Why Does Joseph Stalin Matter?

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  • Published: 07 June 2018
  • Recorded on January 25, 2018.

    “Joseph Stalin, Soviet dictator, creator of great power, and destroyer of tens of millions of lives …” Thus begins this episode of Uncommon Knowledge, which dives into the biography of Joseph Stalin. This episode’s guest, Stephen Kotkin, author of Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941(amazon.com/Stalin-Waiting-1929-1941-Stephen-Kotkin/dp/1594203806), examines the political career of Joseph Stalin in the years leading up to World War II, his domination over the Soviet Union, and the terror he inspired by the Great Purge from 1936–38.

    “Why does Joseph Stalin matter?” is a key question for Kotkin, as he explains the history of the Soviet Union and Stalin's enduring impact on his country and the world. Kotkin argues that Stalin is the “gold standard for dictatorships” in regard to the amount of power he managed to obtain and wield throughout his lifetime. Stalin stands out because not only was he able to build a massive amount of military power, he managed to stay in power for three decades, much longer than any comparable dictator.

    Kotkin and Robinson discuss collectivization and communism and how Stalin’s regime believed it had to eradicate capitalism within the USSR even in regions where capitalism was bringing economic success to the peasants, with the potential of destabilizing the regime. This led to the Great Purge, a campaign of political repression that resulted in the exile and execution of millions of people.

    For the full transcript go to
    hoover.org/research/why-does-joseph-stalin-matter

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Comments • 1 068

  • San Jose Mike
    San Jose Mike  6 days back

    I don’t think there is any REAL confusion on Stalin’s reign of terror against his own supporters.

    Dictatorship require ruthless terrorism. Anyone who supports you can also kill you, because they have access to you.

    There is only one solution (based upon the understandable paranoia of the dictator) is to also kill your own supporters.

    This is entirely logical for any dictator. Remember that Stalin READ about Darwin’s belief of survival of the fittest and of course evolutionary atheism.

    This was a driving feature of his rule. Everything was about absolute power.

    Nothing else made any difference.

    Sanjosemike (no longer in CA)

    • Sam Houston
      Sam Houston  2 weeks back

      Because he was our WWII ally. Which makes our claim of moral superiority in that conflict laughable.

      • Hope For the Planet
        Hope For the Planet  2 weeks back

        ODDLY.......NONE of the history taught to students by their Marxist Feminist LGBTQ Globalists teacher ....will include Stalin and the Totalitarian tyrannical Fascist Marxist regime of Stalin...or Mao for that matter....I wonder WHY???

        • Jeremy Sweeney
          Jeremy Sweeney  2 weeks back

          Can we just start assigning the manifesto, followed by the archipelago so we can write this idea off and put our youth on constructing a NEW idea?

          • Will224000
            Will224000  2 weeks back

            Socialism...
            Vote your way in...
            Shoot your way out.

            • Luccas Andrade
              Luccas Andrade  2 weeks back

              Part II here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fq5Q6YfJtC0&t=1476s

              • Cuntfayce Macnigger
                Cuntfayce Macnigger  2 weeks back

                Joseph Stalin will be nothing compared to a Democrat beating Trump.

                • Shadforth W
                  Shadforth W  2 weeks back

                  Can you imagine American teachers teaching this? No way

                  • GordPhillips101
                    GordPhillips101  2 weeks back

                    Communists put construct over reality. It's the same with all totalitarian ideologies. Today we have two major examples of this: feminism and Islam. We also have the return to socialism on the part of radical Leftists, who are the opposite of "liberal."

                    • Tom Dockery
                      Tom Dockery  2 weeks back

                      The Democrats needed someone to show them the way.

                      • davisoneill
                        davisoneill  2 weeks back

                        The British Empire built its industrial base on the murder and enslavement of hundreds of millions of people - as did the USA. What's remarkable about Stalin is that he did in 20 years what had taken the British and the Americans 200 years.

                        • Steve Richter
                          Steve Richter  2 weeks back

                          Interesting that Trotsky survived so long. Were all of his supporters Jewish? Did Stalin see Jews as a power block? Did that motivate his actions? Why do Peter and Kotkin not discuss this?

