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Winter Is Coming - Ch. 1 - The End of the Cold War and the Fall of the USSR 
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 Winter Is Coming - Ch. 1 - The End of the Cold War and the Fall of the USSR
Winter Is Coming
Ch. 1 - The End of the Cold War and the Fall of the USSR

Please use this thread for discussing the above chapter.



Wed Oct 17, 2018 10:42 pm
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Post Re: Winter Is Coming - Ch. 1 - The End of the Cold War and the Fall of the USSR
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In the middle of the summer in 1989, I gave a long interview to a magazine that practically personified Western decadence in the Soviet imagination: Playboy. But it wasn’t just the publisher of my interview that raised eyebrows in the Soviet Union. Despite the increasing atmosphere of glasnost, openness, between America and the USSR, and the slow loosening of political repression under Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika, my outspoken criticism of Soviet society and my praise for America and Americans in particular were something of a scandal. The fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9 was still five months away and largely unimagined. A month after that, Gorbachev and President George H. W. Bush would declare that the USSR and the United States were no longer enemies. But even in this rapidly changing environment my comments sounded close to treason to some in the Kremlin.

PLAYBOY: You sound like an American. Americans always want to be winners.
KASPAROV: This is a very human quality. It proves that Americans are very close to true human nature.

For Soviet authorities steeped in the myth of the moral superiority of Communism and the Soviet man, comments like these were quite serious. In today’s world it may seem quaint, or else catastrophically oppressive, but socialist ideology and perceptions of morality were very much part of the Cold War arsenal. When the Soviet sports authorities attacked me for wanting to retain my chess winnings, they condemned not only my disobedience, but my lack of socialist solidarity. For me to say that my neighbors in Baku should see my keeping the Mercedes I won in Germany as normal, healthy thinking was radical and subversive.

Soon after Reagan declared the USSR an Evil Empire and right after they left Afghanistan in defeat, Gorbachev and G.H.W. Bush declare we're no longer enemies. Looking at that relationship now, it's amazing how quickly complicated foreign policy can flip-flop back and forth again in short periods of time.



Wed Dec 12, 2018 8:51 pm
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Post Re: Winter Is Coming - Ch. 1 - The End of the Cold War and the Fall of the USSR
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In 1987, Gorbachev said he wanted to build Alexander Dubček’s “socialism with a human face,” to which I responded that Frankenstein’s monster also had a human face. Communism goes against human nature and can only be sustained by totalitarian repression. Without outside assistance, or massive amounts of natural resources like oil, repression leads to economic stagnation. Then there is the moral and spiritual stagnation of a society were individual success and excellence are all but forbidden.


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In Anatomy of Fascism, Robert Paxton includes in his concise definition “the belief that one’s group is a victim, a sentiment that justifies any action, without legal or moral limits, against its enemies, both internal and external.” The myth of Russian humiliation at Western, especially American, hands fits the victimhood model perfectly. The false narrative that Russia is surrounded by enemies who are intent on holding it back fills Putin’s need for fuel for his increasingly fascist propaganda. For similar reasons, Putin’s regime is as obsessed with Soviet suffering and victory in World War II as the Soviet Union ever was. Along with the victimhood claim (in this case, legitimate), the WWII fixation fits the Kremlin’s desire to call all of its enemies fascists, despite all evidence to the contrary. Their bizarre logic goes, “We defeated fascists in WWII, and so everyone who opposes us is fascist.”

Summaries of some ideas held by Russian leaders...



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Robert Tulip
Wed Dec 12, 2018 9:02 pm
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Post Re: Winter Is Coming - Ch. 1 - The End of the Cold War and the Fall of the USSR
LanDroid wrote:
Soon after Reagan declared the USSR an Evil Empire and right after they left Afghanistan in defeat, Gorbachev and G.H.W. Bush declare we're no longer enemies. Looking at that relationship now, it's amazing how quickly complicated foreign policy can flip-flop back and forth again in short periods of time.


By providing them with weapons and intelligence, the CIA did an excellent job helping the Afghanies repel a Soviet invasion. You'd figure the U.S. and Afghanistan would be fast friends after that but instead we're at war. One thing Kasparov's book makes quite clear — our foreign policy often sucked big time.


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Last edited by Litwitlou on Wed Dec 12, 2018 9:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Dec 12, 2018 9:50 pm
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Post Re: Winter Is Coming - Ch. 1 - The End of the Cold War and the Fall of the USSR
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Communism goes against human nature and can only be sustained by totalitarian repression. Without outside assistance, or massive amounts of natural resources like oil, repression leads to economic stagnation. Then there is the moral and spiritual stagnation of a society were individual success and excellence are all but forbidden.

I am willing to cut Kasparov a lot of slack because I agree with this vision and his motivation. But I am finding myself very irritated by his reductionist version of things, in which he tries to make it seem that any struggle on the part of freedom makes things turn out well, and any bad conditions that lead to chaos and insecurity must be due to insufficient commitment to freedom.

His arguments need to deal with the enormous shock to the system caused by rapid full opening to outside markets, and with the fact that Putin wins elections, even though those are not fully free and fair. He may claim that if they were, Putin would lose, but the evidence would not back that up. Can you be committed to democracy if you don't acknowledge that democracy brought the dictator to power and continues to support him?

Quote:
In Anatomy of Fascism, Robert Paxton includes in his concise definition “the belief that one’s group is a victim, a sentiment that justifies any action, without legal or moral limits, against its enemies, both internal and external.” The myth of Russian humiliation at Western, especially American, hands fits the victimhood model perfectly. The false narrative that Russia is surrounded by enemies who are intent on holding it back fills Putin’s need for fuel for his increasingly fascist propaganda. For similar reasons, Putin’s regime is as obsessed with Soviet suffering and victory in World War II as the Soviet Union ever was. Along with the victimhood claim (in this case, legitimate), the WWII fixation fits the Kremlin’s desire to call all of its enemies fascists, despite all evidence to the contrary. Their bizarre logic goes, “We defeated fascists in WWII, and so everyone who opposes us is fascist.”

If our country lost 50% of its GDP in the 10 years after a "reform" we would declare ourselves victims as well. The counternarrative is subtle and difficult, and freedom bears a hefty share of the blame for this disaster in the counternarrative.

In fact Western democracies did not want to be associated with the internal machinations of the Yeltsin years, both to avoid blame for whatever disasters might come to pass and to avoid making any party or philosophy appear to be "puppets" for the West. They were quite aware of the strong undercurrent of hostility to Westerners and of blame for the increasingly disastrous economic unraveling on Western advice and leverage. The idea that there were forces at work too strong for outsiders to manage does not seem to be a possibility Kasparov's worldview is willing to take into account, but it was certainly a heavy part of the policy calculation on left and right in the West.

I appreciate Kasparov filling in aspects of the process that were not generally reported at the time, such as Western complicity in the cover story of opposition to global terrorism that served as justification for the brutal suppression of separatists in Chechnya. I also appreciate his lens of freedom, which is not up to the role he assigns it, but gives him perspectives and perception that are often outside the "standard story" most commonly accepted by Westerners.



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Robert Tulip
Fri Jan 18, 2019 5:31 am
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