Friday, April 27, 2012

Playing the "Stalin Card"

Prime Minister Stephen Harper accused the Opposition of subversive obstruction of the collectivization of Canadian oil swamps and treasonous subversion of the Leader's objective that planes run on time to the Caribbean for spring break. The Prime Minister reminded the House that Article 58 of the Soviet Criminal Code gave the government broad powers to act in the national interest, and that it would do so. He gave this example from the Gulag Archipelago to illustrate his government's resolve. It was received by the House with rapt attention.

Here is one vignette from those years as it actually occurred. 
A district Party conference was under way in Moscow Province. 
It was presided over by a new secretary of the District Party 
Committee, replacing one recently arrested. At the conclusion 
of the conference, a tribute to Comrade Stalin was called for. 
Of course, everyone stood up (just as everyone had leaped to 
his feet during the conference at every mention of his name). 
The small hall echoed with "stormy applause, rising to an ova- 
tion." For three minutes, four minutes, five minutes, the "stormy 
applause, rising to an ovation," continued. But palms were getting 
sore and raised arms were already aching. And the older people 
were panting from exhaustion. It was becoming insufferably silly 
even to those who really adored Stalin. However, who would 
dare be the first to stop? The secretary of the District Party 
Committee could have done it. He was standing on the platform, 
and it was he who had just called for the ovation. But he was a 
newcomer. He had taken the place of a man who'd been arrested. 
He was afraid! After all, NKVD men were standing in the hall 
applauding and watching to see who quit first! And in that ob- 
scure, small hall, unknown to the Leader, the applause went on 
— six, seven, eight minutes! They were done for! Their goose 
was cooked! They couldn't stop now till they collapsed with 
heart attacks! At the rear of the hall, which was crowded, they 
could of course cheat a bit, clap less frequently, less vigorously, 
not so eagerly — but up there with the presidium where everyone 
could see them? The director of the local paper factory, an 
independent and strong-minded man, stood with the presidium. 
Aware of all the falsity and all the impossibility of the situation, 
he still kept on applauding! Nine minutes! Ten! In anguish he 
watched the secretary of the District Party Committee, but the 
latter dared not stop. Insanity! To the last man! With make- 
believe enthusiasm on their faces, looking at each other with 
faint hope, the district leaders were just going to go on and on 
applauding till they fell where they stood, till they were carried 
out of the hall on stretchers! And even then those who were left 
would not falter. . . . Then, after eleven minutes, the director of 
the paper factory assumed a businesslike expression and sat 
down in his seat. And, oh, a miracle took place! Where had the 
universal, uninhibited, indescribable enthusiasm gone? To a man, 
everyone else stopped dead and sat down. They had been saved! 
The squirrel had been smart enough to jump off his revolving 

That, however, was how they discovered who the independent 
people were. And that was how they went about eliminating 
them. That same night the factory director was arrested. They 
easily pasted ten years on him on the pretext of something quite 
different. But after he had signed Form 206, the final document 
of the interrogation, his interrogator reminded him: 

"Don't ever be the first to stop applauding!"