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Russian Finds Better Political Education at Black Hills State… But for How Long?

Even though Russian political science student Daria Tsvetkova is studying on an exchange program in wonderfully free Spearfish, she still has to watch what she says about Mother Russia, lest she get hauled to jail when she gets home to Moscow for referring to the war in Ukraine as anything other than a “special operation.” But Tsvetkova is able to speak what sets apart her studies at Black Hills State University from classes back at Moskovskiy Gosudarstvenniy Universtitet imeni M.V. Lomonosova:

Tsvetkova said it was always her goal to come to America to study political science because in Russia, political science is more the study of political history with no comparison to modern day politics.

“Here, in political science classes we actually talk about politics, in Russia we just learn history events, reason, and try to analyze history,” she said [Alex Portal, “BHSU Exchange Student Explains How Democracy Works in Russia,” Black Hills Pioneer, 2022.04.21].

Um, Alex—check that headline: I think Tsvetkova is explaining how democracy isn’t working in Russia. She’s also pointing out one of the ways that democracy won’t work in America if we let Kristi Noem and other demagogues narrow our curricula to prevent students from studying history and government in real-world context and ban “divisive subjects”.

Tsvetkova does note an apparent weaknesses in American democracy, our deep distraction:

Of course, Tsvetkova had her share of stereotypes about American culture when she first arrived. One that seemed to hold up is that Americans spend a lot of time engaging in frivolous entertainment.

“When I came here, everybody watch Netflix everyday, I was like, ‘oh my God,’ I never watched movies so much,” she said. “It’s like ‘Bread and Circuses’ in Rome.”

“Bread and Circuses” is a term used by political scientists; it refers to doctrine in ancient Rome of appeasing the general public by providing them with distractive basic desires such as decadent food, (bread) and entertainment (circuses), rather than through any actual progressive public service or policy-making [Portal, 2022.04.21].

Hmmm… so maybe those declining Netflix subscriptions are a good thing? Oh, no, wait: HBO is up


  1. sx123 2022-04-24

    HBOmax is better than Netflix, imo. But eventually, they all run out of content except for the unlimited supply of zombie and vampire flicks…

  2. John Dale 2022-04-24

    Democracy cannot survive in perpetual times of war.

    This is why I support Ron Paul, his son Rand, and why President Trump by any objective measure is pro democracy.

    President Trump didn’t foment violence by BLM and Antifa, he didn’t launch the COVID “thing”, and he didn’t start a new war while he drew-down our military presence in foreign lands; a disentanglement of US interests. All-the-while, the “deep state” accused him of pursuing policies that would start wars. Then, as soon as the “deep state” wrestled control (putting it nicely) of the executive branch, we almost instantly came to the threshold of nuclear conflict with Russia to protect “our” trafficking operations in that region.

    Those who truly despise self governance pursue endless wars. Wartime gives military industrial zealots the internal cognitive justification to oppress self governance.

    Get your heads in the game (and keep them there).

  3. mike from iowa 2022-04-24

    Rabbit hole refugee must have signed up with Pootie’s propaganda peons.

  4. larry kurtz 2022-04-24

    I remember reading The Fountainhead in 1977 while attending the School of Mines about a month after seeing the first Star Wars in Boise; it really appealed to the headstrong, narcissistic man-island i was becoming. I had read Atlas Shrugged while at SDSU three or four years earlier about the time i was reading The Gulag Archipelago. Likely i’ve passed the anarchy gene to my daughters, too, though their mother thinks of it as mental illness.

  5. John 2022-04-24

    Agree, Cory, that Alex Portal over-reached with the puffery in the article. Calling the Russian invasion, occupation, war crimes an ‘outbreak of hostilities’ is akin to referring to Ted Kaczynski as a math professor.

    Of course, in the world of snowjob neom, we cannot talk about confilcts, war crimes, or making folks regret their affiliations or associations.
    “Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” – MLK Jr.

  6. Donald Pay 2022-04-24

    I think she’s a very perceptive student. You can see she’s trying to not get too far over her skis, but making it plain what’s not good about her country’s current government and policies.

    I suppose she’s right that we can still protest here when we think our leaders are doing things wrong, but that right is always under attack. Noem has tried repeatedly to dilute your right to protest, and Trump found a way to break a Black Lives Matter protest up by using government power. Then look at how one party rule in South Dakota resembles Russia’s government. One way South Dakotans protest is to petition to change laws, but Republicans in South Dakota have been on a relentless 20 year push to strip that right away. And when the vote goes against them, they just ignore the people’s will. They change the rules so they have a better shot at winning. Putin could learn a trick or two about undemocratic rule by watching South Dakota’s Republican dictators.

  7. Mark Anderson 2022-04-24

    NO WAR, PLEASE. That’s what Andrey Rublev wrote on the lens when he won. That’s as far as any of the russkies can go, without pissing off papa Putin. He also said, Sport should stay out of politics. Sliding back abit there. Now he can just attack Wimbledon for throwing out all the Russians and Belarusians. That’s a move I don’t know about, I’m torn on that issue. For one both Medvedev and Rublev are capable of beating Djokovic there and that’s more important than any war. Did I just type that? That’s my point entirely. The Brits don’t want Kate Middleton to have to hand over the trophy to a Russian of either gender. First they thought of proposing that if the player would condemn the war and Putin by proxy, they could play. I don’t think suicide by condemnation would work either.
    I don’t have the answer on this one, but at least the French open hasn’t done that and the fact that they kicked Marine Le Pen is a great move. That’s what needs to happen to all the Putin lovers, vote them out.

