.

      • A Z

        We have a complicit media similar to Pravda. But we also have alternative outlets like FPM, The Blaze, Breitbart and so many more.

        The mostly widely read paper in America is a British paper Telegraph if I remember). Obviously there are many of us who are not lemmings.

        I expect the LA Times to go bankrupt or at the very least no longer be a newspaper of note. I am not so sure of the NYT & Washington Tomes. If they do fold it will take longer, but I fully expect the LA Times to fold.

        “tireless Russia-hating hirelings” ?

        I have said more than once that I like Putin more than Obama. So have some people here and elsewhere.

        If it distresses you so much to read the posts here why do you do it?

        I certainly do not haunt the HuffPo or the MSNBC. Then again I do not make a habit of visiting insane asylums or drug dens.

        • ReyR

          I am not at all distressed by reading your Russia-bashing posts and even slander. Just the other way round, AZ, I am hugely entertained by this outlet, and others like it, for two reasons:
          1) it’s good for my self-esteem to see how illiterate and ignorant most of the contributors here are – presumably the better educated part of your society;
          2) it’s fun to see your agony.
          My presence here is my little revenge for the 1990s when you guys pillaged and raped my homeland.
          I’m not alone, you know. In fact, now that America is in its last throes, you guys have no idea how many spellbound spectators are standing around watching you – some in awed silence, some jeering, and some even trying to exchange a word or two, like myself.

          • Cold_Drake_80

            My guess – based on reading a couple of your comments here – is you are Russian. Is that correct? Just curious is all I have no anti-Russian bigotry.

          • ReyR

            Do you mean that seeing me as Russian fits your stereotypes?

          • Cold_Drake_80

            No, your posts came across as nationalistic. You also mentioned your country was set upon by the US in the 1990s which was the period of the Neo-Liberal regime that existed in Russia at that time.

          • ReyR

            Yes, I am Russian, more than anything, and indeed, a nationalist. The US made me that – I used to be quite idealistic and pro-US most of my life, but the 1990s changed me. Also, I’ve been around here and there, including the US, for rather lengthy stays, and I can compare. President Reagan called my homeland ‘the empire of evil’ once – well, it never was. But that the US has evolved into an empire of evil is for the whole world to see today.

          • Cold_Drake_80

            I followed the news about Russia rather closely in the 1990s. I was quit happy to see the supposed end of the Cold War and it did hold a lot of promise. Then things hit a wall when western powers sought to take over and seize the resources of various Eastern Block nations. The US played a vile role in the destruction of Yugoslavia for example. Russia is simply the largest of those nations and has been able to put up some resistance. It’s sad that US leadership sees any country that tries to protect its own interests and control its own resources as an “enemy”.
            As for Reagan he was a maggot. He did tremendous damage to this country and is still lionized by his happy slaves and worshippers.

          • ReyR

            You sound like a reasonable person, thank you. I’ll try to reply to your other post somewhat later – the one about your workmate and 70s emigration. For now, I have to go.

          • lith4788

            Really? Tell that to the tens of thousands of deportees who were forcibly and illegally taken from their homeland to slave and suffer in Siberia, and often murdered, like much of my family. The illegal occupation of the Baltic lands not just in the 20th century but before caused so much pain and suffering. It all depends on what side of the coin you are looking from. I would definitely agree to the descriptor: evil empire.

          • ReyR

            Boo-hoo! A Baltic victim crybaby at it again… Now, speaking of pain and suffering, let’s not forget the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and Polotsk, and Chernigov, and those massacred in Pskov eh? And what about the numberless slaves sold by your Baltic ancestors to western “buyers”? Or why won’t we mention the 200,000 Jews exterminated by the willing Lith collaborators – as witnessed by the few those later rescued by the abominable Russians, eh? Or, for that matter, the Red Latvian Riflemen who forcibly installed the criminal regime in Russia? Or the fact that Estonian, for instance, was an outlawed language at home until the hated Russians granted it the official status? Come on, crybaby, tell us about the unfairness of the 2000 years history in Europe, somebody today is always to responsible for yesteryear’s atrocities, aren’t they? Tell me how many RUSSIAN names could you find in the government offices in the Soviet Union, particularly under Lenin and Stalin? Boohoo, oh the tragedies that befell us all those eons ago!
            Btw, why don’t you ball-tick guys blame Polaks or Germans just for once? After all, diversity is sought after in your part of the world now.

