The Dictators Are The Most Human Of All Of Us
Adolf HITLER- Leader of Germany, 1933-1945
Josef STALIN- Leader of the USSR, 1922-1953
Benito MUSSOLINI- Leader of Italy, 1922-1943
Saddam HUSSEIN- Leader of Iraq, 1979-Present
MEDIATOR- Unseen, unknown personality. A cross between a narrator and an interviewer
(Scene: A sparse, bare, windowless room. The walls are an off white, unadorned. The only interruption is a simple, wooden door on the left side. There is a gray-carpeted floor. Five chairs are arranged in a sort of a circle, with one chair pushed further away from the other four. Everything is silent for a moment, then the door opens. First in is a shadowed sort of figure, moving slowly to the chair pushed away. This shadow is the MEDIATOR. After, the door opens again and HITLER, STALIN, MUSSOLINI, and HUSSEIN enter, each taking a seat. The arrangement is…next to the MEDIATOR sits HITLER. Next to him is MUSSOLINI. Next to him is HUSSEIN, and then STALIN. It is interesting *and expected* to note that HITLER and STALIN sit as far from one another as possible. The MEDIATOR looks at each tyrant and starts to speak)
MEDIATOR (with a slow, measured voice, one of those timbres of voice that are easy to listen to): I thank you all for coming.
HITLER: It was an opportunity I could not refuse
MEDIATOR: No, I expected you could not. We all need forums, I suppose, and I have decided to give one to the four of you.
HUSSEIN: Before we begin…there will be no history here!
MEDIATOR: Excuse me?
MUSSOLINI (catching HUSSEIN'S meaning): Yes! We have already been proclaimed guilty under the odium of history. We have already been stigmatized by a judgmental future. And if you allow us to speak, we must only speak of ourselves and our ideals. Not of our history.
HUSSEIN (in agreement): Exactly. The world knows our faces only through our history.
MEDIATOR: Ah. I understand. Fine then, there will be no history lessons today. Only you.
STALIN: And you…what are your intentions here?
MEDIATOR: I have no intentions. I only wish to learn, myself.
(STALIN regards the MEDIATOR with mistrust, but does not persist)
HITLER: Now…how do we begin?
MEDIATOR: Not with you, Adolf.
HITLER (petulantly): And why ever not? I am more to…
MEDIATOR (cutting him off): We will start with the man who took power before the others. And, if I might add, the man who fell before the others. Benito…perhaps you would like to begin?
MUSSOLINI (a little piqued at the MEDIATOR'S remark, but he disregards it): And what would you like me to say?
MEDIATOR: Anything, Duce. This is your forum.
(MUSSOLINI slowly stands, his hands behind his back, fingers interlocked. He stares at each member of the Group)
MUSSOLINI (slowly, but with a strong voice. The voice of a man speaking to his people, pleading his case with a firm resolve that he is completely in the right): I know all of you but Signore Hussein, though I am familiar with your work. It is interesting to see, that after all the rhetoric on destroying 'tyrannies' during the late World War, these supposed 'tyrannies' still exist.
HUSSEIN (in defense): I am not a tyrant!
MUSSOLINI: I was using the word 'tyrant' only because it is a generally accepted term…
STALIN (critically): And when have you ever done anything that was 'generally accepted', Benito?
HUSSEIN: I do not consider myself a 'tyrant'
MUSSOLINI: All right…perhaps we are not tyrants…perhaps…tyrant is the wrong word for it…
HITLER: No, Benito, we must call things as they are. Clouding the truth when we are finally given the opportunity to speak it would be harmful to ourselves. We were tyrants. But what is wrong with a tyrant? What is wrong with power?
HUSSEIN: (in exuberant agreement) Ah! As I have always said! (to MEDIATOR) In your Western societies, you worship figures of power.
MEDIATOR (raising an eyebrow): Oh? And how do we do that?
HUSSEIN: Your President, for one, and even television and music stars are given prestige! There is no requirement for power in your society but money and fame. You are taught in your schools to fight and struggle for personal power. Power is indoctrinated into your culture!
STALIN: Yes. And, yet, when you are confronted with it in its sheerest form, you turn away in disgust.
