Thursday, March 18, 2010

A True Tale from a Life with Socialism

I have permission from the author to post this here in full, and I am giving the link to her website, where you can subscribe to her newsletter.
Do not reprint any portion of this without Alyona Nickelsen's specific permission, please.

I say: Do Not Learn To Live With Less. Learn To Afford More!

by Alyona Nickelsen
March 2010

“They tell us we must learn to live with less, and teach our children that their lives will be less full and prosperous than ours have been; that the America of the coming years will be a place where — because of our past excesses — it will be impossible to dream and make those dreams come true. I don't believe that. And, I don't believe you do either. That is why I am seeking the presidency. I cannot and will not stand by and see this great country destroy itself. Our leaders attempt to blame their failures on circumstances beyond their control, on false estimates by unknown, unidentifiable experts who rewrite modern history in an attempt to convince us our high standard of living, the result of thrift and hard work, is somehow selfish extravagance which we must renounce as we join in sharing scarcity. I don't agree that our nation must resign itself to inevitable decline, yielding its proud position to other hands. I am totally unwilling to see this country fail in its obligation to itself and to the other free peoples of the world. “
Ronald Reagan from Official Announcement of his candidacy for President of the United States in 1979

I can’t believe that many years later I am in complete agreement with the same person who I was taught by my Soviet school teachers was “the worst person on Earth”– Ronald Reagan.

I was taught to take less all my life. I was taught that private property is the sign of the decaying morality of a capitalist society. I was taught that my life is not important but that my sacrifice is necessary for the victory of Communism over the entire world. Indeed, that I am only a small, disposable screw in a huge machine. However, measuring by number of “possessed” personal goods, there were a limited few “screws” who were of much greater importance than the rest of us. They were the so-called “party elite”.

If someone tells you that “that was then and there” and has nothing to do with us, please keep in mind that socialism is the same at all times and in all places. I had a recent email conversation with one of my students. She currently lives in Germany but originally came from Poland. We talked about the life “then and there” when my family of four people from four generations lived in one room (not one bedroom but a single room) apartment in Kiev, Ukraine. The room was about 100 square feet. We shared a hallway, a bathroom and a kitchen with three other families who lived in the similar sized rooms. All 12 people in our “commune apartment” lived their lives, took less and believed that this was a just and necessary sacrifice for the future of their country and their children.

Here is my student’s experience: “then” but in a more civilized part of the world compared to USSR.

“As to one of your recent emails - I also remember very well the times when my parents, my brother and I used to live in a dark 2-room flat (my father was a doctor but did not want to enter the communistic party). Parents were sleeping in the living room on some sort of couch (in polish called tapczanie). When we got to Germany it even got worse. We lived in one room - we shared the same flat with two other families (all in all 10 persons in three single rooms) with one small bathroom and a kitchen together. We four were then sleeping on two bunk beds pushed together to have more space in the middle of the room. I can promise you, this situation would not be considered as humane nowadays... :-)) But after my father got a job it changed...

I can only laugh out loud when I think of Xmas when we 4 shared 2 bananas like eating some sort of delicacy - Chewing very slowly...

Thank God these times are over. :-))”

And there was the instance a few months ago when Oprah Winfrey had a trip to Denmark to show the world how wonderful it is when the government takes care of everything. One of her examples explained how wonderful an average family lives in Denmark showed a visit to a “typical” Danish home. The small part of the video is posted here:

She could not resist and made remarks such as: “Is this is a whole bedroom? You are kidding me? Where is the closet?” ”That is your whole refrigerator? This is small.”

However, I saw the entire program on TV and the major gem of the video was cut out of the YouTube version. In it, Oprah asked: “Where do you put your things?” The woman answered: “We are ok. We do not have things.”

And here some comments from the Danish people who made notes about this video on YouTube: “I live in Danmark, and this is NOT a tipical Danish home Thows people hum live in there are reach.... People in Danmark are living well, but not that Well... How she want to look in that video... They heave all what they neede but they are not reach!”; “If this is an average danish home hen I live in extreme poverty!”

Therefore, this is already happening in the “now”, but it is still over “there”. Do we really want to have it “now and here”? Not me. Socialism is the same at all times and in all places. Been there done that!

I am very skeptical about those who say that they are really concerned about my well being and are only thinking about the ways to improve my condition in the future by making me suffer today. And, of course, these people are very concerned not only about my personal future, but about the rest of us. So, obviously, there will be line that you will wait in. Each of us will receive only what the party says we deserve and only when our turn comes. And there always will be some elite who decides when your turn will come and how much you deserve.

We need to stop learning to take less and find ways to earn more. We need to be responsible for our actions and stop waiting for a government that will take care of us. As Ronald Reagan said, ”government doesn't tax to get the money it needs, government always needs the money it gets.” Wealth must be spread willingly by its owners, not under orders from a bunch of bureaucrats.

What does all of this have to do with art? Only everything! Being an artist doesn’t require that you starve. However, artists will starve first when the rest of humanity learns to take less.

Alyona Nickelsen is a nationally renowned artist/philosopher, has been published in several Art Magazines and has her book "Colored Pencil Painting Bible" published through Random House.


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