Short with quotes
by Amadio Galante
Back to Kremlin, same room, 1936. Stalin is alone, signing papers. Mironov, an NKVD chief, is announced. Mironov approaches Stalin and with trepidation informs him that Kamenev is refusing to confess.
"You don't know?" inquires Stalin with marked surprise, staring at Mironov. "Do you know how much our state weighs, with all the factories, machines, the army, with all the armaments and the navy?"
Mironov looks at Stalin with surprise.
"Think it over and tell me," says Stalin.
Mironov smiles, believing that Stalin is getting ready to crack a joke. But Stalin is not joking. He looks at Mironov in earnest. "I am asking you, how much does all that weigh?" he insists.
Mironov is confused. He waits, still hoping Stalin will turn everything into a joke, but Stalin keeps staring at him waiting for an answer. Mironov shrugs his shoulders and, like a schoolboy undergoing an examination, says in an irresolute voice, "Nobody can know that, Yosif Vissarionovich. It is in the realm of astronomical figures."
"Well, and can one man withstand the pressure of an astronomical
weight?" asks Stalin sternly.
"No," answers Mironov.
"Now then, don't tell me any more that Kamenev, or this
or that prisoner, is able to withstand that pressure. Don't come to report
to me until you have in your briefcase the confession of Kamenev!"
After a pause, a student raises her hand. "Professor Rorty, may I ask what is your political position?"
"Good question," says Prof.
Rorty; "if I have to describe it in two words, I should say I am a tragic
[Quote of Stalin in #1 is from Robert Tucker, The Soviet Political Mind, London, 1972, p. 57; quote of R. Rorty in #2 (except for the "my dear") is from Richard Rorty, Essays on Heidegger and Others, Cambridge U. Press, 1991, p.#137; quote of Stalin in #3 is from Robert Conquest, The Great Terror, a Reassessment, Oxford U. Press, 1990, p.#85; quotes of Rorty in #4 are from Richard Rorty, loc. cit., p.#103 and p.#186]
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