21 August 1991


A Democrat
A Businessman
A Revolutionary
A Nationalist
A Woman
A Chorus (men and women in traditional choir costumes)
A Group of Wolf-Girls (young girls in school uniforms and wolf masks who intervene in the action from time to time)

Scene 1

The Chorus sings the introduction. Behind them we see a cityscape with a stormy sky above it.

We’ve come to tell you the story
Of hopes that didn’t come true
Of promises that weren’t made good.
Here are five heroes of perestroika,
Five heroes of perestroika.
Today they are the masters of history,
They are making history:
An idealistic democrat,
A noble businessman,
A heroic revolutionary,
A bitter nationalist,
And a woman who has found her own voice.
Today they believe that together they can build
A new, just society.
Tyranny has fallen!
The communist regime will never return.
There’s no going back to the past!
There’s no going back to the past!
Whatever the future holds, it will be better than the past,
Better than the past. . .
We will tell you the story
Of hopes that didn’t come true
Of promises that weren’t made good.

Scene 2

The Democrat’s room. Portraits of Andrei Sakharov and Boris Yeltsin hang on the wall. The Democrat is extremely excited and dashes about the room. He stops and addresses the camera.

Democrat: Today is a great day. Democracy has triumphed! Hurrah, comrades! The attempt to establish a dictatorship has failed! The rotten communist regime has collapsed! They tried to crush our fledgling democracy with tanks, but we came to its defense! We built barricades from telephone booths, and the people who parked their cars in the path of the tanks were greeted with applause. I, of course, took part in the demonstration, where I tried to inspire my fellow citizens with my speeches. It is important to let people know that they are no longer cogs in the ideological machine—they are citizens, responsible for themselves and their country. Down with communist ideology, which deprives man of his individuality! So be it that today our country is in ruins, poor, hungry, and crime-ridden. So be it! What is important is that we are free! It is nice to know that I had a hand in this. I, a democrat, who have labored for many years devising various models of economic and social reform that will radically improve the lives of our people. We shouldn’t be afraid to experiment. One or another of these models will work for sure. Our goal is democracy and a free market. . .

The Democrat remembers something and he dashes off stage. The camera tracks right, and we see the Chorus standing next to a wall.

Chorus: Our democrat is no cynic, no! He thinks about the common good.
Today, at least! Today, at least!
Soon the word democrat will become a curse.
Democrat! Democrat!
Stupid reforms! Stupid reforms!
They’re irresponsible!
They promised us mountains of gold, but where are they?
What use do we have for freedom if there’s nothing to eat?
All their good intentions will be swallowed whole
By the old bureaucrats, by the new oligarchs!
Swallowed whole! Swallowed whole!
By the bureaucratic machine!
By the secret services and the stock markets!
By the markets and the generals!
By the oligarchs! By the oligarchs!
Hatred and ridicule:
This is what people will feel for our Democrat.
But his intentions were good!
But his intentions were good!
Democracy didn’t work out, however.
It is his fault!
It is his fault?
It is his fault!

The camera tracks even further right. We hear the laughter of the Wolf-Girls and the trampling of their feet.

Scene 3

The Businessman’s room. It is piled with boxes of western consumer goods.
The Democrat and the Businessman shake hands and pat each other on the shoulder.

Democrat: Thank you so much for supporting democracy on the barricades. Without your free coffee and sandwiches, we wouldn’t have won.

Businessman: I wouldn’t have had it any other way! (Addresses the camera.) As a typical representative of the fledgling Soviet business world, I wholeheartedly support progressive democratic reforms in our country. For we have a single goal—freedom! And that means the free market and democracy.

Democrat: That’s right—democracy and the free market! We’ll build a happy society where free competition and freedom of speech reign!

Businessman: We have to change society’s attitude toward business. We need a rational privatization program that will take all this stuff that belongs to no one, and thus contributes nothing to the nation’s welfare, and place it in responsible hands. As it is, some folks think we’re thieves and criminals.

Democrat: I couldn’t agree with you more! We have to open our fellow citizens’ eyes to the fact that capitalism is an inherent part of human nature. Without private property there is no real responsibility, and without honest competition the individual cannot grow. Competition and the privatization of all forms of property—that’s what we need. I will use my new political power to make sure these laws are passed as quickly as possible.

They continue to speak, but the camera tracks back to the Chorus.

