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Was Stalin a Great Leader or a Mass Murderer?

Discussion in 'War44 General Forums' started by brandon webster, Nov 17, 2018.

  1. brandon webster

    brandon webster New Member

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    Hello all!

    So I've always understood josef stalin to be a dictator. Until the other day, I had never met anyone who challenged this. The person who did is a self described communist (and a very good person. Smart.). His notion is that Stalin was a good leader and wasn't responsible for any mass murders, and that, in fact, there were no mass murders. He said the numbers and statistics just don't add up.

    Any opinions on this? What is the legitimate evidence on both sides? Not just unbacked notions. Not just a sentence declaring something. What do the Russian archives say? Are any sources that can be conjured even truly reliable? Could documents be forged?

    I want the truth, and it's hard to find. Both sides are vehement and their sides are total opposites. Stephen Kotkin has gone through the archives and said, indeed he is a dictator. Grover Furr, too, has said to have gone through the Russian archives and claims the opposite.

    Was the great purge a calculated scything of any possible opposition by a paranoid man who wanted to secure power for himself or was it a legitimate trial of a few possible traitors who may have wanted to undermine the good of everyone else (most of whom were let go in the end)? Was Holodomor the result of the dictates of Stalin and his greed and demand for rapid industrialization mixed with a disdain for the Ukranian people? Or was it merely the unfortunate result of drought and the collection of any locally grown food for the distribution to the greater population? Did stalin give the orders to kill the Polish in the Katyn Massacre, or did the Nazis do it and fabricate a story about the Soviets being responsible for it a few years prior? Were the kulaks innocent 'barely-better-off' peasants killed by the ruling, authoritarian State of the USSR, or were they the selfish rich who were trying to undermine the greater good of all by hoarding food and livestock and, thus, had to be stopped?

    Thank you.
     
  2. wm.

    wm. Well-Known Member

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    Stalin was a great leader and a psychopath who heroically and with great skills battled problems he had created himself (see for example Magnetic Mountain. Stalinism as a Civilization by Stephen Kotkin)

    He wanted to create communism fast and it wasn't possible without purges, Holodomors and Katyns.
    There is a book (Practicing Stalinism: Bolsheviks, Boyars, and the Persistence of Tradition by J. Getty) which shows exactly that.
    His main opponents were human (incompatible with communism) nature, religion (which is a basic human need), and the persistence of tradition, i.e. the greatness and staying power of Russian culture.

    There is a mass of documents found in Russian archives which confirms he was responsible for Holodomor and Katyń, nobody really doubts it. It's not a he-said-she-said case. The original documents can be found for example in the book Holodomor. The Great Famine in Ukraine 1932–1933.

    It should be noted the Russian Empire was a great power already. Russia was able to battle two major power (Germany and Austro-Hungary) for almost four years before herself was attacked from the back by the communists and their fellow travelers.
    Russia wasn't that backward. She was the third greatest naval power at the beginning of the twentieth century. The Russians were able to create the first in the world practical automatic rifle (Fedorov Avtomat), the first heavy bomber (the Sikorsky Ilya Muromets), and more.

    Of curse, there were masses of illiterate peasants and uneducated poor folks there, but Russian peasants didn't really need the ability to read Dostoevsky to be good soldiers.
    On the other hand, the Russian elites were one of the most educated, impressive, and most patriotic on this planet. The country had great potential, Russia only needed a reliable and wealthy ally. France was such an ally and her money was modernizing Russia but they ran out of time. Later it was the US which helped to industrialize the Soviet Union.

    Russia wasn't great in 1941 because of Stalin, pre-Stalin Russia was great already.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2018
  3. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru WW2|ORG Editor

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    LOL, 'smart person' and 'communism' don't belong in the same sentence. Communism only works on paper. In reality, its been so perverted that it really isn't communism anymore. Your friend sounds like the Communist-version of a Holocaust Denier.

