I listened to the radio while i biked home from work. The Swedish national radio station just started it's first episode of a radio play about Tummelisa, a little girl no bigger than a thumb.
As she was soothed to sleep by her mother she heard a frog croaking. "What was that?" Tummelisa asked? "Just a nasty toad," her mother replied.
When i heard that show a couple of days back i was already formally fired from my job for about a week and a half. I got replaced by a girl with an actual bread smearing diploma who lived in Torshalla and would for years to come. The official explanation was that she showed up right after i went on vacation to Korea and asked for a job. The bakery test-drove her in the weeks i was away and found her approved. The day i came back i was fired, but could still work for two weeks more because of Swedish law.
My days are now officially up. I am once again unemployed and thus ended an era of relentless hardships under an increasingly vile and demanding regime. One can not but help seeing parallels between my struggle in the bakery and Trotsky's struggle against Stalin in Russia after the socialist revolution. Both of us tried to keep alive and combat increasingly darker forces with wit and courage. Both of us got expelled in the end from be it a bakery or Russia and both of us could keep our head up knowing that trough all the hardships we held the moral higher ground and didn't took the easy way out in the way Anakin Skywalker for example yielded to the dark side.
In the months i worked at the bakery grllfrnds father fed me the biography trilogy of Leon Trotsky by Isaac Deutscher book by book. “The youth cry out for Deutscher!!!” was his battle-cry accompanying these handouts. And just to anticipate this storm of craving younglings he set out to buy on-line a couple more copies of this Trotsky trilogy named “The prophet ...” “armed”, “unarmed” and “outcast” following Trotsky's fortunes within the Bolshevik party.
Yes, poor Trotsky stormed the heavens with his ideals for a better world. Only to fall down long and hard on the concrete of subsequent events. This cocky son of a Jewish farmer had a brilliant mind and wasn't afraid to show it off and win arguments to soothe his own ego, until he fell in love with communism, got active and got arrested and deported and got arrested and got deported... and got a revolution going with the likes of Lenin and Stalin.
But then things got bad. You see Trotsky had this terrific mind and all and saw things very sharply but he wasn't the party man. If people didn't see stuff his way than he could argue with them until the break of dawn and if they still failed to see the obvious than that was their problem. Lenin, also not dumb, was not as blunt as mr argue-a-lot kept into account that people have ego's to protect or other stuff to protect and was more of the diplomatic kind. At the closing of Lenin's life they made quite a good team.
Cue Stalin who could be called mister Party Man. Not very good at being the intellectual high flyer he gradually discovered that power was nice and good and slowly started to direct power into his hands. Him being a member of the party from it's underground years people found it hard to believe he was becoming a sleazy power monger, on the side having big feuds with the tragic hero of our story. But stupid Lenin was lulled to sleep by Stalins treacherous talk until just before the very end he saw Stalins true intentions and what might follow and he put in his will that this guy be removed from the party at all cost. Trotsky was the man to convey this message to the party after Lenin's death, but he didn't, still seeing Stalin as an insignificant worm.
Oh it's ironic isn't it? Trotsky had the key to his saviour in his own hands but failed to turn it and open the lock on a better future. After this things only goes downhill for Trotsky. Two books of swimming against the tide of Stalinism. Making fatal tactical errors on crucial moments along the way just because he can not believe the evil thing Stalin is turning into. As we follow the pages of the Prophet, Stalin nibbles at Trotsky's space bit by bit, like a master tactician in a game of go, until our lilla sillen gets expelled from the state of which he was one of the chief architects. Then he and his family get hunted down across the globe for ten more years. This man that tried almost inhumanly to do good to the end got the worst of everything till the end.
This absurdly small and inaccurate summary of 1500 plus pages can in no way convey the scale and tragedy of this man's life. There is no better way to acclaim this story than in the idiom of fifties b-film promotions: "More epic than the bible!! More fantastic than the Greek gods!!!” The good mr Deutscher is a master with pen and paper. Very compelling writing, vast knowledge of the material. The youth would indeed cry out for Deutscher, if they only knew. Run to your local computer terminal and order a copy from somewhere now!
The only story i know of that comes anywhere near the one of Trotsky is of course my epic fight to not get fired at the bakery. Almost from the get go i was plunged in this ten day working week. But i was to slow i was told again and again. In the meantime they kept on screwing up my working hours, while diminishing those of my co-worker. At first we both worked until the job was done. That was doable. Then she left me a couple of hours sooner with me having to be ready at the same time as before. Then she shaved another hour of her time alongside of me. All because she gets a rash on the arms from working to long.
In the weekend i worked with another girl up unto this point to do the same amount of work as in the rest of the week, but from very early on it was made clear to me that i was supposed do the work of two people by myself in the same amount of time. When the time came for me to actually do the weekend on my own i talked with the boss about when to come to work and he advised me to start at two in the morning to be on the safe side. Twelve hours later, after drinking LOTS of coffee, stressing much and working some along the way i was done, still with six days to go until the weekend. From when i started working at the bakery i had pain in my hands and in my legs every day of the week. So what i am trying to say here is that it was not a healthy working environment over there.
I had only one tactic not to get fired: do not complain. And i don't know if it was true but they seemed to have a counter tactic: stress the hell out of him. So as the stress was mounting for me, the guilt of seeing a lilla sill suffer so much was mounting as well. I guess in the end that sort of works against you because really you are a thorn in the boss's side every time he/she sees you simma against the stream.
On Friday, two working days before my last working day my co-worker suddenly confides in me that she can no longer do the job. She has been thinking about it for more than a week and wants to quit, “but it is our little secret.” Half an hour later she decided that she IS gonna quit and she told the bosses. On Monday, one working day before my last working day, i come to work and it turns out the boss has tempted her to try a bit longer but to work less. To enable her to work less, her son is gonna help her out by, essentially, taking my place.
So i am sort of phased out while two people have taken the job that i could do, while i still worked there. On Tuesday, my last working day, the female boss doesn't even say goodbye to me while she walks past my bench to go to the shop in the city. Yesterday, on Thursday, my ex-co-worker called me up to say she quit and that her last working day will be a month from now, being a month from yesterday. She recommended me to the boss, saying my work was really good in the last two weeks. I don't really think they're gonna ask me back, but if they do, do i WANT to go back?
Wow, that's severe.. and I guess you can't join a union as a foreigner? Anyway, I have the Stalin biography by Deutscher and Trotsky for beginners..
Hee Tieske, laat da koppie nie hangen he!? Bespeur ik hier overigens zo langzamerhand een communistisch geïndoctrineerde Ties, die zich langzaam ontwikkelt? CU