Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Czar's Revenge

It's final-day flashback time! I wrote the following commentary for The Eureka High Bugle back in January, 1990. I've slightly rearranged a paragraph and tweaked a few words to make up for some layout and copy-editing mistakes that got into the paper, but otherwise, it's printed here word for word.

Some 80 years ago, Vladimir Illich Lenin was spreading the Communist doctrine in the streets, and the Russians, suffering under Czar Nicholas II, were more than willing to listen. It seemed so bright -- this thing called Communism -- so wonderful. At last the people would be taking control. They believed a perfect society was in the making.

"The more things change, the more they stay the same." It's 1990, and the Soviet economy is headed for a crash landing under Mikhail Gorbachev's perestrokia. Lenis is probably walking around in Heaven right now with a bag over his head, provided he even made it there in the first place.

Communism, it seems, is about to die a violent death after only 80 years in existence. Even Feudalism lasted longer than that. Czar Nicholas has had his revenge.

Not too long ago, the Soviet parliament rejected a proposal to create two-party system within the government. It's amazing the Communists would consider such a measure. It's even more amazing that they continue to have such faith in the party under a tightly-controlled economy to stop the freefall. But that's wishful thinking under Gorbachev. "Gorby" will admit there's some problems with his reforms, but he's not going to admit defeat. Neither will the Communist Party by allowing the formation of a second party and an alternate idealism.

As for the Soviet citizens, a recent poll is saying that many Russians want to return to something other than Russia's present state of rapid socio-economic unraveling. The going is getting tough, and the tough won't get going.

And what about the Soviet satellites? Unless you've been living in a state of suspended animation for the past five months, it's unnecessary to say how the spirit of democracy has taken a heavy chip out of the Eastern Bloc. For awhile, it seemed that Romania was the last holdout.

Nicolae "I-Am-A-Soldier-For-Socialism" Ceausescu ruled with an iron hand, and perhaps an iron head as well. He was a strict Stalinist, and it looked as if nobody would put him to the test. Then, out of nowhere, the people got even. Enough oppressive rule! Enough bulldozing of our villages! Give us liberty or give us death!

The revolution broke out and Ceausescu fled, only to be captured and given a shotgun trial -- literally. But what really symbolized the Romanians' craving for freedom occurred when an official at the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest raised the American flag the morning the dictator fled. Instantly, he and the entire U.S.A. were stars as crowds around the embassy began to cheer and yell wildly. Playing on their emotions, the man ran back into the embassy and came out with a picture of President Bush. The crowds then began chanting, "Bush! Bush!" The people knew democracy when they saw it.

To bring all of this into focus, Communism will die trying to save itself from its imminent demise. Only two options seem to remain: give up peacefully, or let people power build and learn the meaning of reform the hard way.

Somewhere, Nicholas II is smiling.

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