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"The history of the last 40 years in Eastern Europe, from Marxism to Groucho Marxism, can be told in jokes," Andrei Codrescu told his Atlanta audience.
"The West could have saved a heap of time [trying to penetrate the Soviet bloc] if they had known that Khrushchev left three unopened letters for his successors.
"Inside the first was written, 'Relax censorship. Declare amnesty. When this stops working, open the second envelope.'
"Inside the second envelope it said, 'Borrow from the capitalists. Close your eyes to the black market. When this stops working, open the third envelope.'
"Inside the third envelope was this: 'Write three messages for your successor. Seal the envelopes.' "
The last joke told in Romania before the dictator Ceausescu was executed:
In the spring of 1989, a reporter tells the dictator that the people are freezing. "Yes, they're freezing," Ceausescu replies, "but nobody died from it."
"But the people are starving," the reporter insists.
"Yes, they're freezing," Ceausescu says, "but nobody died from it."
The reporter says, "Have you tried cyanide yet?"