Fascinated by Stalin? Read Montefiore's book

Read any good books lately?
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kowalskil
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Fascinated by Stalin? Read Montefiore's book

Post by kowalskil » Sun Oct 02, 2011 4:00 am

How Stalin managed to outmaneuver so many

After reading an interesting, and rather unique, book about Stalin, I just posted a very short review of it, at the Amazon’s website. Here it is, for those who might be interested:

I agree with those who wrote that Montefiore's voluminous "Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar" is not always easy reading. But it is certainly worthwhile for the light it sheds on relations between Stalin and his close subordinates, those whom he liquidated and those who survived him. Stalin's methods of domination--both brutal and ideological--are skillfully described. The same applies to personal relations between communist leaders. The Soviet Union was the first country in which the idea of proletarian dictatorship, formulated by Marx, was implemented. That is why all aspects of Soviet history are worth studying. Be aware that the number of characters is unusually large. Fortunately, Stalin's family tree and the introductory section entitled "List of Characters" should help readers to deal with this problem.

Ludwik Kowalski (see Wikipedia)
.
Ludwik Kowalski, author of a free ON-LINE book entitled “Diary of a Former Communist: Thoughts, Feelings, Reality.”

http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/life/intro.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

a testimony based on a diary kept between 1946 and 2004 (in the USSR, Poland, France and the USA).

The more people know about proletarian dictatorship the less likely will they experience is. Please share the link with those who might be interested, especially with young people, and with potential reviewers. Thank you.

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landrew
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Re: Fascinated by Stalin? Read Montefiore's book

Post by landrew » Sun Oct 02, 2011 4:54 pm

kowalskil wrote:...The Soviet Union was the first country in which the idea of proletarian dictatorship, formulated by Marx, was implemented. That is why all aspects of Soviet history are worth studying.
Worth studying because of its spectacular failure. The Soviet Union was the first, but certainly not the last grand implementation of socialism. In each and every case, the amount of claimed "success" of socialism was often proportional to the amount of capitalism which was allowed to flourish within it's ranks. Even within the relatively pure form of Marxist-Leninism which was promulgated by Stalin, the population was able to keep itself alive with Black-Market capitalism. Its clear to most people by now that socialism appears to work not in spite of capitalism, but because of it, and owes all of its lifeblood to the capitalist hosts upon which it must parasitize to survive.
The job of a skeptic is to investigate the unexplained; not to explain the uninvestigated.

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Re: Fascinated by Stalin? Read Montefiore's book

Post by nmblum88 » Sun Oct 02, 2011 11:15 pm

landrew wrote:
kowalskil wrote:...The Soviet Union was the first country in which the idea of proletarian dictatorship, formulated by Marx, was implemented. That is why all aspects of Soviet history are worth studying.
Worth studying because of its spectacular failure. The Soviet Union was the first, but certainly not the last grand implementation of socialism. In each and every case, the amount of claimed "success" of socialism was often proportional to the amount of capitalism which was allowed to flourish within it's ranks. Even within the relatively pure form of Marxist-Leninism which was promulgated by Stalin, the population was able to keep itself alive with Black-Market capitalism. Its clear to most people by now that socialism appears to work not in spite of capitalism, but because of it, and owes all of its lifeblood to the capitalist hosts upon which it must parasitize to survive.
("Our lives no longer feel ground under them.
At ten paces you can’t hear our words.

But whenever there’s a snatch of talk
it turns to the Kremlin mountaineer,

the ten thick worms his fingers,
his words like measures of weight,

the huge laughing cockroaches on his top lip,
the glitter of his boot-rims.

Ringed with a scum of chicken-necked bosses
he toys with the tributes of half-men.

One whistles, another meows, a third snivels.
He pokes out his finger and he alone goes boom.

He forges decrees in a line like horseshoes,
One for the groin, one the forehead, temple, eye.

He rolls the executions on his tongue like berries.
He wishes he could hug them like big friends from home."

