The Kremlin paradox

Soviet leadership and high culture

The Kremlin paradox

Moscow, the Fourth Rome: Stalinism, Cosmopolitanism, and the Evolution of Soviet Culture, 1931–1941

by Katerina Clark

Harvard University Press (Inbooks), $49.95 hb, 428 pp, 9780674057876

Nicholas Hordern

Nicholas Hordern

Nick Hordern took an Arts degree at the University of Sydney, concentrating on Indian history and Islamic studies, before joining the...

In Ernest Hemingway’s novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, the hero Robert Jordan, an American fighting on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, receives some advice from Karkov, a Russian ‘journalist’ at the unofficial Soviet headquarters in Madrid.

Jordan has been pressing Karkov on whether the Soviets consider the assassination of political opponents a legitimate technique. Musing ironically on the show trials of Stalin’s rivals then under way in Moscow, Karkov parodies the rhetoric used by prosecutor Andrei Vyshinsky: the accused are ‘the dregs of humanity … we execute and destroy such veritable fiends … These are destroyed. They are not assassinated. You see the difference?’

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Published in March 2013 no. 349

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