I never cease to be amazed and mainly delighted by small adventures that are part of my life in France… this whole esprit of “Equalite, Egalite, Fraternite” that is meant to be at the foundation of French social mores.

Some time ago I planted 80 bay trees along my fence line, and someone came along during the night and took exactly 40 of them, being a lesson for me in Egalite, I guess.
It reminded me of a story my late father used to tell, when asked why he had decided to get out of Russia in 1945.

My father had been in the Polish army when Germany invaded in 1939, and had ended up crossing over the border into Russia and fighting as part of the Russian Army during World War ll. After the war ended, he collected the family from Magnitogorsk in the Ural Mountains where they had spent the duration of the War, and by December 1945 had managed to get official papers that enabled them to return to Poland. Fortunately the family didn’t stop there for long, but managed to somehow make its way to Paris (it took 2 years as it was mainly on foot), and from there we emigrated from France to Australia in 1951.
Many people used to ask my father why he had wanted to leave Russia at all, as just after the war it was seen a Worker’s Paradise, and my father was a humble shoemaker, and therefore should have felt right at home there.
He always replied that he had dutifully gone along to a meeting of the Communist Party, and the speaker there had said that if they took all the money in the World and divided it up evenly, every person would get 1000 Rubles. My father thus knew that it was time to leave Russia as he had 2000.

I guess that to keep the cosmic balance, as my father actually had twice the planned global allocation, I was meant to have only 40 bay trees. They are flourishing nicely, as I hope are their twins out somewhere in this Haven of Egalite.


14 Responses to 1000 RUBLES FOR EVERYONE

  1. martin metcalf says:

    Love it.
    Be thankful for what you have and hope a thief doesn’t take it is a good moral.
    I’ve just read a book centered around folks living in communist USSR from the thirties to the sixties. Your Father did the right thing, he was a lucky man to have 2000 Rubles and we would not be reading this.
    I love your Blogs, keep them coming.

  2. Frank Liebeskind says:

    It is important to remember these stories and a life we never experienced.
    I was born in Aussie, but both parents fled Austria when Hilter invaded, after long treks thru Europe they were in Shanghai for 10 years, and during the Japanese occupation. Dad recently died at 90, mum is still well at 85, but I found it important to visit Shanghai before he died so we could talk about it.
    He always felt he found his pot of gold here in Aussie.
    I think we are all better for the hard lessons our parents went thru’ and protected us from.
    Thanks for the snipet. regards Frank.

    • leshayman says:

      Hi Frank,

      I really believe that it is important that these stories are not lost. Our parents have/had a dertermination to make the most of life after giving up everything that they had, to start again in the “new world”, and a commitment to make it better for the next generation, so we are the ones that benefitted from their vision. I am not sure that our generation has the same belief that we need to leave the world a better place than we inherited for those that follow. The sacrifices of our parents was followed by the greed of our generation. I can only hope that our children and grandchildren will “forgive us our excesses and those that excess against us”.
      Be well.

      • Philip Geddes says:

        Hi Les

        Love the blog, but wonder how popular austerity will be as a policy long term. My parents – liked yours – lived through the hard times (they were married a wek before war broke out in 1939) and would have wondered what sort of “austerity” we were talking about ! For years they lived a happy day to day life that was a damn sight more austere than anything proposed today. But then they had a vision of what it was for – a better world, free from war and tyranny.

        I wonder what our vision is ? A better world where everyone has three dishwashers ?



  3. If you are as I am a Landlord in the City of Los Angeles we are already subject
    to the “1000 Rubles” theory… Why you ask? Under LA’s Rent Control Ordinance
    there is no “means testing” for Tenants, only for Landlords and as such over time
    ownership of property slowly shifts from owner to tenant by way of unrealisticly
    low rental rates which suppress self reliance and home ownership. Who knew
    there was a Moscow by the sea right in the USA?!!!

    • leshayman says:

      Morgan, you must be aware that the abolition of private ownership of property was one of the fundamental elements of Karl Marx’s communist manifesto, and Marx did say “Democracy is the road to Socialism”.
      Maybe LA is “Walking down the Highway” like Graham Coxon wrote.

  4. Sean Le Leprichaun says:

    It shows that there is one underlying, irrefutable truth that every human is subject to. We all act according to the incentives (negative or positive) that we are exposed to.
    On a recent trip to China i decided that communism was a far better way to achieve ecomomic growth than the capitalist model. Indivdual property titles stifle planning and growth particularly when infrastructure is involved. If England was a communist state would there be endless debate about the impact of a new runway at Heathrow? No it would have been built there 20 years ago! It is obvious to all that the USA is also heading towards communism, if for no other reason than to keep the Chinese sweet and keep them buying all the US treasury bonds. Barack is dusting off his red carpet as we speak – today in the US if they want everyone to have a 1000 rubles they just print them anyway.

    • leshayman says:

      Hi Sean,
      Staying with Marx (see quote above) … he said “Reason has always existed, but not always in a reasonable form”.
      Maybe we have just had too many generations of reasonable men trying to run the place. No one could ever call Lee Kwan Yew a reasonable man, but I consider him one of the few great National Leaders of our lifetime. One doesn’t really appreciate the brilliance of such an unreasonable man, until you have a chance to live under his regime. Long live the unreasonable people !!!!

  5. jake says:

    your father seems like a smart person. i wish i could have met him. these stories are never lost when retold over dinner tables, or discussed as blogs.

  6. Dan says:

    Hmm. I’m guessing your Dad didnt know the Soviet Army he was serving iwith had slaughtered the entire Officer Corp of his native Polish Army at the time he was serving with them?
    Or maybe (like many enlisted men) he didnt much care for any officers 😉

  7. leshayman says:

    Hi Dan,
    Or maybe like many other people at the time, he had little choice when it came to survival ?

  8. Dan says:

    True – there was a lot of fight or die offers going around.
    Read Bloodlands recently which documents how the Russians and Germans systematically eliminated
    a good fraction of the populations of the countries between them (many outside wartime) and the matching ethnicities internally.
    The Germans actually come out as slightly less murderous as unlike the Russians they domestically mostly eliminated Jews and were more queasy about knocking off whitebread (well ryebread) Germans where the Russians had no such qualms annihilating a good fraction of their own population on whims or to make quotas as well as much more industrial numbers of their neighbors.
    And now both countries are close again – you dont have to be Polish to find that a bit disturbing .. 😉

  9. leshayman says:

    Would you recommend reading Bloodlands ?

  10. Dan says:

    I do. It is very detailed and varies from the ‘horror of the holocaust’ variety of history that tries to explain why the Germans could turn so bad.
    Snyder has caught the expected flak from Jewish historians because he treats both dictators instead of concentrating on Hitler. Unless one follows the Simon Wiesenthal songbook to the letter this is inevitable in history of this time and area. According to the more vehement critics addressing Stalins (more widespread and larger) murders you are trying to distract from or connate Hitlers crimes. Weird argument but apparently to some Jewish historians only 4 million Jews died the other 10 million non Jewish victims of (principally Stalin) are less important.
    Not only does this approach let Stalin off it ignores the fact that unlike the singular German anti-semitic event ( admittedly the largest in recent history) that Russians regularly targeted and murdered Jews including many times in the early 20th Century. They took a break as the Bolsheviks had many Jewish leaders but after the Great Patriotic War the NKVD / KGB went quickly back to that old Russian habit.
    Anyway here’s a review http://www.economist.com/node/17249038

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