My grandfather was in his late teens when WW2 started. His earlier years were spent in abject poverty, often being hungry and cold, living in a despotic society of 1930’s. And then with the start of the war his country turned fascist and started prosecuting, imprisoning, and exterminating minorities. He quickly joined communist resistance, being the first in his town to do so, and spent next 4 years fighting fascists, both domestic and foreign. Because of his valor and bravery, he became an officer in the resistance and later a colonel in post war army. While his immediate reason for going to war might have been to escape hunger, soon it turned into a genuine fight for freedom and emancipation. His was the ideology of early, grassroots communism that celebrated fraternity, equality and emancipation from poverty, illiteracy, and abhorrent conditions of early industrial society. His generation, in their youth, brought us universal suffrage, mass literacy, unprecedented economic progress and lifted millions out of poverty. They built the world in which we now live.
He, and many like him, became disillusioned with communist society when its youthful energy and enthusiasm was replaced by hubris of nepotism, inefficiency, and authoritarianism. I last saw him in his prime when he visited us in Canada. He was genuinely impressed with the Canadian society and was glad that we found that promised land of freedom and plenty. Where they faltered in the east, his peers in the west took it across the finish line and completed the project of a great society. I think he felt that his generation did build a better world and was glad for it.
I wonder what he would say now. How would he feel about people twice his age, when world war started, hiding in their parents’ basements from a virus that is statistically harmless to them? How would he feel about youth’s demands for more severe restriction, for self imprisonment? What would he say about society’s willingness to sacrifice children and youth to keep the old alive?
What would he think about radical feminists and proponents of toxic femininity blaming his generation for legacy of patriarchy? Was his motivation of going to war to oppress women or save them from rape, hunger, imprisonment, and death? Was his motivation in fighting for women’s equal place in society all a ruse to propagate historic oppression of women?
What would he think of the political left which serves only to propagate the status quo and the political, economic, and cultural hegemony of the global elite? What would he think of the only alternative to the left being fringe political parties at both ends of the political spectrum, where his grandson, along with so many of his generation, keep being pushed to? What would he think of the modern democracy with its cynicism and hypocrisy?
What would he think of the unjustifiable paternalism and government overreach of “democratic societies” where rights of individuals are being trampled in the name of safety from an invisible, even imagined, enemy? What would he think of common place acceptance and celebration of censorship and propaganda, same things that produced the biggest calamity of his generation? What would he say about the willingness of so many to snitch on their fellow man?
What would my grandfather say? Would he be disappointed? Is he turning in his grave together with others of the greatest generation? Or would he also be content with fast food, Netflix and smart phones? I must believe that he would not be ok with this. I must believe that he, just like me, would refuse to accept the politics of today as a historic necessity. And I can only hope that my resistance, as ineffective and aimless as it is, would make him proud. Or at least, not ashamed.