Lately we’ve become interested in Richard Pipes, the Russian scholar. In an old You Tube Firing Line, we found him discussing his 1990 The Russian Revolution.

The intro by Kinsley concisely sums up Lenin’s “innovations”: to Pipes, the Russian revolution was “arguably the most important event of the 20th century,” because its acts would be copied by later dictators – Hitler, Mao, etc. First, clear the stage for a one party state, then give omnipotent power within the state to the political police, and finally enforce that power with deadly terror and “re-education” camps.

Pipes is not confident about the 90s: a “free” Russia would be difficult; he notes that only 20% of Russians thought the October Revolution was a good thing and only 14% had full trust in government. Purpose, energy, trust are necessary to navigate huge change and certainly found a democracy; razing the past is not a good way to move into the future, but the Russian past is poisonous. Instead of energy and purpose, he saw apathy and immorality (my impression was that a deeply rooted cynicism expressed in humor but felt bitterly characterized communist states). He argues Russia lacked human spirit, morale, and morality. (Perhaps the Gramscian effect on Russia of 70 years of Soviet culture.)

The leap.

The threats by Democrats to pack the Supreme Court, bring in Washington DC and Puerto Rico to increase their power in the Senate, Schumer’s promise to rid the Senate of the filibuster rule if he becomes leader are steps to one-party rule – characterized by changing rules rather than trying to win within them, a basic rejection of the rule of law. And then the mobs – an unofficial political police in places like Portland where their rights to destroy and, indeed, rule, are less challenged than the force of the actual federal and local police. Demands for raised fists and kneeling by mobs is not “American” but reminds us of Russia and China. Our youths are poisoned by bitter iconoclasm and nihilistic art and politics.

I know little about Russia and analogies across time and cultures are often weak. I’ll acknowledge a certain paranoia – the left sees Trump as statist and so many of their boogeymen have proven projections.

May readers argue I’m melodramatic (convincingly would be nice) and this is only a mildly interesting time capsule from 1990.

3 thoughts on “Parallels?”

  1. That Russians seem comfortable with authoritarian governments seems real enough. But to say that,”Russia lacked human spirit, morale, and morality,” is beyond asinine. Their Christian faith endured 70 years of vigorous suppression and rebounded when the pressure was off. Pipes has discredited his whole life’s work.

    PS. Covid has shown that the entire Anglophone world will embrace top down dictatorship given any excuse.

  2. Russia historically was a nation of slaves (serfs) ruled by autocrats, regularly invaded and/or ruled directly or indirectly by brutal foreigners. There’s no culture of a broad “middle class” or cultural openness or anything even vaguely resembling either.

    A decade ago I said that the Democrat plan to basically recreate what they did in CA, where they completely obliterated the GOP in only a few years, would never transfer nationally. Now I’m not nearly so sure…

  3. Ds plan a one party state nationwide. In Chicago the city council has been 50/0 D/R for forty years. They achieved this by blatant, relentless use of government power to help their friends and hurt their enemies. This is what they do. They are now going to take that model to highest level. If they are not stopped, that’s where this is going. You are right to highlight court packing. The 1st and 2nd Amendments are dead when that happens. That will pave the way to one party power, permanently.

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