Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Fan mail

In my previous post on l'affaire Blaive, I mentioned that there are people who will actively support a dictatorship, for a range of reasons. One of those reasons is that they are more or less in agreement with what the regime is trying to do.

One such is a letter written to Britské listy in response to an interview that Jan Čulík, the site's main editor, had conducted with Dr. Blaive.

Looking at the events of 1989 from the West, we had a narrative of a populace that was oppressed by a hated government. Anna Kouzlová's letter suggests that this narrative is much too simple.

I can see two main possibilities:
  1. She's misremembering her own feelings about the regime - she was unhappy with it at the time, but her experiences with the post-1989 world have made communism look good to her in hindsight.
  2. While the communists were still in charge, she was in fact fine with the system, liked it better than what has come afterward, and better than what came before (she says she's "well past 70," so she was born around 1940, so her earliest memories are likely the Nazi occupation, and then the brief period of more-or-less democratic rule between liberation from the Nazis in May, 1945 and the communists' seizure of power in February, 1948; she has no direct memory of the interwar Czechoslovak Republic, but had - as we all do - stories from her parents, who would have spent their childhood and young adulthood in the interwar Republic.
Either way, her letter can help inform our understanding of the spectrum of views that exist today, 28 years after the end of communist rule.

Mr. Čulík, I clicked on Britské listy for the first time in a long time, to see if you three idiots had found your way to common sense, and I watched your video.

I must say that that woman has her head screwed on right and is objective, even if you tried really hard to point her in the direction of expressing tendentious nonsense like you are in the habit of doing.

We regular people didn’t feel this nonsense, and anyway, why are you surprised that people chose a regime without servants and beggars? We had employment security, at work nobody treated us like slaves, something that we got a strong feeling of after the “glorious revolution” subsidized by the West!!

Mr. Čulík, I’m well past 70 and I can compare and unlike you I have life experience and still have my common sense.

As an eight-year-old girl I had to go with my mother to slog away in a farmer’s field. There were nine of us children, and in order for the farmer to plough our field we had to do quite a bit of serious labor!

Today’s brainwashed youth who moan so much about how their parents had their farm fields expropriated, I’d like to know if they would have toiled in those fields. It wouldn’t have been them—for that they had us poor people.

What do you idiots today have to say about how things were under Papa Masaryk,* how much poverty there was and shooting at workers, how ordinary people were dealt with. I heard those facts every day from my grandma and grandpa; today the truth is silenced and twisted. Supposedly it was a democracy, and we’ve got the same kind of democracy today—democracy for thieves and scoundrels, a decent person doesn’t have any rights. I experienced on my own back how today’s “demokratúra”** works, so some little fool somewhere babbling on about democracy and freedom just shows how messed up his head is.

After the war everything was busted and under those “horrible” communists the republic got back on its feet. The kind of criticism that after the war there were empty stores is only something that a moron from the Institute for Totalitarianism could come up with, someone who’s well paid for his rubbish.

Poor Praguers, they had to stand in line for bananas, and all the while when we would come to Prague we couldn’t stop marveling at just how much those “parasites” there in Prague had and we folks from Ostrava were just toiling away for them the whole time. First they were the hot-shot communists, and now they’re the hot-shot anti-communists—bunch of vermin!!!!

I went to work at 15, as a self-supporting woman I built a house, my son graduated from two colleges, I worked hard my whole life and had job security and various benefits, I was a person and we didn’t experience any totalitarianism—we didn’t start to experience that until we were living in democracy and freedom.

Today after 45 years of work in the rolling mill in Vítkovice I’ve got a pension of 11,000 Kč a month. Under the communists I would have had a pension like a coal miner.

When they were supposed to give us pensioners an extra 40 Kč a month those thieving ODS*** folks blabbered on about it for half a year—more parasites, every year they bump their monthly salaries by thousands. Yeah, sure, we’ve got democracy. We’re the subjects and they have power, it’s just that the brainwashed young idiots can’t figure out how today’s powerful have managed to brainwash them! The main thing is, we’ve got democracy here!!

Mr. Čulík, do you know what difference there was between the dissidents and us ordinary people??? Those poor dissidents went shopping in Tuzex**** and we ordinary people just went to a regular store. !!!!!!!!!!!!!! We worked hard and they had parties at Hrádeček***** and had back pockets full of dollars and Deutschmarks and would still complain that they had to work in a boiler room or a garden, while we worked in iron works and rolling mills and mines!!!

*"Papa Masaryk" is Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia, from 1918 to 1935. As in many countries, there was poverty, and worker unrest, and sometimes violent conflicts between striking workers and police. Communists blame the government; anti-communists blame the communists of the time for provoking the strikers to violence to get the police to hit back.

**"Demokratúra" is an untranslatable word, being a combination of "democracie" and "diktatúra" - so, something like, a so-called democracy that's actually a dictatorship.

***“ODS” is the Občanská demokratická strana, or Civil Democratic Party. It was one of the two parties that arose from the Civic Forum (Občanské forum) that formed during the 1989 revolution. It’s a right-of-center party, promoting lower taxes and less regulation.

****Tuzex was a chain of stores that sold items not available in normal Czechoslovak stores, and sold for dollars, British pounds, German Marks, etc. Most people didn’t have access to those currencies.

*****Hrádeček was Václav Havel’s country house.

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