("The Stalin Epigram," by Ossip Mandelstam - who was exiled by Stalin and died in Siberia as a result of hard labor, poor food, and terrible cold..)


By the time Stalin usurped the leadership of the Bolsheviks, and thus became the unchallengeable head of State, the USSR, he was hardly committed to any "pure form" of what you refer to as "Marxist -Leninism." By then it was quite obvious that the consecutive Five Year Plans had failed, that the collectivization of the farms had led to further erosion of an already consistent failure to be able to feed the population.
Russia was, after all, except for its Europeanized minority a nation of peasants, barely freed from actual serfdom, with no industrial infrastructure... and peasants, farmers, are tied to land, not ideology... and notoriously averse to anything approximating collectivization...
Add that to the spread of food shortages, eventual starvation, a succession of bitterly cold winters, drought in the East. made inevitable the consequent breakdown in societal stability.
Constant defections by the various leftist political organizations around the world. made it clear that "Socialism in One Country..." (the actual variation defended by Stalin, in contrast to the convictions of the various Socialist Internationals) would not work.... and that without international revolution, that is a Soviet State surrounded by, part of a Socialist world order, nothing but chaos, disappointment, failure... and more, no possible eventual disappearance of the State, was ever going to occur..
The ensuing years of Stalin's regime were then, inevitably, "damn Socialism, damn Communism, damn Marxism... damn everything but maintaining at any cost, the power, and the fury of the monstrously cruel Stalinist regime...




While in the West Socialism, Communism, Marxism, indeed "permanent revolution," (and of course, "godless atheism") became catch words for an anti-Soviet propaganda machine, inside the sorrowful Soviet Union nobody with any influence (as here) really believed in any of their own propaganda any more.
However, and not to be omitted from any discussion of 20th Century history, especially in regard to the overthrow of the Romanovs in Russia and the amazing revolutions that eventually met such a tragic revrsal, is the inarguable fact that almost no one in the world, and that includes of course, Hitler, and the German military machine, believed that nothing but shouts of joy, bourquets of flowers, and the throwing down of their guns by Russian soldiers , the militias, and even the civilian population would greet the Wehrnmacht , covered as it was by the invincible Luftwaffe as it made its "Drang Nach Osten" with its goal the taking of Moscow.
And then the surprise of the century!! And the lessons from it that are consistently ignored!!
The Russians despite the almost universal hatred of Stalin and his regime, not only fought back against the invader, but survived four of the great sieges in the history of warfare.... .. the gates of Stalingrad, Leningrad... etc., became the burial ground of Hitler, his allies throughout the Western world, AND the Vatican ... all their hopes and dreams...
The lesson I think... and one that the Soviets themselves forgot to their own inevitable end, and which Bush- Cheney perhaps never knew, was that ideology is as nothing compared to nationalism...
When push comes to shove, people do not really fight for anything as amorphous as the freedom that is touted our holiday speeches: "you are standing, uninvited, on my door step" means more.
Of course there are people willing to die for an idea.... but they are few and far between, and in terms of history, relatively meaningless for those who actually hold and fire their guns.
Communism, pure or corrupt was not what made the Soviet population fight on when everything seemed lost, nor was the overwhelming anathema to Stalin, which was set aside in the unimaginable efforts to repel the invaders.
What they were defending were their ancestral lands....as were the Viet Cong later, and as was the Taliban against the Soviet military machine.
And now against our own military..... like it or not, the Taliban is in its native habitat... and we, poor wayfaring strangers are far from home and hearth.

NMB
Skepticism:
" Norma, you poor sad lonely alcoholic. You entire life is devoted to interrupting other people's posts on this forum, regardless of the topic, to tell them what's wrong with them. The irony is, here you are doing it again, with this very post.
Your fanciful card games, movie sojourns and exciting overseas trips, that all take place within the four walls of an aged care retirement home, do not suggest your own children offered you the care, I gave my parents."

