Romanization

Before globalization, there was Romanization.

In 42 B.C.E., Octavius, the nephew of Julius Caesar, became Emperor Augustus. Until his death in 14 C.E., as the deity of Imperial Rome, he Romanized the known Mediterranean world, and launched modern history.

In the lands of Galilee and Jerusalum and Jericho, between Sinai and Phoenicia and Syria, on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, lived a subsistence farming, communal people. Theirs was a culture of food purity, of bathing with running water, of sanctity of family and marriage, and of a covenantal relationship to an un-nameable God, a one true God.  Their lands belonged to this God, its fruits were to be shared in sacrifice to God.  Every seventh day was for rest, and for God.

In 63 B.C.E., the Romans came. While hunting pirates from Turkey who were raiding grain ships on their way to Rome, Pompey the Great marched thru Armenia, Syria, and then to Jerusalem, where he seized the Temple, conquered Judaea, and established the Roman Province, Syria Palastina. He eventually married Julius Caesar’s daughter, she died in childbirth along with their child. In civil war, at Pharsalus, against his brotherin-law, Pompey was defeated.  He escaped to Egypt, but was put to sword coming ashore.

Herod the Great came to rule in Syria Palastina, in collaboration with Rome.  He rebuilt the Jerusalem Temple into a wonder of the ancient world.  He built a great port city, Caesarea, and cities in the heartland – Tiberius in Galilee, and Sepphoris, just four miles from Nazareth.  With this Romanization, farming was commercialized and families were dispossessed, Roman patronage broke communal bonds, Roman money invaded traditional exchange, and – worst of all – piety to Roman power brought sacrilege – graven images near the Temple.

Local resistance grew.  A baptism movement developed.  Water immersion re-enacted the crossing of the Jordan of the ancestors, symbolically re-committing to traditional history.  The leader was beheaded by Herod’s son. An apocalyptic sect retreated into the caves near the Dead Sea. Collaborators and Roman officials were assassinated. A Kingdom of God movement arose in Galilee, advocating radical egalitarianism – shared living, non-violent resistence, and a dangerous rejection of Roman imperial divinity.  Their charismatic leader, in Jerusalem during Passover, protested the money commerce that invaded the Temple. He was swiftly arrested, and gruesomely crucified. His movement lived on, his followers moved out to Antioch, Corinth, Thessalonica, and Rome. They came to be blamed for a great fire in Rome, and Nero put their leaders to death. Revolts in Jerusalem and the surrounding lands attacked Roman legions. In a surprise victory, The Eagle Standard of the Twelfth Roman Legion was captured.  Roman honor was stained.  Nero dispached Vespasian, who, with his son, Titus, sieged and re-conquered Jerusalem. The Great Temple, all but the Western Wall, was destroyed.

While the Temple blazed, the victors plundered everything that fell in their way and slaughtered wholesale all who were caught.  No pity was shown for age, no reverence for rank: children and greybeards, laity and priests alike were massacred.”   Josephus, Jewish War,  6.6.271

Panopticon

The private ego is the most precious thing we each have, and it is far more vulnerable now than ever before”  Tomorrow’s People, Susan Greenfield, 2003

Modern Madness, by Louis Sass, 1992, explores the disordered self of schizophrenia to illuminate the nature of normal psychology.  The self, it seems, is not a self, but is selves.  We are at least three, an immediate-being self, a social self, and a self-observing self.  Particularly in modern times, the self-observing self must also be the leader self, the self-managing self. We are this mental multiplicity, and we need to be integrated. Modern times may be working against this.

Michael Foucault wrote of the Panopticon, a prison architecture in which inmates were to be housed such that they were always under observation, while never able to see their observers.  This was proposed by the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham in 1885, and he theorized that this predicament would uniquely disarm a person psychologically, creating a state of mental confinement that would reduce the need for physical confinement. Somehow, in the naked presence of omniscient observation, one’s self-observing self would not be able to ground its functioning in a place of privacy, and thus weakened, it would be subject to outside direction and control.  In this theory, the self-observing self is built and maintained by direct personal experience – experience that we differentiate from the experience of others – and to achieve this, privacy is an absolute requirement.

