In the spring of 1938 a young employee of the British Embassy in Moscow, Fitzroy Maclean was sitting in the hall of columns and watched the passing there trial in the case of “anti-Soviet right-Trotskyist bloc”. Suddenly he lifted his head up and witnessed the amazing strength of its symbolism of the spectacle. Awkward aiming the beam of a searchlight illuminated the darkened glass of the tiny window near the ceiling of the courtroom. And for this window “in a most dramatic fashion clearly discern the familiar features of face and heavy mustache drooping down”.
From the date of this secret visit of Joseph Stalin on the scene with his former rivals in the struggle for power in our country it’s been 78 years old. Since the death of the “father of Nations” has passed 63 years. Since the collapse of the Communist regime and the collapse of the USSR almost 25 years. But described by Fitzroy Maclean in his book “Eastern approaches” scene — brightly-lit silhouette of the leader behind tinted glass — still can be considered a symbol of the special, with nothing comparable to the role of Stalin in contemporary Russia.
photo: Mikhail Kovalev
Millions of facts about Stalin’s misdeeds, millions of people, prematurely deceased at the direct behest of the “father of peoples” — all this, it seems, hits the consciousness of the Russian public, like peas from a wall. As evidenced by the data of sociological polls, the rating of popularity of Stalin in our country persistently growing and has already exceeded the 50% mark.
Why Russia is still to overcome the legacy of Stalinism? In the first part of this material had been told about the hidden reasons of nostalgia for Stalin among the masses of ordinary Russian population. Now that is not so in the ranks of the Russian anti-Stalinists.
The hunt for the root of all evil
“I’m all for a free press. But the newspaper I just can’t stand!” — from my point of view, this witty remark of the famous contemporary British playwright Tom Stoppard, like a drop of water, reflected the essence of the profound intellectual crisis, which is now turned anti-Stalinist forces of our society. The Russian anti-Stalinists confused in terms of: lost a clear understanding of what Stalinism is, what its essence and danger to the country and how it can be dealt with.
I used to think that the main manifestation of Stalinism in modern Russia is continuing the personality cult of the deceased leader, the enthusiastic veneration of the man who brought our country untold suffering. I still believe that the fact of such reverence for nothing good. But it is the root of all evil? Political analyst Oleg Solodukhin convinced that there is no: “by Itself, the popularity of Stalin does not carry any threat for the country — or, if you will, carries it in the same way that the popularity in the Russian society other cruel authoritarian leaders of the past like Ivan the terrible or of Peter I. the Threat to the country is not in itself the popularity of Stalin, and some closely associated with the popular features of the modern Russian mass consciousness”.
photo: Gennady Cherkasov
Stalin lived, Stalin alive, Stalin will live?
The main content of these features I Jan Raczynski stated: “Inherent in Stalin’s time distorted scale of values — man is the only consumable for the construction of a great state — not just still alive. A similar scale of values prevails in modern Russian society!”
I agree, reigns. But to lay blame for the outbreak of this reign of Stalin — to go against indisputable historical facts. Josef Stalin moved in the first ranks of the Soviet leaders, only closer to Lenin’s death in 1924. By the time of the coming to power of Stalin, the principle of “people — this is just a small brick for the construction of a great new society” was already firmly entrenched. In this sense, Stalin is nothing new, not invented — just come on gotovenkoe.
What, then, is the root of all evil? In the West and in the former Soviet Baltic republics answer this question: in the ideology of communism, which supposedly is the spiritual twin brother of Nazism. The ideas and principles of communism to me is not close. But the above point makes me the most categorical, the most fierce opposition.
Lithuanian collaborators of the Nazis (with white armbands) to make an arrest of Jews in summer 1941. In modern Lithuania the theme of the destruction of 95% of the Jewish population of the Republic during the Second world war is forbidden.
“The Nazi ideology was a crime. Communist ideology — utopia, a kind of distortion of economic ideas of Christianity, — said Yan Rachinsky. — The vast majority of Soviet people sincerely believed in these utopian ideas and didn’t do anything wrong. The Soviet people have worked hard all my life and in the mass have not earned nothing but calluses and diplomas. Not their fault that the results of their labors are actually left in the tube”.
Fully agree with this point of view — I fully agree and understand why the West tend to think differently. The last US Ambassador to USSR under Stalin, George Kennan differed so sharp tongue, that in Moscow he was declared persona non grata after only four months in office. But, in assessing his own country, Kennan was also very ruthless and very realistic.
Among other things, he once remarked, American public opinion is able to unite only around these foreign policy objectives, which are based on the primitive level of slogans and inspired by the ideology of jingoism (chauvinistic nationalism. — “MK”)”. In terms of understanding the complexity of historical and international problems, the Europeans are certainly much more advanced than Americans. But as a General principle, the payment is accepted only this explanation of events, which is simple and promises a direct benefit, — and works here.
