By Andre Vltchek
June 23, 2020 "Information
Clearing House" - For months, this has been a
story that I want to share with young readers in Hong
Kong. Now it seems to be the really appropriate time
when the ideological battle between the West and China
is raging, and as a result of it, Hong Kong and the
entire world is suffering.
I want to say that none of it is new, that the West
already destabilized so many countries and territories,
brainwashed tens of millions of young people.
I know, because in the past, I was one of them. If I
weren’t, it would be impossible to understand what is
now happening in Hong Kong.
I was born in Leningrad, a beautiful city in the
Soviet Union. Now it is called St. Petersburg, and the
country is Russia. Mom is half Russian, half Chinese,
artist, and architect. My childhood was split between
Leningrad and Pilsen, an industrial city known for its
beer, at the Western extreme of what used to be
Czechoslovakia. Dad was a nuclear scientist.
Two cities were different. Both represented something
essential in the Communist planning, a system that you
were taught, by the Western propagandists, to hate.
Leningrad is one of the most stunning cities in the
world, with some of the greatest museums, opera and
ballet theatres, public spaces. In the past, it used to
be the Russian capital.
Pilsen is tiny, with only 180.000 inhabitants. But
when I was a kid, it counted with several excellent
libraries, art cinemas, an opera house, avant-garde
theatres, art galleries, research zoo, with things that
could not be, as I realized later (when it was too
late), found even in the U.S. cities of one million.
Both cities, a big and a small, had excellent public
transportation, vast parks, and forests coming to its
outskirts, as well as elegant cafes. Pilsen had
countless free tennis facilities, football stadiums,
even badminton courts.
Life was good, meaningful. It was rich. Not rich in
terms of money, but rich culturally, intellectually, and
health-wise. To be young was fun, with knowledge free
and easily accessible, with the culture at every corner,
and sports for everyone. The pace was slow: plenty of
time to think, learn, analyze.
But, it was also the height of the Cold War.
We were young, rebellious, and easy to manipulate. We
were never satisfied with what we were given. We took
for granted everything. At night, we were glued to our
radio receivers, listening to the BBC, Voice of America,
Radio Free Europe, and other broadcasting services
aiming at discrediting socialism and all countries which
were fighting against Western imperialism.
Czech socialist industrial conglomerates were
building, in solidarity, entire factories, from steel to
sugar mills, in Asian, Middle East, and Africa. But we
saw no glory in this because Western propaganda outlets
were simply ridiculing such undertakings.
Our cinemas were showing masterpieces of Italian,
French, Soviet, Japanese cinema. But we were told to
demand junk from the U.S.
Music offering was great, from live to recorded.
Almost all music was, actually, available although with
some delay, in local stores or even on stage. What was
not sold in our stores was nihilist rubbish. But that
was precisely what we were told to desire. And we did
desire it, and copied it with religious reverence, on
our tape recorders. If something was not available, the
Western media outlets were shouting that it is a gross
violation of free speech.
They knew, and they still know now, how to manipulate
At some point, we were converted into young
pessimists, criticizing everything in our countries,
without comparing, without even a tiny bit of
Does it sound familiar?
We were told, and we repeated: everything in the
Soviet Union or Czechoslovakia was bad. Everything in
the West was great. Yes, it was like some fundamentalist
religion or mass-madness. Hardly anyone was immune.
Actually, we were infected, we were sick, turned into
We were using public, socialist facilities, from
libraries to theatres, subsidized cafes, to glorify West
and smear our own nations. This is how we were
indoctrinated, by Western radio and television stations,
and by publications smuggled into the countries.
In those days, plastic shopping bags from the West
became the status symbols! You know, those bags that you
get in some cheap supermarkets or department stores.
When I think about it at a distance of several
decades, I can hardly believe it: young educated boys
and girls, proudly walking down the streets, exhibiting
cheap plastic shopping bags, for which they paid a
serious amount of money. Because they came from the
West. Because they were symbolizing consumerism! Because
we were told that consumerism is good.
We were told that we should desire freedom.
We were instructed to “fight for freedom.”
In many ways, we were much freer than the West. I
realized it when I first arrived in New York and saw how
badly educated were local kids of my age, how shallow
was their knowledge of the world. How little culture
there was, in regular mid-sized North American cities.
We wanted, we demanded designer jeans. We were
longing for Western music labels in the center of our
LPs. It was not about the essence or the message. It was
form over substance.
Our food was tastier, ecologically produced. But we
wanted colorful Western packaging. We demanded
We were constantly angry, agitated, confrontational.
We were antagonizing our families.
We were young, but we felt old.
I published my first book of poetry, then left,
slammed the door behind me, went to New York.
And soon after, I realized that I was fooled!
This is a very simplified version of my story. Space
But I am glad I can share it with my Hong Kong
readers, and of course, with my young readers all over
Two wonderful countries which used to be my home were
betrayed, literally sold for nothing, for pairs of
designer jeans, and plastic shopping bags.
West celebrated! Months after the collapse of the
socialist system, both countries were literally robbed
of everything by Western companies. People lost their
homes and jobs, and internationalism was deterred. Proud
socialist companies got privatized and, in many cases,
liquidated. Theatres and art cinemas were converted into
cheap second-hand clothes markets.
In Russia, life expectancy dropped to African
Czechoslovakia was broken into two parts.
Now, decades later, both Russia and Czechia are
wealthy again. Russia has many elements of a socialist
system with central planning.
But I miss my two countries, as they used to be, and
all surveys show that the majority of people there miss
them too. I also feel guilty, day and night, for
allowing myself to be indoctrinated, to be used, and in
a way to betray.
After seeing the world, I understand that what
happened to both the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia,
also happened to many other parts of the world. And
right now, the West is aiming at China, by using Hong
Whenever in China, whenever in Hong Kong, I keep
repeating: please do not follow our terrible example.
Defend your nation! Do not sell it, metaphorically, for
some filthy plastic shopping bags. Do not do something
that you would regret for the rest of your lives!
Andre Vltchek is
a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative
journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in
dozens of countries. Six of his latest books are “New
Capital of Indonesia”,
Belt and Road Initiative”,
and Ecological Civilization”
with John B. Cobb, Jr., “Revolutionary
Optimism, Western Nihilism”, a
revolutionary novel “Aurora” and
a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing
Lies Of The Empire”.
View his other books here.
groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo
and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On
Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and Latin
America, and continues to work around the world. He
can be reached through his website,
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