                          • My Name is Gladiator
                            My Name is Gladiator  2 weeks back

                            10:00 in, the guy is making a great long point and the idiot interviewer just interrupted him and changed the direction. That is why there are so few competent interviewers. Just shut up and let the expert talk. You obviously are not that.

                          • fgkpev
                            fgkpev  3 weeks back

                            Marx was the first to say that Capitalism is the most productive mode of production. But Capitalism's intrinsic contradictions will destroy it, resulting in its replacement with a classless society.

                            • Robert Dug
                              Robert Dug  3 weeks back

                              Is he talking about Stalin or Jinping?

                              • Jean Gove'
                                Jean Gove'  3 weeks back

                                Fascinating interview, but the interviewer is annoying, constantly trying to make a political point. He thinks he's subtle.

                                • Jaxon Basra
                                  Jaxon Basra  3 weeks back

                                  The main source of all of this so-called "information" on Stalin is from a slander by Khrushchev.

                                  • maurice walker
                                    maurice walker  3 weeks back

                                    Stalin was a megalomaniac, he craved power for himself. He was psychopathic mass murderer. Trotsky was the vanguard of the revolution a visionary and an intellectual. Stalin was just a thug.

                                    • Ninth Ave
                                      Ninth Ave  4 weeks back

                                      Constructing class warfare, and urban activists. Yikes! Be scared, very scared. This is going on right NOW.

                                      • guitarsword1
                                        guitarsword1  4 weeks back

                                        Remember the words of Israel’s first prime minister David Ben Gurion, “ I am a Bolshevik . “

                                        • guitarsword1
                                          guitarsword1  4 weeks back

                                          The Soviet Union didn’t go out of power . They moved to Israel, England and the US.

                                          • Joyce Benton
                                            Joyce Benton  4 weeks back

                                            Often when people lived happily or more happily or less happily or unhappily for some reasons in Capitalism systems of the freedoms, or formats of any close to Capitalism systems of freedom, easily to be curious or enthusiastic into unknown systems of ideologies Socialism or Communism ideologies systems. It’s due to lacking of the experiences of such ideologies systems’ consequences and also forget the idiom of the curiosity often killed cats. People have no sense that how cruel and how unimaginable can Communism ideologies system be and too late to be regretted and no place to escape at the same time. Capitalism systems is focused on freedoms and entrepreneurship spirit and equality of opportunities, but ignored the fact of a little sparkle of fire can be lighted to burn the entire forest as the powerful spreading by neglecting and ignoring the constant education for own recognitions and principles of the freedoms, entrepreneurship spirit and equality of opportunities as well as preserving, protecting and defending by our country America’s own established Constitution laws together. In contrary, Communism ideologies systems leaders know well about how to brain wash by deceiving, twisting, encouraging by ideologies through peoples’ ignorance and imagination and naiveness. Nothing will gain from people, but to wait to suffer later quickly, but much to gain for Communism ideologies powers for sure and as soon as their powers succeeded, they know exactly how to preserve, protect and defend their ideologies of the powers as long as they can. Communism ideologies always started by developing their members underground secretly and gradually became much unrecognized strength. They will unite much of rich and super riches 1st to gain financial support. They also will unite all media entities to spread their messages and help them to succeed. The United with most of authors to help them to write their ideologies together and they also unite students and working classes to riot for their ideologies. As soon as they succeed their powers, they will confiscate all Riches gradually from small businesses 1st. Gradually toward the very rich and super altogether and no more private businesses anymore. All of those ever helped them before as authors and media owners or editors, professors gradually will all put down as the right wing category to either go to labor concentrations or jails or ended suicided. Their necessary duties of the help won’t need anymore, their thoughts were out of date. The tru red extremism Communism ideologies would need the new blood of those three generations of their strong members’ own generations as trusted allies to teach and write for them. There’s no private land, no private businesses, but all government controlled health systems. In case right wings or other categories people the Communism Party doesn’t like, doctors will be ordered not taking care of them immediately. Any account or private owned things can be seized at anytime without warning and a few times each week on and on. Tortures would make massive people suicided instead of going to jail or ...etc. This is why cherish what we have for others to dream for it is extremely important and govern by our country America’s own established laws are extremely important to preserve, protect and defend America’s principles of freedoms, entrepreneurship spirit and equality of opportunities together. Without America’s influences, China may still be extremely hard core Communism ideologies systems and much more hard to imagine. They need to establish private property laws and intellectual property rights laws as the fairness. Let’s forgive each other this time and unite together again by our own generosity forgiveness and kindness nature toward each other’s service and mistakes this time and unite together again by getting important things done quickly together again and govern by our country America’s own established laws afterwards together again. Thanks HooverInstitution’s video for our learning experiences together.

