Reviewing an Edward Lucas review...
|I will not deny that being held in a Stasi jail would have been probably the most terrifying thing in the world, but frankly the whole world is filled with instances of political torture, genocide and terrorism in the years since end of the Second World War.|
- the film shows the people who ran communist countries in their true colours. Far from building socialism with the bricks of altruism and the mortar of discipline, they were disgusting hypocrites: greedy, brutal and lecherous. A poisonous mixture of deceit and fear fuelled the system. Even for the brave, it was dreadfully difficult to stay clean. The film shows all that well.
He later concludes with another statement that allowing for any sort of counter argument should be considered foolish:
- Overall, the film is a magnificent reminder to those, particularly in the West, who doubt the real horror of the communist secret-police state. Most people under 40 remember no Soviet leader before Mikhail Gorbachev; the gulag is something in history books. For these, and the warm-hearted and soft-headed people of all ages who think that communism probably wasn’t all that bad, the film may be the first time they have experienced even a frisson of what it was really like.
I have not seen this film (and probably won't get a chance to, all things considered), but I have had some reasonable experience living in Belarus which is pretty much filled with people who did live during the times of communism. Because I live here, I do know that those bricks of altruism and mortar of discipline were very much a part of things, and in fact had very, very much to do with why I decided to come here in the first place.
I think a lot of westerners make the mistake of thinking of the people of the FSU as having forever actually been closet capitalists but had been held back by treacherous forces of the Soviet vlasti. Certainly this is the story of anyone who had immigrated but not everybody left and absolutely, not everybody hated it. In polls taken over the last few years in fact it seems as though there is actually a majority of people who would return to a new Soviet Union. We also have the last elections in Belarus and Russia, in which both presidents ran on a nostalgia ticket and received a vast majority of the votes. Even Ukraine's return to Russia campaign and their rejection of NATO's presence in Crimea is evidence of this. Why should we deny that there was in fact altruism, idealism and a desire to improve humanity here? Why should we be so fast to dismiss the self sacrifice and discipline that actually was practiced or that people might have come to understand and respect these ideas? Or for that matter, what makes us think that living without these ideals actually makes for a better world? Where is the proof?
|Are the Poles going to look back in another 30 years and feel shame because they collaborated with the Americans?|
I guess I could also say here that my own experience of being held in Poland probably qualifies as at least mental torture. There was never the slightest information given me either from a legal point of view or about procedure, or of course that no evidence was accepted from me (or existed on the prosecution's side). But before you say that this is communism in action, understand that despite all of the obvious and overt corruption involved, the whole of the process was done with the full knowledge of the American embassy. Were they involved? Well, if we are speaking of complicity in the same way that Mr. Lucas speaks of the Stasi police, then they were. And as for general references, in terms of time frame this was exactly the same time as those secret prisons were being used and when Poland was waiting to become a member of the EU. Is this a case of the pot calling the kettle black? I have been saying so for five years now.
There are two ways to express a thought. The first is to discover some meaningful information and then create a physical format to present it, the other is to have a physical format and then stuff information into it. I understand Mr. Lucas' point of view. I understand that to a large extent, he is right about the failures and negatives of the FSU. However, throwing stones when you live in a glass house is never a good idea. Everybody in the world is guilty of corruption, political intrigues and cultural and ethnic abuses. To lay on the negatives of one particular culture without allowing for even the existence of any positives is propaganda. What is needed is to stop playing on and furthering stupidity and start building on rational thought and reason.
We are looking at a new cold war because the west is simply refusing to knock it off about the former USSR. Disregarding democratic elections, popular opinion and even political movements in which the downfall of the west is exactly the primary point of connection is simply foolish and having allowed it to go this far has been a crime. The self-righteous, heavy hand approach is not working. Demanding that people turn their head and look the other way is playing on their ignorence and not their intelligence. Does the west truly believe that theirs is the only way to live? Can the constant turnover in ideologies and social practices really mean nothing? The Poles went from a territory, to a Republic, to Nazism, to communism to their present state (confusion?) all in the last 100 years. I wonder if the Poles going to look back in another 30 years and feel shame because they collaborated with the Americans.
The movie was fiction and the director took artistic license to make the drama more… dramatic. Mr. Lucas in his McCarthy-like anti-communist fervor has done the same.
It is time for a friendlier, more open, and more fair and human approach. It is time to stop the smear campagn and start working together for a common future. Check out the comments on his blog by the way. I am not the only one who thinks this.