The Talking Dog

January 2, 2010, Nostaligia act

It may be a new decade, but that's no reason not to go to a good old throw-back here at TTD, and what better way to start a new decade than with a nostalgic revisit to "Saturdays with Pravda" to this piece telling us that... wait for it... over 60% of Russians are nostalgic for the Soviet Union. For many Russians, guaranteed housing and employment and cheap food (even if variety wasn't tremendous) seem better than the rough and tumble of capitalism where (this is just crazy talk)... many people don't live quite as well... but a few people are fabulously rich, so doesn't that make everything better? No wonder we never understood the Russians! Sheesh!

I suspect that many Americans, though they won't say it to a pollster, may also be somewhat nostalgic for the Soviet Union for a different reason-- to have the certitude of having an "evil empire" to contend with, one against whom big, expensive heavy weapons systems appeared to make sense rather than the messiness of nebulous "terrorists" (currently of the "Islamist" variety). Americans are somewhat uncertain that some other enemy would necessarily emerge to justify the expenditure of the massive amounts of money we currently devote to re-fighting the Battle of the Bulge (and the USSR) that might go to, say, medical research (also from Pravda, how about this optimistic report linking cancer research to possibly saving the Tasmanian Devil from extenction... but I digress), or development of cold fusion or combating global warming, or sustainable agriculture or maintaining a crumbling infrastructure or lots of other frivolous expenditures that would only result in... the collapse of our vaunted American way of life.

And then, perhaps, I'm tipping my own hand here. Since, after the fall of the USSR, we didn't renounce anything-- the infrastructure remained intact, conveniently waiting to be remobilized at the right prompting, and 9-11 proved an excellent excuse. There are those who wonder if aggressive, expansionist military acts are somehow in America's DNA... and they make a sufficiently excellent point that I must stop to question my own support of American military action anywhere (since I don't currently support American military action anywhere except Afghanistan at the moment, and so I must question my support of that.) Perhaps we have to separate the emotional pull to lash back at someone that was so instrumental in unleashing the Afghanistan War in the first place, and realize that viewed in the context of broader intrinsically "morally detached" American involvement everywhere for every reason, the whole thing might... look different. For an analogy which may or may not apply, I am reminded of ferile housecats that Mrs. TD and I encountered on our last trip to the Hawaiian islands over a dozen years ago. They seemed friendly, cute and cuddly to us... we even fed the ones nearby...but in their good-natured cuddly-ness, blithely and unthinkingly they devastated local species, which evolved without feline predators, including a number of flora and fauna found nowhere else on Earth that quickly found themselves reduced to the point of endangerment or extinction by Fluffy and Mittens. Remind anyone of some superpower somewhere?

Wheeewww... I mean to be more upbeat here in the new decade, so I should back-off a bit, and just say perhaps we can better diagnose the problem if we can start to ask ourselves the "hidden in plain sight" questions like "does this make sense... or it it once did, does it still?"... or something like that. This has been... "Nostalgia Act."