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A Soviet Man of Letters

bapat@utx1.UUCP (Bapat)
the boundary between UNIX and sanity

Stalin is dying, and summons Comrade Khruschev to his bedside. Wheezing his last few words with difficulty, Stalin tells Khruschev, "Comrade, the reins of the country are now in your hands. But before I go, I want to give you some advice."

"Yes, yes, Great Leader, what is it?" says Khruschev.

Reaching under his pillow, Stalin produces two envelopes marked 1 and 2. "Take these letters," he tells Khruschev. "Keep them safely--don't open them. Only if the country is in turmoil and things start going badly, open the first one. That'll give you some advice on what to do. And, even after that, if things start going REALLY badly, open the second one." And with a gasp Stalin breathed his last.

Well, Khruschev succeeded him, and sure enough, within a few years things started going badly--unemployment increased, crops failed, people became restless. Nikita decided it was time to open the first letter. All it said was: "Blame everything on me!" So Khruschev launched a massive deStalinization campaign, and blamed Josef for all the excesses and purges and ills of the present system, and bought himself some time that way.

But things continued on the downslide--Kennedy successfully rebuffed Soviet missiles in Cuba, unemployment increased even more, crops failed even more, the Politburo was unhappy with Khruschev's leadership and upstarts like Brezhnev and Gromyko were threatening his credibility. So finally, after much deliberation, Nikita opened the second letter.

All it said was: "Write two letters."

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