Several Ethnic Cleansings for the Price of One!

There is a looooong Russian history of ethnic cleansing. They are a bit subler about it, perhaps, than the USA used to be and certainly subtler than Hitler was. It is a Russian thing to displace by force people from somewhere to somewhere else far of, where some of them might survive and eventually some of their descendants might come back a generation later. In the meantime, the land acquires a significant Russian population. That is one of the reasons why Crimea is “Russian”, and why there are significant Russian minorities in the Baltic states. And Putin now hones this old fine Russian art to its most finest.

It was so even before the “partial” mobilization and even more so now – the people who are most likely to be drafted into the military and sent into the meat grinder are ethnic minorities from Russian colonies.

Yes, you read that right. I wrote colonies. People seem not to realize that while Spain and Portugal were busy colonizing South America, the USA were genociding Indians and everybody else was busy dividing among themselves Africa, the Middle East, the Pacific, and southern Asia, Russia has quietly run their conquest, and colonization in Siberia. Siberia is not Russian territory occupied by Russians. It is a vast landmass occupied by dozens of different nations, both large-ish and small. Some of the smaller nations (some are counting just a few thousand people by now) are supposed to be exempted from military drafts, but the “partial” mobilization is trying to sweep them up even so (there is no such thing as a rule of law in a totalitarian regime ruled by an autocratic despot).

In a sense, Russia and the USA are the only empires that kept hold of most of their ill-gotten territories. In part maybe because their colonies cover a continuous surface of most of a continent, which makes it easier to kill off, displace or keep a hold on the local population – an uprising next door is easier to quell than an uprising half a globe away.

Putin is now not only attempting to expand the empire and to genocide Ukrainians – who are luckily giving him a hard time with it – but he also is doing his best to weaken the other nations in the Russian Federation whilst doing so. It might be just a coincidence, he might just be trying to avoid sending people from around Moscow and St. Petersburg, whom he needs to hold onto power and whose support might be shaken if their relatives start returning home in bags or not at all. But it might be deliberate too. Either way, he is really trying to be efficacious at this genocide stuff, what a chap!

I still don’t get how anyone who thinks of themselves being a leftist can support him though. I thought that leftists are supposed to be for the unlucky, the poor, the dispossessed etc. Supporting an autocrat juggling genocides for fun seems at odds with that.

American Exceptionalism – Leftie Edition

I grew up behind the Iron Curtain, in a Warsaw Pact country. We were taught that this is the great alliance of socialist countries banding together to counterbalance the evil imperialist NATO. Lead by the great and both technically and socially advanced USS. And in my childhood naivety, I really believed that the USSR is The Land Where Tomorrow Already Means Yesterday (“Země kde zítra již znamená včera”, a bonmot that was bandied about very often). I believed in USSR exceptionalism.

We were taught a lot of things about how evil NATO is and how good the Warsaw Pact is, but we were not told that the Warsaw Pact is possibly the only ostensibly defensive alliance in history that has never defended anyone from anything but attacked its own members instead – the occupation of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. I do not remember ever learning about that at school, but admittedly the regime fell apart at about the same time when we were reaching recent history in our curriculum.

Later on, when I learned about it, it was a revelation. Not an exceptionally sudden one, it did not come to me as an epiphany one sunny morning, but one that evolved and matured over the years as I absorbed new and new information about what NATO did and what Warsaw Pact did, but a revelation nevertheless. And not a nice one – the world superpowers are not divided into good guys and bad guys, they are divided only into bad guys whose badness depends on your vantage point.

One can justifiably show to various parts of the world, mostly in the Global South and in the Middle East, where the USA and NATO have done a lot of harm. There were coups instigated, democratically elected governments overthrown, countries unjustly invaded, and war crimes committed. The end result was invariably political chaos and instability from which none of the afflicted countries has fully recovered.

However, in central and eastern Europe NATO was not the bad guy. Here the bad guy was the USSR. People in Eastern Europe in general and in Ukraine specifically do not, on average, need much encouragement to not like Russia and like NATO. And they do exactly that, in fact. Using their own thinking, deciding in their own interest. NATO never harmed them. The USSR (Russia) did. Czechia, Poland, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania – none of them needed to have their arms twisted to want to join NATO as security against Russia who never really ceased to be a threat and whose occupation forces have left just one generation ago – with scars from that occupation still being visible to those willing to look.

