Why does Stalin get so much hate from Westerners, but Peter the Great does not?

Discussion in 'Russian History' started by Nikita, Aug 31, 2013.

  1. Nikita

    Nikita Office Registrar (13th class)

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    Stalin was the greatest leader in Human history. He turned the Soviet Union from a war torn, impoverished and backward nation into the most powerful country in the world. In it's hayday, the USSR was the largest academic power in the planet (producing more academic literature and more patents than any other country on the face of the Earth). It had the most powerful military, the best athletes, the best space program, and the best chess players! The USSR was the first fully literate country in the planet. The first country where minorities were constitutionally protected, and where women were allowed to pursue a career and education the same way men were. The USSR was the largest manufacturer on the planet, second largest economy on the planet, and had an incredibly low level of inequality. It also surpassed many Western countries in demographic indicators, such as death rate, and life expectancy.

    Peter the Great on the other hand, did relatively little. After killing hundreds of thousands of people to make St. Petersburg, nothing really changed for the majority of people. Peasants remained peasants, nobility remained nobility (albeit with less facial hair LOL). Russia on the whole remained poor and backward.

    People make various claims that Stalin had killed "millions" of people, but these quotes are mostly from the likes of Solzhenitsyn and other people who are equally unqualified to state such facts.
  2. Hero of Crappy Town

    Hero of Crappy Town Collegiate Registrar (14th class)

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    Because Peter the Great was the Yeltsin of his era. He was uncritically importing everything he saw in the West. What is more flattering than for someone to look up to you like that?

    Problem arises when Westerners start to believe that is the function of Russia, to look up to them, so that they may feel ecstatic about themselves. And then habitually sneer at her when she doesn't.
  3. Carlo

    Carlo Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Now that will be a polemic thread! I disagree mostly with everything you say about Stalin. But let's stick to one point "The USSR was the largest manufacturer on the planet". Where did you get this from? In WWII the US could feed and arm forces to fight Japan and Germany simultaneously in faraway continents (something the USSR never did) and also send aircraft and other weapons by the thousands to UK and the USSR through the land-lease program. The USSR had an impressive industrial power at that time, probably the second biggest, but was far from the US.
    For me, both Stalin and Peter the Great were lousy leaders who had no problem killing their subjects in huge numbers just to achieve what they thought would be their grandeur. And Stalin failed more: though he managed to industrialize the country very fast, he left a tremendously unbalanced economy (for example, huge production of steel and small agricultural output), a problem from which the USSR never managed to recover and was one of the most important factors in its demise.
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2013
  4. Philip Owen

    Philip Owen Office Registrar (13th class)

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    As a technology transfer consultants, after the fall of the USSR, I reviewed about 120 Russian "inventions" for commercial viability. One was a real candidate. That is not so bad. Most professors overestimate their relevance. However, the quality of the science, even in physics, was appalling. The USSR did indeed have a disproportionate number of scientists and engineers but the general quality of work was very bad. The Russian Empire was already on the way toliteracy, fast growth and rapid industrialization before 1914. The revolutions were a sign of this. Minorities such as the Chechens, the Crimea Tatars or the Volga Germans may not agree that they were protected, whatever the constitution said. Have you talked to Russian women about equality?

    Stalin did start WW2 in a military alliance with Germany for a joint invasion of Poland. The USSR then invaded Lativa, Lithuania and Estonia. Finland retaliated first but was clearly next. The USSR supported Nazi Germany with generous economic measures. It only changed sides after being invaded. Despite having a larger army with more tanks and a larger airforce, it faced military and economic collapse. There were already Canadian tanks, diverted from shipments to teh UK, outside Moscow, propping up the regime by October 1941. Peter did not launch such a war.
  5. SWSpires

    SWSpires Gubernial Secretary (12th class)

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    Then we should expect huge numbers of foreigners (including those from "advanced" Western countries) to emigrate to this wonderful society. Somehow, it never happened.
  6. SWSpires

    SWSpires Gubernial Secretary (12th class)

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    The late Alexander Lebed singled out these two leaders in his Exile interview. His view was rather bleak:

    Look, in our entire history, we've only had two leaders who actually accomplished anything--Peter the Great and Stalin. But in order to accomplish what they did, both of those leaders had to kill a good third of the population. The rest of our leaders were all either dim-witted drunkards, fools, or plain old lunatics.

