Art & Politics, Russian-Syle
What makes Russia behave as it does? Puzzled Westerners have been asking themselves that question for a century and more. “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma,” Winston Churchill said in 1939. His words have lost none of their relevance as a country that once seemed ready to break with its murderous, self-destructive past now appears to be lurching backward toward a belligerent authoritarianism that recalls the chilliest days of the cold war.
This puzzlement is felt with special acuteness by Americans—and not only because of their history of resistance to the Soviet Union’s failed dreams of conquest. Alexis de Tocqueville was the first of many observers to note similarities between the two countries, and his prediction that their futures would run in parallel proved prophetic:
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