With the war in Ukraine, a lot of people in the comments at FtB are spending a lot of time bemoaning the evils of NATO and how it was NATO’s evil machinations that have caused the Ukrainian people to turn on their pro-russian president in 2014 and kick him out. But the EU, Russia, and the USA all have a political and financial stake in Ukraine, yet apparently only the USA and the EU have managed to persuade Ukrainians to want to ally with them. And why is that? It is not some unique evil capability that only CIA has that has persuaded the Ukrainian people to decide to want to join the EU and NATO. It is because Russia has harmed them. And now continues to harm them and tells, quite loudly, that it intends to continue to do so.

The right-wingers think the USA is exceptional, the Shining City on a Hill, unique, perfect in every way. That is daft. But to believe that every decision everywhere that aligns with the USA interests is always and only the result of some nefarious USA machinations is equally daft. It is American exceptionalism too, only turned inside out. If you consider yourself a leftist, really try to treat all people equally. Allow both pro- and against-USA-aligned actors to have their own agency.

Голодомо́р

Simon Whistler has made an excellent video essay about the Holodomor in Ukraine.

Content warning: graphic depictions of human suffering.

The Czech language has a similarily sounding word “hladomor” which means simply famine. I always understood it to be a combination of the words for hunger (“hlad”) and plague (“mor”). That might be a case of folk etymology though, the expert opinion one for the Czech word I could not find online. The Ukrainian term came according to Wikipedia from “морити голодом” i.e. torture by hunger. Whether the two words are false friends stemming from different roots or if they share common ancestry is however secondary to one fact that I have learned only recently – the Ukrainian language does sound a bit like in between Russian and Slovak/Czech, which should not be surprising, so I am in fact able to understand spoken Ukrainian a bit better than Russian (still not very well without subtitles though). One such similarity to Czech is that Г in Ukrainian is pronounced as “H” in Czech (in English like the H in  “have”) and not as Czech “G” like in Russian (in English like the g in “grave”).

A linguistic interlude aside, whilst I knew from school about a number of famines throughout history, The Holodomor was completely unknown to me until well after the fall of the Iron Curtain. During my education, the collectivization in the USSR in the 1930s and in Czechoslovakia in the 1950s was always taught as a quick and glowing success of the regime. The demonization of the Kulaks, as mentioned in the video, continued well right until the end of the regime. We were taught that some farmers refused to join колхо́з and were punished as the dastardly criminals they were, but the sheer scale was never mentioned, nor was the fact that this was done along national borders. And that there ever was a famine in the USSR was not denied just because it was never mentioned at all. Maybe it would be mentioned later on with some west-blaming if the regime did not fall, but I doubt it. I have checked the most comprehensive world history book from that era that I own, an official textbook for high-school curriculum and it portrays the era s as I have just described – blaming only the kulaks and mentioning it all as just some isolated setbacks by some rebels who received some non-specified punishment. No mention of famine at all. Only a very brief mention of Stalin’s cult of personality and his “heavy-handed” dealing with problems (an understatement if I ever saw one).

And thus a genocidal act of a paranoid power-hungry maniac fell from history books for three generations. Not the first one, not the last one either.

 

Brown vs. White Refugees and Poland

This article might be misunderstood as an apologia for racism or a misdirection, so I must start it with a statement:

Please do not mistake an explanation for an excuse.

There is a lot of racism towards non-white people in all of Europe. It is strong in the Slavic nations and it is indeed very strong in Poland, which is currently ruled by a racist covert clerical-fascist party (which luckily does not have overwhelming majority support yet I might add). This does no doubt play a significant role in Poland’s willingness to accept Ukrainian refugees readily, whilst it was refusing Syrians staunchly for the last few years. A policy that I find abhorrent and which should never be in place. Czechia is guilty of the same thing and I oppose that too. I criticize my own government for this and I shall continue to do so.

However, that is most definitively not the sole reason and it might not even be the main reason in this particular case. In my opinion, the main reason here is not that Ukrainian refugees are white, but that the aggressor they are fleeing is Russia and the refugees are Slavs.

There is a lot of panslavic sentiment still floating around (I have written about it before). Slavic people do have a shared identity and they do feel some connection with each other. One of the reasons for that apart from some intelligibility of our languages is that most Slavic nations were oppressed minorities pretty much everywhere for several hundred years, many gaining independence from an oppressive regime only very recently.

