The Private Life is Dead
Remember Commander Strelnikov in the film classic, “Dr Zhivago” (1965)? He was the intellectual communist who had turned into a Red military commander in the civil war that followed the October Revolution. His comment “the private life is dead” had been the signature of the new Soviet experiment throughout the 1930s. It was how they wanted themselves portrayed throughout their first generation, as only 10% of the population, vis a vis their own people, and to the West, especially in Hollywood, who felt it important to portray the Soviets as deadly serious patriots. Not a lot of laughs.
One of the laws of bureaucracy is that this sort of ideological zealousness only lasts one generation, about 15-20 years. That sort of fire simply cannot be passed on in a bureaucracy, but which is fundamental to any big government approach to managing anything.
Only recently, a Ukrainian émigré with a Massachusetts drivers license, and a record of out-of-state driving convictions, ran down and killed seven Marine vets and wives on their way to a motorcycle gathering, and now awaits trail in neighboring New Hampshire. A few days later Massachootin DMV bureaucrats looked around the loose papers on their desks to find 900 (!!) other Massachucks still carrying valid licenses after having been convicted of other serious out-of-state offenses and revoked them all in one day.
Correcting the record or CYA?
I’m sorry to report that this condition can never be fixed. It is as effective in protecting the public interest as any bureaucracy can ever get, short of firing the lot of them every 15 years, bringing in a new crew and starting all over again, including their top management…which is why we know this will never happen.
By WWII, Marxist-Leninism was no longer ideological in the functional sense the USSR. As the early Soviet apparatchiks condescendingly passed onto the millions of ignorant Russians who had no idea what was going on in their brave new world stern admonitions, “It is not permitted, comrade”, “It is bourgeois, comrade”, it was meant to sound like stern school teachers instructing children. By the 1950s it was “Shut up and do what you’re told or you know what will happen.”
Americans are familiar with that same down-the-nose attitude, whether making complaints to Verizon, United Airlines, or waiting in line at the motor vehicle department.
It is this indifference and disdain that has been known to go on forever.
I knew enough government officials in the Soviet Bloc fifty years later to know this was still an accurate portrayal of their public persona. But most were quite affable behind the curtain.
Still it begs the question how a Jewish singer named Barbara Streisand could conquer the world first with her voice, then with her acting in the 1960s-70s, then adopt the same sour “Ninotchka” when speaking of whatever ideological infraction our society has been guilty of this year.
No one knows if early Soviets laughed behind the curtains the state had erected to separate them from the masses, but the consensus was that public signs of happiness; smiling, laughing, back slapping, was very much frowned upon. And in a time when there was always someone else watching, possibly taking notes, and unwilling to risk own their status and approval by the group to test it, by not reporting it.
It was a humorless existence. Everyone had to put on a face.
If there was a communist signature for that era, it was that deep furrowed brow of the weight of the world sitting squarely on their shoulders. This dispassion, this cold analytical thinking defined the early Soviet state. Stalin marketed its New Man and New World vision as one without sentimentality or any romantic backward glances. It expressed an exclusivist state of mind implying that reason is harder then sentiment, thus more noble.
What Stalin hadn’t banked on was that in America this sales pitch would appeal to a social vanity, much like puritanism possessed in New England, once it had shed God and moved south to Manhattan, allowing converts to set themselves apart from the masses simply by playing the part of having been converted to a higher cause.
It was like a secret handshake. Defining themselves by who they were not, people they held in disdain, they could carry their self-righteous countenance as the total expression of their substance. Lenin couldn’t have known that some people could only pretend to be committed, yet still be able to convince themselves. But in America it was easy. Their status stood out as much as a school tie in London, and all they had to do was walk the walk, and from time to time, talk the talk.
By the 1990s that’s all there would be, the pretense of substance.
Lenin’s religious-like marriage of cold ideology to real-life governance lasted just about one generation in the USSR. Think of the young starry-eyed 22-year-old Hillary Rodham going all gaga over this new ideology as offered up by Saul Alinsky in 1969, then becoming the Lady Gaga Hillary before she was fifty, stuffing money down her panty hose as if she had robbed a bodega in the Bronx at gunpoint.)
Even in the USSR, by Generation Two mostly only the façade remained, where the sour puss was just painted on. The hidden private property, the dacha in the woods with European record players and American cigarettes, would also come in that second generation, so by the third, its ever-expanding un-supervised bureaucracy would cause the Soviet star to begin a quick downward spiral and finally flame out, all according to natural laws as rigid as Newton’s observations on gravity.
Seventy years, right on schedule.
But as long as there were new fields to plow, the cold flame of Lenin could be lit elsewhere. Mao had his two-generation fling. Look at those guys now. Some are billionaires, pursuing a lust for gold as ancient as the Han Dynasty. So did the various Communist fathers of eastern Europe. Even Cuba. This photo (below) is from Bulgaria around 1948, the owner a woman with an arrow over her head, a founding mother of the Bulgarian Communist Party and Central Committee member. (I knew the family.) The Bulgarians being a naturally gregarious people, I doubt the flame of morose self-denial ever burned that brightly in their souls. Still, they had to put on this mask to suit their Stalinist masters in Moscow.
Taking the vows of communism was purposefully likened to men and women taking vows of chastity and poverty, to be able to tune into a higher existence and calling. But only one type of philosophy can claim real transcendence, involving elements mere political thought could never match, so would always fail. We’ve talked about this before, for all ‘ism’s fail in re-birthing themselves anew from the top down, while the love of freedom, liberty and God dwell deep within all men and women at the bottom, and never ceases despite every attempt to douse that flame. That’s why it’s called Christianity, not Christianism. The ‘isms’ life span are measured in years, not millennia. America is not an ideology, but a theology.
The American Left of today is not your grandfather’s Oldsmobile.
“Greed is good.” -Gordon Gekko.
Begun as an anti-Wall Street mantra, this has now become the credo of the American Left, in alliance with the very fascist global corporatists Gekko personified in “Wall Street”, which was supposed to be an anti-Republican, anti-Reagan film. Now every corporatist is admired for the crease in his trousers more than the sackcloth that once marked his voluntary poverty.
Then look at their faces, and listen to them talk.
The modern Left is just as humorless today as the old Leninists of Soviet Russia. But they are not the same. The American Left is more hate-filled. In fact, I’d wager they learned their hatred long before they learned an ideology to wrap around it…unless you consider Me-sim to be an ideology. Modern leftists define themselves by who they hate. (Sadly, so do many on the Right, now, which tells me this condition is cultural, not political.)
I can find very few personality traits that are common to the modern Left today that were found in Old Guard Communists. I never knew a single Communist Party member in the Russias who hated the people they ruled over, or looked down upon them as less than human. They were merely irrelevant, at worst, poor ignorant fools. Communism killed by indifference. It was the Nazis who killed out of hate. They needed a personal rationale.
In America there is little difference between a modern Leftist’s reaction to being denied a desired election result and ordering a medium-rare sirloin and it showing up at the table well-done. One would have to go back to royalist France in the 15th Century to find any comparison with American teatty-babyism.
Everything that doesn’t go their way is a personal insult or inconvenience, and in this, they are more like Marx, and not at all like Lenin, who once said he stopped listening to Beethoven because it made him feel weak.
The humorlessness we are witnessing with the modern Left in America today has almost nothing to do with Marxism or any other ideology. There is nothing about the American Left’s opinion of itself that demands it cast out or even disguise the personal life. Their private life and associations are everything. Self-love is everything.
Disdain, disapproval, more than dispassion mark their distemper. Among themselves their smiles are often confused with sneers as they imbibe on their favorite nectar, congratulating each other for hating others.