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Preserving the “Faith” & the “Art” of Embalming

[1]2,713 words

Embalming fluid and American politics. The connection? I am thinking specifically of Joe “the Thing [2]” Biden for reasons that are obvious or soon will be. But the starting point for the discussion should begin with Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, also known as Lenin. 

Hard to believe, but that son of a gun has been dead for almost a century. He succumbed to a cerebral hemorrhage in 1924 at age 54. Harder yet to believe: he’s still around, ghoulishly speaking. Keeping him around, you may not know, isn’t cheap. From Culture Trip [3]:

In 2016, the Russian Federal Guard Service announced that the maintenance of Lenin’s remains had cost 13 million roubles (over £155,000/$210,000). This amount covered the costs of the “Lenin Lab,” a team of scientists that has been monitoring his body since his passing. During Soviet times, the Lenin Lab was comprised of 200 scientists. Although the team is much smaller now, the work remains much the same. 

“The Lenin Lab,” “200 scientists,” “monitoring his body”? All of this gives the word “necrophilia” a whole new dimension, one that raises a lot of questions about the mentality of communism and the meaning of Lenin’s 97-year posthumous career. Post mortem meets postmodern. 

But back to the beginning of the embalming saga circa 1924. Lenin’s widow, Nadezhda Krupskaya, was opposed to turning Lenin’s moldering corpse into a mummy, but Stalin was running the show by then. Being an Orthodox seminarian before he got hooked on dialectical materialism, he no doubt understood the power of relics, particularly over the minds of the Russian peasantry. Since the bulk of the population of the new Soviet state was made up of illiterate peasants, Stalin had to be thinking: “We need a ‘relic’ to keep this scam going.” The recently deceased Lenin was the closest thing the bungling, murderous Bolshevik leadership had to God, so Stalin made an astute calculation: “We’ll embalm God, our dear, departed Tovarishch, Vladimir Ilyich — he’s no good to us now as maggot chow. Better to make him look nice, and serviceable for worship — Communist-style worship.” Mummies for the hoi polloi to trundle past and admire trump the feeble-minded abstractions of propaganda. “Look, Comrades: Lenin lives! He still loves you.” Well, in a “tough-love” Leninist cruel sort of way. 

The delicious irony is that this atheist hater of any and all things religious, who devoted his life to serving the impersonal laws of history, was engorged with chemicals that turned him into an eternal, very personal object of religious veneration.

The mummy lives [4],” so to speak. Lenin would become the CPSU’s theatrical property used to enhance the drama of “the revolution” and animate the mythology of the “new Soviet man.” Instead of “What would Jesus do?” in moments of doubt or confusion, the Ivans in the socialist workers’ paradise would furrow their brows and ask, “What would Lenin do?”

So “attached” were the Bolshie bosses to Lenin’s corpse that in the late summer of 1941, when they were in a stone panic with the German army closing in on Moscow, Lenin was crated up and shipped off for safe-keeping to the east at Tyumen, Siberia. What would Lenin do? He was telling Stalin: “When Hitler’s coming, it’s best to get out of Dodge.”

Then Stalin shuffled off his mortal coil in 1953, lingering a bit in a coma while his terrified henchmen dithered about calling for a doctor. Stalin didn’t trust doctors. He too was mummified and put next to Lenin in the Red Square mausoleum in Moscow. But that was a temporary stop for the Vozhd, the Boss. In 1961, he was removed from Red Square and buried about 300 feet from the mausoleum, near other minor leaders of the Revolution — no ceremonies, no official to-do. Why this remarkable demotion for “Lenin’s heir”? 

Well, after Stalin’s death, the Gulags were emptying out. The Russian people were asking the current Bolshevik leaders some uncomfortable questions: Who was responsible for putting millions of innocent people in those slave labor camps? Who was responsible for torturing and murdering so many loyal Communist party members during the purges of the 1930s? Who put that psychopath fiend Beria in charge of state security? 

Khrushchev and his buddies were now running the show. They had dispatched “Stalin’s Himmler,” Lavrenti Beria, shortly after the Boss had gone room temperature. Still, Stalin’s long-serving, faithful helpers, now in charge, were up to their elbows in innocent blood. But they were alive and hoping to stay that way, and Stalin was, well, dead. So, they threw Stalin, the mummy, under the bus — or at least out of sight and hopefully out of mind. The 20th Party Congress in 1956 was when Khrushchev spilled the beans in a “secret speech” that sent shock waves around the communist world. From the text of Khrushchev’s speech [5]:

Stalin originated the concept “enemy of the people.” This term automatically made it unnecessary that the ideological errors of a man or men engaged in a controversy be proven. . . . [H]e used extreme methods and mass repressions at a time when the Revolution was already victorious, when the Soviet state was strengthened, when the exploiting classes were already liquidated and socialist relations were rooted solidly in all phases of national economy, when our Party was politically consolidated and had strengthened itself both numerically and ideologically.

