Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Parable

A man went on a journey and came to a communist country. In the main square of every town and city in the country were statues of Marx, and his bearded face looked down from walls at every side, one or two or twenty stories high. Tall red banners billowed wherever the man looked, and the stirring strains of the ‘Internationale’ blared from loudspeakers on every major intersection. The newspapers of the state incessantly proclaimed the wisdom of Marx, the perfection of his insights, and the excellence of the system he had devised. His image and his writings were treated almost as sacred things, as if they were the idols and sacred texts of some deity of the Age of Ignorance.

But in this country the man saw riding past rich men in golden limousines, men of the Party, or the army, or of any one of a thousand corporations which the state allowed to flourish there, and he saw that it was these few men who controlled the means of production. This man also saw men begging in the streets, and women forced into prostitution, and children who went hungry while food rotted in the storehouses. He saw men who had no work, and starved because of it, and men who did no work, and feasted like Elagabalus. Everywhere were the splendid buildings of a vast and relentless bureaucracy, as officious and protocol-ridden as the bureaucracy of the bygone tyrants, and in quiet corners remained the churches and temples of the old times, where parasites fed off the superstitions of the people.

The man journeyed on, and crossed a river and a range of mountains, and came to another country where the name of Marx was unknown. There were no statues, and no murals, of any leader or teacher of the past. The banners of this nation were of green and violet, and the songs that played on the radios of its towns were simple songs of love and death.

But in this country the man saw neither rich nor poor: all men had a sufficiency of work to occupy their talents, and a sufficiency of goods to meet their needs. He saw that the workers controlled the means of production, not through a few chosen representatives, but collectively. In this nation the man saw no government buildings, save the odd post office, for the state had withered away almost to nothing. Neither were there any temples or churches that preserved the baleful superstitions of the past, only here and there a museum of atheism.

Now, which of these countries do you suppose did the will of Marx?

4 comments:

Dave said...

You don't think Marx would have liked the statues?

Marco said...

No he wouldn't :) Happy anniversary! I spent mine in Brisbane as it happened.

Dr. Clam said...

Thanks! :) I spent mine being sick. Bleh.

I just came on to say that I think if Marx had envisioned the statues, he would have done something better with his hair...

Dave said...

Happy anniversaries all round.

You're probably right about the look. I daresay he would have recognised the importance of image, at least in the former example-state.