"Stalin not only mixed up actuality with artistic reality himself, but he sought to impose the same confusion on everybody else, compressing together document and reverie so that everyday existence and wish-fulfilment were magically combined. In the terms of this amalgam, 'socialist' represented the reverie, 'realism' the impression of actuality. The reverie, of course, was articulated in the first instance by Stalin himself as he imagined what the Soviet Union would be like, if only . . . if only . . . Millions were punished ' exiled, put in camps, tortured, shot ' for their failure to fill in those dots, so to speak, so that the happy coincidence of life and dream was endlessly delayed, only to be realised in films and paintings and novels. Meanwhile, in an effort to capture that troublesome 'if only', revolutionary violence was normalised and generalised until it produced a society of informers, torturers and cronies, each of whom wondered in his private moments when he would awaken to the rapping on the door."