Quick aside: “enemy of the people” and “automatically made it unnecessary that the ideological errors of a man or men engaged in a controversy be proven.” Sounds remarkably like how “racist” works in Democrat-run America.

Stalin was eventually to be evicted from his resting place next to Lenin after the speech. It took a few years, but here is the best part. On the day that preceded Khrushchev’s decree ordering the removal of Stalin’s remains from the mausoleum, Dora Abramovna Lazurkina, an ancient, hardcore Bolshevik and party apparatchik, stood up before the 22nd Party Congress [6] and related what can only be one of the more bizarre and unique experiences of necromancy ever recorded. Keep in mind: this is a life-long communist channeling a plea from the Apostle of materialism and the scourge of afterlife, superstitious nonsense.

Comrades, I could survive the most difficult moments only because I carried Lenin in my heart, and always consulted him on what to do. Yesterday I consulted him. He was standing there before me as if he were alive, and he said: “It is unpleasant to be next to Stalin, who did so much harm to the party.”

If Dora was hearing Lenin correctly, we have to say that “unpleasant to be next to Stalin” could go down as the understatement of the century. Stalin had made his life’s work an exercise far exceeding “unpleasant” for, just to pick a round number and just one of his many benevolent gestures, three million Ukrainian peasants whose grain he stole and then starved to death. Many of his closest Bolshevik associates would have been happy with “unpleasant.” Instead, they got “lethal.” Trotsky, Bukharin, Radek, and Zinoviev immediately come to mind.

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You can buy Stephen Paul Foster’s novel Toward the Bad I Kept on Turning here. [8]

To continue, however, with the embalming of communist dictators: First Lenin, then Stalin, then Mao. Dead at last, it was the turn of the Asian moon face genius with a big mole on his chin. Mummification was becoming the capstone of a career as a Communist dictator. Mao’s wish was to be cremated, but as it was with Lenin, his party comrades needed him in a primitive religious sort of way. 

Thirty-some years after the Great Oarsman’s installation in the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong in Beijing, I waited in a long line in Tiananmen Square to be admitted for a glimpse of the slumbering Mao. As one of the few Westerners among the large horde of Chinese, I stood out and was soon accosted by a plainclothes security officer who in precise, intimidating English warned me that attempting a snapshot of the “Chairman” would not be in my best interest. I had wisely left my mobile phone in my hotel room. It would have been confiscated had I brought it with me. Inside the hall festooned with elaborate flower arrangements, I was struck by the intensity of superstitious, reverent awe for an object that looked like a giant pink doll. The grey-green Mao suit was the closest thing I saw to what must have been the real Mao.

A short time later I was in Hanoi and found myself shuffling through a dimly lit chamber preparing to catch a glimpse of Ho Chi Minh. Like Mao, he was Mao-suited and peacefully slumbering in his glass box, aglow under soft-lighting, guarded by four young soldiers at stiff attention. I had hoped to experience a minor miracle — vision corrected back to 20-20 or some arthritis relief. Instead, I developed a terrible cold shortly after the visit.

I was never brave enough to attempt the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea. For more adventuresome souls, Kim il-Sung (“our Fatherly Leader” as he was affectionately called by his hungry and malnourished subjects) and his son Kim Jong-il can be observed in their post-respiratory careers as venerable mummies in the National Palace. Kim Junior, it was reported in the official obituary, made it through sixty-nine years without ever having to defecate. Should the North Korean people enjoy the beneficence of a long-lived Kim Jong-un, a chubby-faced youth with many years ahead to enhance the paradise bequeathed by his elders, he will no doubt have performed many miracles of his own, maybe an even longer feces-free existence than his father. Perhaps someday the National Palace will host for the curious to behold a rosy communist Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy — well . . . expectations, no doubt, remain high for Kim III.

I could write an entire book on the mummification of Communist dictators, cataloged under the heading, now a micro-aggression, “black humor.” But I want to get to Joe Biden and the rest of the Communist, I mean, the Democrat party leadership. The point is that the final stop on the trail of Communist ideologues and ideology is the embalming lab and mummification.

