Was Stalin a Communist?

If you’ve been anywhere near a college campus in the last 75 years, you know that’s a rhetorical question.

In much the same way we’re instructed to ignore the “Socialist” part of “National Socialist German Workers’ Party,” Our Betters in academia have instructed us to ignore the fact that Stalin believed, with all his heart and soul, that he was a communist.  The catechism is: Stalin was a one-off, a psychopath, a tsar-in-Marxist-clothing who tapped into the Russian soul’s deep, centuries-old yearning to be ruled by a despot.  All that Foundations of Leninism-type stuff Stalin wrote, his authorship of the Party’s official hagiography, all that… it’s all just eyewash, saith the dogma.  That pretty much everything Stalin did makes sense in the light of Marxism/Leninism is just a coinkydink.*

It also helps that the CIA isn’t hiring “Kremlinologists” anymore.  Back in the days, a lot of academic historians worked for the Feds.  The problem, of course, was that the Feds needed those academics to be right, which meant dispensing with the “true Communism has never been tried!” baloney which, then as now, was the standard line in the ivory tower.  Guys like Richard Pipes and Robert Conquest (and gals like Condoleeza Rice) assumed that Soviet leaders were all singing off the Marxist  hymnal, and so got at least in the ballpark with their analyses of Soviet actions.  With the USSR gone, there’s no need for academic historians to test themselves against reality anymore, and so academic Russian history now goes like this:

mumble mumble something EVIL STALIN! mumble mumble something PUTIN STOLE THE ELECTION!!!

All this isn’t just more egghead-bashing, fun as that is.  The point is that ideology is — or, crucially, used to be— a good predictor of behavior.  This was true for analysts as well as actors.  The only people surprised by Hitler’s actions, for instance, were the ideologically enstupidated.  That is to say, guys like Stalin.  The Wehrmacht all but hung big neon signs over their troop movements.  It couldn’t have been otherwise — Operation Barbarossa involved over three million men, not to mention conquering several other countries along the invasion route.  Junior high boys playing Risk have pulled off less obvious maneuvers.** And yet Stalin got caught with his pants down, because the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was the distilled essence of fraternal socialism and any NKVD analyst dumb enough to point out the panzers massing on the borders would swiftly find himself in Siberia.

What happens, though, when there’s no ideology?

It seems badly wrong to say this, but that’s the point we’re at now.  Our PoMo, Cult-Marx Left sure seems to have an ideology:  “Intersectionality,” let’s call it, for convenience.  But when you look at how it plays out in practice, its predictive power is pretty much zero.  Then as now, eggheads hated guys like Pipes and Conquest; “the Hoover Institution,” then as now, was a swear word in academia.  And yet, Pipes and Conquest got it at least in the ballpark most of the time, as we’ve noted, because they took the Soviet leadership’s proclamations of fealty to Marxism/Leninism at face value.  But even if we take, say, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at her word, that puts us…. where, exactly?

As far as I can tell, “intersectionality” boils down to: Hate Whitey.  Given the choice, the Intersectional will do whatever does the most damage to White people, especially White males.  However, and crucially, the predictive power of that observation is fading fast.  In majority-minority America — which we have certainly achieved electorally, if not quite yet demographically — all the fights that matter are going to be Intersectional civil wars.  Worse, several important parts of the Intersectional coalition utterly depend on the continued existence of Whitey as an important socio-cultural force.  “African-Americans,” for instance, construct their entire worldview around being not-White.  It’s so obvious that even Black people joke about it — if we ceded the entire American South to the Blacks as slavery reparations, the first thing Black folks would do, according to Blacks themselves, would be: Move North.

Without us, there is no them.  Most importantly: This seems to be true of the Intersectional as a whole.  What the hell are they going to do when they win?

That’s what makes people like AOC so terrifying.  Marxism is a bone-stupid, anti-human creed, but at least it’s consistent.  “Intersectionality,” by contrast, is nothing more than the momentary whims of Basic College Girls…..




