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|Yuri’s Night Out: Celebrating 55 Years of Humans in Space|
Posted by Ed Hudgins on 4/11, 6:03pm
Yuri’s Night Out: Celebrating 55 Years of Humans in Space
Space enthusiasts mark April 12th as “Yuri’s Night Out,” a celebration of the first human in space: Yuri Gagarin orbited the Earth in 1961.
But Gagarin’s trip was courtesy of the Soviet government, which was hostile to the individual liberty that is the mark of civilization. Gagarin’s flight was still an achievement that marked a monumental turning point in human history and reflected values actually held in common by many in East and West, values that are, sadly, under siege in our world today.
The dream of space travel
While political and military concerns drove the Cold War race into space and to the Moon, many of the men and women involved were motivated by the goals of exploration and knowledge. America no doubt reached the Moon before the Soviet Union in part because our society was more open and free. Both sides had technical failures. But the dictatorial Soviet system meant few in the space program would speak truth to leadership.
Indeed, Gagarin himself was scheduled as the backup astronaut on a mission to dock two capsules in space, ordered by Soviet boss Brezhnev to mark the 50th anniversary of the communist takeover of Russia. Gagarin and his colleagues knew the capsules were death traps, but those who questioned orders found themselves demoted or worse. Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov died when his failing craft crashed back to earth.
Ultimately, the Soviet’s socialist economy and closed political system collapsed under its own contradictions. At the same time, the socialistic left’s belief in technological modernity collapsed as well.
The modernist aspiration of the old left
Karl Marx celebrated the Industrial Revolution’s production of immense wealth. (He was profoundly wrong in his belief that capitalists in market economies reaped the lion’s share of that wealth by exploiting workers.) This belief in the power of technology was a hallmark of the old left.
Soviet leaders sought to modernize... (Continue reading here.)