Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Czechoslovak communist shelves were in a better shape than the current American ones

I have seen numerous photographs of the empty shelves in the U.S. shops. They are shocking. They are being blamed on the gap in the supply due to the (crazy) lockdowns, the ludicrous maternal leave of the gay minister of transportation, and the increased demand due to all the helicopter money (not to mention panic buying encouraged by the Covid-hysterical filthy liars calling themselves the journalists). But this extremely accurate attribution is a propaganda of some kind because "most", and not just "few", of the basic mechanisms of capitalism are under attack in America right now.

As you know, President Trump has 3+1+1=5 kids with his three wives. The oldest three, Don Jr, Ivanka, and Eric, were born to Ivana Trump (born Zelníčková [EN: Belonging-to-the-Little-Cabbage-Man] who started as a hot blonde skier; while Ivana Trump is an impressive lady, you still need to watch the Mr Tau blonde if you want to understand why a billionaire would pick her), and the older two speak some Czech. They remember visiting the communist Czechoslovakia in the summer of the 1980s, to see their grandparents. Well, Don Jr just pointed out that the state of the shops in the U.S. these days starts to resemble what he remembers from Czechoslovakia in the 1980s.

The hardcore left-wing propaganda hired guns are trying to mock him. Surely it can't be that bad in the U.S. now. The efforts to obfuscate the self-evident national catastrophe – the arrival of these unhinged leftists with every conceivable pathology that they encompass – devour a large fraction of the energy of tens of thousands of dishonest people right now.

Meanwhile, the reaction of almost all the Czech readers under our articles about this story is exactly the opposite. The 1980s showed Czechoslovakia as a country that was self-evidently lagging Western Europe. At the same moment, it was visibly ahead of traditionally poorer communist countries such as Romania (and because of some chaotic events, even Poland). And we were much better off than the Soviet Union, of course. I spent 2 weeks in Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg), our twin city, in July 1988. That was quite some real poverty over there (but the city still "worked" at some level). Only the begging kids outside a train in Romania could have trumped this Soviet experience with poverty.

In the 1980s, I was doing shopping every other day but I don't remember "breadlines". We were mostly going to ordinary grocery stores, with one type of milk (perhaps 2-3 in the final years), one type of bread, one type of baguette, three types of beer, one toilet paper, and so on. One normal chewing gum was called Pedro. Kofola was always our brown soda of choice and it survived the competition from its less spectacular American siblings. It was similar in the shops with kitchen appliances etc. In communism, there are no brands. Grocery stores aren't supermarkets with names like Aldi, Albert, or Tesco. They don't belong to colorful particular owners with personalities. Everything is owned by everyone i.e. by the grey body of the communist party apparatchiks. They are "grocery stores" with similar labels on them. The exact same thing applies to "fruits and vegetables", "meat and smoked meat", "dyes and paints", and a dozen of similar categories of shops.

We had big trouble to buy almost any unusual and exotic goods. That included rather ordinary things such as bananas. Many bananas came from our Cuban comrades. But bananas and oranges often made it to the "undercounter" or "off-the-shelf" goods that you couldn't buy in the straightforward way. You had to befriend or bribe a clerk who had a special access to the goods. The actual price that you paid for these things was much higher – when the bribes are naturally included, and they should be. The elevated shortages of the special products often created a hidden inflation and this is arguably appearing in the U.S. these days, too.

Almost no Czechoslovak kids ate ordinary things such as kiwis or German strawberry yogurts (up to the 1989 fall of communism when tons of things suddenly became available). I only had access to these things because my mother's brother as well as (independently) my father's brother were emigrants (in Australia and West Germany, respectively). My parents and grandmother were sometimes allowed to meet then in Bavaria (I wasn't: of course, I was a kid at permanent existential threat because relatives-emigrants weren't politically correct and I had tons of other politically incorrect traits) and they brought lots of things. My Australian uncle repeatedly sent a huge box with luxurious groceries. Lots of cocoa and similar things were included. I've had a watch with a calculator, two pocket PCs, and two Commodores 64, three of them were smuggled by my father in a highly secret and clever place near the engine of his cars. And lots of other things. Of course, I was materially living in conditions that didn't greatly differ from some average Western European kids. There were arguably several percent of families that could have claimed the same (families of communist apparatchiks ultimately had "similar fancy things" from the West as anti-regime kids like myself).

