From 1957 to 1965, we lived in Moscow. These were good years for the Soviet Union. In 1956 Khrushchev had denounced Stalin’s crimes at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the USSR, released political prisoners and ushered in an era of openness and peaceful cohabitation. Asia, Africa and Latin America were shaking off their colonial shackles and getting rid of fascist dictatorships. I was on the Red Square in 1961 to greet Fidel Castro. The Soviets were conquering space and humanity was marching towards progress and a world free of oppression, poverty, disease, racism and all the other ills that have plagued the world since the dark ages. Vietnam was resisting American imperialism and my dad was reporting the heroic struggle of the Vietnamese people from the jungles of South Vietnam. There was no doubt in my young mind that with the support of the Soviet Union and all of progressive humanity, Vietnam and all of Asia, Africa and Latin America would be liberated from oppression and poverty. That’s how the world looked to me back then: bright and beautiful.
Reading such thoughts today makes me think that the world in 2009 is utterly unrecognisable. The Soviet Union was a colossal failure. Too many on the Left fell for its supposed charms. Colonialism still thrives (Israel/Palestine being a prime example.)
Much has changed, too much remains unfinished.