Exposing Russians’ Hatred of Americans

Susan Richards, writing on Open Democracy’s Polit.ru website shows that unlike Americans, Russians are not hostile to the “American government” but to the very notion of America itself, the same way Iran is hostile to Israel:

Russian attitudes to the West are known to have soured in recent years. But it may surprise Western readers that the majority of Russians now express a positive dislike of the West in general, and particularly of America. Nor do most of them regard liberal democracy as a model towards which Russia should aspire any more, either.

These are the findings of an ambitious new socio-economic study entitled ‘Are Russians Moving Backwards?’ by Sergei Guriev of the prestigious New Economic School in Moscow, Aleh Tsyvinski of Yale University, and Maxim Trudolubov of the business newspaper Vedomosti. The research is based on the findings of regular opinion polls and on a mass of data on values, attitudes and perceptions between 2003-2008 which have not been drawn into the policy debate before. [1]

The findings are stark. When Russian attitudes to democracy and the market place are compared with those of other countries, Russians come out as among the least enthusiastic in the world, a good deal less keen even than the people of Belarus.

The obvious response to these findings is that attitudes will change over time, as people get richer. But this study appears not to bear out these hopes. For where you might have expected young Russians to like the West more than their parents, in fact, the opposite is true. The youngest respondents (20-year-olds) showed the same degree of dislike of the US as their grandparents, while the 35-45 year olds were less hostile to the US.

Nor can we comfort ourselves with the thought that the more Russians are exposed to the West, the more they will like it, and us. For Russian attitudes right across the social spectrum do not differ markedly. Richer Russians do like the Western model better than the poor, but the difference is not significant.

These attitudes contrast markedly to the findings of the first studies of the beliefs of Russians after the fall of communism. Surveys in the early 1990s reflected a people excited by the idea of the market economy. Disillusionment with the market set in sharply after a painful decade of economic chaos and reform. In the early 2000s, when Putin’s government pulled back from the process of democratisation, including reining in the press, Russia’s people were right behind him. When the government reversed its liberal economic policy in the mid-2000’s, the population backed him.

Significantly, these changes in attitude took place during the Russian economy’s boom years. The obvious conclusion to draw is that this was because the effects of growth had not trickled down to everybody. But this study seems to refute that interpretation.

Contrary to popular belief, the last decade of economic growth did not just benefit the rich: all the measures of economic well-being improved. Unemployment and poverty went down by half, and real wages tripled. Russians were taking their holidays abroad, buying cars and mobile phones to an extent that would have been unimaginable in the 1990s. An index of life satisfaction taken in 2008 comparing the same representative panel of Russians whose attitudes had been charted since 1994 found that people were substantially happier than in the late 1990s.

The authors point to the fact that Russians have made a false connection between positive economic outcomes and the reversal of market and democratic freedoms, and adjusted their beliefs accordingly. They have come to associate market reforms with poverty and unemployment.

When asked in the first quarter of 2008 whether Western society was a good model for Russia, 60% responded negatively, and only 7.2% came out as strongly positive. This response is particularly intriguing in light of the fact that 47% saw Western society as delivering much fairer outcomes than Russian society. And this attitude has only hardened over the last 4 years.

It would be comfortable for us to blame these negative attitudes on the machinations of an autocratic political elite who have clawed back an almost Soviet control over the hearts and minds of the population. But this study does not bear out that reading. The facts suggest something more interesting. What comes through loud and clear is that if Russia were fully democratic today, its people would vote for the reversal of many pro-market reforms.

In other words, far from being imposed from the top, the study suggests that the pervasive anti-Westernism of Russia’s people may poses a serious dilemma for the leadership. Should the leadership wish to implement further liberal economic reforms, the authors suggest, this could prove a binding constraint.

They point out that with the main market infrastructure now in place, the country faces a new economic challenge: how to build a knowledge economy in Russia. The economic growth Russia now needs depends on it developing a culture of technological innovation. And this in turn appears to depend fairly directly on political liberalisation. The authors maintain that both Putin and Medvedev seem to understand this: by way of evidence, they point to the leaders’ campaign speeches in February 2008, which stress the intrinsic value of freedom as a pre-requisite for the ‘innovation economy’.

Whatever the authors really mean by this, it would be deeply unwise to take the leaders’ words in these speeches at their face value. But none the less the underlying point they are making is crucial. It would follow from these findings that even if President Medvedev did have the power and the will to change the regime’s direction in the interests of building a knowledge economy, taking ‘the people’ with him would be a problem.

What chance of change?

The authors of the report conclude that these attitudes are unlikely to change. They remind us that ever since the 15thc the Russians have seen themselves as the standard-bearers for an alternative kind of civilisation, under the banner of Orthodoxy. They observe that it was this belief that fuelled the sharp divide that emerged in the 19th century between the Westernisers and the Slavophiles, who argued that Russia must resist the temptation of following the path of European development, in favour of a spiritually superior Russian path.

How alarmed should we be by these findings? It is tempting to quibble that the Russian people had, and still have, no idea what they are talking about when they reject democracy so glibly. After all, they have had no experience of it. At the time when they were most enthusiastic about it, in those final days of Soviet power, what they were invoking was not so much a political option as a magical spell which they trusted would, when pronounced, yield ‘liberation’.

Still, the authors’ conclusions should not be dismissed. This would risk echoing the mistake the market fundamentalists made when, believing in ‘the end of history’ they imposed on the rest of the world a model a set of political values which was the hard-won product of Europe’s particular history.

The attitudes in this report certainly reflect forces deeply rooted in Russian consciousness. These go back, indeed, far further than the 15thc, to the basic facts of Russia’s unpropitious position on the map. The underlying culture of its people has been conditioned by a wretched climate, unreliable rainfall, (mostly) poor soil and a short growing season. The experience of surviving in these difficult conditions forged a deep-rooted mentality very different from the European one out of which liberal democracy developed. Russia may no longer be a peasant society. But the high premium on the solidarity of the group over individuality and initiative so characteristic of peasant societies has not changed.

A glance at the map reinforces the findings of this report in another important respect too. Russia is a vast land which is not on the crossroads to anywhere, it reminds us. The suspicion of ‘foreign’ ideas echoed in this report is deeply rooted in that geography. It will take far more than a decade or two of exposure to foreign travel and a global market place to change it.

Western policy makers should pay attention to this report. But they should also bear in mind that the pendulum of Russian history will keep on swinging. This study is based on a particular period in the swing away from Western political ideas and models. How long this swing will last is a question beyond its remit.


