Monday, April 16, 2007

April 16, 2007 – Why Stalin of All People?

This one’s for you “techno-geek.” And you know who you are!

I am reading the Stalin biography mentioned yesterday because it seems to me that he is the modern prototype for a successful dictator. Uber-successful to be precise. Stalin took over a poor, backward country where most people lived in mud huts and used wooden plows drawn by horses. When he sloughed off his mortal coil, some two and a half decades later, the USSR had a world empire protected by a huge army and nuclear weapons.

More details? Let’s see now. Stalin saved an unpopular dictatorship with a crumbling economy from counter-revolution and all its enemies, both foreign and domestic; He outflanked and eliminated all his rivals for power inside the Soviet Communist Party; He served as a warlord for the state that took on the Nazi war machine and destroyed it; He played the western Allies and their diplomats for saps and took over half of Europe without a shot fired; He survived the beginning of the Cold War. And, best of all no doubt, (at least from his point of view), Stalin died peacefully in his sleep, after a long life. Stalin didn’t accomplish all this by luck. It was all by cunning, ruthlessness and a massive power of will.

I am told that Saddam Hussein based his entire “style of governance” (if you wanna call it that) on Stalin. The military uniforms they both favored (although like Stalin, Saddam was never a soldier and, like Stalin, was rejected for military service when he tried to enlist.) Saddam had every major biography of Stalin in a special room in his library. He even had foreign works translated by his own personal “Stalin scholar.” A library of over a thousand books (only on Stalin), too.

If you’re looking for what a “successful” modern, cult-of-personality, absolute dictatorship looks like, and how it survived, thrived and endured for so long (e.g., from 1927 to 1953) just take a look at Uncle Joe's career.

Pathologists study cancer and I study dictators; What else can I say?

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