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Tomislav Sunic

Twin Brothers: Homo Sovieticus and Homo Americanus

America and the Soviet Union, while apparently standing at opposite sides of modern politics, are in fact deeply spiritually connected.

The following is an excerpt taken from Chapter 2 of Homo Americanus: Child of the Postmodern Age by Tomislav Sunic.

The more closely one studies American ideology, the better one can understand its relationship with other political beliefs, be they of a secular or religious nature. At first sight it may seem preposterous to draw parallels between Communism and Americanism, between Homo americanus and Homo sovieticus. Americanism, after all, in the second part of the twentieth century, drew a solid part of its world legitimacy from its firm anticommunist beliefs. Anticommunism was part and parcel of American foreign policy and hatred of Communism constituted a strong arsenal among American conservative elites and the great majority of American citizens. One could ridicule Americanism and its moralistic escapades regarding the real or alleged ‘red scare’, yet the fact remains that had it not been for America, had it not been for the massive American investment in the policy of containment, Communism, through its chief motor, the Soviet Union, would likely have become a reality of life for many people on earth. Surely, under such a scenario Communism under Soviet hegemony would be less sympathetic to consumerism and permissiveness, and less attractive to Third World immigration. Most likely the lifestyle of Americans and Europeans would be less individualistic and their personal values would remain more conservative. Yet it is hard to deny that the drabness of Communism and the machinery of its incarceration system would have left deadly traces on millions of its citizens.

Communism kills the body, in contrast to Americanism which kills the soul, but even the worst type of intellectual ‘soft-killing’ in the postmodern American system seems to the masses to be preferable to physical maltreatment or a violent communist death.

Therefore, ‘warm death’ in the entertainment-infested ideology of Americanism seems to be more attractive for the masses worldwide, regardless of its fatal consequences for the cultural and racial memory of every people on earth. Americanism, as a major promoter of ‘fun ideology’ has had no problems in disarming its opponents. Moreover, Americanism has had no difficulty in creating consensus if not outright complacency in postmodern world citizens, something unheard of in Communism. Its avoidance of physical terror, as well as its recurrence to therapeutic social programs, helped it secure lasting longevity. It is undeniable that the vast majority of people, had they been given a choice between Communism and Americanism, would have opted for the latter. European conservative critics of Americanism often forget that fact – firstly, because many never lived under Communism, and secondly because, most unhappily, the genocidal legacy of communist regimes has not been graphically depicted by the world media in the same proportions as has the legacy of fascism. There are, of course, citizens in every system who are born rebels and who do not easily fall into the dualistic trap of ‘the good America vs. the bad Soviet Union’ — or its contrary — but who rather search for a third social and political option. Yet in any given generation these individuals and heretics can be literally counted on the fingers of one hand. Certainly, Communism kills the body, in contrast to Americanism which kills the soul, but even the worst type of intellectual ‘soft-killing’ in the postmodern American system seems to the masses to be preferable to physical maltreatment or a violent communist death.

This chapter does not dispute the existence of such maltreatment or political executions. It only argues that both the American and the Soviet experiments were founded on the same principles of egalitarianism, however much their methods varied in name, time and place. It is certainly questionable how agreeable the world would be today had Soviet-style Communism won the political and intellectual contest during the Cold War. Probably the communized masses in a Soviet America would today be subject to the torrents of guilt regarding their real or alleged racist past, the displacement of American Indians, and the segregation of American blacks; and in addition, they would likely be forced to critically examine all facets of American foreign policy. Many former outspoken conservative patriots in America would probably be among the first to offer their service to the new communist ruling class, and would be among the most avid supporters of global Communism. The trait of intellectual fickleness has been common to Western history and this point does not require much elaboration. To limit ourselves to a single example, at the end of the Cold War, Eastern European communist officials did not hesitate for a second to embrace the new creed of Americanism and to pay lip service to American anticommunist slogans. These were the same people who had, only a few months earlier, lambasted American capitalism and sung odes to the glorious communist future.

It is undeniable that during the Cold War, American ideology had at least the advantage of partly revealing to the wider public the communist killing fields in Eastern Europe and Russia, notwithstanding the support the American elites themselves had once provided to the local Communists in setting up these same killing fields. In view of the sudden demise of Soviet-style Communism at the beginning of the 21st century, many American traditional conservatives find themselves out of a job. Their great nemesis, the very justification of their existence, the Soviet Union, is gone now for good with little chance of resurrection. Furthermore, American anticommunism has always had a superficial and self-defeating ideological core, rather in line with the Christian crusade against communist atheism, and with little or no focus on the egalitarian dynamics which underlie both Communism and Americanism.

