I’m loving the shots from this old USSR propaganda magazine. Soviet propaganda definitely had the edge in the style wars.
On a related note, The New York Times has a good article today asking Russians what Americans misunderstand about them. It’s interesting, and there are a few main take-away points:
World War II was all about them. Or so say the ‘official’ histories. It’s called the “Great Patriotic War” and had a much more devastating impact there than here, for obvious reasons. Quote: “Americans likely don’t understand how much the role of the allies in the victory over Nazi Germany and its allies is played down in the conscience of Russians. And Americans likely don’t properly understand the concept of “The Great Patriotic War” in which there is practically no space for Americans themselves.”
Memories of the Soviet Union are complicated. As one responder says, “Also, after the breakdown of the Soviet Union, we did not see many good things, which explains a kind of nostalgia. And apart from everything else, the advantages of an authoritarian state still remain advantages: very low crime rate, absence of massive drug abuse, social stability.” The Soviet Union was powerful, with all the advantages that came with – and now it’s not. Time has a way of making the bad memories go away, especially when the state is trying to wash it all away.
Russians don’t see the actions of their country as belligerent. That’s commonly how news portrays them, right? Always unjustifiably arrogant, pushing buttons, and petulantly grappling with world power. It’s partly historical – “To an extent, it is due to objective reasons, like eastward NATO expansion or deploying ABM radars at our borders. Another reason is a historic feeling of injury for the defeat suffered in the cold war.” Most notable, though:
Americans cannot understand why Russia, which they see as an aggressive country, is seen by Russians as peaceful, though peace-loving and democratic United States is seen by Russians as an aggressor and a threat to peace. However, if we look at the history of the new Russia (after 1991), it fought in a foreign territory only once, and after its citizens were attacked (Georgia, 2008). The United States within the same period of time used its armed forces in foreign territories many times, and all of its pretexts sounded like blatant lies.
I think that last quote pretty much sums it all up. Russians see themselves pretty much the way Americans do. Americans don’t see themselves as belligerent or aggressive – those uses of armed forces were for good, or at worst were the result of a wayward leader unrepresentative of America. It’s wonderful how everyone’s great at rationalizing their faults.