Its my understanding that Joseph Stalin was actually loved by many russians (even though he was directly responsible for virtually everyone having a friend or family member tortured or killed), because they were ignorant of his crimes.
what about people in other cult of personality dictatorships, like (the ones i know offhand) North Korea, Red China or Iraq. Does anyone know if the public at large really feel deep love & reverance for the leader or are they just faking it?
Do people in cult of personality dictatorships know what those of us who live in other countries that oppose their governments know about their crimes? For example, many westerners know that misappropriation of humanitarian aid by the Iraq & N. Korean government causes millions to starve, but do people in those countries know that?
If people actually know their leader doesn’t care about them and is using them, do they still love him (as in the case of Stalin, where people were ignorant that he was behind their suffering until Kruschev came along & told)?
i thought Mao Zedong’s incompetence at political leadership lead to 30 million Chinese starving to death. If chinese people now know about this (assuming they do) why is he still a revered cult object? Do people believe this deep down inside or do they just pay lip service.
I grew up in america, so i have only really heard bad things about countries like N. Korea, Iraq, Red China, USSR, etc. So my opinions are a little biased.
Some do. No matter how many people a leader kills, some people will think “they had it coming.”
And Soviets were not exactly ignorant of what Stalin did. However, again, some supported the tracking down of “enemies” and liked the idea of a strong leader. (Don’t look down at them: the first thing a U.S. presidential candidate tries to do is look like a “strong leader.”)
I think fear is the main factor that makes citizens “love” tyrannical leaders. As bad as life under Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Fidel Castro or Saddam Hussein may be (I wouldn’t equate them all the same), all of these regimes faced powerful enemies (real or imagined) which seemed to pose an even more fundamental threat to these peoples existence than a tyrant or autocrat.
In Orwell’s view of this question, the love was not brought about by fear (it was fear of the regime that caused Winston Smith’s rebellion); it was the way they messed with his head. They broke him down so totally they were able to reassemble his thoughts according to their design.
your first question:
I would have to say, no, they don’t know, because they are deliberately kept in the dark. Both in the USSR and in China, there wasn’t a freedom of press. Particularly in China, all papers (and the country is HUGE) wrote the same stories, and all were told to glorify the Chairman. If not, they could be executed. After Gorbatsjov took over in the Soviet Union in 1985, he gradually “leaked” information to the public about Stalins crimes, under the “glasnost” (openness) umbrella. Most of the USSR citizens were shocked, as they truly didn’t know. You have to take into account that these people had been brainwashed with propaganda, and when people disappeared, they simply assumed they were sent to a community farm, somewhere far away, which was what the Soviets did during their regime. The sent Russians to all other states in the USSR, and all the other states were told to send their workers to Russia. This to speed up the “russianisation” of the Soviet Union. Even today, in some ex-Soviet states, a lot of the official administration only speak Russian, and not the actual langueage of the area they’re in. I can only speak about Russia and China, I do not have any info about Nkorea and Iraq, I’m afraid. But that’s how it uised to be in those 2 communist states.
In Russia, about 30% of the population believes Stalin did more good than bad. Granted, this is the 60+ generation, but still. Hard to believe, isn’t it? But that is how they see it: in terms of good and bad, and what the balance was. The younger generation is more concerned with what Gorbatsjov did, he started to dismantle the communist institutions, and the whole economy crashed. So he may have freed them from dogma, but led them to eceonmic poverty. Also cos there’s widespread official corruption. As there is in China.
Mao was truly a horrible person, even more so than Lenin and Stalin. (Actually, did you know that Lenin left a Testament, warning the Soviet people about Stalin? Warning them what he might do should he gain power? Stalin even killed his rival, Trotsky, so he could become Russia’s leader). Mao really did not care about the Chinese. He cared about China, the country, and it’s position in the world, but was prepared to sacrifice haf of China’s population to achieve his goals. He said that" the death of 300 million Chinese people is nothing. We have so many people here in China, we can easily get more…"
And he meant that. he thought of lives as expendable. Apart from his own, obviously. So many intellectuals were killed, or “reformed”, or exiled during Mao’s reign, that common people did not question whatever Mao did. Plus they weren’t informed. In China, only 10% of the country is arable, so 10% of the country feeds the rest. Which is an admirable feat. The famine that came after the Big Leap Forward, killed millions, indeed. China is very hard to travel, it’s a very mountainous country. People get around by the two rivers, so would only see those villages. Whatever went on inland, was usually hidden form the rest of the country. And besides, in a country where you could be detained for criticizing the government, and never heard of again, would you not keep stum and keep waving your flag?
Even now, when Mao’s dead, the communist Party is stil in power, so people are still very, very weary. To criticize Mao is stil criticizing the communist regime, so they simply don’t …
hope this helps
I think it depends on the amount of information control that is possible in the region or time period. During the time of Stalin it was easier to control information, so people in the sticks really thought of him as superhuman and mourned his death like he was a member of the family.
