Russian revolution and Stalin - good or bad?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Micawber, Oct 12, 2011.

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  1. I've just read two of Robert Services' biographical tomes - 'Trotsky' and 'Stalin' and am now sitting back trying to mull over and make sense of what I have learned.

    And as Oct 17 is coming up I thought I'd consult the panel over a few points.

    First, I thought I'd break 'good' or 'bad' into three areas, us in the West, the USSR/Russia as a nation state, and finally the Sovs themselves.

    It strikes me that the most important thing the USSR ever did was defeat the Third Reich.

    If Jerry had conquered Russia he'd have had more oil, mineral wealth and lebensraum than he would have known what to do with and Lord knows how things would have ended up apart from very badly for us.

    I would put their success down to three things, a) That Stalin hadn't got round to purging Zhukov before Op Barbarossa, b) Russia's massive industrialisation and c) Zhukov made a much better of job of keeping his mad boss' hands away from the controls than the German high command ever managed with theirs.

    My opinion is that unless someone had given Russia a mahoosive kick *********** during the 20s and 30s as regards industrialisation then Hitler would have been through Russia and out the other side like shit through a goose.

    Therefore the Russian Revolution was a good thing for us, a good thing for the USSR as a state and, however bloody awful it must have been for the Sovs on the ground, ultimately a good thing for them.

    My next point of pondering is how things would have been if Trotsky had succeed Lenin instead of Stalin.

    My impression of Trotsky is that he was a very hard man and just as quick to start shooting people as anyone else but he had advantages over Stalin in that he was a) not bonkers b) brighter c) a much better economist and d) a much better military man, though you certainly wouldn't have wanted to actually soldier for either of them.

    Two other points - Trotsky was a jew and from the countryside.

    I think Trotsky would have made a better job of the industrialisation, he would have made a much better and far less gruesome job of sorting out agriculture and as a Jew he would have kept a much closer eye on what Hitler was up to and not been taken by surprise like Stalin seems to have been.

    Trotsky seems to have appreciated military talent regardless of previous political allegiance and would have produced a far better Red Army that would have defended Russia on its borders instead of, as Stalin did, let them get over run and damn near lose it.

    (Having said that, Hitler may have had is mind concentrated by the fact that his main opponent was Jewish and made a better job of the invasion in the first place.)

    So I think Trotsky would have been much better for the USSR and the Sovs themselves but definitely not for us.

    Trotsky's Red Army would have been much further West by the time we met up with them, so they'd have been a much bigger beast to deal with post-war.

    And Trotsky was a proper international revolutionary, as opposed to Stalin who was mainly concerned with his own personal power base and seems to have settled for communism in one country.

    So the post-war commies would have been an absolute nightmare to deal with if Trotsky had been at the helm.

    Stalin set the tone for his successors, even though they later rejected him, which just saw the USSR fall increasingly behind economically leading to eventual collapse and descent into Putin's kleptoracy that we have today.

    So, the Russian Revolution and Stalin - good for us, anyway?
  2. On one hand they extended the First World War on the other they shortened the Second World War so it balances out.Also the Cold War brought about such a technological change that we are still benefiting even now,however Glasnost has released the Islamic threat to the west and east.So either way the communist revolution and it's leaders have caused the deaths of millions of human beings (and still are),so NO it was not good for Humanity at all.
  3. Was there any need to quote the whole of the OPs post??
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  4. I think Stalin was probably the biggest Homicidal Maniac since Genghis Khan and until Pol Pot came along later!
    His estimated slaughter of up to 40 million of his own people during his tenure makes even Hitler look quite benevolent!
  5. They went from one man having absolute power, to another man having absolute power. Funny that.
  6. Too many variable to consider to give a sensible answer.

    However, Trotsky opposed the Stalin-Hitler non aggression pact, but he was in exile in Mexico at the time.

    I think you may have the germ of an idea for one of those "alternative history" novels here. Just read a cracking one, "Kelly Country" in which Ned survives, leads a revolution and kicks the British out of Oz. A very enjoyable read.

    Kelly Country by A. Bertram Chandler - Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists
  7. Most people seem to agree to a figure of between 15 and 20 million, not that it serves as an excuse.

    But the fact is that his Red Army beat the Wehrmacht and ensured the Nazi's defeat.

    If that had not happened, and it was Stalin's rapid industrialisation of the USSR that ensured their success, then the whole world would have been a lot further up shit creek than has proved to be the case.

