by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker blog
(NOTE: This review contains spoilers for the TV show “The Americans”)
The US television show “The Americans” has been considered the best TV show for the past few years, and it aired its finale on May 30, and to rave reviews.
What has gone unappreciated, and of course rarely commented-upon among the fake-leftist cultural gurus of the US, is that “The Americans”was the first show to ever sympathetically portray committed socialists in US history. For leftists, it was truly ground-breaking and long-awaited television.
The show revolves around two dedicated, highly-trained Soviets who have been implanted as long-term spies in America to work for the cause of global socialism, all while appearing as a normal,entrepreneurial American family with two children.
Watching the show I was happily astounded to see – time and time again – that the spies were portrayed as truly devoted, impassioned, intelligent socialists. Throughout the show’s 6 seasons there were socialist critiques of American culture; of capitalism, imperialism, militarism, racism, individualism, etc., and all delivered without a hint of irony or doubt. Never before have Americans been so capably presented with a socialist critique of their society on the TV in their own home.
African-American militants and Vietnamese communists had major storylines, and they too are treated realistically. Their political ideas and experiences as the victims of imperialist capitalism are presented with truly unprecedented sympathy and honesty. All the socialist characters demanded that they be treated as honest members working on behalf of a progressive, enlightened political system – socialism. Of course they all lose in the end, but it is amazing that they got past US censors in the first place.
“The Americans” also did a better job of discussing Soviet history than American journalists – to give just one recent example, they actually talked about the fact that the Soviets won World War II (the Western front) and that 25 million Soviets died. If you tried to give that number in a US news-debate show you’d probably be shouted down. Time and again the female spy character cites facts, achievements and principles to defend the socialist cause and is an ardent Soviet nationalist.
And that makes “The Americans” revolutionary viewing. Socialist motivations and ideology have never been even objectively presented in American television. It seems that 30 years after the implosion of the USSR, US television executives finally decided to end the decades of non-stop lies and propaganda which the idiot box had broadcast regarding the USSR, socialism, communism, anti-imperialism and their related ideologies.
Of course, being an American show, the real Americans win in the end. But for leftists the show is worth watching for the female spy, Elizabeth, and her ideological monologues. She is a rock-hard socialist revolutionary, and her many years living in the US has only given her even more reasons to fundamentally reject Western capitalist culture; thus, her critiques are relevant to American society today.
It is also, much like Mad Men did for the late 1950s and early 1960s, a “time-capsule show”. The 1980s have been been replicated with big-budget production values, so the nostalgia factor is sentimentally present as well.
I spoke to a young journalist colleague in Russia – she had never heard of “The Americans”. I was quite surprised, because the portrayal of her Soviet 1980s-era ancestors is really quite thorough and flattering, even to non-socialists. There are plenty of real-life references to Soviet culture and personalities which would make it sentimentally attractive to Russian viewer, as well.
Perhaps the best thing about the finale is that there was no absurd negative foreshadowing of the Putin era; to me, this reflects the serious nature with which the Russians and Soviets are treated with thought the series. If the Russians are waiting for a better, reasonably honest, big-budget TV series about the Soviet era…they will be waiting quite a long time.
Most Americans TV shows revolve around fame, death or sports, so I really must recommend this drama as a politically-enlightened form of escapism.
Analysing the finale: another ‘deathbed conversion’ by Hollywood
Of course the real Americans were going to win, but the question was how?
It is unfortunate that the show’s final storyline so unbelievable: After 5.9 seasons of determined, shining, staunch support for socialism, Elizabeth (the female spy) listens to a nuclear arms reduction speech from a fictitious minister of Gorbachev…and promptly decides to defy her KGB handlers in order to support the Gorbachev faction and world peace.
She thus turns on the ideals of the revolution, her KGB comrades, her life’s work and successfully keeps Gorbachev from being deposed in a coup. I found this personality-shift unconvincing, but hey: this is Hollywood.
How different would the world have been if Gorbachev – despised in Russia today – had been deposed? At least we have this TV series to raise such a question, even if if it is answered in a way which affirms the America’s mistaken pro-imperialist & anti-socialist ideology.
Paige, the Jesus-loving teenager who was savvy enough to realize something was fishy about her parents and who then willingly signed as a junior KGB-kid, is left doing something stereotypically Russian – drinking vodka. Our final image of her is slamming a shot of vodka all alone, as she has retreated to the safe house where she was schooled on Soviet history and culture.
