Joseph Stalin is back, after being a taboo figure in the Soviet Union after 1956, the man who murdered most Bolsheviks and killed millions of Soviet workers is praised again. This time by the capitalist leaders of the Russian Federation led by Vladimir Putin. Stalin’s face can be seen on billboards, posters and books. Russians are brainwashed again to worship the founding father of stalinism. This is a deliberate strategy of the Kremlin, to hide the fact that capitalist Russia is a hell on earth. The cult of Stalin serves as a distraction from reality and to boost nostalgia among Russians who dream of the days when ”Father Stalin” ruled a mighty Russian led nation!
Most young Russians never knew the USSR. Today you have to be at least 45 years old, to have good memories of the Soviet-Union. But Russian teenagers born after 1999 only know Vladimir Putin’s Russia and his boost of Soviet nostalgia. Joseph Stalin started to reappear after the disastrous capitalist revolution at the end of the 1990’s. Boris Yeltsin left the office of president in deep shame as the most hated man in Russia. Back in 1991, he was praised as a ”democrat” who would free the Russians after 70 years of communist party rule!
But we all know what Boris Yeltsin did. His capitalist politics caused major inequality, at least 40% (maybe even higher then 50%) of all Russian workers ended up in absolute poverty, meaning they lacked basic human needs. Rent and food prices rose, wages dropped, social security was privatized, healthcare and schools demanded big money and above all; Russians felt embarrassed and betrayed, because the western world claimed to have defeated them!
Vladimir Putin was prime minister under Boris Yeltsin, who wanted him as next president of the Russian Federation in 1999. After it became clear Yeltsin was deeply unpopular, he left his office to Putin. After a few months, the former prime minister was elected president and had to clean up the mess of his drunk predecessor. Putin started with a major anti-corruption campaign to brink the oligarchs back in line of the Kremlin. He would not destroy them, but force them to apply to his rule. Those oligarchs who refused found themselves arrested and jailed for corruption!
Like Yeltsin, Putin needed the support from the super rich. In parliament he was only opposed by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. Both of these parties have a strong Russian nationalist side which the Kremlin exploited. Putin played on the love for Stalin to gain the support from the communists (stalinists) and he boosted Russian nationalism to win the trust of the liberal democrats (Russian nationalists in reality)!
But he needed a party of his own. So Putin ordered all Russian conservative parties to fuse into one big party called; United Russia. This party would serve as his tool and its members were installed at key positions throughout the Russian Federation. In the year 2000, the music of the former Soviet anthem was reintroduced as anthem of Russia. A year later in 2001, Vladimir Putin adopted the Ribbon of Saint George as a nationalist symbol. It was shown during the Victory Parade and would serve as symbol of Soviet/Russian patriotism!
Russia started to oppose the western world again and this was not welcomed by capitalist powers such as the United States and Europe. While NATO moved towards Russian borders by absorbing former Warschaupact nations, the Kremlin started to use old Stalinist style propaganda. To fight the capitalist media of the western world ( CNN, Fox News, BBC) the Russian state founded a news organisation called Russia Today. Unlike western media outlets, RT is very critical about the actions of western nations. Because of this criticism, they are called the propaganda machine of Vladimir Putin. Partly this is correct because RT is not critical about the way Russia works under its new czar. All the things RT criticizes about the western world they do not say about Russia. Things like capitalist exploitation, the fact that Moscow is a city for the rich and the deep xenophobia among Russians towards none-Russian workers!
Joseph Stalin is revived as a ”Great Russian Leader” the fact that he was Georgian born is not mentioned in the propaganda. The period 1941-1945 is used the most and Stalin plays a key role. In reality he was not the great leader who liberated the USSR. Unlike Adolf Hitler who saw himself as the greatest war lord of all times, Stalin stayed away from most military matters. He left the war planning to his generals and this is what saved the USSR. Had Stalin played the role role of Hitler, he would have destroyed the Soviet nations. We know this because during the Winter War with Finland, Stalin blamed his own military incompetence on innocent army commanders, who were arrested and shot by the NKVD (secret police)!
But the modern Russian propaganda portray Stalin in the same way the old Stalinist propaganda did. Stalin is showed as a great leader and liberator of Europe. Schoolbooks in the Russian Federation give little attention to the crimes of the Red Czar. The Bolsheviks he killed, the workers and farmers who died while doing slave labour are all reduced to a few numbers in schoolbooks. Children are not confronted with the crimes of Joseph Stalin this way. Just think if the Holocaust was reduced to the number 6.000.000, with no pictures and no personal stories!