But wait, you might say, aren’t Russians Slavs? Yes, they are.

And they are probably the single exception to the rule since they were mostly the oppressors, certainly for the last few hundred years. Poles do not like Russians specifically that much. Russia played for example no insignificant role in destabilizing and partitioning the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in a way that eerily resembles current events in Ukraine. And they did not rule their part of Poland exactly kindly afterward either.

Poles and Ukrainians thus share not only a generic common Slavic identity but also a relatively recent common history. They were both compatriots and allies as well as enemies and rivals in that history, but not very recently and those differences pale with one thing they have common very recently indeed –  a ruthless oppressor, Russia. Ukrainians did not forget the Holodomor, Poles did not forget the Katyn massacre and both definitively remember the forty-something years of being dictated what to even think from Moscow afterward.

It is all of course much more complicated than I can ever hope to describe in a short blog post even if I knew everything there is to know about it. And motivations on an individual level always vary wildly. It definitively is not as simple as “Poles think brown people bad, white people good”, although a lot of (not only) Poles are no doubt like that.

Russian Empire

I got very confused and indeed even angry with a comment written on Pharyngula. Not with the commenter, who I do not think has any malicious intent, but with the contents of the comment which make no sense to me and sound downright typically American ignorant.

For what I gather from Nina Khruscheva’s explanation, Biden’s idea that Putin wants to resurrect the USSR is incorrect. He also doesn’t want to resurrect the the Russian Empire. Putin doesn’t like revolutions apparently.

What he wants, it seems, is similar to the united Arab state Baathists like Hussein and Assad want in the Middle East. In Putin’s case, he wants a pan-Slavic state that he rules with an iron fist.

I know that most readers and commenters on FtB are Americans and thus are writing mostly from an American perspective and reading sources that were either written from an American perspective or were filtered through it on the way. I try occasionally to insert some different perspective, with questionable results.

But even when I try to read this comment through my American glasses, it does not make any sense whatsoever. Maybe my American glasses are not strong enough or maybe I interpret it wrongly but…

I mean, what the fuck is the difference between Russian Empire, USSR, and a pan-Slavic state that Putin rules with an iron fist?

The Russian Empire was a multi-national country in which Russians with Tzar at the throne wielded nearly absolute power and ruled over all of East-Slavs and some non-Slavic nations with an iron fist. Some West and Southern Slavs had the “fortune” of being ruled over by Austrians and Ottomans.

The USSR was a multi-national country in which Russians with the Communist Party wielded nearly absolute power and ruled over all of East and West-Slavs and some non-Slavic nations with an iron fist. Some Southern Slavs had the “fortune” of being ruled over by a separate Communist totalitarian regime of their own.

So saying that Putin does not want to revive USSR or the Russian Empire is true in about the same sense as saying that Nazis don’t exist no more, ya know, since the term refers to members of a political party that only existed in Germany in the 1930-40s. Technically the comment is accurate, practically it is meaningless. And such quibbling over distinctions without a difference at a time like this pisses me off.

Putin most emphatically DOES want a Russian Empire with him as the ruler. It does not matter what anyone says, his actions speak louder than anyone’s words. Minutiae of differences between the former Russian Empire, the former USSR, and Putin’s recent goals are irrelevant and pale when the similarities are considered.

Women Educators on YouTube – Classicist – Lady of the Library

I haven’t watched more of her videos than this one, they do not seem to be exactly what would interest me. But this one did interest me and it was informative. Until recently, I did not know there are conspiracists who deny the existence of well-documented and researched history (apart from Nazi Holocaust deniers that is, I knew about those). Apparently historians – just like climate scientists, physicians, physicists and biologists – are engaging in yuuge conspiracies all the time.

It makes me despair, really. The world seems to have no shortage of proud, loud, outspoken, and self-confident ignoramuses.

TNET 46: In a Highlander’s Shoes

I do not know why the algorithm recommended the Fandabidozis channel to me, but it did. I think (although I am not sure) that it first recommended one of the videos in which he shows the crafting of some of his historically accurate-ish equipment.

I have enjoyed his videos in which he explores 17th-century equipment of the Scottish highlanders and this one is probably his biggest and best video project.

Open thread, you can talk whatever you want, just do not be an a-hole.

