Communism's Tired Specter Takes a Stroll

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MOSCOW: History, as Marx once noted, repeats itself, first as a tragedy and then as a farce. He was proven right Friday in Moscow as the tattered legions of communism’s true believers took to the streets to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Lenin’s revolution.

Their number was small and many were almost as old as the Bolshevik takeover itself. “They don’t have a lot else to be enthusiastic about,” observed TIME Moscow correspondent Andrew Meier.

President Boris Yeltsin, who in Soviet times had observed the day alongside his Politburo colleagues saluting passing missiles, made a TV appeal for an end to divisions, and then hurried off to Beijing for a meeting with leaders of — uh, the Politburo. The only part of Lenin’s legacy still intact on the 80th anniversary is the date: The Bolsheviks swept away the Czar’s 10-month Georgian calendar, commemorating their “Great October Socialist Revolution” on November 7.

Moscow was relatively quiet on the public holiday, now known as the Day of Reconciliation and Accord. “Most people stayed home, and tonight they’ll be drinking,” says Meier. At least they can be sure of finding vodka in the stores these days.