Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Monday, May 08, 2006

"Shoplifters of the World, Unite and Take Over"*

As we push close to twenty years since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, I still find myself to be fascinated with the Soviet experiment that took root in Russia in 1917, the Cultural Revolution in China, as well as the other incantations Communism took in places such as Cuba and North Korea. There is a definite attraction to the passion demonstrated during the Spanish Civil War as the Reds battled Franco’s fascists, or the countless other insurgencies that de-stabilised Central America for decades. I am a child of the Cold War era who grew up under the spectre cloud of global nuclear annihilation. Even though Communism was represented as a force set to come over to the Free World and eat our babies and had records of brutality on its citizens, I still feel some sort of pang of affection for the ideology and passions that began the movements.

To begin, it is clear that what grew to be known as Communism in places like the USSR under Stalin, or what exists today in North Korea are in no way related to the worker’s paradise outlined by Marx. The aforementioned regimes were and are more oppressive than almost any of the others in history, Stalin, for instance, being responsible for some 20 million deaths. Being the hyper-cerebralist that I am, however, one must also question the true face of what existed in those countries, differentiating from the images cast by Hollywood and our media biases/agendas. Certainly that is evident, for example, in regards to the portrayal of the Islamic world in our present day with language like “Axis of Evil”.

In 1992-93 I lived in the former Czechoslovakia – it was the year the country broke into two. So, when New Years arrived in 1993 I was in a small Carpathian Slovak town teaching English. Living in Slovakia was an eye opening experience and one of the happiest times of my young adult life. The people there were full of life and the social life, though sometimes marred by alcoholism, was incredibly pro-social and active. People didn’t spend their days in front of the television or in seclusion, but rather participated in activities and, as few folks even had telephones, socialised a great deal. Certainly, when weighing the material wealth of the people over there at this time against my home country, there was no comparison. On the other hand, if you weighed what these people possessed in terms of self and society, I think the West pales in comparison. For example, under Communism (and everyone I met hated the Communist, wooed by the flood of the forbidden and Western media), the factories would organise hikes for its workers and their families. When I lived in Slovakia they continued this practise. So, one day a student invited me along to a trip to Mala Fatra. We left at 5 am and drove for three hours, hiked our butts off for 8 hours before meeting everyone ranging from grandchildren to grandparents for a meal in a pub before the bus trip home. Then the magic happened. As we drove through the darkness, no one on the bus read, listened to a walkman or played Gameboy, but rather everyone sang traditional Slovak folk songs. Granted, this spawns from a culture with a long, monogamous history, but I also feel this was the case as a direct result of a people not inundated with material things.

Don’t get me wrong: Communism failed. That being said, should we view Communism as being a bad word? I suppose Socialism is more apropos, so we can use that if you like. Think about it. Massive corporations own everything these days and, though our standard if life in the West for the most part is decent, is there not a necessity for Socialism in our society? In Canada most people are fighting to keep our free Medicare system. There are many who believe that post secondary education should be more accessible if not free to those who demonstrate that they are willing to work for it. It’s interesting as I am a Shop Steward for my Union local, but if you were to suggest Communist or Socialist ideas to most of my membership they would look at you like you had two heads, even though the vehicle that they are supporting is a direct result of the labour movement that consisted primarily of Communists at the turn of the 20th century. Again, I understand the stigma attached with the C word, and, sadly, must acknowledge that many folks are passionate about things without ever asking why, thus leaving those of us who do query as such baffled at those who continue to move without thinking. I guess life exists for each individual based on where they place their priorities

In closing, again, I long for the ideology and thought that once dominated politics. Sadly, and perhaps safely for the time being but my qualifier on that is a rant times ten in its self, Western governments will exist as CEO competitions, using fear to mislead the masses into following along with their agendas so long as they aren’t too outlandish. Perhaps, ironically, I am cynical. Definitely I’m overly cerebral. That’s just me.

As an epilogue to this missive, why not check out the Marxist Party of Canada’s web site: if only for a chuckle and a breath of ideological fresh air, skewed with good intentions!

*From The Smiths


  • At 12:47 p.m. , Blogger auntiegrav said...

    I'm baaack. Just left the American Consumptoplex in Floriduh. They don't get it. Amazing how they can have such vibrant diversity, some great journalism, and yet, be so entrenched in blind faith consumerism. Huh.
    On to your topic: Socialist power mongering failed. Just like Amway, everyone who had any power always tried to gather more to fill the carpet bag and develop their own 'Exit Strategy'. Everyone is playing the game to get more than they deserve. Instead of Communism, what we need is Individualism, possibly enhanced by distributionism, but with only bartered hours for labor. One man's specialty shouldn't be worth more than the next woman's specialty. Hours (for reference, see Ithaca Hours) should be more or less the same. The farmer who makes supplier choices, labor management decisions and risk assessment is no less valuable nor doing any different actions than the CEO who gets paid with six figures. Pay should be based on actions taken cooperatively, not on value perceived through competition. (Imagine multi-level distribution/marketing without the levels.)
    Buy less, buy local, do it yourself.

    Also: see

  • At 7:48 p.m. , Blogger Real-E said...

    I think that the Human Condition tends to make any pure ism fail as we are, by our very nature, imperfect and subject to reacting to our view of the world. That's also part of what makes life beautiful. I think we need to change our outlook as a collective and agree that our values are skewed. A Hockey player gets paid millions to play a game while people fork out their hard earned dollars to watch and wear a sweater with his name on it. I risk death everyday and keep the most dangerous people in society locked up so that they can no longer prey on the community and no one out there knows my name and I make under $50K/year.

    That aside, I long for the passion- that's what my missive was really about.

  • At 7:53 a.m. , Blogger auntiegrav said...

    Perhaps when you speak to your union, you could use the words "Community-ism", or "Localism". All power comes from the individual's choices, whether they are conscious or not(coercive marketing). What the individual chooses to do with their time (and the money tool that represents it) is ultimately up to them. Big corporations, big government, and big sports just fill in a blank space created by people who have more desires than discipline. As each of these blank-filling enterprises grows, it gains more ability to create desires (buy advertising), and thus, influence its own income. Unless the enterprise is corrupt or just inept, it should be able to reach a tipping point and continue until resources are too scarce to feed its inputs.
    We'll see how the collapse goes. Some say that the PTB want it to happen fast, preserving some resources for the exit strategy (post apocalypse).
    Just rambling now. Seeya.


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