Saturday, September 25, 2021

Back in the U.S.S.R.

I was looking through the cartoons I drew 30 Septembers ago to see if there were any that were worth a Saturday History Tour for today. There was so much in the news just then: 

  • the U.S. Senate was considering Clarence Thomas's appointment to the Supreme Court; 
  • the George H.W. Bush administration continued granting China "most favored nation" trading status in spite of the Tiananmen Square massacre in June; 
  • the possibility arose that our war with Iraq might not be over after all; 
  • and the U.S.S.R. was dealing with the aftermath of the attempted coup in August by Soviet hardliners against President Mikhail Gorbachev.

But I've already re-posted in This Humble Blog just about every cartoon I drew that month — in most cases, just five years ago. It hardly seems right to dredge them up again, unless I can find something new to say about any of them.

in UW-M Post, Milwaukee WI, Sept. 9, 1991
 
This 30-year anniversary, however, the attempted coup in the Soviet Union can be considered in light of the attempted coup here in the States last January 6.

Perestroika and glasnost notwithstanding, the U.S.S.R. was still a single-party dictatorship — albeit only for the next few months — so President Gorbachev (and more to the point, Boris Yeltsin, President of the Russian Soviet Federalist Socialist Republic) was still able quickly to purge the politburo of coup supporters. We're not talking about a Stalinesque purge here, but the likes of Josh Hawley or Lauren Boebert would certainly not have continued in office.

And nobody, by the way, mistook the coup conspirators for a bunch of tourists.

By the time I drew my cartoon, Gorbachev had resigned from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. had suspended all party activities.

But by the end of the decade, Yeltsin handed power over to a former KGB agent named Vladimir Putin, who has since then adopted a style and ironfistedness of power of which the 1991 coup plotters would certainly have approved.

You might want to keep that in mind if you thought that January 6 will remain a thing of the past.

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