As the Generations Churn: The Strategic Consequences of Cultural Change in Communist Russia… and China?

Vladislav M. Zubok’s A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War From Stalin to Gorbachev is a surprising counterpart to my essay, “Culture Wars are Long Wars.” That essay proposed a general theory of cultural change. Key to its thesis was the observation that most cultural change does not occur because people change their ideas, but because people with new ideas replace people with old ones. As most people form their essential political worldview by the time they are 30 and only adapt it on the edges to new circumstances, only the most earth shaking events have the power to fundamentally shift the frameworks and values that the majority filter their politics through. Large scale cultural shift is largely a story of generational churn.

While the focus of that piece was on American domestic politics, this is a general phenomena that applies across cultures and time periods. Vladislav Zubok understands this. The generational nature of political change is a recurring theme of Failed Empire, which chronicles the ups and downs of Soviet diplomacy from the end of World War II to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. While we often describe Soviet history in terms of the leader reigning at the top of the system, Zubok argues that shifts in Soviet strategic behavior reflected not only the differing leadership styles of the various CPSU General Secretaries, but broader transitions from one generation of leaders to another.

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Bootstrapping Marx With the Peasant Masses

One of the great ironies of 20th century history: Marxist revolutionaries could only ever  seize power in the wrong countries. Marx imagined a revolution of industrial proletariat; he expected that this proletariat would at first achieve its aims in highly industrialized nations like England and Germany. His theory of socialism presupposed that a successful transition […]

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Are You Prepared For November 9th?

We rush towards disaster and greet it with a smirk.I sketched out what this disaster might look like when Bloomberg broke the story of Andrés Sepúlveda, a man who claims to have help hack elections in Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Venezuela, this spring: Andrés Sepúlveda is a challenge […]

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“The Russian Strategy for Empire”

“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be.” – Ecclesiastes 1:9  [1] Over the last few weeks the sections of the blogosphere which I frequent have been filled with predictions, advice, summaries of, and idle chatter about the situation in Ukraine and Crimea.  I have refrained from commenting on these events for […]

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Afghansistan 2050: Futures That Will Not Be

The following is my contribution to the Afghanistan 2050 Roundtable hosted by the proprietors of ChicagoBoyz. The opening post of the roundtable – which explains its purpose and methods – can be found here. My piece is cross-posted at ChicagoBoyz with the rest of the submissions. The great challenge with interpreting the future is that […]

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Notes From All Over 10/05/2010

A collection of articles, essays, and blog post of merit.  A lot of good material has been published this week. I am a bit on the busy side, so the usual long winded responses will be replaced in favor of one-sentence summaries. THE REPUBLIC How Trillion Dollar Deficits Were Created New York Times. 9 June […]

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Notes From All Over (13/04/09)

A collection of articles, essays, and blog post of merit. THE REPUBLIC America, the Land of Limited Opportunity. We Must Open Our Eyes to the Truth. “Fabius Maximus”. Fabius Maximus. 31 March 2010. Fabius Maximus points to a painful truth: increasing inequality of income and declining social mobility is tearing our America apart at the […]

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Breaking Down START

Earlier this week Sublime Oblivion linked to a smart quantitative breakdown posted over at the Russian Strategic Forces Blog concerning the new START treaty.  Included was this useful table: RUSSIA July 2009 Old START 2010Actualoperationally deployed launches (total launchers) ca. 2020New STARToperationally deployed launchers (total launchers)[estimate] ca. 2020New START warheads[estimate] ICBMs SS-25 176 171 SS-27 […]

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An Update on the Poland Missile Shield Kerfuffle

Earlier this month I wrote an in depth summary and analysis of the U.S.-Eastern European missile shield kerfuffle. Recent events require me to write a short update to that post. These recent events are adequately summarized in an excerpt from last week’s news: Poland to Accept New US Missile Defense ShieldAFP. 17 October 2009. WARSAW […]

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The Missile Shield – Why We Planned It, Why We Scrapped It, and Why It Matters

The security blogosphere is buzzing with talk of the Obama administration’s decision to scrap planned missile defense architecture in Eastern Europe. The majority of commentators have been content to play the role of cheerleader, offering no substantial analysis of the reasoning behind this decision or the diplomatic consequences of its implementation. As I read the […]

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