Since the Russian invasion of Crimea, the Kremlin is fueling massive propaganda into glorifying the struggle against Nazi Germany. This is done to boost the myth that Russian separatists in East Ukraine, fight a Ukrainian government led by the far-right. Reality is different, the separatists are driving by great Russian chauvinism and deep hatred of ethnic Ukrainians. They are supported by the far-right in Russia, who believe that all lands of ethnic Russians should belong to the Kremlin. This is why many Baltic republics, fear a possible Russian invasion. Because Russians make up at least 20% of the Baltic people!
Revolutionary socialists reject the cult of Joseph Stalin as we have done back in the 1920’s. Stalin and his henchmen feared what we stood for, so he ordered the arrest of all critical members of the communist party. By 1927, most important functions were under Stalinist control and most members of the Left Opposition were either expelled or capitulated to Stalin. Still the Big Boss feared our ideals, so revolutionary socialists were the first who went to the Gulag camps. The cruel NKVD guards were told to give us special treatment (torture, bullying, murder). This is why few members of the original Left Opposition survived the purges!
Today in Russia we are denounced again. By the supporters of stalinism, by the supporters of Russian nationalism. Revolutionary socialists are hated because we stand on the genuine ideals of Marxist socialism and we reject any kind of Russian chauvinism. Soviet symbols are used today with Czarist emblems beside them. Red banners fly next to the flag of the Russian Empire and White movement. Lenin would have cursed Vladimir Putin for this abuse!
The Kremlin will not return to stalinism. Vladimir Putin does not want his oligarchs to lose their fortune. But they want to keep the memory of the ”Great Soviet-Union” alive for nationalist propaganda. They need to boost patriotism in order to hide the fact that Russia is not doing well. Since their intervention in Ukraine, the Russian Ruble is losing value on the international markets. Russian workers now need to spend 50% of their income on food, as prices rise each month. The average income in the Russian Federation is just 400 dollars (358 euros) a month. This is what the Kremlin tries to hide, rising poverty and economic collapse. By playing on Soviet nostalgia and their victory in World War Two, Vladimir Putin hopes to blind the public with heroic stories!
Elderly who remember the days of Stalin and the USSR, only remember what they were told to think. Their Stalin was not the real Joseph Stalin, but many Russians desperately hold on to this myth. Why? Because capitalist barbarism in the 1990’s let them to believe that their lives under stalinism were better. This is what they told to their children and grandchildren, heroic stories of Soviet soldiers and the days when you had some social security. This is why the teenagers of modern Russia glorify Stalin as a ”Great Russian Leader”. Their view is history is also distorted by movies about the ”Great Patriotic War”. Soviet soldiers in Russian movies are always shown as freedom fighters. In the Baltic nations this has led to confrontations. Because ethnic Russians hold on to their version of history, that the USSR liberated the Baltic. The people of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania did not see it this way. They say that Stalin occupied and oppressed them!
Russia is not a democracy and this makes it difficult to stand up to the new Stalin cult of personality. Most media outlets in Russia including RT, say what the Kremlin wants them to say. The group: Reporters Winout Borders have this to say about Russia:
”While Russia’s leading TV channels continue to inundate viewers with propaganda, the Ukrainian crisis led to an increase in pressure on independent media, with a string of draconian laws, website blocking and leading independent news outlets either being brought under control or throttled out of existence. The climate has become very oppressive for those who question the new patriotic and neoconservative discourse and, in some regions, local despots have taken advantage of this new climate to step up their persecution of critics”
In a way, Russia is living in a time much like the Red Scare of the USA. Back then the American government and media would attack anybody, who was not deeply patriotic and anticommunist. This we see today in Russia, were you are called an ”enemy” if you are not a follower of the Kremlin and Russian nationalism. To reject Stalin is to reject the victory of 1945, to critize the Soviet-Union means criticizing the victims of fascism, as the state media would say. There is also similarities between Fox News in the USA and Russia Today. Both media networks are deeply supportive of their own nations line on history. It is ironic that RT America is more to the political left then RT in Russia. While many who work for RT America have a leftist position, many of those who work for RT in Russia are supportive of the Kremlin and neoconservatism!
A new Cold War is growing between the capitalist west and the capitalist east. But this conflict is not about an ideology. Western imperialism wants to control Eastern Europe and Russia does not want that. With NATO members closing in on their borders, many Russians feel under siege. Stalin is back to boost patriotism and Vladimir Putin knows that he can use the Soviet period to strengthen his regime. Because Putin stands up to the western world, he is loved by many Russians. They want a strong Russia, but their patriotic feelings will not bring them more social security or higher wages. Russian capitalism is in a crisis and will enforce brutal austerity cuts much like what Boris Yeltsin did in the 1990’s. Then even Joseph Stalin will not be able to blind the working class anymore!