kolmapäev, juuli 04, 2007

The Ministry of Silly Walks

One of Karl Marx's most famous quotes is "religion is the opiate of the masses." It is ironic that in the Soviet Union, communism became a similar wonder drug. The Stalinist repackaging of the botched Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and subsequent invasion of Russia by ex-ally Nazi Germany was an excellent example of why we must read and read and read some more about the past, because how much of what we are taught can be that true?

Yesterday they finally laid to rest the Bronze Soldier controversy. I don't blame the government for doing what it did, and I am quite glad they decided to engage the nefarious Russian Federation-backed youth groups that threatened -- and achieved -- lawlessness to show their disappointment with democracy and, coincidentally, their immense love with the fruits of capitalism.

I am especially pleased that they managed to scrub clean the Soviet halo from the memorial and make it what it should be: a memorial to war dead and nothing else. As routine parliamentary election loser Andrei Zarenkov told ITAR-TASS: "The Estonian authorities want to turn 'the bronze soldier' into an ordinary grave monument." Exactly, mu kallis sõber.

So where do we go from here? What could we possibly do with our lives now that WWII is over ... again? I recommend not thinking about it anymore. This excursion on a wobbly rail has concluded. Jaak Aaviksoo can go back to the Ministry of Silly Walks, and all will be mõnus and catatonic in the lovely world of Eesti. Because Estonians are tree people and bog people and wind people. They aren't really monument people. And, quite frankly, this has wasted plenty of our valuable time.

15 kommentaari:

Agu-Enrik Ubailves ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Frank ütles ...

Though it may be tempting, and though I might have got the idea, I would hesitate to address the Estonians as some variety of Hobbits or maa-people who do not care for monuments ... I guess there is a well-established sense for monuments, especially so, when the monument proves that Estonians belong to the occidental mindset ...

Mait ütles ...

Communism wasn't religion, the war was - and still is.

Just look into the eyes of any middle-aged russian talking about the war... you see a religious zeal similar to that of a born-again christian.

It's somewhat understandable, though. USSR, and by extension Russia, has pretty much nothing else to be proud of in last century, hence their falling back to the resistance to nazis as a definition of their identity. Not part of it - the only definition.

No wonder Alyosha issue was called a blasphemy by Kreml. It was a religious issue.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

A Latvian from Riga commented on the Bronze Soldier issue:'Russia will always be like that, it will happen again and again. It will never end.'
His grandfather was forced to join the German Army 1944, he refused to follow an order,blowing up houses. Because of that the Germans send him to the KZ Neuengamme near Hamburg. There he died just shortly before the war ended.
The Latvian said, that the most dangerous time was in the early 90s.
Headlines from the Baltic Independent:
June 12-18 1992
Russia: the Baltics is ours
July 24-30 1992
Russia threatens sanctions
"If acts of terrorism against Russian citizens continue...temporary sanctions..
April 2-8 1993
Kremlin halt pullout again
"The suspension is the result of the short sighted policy of Estonia and Latvia"
April 9-15 1993
Meri slates Clinton over Yeltsin's lies
May 21-27 1993
Council of Europe membership puts no end to propaganda war
Kozyrev "premature entry" cancelled trip to Strasbourg
June 25 - July 1993
Russia slams Estonia's agressive nationalism'

Heli ütles ...

Love your post Agu-Enrik :).
But the situation is of course still serious and it will be at least for a while more.

Juan Manuel ütles ...

We must understand that for ordinary Russians the war has a very special meaning. Not because they won, but because they were fighting for their own lives.

I happened to be in Russia two times at the Victory Day and it is a day when they congratulate everybody, but specially the survivors of the conflict. No matter if they were men or women, they all contributed to a very worthy cause which is not being extermined or enslaved by the Germans.

Of course, WWII history is full of contradictions. I heard in a Russian readio station that it was Paulus himself who organized the evacuation of Stalingrad (because Stalin did not allow to evacuate the city).

Even in Russian TV, where you can find nothing close to self-criticism, there was a documentary about those who resisted because could not believe that the Red Army was retiring and not confronting the Germans.

In one word: most ordinary Russians don't carea about their discreditted politics and much less about VVP, and Estonian Russians don't usually side with the Kremlin, but the WWII issue is a very sensible one for them.

