Kotkin vs. Orwell?

Jan 2015
5,374
Ontario, Canada
#11
Having read a lot about this man, I'm sure Stalin was a fanatic communist to the end. In fact unlike other communist leaders, like Mao, he did not take advantage of his position in terms of mistresses or material wealth. Lenin and Trotsky also lived much more comfortable lives than Stalin's.

And there is no evidence he changed his beliefs during the last years of his life:
Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR
I agree. Mao was disgusting. Stalin appeared a moral paragon by contrast.
Trotsky wasn't far behind Mao.
 
Likes: Nina Beria
Jan 2015
5,374
Ontario, Canada
#12
Hearing accounts of Stalin's last years I think it's fairly clear that he was a monstruous megalomanic acting for his benefit, no one else's (at all)

You'll be aware that Orwell wrote Animal Farm (and later 1984) based on his experiences - limited though they were - under the Stalinist-influenced Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War. He will have been aware that after his departure all non-Stalinist/Communist forces - including Maoists, Anarchists and various factions - including some International Brigade remainers - were eliminate in due course. And that Battles like Teruel and the Ebro - which made zero tactical or strategic sense - were just staged by the Commissars to put up a show at huge cost of life. Incidentally for some reason not quite clear, Stalins' commissars who had run the Republican forces toward the end of the war, were all shot when they returned home

Bottom line is:

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others

I've no idea who Korkin is but I find his view quite odd, to be honest. Maybe he wants to sell books?
Stephen Kotkin is the leading writer on the subject of Stalin and that period of the USSR. His three volume work seeks to dispel a lot of the myths about Stalin. His work is extremely good. If not a 10/10 then at least a 9/10. But he blows all the other books out of the water.

The claim that Stalin did everything out of personal aggrandizement isn't true at all. He was a fervent Communist and follower of Lenin. The negative press he received was the result of rival Communists like Trotsky, Zinoviev etc.

In particular I am annoyed at the Trotskyist narrative which makes all sorts of absurd claims and distorts Trotsky's actions and ideology. A watered down version of Marxism to appeal to naive minds and gullible people. Trotsky wasn't any better than Stalin and yet our perception is largely shaped by Trotsky, who was after all the master of propaganda.
 
Jan 2010
4,274
Atlanta, Georgia USA
#15
Stephen Kotkin is the leading writer on the subject of Stalin and that period of the USSR. His three volume work seeks to dispel a lot of the myths about Stalin. His work is extremely good. If not a 10/10 then at least a 9/10. But he blows all the other books out of the water.

The claim that Stalin did everything out of personal aggrandizement isn't true at all. He was a fervent Communist and follower of Lenin. The negative press he received was the result of rival Communists like Trotsky, Zinoviev etc.

In particular I am annoyed at the Trotskyist narrative which makes all sorts of absurd claims and distorts Trotsky's actions and ideology. A watered down version of Marxism to appeal to naive minds and gullible people. Trotsky wasn't any better than Stalin and yet our perception is largely shaped by Trotsky, who was after all the master of propaganda.
Although I haven’t read the book, I believe that Stalin was a committed Communist—or better said, a Marxist-Leninist. That did not prevent his also being most interested in maintaining himself in power. Recall that Lenin himself was willing to modify Marxist dogma in the interest of the Bolshevik Revolution.
 
Jan 2015
5,374
Ontario, Canada
#16
Although I haven’t read the book, I believe that Stalin was a committed Communist—or better said, a Marxist-Leninist. That did not prevent his also being most interested in maintaining himself in power. Recall that Lenin himself was willing to modify Marxist dogma in the interest of the Bolshevik Revolution.
I suppose that is true. But you could also think of it as, the USSR benefited from Stalin's firm rule. So Stalin retaining power could be justified in such a way.
 
Nov 2015
1,572
Kyiv
#20
It seems to me that many historians unduly focus on the personal convictions and political attitudes of historical leaders of states. This is especially true of the leaders of the totalitarian states. At the same time the historians forget that high position oblidges. The high state post of such a person often causes him to significantly deviate from his principles and personal priorities.

Examples include the motivation of Hitler, Lenin, or Stalin.

Hitler considered the Slavs a lower race. And researchers often believe that in his position as German Chancellor and the Fuhrer of the German people, he fully followed the principles and ideas set forth in Mein Kampf, which Hitler wrote long before he took a high government post.

At the same time, Hitler n the role of head of the Third Reich went to the provision of sovereignty of Slavic Slovakia and made Slavic Bulgaria an ally without at all trying to annex both Slavic states. Moreover - before the start of the invasion of Poland, the leadership of the Third Reich was ready to discuss the creation of a small Western Ukrainian state in eastern part of Poland after the end of campaign. But the Russians did not support this idea and included those lands in the Land of the Soviets.

Another ally of the Third Reich in WWII was Slavic Croatia. At the same time Hitler hardly considered the Japanese or the Turks to be the high race - Übermenschen - which did not prevent him from making Japan a large ally of the Reich and actively attracting small Turkic peoples under the banner of the Third Reich

The theme of the seizure of foreign territories by the Third Reich seemed not to be unlimited. The Germans, defeating France in 1940 occupied only her northern half, agreeing to preserve French sovereignty over the southern half of France (until 1943).

Similarly, Lenin being a communist, who declared internationalism and the right of peoples to self-determination, when he became the head of the Bolshevik government - Council of People's Commissars (Sovnarcom) in November 1917, after 2 months sent troops to capture the Ukrainian People’s Republic, after which Ukrainian sovereignty remained only conditional formality. Next, the Russian Red Army conducted a series of predatory campaigns, effectively annexing other new states. As new as the Soviet Russia herself, which appeared on the ruins of the Russian Empire.

And Stalin leading the Soviet Union, began to study the practice of the Russian tzars. And he made of Peter I and Ivan the Terrible iconic rulers of the Russian state. Stalin personally supervised the filming of costy films about them. And by the end of the 1930s, the Land of the Soviets acted in essence like a new Russian empire. No one has canceled the communist rhetoric in it. But the Germans in correspondence with their embassy in Moscow noted a sharp transition in Moscow to the great-power trend with an affectation of the role of "the great Russian people" in the country. And these ideas forced the Third Reich to consider Russia in 1939 as an ideologically close system focused on the forceful seizure of foreign countries and on the "imperial" model of behavior.

In some aspects Stalin acted like a real Great Russian chauvinist.
 
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