The Red Guards of the New Cultural Revolution tear down statues and try to vindicate their ignorant vandalism by pointing to the monuments removed after the fall of the Soviet Union. But the people who survived actual communism acted in marked contrast to the mindless destruction of the idiot mobs dreaming of a new communist fantasy-land.
There’s perhaps no more fitting end for the brutalist monuments of communism than ending up as faintly comic props for post-communist entrepreneurs.
Welcome to Stalin World – at least that is its unofficial name. At Grutas Park, about 130 kilometres south-west of Vilnius in Lithuania, some 80 statues from the Soviet era have been put out to grass.
Grutas Park was the brainchild of Lithuanian entrepreneur Viliumas Malinauskas, who recognised the tourism potential for a collection of unloved relics in a country occupied for half a century by the Red Army.
Paying visitors can picnic alongside the head of Lenin or in the shadow of a towering statue of Stalin, both deposed from their former city-centre plinths.
There are other parks. Memento Park in Hungary was established after the fall of communism in 1991. Vladimir Lenin stands with Karl Marx and notable Hungarian communist leaders behind the austere brick walls of the statue park museum in a hilly southern suburb of Budapest.
Following Indian independence in 1947 Coronation Park in Delhi became the final resting place for some of the statues of former British kings and officials of the British Raj.
Of course, it’s a massive stretch to compare Captain Cook to Joseph Stalin. Which doesn’t stop the woke doctrinaires in Australia’s history departments from trying to do exactly that.
Professor Bronwen Douglas, an honorary professor at the ANU, welcomed the idea and said every city in Australia could have a statue park.
She compared it to early manuscripts, many of which contained racist or sexist material. To obliterate those works would also obliterate the horrors, she said.
“Every city is chock-a-block with statues, many of which would now be regarded as politically incorrect and with absolute reason,” she said. “Most of the statues in question at the moment are of arch imperialists who are seen as, quite rightly in the vast majority of cases, extremely racist.”
This is mostly garbage, of course. But it’s just the sort of right-on nostrums you’d expect from gutless academics these days. But the point is that destruction and obliteration is the resort of barbarians. Civilised societies preserve the past – good and bad.
Christine Yeats, president of the Royal Australian History Society, also saw some merit in statue parks.
She said: “While acknowledging ‘statue parks’ may not be for everyone, they do provide an opportunity for society to deal with the unwanted and discredited vestiges of the past. Displaying the statues in this way provides the opportunity to explain the context in which they were created and the reason why the figures represented are no longer honoured or memorialised.”
That statues should be removed at all, even to a statue park, should be up to the democratic decision of citizens, not the violent whims of ignorant communist mobs.
Still, if they must be removed, preserving them in a dedicated space is a valid option.
Where I grew up, a statue of Queen Victoria stood, as it still does, in quiet dignity in an obscure corner of one of the city’s parks. Before it was confined to its leafy retirement, though, the statue stood in pride of place in the town square, where it was erected in 1903. It was moved a decade later, after the town’s citizens elected to allow commercial buildings to encroach on the square.
It was not torn down, it was not destroyed. It was moved to a quiet corner of a park, not far from the local bowls club.
Much as today’s violently intolerant wokesters denigrate our past, clearly in at least some respects it was a more civilised age.
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