Overtaken by History | Sojourners

Overtaken by History

The changes are literally breathtaking. It's as if a great logjam that plugged up the river of history for almost half a century was suddenly released.

Momentous events are sweeping through the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe that could break the grip of the East-West conflict that has held the world captive since the end of World War II. The Cold War has not only forced us to live on the edge of a nuclear sword for almost half a century, it has also served as a cover for the even more oppressive dynamics between the rich nations of the North and the poor nations of the South. The superpowers have controlled the world's playing field for all these years while other nations either sat on the sidelines or were ground underfoot. It almost looked as though they controlled history itself, and even had the power to end it in a collision of giants that would shake the earth.

But we should have known better. The superpowers didn't control history after all. Indeed, history is overtaking them.

It is starting in the East. In the Soviet Union, the revolutionary promises of 1917 were never fulfilled. A controlled society that would lead to a socialist paradise never got beyond the control. Control itself became the only real political goal in utterly static systems in which human creativity became illegal.

The ideological dream actually died long ago and was quietly replaced with stifling and murderous bureaucracy. It's hard to say when the last true communist departed from the scene, but all that's been left for many years are the repressive controllers and the resentful populace.

It was the stagnation and backwardness and, ultimately, the loss of energy and hope that made perestroika and glasnost necessary. The party line could not hold. History finally caught up.

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