Stalin’s Fallacy

Stalin famously said, “Death solves all problems–no man, no problem”. He meant that murdering people solves the problem their existence poses–hence his murder of millions of Russians who threatened to be a “problem”. I suspect many people in power have thought along similar lines–and the saying has a certain cogency. But it is important to see that it is a fallacy, a shallow fallacy. Consider Socrates: he is still a problem for those who oppose free thought and the questioning of authority. The dead can still be symbols of what the oppressor wishes to destroy–potent symbols. Alan Turing is a potent symbol, as is Oscar Wilde (actual murder may not be necessary to get someone out of the way). The dead can still cause problems, by their memory. There are many obvious historical examples. Stalin was wrong.

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