There is an article in the October Smithsonian entitled “What ever happened to the Russian Revolution?” by Ian Frazier. It is a question that I have only starting asking myself over the last two years. It has become an even more serious question over the last eight months as I wonder what ever happened to the American Revolution.
When I began learning Russian, it was still the CCCR and I could get away with calling the entity “the Soviets”. I can still speak Russian if I regress to the age of a two year old. Since the Reagan years, I have had to go through the process of calling Russia the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) to just Russia, and now the Russian Federation. Like Clapper, I still have that “Freudian slip” of calling it the Soviets.
But it is an easy answer to what happened to the Russian Revolution, greed and capitalism won. Basic Darwinian Theory of the strong surviving and weak not being able to adapt. The weak in the parlance of Donald Trump would be “losers”. I suppose that would be everybody but himself and Putin in Trump’s sack of squirming rodent brain. Now we have a group of wealthy powerful men in the Russian Federation pretending to be concerned about the people’s welfare. The Russian people have an advantage over us in that they know that the government lies. They understand a hard reality, perhaps this is why your average Russian knows more poetry than your average American.
What happened to the American Revolution is a bit different, but maybe not a lot. The two hundred and forty plus years of America culture has always been capitalistic. Greed has always been the governing factor, earning what is yours. But when did we lose sight of the “Horacio Alger” story? The poor, honest working boy who makes good. From the early days of expansionism to the rise of the monopolies it was demonstrated that each person could claw their way up the ladder, so long as they were white, and male. Grudgingly the American Culture has tried to sell this lie to incorporate women and every immigrant since. So long as they know their place, they can have a little taste.
So why after the 2016 election do I feel that the American Revolution failed? It is the same group of rich and powerful families in American that has been selling the lie of “you too can get ahead if you work hard. If that fails, you could always win the lottery. You are so much better off than the rest of the world, just drink you beer and watch the tube. But do not drink too much beer (or whatever drug you choose) or watch too much TV as you have to go to work. America needs you in the service industry. It needs you in the factories and the industries that we own so we can keep raking in most of profit.”
I think it is because it was two groups of rich and powerful men who made this happen. It was the Russian Oligarchs and our 1% who made this happen. And they paid part of the voting block to help make it so. That part of the voting block sold their fellow Americans down the river for a few grand and a song in their heart. And that song that was in their hearts was the same one Trump and Putin sing all day long, “They are all losers . . .”
Half the voting population also bought the line that you cannot trust the government, but you can trust your buddy Bob. How old do some people have to get before you learn that you cannot trust anybody, including yourself most of the time. We are all capable of shooting ourselves in the foot if we are not careful. I watched a YouTube video recently called “Stupid People with Guns”. I rolled on the floor laughing, but I have a twisted sense of humor. Misery loves company. I am much happier not paying attention to this stuff. I would rather be drinking my beer and watching Godzilla stomping on a large city. But I have a grand-daughter who does not need to grow up with this kind of crap.
With each weekly news cycle, I start the week with hope, and by Saturday I see that the world plods on in the same corruption. I have lost faith in the American and Russian Revolutions. All I have left is the hope that the French will get it right. Perhaps we missed a bet with the invention of the Guillotine? I hope not.