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Russia: Stalinesque
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January 2, 2009:  The commercial corruption in Russia is among the worst in the world (China being a close second). The companies of both nations are most often trying to use bribes when operating overseas. In Russia, the culture of bribery is seen as a defense against government attempts (often successful) to take over companies. Russia is returning to czarist days in that respect, where the czar (or his chief ministers, in most cases) could override commercial contracts and seize assets almost at will. But the government cannot run these seized firms as well as their managers, so the bureaucrats look about for new temporary owners (who can operate the firms as long as they make a lot of money for the bureaucrats, and themselves.) It's not an efficient system, and now that Russia is competing on world markets, this is becoming a problem.

Many Russians understand that, if you bring back all the apparatus of the communist police state, you also bring back poverty and tyranny. But most Russians believe they need the "strong man" methods to keep order while a truly free and efficient society is built. A tricky business, but that attitude helps most Russians tolerate the growing despotism of the government. In recent opinion polls, Josef Stalin, who played a large role in getting a third of all Russians killed during the communist period, was voted one of the most admired Russian leaders.

Russia (and China) deny they are the center of the Internet crime world, but they are. Both nations tolerate large Internet crime organizations. The ones in Russia specialize in credit card and bank fraud, while those in China concentrate on stealing data. The gangs in both countries are believed to do jobs to the government, in return for their protection. Russia is also trying to control what Russians see on the Internet, with less success. So the police go after news sources inside Russia that report things the government would rather remain unreported. It's all becoming rather Stalinesque.

Faced with its first recession in ten years, the government warned employers to limit firings as much as possible (those who displease the government in this respect can expect to see their firm taken over by the government).  Economic growth, at about 8 percent a year until recently, is suddenly at zero, or worse. Russia gets most of its export revenue, and government income, from oil exports. After 2000, as the booming economies of India and China demanded more oil. The $20 a barrel (average) price (which has been pretty steady since the end of World War II, when adjusted for inflation), skyrocketed to $70 a barrel by 2006, and spiked at $117 in mid-2008. Since then it has tumbled to below $40 a barrel. The last spike, peaking in late 1979 at  $106, declined through the 1980s and played a role in bankrupting the Soviet Union. Some Russian bureaucrats have a déjà vu feeling about this. Thus Russia is cooperating with OPEC in cutting oil shipments, and is considering joining OPEC (which controls 36 percent of world production, with Russia being the largest single producer, at nearly 10 million barrels a day, outside the cartel.) Russian politicians are jealous of their Chinese counterparts, who have created a system that keeps the business community productive, and in line politically, while keeping the communist bureaucrats in power. Russia is having a hard time with its business people, and is suffering more popular unrest than China. The current Russian crackdown on dissent is mainly intended for those protesting legitimate economic grievances.

The government is bracing for a recession, one that could see a million or more people losing their jobs, and many other suffering declines in income. Militarily, this money shortage threatens the government program to revive the strategic nuclear missile program. Currently, Russias ICBM arsenal is dying of old age. New missiles are being built at a rate that will leave Russia with a smaller (a few hundred missile) force of ICBMs in a decade or two. In practical terms, that's adequate. But in terms of pride, it's humiliating.

Iran says it is receiving parts of the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system from Russia. Meanwhile, Russia denies that Iran is getting the S-300, but admits it is shipping unnamed "defensive weapons" to Iran.

January 1, 2009: Russia has cut off natural gas supplies to Ukraine. Russia is demanding that Ukraine pay $2.1 billion in back charges, and higher rates for future shipments. Months of negotiations failed to achieve an agreement, so Russia is playing hardball. Ukraine says it has enough reserves to last until April, and will not divert gas passing through on its way to Western Europe. Russia has threatened war if Ukraine did that.

December 31, 2008:  Russia adopted a six year presidential term, to replace the four year term. The new measure went through the parliament in record time.

December 30, 2008: A rebel attack in Dagestan (which is next to Chechnya) left a police general dead.

