Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Americans will Soon Face Their Own 1937, Russian Commentator Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 13 – Like observers in all countries, Russian ones are often inclined to project their own experiences on other countries, assuming that events they are familiar with will inevitably happen elsewhere. That is increasingly the case with Russian commentaries on the United States.

            In recent years, they have suggested in turn that the US faces a color revolution like the one Russia but not its neighbors has somehow avoided, that it may fall into pieces as did the USSR in 1991, and even that it may be the site of a new revolution from the left as happened in the Russian Empire in 1917.

            Now, in an essay for Moscow’s Vzglyad, Sergey Mardan argues that it may sound implausible now but the US is likely to be confronted by a new 1937 and to face that “earlier than in ‘totalitarian Russia,’ with mass repressions to cope with economic problems and show trials as one part of the elite goes after another (vz.ru/opinions/2020/6/13/1044564.html).

            “The present-day atmosphere in American society already looks much worse than in the days of McCarthyism,” he continues. Then, at least, the enemy of ‘external’ in the form of Stalin’s USSR, and the supporters of communism were a kind of ‘fifth column.’” Now, Americans are looking for internal enemies.”

            And they are settling accounts with them by attacking those who reflect different views and by rewriting history, acting in ways, Mardan says, “with which we are well acquainted from textbooks on the history of Russia of the 20th century.”  But those involved with this search for enemies in the US don’t realize what it can lead to.

            Russians on the other hand do, and thus have a kind of immunity which Americans do not, he suggests.

            There are two reasons to pay attention to such apparently outrageous arguments. On the one hand, it is always useful to “see ourselves as others see us,” as Bobbie Burns wrote. But on the other, it is also and perhaps especially useful to understand the ideological lenses that others use to understand others, including ourselves.

            That is because such ideological constructs are especially powerful because even those who apply them do not acknowledge that is what they are and thus act upon them, potentially compounding a problem not only for those they are looking at but potentially at least also for themselves as well.

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