Chorus: How the Democrat and the Businessman sang like a pair of lovebirds!
Freedom! Freedom!How quickly they figured out that there are things
More important than freedom!
Stop before it’s too late, Democrat!Money and power! Money and power!
What could be sweeter?
Stop before it’s too late, Democrat!Thus does corruption take root.
Add to this pair the KGB Spook and the Mafioso
And you’ll have the ideal band.
To pillage the country!
To torture the people!
Stop before it’s too late, Democrat!
Money and power!

The camera leaves the choir and tracks away.
We hear the laughter of the Wolf-Girls and the trampling of their feet.
The Wolf-Girls run by somewhere in the distance.

Scene 5

The Revolutionary’s room. The Revolutionary hangs a banner on the wall that reads, “Workers, Join the General Strike!” He steps down from the ladder and addresses the camera.

Revolutionary: The workers showed what they’re capable of today. I’ve been to many demonstrations in my life, but I’ve never seen such a massive one as today’s! There were columns of marchers from the Kirov Plant, from the Metal Works. It was quite a sight!  Me and the other comrades ran around the square and handed out leaflets. We had to show the workers what to do in the present situation. Unfortunately, people mostly tore up our leaflets before our very eyes. But some people read them all the same!
As a real revolutionary, however, I have to say that this is only the beginning of our struggle. The revolutionary situation is at hand. A wave of strikes is sweeping the whole country. Now the workers are in a position to get everything they want. We have to ensure that all the country’s factories are transferred to their control and that they have a real role in running the state.
Most of all, we have to stop the restoration of capitalism in our country! We have a chance and we’re not going to waste it! We’ll form a revolutionary workers party that will have the broad support of the workers. We need a general strike. All power to the soviets!

The camera moves back to the Chorus.

Chorus: You’re a troublemaker! A troublemaker!
Privatization! Privatization!
Such is the ironclad logic of history.
Scrap metal, land, oil, and gas
Are all you need to create a new class of masters.
They have no use for the people.
The people will get their share—in vouchers!
Magical vouchers, worth a bottle of ninety-proof.
That is the people’s share of the country’s property.
Let the people drink, let them forget.
Soon the workers won’t get paid
At all, at all!
But they’ll show up for work all the same
Because that’s the way things are!
Because change is scary.
Go on strike? You kidding?!
The worker has to work:
That is worker’s pride in Russia.
That’s the way things are!
They’re exploiting us? Let them!
That’s what workers are for.
That’s the way things are!

As the camera tracks down the hallway, we hear the laughter of the Wolf-Girls.

Scene 4

The Nationalist’s room. Placards bearing portraits of Stalin and Nicholas II are propped against a wall, in anticipation of the next demonstration. The lonely Nationalist sits on a chair: he is downcast. He raises his head and grimly addresses the camera.
Nationalist: Since I’m a real Russian patriot, I’m not going to get carried away. There’s no reason. Yes, the Jewish democrats and their capitalist lackeys have definitely resolved to destroy our Motherland. The Russian people don’t need their freedom. We need a strong hand! To bring discipline and order. Russian order. Because they’ve ruined and wrecked everything. The only thing they think about is how to stuff their pockets: they’ve forgotten the Russian people. That’s okay: give us some time and we’ll get our wind back. You’ll see what the Russian people are made of. The main thing now is that the people purge itself of the communist blight and repent.

The Democrat dashes into the room.

Democrat: You say repentance? I couldn’t agree with you more. Absolutely! We have to revive society’s sense of morality and humaneness. For that to happen we’ve got to outlaw the CPSU and the KGB, close the Lenin Mausoleum, demolish the monuments of the communist regime, and return historic names to cities and streets.
Nationalist: First of all, we have to revive the national Russian state. And give the Church all its temples back. And its property, too.

Democrat: I couldn’t agree with you more!
The camera moves back to the Chorus.
Chorus: Order and stability, that’s what we need!
Order and stability!
Who will bring them to us?
A strong hand! A Russian hand!
No, no! We disagree!
State ideology:
The people can’t live without ideology.
No, no! We don’t want it!
The people needs pride.
Russia has its own path to follow.
For we’re surrounded by enemies.
They all dream of destroying Russia.
Enemies: that’s what unites the people!
No, no! We disagree!
The kids from the outskirts will grab their knives
When they hear the politicians on TV.
They know who is to blame:
The outsider is to blame, the enemy!
Putin, Putin, Putin.

