Stalin and the Chicken
Lessons in Brutal Capitalism from a Communist
In the late summer of 1934 Russia was in the midst of a period of extreme upheaval and change
known as the purges. Under the guise of progress and modernization the self promoted leader of the
communist party, Joseph Stalin, was systematically killing millions of his own people. Those whom he did
not kill he left broken and scared, striped of their lands, possessions, food, and freedom. Few outside of
Russia seemed aware or concerned about what he was doing. State news reports at the time touted the
dramatic evolution of such a large and backward country into a modern industrial society. The massive
government work projects moved mountains and changed the course of rivers, industrial factories began
to produce a limitless supply of modern goods, and endless oceans of wheat grew upon the arid farm land
of the western step under the direction of authoritative state owned collectives. Stalin himself was lifted up
as the model of a strong leader. Every where he went there where large crowds cheering him as he struck
impressive and stoic poses for the media. Numerous events were staged to demonstrate the triumph of
communism over poverty, ignorance, and corruption and to portray Stalin as the firm benevolent father.
At one such event a small group of state and visiting western media were gathered to document Stalin as a
man of the people. He was to tour a local farm, interact with the workers, and answer questions from the
press. All had gone as planned. The farm was perfectly staged for pictures. The workers were hand
picked and prepared for their performance. Stalin’s presence was undeniable as he answered every one
of the prescribed questions given to the media.
Stalin walked casually through the barnyard answering questions and spreading grain to a group of
“Yes, domestic agricultural output has increased by four hundred percent since we nationalized
agricultural production.” answered Stalin.
“Through the implementation of modern farming methods and state control there is more grain, more
cabbage, and more carrots.” He continued, “Even these chickens have increased egg production” He half
The media and his aides nodded and smiled in agreement. Everything was wonderful in Russia.
Everyone agreed and that’s all there was to know. That is until one typically skeptical American journalist
dared to ask an unprepared question; an honest and informed question.
“Mister Premier,” the journalist said “How long do you think you can keep up this charade?”
To which there was no reply. Stalin just continued spreading grain.
The journalist asked again, “What makes you think you can starve and torture and kill your people and
they won’t rise up against you?”
The local media stood dumbstruck with fear and his aides in a panic attempted to shuffle off the question
and the journalist. Stalin motioned for them to stop and for the cameras to be put away. He then reached
down and picked up one of the chickens and held it tight under his arm so it could not move.
Stalin then continued in reply to the journalist’s question as calm and as confident as before. He said, “We
have more grain because we have nationalized farming and so we can sell the grain for capital in order to
build factories to produce the things the people need.” As he spoke he began to rip the feathers off the
chickens back in great handfuls.
He continued, “The people have need of many things that we are now giving them.” The poor bird
squawked and screeched in agony. Stalin’s grasp tightened. His iron grip held the bird firm as he calmly
turned to the journalist and spoke. “It is a testament to the ability of man in this modern age that through
the state we have overcome the individual weaknesses of greed and selfishness that have kept us from
solving our problems.”
The journalist could hardly speak. He stared in horror as Stalin savaged the chicken. The bird nearly
limp, convulsed slightly as Stalin placed it back on the ground. It staggered clumsily away, unlikely to have
been able to process what was just done to it. A feeling of disgust covered over by fear was palpable
upon the barnyard. Stalin reached into his pocket for a handful of grain and continued on as before to
feed the chickens who flocked around him.
The journalist stammer, “What… Why…?”
Stalin continued in response, “We are solving these problems.” Seemingly oblivious to the journalist’s
questions. He was remarkably unaffected by his own actions or the journalist’s response to it. He said, “In
Russia, as it should be in all the world, from each according to his abilities and too each according to his
Stalin, identifying the wounded chicken he had just damaged creeping back toward the edge of the flock to
peck at the bits of grain remaining on the ground, reached again into his jacket pocket and pulled out a
fresh handful of grain. He knelt down a bit and held out his hand toward the injured animal. The bird
looked for a moment, cocked its head to the slide a bit, and then timidly step toward Stalin. In a moment, it
was eating the food right out of the hand that minutes before had torn the feathers right off it’s back.
Stalin dropped the remaining grain on the ground stood and turned toward the journalist. Did that answer
your question, he said.
The journalist hesitated, locked in a momentary state of emotional and mental chaos. He responded, “Yes
sir, thank you.” as the full impact of the situation became clear in his mind.