Clearly, she represents the upcoming post-Gorbachev “lost generation” – one which falls into alcoholism, depression and bitterness towards the failures of the older generations which have gutted her future. Paige is the trained Soviet youth that will sit in waste until Putin turns the country around.
Paige could have continued to Canada and then on to the USSR with her parents, but – in one of the show’s biggest final twists – she leaves the train at the last stop before Canada, abandoning her parents. And that shows that Paige is truly an “American”: like all members of Generation X and beyond, American children are culturally instructed to hate their parents and rebel at every opportunity. Paige might have gone to the USSR she had come to admire and even work for…if only her stupid parents weren’t there too!
However, Paige – who has descended from the socialist future to bitter brat – won’t have time to be snottily depressed for long: it’s impossible for the neophyte spy to survive on her own in America, and we can be sure she will soon be waterboarded and cattle-prodded for all she knows, and likely executed like the Rosenbergs for treason. Little wonder she is drinking.
Henry: As is the case in many top TV shows these days (notably the Sopranos), young adult female characters are extremely capable, but young adult male characters are essentially clueless and drags on society. Henry continues this trend, as he was never told of his parents’ secret life nor was he smart enough to figure it out like his sister. He was, however, smart enough to get into a rich, private, capitalist boarding school, where he thrived (and also took the boring problem of his existence off the hands of the show’s writers).
The parents decide, in another twist, to not bring Henry to the USSR. He is at home in America, they decide, and thus has proved he is truly an “American”. In a final family phone call to Henry – where they do not tell him of their double life – Philip (the spy father) continues his American-style parenting of encouraging egotistical individualism (telling him “You’re great”) and non-stop work / personal achievement / consumption (telling him to “Go go go”).
Philip then immediately goes to buy three huge bags of McDonald’s for just three people, in one last effort to get dangerously obese and thus be a typical American family. They eat in the car and on the run for work, like most Americans do.
The future of Henry is pretty grim: no parents, a tough battle to prove he was unaware of his parents spying, lifelong enormous overcompensation to prove his “American-ness” and endless bitterness towards socialism. Thus the gifted, elite-schooled, “socialism ruined my life” Henry is likely to wind up a supremely useful tool of the 1%: possibly president, like the son of a Communist-deposed Hungarian aristocrat (Nicolas Sarkozy), or the CEO of the most anti-worker American company today, Uber (headed by Iranian Revolution-fleeing Dara Khosrowshahi).
Regardless, Henry is another fine catch of the American brain drain, and his talents will not be used in Russia during their upcoming years of stagnation caused by switching form their socialist-inspired model.
Philip and Stan – spies unlike us, or each other
Philip, the father-husband-spy, was always less committed as a socialist than his wife, and this provided much of the show’s domestic tension. Philip’s does not ultimately cease his spy work in the final season because he loves the US, but more because he has becomes disillusioned with spydom.
Indeed, for a trained, embedded, murdering spy with an arranged wife…Philip was always a rather happy-go-lucky sort – he cared more for family life and his travel agency than promoting socialism. One wonders at the KGB’s selection process, especially in the area of testing ideological rigor? However, as was unambiguously implied, Philip endured homosexual sex as part of his spy training, so he was clearly VERY committed at one point in his life (I would say “too committed”!).
Philip is the one who is saved – from his feelings of guilt and the anti-American evils of socialism – by religion, and thus shifts the show’s moral centre from Paige (of course, Elizabeth for socialists like myself) to himself in Season 3.
While American baby boomers undoubtedly failed in a political sense – unlike their Chinese and Iranian counterparts – a fair case can be made that they succeeded in a spiritual sense. The recently-departed journalist-novelist Tom Wolfe correctly described the 1960s and 70s in America as the “Third Great Awakening” (a third period of American religious revivalism); there is no doubt that American spiritual values changed for a huge part of their population, though the value of these changes are in the eye of the beholder.
In a very good piece of writing, Philip embodies this post-Woodstock reality as he attends seminars for the now-deduct EST movement. EST was a quasi-religious, corporate, Scientology-like, semi-cult which focused on pure individualism and personal empowerment. EST helped Philip get in touch with his feelings, forgive himself for his many murders (one even committed before he became a spy) and to find a new level of spirituality…one which led him to abandon his comrades, political ideals, homeland, and society in favor of his own personal desires. EST is clearly a “new world” type of religion.
Stan Beeman was an FBI agent working on fighting Soviet spies who moved next door to the Soviet spy couple. The unlikely friendship between Philip and Stan is another of the show’s key plot devices.
