Stalin is viewed postively, why?

Sorry, but my assertions are based primarily off of first-hand encounters with assorted university folk. I suppose I could hunt them down and convince them to post to the SDMB, but short of that, I’ll have to flag my above post as “anecdotal evidence”. Sorry to disappoint. I have read things in print (could be The Nation, but I wouldn’t bet money on it - certainly in a lefty publication), but I couldn’t nail anything down.

What asinine statements. What Columbus managed to do was to find a few islands the Spanish didn’t know existed, then die shortly afterwards.

The effect of Columbus’ actions - by introducing the islands to those asshole Europeans - may have been evil. But the actions of Columbus himself weren’t evil or, if evil, bear no comparison to Stalin, etc.


You have to remember exactly how hard WWII hit Russia. We’re talking 40 million dead Russians. The majority of civilian deaths in WWII were Russian. And this is after years of civil war and revolution. WWII was not some nasty blip in their history. WWII is something that killed off a huge percentage of their populace and came close to destroying the very idea of “Russia”.

Just about anyone that holds power in times like that is going to be revered to some degree. Stalin was evil. Few people deny that. But he is viewed as a “strong leader” who kept the country from falling apart completely.

Right now, Russia does not have a strong leader. It does not have a strong anything. Corruption runs rampant. There is no economy to speak of. Street gangs rule what the mafia does not. Many many Russians say they are worse off then they were during the Soviet era. It’s a bad scene. So it makes sense that people would be nostalgic for a “strong leader” type right now. It’s not really that they want Stalin. It’s that they want their national pride and sense of direction back.

…uh, I wasn’t really talking about Columbus. Sorry if it sounded that way. I just used his defense of Columbus to bring up another example closer to our (U.S.) history, the genocide caused by American expansion (place the blame on the Presidents of the time), and point out that we may be tempted to defend it a little.

Okay. Did Stalin create any of the abstracts HE killed for?

Well, how much was known about the Purges and the show trials in the U.S. at the time that obit was written? More than 50 years later, there is still very little agreement, either inside or outside Russia, on how many lives Stalin’s regime claimed. (I’m asking this seriously; I only have a passing knowledge of the period, and certainly of American knowledge of Soviet events in the '50’s.)

I’m sure it was known at the time that Stalin was Not A Nice Guy, but I’m not sure if we knew then just how Not Nice he was.

Great post, even sven

“Dig up the NYT obituary for Stalin, sometime. It’s a pretty glowing review of the man’s life, and alludes to his evil in a passing, almost unimportant, fashion”
Not at all. Here it is:

“But his people and the other peoples of the world paid an enormous price for these achievements. At his doorstep must be laid the millions of victims claimed by the collectivization campaign and the famine which accompanied it in the early Nineteen Thirties. In his account must be reckoned the guilt for the cynical deal with Hitler in 1939 which gave the go-ahead signal for the Second World War and its enormous sacrifices. On his conscience, if he had any, lay the burden of shame for the enslavement of millions in the forced labor camps, and for the semi-enslavement of the millions of workers chained to the factories by legislative fiat”
“It would be hypocritical to say that we regret his passing. If he had so willed, the world today could be going through an era of confidence, hope and prosperity such as has never been known. If he had so willed, the marvelous gains of science, technology and scholarship could have been applied fully to curing the sick, feeding the hungry and extending man’s dominion over all nature for the benefit of all humanity. But he did not so will, and our children’s children will still be paying the price for the evil which he brought into the world.”

Does that sound like a glowing review?

In fact I have never heard any mainstream intellectual in the US who has praised Stalin or defended his atrocities.

CyberPundit: by “heard” you mean recently? There were plenty of Stalin supporters for a long time. Understandably, as the sheer magnitude of the horror became known, the support dwindled in this country.

The Black Book of Communism


Hitler built up a fantastic rocket program, the economy modernized under his rule, even though he was responsible for some deaths it is understandable why kids today might think of him as a strong leader to look up to.

My own personal WAG: people would not think this is a reasonable intellectual postion to take. But, if it’s Stalin, substitute “tank” for “rocket” and there you go.

“CyberPundit: by “heard” you mean recently? There were plenty of Stalin supporters for a long time”
I think my statement would be true of mainstream intellectuals from the 50’s onwards. Maybe in the 30’s and during WW2 he had some supporters. He probably had some supporters in the far-left even later but they were hardly mainstream.

Beagle, quoting generalities from the Focus on the Family website doesn’t prove anything. And their argument - “this 1999 book about communism didn’t get the U.S. attention we felt it deserved” - doesn’t imply “therefore, American intellectuals are still soft on Stalin.” (It might’ve been that, a decade after the Berlin Wall fell, and three years after Jihad vs. McWorld was published, Russian Communism was regarded as yesterday’s news.)

And your post that begins with “Example.” doesn’t contain one. It’s wholly speculation on your part.

