By AJ Rice
The recent HBO miniseries, Chernobyl, tells the story of two disasters.
There’s the story of the reactor explosion at the shoddily built and incompetently operated nuclear power plant at Chernobyl near Kiev in the spring of 1986—which poisoned an entire city, forced its permanent evacuation and spread radioactive fallout all over Europe.
And there’s the story of the Soviet Union—which spread a destructive ideology over most of Europe and made an “accident” like the one at Chernobyl inevitable.
That story has to be read between the proverbial lines. But it’s practically in bold-faced type.
It is no accident that the Soviets didn’t get to the moon or that their moon rocket, the N1, blew up not once but several times on the pad.
America’s Saturn V rocket made several trips to the moon—and never blew up, not even once.
It is no accident that the Concorde flew passengers from London to New York and D.C. in luxury for decades without killing any of them (with one notable exception)—while Concordski (the Tupolev Tu 144, a slipshod copy of the Concorde) flew once, briefly—at the Paris Air Show in 1973.
And it is no accident that the worst nuclear disaster in human history occurred inside the borders of the Soviet Union—the greatest political disaster in human history.
The Great Experiment had predictable results. And they were measured in blood and bones.
Communism is a system premised on falsehoods about economics and human equality. From each according to his ability; to each according to his need, says the Marxist slogan. In reality, it’s the imposition of inequality and it’s enforced politically.
Which brings us to the 2020 Democratic primary where all the totalitarian ingredients that set the stage for the Chernobyl meltdown and the Soviet implosion are debated openly, without shame, and lauded as positive goods.
It is also the system in which engineering black became political white—and structural 2 plus 2 equaled “we-say-so” five . . . that is, if the ruling nomenklatura says it does. To question the edicts of those above was to risk the Gulag—or the cellars of the Lubyanka, Moscow’s infamous abattoir for the politically incorrect.
In the Soviet Union, it was better for one’s health to do as ordered—even when one knew it was wrong or insane to do as ordered.
Not surprisingly, insanity ensued.
Decades before Chernobyl exploded and the N1 rocket didn’t get to the moon, there was the infamous White Sea-Baltic Canal—ordered by Stalin, the second Red Tsar after Lenin. It was built at a frantic pace by hundreds of thousands of enslaved proletarians—“human raw material,” in the words of dissident author Alexandr Solzenitsyn. They were driven night and day by political bosses, whose main object wasn’t that the 141 mile-long canal be built well—only that it be built.
As quickly as possible.
Just like Chernobyl.
They succeeded—at a cost of tens of thousands of dead proletarians and a useless canal. It was discovered after the canal was finished that it was too narrow and too shallow for most commercial traffic.
It was only the heroics of a few plant workers that prevented Chernobyl from exceeding the body count racked up by the Soviet Union under Stalin and his heirs—estimated to be around 43 million people. In less than a week instead of over the course of 70 years, this disaster might have occurred.
The new television series explains what almost happened.
After the reactor exploded, superheated uranium fuel rods and graphite casings used to moderate the nuclear reaction within the core were transformed into radioactive magma as the result of the desperate measures taken by Soviet apparatchiks—led by Valery Legasov of the Kurchatov Institute and political boss Boris Shcherbina—to put out the initial fire. A boron-sand slurry was dumped over the exposed reactor core by helicopters.
This did put out the fire. But it also made things worse.
The superheated magma which resulted threatened to melt through to the basement of the ruined reactor complex, where water storage tanks were housed. An explosion in the 2-3 megaton range—equivalent to dozens of Hiroshimas and Nagasakis—now threatened. This would have irradiated most of continental Europe and caused the deaths of hundreds of millions of people inside as well as outside the Soviet Union.
The fruits, so to speak, of a USSR where Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders spent his honeymoon.
Luckily for the world, the second explosion was averted by the suicidal bravery of plant workers who volunteered to wade through the radioactive basement to open valves and drain the water before the magma slurry came in contact with it.
Luckily for the world, the Soviet Union itself melted down shortly thereafter.
The threat now is that the lessons of Chernobyl—that “accidents” of this kind follow in the footsteps of authoritarian incompetence and arrogance—have been forgotten. That the same mistakes will be made again when we submit to the same kind of leadership. Do you trust Elizabeth Warren with the keys to the car? Or Beto? Or Biden?
Could this happen here?
And could it possibly be worse here because all the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
Why? Because those king’s horses and men are all bureaucrats.