The Half-brothers of Industrialization
By Sergei Roganov
Translated By Rina Hay
26 December 2012
Edited by Drue Fergison
Russia - Izvestiya - Original Article (Russian)
Philosopher Sergei Roganov on why Russia can't help but look to the U.S.
Another round of anti-American sentiment in Russian society has been greeted with predictable reactions from different social groups, the tip of which was accusing United Russia of every conceivable sin. Recent initiatives from the party of power, starting with banning the adoption of Russian children by Americans and ending with talk of outlawing the dollar, are designed to appeal to patriotism and national consciousness. Indeed, whether or not we admit to it, it is America that has become modern Russia's starting point in choosing tactics and strategies of national development. This is, naturally, not just about the “Magnitsky Act,” which detonated various international, anti-Russian initiatives.
In light of the approaching 90th anniversary of the formation of the USSR (the relevant documents, remember, were signed at the end of December, 1922), the origins of the recent anti-Americanism take on an entirely new dimension. The last 20 years of our lives have been filled with attempts to understand the place and role of the USSR in our history and, most importantly, the geopolitical catastrophe that Soviet society endured.
Since then, for the vast majority of Russians, America has lost its shining status as a symbol of liberty, democracy and unwavering commitment to human rights. But, the paradox is that the Soviet Union, loser of the Cold War, and the U.S., winner of the Cold War, were not polar opposites in their political and social systems, and it is in the awareness of this historical relationship of the two types of totalitarianism/authoritarianism that we find the source of the anti-American sentiment in Russia.
We have easily reduced the USSR's image to the Stalinist era and have deeply amused ourselves at the parallels between Hitler's Germany (fascism) and the Soviet Union, cursing our own history in front of the entire world, emasculated by Russian liberals. But to draw parallels between fascist Italy, Germany and the United States in the first half of the last century seemed (and to this day seems) completely unthinkable. Well, it's time to remember Roosevelt's progressivism, and programs that were so admired by Hitler and Mussolini, as prime examples of genuine fascist programs of the cult of state and authorities, national education and upbringing. The time has come to remember the enthusiastic correspondence between Roosevelt and the leaders/Fuhrers of fascism before the war. It is even time to remember the Propaganda Agency of the United States, the political repression of the ’20s and ’30s, American racism and eugenics, medical trials on prisoners and the absolute certainty of Americans that their values were common to any farmer, peasant or worker on the planet.
The latter point was the most important for the leaders of the industrial period of the last century! If communism was a collective man-God (N. Bukharin), and superhuman Nietzsche coaxed Germans into their great future, then naturally the U.S.'s “land of God” was the same land, the only land on which it is possible to develop a new history, a new man. It is unsurprising that the well-known socialist writer H.G. Wells was unable to understand the fundamental differences in the foreign policies of Stalin and Roosevelt, which he tried to ask of the “father of the nation” in the Kremlin in 1934. But what is surprising is that Adolf Hitler was once “Man of the Year,” according to American opinion of the 1930s, and the idea of fascism was one of the most progressive and humane. Red-brown Europe was rushing between slogans, manifestos, appeals, and America was not far behind her in its national development — aiming to represent everything that was progressive and humane.
The post-war confrontation between the USSR and U.S. was a confrontation between two powerful authoritarian regimes, each carrying its own vision of rebuilding and transforming the entire world based on its principles of justice and good, each of which was leading humanity into its bright future. This is exactly why the inner world, that device of modern America so close to insightful post-Soviet citizens, is a world of the bygone Soviet era right down to the last detail — figures of speech, habits and traditions, even “Socialist” voluntary work on the construction of small towns, of which Americans are so proud, to Soviet traditions of American universities. And the limits of American political science would be the envy of all followers of Marxist-Leninist philosophy and the politburo.
“How many blissful revelations the spirit of enlightenment hides!” We still have much in front of us, and in the end we will realize that modern America is not beaten and not afraid of the USSR, in the apt words of Michael Dorfman (U.S.). We will understand that, fawning before American political thought, we are fawning before our own nostalgia for the Soviet Union, for the superpower that ruled half the world and that, until we leave behind our own misconceptions and inferiority complexes, we will not take a single step forward.
Two wrongs do not make a right. We have a historic chance to become the great Russia of which we dream. But on one condition: that we say goodbye to America/USSR, where we have been and well know the price to pay for our own illusions.
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