Stalin Quotes

We've searched our database for all the quotes and captions related to Stalin. Here they are! All 200 of them:

A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.
Joseph Stalin
Those who vote decide nothing. Those who count the vote decide everything.
Joseph Stalin
Because the horror of Communism, Stalinism, is not that bad people do bad things — they always do. It's that good people do horrible things thinking they are doing something great." [Six Questions for Slavoj Žižek, Harper's Magazine, November 11, 2011]
Slavoj Žižek
Ideas are far more powerful than guns. We don't let our people have guns. Why should we let them have ideas?
Anonymous
Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re really in favor of free speech, then you’re in favor of freedom of speech for precisely the views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of free speech.
Noam Chomsky
It’s ridiculous to talk about freedom in a society dominated by huge corporations. What kind of freedom is there inside a corporation? They’re totalitarian institutions - you take orders from above and maybe give them to people below you. There’s about as much freedom as under Stalinism.
Noam Chomsky
Education is a weapon, whose effect depends on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.
Joseph Stalin
...we're dealing with two devils who both want to rule hell.
Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray)
When there's a person, there's a problem. When there's no person, there's no problem. Josef Stalin
Joseph Stalin
This creature softened my heart of stone. She died and with her died my last warm feelings for humanity.
Joseph Stalin
It is not heroes that make history, but history that makes heroes.
Joseph Stalin
Socialism" is no more an evil word than "Christianity." Socialism no more prescribed Joseph Stalin and his secret police and shuttered churches than Christianity prescribed the Spanish Inquisition. Christianity and socialism alike, in fact, prescribe a society dedicated to the proposition that all men, women, and children are created equal and shall not starve.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (A Man Without a Country)
History has shown there are no invincible armies.
Joseph Stalin
As I focus on diligent joy, I also keep remembering a simple idea my friend Darcey told me once -- that all the sorrow and trouble of this world is caused by unhappy people. Not only in the big global Hitler-'n'-Stalin picture, but also on the smallest personal level. Even in my own life, I can see exactly where my episodes of unhappiness have brought suffering or distress or (at the very least) inconvenience to those around me. The search for contentment is, therefore, not merely a self-preserving and self-benefiting act, but also a generous gift to the world. Clearing out all your misery gets you out of the way. You cease being an obstacle, not only to yourself but to anyone else. Only then are you free to serve and enjoy other people.
Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)
The three most charismatic leaders in this century inflicted more suffering on the human race than almost any trio in history: Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. What matters is not the leader's charisma. What matters is the leader's mission.
Peter F. Drucker (Managing the Non-Profit Organization: Principles and Practices)
Death is the solution to all problems. No man - no problem.
Joseph Stalin
Robert Conquest once suggested that 'a curious little volume might be made of the poems of Stalin, Castro, Mao and Ho Chi Minh, with illustrations by A. Hitler.
Martin Amis (Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million)
It is easy to sanctify policies or identities by the deaths of victims. It is less appealing, but morally more urgent, to understand the actions of the perpetrators. The moral danger, after all, is never that one might become a victim but that one might be a perpetrator or a bystander.
Timothy Snyder (Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin)
There was an old bastard named Lenin Who did two or three million men in. That's a lot to have done in But where he did one in That old bastard Stalin did ten in.
Robert Conquest
I trust no one. Not even myself.” —Joesph Stalin
Victoria Dougherty (The Hungarian)
I believe in only one thing,the power of human will.
Joseph Stalin
Besides Getting my ass kicked, my main accomplishment on this trip has been to massacre an incredible number of completely innocent clothes. I'm the Joseph Stalin of laundry.
Richard Kadrey (Sandman Slim (Sandman Slim, #1))
I'm not scared of the Maos and the Stalins and the Hitlers. I'm scared of the thousands of millions of people that hallucinate them to be "authority", and so do their bidding, and pay for their empires, and carry out their orders. I don't care if there's one looney with a stupid moustache. He's not a threat if the people do not believe in "authority".
Larken Rose
The point is that both Hitler and Stalin held out promises of stability in order to hide their intention of creating a state of permanent instability.
Hannah Arendt (The Origins of Totalitarianism)
Just as King Midas turned everything to gold, Stalin turned everything to mediocrity.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (The First Circle)
And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?... The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If...if...We didn't love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation.... We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956 (Abridged))
[spurious].
Joseph Stalin
...you are strong only as long as you don't deprive people of everything. For a person you've taken everything from is no longer in your power. He's free all over again.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (The First Circle)
Quantity has a quality all its own.
Joseph Stalin
A heckler once interrupted Nikita Khrushchev in the middle of a speech in which he was denouncing the crimes of Stalin. “You were a colleague of Stalin’s,” the heckler yelled, “why didn’t you stop him then?” Khrushschev apparently could not see the heckler and barked out, “Who said that?” No hand went up. No one moved a muscle. After a few seconds of tense silence, Khrushchev finally said in a quiet voice, “Now you know why I didn’t stop him.” Instead of just arguing that anyone facing Stalin was afraid, knowing that the slightest sign of rebellion would mean certain death, he had made them feel what it was like to face Stalin—had made them feel the paranoia, the fear of speaking up, the terror of confronting the leader, in this case Khrushchev. The demonstration was visceral and no more argument was necessary.
Robert Greene (The 48 Laws of Power)
Every time I see a picture of Stalin I look him square in the eye and I say: You're a meat eater, Joseph.
Philip K. Dick (Voices From the Street)
music's a good thing, it calm the beast in the man.
Joseph Stalin
Gratitude is an illness suffered by dogs.
Joseph Stalin
You cannot make a revolution with silk gloves.
Joseph Stalin
Though I obviously have no proof of this, the one aspect of life that seems clear to me is that good people do whatever they believe is the right thing to do. Being virtuous is hard, not easy. The idea of doing good things simply because you're good seems like a zero-sum game; I'm not even sure those actions would still qualify as 'good,' since they'd merely be a function of normal behavior. Regardless of what kind of god you believe in--a loving god, a vengeful god, a capricious god, a snooty beret-wearing French god, or whatever--one has to assume that you can't be penalized for doing the things you believe to be truly righteous and just. Certainly, this creates some pretty glaring problems: Hitler may have thought he was serving God. Stalin may have thought he was serving God (or something vaguely similar). I'm certain Osama bin Laden was positive he was serving God. It's not hard to fathom that all of those maniacs were certain that what they were doing was right. Meanwhile, I constantly do things that I know are wrong; they're not on the same scale as incinerating Jews or blowing up skyscrapers, but my motivations might be worse. I have looked directly into the eyes of a woman I loved and told her lies for no reason, except that those lies would allow me to continue having sex with another woman I cared about less. This act did not kill 20 million Russian peasants, but it might be more 'diabolical' in a literal sense. If I died and found out I was going to hell and Stalin was in heaven, I would note the irony, but I couldn't complain. I don't make the fucking rules.
Chuck Klosterman (Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto)
People who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.
Joseph Stalin
Nazism did not destroy civil society. Bolshevism did destroy civil society. This is one of the reasons for the “miracle” of German recovery, and for the continuation of Russian vulnerability and failure. Stalin did not destroy civil society. Lenin destroyed civil society.
Martin Amis (Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million)
I am also very proud to be a liberal. Why is that so terrible these days? The liberals were liberatorsthey fought slavery, fought for women to have the right to vote, fought against Hitler, Stalin, fought to end segregation, fought to end apartheid. Liberals put an end to child labor and they gave us the five day work week! What's to be ashamed of?
Barbra Streisand
It is not fashionable to quote Stalin but he said once, "half a million liquidated is a statistic, and one man killed in a traffic accident is a national tragedy.
John le Carré (The Spy Who Came In from the Cold)
When I first saw the sand, I thought it was beautiful. Like maybe it'd be fun to just roll around in and make sand angels. Now I know the truth, that sand is actually the love child of proud parents Marie Antoinette and Joseph Stalin.
Victoria Scott (Fire & Flood (Fire & Flood, #1))
Nearly every night there were screenings in the private projection rooms in the Kremlin or the various dachas. Khrushchev says that Stalin was particularly keen on Westerns: 'He used to curse them and give them proper ideological evaluation, but then immediately order new ones.
Martin Amis (Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million)
We have a new type of rule now. Not one-man rule, or rule of aristocracy or plutocracy, but of small groups elevated to positions of absolute power by random pressures, and subject to political and economic factors that leave little room for decision. They are representatives of abstract forces who have reached power through surrender of self. The iron-willed dictator is a thing of the past. There will be no more Stalins, no more Hitlers. The rulers of this most insecure of all worlds are rulers by accident, inept, frightened pilots at the controls of a vast machine they cannot understand, calling in experts to tell them which buttons to push.
William S. Burroughs (Interzone)
Take some exercise, try to recover the look of a human being.
Joseph Stalin
If you will not have God (and He is a jealous God), you should pay your respects to Hitler or Stalin.
T.S. Eliot
A monster’s not a monster to another monster. At least that’s what I thought when I saw my mother-in-law talking to a statue of Stalin.
Jarod Kintz (If you bring the booze and food, I'll bring the thirst and hunger)
I shall destroy capitalism! Do you hear! I shall destroy every single capitalist! And I shall start with you, you dog, if you don't help us with the bomb!' Allan noted that the had managed to be both a rat and a dog in the course of a minute or so. And that Stalin was being rather inconsistent, because now he wanted to use Allan's services after all. But Allan wasn't going to sit there and listen to this abuse any longer. He had come to Moscow to help them out, not to be shouted at. Stalin would have to manage on his own. 'I've been thinking,' said Allan. 'What,' said Stalin angrily. 'Why don't you shave off that moustache?' With that the dinner was over, because the interpreter fainted.
Jonas Jonasson (The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared (The Hundred-Year-Old Man, #1))
What Hitler did not believe and what Stalin did not believe and what Mao did not believe and what the SS did not believe and what the Gestapo did not believe and what the NKVD did not believe and what the commissars, functionaries, swaggering executioners, Nazi doctors, Communist Party theoreticians, intellectuals, Brown Shirts, Black Shirts, gauleiters, and a thousand party hacks did not believe was that God was watching what they were doing. And as far as we can tell, very few of those carrying out the horrors of the twentieth century worried overmuch that God was watching what they were doing either. That is, after all, the meaning of a secular society.
David Berlinski (The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions)
Advance towards socialism cannot but cause the exploiting elements to resist the advance, and the resistance of the exploiters cannot but lead to the inevitable sharpening of the class struggle.
Joseph Stalin
"The whole world is three drinks behind. If everyone in the world would take three drinks, we would have no trouble. If Stalin, Truman and everybody else in the world had three drinks right now, we’d all loosen up and we wouldn’t need the United Nations.
Humphrey Bogart
When the Bolsheviks came to power they were soft and easy with their enemies . . . we had begun by making a mistake. Leniency towards such a power was a crime against the working classes. That soon became apparent . . .
Joseph Stalin
In the Soviet Union, it's takes more courage to retreat than advance.
