Tuesday, February 28, 2006

50 years after Stalin

Fifty years ago in a day like yesterday, 25 February, an important event marked its place in world history. Nikita Khrushchev, Soviet Union’s third leader, condemned Stalin’ era’s misdeed and exposed crimes that had victimized a large portion of humanity for thirty years.

It was about the middle of twentieth century. The world hadn’t yet gone through the information revolution that forced it to transform itself into the global village it is now, where all is connected and everything is exposed. Thus, it took several days before people were able to hear Khrushchev’s historic speech. And at that, not every one; rather only those who wanted to listen and were ready to abandon their absolutism did hear him. Stalin once had been known as, a world war hero, the hero of Stalingrad, the initiator of Stalinism, successor of Lenin, a naïve innocent villager, one who had lost a son to war while his daughter dwelled in abject poverty, and never connected to corruption and financial misdeeds; one who remained faithful and steadfast with his ideologies. But that very person became the most ruthless murderer in history. Had the remainder of victims of his apparatus been as powerful as Jews, the world would have also realized then how horribly thousand upon thousands of souls perished by his command. The “great war hero” became such a genocidal maniac that one like him “has not been seen throughout the history of human civilization.” Most who were present in February of 56 didn’t want to accept Khrushchev’s claims about Stalin. While in Iran CIA and Imperialism were accused of fabricating slanderous lies and stories against Stalin, those in the Soviet Union who did believe the report issued by their twentieth congress were accused of being “pro-Imperialism.” And later, when the reports accuracy was proven, Khrushchev was branded as “revisionist.” In the political jargon of those days the term “Imperialism” equaled the term” World Arrogance” today, and being known as a “revisionist” then, was just as bad as being called a “reformist” now in Iran. How could the world have closed their eyes to Stalin’s atrocities and carried on as if concern for millions of his victims simply didn’t fit in their agenda, while individuals like Trotsky and Kafka wrote about it at the price of their lives and dignities?
In loyalty to their ideals and aspirations, at the head of which Stalin ruled uncontested, people easily denied existence of the Gulags. In our own Iran, a great man named Khalil Maleki had to endure great suffering and slander for years, just because he blew the whistle when no one could bear to hear it.
The greatest crime in human history was supposed to be buried under the snow in Siberia. And as it relates to Iran, there were those dear souls who in search of justice and with a vision of a Stalinist utopia crossed the northern borders only to end up laboring and dying in forced labor camps of Siberia. After Khrushchev revealed Stalin’s terrible crimes, the Soviet media became saturated with statements of disavowal and denials of involvements; many years after the death of millions.

How was Stalin able to do all that and get away with it? That question is easy to answer, although the knowledge of its reasons isn’t.
Stalin quieted dissent so effectively that even wives and husbands wouldn’t confide in each other. Then he started a brutal campaign of ideological interrogation. The situation worsened to a point where hordes of young volunteers dutifully snitched on their parents to the “Party” and its intelligence machine. Then he started on Lenin’s partners and allies. He entrapped them one after another and after he subjected them to the most inhumane methods of torture and interrogation, he decreed their executions to be a duty to those loyal to him. He did all that under the pretext of fighting against blood sucking capitalism of the United States and Britain. He achieved so high a degree of ferocity and violence in his despotic rule that even hours after his death members of his office and his cohorts were to afraid to announce his death. People feared him even after his death. Is there a mightier status than what Stalin held, when people feared even his corpse? But that was all he was good at; instilling great fear of himself in people so that they would feel his presence everywhere. However, his campaign slogans and greatest promises had been global realization of social justice, fight against capitalist oppression, destruction of social divide, and battling the decadent western culture.

Hundreds of Iran’s Toodeh party’s “justice and freedom seeking” members made an unprecedented gathering in streets of Tehran upon hearing the news of Stalin’s death.

Fifty years ago this day Khrushchev brought down that idol.

The horrible truth about Stalin would have come out any way. But the fact that his successor was the one who uncovered it merits much significance. That same story repeated itself thirty years later in smaller dimensions. Though he tried and wanted to be like Stalin, Brezhnev couldn’t. Nobody could match Stalin’s thirst for blood. But again, what Gorbachev did wasn’t any less important than what Khrushchev accomplished. And again, there were those who weren’t prepared to accept and believe the inevitability of self destruction of a structure which had the skull and bones of millions of people mixed in its mortar. As soon as he found the chance Nour-ad-din Kianoury wrote in his memoirs, and still contends, that Yeltsin is an American lackey and carries a CIA identification card!

But it happened.

Soviet system came crashing down as it was destined to. What was hardest to bear was witnessing tears of those who had invested a life time on the promise of an ideology that was destined to doom, and now they were witnessing its demise.

Fiftieth anniversary of Khrushchev’s historic report deserves remembrance because it is a reminder of the destiny of all dictators and despots. And because it shows how the benevolent freedom and justice seeking nature of man on its quest for utopia can end up in hell of hells if it is tied to dogmatic beliefs and ideologies; it should be taken lessons from.

Dictators do eventually leave the scene and take with them nothing more than damnations. But always, in all history and territories, it is the hopeful but gullible hearts are that are left behind. Those who believed in promises of Saddams and Molla Omars of history are the ones who have the hardest of times when truth finally comes out. But the truth does come out; even if it takes its time.

It is written that once in a public session after his famous report Khrushchev was again recalling Stalin’s atrocities when a voice shouted out from the audience:” Where were you during those times?” Khrushchev then calmly asked: “Who is asking?” and when he heard no reply, he answered:” Where you are right now!”

Because history carries so many similarities within, some may think that it repeats itself. No, history does not repeat itself. Rather, the selfish and self deceiving nature of man again creates an opportunity for the hopefuls to be happily deceived. This cycle will never end. Mobilization and movement of hopeful masses will never end. Being present in war against Hitler made a hero out of Stalin and his war against western civilization gave him the chance to victimize millions. Those millions of souls didn’t all live in the Soviet Union. Some lived rather proud lives throughout the world. Stalin did to his victims what no other dictator had ever done.
When he was alive, nobody dared to speak. But after his death the truth did come out. And his ideology died despite the wishes of all the hopeful justice seekers it had nurtured within its bosoms.

It’s been said:” The sifter, follows behind the caravan.”