*Which of course should raise the fascinating question of whether Lenin was a communist… but you’ll never hear that one discussed.  There are very few world-historical figures with longer shadows than V.I. Lenin, yet he’s the forgotten man of 20th century history.  If you’re one of those folks who read the footnotes before the rest of the article, spoiler alert: Yes, Lenin was unquestionably a communist, which is why nobody wants to talk about him.  By heaping the blame for all the awful shit the Soviets did onto Stalin, the cultural Marxists in the ivory tower can pretend that famines, gulags, censorship, torture, secret police, and all the rest of it are bugs, not features, of Leftism in power.  In reality, of course, Lenin did all that and then some — read any halfway honest account of the Red/White Civil War.  But, of course, all those atrocities were just exigencies of wartime, comrade, and had nothing to do with Marxism….
**In my hilarious alternate-history version of academia, there are a zillion books asking the question “Was Hitler really a Nazi?”  The only reason “Nazi” is a swear word and “Communist” is still respectable, of course, is that the Reds won the war.  Had Germany won, Alfred Rosenberg’s ooga-booga sub-Heglian mystical bullshit would be all the rage among the “I fucking love science” crowd, while Karl Marx’s ooga-booga sub-Heglian mystical bullshit — Lysenkoism, anyone? — would be derided for the hateful nonsense it is.
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14 thoughts on “Was Stalin a Communist?

  1. Pickle Rick

    Besides Pipes (whose book, “Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime ” thank God, was my Russian history prof’s textbook of choice) a recently written book I’d recommend is Orlando Figes “A People’ Tragedy- The Russian Revolution”.
    Both authors come very close to postulating that the early Bolsheviks were so hellbent on destroying the ancien regime of Imperial Russia because almost all of them weren’t ethnically Russian. Lenin was partially Kalmyk and bagel, Stalin was a vendetta fueled Georgian, and the list goes on and on.
    Of course, mention that in a classroom today and the screeching from your professor and classmates would be heard from orbit…

      1. Severian Post author

        Sovietologists were allowed to be honest, what with the Cold War and all. Someone else (whose name escapes me at the moment) put it quite frankly: Lenin et al weren’t revolutionaries because they were communists; they were communists because they were revolutionaries — that is, they were the kind of loser malcontents that would be miserable no matter what social system they found themselves living under.

        The same was true of Nazis, of course, which is why both the Nazis and the KPD (German communists) spent so much effort on poaching each other’s members. This is why Eric Hoffer said there’s really only one mass movement — this kind of weirdo will gravitate to whatever totalizing revolutionary philosophy is on offer. (That it took an autodidact longshoreman to say this — rather than, say, a research psychologist or a historian — tells you everything you need to know about the intellectual caliber of the ivory tower).

  2. Publius

    Stalin was a communist, and you know who else was?
    Trotsky was fine with everything Lenin doing, and had a grand time running the Red Army to ensure he got to keep doing it, because he expected the whip to be handed to him when the old cuss died.
    Then, when Stalin seized the whip, suddenly the Revolution went wrong some how, and what Stalin was doing was really “state capitalism” or some such, and so was the True Comm’nism Haz Nebbah Bin Try’d line born.

    1. Severian Post author

      Funny how that worked, isn’t it? Looking back on it from a century’s perspective, Trotsky “won” the Russian Revolution hands down. Nobody uses the word “Trotskyite” anymore, but that’s pretty much what the GloboHomo Poz Alliance is. Helluva PR man, was Trotsky.

      1. Pickle Rick

        The Trotskyites (or Bronsteins, as it were) were and are the cosmopolitans, who preached revolution safely outside Russia whereas good ol Koba and his buddies, the dirt eating prole revolutionaries, did the hard time in Russia. The “educated” Bolsheviks didn’t quite understand how the mind of those guys worked, and it got them killed in their turn by a man who lived and breathed the blood feud culture of the Caucasus.

        1. Severian Post author

          To be fair to Trotsky (though god knows why anyone should be). Stalin was an easy guy to misunderestimate. He was the original boring, faceless bureaucrat for his entire pre-dictator career. His civil war record was undistinguished (to put it mildly), and he was something like Commissar for National Minorities under Lenin… hardly a glamour job. By the time people realized what he was doing — staffing the bureaucracy exclusively with his guys, basically burying everyone in paperwork — it was too late.

