Posts Tagged ‘gulags’

The Fierce Circle of Power

March 5, 2019

Power in the modern State/Nation/Union runs around in a big circle.

Circle

As in a big atom-smasher, where charged-up sub-atomic particles race to oblivion, or to wherever it is that electrons and protons and quarks and neutrinos and cheerios go when they manifest at the speed of light transforming between energy and matter . . . between things falling apart and things hanging together. . .

Power in the modern State cycles around, and is transformed, into greater and greater levels of constructivity. And, unfortunately, destructivity.

On one side of the Circle is Left, and on the other is Right.

The two sides meet at top and bottom.  At these two polarities—top and bottom—Left and Right merge together in a region  where Left and Right are indistinguishable, for instance . . .

A Government in which Democrat and Republican allow neutrally pragmatic institutions for the sake of productivity and increase.

A State in which Socialist and Capitalist tolerate similar policies that do not violate  their diverging identities.

A Regime where  Left and Right achieve tolerance, mimicking each other in their tactics.

Now looking back, a lifetime ago . . .

At the top, leaders and their agents at the peak of diplomacy met with the other side to do business, but unknowingly made arrangements that passively allow harm to all the citizens of the world who would soon get caught in the crossfire.

And a few years later. . .

An Agreement in which Communist and Fascist coexisted, militarily, for about two years, by means of a sham treaty . . .

A Treaty in which, 80 years ago, a Communist and a Nazi tyranny attacked and plundered the Polish nation that lay between them.

Then, years after that initial double-sided invasion . . .

Allied  armies later penetrated the morass of Power, bringing to light of day the deplorable bottom where Nazi concentration camps were found,  and later, Communist gulags. These hellhole prisons were established by both sides, for purposes of controlling both their peoples by means of the same criminally cruel imprisonments and executions.

Because Left and Right made no difference in their tortuous abuses of mankind.

At that low point, persecution, torture, imprisonment, pain and death are the same whether they’re inflicted by a damn Communist or a damn Nazi.

More generally, however. . .

These days, at the Top

of our hypothetical circle we catch sight of moderate players who manage to do their moderating thing  in spite of the treacherous slippery slope curvature of the two sides.

And at the Bottom—in the pit of both sides’ dubious or even despicable practices, the tactical crimes common to both extremities are occasionally uncovered, identifiable as the same  atrocities.

Because Left and Right make no difference, at their extremities, in their manipulations and abuses of mankind.

At what is perhaps our present High point, everybody seems to be chugging along in a globalized quasi-peace.

But at some future a Low point, persecution, torture, imprisonment, pain and death will be the same whether they’re inflicted by a Socialist or a Fascist, a Democrat or a Republican,  by a whacko shootist or a jihadist terrorist.

At some other low point of history, armies representing Truth and Justice—if there is such a thing in this circle— will be required again, to blast their way into the cycle of hellish human history, and liberate those prisoners who are caught in the crossfire.

Even now, the widening gyre,  the next circle, gathers speed to ramp up to dizzying velocity, delivering at some dismal low point of human depravity a new deposit of deplorable arrests and atrocities, accumulating in the pit where innocent souls get caught in the crossfire, deprived of justice and mercy.

Beware. On the last go-round, the pit could be bottomless.

Get ready to meet your maker. If you don’t acknowledge the Maker . . .well,  good luck with that. May the bird of paradise fly up your nose until it all hits the fan.

King of Soul

Birgitta’s Historic Book

November 22, 2017

If you’re an early baby boomer like me you grew up with a sinister presence in the background of our American life—the threat of nuclear war with the USSR. On the distant edges of all that fear we could almost hear the low rumble of a Cold War; it was perpetually being waged somewhere in the world between “us’ and “them.”

We young Americans were told that those Russians over there in the Far East were perpetrators of terrible, repressive political system called Communism.

In 1956, the Premier of the USSR, Nikita Khruschev, began to talk about the widespread abuses that were heaped upon the a Russian people through Josef Stalin’s cruel network of surveillance and prisons.

It was said that many, many citizens, perhaps millions, of  Soviet citizens were unjustly persecuted, arrested, imprisoned and executed without due process of law. American paranoia about the threat of Russian aggression and enslavement grew more and more intense through the 1950’s and ’60’s. We generally heard and believed reports from our Western news-gatherers, both military and journalistic,  warning us about the nefarious presence of a horrific Communist empire on the other side of the world.

In 1973, Alecksandr Solzhenitsyn managed to publish to the world his voluminous report on the Soviet system of imprisonment. His book, Gulag Archipelago, was written from personal experience. Its IronCurtain-busting contents became for the world generally, but also for the Soviets, a basis for a widespread re-evaluation of the Soviet Union and its immense network of prisons and slave camps.

In 1989, the peoples of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics fomented a revolution in which they overthrew the old communist system and began to replace it with something new and far more democratic than Russians had ever known. The great thrust of this revolution was powered by the people being sick and tired of communist oppression and cruelty.

In 2017, I learned that a woman in my hometown is daughter of a man who survived eleven years in the Soviet gulag, in a slave camp in Siberia, above the Arctic Circle.

Having heard about this stuff all my life, I was amazed to meet someone whose life had been directly affected by that infamous gulag archipelago.

In her historic book, Years Stolen,  Birgitta Gottlieb McGalliard releases to the world her father’s own written account of his enslaved life, which was imposed on him by Russian soldiers in Bulgaria in 1944. That long imprisonment included months of miserable train transports, years in Lefortovo and Lubyanka prisons in Moscow, and ultimately Arctic imprisonment at Vorkuta slave labor camp in the faraway, frozen Siberian north.

YearsStoln

Yes, Virginia, there really was a Siberia. And it was absolutely as bad as anything you ever heard about it. This terrible tale was not made up by yankee Red-baiters.

Birgitta’s account, obtained and documented meticulously from her own father’s memoirs, is a truly amazing testimony of his survival saga through unimaginably cruel, cold conditions. Roland Gottlieb wrote and spoke of his real life experience there after his release in 1955. Birgitta’s writing about his ordeal is laced with the tenderness of a daughter’s love; it is also strengthened with a visceral thoroughness that painstakingly communicates the immensity of Roland’s achievement in surviving eleven years in the gulag.

If you have ever doubted all those post-WWII reports of Soviet oppression and cruelty, this book will dispel your doubts. Thank God the people of the former USSR have seen, since 1989, the light of freedom and are now following that hopeful star of democratic reforms instead of the old Red Star of communist enslavement. One reason that beacon burns brightly in our world today is because of the testimony of survivors like Roland Gottlieb, as reported by his daughter, Birgitta.

The book is, as they say, a good read. Buy it now and you will be much the wiser after this textual journey into the hell of suffering that some humans have historically imposed on other humans.

Glass half-Full