Lady Greenfield, Oxford neurophysiologist, cross bencher in the House of Lords, controversial popularizer of science, has fears that modern forces are eroding the personal self.  The mind is plastic, she knows very well from her research, and its experiences determine its nature.  For her, that increasingly ubiquitous experience – computer screen experience – which is fast becoming the dominant mental experience of young people – with its hypnotic suspension of self observation, its enhancement of immediate being, its artificially instantaneous feed back, its blocking out of prosody and gesture, its insulation from social emotion, its replacement of body-kinesthetic experience, its displacement of personal pedagogy – is undermining the development and integrity of the self-observing ego of young people.  She notes the explosion of ADHD, the prescriptions for ritalin, and the growth of autism – the latter a condition very comfortable with computer screen experience. For Lady Greenfield, a diminished personal ego is susceptible to GroupThink, and to fundamentalisms. She worries that the internet is driving this weakening and collectivization of the self.  She cites Bertrand Russell:

Man’s collective passions are mainly evil; far the strongest of them are hatred and rivalry directed towards other groups.  Therefore at present all that give men power to indulge their collective passions is bad.”

Are we building a panopticon?

The New Global Elite

The Rise of the New Global Elite“,  Chrystia Freeland, The Atlantic, January/February 2011

The global capitalist economy is booming. Global poverty is improving on a scale undreamed of. From 1973 thru 2002, per capita income in China and India have grown 245 percent. Investment, technology, and innovation are creating huge productivity gains, and increasing wealth world-wide.

Nearly everyone is getting richer, but the rich are getting even richer.  Chrystia Freeland notes that this “new super-rich” are largely first or second generation wealthy, highly educated, very hard working, self-made “meritocrats” who increasingly see themselves as apart from everyone else, a “transglobal community“.

Herself a vendor in this world, (she moderates elite world conferences), Freeland hints at scandal here, or at least an impending crisis. She thinks there is ill-gotten gain. “the vast majority of U.S. workers have missed out on the wind-falls of this winner-take-most economy. . .are ravaged by the same forces that have enriched the plutocratic elite.”

Freeland gives us inside gossip. The daughter of billionaire investment banker Peter Peterson, Holly Peterson, her friend, speaks of New York – “people have no clue about how much money there is in this town” and tells of dinner conversations in which a $20 million salary is considered not quite adequate – $10 million goes to taxes.

This “plutocratic elite” gathers actively in international forums for brainstorming, networking, education, and planning.  With “philanthrocapitalism“, they bestow their wealth entrepreneurally, “they are using their wealth to test new ways to solve big problems”. However, they do not seem interested in trying to help government, and do not want to pay more taxes.  “My money isn’t going to be wasted in your deficit sink hole“.

One has think that this worldwide economic growth, with millions being lifted out of poverty, is a good thing.  And these global elites do not have armies.  They do not take people away in the middle of the night.  But Freeland thinks that some kind of Robin Hood action will be necessary. “There is the simple fact that someone will have to pay for the improved public education and social safety net the American middle class will need in order to navigate the wrenching transformations of the global economy“. But it isn’t clear how a growing world economy that helps the middle classes of the rest of the world hurts the middle class of America.

The lesson of history is that, in the long run, super-elites have two ways to survive: by suppressing dissent or by sharing their wealth.”

One wonders about this ‘lesson of history’. The wealth of this new global elite is not hoarded in vaults. It is, in a real sense, already ‘shared’. It is held in bonds, and securities, and industrial investments that are selected to yield results and employ people to produce products and services that people want. While they pay a great deal in taxes, they don’t want to pay more, and this may be the sharing Freeland has in mind. These elites don’t see the value of supporting failing bureaucracies. They don’t believe that more money for public education will improve the results.

A little known history

American Creation, Joseph J. Ellis, 2007

Indians being the prior occupants of the rights of the soil. . . To dispossess them . . .would be a gross violation of the fundamental Laws of Nature and of that distributive Justice which is the glory of a nation.”  Henry Knox,  Secretary of War

A Boston bookseller, Henry Knox became principal aide to General Washington in the revolutionary war. As Secretary of War in the new nation, he faced open warfare with Ohio tribes and others throughout the lands westward to the Mississippi. The American victory ‘triggered a tidal wave of western migration” of white settlers across the Appalachian Mountains. Individual states were writing treaties, knowingly to be violated, with the intention of completely displacing all Indians to the west, beyond the Mississippi. American citizens overwhelmingly favored removal.