Joseph Stalin
If Stalin was such a bad guy, why do all these people have to resort to attributing to him almost entirely quotes he didn't make, or manipulate his actual quotes just enough to make them seem evil?
Joseph Stalin
The role of capitalist ideology is not to make an explicit case for something in the way that propaganda does, but to conceal the fact that the operations of capital do not depend on any sort of subjectively assumed belief. It is impossible to conceive of fascism or Stalinism without propaganda - but capitalism can proceed perfectly well, in some ways better, without anyone making a case for it.
Mark Fisher (Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?)
The Pope! How many divisions has he got?
Joseph Stalin
[redacted; spurious].
Joseph Stalin
The only real power comes out of a long rifle.
Joseph Stalin
French intellectual life has, in my opinion, been turned into something cheap and meretricious by the 'star' system. It is like Hollywood. Thus we go from one absurdity to another - Stalinism, existentialism. Lacan, Derrida - some of them obscene ( Stalinism), some simply infantile and ridiculous ( Lacan, Derrida). What is striking, however, is the pomposity and self-importance, at each stage.
Noam Chomsky
The fact was that facts were losing their value. Stalin had broken the opposition. He was also far advanced toward his much stranger objective of breaking the truth. Or it may have been the other way about: actuality, under Stalin, was such that dread and disgust forbade you to accept it— or even to contemplate it.
Martin Amis (Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million)
He thought of men like Hitler, Stalin, and Napoleon. All it took was a lot of seemingly decent people to put the wrong person in power and then fall under their spell.
Hugh Howey (First Shift: Legacy (Shift, #1))
The Marxist analysis has got nothing to do with what happened in Stalin's Russia: it's like blaming Jesus Christ for the Inquisition in Spain.
Tony Benn
It doesnt matter how many people vote, only who counts them.
Joseph Stalin
In a fallen world marked by human depravity and deep-seated sin, in a world where Hitler and Stalin had recruited millions of followers to commit mass murder, love must harness power and seek justice in order to have moral meaning. Love without power remained impotent, and power without love was bankrupt.
Timothy B. Tyson (Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story)
Freedom meant one thing to him—home. But they wouldn't let him go home.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich)
That bowl of soup—it was dearer than freedom, dearer than life itself, past, present, and future.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich)
I am most often irritated by those who attack the bishop but somehow fall for the securities analyst--those who exercise their skepticism against religion but not against economists, social scientists, and phony statisticians. Using the confirmation bias, these people will tell you that religion was horrible for mankind by counting deaths from the Inquisition and various religious wars. But they will not show you how many people were killed by nationalism, social science, and political theory under Stalin or during the Vietnam War. Even priests don't go to bishops when they feel ill: their first stop is the doctor's. But we stop by the offices of many pseudoscientists and "experts" without alternative. We no longer believe in papal infallibility; we seem to believe in the infallibility of the Nobel, though....
Nassim Nicholas Taleb (The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable)
When meaning is drawn from killing, the risk is that more killing would bring more meaning.
Timothy Snyder (Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin)
Americans talked about voters the same way Russians talked about Stalin. They had to be obeyed.
Ken Follett (Winter of the World (The Century Trilogy #2))
-Little girl whom do you love more, mama or papa? -Stalin!
Vladimir Voinovich (The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin)
The quotation falsely attributed to Stalin, 'One death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic,' gets the numbers wrong but captures a real fact about human psychology. (p. 220)
Steven Pinker (The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined)
Stalin's mental journey, by 1943, proceeded in the opposite direction to that of Hitler. One moved toward reality; the other moved away from it. They crossed paths at Stalingrad. And as the war turned on the hinge of that battle (and on the new psychological opposition), Stalin might have concerned himself with a "counterfactual": if, instead of decapitating his army, he had intelligently prepared it for war, Russia might have defeated Germany in a matter of weeks. Such a course of action, while no doubt entailing grave consequences of its own, would have saved about 40 million lives, including the vast majority of the victims of the Holocaust.
Martin Amis (Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million)
In the Soviet army it takes more courage to retreat than advance.
Joseph Stalin
All dictators, irrespective of epoch or country, have one common trait: they know everything, are experts on everything. The thoughts of Qadaffi and Ceauşescu, Idi Amin and Alfredo Stroessner—there is no end to the profundities and wisdom. Stalin was expert on history, economics, poetry, and linguistics. As it turned out, he was also expert on architecture.
Ryszard Kapuściński (Imperium)
Cemeteries in Bohemia are like gardens. The graves are covered with grass and colourful flowers. Modest tombstones are lost in the greenery. When the sun goes down, the cemetery sparkles with tiny candles... no matter how brutal life becomes, peace always reigns in the cemetery. Even in wartime, even in Hitler's time, even in Stalin's time..
Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being)
It is less appealing, but morally more urgent, to understand the actions of the perpetrators. The moral danger, after all, is never that one might become a victim but that one might be a perpetrator or a bystander. It is tempting to say that a Nazi murderer is beyond the pale of understanding. ...Yet to deny a human being his human character is to render ethics impossible. To yield to this temptation, to find other people inhuman, is to take a step toward, not away from, the Nazi position. To find other people incomprehensible is to abandon the search for understanding, and thus to abandon history.
Timothy Snyder (Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin)
History shows that there are no invincible armies.
Joseph Stalin
We don't let them have ideas. Why would we let them have guns?
Joseph Stalin
I heard of that bloodthirsty old murderer Josef Stalin inviting all nations to join a happy family of folks devoted to the abolition of tyranny and intolerance!
J.R.R. Tolkien (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien)
We must distinguish between ‘sentimental’ and ‘sensitive’. A sentimentalist may be a perfect brute in his free time. A sensitive person is never a cruel person. Sentimental Rousseau, who could weep over a progressive idea, distributed his many natural children through various poorhouses and workhouses and never gave a hoot for them. A sentimental old maid may pamper her parrot and poison her niece. The sentimental politician may remember Mother’s Day and ruthlessly destroy a rival. Stalin loved babies. Lenin sobbed at the opera, especially at the Traviata.
Vladimir Nabokov (Lectures on Russian Literature)
Tadas was sent to the principal today," announced Jonas at dinner. He wedged a huge piece of sausage into his small mouth. "Why?" I asked. "Because he talked about hell," sputtered Jonas, juice from the plump sausage dribbling down his chin. "Jonas, don't speak with your mouth full. Take smaller pieces," scolded Mother. "Sorry," said Jonas with his moth stuffed. "It's good." He finished chewing. I took a bite of sausage. It was warm and the skin was deliciously salty. "Tadas told one of the girls that hell is the worst place ever and there's no escape for all eternity." "Now why would Tadas be talking of hell?" asked Papa, reaching for the vegetables. "Because his father told him that if Stalin comes to Lithuania, we'll all end up there.
Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray)
We want what the woman wanted in the prison queue in Leningrad, standing there with cold and whispering for fear, enduring the terror of Stalin's regime and asking the poet Anna Akhmatova if she could describe it all, if her art was equal to it.
Seamus Heaney (Crediting Poetry: The Nobel Lecture)
It is difficult for me to imagine what "personal liberty" is enjoyed by an unemployed person, who goes about hungry, and cannot find employment. Real liberty can exist only where exploitation has been abolished, where there is no oppression of some by others, where there is no unemployment and poverty, where a man is not haunted by the fear of being tomorrow deprived of work, of home and of bread. Only in such a society is real, and not paper, personal and every other liberty possible.
Joseph Stalin
How can even the idea of rebellion against corporate culture stay meaningful when Chrysler Inc. advertises trucks by invoking “The Dodge Rebellion”? How is one to be bona fide iconoclast when Burger King sells onion rings with “Sometimes You Gotta Break the Rules”? How can an Image-Fiction writer hope to make people more critical of televisual culture by parodying television as a self-serving commercial enterprise when Pepsi and Subaru and FedEx parodies of self-serving commercials are already doing big business? It’s almost a history lesson: I’m starting to see just why turn-of-the-century Americans’ biggest fear was of anarchist and anarchy. For if anarchy actually wins, if rulelessness become the rule, then protest and change become not just impossible but incoherent. It’d be like casting a ballot for Stalin: you are voting for an end to all voting.
David Foster Wallace (A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments)
Our prison population, in fact, is now the biggest in the history of human civilization. There are more people in the United States either on parole or in jail today (around 6 million total) than there ever were at any time in Stalin’s gulags. For what it’s worth, there are also more black men in jail right now than there were in slavery at its peak.
Matt Taibbi (The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap)
The trouble when people stop believing in God is not that they thereafter believe in nothing; it is that they thereafter believe in anything. In this century, 'anything' has included Hitler, Stalin and Mao, authors of the great genocidal madnesses of our time.
Charles Krauthammer
There are many accounts of prison floors strewn with genitals, breasts, tongues, eyes and ears. Arma virumque cano, and Hitler-Stalin tells us this, among other things: given total power over another, the human being will find that his thoughts turn to torture.
Martin Amis (Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million)
Stalin: Stop sending people to kill me! We’ve already captured five of them, one with a bomb and another with a rifle… If you don’t stop sending killers, I’ll send one to Moscow, and I won’t have to send another
Josip Broz Tito
Joseph McCarthy, the Junior Republican Senator from Wisconsin, ruled America like devil king for four years. His purges were an American mirror image of Stalin's purges, an unnoticed similarity.
Martha Gellhorn (The View from the Ground)
Undoubtedly, our path is not of the easiest; but, just as undoubtedly, we are not to be frightened by difficulties. Paraphrasing from the well-known words of Luther, Russia might say: ‘Here I stand on the frontier between the old, capitalist world and the new, socialist world. Here on this frontier I unite the efforts of the proletarians of the West and of the peasantry of the East in order to shatter the old world. May the god of history be my aid!
Joseph Stalin
Are you French?' I asked instead. 'Oui!' Foreign. Foreign spy. French Communist Party acted on Stalin's instructions during part of World War II. French Communist spy. Stop it stop it stop it I turned to Art, a black kid who was a foot and a half taller than me and whose pecs were about to burst of his shirt and eat someone. I gave him a two on the delusion detector. I didn't trust those pecs. 'Hi,' he rumbled. I waved weakly.
Francesca Zappia (Made You Up)
* *Do remember that dishonesty and cowardice always have to be paid for.*Don’t imagine that for years on end you can make yourself the boot-licking propagandist of the Soviet régime, or any other régime, and then suddenly return to mental decency. Once a whore, always a whore.
George Orwell (As I Please: 1943-1945 (The Collected Essays, Journalism & Letters, Vol. 3))
i am not a millionaire son " but i make my son become the , millionaire son. by jostalin
Joseph Stalin
Hitler’s the supreme example of the delinquent Peter Pan. Stalin’s the supreme example of the delinquent Muscle Man.
Aldous Huxley (Island)
I've been thinking,' said Allan. 'What,' said Stalin angrily. 'Why don't you shave off that moustache?' With that the dinner was over, because the interpreter fainted.
