View Full Version : Vodka, Tears and Lenin's Angel

08-10-2002, 05:40:43
I just got through an interesting non-fiction book by Jennifer Gould. If you like some good solid non-fiction writing, read it. She lived in Russia during the transition years from the former Soviet Union to Russia. From the period from the early days of Yeltsin during the 'fall of Communism' to much later in his tenure during the rise of the Communists and former Communists and the re-establishment of Russian hegemony over the various republics which were once part of the USSR.

The amazing excesses of capitalism documented there make me wonder if all that old Soviet propaganda was effective after all. The greed, the rise of organized crime and protection rackets, the filthy rich, the destitute, the collapse of state-sponsored care for sick and elderly; all decried in former Soviet Union as part of decedant capitalism occurred to a remarkable degree during the transition years.

Or perhaps the whole economic debacle should have been more widely forseen by economists, if no one else. Capitalism in its many forms has always been far less successful outside the developed West than our own propagandists would have us believe. You just can't graft a free market onto a system which can't support it. Rule of law, a low tolerance for corruption, along with accurate records and description of property seem more important than democratic elections in moving towards a free market set-up.

The other disturbing part of the narrative was the ignorance of the West, many of whom still believe that the Russians are now the non-communist 'good guys'. So atrocities in places such as Chechneya within Russia and tacit or overt support of various pro-Russia, pro-Communist and anti-democratic factions in the new republics which once made up the former Soviet Union are not even making the mainstream news.

All the economic and political problems experienced in the last decade also seem to make the rise of the Communists almost inevitable. This is largely going on right now, but again, largely ignored by far too many people in the West.

21-10-2002, 12:51:33
Sounds interesting. The change in ideology in the USSR/Russia in the 20th Century is something "The West" seems to know very little about. As you say, they're simplistically labelled the Good Guys now, and we all get told that everything is coming up smelling of roses now just because they've got "free-market economics", but what is really going on?
A much more interesting policital scenario than the boring Middle-east!

22-10-2002, 05:10:40
Everything is sweet? Oh please! You should see the notices of 'Do not go there even if we force you!' I get from NASA about Russia. They make it sound like total anarchy or total MobWord, hard to settle on which...

22-10-2002, 08:42:50
But you Yanks even get those messages about Britain!

23-10-2002, 01:52:38
Actually, no. I'm not talking about the State Department cautions. NASA hasn't issued many 'Don't go there' warnings. In fact, I think Russia is a first.

23-10-2002, 05:31:57
Correction... it's the first State Department warning about somewhere that NASA has sent on NASA email.