The destruction of a Soviet monument in Riga this week was quite the sight to behold: This strange obelisk celebrating, allegedly, the victory by the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany was erected in 1985 to celebrate Soviet imperialism and colonialism and demonstrate the USSR’s hold over Latvia, a country the Soviet Union conquered when it was allied with Nazi Germany.
With one exception, namely graveyards of actual soldiers fighting Nazi Germany in World War II, these monuments celebrate the victory of one totalitarian regime over another. For countries like Latvia, this meant replacing one murderous crime with the next.
Specifically now that under Putin, Stalin and the Soviet Union seem to be rehabilitate just as much as Czarist Russia, we should remember what the fight against Nazi Germany was about: the defeat of an anti-human system celebrating genocide, identitarian purity, total domination and submission of each and every human being under an ideology dedicated to the destruction of the concept of the individual.
Nazism believed in a mythical community of people, in the body of the people, and each person would just be a tiny cell in this larger body, and if this cell resisted or did not fit in, it was supposed to be eradicated. Communism follows a similar ideology, only that the concept of race is replaced with the concept of class, but the individual matters just as little (Some people on the left still fail to want to understand this as they suffer from the false belief that Social Democracy somehow does not yet go far enough; even though the relationship between Social Democracy and Socialism/Communism is like that between Conservatism and Fascism: if you go too far in pursuit of your utopia, you end in dystopia, but this is another topic).
Currently, Putin is working to resurrect a similar concept, proven by is reckless disregard for his own soldiers, the welfare of his people, and the lives and rights of those standing in his path. Ukraine is just the next victim after Chechnya, Syria and Belarus (which does not even dare to resist at this moment). It is only logical for Putin to celebrate Stalin again, for he aims to become him.
Thus any celebration of Soviet ideology and power needs to be seen as what it is: The celebration of a crime. We should not tolerate memorials to the Soviet Union, just as we should not tolerate memorials to Nazism, Fascism, Slavery or the Confederacy. We need to honor the memory of the people who fought against totalitarianism, but we should never make the mistake to honor a system of organized evil just because it fought another evil.
Latvia did the right thing, and we need repeat performances. These offensive monuments need to be torn down or at least repurposed. Such history belongs in a museum and should not continue to tower over us any longer in our public spaces.