Jonas Jonasson
It is the fate of great achievements, born from a way of life that sets truth before security, to be gobbled up by you and excreted in the form of shit. For centuries great, brave, lonely men have been telling you what to do. Time and again you have corrupted, diminished and demolished their teachings; time and again you have been captivated by their weakest points, taken not the great truth, but some trifling error as your guiding principal. This, little man, is what you have done with Christianity, with the doctrine of sovereign people, with socialism, with everything you touch. Why, you ask, do you do this? I don't believe you really want an answer. When you hear the truth you'll cry bloody murder, or commit it. … You had your choice between soaring to superhuman heights with Nietzsche and sinking into subhuman depths with Hitler. You shouted Heil! Heil! and chose the subhuman. You had the choice between Lenin's truly democratic constitution and Stalin's dictatorship. You chose Stalin's dictatorship. You had your choice between Freud's elucidation of the sexual core of your psychic disorders and his theory of cultural adaptation. You dropped the theory of sexuality and chose his theory of cultural adaptation, which left you hanging in mid-air. You had your choice between Jesus and his majestic simplicity and Paul with his celibacy for priests and life-long compulsory marriage for yourself. You chose the celibacy and compulsory marriage and forgot the simplicity of Jesus' mother, who bore her child for love and love alone. You had your choice between Marx's insight into the productivity of your living labor power, which alone creates the value of commodities and the idea of the state. You forgot the living energy of your labor and chose the idea of the state. In the French Revolution, you had your choice between the cruel Robespierre and the great Danton. You chose cruelty and sent greatness and goodness to the guillotine. In Germany you had your choice between Goring and Himmler on the one hand and Liebknecht, Landau, and Muhsam on the other. You made Himmler your police chief and murdered your great friends. You had your choice between Julius Streicher and Walter Rathenau. You murdered Rathenau. You had your choice between Lodge and Wilson. You murdered Wilson. You had your choice between the cruel Inquisition and Galileo's truth. You tortured and humiliated the great Galileo, from whose inventions you are still benefiting, and now, in the twentieth century, you have brought the methods of the Inquisition to a new flowering. … Every one of your acts of smallness and meanness throws light on the boundless wretchedness of the human animal. 'Why so tragic?' you ask. 'Do you feel responsible for all evil?' With remarks like that you condemn yourself. If, little man among millions, you were to shoulder the barest fraction of your responsibility, the world would be a very different place. Your great friends wouldn't perish, struck down by your smallness.
Wilhelm Reich (Listen, Little Man!)
There’s a quote from Stalin,” he says. “‘A single death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic.’ Can you imagine seven billion of anything? I have trouble doing it. It pushes the limits of our ability to comprehend. And that’s exactly why they did it. Like running up the score in football. You played football, right? It isn’t about destroying our capability to fight so much as crushing our will to fight.
Rick Yancey (The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave, #1))
The essence of foreign policy, is deciding which son of a bitch to support -in 1941, Hitler or Stalin; in 1972, Brezhnev or Mao; in 1979, Somoza or Ortega. One has to choose. A blanket anti-son of a bitch policy, like a blanket anti-ethnic cleansing policy, is soothing, satisfying and empty. It is not a policy at all but righteous self-delusion.
Charles Krauthammer
The Nazi and Soviet regimes turned people into numbers, some of which we can only estimate, some of which we can reconstruct with fair precision. It is for us as scholars to seek those numbers and to put them into perspective. It is for us as humanists to turn the numbers back into people. If we cannot do that, then Hitler and Stalin have shaped not only our world, but our humanity.
Timothy Snyder (Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin)
For twenty-five years I've been speaking and writing in defense of your right to happiness in this world, condemning your inability to take what is your due, to secure what you won in bloody battles on the barricades of Paris and Vienna, in the American Civil War, in the Russian Revolution. Your Paris ended with Petain and Laval, your Vienna with Hitler, your Russia with Stalin, and your America may well end in the rule of the Ku Klux Klan! You've been more successful in winning your freedom than in securing it for yourself and others. This I knew long ago. What I did not understand was why time and again, after fighting your way out of a swamp, you sank into a worse one. Then groping and cautiously looking about me, I gradually found out what has enslaved you: YOUR SLAVE DRIVER IS YOU YOURSELF. No one is to blame for your slavery but you yourself. No one else, I say!
Wilhelm Reich (Listen, Little Man!)
If the Russian people and the Russian elite remembered - viscerally, emotionally remembered - what Stalin did to the Chechens, they could not have invaded Chechnya in the 1990s, not once and not twice. To do so was the moral equivalent of postwar Germany invading western Poland. Very few Russians saw it that way - which is itself evidence of how little they know about their own history.
Anne Applebaum (Gulag: A History)
Death solves all problems - no man, no problem. - J. V. Stalin, 1918
Robert Harris (Archangel)
Let's shake hands and be friends, but please, I beg you, stop farting like that, because I'm beginning to hallucinate and in my dreams I see Comrade Joseph Stalin doing the Charleston.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón (The Prisoner of Heaven (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #3))
In all honesty (and I know I’m complaining excessively now), I was still getting over Stalin, in Russia. The so-called second revolution—the murder of his own people. Then came Hitler. They say that war is death’s best friend, but I must offer you a different point of view on that one. To me, war is like the new boss who expects the impossible. He stands over your shoulder repeating one thing, incessantly: “Get it done, get it done.” So you work harder. You get the job done. The boss, however, does not thank you. He asks for more.
Markus Zusak (The Book Thief)
Now I can't abide rudeness, even in so called great artists. Rudeness and cruelty are the qualities i hate most. Rudeness and cruelty are always connected, I feel. One example out of many is Stalin.
Dmitri Shostakovich (Testimony: The Memoirs)
We have no idea any more what it means to feel guilty. The communists have the excuse that Stalin misled them, murdurers have the excuse that their mothers didn't love them. And suddenly you come out and say: there is no excuse. No one could be more innocent in his soul and conscience than Oedipus, and yet he punished himself when he saw what he had done.
Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being)
What we designate modernity was not something natural or automatic. It involved a set of difficult-to-attain attributes—mass production, mass culture, mass politics—that the greatest powers mastered. Those states, in turn, forced other countries to attain modernity as well, or suffer the consequences, including defeat in war and possible colonial conquest.
Stephen Kotkin (Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928)
Writers are engineers of human souls.
Yury Olesha
You don't have to be very bright to carry a handbarrow. So the squad leader gave such work to people who'd been in positions of authority.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich)
The days rolled by in the camp—they were over before you could say "knife." But the years, they never rolled by; they never moved by a second.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich)
He who does not cry out the truth when he knows the truth becomes the accomplice of the liars and falsifiers.
Victor Serge (From Lenin to Stalin)
WHITE AMERICANS HAVE A VERY UNUSUAL SENSE OF HISTORY. They make it up as they go along, constantly revising to suit their tastes in a manner that would make Stalin blush. Very few of them saw any irony in the fact that during a recent nasty Balkans conflict, when Uncle Sam intervened to stop the Serbs from ethnically cleansing the Bosnians, the military action was performed using Apache helicopter gunships. Helicopters named after a people that had been ethnically cleansed in the United States less than one hundred years previously. Sixteen lane highways across the sacred burial grounds. Yee-hah.
Craig Ferguson (Between the Bridge and the River)
A Stalin functionary admitted, "Innocent people were arrested: naturally - otherwise no one would be frightened. If people, he said, were arrested only for specific misdemeanours, all the others would feel safe and so become ripe for treason.
Paul Johnson (Modern Times)
If the life of natural things, millions of years old, does not seem sacred to us, then what can be sacred? Human vanity alone? Contempt for the natural world is contempt for life. The domination of nature leads to the domination of human nature. Anything becomes permissible. We return once more to the nightmare cultures of Hitler, Stalin, King Philip II, Montezuma, Caligula, Heliogabalus, Herod, the Pharaohs; Christ sacrificed himself in vain.
Edward Abbey (Beyond the Wall: Essays from the Outside)
I remembered Papa talking about Stalin confiscating peasants' land, tools, and animals. He told them what crops they would produce and how much they would be paid. I thought it was ridiculous. How could Stalin simply take something that didn't belong to him, something that a farmer and his family had worked their whole lives for? "That's communism, Lina," Papa had said.
Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray)
People worship power in the form in which they are able to understand it. A twelve-year-old boy worships Jack Dempsey. An adolescent in a Glasgow slum worships Al Capone. An aspiring pupil at a business college worships Lord Nuffield. A New Statesman reader worships Stalin. There is a difference in intellectual maturity, but none in moral outlook.
George Orwell (All Art Is Propaganda: Critical Essays)
If it were possible for any nation to fathom another people's bitter experience through a book, how much easier its future fate would become and how many calamities and mistakes it could avoid. But it is very difficult. There always is this fallacious belief: 'It would not be the same here; here such things are impossible.' Alas, all the evil of the twentieth century is possible everywhere on earth.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956 (Abridged))
Trust but check
Tom Rob Smith (Child 44 (Leo Demidov, #1))
I believe in one thing only, the power of the human will
Joseph Stalin
There are on occasions, as we know, when resources are abundant, but they are expended so incompetently that the advantage is nullified.
Joseph Stalin
Revolutions are like earthquakes: they are always being predicted, and sometimes they come.
Stephen Kotkin (Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928)
Leonard Schapiro, writing on Stalinism, warned us that “the true object of propaganda is neither to convince nor even to persuade. But to produce a uniform pattern of public utterances in which the first trace of unorthodox thought reveals itself as a jarring dissonance.
Yanis Varoufakis (And the Weak Suffer What They Must? Europe's Crisis and America's Economic Future)
The trial of Jesus of Nazareth, the trial and rehabilitation of Joan of Arc, any one of the witchcraft trials in Salem during 1691, the Moscow trials of 1937 during which Stalin destroyed all of the founders of the 1924 Soviet REvolution, the Sacco-Vanzetti trial of 1920 through 1927- there are many trials such as these in which the victim was already condemned to death before the trial took place, and it took place only to cover up the real meaning: the accused was to be put to death. These are trials in which the judge, the counsel, the jury, and the witnesses are the criminals, not the accused. For any believer in capital punishment, the fear of an honest mistake on the part of all concerned is cited as the main argument against the final terrible decision to carry out the death sentence. There is the frightful possibility in all such trials as these that the judgement has already been pronounced and the trial is just a mask for murder.
Katherine Anne Porter (The Never-Ending Wrong)
There is one key area in which Zuma has made no attempt at reconciliation whatsoever: criminal justice and security. The ministers of justice, defence, intelligence (now called 'state security' in a throwback to both apartheid and the ANC's old Stalinist past), police and communications are all die-hard Zuma loyalists. Whatever their line functions, they will also play the role they have played so ably to date: keeping Zuma out of court—and making sure the state serves Zuma as it once did Mbeki.