The camera tracks away from the Chorus. The Woman dashes by. She says: “It’s a great day, a great day!”
The Wolf-Girls run after her, laughing. They clown around.

Scene 5

The Revolutionary’s room. The Businessman is arguing with him.

Businessman: On this great day, when the power of the bureaucracy has collapsed, it is clear that there is no going back to the rotten socialist system. You shouldn’t doubt for a second that those of us who have taken power will build a future based on freedom. Soon Russia will be like Sweden.

Revolutionary (smiles sarcastically): Or like Chile? Businessman: Or like Chile. What of it? Pinochet is a great man. Did he stop the communist menace? He did. Did he reform the economy? He did. We could learn a lot from him!

The Democrat bursts into the room.

Democrat: I couldn’t agree with you more!The Revolutionary turns on his heel and exits the room.

Sweden is our paradise lost.
Pinochet! Pinochet!
Our paradise lost.
Pinochet! Pinochet!
Sweden is our paradise lost.
Our paradise lost…
The camera pans back into the hallway.
The Wolf-Girls run by, laughing.
They hop up to peer into the camera.

Scene 6

The camera pans into the Nationalist’s room.
The Nationalist is seated; the Revolutionary stands next to him.

Revolutionary: What you sitting here for? Let’s go to the square! Just look what’s happening out there!
Nationalist: I don’t feel like it, what with those kikes…Revolutionary: Forget your stupid prejudices! Today we have to come together like a fist to withstand the bourgeois swamp those liberal scum are dragging us into.
Nationalist: You and your communism can take a hike! Revolutionary: You’re a fighter—I remember you from all the revolutionary organizations.
Nationalist: Well okay, let’s go. (He stands up.) Here, why don’t you take this placard? (He hands him the placard with Stalin’s portrait.)
Revolutionary: You out of your mind? I’ve got my own placards and my own slogans.

The Revolutionary and the Nationalist leave together.

Chorus: Hatred for authority, that’s the main thing.
Revolution, that’s the ticket!
After it’s over we’ll see who came out on top.
After it’s over we’ll see what kind of revolution it was.
A Russian revolution? A proletarian revolution?
Neofascists and old Stalinists
Will come to the defense of the last Supreme Soviet.
The people will stand on the sidelines watching
As tanks gun them down on the streets of Moscow.
The red-brown street scum will be crushed
Only to return as a respectable ideology
Under the total control of the new power.
Chechnya, Chechnya, Chechnya…

Scene 7

The Revolutionary’s room. The Businessman and the Democrat continue their heated discussion.

Democrat: Nevertheless, I think we should reduce the size of the army at least by half. Then the west will see that the Soviet Union is no longer a scarecrow or a wild bear. They’ll turn around and offer us a helping hand.
Businessman: Of course, we businessmen can’t do without western partners.
Democrat: We have to demonstrate our good intentions. Look, we want to change! We are just pupils studying the lessons of democracy. We’re going to try hard and build a humane society just like the west’s. And then Russia will be like Sweden!
Businessman: Better yet, like Norway! We just have to use our natural resources wisely.
Democrat: They say we want to destroy the Soviet Union. But what can we do if our brother republics don’t want to live according the old laws anymore? When we show them that we’ve set out firmly on the road of democratic change they’ll come back to us.

The Woman comes in. The Democrat notices her.

Democrat: Dear, you see how everything is changing!

Woman: Let’s go to the square. What a day! Our place today is with our people!

Democrat: I couldn’t agree with you more!Woman: I want to speak!

Democrat: Go right ahead.

Woman: I want to speak from the podium!

The Businessman and the Democrat give each other befuddled looks.

Democrat: Uh…Businessman: Do you have something to say?Woman: Yes!Democrat: Well, if you’re sure about it, then I have no objections. On this great day everyone has the right to speak.

The Businessman nods uncertainly.

Woman: Let’s go the square!Everyone exits

Scene 8

The Chorus again appears against the backdrop of a street scene under a stormy sky.

Chorus: To the square! To the square!
Who makes history?
To the square! To the square!
One hundred thousand people on the square.
They’ll make themselves heard.
And everything will change!
Everything will change?
They believe!
Everything will change.
Then they’ll return to their homes
After a moment of magnificent unity.
Things like this happen once in a generation!
They’ll return to their homes
Satisfied they’ve done their duty.
And then the bureaucrats will have their say.
And then the KGB will return.
And then the people who really know what they want will return.
Money and power!
Money and power!
They’ve got nothing to worry about.
For they’ll return to their homes
Satisfied they’ve done their duty.
One hundred thousand people on the square!
To the square! To the square!

