I think many people don’t understand what it was like in the USSR. Back there, we weren’t afraid of being executed or sent to a concentration camp. Even during the Stalin era, when there actually were mass executions and labor camps, most people didn’t fear them because nobody was supposed to know. It was all done in secret.
But after Stalin’s death, it weren’t done at all. We didn’t fear physical violence from the state. Honestly, the idea is ludicrous.
We feared being publicly shamed. We feared becoming pariahs. We feared social, not physical, death. We feared being socially, not physically, cancelled. We feared being prevented from making a living, being fired, denied promotion, being told we are agents of international imperialism. We feared public humiliation.
And we feared that this was going to happen to us not if we did something egregious like molesting kids or beating up old ladies for fun. We feared that this was going to happen if somebody found out we enjoyed ideologically suspect news programs, read politically incorrect books, didn’t show up for
climate strikes subbotniks, didn’t add pronouns to our email signatures Communist terminology to every sentence we wrote, didn’t condemn Trump US imperialism loudly enough, didn’t give away our jobs toys to the suffering refugees children in Guatemala, and didn’t join the Twitter mobs Komsomol leaders with enough enthusiasm when they condemned white Ukrainian nationalists and the growing threat of the KKK and world fascism.
This is what I don’t want to experience again. This is the totalitarianism I know.