The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

13 May 2003

If I knew then what I know now

Bleeding Brain (if permalinks are Blogspotty, go to 12 May) has a thoughtful essay on a question that has occasionally occurred to me as well:

I sometimes wonder if I am really the kind of person who would have resisted communism at the very onset.

At present, there is no doubt that I would resist it. I know its history and its body count. I know how it strips societies down to bareness and then flogs them till the blood runs in the gutters. I know communism well. She is a cold reptile who leaves a trail of death wherever she emerges from the sewers.

The question I ask myself is this: If I were a young man circa 1906 in Russia, would I have had the astuteness to recognize the evil that was coming to nest on the country when the Bolsheviks were stirring?

Given the general unpleasantness that prevailed under the Tsars, it's probably no wonder that this new movement seemed appealing, or at least no worse. And BB admits that the official abolition of classes (never mind how well it worked in actual practice, which is not at all) might have scored points with him. But then there's this:

"What?...you mean the state would own everything?" I would have asked myself. "You mean my father's farm would belong to the government?"

How could one NOT ask this question?

People who didn't have anything probably didn't see anything wrong with this; if anything, they might have seen it as a leveling of the playing field. But for property owners, and children of property owners, this could have been — perhaps should have been — a red flag.

It's a good piece, and even if we fear that our 1906 selves might have been complicit in this revolution, at least our 2003 selves know better.

Posted at 7:53 AM to Political Science Fiction


But it's a good way to remind us that we don't know now what our descendants will know a hundred years from now. What might we be embracing that they'll wish we hadn't?

A question we should be asking ourselves every day.

Posted by: McGehee at 9:21 PM on 13 May 2003

Thanks for the excellent link from this blog to BB.

McGehee points out a very relevant extention to idea of projecting our current selves at the junctions of history.

Are there any notions we cling to now out of ignorance that future generations will read about and laugh at our blindness?

Probably but they will have their own blindspots as well.

Posted by: Bleeding Brain at 7:06 AM on 18 May 2003