Stan is – in classic American WASP fashion – unable to emotionally connect with his wife and son, both of whom leave him. Philip invited Stan to EST, although acting class may have been a better choice, as the actor playing Stan undoubtedly set a record for number of subtle one-way upper-lip twists per on-screen minute.
Capitalist new-age spirituality – the authentic American religion – saves the day
I include Philip and Stan here together because the show’s finale clearly wanted us to view them that way – as “best friends”. Of course, the climatic scene of the entire series is when Stan inevitably finds out that his neighbors are Soviet spies – will he let them escape or arrest them?
Cornered in a garage, Philip finally breaks his cover and appeals to Stan’s sensibilities…not with a defense of socialism, but with the Nazi Nurembourg defense of “We had a job to do.” Stan, being an FBI fascist, sympathizes of course, and his anger lessens.
Philip then repudiates his entire socialist past, describing how his life has become one big sob-story and how he and his wife have been betrayed by their comrades into trying to depose peace-loving Gorbachev. Stan responds with a statement never-before uttered by an FBI or CIA agent: “I could care less who runs your country.”
But EST makes a surprising re-appearance at this time of supreme dramatic decision. Philip tells Stan: “But we’re getting in that car, and we’re driving away. (Big sigh) I wish you had stayed with me at EST – you might know what to do here.”
Stan pauses, remembers EST’s “Me Generation” new-age religion principles and is inspired to know what to do here: He does not stop them as Philip, Elizabeth and Paige slowly move to the car. The family (minus pouting Paige) makes it back to the USSR. Three cheers for EST!
Thus it is actually religion which saves “The Americans” in “The Americans”. Not a standard religion, not even a successful new-age religion like Scientology, but an ideology which is “spiritual but not religious”, and which serves no societal and only an individualist function.
Even if Stan’s brief EST training hadn’t kicked in, religion still would have saved the spy family: the finale also included a Russian Orthodox clergy member who, under the threat of being unable to climb up the church ladder, breaks his vows and gives them up to the FBI. This is in pointed contrast to the previous episode, where the spy family’s WASP pastor (who knew they were spies) does not break his vows when questioned by the FBI, giving the average American viewer a cheap thrill of perceived religious superiority.
But it is EST which ultimately saves the day, the bad socialists, Stan from being a bad friend, and the protagonists with whom we must partially sympathise and root for or else we change the channel.
As the audience rests from the emotional climax, the song that plays is “Brothers in Arms” by Dire Straits, which aims to underscore the kinship between the two male intelligence operatives.
However, this actually only reveals the true political leanings of the writers – political and historical nihilism – as it implies that Philip and Stan are essentially the same, even though they were motivated for decades by two totally different ideologies. Stan and Philip were violent enemies and definitely not brothers-in-arms…at least not until Philip was deluded by new-age, individualist spirituality.
EST, of course, is no religion. EST is no longer even taught. But EST lives on in America in Oprah, in the selfie, in America’s refusal to deal honestly with their imperialist past, in their hedonistic worship of the present, in their desire for perpetual youth, in their efforts to make “getting what you want” somehow a positive moral value, and in the idea that we must constantly improve and transform ourselves because the American system itself is perfect and thus must not be tampered with via socialist modernisations.
EST, we can see, was always present in America’s 400+ year history in one form or another. It is little wonder that it was chosen by the writers to be the supreme, modern ideology to prevail over socialism.
Of course, EST is Reagan-era bullplop.
Reagan-era bullplop – neoliberalism – is the dominant Western ideology now, and we all knew that the series’ climactic scene would not end with Elizabeth orchestrating a socialist victory but with exhortations to more neoliberalism.
Elizabeth – another leftist misled by Gorbachev
Elizabeth is played with grim emaciation by Keri Russell, an actress who had been best-known for unexpectedly cutting off her trademark long curly hair, ruining her appeal and quickly causing the end of her poplar series “Felicity”. She appears to have learned her lesson, because whenever she is not in disguise she prominently “wears her hair forward” in this series.
Being a typical male, I had no idea what “wearing hair forward” meant until an ex-girlfriend told me as we watched this show. I defended my male obtuseness and lack of style by remarking that if she had “worn her hair sideways” I would have surely noticed. Female readers will perhaps understand why, with such bad jokes, this girlfriend is now an ex. But I end this digression….
Because Elizabeth was the unrepentant socialist (at least until the Hollywood ending) there was no doubt that the writers would finish by assassinating her character as much as possible.