                                            • boson96
                                              boson96  4 weeks back

                                              And today we have the modern day leftists who have taken the role of the KGB, who snitch to their masters about whom they think as a "wrongthinker".

                                              • boson96
                                                boson96  4 weeks back

                                                "But that wasn't REAL communism!! We know how to properly implement it this time without killing millions of people in the process." - Average Bernie supporter

                                                • William Sophistos
                                                  William Sophistos  4 weeks back

                                                  As a Marxist, Stalin was shit. Also for the ML's out there, Leninism isn't Marxism in action. Marxism is Marxism in action. Ya'll have ruined the good name of communism, and have greatly prolonged the possibility of a communist world. Thanks. Please throw your ideology out the window, and go back read Marx.

                                                  • zama202
                                                    zama202  4 weeks back

                                                    Joseph Stalin was a Progressive.

                                                    • Jan Zagorski
                                                      Jan Zagorski  1 months back

                                                      The confessions are an homage to Stalin and recognition of him as a god

                                                      • wcm5150
                                                        wcm5150  2 months back

                                                        In other words, communism is evil.

                                                        • DIMITRIOS LOVE YOU
                                                          DIMITRIOS LOVE YOU  2 months back

                                                          LOVE YOU ❤

                                                          • Ronald Watts
                                                            Ronald Watts  2 months back

                                                            The Great Terror was focused on the devoted Socialists minions (from #2 down to the lowest party levels), the ones that truly believed Socialism was the right thing to do. Now in the USA we have political figures espousing Socialism, the so called "new green deal". This is just the beginning, we will be promised one free lunch after another. We can tax the rich to pay for it right. What happens when the rich run out of money or leave with it? We can tax the middle class to pay for it, right? After all what gives them the right to be in the middle class? Just because, they worked hard and saved to be in the middle class only proves they are diluted because of Capitalism. If we the public swallow theses perverse lies that the government can simply tax the rich more to pay for what ever free lunch they can think of that will garner support, we will be turned into slaves of the state with no rights at all (collectivization). But I have to admit, it will be ironic when you smart ass Socialists get put on show trials in the new great terror. If you admit your guilt to all the lies they say you are guilty of, your family will be spared torture, slavery, and execution (just between us, I wouldn't really count on it). Good luck, and don't say i didn't warn you.

                                                            • reality bites
                                                              reality bites  2 months back

                                                              He just helped the pesents to work a bit harder

                                                              • sdozer1990
                                                                sdozer1990  2 months back

                                                                Socialists are always saying their ideas aren't socialist. I can't imagine why. Why not take responsibility and own up to having an idea, however bad that idea is? Anyway, I think I'm a millennial, if I got the swaying determination (over the internet) of what years make up the millennial generation right, and I really didn't know much about Stalin before I watched this interview. I should get the books on my kindle!