The camera pans away from the Chorus and moves along the “street,” arriving at the square. We see a small podium around which our heroes have gathered. The Woman mounts the podium.

Scene 9

(The Woman gives the main speech, which is interrupted by remarks from the other characters.)

Woman: Comrades! Gentlemen! Sisters! On this great, victorious day for democracy, when the yoke of the rotten communist regime has been cast off once and for all, I want to congratulate you: the era of liberty, equality, and sisterhood has dawned!


Nationalist (confused): What sisters are you talking about?Woman: Today we lay the foundations of a new society; we found new relationships between people and whole classes. What this society will be like depends on us alone. Our new political leaders must be supported by a firm moral foundation in their work. It has to be said that democracy, in the most profound sense of the word, is feminine. This charges women with a special responsibility.

Democrat: What’s feminine about it?Woman: Decades of slavery have deprived our men of a responsible attitude to politics. That’s okay: we women are prepared to share this quality with men. Women have a lot of experience taking care of men and children. We have to apply this experience by shaping parliament and all of political life in our country.

Nationalist (shouting): What the hell are you talking about, huh? Who gave you the right to tell a man what to do? Remember your place, woman!Woman: Most of all we have to realize that men are just as much bearers of life on earth as are women, and that children are not only our future, but social subjects who have the same rights and obligations as adults.

Businessman (addresses the Democrat): I think we have to get women back into the kitchen.

Democrat: I couldn’t agree with you more. Otherwise, you can see what this will lead to.

Nationalist: Get her off the podium!Woman: Equality is the whole basis of society. Equality should thus be instilled in the child with her mother’s milk.

Nationalist: You need a real man to show you what equality is!

Woman: We must turn our attention to the suffering and deaths of the people around us. Enough of all this deep talk about the country’s political system! All we do is make appeals to torture each other—in the name of democracy, in the name of socialism. But individual illness and death have nothing to do with the current political situation.

Democrat (shouting): Allow me to object! One’s attitude to suffering and death depends on the social system. Under socialism, of course, the individual’s life wasn’t worth anything, but now that we’re building the bright capitalist future, everything will change!

Nationalist: Get thee to a church, woman!Woman: The only thing we have to fill the moral vacuum is reverence for the Mother, who is the foundation of all foundations. Only this can save humanity from total violence.

Democrat: Now I can agree with that. We reject violence as a means to our end. Blood begets blood, death begets death. Our revolution is bloodless! Well, almost bloodless.

Revolutionary: Enough of this intelligentsia sniveling! If we hand over power to international imperialism, you’ll have more than enough to snivel about. What’s good and moral for the proletariat is death for the bourgeoisie!

Businessman (continues to smile; quietly): And vice versa. . . (Loudly) Perhaps the previous speaker could explain to me how I, who have taken responsibility for this country’s destiny and its recovery from collapse, and a shiftless alcoholic who cannot even take responsibility for himself, are equal? I, who, despite the resistance of public opinion, earn good money and thus show society the value of hard but productive labor, and a layabout who’s used to living off the state?!

Democrat (confused): But there should be equality before the law.Businessman: Yes, before the law. . . but each to according to his deserts!

Nationalist: I believe that there should be equality before the law as well! The Russian Orthodox people should have more rights in its own lands than infidels. The law must champion the rights of Russians, who for decades have lived under the heel of the red kikes! Their rights should now be restricted.

The Woman keeps trying to say something, but the other characters don’t let her speak. It seems to her that the truth of what she has said is self-evident. The men continue to argue. They attempt to shout each other down.

Democrat: What you’re saying is outrageous! No man should be superior to any other! We’ll build a free society where everyone is equal! Where the rich will be enlightened, and the poor, happy!

Businessman: Exactly! The country should be run by responsible people, regardless of their ethnicity. Because I made and managed my own money, I have proven that I can manage the country as well!

Nationalist: Let the kikes ask the Russian people for forgiveness! We must revive the Russian Empire, build a strong army, and unleash ethnic Russian punitive forces!

Revolutionary: No number of victims will stop us in our striving for the revolutionary situation! We’ll form Red Brigades!

Democrat: Now wait a minute!The Wolf-Girls rush the stage. They fly about like an elemental force that turns everything inside out.

After their destructive passage, the stage is left bare and the square is emptied.