The rise of “Marxist, communist totalitarianism PART ONE – BACKGROUND to REVOLUTION
Russian Feudalism and “Serfdom”
1)In 1914, the huge Russian Empire stretched from eastern Europe to the PacificOcean.
2)Russia covered ONE-SIXTH of the world’s land surfaceand spread 11 time zones.
3)Russia included many different ethnic groups. This size and diversity made Russia difficult to govern.
4)The MONGOLSinvaded and conquered the Russians in the 1200s. They ruled with an “IRON FIST.”
5)The Princes of Moscow were used by the Mongols to collect their annual
monetary “tribute.” Not paying meant almost automatic EXTERMINATION.
6)The Muscovites used their position to rise in power over other Russian CITY-STATES.”
7)Eventually (200+ years), they would lead a revolt, eliminating Mongol rule. However,
Moscow would continue to rule with an “IRON FIST.”
8)The Russian king or “CZAR” (Russian form or “Caesar”) would become an
“AUTOCRAT”. (power centered in one’s self)
9)After the fall of Constantinople(the “second” Rome) to OTTOMAN TURKEYin 1453, Moscow would call/consider itself the “THIRD” ROME, successor to the ancient Empire.
10)Russia assumed leadership of eastern ORTHODOX Christianity. (who had split from the Roman Catholic Church in 1054)
11)The Orthodox Church would play a subservient_ role in Russian society.
12)The land-owning nobility (“BOYARS”)also dominated Russian society.
13)Ultimately, an autocratic CZAR (“caesar” dominated both Church and Nobility.
Through periodic oppression of the Boyar nobility, the czar did not share power.
14)Also, the Czar’s secret policewere brutal in repressing any challenge to
royal power and dominance.
15)The Czar, Church and Nobility were all supported by a huge class of peasant farmers called SERFS.
The societal role was to serve their noble landowners.
16)The Boyar nobility was bound to serve the STATE. (represented by the Czar)
17)34 million out of 36 million Russians were peasant serfs.
18)Russia became a strictly hierarchal “FEUDAL” society– an all powerful EMPEROR, supported by an “official” CHURCH-PRIEST elite and a small“BOYAR”noble class, who all ruled over the great PEASANTS of poor farmers.
19)Situated between Europe and Asia, Russian stayed isolatedfrom both. On occasion,
it’s leaders would seek to MODERNIZE and CHANGERussian society.
20)Czar Peter the Great visited western Europe and brought back western technology.
Peter built SHIPS and WEAPONS based on western knowledge.
21)Peter built the city of St. Petersburg on the BALTIC Sea, as a “WINDOW” to the more modern and advanced West.
22)Thousands died building Russia’s new great city on the marshy shore. That meant little to Peter, who sought a more MODERN and POWERFUL Russia.
23)Despite Peter the Great’s modernization, he did little to lift the BURDENS on the
peasant farmer serf majority.
POLITICAL “REVOLUTION” and “REACTION”
24)“Enlightenment” idealssuch as LIBERTY, EQUALITY and “REPRESENTATIVE”
self-government, evidenced by the AMERICAN and FRENCH Revolutions
were slow to “filter” into Russia.
25)In December, 1825, RADICALS tried to seize power after the Czar died.
This failed coup attempt only convinced the new Czar to rule with an even harder “IRON FIST.”
26)Struggle against political oppression and autocracy was carried on by a small ELITE.
The great MAJORITY played little or no part in seeking political or social CHANGE.
27)In 1861, an “enlightened” Czar Alexander abolished SERFDOM. Yet, this peasant farmer class was still little BETTER OFF than before. There were widespread RIOTS.
28)Unlike western Europe, Russia had been slow to INDUSTRIALIZE. Similar to the
American SLAVES after the Civil War and freeing of the slaves, Russia remained “POOR”, “COUNTRY” and “BACKWARDS”despite it’s “potential”.