          • A Z

            Pillaging? Like paying Russian scientist their salaries so they would not be enticed to be employed by Iran, North Korea or someone else?

            I just cannot see President Clinton pillaging your homeland.

            Now BP bought into the Russian oil fields and Putin illegally threw them out. If that is what you mean by pillage I disagree.

            How is that oil industry anyway? It is propping up Russia’s GDP and yet I hear production is declining.

            I know you dislike Muslims in your country, but you’re as trustworthy as a Yrch. Americans would have better luck trusting a Salafis to keep their word.

          • ReyR

            We dislike Muslims all right, but we can keep them down – have for centuries. First things first, though. Right now, America is a greater danger than Muslims. The US Gov IS that monkey with a hand grenade, Rogozin said it precisely. Your system is ready – and trying to – launch a full-scale global war just to save the worthless dollar scam.

          • A Z

            there is no dollar scam

            but you’re post reminds me that i have to read an economist piece on reserve currencies and why they fail.
            the synopsis was that reserve currencies have to print, but that for the sake of the issuing nation they should not. I have also seen the charts on reserve currencies. Each one has had expiration date.

            I do not fear the fact that the dollar will lose the reserve currency. That is like an engineer fearing gravity. It is just a fact of nature.

            Losing reserve currency status will come with pain. Oil imports will be more expensive. It will also be a blessing. No political party could then print money to cover their d/mn deficit spending. Also more expensive oil imports will force more energy production in the U.S. (the greens be d/mned).

            As far as Obama, the Democrats and RINOs being monkeys with a hand grenade, we already know that. We after all have the 2 shirt with a monkey holding a stick of dynamite in its’ mouth and 2 blown off arms with a caption underneath reading Slow learner.

            http://planetarybargains.com/I'm%20a%20slow%20learner%20shirt%20(green).php

            You’re painted.

          • ReyR

            Occasionally when I talk to you guys I get this weird sensation that I’m talking to a Soviet citizen some 30 years back. We used to be as simplistic and gullible as you are now. I don’t mean this as an insult, it’s just that our civilizations are at different evolutionary phases. After the SU collapsed, we had to grow up a bit.
            Have you ever wondered why the words on top of any dollar note read: “Federal Reserve Note”? Because you see, the same dollar note in 1917 had it different: “United States Note”. Why would they change it?
            And why would the US Gov borrow money from the FRS, if it owns the FRS?
            Any ideas?

          • A Z

            The Federal reserve is a corporation like Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

            You do not have to go far on the internet to see that people claim that it is a corporation.

            I am not saying they are wrong.

            Point is that the same amount of gold that could buy you are good suit in 1913 can still buy you a good suit today. The same cannot be said about the dollar.

            You could haunt ZeroHedge and even have some sh/ts and giggles. But I think you would tire of the humor and outright insanity. There is so much dross to find anything worth keeping in the comments section. It is hardly worth the effort. Besides i think you like your needle work too much. Your artistry would get lost in Zero Hedge.

            The truth came at me sideways in an elective class I had to take in humanities (Intro to Theatre). The thespians wanted to include jokes based on current events. They wrote the jokes, opened the play and people laughed. Subsequent performances showed that the jokes were appreciated until one day the laughter stopped (not all at one like a light switch; not so cut & dried). They had not updated their jokes and they found that people could not relate to that which was over weeks old. Every human interaction has some element of human psychology. The thespians certainly found one.

            My mistaken take away was that people do not know the right way to vote the issues, because they cannot recall with great clarity further than 2 weeks. Nor do they save articles or study issues in thorough manner.
            That people have short memories is part of the problem.

            A greater problem is that they psychotic. It is a mass psychosis involving large numbers of people to one degree or another.

            You should read PJ media at pjmedia.com

            There won’t be as many long comment threads so you will have to leave your sewing equipment at home.