Knox and Washington resolved to honor the nation’s founding republican principles.  To do otherwise, Washington said, would “stain the nation”. To this end, they declared the Indian tribes to be foreign nations, which placed Indian policy under the federal government. Their plan was to enter into treaties negotiated “on principles consistent with the national justice and dignity of the United States“.  They envisioned protected enclaves, protected by American troops, which American settlers would bypass. The Indians would be trained and equipped to learn and practice farming, for an evolution to a more ‘civilized status’ and eventual assimilation as new states.  This was a vision of humane coexistence and aid, bold and unprecedented for a new national power.

The first – and last –  such treaty was accomplished with the Creek Nation, a very large confederacy of tribes in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi.  Their powerful chief, Alexander McGillivray, was a very successful Indian leader who was part Scotsman, part French, and part Creek, and he spoke Creek, English, and Spanish. He was treated, in New York, then the capital of the United States, to all the pomp and circumstance that would have greeted a royal European head of state.  He was a guest in Henry Knox’s home.

McGillivray was a realist, he did not expect the United States to endure, and saw himself more powerful, in his lands, than the United States government, and he kept ties with the Spanish, with whom he traded in Florida. Much of his land had just been sold, however, to settlers by the Georgia legislature, a move he was eager to block, and Washington was also determined to stop. And so the Treaty of New York was signed and passed by the Senate in August of 1790.  It gave sovereignty to the huge Creek Nation, and guaranteed federal troop protection of its borders.

It was not to hold.  Settlers streamed into the Creek lands. The new nation did not have the federal troops or resources to protect the vast borders. Like elsewhere and throughout history, farmers overwhelmed hunters.

Scarcely anything short of a Chinese wall will restrain the Land jobbers and the encroachment of settlers up on the Indian Country”  George Washington.

Evolution not Revolution

 

a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.” Edmund Burke

The past teaches for the future, and society, like life itself, must learn from its experience and carry this knowledge forward.  Society must both honor its past and adapt for its future.  In times of dramatic change, social movements arise, and, like the French Revolution, can advocate radical rejection of the past.  The French revolutionaries sought wholesale reconfiguration of all elements of society.

[they] “completely pulled down to the ground, their monarchy; their church; their nobility; their law; their revenue; their army, their navy; their commerce; their arts; and their manufactures”  Edmund Burke

The ensuing chaos and tragedy provoked a philosophy of counter-revolution, most notably from Joseph de Maistre and Edmund Burke, a philosophy that we call conservatism, today.

Joseph de Maistre opposed what he called ‘rational’ government, government directed by seemingly reasoning elites, those who say they know best for the rest of us, using the cover of majority rule.  Government of ‘reason’, he argued, would lean towards abstract and impossible-to-achieve utopia, and lead to human evil, in its quest for efficiency and to please the whims of the majority.  He advocated for a heirarchical authority, in the form of a religious constitutional monarchy. Only allegiance to values held outside the minds of men – including the king – values held in protection by the rights of property, indeed values held with irrational commitment to time-honored tradition, he believed, could rule over time without corruption against the everyday interests of the majority.  de Maistre was a privileged aristocrat. He has been vehemently derided, and even credited with creating fascism, but he was not surprised by the Reign of Terror.

Edmund Burke, an Irishman in England, was initially supportive of the French Revolution, but also came to denounce its abstract, metaphysical extremism, its extreme rejection of the past.  Democracy can be excessive.  He found that a common heritage was best supported with property rights, and by due process of common law, and that change for the future was best cultivated with education, commerce, and free trade. He argued against taxing the American colony, and warned of the inherent dictatorial expansionism of the French revolutionaries.  He was not surprised by the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte.

de Maistre and Burke have support in history.  Authoritarian regimes that maintain tradition – Japan, Germany, Spain, Chile, South Korea – have been able to progress to democratic systems. Totalitarian regimes which severely reject their past – Russia, China, North Korea, Cuba – have not.

A conservative is a fellow who is standing athwart history yelling ‘Stop‘”  William F. Buckley, Jr.

Conservatism is evolution, not revolution.


Asia now

Vietnam Now, Jonathan Mirsky, a review of Vietnam: Rising Dragon, by Bill Hayton, New York Review of Books, June 24, 2010

Vietnam, now, is ruled iron-clad by a one party Politburo.  It is a police state.  One in six vietnamese works for state security.  Politburo members achieve their position, godfather style, by building guanxi – “a network of supporters and delivering them benefits in return”, essentially protection rackets.  The internet is censored, there is a “pervasive sense of fear”.  Dissent is severely repressed, dissidents are jailed.  Prostitution is everywhere.  “On a day to day basis every official transaction is likely to require some form of payment.  Corruption is built into every public activity.