                                                                • Angel Saltamontes
                                                                  Angel Saltamontes  2 months back

                                                                  WHAT DIFFERENCE, AFTER ALL THIS TIME, DOES IT MAKE?
                                                                  -----So asked a later, would-be despot, who woulda stepped into Stalin's shoes if only her CANKLES would have LET HER.
                                                                  -----Stalin was GONNA BE OUSTED; delicate matter as belling THAT cat would have been, his malevolence would surely have been surmounted had his beat-up physique not collapsed, though the chance one of these might have taken till 1960 (or LATER!) to knock the old spider off is a might-have been i've never seen alternate historians examine. "Yalta II: Stalin and Kennedy", a horror-redux in which the senile leader of a superpower STEALS THE WHOLE STORE AGAIN?!! Let's be thankful for vodka, and atherosclerosis.
                                                                  -----But back to gonna-be-ousteds: when you're Making [Up] History (i tinker with the title of one of her doorstopper tomes) do you go deaf? Or do the Little People's little feet* make patters one can't hear through one's self-applause? H, if you're reading this: YOU WERE GONNA BE OUSTED. Did you think they were cheering for you? You were the donkey to ride in on! Whatever Joe Stalin kept around---WHOever---you woulda needed two of each AND TWO TO WATCH THEM. You can't be more on the wrong side of history than OVER, Hill. That you were, & that you are.

                                                                  * Tip o' the Hat to the IMMORTAL Lowell George, a most-gentle despot.

                                                                  • Swedish Marxist
                                                                    Swedish Marxist  2 months back

                                                                    Long Live Socialism!

                                                                    • Algirdas Urbanavicius
                                                                      Algirdas Urbanavicius  3 months back

                                                                      Those who want to learn about WW2 need to read Mark Solonin and Viktor Suvorov

                                                                      • F B
                                                                        F B  3 months back

                                                                        this should have 500,000,000 views and every university professor should see this

                                                                        • Zman
                                                                          Zman  3 months back

                                                                          Stephen Kotkin's knowledge of USSR and Russia is truly profound. To me, who grew up in the USSR and have heard some of the things he discusses, he is a genius.

                                                                          • Macedonian Hack Club
                                                                            Macedonian Hack Club  3 months back

                                                                            They taught us in middle school in the early 90s that Trotskey was exiled from Russia for being pro-Democracy. 🤭

                                                                            • benno291980
                                                                              benno291980  3 months back

                                                                              Why does the single most powerful individual of the 20th century matter?

                                                                              • Vladimiros
                                                                                Vladimiros  3 months back

                                                                                I hear "Stalin is a dictator.." I am thinking: OK let's hear some more. Next :"you can modernize a country by free market, giving lawns to banks.." OK thats it , heard enough bullshit

                                                                                • darren kvernum
                                                                                  darren kvernum  3 months back

                                                                                  Sounds like the Democratic party of today in the USA,,, manufacturing of crimes, guilt by identity or association and class warfare! History repeats itself.

                                                                                  • chaveraoh
                                                                                    chaveraoh  3 months back

                                                                                    The author of the book on Stalin failed to understand Stalin. It was not about upgrading the country. It was about liquidating anything that was a potential threat to his power. A farmer that is independent from the state imposed cycles of famine and growth is a nuisance. A happy citizen is a bad citizen because he may be rebellious when the ruler wants him dead. What can you do when a Sim thinks he can be the master of his fate? You kill him. A farmer is his own master. Therefore, farmers are targeted. The same applies to peppers and free trades. Fortunately for the rulers the nation's pays well for the development of the tools of oppression, for the media of mass mind control, for population wide experiments, for the national euthanasia, for fake NASA news, for DARPA, and Siberian Walmart camps.

                                                                                    • HighSpeedNoDrag
                                                                                      HighSpeedNoDrag  3 months back

                                                                                      A little Wild theory. Stalin exploited to say the very least the Bread Basket being the Ukraine. Millions suffered, died and cannibalism evolved.

