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No Castle in the Air,
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This review is from: To Build a Castle: My Life as a Dissenter (Hardcover)
Although this book is a disturbing but ultimately positive account of a dissident's life in Russia in the 1960's and 1970's, it contains many lessons for the West. Democracy, Bukovsky has said, is a delicate bloom which is constantly under attack even in the West.
It is amazing to think of the privations that Bukovsky was willing to endure as a political prisoner throughout his youth, rather than submit to the actions of an oppressive and arbitrary state. He was willing to suffer severe punishments rather an passively undergo a spiritual death under the Soviet regime. This book recounts his experiences as part of the growing protests against the Soviet regime and graphically details the punishments visited on him.
Fortunately his intelligence and mental resource allowed him to grapple with the legal technicalities of the Constitution and embarrass those in authority time and again.
For Bukovsky, protest was a matter of integrity. In fighting his case he is fighting for his people. "If I don't do it then who will?" He is a man with his back to the wall but in persisting he will win rights for everyone. That is how, he says, a man begins building his castle.
In truth many of those under the Soviet regime felt equally dismissive of the Party and the way in which it organised society according to its interpretation of the Marx -Lenin dogma. The worst insult says Bukovsky, that could be flung at your head was to be called a Communist!!
It is clear from Bukovsky's riveting book that a citizen of any nation must always be vigilant of inroads to his freedom as a citizen. It is essential to resist the transfer of arbitrary powers to the state. In the West there seems to be marked erosion in citizen's rights leading to apathy amongst the electorate. Recent events such as the threat of a worldwide financial meltdown and the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan show that our governments now act irresponsibly and without proper consultation or accountability. Truly Bukovsky's lessons are always universally apt.