Ed Driscoll

Welcome to Soviet Disneyland

Matthew Davis of Flak Magazine looks at a 578-acre park in northwest Moscow known by its Russian initials, VDNKh:

It houses more than 80 pavilions and monuments originally designed to showcase the achievements of the USSR. Each one is devoted to a specific aspect of the Soviet Union: agriculture, economics, science, industry and hunting, to name a few. And of course, there’s the cosmonaut pavilion.

The place is a theme park of ideology, a carnival of communism. VDNKh was designed solely to boost the glory of the State. Welcome to Soviet Disneyland.

VDNKh is lined with once-grand boulevards, fountains and statues, all adorned with the icons of communism. When Stalin had it built in 1939, it was open to all Russians as a kind of state-approved Soviet world’s fair. Visitors would flock to the site for a day and be duly dazzled by the all-providing power of the State. Then they’d go line up for bread.

The years following the Empire’s collapse saw a knee-jerk purge of all things Soviet [that’s knee-jerk liberalism of the very best kind–Ed] from public spaces: streets were renamed, commemorative plaques were defaced, and hundreds of statues were torn down. Indeed, VNDKh is one of the few bastions of the Soviet State left that generations too young to remember the Empire can visit.

Omniously, Davis writes that with its economy sputtering, there’s a growing nostalgia in Russia for its Soviet past:

According to French journalist Jean-Marie Chauvier, Russians are jaded by the fact that most are worse off now then they were under communism, as the country is now run by a core of private oligarchs. Neo-Communist political parties have repeatedly tried to pounce on this. Glossing over the gulags, censorship and bread lines of the old system, they call for a return to the guaranteed security of Communist days. More and more people are listening.

They should pretty happy with Vladimir Putin then–under his leadership, Russia is now considered “Not Free” by the American-based Freedom House institute. It appears a growing number of Russians would like him to finish the job.