MUSSOLINI: You feel it is your duty to destroy it. And, to return to what I was saying before, you have yet to do so. (glancing at HITLER) Tyrannies still exist.
(HUSSEIN looks as if he wishes to say something, but he remains silent)
MEDIATOR: Yes, but we have recently launched a war against Mr. Hussein. We still try to destroy tyrannies.
HUSSEIN: You told me there would be no history here!
STALIN: Is it your intention to argue with us, or to let us speak?
MEDIATOR: Forgive me. I am just playing Devil's advocate here. I want to start a dialogue.
(STALIN is still glancing at the MEDIATOR with misgivings)
MEDIATOR (almost amused): You do not trust me, Josef?
STALIN: I am simply trying to figure out why a Western youth would desire to give us…the anathemas of your Western beliefs…such an opportunity to speak.
MEDIATOR: No wonder you purged half your country, Josef…
STALIN: Paranoia is part of power. When you have something that all others desire, you must learn to be cautious.
MEDIATOR (waving a hand, denoting a change subject) :As you were saying, Saddam?
(STALIN regards the MEDIATOR with an expression akin to suspicious confusion)
HUSSEIN: Ah. You promised no history here. And the war you launched against myself was only in response to economic factors and my invasion of Kuwait.
HITLER (suddenly excited, jumping to his feet in a flurry of movement): Exactly! I could not have phrased it better! It seems that the West allows tyrannies as long as they are confined. And not even…I was practically given Czechoslovakia at Munich. I took Austria with not a whisper from the Western Democracies. It was only when I invaded Poland that I was vilified!
MEDIATOR (quietly): You are vilified for much more than invading Poland, Adolf.
HITLER (Glaring at the MEDIATOR with dark, burning eyes): Worse has been done. And not by myself, as well (Casts a glance at STALIN, who delicately ignores it)
MUSSOLINI (switching back to the previous subject): Yes. Why is it that the conquering spirit which has permeated humanity since the dawn of civilization has suddenly been deemed 'evil'. I am more human than any of your soft-hearted Western leaders. I am the true heir of Rome!
HUSSEIN: Mussolini is correct. Who are the true heirs of an ancient past? Of what humanity has always been? One who denies the basic human lust for power, one who hides their power behind words and rhetoric…
MUSSOLINI: Or one who lays it out for a candid world.
STALIN: And therein lies the hypocrisy that each 'tyranny' has stamped out. Power is fine, as long as it is hidden. Power in its sheer form is inherently wrong.
MEDIATOR: But power can be dangerous, can it not?
HITLER: Only in the hands of one not ready for that power. It takes one truly human to recognize what power is, and how beautiful it can really be. Power is the root of art, of words, of society. Power is the root of humanity, and I embrace that!
MUSSOLINI: As do I
HUSSEIN: And myself
STALIN: And I.
MEDIATOR (after a protracted pause, turning to STALIN): And you, Josef, you are in an odd position, are you not?
STALIN (suspiciously) : What do you mean?
MEDIATOR: You pledged your alliance to these Western Democracies in destroying a 'tyranny'. And yet you expound upon Western hypocrisy.
STALIN (smiling in a very hard way): But I do not expound against opportunism. Power is power, and when power can be gained…well, let us just say that opportunity makes strange bedfellows.
HUSSEIN: Exactly. I waged an eight-year war against Iran, but I would gladly ally myself with them against the West.
HITLER (quiet…thoughtful): And…on that…what is the difference?
MEDIATOR: The difference between what?
HITLER: Your President Roosevelt was in power for a little under twelve years…longer than any other United States leader. After he died, an amendment was written to your constitution, denying any other president that long of a tenure in office.
MUSSOLINI: Yes…I know a little American history…you granted your President Lincoln the power to do away with your beloved freedom of speech during your Civil War. You Americans seem to allow tyrants when it seems suitable to you
HUSSEIN: And who is to say that we are not suitable?
STALIN: Ah, correct. I revolutionized the Soviet Union's industry. I modernized the country! I helped my people in this way…why am I different?
MUSSOLINI: I, too, expanded Italy's sphere of influence. I turned Italy into a respected Power. And why is that bad?
