Our Brezhnev, Our Pravda, Our Soviet Union. . .

Leonid Brezhnev led the former Soviet Union as General Secretary of the Communist Party until 1982. But like most Russian apparatchiks who excessively smoked, drank, and gained weight, he aged prematurely. Also like them, his disabilities never led to his abdication.

By Brezhnev’s late sixties and early seventies, he was too ill to travel abroad or make public appearances. Indeed, his debility left the Soviet Union without a real leader for the final six or seven years of his tenure.

Brezhnev got away with it because the Soviet state-controlled media doctored photos and videos to attest to his supposedly vigorous health and constant hands-on involvement.

“Journalists” sent out false communiques. They spun narratives that Brezhnev was robust, hale, and working long hours on behalf of the Russian people. Any dissenting journalists who sought to report the true, sad state of affairs were in danger of losing their jobs, freedom—or even their lives.

Instead, the “reporters” of Pravda (“Truth”), the official print megaphone of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, wrote lies about Brezhnev’s busy workdays. Pravda’s handlers spun fables about the respect (and fear) the rest of the world held for such a dynamic leader—even as Brezhnev became an ill virtual recluse.

The cynical Russian people shrugged because they had long been accustomed to their lying media and the falsehoods they peddled. And besides, Brezhnev was a doctrinaire Stalinist communist. So his job was not to rock the boat or upset the Russian communist hierarchy.

Instead, he reigned over the penultimate Soviet “era of stagnation,” while an ossified communism increasingly destroyed all incentives and hope, leaving the Russian people poor, cynical, and helpless.

Something similar has happened to a calcified America under President Joe Biden. Like the late-stage Leonid Brezhnev, Biden is now a president in name only. He has outsourced his administration to a vestigial hard-left apparat from the Obama years.

Now, Biden can no longer even perform his assigned ceremonial tasks of putting a moderate veneer on radical, nihilist agendas that are stagnating the country.

Yet our Pravda journalists have sworn to the American people that, in private, the reclusive, three-day-a-week Biden outpaces the energy and drive of those half his age. Obsequious staffers plant stories in the Soviet-like ears of reporters about Biden’s singular dynamism.

Any dissenters are publicly demonized as peddlers of “cheap fakes.”

When Biden’s reclusiveness prompts too much gossip that he is near senile, he is wheeled out for a staged interview that must be edited before release. Or he answers questions secretly shown to him in advance.

On sporadic occasions where the state media and the Biden nomenklatura cannot control events—such as rare presidential debates or international summits—our Pravda media go into overdrive to convince the public that what they see and hear is not real.

In the end, Brezhnev could not even hobble to the May Day dais to celebrate communism’s national holiday.

He soon reached the point that his debilities were so manifest that even his hirelings and the media could not hide them. He then vanished from public view, leaving the Russian people with no idea as to who was running their communist nation.

Then one day, Soviet propagandists announced suddenly but matter-of-factly that the dynamic Brezhnev had died and that his successor, Yuri Andropov, was now brilliantly running the Soviet Union.

Biden, too, is at that point of stasis. He cannot do press conferences, town halls, debates, or real interviews. To do so would confirm to the public the truth: that Biden is too cognitively challenged to continue his presidency.

And yet the cloistered Biden can no longer hide during a campaign season with his accustomed three-day workweek.

The media has done its best to continue its Orwellian ruse. They claim that Trump interrupted Biden (he did not) in the recent debate and that he lied (if so, not as much as did Biden). Sometimes, the press corps just blurts out that an inert, left-wing Biden is still preferable to a dynamic, conservative Trump.

What is next for our increasingly Soviet state?

We will continue to be lectured on the vigor of Biden—until one day we aren’t, when Biden either steps down—or worse.

Then, our Pravda will likely present the new official narrative. They will convince us that his successor, Vice President Kamala Harris, is an underappreciated genius whose past portfolios led to solving the border crisis and renewing American dominance in space.

