Tag Archives: Berlin Wall

Looking Back in anger


The following essay has been cross-posted from Samizdata to here, by kind permission of the author.

Adriana Lukas

It’s been twenty years since my firm belief in a better way of life was vindicated. 17th November was the beginning of the end of an era shaped by collectivism, brutality and industrialised inhumanity. I have written about my experiences of communism on Samizdata before. Today I’ll use someone else’s words to describe the wasteland communism leaves behind.

In 1992, Peter Saint-Andre has written a disturbing, brilliant and accurate description of what communism does to the soul:

…the hunger that I found most disturbing was not of the body but of the soul. […] The socialist state cared nothing for the life of the individual, and this was driven home in innumerable ways.Yet the overall effect was not merely physical — it was a deeply spiritual degradation. It is difficult to put that degradation into words. To me, the most striking sign of it was what I called “Eastern eyes”. I could see and feel the resignation, the defeat, the despair, in the eyes of people I knew. It was an all-too-rare occurrence to come upon a person with some spark of life in his or her eyes (the only exceptions were the children, who had yet to have the life beaten out of them). If it is true that the eyes are windows onto the soul, then the Czech soul under socialism went through life all but dead.

It is tough for me to come up with something to say 20 years on that is not tinged with bitterness and disappointment and if not for the significant anniversary, I would have left this memory unturned. Despite the amazing change 1989 and its aftermath brought to my life I feel no closure over the past and a sense of proportion in the way the fall of communism has been ‘handled’. Today we should be looking back at the last 20 years counting the many communists who died in prison or are still rotting there… I can only hope that future generations will revisit the past and will have far lower tolerance of collectivism and totalitarianism. It may be a futile hope as today’s teenagers have little knowledge of the world my generation grew up and my parents lived in. And so I am bitter and disappointed that people can say the word “communism” without spitting.

I am also bitter and disappointed because those who opposed communism have not won. It is still with us, in the idiotic juxtapositions of Nazism and communism, or socialism and free-market, used by those who aspire to communism and justify it by positing Nazism as the greater evil. It still raises its ugly head in those who despise free-markets and attempt to put a human mask on socialism by pointing out ‘failures’ of capitalism. Rather hard as socialism, like all totalitarianisms, has no face. It is the ultimate denigration of humanity, destruction of individuality, and subjugation of human beings to the vast merciless machine of control and power.

Communism is still with us in China and North Korea. One befriended by the West, the other frowned upon… but neither is ever challenged because of the oppression of its people, and only when it manages to ‘inconvenience’ the rest of the world. Once it falls, it will be horrifying and beyond belief to examine the monstrosities committed by the communists in the light of day. Again, I can only hope that the world will be shamed and aghast at letting this happen for so long. Until then, we only have testimonials such as this: Undercover in the Secret State

I am grateful to those who remember, struggle to understand and explain communism, and especially to those who have managed to capture something of the nature of the beast. Here are the ones I found. Please feel free to share yours.

The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression – the reference book of the communist evil with a tag line “Revolutions, like trees, must be judged by their fruit”

Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall

The Lives Of Others captures the paranoia and danger of an Orwellian world where everyone is monitored and, unusually for such world, shows impact of the individual as making a difference. Here is my review.

Burnt By The Sun (Unaveni slnkom) from a sunny day to Stalin’s terror… One of the most powerful films I have seen for a long time. Possibly ever.

No End (Bez konca) – a complex, subtle and haunting film set in Poland 1981.

Repentance (Pokayanie) – for the more surreal amongst us. The first ‘anti-stalinism’ film I have ever seen and will never forget. I remember sitting through the entire credits at the end, stunned and shaken. For context, this was screened in Czecho-Slovakia, publicly, in a cinema in 1987!

The Voices of the Dead: Stalin’s Terror in the 1930s – from the book review:

It is impossible, of course, to undo the tyrant’s crimes. But one of the tasks writers have set themselves, in the last 50 years, is at least to preserve the memory of the dead, and so to resist the tyrant’s historical arrogance.

The book’s opening paragraph makes the history come the full circle, back to the suffering of the individual:

The dead cannot speak. Can one retrieve their voices? Death under I.V. Stalin, the ruler of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1953, has been written about but the dead themselves remain elusive because their voices have been lost to us. The present book is an attempt to recover the voices of those executed under Stalin.

