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Quotes / Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell

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"How the fuck do you peddle an arms race when the only asshole you've got to race against is yourself!?"
Agent Russell, The Russia House

"Last few years have been very confusing for people in my line of work."
Greg, the Russian "cultural attaché" from Sneakers

"I can't change sides, you silly old fart! There's no side to change sides to!"
General Leland Zevo, Toys

Earl Bassett: So how you and Heather doing?
Burt Gummer: Well, she's.. still visiting her sister. You know, she actually blames our problems on the collapse of the Soviet Union!
Earl Bassett: Well, you did take that kinda hard, Burt...


For it must be cried out, at a time when some have the audacity to neoevangelize in the name of the ideal of a liberal democracy that has finally realized itself as the ideal of human history: never have violence, inequality, exclusion, famine, and thus economic oppression affected as many human beings in the history of the earth and humanity Instead of singing the advent of the ideal of liberal democracy and of the capitalist market in the euphoria of the end of history, instead of celebrating the "end of ideologies" and the end of the great emancipatory discourses, let us never neglect this obvious macroscopic fact, made up of innumerable singular sites of suffering: no degree of progress allows one to ignore that never before, in absolute figures, never have so many men, women, and children been subjugated, starved, or exterminated on the earth.
Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian Revolution did not sink gracefully into history. It was flung there - 'on to the dust-heap of history', to borrow Trotsky's phrase - in a spirit of vehement national rejection. This repudiation, which amounted to a wish to forget not only the Russian Revolution but the whole Soviet era, left a strange emptiness in Russian historical consciousness. Soon, in the vein of Peter Chaadaev's jeremiad on the nonentity of Russia a century and a half earlier, a chorus of laments arose about Russia's fatal historical inferiority, backwardness, and exclusion from civilization. For late twentieth-century Russians, former Soviet citizens, it seemed that what had been lost with the discrediting of the myth of the Revolution was not so much belief in socialism as confidence in Russia's significance in the world. The Revolution gave Russia a meaning, a historical destiny. Through the Revolution, Russia became a trailblazer, an international leader, a model and inspiration for 'the progressive forces of the whole world.' Now, overnight as it seemed, all that was gone. The party was over; after seventy-four years, Russia had fallen out of 'the vanguard of history' into its old posture of recumbent backwardness. In a poignant moment for Russia and the Russian Revolution, it turned out that the 'future of progressive humanity' was really its past.
Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, final paragraphs.

Live-action TV

Cigarette Man: Gorbachev has just resigned.
Matlock: (distraught) There's no more enemies!
The X-Files, "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man"

Gen. Hammond: Col. Checkov feels that as a symbol of our joint efforts, a Russian officer should be assigned to join SG-1.
Col. O'Neill: Over my rotting corpse, Sir.
Hammond: Colonel.
O'Neill: I'm sorry, did I say that out loud?
Hammond: I said I would discuss it with you and that I was sure you would give it some careful thought.
O'Neill: And that I will, General, but I'm still pretty sure I'll say, "Bite me."
Stargate SG-1, Redemption Part 1

Pres. Frank Underwood: Tell me, do you kiss the wife of every president?
Pres. Viktor Petrov: Not every president's wife looks like yours.
Frank: [laughs, turns to the audience] I'd push him down the stairs and light his broken body on fire just to watch it burn, if it wouldn't start a world war.

Spudgun: I think she's got a point, actually.
Richie: Well why don't you just go and live in the Soviet Union?
Spudgun: Because it doesn't exist.
Dave Hedgehog: And it's horrible.
Richie: [Floundering] Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes... well, that was my point.
Spudgun: Well, it was a bit of a stupid point then, wasn't it?

"Look, point is, you getting burned wouldn't have happened back then. I mean, in the '80s, the rules were the rules. They had their guys, we had our guys. Wasn't so goddamn complicated. You could get your head around it. Now, today, it's all about religion and oil. It's no fun anymore. I tell you, I'm glad I got out when I did."
Sam Axe, "Pilot", Burn Notice


''Oh man, I dunno insurance
The homeless & world peace
& aids & education ... I' m tryin' to do right
But. ..hey
Life after Bush and Gorbachev
The wall is down but something is lost
Turn on the news it looks like a movie
It makes me wanna sing Louie Louie
Iggy Pop, covering "Louie Louie"

Video games

"We live in a sad age: Imperialism, totalitarianism, perestroika... 20th century Russia had its share of problems, but at least they had an ideology. Russia today has nothing!"
Ocelot, Metal Gear Solid

"The Russians got bigger things to worry about than your genitals, believe me. The whole country went to shit. We tried hard to put a lid on it, but that idiot Gorbachev—with the little strawberry on his forehead—he gave away the crown jewels. Still, they got their, you know, boy in the White House; that was nice."

