17 February 2020

Bernie - back from the USSR

The current spate of controversies surrounding the candidacy of Bernie Sanders in the 2020 presidential race includes his trips to various socialist heavens. Including his 1988 visit to Soviet Union.

1988. The perestroika, lead by Mikhail Gorbachev, is at its peak. Aside of old apparatchiks and babushkas, no one believes anymore in the shining future of socialism, managed by the "mind, honor and conscience of our era", the crumbling Communist Party of Soviet Union.

The Berlin wall has one year left to stand. The arms race, imposed by Ronald Reagan, has been irrevocably lost by USSR, its economy collapsing under the burden. Anti-Russian sentiments are rising in the "satellite" socialist countries of the Soviet camp in Eastern Europe. The camp is slowly but surely being teared apart.

The attitude of the Soviet people to the boogeyman of seventy years, the Western capitalism and, especially, to the Big Satan, the most cursed capitalist enemy, has changed drastically. (It will go back to enmity and alienation during Putin's rule, but for now...). The flow of information from the West is unstoppable now, and Soviet people are seeing for the first time the huge gap between their lives in the socialist heaven and these in the West.

And the flow of information in the other direction is unstoppable now too. Hundreds thousands immigrants from USSR are now in the West, telling it all. The previously suppressed stories and books by the dissidents and victims of the regime are published even in the USSR, not to mention the West. The truth is out.

And this is the year when one Bernie Sanders, then Mayor of Burlington, heads with a group of other Burlington notables to Yaroslavl, a soviet city to become a sister city of Burlington. The itinerary of the team also included Moscow and Leningrad*.

Unsurprisingly, their itinerary was managed exactly as it is described in the remark below. Surprisingly, Bernie and his comrades for that trip didn't see through it, and here is the trip report from the horse mouth:

So here are the salient points from the Bernie's speech:

  • Openness and warmth of the citizens and officials. He didn't really get to see many real citizens, naive as he is, but yes, the times have changed, as I have described above.
  • It (the above warmth) might go back to WW II. Wrong. The huge assistance provided (with a big loss of lives and enormous effort) by Americans and Britons during WWII was one of almost totally forbidden subjects.
  • People were delighted by the presence of Ronald Reagan etc. Crap. Soviet people at the time didn't give a flying donut about high level summits like this one. Again - talking with token "citizens" might have confused him.
  • Surprised by the degree of self-criticism Soviet officials displayed. Perestroika, man, where have you been?
  • Moscow News has articles with self-criticism and debate... same thing again. Bernie has no idea whatsoever about what is going on in that place.
  • Soviets estimate that they are behind US about 10 to 15 years in healthcare. In 1988 it is rather 20 to 30 years, but why be a nitpicker? The healthcare was free, of course (better bring some food to your near and dear patient, and yeah, that rare medicine - be a good father/mother/son... and get it via your connections...
  • Housing now. How about young newlyweds waiting for years and years for their government-built low quality 50 square meters flat, while folks close to the trough get it without delay?
  • Public transportation. Measured by visits to Leningrad, Moscow and Yaroslavl - two major centers of state investment and one major tourist destination. All in all, about 5-7% of total Soviet population, with absolutely unreliable train, bus and airline services that caused headache and toothache to so many millions...
  • Moscow Metro now - "the fastest, cleanest and most effective I have seen in my life". "With many works of art, beautiful chandeliers etc..." this one made me choke up. The Moscow metro, built on the bodies of hundreds of Stalin's prisoners, far from all of them being criminal ones. And beautiful chandeliers...
  • Culture palaces for young people with cultural programs - where grooming of "pioneers" and "komsomolets's" with party-approved cultural programs and impoverished libraries where only party-approved books were available. Both under tight control of that three-letter outfit, needless to say.
  • And to crown it all: "They want to go back to some early vision of their revolution". Ye gods - when the last thing the vast majority of Soviet people wanted to hear at the time was more inane revolutionary slogans and revolutionary ideas...
To summarize, there are only two possible explanations to the above nightmarish inanity: either the man is dumb as two planks or he really lacks elementary information.

It is not for nothing that I have mentioned above the flow of information from USSR to the West and the waves of immigrants who came over to US, ready to tell it all. So we have here a man who dedicated himself to politics and spent quite a few years in social-related activities, leadership etc. And this man was heading a delegation to another country without trying to learn the basic A to Z about it? When this information was so easily obtainable? Hard to believe, ain't it?

Well, it is not my job to explain the inexplicable. It is rather my duty to point out that this man, with a bachelor of arts degree in political science (that he himself describes "as a mediocre college student because the classroom was "boring and irrelevant", while the community was more important to his education") - that this man, who freely and so convincingly displays his ignorance in most vital matters, is vying for the presidency of United States.

Heed the message, dear Americans.

(*) Not surprisingly, Moscow, Leningrad and Yaroslavl were usually included in a standard itinerary of Western tourists. The sightseeing offered and the tourists' timetables were orchestrated to the minute details and, of course, coordinated with the KGB and its well-trained watchers. Even during the years of perestroika. The masters of Potemkin village creation made their lives easier by channeling the tourists through the same well-mapped treks...