Guest post by Aleksey
Upon migrating to the United States many years ago, I embraced my new home and left the past behind. Never could I imagine that, at some point, that past would become relevant.
In the USSR, we had state-controlled media which shaped the narrative entirely.
Our founder, Vladimir Lenin, was portrayed as a noble, charismatic, and smart man -- the champion of the underdog (the working class), the seeker of equality, defeater of the rich. The humble man with common ideas who was destined for greatness.
Lenin peered at us intently from textbooks and walls. His was the face behind the good intentions that shaped our everyday life.
As a kid, I was largely shielded by my family -- they took the brunt of "adult tasks" in everyday life. They bribed officials to accomplish the most basic of things, they conserved every kopek and piece of bread, they got me the rare medicines I needed, all through means I didn't dare fathom.
Of course, there was nothing special about those medicines, those favors, or anything else that took such effort to obtain -- in America, you can just go out and get it in a corner store. In the Soviet Union, the word "deficit" was commonly used in everyday language.
"This and this product are in deficit." This meant that you couldn't buy them. Maybe for the next three months or maybe forever, unless someone was bribed or the product was obtained via the black market, friends, or contraband. Fruits and vegetables had their "seasons" when they made an appearance in local stores -- we didn't have advanced technology like hydroponic farms.
Instead, adults were herded into collective farms, which were the Soviet antithesis of family -- or individual-owned farms. Under cheerful banners of "accomplishing a five-year plan in four," they usually underperformed and the bureaucrats responsible faked the numbers, which moved up the chain of command.
The lines resembled those formed by hipsters in America lining up for the sale of the next iPhone model -- except we stood in them every day.
As much as my family shielded me from their troubles, they couldn't protect me from factors beyond their control. They couldn't raise my level of living above theirs. And they certainly couldn't get me anesthetics for dental visits. Sitting in the gray, sterile corridor for two hours, hearing the sobbing of the kids already in the dental chair as their teeth were drilled without anesthetics, water, or suction, and knowing that your turn was coming -- some handled it better than others.
In the local clinic, needles were resterilized and reused. Ambulances took three hours to arrive, if they came at all.
That was our "free" healthcare.
Since almost nobody had cars, people could rarely afford to move to another city or republic.
Public transportation, which we all had to use, consisted of cranky people squeezed tightly like sardines inside a rusty box on wheels. Despite that, when I was eight, I wanted to be a trolley bus driver. Partially because of all the buttons he flipped to open and close doors, but mostly because there was a wall between him and the sardine can.
The walls in Soviet apartments were poorly insulated from noise and cold. Therefore, wall carpets were dominant in Soviet culture. They all looked similar, usually colored red with abstract, curving patterns.
Red was splattered on our classroom walls and our school uniforms.
In grade school, you became an "Octyabronok" (named after the October 1917 revolution) and wore a Lenin-faced star on your lapel. You got a free newspaper, the "Young Leninist." Later, you became a "Pioneer" and swapped the star for a red tie. After that, you moved on to "Komsomol" (All-Union Leninist Young Communist League). Those who did not follow the groupthink enough to make it to "Komsomol" lost access to crucial resources and careers later in life.
I grew up with no concept of "brands." If I wanted to get that shoddy water pistol that suddenly appeared in a store, and my parents let me, then that was the water pistol. It broke in two weeks, of course.
When I came to America and laid down on an American bed, it struck me that it was more comfortable than any bed I'd ever experienced. It was the result of evolving design oriented toward customer satisfaction -- a concept alien to my former homeland.
The two famous brands of Soviet cars, Zaporozhets and Moskvich (both named after their places of origin), just... existed. We didn't really have Zaporozhets 1980 followed by a new and improved Zaporozhets 1981 -- now with power steering! No such thing. It was a car, and it required no further improvement. There was no customer demand, because people were poor, the state-controlled prices were very high, and product evolution crawled at snail's pace.
The very concept of "customer convenience" did not exist. We didn't have bottles sculpted to fit the shape of your hand, nor did we have polite cashiers, for they were under no obligation to please anyone -- they worked for the state. The abacus was still in common use in our stores while American stores had electric change machines, credit card readers, and sliding doors.
Like most things, clothes were in "deficit" and thus traveled from older to younger siblings in every family over time. Broken things weren't thrown away but repaired.
Our propaganda put the big focus on the noble working class and how there was no such thing as a "lower" profession. Much emphasis was made on the nobility of simple working man, and certainly there is something to that.
But when the janitor receives roughly the same salary as a teacher who is paid roughly the same as a surgeon who is paid roughly the same as a programmer, all of them surrounded by peers who get paid the same no matter how well or poorly they perform, some people start carrying the team, and then they just give up. Everyone performs poorly in the end.
It was painfully obvious to everyone just how low the desire of the average person is to produce goods for other people. Without competition or opportunity to get ahead, with the state controlling production and paying equal salaries to workers regardless of their contributions, we had no concept of abundance.
With our "free" services, we regularly experienced water and electrical outages and sometimes went to a nearby forest to get water. Once you fill that bathtub with water, you can't use it for anything else.
The first time I entered an American food market at the age of seventeen, I froze.
Older Soviets who visited American stores for the first time, got hit harder -- all the lies they were taught from childhood through the decades of their lives -- until that last moment, they expected them to be at least partially true.
"They told us in Odessa, that in San Francisco it's hard to find milk."
This is the typical Soviet mentality, and they were used to it, and they bought into it, and then they entered that American supermarket and saw the rows upon rows of milk of different brands and kinds and fat percentages.
