We Still Have Putin – Part 1
Stalin was outraged. Mankind had accused him of being a dictator, a murderer, a psychopath, and worse still, of having a ridiculous moustache. But he was no longer able to lock anyone away in a gulag, deport them to another country or stick an ice pick in their head.
Because now he was no more than a ghost. And even if he could return to earth, he wouldn’t scare people any more than when he was alive. No one would die of fright if they saw his apparition and heard his voice calling from the other side.
So he vented his frustration on Lenin. ‘Why is it that men are so ungrateful? I used to be the father of the people and now I’m an executioner? Who was it that ruined my reputation? That creep Nikita was one of them but there must have been more comrades who betrayed me. I should have had them shot.’
‘Comrade Stalin, how many times have I told you that that’s not the way to solve your problems?’ Lenin scolded. ‘Some people should be shot, obviously, but there’s no need to get carried away. Half a dozen comrades you don’t get on with anymore and one or two fools causing trouble are more than enough. That stops everyone from challenging socialism for a while. Killing everyone now, without any rules, just can’t be done anymore, comrade. It doesn’t look good. Scientific socialism sets out rules for everything; shootings can’t be an exception. And if we even kill our friends, who will trust us?
‘My secret police, the NKVD, did an excellent job. Why did they get rid of them? The KGB? Did you ever see them make a serious purge?’
‘The KGB doesn’t even exist anymore, comrade,’ Lenin lamented.
‘The world has gone mad. Where will this all end?’
‘We still have Putin …’ replied Lenin.
At that moment, Marx intervened. ‘I’m sick and tired of this conversation. You’re both idiots who stole my ideas and ruined everything. First of all, I stipulated that classless society could only be built in an industrialized country, England for example, and never in a land of peasants such as Russia. And secondly, I never ordered anyone killed, with or without rules.’
‘Watch your tongue comrade Marx,’ Stalin said. ‘You’re lucky you’re not alive anymore, or else …’
Marx challenged him. ‘Or else what? Get someone to kill me too, would you?’
‘Calm down, calm down,’ said Lenin. We are all comrades and we still have the same common enemy: capitalism. Though I think they may call it globalization nowadays.’
‘I’m not that kind of comrade,’ protested Marx.
‘Ah comrade, you never stopped being a Jewish bourgeois,’ said Stalin. ‘You, who never lifted a finger in your life, you could really do with spending a few years in Siberia. Kill you—no, I wouldn’t kill you. But I would re-educate you through hard labor for the rest of your existence. Believe me, half a dozen years with a pickaxe in your hand, digging holes in the ground, forty degrees below zero, some good beatings in prison, starvation, and you’d soon see how you would end up writing a new manifesto, this time praising me.’
‘You miserable wretch!’ cried Marx.
‘Are you going to call me a murderer too? Look, if you’d never written your theories in the first place, no one would have probably ever heard of me. Like it or not, I am one of your children,’ said Stalin.
‘I disown you,’ Marx answered.
‘Like you did to the servant’s child?’
‘You miserable rascal!’ yelled Marx, approaching Stalin.
‘I already said that’s enough, now,’ said Lenin, placing himself between them.
‘And you’re not much better than him, no sir.’ Marx turned on Lenin. ‘You led the revolution on behalf of the people, you overthrew the tsar and then you proceeded to be the new despot. I said dictatorship of the proletariat, not a one-man dictatorship. Can’t you read in Russia? Is it because of the vodka?’
‘Don’t you see, comrade? This Jew really hates us,’ said Stalin. ‘What he can’t deal with is the fact that we had the courage to do what he didn’t. Writing theories to change the world, any lunatic can do that. But risking life in a revolution, not everyone can do that.’
‘Come to think of it, why don’t we have any vodka here?’ asked Lenin.
‘Good question, we haven’t toasted the revolution in ages,’ Stalin lamented.
‘It’s part of your punishment,’ said Marx, smiling.
‘And what is your punishment, Jewish comrade?’ Stalin asked.
‘Being in your company,’ replied Marx.
‘Look Stalin, seeing as we’re talking about the past, there is something that I’ve been wanting to ask you for ages,’ said Lenin.
