So I’m clicking through the channels last night after the budget deal was reached, and landed on this amazing documentary entitled How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin (2009). It should be mandatory viewing by every commie, every socialist, every socialist progressive in America. I missed all the buzz about this in ’09, but a quick search (I was looking for a link to the vid, no luck) reveals link after link, story after story, review after review (of which I read only the one linked above). And the focus seems to be on the “Beatles” part and not on the “rocking the Kremlin” part.
The communist regime was dictating everything to the Soviets (I’ll just use “Soviets” to include the entire communist Soviet empire’s peoples, including those in the the Ukraine, etc. that were specifically and separately mentioned in the documentary). It was bizarre to watch the interviews with Soviets talking about how their only cultural content in the early ’60’s consisted of folk dancing, Soviet-style, and accordion-type bands. From what the documentary reported, the communist regime kept a very (very) tight rein on entertainment, ensuring that only “wholesome” music was played or available to the Soviet people, music that wouldn’t stir their souls (so hardly music at all, really). They had no access to anything not first approved by the Kremlin.
Yes, we know this. We know that communist tyrants (sorry, that’s redundant) ban most forms of music, particularly rock and roll (the lefties’ big hero Che did it, their other big hero Mao did it), but seeing this documentary just made it more immediate and real to me somehow. It’s one thing to know in abstraction, from reading about it, that communist regimes dictate everything to the people they dominate and oppress, but it’s quite another to see the results, to see interviewee after interviewee relive it as the fearful, horrible memories flash across the face and shadow the eyes with pain. This guy, in particular, tugged at my heart strings. His name is Koyla Vasin, and he spoke with such passion about, yes, the Beatles, but also about what they represented to him: freedom. He talked about how he would listen to illicit Beatles recordings and become free for the brief duration of the song. How he yearned for that freedom, and how those moments, those flashes of being free in his head, led to a life-long near-obsession with the Beatles. He shared his scrapbook from his youth in which he had drawn his artistic version of the “iron curtain” and how he had depicted the Beatles punching holes in it. . . letting shining bits of blessed freedom in. It was heart-breaking, but also spirit-lifting.
The Soviet youth were not only not permitted to listen to or access the Beatles’ music, but they also would be arrested and punished simply for talking about them (apparently, one punishment meted out by the state was head-shaving–it’s difficult to imagine our own government shaving the heads of people for violating some oppressive rule, well, perhaps it’s not as difficult to imagine these days). Yet despite this–actually because of it, the Soviets clung to that bit of freedom that penetrated the Iron Curtain, and they came up with elaborate ways to record and distribute Beatles music. It was like a vast underground movement, with the songs being cut into X-ray film or onto other media (they didn’t have access to the actual vinyl records, so bootleggers had to get creative, innovative) and passed / sold these recordings among the young people hungry for that taste of freedom they perceived in the Beatles’ music. At one point, the documentary’s narrator explained that photographs of the Beatles (also illegal) were copied so often that the images became almost ethereal, that the Beatles began to look like something otherworldly.
Bootlegged Beatles music, the documentary contends, “rocked the Kremlin.” Not as in communist leadership blaring the Beatles and dancing to it, but as in destabilized and undermined the Kremlin as the seat of communist tyranny and oppression. The music represented something for which the Soviet people hungered, and it fueled in the oppressed people, people who lived in fear every day of their lives (I think it was Vasin who said that in the documentary, but it may have been another interviewee). They internalized this sense of freedom, the Beatles’ rebellious attitude toward the status quo, their songs about freedom, joy, and revolution, and with this, the foundations of communism, so goes the documentary’s thesis, cracked and weakened. Ripe, at long last, for the fall of communism.
It’s funny how the people who call themselves communists today are never people who’ve lived under it. We don’t hear about the glories of communism from the people of communist nations (just from the leaders); instead, we see them willing to die to escape these nations, willing to leave friends and family and home just to get a taste of freedom. It’s people who’ve romanticized it, bought into the lies and propaganda of it, that champion it. People, in other words, who have no idea what they are talking about. People who lived through it in various countries around the world (and many many millions did not survive communism) reject it resoundingly. And with good reason.
Spoiled, infantile fantasist westerners, though, champion a soul-destroying, freedom-decimating, inhumane, and truly evil ideology as somehow superior to their own freedoms, as the path to some nonexistent utopia. It’s inexplicable to me that these people want to live under oppression, be murdered for disagreeing with the state, be shut off from the world, (micro-) managed by a tyrannical (and more often than not) insane leader. I wonder if watching this documentary would make a difference? I highly doubt it, though, because one of the key tenets of communism is rejection of reality and rejection of the human spirit, including its inherent need to be free.