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"The Ukrainian famine known as the Holodomor, a combination of the Ukrainian words for "starvation" and "to inflict death"by one estimate claimed the lives of 3.9 million people, about 13 percent of the population. And, unlike other famines in history caused by blight or drought, this was caused when a dictator wanted both to replace Ukraine's small farms with state-run collectives and punish independence-minded Ukrainians who posed a threat to his totalitarian authority."
The Holodomor of 1932 - 1933 was just one example of the dangers of totalitarian authority. There have been many, and experts estimate they caused over 100 million deaths in the 20th century. Names like Hitler, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot fill our memories with horrendous stories of the abuses, starvations, and deaths of millions of other human beings.
I'm not a historian, nor am I a scholar. But I am a thinking human being and can identify several lessons from this "very human" history. The first lesson is it's our history, human history, from which we never seem to learn.
The next lesson is the failure of imposing a way of being on the masses that unnecessarily takes away their autonomy. The Holodomor mentioned above was an example of the imposition of collectivism on a system that functioned quite well when individual farmers ran their farms.
But the open secret is that the systems being imposed were always based on an economic theory that would supposedly equalize outcomes. That the collective efforts of the many would benefit the many by building a better society. Not a bad idea until one realizes the impossibility of making it a reality. But there's a more significant factor that causes the damage and destruction.
That factor? No opposing powers. When the opposition disappears, tyranny begins. Even when lone individuals resist, the one-sided power to impose any system with no counterbalancing forces evolves into tyranny. One final factor seals the tragedy, the individuals' willingness to accept lies and deny the truth to protect themselves from the effects of tyranny.
All that as a preamble, how does this apply today? First of all, we have a feral Republican Party that fails to play the part it has played for decades, a stabilizing counterbalance of the left's agenda.
The GOP has moved from a healthy conservatism to a radicalized attempt to create a one-party government. It has convinced a large portion of its loyal base to believe its lies and distortions. And a good number of its elected officeholders accept those lies and deny reality to protect themselves from the tyranny being imposed by its leader, the soon to be former president.
The similarities to all those authoritarian leaders are undeniable. This president's continual denigration of the free press has convinced his loyal base they are enemies of the people. His constant lies and distortions have created an alternative reality that makes civil dialog on our differences impossible. And now, like an autocrat, he is attempting to invalidate an election and, with that act, abolish our representative democracy.
He and his followers have brought us to the most profound constitutional crisis since the Confederate states seceded from the union.
Most of us who have been paying attention know these next few days are probably the most dangerous in recent memory. Our nation is a powder keg, and we have a narcissistic megalomaniac trying to light the fuse.
So, the next time someone tells you your vote doesn't count, remember the Ukrainian Holodomor and the tyranny imposed by a single party with no opposition.
Robert De Filippis
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