Chinese Premier Chou En Lai when asked his opinion in 1972 of the French Revolution said that it was too early to tell. (It is possible that he was talking about the French protests of 1968 in which case the quote goes from profound to banal. Let us assume that he was being profound.) Massive historical events usually require the perspective that only time can give. For example:
This week, Russia will spend millions of dollars to put up yet another WWII victory parade in the Red Square. Tanks will rumble and jets will fly overhead. Nuclear-capable ballistic missiles will slowly crawl past the same old mausoleum with the same old corpse inside. But what about the people watching? Some are clinging to old glory. Many are beginning to see the absurdity of celebrating in superpower style victory over countries that are now vastly more prosperous than their own. Russia is a poor country that does not even have the technological and business expertise to exploit its own natural resources, letting foreign powers do it instead, akin to the literal banana republics of early 20th century Central America. Russia has roughly half the population it had a hundred years ago and in many metrics such as consumer goods production has yet to reach pre-revolutionary levels or levels that were achieved by Stalin’s GULAG slave labor in the 1930’s. In all ways that count, Russia is the sole loser of the Second World War.
So what happened? Why were the hopes and aspirations of those attending the first WWII victory parade so cruelly dashed against the rocks of history? The answer is not hard to come by; all it takes is to ask those Russians who lived through post-war Soviet history and did not belong to the communist or technocratic elites. In the USSR, there was simply no reason for anyone to work hard. It was not possible to make more money, to open a business, to invest for profit. If any disposable income materialized (a rare event indeed), there was nothing to buy, certainly nothing of any quality. The best way to live was to engage in tufta (pretend work) and whenever possible steal from your employer, the government. After all, the government shafted you, so why not shaft it back? As long as extra effort does not produce extra rewards, why bother? No dream, no aspiration, no amount of well-justified national pride can survive a system that rewards mediocrity and minimal effort. A life or barely clinging to the communist safety net of minimal (but guaranteed!) nutrition and healthcare is hardly a life worth living. It is a life that brings out the worst in people; it makes them lazy, stupid, belligerent.
Go here to read the rest. Great military victories are very important in History, but more important is what the victor does with the victory in peace.