An American's Odyssey in Soviet Russia: Will We Heed His Warning?

After I wrote the article titled "The Soviet Plan for 'Ideological Subversion' Describes Our Current Turmoil," Charles Cole, author of In Russian Wonderland: An American's Odyssey in Soviet Russia, contacted me.  His memoir recounts his time in 1972 as a Russian-speaking American "guide" in various Soviet cities where the "Research and Development in the USA" exhibit was on display. 

He chronicles the lives of average Soviet citizens at that period and describes how people lived under the tyranny of an omnipotent government.  He is exhorting Americans to perceive the lessons of the failed communist experience.  Like others who have reviewed the book, I was struck by the following anecdote, where an elderly man gave Cole a bag of ten freshly picked apples.  At the bottom of the bag, Cole found a piece of paper folded into a tiny cube. It read,  "We have a totalitarian regime. If we had a democratic republic, we would have progressed further and achieved more.  Nowadays the psychiatric hospitals are filled with dissidents[.]  You should take pride in having such a democratic country and not be overly tolerant in the face of those who have been blinded and deceived by propaganda."

Also illuminating is the story that Cole recounts of when he and his fellow guides went to dinner.  They were approached by English-speaking black men from Africa.  Cole asked if their country sent a lot of exchange students to Moscow.

'Oh, yes,' replied one, 'we send all of them here to the Soviet Union.' He explained why: 'We used to send quite a few of our students to Princeton, Columbia, and Berkeley, but they all came back Marxists. Now we send them here, and after three or four years in the USSR, they all return dedicated anti-communists.'

It's a lesson that American parents still haven't learned. They send their kids to Princeton, Columbia, Berkeley, and other universities, and they come back as radical leftists, and, yes, some of them flat-out Marxists.

Cole writes that "this was quite an indictment of America's higher-education system."  Yet Howard Zinn's  A People's History of the United States and materials from "The 1619 Project" continue to be a lethal combination that brainwashes American students.

In light of the recent destruction of statues and renaming of signs, this recollection is also striking.

We came upon an old man who recounted an interesting irony about the street we were on.  In 1972 this street was called 'Lenin Street.'  He said that during the Nazi occupation of the 1940s, it had been called 'Adolf Hitler Street.  'The man noted wryly that during the Latvian independence before Soviet occupation and before the Germans renamed it, the  street had been called 'Freedom Street.'  That a street named in honor of freedom would later bear the names of Hitler and Lenin was indeed a bitter irony.

To see streets littered with Black Lives Matter (BLM) signs is a grievous irony.  There is a straight line between Marxism and BLM.  Social justice "achievements" require the most repressive of societies — e.g., Stalin's forced starvation of seven to eight million Ukrainians, known as the Holodomor or "genocide by starvation."

Most disturbing for Cole was what occurred in Leningrad, when a young Soviet man began refuting the standard Marxist-Leninist propaganda.  He refused to stop speaking when, suddenly, KGB goons surrounded him and threw him into a black van.  He writes, "It was quite a sight.  And yet, when young, still somewhat naive Americans see before their eyes someone of their own generation summarily seized by plainclothes secret police goons ... for simply speaking his mind, it is difficult to fully comprehend it." 

More than likely, this young man was sent to a psychiatric hospital and administered "appropriate medications" or expelled from his job, making him unemployable.  Thus, deemed "a parasite, [and] having violated a Soviet law requiring every citizen to have a job he was inevitably arrested and deported to a Soviet 'correctional' labor camp."  In fact, the left in America continues to deem those who disagree with its heinous ideas mentally unfit.

More recently, Cole explains that "every manner of diversity is extolled at universities except arguably the most important form of diversity which once characterized higher education in America: intellectual diversity.  It has been ongoing for several decades and has severely damaged our country."  He emphasizes that "there is no substitute for teaching history.  Unfortunately, this subject has been mutilated as few others."  In addition, Cole recommends the following movies: The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall, Stasi: East Germany's Secret Police, and the documentary titled The Soviet Story as well as The Lives of Others and Barbara.

If America tilts toward socialism, communism, Marxist-Leninist doctrine, or left-wing progressivism as the  Democrat Party now eagerly promotes, there will be no happy ending.  The nuclear family will continue to be dismantled; rights will be destroyed, and the American dream will fade into the historical dustbin.  As documented by Cole, a Soviet guard stated, "We don't need you to work.  We need you to suffer."  That is the ultimate aim of the above isms — different names for the same brutal and soul-destroying system. 

Abraham H. Miller recounts that knowledgeable "Russians would say that communism is the longest road from capitalism back to capitalism" and that any revolution that would invite communism to our shores is a revolution filled with violence, deceit, and ultimate obliteration of civil liberties.  As Cole explains, trust is a rare commodity under socialism or communism  because "promises are made to lure the people ... and in every instance [emphasis mine], such promises are discarded and eventually forgotten as the new regime proceeds with the implementation of its real agenda, most often the accumulation and imposition of power and its use to strengthen the regime and eliminate all enemies, real or perceived.  The individual is replaced by the collective."

Charles Cole asserts that the House of Representatives "can truly be deemed an out-of-control cabal of lunatics" and that "if Democrats retain the House, reduce the Republican majority in the Senate, and capture the White House in November that will be the beginning of the end of our republic as founded."  Thus, "if the radical Democrat Party is successful in watering down the Constitution, or jettisoning it altogether, Americans will enjoy no more rights than did Soviet citizens." 

People will find that they might have full health coverage but there will be very limited actual health care.  Taxes will skyrocket, what pockets of resistance to leftwing brainwashing [that] still remain in the educational system will vanish, conservative media outlets will be hounded from the public square, and all this will be rigidly enforced by a federal police establishment much the way the Cuban hired guns exercise control of the people in Venezuela.

This is truly an existential moment, and patriotic Americans should  not fall for the lie that is socialism and communism.  America is diametrically opposed to all this.  We believe in individual liberty and true self-determination, not a coercive state that runs our lives.

Mr. Cole's succinct but powerful memoir is but one in a long record of warnings about the devious, tyrannical, and murderous ways of socialism.  Because the goal of socialism is always communism, we must, with hearty voices, reject it in every possible manner.  We have been warned far too many times.  This is truly a seminal moment in our country's history, and Mr. Cole's work is well worth reading. 

Will we heed his warning, or will we lose America?

Eileen can be reached at

If you experience technical problems, please write to