Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Cold War Still Threatens Our World

This October 28, 2012, marks the 50th anniversary of the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Cold War mentality since the 1950s perpetuates mass hysteria which allowed for nuclear weapons to threaten our civilization. We became slaves of our politicians, the media and the military industrial complex. Today we ought to stand up and make our voices known that nuclear weapons ought to be banned.

Entrance sign.
On July 11, 2012, I visited the Diefenbunker, Canada's Cold War Museum, located at the north edge of the town of Carp, Ontario, a 45-minute drive west from downtown Ottawa.

I went to see Russians perform in the program Beyond the Bomb: Music of the Cold War. I spent three-hours exploring its exhibits on four underground levels and hearing dozens of brief performances of music composed during the Cold War or that was inspired by the period.

Viktor Herbiet on sax in tunnel entrance
Performers included the Moscow String Quartet (introduced by a Canadian general who was a Cold War warrior during the hysteria), the Maple Leaf Brass Band, sax player Victor Herbiet, guitarist Daniel Bolshoy and others. Festival director Julian Armour wrote that the combination of music and venue was intended to give those who attend a sense of the period and its music. See my 87 photos: Cold War Exhibit at Diefenbunker

Indeed. the venue gave me a vivid sense of how mass population can be herded like sheep to give up their civil rights and potentially their lives for some self-serving patriotic goal of preserving our kind — all in the name of freedom, democracy, and the moral right of the military industrial complex to kill for profit and power.

Construction of this four-level underground Cold War complex at Carp in 1960.

Here's some facts I gathered:
  • In 1958, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker announced in Canada's Parliament that '...development of a decentralized federal system of emergency government with central, regional and zonal elements would proceed' (Hansard, Aug 21, 1958).
  • The basic principle was to protect and support key government services in case of massive nuclear attack on North America. Over the next decade up to 50 protective shelters were built across Canada. The Carp facility was the 'flagship', as it was expected to resist a blast of 5 million tons of TNT exploding at about a mile away, compared to all the others which were only designed for fallout; it was to provide shelter for 535 key people for up to 30 days. No provision was made for family members.
  • The Carp facility cost $20 million (not including the special electronic telecommunications installed in 1962-63). Comprised of four levels underground, the walls of the building range from 2.5 feet to over 4 feet thick made of concrete with reinforced steel. Over 1,000 workers were employed on the site.
  • The government ceased its responsibilities in the bunker in the fall of 1992 and the Department of Defence decommissioned the Carp site in December 1994. About this time, local community people purchased the facility for under $300,000 and begin operating it as a museum, largely using volunteer help. In June 1998, the bunker and some of the land surrounding it was declared a National Historic Site by Heritage Canada.
  • The 20 million citizens of Canada were encouraged to build their own bunkers at an estimated cost of $4,000 in today's currency, but only about 2,000 were built. It was too much of an outlandish idea for the masses. People were more optimistic than their political leaders.
  • See my 87 photos: Cold War Exhibit at Diefenbunker, and 17 photos posted by another person who also attended: Beyond the Bomb: Music of the Cold War.
When this bunker was being built in 1961, the Americans failed their attempt to invade Cuba in the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Shortly after, on October 22, 1962, the missile crisis between the Soviets and Americans pushed the world to the brink of an all-out nuclear conflict.

Only to the credit of the Cold War superpower leaders, US President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev, as well as the United Nations, the world was saved.

Sergei Krushchev, the son of Nikita Krushchev, explained how all this happened when he watched the crisis unfold at his father's side.. He spoke to Jim Brown of CBC Radio (October 19, 2012) from Brown University where he is Visiting Professor. Sergei pointed out that his father had no choice but to send nuclear missiles to Cuba. Because the USA was planning to invade Cuba, the USSR needed to protect Cuba.

Both leaders understood that their goal was to avoid a nuclear conflict because this would lead to the end of the world. To do this, they did not wish to allow the military to be part of their agenda. They both figured out a way to create a win-win outcome.