[1] Life in Transition Survey administered by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank, Fall 2006. Also on data collected by Russia’s Public Opinion Foundation, including quarterly surveys of 34,000 Russians in 68 regions on various aspects of their lives 2003-2008. Also on multi-country opinion polls including Pew Global Attitudes Survey and European Social Survey

78 responses to “Exposing Russians’ Hatred of Americans

  1. The history of Western-Russian relations during the final decade of the 20th century taught Russians one lessons: the “civilized Western democrats” are _far worse_ than German nazis were in the 1930s and 1940s. At any rate, nazis were not hypocrites. With Prussian frankness, they proclaimed themselves the “highest race” whose right and even duty was to exterminate and subjugate the “lower races”. Judging by the deeds of the “civilized Western democrats” and not their words, they think the same but cover their true purpose with all that jaw about “freedom, democracy and human rights” – the words that are going to provoke gag reflex in any Russian for the next 300 years or so.

  2. This same old story is regurgitated every year or so. For example heres the same story in 1999.


    I am pretty sure anti Americanism has grown in Russia. Though thats no different than most places in the world. Obama has said one of his objectives has been to improve the image of the US abroad including with Russia.

  3. Eugene, please explain. I’m not disagreeing — I merely don’t understand. What did the West do to make us “far worse than German nazis”? My only guess is that it’s more a matter of what we *didn’t* do, i.e. subsidize a Western standard of living for all Russians after the Soviet breakup (and missing the chance a second time after the ’98 meltdown).

    But seriously … such a shirking of our “responsibilities” (?) is worse than inflicting >20 million wartime dead? Honestly? If it’s something less obtuse, please explain.

  4. What falls outside the report is the sense of inferiority that drives (and has driven) anti-Western sentiment in Russia for centuries. A potted history of slavophilism would just note that the movement revolved around postulating emprically unverifiable “proofs” of superiority. As a Russian cultural critic once noted of Russia, its culture frequently involves “taking Western ideas or cultural styles, radicalizing them, and then envoking them as proof of overwhelming cultural superiority to the very West from which they were taken”. Too true.

    Of course, for all of the Russians hating America, very few of them would turn down a greencard if offered. Like in so many other places, anti-Americanism in Russia is really just the cognitive dissonance resulting from the distance between the promises of national destiny and the realities of destitution that so many tin-pot nationalisms usher in…

  5. At least we did not kill 62,000,000 of our own citizens in peacetime, that was the Russians.
    If anyone was worse than Nazi Germans, it was communist Russians.

  6. This is a huge problem and it explains why the Kremlin are confident the Russian population is of no threat to their power even if the economic crisis gets deep.

    Our best hope is for a major fight inside the Kremlin and this is also unlikely because it won’t be in The Kremlin best interest to go at each other throat and completely lose control of the ship..

  7. For once, I actually disagree with LR. I dislike the Russian people as much as I hate their government. While during the USSR we could sympathize with the people because they had no say in their government through force, nowdays the Russian people voted the Putin/Medvedev duo in not once, not twice, but three times with overwhelming majorities. Yes, we could say there was a lot of indirect influence but overall people had a choice. They continue to be sheep and follow the Great Leaders blindly right off the cliff. They have no ability to think for themselves and no desire to take responsibility for their actions. The soviet mentality lives on in all of them. Well, to hell with them as they deserve the government they have. They are responsible for this KGB hack and let them live with him.

  8. 2Andrew: Oh yes… you only killed 100,000,000 native Americans. A good Injun is a dead Injun, isn’it?


    100,000,000? Perhaps you were “thinking” of the serfs wiped out by Peter I building Petersburg?

    Please refrain from polluting our blog with such gibberish.

  9. Eugene you are (as usual) wrong.

    Firstly I am not an American.

    And secondly the US did not kill 100,000,000 native Americans. There were never that many.
    Most native Americans were in central & south America and were killed by the Spanish & Portugese, and even then most of the deaths (90%) were from infectious diseases.

    The most reliable estimates are between 2 & 15 million over 500 years. This is still bad enough, but pales in comparrison with Russians killing 61,911,000 civillians (a very large percentage of them ethnic minorites) during the 1917-1991 period, and God knows how many thousands since then in assaults on Chechnya, Georgia, Ingushetia etc.


  10. This is really very curious when a web-site whose only and declared goal is to incite hatred to Russians and all Russian, should feign concern of Russians hating America. Like Stanislavsky said: Nye veryu! There is not one Russian-language site of this kind in relation to the US (though there are – directed against Russians). Moreover, it is a crime in Russia to incite hatred to other nations and ethnicities. Not so in America, it seems.

  11. Bobby, all the hatred directed against Americans comes from the Kremlin, and most major news organisations such as Russia today, RTV, and a whole host of other news outlets.

    As for it being a crime to incite hatred to other nations and ethnicities. Well for something that is a crime, it sure seems to happen a lot.
    For example the rampant racism in Russia towards ethnic minorities, the race crimes and muders. The light sentences given to the perpetrators of said viloence if they are arrested ant tried (probably through failure to pay bribes).

    A good example is the state run “hate” campaign against Georgians in the run up to the August war.

  12. Andrew – “The most reliable estimates are between 2 & 15 million over 500 years. This is still bad enough, but pales in comparrison with Russians killing 61,911,000 civillians (a very large percentage of them ethnic minorites) during the 1917-1991 period, and God knows how many thousands since then in assaults on Chechnya, Georgia, Ingushetia etc.”
    Russians killing… where are the figures from?
    God knows that Chechnya, Georgia and Ingushetia all pale with millions killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now if we extrapolate 500,000 killed by US in Japan in just a couple of days, 1,5 millions killed in Iraq and Afghan in 3-4 years, then to say that Americans killed 2 mln. in 500 years is clearly a very gross understatement

  13. 1,5 millions killed [by US] in Iraq and Afghan in 3-4 years

    you only killed 100,000,000 native Americans.

    Any reason to believe you (other than quotes from al-Zawahiri and Zhirinovsky )? No? I din’t think so, either.

  14. Eugene, you moron, there probably weren’t more than a few million Native Americans in NA when Columbus arrived. North America then was a very sparsely populated area. Most Native Americans died from communicable diseases because they had no immunity to European diseases.

    You are historically illiterate and a waste of time.

  15. Andrew,

    “At least we did not kill 62,000,000 of our own citizens in peacetime, that was the Russians.”

    One major fact you left out Andrew, Rummel puts 43 million deaths due to democide in the USSR during Stalins reign. Of course you know that Stalin was not Russian but Georgian, so those deaths at on the hands of a Georgian.