One of the last scenes of her involves an unsettling dream she has while flying back to the USSR. She is in bed with her ideologically-solid African-American militant lover, whom she respected and loved more than Philip; he is rubbing her belly as she says, “I don’t want a kid anyway.” (Of course, a half-Black baby would blow her cover.) Metaphorically, this is to imply that Elizabeth does not have a soul. Literally, it is to show that she was an frigid spy queen who wanted to be motherless and thus is fine leaving her children behind; children being the only sacred family tie in Western society, which cares not for extended family as in other cultures.
In American television it is fine to denigrate the older generation, but rarely is prime motherhood portrayed as anything but as American as apple pie; it’s quite a damnation, and thus primes the viewer to interpret her socialist commitment as similarly soulless and damned. She never stopped being a committed socialist, of course, just a right-wing, Gorbachevian one. Not good enough for the West, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth gets the series very final line – “We’ll get used to it” – which is a response to Philip’s “I feel strange”. This is a continuation of the last-second effort to portray Elizabeth as a fundamentally inauthentic and soulless person. The writers clearly do not want viewers to ultimately sympathise with the socialist Elizabeth, and they thus make a deathbed confession to Hollywood that they repudiate the socialist ideas they quite ably wrote for years.
The two characters say this as the two look out over a dark, polluted, factory-filled, ominous Russian city…and the series ends.
Americans love music – analysing the song choices
Music in TV show finales is always often much discussed: Badfinger’s “Baby Blue” in the TV show “Breaking Bad’ and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” for the “Sopranos”.
The previously mentioned “Brothers in Arms” was an inspired choice, even if it was instrumentalized to support political and historical nihilism.
The other use of music was far less original – U2’s “With Or Without You”, which at any given moment is being played simultaneously on roughly 900 different Western radio stations. This song played as Paige walked off the train, abandoning her parents in a fit of short-sighted Gen X resentment.
More than just explaining family dynamics, the choice of that song represents the series as a whole: It serves as a sort of love letter from America to the USSR. After all, the 1980s were a much simpler time: The world was either capitalist or communist, and you picked your camp.
Today, Islamophobia has replaced communism, and it is a far less-satisfying ideological war for everybody. The US is winning the body count race by many factors of 10, but that is only barely enough to satisfy rabid Westerners – in the age of Political Correctness they cannot full-throatedly hate Muslims as they could communists. Also, they are losing in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere, unlike versus the Soviets.
Subconsciously, Westerners know that it is they who have ruined the Arab Spring, proving that they aren’t committed to democracy (nor ever were). Quite consciously, the supremacy of capitalism has only brought lower wages, austerity and economic & social instability – “this is victory?” It is no wonder that many long for the good-old Reagan-era days, when neoliberalism was just sprouting its terrible tentacles, the enemies were clear, wages and purchasing power weren’t stagnant, and flying wasn’t such a hassle.
So the song represents that the US misses the USSR as an adversary – the West could not and cannot live with or without the Soviets.
Fortunately, socialism can never die.
Unfortunately, the final music accompanying the spy couple’s return to Russia is simply a maudlin, European violin.
This is as artistically and emotionally unsatisfying as the West’s alleged “victory” over socialism. However, what choice did the writers have but phony sentimentality when they fundamentally are anti-socialist and pro-imperialist status quo?
When is the Iranian version getting broadcast?
I liked this series very much because it makes me think that: if the US can make a (semi) pro-socialist TV show 30 years after the fall of the USSR, perhaps a (semi) pro-Iranian Islamic revolution show is just 30 years away!
As of now, the archetypal TV/cinematic portrayal of modern Iran is not the Oscar-nominated Argo, but Hollywood’s 1991’s propaganda piece Not Without My Daughter. In the movie an Iranian man who tries to kidnap his daughter to Iran from his wife (Sally Field). This movie set the mould for all movies about Iran as well as all movies from Iran which receive Western praise and distribution: the plot must include tremendous oppression of women. Roger Ebert, America’s greatest and most popular movie critic ever, courageously wrote, “If a movie of such a vitriolic and spiteful nature were to be made in America about any other ethnic group, it would be denounced as racist and prejudiced.” But anything goes for Iran….
Yet “The Americans” shows that Hollywood does eventually let down their propaganda guard! Of course, the Islamic Republic of Iran learned from the Soviet implosion and will not suffer the same anti-socialist fate, but maybe in 30 years there will be a similar big-budget TV show in the US?
And so I propose: “The Christians”. Tentative broadcast date: 2048
In this TV series two Iranian Christian refugees (Why are they refugees when Christians are constitutionally represented and protected in Iran, and that Prophet Mohammad repeatedly confirms and upholds the Scriptures? No matter, this is Hollywood.) are actually secret spies for the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The series is set in Chicago, the home of the only Bahai church in North America, providing further subplots and a place where the “asylum-seeking” couple can work, applying the knowledge from their Iranian background.