    The whole interview is rather interesting, a window into that turbulent late Yeltsin time: http://exiledonline.com/old-exile/vault/shite/lebed65.html
  7. Carlo

    Carlo Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    I also strongly disagree with Lebed. Focusing only in modern Russia and not making references to pre-Tartar Kievan Rus, leaders like Catherine the Great, Alexander I and II could make reforms and improve many things in Russia without resorting to mass violence. Nicholas II is also a greatly underestimated leader, specially when Stolypin was alive many things in Russia improved: population in Siberia increased for the first time not through mass deportations, the fastest growing industrialization in the world and a big population increase.
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  8. SWSpires

    SWSpires Gubernial Secretary (12th class)

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    I agree with you. Several of the Tsars made major positive contributions. Among the Soviet leaders, Brezhnev seems to be the one who is regarded most positively by the general population - although I think this reflects their attitude about the period when he was in power (60s-70s) more than their attitude to the man himself.

    Lebed's view reflects what I call "Peter Stalin nationalism" - i.e. the notion that Russia only advances when it has a terrifying tyrannical ruler.
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  9. Philip Owen

    Philip Owen Office Registrar (13th class)

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    The first Romanovs were unexceptional but they created a Russian state. There was a strong possibility of a Greater East Slavic empire under Poland.
  10. AKarlin

    AKarlin Generalissimo Staff Member

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  11. Nikita

    Nikita Office Registrar (13th class)

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    For starters, when I say that the USSR was the largest manufacturer in the world, I a largely referring to capital goods, chemicals etc.

    Secondly, Stalin's administration can only be truly responsible for about 100,000 deaths, with many of them being lawfully executed criminals (such as murderers and rapists). Many of the events that people blame Stalin for, such as the famine in Ukraine (which was caused by the sabotage by the kulaks), the GULAG system (the death rates were in line with national death rates, blaming Stalin for dying prisoners is like blaming Obama for the 10,000 American inmates that died in jail last year), and the purge (where almost everyone who was impacted by it was simply relocated to a new job).

    Thirdly, the USSR only launched an alliance with Nazi Germany, after failing to secure an alliance with Western imperialist states. Stalin petitioned the UK, France and US to form a military union against Nazi Germany prior to the war breaking out, but after they declined, he saw the only way to postpone war was through trying to foster goodwill with Nazi Germany.

    Fourthly, I consider Russian women to be extremely free. Women and Men are different, and that is fair. Women in the West seem to be expected to behave like Men, and if they fail to conform to that norm, they are considered failures. No one complains about a lack of male ballet dancers in the West, but there is an outcry against the number of female engineers, which is just stupid. Most Women do not pursue these avenues because they are not interested in them. Women should not be expected to behave like Men (like in the West), but instead they should be given the freedom to be themselves (like in Russia and the USSR).

    Lastly, the Soviet Union so massively outproduced Western nations in terms of research, that even if the total quality was of the research was poorer, the USSR could compensate that with sheer volume. Also I tend to disagree with the statement that Soviet research was not very good. As a mathematician that deals with statistics, stochastics etc. myself I can say the USSR made disproportionately large, and high quality contributions to mathematics compared to the West. Maybe in other fields it is different.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
  12. Sky Fisher

    Sky Fisher Collegiate Registrar (14th class)

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    This is a fascinating subject. I don't know much about Russian history and I'm trying to learn more. I have read Gulag Archipelago in its entirety, along with a few other books, but of course I simply cannot know Russian history like Russians know it. That's one of the reasons I'm here.

    Wasn't it true that much of the oppressive and deadly apparatus of the Gulag was created before Stalin? He sort of inherited the monster, didn't he? He didn't do much to change it for the better, or so it seems (I could be wrong), but I have gotten the impression that he tends to get the lion's share of the blame while Lenin and Trotsky get off the hook somewhat. At least that's the way it gets portrayed in Western literature, like here in the US.

    I read an interesting book a few months ago: Juri Lina's "Under the Sign of the Scorpion." Is anyone here familiar with that and have an opinion?
  13. Carlo

    Carlo Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Great book, and I think Solzhenitsyn was one of the greatest intellectual, moral and espiritual figures of the 20th Century.

