The Red Peril is alive and well! And I’m not talking about the threat of nuclear annihilation from the East (or West, depending on where you live and about whom you think I’m talking). Some people might pour scorn on the ability of a communist country these days to field a workable nuclear arsenal. I am in no doubt, and I’ll tell you why.
Communists do processions like no one else. No one can get several thousand people to stand in big square, all wearing grey, wearing hats, waving The Little Red Book, chanting the same mantra and making sure they know the words quite like a Communist country. I bet we couldn’t do that in a Democracy (if such a thing exists). We couldn’t get several hundred thousand people to turn up in one place at the same time, wearing the same stuff, all with the same gear and all knowing the same words3.
Firstly, all you need is for one person to say “Make me!” and you’re buggered. “Aww, we’re not allowed to make you, it’s a democracy! You have to want to stand outside looking and sounding like everyone else.”
Next up, there is not one universal garment we all own. So, assuming we’d turn up at all, it would look shoddy, not nice and neat like a Communist parade. That’s the problem; give people a choice and they’ll all buy different stuff, which ruins the effect at mass rallies to praise the dear leader.
There is also the critical mass of people to consider. Put one hundred thousand Communists in a square and they’ll happily wave Little Red Flags all day because they’re not having to work twenty hours down t’ pit, or being shot. Put one hundred thousand capitalists in a square and tell them to wave a flag and it’ll kick off within thirty seconds.
It’s a logistics problem. Over here there would be problems at the Little Blue Flag factory and arguments in the tabloid press about the exact wording of the Party Song and the precise breakdown of minorities in the civilian ranks and how to make everyone look uniform when they aren’t. A democratic government just couldn’t put on as good a procession as communist one. There just aren’t words in North Korean for “health and safety” or “liability”.
So, checklist for really kick-ass parade;
1. Hundreds of thousands of civilians, wearing the same clothes, waving the same flag, moving and singing the same song in unison,
2. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers, goose-stepping really fast in unison,
3. Several Hundred gun-metal grey-green battle tanks1 trundling alongside, their gun barrels elevated just so,
4. Fly past of Eighties-vintage ex-Soviet gun-metal grey-green fighter-bombers strewn with missiles2.
5. Vast parade ground surrounded by monolithic state departments strewn with vast nationalistic flags.
6. Last, and most importantly, a balding, bespectacled pervert alcoholic, with the power to kill everyone who doesn’t wave in unison or know the words, to wave and smile.
All in all, if there was a World Championships for processions, and Communist countries attended, they would kick Yankee imperialist ass. And if they can out-procession us, who knows what else they can do…
1 Is there another kind of tank? “Where’s the ICBM?” “Over there behind the Notting Hill Carnival Peace and Love Tank.”
2 Why do Communist missiles always have twice as many fins on them than Democratic missiles? They do. You see them on the news; you can barely see the missile for fins. Maybe there’s a permanent shortage at the missile factory, while fin production proceeds on schedule, so they think “Fuck it, just stick them all on.”
3 The closest you’d get would be the final of the World Cup, but there would always be at least two colours and two versions of the words.