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The Mad Russian's Pretty Damn Sane
I saw Moscow-born artist Roman Genn at a little gathering last night, and he told me about a piece he'd written for National Review's The Corner that had caused quite a furor; basically contesting the notion that the Communist Soviet Union was atheistic. Roman wrote:

It most certainly was not. “Jesuits without Jesus,”( in Churchill’s words) certainly, but not without gods. The whole system was undoubtedly structured as a religion — the cult of Lenin and his gang, the Inquisition, the commissars in the army, and consistent extermination of nonbelievers and doubters (committed to mental institutions or expelled from the Motherland during the more vegetarian periods). Soviet Communism was no more than traditional Russian imperialism, draped in the red flag for the consumption of the useful macacas around the globe. Thus, the easy transition into newly founded “spirituality” — the former first secretaries and KGB colonels crossing themselves fervently, with laughable tales about secret baptisms by their babushkas.

It is true that genuine believers are scarce (there’s not one prostitute or a thug in Moscow who doesn’t wear a religious adornment on her/his neck) but who do exist tend to be rabidly anti-Western, anti-American, and anti-Catholic, as the Russian Orthodox Church is the source of the paranoia and hatred of liberal Western values. We will be fooling ourselves if we are to believe that, having exchanged the “Short Course of the History of the Communist Party” for the Bible, the Russians will become civilized.

Posted by aalkon at February 3, 2007 1:31 PM


Sovietologists espoused this view of Russian history all through the cold war. The difference between Stalin, and Ivan the Terrible, was only one of time.

Our contemporary mistake is the foolishness of thinking that Putin would be something different. As they say, with the Russians, it's always a mass, or an orgy.

Posted by: Casca at February 3, 2007 9:11 AM

I'll take the orgy.

Well, if I get to choose the orgiasts.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 3, 2007 10:06 AM

Eeen R-d-d-ussia, orgiasts choose YOU!

Posted by: Crid at February 3, 2007 10:24 AM

Yeah, Ayn Rand always made the same point about Russia being wrapped in mysticism, just as much after the Revolution, if not more. And Henry Kissinger was musing along similar lines in Does America Need A Foreign Policy? when he was saying that the entire history of Russia indicates that she never changes -- that she has always and will always see herself as a mystical instrument of Fate -- and that once she's back on her feet we'd better fasten our goddamned seatbelts.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at February 3, 2007 6:37 PM

LMAO, Paul you are so right. I had a three-year relationship with a Russian gal. Well, let's just leave it at that, but fastening one's seatbelt is well advised.

Posted by: Casca at February 3, 2007 7:07 PM

> and that once she's back on her feet
> we'd better fasten our goddamned
> seatbelts.

Bad times are probably a-comin', but I don't think they were ever on their feet. I'm fascinated with Pripyat for its trapped-in-amber feel, at least from the photos... Even though it was '86, it looks like a lot of America did in the late 60's and early 70's. I asked a family member working in Moscow if he had any interest in going to visit, and he said there was no point... Most such cities look like they did thirty years ago, even the ones that weren't irradiated and abandoned.

Posted by: Crid at February 3, 2007 7:23 PM

The ferris wheel just north of the elegant Polissa hotel...

Posted by: Crid at February 3, 2007 7:39 PM

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