Previous thread -click-.

An Evening Stroll and a Bit of History

I had to take a day off of work because I have (again) sprained my fingers when working on my current project. So I decided that not working one-two days is better than pushing through the pain and risk even longer and worse effects.

If I get the project to work, I will make a post about it, but so far it is only frustration and failures. So I have also decided to go for a walk whilst I think about things and how to solve the problems that I have encountered. I did not take my camera with me, but I snapped a few pictures with my phone and here they are.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

This year’s wet and cold summer was very good for one thing – grass. The meadows surrounding our town have been mown for third time. This time they did not dry hay, for that the weather is not sufficiently warm and dry anymore, even on a sunny day. So they have wrapped the still-wet grass in these huge plastic-covered bales where it will ferment a bit before being fed to livestock in the winter. This has become quite popular in last years and some years they do not harvest dry hay at all. This year they did, two harvests of hay and one of this fermented plastic-wrapped thingy.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I live in a very windy area, which has downsides. The wide-spread meadows surrounding my house sitting near the top of a hill mean that in winter, my house is fully exposed to frequent western winds, which significantly affects my heating bill. One upside is that this area is suitable for windmills, so there are several on the opposite side of the town. Here you can see one of those windmills, standing still because there was no wind today evening. It is quite far away. In fact, the whole town is between me and that windmill, only you cannot see it because 90% of the town is in a valley, with a few dozen houses scattered around it in meadows.

This peculiar layout of a town is not a result of deliberate planning, it is an accident of history. The town was a fairly big industrial center in its peak time pre-WW2, with over 15.000 inhabitants. A lot of the land that is pastures/meadows today was inhabited in those times (although it was still a bit scattered, essentially town surrounded by homesteads, each with a garden and a few patches of field). But after WW2 the original German inhabitants were deported and the communist regime had no interest to really resettle an area this close to the German border, so only a few thousand people came in, from other parts of former Czechoslovakia. Including my family which originates from the Giant Mountains.

In the cadaster maps, there are still patches of land that are marked as “building plot” or “pathway plot” that are a part of a continuous meadow today. In fact, my garden consists of two garden plots and a pathway that does not exist for over fifty years now. Because after not repopulating the area, the communist regime had most of the empty buildings demolished and the gardens and pathways were usually plowed into the fields whenever possible. In some areas, there remains a testament to these former pathways, like three huge sycamores behind my house, which are all that remain from an alleyway. Thus my house, originally one in a reasonably long street became one of two stranded in the middle of a meadow, completely exposed to west winds. My father tells me that even the path leading to our house was almost plowed over, he intervened with the tractor driver and had to talk some common sense into him so he leaves at least one path to each of the still inhabited houses.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

My attempts at snapping a shot of kestrel hovering above the grass bales were unsuccessful, who would have thought that tiny camera lens with no zoom won’t be suitable for bird watching. But I did snap a picture of an airplane leaving behind it the poisonous track of mind-controlling chemicals, a chemtrail!!11!. Ever since I was a kid I have been somewhat fascinated by these. I do, in fact, remember asking my father what they are as a kid on an evening similar to this one. He gave me a reasonably good explanation given that there was no internet back then and that he has no higher education.

Slavic Saturday

Today again a little crossover with the Behind the Iron Curtain series.


Jan Hus and Jan Žižka are to this day considered great figures of Czech history. Even the communist regime venerated these two men to a great degree, so much so that it was during this regime that one of the largest bronze equestrian statues in the world was made to commemorate Jan Žižka in 1950. And movies were made about both. Today, we also have a national holiday on the day Jan Hus was burned at the stake.

We were taught in school that Jan Hus was a great reformer who has challenged and criticized the corruption within the catholic church, and that was true. We were taught that he has sparked a national movement that has fought against the hegemony of said corrupt, hypocritical, and oppressive church, and that was also true. However what was ignored was that he also sparked a fanatical religious movement that was not solely inspired by a desire for a better and juster society, but also by a merely different interpretation of holy writ.

As for Žižka, he was and is considered to be one of the greatest Czech warriors there was, and perhaps in history, as this short video suggests.

We were taught about his military successes, especially about the fact that he was able to take a bunch of peasants and merchants and convert them into a fighting force capable of defeating several crusades consisting of professional soldiers who trained in combat from childhood. What we were not taught was that he also burned at stake several dozen of “heretics” who took reinterpreting the scripture way too far for his liking.

