Even in its supposed death throes the Soviet relic stands – its missiles poised, its leaders still dripping with Afghan blood, its espionage networks intact. We look on with amazement at this Antichrist; at this armored, low-built, cruel, tough, oriental animal that can drink the sewage of the most stagnant ponds while waiting upon its prey; not guided by economic rationalism or other Epicurean utilities, but by ancient, primitive, savage impulses. The Soviet ghost succeeds precisely because it is “the coldest of all cold monsters” in an age of lukewarmness; and grows because it devours whatever is on hand. How can we fail to marvel at a phenomenon so rich in contradiction – so twinkling with absurdity – as this empire against empires, this slavery in the name of emancipation? Consider its unaccountable feats: the establishment of a proletarian state in a land of peasants; literacy and industrialization through terror and hunger; military victory by shooting one’s own generals and by slaughtering one’s own soldiers; a black-market “communist” economy under a regime of criminal policemen; a backwardness first in space; the mightiest war machine of all time built by an economic “basket case”; and now, a democracy of totalitarian functionaries, a reformist policy that doesn’t bring reform, a surrendering of Eastern Europe, the coughing-up of many rockets and thermonuclear triggers so that the entire world might thereby be ensnared.
Every defeat, every step backward, every disaster in Soviet history seems miraculously transformed into success. How is this possible? We blink. We rub our eyes. We blink again. But the paradoxes continue. Our seers, sociologists, economists, and historians have never left off predicting the downfall of this curious monstrosity. In 1920 few experts thought the communist regime would last. Every respectable social theory, partnered with an infallible logic, told us that the Soviet Union crumbled in 1921, that it should have been wiped out by Hitler in 1941, that it passed away with the death of Stalin in 1953, and finally, that it went belly-up in 1991. How does one muster hostility against an adversary whose obituary has already been written? By every indication this adversary barely has a pulse, and drags out its existence like some wounded hulk. Thus does the Soviet death-rattle stretch through seven decades as the most tremendous last gasp in history. A few more such gasps and communism might endure for a thousand years. But nobody believes that another gasp is possible. To our way of thinking each gulp of air is the very last. Our only doubt comes during moments of immediate crisis, during Russia’s “elections”; and even then, after the crisis passes, the Soviet corpse is said to return to its traditional activity; that is, of decomposing, of being about to crumble, of coming apart at the seams. And even when the Communist Empire pronounces its own collapse with melodramatic flair, as with the advent of Mr. Yeltsin, a new Russian submarine nonetheless rolls off the stocks, with the muffled cries of Azerbaijan as background music. “That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain” is more than possible, especially in the Russian bureaucracy. That one may crumble and grow increasingly dangerous is also possible. But who is wise enough to know this?
During the 1940s Joseph A. Schumpeter characterized the typical American attitude toward Soviet Russia: “Let Russia swallow one or two more countries, what of it? Let her be well supplied with everything she needs and she will cease to frown. After twenty years the Russians will be just as democratic and pacific as are we – and think and feel just as do we. Besides, Stalin will be dead by then.”*
Each decade, however, has found us rolled back by communist takeovers in places like Vietnam, Cambodia, Cuba, China, Angola, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Tibet, Afghanistan, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and now, more recently, Zaire; and by the infallible progress of men like Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro, and – dare we say? – Nelson Mandela. Soviet socialism ebbs and flows unlike anything we’ve seen before. Take for example the year 1941, when Hitler decimated the Red Army. Yet the Red Army rose phoenix-like out of the ashes. One recalls Lenin’s political and military disasters, like the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and the Soviet invasion of Poland. We remember Khrushchev’s harebrained scheming, and his break with Maoist China. But each Soviet disaster is transformed, over time, into victory; e.g., the collapse of Brest-Litovsk, the communization of Poland, and finally, a new coziness with China. The Soviet talent for resurgence must be taken into account. To find a resilience as great as this, there is only the example set by the Romans after Cannae.** But is Russia, like Rome, destined for world empire? We cannot be sure. All we know is that Russia, whatever comparisons we incline to, proves to be a special entity following a law of development all its own. Perhaps Schumpeter was on to something when he wrote: “The Russian century once started may run its course almost of itself.”*** Why? Because Russian foreign policy has purpose, energy, style, depth; while American foreign policy is rambling, sentimental, and shallow. This gives tremendous advantage to Russia and very little to America. The American people want prosperity, not imperial burdens. At heart we are isolationists. Therefore, the most dangerous event of all is this recent and apparent collapse of the Soviet Empire. For should the Soviet Union, as phoenix, once again rise out of the ashes, we shall be compelled to rise out of ashes of our own.
* Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (New York: Harpor Torchbooks, 1975), p. 402.
** At Cannae Hannibal wiped out two Roman armies and killed nearly 60,000 men in a single day.
*** Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, p. 402 (see the last sentence of his footnote).
Quotation taken from J. R. Nyquist’s 257-page book Origins of the Fourth World War, Chula Vista, CA: Black Forest Press, 1998, Chapter 3: “East and West”, Note 2, pp. 31-33. Origins of the Fourth World War can be ordered directly from Mr. Nyquist’s website or via amazon.com (in the latter case, at astronomical prices).
Mr. Nyquist has also co-authored a number of books such as Back from the Dead: The Return of the Evil Empire (2014), Red Jihad: Moscow’s Final Solution for America and Israel (2016), and – best of all – The New Tactics of Global War: Reflections on the Changing Balance of Power in the Final Days of Peace (2015).
J. R. Nyquist posts columns, at varying intervals, on his own websites, www.jrnyquist.blog and www.jrnyquist.com. He is also a non-regular guest on the Brazilian YouTube channel Terça Livre (under the title Update Brazil) and a weekly guest on the John Moore Radio Show (always on Wednesdays).
Presented by The Contemplative Observer 2018