It was about 1988 that I cam across a book on the Second world war in our school library. Although we call that a library, truth be told, it was a single book shelf with some interesting and some real stupid books. Nevertheless, it is a place I can read without having to buy and so by the time I finished my schooling, I've read every one of them books.
The book on the Second world war is a book published in Russia. It had some neat, big maps attached showing the movement of troops, divisions etc and pretty much covered the war with its causes and more importantly, how the Red army and Stalin turned the tide for the Allies. There my fascination with the Reds started.
It was a time of cheap books from the multitude of Russian publishers, Mir, Raduga, Progress etc which are real cheap and of excellent quality. I read a lot of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Pushkin, Gogol, Gorky and almost all the Russian masters. Those were fantastic days. I also read Lenin and Marx during this period.
I consider myself a cynic. I believe no good will come out of anything and people are selfish, when you really get down to it. So it was good see a people raise out of this instinct to overcome and revolutionize Russia and thereby showing an example to the rest of the world. I was naive, at best.
There use to be a program, every Friday night, on Doordharshan called 'The world this week', which was a primary source of information for me during those days. So when I saw the Berlin wall came down during that time, I couldn't believe it. Why would a communist country betray itself and try to be like its capitalist neighbor? How stupid it can be? I believed it to be a capitalist conspiracy.
It took a while but when I started reading the non-Russian literature, the other window opened. But the communism by its promise of an equality and a world where everything is for everyone was more inviting than anything else offered by others and I was hooked during the 90's as well. And I read a lot.
When Russia collapsed in the early 90's, it was incomprehensible to me. I was unable to believe that Communism was being beaten by a drunkard on a tank. It took a few more years and a lot of reading to understand the world as it was then. It was a world which was just lurking below but I was so blinded by the propaganda that I willingly ignored it.
Lenin, Trotsky, Rosa, Emma G, Gorky are all still my heroes. People who put the goodness of others above them and were willing to die for it as well. The dogma they chose, at some point, overtook them and they were changed. I am not even sure whether they even realized it. The scenes changed so fast, Socialism took on many avatars and today, we do not even realize that there is now no realistic alternative to Capitalism.
I've mixed feelings on the world of socialism as it existed and the utopia that is still being talked about. The cynic in me is stronger than ever and I don't believe there will be a revival of any sort of the communism, that I am vaguely aware of. Its a sad thing to not even have a dream.