Stalin has long represented a period of history that I find fascinating; one of my interests is the history behind the Russian communist period, and the ways in which the dictatorship found such a huge proficiency. The ideas of communism are so profoundly different to the systems employed in the UK that one cannot help wanting to research them, and want to know more. Fundamentally however, communism in its purest form, the form employed in The Communist Manifesto, has never existed as a social construct; some of its ideas have been implemented, however it has never occurred as Marx dictated. Instead, communism to the modern world is representative of dictatorships, and of huge loss of life.
Stalin himself was a man of personal power and had an entire court, often referred to as “The Court of the Red Tsar”, in his command. He worked extremely hard in maintaining a culture of fear, both of the regime and of himself, and when reading his bibliography, one becomes acutely aware of the sheer force of manipulation he applied in relation to his comrades. The power balance was maintained by a system of intricate politics, designed mainly to maintain Stalin’s prestige throughout his rule.
I think what is most interesting to consider however is the idea that Stalin was something of a family man; in contrast to his infamous counterpart, Adolf Hitler, he had two wives, and three children, although both of his wives died; it is often alleged that his second wife committed suicide, after an argument with her husband. His oldest son, Yakov, attempted suicide by shooting, however survived, causing his rather to remark “He can’t even shoot straight.” When he was taken hostage by German forces and held in Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, he committed suicide by running into an electrified fence.
Stalin kept a close circle of comrades around him much of the time, often summoning them for evenings of drinking and watching foreign films. This informality (which was in itself a facade) creates the impression of a dictator with more than one dimension; he enjoyed the social aspects of having an unlimited amount of power, however equally, used these forced social events as a way to confirm his own position. His most trusted colleagues however tended to be enraptured by Stalin’s presence, however also terrified by it; there was never a “safe job” within the Soviet Union.
Today, Stalin remains as a figurehead in Russia, especially among the older generation. In 2011, it was reported that Stalinism was seeing a surge in popularity, and people were becoming less inclined towards de-Stalinization. Unlike Germany, the public of Russia still feel as though Stalin did some good for the country, and arguably, in the aftermath of the Second World War, he led a country to be one of two leading superpowers. The rise of Stalin’s popularity shows the potency of his influence over the country.
Today however, there are still several communist based political systems in existence; North Korea is an obvious example, and China still maintains ideologies of communism throughout it’s government; for example, freedom of speech and of research is still tightly restricted. Vietnam and Cuba remain today as communist states.
I’m rather interested to know how communism as an ideology will progress in relation to the modern world, and in relation to the recession we are experiencing; will it produce a rise in popularity, or will it see a decline in popularity? Perhaps there’s a dissertation paper, right there…