December 25, 2008: A police operation in Ingushetia (which is next to Chechnya) left twelve rebels dead. Government corruption, and lack of economic growth, has led to an increase in crime, and outright rebellion, in the Caucasus. This is nothing new, but has been a common pattern in the region for centuries.

December 20, 2008: There was an explosion in an open air market in Moscow, leaving nine injured. Police investigators said it was caused by a fire that reached a stock of holiday fireworks. No terrorist group took credit for the explosion.

December 18, 2008: The government is donating (at a nominal price to cover shipping and training) ten MiG-29 fighters to Lebanon. The MiG-29 is a Cold War era competitor for the U.S. F-16, and is seen as a loser inside Russia (the winner being the Su-27/3x series).

December 15, 2008: The parliament has voted to eliminate juries in treason and terror cases. Anyone the government doesn't like, and wants to punish or intimidate, is usually charged with treason. But juries have seen through this, and defied government threats and acquitted some of the victims. No more. It's easier for the government to order the judges to find treason defendants guilty after a show trial. This sort of thing was big during Soviet times, and now it's back. Another old policy that has been revived is sharp restrictions on public demonstrations. Police are quick to halt any protests that the government finds particularly irksome.

December 10, 2008:  Russian farmers had one of the best crops in history this year, producing 31 percent more grain (112 million tons) than last year. But the rest of the world had a good year as well (up about ten percent over last year), and that brought prices down. So the government is buying up millions of tons of Russian grain, to prevent many Russian farmers from going bankrupt. Russian farming is finally recovering from decades of communist decline, and returning to the pre-World War I era when Russia was one of the major grain exporters. By the time the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991, Russia had become a major grain importer.

December 8, 2008: All MiG-29 fighters were grounded until the cause of a recent crash could be determined. That MiG-29 went down for unknown reasons, and it's believed possible there is a design flaw (common to all MiG-29s) responsible.

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Panzers    Panzers   1/4/2009 1:52:35 PM
The Red Chinese govt. tried to do the same by "re-habilitating" Chairman Mao's "legacy" over 10 years ago!
 
Russia is now an FSB state.
 
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Lance Blade       1/11/2009 10:58:44 AM

The Red Chinese govt. tried to do the same by "re-habilitating" Chairman Mao's "legacy" over 10 years ago!

 

Russia is now an FSB state.

Now I believe that to be a gross oversimplification ;)
 
"Plutocracy" would be a much more fitting description in my opinion. As for Stalin's popularity, I have the following view on it. Stalin was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions, there is no doubt about that. However, from the beginning he believed in what he stood for. He was committing acts of terrorism at age 17. Right up until his death/assasination, he truly believed with all his being in the worldwide communist revolution. And, in an age where all Russians see around them is greedy people chasing money, I can understand how the idea would appeal to them.  One of the first things they built straight after World War II in the ruins of Russia wasn't Gazprom or some money-making conglomerate - it was Moscow State University. Investing in the future generations. Stalin turned Russia from a backwater of Europe into one of the world's two superpowers. We can always question the methods but there is no denying that at the very least, Stalin cared for the country. All Russians see today is self-serving officials stealing money at every level. Communism is nearly dead in Russia as a political ideology, but the fact Russians view Stalin in a favourable light only suggests, to me, that there is a demand for people who will not be afraid to stand up and selflessly work to make a difference.
 
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afrc       1/13/2009 12:22:44 AM


The Red Chinese govt. tried to do the same by "re-habilitating" Chairman Mao's "legacy" over 10 years ago!
Russia is now an FSB state.


