Then and now

Angelo Codevilla:

The Revolution of 1917 was possible because socialists, in Russia and throughout the Western world, believed that “present-day society,” as Karl Marx put it, is a jumble of “contradictions,” which could be resolved only by tearing down the pillars of the house. Once that was done, history would end: man and woman, farmer and industrial worker, producer and consumer, intellectual and mechanic — heretofore at odds — would live harmoniously, freely, and prosperously ever after.

Because they really believed in this utopian dream, the socialists gave absolute power to Lenin and Stalin’s Communist Party to wreck and reorganize — to break eggs in order to make a delicious omelette. But Communism, while retaining some of Marxism’s antinomian features (e.g., war on the family and on religion), became in practice almost exclusively a justification for the party’s absolute rule. For example, the economic system adopted by the Soviet Union and by other Communist regimes owed precisely zero to Marx, but was a finely tuned instrument for keeping the party in control of wealth.

The Leninist party is gone forever in Russia because, decades after its leaders stopped believing in Marxism, and after Leonid Brezhnev had freed them from the Stalinist incubus that had kept them loyal to the center, they had learned to make the party into a racket. That, and the residual antinomian features, made Russia into a kakotopia. Russian men learned to intrigue and drink on the job rather than work. Shunning responsibility for women and children, they turned Russian society into a matriarchy, held together by grandmothers. In a thoroughly bureaucratized system, each holder of a bit of authority used it to inconvenience the others.

Forcing people to tell each other things that both knew not to be true — recall that “politically correct” is a Communist expression—engendered cynicism and disrespect for truth. The endless anti-religion campaigns cut the people off from one moral system and failed to inculcate another. Alcohol drowned unhappiness, life expectancies declined, and fewer Russians were born.

The Russian people rejected Communism in the only ways that powerless people can — by passivity, by turning to anything foreign to authority, and by cynicism.

Kakotopia eh? Just change some of the names and dates above, lean back, turn on the record player, and tune in.

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