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Stalin Died 60 Years Too Late

April 1, 2013 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Joseph Stalin died 60 years ago this month. Yet few people in the U.S. paused to mark the passing of one of history’s greatest mass murderers.

Death respects no one, no matter how monumental their achievements or, in this case, their crimes. No different was Joseph Stalin, good ole’ Uncle Joe in World War II mythology. It is remarkable how someone seemingly so banal and mediocre could have caused so much misery and death.

Stalin was born Joseph Dzhugashvili in 1878 in Gori, Georgia, a province of Imperial Russia. Although he attended an Orthodox seminary he did not inherit his mother’s religious faith. By his early 20s he was a Bolshevik agitator. In 1917 he was elected to serve on the Bolshevik Central Committee. His record in the Russian Civil War and Polish-Soviet War was less than stellar, but did not slow his political ascent.

And now we mark the 60th anniversary of his death.”

In 1922 he was chosen party General Secretary, which he turned into a position of power. Although Vladimir Lenin turned against Stalin, the former was incapacitated before he could act. Lenin’s death in 1924 triggered a lengthy and multi-sided power struggle. Through it all Stalin demonstrated political dexterity if not genius. He allied with Lev Kamenev and Grigory Zinoviev against Leon Trotsky, only to later dismiss Kamenev and Zinoviev. Other old revolutionaries, including Nikolai Bukharin and Alexey Rykov, also ended up on Stalin’s target list. By 1928 he was in full control.

There were still rivals, however, and in 1934 Sergei Kirov, who ruled the Leningrad Communist Party, was murdered. Even if the killing was not done at Stalin’s behest it provided him with a convenient excuse to purge the Soviet Union of his enemies. The Great Terror ensued, imprisoning and killing millions. Kamenev, Zinoviev, Bukharin, and Rykov all were executed after extraordinary show trials. In 1940 Stalin reached beyond the USSR to murder Trotsky, then in exile in Mexico.

It was a difficult time to be a communist. “I have seen the future and it works,” declared journalist Lincoln Steffens in 1919. However, the truth shone through for those who looked closely, despite the efforts of the misguided, like Steffens, who eventually became disillusioned with communism, and the malicious, such as Walter Duranty, who covered up the mass starvation-murder called the Holodomor in Ukraine while reporting for the New York Times (which has …read more
Source: OP-EDS

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