Mark Gevisser
It is estimated that Josef Stalin killed more than twenty million people during his reign of terror. The Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia lost more than a third of their population during the Soviet genocide. The deportations reached as far as Finland. To this day, many Russians deny they ever deported a single person. But most Baltic people harbor no grudge, resentment, or ill will. They are grateful to the Soviets who showed compassion. Their freedom is precious, and they are learning to live within it. For some, the liberties we have as American citizens came at the expense of people who lie in unmarked graves in Siberia. Like Joana for Lina, our freedom cost them theirs. Some wars are about bombing. For the people of the Baltics, this war was about believing. In 1991, after 50 years of brutal occupation, the three Baltic countries regained their independence, peacefully and with dignity. They chose hope over hate and showed the world that even through the darkest night, there is light. Please research it. Tell someone. These three tiny nations have taught us that love is the most powerful army. Whether love of friend, love of country, love of God, or even love of enemy - love reveals to us the truly miraculous nature of the human spirit.
Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray)
...[I]ron discipline does not preclude but presupposes criticism and contest of opinion within the Party. Least of all does it mean that discipline must be 'blind'. On the contrary, iron discipline does not preclude but presupposes conscious and voluntary submission, for only conscious discipline can be truly iron discipline.
Joseph Stalin
One of those who cooked for Rasputin during the Great War was a chef at Petrograd’s luxurious Astoria Hotel who went on, after the Revolution, to cook for Lenin and Stalin. He was Spiridon Putin, grandfather of President Vladimir Putin.
Simon Sebag Montefiore (The Romanovs: 1613-1918)
My response to those who still try to justify Castro’s tyranny with the excuse that he has built schools and hospitals is this: Stalin, Hitler and Pinochet also built schools and hospitals, and like Castro, they also tortured and assassinated opponents. They built concentration and extermination camps and eradicated all liberties, committing the worst crimes against humanity.
Armando Valladares (Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro's Gulag)
And it was not merely tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, but hundreds of millions of people who were the obedient witnesses of this slaughter of the innocent. Nor were they merely obedient witnesses: when ordered to, they gave their support to this slaughter, voting in favour of it amid a hubbub of voices. There was something unexpected in their degree of obedience... The extreme violence of the totalitarian social systems proved able to paralyse the human spirit throughout whole continents.
Vasily Grossman (Life and Fate)
In the psychotherapeutic worldview to which all good liberals subscribe, there is no evil, only victimhood. The robber and the robbed, the murderer and the murdered, are alike the victims of circumstance, united by the events that overtook them. Future generations (I hope) will find it curious how, in the century of Stalin and Hitler, we have been so eager to deny man's capacity for evil.
Theodore Dalrymple (Our Culture, What's Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses)
Joseph Stalin was a great man; few other men of the 20th century approach his stature. He was simple, calm and courageous. He seldom lost his poise; pondered his problems slowly, made his decisions clearly and firmly; never yielded to ostentation nor coyly refrained from holding his rightful place with dignity. He was the son of a serf but stood calmly before the great without hesitation or nerves. But also - and this was the highest proof of his greatness - he knew the common man, felt his problems, followed his fate. Stalin was not a man of conventional learning; he was much more than that: he was a man who thought deeply, read understandingly and listened to wisdom, no matter whence it came. He was attacked and slandered as few men of power have been; yet he seldom lost his courtesy and balance; nor did he let attack drive him from his convictions nor induce him to surrender positions which he knew were correct.
W.E.B. Du Bois
[redacted; quotation spurious].
Joseph Stalin
I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this—who will count the votes, and how.
Joseph Stalin
Books can be immensely powerful. The ideas in them can change the way people think. Yet it was the Nazis and Stalin's officers who committed terrible crimes, and not Mein Kampf or the Communist Manifesto - and of course, the Manifesto contained many key ideas that are still relevant and important today, long after Stalin has gone. There is a crucial distinction between the book and its effect - it's crucial because if you talk about a book being harmful rather than its effect you begin to legitimise censorship. Abhorrent ideas need to be challenged by better ones, not banned.
John Farndon (Do You Think You're Clever?: The Oxbridge Questions)
It is often said that ‘the germ of all Stalinism was in Bolshevism at its beginning’. Well, I have no objection. Only, Bolshevism also contained many other germs, a mass of other germs, and those who lived through the enthusiasm of the first years of the first victorious socialist revolution ought not to forget it. To judge the living man by the death germs which the autopsy reveals in the corpse – and which he may have carried in him since his birth – is that very sensible?
Victor Serge (From Lenin to Stalin)
The bigger the government, the more the corruption. It's almost never mentioned, and it might be the biggest of the ten principles that I am speaking of…Do you know who has created the greatest evils of history? Big governments. Big SECULAR governments. Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, all big States. Why would anybody trust the big state? It's amazing how many callers have imbued the college message that more people have been killed by religion than anything else in history. NO. More people have been killed by governments than anything else in history…….and just in the 20th century alone, and none of them were religious. You don't learn THAT in college.
Dennis Prager
If our enemies take me And people stop talking to me, If they confiscate the whole world— The right to breathe, open doors, Affirm that existence shall go on And that people, like a judge, shall judge, And if they dare to keep me like an animal And fling my food on the floor, I won’t fall silent or deaden the agony, But shall write what I am free to write, My naked body gathering momentum like a bell, And in a corner of the ominous dark I shall yoke ten oxen to my voice And move my hand in the darkness like a plough And, wrung out into a legion of brotherly eyes, Shall fall with the full heaviness of a harvest, Exploding in the distance with all the force of a vow, And in the depths of the unguarded night The eyes of that unskilled laborer, earth, shall shine And a flock of flaming years swoop down, And like a ripe thunderstorm Lenin shall burst forth. But on this earth (which shall escape decay) There to wake up life and reason will be
Osip Mandelstam
To the USSR on Stalin's death: "Regardless of the identity of government personalities, the prayer of us Americans continues to be that the Almighty will watch over the people of that vast country and bring them in His wisdom opportunity to live their lives in a world where all men, and women, and children, dwell in peace and comradeship.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
If there are no isolated phenomena in the world, if all phenomena are interconnected and interdependent, then it is clear that every social system and every social movement in history must be evaluated not from the standpoint of "eternal justice" or some other preconceived idea, as is not infrequently done by historians, but from the standpoint of the conditions which gave rise to that system or that social movement and with which they are connected.
Joseph Stalin (Dialectical and Historical Materialism)
after.” In the Preface to Volume Three he is less severe, and more persuasive: the Communist regime survived “not because there has not been any struggle against it from inside, not because people docilely surrendered to it, but because it is inhumanly strong, in a way as yet unimaginable to the West.” Among the elements of the state’s strength was its capacity to astonish, to dumbfound—and thus to delude. As Conquest says, “the reality of Stalin’s activities was often disbelieved because they seemed to be unbelievable . His whole style consisted of doing what had previously been thought morally or physically inconceivable.
Martin Amis (Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million)
Kafka’s purgatorial vision of a bureaucratic labyrinth without end chimes with Žižek’s claim that the Soviet system was an ‘empire of signs’, in which even the Nomenklatura themselves –including Stalin and Molotov – were engaged in interpreting a complex series of social semiotic signals. No-one
Mark Fisher (Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?)
Koschei the Deathless made a face as he tasted the wine. "It is far too sweet. Comrade Stalin fears bitterness and has the tastes of a spoiled princess. I savor bitterness--it is born of experience. It is the privilege of one who has truly lived. You, too, must learn to prefer it. After all, when all else is gone, you may still have bitterness in abundance.
Catherynne M. Valente (Deathless (Leningrad Diptych, #1))
A couple of ounces ruled your life.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich)
Shukhov had figured it all out. If he didn't sign he'd be shot. If he signed he'd still get a chance to live. So he signed.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich)
Three thousand six hundred and fifty-three days. The three extra days were for leap years.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich)
Why do many believers insist on repeatedly pointing to the crimes of 20th century dictators who led officially atheistic societies as some sort of evidence of their god's existence? It makes no sense. If the rivers of blood on Stalin's hands and Mao's hands, for example, are supposed to prove there is a god, then what do the oceans of blood on the hands of several thousand years' worth of religious kings, queens, presidents, popes, priests, generals, Crusadersm jihadists and tribal chiefs prove? It's not, of course, but if bodycount is somehow the measure of a god's likelihood of existence, then believers lose. It is clear that humans are quite capable of killing with or without images of gods bouncing around in their heads. If anything, however, history suggests that the concept of gods makes the idea of massacring your fellow man (and women and children, too, of course) a lot easier to act upon.
Guy P. Harrison
Every act of resistance to the government required heroism quite out of proportion to the magnitude of the act. It was safer to keep dynamite during the rule of Alexander II than it was to shelter the orphan of an enemy of the people under Stalin. Nonetheless, how many such children were taken in and saved…
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Books III-IV)
[Jürgen Habermas' obituary to friend and philosopher, Richard Rorty] One small autobiographical piece by Rorty bears the title 'Wild Orchids and Trotsky.' In it, Rorty describes how as a youth he ambled around the blooming hillside in north-west New Jersey, and breathed in the stunning odour of the orchids. Around the same time he discovered a fascinating book at the home of his leftist parents, defending Leon Trotsky against Stalin. This was the origin of the vision that the young Rorty took with him to college: philosophy is there to reconcile the celestial beauty of orchids with Trotsky's dream of justice on earth. Nothing is sacred to Rorty the ironist. Asked at the end of his life about the 'holy', the strict atheist answered with words reminiscent of the young Hegel: 'My sense of the holy is bound up with the hope that some day my remote descendants will live in a global civilization in which love is pretty much the only law.
Jürgen Habermas
‎"Blind nationalism, like a distorting mirror at a fairground, bends the critical capacity of the beholder; and those who distinguish their personal identity by accident of geography will always, in a sense, remain vulnerable".
Tim Tzouliadis (The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin's Russia)
Marxism, like all other totalitarian movements in our century, must be seen as kind of secular pattern of redemption , designed to bring hope and fulfillment to those who have come to feel alienated , frustrated, and excluded from what they regard as their rightful place in a community. In its promise of unity and belonging lies much of the magic of totalitarian mistery, miracle, and authority. Bertrand Russell has not exaggerated in summing up the present significance of Marxism somewhat as follows: dialectical materialism is God; marx the Messiah; Lenin and Stalin the apostles; the proletariat the elect; the Communist party the Church; Moscow the seat of Church; the Revolution the second coming; the punishment of capitalismo hell; Trotsky the devil; and the communist commonwealth kingdom come.
Robert A. Nisbet (The Quest For Community: A Study In The Ethics Of Order And Freedom (Ics Series In Self Governance))
The whole discussion now underway on revolutionary forms in Russia and in China boils down to the judgement to be made of the historical phenomenon of the "appearance" of industrialism and mechanisation in huge areas of the world previously dominated by landed and precapitalist forms of production. Constructing industrialism and mechanising things is supposedly the same as building socialism whenever central and "national" plans are made. This is the mistaken thesis.