HUSSEIN: I allowed Iraq to gain prestige and power…the same as any country would want. Why is that wrong?
HITLER: Exactly. I changed Germany for the better, after it was destroyed by the cruelty of Versailles! I reinvigorated the economy and I gave hope back to the people after they were cruelly raped of it by the Western Democracies. Answer me, who has the right to draw the line between right and wrong? Why can I not be lauded for my achievements?
MEDIATOR (turning fully to HITLER): But Adolf, what about your 'other' circumstances? The ones that you are really vilified for?
HITLER (matter-of-factly): What I did to the Jews.
HITLER: That was not all me. How can something of that magnitude be blamed on one man? Ah, I believe I led the way, but I could not have gotten rid of millions of people on my own. The German people were ready for a change. I only gave them the ideas. They carried them out. No matter how much power I gained, I could not have made people kill unless they really desired to do so. The world cannot look at me as evil, because I was only the voice of the dissatisfaction of the German people. I invoked it, but I did not carry it out.
MEDIATOR: Then you would agree with 'the banality of evil'?
HITLER: Maybe that should be another 'interview'
MEDIATOR (smiling slowly): Perhaps. (turning to face the others) So, is Adolf correct? Were you only carrying out the wishes of your people? What of you, Benito…the Italians have always been criticized as being unwarlike, and you wished to turn them into warriors. Were you just what Italy needed to restore the grandeur of Rome?
MUSSOLINI (unabashedly): Yes I was. I am the humanity that Italy lacked. Lofty ideas and peace rhetoric are all well and good if you want to pretend to be an angel, but I am a man! And I am what my country needed…more than some peace-loving, effeminate idealist!
MEDIATOR (musing): I believe James Madison said something to the affect that government must not be regarding angels, but regarding men. Interesting.
STALIN: Now you…what do you believe?
MEDIATOR: What I believe is not important, Josef. I am simply a MEDIATOR to this…not part of the conversation.
STALIN: But you must see our point!
MEDIATOR: I am not the one you are trying to convince!
STALIN: Then who am I trying to convince?
MEDIATOR: Maybe the appropriate question would be, Josef, what are you trying to prove?
STALIN (looking as if he is about to explode in anger, but he calms down and smiles in dangerous way): Who is more human.
STALIN: Yes. Perhaps that is the crux of it. We have all been accused of being 'inhuman'. But, are we not the most human of anyone? We do not hide our hate, our ambition, our ability, our power. We do not lie behind a shield of hypocrisy and dare to call it 'humanity'. We truly embrace what humanity is!
HUSSEIN: Of course. Who else would dare but those of us who are the most human?
MUSSOLINI: You must agree with us. We are the most honest of any, the most of what our past truly led us to be.
HITLER: And it all is in the past. Herr Hussein said at the beginning that this was not to be a history lesson. But history is all that we have. And as far back into our past as we can go, it is always the powerful that are remembered. It is always those who dare to climb to the highest peak of power and ability who are considered when humanity looks back on itself. And I shall be remembered. As will Stalin, Mussolini, and Hussein.
MEDIATOR: But in what light?
STALIN: 'Light', as you put it, makes no difference. Whether we are remembered as Devils or Gods, we will be. Because we will be seen as truth. Evil is still truth, know that. Evil is as much of a truth as Good is.
MUSSOLINI: And if our supposed 'Evil' is the only truth that we manage to garner, we still have an absolute where those of your Western histories are always shrouded in ambiguity.
HUSSEIN: Exactly. We have an absolute.
MEDIATOR: And that is an accomplishment.
STALIN (a hint of a smile playing on his face): You did not phrase that as a question.
MEDIATOR: No. My beliefs are not important here. But truth is. And humanity hunts for truth…humanity is the only species that relies chiefly on the existence of truth.
HITLER: Ah, yes. Yet, humanity…or the general populace, that is…shirks from truth when it is most apparent.
(The scene abruptly freezes. And the audience is left to make their own decisions. What makes a tyrant? And who among us can honestly say that, if placed in the same position as a STALIN, as a HUSSEIN, we would not do the same? Who among us can truly say that there is not a little bit of dictator inside of them?)
Reviews are more than welcomed. Flames as well.
~ Danke ~