    If Rummels methods of calculating democide is correct, then the US is directly responsible for the extra 800,000 thousand more deaths in Iraq than before pre war conditions. the 11,000 US soldiers killed as a result of depleted Uranium during the first conflict and they are also responsible for increase in birth defects from the 11 per 100,000 births to in 2001 116 per 100,000 deaths. Rummel’s democide calculation would also include those dying directly as a result of the 1930’s depression. The firebombing of civilian cities in Germany and Japan in WWII. Then the only country to actually use an atomic weapon during war time again democide. I could go on but maybe Rummel should use his democide calculation on the United states.

  16. John writes: “Of course you know that Stalin was not Russian but Georgian, so those deaths at on the hands of a Georgian.”

    So, Stalin went out and personally shot each and every one of those 43 million people? I don’t think so. The fact of the matter is that in the majority of the cases the people pulling the trigger would have been Russian.

    Also, after Stalin’s death, they took Beria and shot him. Why was it that nobody did this to Stalin himself. Answer: Stalin had the support of an entire structure that was not Georgian and he was following policies that were in line with what the majority of the Bolshevik Communists at that time. Following orders is never an excuse.

  17. Every time I hear the old “But Stalin was Georgian” I just have to cry. I’d say laugh, but laughing at this kind of tragedy just seems wrong.

    When he killed millions and called them “statistics”, he was “Georgian”. When he won World War II, he was the greatest figure in “Russian” History and voted as such by well over half a million Russians.

  18. Actually John, democide does not include those killed in war. That was 37,ooo,ooo civillians in all of the 20th century.

    Democide is the murder of ones own civillians in peacetime.

    By the way, Stalin was 1/2 Ossetian (his father was Ossetian) and the Ossetians are as proud of him as the Russians, claiming him as the greatest of Ossetia’s sons. There is even a street named for him in Tshkinvali.

    “Stalin was half Ossetian and this is thought to have saved Ossetians from deportation in 1944”


    As usual John, your research is substandard and your bigotry and russophilia blatantly obvious.

  19. By the way, Hitler was an Austrian, but we blame his crimes on the Germans.

  20. Eugene, it was actually 100,000,000,000,000 Native Americans. Don’t downplay the numbers, okay?

    “Most native Americans were in central & south America and were killed by the Spanish & Portugese, and even then most of the deaths (90%) were from infectious diseases.”

    Same thing for these in the now-US. Most were also wiped-out by the European diseases, thouse in the south (Spanish expeditions) even hundreds(!) of years before the United States was founded at all.


  21. Re: Stalin’s Ossetian heritage

    (Yes, Mandelstam was a very brave man.)

  22. BTW John, as you are obviously an idiot, I will spell it out for you.
    Stalin gave the orders, but it was RUSSIANS who carried them out.
    Stalin was described by Lenin as the perfect Russian chauvanist. He was trying very hard to be the perfect Russian, just as Hitler was trynig hard to be the perfect German.
    Without the unstinting suppot of Russians, Stalin would have got nowhere at all.

  23. Could it be Putin has issues with his mother?

  24. Democide is also defined as murder in war (murder and not just killing).

  25. Andrew:
    Her village was not bombed.

  26. True Robert, here is the full defenition of democide.


    As for not bombing Putins mothers village, that may be true.

    But the village in which my wife and daughter were on holiday near Surami during the war was firebombed, and later torched by Russian & Ossetain soldiers.

  27. BTW Robert, I always appreciate your posts.

  28. Leonid V. Marchenko

    Stalin aside… For what we should love America??
    For your self-appointment as a “world policeman”? We will NEVER, NEVER accept it. Never did and never will. Hence our mutual distrust. The same case with China – only they do not say this out loud.. so far…

  29. Better America as the worlds policeman than Russia as the worlds mass murdering executioner

  30. Leonid, America is an old democracy of 200 years plus, there may be something to learn from that. That’s probably too much for your incurious cemented Sovok brain to process.

  31. Penny, you don’t know your own history: See Wiki: Legally, slaves within the United States remained enslaved until the final ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution on December 6, 1865 (with final recognition of the amendment on December 18), eight months after the cessation of hostilities.
    After the failure of Reconstruction, freed slaves in the United States were treated as second class citizens. For decades after their emancipation, many slaves living in the South sharecropped and had a low standard of living. In some states, it was only after the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s that blacks obtained legal status as full citizens (see segregation).
    My brain may be Sovok, but – let me coin a neologism – yours is amok.

  32. Bobby, you don’t know Russian history. Legally, peasants in Russia remained enslaved until the Emancipation Manifesto of March 3, 1861. After the failure of the liberal reforms early in the reign of Alexander II, freed serfs were treated as second class citizens. For decades after their emancipation, almost all former serfs in the country sharecropped and had low standard of living. Bolsheviks gave them land in 1917 but took it back in 1929-33, killing and banishing to Siberia millions of those who managed to make a decent living (the “kulaks”), and to all practical purposes again enslaved all others. Their condition somewhat improved after Stalin’s death, but even today Russian countryside has much lower standard of living than the cities, especially large ones, and conditions there are essentially third-world.

    And while we are on the topic: how soon do you think Russians will be prepared to elect a non-white president? My bet is 500 years.

  33. What the hell does black slavery have to do with Russian paranoia about foreigner’s?

  34. Leonid,
    America would have never become the world’s policeman if there weren’t criminal thugs like the Soviet Union around to steal everything they could get there grubby hands on. Russians are clueless when it comes to law and order and right and wrong. Until they get those ideas straightened out, there will be the need for the U.S. to patrol the worlds oceans and defend lawful commerce.

  35. Michael_from_Poland

    Few thoughts from the the Polish perspective:

    1) Rober provided the link the Wikipedia article about the “And you are lynching Negros” phenoneme….

    What is extremely important here that this article is not about humor at all, it’s about a real cultural phenomene which was so overwhelmingly common and obvious that it became a subject of sarcastic jokes in Poland.

    Basically, both Soviet Union and Russia was/is a country which was/is rather backward, poor, bad place to live, etc etc – which always have contrasted sharply with the official line of the Soviet/Russian goverment and people, who often made different kinds of boast and bold talk about how excellent are the matters in SovietUnion/Russia.

    When confronted with contradictory evidence, or inconvinient question, the Russian individual will often respond with a topic-changing attack having little or nothing to do with the initial subject – the “And you are lynching Negros” is just a exceptionally idiotic example from Soviet Times.

    2) Adrian wrote “What falls outside the report is the sense of inferiority that drives (and has driven) anti-Western sentiment in Russia for centuries.”

    It’s a very accurate observation, I mean linking sense of inferiority and the anti-Western sentiment. Despite all the talk, despite all the boasts, Russians have some kind of strange kind of feeling of inferiority. As a nation, they are acting like a person who tries to COMPENSATE for something, trying to fix some kind of pathological emotions and beliefs rooted deep inside them.