Amadeo Bordiga (Murdering the Dead: Amadeo Bordiga on Capitalism and Other Disasters)
Not only to myself or before the mirror or at the hour of my death, which I hope will be long in coming, but in the presence of my children and my wife and in the face of the peaceful life I’m building, I must acknowledge: (1) That under Stalin I wouldn’t have wasted my youth in the gulag or ended up with a bullet in the back of my head. (2) That in the McCarthy era I wouldn’t have lost my job or had to pump gas at a gas station. (3) That under Hitler, however, I would have been one of those who chose the path of exile, and that under Franco I wouldn’t have composed sonnets to the caudillo or the Holy Virgin like so many lifelong democrats. One thing is as true as the other. My bravery has its limits, certainly, but so does what I’m willing to swallow. Everything that begins as comedy ends as tragicomedy.
Roberto Bolaño (The Savage Detectives)
To most of the world success is never bad. I remember how, when Hitler moved unchecked and triumphant, many honorable men sought and found virtues in him. And Mussolini made the trains run on time, and Vichy collaborated for the good of France, and whatever else Stalin was, he was strong. Strength and success—they are above morality, above criticism. It seems, then, that it is not what you do, but how you do it and what you call it. Is there a check in men, deep in them, that stops or punishes? There doesn’t seem to be. The only punishment is for failure. In effect no crime is committed unless a criminal is caught.
John Steinbeck (The Winter of Our Discontent)
And not only that, Mr Stalin. I have been in China for the purpose of making war against Mao Tse-tung, before I went to Iran and prevented an attempt to assassinate Churchill.’ ‘Churchill? That fat pig!’ Stalin shouted. Stalin recovered for a moment before downing a whole glass of vodka. Allan watched enviously. He too would like to have his glass filled, but didn’t think it was the right moment for such a request.
Jonas Jonasson (Der Hundertjährige, der aus dem Fenster stieg und verschwand)
Stalin is one of the most extraordinary figures in world history. He began as a small clerk, and he has never stopped being a clerk. Stalin owes nothing to rhetoric. He governs from his office, thanks to a bureaucracy that obeys his every nod and gesture. It's striking that Russian propaganda, in the criticisms it makes of us, always holds itself within certain limits. Stalin, that cunning Caucasian, is apparently quite ready to abandon European Russia, if he thinks that a failure to solve her problems would cause him to lose everything. Let nobody think Stalin might reconquer Europe from the Urals! It is as if I were installed in Slovakia, and could set out from there to reconquer the Reich. This is the catastrophe that will cause the loss of the Soviet Empire.
Adolf Hitler
Death is the solution to all problems. No man-no problem.
Joseph Stalin
On the bottom shelf M. kept the books from his childhood days: Pushkin, Lermontov, Gogol, the Iliad - they are described in The Noise of Time and happened to have been saved by M.'s father. Most of them later perished in Kalinin when I was fleeing from the Germans. The way we have scurried to and fro in the twentieth century, trapped between Hitler and Stalin!
Nadezhda Mandelstam (Hope Against Hope)
Joseph Stalin was a great man; few other men of the 20th century approach his stature. He was simple, calm and courageous. He seldom lost his poise; pondered his problems slowly, made his decisions clearly and firmly; never yielded to ostentation nor coyly refrained from holding his rightful place with dignity. He was the son of a serf but stood calmly before the great without hesitation or nerves. But also—and this was the highest proof of his greatness—he knew the common man, felt his problems, followed his fate.
W.E.B. Du Bois
Stalin goes to visit one of the collectives outside of Moscow,” began Kolya in his joke-telling voice. “Wants to see how they’re getting on with the latest Five-Year Plan. ‘Tell me, comrade,’ he asks one farmer. ‘How did the potatoes do this year?’ ‘Very well, Comrade Stalin. If we piled them up, they would reach God.’ ‘But God does not exist, Comrade Farmer.’ ‘Nor do the potatoes, Comrade Stalin.
David Benioff (City of Thieves)
The fervor and single-mindedness of this deification probably have no precedent in history. It's not like Duvalier or Assad passing the torch to the son and heir. It surpasses anything I have read about the Roman or Babylonian or even Pharaonic excesses. An estimated $2.68 billion was spent on ceremonies and monuments in the aftermath of Kim Il Sung's death. The concept is not that his son is his successor, but that his son is his reincarnation. North Korea has an equivalent of Mount Fuji—a mountain sacred to all Koreans. It's called Mount Paekdu, a beautiful peak with a deep blue lake, on the Chinese border. Here, according to the new mythology, Kim Jong Il was born on February 16, 1942. His birth was attended by a double rainbow and by songs of praise (in human voice) uttered by the local birds. In fact, in February 1942 his father and mother were hiding under Stalin's protection in the dank Russian city of Khabarovsk, but as with all miraculous births it's considered best not to allow the facts to get in the way of a good story.
Christopher Hitchens (Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays)
Stalin gothic was not so much an architectural style as a form of worship. Elements of Greek, French, Chinese and Italian masterpieces had been thrown into the barbarian wagon and carted to Moscow and the Master Builder Himself, who had piled them one on the other into the cement towers and blazing torches of His rule, monstrous skyscrapers of ominous windows, mysterious crenellations and dizzying towers that led to the clouds, and yet still more rising spires surmounted by ruby stars that at night glowed like His eyes. After His death, His creations were more embarrassment than menace, too big for burial with Him, so they stood, one to each part of town, great brooding, semi-Oriental temples, not exorcised but used.
Martin Cruz Smith (Gorky Park (Arkady Renko, #1))
The intentions of the cybernetic totalist tribe are good. They are simply following a path that was blazed in earlier times by well-meaning Freudians and Marxists - and I don't mean that in a pejorative way. I'm thinking of the earliest incarnations of Marxism, for instance, before Stalinism and Maoism killed millions. Movements associated with Freud and Marx both claimed foundations in rationality and the scientific understanding of the world. Both perceived themselves to be at war with the weird, manipulative fantasies of religions. And yet both invented their own fantasies that were just as weird. The same thing is happening again. A self-proclaimed materialist movement that attempts to base itself on science starts to look like a religion rather quickly. It soon presents its own eschatology and its own revelations about what is really going on - portentous events that no one but the initiated can appreciate. The Singularity and the noosphere, the idea that a collective consciousness emerges from all the users on the web, echo Marxist social determinism and Freud's calculus of perversions. We rush ahead of skeptical, scientific inquiry at our peril, just like the Marxists and Freudians.
Jaron Lanier (You Are Not a Gadget)
The idealized market was supposed to deliver ‘friction free’ exchanges, in which the desires of consumers would be met directly, without the need for intervention or mediation by regulatory agencies. Yet the drive to assess the performance of workers and to measure forms of labor which, by their nature, are resistant to quantification, has inevitably required additional layers of management and bureaucracy. What we have is not a direct comparison of workers’ performance or output, but a comparison between the audited representation of that performance and output. Inevitably, a short-circuiting occurs, and work becomes geared towards the generation and massaging of representations rather than to the official goals of the work itself. Indeed, an anthropological study of local government in Britain argues that ‘More effort goes into ensuring that a local authority’s services are represented correctly than goes into actually improving those services’. This reversal of priorities is one of the hallmarks of a system which can be characterized without hyperbole as ‘market Stalinism’. What late capitalism repeats from Stalinism is just this valuing of symbols of achievement over actual achievement. […] It would be a mistake to regard this market Stalinism as some deviation from the ‘true spirit’ of capitalism. On the contrary, it would be better to say that an essential dimension of Stalinism was inhibited by its association with a social project like socialism and can only emerge in a late capitalist culture in which images acquire an autonomous force. The way value is generated on the stock exchange depends of course less on what a company ‘really does’, and more on perceptions of, and beliefs about, its (future) performance. In capitalism, that is to say, all that is solid melts into PR, and late capitalism is defined at least as much by this ubiquitous tendency towards PR-production as it is by the imposition of market mechanisms.
Mark Fisher (Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?)
So much of the inexplicable about the Soviet experience—the hatred of the peasantry for example, the secrecy and paranoia, the murderous witch hunt of the Great Terror, the placing of the Party above family and life itself, the suspicion of the USSR’s own espionage that led to the success of Hitler’s 1941 surprise attack—was the result of the underground life, the konspiratsia of the Okhrana and the revolutionaries, and also the Caucasian values and style of Stalin. And not just of Stalin.
Simon Sebag Montefiore (Young Stalin)
There can be no greater pleasure in life,” Stalin is reputed to have said, “than to choose one’s enemy, inflict a terrible revenge on him, and go quietly to bed.” He might have added, if he really did say this, “secure in the knowledge that one has done good.” Committing evil for goodness’ sake must surely rank as an even greater pleasure than Stalin’s: It satisfies the inner sadist and the inner moralist at the same time.
Theodore Dalrymple
In the past 20 years alone, it adds up to more death than were caused by all the civil and international wars adn government repression of the entire twentieth century, the century of Hitler and Stalin. How much would we give to prevent those horrors? Yet how little are we doing to prevent today's even larger toll and all the misery that it involves? I believe that if you read this book to the end, and look honestly and carefully at our situation, assessing both the facts and the ethical arguments, you will agree that we must act.
Peter Singer (The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty)
Some believed that Satan had come to earth in human form as a party activist, his collective farm register a book of hell, promising torment and damnation.
Timothy Snyder (Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin)
The good people died first.
Timothy Snyder (Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin)
We look back on history, and what do we see? Empires rising and falling; revolutions and counter-revolutions succeeding one another; wealth accumulating and wealth dispersed; one nation dominant and then another. As Shakespeare’s King Lear puts it, “the rise and fall of great ones that ebb and flow with the moon.” In one lifetime I’ve seen my fellow countrymen ruling over a quarter of the world, and the great majority of them convinced – in the words of what is still a favorite song – that God has made them mighty and will make them mightier yet. I’ve heard a crazed Austrian announce the establishment of a German Reich that was to last for a thousand years; an Italian clown report that the calendar will begin again with his assumption of power; a murderous Georgian brigand in the Kremlin acclaimed by the intellectual elite as wiser than Solomon, more enlightened than Ashoka, more humane than Marcus Aurelius. I’ve seen America wealthier than all the rest of the world put together; and with the superiority of weaponry that would have enabled Americans, had they so wished, to outdo an Alexander or a Julius Caesar in the range and scale of conquest. All in one little lifetime – gone with the wind: England now part of an island off the coast of Europe, threatened with further dismemberment; Hitler and Mussolini seen as buffoons; Stalin a sinister name in the regime he helped to found and dominated totally for three decades; Americans haunted by fears of running out of the precious fluid that keeps their motorways roaring and the smog settling, by memories of a disastrous military campaign in Vietnam, and the windmills of Watergate. Can this really be what life is about – this worldwide soap opera going on from century to century, from era to era, as old discarded sets and props litter the earth? Surely not. Was it to provide a location for so repetitive and ribald a production as this that the universe was created and man, or homo sapiens as he likes to call himself – heaven knows why – came into existence? I can’t believe it. If this were all, then the cynics, the hedonists, and the suicides are right: the most we can hope for from life is amusement, gratification of our senses, and death. But it is not all.
