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Posts Tagged ‘Stalin’

Ivan IV Vasilyevich (1530 –1584) known in English as Ivan the Terrible, was Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 until his death. His long reign saw the conquest of the Khanates of Kazan which was commemorated by one of the most beautiful buildings erected anywhere on the earth.(St. Basil’s Cathedral impressed the Tsar so much that he had the architect, Postnik Yakovlev, blinded so he could never design anything as beautiful again. (In reality, Postnik Yakovlev went on to design more churches for the Tsar. Then what is legend if it does not stretch truth so even violence and rank stupidity sound much sweeter than reality? It is what legend does to the memory of people and places.)
Ivan the terrible is an anglicized travesty of the ruler who gripped the imagination of Russians. Ivan the fearsome is closer to the truth. Look only what he has achieved? Sheer scale of his achievements weigh more against his failures. He annexed Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia, transforming Russia into a multiethnic and multiconfessional state spanning almost one billion acres, approximately 4,046,856 km2 . He brought about changes in (1,562,500 sq mi). He was the first tsar of all Russia.
The 1560s brought hardships to Russia that led to dramatic change of Ivan’s policies. Russia was devastated by a combination of drought and famine, Polish-Lithuanian raids, Tatar invasions and the sea-trading blockade carried out by the Swedes, Poles and the Hanseatic League. His first wife, Anastasia Romanovna, died in 1560, and her death was suspected to be a poisoning. This personal tragedy deeply hurt Ivan and is thought to have affected his personality, if not his mental health. At the same time, one of Ivan’s advisors, Prince Andrei Kurbsky, defected to the Lithuanians, took command of the Lithuanian troops and devastated the Russian region of Velikiye Luki. Since then he would be wary of the nobles and take stern actions to nip the trouble in bud.
His creation of a buffer between him and the nobility was in the creation of the oprichnina. It consisted of a separate territory within the borders of Russia on which the tsar held exclusive power. The Boyar Council ruled the zemshchina (‘land’), the second division of the state. Ivan also recruited a personal guard known as the oprichniki. Originally it was a thousand strong. They enjoyed social and economic privileges under the oprichnina. They owed their allegiance and status to Ivan, not to heredity or local bonds. Think how this idea would change in the hands of Joseph Stalin. His gulags was a land where dissidents were made to work to death and his personality cult created a new class that owed allegiance to him only.
The modern Ivan, Comrade Stalin and no other, the man who personally saw to the death of some 22 millions as with Ivan the Grozny were molded by history, culture and also by circumstances that create historic parallels. If that is the case only Russia could have produced two evil geniuses whose contribution to history of world would be debated by historians for many more centuries to come.
Tailpiece: the tsar also made laws restricting the mobility of the peasants, which would eventually lead to serfdom.
benny

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Joseph Stalin,the great killing machine, according to Alexander Yakovlev, the Soviet aircraft designer could be charming when he wanted to.’ but when he became angry they (his eyes) looked daggers, and tiny red spots appeared among the pock marks on his face.’ He recalls how Stalin after berating a senior executive would say, ‘I see you like the quiet life. In that case you would be best off in a cemetery. That is the only place you can find tranquility. The corpses will not argue with you or make any demands upon you.’ Stalin knew his power, and he could play a cat and mouse game with others. It did not matter how the exalted and lowly he was, both his colleagues and party workers knew how vulnerable they were before him. Stalin made them squirm or even sweat when he indulged in jests that sounded innocuous at surface.
‘Why are your eyes so shifty today?’ he would at random ask some party worker he had known for years. ‘Why do you turn away? Why don’t you look me straight in the face?’ More often than not the hapless worker would be arrested later that day. In the Iztvestia newspaper offices boards used to hang up with names of heads of departments but the practice soon stopped. It was not worth making as the messenger girl explained to Ilya Ehrenberg,’here today, gone tomorrow.’
The midnight knocks and mysterious disappearances were extensive that alarmed even Isaak Babel, the author of Red Cavalry and he told the poet thus,’ Today a man talks frankly only with his wife,- at night with the blanket pulled over his head!’ Among the intelligentsia no one was sure what tomorrow would bring.
Many of Ehrenberg’s acquaintances kept a small suitcase with two changes of warm underwear permanently in readiness.
When Budu Mdivani, the former Premier of Georgia (whose part Lenin had sided against Stalin long way back) was falsely accused of conspiring against Beria and Yeshov, knew Stalin too well. When asked to confess in order to be spared of execution he said,’I have known Stalin for thirty years. Stalin won’t rest until he has butchered all of us,beginning with the unweaned baby, and ending with the blind great- grand mother!’ So he did all his comrades of old among whom was Abel Yenukidze, his closest personal friend and best man at his marriage with Nadhezda Alliluyeva. His fault? He interceded for Kamenev and Zinoviev, and also for introducing Zoya Nikitina into Kremlin and later she was suspected of trying to poison Stalin. It didn’t take much either for comrades or ordinary man on the street to be arrested and shot.
The great killing machine didn’t grind to a halt because of a Great Patriotic War or after.
Only his death put a stop to the reign of terror. When his death became known the people didn’t know whether to cry or sigh in relief. The emotional battering under which the whole Soviet Russia lived from day to day from night to morning had sapped all their inner resources to respond normally.
(ack:Stalin: the history of a dictator by H. Montgomery Hyde.)
benny

