Aristotle did not own property. His Lyceum was in the corridors of a gymnasium and that suited him because his school was that of peripatetics – those who keep walking. His teaching and dialogues were conducted while on his legs; walking and talking go together very well for people who do not want to do much else with their hands except gesticulating. Ask those who wield the sickle or hammer all day, not on Communist banners but in gnarled hands, working in the fields and factories. While working, they hardly utter a word, except may be a curse word as the blistering Sun or the heat of the furnace singes their skin. Though Aristotle’s “wars” were the wars of words (not curse words) and opinions, that medium does not suit the taste buds of some leaders who believe that mere words are a poor medium for effective and persuasive communication with an adversary and difference of opinion is no different from an abuse. For them, colourful and fiery words serve merely as a preface for the more colourful and fiery events that follow in the wake of those words. Such leaders live and rule in the hope, that generally turns out to be a vain one, of etching on the sands of time the coveted words “The Great” after their names. Alexander succeeded in this venture at the minor cost of two million lives extinguished by the sword and starvation. “The Great” was laid to rest at 33 years of age, perhaps by something as inconsequential in his list of enemies as a mosquito; the greatness remains intact as long as “The Great” does not die at the hands of an enemy, in a coup or at the hands of a two-legged assassin but a successful six-legged killer does not subtract from the greatness.

The Lyceum for Dictators and Mass Killers was established by a divine on the urges of a higher divine. Moses caused the first divinely inspired massacre of 300,000 men for the huge crime of “worshipping a golden calf”. As enshrined in the Exodus, he directed the Levites, who had refused to participate in this “heinous crime”, to “go from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his companion and every man his neighbour”. As in many subsequent massacres, the women were spared as they would make dutiful wives. The Book of Numbers as well as Deuteronomy record and Psalms sing of the massacre of King Og’s people in his sixty cities destroying “every city, men, women and children.” Perhaps women of Og’s realm refused to become dutiful wives and bringing up children without mothers was an act of cruelty to those children. Krishna persuaded Arjuna to destroy the Kaurava army because they had taken recourse to the path of evil making Mahabharata a righteous war that produced the righteous outcome of the slaughter of soldiers that had joined the war from every corner of India. Conquest through killings is always glorious as was that of the Romans over Carthage that destroyed the city and its half-a-million inhabitants. The Romans destroyed the Celts of Britain and perhaps that is one of the resons it later became “Great Britain”, because it metamorphed to become the killers’ “Roman Britain” from being the victims’ “Celtic Britain”, proving that only when victory has the seasoning of mass killings that it becomes the essential milestone on the path to greatness. Had Hitler prevailed in WW II, he might have been awarded the appellation “The Great”.

The Russians and the Chinese have been always ruled by dictators, whether with a lineage or without one. Naturally, there was a demand for the Lyceum for Dictators to be shifted to one of these Holy Lands for mass killers. It was eventually moved to China recognising the fact that it had a lot more people to kill than Russia and hence, any Russian dictator could not ever aspire to outdo the Chinese dictators in the business of death. It has been there ever since, having produced a succession of glorious alumni and killing festivals including the Yangzhou and Guangzhou massacres of foreign traders in the Tang Dynasty and the Ran Min massacres of the Jie and Wu Hu, during which the ruler decreed to kill all men, women and children. The litany continues with the massacres of the Chinese during the Mongol conquest of China and the subsequent massacre of the Mongols by the Chinese. The Kuomintang, who later retreated to Taiwan, killed close to half-a-million when they ruled the mainland and Japanese killed an equal number when they occupied it. Yet the place of pride belongs to Mao who is “credited” with the death of 70 million Chinese through forced labour and famine and with inventing a new mass killer, the Cultural Revolution. His successors could kill only smaller numbers at Tiananmen Square and in the campaign against Falun Gong. Xi Jinping appears to be in the race with Mao, with predictions of up to two million deaths in the next three months of his “optimization” of Covid as he moved from Zero-Covid at the stroke of midnight on December 7, freeing people from the lockdowns. Of course, (The Great) Britain is credited with the first “Freedom at Midnight” on August 15, 1947 that resulted in the deaths of two million and displacement of another 15 million. Even the baby proteges of China like the dynasty in North Korea (one million) and Cambodia’s Pol Pot (two million) won the title of “mass killer” though falling short of being “The Great”. Yet, it showed that the quest for greatness sailing on the Red river of blood runs in the Communist blood.

If Xi Jinping decides to invade Taiwan, he may surpass Mao in causing deaths in the ensuing conflagration that is likely to be joined by many nations and may even result in the extinction of mankind. We hope that at least one historian will survive that holocaust to etch “The Great” after the name of Xi Jinping and to recognise and record him as the most illustrious student of the Lyceum for Dictators.

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