We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Poetic Justice

There once was a Marxist called Lenin
Who did two or three million men in.
That’s a lot to have done in
But where he did one in
His follower Stalin did ten in.

I’ve already quoted Robert Conquest’s limerick in a comment on Perry Metzger’s post below, but, on this anniversary day, it seemed to deserve top billing. I suggest prose commenters continue adding to Perry Metzer’s thread below. Anyone inspired to verse may comment here (or anyone rescuing an old poem on the subject from unmerited neglect).

I regret to have to inform you that, as befits its socialist theme, this imitation of the Erdogan poetry competition does not come with any capitalistic prize money. However if anyone comes up with something witty enough to go viral, they just might thereby help avert the future in which they are sent to the PC Gulag by the comrades.

21 comments to Poetic Justice

  • Paul Marks

    Yes – if a person (Marxist or “Fellow Traveller”) tries to defend “Lenin” that defender is a scumbag. It is as brutally simple as that.

    “Lenin” was not an armchair Marxist – he put it into practice, i.e. he was a mass murderer.

  • I’ll start the ball rolling with a neglected poem by an all-too-appropriately unknown author. In English translation it does not rhyme, and for all I know maybe it doesn’t in Russian either, but I cannot find it in my heart to reprove its young writer for that.

    Oh, I’ll die. I’ll die. I’ll be buried.
    And no-one will know where my grave is.

    This is the song of the bezprizorni, the orphans who fled when their parents and siblings were arrested, living on the streets and ‘dying like kittens’ in the winter months. Mass graves were found all over the soviet union after the fall of communism – and were later flushed as far as possible down the memory hole with the eager help of western intellectuals – but by definition the bezprizorni were not put in mass graves; they were the little’uns that got away and died one by one here, there and nowhere.

    I would have liked to provide more links but – as you can easily see by a quick web search – it’s not just their grave locations that are largely unknown in the English language world. If you overlook one concession to wider academic bigotry, where she writes of ‘hundreds of thousands of parents’ being arrested where it should be ‘millions’, this academic’s account is clear enough.

    The Wikipedia article has been (re?)written to start “At certain periods, there were large numbers of orphans in the Soviet Union to handle by the state, due to a number of turmoils in the country …” (my emphasis – of their opening de-emphasis of communism’s central role) and goes downhill from there, burying the great terror’s role inside a ton of communism-friendly “info” and (from my quick-because-disgusted reading) saying nothing about the Ukraine famine at all. No doubt social justice warriors (aided by Russian web-troll sock-puppets?) camp out on the page, as they do on the Gamergate, Sad Puppies and many another page, ensuring that corrections are quickly given the Beria treatment. Another link, titled “bensprizorni [sic] | Arts & Crust” informs me that

    bensprizorni [sic] “This chapter was included in the very first draft of ‘Teenage’ but, after a drastic rethink, was chopped along with the Italian and Russian …

    As the link itself is now dead, I can only guess at the motives for the ‘drastic rethink’. You have to wade through pages of search to get even a handcount of English language links on the bezprizorni, and they share space with “info” from marxists.org and suchlike.

    Robert Conquest’s The Great Terror is a source of real information.

  • JadedLibertarian

    Joseph Stalin disagreed with Trotsky
    Over where their Socialism should stopski
    One country with a wall
    Or keep going and oppress ’em all
    So Leon’s brain (from an axe) went popski

  • Alisa, thanks for the link. Would I be right in guessing it comes from an old soviet film implying that evil capitalists created bezprizorni whom the noble communist hero is about to save?

    As I’m here, this old poem by e.e.cummings is probably not rescued from unmerited neglect but it mildy amuses me.

    You must pronounce the punctuation to make it rhyme. (English readers, remember our benighted transatlantic cousins call a full stop a ‘period’.)

    When your honest redskin toma-
    hawked and scalped his victim,
    not to save the world for Stalin
    was he aiming;
    spare the child and spoil the rod
    quoth the psalmist.

    Doubtless it amused e.e.cummings to utter such an impeccably old-fashioned idea in such an impeccably modernist form.

  • JadedLibertarian, November 8, 2017 at 1:01 pm, for your middle lines (as they already co-scan by beat, not by syllable), I wondered about

    One country (with a wall)
    Or the world (oppression for all !)

    Since the poem (unavoidably, I appreciate) will suggest to the ignorant that Stalin was the less aggressive, I fear it will not be the one to go viral and save the souls of the young. 🙂

  • Alisa

    Your guess is correct, Niall :-/ To paraphrase whomever, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and communist propaganda.

    This is related.

  • JadedLibertarian

    Good suggestions Niall. I would contend that Stalin was less aggressive than Trotsky, at least in terms of territorial ambition. If Trotsky had won that little skirmish I think the 20th century would have looked quite different. An expansionist Soviet Union in the 20s and 30s could well have resulted in an atomic wasteland Soviet Union in the 40s.

    The fact that Stalin was content to just make his own people’s lives a misery is probably one of the reasons that nascent Russian communism was able to survive at all. If, following Trotsky’s lead, Bolsheviks in Western Europe and North America had been running around trying to destabilise and overthrow their governments in the name of “Continuous Revolution”, I suspect the Allies would have had to simply keep going east after WW1.

    Maybe that would have been better?

  • Fred Z

    In the true spirit of his event, I’ll contribute a 500 pound prize, but only if I can steal it from someone else first.

  • Brian Swisher

    One October, a bald, bearded Rooshian
    Fomented a Red Revolution
    Which went on, in its day,
    To kick off, in a way,
    A sort of a Final Solution.

  • Mr Ed

    There once was a Marxist called Koba,
    Who made sure his colleagues weren’t sober,
    He’d get them all pissed,
    Put their names on a list,
    Then finally he too got done over.

  • Sam Duncan

    The Russians of 1917
    Were all quite remarkably keen
    To bump each other off,
    But the novelty wore off;
    Their great-grandkids don’t seem quite so mean.

  • zack

    in Ukraine a famine had arisen
    under the system of Communism
    the Soviets took all the bread
    leaving 10 million men dead
    and the rest left to cannabilsm

  • Surellin

    Lenin was red
    Stalin was too
    Putin the same
    There’s nothing much new.

  • Laird

    I like Zack’s contribution. But why limit ourselves to limericks? Personally, I’m rather fond of the haiku form:

    Lenin and Stalin
    Murdered millions of their own
    Communism sucks!

  • Laird

    I was typing when Surellin’s post popped in. Very nice!

  • Surellin

    Thanks! Nice haiku.

  • Laird (November 9, 2017 at 1:26 pm), I liked your haiku. Tweaking it to make a slightly different point gives

    Lenin and Stalin
    Starved millions in the Ukraine
    Socialism sucks!

  • Laird

    That’s the beauty of haiku. Very flexible!

  • Reflection on the Nazi-Soviet pact in 1939, on Democrats and Russia in 2016, and many other examples.

    They give him new orders at Party Headquarters.
    “Fellow-traveller, you’re behind the times:
    to remain the PC one
    requires you don’t even
    remember the old Party Lines.”

    (With a nod to a James DeCamp who in a powerlineblog comment tried a verse with a similar first line that inspired this one.)