    If Stalin isn't responsible for mass-murder, then who purged the Russian Military? He was responsible for mass-famine in Russia as well that killed millions. Stalin is honestly no different than Hitler. Who do you think populated the Gulags? The undesirables and political opponents, people who stood up to Stalin. Stalin made people 'disappear' so your smart friend doesn't seem so smart if he is calling Stalin a good leader, not responsible for any mass murder.
     
  4. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana WW2|ORG Editor

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    I think Stalin would have gotten control of any kind of government that came into existence after the Revolution. He certainly didn't live like a good communist.
     
  5. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Great men are not always good...
     
  6. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana WW2|ORG Editor

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    I don't think anybody would dispute that.

    People used to write to "The Great Stalin", explaining that their family member(s) had been arrested by mistake and asking him to intervene in their behalf. The party or parties in question were frequently condemned on Stalin's orders.
     
  7. wm.

    wm. Well-Known Member

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    Stalin was a good communist and lived quite modestly, all the luxuries he enjoyed were available to high ranking members of the nomenclatura too.
     
  8. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana WW2|ORG Editor

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    All you can really say is he lived quite modestly. Some men don't seek luxuries. But they do seek as much power as they can grab. Saying a person is a "good communist" is like saying someone is a "good Christian".
     
  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    As others have noted being a "great leader" and a "mass murder" are not mutually exclusive.

    Stalin was not however a "good communist". Although it could be argued he is now.
    He clearly was a mass murder the evidence is really irrefutable. Whether he was a "great leader" would depend on just how you defined it. The Soviet Union under his leadership suffered like few countries have and much if it can be laid at his feet on the other hand he brought the USSR from the 18th century to the 20th.
     
  10. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    In WWI, Russia was totally defeated despite Germany having the bulk of her forces engaged against the western Allies the whole time.

    In WWII, Russia fought the bulk of German armies from 1941 on and emerged victorious, along with her allies. Whatever forces were at work in Stalin's Russia produced a stronger, more resilient regime than the Tsar's.

    People often ask how Hitler could have thought he could beat Russia. I expect he was conscious of WWI. After the fall of France, his commitments in the west, Mediterranean, etc. were far less than they had been in the first war. His prospects for victory must have seemed better - but it wasn't the same Russia.
     
  11. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    There was also the rather poor performance vs the Finns. Getting them into the war in the way they did would also lay some negatives at Stalin's feet. Winning the war may have more to do with the will and determination of the people of the USSR than Stalin's leadership. Again it comes down to how you define the term IMO.
     
  12. wm.

    wm. Well-Known Member

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    Please, what "good communist" - it's like good Nazis. Of course, good communists and good Nazis existed but so what?

    Communism = socialism + violence.

    From The Great Terror by Michael David Polano:
    French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty wrote that Marxism “is a theory of violence and a justification of terror.
    Marx was well aware of the role violence played in all major historical changes, noting that throughout history “conquest, enslavement, murder-cum-robbery, in short Gewalt (force, violence) play[ed] a preeminent role.” Marx and Engels believed that to reach and defend the next and highest stage of historical development, socialism, Gewalt would necessarily play a leading role. The proletariat would violently rise up against their oppressors, fulfilling the logic of History and redeeming humanity. This was the orthodoxy set down by Marx and Engels.

    In The Soviet Tragedy: A History of Socialism in Russia, 1917-1991, Martin Malia writes, “it takes a great ideal to produce a great crime.”
    For Stalin, the great ideal was socialism, and the great crime the purges of the 1930s. As Malia argues throughout his book, socialism does not designate an empirical reality, but rather an idea of a possibility, a radiant utopian future. Stalin’s vision of a socialist utopia in Russia involved a radical transformation of society, resulting in a kingdom of harmony and equality. Stalin had specific goals: to overcome military, cultural, industrial, and agricultural backwardness, and to realize Marxism by creating a nation of workers rather than peasants and small businessmen.
    His methods for achieving these goals included rapid industrialization, collectivization, cultural revolution, and mass purges. By analyzing the effects of the Terror, Malia demonstrates purpose and design rather than chaos and randomness.

    As a result of the purges, the army, the Party, and industry were completely renovated and rejuvenated.
     
