'My Delusions Quickly Collapsed'

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Ten years ago, for the first time in my life, I felt that my esteemed fellow countrymen were not simply a mob, but had become a people. In standing up to the communist coup, they behaved like a people with great dignity, with a great desire for freedom. Unfortunately, that delusion also collapsed quite quickly.

The Russian people, who had expected a better life, not only materially but also in the sense of a more honest way of living, ultimately accepted the criminal state that has been created these past ten years.

The situation is still better than it was under the communists, but often for very ordinary people the difference is tenuous. Today, when you travel around Russia, you will see well-stocked shops and stores. Everything is available. And yet the overwhelming majority of the people don't have the money to buy anything. In most societies, people have legal ways and means to apply their minds and hands in order to make money. Most of my countrymen, today, are deprived of that right. They have been reduced to fighting for their survival, and can only afford to live from day to day.

To cut a long story short, what happened is that our former communist elite had transferred their unmitigated political might into very personal economic and financial might. In order to accomplish that, they had to throw certain bones to the people. But then they set about converting that economic power back into political power, at the same time withdrawing some of those bones they had thrown. And the people are too exhausted to resist.

People were poor under the communists and they have remained poor. But they believe that at least under the communists they had some stability. And illusions. They were poor, but their poverty was shared. They were equal in poverty. Now they see that some people are doing very well, but they're still stuck in poverty. What's worse, they no longer have any hope. Under communism, they labored under the illusion that if they saved and saved, eventually they would have enough money to buy a car or an apartment, or that if their kids studied hard, they could go to college and get a better job. Now they don't even have those illusions. Their expectations today are so much lower, and they don't have any fantasies about life getting any better. That's why the people feel betrayed, although they don't understand that it's very much their own failure.

Our current president, with his instincts for control and the institutions he's creating that are not designed to extend freedom, is a sign that a circle is being completed. It's a revolution, in the classical engineering sense of the word — a process that involves a rotation, that completes a circle and returns to its original place. And there are not many people left here who even talk about it publicly, because they are afraid. We still have to learn how to fight for our rights, and to do that without violence. Because revolutions only bring more misery.