29)In 1881, Czar Alexander was assassinated when a BOMB was thrown at his carriage.
It was the climax of an organized campaign of assassinations by revolutionary terrorists.
30)Under Czar Alexander III, there was strict REPRESSION as the Czar’s secret police ruthlessly CRUSHED revolutionary activities.
31)Czar Nicholas IIassumed the throne in 1894.He was determined to keep his Autocratic-absolute power and suppress CHANGE or REVOLUTION.
32)Attempting some reform, a “Duma” governing body was ELECTED, but had no real POWER. Nothing really changed – CZAR (king), BOYARS_ and CHURCH continued to dominate Russian society.
The RISE of MARXISM
33)German Karl Marx wrote a pamphlet in 1848 called the COMMUNIST MANIFESTO.
34)Marx argued that economic “CLASS WARFARE” was the key factor of human history.
35)Living in and observing the industrialized west, he stated that workers (proletariat)
were unjustly “EXPLOITED.” Capitalism was designed to benefit the
OWNERS and bourgeosie “MIDDLE” classes.
36)Marx called on the workers of the world to “UNITE”, overthrow their economic
“OPPRESSORS” and create a DICTATORSHIP of the proletariat.
37)Marxists sought to build to build a “UTOPIAN” societythat would only be brought about by, according to Marx, “the VIOLENT overthrow of ALL existing social conditions.
38)Marx stated, “Let the ruling classes TREMBLE at a Communist Revolution.”
Marx predicted the revolution would start in INDUSTRIALIZED, western Europe.
Russian revolutionaries would adapt Marxist thought to their largely
WORLD WAR ONE
39)The outbreak of war in 1914 fueled national PRIDE and UNITED Russians.
40)The Russians went to battle with ENTHUSIASM. They were crushed by the
GERMANS at the BATTLE of TANNENBURG.
41)Factories could not turn out enough weapons and resources. A poor TRANSPORTATION system could not deliver their limited supplies to the war front.
42)Russia suffered the most CASUALITIES of any nation during World War One. (just like WW II)
PART TWO – COMMUNIST REVOLUTION
43)By March, 1917, DIASASTER on the BATTLEFIELDcombined with FOOD and FUEL shortages on the home front (Russia has real cold winters) brought the Czarist monarchy to COLLAPSE.
44)Workers went on STRIKE. Women marched through the street shouting, “BREAD.”
Troops refused to FIRE on these protestors.
45)The Czar Nicholas II was convinced to ABDICATE (surrender) his throne. (1917)
46)A “middle class” Duma set up a provisional government, preparing to create a REPUBLIC. (“representative” government)
47)The Provisional Governmentcontinued the disastrous WAR and failed to deliver on PROMISED reform for the peasants.
48)Soldiers DESERTED the war front in droves, peasants wanted LAND REFORM and city dwellers demanded an end to RATIONING and SHORTAGES.
49)Marxists set up “SOVIETS ” in cities, councils of WORKERS and SOLDIERS. At first, these worked within the government.
50)Eventually the Soviets, led by a radical group called the BOLSHEVIKS, would forcibly take control.
Their leader was Vladimir Ilyitch, a.k.a. “LENIN”.
51)Lenin and the Bolsheviks promised, “PEACE, LAND and BREAD.”
52)In 1902, Lenin had stated, “Give us an organization of revolutionaries and we will turn Russia UPSIDE DOWN.
52)Lenin’s “Principles of Revolution”included, 1)a small group of “PROFESSIONAL” revolutionaries; 2)strict “PARTY” discipline and 3)CONSPIRACY and SECRECY.
53)In St. Petersburg, the Bolsheviks sep up a “Military Revolutionary Committee,” led
by LEON “TROTSKY”. (born Lev Davidovich)
54)His “Red Guard” troops would IMPRISON the Provisional government.
55)This was NOT a POPULAR or SPONTANEOUS uprising.
FEW knew St. Petersburg had been taken over by the Bolsheviks.