Now I believe that to be a gross oversimplification ;)

"Plutocracy" would be a much more fitting description in my opinion. As for Stalin's popularity, I have the following view on it. Stalin was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions, there is no doubt about that. However, from the beginning he believed in what he stood for. He was committing acts of terrorism at age 17. Right up until his death/assasination, he truly believed with all his being in the worldwide communist revolution. And, in an age where all Russians see around them is greedy people chasing money, I can understand how the idea would appeal to them.  One of the first things they built straight after World War II in the ruins of Russia wasn't Gazprom or some money-making conglomerate - it was Moscow State University. Investing in the future generations. Stalin turned Russia from a backwater of Europe into one of the world's two superpowers. We can always question the methods but there is no denying that at the very least, Stalin cared for the country. All Russians see today is self-serving officials stealing money at every level. Communism is nearly dead in Russia as a political ideology, but the fact Russians view Stalin in a favourable light only suggests, to me, that there is a demand for people who will not be afraid to stand up and selflessly work to make a difference.
I sure hope you try to explain Russian people's opinion and not yours, because I totally disagree with this opinion. This is an opinion of a sheep trying to explain it's love for a wolf. I don't think that Stalin believed in Worldwide Communist Revolution. He believed in terror, death, power and being a communist hitman gave him all that. He happen to get lucky because communists won in the end because of people like Lenin and Trotsky. Then Stalin utilized his ability to manipulate and terrorize people to achieve his goals and he came to power... and he got rid of most people that put him there in 1930s. He saw country as his toy and people as his tools to achieve glory for himself, because he was the country.
Stalin ordered to build Moscow State University because it was supposed to be a part of his new grand city of Moscow, not unlike Hitler's plans for new Berlin after WW2 - the monument to himself. The university he build was grand and expensive - good for show, while people had to live in "komunalka" apartments - several families per apartment.
Stalin did not build Gazprom because he was Gazprom himself... there was no need for companies. He build mines to export ore, while there was not enough demand for oil to justify building expensive pipelines.
Stalin did not care for people. He was prepared to sacrifice millions to make himself a bit more powerful and glorious. People were sheep to him. Stalin did not care for the country, but only for the things that country brought him. And Stalin was corrupt... he was corrupt by power. He did not need to steal anything, because he had no need - he could take whatever he wanted whenever he wanted it. Same goes for Hitler. He was prepared to sacrifice all German people if Germany lost the war, because it meant to him that German people failed the test and were unworthy to live on. Stalin and Hitler did not care for people, they only cared for their agenda.
 
Here's some Hitler's quotes: "What luck for rulers, that men do not think"; "We will not capitulate - no, never! We may be destroyed, but if we are, we shall drag a world with us - a world in flames"; "The great strength of the totalitarian state is that it forces those who fear it to imitate it"; "Germany will either be a world power or will not be at all"; "Any alliance whose purpose is not the intention to wage war is senseless and useless".
Now let's see about Stalin: "A single death is a tragedy, are million deaths is a statistic; "Death is the solution to all problems. No man - no problem"; "Everyone imposes his own system as far as his army can reach"; "Gratitude is a sickness suffered by dogs"; "I trust no one, not even myself"; "The only real power comes out of a long rifle".
 
My god! They are like twin brothers! They have the same view of the world and same ideas. Those quotes sound like they came from the same mouth. There is very little difference between them - they both utilized ideology to promote their own power and
 
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Lance Blade    afrc reply   1/13/2009 2:31:39 PM
As if Lenin and Trotsky cared for individual people. Maybe Stalin was the worst of the lot; I don't believe in this idea that, had Trotsky come to power, things would have been very different. The worldwide communist revolution from the very beginning hinged on this idea of a society in which greed and laziness did not exist - it doesn't work otherwise. They tried to breed this society by eliminating anyone who didn't fit the criteria. The approach was utterly devoid of things like morals or regard for human life from the very beginning. And in a world without such morals, a human life is worth only as much as it can give to the Revolution - living or dead. They all believed in that, and while it's easy to just blame Stalin for everything, I believe it's oversimplification. He was the product of that system, and he pushed the system to exactly where Trotsky or Lenin would have no doubt wanted it to go. If you ask most people from that time, they will probably remember it as a time of great happiness. There was the Revolution, the personality cult; freedom of expression was (in certain directions) unlimited, and because Stalin kept conducting his purges, there was huge social mobility. People were encouraged to only look in one direction - forward. Anyone who happened to look any other way was quickly removed from the system. In a way, it's utopia. It's forced happiness, but happiness nontheless. Of course it was unsustainable, but otherwise...
 
