Documents released under Russia's 80-year freedom of information laws reveal that the Bolshevik leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin modelled his communist blueprint on… America.
And, in what is bound to turn the traditional view of East/West relations on its head, it appears Lenin's driving aim was to turn Imperialist Russia into a mirror image of the freedom-loving, egalitarian United States - even choosing the red out of the Stars and Stripes for the new Russian flag.
The idealistic Marxist, who took to wearing a Stetson and sheriff's badge in private, adored the fresh American values and was repulsed by the corrupt ‘Old Europe' mentality that perpetuated:
• An elitist, intolerant, hierarchical society
• The constant erosion of civil liberties
• A regime polluted by political deceit at the highest levels
• Expansionist power with aggressive foreign policy
• A government forged on manipulated elections.
Lenin dreamt of creating a new ‘Land of the Free' and this is backed up by minutes taken from the earliest Revolutionary Council meetings in late 1917 when the Bolshevik top brass agreed to copy the American model by:
• Providing the highest quality education for all children
• Providing free health care for those in need
• Providing a caring society for the elderly
• Providing full employment based on ability without discrimination
• Adopting a non-aggressive, supportive and nurturing role in foreign policy
• Guaranteeing free elections
Incredibly, Lenin often took to dressing up as a cowboy, collected baseball cards and owned a leather football helmet autographed by silent movie star Fatty Arbuckle.
The papers released from the Russian National Archives in the Kremlin also astonishingly reveal that Lenin even had a pen friend in New York, a retired baker and confectioner called Don Braken. Although little remains of their correspondence, it is assumed that it was this US connection that allowed Lenin to build up his famous collection of Clara Bow memorabilia.
The few surviving drafts of the Soviet leader's letters to Braken reveal his passionate goal to transform the soul of feudalistic Russia into what he described as the ‘spirit of the socialist United States'.
Ironically, Lenin's optimism was short-lived. By the time of the Great Depression in the USA during the 1930s, a new, hungrier breed of entrepreneur promoted ‘survival of the fittest' capitalism. The backlash in the USSR was the post-Lenin, Stalin era which gripped the Soviet Union in an iron fist.
Abandoning all hopes of emulating America and creating a utopian egalitarian state, Joseph Stalin's Russia became a notorious dictatorship.
Kremlin archivist Vyacheslav Morchenko said: "We have tried in vain to contact the descendants of Mr Braken but the documents we do have certainly show that Lenin admired the caring, compassionate America at the turn of the century.
"It is a matter of some debate as to whether Lenin or Stalin would look to America for inspiration today."