          Truly the guy was a sick genius. I’ll freely admit to being fascinated by Stalin. He had the Devil’s own cunning, patience, and luck, but no charisma whatsoever. Unheard of among revolutionaries.

          1. Pickle Rick

            And there’s your key to unlocking some the secrets of our modern American Bolsheviks seeming unpredictability- every single one of them is a “commissar for national minorities” in their tiny little heads. Not in a conscious Stalinist sense, of course, because all of them are too utterly stupid to comprehend history except as a bludgeon to beat the straight white man with, but each as a narrowly focused tribal champion. Look at them as that, and a pattern emerges.

  3. WOPR

    Beyond whites being bad, there doesn’t seem to be much else beyond each group’s manifest destiny to be in charge. I figure blacks have hit their zenith in this country. It’s going to be the other groups that force them out and blacks will be pining for the old days when whites ran the country.

    Risk was a great game for playing with a bunch of buddies. You got to do friendly things like stab each other in the back and curse the luck of the dice. SJW’s would have hated us. Everyone had a color they liked and we all named our armies.

    Green Horde
    Blue Lagoons
    Yellow Fever
    Red Plague
    Black Africans

    1. Maus

      Ah, the heady days of youth. I always chose black, my Zulu warriors. Reinforce Egypt and Northern Africa from a European or Asian thrust through the Middle East or across the Med and combine it with a relentless attack on South America. I could play that game for hours upon hours.

  4. MBlanc46

    Minor correction: The Soviets sang from the Marxist/Leninist hymnal. Marx never says much about what happens after the revolution beyond there being a dictatorship of the proletariat that ultimately withers away and we all become hunters in the morning, fisherman in the afternoon, and poets in the evening (or whatever it is). Lenin, actually having made a revolution, had to have an answer to that question. And it wasn’t State and Revolution, it was “Terror, terror, and more terror”. When I had a lot of contact with Leftists fifty years ago, there was still a lot of regard for Lenin and Trotsky. I don’t have any contacts with Leftists these days, but I can see that they might prefer to dial back to old Karl, and not have to think about (or at least talk publicly about) Kronstadt, and the Cheka, and the camps.

    Also, regarding the Russo-German War: From what I’ve read, Stalin never thought that he’d bought permanent peace with Hitler; he thought that he’d bought time. But a year and a half wasn’t enough time to get the USSR on a war-footing, so he was desperately trying to appease Hitler until the Soviets were ready. Thus, the Party line became, “Hitler isn’t going to attack us. (Yet.)” There is the view, advanced it seems largely by Hitler apologists, that a Soviet attack on the Germans was imminent in June 1941 and that Barbarossa was a pre-emptive defensive strike by the Germans. That seems so contrary to fact as to not be worthy of rebuttal.

    1. Severian Post author

      I use “Marxism” for all of it, because I want to keep the focus on Marx. Marx was the ideas-man; everything flows from him. But I take your point, and it’s useful to distinguish the various flavors of Commies. So for the record:

      Marxists are general-purpose utopian socialists. Murder and mayhem are features, not bugs, of their worldview, since everything they do is to bring about the Revolution… which, because Marxism is mystical Hegel-flavored ooga-booga bullshit, is supposed to be inevitable, but whatever, contradicting yourself is as central a part of the Marxist worldview as Revolution. As Onkel Karl himself said about his various prognostications on the Indian Mutiny, a little dialectic can get you out of anything — the trick is to weasel-word it so that you can be “right” either way.

      Leninists are the actual Marxist revolutionaries. Our Thing could learn a lot from observing Leninists, as Lenin was a guerrilla genius. Leninists are still Marxists, as Marx yearned to murder and torture the way Lenin did; he just never got the chance.

      Stalinists are Leninists in power.

      Maoists are senescent Stalinists. At bottom, Marxism is, as Igor Shafarevich pointed out, a nihilistic suicide cult; Maoists realize this, and act accordingly. As Eric Hoffer said, all mass movements aim for the total extinction of the individual personality. Maoism is as close as you can get to that short of suicide. SJWs are all Maoists.

      I suppose I should make this an above-the-fold piece, as I’m sure we’ll need to refer back to it….

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