So it’s ironic that in the 25 years since the USSR went poof, and especially in the dozen-plus years since 9/11, the American right has increasingly adopted the style of the old Soviet Union, starting with theznachki. Reagan didn’t wear a flag lapel pin―not when debating Carter, not when debating Mondale, not when negotiating with Gorbachev. Outside the circus atmosphere of a political convention, virtually no one wore flag lapel pins back then. Nowadays they’re nearly compulsory in political circles and are a common enough sight on everyone from newsreaders to sportscasters to talk-show hosts: a society-wide assimilation of nationalist kitsch worthy of the USSR and, accordingly, so perfunctory as to have meaning only in absence.
.. “The strange thing is that this current indoctrination for democracy has very much the same tone―pious, priggish, groupy―that we objected to in the Stalinism of the popular-front period.”
.. Somehow, although Fox-type patriots deem the U.S. incapable of executing domestic postal duties without botching the job, Uncle Sam should be thought competent to superintend tortuous political, religious, and tribal complexities abroad. This forms part of an inverted political-emotional calculation whereby the degree to which you denigrate America as it actually exists becomes a measure of how much you love it in the abstract, and ceaselessly claiming that America doesn’t work in practice somehow lends credibility to the assertion that it could still work in theory.