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Illogical route of history is always given some semblance of shape by the logic of those who are determined to succeed. The son of a drunken Georgian cobbler is hardly the kind of man we expect to make history. This unlikely figure with bad teeth and pock marked face and with a deformed left hand came from the people.  He was common which was what Lenin required and he had plenty of middle class intellectuals already. Lenin was looking for one, preferably not just a peasant or a worker but someone with a modicum of education. Thus in 1912 V.I Lenin picked out Koba Jugashvili to become one of the 10 member Bolshevik Central Committee.
Fortune also smiled on Koba the Georgian, while he just made tentative steps on the stage of world history.
Lenin needed someone to expound the correct Marxist view (or rather his own views) on the question of Nationality problem. He felt a Pole or a Jew would take an extreme point of view while he himself as a Russian might not sound convincing to the rank and file among revolutionaries. Lenin thus chose ‘Koba’ one from the oppressed nationalities of the empire. In 1913 he wrote a treatise ‘Marxism and The National Question’ and it earned him the aura of a theorist. His authorship of an authoritative Bolshevik exposition on a very crucial issue was to decisively affect his future and that of Russia.
Was it chance that pitch forked him to the stage of world history? In any case we may with certainty vouch for his staying power. Till his death in 1953 he was the undisputed leader of the Soviet Union. In his ability to have beat back every opposition with the ruthlessness that we find parallel among those who wielded the destiny of Russia only in Ivan the Terrible, we see the logic of ambition straightening illogical twists inherent in luck. He later came to be known as Joseph Stalin.
He may be accused of having disposed of some 22 millions of people in his time but can he be seen separated from the history of Russia? Even at this moment of history he is a serious contender for the title of the Greatest Russian. Like Hitler  he would not have under normal circumstances, come to wield power but he did because he represented the people. He had all the qualities needed to succeed: ambition, vision, control over facts and detail, patience, native intelligence and cunning. By overthrow of  the old order a man of such qualities in Russia need not have worried over being checked. Yes Stalin was a creature of his times.

History is the anvil of God where evil geniuses and saviors make their impact.

2.
Representational dispensation which we attribute to God must allow the ilk of Stalin, Pol Pot, Pinochet to ride every obstacle subject to the law of compensation. These obstacles are man made and often unjust like the class/caste, economic disparity etc.,

Take the case of FDR who came to play a pivotal role in the history of the USA at the time of Depression. Polio left him a cripple and yet he could use his class connections to go higher. In him also the two laws were in operation by which he made a difference to his world.

Men are pawns for good and evil alike, victims to the play off of two laws: of deprivation and compensation.
Tailspin: Al Gore may be deprived of a victory in the controversial 2001 elections. It is according to the law of deprivation.  But law of compensation showed its hand when Al Gore was picked out for Nobel Prize, a role which crowns with more honor than to be known as a President of Incompetence.
benny

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