Part II: Competitors
Enemies of the People
High Stalinism was an era of extremes. Some of these extremes were reflected in the explosive growth of the Soviet economy in the 1930s and the glorification of the “heroic worker,” as you can see in these images of the Stakhanovite movement and in the construction of the industrial city, Magnitogorsk:
But, there were also the indescribable and incomprehensible extremes of Stalin’s purges and nothing less than the systematic extermination of the old communist elite. It is both disturbing and puzzling to think that so many people went along with these polices.
For the Soviet Union, the suffering was devastating, as these slides attest:
But paradoxically, many people, both high officials and ordinary Russians, seemed to love Stalin all the more, as you can see in this video and this hymn:
|13||Film: “Interrogation“ (movie review)
The Stalinist Model spreads to East-Central Europe
In this lecture, I jump a bit into the future to examine Stalinism’s impact on other European settings immediately after WWII.
The Path of Armed Struggle
Now that we have considered Stalin’s rise to power, I will address the Chinese revolution and the quite different path that Mao Zedong followed, especially during the formative period of the “Long March” of 1934-1935. Mao’s ability to foment revolution in the countryside occurred as much because of the unintended consequences of others’ actions as it did of his own designs. There is no greater symbol of Chinese communism than the Long March.
The Path of the Populist Revolutionary
Today, I will consider the path to power of two populist revolutionaries, Fidel Castro and (at least mythologically) Kim Il-Sung. Just as in China, guerrilla warfare had a decisive impact on Cuban and North Korean communism. In fact, Castro only proclaimed his allegiance to world communism after coming to power. To get a feel for the distinctive culture of Cuban socialism, watch these interviews with some of Fidel’s former guerrilla fighters:
Likewise, one cannot overstate the distinctive character of North Korean communism. Here’s a little “Arirang”:
Death of the Great Leader Kim Il-Sung:
|18||No discussions this week.|