The male spy, Fazlollah, is eventually disillusioned with Iranian Islamic Socialism and is won over by the corrupt and merciless “Chicago Way”: alternately rendered as “get them before they get you,” or, “If he pulls a knife, you pull a gun. If he sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue.” He renounces his political and religious faith, and becomes a Bahai.
Fazlollah’s wife is not pleased about this change -she wants nothing more than to come from a hard day’s work spying, kick off her shoes, and put on her burka (her ethnic heritage is Irani Afghan).
One child joins the University of Chicago and becomes a rabid neoliberal and disciple of Milton Friedman. The other willingly becomes an Iranian Islamic Socialist and works to subvert US banking sanctions by funnelling money from the Chicago Board of Trade to Iran via their Bitcoin futures contracts. Like Paige, both “abandon” their Iranian parents by cruelly moving into homes next door after each gets married around the age of 30.
Other plot lines can involve Catholic socialists in Latin America, and even Chinese socialists – the writers of “The Americans” surprisingly never found a way to include them.
The final twist is that the couple flees the US and returns to Iran, only to find that the IRI is so strong that they no longer care about a couple of sellout spies.
On second thought, maybe the US needs 60 years to produce such a show…90 tops.
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.
I apologise for all the typos. This was whipped out rather quickly.
It is “just TV” after all…but socialist must-see TV – a first!
So glad you brought this up. I enjoyed this show very much, and your analysis is spot on. This made me also think about another movie titled “Enemy at the gates”. This movie was bashed because the director dared to state the real history: “if not for Russia, we would’ve all gotten crashed by the Nazi boots”. Thank you
Ramin, interestingly enough, last weekend while visiting us, my son said that I might like this show.
I haven’t seen it yet, so I can’t comment on it. All he said was: “it is about Soviet sleeper agents”.
Actually, I think I said that I suspect that many of the “anti Russian” loudmouths in the US and the rest of the West could just be that.
Thanks for the review. When it first came out, the Amazon description made it sound like it was just another stupid hatchet job so I never watched it. Now I will.
When I first watched The Americans, it was somewhat shocking in that it had two KGB agents (Phillip and Elizabeth) as the protagonists.
While the TV show does go overboard in terms of showing Phillip and Elizabeth killing people at the drop of a hat (and the American FBIs are predictably portrayed as much more restrained in their killing), the show is certainly different in that the viewer is put in the shoes of Phillip and Elizabeth.
The show allows you to identify with Phillip and Elizabeth and can even root for them when they are chased by the bad guys (the American FBI or CIA).
I never watched it. When it came out more anti-Russian propaganda, and red baiting at that. Shows you that the NWO oligarchy was prepping the US people with anti=Russian propaganda before the Maidan occurred. A democrat Yankee friend of mine who liked the show was in a demo against Trump accusing Trump of being in bed with Russian Communists, He was astounded when I showed him a photo of Putin and Solzhenitsyn together and pointed out that Putin’s big opponent in 2012 had been the Communists. This show to Ramin may be an interesting period piece, but more anti-Russian propaganda for most Americans.
Ah, a show called ‘the Americans’ would not be complete without a review that begins with “I never watched it” and which then proceeds to bash it. Now that’s authentic Americans for ya.
Socialism or whatever, I took the opinions and attempted to watch this show, and I regret to say I found it utter rubbish like 99% of what constitues TV. Just more phony addictive artificiality with no merit I could find unless you go for unnaturality, fakery, phony trash. Like I walk down my street and there are hitmen running up and down the block, and young and old are engaged in basically pornographic acts of bestialuty, maybe so. I’m sure in that contest if it glorifies anarchist or socialists and you are stoked for a waste of whatever you have for constructive time on earth, go for it! All the best! And otherwise, truly, I respect Ramin’s thoughts!
I had no idea this show is worth watching, I had just assumed it would be ridiculous anti Russian propaganda. A flashy production of Boris and Natasha trying to get Moose and squirrel. Only not as funny.
“socialist critiques of American culture; of capitalism, imperialism, militarism, racism, individualism, etc.,”
Americans are fond of Orwellin renaming. This is from a dictionary:
1. the habit or principle of being independent and self-reliant.
2. a social theory favoring freedom of action for individuals over collective or state control.
