A retrospective: Joseph Stalin

Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin (1878 – 1953)

(Born Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvil)

(осиф Виссарионович Сталин – Russian)

(იოსებ სტალინი – Georgian)

was born on 18 December 1879 in Gori, Georgia in the Russian empire.

Joseph Stalin

Joseph Stalin was both into poverty, and at the age of 7 he developed a severe case of small pox, which scarred his face, this caused him constant bullying at school, as well as having a lame arm from an accident. His father was an alcoholic and was generous with his handing out of beatings, but his mother was devoutly religious. As he grew up he became very interested in Georgian folklore and anti-Russian traditions. Despite this, his mother insisted that he trained to become a priest and in 1895 he was sent to Tiflis, the Georgian capital, to study priesthood.

Instead of finishing his degree, he chose to focus on Socialism and Marxism, and used a lot of his time to the movement that wished to remove the Russian monarchy from power.

Stalin was hailed as a universal genius, as a ‘shining sun,’ or ‘the staff of life,’ and also as a ‘great teacher and friend’ especially of those communities he most savagely persecuted); once he was even publicly invoked as ‘Our Father’ by a metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church‘ – Britannica

As he grew up he joined the political underground and eventually became part of the Bolshevik party, under Lenin. He grew through the ranks and adopted the surname Stalin which is Russian for ‘steel’. He began editing the Bolshevik newspaper Pravda’ in 1913 before a 4 year exile in Siberia, before returning to be a major part in the Russian Revolutions of 1917. This happened in two parts, one was to overthrow the monarchy, and the other later in the year was to put the Bolsheviks in power.

Lenin organised the revolution and promised “peace, land, and bread“.

The reason for the revolution was mass corruption in the Russian Orthodox Church (Ру́сская правосла́вная це́рковь,) and ethnic minorities wanting rid of the imperialistic control that the Russian government had over the people. The lower classes (peasants) were often treated unfairly, and *Nicholas’ failure in World War I brought much death and famine to Russia.

*Nicholas II or Nikolai II was the last Russian Emperor. He and his family were executed at Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg by firing squad.

Emperor Nikolai II

He was given the nickname Nicholas the Bloody or Vile Nicholas by his political adversaries due to the Khodynka Tragedy, anti-Semitic pogroms, Bloody Sunday, the violent suppression of the 1905 Russian Revolution, the execution of political opponents, and his perceived responsibility for the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905).” – Wikipedia

Once Nicholas’ rule was toppled, Russia immediately fell into a state of civil war. By 1921 the Bolsheviks had complete control and in 1923 established the Soviet Union.

СССР (Союз Советских Социалистических Республик) 

USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics)

Despite Russia becoming the Soviet Union and coming under communist control, and many churches were vandalised, religion was never actually outlawed, even though the Communist party was all about secularism of the state.

Anti-religious propaganda was openly sponsored and encouraged by the government, which the Church was not given an opportunity to publicly respond to. 

Russia was once one of the most religious countries in the world. There are a vast number of churches and cathedrals all over the country. Many people during the Bolshevik reign were still extremely religious, but the *Communist party often turned a blind eye, despite atheism being promoted.

* ‘Communism – a theory or system of social organization in which all property is owned by the community and each person contributes and receives according to their ability and needs.‘

Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin)

After the death of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin) in 1924 there was a power struggle and Stalin became the new leader. He was quick to address agriculture in the country and set about creating a better transport route. In 1931 during a speech he was quoted saying this.

  • ‘We are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make up this gap in ten years. Either we do it or they will crush us.’

  • Although Stalin became the leader of the Communist party, he was not leader of the government, this job was given to his close ally Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov.

    Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov.

    Stalin shifted his focus towards ‘Socialism in one country‘ (социализм в отдельно взятой стране) which eventually became a policy of state. This is about strengthening the state, and encouraging socialism to be adhered to globally and abandoning Marxism and Leninism.

