There is a special kind of sadist living in the world. It’s the Anglophone Leninist or Stalinist, also known as “tankie”, a closeted authoritarian who hides behind lofty ideals of pacifism, anti-imperialism, and/or communism, eventually communal anarchy.
Although, as it seems, these little gremlins crawled out of their hellholes already after Prague Spring, I was ignorant of their existence when the Iron Curtain fell in 1989. As a more or less insignificant participant in the process of dismantling The Curtain, I was nevertheless diligently making my way out from the Eastern side of the divide. And once The Wall was brought down, the amount of equally enthusiastic folks, who shared the same interest and who appeared from the Western side of the artificial barrier, drowned out all negative feedback. I certainly felt that we are welcomed and we tried to be welcoming as far as humanly possible.
Thus it came quite from the left field when the Russian state owned channel RT brought a weird mix of “right wing” Anglophone and “left wing” Soviet conspiracies laced with a hefty dose of utter pseudo-spiritual and pseudo-scientific nonsense to continental Europe in 2003.
Because at that time I already gave up on following world events in any shape and form, I probably wouldn’t notice such development if not for a sudden emergence of generation of very vocal mothers who refused to vaccinate their children for polio, tuberculosis, etc., and few priests and politicians spouting ultra-nationalist pan-Slavic and Russo-centric monstrosities in our area (the country I come from is Slavic).
Although we discussed this weird trend with friends already around 2008, it was only around 2014 when the “new thing” entered mainstream awareness. So, I started to dig.
And I didn’t have to dig exactly deep. We are a very small country, so I quickly found a particular magazine leading head and shoulders in terms of influence above all other similar sources. The form was almost impeccable, which made it a great sell, but it was basically a local knock-off of RT, InfoWars, FOX, but also Wikileaks and their associates, a printed and online medium full of misleading information, outright lies, shoddy science, and cheap superficial spirituality.
Now, that would be neither surprising nor revealing, but what really drove the point home for me was the name of the editor-in-chief. That was a real blast from the past.
Although I never met the guy, I knew that two decades ago he was a front man of a band and I was somewhat familiar with his lyrics full of messianic allusions. I also very briefly met a former guitarist from that band — as far as I can tell a rather reserved man but also phenomenal songwriter and singer — someone who was one of the few who “made it” from our generation in local showbiz and is currently almost a statewide household name. And as one of the rumors that use to circulate in such environments claimed, they had at that time some kind of debate, maybe even fief, even though everyone just guessed what was the cause.
Call me what you want, but when I saw his name behind such rubbish, I could not help myself but laugh and think that he’s one jealous looser who fell for his own messianic delusions of grandeur. Btw., meanwhile the guy was already fined once for distribution of extremist materials; for defamation of nation, race, or religion; and for abetting of national, racial, or ethnic hatred. So, you can make your own conclusions.
Even to this very day, I very much doubt that the man would like to return to the times when it would be impossible for him to have a band that he had, let alone a publishing house and a magazine. So, at that time, all this conspiracy stuff was still a rather “right-leaning” trend for me. Well, perhaps I should have paid more attention to the amount of space in the publication that was dedicated to the voices of former “communist” officials still active in our politics all of whom were sighing with nostalgia reminiscing about good old Soviet times when they had power. Voices we looked at with amusement and for laughs.
The sobering moment came during our presidential elections in 2019.
The role of president is mostly ceremonial where I live but president is still e.g. the supreme commander of military. So, even though we had four major candidates in the election, it was quite distressing that, in addition to a liberal and conservative candidate, we also had one who was “former” neo-nazi aligned with pan-Slavic ultra-nationalism and another one who was former “communist” judge and a lifelong opportunist with his sight always firmly pointed toward Moscow no matter his current agenda.
Thankfully, we ended up with a pretty representative president, but the election highlighted that roughly 10% of our population still idolizes the clero-fascist stain on our WWII history, while another 15% has either Stockholm syndrome and clings to Soviet era oppression (which was sort of a perverse kind of “stability”) or they were “communist” collaborators.
Hm, now I wonder if we are eligible for “de-nazification” … but anyway.
Nothing of that could prepare me for an authentic “tankie”.
First, I didn’t even know that such term exists. To me it seemed that I just met some weird and ignorant “leftist” contrarians spreading chaos. Their work was, without exception, a concoction of lies sprinkled with and weaved around some half-truths always in the name of peace or the “little people without voice”. On first sight, not that dissimilar from opportunists in my area who crave eyeballs without the same scruples.
What threw me off, however, was that seeming completeness of brainwashing and the degree to which these folks appear to believe in the propaganda that was fed to them. In contrast to all pro-Russian “leftists” from former Eastern bloc who all have a direct experience and know very well that they lie, “tankies” have moments when their bullshitting is indistinguishable from genuine faith, complete and total conviction. Frankly, all religious believers should take notes.
However be as it may, the outcome is in either case the same — these people want me back behind the Iron Curtain, they want to impose a social rule upon me that they claim to crave and which I refuse just because, as they tell me, I am ignorant. All the while sitting in their comfy armchairs in Western democracies or warm VIP seats in dictatorships around the world, never being on the receiving end of the red “communist” fascism. Perhaps they see themselves as future state propagandists. Perhaps they already are. Perhaps they do it for money, and perhaps they are really just that ignorant or naive. I don’t know.
What I do know on the other hand is that in the end they don’t stand for what they claim. Red fascism of sickle and hammer, similarly to its brown counterpart, does not lead to peace, it does not lead to equality, and it does not lead to freedom.
But sadly, these folks don’t want to be reached.