As pledging allegiance to communistic ideology has become the new hip between youngsters and some not-so-young liberals online I was thinking of my unique position of a modern day Tiresias. For those who forgot or never heard of him-Tiresias has been punished by Hera who transformed him into a woman. As such he served few years as priestess before his role was reversed back to his original sex. One of the mythical stories that remained about him is that Hera and her husband Zeus went into a bitter argument as to which sex feels more pleasure while making love. And they felt their only arbiter could be Tiresias due to him being the only one fulfilling both roles in his life. So how am i similar to him? Yes you guessed it-I lived in a communistic society my childhood being active and interested in politics and social relations from a very tender age which i believe gives me a different, maybe better perspective comparing political systems.
So let s start with the beginning of the end of communistic societies in Eastern Europe. It was a time when Gorbachev spoke about his new political line leaving his fellow leaders kinda stupefied. What is he talking about? Why are we stepping back from what we fought for 40 years? Not only the leaders of the allied countries but many sympathizers that hasn t been disillusioned yet were asking themselves. That was the time I moved to a new school where mostly the children of the party elite would be along with the hairs of the most successful representatives of the meritocracy. Well schooled in what s wrong and right by my passionate about communism granddad I was a person with clear idea of the world and strictly formed political views already. But then those schoolmates that were supposed to be benefiting the most from the system(and they were), those that should of been most zealous in their faith of everything we were thought at school and at home started arguing with me.
-Did you know-they d ask-that same, normal people as yours or my parents in the western world live life that only the party leaders here can afford?
I d argue, but they had access to more and better sources than I did,and after a while I had to admit my defeat on this. They were bringing me shiny and not-quite-legal magazines and I had access to economical prints from abroad due to my mom's job and those were citing some info that looked hard to argue and not made up. No matter how cheap goods in the shops were a 200-300 lev month pay could hardly buy Asked mom who was traveling around the globe as part of her job and she also halfheartedly admitted that "there is something like that".
-Ha!-I d argue-But how about those crowds of poor people that die in the streets because it s too cold or because they don t have what to eat.
My friends would counter with examples of lavish social policies in Western Europe providing the unemployed with lot better income/social status than my grand-grand mom that was still living in a village working 12 hours on the field everyday.
-And how about their fake democracy. They buy and sell elections there, oppress black people and don t let them vote and so on?
That was my easiest to counter argument. We have elections in which the only contestant is the communist party, you fool!
So as someone that always loved to listen, debate, challenge views and be challenged I was trying to argue those points. Till the moment I felt I m losing all key battles. That was the moment I started reading all those russian newspapers and magazines which in modern times you could lump under the #perestroika. The question itching inside me was-what went wrong? While most of the newly allowed freedom of press was used to disclose the atrocities committed by Lenin and Stalin there were also serious analysis of why even tho the grabbing hands of the capitalists were removed from the market and money and goods were evenly and fairly distributed the outcome was poorer middle class and poorer lower class in Eastern Europe compared to it s Western counterpart. The answer seemed to lie around us instead of being buried under a complex chain of social and political reasons. It has been pointed out by many economists in the West throughout those 70 years in which the communist block existed-equal pay means no incentive they were saying. And yes-I could see that everyday around me. No private initiative meant people didn t care, they would look for best work / pay ratio and as the pay was the same everywhere everyone would try to find a job that he can actually only pretend to be doing while drinking coffee whole day, And as everyone knows the bigger the company, the bigger the apparatus the more such jobs it creates. And what could of been a bigger company than a state that owned everything? So yes-the products of the working class labor were divided more or less fair, more or less evenly but there was very few left to share for everyone.
Was so simple and yet I see no counter argument to that from any of the #communismiscool inhabitants of twitterland.
Last part of what I concluded 25 years ago was about the corrupting influence power has on people. In my country we have many sayings about what money and power do to stupid people. I think it is a commonly accepted concept that power can spoil even the strongest minds and that we tend to lose the solid ground between our feet and start thinking of ourselves unrealistically once we get higher than our peers status or somehow earn their adulation. Now just for a second I m asking you to think of what I wrote until now. The very essence of employing communism requires authoritarian regime. It requires huge concentration of power automatically leading to human nature working against it in it s very basic set of rules.