Fun fact, besides being the brilliant and incredibly important voice behind “The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin” and some essential New York Review of Books essays about surviving an autocratic regime, she’s also the Russian translator for the FX series The Americans.
Her latest OpEd in the NY Times (Trump’s Incompetence Won’t Save Our Democracy) asserts another essential truth, that the fact that Donald Trump and his ilk are incompetent and ignorant doesn’t save us, in fact the great monsters generally are mythologized as brilliant and evil when they’re actually evil dullards with no moral centering or political convictions, they just want to win and destroy their enemies.
“We imagine the villains of history as cunning strategists, brilliant masterminds of horror. This happens because we learn about them from history books, which weave narratives that retrospectively imbue events with logic, making them seem predetermined…. If a historical event caused shocking destruction, then the person behind this event must have been a correspondingly giant monster.”
But Hitler and Stalin were not 1st class intellects, Putin is as egocentric and poorly educated as Trump. It’s purely power that motivates them and shame on anybody that gives them some.
It’s an insistence on simplicity, fact-free, brutal simplicity that unites the worst leaders of history and, moreover, invites the worst type of violent, stupid, hate filled gangster followers.