A Disturbing Picture of What’s to Come?


What Does This Suggest?: “[Stalin] is considered one of the most successful leaders of the U.S.S.R. During his leadership the territory of the country was expanded and reached the boundaries of the former Russian Empire (in some areas even surpassed it).”

According to today’s New York Times, Russian state textbooks are now portraying the mass murderer Ioseb Besarionis Dze Jughashvili (aka Joseph Stalin) as a source of Russian greatness, rather than as a source of murder, backwardness, poverty, stagnation, and misery:

On the one hand, he is considered one of the most successful leaders of the U.S.S.R. During his leadership the territory of the country was expanded and reached the boundaries of the former Russian Empire (in some areas even surpassed it). A victory in one of the greatest wars was won; industrialization of the economy and cultural revolution were carried out successfully, resulting not only in the great number of educated people but also in creating the best educational system in the world. The U.S.S.R. joined the leading countries in the field of science; unemployment was practically defeated.

But there was a different side to Stalinâ??s rule. The successes â?? many Stalin opponents point it out â?? were achieved through cruel exploitation of the population. The country lived through several waves of major repressions during his rule. Stalin himself was the initiator and theoretician of such â??aggravation of class struggle.â? Entire social groups were eliminated: well-off peasantry, urban middle class, clergy and old intelligentsia. In addition, masses of people quite loyal to the authorities suffered from the severe laws.

The current trend toward rehabilitating Stalin (emphasizing his accomplishments, from finally contributing to defeating the Hitler regime with which he had earlier eagerly divided up Eastern Europe to the utterly absurd claims of scientific and educational advance) has been going on for some time under the impetus of the current leadership.

This is a part of the current “Post-Empire Syndrome” that is gripping Russia; I have been told by more than one aggrieved Russian nationalist (in the US, as well) that there may have been problems under the USSR, but “the whole world feared us.”

(The connection of Stalin’s “severe” rule with post-9/11 America is also interesting; the American government sometimes seems to specialize in giving foreign strong-men and dictators excuses for their unjust acts.)

24 Responses to “A Disturbing Picture of What’s to Come?”

  1. nathalie vogel

    It is the highly problematic narratives re: this creature called Lenin, a barbaric murderer of the worst kind and the instigator of many genocides which should be put on the agenda, first. What is he still doing on the Red Square, I ask you? And there are streets a metro stations named after him. DIS-GUS-TING of vulgarity. So given the total lack of insight into their very first and own genocidal history, what else can you expect when dealing with Stalin? NV

  2. Seymour B.


    Is the recent talk of stationing the anti-missile weapons in former USSR satellite countries have anything to do with this? Or have this been going on for some time now? I hate to think the Russians want to go back to what some may believe were the good ole days.

  3. Tom G. Palmer

    Note that the defense of Stalin by the top authorities to which I linked – http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/6031-8.cfm – dates to 2002. The recently proposed installation of radar warning facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic to which you refer may indeed be a mistake, and it may exacerbate the problem, but it is not the cause of the disturbing Post-Empire Syndrome that is afflicting Russia and its neighbors.

  4. Seymour B.



    ****This is a part of the current â??Post-Empire Syndromeâ? that is gripping Russia; I have been told by more than one aggrieved Russian nationalist (in the US, as well) that there may have been problems under the USSR, but â??the whole world feared us.â?****

    This sounds very alarming.

    I don’t know much about the Russian economy, but things can’t be that bad? It seems to me that the very educated Russian people would be able to handle the bumps and bruises that liberty sometimes dishes out. As I understand it, they have human capital and a vast amount of resources. What gives?

  5. If there is any negative feeling about Stalin in Russia, it is due to the fact that he was not Russian, but not due to his acts (of course I do not mean a very small group of intelligent people, who represent really minor, even negligible part of the population).

    Even in my country (Georgia), where Stalin was from, there are people, and quite big in number, who admire him, because he was our nationality. Arguing they state that we shall be proud of having such an outstanding person, who influenced whole world history. There even is a Stalin Museum in his native city – Gori. What really worried me was that my son (he is 15) demonstrated the very similar approach to the described above. Of course I have immediately changed his school, and although he is more oriented to the natural sciences, first thing I have checked was how the history and human development issues are taught.

    This shows to what extent the post-soviet space is still poisoned with those ideas, inculcated during the soviet era. Actually, the current governments in the most of the former soviet republics take their roots from old communist (komsomol) or KGB nomenclatura. So, nothing but the titles changed. Approaches are very similar.

    Recently I have visited one of the neighbouring countries, and was really stunned to see the posters with old and current presidents (father and son) hanging all around. The maximum distance between such posters was about 500 meters. But the space was not lost in vain. Between the posters there were the statues of the late president, streets, squares, gardens, schools, buildings, highway segments named after him. Where these were unavailable, the cars, trucks and all kind of transport means decorated with his photos could be observed. And I really was worried, because recently one of the embankments was named after him and his monument was installed in my city. Maybe the government is preparing us to something? This is the way I do not want my country to go. This is not the country I want my children to live in.