The point is there is no point. People do things because they can. Both good and bad. This is a difficult
concept to understand and even more difficult thing to accept without generally destroying most people’s
basic understanding of the world. Our interaction with the world is based on perception and perception is
the act of drawing internal conclusions based upon external stimuli. We take what is on the outside
bounce it off of what is on the inside and try to figure out how they relate. This is why people can have
widely varied opinions. What is on the inside is never exactly the same. The problem is that most people
tend to think that everyone else thinks the same as they do. If you have ever heard the expression, “think
out of the box”, this is what that is talking about. The bigger problem is that in general, we do all think the
same or at least in a similar enough manner to get by. As much as we are different we are the same
grouped along varied trains of thoughts. There are liberals and conservatives, aggressives and passives,
intellectuals and physicals all gravitated together in sub categories within the general human experience.
So when an abnormality presents itself, such as a serial killer, we don’t know how deal with it. They are
outside of our general understanding. When confronted with things outside of our individual and general
experience we waste precious time trying to explain it in a way that reconciles with our understanding or
The result is that when you are confronted with this. The best thing to do is to simply identify the situation
and then determine what response is in your best interest. Do not waste time trying to figure out why, you
can do that at a later time. Trying to understand often leads to anger, confusion, frustration, and delay.
All of which can impair your ability to act or act wisely.
The Lesson to Learn:
Jee’s just re-read the story. The lessons to learn from this story about human nature, business, and social
interaction are near endless. OK, here is an example of a lesson about human nature. This story
illustrates both of the far sides of the human experience. Man is corrupt anyone who tells you differently is
likely attempting to delude themselves in order to deal with the world in a manner that they can handle. By
pretending that the world and people are good and just need a chance to do what is right they feel safer.
But man and the world are neither good nor safe and by recognizing this you can take better actions to
protect yourself, those you are responsible for, and your stuff. It is easy to see how Stalin was corrupt
always dominating, control, and ruling by fear. The image of him as an aggressor brutalizing the poor
weak bird is a caricature of the strong over the weak. This is an obvious example but given the choice, I
would choose the obvious evil over the hidden. I can fight it or at least avoid it. You can’t avoid what you
can’t see. Besides the very principle of strong over the weak is the basis of survival and for the non
religious reader who denies the Biblical account of the fall and the corrupt (sin) nature of man it is also the
basis of the Darwinian model of evolution. Strong over the weak for the purpose of survival via
propagation of dominant traits. So don’t get upset when a bum beats the crap out of you in an alley
because you think it is wrong to carry a gun.
The less obvious corruption is that on the opposite side of the pool from Stalin, the chicken is just as
corrupt. It shows no moral courage, no strength of character taking hand outs and charity. It
demonstrates no advanced thought or ingenuity in the pursuit of its subsistence. It puts forth no real
defense to the aggression forced upon it and having been abused it does not rise to a higher status of
purpose with the knowledge and understanding gained by its experience. It simply comes back for more…
it is meat. It is fodder for the energies of those who take action. It is the potential corruption of ---- that lies
at the shallow end of the pool. It is the evil that exists and we don’t see it as evil for pity’s sake. But in
being a victim it exists as a temptation to the strong like a glass of whiskey is a temptation to a recovering
alcoholic. And what about everything in between these two extremes? Think of the state media and Stalin’
s handlers, or the farm workers, or even the journalist; all were complacent in the situation and the
system. Each singly looked out for themselves in order to get by. Is Stalin any worse then anyone else in
this story, well yes, but he is a shark and a shark is a shark and a chicken is a chicken and if a chicken
falls into the shark tank can anyone blame the shark for eating it. Stay away from the tank, if you are a
chicken. If you’re not a chicken then take your chances as you see fit but don’t expect us to cry for you if
you jump into the tank and end up bloody.
The Short Lesson:
People are bad and will hurt you to get what they want. People are weak and stupid and will keep coming
back to harmful situations if they don’t learn.
The Brutal Truth:
There are bad people out there and I mean really bad; evil. There are a lot more of them then you think
and they look just like you and me. They can and will hurt you. They will hurt you financially, mentally,
emotionally, and physically. It does not matter why but most will do it as a simple unconscious exercise of a
choice between them or you. Then there are others who will hurt you on purpose because they don’t like
you or they feel threatened by you. And finally some will hurt you just because they can.