Readers who detect parallels between the history that had happened a century ago and now will receive special commendation for perceptivity.
You be the judge
Kids in the former Soviet Union used to be fed all kinds of propaganda. The idea was to make sure that they remain faithful to the ruling ideology even after they’ve grown up and seen that life’s not all what the slogans made it to be.
One of such slogans used to be displayed all over their school buildings. “I’m thankful to books for everything that’s best in me.” Signed: Maxim Gorkii, the great Russian writer whom the communists liked to describe as the father of socialist realism.
If anything has ever been taken out of context, this is it.
Gorkii was friends with French dramatist Romain Rolland.
The French writer was quite a strange bird. Winner of the 1915 Nobel Prize for literature “as a tribute to the lofty idealism of his literary production and to the sympathy and love of truth with which he has described different types of human beings,” as the Nobel committee decreed, Rolland made no secret of being an ardent supporter of Soviet dictator Josif Stalin. He was also friends with Sigmund Freud, the Bohemian-born Austrian psychiatrist whom Stalin and most of his adherents hated with passion.
In any case, Gorkii must have been aware of Rolland sympathies toward Stalin, and of his dislike for his predecessor Vladimir Lenin’s wife, Nadezhda Krupskaia.
Otherwise, he wouldn’t have written a pretty incendiary letter to Rolland whence Stalin’s ideologists would later steal the sentence about Gorkii’s gratitude to books.
Herewith, the beginning of the relevant part:
“The gist of the matter is that Lenin’s wife, a person who is naturally empty-headed, and who suffers from the Basedow Disease, meaning, she can hardly be mentally normal, has compiled a list of ‘counter-revolutionary’ books and ordered them removed from all libraries. The old hag considers works by Plato, (René) Descartes, (Immanuel) Kant, (Arthur) Schopenhauer, (Edmund) Spenser, Max, books by Ippolit Ten, the Evangelium, the Talmud, the Quran, (William) James, Hoeffding, (Thomas) Carlyle, (Maurice) Maeterlinck, (Friedrich) Nietzsche, (Octave) Mirbeau, (Leo) Tolstoi and tens of other such works ‘counter-revolutionary.’ ”
Stalin had a few run-ins with Lenin’s wife, and when Nikita Khrushchev denounced the dictator during the infamous XXth communist party congress of 1956, the row between the sainted Lenin and the rogue Stalin was one of the headlines. Lenin would accuse Stalin of lack of manners toward Krupskaia, and no apology by Stalin, sincere or otherwise, was forthcoming much to Khrushchev’s (faked) consternation.
Even Mikhail Gorbachev, so treasured by the West’s intelligentsia, spoke of Lenin in hushed tones, as if he were in the presence of a Deity. In fact, it would take today’s Russian president, Vladimir Putin, so much hated by that same West’s intelligentsia, to begin casting doubts upon all things Lenin.
And here comes the part of Gorkii’s letter to Rolland that inspired the ideological lie:
“For me personally, as a human who is thankful to books for everything that’s best in me, who loves them (the books, that is) perhaps more than people, this (the ban on books as imposed by Krupskaia) is the worst moment that I had experienced in my life, the most shameful moment Russia has experienced ever.”
Strong words, these, but the strongest conclusion was yet to come: “I lived for a few days as a human being who’s ready to believe those who claim we’re returning to the darkest years of the Middle Ages. I was beginning to wish to reject my Russian nationality, telling Moscow that I can’t retain citizenship of a country ruled by insane old harridans. The letter would, most probably, make (those in authority) laugh, and nothing would change.”
Need a list?
About two or three decades ago, a group of people who called themselves progressive parents demanded that a school board remove a couple of books from the school district’s library shelves. They were The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (originally published in 1876), and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (originally published in 1884).
Both written by the genius of American literature Mark Twain, these books’ vocabularies offended a few sensitive nitwits. Twain’s stories used words that bothered nobody when they were published, including the dreaded “N” word to describe people of black skin colour.
Huck Finn was aware that helping a runaway slave would land him in hell, and yet, he respected him as a human being so much that he would rather enter the inferno than see his black-skinned friend in trouble. That aspect of the matter must have escaped the censors of today.
Things have only turned for the worse since a century ago. The purely illiterate moronism of political correctness, with its cancel and woke cultures, is worse than communism, fascism and Nazism combined. In fact, it’s worse, even, than the inquisition of old.
To add insult to injury, while the former communist countries have seen the light, the so-called western democracies that used to be a beacon of hope, are now worse than the tightest dictatorship of the proletariat Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Josif Stalin ever hoped for.
As attributed to Sir Winston Churchill (but he said it wasn’t his, he merely quoted): Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.
Because the people who had hijacked the adjective progressive claim that demanding that voters show at least a bit of literacy, such as being able to sign their name without using only three letters X (or three crosses) would be undemocratic.
And the rest of society obeys.
And that’s what’s killing democracy.