Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Chapter 12
The Despair of Stalin (1)
© Eso A.B.

Stalin killed millions. He struck terror in the hearts of nearly everyone who heard his name. Wishing to be taken note of, earn promotions, and avoid being arrested and shot, many of Stalin’s regional bosses (Khrushchev and Molotov among them) also killed hundreds of thousands. But few take the time to wonder whether Stalin killed gratuitously or whether he believed he had good reasons. Most people will argue that if Stalin believed that he had good reasons for issuing orders to kill, he should have left the inhumanity to a meteor or a ‘natural’ catastrophic implosion of society as appears to be taking place now a half a century later.

But because a death sentence by government is not unusual (because government appropriates the right to kill for itself and its moneyed supporters), it raises a question: if behind the order to kill—this and so many people—stands one man, do the executions have moral authority or is it based on nothing more than a legalism? A legalism is an instituted order carried out through the mechanism of ‘chain of command’ without the executioner paying any attention to the reasons of the command.

If the answer is that moral authority has been replaced by a legalism, we may ask whether the legalism is not based on God’s ‘mark of Cain’.  If so, is not God’s word beyond challenge even if it has been reduced to a legalism? After all, God not only protected Cain, when he forbade anyone to kill him, re: Genesis 4:15: “And the Lord said: Therefore whosoever slays Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him….”, Indeed, God’s mark upon Cain, protected Cain ‘sevenfold’. Why was God so generous to a killer?

Answer: Because the killer was the executioner of human self-sacrifices, when these sworn sacrifices hesitated or failed in courage.

To put it another way: Cain was not a killer. He is an executioner of God’s will, when his brother Abel fails to self-sacrifice himself after he has received the fateful piece of cake with the piece of coal in it. The piece of coal marks Abel for self-sacrifice. For those puzzled by this inversion of accustomed Western theologizing, I would like to remind the reader that ‘religion’ originally had little to do with ‘life’ as it is now claimed by a self-indulgent ‘human rightist’ and the Vatican, but has everything to do with sustaining the ‘community’ and its bonds.

Thus, when some men began to find fault with Cain [the name was pronounced ‘Kenite’ or ‘qayin’ in Hebrew, which name may have echoed to Greek Cadmus, the red man (see Chapter 11)], the community tradition stepped in to protect him. The old tradition valued Cain’s life as ‘sevenfold’ times greater than that of an ordinary man. Unfortunately, religion as life theology was in ascendancy, and gave an absurd interpretation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curse_and_mark_of_Cain to God’s judgment.

Whether Stalin knew of the original role of Cain in the sense that I have just explained, I do not know. But even as he was signing death warrants, it did not prevent him from loving Nadya, his second wife, nor did it prevent her from loving him, though she surely knew that he ordered people killed.

Yet in 1932 Nadya committed suicide. Nadya’s suicide nailed Stalin (as if he were the proverbial thief in the night, the owl) to the barn door for God to see. Though ostensibly both are said to have been atheists, there remains much evidence that Stalin was, in fact, a God fearing individual caught up in the tragedy of a God denying materialist age.

Nadya’s suicide persuaded Stalin that she had betrayed him, in effect, denied him her love. Of course, that is but an inversion of the fact that he had betrayed her and she had found him out and laid a curse on him.

By 1937, Stalin was ready to take his lost love back by unleashing one of the bloodiest slaughters that has ever visited civil society. Of 790,000 accused of disloyalty, 350,000 were shot, and 430,000 imprisoned in gulags. And this is only a part of the story of Stalin, acting out the role of Cain. Incidentally, we must remember that Nadya did not turn the pistol (bought in Paris by her brother) on Stalin, but on herself, thus, becoming a partner in Stalin’s blood baths and confirming his role as Cain.

These coincidences, real or imagined, suggest that if Stalin is put in the role as Adam and Nadya becomes Eve, they are both agreed it is right for them to kill off their descendants, some tens of thousand of years into the future. In other words, they justify their action, because they have come to believe that at the time of their origin, they had given birth not to human beings, but to beings that were not quite up to snuff as human beings.

What kind of human being is not quite human and, therefore, embodies something of the anti-human?

The answer we may leave to the imagination of Hollywood, specifically a series of horror movies http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Undead_(film), which introduced a monster known as the “undead” or ‘living dead’*. In Hollywood, these creatures appear as if out of nowhere, terrify and threaten the living, and the living defend themselves by attempting to kill these almost supernatural creatures.

Can it be that Stalin and Nadya thought of some of their contemporaries as of the ‘undead’ or ‘living dead’? How did they justify their belief? If I cannot think of a reason and it remains an 'unknown', what is it that they 'knew' different?

It is known that Stalin thought negatively of cosmopolitan society and was author of the phrase “rootless cosmopolitan” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rootless_cosmopolitan . Though the phrase emerged after WW2 and was mostly applied by the Soviets against Jews, dislike of cosmopolitans emerged considerably earlier as cosmopolitanism was believed to be an expression of anti-nationalism and anti-communism. As the following link http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/cosmopolitanism/ argues, cosmopolitanism was not always though in negative terms, but over the long term, the negative emerged and prevailed. This is why the reason for Stalin’s anti cosmopolitanism is not that cosmopolitanism is anti-nationalist, but that it is anti-community and anti Ssoviet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_(council) .

Why is cosmopolitanism anti-community?

