Roland Boer has been doing a series of posts defending the Soviet Union, including one specifically defending Stalin. I have shared them all in the sidebar, but I’d like to highlight them further, with illustrative quotes.
To begin with, the Russian Revolution was the first successful communist revolution. With a mixture of extraordinary planning, unbridled optimism, sheer guts and deal of good luck, the communists succeeded in overthrowing the provisional government set up after the February Revolution of 1917. As Alain Badiou (to his rare credit) points out, that act inspired a century of revolutions. Lenin became the most read author of the first half of the 20th century, and revolutions won through in Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, Vietnam and so on. They were the defining feature of the 20th century.
The problem is that such a Fall narrative has difficulty dealing with some developments during the USSR. To begin with, as Norman Davies argues in his recent Europe at War, 1939-1945, a key reason why the USSR under Stalin’s leadership won the Second World War was the reorganisation of economic and social life under communism. Leave aside the fact (which I have mentioned before) that he brilliantly led the war effort and drew together the best generals and strategists of the War […]. Aside from that, the USSR underwent what Davies calls a ‘miraculous’ economic recovery in the midst of the war and after Hitler attacked in a mode of unprecedented viciousness and extermination. Such a recovery was possible only under the reorganisation brought by a communist system.
[World War II] was Stalin’s war and he won it. Over 400 divisions battled on a 16oo km front for four years, compared to 15 each for the Germans and allies on the western front at its most intense. 88% of German military dead fell on the eastern front, and the battle that broke the Wehrmacht was Kursk, in July and August of 1943. Here the Russians showed everyone how to beat a blitzkrieg – with a meticulously planned, flexible and in-depth defence. By comparison, the British, American, Australian, Canadian etc contribution on the western front was a sideshow.
And a bonus post: Is the Chinese Government Communist?