Thursday, June 21, 2018

What happens when Stalinists get their wish

During Stalin’s rule a district party conference was being held in Moscow Province with the new secretory of the district presiding. New, that is because the former secretary had been arrested. At the end of the conference the new secretary proposed a round of applause for Comrade Stalin. Everyone of course leaped to their feet and began clapping. The applause was thunderous and long lasting. When it had lasted ten minutes people were becoming exhausted especially those standing on the platform. Unlike those at the back they could not ease up or take a surreptitious breather being watched by everyone including the agents of the NKVD. Finally one of those on the platform, a director of a paper factory came to decision and sat down and at that instant everyone else followed him. The factory director was arrested that night. The pretext had nothing to do with the meeting but when he signed the final interrogation document his interrogator told him “Never be the first to stop applauding”.
Recently there has been a growth on the number for whom the shock value of being a supporter has appeal. As this story is told by Solzhenitsyn they will dismiss it as right wing propaganda but this is the kind of thing that rule by terror inevitably leads to. If anyone opposing a regime is going to be imprisoned or executed, opponents of that regime will begin to use more subtle ways of signaling their dissent. They will use ambiguous Aesopian language. They may even choose to be first to stop clapping as their way of making a protest.
The numbers who now carry portraits of Stalin are too few for there to be a serious danger of them taking power but I assume that they are not just trolls - that they really want to live under the rule of some future Stalin. I ask them are they really ready for the dull conformity that life under such rule requires - assuming that is that you wish to survive.

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