Nov 18, 2010
It was a very provocative title, Will the Soviet Union Survive until 1984. Written in 1970 by a soviet dissident, Andrei Alekseevich Amalrik, who was convinced that the Soviet Union despite its apparent stability, was about collapse, ripped apart by social and ethnic antagonisms. And while Amalrik did not live to see his prophecy came true, he wasn’t far off, less than a decade in fact.
Of course, today a very different Russia and a host of other nations exist where the once ever so proud Soviet Union stood. While the thought that the good U.S. of A. might be moving in a similar direction seems absurd. Though back in 1970, Amalrik’s provocative title seemed equally far fetched, dismissed outright by soviet analysts and dissidents alike.
But, lately I have come to think that maybe its time for a sequel. Perhaps as a working titled Will the United States survive till 2024. Sure today’s America, seems infinitely more stable than the old Soviet Union. But having wondered around the USSR in its last decade And living in America today it’s hard not to speculate on whether we too have arrived at that moment when another prophecy about another superpower going belly up might be appropriate.
After all, when I visited the Soviet Union in its last years what struck me most was how few people still held any faith in the system. And how far behind the USSR had become technologically — both features that inspire a depressing déjà vu in America today.
I mean, here we are moving at warp speed into a world driven by forces from the end of affordable petroleum to the need to reduce our carbon footprint to stave off catastrophic climate change. And can you believe it! Our new Midwestern Republican governors are shutting down high speed rail projects.
Yes, killing off the hope of affordable travel alternatives in the future while denying us the jobs we need right now to pull us out of today’s jobless economic recovery. Actually cutting these federally funded and absolutely vital public transportation projects even as most of their fellow conservatives remain innocent of the most basic facts of climate science and all those increasingly obvious signs all around us that the era of dramatic climate change has already begun.
Indeed, given that every month since January has broken global heat records our new Republican House of Representatives, filled as it will be by those still in denial about the dangerous of radical climate change will most likely be officially sworn in this January even as 2010 is being proclaimed as the hottest year in modern recorded history.
Prompting the question, how could such dysfunctional rationally prevail in an America that has accomplished so much over the generations but has now devolved into these Disunited States of America?
Well, there is certainly one obvious contributor to the problem, our ubiquitous 24 hour cable news networks that as Jon Stewart keeps reminding us have exaggerated our differences in their ratings driven echo chambers. Promoting voices so shrill that they have made us forget that those issues that divide us are as nothing compared to those broader values and aspirations that unify us. All the product of an obsessive news cycle that has radicalized our politics, making it almost impossible for our politicians to accomplish anything.
No, if one spends an evening jumping back and forth between FOX and MSNBC it is hard to remember that anything still exists of the America that once allowed us to accomplish common goals. All the while an increasingly powerful segment of society has become so suspicious of science that we are denying ourselves its insights, from knowledge of global warming to the importance of immunizations.
Not only making us less safe as a society but weakening our ability to nurture those future scientists who are so vital to America’s continuing success in the 21st century globalized world economy and forcing me to seriously consider that sequel to Amalrik’s work
Will The United States Survive till 2024