To this day there is a lot of people who romanticize Jan Hus, Jan Žižka, and the whole Hussite movement. Perhaps there is some value in that. But I think it is also important to remember that whilst they were somewhat progressive in their times, today they would probably both be considered insufferable religious fanatics. They certainly would not approve of today’s Czech atheism.

Behind the Iron Curtain part 38- Vietnam War

These are my recollections of a life behind the iron curtain. I do not aim to give a perfect and objective evaluation of anything but to share my personal experiences and memories. It will explain why I just cannot get misty-eyed over some ideas on the political left and why I loathe many ideas on the right.


This one will be very short because the regime ended shortly before the Vietnam war was covered in the school curriculum, so we were not told a lot. History lessons in that last year were a bit scattershot, as is expected during a year in which revolution happens. And what little we were told I mostly forgot, except very few things.

Those few things could be summarized thus: The USA tactics and behavior in Vietnam were shown as essentially the same as German tactics and behavior in eastern Europe (edit: in WW2). Scorched earth, civilians massacred, war crimes committed left and right. We were shown short films about how the US forces were the baddies and how their defeat was a victory of good over evil.

It got embedded in my subconscious, but I was also aware that the USA has helped to defeat the Nazis in Europe, including in my hometown. I was unable to shake off this comparison with Nazis and I felt like it should not hold water on closer scrutiny. But it did not get better when I sought information about the conflict on my own, which was still difficult in the following decade with nonexistent internet and the history books being only slowly updated.

It would be a shock if it came quickly, but it was not because the realization came slowly over the years – whether you call it education or indoctrination, what communists said was accurate. The tactics the USA used in Vietnam were those of Nazis, no matter how you try to slice it. The USA probably could not present itself in worse light if they tried and they gave communists an excellent propaganda tool – the best propaganda might not always be one that is solidly backed by facts, it must address emotions first, but it does help if the facts are on your side too.

When I was visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. in 2000, it felt quite strange. There were people there, looking up their long-dead relatives and acquaintances. As with all war memorials, It felt quite somber and I have remained quiet and respectful as one should. But I could not shake the feeling that this is a memorial to victims of an unjust war and whilst most of the fallen soldiers being remembered were innocent draftees, there were very likely quite a few nasty war criminals with the blood of innocents on their hands among them too. To this day I did not quite figure out what to think about it.

Behind the Iron Curtain part 37- 1st of May

These are my recollections of a life behind the iron curtain. I do not aim to give perfect and objective evaluation of anything, but to share my personal experiences and memories. It will explain why I just cannot get misty eyed over some ideas on the political left and why I loathe many ideas on the right.


One of the central dogmas of the regime was the notion that everything is for the common workers, the laborers, and peasants. Those were deemed not only essential for the proper running of society (not wrong), sometimes to ignoring that intellectuals actually have useful functions too.

The International Worker’s Day was a state holiday, and we were taught at school a bit about the history behind it. Not much, as far as I remember, but the actual reasons behind the holiday were discussed and even in hindsight, most of them were valid then and are valid now.

However, as it is with authoritarian regimes, the good came with the sidedish of the bad and sometimes downright ugly.

1st of May was an official day off of work and school, so officially people were free to spend that day as they choose. In every town and moderately sized village, there was a procession and a speech by some party representative, but attending was not compulsory. In the sense “it is voluntary, but you have to go”.

I did not like the processions that much, because I do not like crowds and loud noises. But I did attend. I do not remember much, only two experiences come to mind at least somewhat vividly.

The first experience was an extremely strong feeling of embarrassment when our local firefighter truck was driving along the procession, shouting propaganda and encouragements for cheering from loudspeakers. I did not like it and even to my socially stunted mind, it was clear that nobody else liked it either. If the day is so glorious, if our country is so great and the party so beloved, why on earth do the people need to be egged on to cheer and shout slogans by an obnoxious a-hole with a megaphone? I did not put it in those words exactly, but those were my feelings.

The second experience was the chastising of one of my classmates who was not a member of Pionýr and whose family did not attend the parade one year. In a small town, this did not go unnoticed and our class teacher did call him out publicly during class for this. There were no other repercussions other than the public shaming, but I did not enjoy seeing that at all.