    One possible explanation could be the Russian historical tradition, it’s not something Russians like to speak about, but Russian tradition of statehood comes from Russian local rulers who acted as tax-collectors for the Mongol invaders – basically the legacy of Russian tsar’s is the legacy of traitors and opressors of their own people. Perhaps this shame became something which is passed down from generation to generation in a subconscious level, through national custom and culture – but that’s just my guess.

  36. Bobby, my topic was the US as a long standing democracy which by the way ended slavery, admitted its historic culpability and spent the largest transfer of wealth in its history on its black citizens than any country as reparations with Lyndon Johnson’s administration and going forward through decades of civil rights legislations and economic handouts

    Russians treat each other as dirt, have a history of mass murder on the biggest scale in world history, are incompatible with democracy and Western values. They have contributed nothing positive to themselves as a civil society nor to humanity ever but misery and stupidity.

    So what’s your investment in defending them, Bobby?

  37. OK, the site’s not accepting this in one whole chunk, so let’s do it piecemeal.

    There are several reasons Russians and so many others hate America. Some of these will no doubt please the Russophile Yankophobes among you while ticking off the pro-West patriots, others will offend the Yay Russia! types while giving the pro-America’s warm fuzzies. If you’re easily offended. Don’t read it. You have been warned.

    1) America has done horrible evil things in its history. And no tu quoque argument will ever change that. We have attacked other nations without provocation and seized their land with little or no justification, we have placed citizens into concentration camps on no other basis than their ethnicity, we have by a combination of malice, ignorance, and forces beyond our control decimated the native peoples of our continent, and we have drunk deeply of the sin of slavery, condemning millions to bondage, and millions other to cruel deaths in the transport. Intellectual honesty demands that we admit this.

  38. 2) Another reason is we are arrogant. We love to tell other people the right thing to do even if we don’t do it ourselves. And we think little of other cultures. There is an old French joke that goes the word for someone who knows three languages is trilingual, two languages is bilingual and one language is American.

    3) And when we violate our ideals, it is an act of hypocrisy. When Russia or China treats its people or those of other nations with callous cruelty or treachery, we don’t think much of it because we don’t expect any better from them. When Americans do it, we betray the very ideals we claim to support. We have set ourselves up as The City on the Hill, so when we do not live up to our image, opinion of us by necessity suffers.

    And that’s it for the Russophile stuff.

  39. 4) We are successful beyond your wildest dreams. We produce more, consume more, create more, and destroy more, than most of you do even in combinations such as the EU. Our military is stronger by far, our economics dwarf even the largest among you, and we are culturally ubiquitous. Even as you decry us as cheap and tawdry, your sons cheer Rambo, your daughters swoon over Orlando Bloom, and your children laugh at Spongebob as they chomp down on the Big Mac and slurp the Coke. You can’t escape us. And you hate us for that.

  40. More Later…

  41. 5) But most of all you hate us because we are your refuse, your garbage, your unwanted. And we went to foreign shores and thrived. And you, our so-called betters resent us all the more for that.

  42. about resentment: being European and an Eastern European at that, what I find exceptionally… let’s say “stupid” in pretty much all former or current “superpowers” is the sense of entitlement. A Brit in an american domestic flight is literally petrified in fear because the plane doesn’t seem to have had a mechanical do-over in the last 15 years of it’s 30-year service. But if he tries saying so to the locals he gets yelled down for being an uppity snot who should just give up his surperiority complex. Of course he’s annoyed – wouldn’t you be?

    An Eastern European doctor notices that his British counterpart has made a ginormous error that doesn’t really stem from the doctor per se, but from the system that doesn’t allow enough transparency and patient referral to specialists. But if he tries telling the Brit that, he gets scoffed at: don’t get uppity with me, when your country is as rich as mine, then MAYBE I’ll listen to what you have to say… and in the mean time the patient dies.

    Likewise, anyone at all saying anything negative at all about Russia (or Russians) gets their own faults or insignificance or pseudo-history thrown at them as a kind of a universal get-out-of-jail-free card. As has already been pointed out, Russians in general tend to use the “but you lynch Negroes” or the “but you were nazis” as an argument against any topic whatsoever.

    hmm, speaking of which, LR: want to enforce the old internet (heh, heh, I said old and internet in one sentence) debate rule of “whoever compares the opponent to nazis first, automatically loses”?

  43. For Bobby

    As of today 99,245 civillian dead is the UPPER estimate of the number of civillians killed in Iraq since the invasion in 2003 (nearly 6 years)


    By the way John, Rummel HAS used his democide calculation on the US, and other western countries.
    If you bother to look at his website you will see that.

  44. er – good points there!

    The tu quoque (“You did it too”) argument is much too prevalent in many of these debates. But the tu quoque (and the related ad hominem) is effectively an admission that one’s argument cannot stand on its own merits. When your opponent starts relying on such tactics, you should just smile and know that you’ve actually won the exchange.

    I agree that power does breed arrogance. (That was the main idea behind point #2 of “Why Everyone Hates America”) and you are correct in that it doesn’t effect just current superpowers but former ones or resurgent ones as well. But I also stand by my contention that the view of Americans as descendants of the home country that just couldn’t cut it is a major cultural component of anti-American feeling – how many times has American culture been criticized as “unrefined” or, how many times, even on this site, have people claimed that America has “no history of its own”? America is seen less as a nation and more as an upstart.

    I also stand by my assertion that envy has a big part in it too. People hated Rome when it was dominant, they hated Spain when it was dominant, they hated Britain when it was dominant, and they hated China when it was dominant – in fact as the latter gets stronger, people are starting to resent it again.

  45. Scott, Have to agree with your statements there.

    During the war in South Africa 1899-1901, there was much the same sort of attitude to Britain as there is to the USA today.

    Another interesting fact, little known but still true, was that Africans in the British colony Cape province had voting rights (albeit a limited franchise but it was moving in the right direction). Not so in the Afrikaner controlled territories (funny that, they did later invent Apartheid of course).

