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 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.