Monday, October 8, 2012

Down and Out in Moscow and Cincinnati

As I wandered Moscow in my early twenties I distinctly rember a feeling of melancholy pervading me. I was fascinated by the decaying revolutionary murals which covered entire buildings. I was not cynical enough to scoff, I looked upon these exhortations to collectively build a bright and bold new future for the world as inspiring and valid. The work I was doing seemed to lack purpose, to lack a greater meaning and a connection with my fellow man. I saw the old black and white Soviet films and just as Mikhalkov conveyed later in "Burnt by the Sun" these films were conveyed sincerity. There were subtexts of criticism but there was also belief.

In one of my many real or imagined arguments with my father I said "at least they tried!". Tariq Ali made a similar observation about the Bolsheviks recently but in a different way. Not the defeatist "at least they tried" but a victorious "where in the hell would Europe be without the Bolsheviks?". The United States was preparing for defeat in WWII, sending messages to the British that they should send the remainder of their fleet to the United States. The Soviet Army, Stalingrad, the slash and burn retreat tactics drawing the Germans deeper into the death of Russian winter as they did with Napolean helped to destroy the Third Reich. Without these actions of the Bolsheviks what would the world have looked like?

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