56)The Bolsheviks then held ELECTIONS. They gained only 175 seats out of 707.
They could be OUT VOTED by their opponents 492 to 215.
57)When this newly elected committee met, it was immediately DISSOLVED by the Bolsheviks, accused of being a cover for REACTONARY counter-revolution.
58)Lenin quickly signed a peace treaty with GERMANY. It surrendered Russia’s WESTERN border lands, one third of its FARM lands, a third of her
INCOMES and half of Russia’s INDUSTRIES.
59)It was a heavy price to pay for peace. However, the Bolsheviks now could get on with the creation of a world-wide “DICTATORSHIP of the PROLETARIAT.”
60)The BOLSHEVIKS (“majority” actually a minority in number) were in charge of St. Petersburg, Moscow and central Russia.
Other areas were largely ANTI-Bolshevik.
61)Russia was about to erupt into civil war. Counter-revolutionary “WHITE” Russians led the fight.
62)They were a disparate group. They were former Czarist generals,“Menshevik) (anti-Bolshevik communists), democrats and ethnic-nationalist groups (“Baltic” and “Caucasus” Mountain states) seeking independence.
They were “united” only by being “anti-Bolshevik.”
63)The war “Allies” (Britain, France & the U.S.) sent in troops and guns. This support did little to help the anti-Bolsheviks. It fueled further DISTRUST of the West by the Bolsheviks and Russians in general.
64)The Civil War was brutal – “ATROCITIES” happened on both sides.
Lenin stated, We must not leave the Whites a banner to rally around.
65)Lenin had the former Czar Nicholas and his family executed.
66)Counter-revolutionary forces CAPTURED and KILLED_ communists.
They tried to assassinate Lenin.
67)The Bolsheviks used TERRORto control “ordinary” Russians. The “CHEKA” was a SECRET POLICE force like that of former Czars.
68)The Bolsheviks executed Russians “SUSPECTED” of being anti-Bolshevik and also set up forced LABOR camps.
69)Lenin developed a “War Communism” strategy. Bolsheviks took over banks, mines, factories and railroads.
70)Peasants were forced to deliver food to the Red Army and the hungry in the cities.
71)Trotsky and the Red army became an effective fighting unit. Trotsky’s passionate speeches inspired them to fight. So did the order to shoot every tenth soldier in “under-performing” combat units.
72)The “White” forces could never cooperate effectively together. By 1921, the “Reds” would eventually crush and overwhelm “White” forces.
PART THREE – A COMMUNIST “SOVIET UNION”
Creating a “Marxist” Government
73)Marx had promised “workers have nothing to lose except their CHAINS.”
Marx did not explicitly foretell the “losing your LIVES” part. (or did he?)
74)Millions died in the Great War. Millions died in the Civil War. Millions died from famine and disease.
TENS of millions would die under Communist rule.
75)In 1922, Lenin united the former Russian empire into the “U.S.S.R.” – the UNION of SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS.
76)The new “Soviet Union” was both “EUROPEAN” and “ASIAN,” a multi-ETHNIC “Marxist” state.
77)It seemed both “democratic” and “socialist.” An elected legislature, called the
“Supreme Soviet”” was set up. Everyone age 18 and over could vote.
78)EVERYTHING would belong to workers and peasant farmers. PRIVATEPROPERTY and “PROFIT” was “outlawed”, considered contrary to Marxism.
79)The “totalitarian” Communist PARTY ran or regulated EVERYTHING – government , economy, religion, society, culture and information.
80)The Communist Party enforced the public “will” with the military and secret police. (just like under the Czar)
81)Bolshevik “war communism” had brought NEAR ECONOMIC COLLAPSE.
82)Under “party” control, FARM and FACTORY output had fallen. Peasants
stopped producing FOOD-CROPS once they realized the sate would take it.
