Friday, September 12, 2003

An Old Soviet Joke

I got this from a history course page on St. Andrews University's website:

A delegation from his native Georgia leaves Stalin's office after a long meeting. Stalin realizes that he cannot find his pipe and calls Dzerzhinsky to find out if anyone from the delegation took his pipe. After 30 minutes Stalin finds the pipe under the table and calls Dzerzhinsky to let the delegation go. Dzerzhinsky answers Stalin's call: "I am sorry Comrade, but one half of the delegation already admitted that they took your pipe, and the other half died during questioning."

Jokes like this one serve two purposes, to my mind: one, of course, is to amuse, but the more important one is to keep the realities of communism firmly in view. There is a dangerous tendency in many parts of the left to engage in selective amnesia about what communism was really like, as is evidenced by the gushing posters of Che that are still to be found in abundance on student dormitory walls everywhere, or the current German fad for "Ostalgie" ("Ostalgia").

No one would imagine it politic to put up posters of Horst Wessel or to talk about the "good aspects" of life under the Third Reich, but for some strange reason it is deemed acceptable to grant such indulges to communists, who have repeatedly proven themselves to be just as murderous as the Nazis everyone loves to hate. Just because the mass murders under communist rule did not happen before our eyes, and we lack the sort of graphic confirmation of their reality that we possess with Auschwitz, Treblinka and other such dreadful places, does not make them any less real for all that, least of all to those who lost their lives on the altar of "class struggle."