Stalinism Versus Stalin:
Exorcising a Stubborn Ghost
Much analysis of the Soviet Union applies, unconsciously, a variant of the myth of “inevitable proggress.” Since everything changes, runs the argument, the totalist state, too, must change. And since it is hard to imagine anything worse, the change must be for the better.
Every “right feint” in the perpetual reversals of field that accompany the attempt to break through to one and the same goal, has in its day been hailed as the long awaited “inevitable change,” the “sobering that comes from the responsibilities of power,” the “response to the pressure of reality,” the “mellowing process that sooner or later overtakes all militant movements,” the “preordained downward curve in the parabola of revolution,” the “diffusion of authority which could lead to a constitutional order,” the rise of a “rationalist technocracy,” or of a “limited and traditionalist despotism,” the “inevitable work of erosion upon the totalitarian edifice.” (Each of these formulae is quoted from some highly respected authority on Russian affairs.)
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