83)In 1921, Lenin adopted the “New Economic Policy.” (N.E.P.) It allowed some “capitalism”-profit and “free enterprise”.. However, the state “command” economy still controlled the “Commanding Heights” of banks, factories, trade, trade and large industry.
84)Small businesses allowing “private enterprise” were allowed to stay open.
85)The government stopped “squeezing” peasants for grain. Peasants could hold small plots of land and sell their “surplus”.
86)By 1928, food and industrial output reached pre-war (1914) levels. Yet, Lenin only saw the N.E.P. as TEMPORARY stage before “PURE” Communism.
87)In 1924, Lenin died of a STROKE at age 54. A struggle for leadership ensued.
88)TROTSKY, charismatic leader of the Red Army, urged a world-wide revolution against CAPITALISM. Josip Dugashvili (“STALIN”), a small, quiet, but shrewd political operator and organizer sought to build “socialism” in Russia first.
89)STALIN would craftily win out. Trotsky was forced to exile in 1929.
Trotsky was assassinated by a Stalinist agent while living in Mexico in 1940.
PART FOUR – STALIN’s SOVIET UNION
90)In 1924, tens of thousands came to view the body of Lenin. Stalin had decided to put it on “permanent display”, creating a shrine to the “COMMUNIST GOD.”
91)Stalin had been born Josip Dugashviliin the Caucasus nation of GEORGIA.
92)Schooled in an Orthodox seminary, Stalin understood the importance of “ICONS” (images”) to Russians.
93)As a anti-Czarist revolutionary, he started with the pseudonym “KOBA” (“steel”),
Later, he assumed the name of “Stalin”, which meant STEEL.
94)Once in power, Stalin sought to MODERNIZE Russia.
He complained of it’s economic “BACKWARD-ness.”
95)Stalin implemented the first of several FIVE-YEAR plans towards rapidly industrializing the NEW “SOVIET UNION”.
96)Stalin sought to build a “SECOND AMERICA”,but instead a communist (anti-capitalist) industrial giant and “WORKER’s PARADISE.”
97)To do this, Stalin would bring ALL economic activity under STATE control. It owned all businesses and distributed all RESOURCES.
98)A “COMMAND” economy is one where government officials made all
economic decisions, unlike the “INVISIBLE HAND” of CONSUMER
SUPPLY and demand in “capitalist” economies.
99)Stalin’s FIVEYEAR PLANSset high PRODUCTION_ goals for industry andtransportation between 1928 and 1939.
Large factory complexes and electric power stations sprung up.
100)Central planning was often IN-EFFICIENT, causes shortages in some areas and surpluses in other areas.
101)Factory WAGE were LOW and workers were forbidden to STRIKE and restricted to jobs. Overall the standard of living was LOW.
102)Stalin sought to bring EVERYTHINGunder government CONTROL.
103)Lenin had allowed peasant farmers to farm small plots for PERSONAL USE.
Stalin saw this as “TREASON” and a threat to STATE power.
104)Stalin wanted them to farm on either STATE-OWNEDfarms or
COLLECTIVE, large farms run by groups of farmers working together.
105)The state set all PRICES and controlled access to farm MACHINERY.
Some peasants refused to give up their CROPS and sell crops at low STATE prices.
106)Peasants resisted collectivization by killing-eating farm animals, destroying farm tools, and destroying-destroying crops.
107)Stalin was furious. He believed the “KULAKS” (wealthier farmers)
were behind the resistance. Stalin decided to “LIQUIDATE” them as a class.
108)The government CONFISCATED kulak lands, EXILING them and/or sent them to LABOR camps.
109)Even after “de-kulakization”, angry peasants resisted by growing just enough food for themselves. In response, Stalin seized their food, leaving them to CITIES.
110)In Ukraine alone, five to eight MILLION people starved to death.
111)Collectivization did not significantly improve farm output. Feeding thepopulation would remain a major problem in the Soviet Union.
The GREAT “PURGE” and TERROR
112)Stalin tightened his grip on EVERY aspect of Soviet society.
