So you question my including Karl Marx in this list? Well, you are right. Compared to the others, Marx was a pussycat, a dusty philosopher. Is it a philosopher’s fault if readers take his words and run with them to the killing fields? After all, they have done the same with Jesus’ words.
Marx loved Jenny, the woman he eventually married, and he wrote her lots of cute poems:
See! I could a thousand volumes fill,
Writing only “Jenny” in each line…
Look into those eyes of yours so bright,
Deeper than the floor of Heaven,
Clearer than the sun’s own beaming light,
And the answer shall be given.”
Hitler, as most people know, wanted above all else to be a successful artist or architect. He failed to gain entry to art school, perhaps because his art was just a tad better than Marx’s poetry.
Lenin, as I mentioned in a previous post, held tightly to a romantic vision of Utopia from his favorite novel. He was a cranky, domineering sort, but he had one of those mother-in-laws and she was “the only person in his immediate circle who stood up to him and gave as good as she got.”(1)
I don’t know what his mother-in-law thought about his adulterous relationship with a French-Russian woman, but in 1914 he lyrically wrote to his mistress, ““Oh, how I want to kiss you a thousand times.”
Stalin’s wolf doodles, as I wrote earlier, were more art therapy than creativity, but Joseph also wrote poetry when he was young.
The bud has blossomed; now the rose
Touches the tender violet.
The lily, bent above the grass
By gentle breezes, slumbers not.
The lark, signing its chirping hymn,
Soars high above the clouds;
Meanwhile, the nightingale intones
With sweet, mellifluous sounds:
What?! Well, Stalin liked flowers even when he was old. What he didn’t like was class enemies and class enemies were whoever he decided they were at any given moment.
Maybe this youthful Stalin poem is more revealing:
“The people of his land
Fed the outcast poison,
Placing a cup in his hand.
They told him: “Damned one, you must
Drink it, drain the cup dry…
Your song is foreign to us,
We prefer to live in a lie!”
I confess my own stinking thinking here. I would like to believe that people who killed millions of human beings were not real human beings them selves. I would like to think Hitler sketched roadkill and Lenin’s favorite book was “Seven Habits of Highly Brutal Bastards.”
Because if they were real human beings then it could happen again. On a painfully personal level, if they were real human beings then maybe somewhere, deep in my soul, really ugly thoughts may be lurking. If I had the power, would I do something nasty to Dick Cheney?
1. Autopsy for an Empire by Dmitri Volkogonov