If anything Americans are mentally the weakest sheeple on the planet and most disorganized, easy to manipulate by psychopaths/crony capitalists and are turned against each other more so than any other country I have seen . And most have never experienced freedom or democracy.
“..The government in Washington can, on suspicion alone without presentation to a court of evidence and conviction, confine US citizens indefinitely, torturing them the entire time, and can assassinate them at will without due process of law. This is the definition of a total police state tyranny. Yet Washington represents America as a “great democracy,” whose endless wars against humanity are “bringing democracy to the world.””
Paul Craig Roberts
Class exists big time in murka. generalization about americans are sorta flaky. Nevertheless is fair to say.
However many citizens understand that they are being mnipulated – there is however a net over them – is a police state, comrade. individualism exists, but is suspect, and necessarily secretive.
Motorcycle gangs, for example, (which are by nature private and somewhat secret, and sometimes even banal and inoffensive and harmless), are simply either coordinated by secret police, or destroyed. Read a few of the notations…start here: http://www.agingrebel.com/
Americans are easily the stupidest, most ignorant, most mindlessly conformist and second most belligerently arrogant (after Israel) population, on average, on Earth. The manner in which they are so easily manipulated by liars like Clinton, Trump and Obama is catastrophic.
The perfect “Elizabeth moment” had been a couple of episodes previous …… “But I don’t want to be like them!.
In the end, I got the impression that she rebelled more about being lied to from the people she had trusted than from listening to the Gorbachov negotiator speak favorably of disarmament. She’d been told from above that the man was a traitor, and it was discovering that he was not a traitor that seemed to spark her betrayal of what she’d been doing. It was the fact that she’d been lied to and manipulated in at least that instance by anti-Gorbachov superiors that seemed to get under her tough skin. Or, maybe that’s just me as an American hoping that Americans might someday get upset at constantly being lied to and manipulated.
In some ways, that was perfect about this show. Two determined Soviet agents, who come to America to be deep cover agents, find themselves in the setting of the years when America begins its own turn towards being a propaganda state desperately trying to maintain itself against a coming collapse. Morning in America, when freedom finally died, gasping for air after the morphine didn’t do the job, finally needing to be suffocated.
To this day I think Gorbachev got a bad rap. He was in a bad situation. Thing is, for a while everyone bought the propaganda that the Soviet Union was all bad in every way, and now people who dissent from the neoliberal lockstep have started concluding that since the propaganda says how terrible the Soviets were, and since the 90s were clearly far worse, that must mean the Soviet Union was totally hunky dory until Gorbachev came along.
But it wasn’t. It was seriously dysfunctional and something had to be done. If Gorbachev had tried to hold the Brezhnev/Andropov line he might have postponed the reckoning but it would have been even worse when it came. Reform that went beyond tinkering at the edges was direly needed. Gorbachev wanted to make big changes but he didn’t want to dismantle Communism entirely. He wanted to shake things up, decentralize, increase freedom and such, which would have been a good idea if he could have kept a handle on things. But he wasn’t strong enough, got turfed and the opportunists took over. Basically, Gorbachev is an intelligent man and meant very well, but he just didn’t have the political moxie to keep control. Very few would have, though, it was a really tough situation full of land mines on all sides. If Vladimir Putin or Mikhail Gorbachev could wave a magic wand and see their desired political/economic setup full blown in Russia, Gorbachev’s might well be more attractive. Putin, however, is a much more effective tactician and strategist. But that doesn’t make Gorbachev a bad person. He didn’t want things to work out how they did, he just failed to manage a very difficult situation.
I watched all of the episodes but am nowhere near as enamored of them. They “jumped the shark” almost immediately, and the bizarre plot lines just became more and more unbelievable as time went on.
But it was entertaining in a train wreck kind of way, and I enjoyed the development of the relationships, unlikely as they were. I give the show credit for showing Russians in a more positive light than the usual one-dimensional characters that we see in the movies. And they did explore some themes that are rarely touched on in US TV shows, albeit in a superficial and completely predictable way.
That this show is so much better than standard TV fare is more an indictment of the sad state of today’s television programming than a compliment to “The Americans”.
Werner Erhard’s EST training does still exist. In 1985 it was rebranded as “The Forum” and in 1991 it was brought under a corporate umbrella known as the “Landmark Forum”. By all accounts, it’s still the same cultish thing. Millions of people have been trained, according to their website.
Interesting Jerry. 30 years ago, I actually was encouraged to go to Landmark training by my boss at the time ( I ultimately fired him). I had been trained as a Zen monk and being of a generally skeptical nature, and having seen my own Zen community corrupted, I had my Bullsh*t detector on at full throttle. I participated in the discussions a lot, but at the end of the day, when one of my fellow students said, “Looks like you found your teacher”, I thought, “Hell no!”