One day, the same reporters who swore Biden was a virtual Socrates behind closed doors and then suddenly just confessed he was not when their lies were no longer operative will sing the praises of our new comrade leader—the brilliant, accomplished, eloquent, and articulate Kamala Harris.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004, and is the 2023 Giles O'Malley Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush, and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson is also a farmer (growing almonds on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author of the just released New York Times best seller, The End of Everything: How Wars Descend into Annihilation, published by Basic Books on May 7, 2024, as well as the recent  The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, The Case for Trump, and The Dying Citizen.

Photo: (GERMANY OUT) *19.12.1906-10.11.1982+Politiker, UdSSR; Generalsekretär des ZK der KPdSU 1964-82Staatschef 1977-82- am Schreibtisch seines Arbeitszimmers im Kreml- 1981 (Photo by Twin-Press/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Notable Replies

  1. Avatar for task task says:

    They will never get away with additional lies. Their Pravda have already defected and they cannot put what they spilled back into the bottle. Furthermore, the DOJ 's J6 cases are dead. And that means that the Intel Bureaucrats will determine the election outcome more than all of the other issues combined. Their very lives depend on it.

    The J6 defendants are more than innocent of the 1512 (c)(2) indictments. The government knew they were innocent and deliberately sidestepped traditional interpretation of such laws for the sole purpose of silencing speech using this unambiguous law to intimidate by prosecution and incarceration. Is this any way to run the American government? Does anyone believe that the very people, appointed to apply the law equally and fairly, who, instead, knowingly robbed innocent Americans of their freedoms and lives do not deserve to be prosecuted?

    Should Donald Trump regain the presidency he was denied in 2020 it will be understood that those appointed and entrusted to uphold the law and who deliberately did the opposite will deserve the severest of all punishments. These perpetrators are worried about revenge. That is not what the election is about. It is about the restoration of justice… of crime and punishment.

    However, consider the awareness that the Deep State now has of their future fate. Do not expect our Brezhnev, Pravda and Party Apparatchiks to go quietly. They will do whatever they deem necessary to snatch their just punishments from the jaws of justice.

  2. The Soviet Empire cratered because the mountain of lies could no longer sustain reality. How much longer till our empire implodes due to the relentless, non-stop gaslighting from all our institutions?

    “You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.” ~ Ayn Rand

  3. While VDH starkly paints the parallels between the 70’s era USSR and the current US leadership, I think he misses one point-- no matter how far the US has fallen, we are not the USSR…yet. Unlike the Soviet citizens of yore, we are not confined to one source of news where you can glean more information from what is not said than by what is reported.

    Don’t misunderstand me, that is exactly the way I approach legacy media and it is a valid coping mechanism for the steady stream of misinformation and gaslighting served up by mainstream outlets. But there are many alternatives, given the number of podcast and independent journalist that have sprung up in roughly the last decade. There is a certain irony that one of the few bright spots in the existence of social media is that they actually delivered on the free-flow of information that they promised & are desperate to put that genie back in the bottle–as long as it conflicts with the preferred narrative.

    The other thing not addressed in this article is the number of willfully ignorant people that live in this country. They will ignore the obvious & turn a blind eye to any uncomfortable reality that threatens their complacency. Any individual who claims it is better to have Biden in office than Trump falls in this category, along with the majority of Democrat voters. But, seriously, folks – you can’t fix stupid.

  4. Avatar for task task says:

    And the people are not as poor as they were in the USSR. That government was supposed to destroy capitalism so as to eliminate the proletariat. What happened? They created more poor people who were even poorer. It took Lenin to figure out how to destroy a free competitive market. He needed one generation to indoctrinate. We gave our Apparatchiks the Department of Education now run by public sector unions. Or should I say they gave it to us?

  5. Message to my pal Barack: How come you didn’t make sure that Biden was only signed up for one term, old chap? It’s not as if you didn’t know the guy was already geriatric back in 2020.

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