Favorite Western thesis, “communism is the brother of Nazism” meets both criteria of Kennan. It is simple, elegant and exclusively available to perception. And this thesis is extremely beneficial to the West. It “removes the hook” countless Western States. For example, Britain and France — the countries that missed the first opportunity to safely crush the Nazi expansion, and then “fed” Czechoslovakia to Hitler, and strongly incited him to the Soviet Union.
This thesis removes the hook” Poland — a country that before you become an “innocent victim” of Germany and the Soviet Union gladly “ate” for the company with the same Hitler Czechoslovakia. This thesis removes the hook” Latvia and Lithuania — the territory whose indigenous people in the past gladly helped Hitler to destroy the Jews, and in this pretend none of this happened.
And please don’t think I witticism falsely insulted these two civilized European nation. A few months ago, the Lithuanian historian Ruta Vanagaite caused in the country a huge scandal by publishing a book “Ours” — about the destruction during the Second world war 95% of the Jewish population of Lithuania. Below I give a verbatim quote from her interview to the leading local Internet portal “Delfi”:
“This theme to such an extent I fear that I face with absolute panic from institutions of power to rural residents. For six months I met only a few people who were not afraid. Even with historians on a Park bench had to meet… Some historians I can’t quote — they don’t want. One said that from now on will not read lectures on this subject — it is dangerous”.
It is noteworthy that the interview purely Russian media Ruta Vanagaite fundamentally does not: “I wrote the book for Lithuania. This is an internal matter of Lithuanians”. Interestingly it turns out, isn’t it? Russia is obliged to repent before the world. A right to meddle in the “internal Affairs of Lithuania” no one in this world right there. Famously. Beautiful. And, most importantly, honest and noble.
However, let’s return to our main topic. Back, we can say, empty-handed. After all, if the favourite Western explanation of “evil essence of communism” does not work, it turns out that our desired root of evil we never found. Have to look any further — the more that I seem to know one “promising place”.
photo: Natalia Gubernatorova
For the creeping revival of Stalin’s personality cult in Russia today, a significant share of responsibility of the democratic forces of the country — or, rather, what was left of them.
The real source of Stalinism
“What was the mechanism of repression began in the Soviet era? Was a utopian idea of Paradise on earth, about the best in the world device companies. But the reality of this idea prevented. From here a path leading directly to the conclusion: it is necessary to deal with those who prevents the realization of a dream. After all, if utopia does not become a reality, it means that someone is to blame!” — I think that this idea Yana rachinskaya can serve as the first link in a very important chain of logic. Chain, that is unwound, we will be able to come close to understanding the essence of Stalinism — or what we usually understand by this term.
The desire to get everything at once without spending much effort, is an integral part of human nature. However, as shows including my personal experience, usually this desire leads somewhere completely different than I wanted. One day, when I went to kindergarten, we were taken to the pool to learn to swim. One of the tasks was as follows: it was necessary to dive to the bottom of the pool and get out of the ring, thrown by the athlete. Dive I was too lazy. I was very intelligent, got all the rings with his foot and while walking from coach to first class.
But then the inevitable happened: at the end of the lesson when others have already learned to dive, my Ruse was discovered. I scolded, shamed, and told me to dive it is not fun. There was no choice, I obeyed. But it got worse: the time when others were practicing diving, I squandered in vain. In the result of diving I only drank water and got a serious psychological complex. Swim I eventually learned only at the age of 15 years.
From the point of view of building a civil society and rule of law political experience of Russia resembles those of my childhood torment. Reminded me of Yan Rachinsky, “civil society in Russia began to really take shape only after the February 19, 1861 — the decree of Emperor Alexander II emancipation of the peasantry. And until the beginning of the First world war, the formation of civil society in our country, despite the very serious imbalances, in General was going quite fast.”
Why after 1914, for a very long time we had nothing but “distortions”? Part of the answer to this question is well known. Russia most banal way not enough time. War is always a terrible stress for the state mechanism. Were in a stage of the transitional period of the Russian state and public institutions such stress could not stand it and broke down.
After that, everything went according to the scenario described by Jan Raczynski in the beginning of this Chapter: the desire to instantly solve all the problems and build the perfect society — the search for the perpetrators is that it does not work, the mass extermination of the perpetrators. And, as I said above, start the script when Josef Stalin was on the sidelines, newly created in the perfect Soviet state.
Civil war is a period that in the Russian mass consciousness is associated mainly with anecdotes and romantic-epic characters: Petka and Chapaev, Shchors with a bushy mustache, Kotovskogo with a shaved skull, lover-boy Kolchak from the film “Admiral”… the Reasons for this mass Exodus from reality I realized one day when I started to read based on archival documents the documentary Chronicles the Civil war. Started and very quickly finished. And not just finished, but put this published in a small edition of the book in such a distant place that I still can’t find her.
