Part II of Ayn Rand’s epic 1936 novel We the Living began with an abstract about the history and consciousness of St. Petersburg, Russia. In our Facebook study group, a member introduced us to the 1986 TV miniseries, Peter the Great. In an early scene of the movie, Czar Peter asks the assistant priest to the head of the Russian Orthodox church,
Our Lord told the Jews that the world must come to an end, and man come to judgement before the death of his last disciple. Correct? Correct, sire. Yet the last disciple has been dead for 17 centuries. Why hasn’t the world ended? Hmm, God, like a Czar, might change his mind. Very good, Father. Very resourceful!
From God to the Czar to the Party, and inevitably the individual, Chapters 4 – 6 illustrate the death spiral of socialism’s vortex. It begins with Kira coming to face to face with the ‘speculator’ she first met at the train station in Part I, Chapter 12, the one who had caused her subconscious mind to experience terror.
Now, this speculator was in her apartment with Leo, and recruiting Leo to front a private food store in Petrograd. It would be supplied with contraband from Soviet insider Pavel Syerov. Much like President Obama’s 2012 hot mike moment with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, “after my election, I have more flexibility,” Kira responded,
A lamp stood on a table; in its glow, she could see Morozov’s face leaning toward Leo’s, his slow words muffled to a sly, guilty whisper. “What are you talking about?” Kira threw at Morozov with the violence of a slap in the face. “A little business deal, Kira Alexandrovna.”
After Morozov left, Kira asks Leo, “This isn’t a joke you’re playing on me, is it? Or have you lost your mind entirely?” Leo replies, “I’m glad to find some use for it.” This neutering of the mind continues at Pavel Syerov’s house party, the one celebrating Morozov’s deal with Leo that will make them wealthy,
Pavel Syerov can afford anything now. Anything on this God-damn earth! He can buy you all, guts and souls! I’m going to be a very great man! No one appreciates me, I’ll show ’em who’s got the whip! I’ve got a secret, a great secret! But I can’t tell you.
Protecting us poor dumb slobs, 2020 Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden can tell us: “I’m the guy, said we follow bin Laden to the gates of hell. I’m the guy who helped bail out the automobile industry. I’m the guy that ran the Recovery Act. I’m the guy that set up drug courts. I’m the guy that helped put together the Iran deal. I’m the guy that got the Brady Bill passed. I’m the guy that asked the CDC to keep detailed reports.” And the guy who invented water?
What he can’t tell you, as reported last week, is that Hunter Biden got wealthy exploiting his power of political pull with Russia and China. “C’mon, man?!”
The keeping of secrets becomes the essence of daily life when avoiding reality dominates everyone’s mind. Chapter 5 begins with Kira leaving a meeting of her excursion guides and telling a colleague,
“Yes, a splendid speech. Of course, our cultural duty to the proletariat is our primary goal.” It was easy to say. It was easy after she looked straight at Leo and laughed: “Leo, why those foolish questions? Don’t you trust me?
In 2020 America, the sadistic treatment and ensuing death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police preceded a summer of riots, looting, Molotov cocktails, and murder. Yet Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison withheld video evidence of Floyd’s arrest. Why? Ellison is a trained Communist who will instinctively lie to protect the Party.
Conversely, Kira was forced to lie to protect herself and Leo from the Party. At her cousin Victor’s wedding party in Chapter 5, his new father-in-law, Ilyitch Lavrov, explained this and exposed the effects of Pavel’s and Victor’s great secret,
I still see the people starved and ragged and crushed under a boot. Only the boot is red. I didn’t go to Siberia to fight for a crazed, power-drunk, bloodthirsty gang that strangles the people as they’ve never been strangled, that knows less of freedom than any Czar.
In the wake of the ensuing commotion, Victor’s father Vasili approached Lavrov, “Let us drink to our children’s happiness.”
Yet last week’s death of Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg, and the ensuing threats of blowing up the system if President Trump nominated a replacement, was reminiscent of the paranoia that opens Chapter 6,
Comrades! The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is surrounded by a hostile ring who watch and plot for its downfall. But no external enemy, no heinous plot of world imperialists is as dangerous to us than the internal enemy of dissension within our own ranks!
Of course, shipping Party loyalists to Siberian, or Minnesotan gulags doesn’t help much until after the Party holds absolute power.
In that spirit, 2020 Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is swelling the Party ranks. His offer to pay the outstanding fines of 32,000 Florida felons, and regain their voting privileges, is designed to help secure that state’s large electoral college. The elegant duplicity of the Communist loyalty and purgatory package-deal was explained at a Soviet Party meeting,
We must follow, with absolute discipline, the program dictated by our Party . . . We don’t need the obstinate, unbending Communist of iron . . . Idealism, comrades, is a good thing in its proper amount.
Faith and loyalty to scripture and doctrine is demanded, for now, maybe, at least until God, Czar, or Party changes its mind. Exiled Democratic Minnesota Senator Al Franken knows how this works, and so does the exiled Baltfleet naval officer, Stepan Timoshenko (the one who had arrested Leo and Kira in Part I, Chapter 10 while they were escaping to Germany).
Drunk, Timoshenko tells his last Soviet friend Andrei, “I’ve never felt better in my life. Free and finished. No worries of any kind any more. How many years you got left at the Institute? Think you’ll need it? The learning?” Timoshenko, mind finally severed from future, asks Andrei,
Have you ever seen a woman falling on the street, vomiting blood on the cobblestones, dying of hunger? I have. Did you see the limousines speeding at night. Did you see who’s in them?
Pavel Syerov and Stepan Timoshenko were drunk and boasting over the same great secret – the Party was nothing but a protection racket promising “freedom to all suffering humanity!”
“Did ever occur to you, Comrade Taganov, what a peculiar thing it is so many of our Party comrades are dying of overwork? Suicides. Only the papers will never say it.”