Sunday, February 18, 2007

Socialism: A Second Opinion

On the subject of communism, Marxism, and Bolshevism, our Romanian correspondent, Alexandru Lovin, has a considerable amount of first-hand insight to offer. The following is edited together from a lengthy series of email messages he's sent over the last few days; I've made some edits to clarify points and fix punctuation and translation anomalies, and spliced in the clarifications that Alexandru himself sent later. I apologize in advance if I have introduced any errors or misstated his points — and with that said, I'll turn the microphone over to Alexandru.

"First, our professor of political doctrines said, "Marx (presumably with Engels?) made a Party that had a very interesting evolution, until the Bolsheviks showed up."

"However, I entirely agree with your educated and well-informed opinion. You get a guy [Marx] who appears to be a really old frat-boy (how many kids did he have?) and who can't do anything besides blabbering without any kind of use all day. And he has a Philosophiae Doctor title in that. Then, you get a rich spoiled brat [Engels] who, as many spoiled brats do, got bored. This is where all hell breaks loose. You know what PORSCHE stands for? You have to. Proof Of Rich Spoiled Children Having Everything. It's these guys that nowadays get so bored they try all the possible and impossible drugs, and get drunk and get laid all day long. This is (in my opinion) how they get that woooonderful Rapid Cortical Inhibition...

"I've been talking to a Russian guy for a while. His opinion is that Lenin lied to people. Hmmm. "In the name of the people, I shall obtain power for feeding my frustrations and/or hunger for authority, frustrations created not long ago in my life," perhaps?

"This video is by a very good friend of mine:

"[Of this video,] Another very clever friend said, "99% correct opinions, extremely good English." His amendments were as follows:

"The mothers who were given medals for more than 4 kids — that wasn't a cover-up of famine (you know, 2 breads per family per day, like he said), that was some birdie in Ceausescu's head — increasing the populace. [...] No abortions allowed — well, theoretically; you slipped the good doc a little something, and voila, just like things generally worked back then, and still do to a degree — getting better, though.

"The food limit was a way of decreasing external debts. The guy forcefully industrialized Romania. There were quite a few headaches [after the revolution against Ceausescu] with the huge factories and such, they had to become private and nobody wanted them; they had a much larger number of employees than needed because everyone had to have a job, earn money, and generally work — the working class, the glorious communist society, blah, blah — and firing the excess would mean a huge unemployment rate. [Under Ceausescu,] If the police (militia, as it was called, and still is in today's Russia) caught you on the street without a job, you got 6 months in prison.

"After industrializing, the bills started to show up, around the 1980s. That's when Romania cut contacts with mostly everybody, and that's when people started recycling the music from the 1970s, which is why most of them still think it was the best decade in music. Anyway, he (Ceausescu) had the feeling the bills needed to be paid yesterday, so he did his best to squeeze every nickel out of the country. I heard he paid 11 billion dollars worth of debts, while the populace was sold chicken beaks and claws in the stores. They were sold in plastic bags. I just hope I will be able to come up with a perfect translation; a possible one would be "chicken dishes" "bird dishes."

"The visit to North Korea — he was in a stadium, my sources tell me, and he was impressed by the choreography (lots of people spelling crap with boards, you know) and that's when he got the idea he could control people to the last detail. That's when he transformed himself into a pharaoh; an absolute, godlike monarch, and he's obsessed with paying debts. Also add a self-defeating system, encouraging laziness and theft — everyone had to be employed, but nobody wanted to be, so everyone was getting better and better at simulating work and getting as much credit as possible. The employees of the year/month were probably never the most meritorious. Rationing of things was on a "scientific basis" that never really existed: rationed food, living habits, heat, etc. You weren't allowed on the street after 10 in the evening. Stores closed at 6 in the evening, the bars a little later, [but] you weren't allowed to buy or consume alcohol after 10 in the evening. I'm paying the electric bill, there is no principle that says I should be in total blackout 2-4 hours daily, I remember the interior of apartment blocks usually had candles at the side of the [stairs], for when the power goes out. The candles were placed there by the people, almost as a reflex, a thing you had to do.

"[So the] Birth rate drops; Ceausescu offers incentives to mothers, among which there's a medal [for having more than 4 kids]. Increasing the population was one of the things Ceausescu always wanted to do. Maybe he thought he would take over the world the Chinese way or something."

"All three of us — the guy from the film, who also has a sister; the guy who amended all the info; and myself [Alexandru] — were among the luckier ones. Our parents (in my case, my mother's parents, who raised me, worked hard, earned money, and still provide; they had their 50th wedding anniversary in October) managed to mingle and provide decent conditions for us, but many others couldn't. That's why we're now super-techno "knowers" — well, the amender isn't much of one, he's a goddamn copywriter! I should send his last TV ad, only I need to translate the punchlines at the end; let me know if you want that. But others can't wait to fake work for a bigger check and generally tend to do absolutely nothing at all while getting all the merits than can muster.

"In a few days I'll have the video in NTSC DivX format for everybody to have (I'll also enlarge it to NTSC DVD full size). Already ripped it off YouTube. I'll post it on and you'll be able to get it and offer it to your blog guests, if there's a big interest."

Update 2/21/07: From Alexandru—

"This is the video. Encoded with Divx 6.5.1."