Thursday, July 3, 2008

Communist Humor

On the eve of another celebration of the independence of the United States, it might be educational and fun to consider what life has been like in those places and times where human freedom has not been given the respect it deserves. Any place, for example, that has suffered the cruel joke of communism.

Under communism, life became a grim struggle against a state that was, in turns, malevolent or indifferent. How grim? Consider these jokes from Hammer & Tickle, a collection of humor from behind the Iron Curtain by Ben Lewis.

Some of these jokes would have earned you a trip to a police station; others, a jail term; others would have cost you your life.

“How do you deal with mice in the Kremlin?” “Put up a sign saying ‘collective farm’. Then half the mice will starve and the others will run away.”

“Who built the White Sea canal [Stalin’s single most murderous slave-labour project]?” “The left bank was built by those who told the jokes, and the right bank by those who listened.”

"A flock of sheep approaches the Finnish border in a panic, pleading to be allowed entry. “Beria [Stalin’s secret police chief] has ordered the arrest of all elephants,” they explain. “But you’re not elephants,” reply the Finnish border guards in puzzlement. “Yes, but try explaining that to Beria.”"

Stalin appears to Vladimir Putin in a dream and says: “I have two bits of advice for you: kill your opponents and paint the Kremlin blue.” Putin asks, “Why blue?”

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