Hitler and Stalin were quite different, though they both held next to no regard for human life and believed the end always justified the means.  Hitler was a hysteric who used emotions to vex people; Stalin was cold and calculating. Hitler wanted the world dominance of Germany at the expense of everyone else; Stalin essentially wanted to take over the world and spread the Revolution everywhere. Finally, they stood for radically opposite ideologies. Communism is inclusive and a class war, while fashism is exclusive and built on racism.
 
I personally don't have an opinion on Stalin. I don't know if he was a man utterly consumed by an idea and simply had his human tendencies - paranoia, a lust for power - emerge sometimes as a result of being human; or if he was simply a manipulative maniac who used the Revolution for personal gain. Maybe it was a bit of both. He didn't leave Moscow when his generals had an armoured train standing by and the Germans looked poised to break through, for example. I think he can be cast in more than one light. I can appreciate why Russian people might actually like him, though. To me it shows that they're pissed with their government. Maybe they associate a Strong Leader with Great Success. Which is understandable. He did win after all, and as Russians say "you don't judge the winners".
 
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Lance Blade    On Treason   1/14/2009 2:05:18 PM
"December 15, 2008: The parliament has voted to eliminate juries in treason and terror cases. Anyone the government doesn't like, and wants to punish or intimidate, is usually charged with treason. But juries have seen through this, and defied government threats and acquitted some of the victims. No more. It's easier for the government to order the judges to find treason defendants guilty after a show trial. This sort of thing was big during Soviet times, and now it's back. Another old policy that has been revived is sharp restrictions on public demonstrations. Police are quick to halt any protests that the government finds particularly irksome."
 
Surely there's similar measures for terror trials in the US and Europe? I'm sure everyone is aware of the benefits of this approach, as well as its risks. In theory I don't see how it should pose a significant problem in an aware society. If the public doesn't like the way a trial is conducted, there is an uproar and public pressure forces a new trial to take place, no?
 
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afrc       1/15/2009 1:24:13 AM

As if Lenin and Trotsky cared for individual people. Maybe Stalin was the worst of the lot; I don't believe in this idea that, had Trotsky come to power, things would have been very different. The worldwide communist revolution from the very beginning hinged on this idea of a society in which greed and laziness did not exist - it doesn't work otherwise. They tried to breed this society by eliminating anyone who didn't fit the criteria. The approach was utterly devoid of things like morals or regard for human life from the very beginning. And in a world without such morals, a human life is worth only as much as it can give to the Revolution - living or dead. They all believed in that, and while it's easy to just blame Stalin for everything, I believe it's oversimplification. He was the product of that system, and he pushed the system to exactly where Trotsky or Lenin would have no doubt wanted it to go. If you ask most people from that time, they will probably remember it as a time of great happiness. There was the Revolution, the personality cult; freedom of expression was (in certain directions) unlimited, and because Stalin kept conducting his purges, there was huge social mobility. People were encouraged to only look in one direction - forward. Anyone who happened to look any other way was quickly removed from the system. In a way, it's utopia. It's forced happiness, but happiness nontheless. Of course it was unsustainable, but otherwise...

I never said that Lenin cared (maybe a little LOL) and I never claimed that things would be different under Trotsky. But I do believe that Trotsky and Lenin were more about ideology and less about personal power. They won the revolution and brutal Civil War. I also think they believed in communist ideals and Worldwide Communist Revolution. And I also know that Lenin was not as blind as some think. Have you heard about Lenin's NEP program (very limited capitalism) and his steps to invite foreign capital when country needed a different approach to improve situation after Civil War? Now I think that Stalin was simply enjoyed being a terrorist and having power and justification to rob and kill. He simply utilized Lenin's victory and Marx's ideology to propel himself to power and stay there. I never saw any indication that Stalin in private actually cared about anything but his power. As far as looking in one direction... people were forced to look forward to mirage, while there was barbed wire to the left and right and machine guns in the rear. May I remind you that Stalin's system put such geniuses as Tupolev and Korolev in Gulag system where they lost their health for nothing. Stalin believed in slavery (not communism) and that's why he promoted Gulags and he took passports from farmers (collective farmers to be exact) to prevent them from fleeing dire situation on the farms to the slightly better life in a city. Khruschev actually was more into ideology and "bright future" idea. USSR achieved a lot under him: Tupolev and Korolev made planes and rockets... people began to get housing (so called "Khruschev apartments"), etc - and it all happened without millions of deaths. Now Khruschev also tried to meddle with internal affairs without necessary knowledge. Eventually he managed to destroy the progress he made in the farm industry and he pushed for missile technology everywhere and send military down the wrong track.   
  

