Y’okay, I take it humor is out of the question as well?Whatever is to be made of this?
Funny, that’s just what the Repugs say about Dubya. Everyone else, however, thinks he’s a dangerous buffoon about whom the best thing to say is “Thank God he’s out of power now!” However, Stalin wasn’t a buffoon, and certain salient facts reflect that:
The Russian Communist Party asked the nation Monday for a daylong moratorium on criticizing Soviet dictator Josef Stalin as they celebrate his 130th birthday.Despite overseeing political purges and widespread famine that killed millions of Soviet citizens, Stalin is still embraced by many Russians nostalgic for Soviet times.[…]“We would very much like for any discussion of the mistakes of the Stalin epoch to be silenced today, so that people could reflect on Stalin’s personality as a creator, a thinker and a patriot,” Communist deputy parliament speaker Ivan Melnikov said on the party’s Web site.[…]Stalin – born as Josef Dzhugashvili on Dec. 21, 1879 – was among the leaders of the Bolshevik Revolution, and maneuvered to discredit his rivals and consolidate control of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union after the 1924 death of its first leader, Vladimir Lenin. Stalin ruled with an iron fist until his own death in 1953, having unleashed brutal purges which killed millions of people. Millions more died in a famine triggered by his brutal collectivization of agriculture and confiscation of grain to fund the frenetic industrialization drive.His legacy of repression and persecution, however, only became fully known in Russia after the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, lifted the taboo against criticizing Stalin as part of the 1980s perestroika campaign of political and economic reforms that precipitated the Soviet Union’s 1991 collapse.A core of followers, mainly elderly people educated before perestroika, nevertheless upholds that Stalin was a valiant leader whose iron grip on the nation was needed to ensure security and industrial growth.
True enough. And yet, the Stalin years of cold war and famine were a driving force for Mikhail and Raisa Gorbachev, both of whom lost family members to it, according to Richard Rhodes. Not only in terms of perestroika (economic reform), but also glasnost (openness, specifically freedom of speech.) Both were deeply upset by the needless starvation of millions, and also by the Stalinist régime’s hush-hushing of the fact. One good outcome of glasnost is the following, which we certainly would not have heard back in the day:
Most Russians – 54 percent – have a high opinion of Stalin’s leadership qualities, according to a survey released Friday by state-run polling agency VTsIOM, while only 23 percent rate his personal character traits as below average. The survey questioned 1,600 people nationwide Dec. 5-6 and gave a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.Putin, like the Communists, has made efforts to rehabilitate Stalin’s image, lauding his drive to industrialize the Soviet Union and his victory over the Nazis as deserving of respect despite the human cost.“In my view, you cannot make one gross assessment,” Putin said during his annual live radio and TV call-in show on Dec. 3. “Any historical events need to be analyzed in their entirety.”
Not only Medvedev’s critical stand on Stalin, but Mitrokhin’s criticism of Medvedev’s more-talk-than-action approach, would have been impossible to imagine back then, right?Maybe Putin is right about Stalin deserving respect for defeating the Nazis, although I’d say it was Russia’s harsh climate, more than anything else, that stopped Operation Barbarossa cold. But I will give credit where it’s due: Stalin knew when to stop being buddy-buddy with the crappy PFC from Austria, and to switch allegiances in due course. And let’s face it, the Allies would probably have lost if the Soviets hadn’t been on side. Which makes me scratch my head all the more at the whole Cold War rationale that began its machinations even before the shooting war was over. Does anyone seriously still believe that Fat Man and Little Boy were only built to wring a surrender out of Japan? I’ve got another Richard Rhodes book to recommend that blows that notion clear out of the water, if you want to know the awful truth…In the meantime, I think I’ll stick with democratic socialism, where the decision making is bottom-up rather than top-down. And I’d advise y’all to keep an eye on this dude, who seems to have his own rather Stalin-like traits…
Some have criticized Putin’s drive as an effort to whitewash history and paint Stalin in a positive light in order to justify the Kremlin’s own growing power and retreat from democracy.Even President Dmitry Medvedev has taken a more critical stand against Stalinism – a sign that the issue is still debated both among Russia’s political elite as well as its populace.“It is impossible to imagine the scale of the terror inflicted on the people of our country,” Medvedev said in his video blog on Oct. 30, the day commemorating the victims of Stalinist repression. “I am convinced that no national development, no success, no ambitions can be achieved at the price of human suffering and death.”The remarks represent perhaps the Kremlin’s strongest condemnation of Soviet repression since Putin, Medvedev’s predecessor, became president almost a decade ago.The leader of the opposition Yabloko party, Sergei Mitrokhin, warned against reading too much into Medvedev’s more liberal rhetoric. “This statement had appeal on the day of remembrance, but he has never followed with any actions or a united program of de-Stalinization in the government,” Mitrokhin said Monday.