This is where some have been known to cry. It is the realization that their lives were stolen from them by the regime. A realization of what could've been, if they had been lucky enough to be born in this place which, from everything they knew, could not possibly exist.
I now live in Northern California, in the heart of the Bay Area, thousands of miles away from my homeland.
Stop a random youth on the street and you'll find out what he thinks about capitalism (bad!) and communism/socialism (good!). Their favorite news programs are the "Daily Show" and the "Colbert Report," where comedians reinforce their brainwashing via short, catchy clips.
Walk through Berkeley and you will see wall graffiti of the same hammer and sickle that adorned the big red flags of the Soviet era.
This doesn't extend to just youths. People of all ages, even acquaintances that I otherwise respect and admire, are like this. They support the "progressive" leader Barack Obama, worship the nanny state, and believe in equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity.
They badmouth capitalism and complain that only one percent of the American population has the "American dream." They buy into the class warfare rhetoric hook, line, and sinker. They want artificially raised minimum wage, government handouts, and believe that Obamacare is the greatest thing since the invention of pockets.
I look at them and the red ties materialize, familiarly, around their necks.
Living in the Soviet Union, being bombarded with similar nonsense, we had nothing to contradict it. When we walked outside the school, the everyday reality had no traces of the wealth afforded by capitalism. We lived in the grayness and that grayness was all there was.
Americans leave school to go home and they drop by a mall to buy something from an incredible selection of wealth and choice afforded by capitalism. They drop by a small corner store, which could probably feed a savvy Soviet village for a month (dog food is food, too, you know), and they pick up some "entertainment food" that did not exist in the USSR, in quantities that weren't affordable for an average Soviet family.
Then they go home and write essays on their expensive iPads about how they don't have the American Dream.
Now, most American news sources are no different than Pravda and Izvestia. Now, the government used the IRS to stifle political opposition. Now, ObamaCare is a wealth redistribution platform disguised as a common good. Now, Obama is being portrayed in academia and the media alike as a charismatic, messianic, "progressive" figure, fighting for the "underdog." He would feel right at home as the General Secretary of the Communist Party. Now, Obama Youths are me, from decades ago. Leninist academia has had its way with them. Now, just like Soviet leaders, American leaders give lip-service to "social justice" while stocking up on personal wealth for their families.
There's nothing new under the sun. I'm hardly the only ex-Soviet to point out the parallels. But some things matter enough to bear repeating.
Dear beautiful America, please, stop moving Forward.
Hat tip: BadBlue News
Thank you for writing this. I don't know how to stop the progressives as they are so sure they are right and I am evil. The progressives are either about to lose it all, or they are on the edge of ruining it all for the county for a long time. Interesting times.
Wow a great article !. A dear friend of mine was in the Nazi Youth some 70 years ago . She says the parallels between the Dear One ( Barack Obama) and Hitler are chilling .
Stock up and prepare folks you have no idea just how bad it will get.
Aside from people here, this message is like putting pearls before pigs.
Our attack needs to be focused against the corrupt US media outlets, who are doing the bidding of the malignant characters the writer is so justifiably worried about.
I commented on your comic yesterday and am so glad you linked to this article and made it so very visible on your blog. I have been linking to it every chance I get because I am afraid too many Americans are totally clueless about what we can expect in the direction the Progressives are leading America. Thank you so much!
I came from the same place you did in 1980. I remind people of this all the time, and I warn them about where they're headed. They are deaf.
Spaciba Aleksey. Please keep helping us braindead North Americans, especially the young.
Too late comrade, we have "progressed" too far to stop or reverse. The upcoming civil war may solve the problem or it may not, no sure way of telling, but it is coming for sure.
Thank you for your commentary, please repost it whenever or wherever you can. My generation fought the communists in Vietnam, only to be betrayed by the corrupt American media and the treasonous democrat party taken over by socialist in 1973.
Enough with the Hitler references He is dead these past 60 years but you keep forgetting communism and Marxism alike and well why.
Dead Nazi's cannot hurt us but your incessant whining about him for years has born deadly fruit.
It allowed the Marxists to proliferate while you kept hunting Hitler and his boys.
Having experienced a milder version of that as a child in Poland some 40 years ago, I too am alarmed and dismayed by what is going on.
I remember waiting in line for toilet paper when it made a rare appearance at the local store and the perpetually empty meat store.
None of the younger or even older progressive co-workers of mine can be dissuaded from their position and beliefs.
They have been conditioned to it for years or decades and unfortunately have never experienced what come because of what they seek.
It is too late. The last place with a foundation of individual freedom and law is lost.
Couldn't find a place to flag Dorispinto's comments. An obvious pitch for business, irrelevant to such a good and instructive article.
What did you do with my comment???
Thank you for posting this interesting and frightening story. Many of us can see this happening but there are those who see only what they choose to see. Maybe if enough people see it and pass it around, a few of those with blinders on will imagine the reality of it all. History does repeat itself.
It's very important that we send this on to everyone. It's also important that we vote in the next two elections to get rid of the Liberals. If the American people will work together we can overcome the Obama ways by destroying the Liberals. I would hate to think that my grandchildren would end up as what the Russian people have been putting up with.
Dirty Dog say's: If you think Obama was being made President just over the last few years, your badly uninformed. Look at the years it took to hide Obama's records. Obama was picked to be a puppet years ago and everything he has done someone gave him orders to do. Sometimes Obama says things he is not ordered to say and this gets him into trouble with his people. I'm betting when it's all over for Obama and no longer needed by whoever put him their as President, he will be silenced.
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