Hitler and Stalin were quite different, though they both held next to no regard for human life and believed the end always justified the means.  Hitler was a hysteric who used emotions to vex people; Stalin was cold and calculating. Hitler wanted the world dominance of Germany at the expense of everyone else; Stalin essentially wanted to take over the world and spread the Revolution everywhere. Finally, they stood for radically opposite ideologies. Communism is inclusive and a class war, while fashism is exclusive and built on racism.

Were they really so different? The PR and execution of power maybe was different, but their personal ideology was nearly the same. Stalin was forced to work in the system that preached equality of people (Stalin inherited the system from others before him, while Hitler installed his own system of choice) and he still managed to project his racism into it. Have you heard the term "traitor nations"? He sent entire nations into exile (Crimean Tatars for example). Are you familiar with a term "no-motherland cosmopolitans"? He got rid of many Jewish intellectuals while fighting with these "cosmopolits" and he was organizing a total cleansing of Jews to be sent into exile in 1950's (read a
 
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afrc       1/15/2009 1:33:58 AM

"December 15, 2008: The parliament has voted to eliminate juries in treason and terror cases. Anyone the government doesn't like, and wants to punish or intimidate, is usually charged with treason. But juries have seen through this, and defied government threats and acquitted some of the victims. No more. It's easier for the government to order the judges to find treason defendants guilty after a show trial. This sort of thing was big during Soviet times, and now it's back. Another old policy that has been revived is sharp restrictions on public demonstrations. Police are quick to halt any protests that the government finds particularly irksome."

 
Surely there's similar measures for terror trials in the US and Europe? I'm sure everyone is aware of the benefits of this approach, as well as its risks. In theory I don't see how it should pose a significant problem in an aware society. If the public doesn't like the way a trial is conducted, there is an uproar and public pressure forces a new trial to take place, no?

Hmm, is there a difference between terror and treason? What is Russian definition of treason? Who makes the determination? Who falls under definition of a traitor? Is there press covering the trials? If no press then how do people know if trial is fair?
I guess the difference is that US citizens and legal residents enjoy full protection of US laws and Constitution and they have normal trials. Everyone else is considered a POW and US laws do not apply to them, so they should get military tribunal or simply wait for the war to end like all POW. Of course the War on Terror is a flexible term and this war may last forever:)
  
 
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Lance Blade       1/15/2009 7:01:34 AM
I never said that Lenin cared (maybe a little LOL) and I never claimed that things would be different under Trotsky. But I do believe that Trotsky and Lenin were more about ideology and less about personal power. They won the revolution and brutal Civil War. I also think they believed in communist ideals and Worldwide Communist Revolution. And I also know that Lenin was not as blind as some think. Have you heard about Lenin's NEP program (very limited capitalism) and his steps to invite foreign capital when country needed a different approach to improve situation after Civil War? Now I think that Stalin was simply enjoyed being a terrorist and having power and justification to rob and kill. He simply utilized Lenin's victory and Marx's ideology to propel himself to power and stay there. I never saw any indication that Stalin in private actually cared about anything but his power. As far as looking in one direction... people were forced to look forward to mirage, while there was barbed wire to the left and right and machine guns in the rear. May I remind you that Stalin's system put such geniuses as Tupolev and Korolev in Gulag system where they lost their health for nothing. Stalin believed in slavery (not communism) and that's why he promoted Gulags and he took passports from farmers (collective farmers to be exact) to prevent them from fleeing dire situation on the farms to the slightly better life in a city. Khruschev actually was more into ideology and "bright future" idea. USSR achieved a lot under him: Tupolev and Korolev made planes and rockets... people began to get housing (so called "Khruschev apartments"), etc - and it all happened without millions of deaths. Now Khruschev also tried to meddle with internal affairs without necessary knowledge. Eventually he managed to destroy the progress he made in the farm industry and he pushed for missile technology everywhere and send military down the wrong track.   
  