                                                                                  • Vera Maier
                                                                                    Vera Maier  3 months back

                                                                                    ☭★ ☭★ ☭★ *Six Quotes on Stalin* ☭★ ☭★ ☭★ ☭★
                                                                                    *Roosevelt on Stalin*
                                                                                    "This man can act. He always has a clear goal in mind. Working with him is a pleasure. There is no trickiness with him. He sets out the question,
                                                                                    he wants to discuss, and of which more will be deviated in any way. "
                                                                                    (Roosevelt, President of the United States of America)

                                                                                    *J. E. Davis on Stalin*
                                                                                    "He (Stalin) is regarded as a consistently clean living man, modest, restrained, purposeful, a man of single-track thinking, directed his thoughts and intentions of communism and the rise of the proletariat is ... He's a clever sense of humor. And a Great Spirit. Sharp, pervasive smart and above all, I feel it wise. If you can imagine yourself a personality that leverage the full opposite of being in all things, what the rabid famous Stalin opponents could devise, then you have a picture this man "
                                                                                    (JE Davis, "The US ambassador to Moscow" 1943, p 144 u. 276)

                                                                                    *Bertolt Brechton Stalin*
                                                                                    "The oppressed from five continents, those who have been freed, and all those fighting for world peace, the heartbeat must have hammered as they
                                                                                    heard Stalin is dead. He was the embodiment of their hope. But the spiritual and material weapons, which he produced, are there, and there is the teaching, new
                                                                                    to produce. "
                                                                                    (Bertolt Brecht)

                                                                                    *Winston Churchill on Stalin*
                                                                                    "He was an outstanding personality who, impressed in our rough time, in the period in which his life was. Stalin was an exceptionally energetic, well-read and very strong-willed man, fierce, rugged, relentlessly in the matter, as in conversation, which even I, who grew up in the English Parliament couldn't oppose nothing ... In his works one could feel a gigantic force. Stalin's power was so great that he does not know a same among the leaders of all nations and ages ... The people could not resist his influence. When he entered the room the Yalta Conference, we collected all of us, literally as if on command. And, strange as it is, we laid hands on our sides. Stalin had a profound, thorough and logical mind. He was an unsurpassed master is to find a way out of difficult moments in the most hopeless situation ... He was a man who destroyed his enemy with the hands of his enemies, so us, which he called openly imperialists, forced to fight against imperialists. He took over the Russia of the hook plow and left it in the possession of nuclear weapons. "
                                                                                    (Winston Churchill, Stalin)


                                                                                    *H.G. Wells on Stalin* (long version - see link below)
                                                                                    “I have never met a man more candid, fair and honest, and to these qualities it is, and to nothing occult and sinister, that he owes his tremendous undisputed ascendency in Russia. I had thought before I saw him that he might be where he was because men were afraid of him, but I realize that he owes his position to the fact that no one is afraid of him and everybody trusts him.”
                                                                                    ~H.G. Wells -Experiment in Autobiography more:
                                                                                    Long version: https://mltheory.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/h-g-wells-on-joseph-stalin/
                                                                                    Check out H.G. Well’s interview of J.V. Stalin: www.youtube.com/watch?v=AM7u1-BQ8ww
                                                                                    www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1934/07/23.htm


                                                                                    *Alexander Zinoviev on Stalin 1993*
                                                                                    "Since I was seventeen, I have been a staunch anti-Stalinist. The idea of an assassination attempt on Stalin dominated my thoughts and feelings. we
                                                                                    studied the technical 'possibilities of an attack. We started with the practical preparations. "" If they had sentenced me to death in 1939, would have been the right decision. I had planned to kill Stalin and that was a crime, right? When Stalin was still alive, I saw it differently, but now that I can see the whole century, I say, Stalin is the greatest personality of this century have been the greatest political genius. a scientific
                                                                                    Position against someone, does not necessarily reflect the personal behavior. "
                                                                                    (Alexander Zinoviev, Les Confessions d'un homme de trop, Olivier Orban Verlag, 1990, p. 104, 120. Interview Humo 25 February 1993, p. 48-49)

                                                                                    Why do they not produce films about the real massmurderers of our time - the US presidents and their NATO puppets? Really any of them provided censored massmurder or murdered hidden as "humanitarian bombings" or with their "Al CIADa" head choppers in Chenchnya, Lybia, Sudan, Somalia, Mali, Syria, Yugoslavia (Bosnia, Kosovo) etc. etc.

