From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent….
Winston Churchill coined “iron curtain” on this day in 1946, in a speech delivered in Fulton, Missouri, warning of the looming Cold War and the need for continued Allied resolve. Churchill’s host in Fulton was President Truman, who responded the following year with his own policy of communist containment, the Truman Doctrine.
As Anne Applebaum notes in her award-winning Iron Curtain — and as recent events in Ukraine might confirm — no one should be surprised if the death throes of post-WWII totalitarianism and the birth pains of democratization are prolonged:
‘You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.’ That grim motto, sometimes incorrectly attributed to Stalin, sums up the worldview of the men and women who built communism and who believed that their high-minded goals justified human sacrifice. But once the omelette finally begins to fall apart — or, more accurately, once it becomes clear that the omelette was never cooked in the first place — how do you put the eggs back together again? How do you privatize hundreds of state companies? How do you re-create religious and social organizations disbanded long ago? How do you get a society made passive by years of dictatorship to become active again? How do you get people to stop using jargon and speak clearly?
Daybook is contributed by Steve King, who teaches in the English Department of Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland. His literary daybook began as a radio series syndicated nationally in Canada. He can be found online at todayinliterature.com.