‘Really? What, exactly?’
‘Some people have said that before the revolution you were a double agent, and that you used to pass information on to the tsar’s police. Is that true?’
‘Pure slander. Do you see now how important it is to kill our enemies?’
‘How many did you have killed, actually? Did you lose count?’ Marx asked.
‘The question, comrade Jew, is poorly made. The question shouldn’t be how many I killed but rather how many I freed from servitude around the world. And the answer is billions. Billions, comrade Jew.’
‘Yes, that’s true,’ said Lenin. ‘There were some excesses, as happens in all revolutions, but we brought hope and peace to mankind.’
‘While he,’—Stalin gestured toward Marx—‘spent his life speculating on the stock market and impregnating servants, without caring a jot for the disadvantaged.’
‘You miserable scum!’ cried Marx.
‘So it isn’t true that you were doing exactly the opposite of what you were preaching? You criticized capitalism and at the same time invested in shares. You denounced the exploitation of the proletariat and bourgeois depravity, but took advantage of the workers who depended on you. You were no better than a hypocrite,’ said Stalin.
‘Shall we talk about the Holodomor famine?’ blared Marx.
‘What’s your problem with it?’
‘What’s my problem, you rascal? You stole grain from Ukraine and you left five million human beings to starve. That’s my problem.’
‘Statistics, Jewish comrade. Wasn’t it you who said that the state should appropriate the means of production? That’s just what I did. I put an end to feudalism and serfdom. No owner would have a profit ever again. The problem was sabotage. Sabotage of the agricultural production, probably made by people of your race.’
‘Rascal,’ grumbled Marx.
‘I already told you both to end this discussion,’ said Lenin.
Marx snapped back. ‘You keep your trap shut, we’re going to see this through to the end.’
‘You see, comrade?’ said Stalin. ‘He only sees bad things in socialism. He doesn’t even recognize the merit of his ideas. Hitler, despite his faults, was a much more reasonable person. You can’t discuss anything with this guy.’
‘Oh come on, comrade Marx,’ said Lenin, ‘don’t be like that. Why the hell are you always criticizing us? We’ve already admitted that we made some mistakes—’
‘He hasn’t admitted anything,’ interrupted Marx.
‘Fine,’ said Lenin, ‘but you have to agree that when you fight for a greater cause these things happen. The means justify the ends, don’t you agree? This is that dialectical process that you invented: thesis, antithesis, synthesis. The thesis is the socialist project, the antithesis is the mistakes made, an unnecessary shooting here or there, and the synthesis is the future communist society without exploiters or exploited.’
‘And where is it?’ Marx demanded.
‘Well comrade, you predicted the downfall of the capitalist system, but the only thing that fell was the Berlin Wall. History’s march towards progress went out of kilter. Can you explain to us why your theories didn’t come to fruition? There must be something wrong, don’t you think?’ asked Lenin.
‘My theories are absolutely right. They are scientific—’
Stalin interrupted him, turning to Lenin, ‘He never understood any of this. He never lived with his feet on the ground. It was because they listened to all your nonsense that so much misfortune happened. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis? A Kalashnikov has all the dialectical materialism it needs to educate the masses.’
To be continued tomorrow …
Bio: João Cerqueira has a PhD in History of Art from the University of Oporto. He is the author of seven books: Blame it on too much freedom, The Tragedy of Fidel Castro, Devil’s Observations, Maria Pia: Queen and Woman, João de Guimarães (published in China by the Today Art Museum), João de Guimarães: Public Art.
The Tragedy of Fidel Castro won the USA Best Book Awards 2013, the Beverly Hills Book Awards 2014, the Global Ebook Awards 2014, was the finalist for the Montaigne Medal 2014 (Eric Offer Awards), and was considered by ForewordReviews as the third best translation published in 2012 in the United States.
His works are published in: Toad Suck Review, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Hypertext Magazine, Cleaver Magazine, Danse Macabre, Contemporary Literary Review India, Open Pen Magazine, Queen’s Mob, The Liberator Magazine, BoldType Magazine, Saturday Night Reader, All Right Magazine, South Asia Mail, Linguistic Erosion, Sundayat6mag and, Literary Lunes.