STALIN & STALINISM
by Dr. Howard Holter
Stalin In History
Of the many noted dictators in history, Stalin will go down as one of the most, if not the most formidable. He personally had control over a greater number of people for a longer period of time than perhaps any other dictator, or leader, for that matter.
During his life as leader of the Soviet Union, his influence upon his world and the world at large was formidable. In addition to his still-critical influence on the world's largest country, he extended Stalinism to the countries of Eastern Europe, where his influence and methods were practiced right up until 1989. The Chinese and Mao patterned a great deal of their post-1949 society after the system he built. Even today, North Korea for example, still practices Stalinism, and Saddam Hussein uses many of Stalin's tactics in ruling Iraq. Stalin's methods of rule were so effective, that dictators far into the future will take many leaves from his book. He was a "model" of 20th century dictatorship, and places where conditions are ripe will unfortunately be drawn to Stalinism as a means to radically transform a backward or semi-backward country in a short time (see for example, Barry Rubin, Modern Dictators, New American Library, 1988).
Since the death of Stalin in 1953, it is ironic that perhaps no political issue has been of greater importance to the countries of the former Soviet Union than dealing with Stalin and the system he created. As the great Soviet poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko wrote in 1962:
Mute stood the soldiers on guard
(for full text, see Half-Way to the Moon, ed. P. Blake and M. Hayward, Anchor Books, 1967, pp. 177-180)
In Russian history, Stalin will take his place alongside the likes of Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, and Lenin, as leaders who transformed Russia at critical junctures in its history. The continuities of Russian character and history are strong indeed, and make one pause when asking, "will Russia ever become a democratic state?"