Barbi Pilvre: How people went along with the system and brainwashing

Barbi Pilvre.
Barbi Pilvre. Source: Aivar Kullamaa

Fiery-eyed masses shaking with righteous anger and indignation demand the cleansing of history of alien elements. Perhaps we should instead have people talk about how it all happened, how people went along with the system and the brainwashing, Barbi Pilvre writes in a comment originally published in Sirp magazine.

Working as the technical editor of [culture magazine] Looming in the late 1980s, it was my job to communicate with censors. Printed pages, complete with proposed changes and cuts by the editor-in-chief, had to be taken to a specific office (I cannot recall its name) where censors spent a few days reading the material before returning it with the necessary stamps and signatures – which is when the magazine could go to print.

The entire communication was pleasant enough and madams censors educated philologists with whom we went through the ritualized motions and earned our daily bread as servants of the system.

Did anyone protest? Yes, the chief editor's preemptive changes earned their fair share of ironic commentary, which resurfaced whenever "cool" paragraphs made the cut or juicy expressions meant to draw attention away from what mattered were taken out by the censors. Therefore, we were trying to undermine the system from within, and Looming was surely a political trailblazer in a way in the late 1980s that published opinions of political history despite the censors' efforts.

What could I, as a tiny cog in the machine, have done differently? – I could ask 40 years later. After all, I was a collaborator, helping the occupation regime prevail. In the spirit of today's moods that seek to give new meaning to the past, perhaps I should have lit the censored pages on fire in the Town Hall Square or at least demanded freedom of speech. And yet, I did not.

While today's great monuments war comes 30 years too late, pentagrams and ears of wheat are nevertheless coming down from facades and buckets of lime have been set aside for painting over the Estonia (national opera theater – ed.) ceiling mural. Fiery-eyed masses shaking with righteous anger and indignation demand the cleansing of history of alien elements.

Perhaps, instead of going down the path of destruction before elections, we should engage in national self-reflection of how we, Soviet cultural workers, allowed it all to take place? While the authors of Stalinist poems are no longer with us, members of former art committees who were there when these monuments were created, as well as authors of ideological works still live.

Perhaps we should have them say how it all happened, how we went along with the system and the brainwashing. How the exaltations of communist shock work, songs to Lenin and the editorials of Rahva Hääl came about. Why did no one call the police when a top secret committee ordered yet another bust of Lenin from a sculptor?


Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!

Editor: Marcus Turovski

Hea lugeja, näeme et kasutate vanemat brauseri versiooni või vähelevinud brauserit.

Parema ja terviklikuma kasutajakogemuse tagamiseks soovitame alla laadida uusim versioon mõnest meie toetatud brauserist: