Since the collapse of the USSR, the central complaint of the people of Russia  (but not of other Soviet republics that I know of) was “Nobody fears us any longer!”

I can’t tell you how many times I heard or read this phrase in discussions of whether the end of the USSR was a good thing.

“We can now travel! And buy anything we want! And read all the books we like!”

“Yes, but nobody is afraid of us any longer!”

“We can start businesses! Be in control of our lives! Listen to music! Express ourselves freely! Use contraception! Buy tampons!”

“Yes, but who cares about all that if NOBODY FEARS US ANY LONGER!!!”

Today, the people of Russia are happy because although the economy is in the toilet, they can’t express themselves freely, contraception is under attack, and traveling or starting a business is more and more out of reach, Russians feel feared by the world, and that’s somehow more important. Why this is so crucial to them is a total mystery to me. I mean, it’s fun to be feared but how much of your economic well-being would you give up for that?

11 thoughts on “Feared

  1. β€œYes, but who cares about all that if NOBODY FEARS US ANY LONGER!!!”
    People really really want to stay in what’s comfortable and familiar? Maybe being feared was central to the pan-national identity of the USSR? I don’t know?


  2. When I think of other countries in Europe (a mistake, maybe) I think it’s all about wanting respect.

    Russians equate respect with fear because they’ve almost always feared their leaders (with good reason) and it seems (maybe reaching here) that almost all hierarchical relationships in Russia are based on establishing and maintaining fear.

    A tad facile, but at the country level an awful lot of otherwise baffling behavior can be explained by the search for (localized versions of) respect.


    1. It’s fear and size. They are also fixated on the country’s size. Even though each one of them would be overjoyed to live in the tiny prosperous Switzerland.


      1. Actually Kasich and (now departed) Lindsey Graham were the two most experienced, intelligent, and moderate of the Republican candidates — it’s a shame neither had any chance of getting the nomination.

        As for the candidates left, you know the old saying: “Any sport in a storm.”


  3. I had a Russian house guest a few years ago, a temporary colleague. She was marvellous. Mozart for dinner and potatoes. Tanya could prepare potatoes a hundred ways. She had been a guest scientist all over the world and had interesting comments: Denmark and candles! But she told me something that surprised me. She could not understand how we could live in a place where people had different origins and be happy. What a fine woman. I hope you’re well.


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