Resurrecting Stalins Ghost
Most people feel there are certain historical figures off limits for praise. Hitler and Stalin are probably two of the most infamous. Believe it or not, a new Russian textbook is trying to portray Stalin in a more positive light. The UK Daily Mail reported that the textbook portrays the tyrant’s mass murders as “entirely rational.”
Millions were shot, exiled, starved and imprisoned during Stalin’s reign of terror, especially during the “Great Terror” of the 1930s. In addition, Stalin carefully controlled a “cult of personality” that deceived the masses into thinking of him as a great savior of Russia. It took years of “De-Stalinization” under successive premiers to uncover the extent of the terror Stalin had inflicted on the nation.
Apparently the current Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin wants to portray Stalin in a more positive light. The textbook he approved stresses Stalin’s extensive library and rationalizes his purges as understandable given the historical situation. Critics, naturally, are up in arms over this attempt to whitewash what they consider one of the most evil dictators in history.
The 08/01/2008 entry contained a recounting in Nature of the rivalry between honorable geneticist Dmitri Vavilov and Stalin’s choice for scientist, the charlatan Trofim Lysenko, which resulted in Vavilov’s murder and the starvation of millions of Russians in the Ukraine. This week in Nature,1 two Russian scientists wrote in to comment. The Vavilov affair was just one of many atrocities committed by the Stalin regime. The two correspondents sounded ready to fight any tinge of whitewash or rationalization:
To call Stalin’s agricultural collectivization policy a “consolidation of land and labour” is an awful understatement: an estimated 10 million productive peasants and their families were exiled or imprisoned from 1929�1933. Stalin was hardly “desperate to feed thousands of citizens dying of starvation” when these were the same people he starved and murdered while sending Russian grain abroad.
The correspondents also took issue with Nature’s apparent moral equivalence of Stalin with science policy in Western democracies. “Saying that ’even now, politics continues to trump good science’ should not be taken as equating murderous dictators with democratic governments.”
1. Victor Fet and Michael D. Golubovsky, “Vavilov’s vision for genetics was among Stalin’s many victims,” Nature 455, 27 (4 September 2008) | doi:10.1038/455027a.
Stalin’s regime was so unspeakably horrible, we must never let generations forget. It makes no sense to focus entirely on Hitler’s six million victims when Stalin murdered at least 20 million, machine-gunned whole towns, forced people into miserable lives of hard labor, starved millions in the Ukraine to death, incarcerated millions more in the Gulag, destroyed churches and murdered tens of thousands of clergymen, and purged rivals almost at random with a coolness and disdain that is fearful to contemplate.
While inflicting this unspeakable harm, Stalin lavished wealth on himself and basked in the worship of masses of peasants duped by his propaganda into thinking he was saving their mother country. Throughout his career he was actively involved, through the Comintern and propaganda, in spreading communism in the West and East. Had not a stroke cut him down in 1953, he could have toppled many other governments and instigated a nuclear war against Europe and America.
We remind readers that Stalin was a diehard Darwinist. Upon finding and reading Darwin’s Origin of Species in seminary, Stalin became an atheist, reversed his career plans for the Russian Orthodox Church, and entered politics, where, through intrigue and crafted relationships, he took the legacy of the intensely radical, murderous Vladimir Lenin (another atheist Darwinist) into his own hands.
Every dictator accomplishes some good things and has some nice moments. But in light of these atrocities, is that useful or necessary to review? Saddam Hussein could look pretty handsome and polite in meetings with foreign dignitaries. So what? His overall reputation for evil swamped any good traits. Stalin achieved some impressive modernization and industrialization of the Soviet Union. He repulsed Hitler’s advances (though late and poorly planned, with horrendous human cost). He collected art and left some impressive buildings. When such things were done on the backs and graves of millions of his countrymen, it hardly deserves listing them, especially when a free government under beneficent leaders might have achieved the same or better without such horrible human cost. There’s no rationalization for evil.
The only one exceeding Stalin in pure evil was Chairman Mao in China, Stalin’s ally, who murdered up to 77 million through state-sponsored terror (11/30/2005). But after awhile the body count begins to sound academic. The ideas that resulted in the worst genocides in modern history – in all of human history – came from the poisoned well of Darwin, who led people to think of mankind adrift in a chance universe without God. In Darwin’s meaningless universe, the individual as a creation of God faded away like a dream. In its place came The State. Is anyone surprised that Marx, Lenin and Stalin, all Darwin-lovers, began a genre of cold-blooded despots the likes of which history had never seen? The despots of Cambodia, Cuba, Rwanda, Vietnam, and North Korea (which remains one of the scariest and most brutal governments in the world) all admired Hitler and Stalin as role models.
With American universities still infiltrated with Marxist-Darwinists, with prominent Darwinists pushing atheism in the name of science (08/28/2008), and with Nature insinuating that there is moral equivalence between Stalinist Russia and President Bush’s policies on science funding, maybe you get a sense of why services like Creation-Evolution Headlines play a vital role in our times to remind us that bad ideas have consequences – real consequences, where it hurts.