CyberPundit, thanks for the cite (and quotes) from the N.Y. Times obit of Stalin. And I have to second you there: ElJeffe, if you’re still lurking in this thread, I’d be interested in how you interpreted this obit as being “a pretty glowing review of the man’s life,” or “allud[ing] to his evil in a passing, almost unimportant, fashion.” That’s gotta be one of the most blatantly slanted interpretations of a piece of text that I’ve had the opportunity to read.

The obit’s short first paragraph can be summed up as ‘thank God he’s dead.’ Its second paragraph begins, “How are we to appraise him, we who live in the world which he did so much to shape and who live in the shadow of the fear which his ambitions created?” and then goes on to compare him with Ivan the Terrible, Genghis Khan, and Hitler. The third paragraph, after listing several of Stalin’s abuses of power, concludes, “A man who constantly feared death and went to fantastic lengths to protect himself, he sent millions to their graves, including most of the outstanding figures who accomplished the historic upheaval whose rewards he inherited.” And that’s just for warmups; the paragraphs that CyberPundit quoted are a bit further down.

So far, we still have no cites showing that any notable U.S. intellectuals have recently been soft on Stalin, and a reference that allegedly demonstrated that the New York Times regarded him through rose-colored glasses a half-century ago has been shown to say just the opposite. Does anyone have any real evidence of such Stalinist sympathies?

In El Jeffe’s defense the NYT obit comes in several parts and he may have been thinking of another part (available on the same link) which is just a factual account of his life and which may be less negative (or at least it appears that way because some of the text about the 30’s is missing in the online version).

Still the commentary makes it perfectly clearly what the NYT thought about Stalin.

Well, no, he died quit wealthy. He was granted some estates and high positions in the Spanish government. Its a legend that he died poor. Not really sure where it came from.

smiling bandit,

Is it also legend that he was arrested at some point after one of his later cruises?


Sorry about some of the sites, but academia is so pro-Communist it’s tough to find any .edu cites.

“Wholly speculation,” RTFirefly?

SentientMeat’s article:

I’ve read hundreds of these revisionist eulogies about Stalin, forgive me if I laugh.

Oh come on Beagle. The article was stating Stalin’ss best and worst legacy. Under “worst” they talked about killing millions. What were they supposed to write under “better legacy”? “Stalin never ever in his life did anything that wasn’t evil. Stalin could not have- even indirectly- done anything good. Stalin’s very breath was evil. Stalin liked to kick puppies. Stalin once tried to help a granny cross the road, but instead he stole her wallet. We shouldn’t pay any attention to the sublties and ironies of history because to look at things complexly is not as good as sticking our fingers in our ears and saying ‘evil’ over and over again.”

Insisting that Stalin did nothing at all good for Russia is as wrong headed as insisting that he did nothing bad- a claim that nobody makes. The world comes in a couple of shades other than black and white.

Ah I see you are correct, while my history books seem content to leave it at -

“He ended up in debtor’s prison, and to his dying day in 1506 he never admitted to locating a world unknown to Europeans.”

Which upon further research is true but incomplete

Getting back to the OP, I think it pretty clear why Stalin is viewed favorable in Russia. It’s all about Propaganda, and teaching your country the ‘right’ history. Up until the collapse of the USSR, typical Russians didn’t have access to any other news source besides the state. Do you think the state was going to tell them about the atrocities of their old leader? Of course they exolted him as the man who kept the country together, and with the Allies help, put an end to Hitler. During WWII, Americans were taught in school the Stalin was Good 'ol Uncle Joe - our compatriate in the east. Isn’t that sweet…

Drawing a parallel: do you know that Henry Kissinger is considered a war criminal in other parts of the world? Funny how that doesn’t make it into U.S. press… I wonder what American citizens will think of Kissiner in 20years… And the rest of the world will say ‘why?’

It’s hard to disagree with a statement that mischaracterizes what I was saying. But, I’ll try.

Stalin gets credit for industrializing the Soviet Union? Why?

It’s actually a fair question. Almost every nation in the world was industrializing as fast as it could. Yet, when some people write little blurbs about Papa Joe, he gets credit for this natural progression taking place everywhere. I’ll take credit for the spread of the ATM machine, thanks.

On the issue I was discussing, why don’t we find it necessary to cover Hitler in balancing accolades when we discuss him?

The trains ran on time. Employment went up. Germany industrialized at an amazing rate. Their technological achievements were unparalleled in the world. Oh, but he did kill some people and start WWII.

Beagle: Nations don’t industrialise themselves. Particularly communist nations with planned economies. Russia was a country with an agriculturally based economy well into the 20th century, and under Stalin, it was industrialised in a very short time to the extent that (for a time) it was a world power that posed a serious threat to the U.S., a country that had begun the process of industrialisation years earlier.

It is disengenious to practice historical revisionism, no matter how evil Stalin was.

I’ve often heard Hitler given credit for pulling Germany out of the depression.