May 6, 2018: On the Eve of Putin’s Fourth Term

Moscow is like one big monument to the past.  It is full of hammers and sickles, and grand, imposing Soviet-era statues.  The so-called Seven Sisters – Stalin-era skyscrapers that were supposed to make Moscow look like the capital of a modern superpower – now look dated.  They haunt the city’s skyline like testaments to a world that might have been…  Imagine what the world would have been like had the USSR poured its resources into further developing that unique form of architecture, instead of a generation or so of nuclear and missile development…  Instead of a generation of backing satellite regimes and leftist revolutionaries the world over.

With reference to all of that Cold War stuff, I could write the same things about my own country…  What if the United States had declined to pursue those same provocative actions?  What if instead we had looked inward and gotten serious about, say, a War on Poverty?

Well, the world would be a different place in so many ways…  Not the least of which is that this mini-Cold War we are now reliving – typified by election hacking and assassinations by nerve toxins – would likely be the stuff of fiction instead of fact.

And Vladimir Putin, whose fourth inauguration is tomorrow, would probably be an anonymous government functionary in some modified, but still socialist USSR.

It is a strange coincidence that I am in Moscow for this moment.  I’m here to commemorate Victory Day – May 9 – the anniversary of the surrender of Nazi Germany to the Allied Powers at the end of World War II.  What we used to call V-E Day.  The last moment where the United States and Russia could plausibly claim to be standing shoulder-to-shoulder on anything.

On May 6, as I was landing at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport, more than a thousand anti-Putin demonstrators were arrested for protesting against Putin’s impending inauguration.  They see him as corrupt – as a man who has held on to office in part by preventing free and open elections in his own country.  By encouraging the same thing in mine.

Putin is a man who has learned from history.

Competition, not collaboration, was the story of the Twentieth Century.  And that winners don’t need to play fair, because they can retell the story of their triumph anyway they please.

More missiles mean more security.

More guns mean more safety.

Poverty isn’t a social problem, it is a personal one.

Why am I in Russia this week?

Because I’m trying to remember that fleeting moment when collaboration was necessary for survival – when both Russia and the United States found themselves with their back to each other, fighting for their very existence.

I wonder how dire things must get in our present before we can see each other in that light once more.

More funky, dated skyscrapers more 1945 and all of the missed potential it carried…  Less missiles, less stolen elections, less climate change, less 2018.

Live from Moscow

May 9 marks the 73rd anniversary of Victory Day, the surrender of Nazi Germany to the Allied powers.  A mere footnote in much of the West, it is a grand national holiday in modern Russia.

All next week, Open Ended Social Studies founder Thomas Kenning will be coming to you live from Moscow.

Check this page for daily posts covering the festivities.

Follow Openendedsocialstudies on Instagram to get the whole picture.

Teach your students about who beat the Nazis and how.

Upcoming Research Expeditions

Openendedsocialstudies.org is pleased to announce that Thomas Kenning, founder and chief creative officer, will be undertaking several research expeditions in the coming months, all with the aim of producing new content and resources for this site.

In May, Mr. Kenning will be traveling to Moscow to participate in the annual Victory Day celebration. While there, he will be gathering information for further lessons in our proposed open source Russia textbook.

In June, Mr. Kenning will be in residence in the Philippines, developing a new curriculum unit on this fascinating syncretic culture.

Also in June, Mr. Kenning has scheduled a working trip to Tokyo with the aim of realizing long gestating plans for several lessons on the history and culture of Japan.

Finally, in July, Mr. Kenning returns to Cuba to complete work on new lessons documenting that nation’s colonial past.

Summer is traditionally the season that sees the most research and development at Openendedsocialstudies.org, and this is turning out to be one of our most exciting seasons yet!

 

 

There’s more to Russia than what’s in the news

Continue reading “There’s more to Russia than what’s in the news”

Russia: Revolution and Beyond

 

Continue reading “Russia: Revolution and Beyond”

Victory Day: How The Soviet Union Beat the Nazis and Why You Didn’t Know It

 

Continue reading “Victory Day: How The Soviet Union Beat the Nazis and Why You Didn’t Know It”

Reform and Resistance: The Cuban Revolution Part II

“They talk about the failure of socialism, but where is the success of capitalism in Africa, Asia, and Latin America?” – Fidel Castro

This lesson was reported from:
Adapted in part from open sources.

Continue reading “Reform and Resistance: The Cuban Revolution Part II”