Those old enough to remember the Cold War will recall, perhaps with some prompting, that the fight with the Soviets was as much a moral war as a political one. It was not that the communists were in error about some item in dispute. The communists were immoral because communism was immoral. Whatever the faults of liberal democracy, it was morally superior to the evils of communist totalitarianism.
At the time, this was not a tough case to make. Americans could speak out against the government, while Russians had to suffer in silence. The West had elections and big public spats over policy. Debate in the East was always behind the dreary walls of the communist party. Most important, the West did not have political prisoners, while the East operated camps, even small cities, for their dissidents.
A generation later and the roles are not exactly reversed, but it is now possible to argue that Russians are freer than Americans. Putin has his enemies jailed, but that’s now official policy in America. In the case of Putin, he does not relish in the torment of his opponents. There is some hint of shame there. In America, members of the regime take pleasure in tormenting those who speak out against them.
Take, for example, the case of Alexey Navalny, the CIA-sponsored critic of Putin who is now in jail. He claims poor treatment at the hands of the government, but he is able to speak to the media about it. In contrast, there are an unknown number of people in jail right now over the January protests. One was beaten by guards to the point where he lost sight in one eye.
Unlike with Alexey Navalny, The New York Times and The Washington Post are not demanding Ronald Sandlin be set free. The great and the good are not calling him a political prisoner, despite the fact he is literally in jail for politics. The folks who tell us “democracy dies in darkness” are happy that Ronald Sandlin now lives in darkness at the hands of the state. The political prisoners being held by the Biden regime envy Alexey Navalny.
It is not just at the extreme where the moral relationship has reversed. Russian citizens can walk up to the Kremlin and take pictures of it and themselves in front of it without fear of being shot by the army. Americans, on the other hand, will be sent to prison for daring such a radical act. People protest in Moscow all the time. As long as they are peaceful, they are left alone. Protest is banned in Washington now.
A generation ago, Americans knew they would win the Cold War, because they were right about the moral depravity of communism. Such a system could not last. The Soviet system did collapse, because devoid of moral authority, the cost of maintaining it eventually exceeded the benefits of the system. By the end, no one could think of a reason to sacrifice for the system or the people running it.
Americans are quickly approaching the same decision. As long as the material benefits are not threatened, most are happy to remain in their cells. At some point, though, the number of people no longer able to tell the good guys from the bad guys, the white hats from the black hats, will reach a critical mass. The ruling regime is burning what is left of its moral authority to fuel its hold on power. When the tank runs dry, they will join the communists in the dustbin of history.
There are other equally-invidious comparisons to be made, and to be learned from.
The parallels are so striking that one can wonder if there really is an unseen force guiding history along. Was there no one who might have stopped Hitler’s rise or the Russian revolution? Germany had no such person. Russia did. Pyotr Stolypin, though, was assassinated in 1911, and things just muddled along until Lenin and the communists took charge. Donald Trump in America tried heroically to stop the communists but failed. The left, controlling nearly all that matters in America, didn’t have to assassinate Trump to attain its goal.
Another interesting parallel works in reverse. Joe Biden best matches the pathetic Tsar Nicholas II, whom a coalition of liberals and socialists overthrew (before the Bolsheviks then overthrew them) to seize power and whose legacy is that of an uncomprehending fool. Biden came after the seizure of power by the Reds in Washington, but that hasn’t stopped him from modeling Tsar Nicholas’s foolishness. In fewer than three months, Joe’s incompetence has become legendary, bordering on comical.
Comical, only nobody’s laughing.
Ordinary people in 1917 Russia and 1933 Germany generally went about their business after monsters ascended to power. Perhaps they dreaded the future but had no way to change it or any idea of where things would go. It was probably best for them that they did not know. And so with us today.
“Best for them”? Well, back then, maybe. But only maybe, and only by a whisker. As the man says, in 1917 and 1933 the world didn’t have the benefit of a hundred-year record of death, impoverishment, and enslavement that are the inevitable products of Leftist ideology that we enjoy today. So people of that time can perhaps be given a pass for having been taken in by this extreme and inhuman ideology and all its evil works.
But today, we have no such excuse. Thus, I hardly think it can be considered “best” for anybody “not to know” their history. Actually, I consider such ignorance to be unforgivable, amounting to a crime which creates its own punishment—an extravagantly harsh punishment suffered by the deserving and the blameless alike. If we witness yet another nation stricken by this self-inflicted plague, no one who was either too mulish, too starry-eyed, or too just goddamned stupid to see what any even half-sentient soul could have told them was coming ought to be given a bye.