                                                                                    Avoid one-sided information. Read also Pro-Stalin books for download:* www.plp.org/books
                                                                                    Read what Stalin really did think, write and do in his works. You can find anything by year and subject https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/decades-index.htm
                                                                                    or search within the Stalin section: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/search.htm


                                                                                    A great film of Eisenstein with excellent music by Prokofiev, showing medieval transition to a central state with typical problems in this time. It was made during Stalin's time and not by chance shows a hard ruler with rather clear justification. It is somehow regarded as Stalin's justification of his hard hand: Ivan Grozny: Ivan The Terrible (1944) Engl. Subs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guCZbJN8zUo

                                                                                    • Napoleon Bonaparte l'Empreur de la Francois
                                                                                      Napoleon Bonaparte l'Empreur de la Francois  2 weeks back

                                                                                      CHURCHILL was praising Stalin out of necessity to keep the wartime alliance together.
                                                                                      He detested the man morally on a personal level, and made this know after the war.

                                                                                  • Vera Maier
                                                                                    Vera Maier  3 months back

                                                                                    Stalin always came to power by elections. No dictator at all. He was loved by its people.
                                                                                    What a primitive scam regarding collectivation! First: The farm workers on huge farms of feudalists were parctically living in serfdom. In the new state of workers and farmers, as shown in the hammer&sicle flag, the first thing was "giving land to those who are working on it". The got land from the communists. However, mechanisation in agriculture started this time. Small fields are uneconomically and can not survive (see how the same brought hunger and expropriation of farmers in the USA: http://journal-neo.org/2016/01/05/holodomor-in-the-united-states/ ) In addition there was a very human policy to bring equal living conditions to farmers, as the workers already had: Health insurance/free medical treatment, accident insurance, free education (which they never had before, i.e. from 95 percent analphabeths to 20 percent in two decades, e.g. later president Chrustshow was a farmer) , machinery for the hard work etc.

                                                                                    • jek 21
                                                                                      jek 21  3 months back

                                                                                      Still he caoused 23 million deaths

                                                                                  • Crispin Dannug
                                                                                    Crispin Dannug  3 months back

                                                                                    Stalin stole industrial blueprints from America, a secret part of the class struggle he cultivated with his intelligence people. It's the same intellectual property theft on a massive scale that China has waged in America for the past three decades.

                                                                                    • HighSpeedNoDrag
                                                                                      HighSpeedNoDrag  3 months back

                                                                                      Yes and You nailed it being the Intellectual Property for starters.

                                                                                  • Gabriel Coelho
                                                                                    Gabriel Coelho  3 months back

                                                                                    Americans won't be able to rewrite the History of the greatest leader of the 20th century. Stalin defeated Hitler, transformed Russia from a rural country to a Nuclear Power Nation and antagonized the imperialist tentacles of the US all over the world.

                                                                                    • Funkturm Tokyo
                                                                                      Funkturm Tokyo  3 months back

                                                                                      stalins legacy fear terror murder and halfwitted. the worst of the soviet dictator club - trotzky,lenin stole the revolution from the people and turned tsar terror into totalitarean state capitalism perverting the term socialism. may he rot in hell. but we have more pressing problems ... the criminal mob around the sad narcisstic fool in the oval office who is serving as smokescreen while democracy is being dismantled and the environment destroyed. bakunin was a wise man

                                                                                      • Gene Simmons
                                                                                        Gene Simmons  4 months back

                                                                                        I'm constantly thinking about alternative endings to WWII. Can't help but wonder if Hitler had engaged the Soviet Generals to incite a general rebellion against Stalin and the bolsheviks. Thinking timing would have been important. As soviet troops began to surrender en masse, Hitler could have presented an alternative. Had he been successful with this alternative narrative, we could have avoided the destructive war, Stalin and the rest of the communists could have been rounded up and sent to Siberia, sovereignty of the soviet nations would have been restored. Thinking Hitler could have struck a deal with the new Russian-Ukranian leadership to recreate a Khazarian homeland for the stateless jews of Europe, avoiding the 'crime' we now know as 'Israel'.