This is my personal thoughts, opinions and musings place. I will also rant about things, especially politically-correct things that irritate me. And sci-fi. Did I mention sci-fi? There'll be lots of sci-fi stuff here. And movies, too. Mmmmm... Movies

Friday, May 06, 2005

How to ruin a perfectly good communist

One of the problems with is that it renders its victims unable to understand the consequences of their utterings. Certainly, , like most other religions in the world, is dogmatic, its proponents rendered senseless by the scriblings of the . And yes, I did just call communism a . It has , it has , it has , it has , it has and it has the . What more does a religion need?

When I was very young and lived in the old(and no defunct) (for those young enough to not know what that was, it was a country which suffered not only under a delusion of grandeur, but also a delusion of adequacy), I had to join the . It's an organization somewhat akin to the North American and , only without the separation of the sexes, no learning of useful life-skills and no camping out in the woods. In fact, it's a organization that serves no actual purpose other than to prepare one to join a few years later, followed by a (possible) membership in the . Much like , it was not really possible to avoid membership in these organizations. For one thing, most people firmly believed in their value. As an example, a lot of older Russians today believe they fought with the Germans during to save communism, rather than to save their country from a brutal invader.

People who've never lived under an oppressive, though not necessarily snarling or murderous, regime, don't really understand the pressures those societies place on their citizens to join these organizations and conform to the dictates of dogma. Canadians and Americans are especially ignorant of this, since they've never had to deal with it, and they're separated from the oppressive societies by two great oceans. This is not a criticism, but a statement of fact. Personally, I'm glad they don't know anything about it. Union members might understand, though. Not joining Hitler Youth or Young Pioneers or Comsomol would be akin to applying for a job at G.M. to work on the assembly line and saying you don't want to become a member of the union.

Dogma, and especially the official dogma of the oppresive state, blinds people to how damaging it can be to what the people suffering under it are trying to accomplish. Like most kids that age, I really was looking forward to joining the Young Pioneers. It was a great honour, to be sure, though somewhat offset by the fact that everybody else also had to join. It was also a stepping-stone of your life, the point where you stop being a child and become an adult, or as adult as you can be at that age. If, for some reason, you couldn't join, kids would make fun of you and laugh and point. To make things worse, the teachers would actively encourage said kids to do that. It's an effective way to keep dissenters or “” in line.

As I say, I really wanted to join the Young Pioneers, but then I found out that there was going to be a problem. You see, the issue wasn't that I wasn't loyal enough or that my parents kept “”-capable radio receivers at home(they did, but the school didn't know that) or even that I had pissed on . No, the problem was much worse than that: I had commited the ultimate, unforgiveable faux pas. My hand-writing, as it happens, was(and to a large degree still is) very much sub-par. That, in the dogmatic eyes of commizilla, aka my teacher, was the ultimate sin, unpardonable, unredeemable, forever branding me with the stigma of having been rejected for Young Pioneers.

Eventually, cooler heads prevailed and I was allowed to join the Organizationtm, if I would promise to practice really, really hard to improve my handwriting. And so I became one with God as the Communists know him, complete with the red neck ties that commie children wear. Next time you Canadians and Europeans see those pictures with lots of kids in them, remember that those kids wear the red ties, but not in the ads 'cause the Cubans aren't stupid enough to put them there. Americans, you don't see those ads anyway, so it doesn't matter.

So I joined Young Pioneers, but it got me thinking, you see. Even at that age and swimming in the disgustingly poluted sea of propaganda, I began to wonder why, exactly, all things but handwriting being equal, would I not be able to get into the Young Pioneers. I started looking around and noticing other logic flaws around me. Yet, it wasn't enough to shake my faith in The Systemtm. That came later.

One of the things that was(and still is, of course) important to me back at that age was my family, especially my father and my mother. And to a lesser degree, our home. I don't claim that I was a model child and never made things difficult for my parents(making my own weapons and running around with friends in the neighbourhood shooting up mushrooms growing on trees is bound to age one's parents considerably), but it was one of those bedrocks of my childhood. And so, on a fateful day, commizilla uttered the infamous fatal words that shattered the propaganda's hold on me forever. Sitting in front of the class with the principal standing beside her(I don't even remember why), and apparently speaking earnestly and believing her own agitprop, she said, “School is where you live; home is where you merely go to sleep”.

It may not sound like much, but I know that that was the day I broke from the mind-control completely and refused, privately at least, to accept any more poison. I clearly remember that day, even so many decades later. It was one of those seminal moments that people speak of, where the mind suddenly awakens and realizes that is actually free to think as it will. I remember having only two such moments; the second came many years later, in a Canadian classroom when I finally understood, in a computer class, the difference between a data address and an instruction address.

Dogma is a dangerous thing, and it can lead one down unexpected avenues. Uncritically uttering dogma, commizilla literally ruined me for communism forever. When my parents came to me one day to tell me that they were planning to leave the USSR and move to Canada, they did so with trepidation, thinking that'd I'd be upset; instead, I shrugged my shoulders and said, “OK”, or the Russian equivalent thereof.

Dogma also makes itself far more important that any individual, or that individual's wellbeing. Just before I had to take part in a Young Pioneer parade, I managed to food-poison myself pretty severely. They tried making me stand in my place, despite my notable lack of any ability to do so. Then, after getting pissy with me over my unbelievable gall of getting myself poisoned at this highly inconvinient time, they did what dogma demanded of them: they thought me irrelevant, threw me out and sent me home. Delirious. And alone. A twenty minute walk to the subway. A long subway ride. A long bus ride. Some woman on the subway saw me and went way the hell out of her way to take me home. She got to me just in time, too, because by the time I got home, I sure as hell didn't know where I was.

Dogma is extremely dangerous. It closes one's mind to everything, even inconvenient parts of the same dogma. Be careful that it doesn't take over your life.

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