In the final meeting, the “Leader” asked me what I thought, expecting me to give a glowing review. I just said it confirmed a lot of what I knew already, which was true, omitting the fact that it is based on an undercurrent of authoritarian cult manipulation.
One guy rose to challenge them, and he was systematically ground down to the point of intellectually and emotionally surrendering….it was really pathetic watching him. Which is why I didn’t challenge them directly myself. When dealing with trained psychopaths, choose your battles. Makes me appreciate Putin’s approach.
On leaving the auditorium, they demanded my email address. I finally had to grab the guy by the shirt front and shout, “I’m not interested! (all caps…Mod:)”. When they still called me by phone I had to threaten legal action to get them stop.
Yup, these Self Help Groups are cults. Scientology is also a cult. And–people may hate me for saying this–religious communities, even Buddhist ones which are supposed to encourage Enlightenment, have a groupthink cultish component.
As the Buddha’s last words stated, “Work out your own salvation”. (no one else can or will).
Unlike electrons, people clump. These stick to each other naturally. Is human quality.
Is exploited by institutions, as you say, and also by leaders, who, again, as you say, are sometimes…nuts or simply idiots fakes criminals….
I too was once introduced to EST…and thought it was TBS after a short time…minutes. Was in Frisco about 1970 I think…I’d entirely forgotten it till y’all brought it up.
Cut wood carry water…before enlightenment and after too…brings some Peace…build the health..
Clumps? I’m not innarested beyond a bit of symposia and have no wish to be led. However some clumps are compromise ok, like my union (where the clump” has written rules and non propagandized elections, and the money and the craft is the topic), like boys playing together in bands…part of humanity
People still watch pindo television without being forced by a court order and threats of jail time for contempt?
Just saw this, is Putin throwing Iran under the bus?
Alan, I thought about it and eventually concluded that it’s all fake news, even if spread by Lavrov. First of all, officially there are no Iranians in Syria, except for “advisors” embedded with SAA, as per Asad’s comment. Now Hezbollah has some units. Having said all that: Lavrov said “in the South Syria”. So, playing political games, you move them north, then you embed them in SAA, take any identifying markings off and the problem is gone.
Interestingly enough, this may also be a move to force American’s out of Syria. So, if this is what needs to be done so be it. Hezbollah now controls Lebanon, they can move back there. Iranian militia’s can go to Iraq, which means they can be back in in an instant. The only problem is our “friend” Sadr, who I believe just sold out to the Saudis.
The other thing to add, is that every time I hear some “credible” sources exclaiming: “Putin folded”, “Putin blinked”, “Putin sold out” etc, etc….time would go by, and I inevitably find out that the opposite, more often then not, is true.
really good article – so unusual – you are full of surprises – and I don’t even own a tv so I had no idea that this was a show…thanks for the info.
I stopped watching TV a long time ago.
Here’s a better example of an objective and thus positive evaluation of the Soviet system:
A book written by the US Commerce Dept in 1968, describing how the Soviet economy really works.
I suppose it looked negative in 1968, but it looks dramatically positive by comparison with this decade’s American system.
I was unaware of the show.. It sounds to me like it would bore me, and thus I appreciate the telling that Raman has presented. Thanks!
Logical Soviet system had defects. But Murkin system is/was insane. One functional example is that improvements in efficiency lead to increase in consumption (oil coal etc) thus technical improvements cause not less use, but more, and thus faster depletion and “necessity” of Imperial conquest of some sort…is dead end.
Managed economy shorts this defect and therefore benefits people more and longer. Viva managed economy!
The guy who noticed this wrote in the 19th century, in England, but I have forgotten his name just now.
I remembered name Jevons
Advantage SU economy is that “Jevons Paradox” may (may, not must) sidetrack Jevons.
see specific and consider implications
full book on su econ:
Can you verify the link, or perhaps post another one. This link doesn’t seem to work
Book on SU economy is tre cool!
Download all 400+ pages…
Wonderful! I always wanted to read on this topic.
Notice however that Stalin’s economic and Khrushchev’s were rather different.
For example, Stalin sought to tightly control key industries while caring little about others.
He sought to compete out private enterprises.
Khruschev was ideologic die hard, so he just banned them using police and courts.
The book was published in 1968, so i wonder which of economic models it extracted thei knowledge form mostly…
Thanks for mentioning this show as I never heard of it. I look forward to see how it was made.
