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August 6, 2003 12:38 PM   Subscribe

Andrei Sitov, the Washington bureau chief of the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS, talks about the "Sovietization" of America. You'll need to scroll down to number 5 on this page, sorry no anchor tags.
posted by skallas (10 comments total)
A very interesting perspective. But the converse is true as well. As Iain Banks pointed out (actually through one of his characters in "The Business") post-Soviet Russia hasn't so much become Westernized as become a parody of the West, an imitation not of what the West really is but rather of what the Soviet propaganda claimed it was. A corrupt and criminal oligarchy in which honest working people get the crappy end of the stick.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:50 PM on August 6, 2003

A corrupt and criminal oligarchy in which honest working people get the crappy end of the stick.

and this is a parody of america how?
posted by quonsar at 12:52 PM on August 6, 2003

From the top of the document:

Johnson's Russia List

Jonson has a russia list, too?
posted by namespan at 12:53 PM on August 6, 2003

Quonsar, I said the West, which, last time I looked included places like Canada, The Netherlands, Sweden, etc. But yes, in America we are going that way. Plunder by the well-connected has impoverished Russia to the point where they can't pay their teachers... and that should sound familiar to residents of, say California and Oregon.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:00 PM on August 6, 2003

There's at least one genuine taboo in American journalism: admitting that the 9/11 highjackers were personally brave and committed to their murderous cause.

I never have heard or read any news story calling the 9/11 hijackers wishy-washy cowards. If he wants to criticize the press he might come up with a better example of angles/stories that don't get covered. Can't be that hard.
posted by orange swan at 1:44 PM on August 6, 2003

From what I've heard journalists say, they are very seldom pressured by their bosses to adhere to the government-sanctioned version of events. However, they are constantly pressured to write the version that sells best.

This type of pressure may hurt journalism at times, but it's different, and better in my opinion, from what they had in the god ole USSR.
posted by Triplanetary at 2:55 PM on August 6, 2003

"...its "elite" even toyed with the ridiculous notion of an "end of history". This is an idea common to all totalitarian regimes (some scholars say it is rooted in the Armageddon prophecy in the Bible). At least Fukuyama's version did not envision a blood bath. .......The US continues to define its national greatness through military strength....."

Not bad, as far as the argument goes - but it misses more than half the picture. Americans have long professed to hate Socialism while at the same time yearning for community and also for avenues of expression for idealistic, egalitarian altruistic instincts which Capitalism sometimes sneers at, and which characterized the beginnings of the great socialist experiment/disaster.

To put it simply, the Soviets professed collectivist economic and cultural values while yearning towards individualism, both culturally and economically. So, the black market flourished and, when the Soviet Empire collapsed, the underground economy metastasizes as Russians acted out a version of what they understood capitalism to be: rapacious, violent, corrupt - really a mix of gangsterism with the spirit of the American "Wild West". They are only now starting to unlearn the "capitalism=mafia" equation.

The Americans, on the other hand, have long worshipped at the alter of the mythic "Free Market" - which, in absolute terms, does not even exist ( by orthodox definitions ). But in the rush to push the boundaries of privatization, American corporatism is starting to look like - in it's refusal to accept boundaries or the tendencies of basic human nature - like a grotesque parody of utopian socialist idealism....the Ponzi schemes of Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco were great, hollow lies as surely as Socialism was, and the incessant blaring and braying of PR - whether through under-the-radar PR agencies hired to create fake "Citizens movements", or the PR of the mass media as it sells the "War on Iraq" like a highly leveraged brand name - conceals deep dysfunction under the sheets.

The virility of American capitalism - as measured in economic product - shrivels and the drain of a 40 billion dollar a month balance of trade deficit is only maintained through the continued investment of foreign, largely Asian money which invests in the American stock market and buys notes for the American Federal Debt.

Meanwhile, "the Free market will solve everything, all human problems and more!" they chant endlessly. And - the irony is, if the Free Market were not so caught up in pursuing short term profit and in pushing short sighted self interest, it could handily, rapidly solve many pressing problems: probably the most pressing of environmental problems, for example. Markets if CO2 trading have proved highly successful. And the American economy and people are surely nimble and inventive as ever, and as enamored of tinkering with their technologies and inventing new ones to propel their fortunes.

During the Cold war, the Capital/labor power struggle was only held in check through the counterweight of the implied threat of Socialism and so now labor is in steady retreat. Capitalism reigns triumphant, the trumpets sound from the battlements, the industrialists dance jigs in the streets while the common folk drink cheap beer and watch pro wrestling..............

There is a sense I think, at the Heritage Foundations and AEI's of America that "only if we attain the Grail, the true Free Market will the world be as it should. Then Heaven on Earth will come to pass." But the goal stays somehow elusive, while cracks appear in the foundations of this, American, most mighty of all economies ever known.

The clock ticks. The tide rushes in. The battlements sag. Seagulls dive, and pick at the seaweed decorating the ramparts.......

A toddler kicks down the outer wall.

[ oops - time to go! ]
posted by troutfishing at 3:08 PM on August 6, 2003

well reasoned there troutfishing, that about sums it up for me. I am afraid that pure unadultered capaitalism, the holy grail being a completely market driven economy with the state performing only a night watchman function is as untenable in the long term as the collectivist command economics that prevailed in the soviet union. But then as keynes said himself in the long term you are dead.
posted by johnnyboy at 1:48 AM on August 7, 2003

I never have heard or read any news story calling the 9/11 hijackers wishy-washy cowards.

Wow, what kind of drugs did you take on September 10th that have kept you unconscious until now? The only person that didn't call them cowards, and mentioned that a more cowardly act would be to sit in a steel room, hundreds of miles away from the battlefield and press a button to kill your enemies, got fired for it. (He got a better gig, perhaps, but there ya go.)

If he wants to criticize the press he might come up with a better example of angles/stories that don't get covered. Can't be that hard.

It wasn't that hard, which is why he mentioned the Lynch thing. Dunno how he missed on the 1/2 of this country that thinks Saddam is Clark Kent to Osama's Superman (o.k. bad analogy, add is a couple of "bizarro's" and it makes more sense), that one's a great example of an extremely effective propaganda machine in effect.

The thing that worries me the most is the Dept of Homland Security translation. Mentioning the colored alert system as a source of constant anxiety was also interesting.
posted by wah at 10:17 AM on August 7, 2003

Something the author didn't mention was the unification of the genuine interests of politics, business and the media. All of them want money. Big media is run by companies that are very profit centered, with few exceptions. The politicians give tax breaks to the companies in exchange for campaign contributions. And the media, which is supposed to be repoorting about this stuff, doesn't go apeshit.

I think that in America today these interests are more aligned than they ever were in the USSR.
posted by Birichini at 2:44 PM on August 7, 2003

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