Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Final Solution: Democrazy

There are oligarchs, theocrats and autocrats. Russia has been defined as a keptocracy with the behind the scenes arrangements giving new meaning to what we used to define as graft. It should be noted that modern Russia dating from the time of Peter the Great and encompassing both aristocracy, Communism and the current regime which is something between a post-Romanov Czarocracy and a simple dictatorship (some might call it a massive cult of personality under Putin) has always been defined as a bureaucracy. People get lost in the shuffle in all societies, but everything in Russia seems to be larger and more anonymous for those who aren’t being heard. Akaky Akakievich the titular counselor of Gogol’s The Overcoat is the typical small guy lost in the shuffle whose fate is oblivion and finally rebirth as a spirit that haunts the Russian capital of St. Petersburg. Nothing changes for the Akakys of the world and they seem to be overlooked no matter what the regime. Gogol’s Overcoat becomes a stolen bicycle in the postwar Rome of Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves. The Manchu Dynasty was overthrown in l911 and China flirted with notions of democracy under Sun Yat Sen before becoming a Communist state, but it’s hard not to see the legacy of dynasty in the party’s self-perpetuating elite. The only difference with regard to America is that it’s a work in progress. It’s dynastic (to the extent that it has its Kennedy’s,  Bushes and Clintons), certainly bureaucratic and increasingly dictatorial (due to the free ticket given to Trump by the plurality of Americans who support him), but it’s almost frightening to realize that the drama that’s currently being played out in Washington is, for the most part, unprecedented.

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