The simplest explanation is that the fundamental economic activity of human beings is the practice of subsistence economy (I produce as much as my need compels and physical endurance permits). The rise of capitalism destroyed not only this basic activity in favor of an economy for profit, but increased human activity to the level of hyperactivity. It also denied ‘subsistence’ economy legitimacy, by forcing it to be identified with extreme poverty and deprivation. This 'unknown known' has gone unrecognized and is dismissed in favor of capitalism as inevitability.

The capitalist meme, an eternal imaginary sensation of a masturbatory orgasm, apparently is such a temptation that it never takes into account the possibility that in spite of its attraction, the human psyche remains in a permanent state of antagonism toward economic inequality. It is this antagonism, which—opaque and undefined as it may be—is the force that perceives every cosmopolitan as one of the ‘undead’, and a manifestation of a force which has lost the right to be among humans by becoming an ally of the monopolizers of wealth.

Though Stalin may have perceived Nadya’s new dress as a transgression against the vows taken on behalf of the Revolution (on behalf of a continuation of a subsistence economy), this perception coincided with Stalin himself having broken his vows and found out by Nadya—on the eve of the 15th Anniversary of the Soviet Revolution no less.

Nadya ‘froze’ Stalin into a compromising photograph of himself. If no one else knew the truth of the matter, he, she, and God knew. Above all, Stalin knew that Nadya knew, and her revenge was not to revenge the executions of the Undead, but to revenge Stalin’s betrayal of the Revolution and his role in it, even as he intimated she was doing the same by wearing a new dress. This is not to say that Stalin deliberately betrayed the Revolution, but that the causes of the Revolution were so complex that even Lenin and his disciple Stalin did not fully understand them. They were only skimming the surface of the reasons for the Revolution. The 'known' of the 'unknown known' had become lost to history. Regarding proof of this, let the reader answer whether he-she knows that the fundamental reason for the peoples support for the Revolution was their desire to return to a subsistence economy that had prevailed in Russia and the lands about before the arrival of capitalism and the socially destructive idea of profiteering?

Only a subsistence economy can guarantee economic egalitarianism to a greater than lesser degree. As soon as the lesser degree of economic equality appears, it leads to violence, which is why capitalism can be maintained only through the exercise of repression and violence.

Nadya’s suicide brought to the fore other unknowns, which if they have not yet become knowns, are nevertheless suspect of being knowable.

One of the factors that allow us to speculate about the subjective nature of Stalin’s being is the discovery of Stalin polishing the wall next to his bed with his spittle.** It is, both, revealing and damning. On the one hand, Stalin proves himself to be all too human, on the other hand, he commits himself to being an exception and a human inhuman, who is not among the ‘living dead’ because he is inhuman in the sense of a monstrous divine, the figure of Cain which God protects ‘sevenfold’.

Exceptional and inhuman humans or monstrous divines are not new. In the long ago, in the days before the birth of Basil-Jesus The Bogomil, it used to be that the embodiment of a government was the King. In those days, it was universally accepted that (as the novelist, Mary Renault, has written): “The King Must Die”.

Why must the King die? Is he not a God, even God?

Much has been written to answer to this question. Among the more important writers on the subject is French critic and philosopher Rene Girard. Girard, who concentrates on the theme of the scopegoat and discusses the role of scapegoating in the formation of culture a bonding element that forms government. While one may condemn the need to look for a scapegoat and a kill, it would be wrong to dwell on the injustice done to the scapegoat and fail to remember that underlying the search is the need for society to experience death as an after image of responsibility and commitment. It is a ‘live’ death that creates indestructible memories, which following death forms bonds that unite people not only in a common memory, but confirms to them their commonness through living in a given space and time. It is this force that underlies the formation and maintenance of a community through the services of Cain.

Professor Girard notes that sacrifice is repeated when commonness loses its effect. This is why long ago annual ritual death was believed to be the backbone of community. Without the experience of death, a given community may experience what the professor calls “a sacrificial crisis”. This is to say, the community comes to experience a sense of disbelief about itself, doubts itself to be ‘real’, which is why it may project itself to its inner self as a monster creature, a cosmopolitan, one belonging to the ‘undead’. Whether the ‘undead’ think of themselves as ‘brained undead’ or ‘unbrained undead’ hardly makes a difference, because their effect on the social environment is the same.

*An interesting take on the ‘undead’ or ‘living dead’ is by Glenn Greenwald, a columnist on civil liberties and US national security issues for the Guardian. In an article in the Guardian newspaper. Greenwald, without mentioning the word, points at none other than governments themselves being a phenomenon of the ‘undead’ horror in hot pursuit of human beings:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/04/war-on-terror-endless-johnson Writes Greenwald: “If you were a US leader, or an official of the National Security State, or a beneficiary of the private military and surveillance industries, why would you possibly want the war on terror to end? That would be the worst thing that could happen. It's that war that generates limitless power, impenetrable secrecy, an unquestioning citizenry, and massive profit…. Just this week, a federal judge ruled that the Obama administration need not respond to the New York Times and the ACLU's mere request to disclose the government's legal rationale for why the President believes he can target US citizens for assassination without due process. Even while recognizing how perverse her own ruling was - "The Alice-in-Wonderland nature of this pronouncement is not lost on me" and it imposes "a veritable Catch-22" - the federal judge nonetheless explained that federal courts have constructed such a protective shield around the US government in the name of terrorism that it amounts to an unfettered license to violate even the most basic rights: "I can find no way around the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the executive branch of our government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws while keeping the reasons for their conclusion a secret" (emphasis added).
**Simon S. Montefiore, “Stalin”, Alfred A. Knopf, p. ?, Stalin was seen spitting compulsively against the wall


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