State run businesses, however, are allowing market methods, farmers have been given “control over their fields”, the economy is growing and attracting outside investment.  There is extensive environmental degradation, environmental “laws” are widely ignored.  Vietnamese logging has taken as much forest as once did America’s agent orange.  Hanoi just celebrated its 1000 year anniversary.  It is choked in traffic.

It remains a point of pride for the American protest movement that they ‘stopped’ the War in Vietnam.  There is no South Vietnam the way there is a South Korea.

Like Vietnam, so like China.  The Chinese Communist Party is “like one group in Washington naming the members of the Supreme Court, all the members of the Cabinet, the editors of The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, the heads of all major think tanks, and the CEOs of major companies like General Electric, Exxon-Mobil, and Wal-Mart“.  The Party:  Impenetrable, All Powerful, Ian Johnson, New York Review of Books, September 30, 2010

In China, privatization has turned state-owned companies into shareholder-owned companies, but the majority shareholder is the state.  All companies, large and small, have a party “secretary” managing them along side their CEO.  Party meetings precede board meetings, which then give routine approval to Party decisions. In government, Party “leading groups” instruct and direct government ministers. Contrary to predictions, economic liberalization has increased Party control, not lessened it.  Personal liberties have increased but not political liberties.

The Party  “has largely withdrawn from the personal lives of Chinese citizens, allowing them to pursue their own ambitions and goals as long as they avoid the high crime of directly challenging the Party.

The Party has 78 million members, equal to the population of Germany.  They are actively involved in all levels of society.  The second largest budget category for Chinese government spending – the first is the military and the third is health, education, and welfare – is for “stability maintenance”, monitoring people and preventing unauthorized organization.  China, from Famine to Oslo, Perry Link, New York Review of Books, January 13, 2011

China has become the world’s second largest economy.  It’s GDP has grown 10 times in 26 years, has overturned Japan’s GDP, and will overtake the US by 2027.  It is the largest automobile market in the world, and uses twice as much steel as Europe, the US and Japan, combined.  Niall Ferguson, Wall Street Journal, November 18, 2010

We do not seek to contain China’s rise”   President Barack Obama, November 16, 2009, Shanghai, China

A New Economics

To endure, free societies must foster access to wealth, there must be democratization of wealth. Everyday people must prosper. Their ability to secure the means to achieve their human needs must be available.

At the American founding, wealth for everyday people came from farming.  The continent presented a vast supply of essentially free, never-tilled land.  Political rights and national sovereignty were priorities. Industrialization was not foreseen.

As available land was taken up, farming was less and less a means for acquiring wealth. The civil war led to industrialization, and mechanization decimated farm labor. In The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck, portrays dispossessed farm laborers, watching, as they leave town for California, one tractor, in one morning, do the work that used to take all of them together weeks to do.  The Great Depression followed.  The industrial era had not advanced enough to take up for the loss of farm labor employment.

The New Deal subsidized employment, directly hired millions, created public work projects, and strengthened worker’s rights. This was successful, for a time, because economic output was labor intensive. Enterprises used hands and backs much more than machines.  Building roads utilized thousands of workers. Today, however, economic output has become capital intensive. With stunning engineering advancements, capital – knowledge, resources, technology, machines –  has become the vital input.  Increasing production does not require commensurate increase in labor and wealth flows increasingly to capital. Employment is failing to provide for democratization of wealth.

Ironically, attempts to increase the value and opportunity for labor – such as with direct government employment, government subsidy, mandated higher wages and benefits – only serve to accelerate the process of shrinking labor value, because they increase the incentive to produce with less labor.  The entitlement society, by progressively redistributing income from the employed to the non-employed, accelerates this further as the employed sector is pressed to ever greater efficiency – to use less labor – to pay for the ever growing non-employed sector. In a feedback spiral, the non-employed sector fights for political influence and increases its taxation demands, further pressuring the employed, tax paying sector to produce greater labor saving efficiency.

