Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Elegantly Deceased Wednesday: Lenin


After 84 years, its time to bury Lenin, says Gorbachev. I quite agree, you don't really want dead mass murderers cluttering up your cities. I can see that the question of what is to be done poses something of a dilemma, however. On the one hand he seized power in a coup, ruthlessly crushed any opposition, kept power through intimidation and had millions killed for messing up his theories; one the other even in death he knew how to dress smartly, iconically even.

For me the clincher is this: Vladimir Illyich Ulyanov may have been an aristocrat, but he was not a gentleman.* He also offers a good example of why intellectuals – especially those who espouse fashionably pretentious views - should not be put in charge of things.

If only the Russian embalmers had shared the foresight and selective incompetence of the Czechs the problem would have been solved. When Klement Gottwald, founder of the Czech communist state died, he was given the full Lenin treatment and interred in a mausoleum on a hill overlooking Prague. Unfortunately, the embalming was not entirely successful and when the body started to visibly decompose, they had to remove the body to somewhere more private.

* British left-wing lawyer Dudley Collard QC visited Moscow at the time of the show trials to see what was happening and blithely reported back that there was nothing to worry about, the whole thing was a storm in a teacup and all the people on trial were clearly guilty. As Francis Wheen writes: "As he explained in his book Soviet Justice and the Trial of Radek and Others, to say that the confessions were extracted under torture would imply that Comrade Stalin was not a gentleman - a possibility so manifestly absurd and insulting that Collard dismissed it at once."

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1 Comments:

Blogger Glamourpuss said...

I'm not convinced by the facial hair.

Puss

1:30 pm  

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