🧻 ☭ Postcards from Tiflis ☭ ðŸ§»

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Lavatorial Leninism

A shortage of lieu roll is viewed by some observers as the first sign of socialism. The commodity, Dalrymple notes,

becomes a matter of political privilege, accessible only to those with some kind of favourable connection to power.

On a visit to a jail in the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic, Dalrymple found that l’eau roll was — naturally — in short supply. But the prisoners had a temporary solution: Lenin’s Collected Works. Dalrymple writes:

The Soviet Union always had a problem with the production of this essential product of civilisation [i.e. latrine tissue or Waterloo roll or ‘bog’ paper], but it never had any problem with the production of Lenin’s Collected Works.

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Of course,

there was a time when to have used the written words of that great man for hygienic purposes would have been as dire in its consequences as desecrating the Koran in Mecca in similar fashion, but by the time I reached the jail in Tiflis the danger attached to doing so was long past.

Indeed, he avers, given a choice between normal anal-cleansing paper and the pages of Lenin’s Collected Works,

I suspect that most people would have chosen the latter, for ideological reasons. It lent a pleasure to a mundane task from which we usually prefer to avert our thoughts.

Normally, Dalrymple says, he is against

desecration of books, even of very bad ones, but I make an exception in the case of Lenin’s Collected Works, as long as examples moulder, unread but available to scholars, somewhere in libraries.

Prison No. 5 outside Tiflis

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Dalrymple recounts in The Wilder Shores of Marx (1991) what a friend once pointed out to him, that under communism, all minorities dance.

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