And so, a new economics is needed. This new economics will somehow have to democratize wealth by democratizing capital. In some new way, individual citizens will need to automatically accumulate capital as they normally perform their life cycle.  This capital must be their property, their new kind of seed corn, and it must be unavailable to politicians to use for cultivating their own political popularity. But the state must ensure that it is measuredly utilized rather than consumed.  It must accumulate, somehow sequestered to grow, and yet also be available for key life needs.

Capital will be the earner of the future, everyone will have to have capital. It may require a crisis to democratize capital and not labor, and that crisis may be neigh.

The Strange Case of Lee Harvey Oswald

Sen. Russell Long (D-La.) has told us that Lee Harvey Oswald. . . trained with Castro revolutionaries in Minsk during his Soviet stay” Jack Anderson, Washington Post, March 7, 1967

Ion Mihai Pocera defected to the West in 1978.  He was head of Communist Romania’s foreign intelligence service, and was responsible for recruiting foreigners – particularly disaffected, low rank American soldiers like Lee Harvey Oswald.  In Programmed to kill:  Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination, 2007, he finds that the Oswald story has very strong signs of Soviet Foreign Intelligence involvement.

Procera proposes that Oswald was likely recruited while stationed at the U-2 Atsugi base, and that Oswald’s information was instrumental in shooting down U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers, which resulted in a great PR triumph for Khrushchev. This made Oswald a hero to Soviet foreign intelligence and his visit to the Soviet Union was likely his reward (this being a common practice).  They wouldn’t have wanted him to stay, his cover would be suspect and he would be more useful in the U.S., but he forced them to acquiesce – ever the loose canon – by publicly revoking his U. S. citizenship at the U.S. embassy in Moscow.  While living in Russia, he received extensive espionage training, and was then sent back to the U.S. with an arranged Russian agent wife (another common practice), to function (both of them) as sleeper agents in the U.S.

Pocera doesn’t believe that the Soviet Union ordered Oswald to murder President Kennedy, but he emphasizes that Oswald was a difficult, restless agent, a true believer wanting more heroic work, who became more and more intent on getting into ‘revolutionary’ Cuba.  He spun out of control, and possibly into the hands of pro-Castro Cuban agents (whom he met in Minsk?) working in the U.S. Oswald was both deluded enough to allow himself to be lured into shooting Kennedy in order to help Cuba, and gullible enough to allow himself to be set up to play the patsy role in a plot. Adult fetal alcohol syndrome?

Before November 22, Oswald mysteriously does pro-Castro advocacy, and then also mingles with anti-Castro Cubans.  He visits Soviet and Cuban embassies in Mexico.  He carries out noticeable and self-incriminating actions – shooting practices, meeting prominent Cuban exiles, hinting at planned assassination, seeking to buy a get-a-way car.

Lee Harvey Oswald was the only employee of the Texas School Book Depository not accounted for during time the shots were fired.

After the shooting, he seems to improvise an escape from the scene, as if a planned meeting doesn’t occur.  He returns to his apartment for his gun – he must have thought he wouldn’t need it, but now clearly thinks that he may.  He seems to head in the direction of a small airport nearby, or to a bus station to take him to Mexico (he had made that same bus trip one month before).  He calmly murders Dallas police officer Tippett, who alone has threatened his movements. He brazenly re-loads his gun in front of numerous eye witnesses.

Contradiction Hitchens

If there is going to be an upper class in this country, then Christopher is going to be in it”  [Yvonne Hitchens]   Hitch 22, A Memoir, Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens was a middle class Brit, but received an upper class education.  Perhaps this explains his ‘contradictions’.  A part of him would be unable to forget that everyday people want what his upper class Oxford friends take for granted: security, freedom, prosperity, and leisure.  He would know the merits of the bourgeoise.

He is a life-long Leftist, a champion of international socialism, a former Trotskyite, now a ‘conservative’ Marxist (his words), a professed agnostic.  He holds Henry Kissinger guilty of war crimes, wants the Pope brought before a grand jury, considers Bill Clinton a fraud, and supports a purge of Religion from society. He is a celebrated ‘public intellectual’.

But, . . . but, contradictions:  he has supported the forceful overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and the Iraq War of George W. Bush, a near unpardonable sin amongst his brethren.

I can identify the moment when I decided to come off the fence and to admit that I felt that I had been cheating on my dues

I thank whatever powers there may be for the power of the United states of America.  Without that reserve strength, the sheer mass of its arsenal in combination with the innovative maneuvers of its special forces, the tyrants and riffraff of the world would possess an undeserved sense of impunity.”

