31
Dec

A Soviet Man of Letters

Stalin is dying, and summons Comrade Khruschev to his bedside. Wheezing his
last few words with difficulty, Stalin tells Khruschev, Comrade, the reins
of the country are now in your hands. But before I go, I want to give you
some advice.

Yes, yes, Great Leader, what is it? says Khruschev.

Reaching under his pillow, Stalin produces two envelopes marked 1 and 2.
Take these letters, he tells Khruschev. Keep them safely–dont open
them. Only if the country is in turmoil and things start going badly, open
the first one. Thatll give you some advice on what to do. And, even after
that, if things start going REALLY badly, open the second one. And with a
gasp Stalin breathed his last.

Well, Khruschev succeeded him, and sure enough, within a few years things
started going badly–unemployment increased, crops failed, people became
restless. Nikita decided it was time to open the first letter. All it said
was: Blame everything on me! So Khruschev launched a massive deStalinization
campaign, and blamed Josef for all the excesses and purges and ills of the
present system, and bought himself some time that way.

But things continued on the downslide–Kennedy successfully rebuffed Soviet
missiles in Cuba, unemployment increased even more, crops failed even more,
the Politburo was unhappy with Khruschevs leadership and upstarts like
Brezhnev and Gromyko were threatening his credibility. So finally, after
much deliberation, Nikita opened the second letter.

All it said was: Write two letters.

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