Kristopher ütles ...

Excellent post.

But I would note that as far as I know, the Estonian government could not have known the outcome of its action (unless it turns out that along with amazing IT Estonia has a quantum computer that can predict future events). So that made what they did pretty irresponsible -- and it was pathetic how Estonia hid behind behind the skirts of the West, which was busy doing grown-up things at the time.

The truth is that Russia doesn't really care to shoot itself in the foot, anyway, by getting Soviet on our ass. Because Severstalsnefttrans and other Russian corporations profit too when goods get shipped --on Estonian state infrastructure. Hmm. Maybe that is something for the government to address.

Anyway, though I really didn't care about a momument either, the removal does have the effect of making the other Soviet memorabilia around Tallinn so much more random seeming. Like the hammer and sickle on the building across the street from the Stockmann. or the fact that the Foreign Ministry is still housed in a building that to my knowledge was built for the local Communist Party. It's like, there are no signs of there having been a military occupation, but gee, the architects round these parts just show a remarkable propensity to use Soviet symbols and elements in their work.

Agu-Enrik Ubailves ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Kristopher ütles ...

Sure. But not thinking about it is a good idea. Let people have their delusions. They will become increasingly irrelevant. Pretty soon everybody, both Estonian and Russian, will be sponsoring refugees from desert communities in Southern Europe and pitching in to build the dikes and levees.

Giustino ütles ...

Two ideas about Estonians. Estonians 1) like things sorted, and 2) abhor chaos and mess.

When Estonian leaders saw the chaos and mess in May 2006, they began pondering, "how shall we sort this problem."

The official take is that Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia were equal partners in killing Estonians in the Second World War. They were equal parts enemies of the Estonian state.

Hence the monument was sorted into the same pile as monuments for fallen Nazi war dead after it was run through the government's sorting algorithm.

Local ethnic Russian arguments drew primarily on emotion and therefore were not factored into the Estonian sorting mechanism.

The April mess that followed is seen as an example of the kind of mess and chaos that the monument, left unsorted, was capable of generating given the right provocateurs.

Giustino ütles ...

Though it may be tempting, and though I might have got the idea, I would hesitate to address the Estonians as some variety of Hobbits or maa-people who do not care for monuments ...

I don't think they see them as religious icons. I think that Soviet-commandeered destruction of the Estonian environment hurt Estonians in ways that they are unable to articulate.

Giustino ütles ...

Now you have turned racists and fascists and demand that we should learn your obscure language? It is impossible,it has 14 cases.

The level of nationalism I have encountered on bulletin boards is frighteningly "Nazi-esque".

I say "Nazi-esque" in that I have never knows Nazism. I have known "skinheads" -- guys who shave their heads, acquire black market music, wear boots, and conspire to beat people up.

I have seen Nazism depicted in film and fiction and, of course, seen old film reels. But I can't say anyone of German extraction has ever said to me that, "Poland will be the home of our German-speaking Polish people" the way that some posters here said quite frankly they had similar intentions for the Estonians.

As for the recent uproar, it apparently is not Estonian but "Baltic" in that it has connections to things occuring in Latvia. Here's an interesting link from our friend Aleks Tapinsh:

http://www.allaboutlatvia.com/article/604/the-latvian-connection

Agu-Enrik Ubailves ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Giustino ütles ...

Looks like similar crap is going on in the Czech Republic.

Frank ütles ...

"I think that Soviet-commandeered destruction of the Estonian environment hurt Estonians in ways that they are unable to articulate."

According to my Estonian friends it was exactly this issue that got them started to form an opposition. To stay in the Tolkienesque picture, the Ents come to mind. It takes a lot to get the Ents going, but once the Ents are roused ...

My first visit to Estonia in 1987 was still managed by Intourist, the next visit and first extended stay in 1989 was organised by muinsuskaitse-affiliated activists and camouflaged as an exchange among archaeologists. Our Estonian counterparts could by no means be described as inarticulate, they just were very discriminating about who to tell their tale. But maybe that is just your point.

Anyhow, your blog is a first-rate oasis for Estophiles, and I sincerely hope it will never run dry.