After the demise of the Soviet Union, crypto-communist features which had lain dormant in Americanism, or which had been carefully hidden during the Cold War, suddenly began to emerge. This was to be expected in view of the fact that America, just like the ex-Soviet Union, has been legally anchored to the same egalitarian foundations. If the Soviet Union had only managed to achieve some type of an affluent society, as America had, very likely nobody in the postmodern world would have given a passing thought to the millions of citizens who perished in communist genocides. By the same token, if America had failed to achieve such surprising economic growth, it is questionable how many of its proponents and spokesmen would be preaching the American ideology today. Conversely, if one accepts the hypothesis that America has already achieved many communist goals, notably with the erection of its large multiracial universe, it is likely that less and less interest will be shown in the future in probing into the nature of the withering freedom of speech among Euro-Americans. Why examine freedom of speech if the legal foundations in America so authoritatively posit freedom of speech as something ‘self-evident’?

Aside from natural geopolitical frictions which arose during the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the USA, both systems pursued the same goal of creating ‘a new man’, a human being stripped of his cumbersome past and ready to enter the lala-land of a radiant egalitarian future. The once much acclaimed Japanese-American author Francis Fukuyama, who had proclaimed the ‘end of history’ and whose books once stirred much feigned interest in America and Europe, had nothing new to transmit to those who had lived under Communism and Americanism. Fukuyama’s palaver about the end of history was just the replica of a discourse once aired on all wave lengths in the old communist universe; namely that with Communism, history must have a stop. Similar discourse about the end of history has been a standard theme in America for the last two hundred years. Real historical time supposedly began in the Soviet Union in 1917 and in the USA in 1776. All other past events were and are still considered irrelevant at best, reactionary and barbaric at worst. Herein lies part of the drama of so many American elites who are unable to put themselves into historical perspective.

Indeed, this marks an important difference between Homo sovieticus and Homo americanus: the former Communist nomenklatura in the Soviet Union knew that it was living a historical lie; American elites seriously think that they live the historical truth. Yet history, as the events in post-Cold War Europe demonstrated, is always open, and the ‘problem is not that Americans do not have history; they do not wish to have one’, as de Benoist writes.1

Similar pessimistic remarks regarding the ‘end of history’ in America were once made by the revolutionary conservative European philosopher, Julius Evola, who writes that ‘the structure of history is cyclical, not evolutionary. It is far from being the case that most recent civilizations are necessarily superior. They may be in fact senile and decadent’. For Evola, this linear and senile mindset is typical of Americanism and its carrier Homo americanus, who ‘has neither spiritual dilemmas nor complications; he is a natural joiner and a conformist’.2 The parallel with Homo sovieticus in the ex-communist Eastern Europe and Russia appears obvious.

Regardless of its verbal anticommunist crusade, America, despite having rejected the outward signs of its former communist nemesis, has always resorted to the use of the same egalitarian principles; it has only given them a different name and veneer. It must be emphasized that political slogans and words have changed their meaning over the past decades, even though certain principles inherent in Communism had taken hold more properly in America than in the ex-Soviet Union. The American transmutations of those paleo-communistic virtues require from a postmodern observer a different form of conceptualization for which, unfortunately, words are still lacking. It is therefore wrong to assume that just because the communist Soviet Union disappeared, the major discourse about equality, accompanied by the chiliastic principle of hope, will also disappear. Quite the contrary. At the beginning of the third millennium, the immense egalitarian meta-narrative, encapsulated in Americanism, is very much alive and kicking, a fact which is particularly visible in America’s academia and mass media. The utopian belief in equality represents the last great hope for millions of non-European newcomers living in America.

To a detached observer, Communism had one distinct advantage over Americanism: its repressive character made it look appalling even in the eyes of its erstwhile supporters. There is ample historical evidence, both in Europe and America, showing how the most ardent communist believers eventually became the most ardent critics of Communism. Many of them, nonetheless, continue to think that Communism can be better implemented by ‘non-communist’ means, preferably in a country such as postmodern America.