  6. What a horrible way Stalinâ??s true name was misspelled!!! First, middle and last are horribly mutilated!

    I actually found Stalinâ??s description to be satisfying. Yes he was a murderer and a dictator and yes he brought his country into the twelfth century in terms of liberty and into the twentieth century in terms of development.

    My parents and I moved to the States in 1995, I still can not dissuade my mother from liking the soviet system and respecting Stalin. The truth is, the condition of millions of people under the soviet system were genuinely better from what it is now. Not to mention a very human tendency to think that back in the day the grass was greener and ice-cream was sweeter… After all, an animal on the farm if better fed, more secure and is generally in better shape than wild one.

    The clock-work orange social system that Stalin brought into existence others took to its logical end. It failed and will never be tried again. Liberal Capitalism won. Russia will never be isolated again. No matter what they teach in school. Let Russians interpret their own history. In my opinion it matters little what the Russia is like on the inside, as long as it acts responsively on the outside.

    P.S. By the way, there is a pretty interesting indentured servitude system functioning between eastern European countries and USA. Gets undergraduate students in physics, language and economics to clean our hotels for $5.55 in hour.

  7. Dear Orkster,

    â??Let Russians interpret their own historyâ?. Perfect. And nobody argues. But, when they are claiming that this is the ultimate truth, and trying to impose their vision on the othersâ?¦ Once again, I donâ??t mean ALL Russians (I myself am half Russian).

    The â??phenomenonâ? of Stalin is really one of the â??success is never blamedâ? stories. Person who killed 5-8 times (according to various sources) more people then Hitler did, and still can be discussed in any positive mannerâ?¦ This at minimum causes a little astonishment. And really let them interpret their own history, but donâ??t let them tell us he had anything positive in his essence.

    P.S. I might be contradicting myself, but Iâ??ve got something positive to say about him. He was not very bad poet, when he was young and attended the seminary. Perhaps I am not very good critic of poetry, but I like them and, certainly, nobody will ever be able to see any of his future barbarities in writings of young Jughashvili. Unfortunately, in his teens, he addressed one of the famous Georgian persons â?? Ilia Chavchavadze (who was a famous public figure, but not very good in poetry and prediction, alas) â?? with a request to assess his lyrics. Iliaâ??s answer was: â??young man, your lyrics are not bad, but if you want to achieve success, I would advice you to find some other businessâ?. Apparently he didâ?¦

  8. And one more: “yes he brought his country into the twelfth century in terms of liberty and into the twentieth century in terms of development” – what a horrible statement. You (and your parents) were lucky enough to escape all this disaster in 1955, and now feel like able to judge. This “twentieth century” gifted to us by Stalin resulted in decades of stagnation, followed by the multiple local conflicts killing houndreds of thousands. And this was the result of “scientific” achievements – flying to space, creating nuclear bomb, proponing the Soviet scientific school, etc. – gained through slavery (not serfdom – exactly the slavery). And I wish anybody, including your mother, were successful enough to live in USSR in 1989-1991, or in the former USSR in 1991-1995, just to understand what’s it all about.

  9. Anonymous

    Dear Irakli,

    If appreciation of ruthless dictator by the people whom he victimized is the only thing that astonishes you about Russia and Russians I donâ??t know what to sayâ?¦ it is a country of many wrongs.

    They never cared for the lives of the individuals there, just enlighten yourself about Sichev, a conscript soldier who lost his legs and genitalia on the New Yearâ??s party. Or google-up Putinâ??s words when Politkovskaya was killed or when nuclear submarine â??Kurskâ? sunkâ?¦

    To the average Russian it is obvious that the interest of the state are more important than the interests of the individual. Itâ??s visible even on the linguistic level, there is no â??private propertyâ? in the Russian language, literal translation of â??chastnaya sobstvennostâ? is â??insignificant/petty propertyâ?, the word can also be translated as â??temporary propertyâ? or “partial property”.

    And there are many other little windows into the Russian mentality that make it perfectly understandable for me why many Russians would linger for the good old days.

    But no worry, like I said, the old system is gone and Russia will slowly recover and join the civilized nations of the world. Just donâ??t expect too much too soon.

  10. Anonymous

    â??[Stalin] is considered one of the most successful leaders of the U.S.S.R.â?

    No lies here! He is indeed considered to be one of the most successful leaders, the quote says nothing whether he actually was such or not. 🙂

  11. Dear Whoever (sorry, but you did not name yourself),

    I was never astonished with Russian’s ability to appreciate the “ruthless dictator by the people whom he victimized”. This is not the news, I regret to say: it was the fact that I’ve been facing from my very childhood. Unfortunately, this is not the case only with Russians, but also with Georgians (to whom I belong) and many other nations. Though, this was not the issue I’ve been tried to put forward. It seems to me quite understandable that elders in our countries (fortunately not everybody) think like they were taught during the 70 years of communist reign. What is less understandable, why the younger generation is trying to find justification of deeds of the previous?

    Maybe it’s true that “condition of millions of people under the soviet system were genuinely better from what it is now”, as Orkster states, but at cost of what? At cost of another millions captured and used – literally – as slaves? At cost of yet another millions fearing to say what they think? If one thinks that any national idea is worth this, he is… how to simply put it… okâ?¦, Nazi.