An engaging, entertaining wit, an erudite and humorous conversationalist with a John Lennon voice, Hitchens is an honest intellectual, following integrity. . . even when it leads to self-refutation. Christopher Lasch comes to mind.  One is just never sure how much the self-refutation is realized.

Contradictions, well stated, but held, side by side, by an incisive mind are puzzling, but also informative.  One is pushed to think deeper. Hitchens seems to have an awareness of the imperative of having convictions, of believing in something, and of being steadfast.  He has come to admire the American soldier.  He seems to realize, rare perhaps among his compatriots, how principled Leftism is utterly dependent on strongly defended civil freedoms, and that those liberties require not just legal and domestic protection, but also, in the larger world, military protection.

His friends are obsessed with the errors of colonialism, and imperialism, and inequality, but Hitchens seems able to say:  compared to what?

He owns up that his leftist friends haven’t much admired his hero George Orwell, didn’t much rally (and still do not) to the defense of his friend Salman Rushdie, that even Susan Sontag had to emphasize that communism was ‘itself a variant‘ of fascism, and that the Reader’s Digest has been a more useful guide to communist reality than the Nation. . !

Alas, with his book God is not Great he has aligned himself with prominent, avowed atheists. How can someone as thoughtful and well-read as he find that religion causes tribalism instead of vice versa? Hasn’t he read The Lord of the Flies?

Stalin’s Wife commits Suicide

Stalin, The Court of the Red Tsar, Simon Sebag Montefiore, 2003

It was November 8, 1932, the fifteenth anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution.  Stalin was sealing his power.  The forced collectivization of farming in the Ukraine was well underway, and starvation was killing millions.  The Politburo was becoming a sinister band of complicit murderers.  There was dissent.  In the summer there were even peasant uprisings. The Old Bolsheviks – Martemyan Ryutin among others – had been caught on wiretap:  “Don’t tell me there is nobody in the whole country capable of removing him [Stalin]In the morning, Stalin ordered Ryutin’s arrest, and then attended the Revolution Day parade in Red Square.  Ryutin was executed in 1937.

Nadya Alliluyeva, Stalin’s wife of 14 years and mother of two of his children, was not happy.  She was listening to the critiques of the Old Bolsheviks. Like Bukharin and others, she was disturbed by the horrors of the Ukraine.  Her friends were disappearing.

The Stalin children were sent to the Zubalovo dacha for the weekend. At the evening celebratory dinner Stalin toasted the “destruction of the Enemies of the State”.  Nadya didn’t raise her glass, and then left, followed by Polina Molotova, who tried to calm her.  Nadya eventually went to her Kremlin room, which was across the hall from Stalin’s office and room, and down the hall from the servants.  Her brother Pavel had bought her a pistol as a gift.

It is ‘unclear’ if Stalin went home after the party, or went to his dacha, or to another dacha, with friends, or with another woman.  The next morning, he was sound asleep in his room.

Nadya was found on the floor of her room, next to her bed, in a pool of blood, cold, her pistol beside her.  In great fear, her servants summoned Yenukidze, Nadya’s last dancing partner the evening before, the “politician in charge of the Kremlin”.  He alone witnessed the scene.  Found with her was an angry letter to Stalin and a copy of the anti-Stalin “platform” statement of the Old Bolsheviks.  “During those days in the country at large, the mere possession of this document warranted arrest.” Yenukidze was executed in 1937.

Stalin was awakened.  Doctors arrived.  “There were bruises on her face”  and a “five millimeter hole over the heart“.  Stalin picked up the pistol.  “It was a toy”, he told Molotov, adding strangely, “It was only fired once a year.

Stalin gave a powerful show of grief, anguish, remorse, self pity. “I’d never seen Stalin cry before,” said Molotov, “but as he stood there beside the coffin, the tears ran down his cheeks.”  His daughter Svetlana has said that he wanted to resign from the Politburo, but they objected.

As Bukharin offered condolences, Stalin insisted. . . without being asked. . . that he had been at the dacha, not at the apartment.  Bukharin was executed in 1938. Bukharin’s plea for clemency was still in Stalin’s desk at the time of Stalin’s death in 1953.

He swiftly recovered the Messianic confidence in his mission:  the war against the peasants and his enemies within the Party.”