As was seen in the ex-Soviet Union, very early on Communism started to breed enemies within its own body politic – both among its communized citizens and amidst communist party members. Consequently, and contrary to what occurred to the pampered masses in America, the grayness of Communism helped the citizens of Eastern Europe and Russia come to grips with an elementary political notion: the distinction between friend vs. foe. Thus, unlike Americans or Americanized West Europeans, citizens in Communism had the immense political privilege of knowing how to decipher the communist enemy and how to fool the communist enemy. As Communism began to wither away by the end of the 20th century, a myriad of communistic principles that had hitherto hovered only in the realm of theory took hold, more aggressively, in Western Europe and America. A large number of American left-leaning intellectuals seriously began to think that ‘true’ Communism could have a second chance, if it only assumed a humane mask, in America, and this by means of different forms of social engineering. Some European authors even observed that Communism died in the East because it had already been implemented in the West.3

As Communism began to wither away by the end of the 20th century, a myriad of communistic principles that had hitherto hovered only in the realm of theory took hold, more aggressively, in Western Europe and America.

After the end of the Cold War, and particularly after the shock caused by the terrorist attack on America on September 11, 2001, Homo americanus turned into a finite postmodern global species which, although originating in the USA, is thriving now in all parts of the world. He is no longer restricted to the territory of the United States or to a specific region of the world. He is an achieved global kind similar to his ex-twin brother, but also his ex-counterpart, Homo sovieticus, who has pitifully finished his historical journey. In contrast to the Soviet system, the American system proceeds with philo-communist social engineering more efficiently than the ex-Soviet Union and in a fashion more digestible to the Americanized masses. The breakdown of Communism in Eastern Europe played into the hands of American elites and helped them legally strengthen American ideology, both at home and abroad. The demise of Communism in the East gave further legitimacy to American-style Communism in the West. Alexander Zinoviev noted that ‘by idealizing the situation in the West, by exaggerating out of proportion Western abundance in their imaginations, ex-Soviet citizens transferred to the West the communist promise of a terrestrial paradise’.4 Admittedly, with its strong egalitarian substance, Americanism has so far been much more receptive to a reenactment of a new proto-communist utopia.

During the Cold War, Americans liked to contrast themselves to Russians and often self-righteously declared their system to be superior to the Soviet system. In most cases, this comparison was made in the realm of economic growth and standard of living. At that time, it was considered natural by many Americans to refer in a derogatory manner to the slothful Soviet citizen, while proudly pointing out how American affluence and high tech remained unsurpassed in the world. Curiously, few American experts on Communism looked into the hidden advantages of Soviet-style Communism, such as guaranteed economic security and psychological predictability that the Soviet version of Communism was better able to secure for its masses than the American system. During the Cold War, abstract principles of liberty, which American citizens liked to gloat about, were primarily associated with the country’s economic performance. At the same time, however, hardly anybody in the so-called free West thought it necessary to tackle the American psychology of proto-communist conformism and to critically examine the surprising communist-like sameness of Homo sovieticus and Homo americanus.

It was the author Zinoviev who coined the term Homo sovieticus for species living in a Soviet-style communist system, and having the communized mindset. This is a curious species of low integrity yet of phenomenal adaptability to all egalitarian experiments.5 Zinoviev’s understanding of communist psychology remains unsurpassed, all the more so as his description of communist psychology now facilitates a study of Homo americanus in postmodernity. Contrary to many other anticommunist dissidents, Zinoviev, after the breakdown of Communism, did not hesitate to critically examine Americanism and its human carriers, which explains why his analyses are still ignored by many.

In the contest with the Soviet Union, America poured millions of dollars into projects known by the names of Sovietology and Kremlinology; during the Cold War, America’s various governmental think tanks developed a host of abstract theories regarding the future behavior of Soviet citizens and the communist nomenklatura. The Soviet Union was portrayed by professional American anticommunists as a totalitarian hell in comparison to which democratic America shone as a bright city on the hill. During the Cold War, the official American endeavor to inquire into the Soviet mind was further facilitated by the oppressive political situation in Eastern Europe as well as the dream of many East European citizens to immigrate to America. Ironically, the average East European and Russian anticommunists also viewed America only through the prism of economic success, hardly paying attention to the flaws in the American system, including a well concealed American brand of thought control. Subconsciously, most Russians and East Europeans continued to remain ‘true communists’ in their mind and merely transferred their dream of a communist paradise to America. During the Cold War period, there were thus more true ‘Americans’ in Eastern Europe than in America itself!

