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Archive for July, 2012

Soviet life

It’s a little-known fact how much of Britain’s intelligentsia were either Soviet agents or outright apologists from the 1930s right up to the collapse of the Berlin Wall. For example Nye Bevin, one of the heros of the 1930s Labour Party, stood up in parliament to praise Stalin despite the Ukranian Holomodor having already been exposed. Trade Union leaders and party officials were often paid off by the KGB. Peace movements actively tried to leave Britain defenceless against Soviet invasion and the pivotal industrial actions were attempts to bring down British government and replace it with socialism.

Needless to say, the Left doesn’t like to talk about its squalid history.

An 18 year old boy who isn’t a socialist has no heart. A 30 year old man who is still a socialist has no brain.

I was something of a leftie in my teenager years, quite naturally. The experience in childhood of having all your primary needs met by others, being exempt from earning a living, and just left to focus your attentions on your personal development. By the time a child reaches adulthood he’s had years of free schooling, free healthcare, free lodgings, presents at Christmas… is it any surprise he is reticent to go into the big scary world and suddenly stand on his own two feet? An integral part of becoming a man is to cut the apron strings, undergo a rite of passage, and then make your own way in an unforgiving world. Socialism is a negation of manliness. Deep down in the Id, teenage socialism is a wish for the easy life of childhood to continue.

My socialism lasted until I paid tax. Nothing sours idealism like suddenly becoming one of the suckers who has to pay for it. I tend not to argue with socialists anymore because they simply can’t see the horrors it causes. Living in a leafy English suburb insulates you against it’s bleak crushing monotony and for all it’s faults, Britains constantly meddling socialists haven’t succeeded in destroying our social structures. Britain is still a nice place to live.

But when you travel you really feel socialism. The greatest cure for socialist idealism is to visit a former socialist country.

I was in Cuba earlier this year and it’s a festering shithole. There are remenants of prior glory everywhere in the colonial architecture, wide boulevards, monuments but it’s like a neutron bomb went off in 1959 and they haven’t been repaired since. Locals still fly around in 1950s american cars chugging with truck engines. The Havana city hall has unrepaired broken windows everywhere and many streets are full of beautifully made old town houses that have degenerated into hovels. Cuba is ruined by communism.

A few weeks ago I was visiting friends in Lithuania. Usually I set up rooms in the beautiful Old Town but I took a chance and booked an apartment in the Vilnius suburbs. Good grief, what an education that was. If the old town is the cultural centre, drawing in the more affluent and worldly Lithuanians, then my suburb is the normal life that remains, the average Lithuanian citizen. Miles and miles of decrepit tower blocks designed to a formula that had all the life knocked out of it. There’s no feeling of spontaneously evolving organic society here, just a pre-fabricated one-size-fits-all imposition where all the streets look the same. The country has recovered well from communism and attracted lots of foreign investment and free trade so this isn’t a Cuba-esque tale of woe. But I imagine thirty years ago these same suburbs would be bleak, hopeless, soul-sucking hellholes.

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