“I regard class differences as contrary to Justice.” (Albert Einstein in a personal statement of his credo.)
“The Russians have proved that their only aim is really the improvement of the lot of the Russian people.” (Albert Einstein in his 1934 refusal to sign a petition condemning Stalin’s murder of political prisoners.)
“Any government is evil if it carries within it the tendency to deteriorate into tyranny. The danger … is more acute in a country in which the government has authority not only over the armed forces but also over every channel of education and information as well as over the existence of every single citizen.” (Albert Einstein in a speech to Russian scientists in support of democratic socialist ideals and criticism of untrammeled capitalism.) (1)
BY GAITHER STEWART
(Dateline: Rome, 20 August 2008)
I have chosen to set out on this trip back in time to Joseph Stalin from the six-meter tall statue of the revolutionary writer, Vladimir Mayakovsky.
Standing on a square about a mile from Moscow’s Kremlin, the towers of which are nearly visible from famous Trimphalnaya Square, commonly known as Mayakovskaya Square, the poet’s statue seems lonely in the hubbub of modern Moscow. Passing right over the body of the “poet of the Revolution”, so to speak, this voyage passes through the intricacies and pitfalls of available choices in life, the artistic choices of the poet and the political-ideological choices of Stalin, a man caught at the center of an extremely complex world historical process. The ultimate goal on this journey is to suggest a reassessment of the historical role of Joseph Stalin, Soviet Russia’s leader of 30 years following the death of Lenin, the Vozhd of a revolution that changed irreversibly the nature of backward Russia and carried the revolution far beyond its frontiers. (LEFT: Mayakovsky’s monument.)
But first, the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky.
The Cubo-Futurist poet of the Russian Revolution, admired, pampered and promoted by Stalin and some Russian revolutionary leaders, mistrusted and criticized by others, apparently shot himself in his office one day in April in 1930 in Moscow. His death ultimately became the subject of speculation for historians and mystery thriller writers alike: suicide or murder? Both versions are tempting and facile: either he committed suicide because of putative disillusionment with the revolution or he was murdered by Stalin. Or perhaps it was a more mundane question of his love life.