August 19, 1991 – General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev faced a military coup and was placed under house arrest, in my opinion signifying the moment the Soviet collapse became inevitable. I sort of held my breath for a couple of days there.
I was living in a flat on the corner of Army (Now Caesar Chavez) and Church Streets in San Francisco. We had a patio on the roof and the fog came in pretty quickly as I was listening to the events as described on KPFA. I looked down at the traffic, and everybody just going about their lives as normal. I’ve already posted about the my childhood nuclear war fears – induced by various readings and watching the film On The Beach while home from school sick. I was not alive at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Nobody, not even the alternative media, was discussing the events of summer, 1991 as a possible chain reaction which could lead to the end of all life on Earth. I tried not to focus on it that way, but the three days of that coup had me on edge. I was relieved when the “Gang of Eight” was defeated several days later, and for once in my life I didn’t care the least about the political implications.
I never had any of the dreams again, and I’ve never since – maybe due to a false sense of security – had the feeling that complete annihilation of the human race is a likely possibility, at least not through hot war. Someone might do something stupid, and maybe the last victims of a nuclear bomb are yet to be born. But as of 20 years ago, I don’t have that sense of foreboding which led me to be arrested in civil disobedience on different occasions.
It was always speculative to me. These people actually lived the nightmare.