Saturday, May 26, 2007

Cold War Veteran's Association

I've developed a full line of CWVA items for The Scarlet Menace. They have a sense of humor, but I realize they're also expressing something--all of the Scarlet Menace is actually--about what I feel. It's not that I'm an ideological communist. Read anything about Stalin, Mao or the rest of their ilk and the deeper you go the more the more you realize what a facade they maintained. But at the same time I miss that facade. For me the propaganda, the socialist realism, the imagery of people united and struggling, is a kind of religious vision: an idealized expression of a world that didn't really exist and certainly doesn't now. The soviet secret police was the self-destructive reality behind many of the iconic expressions of freedom and justice. The red and black are strong spiritually compelling colors. That world is gone, but that spiritual hunger for equality, for righteousness, for freedom, for collectivity, for a reality that matches our aspirations, that remains. The ideology is discredited, and probably for good reason. But the symbols holds their power.
I am a veteran of the cold war. I served its front lines by being a more-or-less card-carrying communist for almost ten years. Its struggles informed my childhood; its memories color our new world of narcissistic money-based nihilism. The desperation of the so-called terrorists, the desperation of the so-called warriors on terror, it's all a reflection of the destruction, along with everything that was bad about the cold war era, of everything that was good about it and its time of politically and ideologically-based liberation struggle.
Yes, there were firing squads and brutality behind Mao's cultural revolution. There were firing squads and Siberian camps behind Stalin's nationalization of the Leninist ideal. But there was something else as well. Something the world misses.

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