    That is completely right. Stalin expanded the Gulag and really created a system of mass slavery in order to rapidly develop the Soviet infrastructure and heavy industry, but it is true, the fact that Lenin created the first labour camps in the USSR (the infamous Solovki camp, in the Russian far north, located in old monasteries closed after the Revolution) is usually ignored.
  14. Sky Fisher

    Sky Fisher Collegiate Registrar (14th class)

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    It is a great book. I had a hard time putting it down. Since then, I've read quite a few of Solzhenitsyn's short stories, and some excerpts from "200 Years Together."

    The impression I've been getting from my reading is that Stalin's great crime was indifference to human suffering. Lenin and Trotsky seemed to actually enjoy creating human suffering.
  15. Hero of Crappy Town

    Hero of Crappy Town Collegiate Registrar (14th class)

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    No, that is incorrect. The meteoric rise of the camps of the gulag falls well into the Stalin era. It is tied to the preceding failure of deportations that had accompanied Stalin's collectivization.
  16. Carlo

    Carlo Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    The fact that Stalin opened much more camps and send more people there, doesn't mean that it didn't exist before. Forced labour camps existed in early Soviet Russia, in fact the first (Solovki) opened in 1923. Solzhenitsyn was right when he affirms that Stalin didn't invent the Gulag out of nothing, it was a tried idea implemented already by Lenin (in a much smaller scale).
  17. Nikita

    Nikita Office Registrar (13th class)

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    1) Gulag Archipelago is a terrible book. This book was basically a soap opera-like interpretation of his life, it was generally very inaccurate, which is a reason why many Russians dislike him today. He was sentenced to jail for his open support for the Nazis and Hitler, with many of his articles stating that Hitler (the man who ordered the extermination of multiple ethnicities) was in some perverted way just, and condemned Stalin, the man who created the most powerful and socially just nation in the world, as a tyrant, despite the fact he held the favor of the majority of the Soviet people.

    2) Solzhenitsyn was not a great thinker. There are many books in Russia concerning this matter, unfortunately very few of them were translated into English (i.e. none). An example of his stupidity would be on his return to Russia after the collapse of the USSR, when asked by Yeltisn what should be done differently in the country, all he could say was "people should stop being poor." What a brilliant observation! That's the kind of thinker that wins a noble these days!

    I, unfortunately, lack the time to write a long post explaining all the modern misconceptions of Stalin, and all the propaganda foisted upon Western masses concerning him, but a good place to start if you cannot speak Russian is:
    http://www.stalinsociety.org.uk/lies.html

    Another good source is Ludo Maartens' book: Different View of Stalin. Thankfully he was a Communist, so the book can be obtained for free:
    http://www.ebook3000.com/politics/Another-View-of-Stalin_44082.html
  18. Carlo

    Carlo Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    I am yet to find any hint in Solzhenitsyn's writings that he supported Hitler or nazism. In fact, I deeply admire him not only because of his anti-Communism instance, but also because he pointed the (many) failures and shortcomings of capitalism and modern democracy:
    http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/arch/solzhenitsyn/harvard1978.html

    As a side note, I must say that I am a former Marxist and currently a Christian moderate conservative. I feel great admiration for 19th - early 20th century Russian philosophers who shared these views, like Solovyov, Berdyaev, Ilyin, Sergei Bulgakov and Losski. Solzhenitsyn was the last in this line and the only to be born after the revolution.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 4, 2013
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  19. Philip Owen

    Philip Owen Office Registrar (13th class)

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    " sabotage by the kulaks". Have you talked to actual Russians from the countryside. Why would Kulaks sabotage their own living?
  20. Nikita

    Nikita Office Registrar (13th class)

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    Because they were getting their land taken away from them. They would rather have destroyed any means of cultivating agriculture they possessed rather than give it up for the common good, that is why Soviet agricultural output declined so rapidly immediately after collectivization (because the act of redistributing wealth does not destroy wealth in itself. Have you ever wondered why Soviet agriculture dropped so drastically immediately after collectivization? It was a consequence of the kulaks destroying their own agricultural equipment, killing livestock and neglecting their fields etc.).

    And yes, I have talked to many people in rural Russia. I am a descendant of kulaks, my grandfather and grandmother live in a village in Tatarstan, and much of my family is employed in agriculture. So I have more than my fair share of experience with rural Russians. The reality is, Stalin and Communism are very widely supported there, and there are good reasons for this.

    Also, when I said Solzhenitsyn supported Hitler, I meant relative to Stalin. Which is a view I personally consider very much in poor taste. One was genocidal, the other was a visionary.

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