The end of this video clip (at time 1:26) shows Sergei Krushchev explaining that both the USA and the USSR were mirror images of the 'evil empire'. See: Cuban Missile Crisis - Three Men Go To War, PBS TV, October 23, 2012.

In the end, luckily all of us were winners.

Today, fifty years after the missile crisis, the Cold War mentality continues. We need to remember that many of the old missiles are still in their silos ready to be launched. The end of the world could come to an end if we don't take steps to get rid of these weapons of mass destruction once and for all. The Physicians for Global Survival underline this in their mission statement. Let's get on with it!

Atomic weapons are weapons of mass destruction. They do not distinguish good from bad people. We are all equally subject to be killed by its devilish powers. For this Fiftieth Anniversary let's rededicate our efforts to ban these weapons from the face of the earth. In fact, let's make wars a crime against humanity! Consider our culture of peace mantra as creating a 'nonkilling society' and one of our goals as building Departments of Peace in every country.

More about "Beyond the Bomb: Music of the Cold War"

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Q50: How to preserve historical documents?

From: Marjorie Malloff, Saskatchewan

While working on some of this historical material and then seeing how much still has to be done I am at times overwhelmed by the enormity of good material still to be processed and put some place. Do you find yourself in the same boat, or were you more successful and diligent? So much good stuff is locked in the Russian language, that I wonder what will become of it.

Looking forward to your thoughts and suggestions on this dilemma.


Answer

We need to digitize all documents and post them on the Internet, which provides low cost, wide distribution of searchable documents. Translating Russian documents is more difficult. This is time-consuming expensive work, but can be done if many donate time and funds.

In my Ottawa study showing the last gift to the Saskachewan Archives, June 1, 2004.

For my part, I have donated much of my archival collection to the Saskatchewan Archives, which preserves a Doukhobor collection measuring 84.4 meters (277 feet) donated by 11 Doukhobor historians. 76% (64 meters) comprise the Tarasoff Papers. I trust the library to preserve the collection and provide access, but one needs to go to that library, documents are not digital and the Russian is not translated. Also, beginning in the 1950s, I have donated Russian and English materials to the Special Collections of the University of British Columbia in cooperation with librarian Jack McIntosh.

I still have a quantity of select archival materials at home for my day-to-day research and writing. For example, my on-going 49-volume Notes on the Doukhobor Social Movement now numbers 9,000 pages. Since the 1950s I have tens of thousands of photos, with over 1,400 Doukhobor historical photos donated to the Public Archives of British Columbia in Victoria, BC. At the age 80, I am still accumulating more text and photos, planning to produce more papers and an e-book.

For the past decade I have been posting much of my new materials and select old items on the Internet. I am pleased that Google digitized 6 of my books which you can search on line, but not yet preview, which requires cooperation with publishers.

But that does not address your question about older documents in Russian not in digital format, sitting on shelves, which cannot be found by searching the Internet for keywords.

Take inventory. Make it public.
  1. Organize and archive the documents by major topics in public spaces (library, museum, USCC, ...) using a library filing system, like box and folder.
  2. Describe and index each topic collection in a finding aid using many keywords.
  3. Post all finding aids on the Internet, so they can be found by search engines and easily read on mobile devices.
  4. Iskra is already organized, but its contents need to be posted, like we did with The Inquirer.
This gets you organized and public. Then each collection can be digitized by priority when possible. Handwritten documents must be typed or summarised. Russian OCR readers can convert most of the Russian text, but errors and alphabet updates must be corrected. Then digital Russian text can be computer translated, which requires extensive editing.

My webmaster, Andrei Conovaloff, researched some of this new technology for his own work and sent the following links to Jim Popoff in March 2012 to help with digitizing Iskra.
The new technology is spectacular and low cost, but volunteers and/or funds are needed to do the work, like the Psalmist Project. See how the Brethren are archiving now. Students at all levels can paritcipate for credit. There are numerous opportunities for graduate projects and degrees. I wish our society would divert war money to the archival preservation of translation, interviews, ethnographic field work, film recording and more.