Web Original

"This is the overriding image of the 1990s. The lurking horror of something that is erased. The other shoe waiting to drop. A peace time borne not out of any victory, lacking any stability, bounded menacingly by a leering trail of zeroes glaring eschatologically in the distance. The nineties are a soap bubble of calm always in the midst of bursting."

"The fall of the Soviet Union caused a lot of problems — such as political and economic disarray, missing nuclear weapons, runaway crime, that sort of thing — but probably the worst thing about it was that moviegoers lost maybe the best bad guy country we'd ever had, aside from Nazi Germany. James Bond used to be a lone man taking on a massive evil empire with just his wits and lovemaking skills. Then one day in the 90s he finds himself fighting newspaper owners."

COMMUNIST RUSSIA ACHIEVEMENTS: An old feudal country became an industrial power. Decisive contribution to victory against fascism. First artificial satellite. First in space.

"In truth, we have not thought nearly enough about the end of the cold war, and especially the intellectual vacuum that it left behind. If nothing else, the cold war focused the mind. The ideologies in conflict, whose lineages could be traced back two centuries, offered clear opposing views of political reality. Now that they are gone, one would expect things to be much clearer to us, but just the opposite seems true. Never since the end of World War II, and perhaps since the Russian Revolution, has political thinking in the West been so shallow and clueless. We all sense that ominous changes are taking place in our societies, and in other societies whose destinies will very much shape our own. Yet we lack adequate concepts or even a vocabulary for describing the world we find ourselves in. The connection between words and things has snapped. The end of ideology has not meant the lifting of clouds. It has brought a fog so thick that we can no longer read what is right before us. We find ourselves in an illegible age."
Mark Lilla, The New Republic

"Admittedly, besides its moral failure, communism failed in its crusade to convert the whole world...But communism's impact was and still is enormous. In addition to provoking significant changes in capitalist economies, such as vastly increased military spending and the growth of a military-industrial complex, the USSR's existence changed Western social development in fundamental ways.
Labor reform in the West in the past century came about under the threat of a radicalized international labor movement protected and supported by the USSR. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal was in part meant to steal the thunder of radicals who looked to Moscow and therefore could not be ignored. Social goals that are commonplace today, including women's rights and racial integration, were planks of the Communist Party platform long before mainstream American parties took them seriously. It was Communists who first went to the American South and began organizing African-Americans and poor whites around issues of social justice. The more politically acceptable young people who followed them in The '60s are heroes today. On the international scene the Soviet Union provided support for Nelson Mandela and other reformers. Communism made life difficult for Western establishments, and it is doubtful that reforms would have come when they did if the USSR had not existed. Communists always rejected reform in favor of revolution. Ironically, however, the existence of the Soviet Union helped the capitalist West reform itself and avoid the bloody revolutions of the East. Twentieth-century communism was no passing illusion; its legacies are everywhere."
J. Arch Getty, The Future Did Not Work.

Real Life

"In June, Jack had his unpleasant meeting with Khrushchev at Vienna. Khrushchev wanted total disarmament, as opposed to Kennedy's meager ban on nuclear testing, so devised that each side could cheat. It seems clear now that the Russians wanted to settle their accounts with us and move from war to peace. But Jack was not about to let twilight turn to peaceful evening if it meant that, in the process, he would be reduced from potential warrior-god to mere Chester A. Arthur."
Gore Vidal, Palimpsest

“Were the Soviet Union to sink tomorrow under the waters of the ocean, the American military-industrial establishment would have to go on, substantially unchanged, until some other adversary could be invented. Anything else would be an unacceptable shock to the American economy.
George Kennan

"I'm running out of enemies...I'm down to Kim Il-Sung and Castro."
Colin Powell

"We all grew up in a very different era, when we were focused on the threat from the Soviet Union. What's happening now is we are seeing problems from a variety of places, some of it due to globalization, frankly, which has an opposite side that has created a lot of nationalism in those countries or places where people feel lost within the facelessness of put it mildly, the world is a mess."
—Former U.S Secretary of State Madeline Albright

"He who doesn't regret the collapse of the Soviet Union doesn't have a heart; he who wants to see it reborn doesn't have a brain."
Vladimir Putin paraphrasing the old adage, "A conservative at 20 has no heart, a liberal at 40 has no brain."

"The man's search for a tyrannical fatherland never ends! The Soviet Union's let him down! Albania's gone! The Red Army is out of Afghanistan and Czechoslovakia. The hunt persists!"
Christopher Hitchens on George Galloway

"World politics in the twenty-first century will in all likelihood be driven primarily by blowback from the second half of the twentieth century—that is, from the unintended consequences of the Cold War and the crucial American decision to maintain a Cold War posture in a post-Cold War world. U.S. administrations did what they thought they had to do in the Cold War years."
Chalmers Johnson, Blowback

"Everything the Communists told us about communism was a complete and utter lie. Unfortunately, everything the Communists told us about capitalism turned out to be true."
Russian joke from the 1990s


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