19 September 2021, Sunday, 5:15
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Time To Open Front Gates

11
Time To Open Front Gates
IRYNA KHALIP

History is taking us to a moment of truth.

If we now started to figure out whom Lukashenka is afraid of by using professional, social, and even aesthetic criteria, the listing would take a very long time.

For instance, Lukashenka is afraid of students. He is afraid of pensioners. He's afraid of women in white clothes. He is afraid of doctors in white coats. He is afraid of men in white socks. He's afraid of Americans, Ukrainians, Germans, shadows on the wall, and the gray petty demon in the corner. Yet most of all, he is afraid of the workers.

Think of the first time Lukashenka used a helicopter a year ago. The flight over the city with a machine gun and Kolia, which resulted in so many memes, anecdotes, and jokes that Monty Python might have envied, took place later. And first, there was a flight to MZKT. Cause it was scary to go there by car. Driving past the front gate, entering and driving through the territory - who knows what the workers are capable of? It is much more reliable to go by helicopter and to land on a particular spot, secured along the perimeter for hundreds of meters. And the ideologically selected protesters should be driven straight there - any contact with the factory workers should be ruled out. However, even the young lads, approved by the ideologists, rose to the occasion: they shouted "Officer, shoot yourself!", chanted in a chorus "Leave!", and then sent Lukashenka off with a flea in the ear. This was the end of his usual rhetoric "Hey, guys, I'm one of you!" He finally realized that he would not pretend to be one of them: it would not work. And that the attempts to talk to the workers in the playful kolkhoz manner were over, too.

Then the pressure followed. Forcing strike committee leaders out of the country, arrests of the factory activists, active ideological brainwashing. They were (and are still) brainwashed by the most primitive methods. The ideologists say: our enterprise produces dust, no one needs our goods, and they keep you all here solely due to the mercy of our outstanding leader. It's thanks to him that the factory receives subsidies, and we can pay your salaries. If the government changes, the factory will go under the knife, and you - to the street. And there will be so many people in the street if the democrats come to power that you won't even get a job to sweep those streets. So just be happy about your paycheck and the halls, this is what your Belarusian happiness is all about. In the past there was only a glass of vodka and cracklings, but now there's also a bed and some slum - there's real progress! The lush moment of economic development.

The only thing is that the workers are not happy. They no longer want to be brainwashed by the slum, they don't want to be a herd which is fed either to get slaughtered or just out of pity and generosity. Last summer, the entire society changed. Most Belarusians realized that there would be no revolution without street protests, and they started to test the pavement of the city streets with their feet - some of them with cheerful, desperate courage, as if jumping from a ten-meter diving tower into the water, others with apprehension, stepping slowly and cautiously, as if into a cold sea. And the workers realized that in addition to taking to the streets, they also had to go on strike. Strike committees had not functioned in the country since the beginning of the nineties. Last August, they were revived by the factory workers of our century, many of whom do not even remember what it was like in the nineties.

And Lukashenka does remember. By the way, he has a good memory: if he strips of the military ranks the people who retired from service a quarter of a century ago, it means he remembers everything. The more so as he became a deputy of the Supreme Soviet in 1990. And the working protests of the ninety-first were taking place right in front of his eyes. Lukashenka saw a hundred thousand workers gather in the square in a few minutes with their demands. He remembers it well. He also remembers the fear of the decrepit communist authorities of the unknown, united, un-tamable and un-manipulable force. He understands how powerful and ruthless the unification of the workers can become, as they finally realize that they have been cheated, robbed, and treated as a fusible biological mass for decades. Hence his primal, almost mystical fear of the workers, of the strike committees, of the independent trade unions. Marx and Lenin's horror stories about proletarians who have nothing to lose but their own chains, and the cobblestone is their weapon, also stare at Lukashenka with anger from the walls, like his own portraits.

On the other hand, the refrigerator looks at him with anger, too. And the iron, and even the mop in the corner. Not even Communists ever dreamt of such a level of hatred. History itself is taking us to a moment of truth. And it's a perfect time to open up the factories' front gates.

Iryna Khalip, specially for Charter97.org