In both of these instances, I have subconsciously sensed a deep disconnect between the messaging we get and the true state of affairs. That cognitive dissonance was not particularly strong, but it was there and it was nagging. When the regime finally fell, a lot of the things that did not make sense to me as a child started to make sense later.

Later in life, I was surprised that much of what I have been taught to see as “Capitalist countries” also celebrate the holiday, oftentimes including the parades and speeches, but without the voluntary compulsory nature. I am afraid that in my mind this holiday will always be tainted, as it is in the minds of many of my generation.

The Art of …

… history, by Benjamin West.

Today’s painting is interactive thanks to Jason Farago of the New York Times and his piece titled “The Myth of North America in one painting.” It’s a fascinating look at the history behind West’s 1770 painting The Death of General Wolfe, and why certain design choices were made. The battle the painting depicts on The Plains of Abraham is highly significant to Canada’s founding and is taught as part of our school curriculum. There were also implications for America’s founding, though, and I’m curious about how, or if, this battle is taught to American children.

Here is the link to the interactive painting at NYT, and below is the static image of the painting itself.

The Death of General Wolfe, 1770, Benjamin West. Static image from Wikipedia.

Behind the Iron Curtain part 36 – Revolutions

These are my recollections of a life behind the iron curtain. I do not aim to give a perfect and objective evaluation of anything but to share my personal experiences and memories. It will explain why I just cannot get misty-eyed over some ideas on the political left and why I loathe many ideas on the right.


We were taught at school that Marx got one thing in his philosophy wrong and that it had to be corrected by Lenin – the idea of gradual societal progress over time. A violent revolution, we were told, is necessary to defeat the evils of capitalism and institute socialism, just as it happened in Tzarist Russia after WWI and in our country after WWII. After that glorious revolution, we can go back to gradual societal progress over time and the glorious, completely fair, and egalitarian communism will come. Eventually.

When communism did not come any closer after nearly one generation, people became restless. It was not exactly an attempt at revolution, there was no violence, and no attempt at actually overthrowing the regime, only an attempt at reforming it and making it better. But this cry for humanizing the regime that was supposed to care about human welfare did not suit well the powers that be in Moscow and the attempt was quelled by force. The Czech Republic was invaded and tanks from USSR, Poland, Hungaria, and Bulgaria rolled through the streets. It worked, but not as planned – the plan was to put up a facade that people do not want any reforms and that soviet-style socialism is wanted, as demonstrated by people welcoming the invaders as liberators. But weeks-long protests against the invasion put this idea quickly to sleep and what remained was subduing the population by brute force.

A year later, a young philosophy student Jan Palach has set himself ablaze in protest of this. He did not want the ideas that led to the push for humane socialism to die, he wanted the occupants to leave the country and in lieu of other options, he decided for protest by self-harm. I cannot say I condone his approach, but his goal was undeniably noble. He died, he became a martyr, but nothing much changed.

Fast forward another generation.

I was just a school kid during the times of the Velvet Revolution in the fall of 1989, in my last year of elementary school. I knew nothing about the things that happened short of a decade before I was born. I had no idea who Jan Palach is, I had no idea that we were still occupied by Soviet Army, and because I have lived in the countryside with no connectin to big cities, I had no idea that civil unrest is brewing for almost a year already. But it was. The boil of social unrest was swelling, unseen by many but clearly visible by others until it burst.

For me, the whole thing was an incomprehensible mess. I did not understand what is happening. Suddenly I heard on the news that peacefully protesting students were beaten to a pulp by police – a thing that only evil capitalists do to protesters, surely! And then the whole thing happened really quickly – and before the school year was over, before the next summer holiday, we had suddenly a different political regime and I had to learn that a lot of what I knew about how the world functions was bullcrap.

And suddenly I learned about all the things that were kept from school curricula – the deaths and torture in the name of the greater good, the lies and deception, and the fact that it all did not lead to a better life anyway. Those were not easy times – and I was lucky to live in a country where the armed forces were not given orders to use violence and the revolution was allowed to happen without bloodshed. Hearing about armed conflicts in other countries, and for example seeing Ceaucescu being shot to death was not cathartic or satisfying, it was only terrifying.

I do not like revolutions much. They might be necessary from time to time, but they are not pretty, they are not glorious and they do not lead to instant improvements. Not even the milder ones.