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Sunday, August 19, 2012

The wrong side of history

Nobody wants to be on the wrong side of history. Every now and then change happens fast -fast in the eyes of historians anyway.

Take the collapse of the Soviet Union. It did not fall through invasion. Tanks and guns could not save it. All the Draconian laws, secret police and surveillance could not save it. Even reform could not save it, as it was too little and too late. The rot was deep and wide, right down to the main beams of the empire.

Now imagine all those people heavily invested in the old empire. The party members who lost their party, and their privileges. Military men found themselves in an army that could not even feed them. Think of all the snitches and sneaks who lost their protective patrons.

Secrets come out. I wish I could remember the names, but one prominent East German dissident discovered his own wife was a snitch for the secret police. Awkward does not begin to describe it. She found herself on the wrong side of history.

When I see so called democracies going down the same road I know where this is heading. I’ve seen it before. Maybe I don’t know the timing, but there is a certain smell of rot in the air. Of course, all those in power try the same old tricks from the same old play book. They crack down on dissent. Surveillance camera go up everywhere. Every effort is made to instill fear in the population. The grip of the iron fist becomes tighter and tighter. Being on the wrong side of history, none of this really matters.

The police state is a big solid looking dam holding back a huge reservoir of people. The dam looks solid, even when the first tiny cracks are forming. A tiny stream frees itself from the dam, and the crack widens and widens. Before you know it, the whole thing comes crashing down.

There may be efforts to pile sandbags into the gaps. Midnight raids. Extra legal detentions. Torture and intimidation. It might even work for a while. For a while. Eventually, even the jack booted thugs begin to realize they are on the wrong side of history. Who wants to make a stand to the death when the big boss is heading out the back door with a suitcase of jewels, booze and a hooker on each arm?

We’ve all got to ask ourselves, are we on the side of the angels? Will history make us look foolish? Congratulations, you’ve won a gold medal in a game that no one cares about. Then you discover the medal isn’t gold, but lead that only hold you back and drags you down. That’s what it’s like to find yourself on the wrong side of history.