Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Saint Stalin

One hopes that this is just a cohort thing, and that the folks who think Stalin is some sort of hero will largely die off in the next decade or two, but with Russia, that great bear of illiberalism, one is never quite sure.

Some choice bits:

Leaders of the Communist Party are not surprised by Stalin's status on the hero list.

"Stalin made Russia a superpower and was one of the founders of the coalition against Hitler in World War II," said Sergei Malinkovich, leader of the St. Petersburg Communist Party.

The St. Petersburg branch of the party in July asked the Orthodox Church to canonize Stalin if he wins the poll.

What a fine idea! Stalin could be the patron saint of the violently paranoid.

My favorite Stalin story dates back to my undergraduate days. I was in a used bookstore (long since disappeared) on Broadway on Capital Hill in Seattle on a Sunday evening. Of course, the store had NPR on as their background noise. That night while I was there, they were reading letters from listeners. One NPR listener had written in to complain that an NPR story that week had been "too hard" on Stalin.

Addendum: the economist reports (in their weekly summary email) that "In a countrywide vote of 5m people, Russians chose Alexander Nevsky, a medieval prince, as the greatest Russian of all time, only a little ahead of Joseph Stalin, the front-runner in early polling."