    ‘The first side of the question is in terms of the internal relations within the Soviet Union, whether it is possible to construct the socialist society by defeating the local bourgeoisie and fostering the union of workers and peasants. Stalin quotes Lenin that ‘we have all that is necessary for the building of a complete socialist society’ and claims that the socialist society has for the most part been indeed constructed. The second side of the question is in terms of external relations and whether the victory of the socialism is ‘final’, i.e. whether capitalism cannot possibly be restored. Here, Stalin cites Lenin that the final victory is possible only on the international scale and only with the help of the workers of other countries.’ – Wikipedia

    The Living Church (Живая Церковь) was a schism of the Russian Orthodox Church backed by the Soviet Union’s secret police (Объединённое государственное политическое управление при СНК СССР). This break away was an attempt to reform the corrupt church, and when the (ROC) rebelled, many priests were killed.

    Orthodox Church attempted to formulate itself as a full-scale opposition group to the Communist Party, and attempted to run candidates of its own against the Communist candidates. Article 124 of the 1936 Soviet Constitution officially allowed for freedom of religion within the Soviet Union, and along with initial statements of it being a multi-candidate election, the Church again attempted to run its own religious candidates in the 1937 elections‘ – Wikipedia

    In 1941 when the Nazi party was in full swing, it made the foolish mistake of invading the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa) and Joseph Stalin completely reinstated the Russian Orthodox Church to help gain support and momentum for the war effort. Thousands of churches began to operate again and religion was once again taught in schools.

    After the end of World War II the British Empire gave way to the U.S and the Soviet Union allowing them to become the world’s two biggest superpowers, and the birth of the Cold War was imminent. Stalin shifted his focus towards the Soviet nuclear program as however unlikely, there was always a chance of a nuclear onslaught from America. Churchill recognised that an Iron Curtain had been drawn separating west and east Europe. As years went by the Soviet Union became more secretive and Stalin appeared less in the public eye due to deteriorating health. There was talk of an assassination attempt being organised, but he died of a brain haemorrhage on 5th March 1953 aged 74.

    A recent survey found that seven out of ten people from Russia thought Stalin was the most valuable politician that Russia ever had and that his actions were justified and for the greater good.

    The excessive demonisation of Stalin is one of the ways, one of the routes of attacking the Soviet Union and Russia” – Vladimir Putin

    In NOVOSIBIRSK, Russia, a bust has been erected to commemorate the dictator. Why all of the admiration if he’s claimed to be personally responsible for a vast number of deaths?

    Stalin forcibly took back lands from peasants and he was convinced that collectivism would be the quickest way to accelerate food production. Millions were forced into labour against their wishes.

    It’s estimated that during his reign as dictator, up to 20,000,000 million people died. Some directly from his control, and others indirectly ranging from execution, starvation, illness or worked to death.

    Stalin was about complete control, and was an oppressive dictator, many people think that it’s his atheistic views that controlled him, and not his communistic views which is more accurate. As I stated earlier, the Russian Orthodox Church was extremely corrupt and Stalin, like Lenin before him, saw it as a major threat in the progress of his modernisation, industrialisation, and communistic ideas for the Soviet Union.

    ”Stalin merely stepped into a ready-made religious tyranny, constructed by the Russian Orthodox Church and paved with the teachings of St. Paul.” – The atheist atrocities fallacy

    Stalin literally flipped over the coin, and rather than Russian Orthodox tyranny that was deep set within the Russian Government, he became the government and removed the power of the church. Many died at the hands of Tzars under religion, and many died under the dictatorship of a communist government. I don’t think after extensive research that Stalin’s motives had anything to do with atheism, and his ideologies of ‘Stalinismdon’t have any mention of religion.

    Stalinism is the means of governing and related policies implemented from around 1927 to 1953 by Joseph Stalin (1878–1953). Stalinist policies and ideas as developed in the Soviet Union included rapid industrialization, the theory of socialism in one country, a totalitarian state, collectivization of agriculture, a cult of personality and subordination of the interests of foreign communist parties to those of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, deemed by Stalinism to be the leading vanguard party of communist revolution at the time. – Wikipedia

    The atheist atrocities fallacy is a multifaceted and multidimensional monster, comprised of a cocktail of illogically contrived arguments.‘

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