Staunton, Mar. 13 – With the revival of Stalinism under Putin, a myth is spreading in the Russian Federation that had Nikita Khrushchev not attacked Stalin in 1956, the USSR would still exist, Aleksandr Tsipko says. But that is nonsense. No one in the party leadership and few in the country believed in Stalinism even then, and the fate of the system Stalin created was sealed.
“Speaking honestly,” the senior Russian commentator says, “it is difficult t find a rational explanation for the widespread rehabilitation of Stalin which has begun in recent times or to find an explanation for the efforts to forget his crimes, repressions and sadism” (mk.ru/politics/2023/03/14/zachem-sovremennoy-rossii-opravdanie-stalinizma.html).
“In fact, “there is not a single piece of evidence that Stalin loved the Russian people or was concerned about it” as some now assert, Tsipko continues. In reality, everything points in the opposite direction. Even Lenin and Trotsky tried to save the flower of the Russian intelligentsia, but Stalin didn’t. Instead, he confined it to the GULAG and killed its members.
Everyone must recognize that “the campaign that has been unleashed to make Stalin a sacred figure leads at one and the same time to the condemnation of Gorbachev’s perestroika, to accusations that he was a traitor who supposedly destroyed the USSR for money” from the Western powers.
It is true, Tsipko says, that “Gorbachev’s perestroika, glasnost and historical truth led not to the democratization of the USSR but to its disintegration.” But that was because those policies reenforced and legitimized the views of many in the party leadership and in the Soviet population as a whole that Stalinism and Sovietism must be dispensed with.
Tsipko continues: “all this current talk that if it hadn’t been for Khrushchev, then Stalinist socialism would have existed up to now are completely ridiculous. As I remember, even under Stalin, Odessans in the evening listened to the Voice of America” and they were hardly alone in rejecting what the Stalinist and Soviet systems represented.
Anyone who doubts this need only read the transcripts of the CPSU Central Committee plenum before the 20th party congress at which Khrushchev gave his secret speech. All the speakers were clear that they wanted to separate Leninism from Stalinism, and all except perhaps Molotov “used the term terror in their discussion of the events of the end of the 1930s.”
“What does all this mean? Tsipko asks rhetorically. Simply this: “even if someone else from Stalin’s entourage had come to power instead of Khrushchev, the truth about the Stalinism terror and the horrors of the late 1930s would have broken through and become the common property of the country as a whole.”
That this is the case suggests that the Putin regime is mistaken in its belief that it can revive Stalinism. It won’t be able to do so on the basis of the beliefs it thinks Russians have; it would be only if it were to restore the kind of repression that existed in the USSR in the late 1940s. But if it tries, it will unwittingly create another threat to its own existence.