          • ReyR

            Ah, Neil Postman’s immortal wisdom comes to my mind. You sound right, a modern Western citizen’s attention span is… well, at least it still exists. Sometimes.
            But the issue of debt is different. Makes me think of Baron Münchhausen – he pulled himself and the horse he was riding on out of a swamp by his own hair.
            Thank you, AZ.

          • A Z

            I saw the film the “Adventures of Baron von Münchhausen”

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Münchhausen_trilemma

            The issue of debt is easy. At best people are going to take a haircut in benefits at worst we get a civil war or a break down in government where a new government does not honor the promises of the previous government in terms of benefits.

            Myself I can always live in Europe (by right of return) or Asia.

            I did not vote stupidly so I am not going to suffer the mistakes cause by a greedy, slothful plurality.

            Am I in pain? I suppose so. My ancestors were at Valley Forge. but I may add you must be in pain since you like to needle so much.

            BTW you are still painted.

          • A Z

            It was there, especially at dinner parties and similar aristocratic social gatherings, that he acquired a reputation as a storyteller, developing witty and highly exaggerated accounts of his adventures in Russia.[4] At the same time,

            Münchhausen was considered an honest man in business affairs.

            As one contemporary put it, Münchhausen’s unbelievable narratives were designed not to deceive, but “to ridicule the disposition for the marvellous which he observed in some of his acquaintances”

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baron_Münchhausen

          • ReyR

            Frankly, I don’t know what you mean by ‘you’re painted’, I’m not American, you see. Is it something like playing tag and taking turns?
            Needling, well… It seems important right now, sort of. Because, as you said, I’m in pain. Of course I am in pain, because I’m not a high-ranking psychopath, so it hurts to watch another nation sleepwalking off the cliff. It’s the second time in my life span I’m witnessing a major civilization going down, and I feel such a helpless idiot. In fact, this time is harder, because when we tumbled down 20 years ago we had no idea what was in store, but now I see the same thing replayed, perhaps it’s like seeing one’s son trying to marry a stupid predatory b/tch with two brats, or worse.
            Back in 91, it was tough. I just had returned from Nigeria in November, where I’d worked for 3 years, and then the government froze all foreign currency accounts. Then – inflation. Eventually when I was allowed to access my bank account, its value dwindled to a small fraction of what I once had. But I suspect you’re evolving along a more scary scenario than the one we had in 1990s. Not sure if you know it, but I’d recommend going to cluborlov.blogspot.ru and if you scroll the page down, on the right side you’ll see a link “Closing the Collapse Gap”. It’s a very old presentation he made, years ago, but it’s still available, and more relevant than ever. The guy is Russian-Jewish-American (if such thing exists), and he knows what he’s talking about. Knowing what I know about life at my 54, I put my signature under each word on that presentation.
            So if you can flee, I think you should. But Europe is hardly in better shape than the stateside. Asia, well … I don’t know Asia much, but I know China more or less, I speak and read Mandarin fluently, so all I can say is China is a harsh mistress.
            Should I say you’re painted this time?

          • A Z

            I look into it. I have relatives in 2 European countries and in Asia.

            The problem is getting the spouse to do anything. They are “tough minded” as their people say. It comes from surviving the Great Leap Backward and the Cultural Devolution.

            I’m impressed. Mandarin is a tonal language. I do not think I could ever speak it.

            “My presence here is my little revenge for the 1990s when you guys pillaged and raped my homeland.”

            That seemed especially nasty. Therefore I said you are painted as in on the radar screen. It is also used in computer science.

  • antioli

    Russian Communism lasted as long as it did because they owned the Ukraine which produced food. The closed society of the Communist nomenclatura created corruption even Big Business and the Congress in the US could envy.
    Jews it seems were excluded and so were non family members.

    • reader

      Nonsense. Stalin all but wiped out Ukrainian farming and farmers themselves in the 30s. Ever heard of Golodomor? The Soviet Union imported food, particularly wheat, and in massive quantities. In fact, they imported most of it from the US and Canada.

  • Alan Charles Kors

    Thank you for bringing this book and, above all, Yakovlev—a true hero of our era—to the attention of readers. Yakovlev’s work on the unspeakable death toll and cruelty of Soviet Communism is indispensable reading (as is yours).