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Topic: Stalin's Legacy  (Read 14474 times)
Reply #75
« on: November 17, 2010, 09:22:41 AM »
TimM Offline
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Compared to Stalin, Nero, even on his worst day, comes off looking like Santa Claus.
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Reply #76
« on: November 17, 2010, 11:10:38 AM »
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Tim
have you studied Nero?
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Reply #77
« on: November 17, 2010, 03:37:59 PM »
Petr Offline
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But doncha think sometimes that all these professional experts on the good old USSR are a tad too particular, too specialized, in their definitions of political systems? I mean, what exactly was the Soviet Union compared to the United States? What was Hitler's Germany? So what if the definitions of "totalitarianism" as outlined by Hannah Arendt and what's his name I can never spell it properly, Zbigniew Brzezinski, don't quite fit. It's probably still the closest fit we're ever going to get to the reality of these dictatorships. I mean, seriously, who's perfect? Was Dostoevsky perfect? Was Tolstoy? What the hell do these people want in terms of academic rigor -- frankly their standards seem over the top and at times even unreasonable to me.

Well of course that is always the issue with academics who tend to become hyperspecialized (as you know publish or perish and the narrower the topic the better). I think "totalitarian" is a pretty good description to the extent its root is "total" and all such governments are characterized by a complete vertical chain of command and control throughout all aspects of society. I think (and I have said this before) that this total control is what distinguished the Soviet State from the Old Regime, which perhaps in theory vested all power in the Tsar but in practice power was diffused among various societal groups to varying degrees (the bureaucracy, the nobility, the Church, the merchant class, etc.).  I don't believe that the Old Regime was as monolithic as the Soviet State that followed it and of course it was the Bolsheviks' stated aim to eliminate all such independent power centers (which they did with great efficiency and at an enormous cost in blood) in the guise of granting all power to the "proletariat".   

There was a wonderful man at Columbia by the name of John Hazard (look him up in Wikipedia) when I was there who was the US's leading expert on Soviet Law and Public Administration. A nicer gentleman you would never meet and a distinguished academic. He studied at Moscow University as a graduate student in the 30s at the hieght of the purges (his Russian roomate was purged) at a time when the study of the Soviet legal system was unheard of. He helped form the Russian Institute (now the Harriman Institute) at Columbia and there was no one I knew who had as dismal a view (but a realistic one) of the USSR (which was interesting in a largely liberal institution like Columbia).  But then again familiarity breeds contempt. Zbig was a student of his. People always dismiss the notion of Soviet law as being an oxymoron but in fact Soviet society was governed by Law, unfortunately its formulation and application was undemocratic in the extreme. In fact the Constitution of 1937 (the so called Stalin Constitution) was a model of liberal principles. However  Leonard Schapiro, for example, writes that "The decision to alter the electoral system from indirect to direct election, from a limited to a universal franchise, and from open to secret voting, was a measure of the confidence of the party in its ability to ensure the return of candidates of its own choice without the restrictions formerly considered necessary," and that "...a careful scrutiny of the draft of the new constitution showed that it left the party's supreme position unimpaired, and was therefore worthless as a guarantee of individual rights."

In fact, I don't believe that any bureaucracy can function in a truly lawless society. They would be like chickens with their heads cut off with no direction, no "chain of command", and no delineation of function. If there is no law there is nothing one can implement, so however arbitrary and personal the commands of the "leader" they generally are issued under cover of some sort of legal justification.     
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Reply #78
« on: November 17, 2010, 03:53:26 PM »
Petr Offline
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A good place to start for an example of the creation and application of law in the Soviet State is the relationship between the State and religion. Lenin kicked things off by his decree in 1918 separating Church and State (a notion which is also enshrined in the First Amendment to our Constitution) but the application of this principle was something completely different as reflected in the following in Wikipedia.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_anti-religious_legislation.

So on its face it was all done "legally" but the laws provided for the legal justification for the persecution of the Church. Less than two decades later you saw a repetition in the adoption of the Nuremberg Laws in Germany (in that case directed at the Jews but by banning their civil rights (for example the right to own property) quite similar in effect).     
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Reply #79
« on: November 18, 2010, 05:40:48 AM »
PAVLOV Offline
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The thing that really gets me about some Russians, even today, is that they almost revere Stalin, despite of what he did to Russia. They still have statues of the guy around ! A bit like having memorials to Hitler in Germany. I know he was part of their history, but really he was someone whom I would say should be forgotten.
The mindset towards Stalin and Lenin I find very difficult to understand. Perhaps they dont really have any other national heroes to worship.
Some Spaniards still miss Franco.

I wonder how much longer Lenins little shrivelled up corpse in going to remain where it is ? At least they put Stalin 6 foot under.
Sorry I am going off topic here !. 
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Reply #80
« on: November 18, 2010, 09:03:27 AM »
Petr Offline
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The thing that really gets me about some Russians, even today, is that they almost revere Stalin, despite of what he did to Russia. They still have statues of the guy around ! A bit like having memorials to Hitler in Germany. I know he was part of their history, but really he was someone whom I would say should be forgotten.
The mindset towards Stalin and Lenin I find very difficult to understand. Perhaps they dont really have any other national heroes to worship.
Some Spaniards still miss Franco.

I wonder how much longer Lenins little shrivelled up corpse in going to remain where it is ? At least they put Stalin 6 foot under.
Sorry I am going off topic here !. 

Yesterday on NPR they reported on a recently concluded poll in the Ukraine which indicated that people preferred a strong leader to what the Orange Revolution gave them (although similar polls in Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe had opposite results). Frankly, that's not surprising because the transition to a market economy and a more democratic government has been very rocky in Russia and the Ukraine which would lead people to want stability and predictablility. After the Weimar Republic Germans wanted the same thing and they got Hitler. Also, for better or worse (mostly worse) many Russians credit Stalin for defeating the Germans in WWII and are willing to disregard what went on before. The current government is also interested in smoothing things over so there is no interest in digging up (literally and figuratively) the past (a literal form of let sleeping dogs lie).  Perhaps when the Russian Government feels itself secure enough it will address the horrors perpetrated by the communists with some degree of increased scrutiny.  I personally believe that unless societies address their hsitory warts and all you really can't make progress (it took over 100 years for the US to really address the effects of slavery and some argue that process hasn't been completed).
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Reply #81
« on: November 18, 2010, 09:13:12 AM »
TimM Offline
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Yeah, the Russians seriously need to realize that Lenin and Stalin were NOT great men, were NOT heroes, but rather they were murderers and thugs that cast Russia into a Dark Age.  Russia lost almost a century to the horror that these guys unleashed.

Russia had its own Holocaust under Stalin.  The only difference is that Stalin was not as selective as Hitler was.  Anyone who got in his way, anyone he saw as a threat, was eliminated.  Whole villages were wiped out, millions died or lost everything.  Anyone who thinks this mass murderer was a great man seriously needs professional help.

I suppose you'll always get some people like that.  There are some Germans that still admire Hitler, there are still some Romanians who still admire Ceausescu, there are still some Cambodians who still admire Pol Pot.  It seems even mass murderers have their "fan clubs".
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Reply #82
« on: November 26, 2010, 03:03:55 PM »
TimM Offline
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This might be interesting to read...


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katyn_massacre
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