  46. Kaktuss and others: While agreeing that many Russians in the Soviet times used to use the “but you lynch Negroes” argument, I had to use it this time again in my prev post. Just as a fact, as opposed to the mantra incessantly imposed on us that the US is an impeccable 200-year old democracy. And from this perspective, lecturing us on everything. While it is not, and when confronted with the fact, they begin to speak of Russia torturing her peasants and Stalin and what not. I never said we are a 200-year old democracy did I? We are are a 15-year old democracy. And if you count your democracy’s birthday from 200 year back, then in 1724 (thats -200 +15) your democracy was far far less attractive than ours now. Even if I have to recall slave trade and Indians often INTENTIONALLY infected and just simply slaughtered or cheated out of their lands again.
    That said, I agree with scott that America is unique in that it originally was composed as he puts it with “refuse”, but in fact the most courageous, independently minded and self-sufficient people. They constructed their state from zero ground upwards, and no sinister or stupid or inefficient traditions hampered their thinking in the process. And they did a great job. But Americans can’t understand the rest of the world – the world entrenched in their national traditions and culture, for the good or for the bad of it. And that is why as long as they were a role model, they were envied and admired, but when they started to dictate people what to do and divided the world into the good and the evil, with the latter to be annihilated or conquered (as suspected), they became the most hated nation in the world.

  47. scott – “We are successful beyond your wildest dreams. We produce more, consume more, create more, and destroy more, than most of you do even in combinations such as the EU. Our military is stronger by far, our economics dwarf even the largest among you, and we are culturally ubiquitous. Even as you decry us as cheap and tawdry, your sons cheer Rambo, your daughters swoon over Orlando Bloom, and your children laugh at Spongebob as they chomp down on the Big Mac and slurp the Coke. You can’t escape us. And you hate us for that”
    All you listed above is poison. When a frenchman speaks of his culture, he will recall poets, writers and philosophers, mathematicians etc. The same with Russians and any other nation. Nor so with americans. Its hollywwod, big mac and coke, rat’s race and military all over the globe. You correctly described your culture above (I, by the way, think much better of it). But if you are addicted to drugs – do you parents have to say thank you to your local drug peddler for bringing you the dose? Your culture has developed in the direction of the least resistance: what people are likely to pay for, not what they need most. And people are most likely to pay for what they are addicted to. I am a parent and I know what I am talking about: you have to fight the american “cultural heritage” all the time till your kids are grown up enough to understand, otherwise as you said they are likely to “laugh at Spongebob as they chomp down on the Big Mac and slurp the Coke” and become inbeciles and invalids in the meantime.

  48. Bobby, Americans when referring to democracy generally assume that people are aware of the struggles that have taken place to found, improve, and protect their democracy.
    They occasionally forget that the rest of us do not learn American history in the same detail they do.
    As a general rule Americans I have met both in my country and overseas tend to be well aware (and quite apologetic) of their countries failings both historical and current.
    This is in stark contrast to the rudeness, racism, and constant trumpeting of Russian “imperial” “achievments” and total lack of regret or apology for past horrors inflicted on nieghboring states and minority cultures that I have witnessed from Russians.

  49. Bobby, Russia is not democracy.

    The “managed democracy” is about as much “democracy” as was the old “people’s democracy”.

    It’s authoritarian fascist kleptocracy.

  50. Its an authoritarian imperialist nationalist fascist genocidal kleptocracy.

  51. Penny – “Bobby, my topic was the US as a long standing democracy which by the way ended slavery, admitted its historic culpability and spent the largest transfer of wealth in its history on its black citizens ” Do you yourself understand what you are saying. You are saying that when you have killed my wife, raped my daughter and enslaved my brother, you come to me and say: Listen brother, we are a great democracy, so I tell you we are sorry, take the 100 bucks and shut up”.
    Then I’ll say that Russia is 1,500 year democracy, because we have fought and ended tzarism, set free the nations, admitted the historic culpability of the tzars, commies, Peter the Great and Stalin. I say sorry to all who took offence in the process.
    Just since 1991, we have subsidised all our neighbors to the tune of hundreds of billions in the form of cheap gas and oil and direct monetary loans.
    “So what’s your investment in defending them, Bobby?”
    It follows that we are a 1,300 year older democracy than the US, evidently.
    As to now, just take the 1 trln China is giving you, distribute it among your poor and not so poor, and shut up about your “democracy”.

  52. Set free what nations Bobby?
    There is a reason all your neighbors hate you.
    As for admitted the historic culpability of the Tsars & Communists?
    No, sorry must be nice in your alternate reality.
    Russia has not accepted ANY historic culpability for the genocide and opression it has comitted. In fact the Russian government and people glory in the monsters of the past.
    BTW dumbass, democracy is about the right to elect a representative government without fraud, human rights, freedom of speech, rule of law.
    All of which are missing (and have never existed) in Russia.

  53. Bobby,
    America’s ‘POP Culture’ is not America. It’s one of the more unfortunate things that have evolved from a free society. Which, I may say, was also helped by the USSR through the KGB to encourage subversive activity on the college campuses, Indian reservations and any other useful idiot they could incite to destroy the evil imperialist/capitalist threat. Those who think that socialism/communism was dealt a mortal blow when the USSR collapsed were wrong. Our own democrat party has adopted many of there ideals, and are busy trying to strip the U.S. of what sets us apart from the rest. So you Russians can pat yourselves on the back, all your subversive efforts did not go to waste. I am also a parent, and raised 2 daughters who were able to resist the evil’s of our pop culture. It’s hard to see how a Big Mac and Coke is somehow threatening your culture, just demonstrates the Russian propensity for paranoia.

  54. obamayomama – “I am also a parent, and raised 2 daughters who were able to resist the evil’s of our pop culture. ”
    My congratulations, so you agree that they are evils. Fact is, the world knows only that, this is the “ubiquitous” side of your culture Scott was talking about. Me too, and many others, succesfully raise our children in spite of that. “It’s hard to see how a Big Mac and Coke is somehow threatening your culture, just demonstrates the Russian propensity for paranoia” – I didn’t say it was threatening our culture. I said it was threatening our kids. You and the others here are good at substituting arguments: this time it is “our ubiquitous culture of coke and spongebob”, and that time when it suits you better – it is not culture, it is evil. As to paranoia – you know the book “Only the Paranoid Survive”? Good book.

  55. Andrew, you must be a Georgian, and you live someplace other than Georgia. You are mistaken, our neighbors love us. Only lower-middle-class ignorant Americans hate us, because too much propaganda was driven into their heads, and many Georgians do hate us I must admit, but not because we “opressed” them, or anything of the kind, they are bullies themselves that are yet to be equaled in th world (remember Stalin and Beria?) – but because they lost their stupid war and lost it disgracefully, because they have shown the world their stupidity and total lack of common sense, because they have a tie-eating moron instead of a president. Thats why they hate us. It is easier for weak people to hate a neighbor instead of looking in the mirror.

  56. No Bobby.
    They hate you because of 200 years of opression, because of 400,0oo people ethnicly cleansed from Abkhazia during the 90’s.
    They hated you long before this war.