NEP was hypocrisy. Lenin simply saw that communism wasn't working and enacted it as an emergency measure to stop another revolution. Glushko threw Korolev into the Gulag, and Tupolev suffered a similar fate. Stalin simply provided the means, the apparatus, the fear and paranoia that made it possible for people to do that to each other. Both were later aquitted because they were important to the Revolution. As for Khruschev, it's pretty easy to build planes, rockets and new apartments when your country has railroads, mines, factories... all of which were built by the free slave labour of millions of people because of Stalin, Trotsky, Lenin & Co. Pre-Revolution Russia was really Europe's backwater, a pathetic country by any measure. The Commie Crew then revolted, deposed the Tzar, threw the place into eleven years of chaos and had to deal with the consequences, which included making it into a modern nation in very little time. They probably couldn't have done it without the slave labour and the repressions.
As for ideology, well, what can I say. We both know that it's usually the idealists who lose out to the pragmatics. I've been doing a bit of reading up, and it turns out I was wrong in thinkin Stalinism is about the worldwide communist revolution - that's actually Trotskyism. With ideals like that, I can understand why Trotsky lost.

Were they really so different? The PR and execution of power maybe was different, but their personal ideology was nearly the same. Stalin was forced to work in the system that preached equality of people (Stalin inherited the system from others before him, while Hitler installed his own system of choice) and he still managed to project his racism into it. Have you heard the term "traitor nations"? He sent entire nations into exile (Crimean Tatars for example). Are you familiar with a term "no-motherland cosmopolitans"? He got rid of many Jewish intellectuals while fighting with these "cosmopolits" and he was organizing a total cleansing of Jews to be sent into exile in 1950's (read about it... Hitler probably smiled in hell). He definitely was smarter than Hitler and knew how to play people and countries to appear good. He used Jews whenever he could (foreign Jewish organizations to get help during war and he hoped to use Israel to project his power to the Middle East, but it failed), but inside he was a true racist, anti-Semite and people-hater. At least Hitler liked some people... I could not find any evidence that Stalin truly liked anybody. And Stailn only cared about World Revolution because it could project his personal power further out, not because he believed in Communism.   
 
Stalin did not discriminate, he hated everyone :)) Though you're right in that both were dominated by paranoia and a lust for power. Both got what they deserved, th
 
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Lance Blade       1/15/2009 7:14:46 AM



Hmm, is there a difference between terror and treason? What is Russian definition of treason? Who makes the determination? Who falls under definition of a traitor? Is there press covering the trials? If no press then how do people know if trial is fair?

They're working on it. FSB recently (literally beginning of this week) suggested to the Duma to include the broadest definition possible (apparently to make sure terrorists can't blag their way out of jail) and it was about to be passed in the first session (we all know what Duma voting proceedings are like, Putin say, monkey do). According to Nezavisimaya, people close to Medevedev then intervened and the law is now being reworked to narrow down the boundaries to something more reasonable. Here is the source:
hXXp://www.ng.ru/politics/2009-01-14/1_image.html 

As for press freedom and influence, that's the real problem in my opinion, not this law. In theory, things like that should encourage people to question their government even more than usual. I find it a problem that people don't seem to care. However, after the Constitution-rewriting incident,  it doesn't surprise me any more.
 
