Eugene Volokh is a renowned UCLA law professor and a very popular blogger (The Volokh Conspiracy). His family emigrated to the US from the Soviet Union when he was 7 years old.
In a recent post on his blog, he writes that he is often asked what he thinks about the situation in Russia. His response echoes a poem written by Bulat Okudzhava, a great Russian bard (in Russian, the word denotes a poet who, like Bob Dylan, performs/sings his own poetry while playing a guitar). The poem was written in 1989 when the Soviet Union was disintegrating (it fell apart in December 1991).
In the poem, an emigrant returns from Australia to visit his sister and looks at Moscow from a taxi’s window. The narrator tells him that things aren’t all bad; true, it’s worse than yesterday but it’s better than in 1937 (the year of the worst Stalinist terror).
Professor Volokh agrees and adds “And, you know, that’s not chopped liver.”
I don’t disagree but to me it is the last line of Okudzhava’s poem that resonates the most. It is: “But no-one’s born fortunate here.” Okudzhava (and Professor Volokh, implicitely) accept it and so do, as a matter of course, many Russians.
It is not clear to me why.