If any reader has a suggestion or can help, please comment below.

More: Questions and Answers, Comments

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Q49: Am I a Doukhobor?

From: Annie Barnes of Sundre, Alberta

I do need your help to answer the question — Am I a Doukhobor? Often faced with defending our culture, I have become quite adept at doing that. However, today, I encountered a woman, born and brought up in Kamsack of descendants that came in 1899, who vehemently told me she was NOT Doukhobor, but of Canadian born Russian parentage.

So, comparing my history with hers, growing up in the same area, and not belonging to any Doukhobor group or society, in a home where my mother remarried a man of Ukrainian descent, am I a real Doukhobor?

This question bears some honest clarification. I've always believed that if my grandparents came from Tsarist Russia on one of the four ships in 1899, then I was of Doukhobor lineage. Is that correct? Is there criteria for being Doukhobor?

I'm really interested in your thoughts.


Answer

Identity is complex because it involves history, belief and behaviour. Criteria and definitions have varied among Doukhobors for centuries resulting in many divisions. There is cultural identity and collective identity compounded with a person's self-affiliation, and categorization by others.

Many like you have asked similar questions, which I answered at Questions+Answers, Comments
Iskra posts a definition: "... a Doukhobor basically renounces physical strength as a means of combating evil ... in general all forms of violence ..." I agree with most of this definition.

My definition is broader. It is not who your ancestors were, or what others may think about you, but who you are. If you have a nonkilling world view, you are a Doukhobor. However, if you transgress it with killings, bombings or burnings, you automatically exclude yourself from what I call the "Doukhobor Movement."

By heritage you are a descendant of Doukhobors, but what do you believe and how do you express those beliefs? Annie, only you can answer the question 'Am I a Doukhobor?'

More: Questions and Answers, Comments

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Democracy at Work

Here's an example of how democracy works, which makes me proud because my daughter was actively involved. Tamara Tarasoff resides with her husband John Pinkerton and children Nicholas and Elena in the Gatineau hills, 40 km. northwest of Ottawa, near Wakefield, Quebec.

For many years local residents organized to monitor the pristine Gatineau River. When government wanted to build a new sewage/septic treatment plant, more citizens joined in protest, including Tamara. They cooperated to communicate with more neighbors until many were involved in fact sharing using the Internet. Their persistence paid off in a victory for the local citizens.

Several groups with websites united: Ottawa Riverkeeper, Citizens for the Protection of the Gatineau River, and Friends of the Gatineau River, which posted an information webpage : Proposed Septage Treatment for MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais, which links to facts and two blogs, one is Tamara's : EcoLaPeche Blog, "For citizens concerned about the proposed regional septic waste treatment plant on the Gatineau River."

See a summary of their problem : Local Communities Struggle with the Challenge of Treating Septage (OttawaRiverKeeper.ca, April 16, 2011).

Three years ago Tamara began her blog and worked closely with the community in keeping the surrounding mayors and councillors on their best behaviours. Teamwork paid off especially in helping elected representatives with transparency in civic matters, in making sure that environmental issues are honoured, and in helping top community and corporate officials act as equals in their municipalities.

After three years of work, on Sept 21, 2012, the Wakefield community online bulletin board announced: "We WIN!!! The MRC Mayors announced last night that the septic treatment plant slated for Farrellton, along the Gatineau River will NOT be built."

The following day, Tamara's 134th blog post reported: Project Cancelled! This time it is official! She ended her report with: "Our community worked hard – really hard – and we got our well-deserved victory. Thank you everyone! Now let’s celebrate!"

If you have an issue with the government or want to oppose injustice, get started. There are many advocacy guides and examples like this to encourage you to do something, which is how democracy works.

Recall the wisdom of the late American anthropologist Margaret Mead who once stated 'A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.' I would like to update this by saying: 'When we have a vision, when we work together and when we persist, we can change the world -- one step at a time.'