The Art of Tetman Callis

Some of the stories and poems may be inappropriate for persons under 16

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The treason of the exhausted

March 17th, 2017 · No Comments

“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 . . . . The small hall echoed with ‘stormy applause, rising to an ovation.’ 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 to 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. . . . NKVD men were standing in the hall applauding and watching to see who quit first! And in that obscure, 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! . . . 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, indestructible enthusiasm gone? To a man, everyone else stopped dead and sat down. They had been saved! . . . . 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.” – Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago (trans. Whitney) (emphases in original)

Tags: Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn · Politics & Law

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