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landrew
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Re: Fascinated by Stalin? Read Montefiore's book

Post by landrew » Mon Oct 10, 2011 3:36 pm

nmblum wrote: By the time Stalin usurped the leadership of the Bolsheviks, and thus became the unchallengeable head of State, the USSR, he was hardly committed to any "pure form" of what you refer to as "Marxist -Leninism." By then it was quite obvious that the consecutive Five Year Plans had failed, that the collectivization of the farms had led to further erosion of an already consistent failure to be able to feed the population.
Russia was, after all, except for its Europeanized minority a nation of peasants, barely freed from actual serfdom, with no industrial infrastructure... and peasants, farmers, are tied to land, not ideology... and notoriously averse to anything approximating collectivization...
Add that to the spread of food shortages, eventual starvation, a succession of bitterly cold winters, drought in the East. made inevitable the consequent breakdown in societal stability.
Constant defections by the various leftist political organizations around the world. made it clear that "Socialism in One Country..." (the actual variation defended by Stalin, in contrast to the convictions of the various Socialist Internationals) would not work.... and that without international revolution, that is a Soviet State surrounded by, part of a Socialist world order, nothing but chaos, disappointment, failure... and more, no possible eventual disappearance of the State, was ever going to occur..
The ensuing years of Stalin's regime were then, inevitably, "damn Socialism, damn Communism, damn Marxism... damn everything but maintaining at any cost, the power, and the fury of the monstrously cruel Stalinist regime...




While in the West Socialism, Communism, Marxism, indeed "permanent revolution," (and of course, "godless atheism") became catch words for an anti-Soviet propaganda machine, inside the sorrowful Soviet Union nobody with any influence (as here) really believed in any of their own propaganda any more.
However, and not to be omitted from any discussion of 20th Century history, especially in regard to the overthrow of the Romanovs in Russia and the amazing revolutions that eventually met such a tragic revrsal, is the inarguable fact that almost no one in the world, and that includes of course, Hitler, and the German military machine, believed that nothing but shouts of joy, bourquets of flowers, and the throwing down of their guns by Russian soldiers , the militias, and even the civilian population would greet the Wehrnmacht , covered as it was by the invincible Luftwaffe as it made its "Drang Nach Osten" with its goal the taking of Moscow.
And then the surprise of the century!! And the lessons from it that are consistently ignored!!
The Russians despite the almost universal hatred of Stalin and his regime, not only fought back against the invader, but survived four of the great sieges in the history of warfare.... .. the gates of Stalingrad, Leningrad... etc., became the burial ground of Hitler, his allies throughout the Western world, AND the Vatican ... all their hopes and dreams...
The lesson I think... and one that the Soviets themselves forgot to their own inevitable end, and which Bush- Cheney perhaps never knew, was that ideology is as nothing compared to nationalism...
When push comes to shove, people do not really fight for anything as amorphous as the freedom that is touted our holiday speeches: "you are standing, uninvited, on my door step" means more.
Of course there are people willing to die for an idea.... but they are few and far between, and in terms of history, relatively meaningless for those who actually hold and fire their guns.
Communism, pure or corrupt was not what made the Soviet population fight on when everything seemed lost, nor was the overwhelming anathema to Stalin, which was set aside in the unimaginable efforts to repel the invaders.
What they were defending were their ancestral lands....as were the Viet Cong later, and as was the Taliban against the Soviet military machine.
And now against our own military..... like it or not, the Taliban is in its native habitat... and we, poor wayfaring strangers are far from home and hearth.

NMB
Unfortunately the great accomplishments of nationalism were usurped by the ideologies. The victors of WWII divided the world between them and claimed as their manifest destiny the eventual domination of the globe. There isn't a clear winner yet; China, in spite of all it's hyper-capitalism is still self-proclaimed a Marxist state.
The job of a skeptic is to investigate the unexplained; not to explain the uninvestigated.