The Cynical Phase, by the Zman

Optimism is giving way to its opposite—cynicism. From the Zman at theburningplatform.com:

The Soviet Union, like all radical experiments, went through several phases in its roughly three generations of existence. The first phase, of course, was the revolution, in which the old order was toppled and a battle ensued to fill the void. This initial phase of revolution is always the one that attracts the most attention. This is when the great heroes of the revolution and the great villains of it are made. It is in this phase we get both Lenin and Stalin, hero and villain.

There is a phase that gets little attention and that is when the people come to terms with the irrationality of the world that has been created for them. One reason Stalin was able to send so many to their deaths or to labor camps is so many people kept thinking there was some rationality to the world being created. Some remained idealistic believers in the cause, while others became critics of the cause. They assumed the revolution would bring clarity and rationality when it brought only the opposite.

In time, the people came to terms with this. The humor of the Soviet Union reflected the fact that one got along by accepting the irrational in the same way you accept that the grass is green or the sky is blue. You don’t think about it. The jokes were often about these daily contradictions and how the unfortunate were those who did not get the joke that was at the heart of those contradictions. In other words, the joke was always on the fool who was not cynical enough to anticipate the lie.

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