We were told that while the West was free, the Soviet Union was a totalitarian one-party state, characterised by a rigid ideology, an all-pervasive propaganda machine, the brutal suppression of dissent, that people were imprisoned on trumped-up charges in terrible conditions and you couldn't fart in your own toilet without the authorities knowing about it because the KGB had an all pervasive system of spies and snoopers recording everything you did - and heaven help you if it was the wrong kind of fart.
Of course there was more than a grain of truth in the anti-Soviet propaganda though it was no doubt played up as far as possible by the capitalist propagandists. But anyway this isn't a post about the Soviet Union, neither is it a defence of the Soviet Union, its a post about those 'Western liberal democracies' I referred to earlier and what has become of them since the demise of the USSR.
The fact that I've had direct experience of living at a time when the Soviet Union existed enables me to put the current situation we find ourselves in here in the 'West' in perspective. Because as far as I can see in 'the West' we are now living in a one-party state with a regime of rigid ideology, an all pervasive propaganda machine and the brutal suppression of dissent, where people are imprisoned on trumped-up charges in terrible conditions and you can't fart in your own toilet without the regime knowing about it. Now where does that remind you of?
|"Imprisoned on trumped-up charges in terrible conditions"|
Every major party in the 'West' is now a neoliberal party following the same rigid 'free' market ideology. In the UK, Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are simply the left, right, and centre wings of the UK 'neoliberal party'. The same is true in the USA with the Republicans and Democrats and the pattern is repeated in all the other 'Western' democracies. The result is that whoever you vote for in Western democracies you get more of the same, and whichever major media outlet you use you get the same narrow ideological view of the world.
A classic example of the way this stitch-up works is austerity. Since the 2008 global economic crash, every 'Western' government has had its own version of austerity, dumping the costs of the crash onto workers, the poor and the unemployed. When voters have rejected those governments at the ballot box and voted for the opposition, wanting real economic change, they have been faced with more of the same - yet more austerity. So what used to be called 'Western Liberal Democracy' could perhaps now be more accurately described as 'Western Totalitarian Democracy', or since our 'democracy' is now largely controlled by corporations and the rich perhaps simply fascism would be a more accurate description.
It may well be that things in the 'West' are not yet as 'bad' as they were in the Soviet Union. But a quarter of a century after its demise the parallels between what happened there and what is happening here must be taken seriously. All who want a genuinely open, democratic and plural society, and want to bring about real change and sweep away the growing threat to our prosperity and freedom that is being driven by the corporations and neoliberal 'free' market right, need to organise, protest and vote for parties that oppose the corporate takeover of our lives.
Postscript: today (20/08/14) I came across an interesting passage in David Harvey's latest book Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism:
" ....in other words, and intensification of the totalitarian police-state surveillance and and militarised control system and the totalitarian democracy we are now largely experiencing" [p220 -my italics].