Remembering Communism

There are only two forces in the world, the sword and the spirit. In the long run the sword will always be conquered by the spirit.

Napoleon Bonaparte

 

Twenty years ago on that day the Berlin Wall fell down. This was the beginning of the end of Communist rule in Eastern Europe.

Today I would like to say a few words about this disastrous ideology. It has brought huge suffering in Eastern Europe. Millions of decent, hard-working people in the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, East Germany, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, and Albania were killed, imprisoned, tortured, raped, intimidated and abused. Millions more fell victims to Communism in Asia.

This regime was totalitarian, just like Nazism. Totalitarian regimes have one particular feature so well exposed by Juan José Linz – the power is concentrated in a small group that is not accountable to anyone and cannot be stripped of power with peaceful means.

To keep their power, Communist leaders were ready to do everything necessary. And they did it, crushing ruthlessly any resistance, destroying human lives, debilitating culture, and undermining common human values.

This dehumanizing aspect of Communism is probably its most important, and most evil, feature.

Today we are celebrating twenty years of Communism-free Europe. But we should not be celebrating at all.

Communism is alive and kicking, at least in my country. Even today the henchmen of the Communist regime still play an important role in the Bulgarian society. The sons and grandsons of the Communist leaders are active politicians, magistrates, and businessmen. We now know that many of the participants in the transition process to democracy were former agents or collaborators of the Communist state security services.

Worse, even today Bulgarians are nostalgic about Communism. Only 13% believe that today we are “better”, while 62% of Bulgarians say we are “worse” economically than under Communism. Sometimes the idea of a “strong hand” is presented to the public in subtle, tempting tones by experienced political engineers.

Let me be clear. The integration into the European Union is the one and only true external guarantee of the democratic political process in Bulgaria. But this is not enough. Should we forget the past, should we cherish the rotten fruit of authoritarianism, no one and nothing will save us.

 

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