Friday, April 08, 2005

Bigger than Stalin?

The Russian media, I’ve heard, are disputing the claim that John Paul’s funeral is going to be the biggest ceremony of this type ever. They are claiming that Stalin’s funeral was bigger. I have no idea if this is the case but the comparison is, to some degree, apposite. Of course, Stalin was a murderous maniac who had no problems with starving millions of people to reinforce his own rule while John Paul II was, by all accounts, a very good man but that is not the point of the comparison. Both Stalin and the Pope were totalitarian rulers who had complete control over massive organizations and whose decisions shaped the lives of millions of people. Both maintained this rule, to a large degree, through a carefully managed idolisation of their charismatic personalities. Both, upon death, were mourned by millions in a way which, due to the echoing of the emotions among the people and between them and the media, far exceeded the private mourning for a close relative. Is this comparison disrespectful? Yes, of course it is. But it is, as I have already said, apposite and, it seems to me, that it oughtn’t be, the fault for this lying not with the one who makes the comparison but with those who act in ways that justify it.


Post a Comment

<< Home