    As for interpretation of â??chastnaya sobstvennostâ?, it is simply incorrect. I do not know your maturity in Russian language, but I can assure you that it is my native, and the expression means exactly what it should mean: oneâ??s exclusive right to own something (and by no means the â??insignificant/petty/temporary/partialâ?).

    Of course, this is another issue how Russian perceive it. To their understanding everything within the boundaries of former Russian Empire (Soviet Union) is their property and nobody else (would it be the state, organisation or person) is entitled to even the claim any kind of property, but these are the details, which are irrelevant (to our discussion, I mean; otherwise they are even more significant then our discussion).

    Yes, there are â??many other little windows into the Russian mentalityâ?, but it still does not explain devotion of western intellectuals to the ideas of lifestyle they have never even experienced. I would suggest them coming here and living a while, not staying in Sheraton or Marriott or any other western type hotel, but living and trying to survive without applying for jobs to the western companies or international organisations. Unfortunately, I am unable to reverse the time and offer them staying hereâ?¦ no, not so far backâ?¦ just fifteen years ago. They would be really lucky, although, would never be able to find any of the listed above hotels or international bodies. Should I have seen them then…

    I really hope that â??old system is gone and Russia will slowly recover and join the civilized nations of the worldâ?, but that is what the world is expecting for the last three centuries, since Peter the Great declared that Russia is â??cutting(???!!!) the window to Europeâ?.

  12. It was me, Orkster. Just from another computer. I am a native speaker of the Russian language, lets not bore other readers with linguistics.

    You probably won’t argue that for a lot of people over there words like “individualist”. It’s all connected. Stalin formed Russia and formed Russian mentality, the peculiar way of thinking that developed is sometimes called “sovok”. Until it is prevalent the country will “cook in its own broth” and glorify torturers.
    Good night 🙂

  13. OK. The thing that you are native Russian speaker probably makes arguing with you easier, since, there are two options: either you lied, or you are misinterpreted yourself. There is no doubt about Russian meaning of â??chastnaya sobstvennostâ?. I wonder if you would be so kind as to quote at least one reliable source of what youâ??re saying.

    Besides, thereâ??s no connection between arguing on any terms, and intentionally misinterpreting them.

    As for the â??Stalin formed Russiaâ?, itâ??s greatly doubtful, since Russian Imperialistic policies formed long before Stalin was even foreseen to become the head of Soviet Union. Peter the Great is believed to be the founder of Russian empire, and really not unreasonably. The fact that other empires also did the same at that times, does not release anybody from the responsibility. So the Russian Empire (I would say still existing) takes its roots far beyond Stalin, or even Lenin

    From the very days of beginning of SU, the very firm imperialistic policies were undertaken. And there was one alternative only: either youâ??re a soldier, or betrayer. So many fell victim of this.

    Furthermore, I would like to remind you that while SU was trying to â??saveâ? Poland, this country has been saved by Hitler from the other side. And that SU and Nazi Germany had made a Pact.


    One thing I wonder of is if I just happened to collide the traffic, would I be shot immediately, or upon the decision of Jury.

  14. Yes Irakli, â??CHAST-nostâ? can be translated as â??the detailâ?, both as in â??detail, part of a wholeâ? and â??detail, not the main thingâ?, the word is also related to â??an hourâ?.

    Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great and other czars, maybe you can bring in Kievan Rus and Count Vladimir the Greatâ?¦ you bring valid points but the contemporary character of the Russian state (including but not limited to administrative culture) is more influenced by 70 years of communism than by 300 years of czarism. And Stalin is the defining leader of that period, under his direction the framework of the Soviet Union solidified.

    Like Kinghis Khan Stalin will be feared and respected for a very long time. No one in the right mind would want to bring his policies back but the greatness of his impact should not be underappreciated.

    Where are all the other people? I am afraid, Irakli, we chased them off 🙁

  15. Dear Orkster,

    You are right, “chastnost” can be translated in many different ways, but this has nothing to do with meaning of combination “chastnaya sobstvennost”. “Private” can also have many different meanings (soldier of the lowest rank, for instance), but how does this refer to “private property”?

    You’re right, I think passion of our discussion scared them away:)

  16. I think some of us are still following. We just cannot contribute when it comes to talking about language. But when it comes to being worried about fascism in a major country, we should all beinterested.

  17. â?¦Russia is ruled by the nomenclature â?? a class of public administrators. Nothing in that county is without links to some level of nomenclature.

    Back in the late eighties the upcoming generation of nomenclature sought to legalize pursuit of economic advantage and private property. No longer satisfied with access to special â??partymembers-onlyâ? shops, they wanted to live in luxury openly, like people in the West. Essentially, nomenclature got what it wanted.

    Unless Russia reverses itself and starts being ruled by its own people the return to the Stalin’s policies will not happen. And if the dog ayn’t biting, let it bark all it wants.

  18. “No lies here! He is indeed considered to be one of the most successful leaders, the quote says nothing whether he actually was such or not. :-)”

    Please get real. You sound like a neo-Nazi promoting how “great” the likes of Adolf Hitler was.

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