Way back in the late stages of the Cold War, the Soviet political class started to fracture and splinter. The reform movement of Gorbachev was one faction, while the old guard that resisted him was another. There were other factions playing both sides against one another, as well as genuine reformers on the fringe. The reason the ruling elite was splintering was the system over which they ruled was no longer functioning. This reality was becoming clear to many, but not everyone in the party agreed.
Intrigue began to dominate party politics in the final stages of the Soviet Union. There was always politics within the party, but it revolved around the ruling center, much as court intrigue would revolve around the king. As the system began to falter, that center collapsed and party politics was conspiracies within conspiracies, as factions jockeyed for power. Eventually, the system collapsed and the party with it. What followed was a period of looting by oligarchs that rushed into to fill the void.
It is an important thing to think about when analyzing what’s happening in current year America. In the West, the response to the end of the Cold War was the replacement of the old sober minded political class with their self-absorbed, amoral children. The most notable example being Bill and Hillary Clinton, who have come to symbolize Baby Boomer political culture. Theirs is a politics of limitless mendacity. Everything is for sale, including the very institution over which they preside.
In other words, the Soviet Empire fell into a period of chaos and disorder in response to the end of the Cold War, while America fell into a period of self-indulgence. This way of framing it is like two sports teams after a championship match. The losers fall into finger pointing and blaming one another. The winners go on a bender to celebrate their victory and the benefits that come with it. Eventually, the loser regroups. In the case of Russia, it is becoming a normal country again.
There may be another way of reading the post-Soviet period in America. It may be that the period ushered in by the Clintons was an interregnum. Both sides of the Cold War were purpose built to face off against one another. The Russians bankrupted themselves with an ineffective organizational model, so the end of the Cold War brought a genuine collapse, as that was the only way forward. In America, the country was still rich, so the old model could trundle on as if nothing really changed.
This interregnum was a period where the old political order carried on searching for an enemy to replace the Soviets. First it was the Muslims, which gave us two ghastly wars of choice and the surveillance state. That weakened America greatly, but instead of facing the long overdue reorganization, the political class tried reinventing the Russian bogeyman. Now, as in late stage Soviet Russia, the political center has collapsed and we are entering a similar period of chaos and intrigue.
Like the Soviets, we have oligarchs jockeying to loot what’s left the country, seemingly uninterested in staving off collapse. Big Tech and Wall Street have all the signs of super-predators from another planet, waiting for the chance to rush in and steal whatever they think has value. Like Gorbachev’s government at the end, official Washington is weak, while a populist reform movement builds. Trump is not Boris Yeltsin, but no historic analogy is intended to be perfect.
Of course, there came a point in the late stages of the Soviet Union where the emerging power centers outside the party, what would become the oligarchs, resorted to violence in their struggles with one another and the party. This is something that is starting to turn up more and more in America. Starting with the execution of Seth Rich on a Washington street, through the explosion of Antifa violence, the country is now buzzing with conspiracy over the bizarre death of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.
That is another thing we are seeing in America that was common toward the end of the Soviet Union. The public is so cynical about the motives and character of the ruling class, that no one believes anything. The fake news meme was effective because trust in the media had dropped to zero. The lies had simply accumulated to the point where no rational person could accept anything from the media at face value. The continued existence of mainstream media just increases the cynicism.
Now, something not reported in the old Soviet Union that we are seeing in current year America is the panic. We are currently in the midst of a White Fright, where the media is tasked with casting daily events as signs of a white supremacist uprising. The coalition of the ascendant is being told to lock their doors and remain vigilante, as the twelfth invisible Hitler is slated to return at any minute. Like the Russia hoax, this one is a ruling class hoax that suggests a breakdown at the very top.
Again, it is not a perfect analogy. That’s not how analogies work. That said, there are important differences between the end of Cold War America and the end of Cold War Russia. The interregnum between the end of the Cold War and current year America is one example. Another is the nature of the oligarchs ready to seize power from Washington. They are foreign in outlook, if not legality. The tech barons and Wall Street financiers have loyalties that transcend any attachment to nation.
These new oligarchs are globalists, while the Russian oligarchs were local. The oligarchs of current year America are anti-nationalists, seeking a post-national world order. Their desire is to turn the heart of the American Empire into just another province. There’s also a class consciousness to their enablers. The managerial elite see themselves as a new class, tasked with administering the new global order. These are not men for hire, as we saw in Russia. These are true believers.
There’s also the fact that the American military is a different thing than what evolved in the Soviet Union. The Russian military was quite comfortable involving itself in politics, while the America military lacks the talent and culture to do it. Civilian leaders in America have always been smart enough to choose obsequious and incompetent generals to run the military branches. The talent is down a few ranks. The culture of the military would not lend itself to political involvement either.
Even so, what all of this suggests is America is headed for a period of chaos similar to what gripped the Russians after the Cold War. Just as the Russian oligarchs were too greedy and short sighted to replace the party, our oligarchs are too foreign and feckless to provide an alternative to Washington. A period of chaos in probably what comes next for post-Soviet America. The sudden collapse of empire and then a reversion to its natural state after a period of chaos and violence.
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