HBO recently aired a critically-acclaimed mini-series about the Chernobyl Nuclear explosion that killed or injured thousands in 1986. The explosion endangered the lives of millions across the continent of Europe, and the death toll would have been much higher if it weren’t for the efforts of brave first responders and scientists.
The mini-series, titled “Chernobyl,” is one of the best-reviewed shows of all time according to the review site “Rotten Tomatoes.” It will undoubtedly win many awards and be regarded as a classic of the genre.
However, the mini-series did more than just entertain. It was an enlightening look at the failures of communism/socialism in the Soviet Union. The disaster and cover-up were largely caused by the Communist Central Committee of the USSR.
Too often, Hollywood has failed to accurately depict the true nature of communist/socialist countries.
However, in “Chernobyl,” the producers and writers didn’t hold back. The central theme of the story arc was the complicity of the communist government in the disaster.
Many of the events in the series were fictionalized and pure fantasy. However, there is widespread agreement among experts that the Soviet government’s role in the tragedy was more accurately depicted.
Masha Gessen reviewed the accuracy of the mini-series for the “New Yorker”, writing the following about the series’ depiction of the communist government:
“In the first episode, for example, during an emergency meeting of the Pripyat ispolkom, the town’s governing council, an elder statesman, Zharkov ( Donald Sumpter), delivers a chilling, and chillingly accurate, speech, urging his compatriots to ‘have faith.’ We seal off the city,’ Zharkov says. ‘No one leaves. And cut the phone lines. Contain the spread of misinformation. That is how we keep the people from undermining the fruits of their own labor.’
This statement has everything: the bureaucratic indirectness of Soviet speech, the privileging of ‘fruits of labor’ over the people who created them, and, of course, the utter disregard for human life.”
She continued by describing a scene towards the end of the mini-series: “The final episode of ‘Chernobyl’ also contains a scene that encapsulates the Soviet system perfectly. During the trial of three men who have been deemed responsible for the disaster, a member of the Central Committee overrules the judge, who then looks to the prosecutor for direction—and the prosecutor gives that direction with a nod. This is exactly how Soviet courts worked: they did the bidding of the Central Committee, and the prosecutor wielded more power than the judge.”
The Soviet Union was the enemy of freedom everywhere. Their “socialist paradise” resulted in tens of millions of deaths and endless suffering and misery. Historians should show them no mercy.
President Reagan correctly referred to them as the “evil empire” and that eventually they would be placed on “the ash heap of history.”
The mini-series “Chernobyl” chronicled events that happened just five years before the end of the Soviet Union.
It showed that even in repressive systems, there are those who yearn for freedom and work towards eventual liberation from the state.
I am not one who often gives credit to Hollywood, but in this instance, I commend the producers, writers, and actors on a job well done.