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Back to normal, then: [back in the USSR]


David Davis

It says here that the USSR has been playing soldiers on Poland’s borderlands. 13,000 squaddies does not seem like a large number by today’s standards in the more civilisation-challenged countries of the world such as the USSR and North Korea. But these guys like to brandish the larger sorts of plastic toys, and if they were waving lighted rockets about, that’s a different matter. Health-and-Safety will have to get involved.

Perhaps Obama will learn not to take the missiles away next time, but it’s probably too late now: we are back to times which some of the older people among us at least understood very well. Let’s hope these pictures will not become commonplace again:-

Wokers' Paradise

Nothing's too good for the workers! No escape!

While Rome fiddles, we sit here burning with mirth and schadenfreude


David Davis

Today is a good time for libertarians to infiltrate all the parties, when everything is seeming to be in flux. We shan’t get noticed until it’s too late.

This morning, James Purnell, and now John Hutton. Wanting to spend more time with their families I guess. Also poor overwhelmed Jack Straw better stay put and trough a bit more, as it seems he might need to pay lawyers soon.

Truly, the spectacle of a nasty, wicked GramscoFabiaNazi caucus coming apart is quite uplifting. It’s been worth the wait, like watching the Berlin Wall fall down, that creation of the friends of this lot when they were “students”.

The Labour government is coming apart at the seams. Should libertarians care at all?


David Davis

I can’t really summon up much self-hysteria for this matter.

It’s like when the Berlin Wall fell while being videoed on live Wireless Tele Vision, in November 1989.

I sat there*** rocking back and forth, and silently crying, on the sofa-that-is-long-junked, and then I staggered up to bed with my (then) live-in-girlfriend, and we slept the sleep of the unconscious together – no sex that night. Or like the Cavalry-Major who witnessed the Armistice in 1918, and said what an anti-climax it was, as his squadron’s bicycles could not keep up with the retreating Germans.

***I saw it put up, and prophesied in 1987 that it would fall down “soon”, (and got sacked from my employer for my pains – although to be fair my beliefs on this one formed part of a generally-disliked-pattern of liberalism – my then-employers thought with deep sincerity that they were “communications management” “consultants“) and then I saw it fall down.

The fall of this lot here in Westmonster is trivial in the extreme, when compared with those events 20-odd years ago.

English Coastal Corridor: is this for “ramblers” or for patrolling GUARDS?


David Davis

The government is proposing to nationalise the coastline. The Devil has the usual better details here.

This is ostensibly for the benefit of “ramblers” and other lefties. The idea of property rights and the private enjoyment of them does not seem to figure.

Personally, when it comes to running stuff like firms (or, dare I say it, States?) I do not really trust people who have nothing better to do all day than to stride aimlessly about in the open. Often, they are wearing coloured plastic clothes too, and are performing “walking-stick-theatre”.

They are very clearly under-employed: they should be at their desks working, or in their shops, stacking stock or ordering it, such as cigarettes (not shopping, that’s for other workers in their time off in the night) or in their cars on the road, selling to others.

At a pinch, they could be down in their mines, mining for things people want, like coal or Tungsten or Uranium. That’s not for the faint-hearted among them, I agree.

Now, I do appreciate that there is some point to the close-up enjoyment of beautiful outdoor spaces such as coastlines, mountain landscapes and so forth. I have done it myself, from time to time. But I do not feel the need to go forth and grab, statutorily, all of it at once, on a contingency-use basis, knowing that I personally will probably never take advantage of my land-grab.

No. These people are socialists: this is the sort who want voluntarily to regulate the lives of others to the supposed pace and tenor of their own, and then we often find that theirs bears no resemblence to their recommendation: just regard Polly Toynbee for instance.

I am not a fan of consproacy theories as you all know. But a 10-metre-wide “corridor” (with other prosthetic spaces attached periodically) smacks strongly of a guading-facility. You could get the following into it:-

(1) A razor-wire fence,

(2) Watch towers,

(3) Searchlights,

(4) Trip-wire-machine guns,

(5) Dog runs.

(6) at the expense of the dog runs and trip wires, you might even get a small anti-vehicle trench.

I leave you lot to think about it and draw conclusions.