  13. wm.

    wm. Well-Known Member

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    Russia wasn't defeated, it was the Soviet Russia which sued for peace after the communists had considerably weakened the Russian Army themselves and because of that weren't able to continue the war.

    Russia faced four enemies: German Empire, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Ottoman Empire, and despite defeats fought quite well till the revolution - for example during the Brusilov Offensive and the Russo-Turkish offensive.

    The forces on both sides were usually equal. For example in 1915 it was 1,200,000 Russian soldiers against 1,136,000 enemies.
    The Russian Army was underequipped but that was being remedied in 1917 and later.
     
  14. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    It was a play on an old saying. Paraphrasing the whole thing "the only good communist is a dead communist" so Stalin is now a good communist. That's perhaps taking it to far but such is the nature of humor and some suggest my sense of the same is somewhat warped.
     
  15. wm.

    wm. Well-Known Member

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    Not likely, "good communist is like saying someone is a good Christian" means basically communism=Christianity.

    But the difference is that communism is by design violent and criminal, Christianity isn't. Christianity is a major force for "good" on this planet and contributes greatly to the stability of the global political system, not to mention it gives people what they need.

    I'm afraid Mr. OpanaPointer despite his great achievements in the field of history likes the "anti-imperialist camp."
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2018
  16. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    By design if you go back to Marx Communism was not violent by design nor was it criminal. The problem is that it has become so in every implementation I'm aware of. So "good Communist" can have a wealth of meanings depending on what you mean by both "good" and "Communist". I'm not sure you could really say he lived all that modestly either. Didn't he have multiple "dachas" (sp?). I doubt he ever went short of food or drinks either. Not something a lot of Soviets could say during his tenure as leader.
     
    LRusso216 and gtblackwell like this.
  17. wm.

    wm. Well-Known Member

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    And the support for "Marx Communism was not violent by design" is?

    There is only one way in which the murderous death agonies of the old society and the bloody birth throes of the new society can be shortened, simplified and concentrated, and that way is revolutionary terror.

    The weapon of criticism cannot, of course, replace criticism by weapons, material force must be overthrown by material force; but theory also becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses.

    How is an opposition resolved? By making it impossible. How is religious opposition made impossible? By abolishing religion. As soon as Jew and Christian recognize that their respective religions are no more than different stages in the development of the human mind, different snake skins cast off by history.


    The immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that of all other proletarian parties: formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat.
    ...
    In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.
    ...
    The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution.
     
  18. wm.

    wm. Well-Known Member

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    From The Great Terror by Michael David Polano:
    By analyzing the effects of the Terror, Malia demonstrates purpose and design rather than chaos and randomness. As a result of the purges, the army, the Party, and industry were completely renovated and rejuvenated.
    1,500,000 new “thirty-something” men and women took over key positions. These were products of the cultural revolution, pupils of dialectical materialism, and graduates of technical and engineering schools. Stalin had brought forth the “new Soviet man,” homo sovieticus, by washing away the old guard. And this was the essential reason for the purges. As Malia writes, the ultimate rationale of the Great Terror was for Stalin to give himself a new Party and a new corps of cadres in every field of national activity.

    In 2010, Timothy Snyder published his critically acclaimed Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, arguing that the mass murders of the Great Terror were express directives and explicit policies, political in nature, with the central goal of manifesting a utopian ideology. What mattered for Stalin, above all else, was the building and defense of socialism in Russia.24 The most effective and efficient way to realize the goal was the implementation of mass killing policies, eliminating from the body politic hundreds of thousands of anti-Soviet elements.
    These policies were “purposeful,” and, according to the Bulgarian-French historian Tsvetan Todorov, “given the goals they set for themselves, the choices of Stalin and Hitler were, alas, rational.
     
  19. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Were those quotes from Marx? Indeed it would be nice if you sourced the quotes other than through hidden links. If they weren't from Marx then it wasn't be design but just how it evolved. The fact that it evolved that way wherever it was tried is rather telling. In regards to the design of Communism discussing the "Great terror" is a bit after the fact and thus irrelevant.
     
  20. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana WW2|ORG Editor

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    The links look legit.
     

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