Malcolm Muggeridge
Человечество делится на богатых и бедных, на собственников и эксплуатации, а также отвлечься от этого основного разделения, и от антагонизма между богатыми и бедными средствами абстрагирования себя от основных фактов which means Mankind is divided into rich and poor, into property owners and exploited; and to abstract oneself from this fundamental division; and from the antagonism between poor and rich means abstracting oneself from fundamental facts.
Joseph Stalin
It seems that Russia today—dominated by, and accustomed to, autocracy and empire, and lacking strong civic institutions especially after the shattering of its society by the Bolshevik Terror—is destined to be ruled by self-promoting cliques for some time yet.
Simon Sebag Montefiore (Young Stalin)
The thoughts of a prisoner—they're not free either. They kept returning to the same things. A single idea keeps stirring. Would they feel that piece of bread in the mattress? Would he have any luck in the dispensary that evening? Would they out Buinovsky in the cells? And how did Tsezar get his hands on that warm vest?
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich)
Should we wrap it all up and simply say that they arrested the innocent? But we omitted saying that the very concept of guilt had been repealed by the proletarian revolution and, at the beginning of the thirties, was defined as rightist opportunism! So we can't even discuss these out-of-date concepts, guilt and innocence.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (The Gulag Archipelago, 1918 - 1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Books I-II)
Western intellectual enthusiasm for Communism tended to peak not in times of ‘goulash Communism’ or ‘Socialism with a human face’, but rather at the moments of the regime’s worst cruelties: 1935–39 and 1944–56. Writers, professors, artists, teachers and journalists frequently admired Stalin not in spite of his faults, but because of them. It was when he was murdering people on an industrial scale, when the show trials were displaying Soviet Communism at its most theatrically macabre, that men and women beyond Stalin’s grasp were most seduced by the man and his cult.
Tony Judt (Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945)
What people still do not like to admit is that there were two crimes in the form of one. Just as the destruction of Jewry was the necessary condition for the rise and expansion of Nazism, so the ethnic cleansing of Germans was a precondition for the Stalinization of Poland. I first noticed this point when reading an essay by the late Ernest Gellner, who at the end of the war had warned Eastern Europeans that collective punishment of Germans would put them under Stalin's tutelage indefinitely. They would always feel the guilty need for an ally against potential German revenge.
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)
During the years of Stalin's reign, the Soviet nation made dramatic gains in literacy, industrial wages, health care, and women's rights. These accomplishments usually go unmentioned when the Stalinist era is discussed. To say that "socialism doesn't work" is to overlook the fact that it did. In Eastern Europe, Russia, China, Mongolia, North Korea, and Cuba, revolutionary communism created a life for the mass of people that was far better than the wretched existence they had endured under feudal lords, military bosses, foreign colonizers, and Western capitalists. The end result was a dramatic improvement in living conditions for hundreds of millions of people on a scale never before or since witnessed in history.
Michael Parenti (Blackshirts and Reds: Rational Fascism and the Overthrow of Communism)
The degeneration of the revolution in Russia does not pass from the revolution for communism to the revolution for a developed kind of capitalism, but to a pure capitalist revo­lution. It runs in parallel with world-wide capitalist domination which, by successive steps, eliminates old feudal and Asiatic forms in various zones. While the historical situation in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries caused the capitalist revolution to take liberal forms, in the twentieth century it must have totalitarian and bureaucratic ones.
Amadeo Bordiga
Russia used to be great, a nation of philosophers, brilliant thinkers, artists, and scientists. Not anymore. It hasn’t been great for a long time, not since Stalin purged the thinking class. Contrary to popular belief, he didn’t murder the bourgeoisie, he murdered anyone with talent. Do you know what that does to a society? I find it’s difficult to be proud of my heritage, of a culture I now consider mediocre at best, monstrous at worst. Russia is irrevocably crippled, stained by its totalitarianism—to which it still subscribes, like sheep—and rivers flow, the sky weeps with the blood of what once made it great.
Penny Reid (Nobody Looks Good in Leather Pants (or bowties) (Professor, #1))
The current technological and scientific revolution implies not that authentic individuals and authentic realities can be manipulated by algorithms and TV cameras, but rather that authenticity is a myth. People are afraid of being trapped inside a box, but they don’t realise that they are already trapped inside a box – their brain – which is locked within a bigger box – human society with its myriad fictions. When you escape the matrix the only thing you discover is a bigger matrix. When the peasants and workers revolted against the tsar in 1917, they ended up with Stalin; and when you begin to explore the manifold ways the world manipulates you, in the end you realise that your core identity is a complex illusion created by neural networks.
Yuval Noah Harari (21 Lessons for the 21st Century)
I have never forgotten these visitors, or ceased to marvel at them, at how they have gone on from strength to strength, continuing to lighten our darkness, and to guide, counsel and instruct us; on occasion, momentarily abashed, but always ready to pick themselves up, put on their cardboard helmets, mount Rosinante, and go galloping off on yet another foray on behalf of the down-trodden and oppressed. They are unquestionably one of the wonders of the age, and I shall treasure till I die as a blessed memory the spectacle of them travelling with radiant optimism through a famished countryside, wandering in happy bands about squalid, over-crowded towns, listening with unshakeable faith to the fatuous patter of carefully trained and indoctrinated guides, repeating like schoolchildren a multiplication table, the bogus statistics and mindless slogans endlessly intoned to them. There, I would think, an earnest office-holder in some local branch of the League of Nations Union, there a godly Quaker who once had tea with Gandhi, there an inveigher against the Means Test and the Blasphemy Laws, there a staunch upholder of free speech and human rights, there an indomitable preventer of cruelty to animals; there scarred and worthy veterans of a hundred battles for truth, freedom and justice--all, all chanting the praises of Stalin and his Dictatorship of the Proletariat. It was as though a vegetarian society had come out with a passionate plea for cannibalism, or Hitler had been nominated posthumously for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Malcolm Muggeridge
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, historians have become both more accurate and more honest—fractionally more brave, one might say—about that 'other' cleansing of the regions and peoples that were ground to atoms between the upper and nether millstones of Hitlerism and Stalinism. One of the most objective chroniclers is Professor Timothy Snyder of Yale University. In his view, it is still 'Operation Reinhardt,' or the planned destruction of Polish Jewry, that is to be considered as the centerpiece of what we commonly call the Holocaust, in which of the estimated 5.7 million Jewish dead, 'roughly three million were prewar Polish citizens.' We should not at all allow ourselves to forget the millions of non-Jewish citizens of Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, and other Slav territories who were also massacred. But for me the salient fact remains that anti-Semitism was the regnant, essential, organizing principle of all the other National Socialist race theories. It is thus not to be thought of as just one prejudice among many.
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)
To begin with, we have to be more clear about what we mean by patriotic feelings. For a time when I was in high school, I cheered for the school athletic teams. That's a form of patriotism — group loyalty. It can take pernicious forms, but in itself it can be quite harmless, maybe even positive. At the national level, what "patriotism" means depends on how we view the society. Those with deep totalitarian commitments identify the state with the society, its people, and its culture. Therefore those who criticized the policies of the Kremlin under Stalin were condemned as "anti-Soviet" or "hating Russia". For their counterparts in the West, those who criticize the policies of the US government are "anti-American" and "hate America"; those are the standard terms used by intellectual opinion, including left-liberal segments, so deeply committed to their totalitarian instincts that they cannot even recognize them, let alone understand their disgraceful history, tracing to the origins of recorded history in interesting ways. For the totalitarian, "patriotism" means support for the state and its policies, perhaps with twitters of protest on grounds that they might fail or cost us too much. For those whose instincts are democratic rather than totalitarian, "patriotism" means commitment to the welfare and improvement of the society, its people, its culture. That's a natural sentiment and one that can be quite positive. It's one all serious activists share, I presume; otherwise why take the trouble to do what we do? But the kind of "patriotism" fostered by totalitarian societies and military dictatorships, and internalized as second nature by much of intellectual opinion in more free societies, is one of the worst maladies of human history, and will probably do us all in before too long. With regard to the US, I think we find a mix. Every effort is made by power and doctrinal systems to stir up the more dangerous and destructive forms of "patriotism"; every effort is made by people committed to peace and justice to organize and encourage the beneficial kinds. It's a constant struggle. When people are frightened, the more dangerous kinds tend to emerge, and people huddle under the wings of power. Whatever the reasons may be, by comparative standards the US has been a very frightened country for a long time, on many dimensions. Quite commonly in history, such fears have been fanned by unscrupulous leaders, seeking to implement their own agendas. These are commonly harmful to the general population, which has to be disciplined in some manner: the classic device is to stimulate fear of awesome enemies concocted for the purpose, usually with some shreds of realism, required even for the most vulgar forms of propaganda. Germany was the pride of Western civilization 70 years ago, but most Germans were whipped to presumably genuine fear of the Czech dagger pointed at the heart of Germany (is that crazier than the Nicaraguan or Grenadan dagger pointed at the heart of the US, conjured up by the people now playing the same game today?), the Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy aimed at destroying the Aryan race and the civilization that Germany had inherited from Greece, etc. That's only the beginning. A lot is at stake.
Noam Chomsky
It can certainly be misleading to take the attributes of a movement, or the anxieties and contradictions of a moment, and to personalize or 'objectify' them in the figure of one individual. Yet ordinary discourse would be unfeasible without the use of portmanteau terms—like 'Stalinism,' say—just as the most scrupulous insistence on historical forces will often have to concede to the sheer personality of a Napoleon or a Hitler. I thought then, and I think now, that Osama bin Laden was a near-flawless personification of the mentality of a real force: the force of Islamic jihad. And I also thought, and think now, that this force absolutely deserves to be called evil, and that the recent decapitation of its most notorious demagogue and organizer is to be welcomed without reserve. Osama bin Laden's writings and actions constitute a direct negation of human liberty, and vent an undisguised hatred and contempt for life itself.
Christopher Hitchens (The Enemy)
As is now generally admitted, a Soviet bomb would not have been achieved for several years more but for the success of Soviet espionage in obtaining secret information from Western scientists associated with the Manhattan Project. That is to say, political ideas in the minds of certain capable physicists and others took the form of believing that to provide Stalin with the bomb was a contribution to world progress. They were wrong. And their decisions show, once again, that minds of high quality in other respects are not immune to political or ideological delirium....In the Soviet case, those involved thought they knew better than mere politicians like Churchill. They didn't.
Robert Conquest (Reflections on a Ravaged Century)
So, whenever the subject of Iraq came up, as it did keep on doing through the Clinton years, I had no excuse for not knowing the following things: I knew that its one-party, one-leader state machine was modeled on the precedents of both National Socialism and Stalinism, to say nothing of Al Capone. I knew that its police force was searching for psychopathic killers and sadistic serial murderers, not in order to arrest them but to employ them. I knew that its vast patrimony of oil wealth, far from being 'nationalized,' had been privatized for the use of one family, and was being squandered on hideous ostentation at home and militarism abroad. (Post-Kuwait inspections by the United Nations had uncovered a huge nuclear-reactor site that had not even been known about by the international community.) I had seen with my own eyes the evidence of a serious breach of the Genocide Convention on Iraqi soil, and I had also seen with my own eyes the evidence that it had been carried out in part with the use of weapons of mass destruction. I was, if you like, the prisoner of this knowledge. I certainly did not have the option of un-knowing it.
