[lit-ideas] Russia and the Communist Dream

  • From: "Lawrence Helm" <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lawrenchelm1. post@blogger. com" <lawrencehelm1.post@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 3 Nov 2009 08:29:05 -0800


The above article was posted on The Washington Post website this morning.
It was written by Masha Lipman from Moscow and entitled "Russia's Search for
Identity."  An internet article describes her as follows:  "Masha Lipman or
Maria Lipman is a Russian journalist. She received MA from the Moscow State
University, Department of Philology in 1974. Masha Lipman is the editor of
the "Pro et Contra" journal, published by the Carnegie Moscow Center. Lipman
is also an expert in the Civil Society Program at the Carnegie Moscow
Center. She served as deputy editor of the Russian weekly "Ezhenedel'ny
zhurnal" from 2001 to 2003."

Her take on the ongoing admiration for Stalin is consistent with other
things I've read.  She takes a Western view toward globalism when she
writes, "For the government, this acceptance of Stalin and the paternalistic
state-society pattern may be handy as a way to consolidate power. But some
in the decision-making circles do seem to realize that current social,
political and economic models are unable to produce growth and development.
From Putin and Medvedev down, modernization has become the mantra. . .
Unless Russia reinvents itself and takes real steps to encourage people's
entrepreneurship and creativity, talk of modernization will remain hollow."

But most interesting to me, as applying to the after-effects of the
Communistic dream was the sentence:  "But modernization is incompatible with
a statehood based on the specter of Stalin and faith in the magic
empowerment of the apathetic people by forces of the state. "

How is Russia to sail out of its economic doldrums?  Lipman says it needs to
"take real steps to encourage people's entrepreneurship and creativity."
But how is Russia to do that when an underlying prerequisite for
entrepreneurship, i.e., freedom to do and think whatever one likes, is
missing from the Russian psyche?  It was stamped out during the Stalinistic
era.  And while Russia might find an individual here and there, the
prevalent attitude is, according to Lipman, apathetic "faith in the magic
empowerment . . . by forces of the state."  

Yes, we are still inclined to rate Communism above Fascism, but perhaps that
is only because we remember the time when we imagined a utopia might
eventually find a place in reality.  Surely that dream is worth something.
Or is it?  We in the West only dreamed of the Communist utopia.  In Russia
they tried to build it; so any comparison of Communism and Fascism needs to
take a look at modern-day Russia.  The Russians were force-fed the Communist
dream year after year.  And now they can't wake up.

Lawrence Helm

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