The country of Slovakia has created a National Memory Institute(UPN)which preserves the memory of the nation’s past, particularly, the period in which communism was dominant. There is no doubt many people would enjoy seeing the building containing documents as to who collaborated with the police, who informed on a neighbor or relative, and who today was someone then. Snce its inception, the Institute has been releasing information about people whom the historical documents indicate were either opposed to or collaborated with, the pre-1989 communist regime.
The concept of a Memory Institute has great attractions, but, it also raises questions as to who decides which documents are released. The Institute has incredible power in deciding what happens today so questions concerning control over Memory are of vital concern in 2008 to leaders of political parties whose leaders may have had connections in the past to people with whom they wish no information is ever released.
The Memory Institute has the power in Slovakia to eradicate an individual’s past which thus determines the individual’s future. Until those who lived under communism die, the past will not only live on in the individual’s mind, but in a building not far away.
The dramatic triumph of the communist party in last week’s elections raises interesting questions as to whether this marks the emergence of a communism devoted to creating a democratic Nepal in which people of all socio-economic backgrounds can move forward, or will this be another Maoist example of brutality in the name of the state. There is no doubt the people of Nepal were disgusted with its corrupt and inefficient monarchy and wanted the dawn of a new age in which all sectors of society would benefit, but in selecting the Maoist leadership have they entered on a new era of oppression?
The Maoists can digest a form of capitalism much as Chinese Communists have adopted one, but if their neighbor to the north is any example, the Nepal Maoists may find indigestible the components of a democratic society. Most probably the professional Nepal army will soon be transformed into a people’s liberation force dedicated to the proposition the Maoist run government can not surrender power in any such thing as a democratic election.
To sum up: its Mao, not Gorbachev.
A Soviet era joke reveals the surrealism of the Russian people. In the joke, Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khruschev, and Leonid Brezhnev are riding in a train when the engine suddenly halts. Stalin has the engineer shot. The train still doesn’t move. Khrushchev posthumously rehabilitates the engineer, but the train still doesn’t move. Brezhnev then draws the curtains and says: “Good. We’re moving.” In an interesting article in the Moscow times, Alex Bayer raises questions about his fellow Russians and why they go along with the Putin charade that the nation is adhering to democratic procedures. Putin has portrayed himself as a man of action and people go along with that imagery despite the growing disrespect he displays for principles of democracy. “In fact,” says Bayer, “there is little reason to doubt that he will leave office in the same way as the overwhelming majority of his predecessors — in a casket.” Putin has destroyed all opposition parties and leaders by his heavy handed leadership style. Russians apparently seek his promise of stability, continuity, preservation of their property and wealth and protection from unknown outside forces that threaten the security of Russia.
Bayer points out that today there are millions of Russians enjoying the good life, but still they want a strong leader at their head. Children are being educated with access to western democratic ideas, but a majority of the Russian people prefers the order of security to the volatile world of democracy. Is that feeling part of Russian character?