Rise Of Stalinism Reflects Widespread Feeling That Ending Injustice Requires A Strong Hand – OpEd


The increasing sympathy and support Russians show for the figure of Stalin, psychiatrist Vyacheslav Tarasov says, reflects their sense that local officials aren’t preventing but rather promoting injustice and that a strong hand is needed to restore both order and justice. And that those ends are so important that they justify almost any means.

He tells Mikhail Karpov of the Lenta news agency that calls to Vladimir Putin during his Direct Line program showed that Russians now see that “the local authorities are extremely inert and inactive,” that they are very much upset about this, and that they want justice imposed by “a strong hand” (lenta.ru/articles/2017/07/29/stalin_good/).

It is that feeling and nothing else that explains why Russians increasingly view Stalin in a positive light and want to see his statue up in their cities and towns, Tarasov continues. For them, Stalin was someone who embodied just such strength and willingness to use force against all the little bosses. He is for them “the enemy of the enemies of the people.”

But it is important to remember that what Russians support about Stalin is not the actual historical figure but rather the picture they have of him, a picture that has been established artificially. This trend, the psychiatrist says, is “very worrisome” because no one knows just how far this “demand for a strong power and a strong hand” will go.

That two-thirds of Russians don’t want to be remined of Stalin’s crimes is completely logical, the psychiatrist says. They are ready “to forgive everything done by a strong and willful leader,” on the basis of the principle “’the end justified the means’” or as Stalin put it, “’when a forest is cut down, the chips fly.’”

Right now in Russia, Tarasov continues, “we can live until the moment when someone will come and say: ‘I free you from the chimera of conscience. Do everything for the good of the nation.’ This has all happened before in history and to what consequences it can lead is very well known.”

Most Russians justify their affection for Stalin by saying that he should be remembered as part of our history. But here as often is the case, “people are masking their true motives with noble ones.” No one wants to say directly: I want someone to come and kill all the evil dealers. But that is what he really means and wants.

Russians have been approaching this “gradually,” he says. “About five years ago, the figure of Leonid Brezhnev began to appear in a positive key,” even as “the best leader of the Soviet state for all the period of its existence.” But now there has been a change in landmarks as it were.

“In Brezhnev, the people valued stability, comparable well-being and a peaceful life without terrorist acts or social upheavals. But now that is not enough. Given the lengthy economic crisis and the broken relations with other countries, the former model has receded into second place, freeing the space for the model of Comrade Stalin.”

Not surprisingly, young people are among the most enthusiastic Stalinists, Tarasov says. “The young are always radical, they always need slogans and very simple answers to the most complicated questions. An understanding that there are no simple answers to complicated questions comes only with the passing of time.”

Today, the psychiatrist says, “Russia wants great deeds. The population has a demand for them. A monument to Stalin makes an individual feel attached to victory in the Great Fatherland War, to Stalin’s construction projects, and to many other achievements. That this was accompanied by repressions is something hardly anyone wants to think about.

As one good Russian film put it, “’No one ever remembers the victims; everyone always remembers the murderers.”

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

2 thoughts on “Rise Of Stalinism Reflects Widespread Feeling That Ending Injustice Requires A Strong Hand – OpEd

  • July 30, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    Right you are,the Russians won the war. Americans tell their citizens the opposite. Once again,where did Zhukov meet Ike Eisenhower,was it Berlin or river Laba (in Polish) in Western Germany?.This can tell you a lot more my American friends.

  • February 11, 2019 at 4:27 pm

    the idea that Russia won the war singlehandedly is preposterous. Certainly heroes such as Nikita Kruschev were more than just brave. They were ‘fight to the death for your country’ determined not to let Moscow fall and ready to burn half the country in front of the oncoming Germans if sacrifices such as that could serve the long term goal of stopping the German advance. However, the aid received from the west, which resulted in the Russians being able to manufacture the arms needed and the food from the Allies were extremely important factors in the Allied victory and the Russians’ ability to continue the fight. Just as important was the Allied invasion, founded on the strength of the American military/industrial might. Add to that Churchill’s ability to convince the British not to surrender when they seemed doomed to defeat. Throw in God’s intervention in the cruel winter which froze to death hundred of thousands of German soldiers in their tracks. Lest we forget, the French underground wreaked more havoc on the Germans than we will ever fully understand. The resources the Germans had to apply to French resistance took away from other plans which might have gone better had the Free French not been willing to blow up bridges, derail trains and assist Allied soldiers caught behind the lines while supplying the Allies with important information concerning the Germans’ activities. Do not forget to mention that Hitler’s maniacal, egotism played a huge part when he decided to open the war on two opposite fronts, ( which, by the way, he should have realized would fail because Bonaparte had already left Hitler a perfect model of failure many decades before). The Allies attacked Hitler in Northern Africa, Italy, Normandy, and Finland….just to name a few. Russia was allowed to defend itself only because it did not stand alone. And let us never forget the cruel, homicidal tactics Stalin used in his rise to power and his agenda to hold that power. Please do not let a distorted memory of Stalin rise up in Russia. The idea that communism or far left socialism is the answer to the world’s problems is incorrect.


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