    As for Stalin, was he not just voted the 3rd Greatest RUSSIAN of all time?
    Who is introducing a law making it a crime to criticise his conduvt during the great patriotic war?
    Who is it who is rehabilitating Stalin in school textbooks and glorifying his acheivements?
    Who was it who carried out his orders?
    In every case it was Russians.

    You said “why they hate us. It is easier for weak people to hate a neighbor instead of looking in the mirror.” Sounds awfully like Russia to me.

    In addition Chechens hate you, the Ingush hate you, the Balts hate you, the Finns hate you, the Poles hate you, the Azeri’s hate you, the list goes on.

    Oh another think dickhead, the man (aside from Stalin) most responsible for the “Great Purges” was Nikolai Yezhov, a Russian


  57. Bobby,
    You dare to talk of evil? You notice the speck in America’s eye, and can’t see the log in your own. All societies have plenty of evils to avoid. In the case of Russia, your government is Satan himself. Sniveling thugs who dare not let the people hear the truth. Don’t talk to me about evil. Who are you “I am Russian” speaking better english? One of Putin’s butt-boys, no doubt. How much are you paid to lie for those murdering thugs?

  58. Bobby –

    I have to say that your last post made me think. And while others may more or less pile invective upon you, I would like to note that you have said some positive things about my country as well, and I’d like to thank you for that.

    But the main point is, what is it that makes Americans so proud of their popular culture, even as they recognize that too much of it can be toxic? Why are we so proud of the Simpsons rather than Hemingway, for example? It is definitely worth exploring.

    A lot of this hails from the philosophical and psychological divide between “High Culture” and “Low Culture.” And, exactly, what is it?

    One answer is time. Time sifts out the “poison” and saves the gold. I suppose some cultural artifacts were never going to be relics of popular “trash” culture – no one certainly would have expected it of War and Peace for instance. But other “classic” entertainments were not so clear cut. Shakespeare packed his plays full of jokes so ribald, that were modern audiences more attuned to the language, they would very well be shocked. Mozart wrote four operas about, respectively, a Turkish Harem, a play banned in half of Europe for revolutionary content, a gigolo whose conquests had to be listed by country and whose “Home Game” score topped 1000, and the vogue 18th Century gnostic secret society. If he lived today, he’d have written “Escape from the Bunny Ranch”, “Fahrenheit 911”, “Da Playa”, and “The Magic Flute of L. Ron Hubbard.” Yet all four are considered musical masterpieces, and the three latter ones are integral parts of the operatic canon in all nations. When “cultured” audiences first heard Stravinsky’s Firebird, they became so angry, they tore out the chairs of the theatre. Rock and Jazz both started as low, unsophisticated art forms, and yet now the best of both have places among the greatest of works.

    But time isn’t everything. Like I said, there are some works that have always been timeless. What else is it? It comes in the name. “Popular” culture. You put it very well – “What people are likely to pay for.” But there’s a much more succinct version: “What people want.”

    And one reason Americans are so proud of it is we produce so much of it. Popular culture essentially travels in one direction – outwards. This is not entirely true. The British, in particular do a good job of contributing to global popular culture, and Japan has done quite a bit – we are now raising a generation of children that are as proficient reading right to left as they are in the other direction. The rest of the world – not so much. In the past 20 years Russia has given the world pretty much only Smeshariki and Solaris, and the latter had to be redone by George Clooney to make it universally accessible. It is not a record worthy of a culture that once produced Tschaikovsky and Dostoyevsky.

    So, since other cultures can’t argue that they don’t want it (they consume it with great quantities), they argue it’s bad for you. Anything a foreigner can make that people want, but can’t make for themselves must be bad.

    And this is part of the whole “It’s bad for you” motif. The French were more honest about this than many are today – they called it Coca-Colonisation and actually legislated classes in culinary appreciation to wean kids back off McDonald’s and KFC onto classsic French cuisine.

    On that note, I have to ask, is the Big Mac really that bad? Yes, if you eat it every day, but most beloved cuisines of most cultures are not good for you. French and Italian cuisine mostly involve heavy sauces on fatty cutlets. The main staple of Russian cuisine is either fried or boiled dough (not that it isn’t delicious.) As for beverages, most cultures’ contribution include this chemical in their drinks called alcohol, which, unlike Coke, actually IS addictive. The key to success for McDonald’s came in that it was cheap, tasty, filling, and dependable. A people’s food, rather than $120 a plate “high cuisine” which is just as bad for you.

    But beyond that, there’s something else. America embraces its popular culture because, well, it’s popular. Other cultures run away from their common man, or at least lock him outside of what they consider civilization. Not Americans. In the late 19th century, for example, Russian Liberals went into the countryside to educate the peasants. And they found they weren’t welcome because the very concept that they needed such education, and specifically such education provided by said Russian Liberals, was offensive. Americans generally don’t have this problem (Native American Schools excepted) because we are, in essence, those peasants. And it is us as those peasants who write the books, the movies and the TV shows.

    So that’s basically the difference between “toxic” American” culture, and refined “European” culture. One is by the people, of the people, and for the people, and the other is what is considered as you put it, “what people need most”. But the question is, who decides what people need most? Americans trust parents like you to help their children choose what is best. You, on the other hand would have others make the choice for them.

    That is the difference between democratic “low” culture, and aristrocratic “high” culture.