Today when it is more difficult to control the flow of information more people are aware of what it is like in the outside world there is less love of the dictator. People in Cuba and Iraq are aware that the outside world is different and so are less devoted to their dictators than the North Koreans who are mostly unaware of how bad they have it relative to the rest of the world. I have heard that when some North Koreans manage to escape into China they are shocked how much food the chinese have.
Also another reason their is less criticism of dictators past and present from their subjects is that the only way to get ahead in these societies is to become complicit in the dictator’s regime. The way people are able to justify this is to rationalize the dictators evil as less than it is or justifiable in the face of some external threat.
I asked a question a while back about if there was an underground movement in N.Korea.
I don’t see how there CAN’T be one, especially if the people are starving as much as news reports say. There has to be a black market to supply people with food and basic stuff.
How extensive it is and how capable it is is another question (access to internet, telephones, mail?).
One would think that the CIA would be exploiting or supporting such underground movements.
I was struck by the number of Russian visitors to the museum who were quite willing to acknowledge that Stalin had been ruthless, but insisted that his methods had been necessary and that he had done (far) more good than bad.
Nearly everyone interviwed was over 60, but they also mentioned a poll taken in Russia that indicated Stalin had generally high “approval ratings” among all the citizens.
Stalin was a bit of a special case, in that he led the USSR during World War 2. The Soviet population suffered immense losses and hardship in that conflict and it could very well have been lost - eventually winning it was a source of immense, albeit grim, pride among the Soviets. Like it or not, Stalin is part and parcel of that pride.
Emerging among the WWII victors and maneuvering the USSR into the Superpower category in the post-war years was no mean feat. His popularity probably wouldn’t have been nearly as high if Hitler hadn’t attacked - however unfairly, he managed to project an image as a man that took “tough-but-necessary” decisions when faced with a ruthless foe.
Kruschchev of course denounced him soundly as early as 1956, but he primarily attacked the scope and type of Stalin’s actions, not the goal (introduction of Scientific Socialism to the masses etc.)
They may have heard rumours, but humans are rather adept at blocking out information that does not fit with their worldview.
For a North Korean that has spent his life working within the Party, believing that the leader is a criminal means admitting that his own life has been wasted on a lie. Not many people are ready to make that sort of admission - it’s easier to turn a blind eye on what might after all be considered enemy propaganda.
Even people from the countries mentioned above who later have access to information not available in their homeland still may not want to believe that what they “knew to be true” in their homeland is not what the outside world believes.
I found Spiny Norman’s comment interesting.
My own experience is with graduate students from China who are now in America and have the same InterNet access as anyone here and the rest of the world where there are no InterNet restrictions.
Some of the things that I apparently have misconceptions about in their view are:
Taiwan and Tibet are part of the PRC and are outlaw renegade provinces. I can say that I can see their point of view since this was how they were educated. But I would also say this is debatable, given the world history with which I was educated.
Not debatable, say they. Same as if Hawaii left the US.
Tiananmen Square was caused by ‘domestic terrorists/revolutionaries’ that tried to overthrow the lawful Chinese goverment. And only a few ‘terrorists’ were actually killed by police (I’m not sure if they think the Army and their tanks were involved).
The bombing of the Chinese Embassy in the Balkans was purely an intentional act by the US. The US decided to send a message to the PRC about Taiwan and then claim it was an accident. Some of my conspiracy theory friends agree with this “warning shot”.
The US spy plane rammed the Chinese MiG on purpose to bring down the Chinese pilot that was a national hero. #4 is the one that gets me. I asked the student whether it was possible that the Chinese pilot was at fault:
“Is it POSSIBLE that the Chinese pilot buzzed the spy plane and came too close? And THAT is what caused the collision?”
The response fron the Chinese student: “No, that is not possible.”
"How can you say that?’ I asked
Apparently, every website on the InterNet except the ones under regulation from the PRC are conduits of “anti-China” propoganda, in this student’s view.
When I told this student I thought that was ridiculous, I was asked whether I was patriotic to my country.
Yes, I’m patriotic to my country–just like you [the Chinese student] should be–but that dosen’t mean I believe everything I hear from my goverment.
Check out the anti-Iraq war protests to judge whether Americans buy what their goverment is trying to sell them.
What happened to the last major protest in Tiananmen Square.
The debate of police tactics in DC, or wherever, can be posted elsewhere, and they deserve debate about what we can do in a democracy.
But compare to the PRC:
The DC police didn’t move in with tanks and kill hundreds of protesters down on the Mall.
Contrast DC to what happens in China when you protest.
As a coda, I’ll admit that I’ve chosen an extreme example of what I consider ostrichs with their heads in the sand (my example had others who shared the same views) to illustrate my point. But it would not be considered a valid statistical representation.
Given that coda, it would be Un-American to suggest that grad students from foreign countries who don’t unquestionally swallow “official US BullShit” not be allowed to come here.