Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Chuck Norris vs. Communism

I just finished watching the documentary Chuck Norris vs. Communism and I  recommend it.  

Romania in the 1980's was one of the most closed countries in recent history.  

I worked with a young man in the late 1980's who had fled Romania a few years earlier.  Other than to say Ceaucescu was evil, he would not speak of his life before coming to the USA.  I had never seen someone who had such a hate of another person and yet, he was a very light-hearted fellow.  I enjoyed working with him and was always curious to know more about his life, but he chose not to discuss it.  I would have liked to hear his story about how his family made it out.

If you would like to see a good film depicting this era, I would recommend 4 Months, 3 weeks, and 2 days.  I think it's portrayal of Romania during that time must be fairly accurate.  

Romania was allied with Eastern Germany and everyone was spying on everyone else in the mid to late 1980's.  It is amazing that VHS tapes were  allowed to be circulated in such a closed society.  Allowed is probably too free a word.  Officials looked the other way.  They were viewed as insignificant and since everyone (including the party leaders) enjoyed them so much, nothing much was done about them.

Clearly they were not insignificant.  They were one more thing that helped to bring down down communism in Romania.  They provided a window, albeit a flawed one, to the west.  So many heroes in 1980's movies.  So many individuals risking it all for change.  Surely this did have an impact.

In reading articles about the overthrow of Ceausescu, people were ready for change.  The austerity campaign, started in 1980, was designed to pay off $10B in debt.  Everything, it seems, was rationed.  Nine years of this and folks had had enough.  With easy access to Radio Free Europe and western films, Romanians knew there was a better life just across the border.

Here's a link to the Wikipedia article about the Romanian revolution.  I encourage you to read further.  It appears Ceausescu had very few supporters in the end.  I am not surprised.  I am remembering the look on my friend's face when he mentioned Ceausescu's name.

I would also encourage you to read about North Korea, a country even more closed off than Romania in the 1980's.  There are a few documentaries out there.  I recommend Inside North Korea.  It's on YouTube:  

In North Korea today the lesson has been taken to heart: no outside influences are tolerated.  To possess a tape or to view one and get caught earns you a one way ticket to a labor camp.  One you likely will never leave.

May your day be a better one.

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