Read this documentary Chronicles was absolutely unbearable. It was horrible — worse than the most sophisticated horror movies, worse than the most wild tales about Stalin’s Gulag. Rivers — what rivers! — oceans of blood. A continuous stream of savage massacres. Murder without purpose and without meaning. Murders because… If Stalinism is the senseless mass extermination of his own people, that Stalinism started in our country to Stalin. Stalin only continued what was started by his colleagues after a few relatively calm years of the NEP fed in the 1920-ies.
We will return, however, to seek reasons for this state of Affairs. Is it only in the fact of the matter is that pre-revolutionary Russia did not have enough time to build a full-fledged civil society? I am convinced that not only. Another reason is the specific attitude of pre-revolutionary Russian society to the state. An attitude that, I think, unfortunately, has survived to the present day.
The usual result of attempts to instantly build a “perfect society”: in 1921-1922 famine in Russia killed about five million people.
The government in Russia decided to either idolize or hate. It seems to me that they are two facets of the same phenomenon. Hatred is a direct result of the deification. Deification is a recognition of someone or something perfect. But what in reality has quite a terrestrial origin, can not be perfect. The mismatch between expectations and what is actually, inevitably leads to disappointment. In the case of the Russian intelligentsia is a chronic state of frustration with their government, according to political scientist Oleg Solodukhina, looks like this:
“The Russian intelligentsia in any country sees the “despotism” and constantly looking for the ideal state. That is, the institution of the state as such a negative attitude among the intelligentsia there. She knows that the state is necessary. But to each individual, existing at the moment the state intelligentsia is negative, because… And you are given a thousand reasons. To be intelligent means to be in opposition”.
When in power in the country is very hard or, as in the case of Stalin, a totalitarian regime, the value of this opposition functions of the intelligentsia down almost to nothing. Intelligentsia is embedded partially in, partially silenced partially sent “in the flow”. But if the official state power weakens if she thins the intellectual, political, or volitional resource, that the intelligentsia have a chance. Intelligentsia makes a breakthrough in power — partly human, partly ideological.
Over the last hundred years such breakthroughs of intellectuals into power in Russia was three. And, as reminded me of Oleg Solodukhin, none of them ended well for the country: “the Russian intelligentsia — especially the humanitarian intelligentsia — has always considered its role in society Messianic, but was not capable of any basic organizational business. The rise to power of Russian intellectuals, who can speak beautiful words, but not able to work either as officials or as a practice brought to the Russian chaos. So it was in the period of the Provisional government February–October 1917. So it was in the late Gorbachev period in 1987-1991 years. So it was during the early Yeltsin from 1991 to 1993”.
But when in power in our country is quite moderate by Russian standards, the political regime, the intelligentsia, in contrast, radicalized. So, for example, occurred during the reign of Alexander II. The Russian Emperor was a great reformer: the introduction of a system of local self-government, reorganization of the courts in the modern pattern, education reform, financial reform…
The Emperor Alexander II on his deathbed: attempts of the king to make life in the country more free and more modern then the Russian “creative class” said with a wave of terror.
It was under Alexander II in Russia there were created the preconditions for the development of civil society and rapid economic growth. But the “progressive forces” of Russia saw the situation differently. Believing that the government acts too slowly and hesitantly, they initiated a campaign of terror, which the victim eventually became king himself. In an effort to speed up the creation of a “perfect society”, the radicals among the intelligentsia seriously worsened the society that was.
And you should not consider this episode “ancient history” which is irrelevant to the present. The mass protests on Bolotnaya and Sakharova were perceived creative class — it is now fashionable to call the intelligentsia — as another chance to build a “perfect society”. And when this chance — a chance, which in reality never was — vanished into thin air, the Russian creative class fell into a deep state of depression and plunged into the swamp of radical ideas.
“I have one proposal that needs to be done in the first place after Putin is to hold the lustration Should not be allowed to hold public office and even have some relevance to the construction of a new state for anyone over, say, born in 1980… Why the need of lustration according to the age qualification? Because the generation of thirty years most of them are not poisoned by Sovietism… Because generation of forty years and older have already tried to build a new state, but it turned out they only have Putin… Enough, in General, go away, your time is up!” — from my point of view, this is a public offering of the young host of a popular in the democratic circles of the station is Stalinism in the worst sense of the word.
Someone appropriates the right to decide who should be a civil right, and who is not. But if the idea of lustration by age outrage at the “democratic community”? No, not caused. Such deeply anti-democratic at its core ideas are now the norm in this environment — and not only in this. The popularity of anti-democratic ideas is now a distinctive feature of all Russian public political spectrum.
I believe that this situation is growing pains. If Russia would be granted a certain number of decades without shocks, then everything will fix itself. But until that happens, our state is at risk of a new Stalinism — Stalinism in the broad sense of the term. “Ghost” Stalin is long gone in the hall of columns. But he still walks the expanses of the country.
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