Up to this point, I’ve been focusing on the mummification of the dead. What we are seeing now with our own ruling junta is the mummification of a political party, a gussied-up ideological corpse, its better days a distant memory. What do the bosses believe? Whatever comes in handy at the moment. Yesterday, “A is B.” Today, “A is not-B.” Tomorrow, “B is really C.” In charge are people who, to put it crudely, struggle to distinguish shit from Shinola. Their intellects are mummified as evidenced by culling their public utterances only to find outbursts of sputtering incoherence, insulting asides of condescension, or anodyne PR talking points massaged by the hacks on the staff. None of what they say is mildly interesting, memorable, or remotely believable. 

Think of really old people whose brain temperatures are approaching absolute zero. Yes, these are really old people calling the shots. It should be acutely embarrassing.

 

Don’t forget top competitors for the prize of Democrat Presidential nominee: Bernie Sanders, 79, Elizabeth Warren, 71. Anthony Fauci, Public Health Dictator, is 80. The average age for this entire crew? 79.

So, just how much senescence and decrepitude are we really looking at in our ruling class? How much is too much?

This takes us to our 78-year-old POTUS, Joseph Robinette Biden, and the current speculation about the candle power of his intellect.

Here for consideration is some of that “power” at work from his remarks at the 2021 Virtual Munich Security Conference [9].

We can own the race for the future. But to do so, we have to be clear-eyed about the historic investments and partnerships that this will require. We have to protect — we have to protect for space for innovation, for intellectual property, and the creative genius that thrives with the free exchange of ideas in open, democratic societies.

Yes, “the Mummy lives,” and it talks like a random word generator programmed by a White House intern rummaging through a DNC style manual. This is about as lucid as J. Robinette gets. “[T]he race for the future”? No, Comrades, we’re looking at a race into the past. In any case, it’s a “race” led by a bunch of octogenarians who have spent their lives enriching themselves at the public trough while pretending to be “public servants.” You have to wonder: were any of the other participants in this “security” conference actually listening to this babbling brook of inanities? And if they were, what were they thinking? “My God, who is in charge of adjusting his medication? Maybe a body-double is in order.” 

So here we are: the country is ruled by antique party kleptocrats, guided by a worn-out ideology with a court-jester Commander and Chief who, apart from his party handlers and a fawning MSM, is a laughing stock for the rest of the world. 

Consider, if you will, how much this mummified ruling party resembles one that sputtered itself into oblivion several decades ago: the CPSU. Like Joe, Nancy, and Maxine, the Soviet leadership, sunken in nepotism and corruption, didn’t believe in anything other than its entitlement to power. Nobody — including the people at the top — took the “Marx,” “equality,” and “Revolution” crapola seriously. The “new Soviet man” had become a weary cynic. His resentment over long lines, empty store shelves, and life in a cramped, crappy apartment drove him to consolation with large quantities of cheap vodka. 

“What’s the next stage after socialism? Alcoholism” was a popular Brezhnev-era joke.

The relatively youthful Mikhail Gorbachev, unable to revive the CPSU corpse, was left to preside over the collapse of the house the Lenin built. He was immediately proceeded by three aged party time-servers, who while still alive appeared to be half-dead: Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov, and Konstantin Chernenko – 76, 80, and 84, respectively, their ages at death. 

The cynicism so conspicuous in the final days of the Soviet Union marked the default of the ruling ideology with its venal, corrupted leadership. It signaled the moral collapse of a society whose members no longer possessed any enduring principles and defensible ideas around which to organize and make sense of their daily lives. Sound familiar?

So, think of President Biden as our Brezhnev or maybe Chernenko. Is our Gorbachev somewhere out there waiting? None of the likely candidates are remotely in Gorbachev’s league. I think we are well into the endgame.

Postscript. 

Two other related embalming-of-dictator items I must mention. Shortly before Maximum Lider Fidel expired in Havana in 2016, I had predicted that he would, like Lenin and Mao, be preserved for worship by the faithful. I was wrong. I guess he was more of a Marxist than I thought. 

Let’s not forget the wife of a dictator, Evita Perón. Shortly before her death from cervical cancer at age 33, Hubby Juan summoned the Spaniard physician-embalmer Pedro Ara to get a head start on her “preservation,” for which it is rumored Perón paid him $100,000, a considerable sum in 1953. Ara, who had earlier embalmed the Spanish composer Manuel de Falla to make him presentable to General Franco, did a magnificent job on Evita. Shortly after, the former First Lady went off in exile with Juan for a twenty-year posthumous adventure that took her to Italy, Spain, and back to Argentina where she needed a bit of repair work. She finally was put to rest in Buenos Aires’ mausoleum village known as the Recoleta cemetery. The bizarre details of her afterlife adventures are recounted by Tomás Eloy Martínez in his historical novel Santa Evita

I highly recommend it.

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