The Ghosts of History: Moscow, Russia

As we stand on the edge of the end of the year ready to jump head first into the next, I thought I would add a few sketchy thoughts from my base here in Moscow. I will pull the beard of controversy and run away to a safe distance. I will light the fuse and watch it fizzle out or take light. Socialism, the ideal. This what was experienced in Russia in the past. I was never interested in history at school and spent most of my time looking out the window. However, now I am interested in the past and all the ghosts that still haunt us now, you can feel the past if you allow yourself to. I am not a socialist, right wing conservative or liberalist, but I do believe that everyone should be equal, everyone should have access to food, water, education and health care. Am I living in a fools paradise? maybe. Of course this will never happen, but the state of affairs we now live in, is far from perfect and worries me. What will next year bring to the world? Will certain countries see sense and behave, will powers take action to halt climate change? who knows. Do we learn by history? Do we feel history and remember?

cccpMy journey in Russia, will hopefully teach me about its past and its future. Recently, I visited a a war museum in Moscow. It is a monument to soldiers that died in WW2. I visited an amazing room in the museum. It was being prepared for a big banquet and the large carved wooden doors were open. I had a sly look inside. I felt like I was seeing the past. The room was round with carvings in white all around the walls with each city that the Russians liberated in the war above each image. These cities stretched round the entire room. You could almost see and imagine the fat generals, with their gold medals clanking, smoking fat cigars and drinking Vodka and laughing. In the center of the round ceiling, was a red star with CCCP (USSR) under the star. I felt a little sad, although Russia is still a very powerful country, it was once so much more, feared and loved the world over. The Socialist dream was sold to the people and many believed it and hoped for it. A Utopia and an ideal. Massive buildings were built in the name of it by Stalin, statues erected in every city and town all over Russia. For what? Now Its almost like a party where everybody has left. Although it was certainly not a party and so many people died that dared to challenge the Socialist ideal.

What do we all worship now? what do we all dream of? mass consumerism, the choice to buy anything, anywhere, any day or time. That’s what so many people now have, true freedom or true hell? For me, that is ugly and leads to a selfish, damaged society. Having said that, I am as guilty as the next person and am about to buy a flat screen TV, but I hope you see my point. I am not calling for a world Socialist order, but I am asking what is the alternative? what road are we all heading down? What will the coming years bring for us all in “civilized” society for man and the planet? My visit to that museum in Moscow made me think about all of these questions. Lessons from History.

We all need a dream and an ideal to hold onto, will we ever have one? that is the question! Is there more to must have, must have, must have? What “ideal” do world powers sell us now? Fear. The media speak of death and destruction and often blow things out of all proportion. They terrify us and control us, to sell newspapers. We need a dream or a hero to save us all. Where is he/she? Will a religion save us all?

I will now move to another room of thought, a brighter room, I will fling the curtains open, letting the sun shine in and and write about lighter topics, although controversy and thinking about such things is interesting, if not a little dangerous, I hope I have made you think, if only for a second. Happy 2010 dear reader.

photo by Christian Sisson

Traveler Article


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Older comments on The Ghosts of History: Moscow, Russia

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27 January 2010

Nice article !! well written and interesting.

SputnikLee
27 January 2010

An echo-chamber of a post if ever I saw one. The English Man’s ignorance of history might be forgiven if he showed any signs of being changed by his travels, instead of leaning on them to support his own navel-gazing.

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28 January 2010

Nice article not sure I agree with the above comment. I don’t think he is not trying to make any historic reference just writing about an experience. Nice bit of writing. He gets my vote!