Golden Statues

March 7, 2009

Golden Turkmenbashy

Dear citizens, your Dictator has a confession to make: There are some people She holds in almost as high an esteem as Herself. Naturally, no one is on the same level as Her Mighty Oneness, but there are those who have pushed through the many obstacles placed in front of them by society to reach unparalleled heights. One of these impressive and awe-inspiring mortals is the fallen president of Turkmenistan.

Saparmurat Niyazov was the self-proclaimed Turkmenbashy; that is, the Leader of all Ethnic Turkmens. Our hero was a man of many seemingly nonsensible decrees. After he was forced to give up smoking following heart surgery, he imperiously decreed that all in the country should follow his example. He banned young men in hats and beards. He forbade listening to car radios. Niyazov was a man who knew what he wanted and was not afraid to force all those around him to obey.

We all expected this man, this great leader to live forever somehow. With the golden likeness he had built in the capital of his country rotating to follow the sun and insisting upon the rightfulness of his leadership,  we thought that the great Turkmenbashy himself would live as long as this statue in his honour. And yet, somehow, he did not. His illustrious life was cut short by his unreliable heart.

He has left us relics, it’s true. The Ruhnama is hard to overlook, with its comprehensive history of the Turkmen people–a real mythology for the citizens. And his devotion and near-religious fervour in getting this precious volume out to his citizens is utterly commendable and something that all of us modern dictators need to follow up on.

In fact, this formidable man is a lesson to modern dictators in so many ways. Some of us, influenced by the international community, seek a “middle ground”–absolute power without ruffling too many UN feathers. But dear colleagues, Niyazov’s example shows us so clearly that this is not the way. We must embrace our despotic rule, take full advantage of the sweet joys of dictatorship.

Perhaps, like many autocrats, you fancy yourself some sort of artist? Inflict that creative urge on your citizens as our comrade Niyazov did. A poet to his dying day, the Turkmenbashy’s many verses were studied by children in school. These verses were, in fact, the only thing children studied in school in the form of  the Ruhnama. After banning all Soviet-era textbooks and with no plans to print new ones, the Ruhnama is in many cases the only book Turkmen students have. My fellow dictators, this is how you indoctrinate the youth.

Although it has been three years since the passing of Turkmenbashy the Great, my heart still cries out against a world without him. Each morning, I wake to the sad recollection that I live and he does not. The father of the Turkmen people brought out the best in me and in all of us who were lucky and well-connected enough to get close to him. A great leader and an inspired dictator, he pushed the boundaries of what was thought possible in a cult of personality, putting his face on nearly every object in Turkmenistan. As a fellow dictator, I take his lessons to heart and continue on the path he carved out. Citizens of the IRJ must not stop dancing in My Shining Presence; possession of broccoli is punishable by death; every Friday, at least one citizen in every village must be playing the accordion–I have instituted these seemingly absurd laws and many others in homage to my fallen friend. One day, I will find a way to top his golden statue rotating to catch each drop of the sun’s light, but until that day, I must content myself with the fact that with his death, he can no longer outdo Me in any way.

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