Friday, October 31, 2008


Tonight I was browsing through my books and by chance read a short story from my library by Vassili Iretsky, "Hydromel."

I found it chillingly timely, even though it was written nearly a century ago. The setting, of course, is the Soviet Union during the first years after the communist Revolution.

"From his long-legged English father Bromley had inherited obstinacy and perseverance, from his Cossack mother a poetic love for the open vastness of the black-soil plains ... Almost entirely with his own hands he built a small house ... and last of all, some beehives.

"One winter's day, grim-visaged trouble made its entrance ... appeared first one horse, then a second, then a third ... [each] carried a surly looking man ...

"One of the men ... bawled at him: 'In accordance with the orders of the Ispolk[Executive Committee], you are to submit yourself unquestioningly to my authority...You are understood to own a number of hives: the whole lot are to be nationalized for the benefit of the workers: that goes for all the honey and wax you've got, too ... Hand over everything you've got; if you don't, you'll be shot.

"'...For once in a way you can work for the proletariat, instead of the other way around ... Parasites have been formally prohibited.'"

"Bromley threw him a contemptuous look. 'Parasites,' he said looking him up and down, 'are people who live by the honest labor of others. All my life I have never worked less hard than any ordinary workman, and perhaps a good deal harder. This honey was produced by my labor, certainly not by yours; yet you assume the ----'

"He was not given time to finish. An obscene oath burst from the leader, followed by: 'In accordance with my powers I have the right in the event of resistance to arrest and shoot you. You are resisting: I arrest you! ... You've made profits out of your land. That sort of thing's been stopped. Now's the time for the workers to make a bit of profit for a change. That's all there is to it."


Janice Thomson said...

Yikes! so glad I live in these times and in this country...

Eastcoastdweller said...

Yes, indeed, a country where wealth is not yet spread around at the point of a gun.