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)
Kirk defined the ideologue as one who “thinks of politics as a revolutionary instrument for transforming society and even transforming human nature.” Unleashed during the most radical phase of the French Revolution, the spirit of ideology has metastasized over the past two centuries, wreaking horrors. Jacobinism, Anarchism, Marxism, Leninism, Fascism, Stalinism, Nazism, Maoism—all shared the fatal attraction to “political messianism”; all were “inverted religions.” Each of these ideologies preached a dogmatic approach to politics, economics, and culture. Each in its own way endeavored “to substitute secular goals and doctrines for religious goals and doctrines.” Thus did the ideologue promise “salvation in this world, hotly declaring that there exists no other realm of being.”17
Russell Kirk (The American Cause)
But you know, a wizard with black hair and a thick mustache put a curse on Moscow, and Petrograd, too, so that no one would be able to tell the truth without lying. If a novelist wrote a true story about how things really happened, no one would believe him, and he might even be punished for spreading propaganda. But if he wrote a book full of lies about things that could never really happen, with only a few true things hidden in it, well, he would be hailed as a hero of the People, given a seat at a writers' café, served wine and ukha, and not have to pay for any of it. He'd get a salaried summer on the dacha, and be feted. Even given a medal by the wizard with the thick mustache." The waiter whistled. "That's a good curse. I should like to shake that wizard's hand and buy him a vodka or two.
Catherynne M. Valente (Deathless (Leningrad Diptych, #1))
I once went to report on a village in Russia, a community of artists who were forced to flee the cities! I'd heard that paintings hung everywhere! I heard you couldn't see the walls through all of the paintings! They'd painted the ceilings, the 82 plates, the windows, the lampshades! Was it an act of rebellion! An act of expression! Were the paintings good, or was that beside the point! I needed to see it for myself, and I needed to tell the world about it! I used to live for reporting like that! Stalin found out about the community and sent his thugs in, just a few days before I got there, to break all of their arms! That was worse than killing them! It was a horrible sight, Oskar: their arms in crude splints, straight in front of them like zombies! They couldn't feed themselves, because they couldn't get their hands to their mouths! So you know what they did!' 'They starved?' 'They fed each other! That's the difference between heaven and hell! In hell we starve! In heaven we feed each other!
Jonathan Safran Foer (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close)
We imagine the villains of history as masterminds of horror. This happens because we learn about them from history books, which weave narratives that retrospectively imbue events with logic, making them seem predetermined. Historians and their readers bring an unavoidable perception bias to the story: if a historical event caused shocking destruction, then the person behind this event must have been a correspondingly giant monster. Terrifying as it is to contemplate the catastrophes of the twentieth century, it would be even more frightening to imagine that humanity had stumbled unthinkingly into its darkest moments. But a reading of contemporaneous accounts will show that both Hitler and Stalin struck many of their countrymen as men of limited ability, education, and imagination—and, indeed, as being incompetent in government and military leadership. Contrary to popular wisdom, they were not political savants, possessed of one extraordinary talent that brought them to power. It was, rather, the blunt instrument of reassuring ignorance that propelled their rise in a frighteningly complex world.
Masha Gessen (Surviving Autocracy)
And thus to my final and most melancholy point: a great number of Stalin's enforcers and henchmen in Eastern Europe were Jews. And not just a great number, but a great proportion. The proportion was especially high in the secret police and 'security' departments, where no doubt revenge played its own part, as did the ideological attachment to Communism that was so strong among internationally minded Jews at that period: Jews like David Szmulevski. There were reasonably strong indigenous Communist forces in Czechoslovakia and East Germany, but in Hungary and Poland the Communists were a small minority and knew it, were dependent on the Red Army and aware of the fact, and were disproportionately Jewish and widely detested for that reason. Many of the penal labor camps constructed by the Nazis were later used as holding pens for German deportees by the Communists, and some of those who ran these grim places were Jewish. Nobody from Israel or the diaspora who goes to the East of Europe on a family-history fishing-trip should be unaware of the chance that they will find out both much less and much more than the package-tour had promised them. It's easy to say, with Albert Camus, 'neither victims nor executioners.' But real history is more pitiless even than you had been told it was.
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)
The world has far too much morality, at least in the sense of activity of people's moral instincts. If you look, and this become clear to me as I tried to identify the causes of violence at various scales throughout human history, from police blotters where the biggest motive for homicide is not just amoral predacious: a smuggler killing someone to steal his Rolex, the biggest categories of motives for homicide are moralistic in the eyes of the perpetrator, of the murderer, is capital punishment: killing someone who deserve to die because: whether is a spouse who's unfaithful or someone who distim him in an argument over a parking space or cheated him in a deal. That's why people kill each other: for moral reasons. That is true as large scales as well.If you'll look up at the largest episodes of bloodletting in human history most of them would have moralistic motives: the nazi Holocaust, Pol Pot, Stalin, the Gulag, Mao, the European war of religions, the Crusades, all of them were killing people for, not because they wanted to accumulate vast amounts of money, or huge harems of women, but because they thought they were acting out of a moral cause.
Steven Pinker
At no time have governments been moralists. They never imprisoned people and executed them for having done something. They imprisoned and executed them to keep them from doing something. They imprisoned all those POW's, of course, not for treason to the motherland, because it was absolutely clear even to a fool that only the Vlasov men could be accused of treason. They imprisoned all of them to keep them from telling their fellow villagers about Europe. What the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve for.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (The Gulag Archipelago, 1918 - 1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Books I-II)
«Dashenka, sister, Dasha?» «Yes?» She sounded so sad. Tatiana swallowed. «Want to hear a funny story?» «Oh, yes, please: I need a funny story to cheer me up. Tell me, darling». «Stalin as Chairman of the Presidium went in front of the House of Parliament to make a short speech that lasted maybe five minutes. After the speech there was applause. The plenum stood on its feet and applauded. For a minute. Then another minute. They stood and applauded. But – Another minute. Still applauded. They were standing up, and still applauding, as Stalin stood in front of the lectern and listened with a humble smile on his face, the epitome of humility. Another minute. And still applauded. No one knew what to do. They waited for a signal from the Chairman to cease, but no such signal came from the humble and diminutive man. Another minute went by. And still they stood and applauded. It had now been eleven minutes. And no one knew what to do. Someone had to stop applauding. But who? Twelve minutes of applause. Thirteen minutes of applause. And still he stood there. And still they stood there. Fourteen minutes. Fifteen minutes. Finally, at the fifteen-minute mark, the man in the front, the Secretary of Transportation, stopped. As soon as he stopped, the entire auditorium fell mute. The following week the Secretary of Transportation was shot for treason». «Tania!» exclaimed a startled Dasha. «That was supposed to be funny?» «Yes», said Tatiana. «Funny, as in, cheer up, things could be worse. You could be the Secretary of Transportation».
Paullina Simons (The Summer Garden (The Bronze Horseman, #3))
How could a large land empire thrive and dominate in the modern world without reliable access to world markets and without much recourse to naval power? Stalin and Hitler had arrived at the same basic answer to this fundamental question. The state must be large in territory and self-sufficient in economics, with a balance between industry and agriculture that supported a hardily conformist and ideologically motivated citizenry capable of fulfilling historical prophecies - either Stalinist internal industrialization or Nazi colonial agrarianism. Both Hitler and Stalin aimed at imperial autarky, within a large land empire well supplies in food, raw materials, and mineral resources. Both understood the flash appeal of modern materials: Stalin had named himself after steel, and Hitler paid special attention to is production. Yet both Stalin and Hitler understood agriculture as a key element in the completion of their revolutions. Both believed that their systems would prove their superiority to decadent capitalism, and guarantee independence from the rest of the world, by the production of food. p. 158
Timothy Snyder (Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin)
Has Stalin understood correctly?’ asked Stalin. ‘You were on Franco’s side, you have fought against Comrade Mao, you have… saved the life of the pig in London and you have put the deadliest weapon in the world in the hands of the arch-capitalists in the USA. ‘I might have known,’ Stalin mumbled and in his anger forgot to talk in the third person. ‘And now you are here to sell yourself to Soviet socialism? One hundred thousand dollars, is that the price for your soul? Or has the price gone up during the course of the evening?’ Allan no longer wanted to help. Of course, Yury was still a good man and he was the one who actually needed the help. But you couldn’t get away from the fact that the results of Yury’s work would end up in the hands of Comrade Stalin, and he was not exactly Allan’s idea of a real comrade. On the contrary, he seemed unstable, and it would probably be best for all concerned if he didn’t get the bomb to play with. ‘Not exactly,’ said Allan. ‘This was never about money…’ He didn’t get any further before Stalin exploded again. ‘Who do you think you are, you damned rat? Do you think that you, a representative of fascism, of horrid American capitalism, of everything on this Earth that Stalin despises, that you, you, can come to the Kremlin, to the Kremlin, and bargain with Stalin, and bargain with Stalin?’ ‘Why do you say everything twice?’ Allan wondered, while Stalin went on: ‘The Soviet Union is prepared to go to war again, I’ll tell you that! There will be war, there will inevitably be war until American imperialism is wiped out.’ ‘Is that what you think?’ asked Allan. ‘To do battle and to win, we don’t need your damned atom bomb! What we need is socialist souls and hearts! He who knows he can never be defeated, can never be defeated!’ ‘Unless of course somebody drops an atom bomb on him,’ said Allan. ‘I shall destroy capitalism! Do you hear! I shall destroy every single capitalist! And I shall start with you, you dog, if you don’t help us with the bomb!’ Allan noted that he had managed to be both a rat and a dog in the course of a minute or so. And that Stalin was being rather inconsistent, because now he wanted to use Allan’s services after all. But Allan wasn’t going to sit there and listen to this abuse any longer. He had come to Moscow to help them out, not to be shouted at. Stalin would have to manage on his own. ‘I’ve been thinking,’ said Allan. ‘What,’ said Stalin angrily. ‘Why don’t you shave off that moustache?’ With that the dinner was over, because the interpreter fainted
Jonas Jonasson (Der Hundertjährige, der aus dem Fenster stieg und verschwand)
Bolshevik intellectuals did not confine their reading to Marxist works. They knew Russian and European literature and philosophy and kept up with current trends in art and thoughts. Aspects of Nietzsche’s thought were either surprisingly compatible with Marxism or treated issues that Marx and Engels had neglected. Nietzsche sensitized Bolsheviks committed to reason and science to the importance of the nonrational aspects of the human psyche and to the psychpolitical utility of symbol, myth, and cult. His visions of “great politics” (grosse Politik) colored their imaginations. Politik, like the Russian word politika, means both “politics” and “policy”; grosse has also been translated as “grand” or “large scale.” The Soviet obsession with creating a new culture stemmed primarily from Nietzsche, Wagner, and their Russian popularizers. Marx and Engels never developed a detailed theory of culture because they considered it part of the superstructure that would change to follow changes in the economic base.
Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal (New Myth, New World: From Nietzsche to Stalinism)
Now we will live!” This is what the hungry little boy liked to say, as he toddled along the quiet roadside, or through the empty fields. But the food that he saw was only in his imagination. The wheat had all been taken away, in a heartless campaign of requisitions that began Europe’s era of mass killing. It was 1933, and Joseph Stalin was deliberately starving Soviet Ukraine. The little boy died, as did more than three million other people. “I will meet her,” said a young Soviet man of his wife, “under the ground.” He was right; he was shot after she was, and they were buried among the seven hundred thousand victims of Stalin’s Great Terror of 1937 and 1938. “They asked for my wedding ring, which I….” The Polish officer broke off his diary just before he was executed by the Soviet secret police in 1940. He was one of about two hundred thousand Polish citizens shot by the Soviets or the Germans at the beginning of the Second World War, while Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union jointly occupied his country. Late in 1941, an eleven-year-old Russian girl in Leningrad finished her own humble diary: “Only Tania is left.” Adolf Hitler had betrayed Stalin, her city was under siege by the Germans, and her family were among the four million Soviet citizens the Germans starved to death. The following summer, a twelve-year-old Jewish girl in Belarus wrote a last letter to her father: “I am saying good-bye to you before I die. I am so afraid of this death because they throw small children into the mass graves alive.” She was among the more than five million Jews gassed or shot by the Germans.
Timothy Snyder (Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin)
The temporary alliance between the elite and the mob rested largely on this genuine delight with which the former watched the latter destroy respectability. This could be achieved when the German steel barons were forced to deal with and to receive socially Hitler's the housepainter and self-admitted former derelict, as it could be with the crude and vulgar forgeries perpetrated by the totalitarian movements in all fields of intellectual life, insofar as they gathered all the subterranean, nonrespectable elements of European history into one consistent picture. From this viewpoint it was rather gratifying to see that Bolshevism and Nazism began even to eliminate those sources of their own ideologies which had already won some recognition in academic or other official quarters. Not Marx's dialectical materialism, but the conspiracy of 300 families; not the pompous scientificality of Gobineau and Chamberlain, but the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion"; not the traceable influence of the Catholic Church and the role played by anti-clericalism in Latin countries, but the backstairs literature about the Jesuits and the Freemasons became the inspiration for the rewriters of history. The object of the most varied and variable constructions was always to reveal history as a joke, to demonstrate a sphere of secret influences of which the visible, traceable, and known historical reality was only the outward façade erected explicitly to fool the people. To this aversion of the intellectual elite for official historiography, to its conviction that history, which was a forgery anyway, might as well be the playground of crackpots, must be added the terrible, demoralizing fascination in the possibility that gigantic lies and monstrous falsehoods can eventually be established as unquestioned facts, that man may be free to change his own past at will, and that the difference between truth and falsehood may cease to be objective and become a mere matter of power and cleverness, of pressure and infinite repetition. Not Stalin’s and Hitler's skill in the art of lying but the fact that they were able to organize the masses into a collective unit to back up their lies with impressive magnificence, exerted the fascination. Simple forgeries from the viewpoint of scholarship appeared to receive the sanction of history itself when the whole marching reality of the movements stood behind them and pretended to draw from them the necessary inspiration for action.
Hannah Arendt (The Origins of Totalitarianism)
Outside of your relationship with God, the most important relationship you can have is with yourself. I don’t mean that we are to spend all our time focused on me, me, me to the exclusion of others. Instead, I mean that we must be healthy internally—emotionally and spiritually—in order to create healthy relationships with others. Motivational pep talks and techniques for achieving success are useless if a person is weighed down by guilt, shame, depression, rejection, bitterness, or crushed self-esteem. Countless marriages land on the rocks of divorce because unhealthy people marry thinking that marriage, or their spouse, will make them whole. Wrong. If you’re not a healthy single person you won’t be a healthy married person. Part of God’s purpose for every human life is wholeness and health. I love the words of Jesus in John 10:10: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” God knows we are the walking wounded in this world and He wants the opportunity to remove everything that limits us and heal every wound from which we suffer. Some wonder why God doesn’t just “fix” us automatically so we can get on with life. It’s because He wants our wounds to be our tutors to lead us to Him. Pain is a wonderful motivator and teacher! When the great Russian intellectual Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was released from the horrible Siberian work camp to which he was sent by Joseph Stalin, he said, “Thank you, prison!” It was the pain and suffering he endured that caused his eyes to be opened to the reality of the God of his childhood, to embrace his God anew in a personal way. When we are able to say thank you to the pain we have endured, we know we are ready to fulfill our purpose in life. When we resist the pain life brings us, all of our energy goes into resistance and we have none left for the pursuit of our purpose. It is the better part of wisdom to let pain do its work and shape us as it will. We will be wiser, deeper, and more productive in the long run. There is a great promise in the New Testament that says God comes to us to comfort us so we can turn around and comfort those who are hurting with the comfort we have received from Him (see 2 Corinthians 1:3–4). Make yourself available to God and to those who suffer. A large part of our own healing comes when we reach out with compassion to others.
Zig Ziglar (Better Than Good: Creating a Life You Can't Wait to Live)
In the center of the movement, as the motor that swings it onto motion, sits the Leader. He is separated from the elite formation by an inner circle of the initiated who spread around him an aura of impenetrable mystery which corresponds to his “intangible preponderance.” His position within this intimate circle depends upon his ability to spin intrigues among its members and upon his skill in constantly changing its personnel. He owes his rise to leadership to an extreme ability to handle inner-party struggles for power rather than to demagogic or bureaucratic-organizational qualities. He is distinguished from earlier types of dictators in that he hardly wins through simple violence. Hitler needed neither the SA nor the SS to secure his position as leader of the Nazi movement; on the contrary, Röhm, the chief of the SA and able to count upon its loyalty to his own person, was one of Hitler’s inner-party enemies. Stalin won against Trotsky, who not only had a far greater mass appeal but, as chief of the Red Army, held in his hands the greatest power potential in Soviet Russia at the time. Not Stalin, but Trotsky, moreover, was the greatest organizational talent, the ablest bureaucrat of the Russian Revolution. On the other hand, both Hitler and Stalin were masters of detail and devoted themselves in the early stages of their careers almost entirely to questions of personnel, so that after a few years hardly any man of importance remained who did not owe his position to them.
Hannah Arendt (The Origins of Totalitarianism)
. . .biographers tend to regard as character those elements of personality that remain constant, or nearly so, throughout. . .Like practitioners of fractal geometry, biographers seek patterns that persist as one moves from micro- to macro-levels of analysis, and back again. . . . It follows from this that the scale across which we seek similarity need not be chronological. Consider the following incidents in the life of Stalin between 1929 and 1940, arranged not by dates but in terms of ascending horror. Start with the parrot he kept in a cage in his Kremlin apartment. The dictator had the habit of pacing up and down for long periods of time, smoking his pipe, brooding, and occasionally spitting on the floor. One day the parrot tried to mimic Stalin's spitting. He immediately reached into the cage with his pipe and crushed the parrot's head. A very micro-level event, you might well say, so what? But then you learn that Stalin, while on vacation in the Crimea, was once kept awake by a barking dog. It turned out to be a seeing-eye dog that belonged to a blind peasant. The dog wound up being shot, and the peasant wound up in the Gulag. And then you learn that Stalin drove his independently minded second wife, who tried to talk back to him, into committing suicide. And that he arranged for Trotsky, who also talked back, to be assassinated halfway around the world. And that he arranged as well the deaths of as many of Trotsky's associates that he could reach, as well as the deaths of hundred of thousands of other people who never had anything to do with Trotsky. And that when his own people began to talk back by resisting the collectivization of agriculture, he allowed some fourteen million of them to die from the resulting starvation, exile, or imprisonment. Again, there's self-similarity across scale, except that the scale this time is a body count. It's a fractal geometry of terror. Stalin's character extended across time and space, to be sure, but what's most striking about it is its extension across scale: the fact that his behavior seemed much the same in large matters, small matters, and most of those that lay in between.
John Lewis Gaddis (The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past)
The difficulties connected with my criterion of demarcation (D) are important, but must not be exaggerated. It is vague, since it is a methodological rule, and since the demarcation between science and nonscience is vague. But it is more than sharp enough to make a distinction between many physical theories on the one hand, and metaphysical theories, such as psychoanalysis, or Marxism (in its present form), on the other. This is, of course, one of my main theses; and nobody who has not understood it can be said to have understood my theory. The situation with Marxism is, incidentally, very different from that with psychoanalysis. Marxism was once a scientific theory: it predicted that capitalism would lead to increasing misery and, through a more or less mild revolution, to socialism; it predicted that this would happen first in the technically highest developed countries; and it predicted that the technical evolution of the 'means of production' would lead to social, political, and ideological developments, rather than the other way round. But the (so-called) socialist revolution came first in one of the technically backward countries. And instead of the means of production producing a new ideology, it was Lenin's and Stalin's ideology that Russia must push forward with its industrialization ('Socialism is dictatorship of the proletariat plus electrification') which promoted the new development of the means of production. Thus one might say that Marxism was once a science, but one which was refuted by some of the facts which happened to clash with its predictions (I have here mentioned just a few of these facts). However, Marxism is no longer a science; for it broke the methodological rule that we must accept falsification, and it immunized itself against the most blatant refutations of its predictions. Ever since then, it can be described only as nonscience—as a metaphysical dream, if you like, married to a cruel reality. Psychoanalysis is a very different case. It is an interesting psychological metaphysics (and no doubt there is some truth in it, as there is so often in metaphysical ideas), but it never was a science. There may be lots of people who are Freudian or Adlerian cases: Freud himself was clearly a Freudian case, and Adler an Adlerian case. But what prevents their theories from being scientific in the sense here described is, very simply, that they do not exclude any physically possible human behaviour. Whatever anybody may do is, in principle, explicable in Freudian or Adlerian terms. (Adler's break with Freud was more Adlerian than Freudian, but Freud never looked on it as a refutation of his theory.) The point is very clear. Neither Freud nor Adler excludes any particular person's acting in any particular way, whatever the outward circumstances. Whether a man sacrificed his life to rescue a drowning, child (a case of sublimation) or whether he murdered the child by drowning him (a case of repression) could not possibly be predicted or excluded by Freud's theory; the theory was compatible with everything that could happen—even without any special immunization treatment. Thus while Marxism became non-scientific by its adoption of an immunizing strategy, psychoanalysis was immune to start with, and remained so. In contrast, most physical theories are pretty free of immunizing tactics and highly falsifiable to start with. As a rule, they exclude an infinity of conceivable possibilities.
Karl Popper