Stalin used SECRET POLICE, TORTURE-TERROR and forcible PURGES to ensure obedience.
113)There were no such things as INDIVIDUAL “rights”.
There was no safe way of voicing DISSENT-PROREST. There was no free expression.
114)Critics and dissenters were sent to the infamous “GULAGS”, forced labor camps.
115)Under Stalin’s dictatorship, tens of millions of ordinary individuals were executed or imprisoned in labor camps that were little more than LABOR-DEATH camps.
116)Within the Communist Party, Stalin “PURGED” potential RIVALSto his power.
Anyone not unquestioningly loyal to him – and many hundreds of thousands who
were – had to be “WEED-ed out.”
117)In 1934, Stalin launched “The Great Purge” on Communist Party “TRAITORS.”
He especially targeted old “COMRADES” from the early days of the Revolution.
118)In December 1934, the popular Leningrad party leader, Sergei KIROV, was ASSASSINATED, allegedly on Stalin’s orders. (the Soviet “Reichstag Fire”?)
119)Between 1936 and 1938, Stalin staged a series of “SHOW TRIALS”in Moscow.
Party leaders were accused of complicity in Kirov’s murder and conspiring with “TROTSKY-ites” and “rightist” elements to SABOTAGE communism.
120)The evidence presented against the accused was almost NON-EXISTENT,
convictions relying on confessions extracted through TORTURE and
FORCED CONFESSIONS against family members.
121)In August 1936, Zinoviev and Kamenev, two of the most prominent former party leaders, were sentenced to DEATH and EXECUTED.
122)Both had demanded, as a condition for “confessing”, a direct promises that their lives and that of their families would be spared. After the trial, Stalin not only broke his promises to them, he had most of their family arrested and shot.
Like the French Revolution Radical Jacobin “REIGN of TERROR”, the “REVOLUTION” would “EAT ITS OWN”
123)GREAT TERROR Statistics: (these are estimates from1937-38)
- ARRESTED – about 7 million
- EXECUTED – about 1 million
- Died in PRISON-GULAGS – about 2 million
- In PRISON, late 1938 – about 1 million; in CAMPS, – about 8 million
124)The victims of “PURGES”also included most of the nation’s MILITARY leaders.
125)The executionof the brilliant chief-of-staff MarshalTugachevsky, is considered
one of the major reasons for the spectacular Nazi successes in 1941. Again, the
Russians would face military “disaster” against the GERMANS.
126)During World War Two, TEN MILLION SOLDIERS and another TEN MILLION CIVILIANS would die.
How much of this was Stalin’s FAULT?
127)All Soviet citizens were aware of the consequences of (perceived) DISLOYALTY.
128)Millions of ordinary Soviet citizens assisted in IMPLICATING their COMRADES. 129)Frank Smith described this MASS HYSTERIA: People saw ENEMIES ELIMINATED, who wanted to destroy the “Revolution”and diminish and sabotage the results of their hard work and accomplishments.
130)DENUNCIATIONSbecame common. Neighbors denounced neighbors.
They were a good way of striking against people one did not like, including one’s ENEMIES, a way of ELIMINATING people… a means of proving one’s PATRIOTISM.
131)Millions of WOMEN and CHILDREN wandered about lost, whose husbands, sons, or fathers had been torn from them and EXILED to the GULAG ARCHIPELAGO.
132)In the worst Gulag camps, such as those of the Kolyma gold-mining region in SIBERIA, the survival rate was just 2-3 % percent. Solzhenitsyn called the prison colonies in the Solovetsky Islands “the ARCTIC AUSCHWITZ.”
133)Gulag commander, Naftaly Frenkel, stated the supreme law of the Archipelago:
We have to SQUEEZE EVERYTHING out of a prisoner in the firstTHREE MONTHS – after that we don’t need him anymore.'”
134)At the time of Stalin’s death in 1953, about 12 million were still in the Gulags.
