What once might have seemed like a radical situation, far removed from our everyday reality, aligned itself with our own experiences of living through a dangerous pandemic.
For the first time in forever, I feel longing and anger mixed together. Anger because I am forced to leave my country because it is unsafe for me, as a trans person, to live there. Anger because my country has become a satellite of Western imperialism, where armies of any Western country can freely ‘patrol’.
And yet… I feel longing for Lithuania. I long to live there in peace. But this longing is not for the reactionary alt-right state of Lithuania, nor is it for the revival of Nazi collaborator imagery.
I long for a truly independent Lithuania, and independence from the West and capitalism. I long to wave its flag not in the name of fascism, but in the name of revolutionary socialism.
Lithuania, a small country in the Baltics, alongside Latvia and Estonia, is sometimes credited with having 'single-handedly' destroyed the Soviet Union. The stories of how Lithuania was ‘occupied’ by the ‘evil Soviet empire’ plague not only the media but our history books too. Collectivization is turned into evil stealing of land from peasants and forced labour, a people’s government is turned into a puppet state, the clergy, said to have been ‘deported’ for the ‘innocent’ task of congratulating Hitler and mobilizing reactionaries to attack Jewish people (200,000 of whom were killed in Lithuania), and the elected Central Committee chairman Sniečkus transmuted into a Soviet secret service agent.
Whilst the biggest of the three Baltic ‘sisters’, Lithuania’s smallness and relative obscurity serves right into the hands of imperialists like the US and the EU. Lithuania is ‘home’ to a military polygon of about 17500 hectares of destroyed forest and land, housing roughly 8000 NATO soldiers. The justification is that US forces have been perceived as the most reliable guarantee of security for Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Lithuania has also been a fertile ground for CIA operations since we were part of the USSR, first through Radio Free Europe and next with ‘black sites’, or more specifically, CIA torture prisons. Even now, our airspace is but a showroom to US war machines.
We were taught in school that Lithuania’s existence was dependent on the US recognition of our ‘independence’ from the USSR. We are a moon, circling the supposed ‘sun’ – America.
History, however, cannot be unwritten: the GDP of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic was bigger than any of the USSR republics. It does not change the fact that our furniture and other manufactured products were displayed in expositions in New York during the 50s and 60s. Massive television plants and other industries flourished, with the population growing to its highest of 3.6 million people in 1990 (now we rank at 2.7 million, with projections in 2050 to fall to 2.1 million). The first nuclear and hydroelectric power plants were built at the time of the SSR. And despite this deep involvement of America in the capitalist state of Lithuania, Russia remains our biggest trading partner.
Even an asteroid, 2577 Litva, was named after the Lithuanian SSR. Now, the only thing we can claim to be ‘Lithuanian’ is collaboration with Nazism and a leadership in anti-communism.
The capitalist pundits speak of the ‘moaning society’, the 28% of people who feel dissatisfied with the 30 years of pseudo-independence. Even with such a majority of dissatisfied people, the ‘left’ cannot see through their opportunism and electoral ballot chasing to build anything stronger. The current unemployment rate, as of 2021 January, is at 16.4%, amounting to about 276,980 people. The monthly minimum wage, while being applauded for constantly ‘increasing’ is still at a measly 607€ (467€ after taxes). But, the government is more concerned about building a monument to the 1926 alt-right coup leader A. Smetona. Our labour shortages, induced by poor conditions and low wages, now means that the Lithuanian capitalists are exploiting Ukrainian workers, instead of Lithuanian ones.
What of the organizational power of socialists? Banned, jailed, or outright reactionary. Some claim covid is a hoax, Western imperialism becomes the ‘lgbt ideology’, supposedly a threat to ‘family values’, and Marx becomes an Idol-God, telling that all will become clear if people only read ‘Capital’. The only real organization, the Socialist People’s Front, are too focused on getting seats in the local elections in Vilnius. Other organizations, such as New Left 95 (Naujoji Kairė 95) are but liberals hiding behind socialist wording. However, there are some promising developments. An online newspaper by the name ‘Kova’ (Fight), is publishing some analysis of current Lithuanian politics and refuting anti-communist myths. Yet, it is still plagued by anti-China sentiments, and has no clear line on LGBT+ oppression.
Oaks were always sacred trees in Lithuanian culture. Unfortunately, we became obscured by the forest of the USSR and our growing sacred oak is all but forgotten. Yet, I have hope in my heart that one day, the rot that is eating away the oak's roots will be expelled and its might can flourish again. This time, I hope, the forests will not give shelter to the ‘forest brothers’ (Nazi partisans) or their capitalist owners, but give people strength to liberate ourselves.