As a thorough-going Augustinian you'd think that the only time my anthropology would be challenged would be by suggestions that it is too negative. Radzinsky, however, has got me thinking that it has been too optimistic.
This post might be called "Stalin the unknown Hitler," as it is so surprising how legendary the evil of the one is and how unknown that of the other has been. I wonder what explains this disparity? My initial thought is that those sympathetic to socialism have made it so. Socialists have attempted to turn our attention away from the evils of communism. Of course, Nazism has been rightly ostracized by the majority, but has Marxism? Ostensibly, no. Another element contributing to this difference of perception is the obvious odium of the attempt to exterminate a whole race which has caught the popular imagination though such films as Schindler's List. Though Stalin never did that, he ended up killing far more people than Hitler ever did. He began with the top of society and worked his way down, and, if Radzinski is correct, was about to send the Jews as a whole to Siberia, where they would face certain death, as did nearly everyone else he sent there. Finally, I think we need to recall that Hitler's regime ended sixty years ago, while Stalin's cannot even now be said to have disappeared. What secrets is the ex-KGB Putin still holding on to? It doesn't seem that anyone is burying the shame of Germany; I doubt the same can be said for the USSR. The word "new" is Radzinsky's title suggests as much.
What I found most shocking was not the death toll. I had already heard about that. The number of people he is responsible for killing - directly by execution and indirectly by famine and deportation to camps in Siberia - is usually given as 20 million. One authority estimates 43 million. Let me write that out with the numbers 43,000,000. By comparison, Hitler seems to have been responsible for 11 million, although in one sense the responsibility for the total 50,000,000 who died in WWII can be laid at his feet.
Yet it is almost pointless to cite these numbers. One person unjustly killed is one too many, and is horrific and the proof of deep evil. If rehearsing these great numbers has one ill-effect it is to desensitize us to this fact. Similarly, the 100,000 annual abortions in Canada... The 20th was the century of mass-scale exterminations; with abortion it continues into the 21st, and in various instances of ethnic cleansing in Africa.
So, it wasn't the numbers that shocked me, as I said, I already had an idea of this.
What shocked me was the lack of resolve in the Russian people, or even of human feeling of any kind. This was especially the case in the upper-echelons of the ruling Communist party, all who had blood on their hands before they came to power. Stalin used this guilt against them, but seemed to be immune to it himself. Sure, he was a master manipulator, but even the greatest genius - Napoleon, Mao, anyone - can be stopped by a single bullet. Why did one not come for this man who repeatedly culled the Russian people as if they were cattle? Stalin may in fact have been murdered, but it is by no means certain, yet even if this were so this was decades into his genocidal reign. Stalin's pretense of moral rectitude cannot have withstood the disappearance of millions of people, despite his masterful deceptiveness. Yet the people did nothing. The Party's leadership was repeatedly ruthlessly purged. For instance, Stalin replaced the head of the secret police three or four times, each time with a bullet. When do you get the point that your time is coming? And yet the people did nothing. Year after year and purge after purge they yet continued to treat him like a god. It is disgusting to think people can descend that low.
And yet, I had a look around me.
The most murderous regime in human history, that which killed more people than even that demon Stalin is still 100% stable. Mao's party still holds China in its iron grip, and not a hint of any kind of condemnation ever seems to seriously arise from the holy democratic leaders of the West. We are, apparently, about to sell Alberta to them. The Vice President of the USA does no want to 'judge' their one child policy. Every nation lines up for more and more of the slave-money of China - where do we think that backward economy gets its money, anyway?! We are no different than the USA and Britain who after WWII returned Russian exiles to Stalin for execution. They knew full well what their fate was. Thousands upon thousands again were killed. We never hear of these things. We do no differently today, we know what the Chinese have done and continue to do. They have more political enemies in jail than all the rest of the world combined. And yet, let's have the Olympics there.
Perhaps there is something about China to which we can with our guilty consciences relate. And those who have drawn more closely to those murderers, more complicit in their tyranny, perhaps their consciences resemble those of the Chinese genocides most of all.
As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.""Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit." "The poison of vipers is on their lips.""Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.""Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.""There is no fear of God before their eyes." (Romans 3:10-18)And then, finally, it all made sense: when we move far away from God, we lose our humanity. That is the lesson for the modern age. We had hoped to build a great society without Him. All we produced was bloodshed.