A “TOTALITARIAN” State
135)Stalin’s dictatorship went BEYOND political obedience and loyalty. He
used the state to control the “HEARTS and MINDS of the people.
136)PROPAGANDA continuously sought to people of the merits of Soviet
society under Stalin.
137)Stalin was portrayed as a benevolent “FATHER” figure, a “FRIEND” and “PROTECTOR”of the people.
138)Constant propaganda helped build Stalin’s“CULT” of PERSONALITY.
139)MOVIES, THEATERS and SCHOOLS taught of the “EVILS” of CAPITALISM.
Billboards and posters urged WORKERS to meet or exceed production quotas.
140)The communist Party paper “Pravda” (“Truth”) linked “SABOTAGE” at home to FOREIGN agents, appealing to RUSSIAN XENOPHOBIA.
141)Under Stalin, the state would take control of the “PRESS”. The STATE controlled LITERATURE published, what INFORMATION was heard and which works of ART were displayed.
142)Artists who did not perform up to government expectations faced PERSECUTION.
143)The “dissident” poet Osip Mandelstamwas imprisoned, and exiled after writing a satirical poem verse critical of Stalin.
CONCLUSIONS– A Soviet “Totalitarian” State
144)One of the enduring debates over this era of Soviet history is whether Stalin’s dictatorship marked a decisive BREAK with previous PREVIOUS practice
145)Was Stalin a CONTINUATION of the brutal and dictatorial system installed under his predecessor, LENIN?????
146)According to scholar Richard Pipes, “Every ingredient of what has come to be known as Stalinism (MICHAEL CORLEONE) save one – murdering fellow BOLSHEVIKS – he had earned from LENIN. (“The GODFATHER)
147)”Stalin’s MEGALOMANIA, his VINDICTIVENESS, his morbid PARANOIA, and other monstrous personal qualities should not hide the fact that his modus operandi were LENIN’s.
148)Was Marx’s “DICTATORSHI[ of the PROLETARIAT” DESTINEDto become just plain old DICTATORSHIP.”?
Stalin: The Greatest Czar?
149)When Stalin’s mother was on her deathbed, Josip visited her briefly. When she asked him what he did with his time, he paused and told her, “I’m something
LIKE the CZAR.” Ironically, after working to overthrow the “corrupt” rule
and legacy of the czars, did he become EVEN WORSE than all the Czars?
150)Was the relationship between STALIN, COMMUNIST PARTY and
PROLETARIAT much different than the CZAR, BOYAR NOBILITY and SERFS?
151)OR was Stalin man times more ABUSIVE, OPPRESSIVE and “AUTOCRATIC” than any Czar who had ever lived? – the “ULTIMATE GANG-ster”
152)Just like the”iron-fisted” MONGOLSand Czars, the Bolsheviks and Stalin would rule with an “STEEL FIST.”
153)Stalin created a “TOTALITARIAN” state in which ALL aspects of life were controlled and/or regulated by government – politics, government, religion, society, ideas, information and culture.
TOTALITARIANISM insisted on MASS CONFORMITY – ONE way to do things.
STALIN: GENOCIDAL ”MANIAC” or MODERNIZING “MAGICIAN”???
154)Was Stalin an historic “ACCIDENT” and/or freak “MONSTER”causing the “unnecessary” genocidal deaths of TENS of millions of people?
Was Stalin a “LOGICAL”and EXPECTED result of Russian history???
Was Stalin like Peter the Great centuries earlier, only a “greater” MODERNIZER.
Like Peter, were Stalin’s BRUTAL and dictatorial methods the ONLY REAL way to modernize a HOPELESSLY “FEUDAL” and “BACKWARDS” Russia?
155)After World War Two (1939-1945), the Soviet Union would become a world “ SUPER POWER.”
Would this have happened without Stalin’s brutally effective
Was a leader like Stalin “NECESSARY”to making Russia “GREAT”?