Monday, November 08, 2004

Also, Beer Is Considered a Soft Drink There 

Seriously, man, Russia's fucked up.

Russia, as the Soviet Union before, still celebrates May Day, or the Day of International Workers' Solidarity, but calls it the Day of Spring and Labor.

There is still, for now, Constitution Day, though not as before on Dec. 5, honoring Stalin's Constitution, but on Dec. 12, the anniversary of the one adopted after President Boris N. Yeltsin ordered the shelling of the Parliament in 1993.

Every American ought to have a working knowledge of Russian history, because it completely resists the logical narrative form that we try to shove American history into -- no progression from bad to good to better to world's greatest country ever, but, in fact, a series of disasterous experiments, brief victories, violence and inept autocratic leadership. The biggest heroes have the biggest flaws. It's impossible to fall anywhere on the political spectrum in Russia without inadvertendly tying yourself to an ideology refined and espoused by some brutal murderer, be it a decade or a couple centuries earlier. But people have an understanding of the complexities and dark periods in their history there, unlike here, where we understand that "slavery was bad, but it is done now so get over it" and sleep in on Columbus day with a clean conscience.

Of course, we all will become scholars of Russian history once ours starts mirroring it.

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