I guess the difference is that US citizens and legal residents enjoy full protection of US laws and Constitution and they have normal trials. Everyone else is considered a POW and US laws do not apply to them, so they should get military tribunal or simply wait for the war to end like all POW. Of course the War on Terror is a flexible term and this war may last forever:)

So if a US citizen is charged with treason, he gets a full trial with juries and everything? 

 
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afrc       1/17/2009 1:05:14 PM
NEP was hypocrisy. Lenin simply saw that communism wasn't working and enacted it as an emergency measure to stop another revolution. Glushko threw Korolev into the Gulag, and Tupolev suffered a similar fate. Stalin simply provided the means, the apparatus, the fear and paranoia that made it possible for people to do that to each other. Both were later aquitted because they were important to the Revolution. As for Khruschev, it's pretty easy to build planes, rockets and new apartments when your country has railroads, mines, factories... all of which were built by the free slave labour of millions of people because of Stalin, Trotsky, Lenin & Co. Pre-Revolution Russia was really Europe's backwater, a pathetic country by any measure. The Commie Crew then revolted, deposed the Tzar, threw the place into eleven years of chaos and had to deal with the consequences, which included making it into a modern nation in very little time. They probably couldn't have done it without the slave labour and the repressions.
As for ideology, well, what can I say. We both know that it's usually the idealists who lose out to the pragmatics. I've been doing a bit of reading up, and it turns out I was wrong in thinkin Stalinism is about the worldwide communist revolution - that's actually Trotskyism. With ideals like that, I can understand why Trotsky lost.
 
Trotsky lost because he could not play "office politics" and was in the rush to implement World Revolution without paying attention to brewing competition and political games inside. NEP was a bit of hypocrisy, but maybe it was a course toward China-style economy - limited capitalism in economy with communist ideology in politics. Russia before revolution was developing rapidly and had a chance to catch up eventually. Solving development problem with slave labor does not make sense because slave labor is very inefficient. Korolev spent 6 years in Gulag system and lost his health (and this eventually caused his death because of a broken jaw by NKVD). So he was eventually parolled (not aquitted), but as you correctly stated - Stalin set up atmosphere of distrust and terror and he "deservs" full credit for every victim of this system. How many talented people died in prisons without giving back to the country? Stalin's Russia is a model of inefficiency. Things were build during Khruschev as well by volunteer excited motivated labor, not by hungry dying slaves. I am pretty sure that it was possible to develop country this way in 1930's.   
 
 
Stalin did not discriminate, he hated everyone :)) Though you're right in that both were dominated by paranoia and a lust for power. Both got what they deserved, though I feel Stalin got better treatment after his death. Hitler was burned and his ashes were thrown in a river. Stalin was buried and they put down a massive concrete slab down after him to make sure he'll never climb back out again :) As for who Stalin was inside, I don't know because he didn't leave many memos. I don't believe he was a true racist in a way Hitler was, though. More like a power-hungry maniac plain and simple. 
 
Both tyrants hated people, but Hitler was blinded by his hate (he even pulled trains and troops to finish Jews when resources were required to sustain war effort) while Stalin used people first and killed them later - he used jewish organizations during WW2 for support abroad and killed them after war. He was pragmatic racist and he won PR campaign inside and abroad. Stalin was a true racist judging from his comments, but he could wait for the right moment unlike Hitler. Interestingly enough, arrests picked in 1950's and NOT in 1930's.   
 

Feeling sick at every time the name is mentioned doesn't really count as a valid opinion LOL. I think Stalin left Moscow to see what his inner circle would do without him - would they be helpless enough? Would they try to overthrow him? It's the constant paranoia again. I do agree with you on the idea that he stayed in Moscow because he knew the game would be up otherwise. Same reason for why Hitler killed himself in the end - he knew the game was over. What I do "like" in a way was how he purged the military of the old career generals. Many say that was a mistake; I think by getting rid of the old guard who lost WW1, he paved the way for fresh young blood to come in with new ideas. I think the military ended up being more ready and capable (for what it was) after WW2 as a result.

Stalin left Moscow to test the government? This is an absurd idea. Leaders never leave during war: war is
 
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