I have decided to post this as an article although it is not really about current affairs. But maybe it is. Here, in the US Joseph Stalin has a reputation carved in stone: a monster who killed millions of his own people. This reputation is based primarily on the Gulag Archipelago book and .. nothing else. Most of the people here did not read even that book- the reputation is spinned by the media and for now very rarely any average citizen can quote anything genuine about Stalin. Hollywood took over and Robert Duvall had evolved from Boo Radley to Boo Joseph without much of a problem. We are the nation of entertainment after all.
But in Russia Stalin is not only well-known; he is seemingly born again. Not only he was proclaimed the most influential person in Russia in the recent survey- he is discussed, analysed, relooked at and revived. Fairly recently two particular trends emerged: Stalin as a personification of the Russian nationalistic-religious idea and Stalin as a genuis- manager who directed the passions of the Russian people to highest expectations. Both, as we all can see can be applied to Hitler, Mao, Saddam Hussein of Avigdor Lieberman (in advance) without much modification.
I am not here to desribe the way Stalin is being glamorized. The only aspect of that I want to emphacize is his 'efficiency'. The primary argument of the neo-stalinists is that he and his system were 'patriotically efficient', that he and only he had figured out how to concentrate the power of the nation in its rebuilding, making it modern and independent and protect from the enemies, foreign and domestic. Like a director of the large orchestra Stalin worked with all the instruments firing and hiring without mercy until a brilliant symphony emerged. And if when doing that he was sometimes cruel and inhumane to the individuals, he did not do anything different from what other leaders did in any country or society before or after him. Nothing great can be achieved without the dictatorship, said Hans von Bulov and that's the primary slogan of the current Stalin-lovers whenever they are. This is, of course, accompanied by the statements that his atrocities were overblown and that there were a lot of factual problems with the Archipelago (partly true) and that there were a lot of real enemies of the Soviet State Stalin destroyed.
In short, the message is that he is not a monster but one of us.
He is one of us. Hitler is one of us too. Thomas Mann had written an essay 'Brother Hitler' about this very aspect. Stalin is as much a part of our history as Bush or Truman and maybe somewhere in the future when God's Trial will take place all of them will find themselves on the same bench. But we are people, now and the only conclusion from him being one of us would be that if we see someone or something who lures us into the foggy grandeur while at the same time adopting the inhumane methods, we should not go there. Yes, he is one of us and his henchmen tortured people- men, women, children. Yes, he is one of us and he justified torture by the necessity to protect the country from the enemies. Yes, he is one of us and he and his cronies instigated mass pogroms, public arrests and public trials, sentencing without trials at all, detention and killing by the order of administration, barbaric net of concentration camps and corruption of the nation's soul. So we here, as soon as we see anything like that-torture of suspects, unlimited detention, mocking of the law, PATRIOT ACT, Homeland Security, anti- abortion laws, stupid and mean cruelty to teenagers, crowds of fanatics, etc. - we must understand- that is Stalin reborn. There he is, smiling at all of that- he likes it. He doesn't care about left and right. He loves the process. He is one of us. No doubt about that.