    The 'Islamic Threat' that has been released so far doesn't amount to much compared with that of a a wolf pack of U-Boats and a hard day's graft by the Dirlewanger Brigade.

  8. You can argue it in so many other ways: if the revolution hadn't happened, Germany would probably have been utterly defeated in WW1 - hence no Nazis. If Stalin hadn't overtly and covertly treated with the Nazis, then WW2 may never have started. If Russia hadn't been a hostile state in the 1930s, Britain and France may well have had a military treaty and/or aid in place to deter the Nazis.

    Russia didn't necessarily owe its industrialisation to Stalin; imperial Russia had in fact been modernising extremely rapidly on the back of very large western investment - this was all smashed and destroyed before the soviet industrialisation took place. If you travel around Russia, you can still see Victorian/Edwardian-era British and European factories and infrastructure frozen in time.
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  9. Best book about Russia I've ever read (and I've got yards of bookcases devoted to modern Soviet history in my library) was a weird (but brilliantly researched) novel by Donald Kingsbury, called "The Moon Godess and the Son". Kingsbury makes the claim - and backs it up very well - that the Mongol occupation was SO traumatic, that it changed Russian culture, permanently. The Mongols left the old (originally Viking) aristocracy in place, and put them in charge of collecting "tribute", to be handed over to the Mongol/Tartar Khanate. If you didn't pay up.... they'd slaughter you, and your family, and your neighbours, and your livestock and anything else they could find. Payment was a collective responsibility.; if your neighbour failed to pay... they'd slaughter him AND you. When the Mongol khanate collapsed, and the Mongols went home, Russia was left without laws... took a couple of hundred years to formulate any kind of legal framework. When it WAS formulated, it merely legitimized the system of government that the (now long-gone) Mongols had used. Kingsbury's point is that there's a truly amazing level of continuity within Russian culture. The names and the uniforms change a bit... but basically everything stays pretty much the way it was when the Mongols were in charge. Even the central planning office under the Communists bears a close resemblance to the "collective responsibility" dating back to medieval times: the state enterprise has a "Norm" to meet, and it's everybody who works there's responsibility to meet it. Life in Russia under the Mongols must have been pretty much like living in Auschwitz. Worked to death, while starving, and frantically trying to extend your life beyond merely tomorrow. Except Auschwitz was in business for just a couple of decades, and the Mongol occupation of Russia lasted centuries. Stalin would have felt right at home under Mongol occupation, paying the bill for imported help with Heavy Industry by reducing the population of the Ukraine to mass starvation. Building canals and metros with slave labour.

    Kingsbury's book is now long out of print, but still available from Amazon for 1p + postage. I couldn't commend it more highly: it'll totally change the way you think about Russia!
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  10. Brotherton Lad

    Brotherton Lad LE Reviewer

  11. Hmmmm, still mulling over the you've points made there. However I'm not convinced about the positive impact on industrialisation, I'm more of the view that the progress he made later under his regime was only just repairing the damage inflicted at the beginning.

    I can recommend "The Red Flag: Communism and the Making of the Modern World", the analysis isn't strong but the narative is, and puts Stalin and Trotsky in context with respect to other leaders of their time.
  12. Sorry did you say "tarter yolk"?

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  13. Sorry, I am a bit pissed. What was the question again?
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  14. Brotherton Lad

    Brotherton Lad LE Reviewer

    Do you want steak tartare with your whelks?

    My apologies to micawber. The Russian revolution was a 100 year car crash.
  15. Although "Vauxhall" (in Russian it's "Voksal") refers to London's Vauxhall Bridge Station. A possibly apocryphal story tells how one Russian diplomat was really impressed by "that big building with trains coming out of it - what's it called?" And when the reply was "Vauxhall Bridge Railway Station", the bloke remembered the first word, but forgot all the rest. However, the Russians also have the world "Stansiya" (as in "Gidro-Elektro Stansiya"- Hydro Electric Station.) The Ivans have adopted a lot of Western words in recent years, but previously they also used a LOT that they'd inherited from the Tartar occupation. Not that it really WAS an "occupation". The Tartars kept their troops away from Russian cities (such that there were) and just sent in Chinese civil servants to produce a census (for tax purposes). The Russians then "occupied" and persecuted themselves, with the alternative being re-invasion and extermination.