  59. Andrew – I am getting a little tired of this senseless discussion, but just one last time.
    1) the hate thing. Once again: Russians do not hate anyone in their widest majority. There are always radicals, they are to be found in all countries, but they do not characterize our society. My brother in law, a Uzbek and a film director, was afraid to come to Moscow for a long time, because he read all the stories of skinheads beating up and killing people in the papers. Then after long deliberations, and lured by the money, he at last came. Now he prospers, has brought all his numerous family here and says “what a fool I was” . In spite of everything, more than 1mln. georgians (1/4 of their whole polulation) live in Russia. I just had a talk with one of them 2 hours ago, he is my son’s former schoolmate and I was grilling him about where they were in this late hour (partying for the 8th of March !). It is your wishful imagination that makes you extrapolate individual cases to all the society. There is no such thing as ethnic hatred among Russians, they are internationalists by upbringing, by numerous mixed marriages, by history etc. My first wife was German, my second wife is Uzbek, all my children (4) feel and behave and speak like Russians but they know very well who their mothers are and respect it (or I’d rather say they don’t give a damn, just as all their friends and acquiantences and myself).
    Now you say “Sounds awfully like Russia to me. (that is to say, that Russians hate everyone instead of looking in the mirror). And to prove that, you say – Chechens hate you, the Ingush hate you, the Balts hate you, the Finns hate you, the Poles hate you, the Azeri’s hate you, the list goes on”. Well that may be or may not be true, but I am telling you of the Russian people: they don’t have hate in their hearts for anyone.
    2) Of Georgia: let the great speak: here’s a quote from Lermontov’s poem “Mtsyri” (and Lermontov, to mind, was anti-Russian empire and anti-Tsar in many of his writings) . He wrote:
    ….Of a [Georgian] tsar one such [tomb-stone]
    Tells who by his gold crown was much
    Weighed down, and did of Russia gain
    The patronage o’er his domain.
    Twas then God’s love descended on
    The land, and Georgia bloomed, and gone
    Her old fears were and old suspense:
    Of friendly bayonets a fence
    Did, bristling, rise in her defence. ”
    3) Of Stalin. Of course he was Russian. And of course he was Georgian. Many Americans are Chinese, British, German etc by birth and by ethnicity. Their president is half-kenyan if I remember correctly. I just said that it was in his time, and Beria’s, that major atrocities were committed, and of course his national character had to do with it. Why do you think the Balts parted with Russia peacefully (and we have many serious grudges against each other starting with the fact that ethnic russians are non-citizens there, contrary to all intrenational law, and, on their part, they call us occupiers), but in all the Caucasus there is still unrest almost everywhere? And always was, except maybe in the Soviet times, when a Caucasian was at the helm who ruled them in with an iron fist? Much of it is attributable to national character.
    As to Stalin’s recognition as a third greatest Russian – well this is simple. WWII was a great ordeal, a great test of the country, an event of the century, and he presided over the Russian victory over fascists. Good or bad, but he did it. Look up other nations, their “best men” are most often than not are related to WWII. Churchill – war-time prime-minister, De Golle – afer-war president, Adenauer etc. (BTW even Bush made to it to the 6th place thanks to (unjust and unjustified) war in Iraq).

    Somebody made a ridiculous remark that it will be 500 years till Russians elect a non-white president (my bet is that the same person hates Obama’s guts). Well why should we – we basically don’t have non-white people here (www.cia.gov). As to ethnicities – our first tsar was scandinavian of sorts, we had a georgian, a ukrainian, dutch and german queens – no problem with me. All you poor people are stuck in the past and present ideological propaganda lies, and all you posts here consist of just such ungrounded and empty foul-mouthed blatter.
    Just wanted to give some real time perspective from the place you talk so much but don’t have a clue about.
    From Russia with love.

  60. Bobby,
    I just want to clarify something.

    Georgians do not hate Russians as individuals, they hate the state. My reference to hating “you” was really meaning the “Royal” you as in Russia as an occupying/opressing power. Much the same way as you say America or Americans, or Democracy

    As for my relationship with Russian people as opposed to the Russian state:
    My daughter was baptised by a Russian, I have several Russian in-laws in my wifes multi-ethnic (but predominantly Georgian & Abkhaz) family.
    I have many Russian friends in my own country of New Zealand.
    As my uncle-in-law Vova said, Georgians and Russians should be friends, but those in the Kremlin must stop trying to see the Georgians as subject peoples.

    As I have said before, if Russia stops treating the Georgians as slaves to be ordered around, and stops interfering in their country, and extends the hand of friendship instead of opression, Georgians will respond in kind.

    BTW I have been to Russia, and am resident in the Caucasus, so I do know a bit more about the problems than you think.
    Several of my in laws used to live in Abkhazia, some are ethnic Georgians, some are ethnic Abkhazians who supported the Georgian government. All were driven out by the separatists and Russian “volunteers”.
    The ethnic cleansing comitted in the early 90’s is the main cause of bitterness today.

    Anyway, politics aside. God bless you and your daughters, and may our children grow up in a world where they can be friends regardless of ethnicity.

  61. By the way, my uncle-in-law Vova is a Russian from Rostov, now resident in St.Petersburg

  62. Solaris? The novel by Stanislav Lem? It’s the Polish author and not Russian at all (not even in the sense Dostoyevsky was partially of the Polish descent).

  63. Andrew – I don’t know what you mean by slaves, I am sure that georgian restaurant, casino and oil company owners in Russia, as well as many ordinary georgians who are a proud people would be very much surprised and even insulted if called Russian slaves. If you mean that Georgians in Georgia are slaves – I can believe it as they vote as it were with their feet fleeing from their homeland in all direction including New Zealand, but most of them – surprise! – right into their “opressor’s” den Russia. Economically, they ARE slaves in Georgia, and the only way for your government to keep power is shift the blame to Russia and incite hatred, as such blame game and nationalism has always found response in empoverished masses.
    Here is one more interesting aspect. To govern a country, it takes a special “homo politicus” – a prepared and specially bred elite who know what can be done and what is a taboo in international relations. But democracy has a way with it to gradually deteriorate and develop into “ochlocraty” or the power of the mob, and this mob brings to power people like Bush, and Saakashvili. At first they are admired. They are “like us” , they know our needs, they ‘ll restore our pride. But soon people realize that these people are unprepared to rule, they say words that are better left unsaid (remember a string of personal insults Saakashvili and his junta flung at the Russian president and people? I felt personally insulted then, and Putin never forgave that and rightly so; and Bush’s “bushisms”). They are “like us” – exactly, it means that they are just that – ordinary at best, often mean, often stupid. It follows that democracy is not the right kind of governance, as it brings forth hitlers and bushes. It’s not my invention – read Plato and Aristotle. As to the “democracy” mantra – this is a lie for the electorate, while any viable and efficient state always has and always will breed an educated, experienced and very special political aristocracy, be it in the form of a Communist Party Central Committee as in the USSR and China, or nobility,or “political clans” or “nomenklatura” or political party functiomaries and so on. Maybe more forms are coming more suitable for the 21 century. The US is a very young democracy as I have shown, 40 or so years, and it has to choose – to build an aristocracy of sorts, or be put on the brink from time to time by such people like Bush. Dictatorship is the opposite extreme, so its a fine art to balance the system of governance between Ochlocraty and Dictatorship . Of course even that won’t save a state from decay in the long run, because everything comes to an end,but it will prolong its existence very greatly. As to Georgia, it has yet to prove that it can exist at all. My guess is that the US will try to use it in the Caucasus as it does Israel in the Middle East, only instead of arabs they will have russians to fight with :((. It has already happened. If it happens again I wouldn’t bet on Georgia.

