How the Fall of Soviet Communism Introduced Socialism in the USA
Tl;dr: this article argues that capitalism in the US developed as an opposition to communist Russia. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the US had no more reason to push for a capitalist agenda. As Russia became increasingly conservative, the US became increasingly left-leaning.
Compared to its neighbors, Europe has been a beacon of political stability since the end of WWII.
The US and the USSR (and then Russia) however, have operated a weird 180° ideological movement since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
In this article, we observe that as much as a capitalist Cold War era America opposed a communist Cold War era USSR, domestic ideologies have today “swapped countries” in the context of domestic politics.
Russia has gone conservative, anti-gay, anti-immigration, and religious-based, while the US has seen the birth of a violent neo-Marxist movement demanding race, gender, and social orientation equity, threatening to transform the country into a communist society.
The Capitalist US vs the Communist USSR
The Cold War wasn’t as much a conflict of power as it was a conflict of ideologies.
Vietnam, the USSR, Cuba, and China all had difficult or no relationships with the US (the EU was too busy building itself, and still is).
America fought the communists in Vietnam (and lost), the relationships with Cuba were frozen until Obama reengaged them in 2016, and China was only officially recognized in…1979 after Nixon visited the country in 1972.
As for the USSR, we had to wait for its plain and simple collapse before the US formally reengaged Moscow.
Throughout the Cold War, the USSR wasn’t seen as much of a threat as communism was.
The two countries fought battles of influence in the world, trying to lure nations into their ideological system.
The world was divided into 3 groups: the US camp, the USSR camp, and the non-aligned camp, too often forgotten.
America was obsessed with communism. The CIA’s main mission at the time was to neutralize communist threats wherever they appeared, from Colombia to South-East Asia.
To do so, it wasn’t enough to enforce the idea that communism was evil. The US also had to offer an alternative societal system.
Since fascism (national socialism) had not worked well to say the least, one last system remained on the menu: capitalism.
As such, efforts had to be concentrated to demonstrate that not only communism was “bad”, but capitalism was “good”.
In regard to the recent development, I believe that one’s love for capitalism was only as strong as one’s hatred for communism. The US reinforced their love for capitalism, even more, to oppose the communist threat at their doorstep.
To “sell” capitalism to their own people and the world, various tactics were employed. From basic media propaganda to economic theories, extraordinary ends required extraordinary means.
Did it work? It’s arguable.
Despite their certainties, the US did not win the Cold War (USSR simply lost it) because none of what they did cause the decay of the Soviet Union.
The country merely collapsed under its own weight and would have done so with or without the US’ actions because communism, or at least the type of communism that was practiced in the USSR, was politically, economically, and socially unsustainable.
When Putin came to power in Russia, he declared that the collapse of the USSR was the most dramatic geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.
He did not know how right he was.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, a Russian general told the US that they would “miss communist Russia”.
The Americans did not immediately understand what it meant.
The two countries had been through growing tensions for 40 years which had spurred them both to spend considerable efforts to accumulate power not to be weaker than the other.
As such, it is not unreasonable to argue that America’s “greatness” was built on competition against the USSR.
We were in a geopolitical duopoly that demanded tremendous efforts from both countries to work harder and faster than their competitors.
When the USSR fell, the US instantly “won” against its main enemy. But they also lost the reason they were fighting so hard for.
Instead of interpreting the event as a shift in the world balance of power, Francis Fukuyama saw it as an end of itself, seeing the triumph of capitalism and the “end of history” as we know it.
While America may have been relieved at first that “its greatness had defeated the communist opponent”, I remain persuaded that the Americans did not understand what had happened.
Not only has America not caused the fall of the Soviet Union, but it was the competition with the Soviet Union that had made America great.
Not the other way around.
Once the competition was gone, so was the need, reasons, and motives for greatness.
Like a champion incapable to find a worthy opponent, America fell into a deep mental and economic depression, searching for a new meaning it never found.
No one had realized the importance to have a “common enemy” to unite a nation.
The Dance of the Compass
While America was hyper-capitalist and the Soviet Union hyper-communist from 1950 to 1991, it is striking to see how much it has evolved in 2020.
Coming from a “progressive” social ideology, Russia became increasingly conservative since the year 2000. In 2020, Vladimir Putin announced his intention to change the constitution and add “God” and “traditional marriage” to it.
As such, family, marriage, work, nationalism, and to some extent, capitalism with the signing of trade treaties are fundamental values of today’s Russia.
“The progressive values” of the West such as LGBTQ+ movements, immigration, intersectionality, and “the end of gender” are all at once rejected in Russian society, sometimes even downright illegal.
The US has operated a similar change of ideologies, albeit quicker.
While Russia slowly moved onto the right part of the political spectrum, the US abruptly moved to the extreme left without anyone but Donald J. Trump to notice it.
From the unanimous opinion in the political class that “America is the greatest country in the world”, the Democratic party has since the election of Donald Trump, engaged in guilt-trips and self-hatred discourses whose purpose, besides political, is yet to be understood.
“The struggle of classes” which had never existed in America, materialized under the form of “the struggle of races”, today designated under the term “neo-Marxism”.
Inclusive movements directed at minorities first developed on university campuses, then subsequently spread throughout society.
Today, raising suspicions regarding racial minorities or LGBTQ+ policies can quickly render a popular or anonymous figure “canceled”.
It is not an overstatement to declare that opinions are enforced with as much vigor in America in 2020 as they were under Stalin in USSR.
America, which 10 years ago was still relatively capitalist, became politically neo-Marxist almost overnight.
From radically meritocratic, a significant part of the political class began supporting rather extremist movements demanding to defund the police, equity between races (whatever that means) while violently protesting in the streets.
Let’s summarize: violent protests, societal, political, and physical divide, absence of diversity of opinion, social pressure regarding freedom of speech, tribalism, forced conformity, neo-Marxism, enforced equity policies…the US became more communist than the USSR of the 1950s.
The Bottom Line
As insane as this may be, 2020 Russia became the heir of 1960 US values and societal structure, while the US is currently undergoing the same troubles Russia went through in 1916 and 1917.
Regarding the question “will we see a communist America in the upcoming years”, a strict historical-comparative analysis would tend to answer “yes”.
The deep societal troubles America is currently going through resemble all societal problems that traditionally exist before a revolution.
American society has embarked on such self-hatred feelings that I wouldn’t be surprised to see an upcoming civil war of impressive scale and violence.
The remaining question concerns the place Europe will stand.
Unless we manage to put our differences aside and unite, I’m afraid that the divergent ideologies of Russia and the US will simply, as it did in 1945, split Europe into two parts.
One intersectional, tribal, and neo-Marxist in the west (countries that welcomed immigrants and with favorable LGBTQ+ policies) and one conservative, family, and religion-based in the east.
Among all of these changes, it’s interesting to notice that one variable remains constant in Russia, Europe, and the US: the decrease of freedom and liberties, particularly freedom of speech.
To cite random examples, they concern the abolition of advertisement for cigarettes, laws against “hate speech and defamation”, the censorship operated by governments on websites through which ISIS recruited, the censorship operated by the tech giants that are Facebook and Twitter on their platforms, and finally, the rewriting or pure erasing of history with the destruction of statues, the change of book titles, the redesign of political flags and more.
History does repeat itself.
We will never learn.