Link: “The Tragic Life of a Polrugarian Minister

Original post found at: https://jacobin.com/2023/03/communist-leaders-eastern-europe-soviet-union-stalinism-repression-revolution/

Republished here by Jacobin (which gave it a really generic title that I have chosen to ignore), this is a super compelling essay from 1952 by Polish-Jewish Marxist Isaac Deutscher. It tells the life story of a fictional senior minister in a fictional Eastern European country, and honestly, who knew it was possible to make Stalinist cronies so sympathetic while still also writing something so sharply critical of Stalinism? And it’s so beautifully written, literary and not dry or impenetrable at all.

There are two Vincent Adrianos now. One seems never to have known a moment of doubt or hesitation. His Stalinist orthodoxy has never been questioned, his devotion to the party has never flagged, and his virtues as leader and statesman are held to be unsurpassed.

The other Adriano is almost constantly tormented by his communist conscience, a prey to scruple and fear, to illusion and disillusionment. The former is expansive and eloquent, the latter broods in silence and hides even from his oldest friends. The former acts, the latter never ceases to ponder.