Tag Archives: history

Remembering the Miracle of 1989

And it truly was one. I was living in Paris at the time, and was still young and foolish enough to think there was something redeemable about communism. Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall I travelled through Eastern Europe and began to see how terribly misguided I had been. I also began to see how lucky we all were that the revolution had unfolded peacefully.

Some think that the momentous change that began in 1989 was inevitable. They would do well to remember that in June of the same year, China’s elderly rulers had deployed tanks to crush (literally) the peaceful freedom movement in Tiananmen Square. And there were plenty of communist leaders urging a “Chinese solution” for the demonstrations of 1989. In fact, at the Soviet command post just south of Berlin (which had served as command center for the German Army during World War II, and which had been seized from Hitler decades earlier), Red Army marshals were awaiting orders to march in and save the empire by whatever means necessary.

No one can know what would have happened if more conservative forces within the Kremlin had prevailed. Most likely, there would have been widespread disorder and violence across much of the region, which would have put the West under substantial pressure to intervene. Open war would have been a distinct possibility. After all, large empires throughout history have generally gone out with a bang. If anything, the Soviet experience was an exception.

Read the rest of this analysis from Carl Bildt, Sweden’s former Foreign Minister and Prime Minister.

Limits

This piece by Andrew Sullivan reminds me why I used to – between 2000 and 2006/7 or thereabouts – read his blog every single day. I was trying to find a “money quote” (as we old bloggers used to call it) to feature, but the whole thing is excellent.

I’ll give you this much, about the current wokesters…

To watch this version of the left capture all of higher education and the mainstream media, to see the increasing fury and ambition of its proponents, could make a reactionary of nearly anyone who’s not onboard with this radical project.

…but I’ll caution you to read the entire column (link above).

Auden’s “Refugee Blues”

A powerful poem, written in 1939, about the plight of European Jews.

REFUGEE BLUES

Say this city has ten million souls,
Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes:
Yet there’s no place for us, my dear, yet there’s no place for us.

Once we had a country and we thought it fair,
Look in the atlas and you’ll find it there:
We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there now.

In the village churchyard there grows an old yew,
Every spring it blossoms anew:
Old passports can’t do that, my dear, old passports can’t do that.

The consul banged the table and said,
“If you’ve got no passport you’re officially dead”:
But we are still alive, my dear, but we are still alive.

Went to a committee; they offered me a chair;
Asked me politely to return next year:
But where shall we go to-day, my dear, but where shall we go to-day?

Came to a public meeting; the speaker got up and said;
“If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread”:
He was talking of you and me, my dear, he was talking of you and me.

Thought I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky;
It was Hitler over Europe, saying, “They must die”:
O we were in his mind, my dear, O we were in his mind.

Saw a poodle in a jacket fastened with a pin,
Saw a door opened and a cat let in:
But they weren’t German Jews, my dear, but they weren’t German Jews.

Went down the harbour and stood upon the quay,
Saw the fish swimming as if they were free:
Only ten feet away, my dear, only ten feet away.

Walked through a wood, saw the birds in the trees;
They had no politicians and sang at their ease:
They weren’t the human race, my dear, they weren’t the human race.

Dreamed I saw a building with a thousand floors,
A thousand windows and a thousand doors:
Not one of them was ours, my dear, not one of them was ours.

Stood on a great plain in the falling snow;
Ten thousand soldiers marched to and fro:
Looking for you and me, my dear, looking for you and me.

Boris

I refuse to be irrational about Boris – in fact, I rather like him. Whether he can weather the Brexit storm is another matter, but I like some of his decisions so far: Piti Pratel, Dom Cummings, for starters; getting rid of at least 17 ministers. Here’s a fair portrait of the man.

A propos Brexit, I though poor Theresa May was treated abominably for her efforts – I have enormous respect for the woman. I know a “feminist” who criticized her for crying when she stepped down! I found that rather mean-spirited. What was wrong with her having that honest moment? I am certain that if May were a Labour politician this “feminist” would not have criticized her so harshly.

And here is a link from a few months ago – “Brexit: the Musical.” It perhaps seems a bit dated now, but I found it hilarious. And it might yet come to pass.

To the Moon

I do not understand people who are cynical about the moon landing, about space exploration in general. This is the best of America, the best of humanity – the desire to learn, to explore; the curiosity; the discoveries that give us goosebumps. I do not remember the moon landing — though my oldest brother always told me I was watching with the rest of the family — but I love watching these clips.

Vel D’Hiv

Today marks the 77th anniversary of the Rafle du Vel d’Hiv in Paris. It took the French over 50 years to admit their very proactive role in this tragedy, and Jacques Chirac was the one to finally tell the truth. For this reason, I will always have respect for him, in spite of his being — in my view – politically objectionable on other matters. There was absolutely nothing for him to gain from this in terms of votes. It was simply the right thing to do.