What’s So Funny About Communism?

Michael Giberson

Historian Roy Medvedev looked through the files of Stalin’s political prisoners and concluded that 200,000 people were imprisoned for telling jokes, such as this:

Three prisoners in the gulag get to talking about why they are there. “I am here because I always got to work five minutes late, and they charged me with sabotage,” says the first. “I am here because I kept getting to work five minutes early, and they charged me with spying,” says the second. “I am here because I got to work on time every day,” says the third, “and they charged me with owning a western watch.”

That’s from Ben Lewis, “Hammer & Tickle,” in Prospect. (Via Arts & Letters Daily.)


9 thoughts on “What’s So Funny About Communism?

  1. I first read that joke in Len Deighton’s Funeral in Berlin, which also included this: “Capitalism is the exploitation of man by man. Communism is just the reverse.”

  2. I first read that joke in Len Deighton’s Funeral in Berlin, which also included this: “Capitalism is the exploitation of man by man. Communism is just the reverse.”

  3. And another joke from Funeral in Berlin (I think that’s where I read it):

    Walter Ulbricht wanted to know what people really thought of him, so he put on a disguise and went out into the streets. To the first man he ran into, he said, “What do you really think of Ulbricht?”

    “Come with me,” the man responded.

    They got on a bus to the train station, took a train deep into the south of East Germany, hired a cab that dropped them at a deserted crossroads. The man led Ulbricht up a steep hill to a secluded cabin. They went in, the man close the door and locked it, and whispered in Ulbricht’s ear: “Personally, I think he’s OK.”

  4. Stalin, Khrushchev, and Brezhnev were on a train together when it stopped. After a while they became impatient. They discussed solutions.

    Stalin proposed that they shoot the driver.

    Khrushchev proposed that they double everyone’s wages.

    Brezhnev proposed that they close the curtains and pretend the train was moving.

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