Cars were another problematic category. Czechoslovak people mostly bought a Škoda 105/120 or Favorit (in the last years of communism); a Lada/Zhiguli (Russian clones of old fiats); Trabant (a shocking East German paper-plastic car); Wartburg (another East German car that was equally stinky and unhealthy), and some 3 more. All other models were extremely rare but there were still people who were driving Mercedeses and similar stuff (it was one of my father's cars, too). A family had to save the money for a car by working for many years and it often had to wait for years in the queue, too. Among the affordable cars, the Škodas simply were the best, despite being the inspiration for all the British car jokes. The British car jokes could only be focusing on our cars because the Britons didn't have an idea about the East German and other cars that really sucked. Škodas didn't suck, they were just modest cars, simply clever products on a highly constrained budget.

But you know, almost all the types of products that are really needed for a civilized life were accessible. Think about all the basic types of bread products, meat, milk, beer; clothes, shoes, ... bicycles, dyes, kitchen appliances including some white electronics, and so on. New huge malls were built in the 1980s. When some products became unavailable for a while, it was usually a short-lived defect. Sometime around the mid 1980s, we couldn't buy toilet paper for some time. That was quite an amazing example of the failure of communism. I do believe that there have existed breadlines somewhere and I have heard about them. I just don't remember them personally.

Aside from my uncles, I got lots of Western products in the Tuzex shops which were basically Western European shops operating legally in Czechoslovakia. You officially paid with "bony", i.e. convertible Czechoslovak crowns. They could have been converted to Western German Marks and Dollars and other convertible currencies in both directions rather easily. You could get them if your relatives worked outside the Soviet bloc; if you were a communist apparatchik family; if you were an athlete or an artist who made it to the West, or if you were sent something by your relatives-emigrants. But you couldn't buy the Western currencies (or bony) for the communist crowns at the "official rates". The official rates only allowed you to get rid of the hard currencies (or bony) and get a very small compensation in the communist crowns. The actual, "black" market exchanges rates were higher by a factor of 5. While "one bon" was officially equal to 1 communist crown, you could have only bought it for CSK 5 (a nearly constant, standard rate in the 1980s) from an individual. The official rates overstated the value of the communist currency by a factor of five. The same ratio applied to dollars. The official communist rate was 7 crowns per dollar but the market rate was about 35 at that moment. "Wechselmen", illegal operators of individual forex exchange booths, bought dollars for 25 from the foreigners (foreigners would get just 7 crowns in the bank) and sold it for 35. The profit margins were huge, as expected in every market where the traders face the risk of criminal prosecution.

Even for the people who never bought Western products, and it may have been a majority, Czechoslovakia was doing well enough which is also why there wasn't any widespread revolt ignited by the poverty. No one was really "poor". And many of the strengths and weaknesses of the communist shops of the 1980s reflected the old history and achievements of each nation, not just communism. The differences were huge. I think that the difference between Czechoslovakia and Romania was greater than the difference between West Germany and Czechoslovakia.

The economy just couldn't work perfectly and the badly organized, centrally planned communist system simply couldn't afford to buy exotic products for most people. But those commies were at least trying to do things "right". They saw that Western Europe was richer and, while keeping socialism, they wanted to emulate all the good things about the West that they surely saw and acknowledged. America of 2021, plagued by the far left sociopaths that have contaminated every corner of the government, are arguably much worse. While America surely has some intrinsic strength due to the pure inertia and many things that haven't been destroyed yet (plus the 30-40 extra years relatively to the 1980s), the character of the "elite" commies in the contemporary America is far more damning than that of our commies. The Biden folks don't even pretend to try to save their country from misery. They are masterminding one devastating change of the conditions after another.

It really took something like 20 years for the communist system of Czechoslovakia – the time up to the 1960s – to produce negative results and to be "self-evidently" inferior. Seemingly ironically, but actually very logically, the 1960s were exactly the moment when the support for hardcore communism eroded in Czechoslovakia, even among the communist apparatchiks. The softening of the conditions between 1960 and 1968 accelerated in January 1968 when the Prague Spring started with the new communist bosses starting with Alexander Dubček. The Prague Spring was terminated by the Warsaw Pact tanks and 500,000 troops in August 1968. Significant resistence looked suicidal to the rational Czechs and Slovaks. Because of this invasion, we got 21 more years of rather hardcore (but no longer genocidal) communism and the gap separating us from the West grew by another factor, perhaps even a greater factor than during the first 20 years of communism.

But the current U.S. "elites", the utterly sick leftists, are destined to make America inferior in a vastly shorter period than our, Czechoslovak 20 years. They can really make an irrepairable damage before the 2024 presidential elections (we will see whether they already collapse in the midterms and whether they allow fair elections in 2022 at all). After they are eliminated, it may take 30 years for America to regain some hope.

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