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Putin Brings Back Stalin’s Worker Hero

by Christopher A. Ferrara

Some seventeen years after the attempt to consecrate Russia — without making any mention of Russia — all signs indicate that Vladimir Putin is orchestrating a return to full-blown authoritarian rule of an updated Stalinist character. And now for the latest “miracle” in “consecrated” Russia.

On July 17, 2001 The Times online reported that “factory workers, miners, shop assistants and schoolchildren in every region across Russia will be rewarded for their productivity in President Putin’s revival of the Stalinist cult of the dedicated Russian worker.” Putin, that is, has decided to restore the Stalinist system of meaningless carrots at the end of Kremlin sticks: “the country’s most industrious workers would have their photographs pinned on special boards of honour in every state institution and featured in television programmes and on websites trumpeting their dedication to Russia’s glorious future.”

Wow! Your name on a “board of honour” and a spot on Russian television! But what about an adequate wage or heat in the winter for these very industrious workers? Now, now, comrade, what are these piddling things in comparison with an honor bestowed by the great Putin himself? Yes, but doesn’t Putin receive a generous wage and doesn’t he have heat in the winter? Now, now comrade, you know that people who voice such complaints are at serious risk of traffic accidents or fatal beatings in the middle of the night. Just like all those Russian news reporters who are no longer writing exposés of the Putin regime’s corruption.

The Times rightly observes that “revival of the cult of the industrious worker, which reached its peak in Stalin’s era, will bring back horrific memories of slave-labour working conditions and frequent punishments for alleged misdemeanours that often led to a spell in the gulag. Stalin told his people that they must imitate Stakhanov, a miner who hewed more coal in a day than anyone else.” As a ministry spokesman put it: “the revival of the values of conscientious labour is acquiring particular significance as the source of all the material and spiritual blessings which people enjoy.” The “worker’s paradise” is returning to Russia.

But, as The Times notes, Putin’s Stalinist gimmickry “is unlikely to encourage cheerful productivity in Russia’s collective farms, havens of drunkenness and lethargy, or in state-owned supermarkets, where assistants are notorious for their unwillingness to move from the smoking-room to the till.” Collective farms? State-owned supermarkets? Lethargic, drunken workers with no incentive to produce because they receive minimal wages and have no stake in society? How is this possible? Hasn’t Russia been miraculously transformed into a free market democracy since the “consecration” of 1984? Not on your life.

The Times piece concludes by noting that “most Russian workers would find a healthy pay packet the biggest incentive to get to work: the millions struggling on two or three jobs because their state salary is typically between £10 and £50 a month are already working hard enough.” A maximum state wage of about $100 per month! The word poverty somehow seems inadequate.

Russia today is a prime example of what happens without Catholic social order. With faith, hope and charity come also the material blessings bestowed by God: Seek ye first the kingdom of Heaven and all these things shall be added onto you. So would it be for Russia, if “that poor nation” (to use Sister Lucy’s phrase) were consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Would Russia then become an earthly paradise? Hardly. But one thing is certain: In a Catholic Russia not only the spiritual but the material lot of the Russian people would undergo a truly miraculous transformation.

If only the dolts of Fatima revisionism could be forced to spend a few weeks living the life of the typical Russian worker today. No doubt when they returned from the experience they would be leading the movement for Russia’s consecration. But, alas, we cannot conduct such an experiment. Instead, we must watch as these dolts persist in their complicity in the suffering of the Russian people, proclaiming a “miracle” where there is only spiritual and material devastation. God help them. And God help Russia.