The long weekend read: Welcome back to the Soviet Union

The long weekend read: Welcome back to the Soviet Union


norman lebrecht

November 27, 2015

Anne Applebaum, the US-Polish political analyst, has written a scorching piece in Commentary on the return of Soviet values, practices, apologists, nostalgists and fellow-travellers. Here’s a sample:

Admirers of the grim Stalinist skyscrapers in Warsaw and Moscow have multiplied…

Somewhat less amusing is the resurrection of old Marxists like Jeremy Corbyn, the newly elected leader of the British Labour party. For many years Corbyn has been writing for the Morning Star, the newspaper of the British far left, proffering anti-American, anti-NATO, anti-Semitic, and even anti-British sentiments. These views no longer alarm a generation that can’t remember who sponsored such views in the past, or why. His conservative opponents have accused him of pushing policies that were last heard in the 1980s, but what does that mean to people who were born in the 1980s? To them Corbyn sounds new and fresh.

Still, the resurrection of the Western far left or the return of forgotten British comrades is not what I worry about the most. My concern is the revival, with amazing speed, of a belligerent Russian state, one led by men who were taught and trained by the Soviet state and are thus prepared to use a familiar blend of terror, deception, and military force to stay in power. One might argue, of course, that such men never really went away. But their level of aggression is rising just as our once formidable ability to counter them seems to have vanished altogether. Instead, we have trouble simply recognizing them for what they are.

Now read the full essay here.


soviet union


  • Gregor Tassie says:

    Could I ask why this is on this website, there is nothing remotely about music in this article, although I suppose one can’t forget that the USSR bankrolled the arts and musicians enjoyed a much better life than in today’s capitalist market economy. Seems this website is turning into a part of the Daily Telegraph….

    • Furzwängler says:

      You have obviously forgotten, if indeed you ever knew, that the only artists and musicians in the USSR that were “bankrolled” (as you put it) were those who toed the political and ideological line that was prescribed for them. There were plenty of musicians and writers who had a very difficult if not downright awful time. Think Prokoviev or Shostakovich, for example. Think Pasternak, Zvetaeva, Mandelstam, to name but a few. Even artists who did toe the line (more or less) such as Richter and Gilels were only allowed out of of Russia with minders attached. And when you’ve done some serious thinking, then come back without absurd claims like “the arts and musicians enjoyed a much better life than in today’s capitalist market economy”.

      • Gregor Tassie says:

        I am afraid that it is you who is poorly informed about the arts in the USSR, in 1917 there were 5 professional orchestras and the only music education for children was from the church or private, by 1937 there were no less than 60 professional orchestras and dozens of music schools. From a land which had no free education, no free health service and jobs for anyone that wanted one, the Soviet state was totally literate and fully employed by 1937. Their army also destroyed Hitler’s armed forces in the Second world war and lost 27 million lives as a result. Of course there were many injustices but no one can wipe out from history what the country did for its people, particularly the poorest section of it. Shostakovich and Prokofiev were among the finest composers of the last century and much of their music was ignored because of the cold war which was inspired by the American govt backed Congress for Cultural Freedom who printed such magazines as Encounter which it seems Commentary is following in its ilk….
        Sometimes people who are so right wing they cannot see the truth when it is staring them in the face.

        • Eddie Mars says:

          Facts and discussion are wasted on their kind, I’m afraid.

          In reply to intelligent debate or argument, you simply get one-line off-topic abuse (vviz “troll, nil by mouth”). It’s all they are capable of.

          Confronted with uncomfortable information, or facts which disprove their PragerU cut-paste boilerplates, they simply resort to school-playground infantile name-calling.

          They know no better.

        • Eddie Mars says:

          Imagine the “intellect” behind a remark like “Off to Dignitas would be better”?

          The worrying thing is that when we sit in concert halls or opera houses, the people who voice these Mengele-mentality views might be sitting next to us :(((

          • Gregor Tassie says:

            Regrettably says a lot about the world today, there are no statesmen left, only gullible old men with not a clue how to act responsibly

  • Furzwängler says:

    Anne Applebaum, the wife of the former polish foreign minister, Radek Sikorski, is a fine journalist and historian. I would urge anyone who is interested in learning about the true face of the Soviet state, which seems to be making a gradual and alarming comeback, to read her excellent book Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-56. Eye-opening.

  • Eddie Mars says:

    Flailing neo-conservative failure lends her worthless support to the Bilderberg campaign to dislodge Corbyn.

    The USA butting its nose into the affairs of other nations – yet again.

    • Harold Lewis says:

      What rubbish you talk, Eddie. Corbyn is a decrepit nonentity, not worth the effort of a ‘campaign’. He won’t last long. With him at the helm his party is doomed to ignominious failure. What other party would choose an old age pensioner with a 1960s mindset to be its leader?

      • Eddie Mars says:

        Your neocon twaddle doesn’t merit a reply. Found your WMD yet?

        Your Teflon Tony said they were in Iraq. Another Nu Labour lie.

        • Harold Lewis says:

          So, a troll. Nil by mouth.

          • Eddie Mars says:

            Yes, Harold, in your twisted world, democratic elections which fail to meet the demands of your American paymasters have to be re-run – to achieve ‘regime change’. In your dreamworld, WMD were found in Iraq, Tony Blair is a ‘hero’, and his anointed scion Mikiband is PM – rather than a lucklustre cockroach who was booted out by British voters in a process known as ‘democracy’. You and your dear friend Lord Meddlesome may have heard of it?

            Your infantile kneejerk tosh says nothing about me – but it tells us all we needed to know about YOU.

            Because in your pathetic, neoconservative world, Anne Applebaum is a respected author, WMD were found in Iraq, and everyone who disagrees with your delusions is a ‘troll’, eh?


          • Eddie Mars says:

            Applebore’s husband, meanwhile, was fired from his job as Foreign Minister in Poland, for being too right-wing for the most right-wing government since WW2

            Francis Fukuyama is a discredited nobody, Dumbsfeld is in hiding, Suckassvili is a wanted fugitive, Condi has fled, Lord Meddlesome hides from the Chilcot Report in his ermine Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free robes, as does Two-Jags. It’s all been a huge come-down for the once-glorious neocon worthies.

            Only Applebore is left…trying to earn a crust now hubby’s been fired, by raking over the embers of Cold Warrior hatreds in her latest talentless diatribe.

          • Furzwängler says:

            Off to Dignitas would be better.

  • M2N2K says:

    Some of the rants extolling the virtues of Soviet Union remind me that in the Third Reich trains always ran on time, and that in prisons people are fed regularly and medical services are included.