  8. Mark Anderson 2022-04-24

    You do know that Solzhenitsyn was a huge influence on Putin and his vision for Ukraine don’t you Larry Kurtz? Putin from communist to right wing fascist. There’s more money in it. At least Ayan Rand needed Social Security and Medicare, that heavy smoking will bring down any titan.

  9. larry kurtz 2022-04-24

    Indeed, Mr. Anderson. Both those authors would be shocked to learn Russia is home to the richest dictator in John Dale’s wet dreams.

  10. larry kurtz 2022-04-24

    Ron and Rand Paul want to be able to relieve themselves or dump environmental contaminants in their neighbors’ water supplies without ramifications because Libertarianism is anarchy on meth.

  11. Bob Newland 2022-04-24

    There are toxic properties within some of the Libertarian platform planks, but tell me that ain’t true of your political party.

  12. Mark Anderson 2022-04-24

    The pubs don’t have any party planks anymore. They just are against divisive subjects, like Mickey Mouse. I was raised on Carl Barks so I don’t like Mickey either.
    Libertarians are just pubs who smoke dope. It affects their brains, they believe Ayn Rand is a great philosophical author. What else do one need to say?

  13. larry kurtz 2022-04-24

    That the Democratic Party suffers from toxic inertia is hardly a revelation, Mr. Newland.

    Spearditch has become a Nazi enclave by design so any post-Soviet student would naturally find it quite homey.

  14. grudznick 2022-04-24

    *Rhoden laughing*
    *Rhoden laughing*

  15. Donald Pay 2022-04-25

    There is an anti-democratic party in the US. It is the Republican Party. Much like Putin, Republicans accept the results of any election that has them winning.

  16. jerry 2022-04-25

    Utah is showing Democrats there how to do it by endorsing an Independent to go after the traitor Mike Lee. South Dakota Democrats need to do the same thing, unite to cleanse the state of the stench of Putin loving republicans like Dirty Johnson and tallboy Thune.

  17. John 2022-04-26

    We salute Daria Tsvetkova for bravely furthering her education, boldly going overseas to do so. Yet, Alex Portal’s article comes across with similarities to the innocent sophomore Jenny that Will McAvoy roasted, asking if she every wanders into a voting booth . . . in the classic introduction to the HBO show, Newsroom. Mr. Portal’s article should have portrayed the realities of the Russian invasion and occupation of Ukraine. Daria is an adult. As a political scientist, Daria, needs to face REAL POLITIK — the world as it exists, not some Kremlin fantasy of the world. Not some journalist, parroting both sides nonsense.

    Daria is not responsible for the Russian invasion of Ukraine; it’s murders of citizens with bound hands; its systemic rapes; its leveling of towns and cities; it’s forced deportation of hundreds of thousands and at least tens of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia.

    Daria is not responsible for the coming hunger, even starvation, caused by the Russian invasion and occupation of Ukraine and the blocking of Ukrainian ports and the Black Sea lines of communication. The US, NATO, and EU belatedly woke up to the global threat. Millions of hungry folks from the Middle East and North Africa may wash ashore on NATO, the EU and their cities. Think of the 2014 Arab Spring – on steroids. The US/NATO/EU must immediately arm Ukraine – and even take direct action as necessary, in conjunction with Turkey, to enforce the 1936 Montreux Convention to exercise control over access to the Black Sea. Tony Seba, ReThinkX, notes the agricultural challenge. ReThinkX concludes that this “instability” will accelerate the technological transformation to adopt precision fermentation to feed people. That acceleration will not occur fast enough to mitigate hunger this fall and winter.

    Aside from Daria, and Alex’s well-intentioned, inadequate article — consider in a larger sense, the cyclical, circular theory of history from Strauss and Howe. Recapping: every 80-90 years, with the fourth cycle of generations, the US/west re-orders the western world order. The pattern goes back centuries, We are on the cusp of a lifetime reordering now. The recent pivot was emerging from the Great Depression and WWII. Previous reorderings were the Civil War; American Revolution; the Glorious Revolution — even going back to the Reformation. Our nation, our world – is at a embarkation point. We go forward with democracy or regress to authoritarianism. Evolution is a two-way street. Progress or regression to a modern Middle Ages, or post Roman democracy. The choice is ours.

  18. John 2022-04-27

    Valeriya Novodvorskaya knew EXACTLY what was going to happen in Ukraine and why. She made this remarkable 4+ minute video in 2014.
    She’s worthy of the study from a BHSU a political scientist.

    Let’s also hope that Netflix aficionado, Daria, and journalist Alex, watched, Servant of the People.

    It’s hard being on the wrong side of history; for the US that’s treatment of natives, slavery, the Mexican War, the Spanish American War, Vietnam; Iraq2 and Afghanistan – and many other sponsored coups, occupations, et al. Yet, truth must prevail or we’ll spiral back to the Middle Ages.

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