Thursday, June 19, 2008
Malcolm, Noel. "Was it Jokes that Defeated Communism?" DAILY TELEGRAPH June 15, 2008.
Lewis, Ben. Hammer & Tickle: a History of Communism told through Communist Jokes. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2008. I like the one, for example, about the man who goes to buy a car in Moscow, pays for it, and is told by the salesman that he can collect it on a particular date in 10 years' time. The buyer thinks for a moment and then asks: 'Morning or afternoon?' The salesman, astonished by the question, asks: 'What difference does it make?' And the buyer answers: 'Well, the plumber is coming in the morning.' As Gorbachev was well aware, these jokes had not been manufactured by some sinister department of the CIA; they were real ones, as told by real Russians. He was probably also aware that although people in the West told jokes about the frustrations of ordinary life, there was no such thing as a whole category of jokes about the capitalist system as such. If there had been, we can be sure that his aides would have been feeding them to him, contributing to an ever-escalating jokes race between the superpowers. . . . For more jokes, visit: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/arts/2008/06/15/bolew115.xml.