Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

The Flip Side of Red Dawn

August 24th, 2012 · 6 Comments

Our eternal gratitude to whoever posted the full text of What to Do When the Russians Come, one of great artifacts of Cold War literature. The book assumes that the Wolverines did not, in fact, fend off the Soviet invasion, and so us poor subjugated Americans are left to make the best of a dreadful Stalinist situation. The authors’ advice, which tends toward the bizarrely practical, includes this fantastic tidbit about how to retain some basic creature comforts:

There usually comes a time in any Soviet occupation, usually in the early stages, when most people who own valuable furniture have to sell it off for food or fuel. You should look over your household effects in good time with a view to such an eventuality. Acquire a few more chairs than you need. Choose them in a style that will appeal to the taste of the new rich class of Communist bureaucrats: ornate, pretentious, with some claim to being heirlooms handed down from members of the French aristocracy (or whatever story seems plausible). The proceeds of such a sale may keep you going for weeks or months and may also give you a useful connection with members of the new elite.

Also, just because you are now living under the heel of Soviet oppression doesn’t give you an excuse to let your living quarters go totally to seed:

A good set of ladders (padlocked) will be useful as well as several sheets of glass. It is demoralizing to have to live in a house whose windows are broken or boarded up with plywood or cardboard, and being able to mend your smashed windows will give you a small psychological lift. On the other hand, it will not be advisable to paint the exterior of your house or lavish too much care and attention on it. See that it is sound-and-water-proof, but otherwise foster a discreet shabbiness. You won’t want your house to stand out. Begin to cultivate early the art of keeping a low profile.

On a personal note, this would be a tough pill to swallow:

If you are a political columnist or commentator, or have otherwise become known for ideas antipathetic to the Communist view, you will have little chance of remaining at liberty. Anyhow, you will have no future in journalism. If the offense you have committed is judged to be minor, you might be able to secure some sort of job in the bureaucracy. We would suggest that you acquire some appropriate skill such as bookkeeping.

A bookkeeper in the dictatorship of the proletariat—tough to imagine that might have been my fate if Yuri Andropov had sent his forces across the Bering Strait.

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6 Comments so far ↓

  • scottstev

    I knew something was fishy when they had series of premieres up and die off between Andropov and Gorbachev.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    Konstantin Chernenko, we hardly knew ye.

  • scottstev

    Should have wiki’d before I commented. There was only Chernenko, but he was very brief before Gorby.

  • Gramsci

    Wow. I’ve never been the biggest Robert Conquest fan, but this really knocks him down another peg or two in my estimation. The likes of Christopher Hitchens always spoke of him as the apotheosis of sober, serious, civilization-spanning analysis. Instead we get “What to Expect When You’re Expecting the Reds?”

    Even with the tongue-in-cheek “Just sayin’” tone, it really is a pathetic Cold War appeal. OK, Ronnie, we’ll let you waste all that money on SDI, just don’t make us have to sell our furniture for fuel!!

  • floyd

    So, did the soviets ever write books about what would happen if america invaded them?

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Gramsci: Ah, but that magnificent name–”Robert Conquest.” Like the Lexington Steele of pseudo-serious intellectuals.

    @floyd: Excellent question. I shall endeavor to find out, though my lack of Russian skills will vastly complicate the effort.

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