  64. Bobby,
    Have you missed all the fairly nasty things that Russia has done in Georgia since it annexed the place? And since Georgian independance your government has to say the least been particularly unplesant to these people.
    Sponsoring ethnic cleansing, the harrasment of Georgians in Russia, etc,etc,etc.
    As for the number of Georgians in Russia, unfortunately for your assertions, the overwhelming majority of Georgians in Russia are those who were there prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Very few (if any) Georgians now choose to go to Russia, where the overwhelming majority are subject to official harrasment, racist attacks and other nastiness.
    As for Georgians being slaves in Georgia, not as I have noticed. The Georgians describe being under Russian rule as slavery, go to Tbilisi and ask around.
    Bobby, you show a typical (Russian) ignorance where the functioning of democracy is concerned. The “system” of governance you endorse is Putins “power vertical”, Russia knows no “taboo” in diplomacy, it is the chei supporter of some of the most heinous regimes in the world today, every dictator and war criminal from Sudan to Burma is supported and protected by Russia, and Russian crimes are horrific too. Chechnya and the mass murder of civillians, ethnic cleansing in Abkhazia & South Ossetia, the list goes on.
    Furthermore, your “political elite bred for the job” tend to become incredibly corrupt, considering themselves above the law, and superior to the common people. This leads straight to Auschwitz or the Gulag archipelago.

    For having Russians to fight with, as has been repeatedly shown throughout history, Russians are only ever of any use when used in overwhelming numbers, and demographics are not on your side any more.

  65. Here is one for “I am Russian”
    No drug problem in Russia you say?
    Well the Russian government seems to disagree.


    Maybe causing the yanks problems by bribing the Kyrgiz president to shut that airbase was a bit stupid after all.

  66. Robert – I was actually speaking of Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 film based on Lem’s novel, which had a strong worldwide cultural impact.

  67. Bobby –

    I agree that the vast majority of Russians don’t go around saying “I hate this ethnicity or I hate that minority.” Certainly, when I married my wife (an ethnically Russian Ukrainian), my in-laws were very welcoming of me. But that’s not all that goes on here. Most Americans don’t go around agitating for the restoration of segregation or slavery, and the few who do are considered mentally deficient, morally repugnant, and usually both. All the same, we know that racism still exists in the US, and it still exists in Russia.

    Racism, and particularly anti-Semitism has a long and deep history in Russia. The entirety of my father’s ancestry emigrated to the US from one gubernia in the Pale or another, and they were all fleeing pogroms. (Although, yes, this does mean that it is as much a legacy of the Western Republics as it was of Russia.) My grandfather on my mother’s side was descended from one of the Tsar’s personal guard (a Pole, though, not a Russian in this case.) His ancestor fell in love with a daughter of a French diplomat, but xenophobia was such at the time that they couldn’t expect a normal life in Russia, so they, too emigrated. So, in a very real sense, my very existence is a result of Russian intolerance.

    It is also prevalent in the literature if you care to look. Goncharov’s Oblomov states at one point, “Germans pass a coat from the father to the son, and back from the son to the father.” Reading War and Peace, I could not help but notice the long list of ethnic and social groups against whom Tolstoy seemed to have a nasty grudge. Russian racism is even implicit in the language itself – as you know, the word for German is “Nemets”, which literally translates as “Person who cannot speak”, much as the word “barbarian” comes from a Greek term implying “people who say nothing but bar-bar-bar.”

    You seem like an intelligent, reasonable, tolerant person, but even in your posts, this Russian condescension (which is actually a much better way to describe it than hate)sometimes come up. The Stalin that killed all those people must be Georgian. Why? Because look at all those bloody-minded Caucasians today. The Balts don’t seem to have those problems. Yet we forget that in the time of Lenin, Lithuanians were fighting bloodily against the Poles over the fate of Vilnius, and were all too ready to receive it as their thirty pieces of silver in 1940.

    A quick note on Stalin – the reason it is so maddening is precisely that – the Stalin that killed those millions is always Georgian to a Russophile. The one that defeated the Nazis is always a Russian. If you disagree, then the next time that I or someone else posts that the Soviet Union bears the greatest credit for the victory, suggest that the credit should reflect on Georgia rather than Russia and see what happens.

    Now, let me say again that I have a deep fondness for the Russian people and its culture. My position is that they deserve much better than what they are getting in Putin, and that his intentions for Ukraine, a nation for which my ties are even stronger since I lived in Kiev for a full year and in which have many relatives and friends in residence, are generally baleful. But that being said, when a Russophile comes up with a statement that clearly contradicts historical fact, I am going to argue against it.

  68. A quick note on Bush and popular government here. For a “popular” demagogue, W has a strangely aristocratic pedigree. His father was President, his great-grandfather on his mother’s side was President, and he claims common ancestry with both the British Royal Family, and Vlad Dracula. Furthermore, he certainly did not win in a landslide, if you remember. In fact, he lost the popular vote, and very likely should have lost in the electoral as well. In 2004, the main issues were not Bush’s being a man of the people, but the impression of fear remaining from 9/11 and the shameful smearing of his opponent’s military career. In 2008, his party lost in a landslide. As for his legacy, the most current poll of American Presidents ranks him at #36.

    The fact is that most US Presidential candidates try to be “of the people.” William Henry Harrison, for example, was an aristocrat if ever there was one, but sold himself on a steady stream of images of log cabins and hard cider. The ultimate populist in this case was Lincoln, and I think that he turned out pretty well.

    While the US certainly has not and does not always live up to its ideals, nonetheless the goal remains – in Lincoln’s words “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Yes, there is the danger of the mob. The Founding Fathers feared it no less than you did and built multitudes of measures against it into the Constitution, some which remain and other which have been discarded. Sometimes the desires of the people for stability has ended in strong-man rule: Caesar, Napoleon, Mussolini, and Hitler for example. Unfortunately, there is much to indicate that Russia is following along a similar path with Putin.

    However, democratic society needs this very idea – “All men are created equal” in Jefferson’s words. The other assumption, that people are not qualified to run their own affairs, ends up in a more Orwellian thesis – “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

  69. Scott, the author of the “All men are created equal” slogan Thomas Jefferson was a prosperous SLAVEOWNER. He just did not consider blacks to be men. :-)

  70. No, Eugene – he did not. And while in his Notes on the State of Virginia he showed some remorse for slavery and considered it morally wrong, he also wrote that he felt blacks to be inferior in those very same writings (and certainly didn’t free any of his own slaves.)

    But it was Jefferson’s words and ideals that Lincoln used to free those very same slaves that Jefferson would not. In the long run, the ideals expressed in those words proved stronger than the vices of the man who wrote it.

  71. Well said Scott, as usual.

  72. Thanks Andrew –

    One quick edit. Technically, Jefferson did free some of his slaves in his will, but only the ones who were definitely his blood relatives, and quite likely his children and grandchildren, so it is not a particularly inspiring exception to his behavioral pattern.

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