In the wake of the breakdown of Soviet Communism, the American method of negative legitimization, that is, the invocation of the real or surreal communist threat, no longer sounds convincing. Needless to say, none of the American or Western experts could fathom the sudden demise of the Soviet Union, nor understand the root causes of the communist breakdown. Had they understood the origins of the collapse of Communism, American elites would have had to focus critically on the same paleo-communist impulses within their own system and within their own populace. But how could they ever carry out this process of introspection in view of the fact that Americanism preaches the same principles of equality and progress – so dear to both Homo americanus and Homo sovieticus? The paradox is that citizens during Soviet Communism never believed in the official communist version of their radiant future; they saw their radiant future palpable only in America – albeit under an anticommunist name.

It is fundamentally wrong to blame the communist party in the ex-Soviet Union or Eastern Europe as being the only culprit for communist mismanagement or state-sponsored terror. The communist party in the Soviet Union was the repository of an egalitarian ideology whose goal was not to further the interests of party members only, but to serve as the operating philosophical principle governing the social conduct of millions of its citizens.6 A parallel could be drawn with the Catholic Church in earlier centuries, an institution which not only was represented by the Pope and the clergy, but which also served as an organizational principle providing a pattern of social behavior for countless individuals, irrespective of their personal feelings toward Christian dogma. Likewise, Americanism has never been an administrative foundation of the American political system, nor has it been embedded solely within the members of political elites in Washington. Americanism, as a common denominator for perfect egalitarianism, transcends different lifestyles, different political affiliations, and different religious denominations.

Contrary to the assumption of liberal theorists, in communist societies the cleavage between people and party was almost nonexistent, since rank-and-file party members were recruited from all walks of life and not just from one specific social stratum.7 The same parallel could apply to the circulation of political elites in postmodern America. Inevitably, the logic of the Declaration of Independence and its egalitarian discourse had to give birth to a multiracial society and to the ever increasing demands of non-European newcomers for their share of the American dream. Many American conservatives and racialists wrongly assume that one can keep the legacy of the early founding fathers while simultaneously establishing a strict hierarchical society based on the racial merits of dominant white European Americans. Yet, the historical dynamics of Americanism have shown that this is not possible. Once the flood gates of egalitarianism open – however modest that opening may appear at the beginning – the logic of equality will gather momentum and will end up eventually in some protean form of proto-communist temptation.

References

1 Alain de Benoist, ‘L’Amérique’, in Critiques et Théoriques (Lausanne: L’Age d’Homme, 2002), p. 142.

2 Julius Evola’s article ‘‘Civiltà’ Americana’ (American ‘Civilization’) was first published in 1945 and reprinted in 1983 by the Julius Evola Foundation in Rome. For an excerpt, see the link here. See also Recognitions (Arktos Media: 2017), Chapter 22, ‘Faces and Mush’, in which Evola makes an apt comparison of the American and Soviet mindset. ‘Just as the Bolshevik-Marxist theory, the American expresses intolerance toward everything which has a character in man, an internal form, a quality which is its own and inimitable’, p. 170.

3 Augusto del Noce, ‘Le marxisme meurt à l’Est parce qu’il s’est réalisé à l’Ouest’, Krisis, No. 6, October 1990, pp. 124–129.

4 Alexander Zinoviev, La suprasociété globale (Lausanne: L’Age d’Homme, 2000), p. 73.

5 Alexander Zinoviev, Homo sovieticus (London: Victor Gollancz, LTD, 1985).

6 Alexander Zinoviev, The Reality of Communism (London: Victor Gollancz, 1984) p. 28 and passim.

7 There is an extensive number of books dealing with the psychology of Communism – more in France than in the USA. See my Against Democracy and Equality: The European New Right (1990 Los Angeles: Noontide Press, 2004), pp. 186–200. Also ‘Zinoviev’s Homo sovieticus’, in The World and I (June, 1989). Also Claude Polin, Le totalitarisme (Paris: PUF, 1982), p. 89. See finally Alain Besançon, Les Origines intellectuelles du léninisme (Paris: Calmann Lévy, 1977), p. 292.

This Post Has One Comment
  1. A very interesting analysis. After all, Noam Chomsky, in truth, hated the Soviet Communists as much as anyone. Of course, one has to dig deep into his books to see what he says about that Marxist regime. For a while, I feared that he was doing Psychological Warfare for the Soviets, especially considering how much he focused on all the evils done by the US, during The Cold War. Yet, on closer inspection, one comes to the firm realization that the reason he focused so much more on the US is simply because he lives in America.

    Had Noam Chomsky lived in the Soviet Union, he would have made much interesting commentary upon the activities of the KGB, and the like. Probably would have rubbed shoulders with Alexander Soljinitzin, and others. Something to ponder!

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