Sunday, October 13, 2013

Stalin's Blue Pencil

Some people love pencils. Some people think that makes them better people than those who use ballpoints. But some terrible dictators also loved pencils, Stalin was one of them.
The Stanford historian Norman Naimark describes the marks left by Stalin's pencil as "greasy" and "thick and pasty." He notes that Stalin edited "virtually every internal document of importance," and the scope of what he considered internal and important was very broad. Editing a biologist's speech for an international conference in 1948, Stalin used an array of colored pencils—red, green, blue—to strip the talk of references to "Soviet" science and "bourgeois" philosophy. He also crossed out an entire page on how science is "class-oriented by its very nature" and wrote in the margin "Ha-ha-ha!!! And what about mathematics? And what about Darwinism?"
What follows from this? Absolutely nothing ... and this holds especially for the truth of Nietzsche's so-called "editorial spirit of the modern age".

2 comments:

Bart said...

Open Culture posted about this too, with pictures. http://www.openculture.com/2013/10/joseph-stalin-editor.html

MK said...

Very interesting ... Especially because of the pictures. Thanks for calling my attention to it.

Manfred