The problem is Jewish international banksterism and the supremacist cult of Zionism. The European Empires were bankster funded; Marx and his brand of Communism were also banker funded to split up the genuine socialist and republican movements of the 19th Century. Any mainstream movement (i.e. one that is constantly in the Zionist-owned mainstream news) will be funded by an international bankster or be run by a pro-Zionist; from the Black Lives Matter movement to the right-wing nationalist groups in Europe, you will find Zionist banksters behind the scenes.
We’re all being chopped up into little social groups, all fighting each other instead of the bankers. That’s what modern communism and nationalism really mean. They’re controlled psyops. All lives matter; all nations and peoples matter. But once I start reading material promoting the old dialectic, “imperialism vs socialism”, “capitalism vs communism”, I know I’m in the presence of the old propaganda.
Marx wrote very interestingly and, in my opinion, insightfully on the nature of ‘Jewish’ behaviour and power. In truth, ‘Jewishness’ is not so much a religion, as Judaism is (if a bizarre one, in its own way)but more a modus operandi.
Off topic, however, please do not forget what happened in Lugansk, Ukraine (especially to Inna Kukurudza) on June 2, 2014. May she rest in peace…
For Inna: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flq0W4UzR00
“American children are culturally instructed to hate their parents and rebel at every opportunity.”
Not only that. Try watching and reading american-made media be it novels, movie, etc and it is full of mind-bending propaganda; glorifying broken families (single mother, single dad, etc), conflict between generations, LGBT promotion, ridiculing certain ethnic groups, etc.
Also, psychological normalization of diseases, especially among children. There was a movie few years ago called “Collateral Beauty”. Not a bad movie, but once the entertainment glasses are off, it is easy to see the programming goal; “Cancer among children is normal, get used to it”…”or and don’t forget to give all your money to the cancer research scum, so that we can keep producing cancer causing drags, to cure your cancer. “ In fact, as of recently, the only reason I would sit down to watch something, is to see what are they preparing our societies for.
You missed the opportunity to mention the hidden significance of the choice of U2’s “With or Without You”. Gary Powers U2 spy plane was shot down by a missile during the Cold War on 1 May 1960 while performing photographic aerial reconnaissance over Soviet territory. Powers escaped death by parachuting down, only to be arrested before being tried for espionage. The incident led to a a marked deterioration in U.S. relations with the Soviet Union, and probably played a part in leading to the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962. Or maybe you thought not best to mention it. I just decided, to hell with it, I might as well.
1. Wipe ’em out from planet Earth.
2. Poison all the seas, Air, & Soil.
3. Let them enjoy their fake democracy for the 1%.
I have just said.
Interesting factoid is that Oswald was part of the U2 spy operation in Japan.
Yes, this series is done in a way I would have never expected. Without knowing details, if someone told me that it was done in the US I would not believe it.
Here something from a different barrel that I was made aware of today,
Socialism is for losers and anti-Christians, George Soros is the main backer of socialist parties in the World, the far-right is the solution for the WEST
About 100 million Americans rely on food stamps….
If there is one positive from watching this TV show, it is to see Phillip and Elizabeth killing Americans left and right.
Watching FBI, CIA, police, or American military scum reap what they have sown is a Politically Incorrect virtue.
Wow. This easily one the best things ever produced for American television.
I mean they even portray the FBI (mostly) as the bumbling fools we know them to be. Now that’s Realism.
It was a very, very good show. The protagonists, the spy couple, are human. Over the course of the series the viewer becomes sympathetic towards them, their problems with their children in their most unique situation, and the struggle of their ideals versus their realities. This is very much like how the audience for The Sopranos, who were mostly repulsed by the gangsterism of Tony Soprano and his “families”, is ultimately a sympathetic figure to the audience. Considering how much of television and movies are devoted to “supermen” (where have I heard that one before?) versus pasteboard evil characters, serial killers et al, having actual human characters was a pleasant surprise. And like most good art, it is not dogmatic but allows for ambiguity.
I recommend it highly.
Minneapolis also has a Baha’i church and community: the Bahá’í Center of Minneapolis.
I may be mistaken, but I heard the Baha’i have one grand temple which serves as the main house of worship for each continent.
That’s why Chicago’s is formally called: “Bahá’í House of Worship for the North American Continent”.
I would imagine they have smaller, local churches.
FYI, their global house of worship is in Haifa, Israel, which is another reason why the Iranian government is so wary of them – obvious concerns of encouraging 5th columnists, spying, etc. inside Iran directed by Israel.