Posts Tagged ‘NPR’

StalinAh, it’s good to be back in my studio after spending three days racing through seven states to deliver new work to galleries in Virginia and North Carolina.  While it was good to spend a bit of time at the galleries, discussing the state of the art business at the moment, it’s always better to be here, focusing more on creation than on promotion and sales.

I was able to listen to a lot of music while driving as well as catch some interesting stories on public radio that gave me something to think about.  Yesterday, as I drove in the early morning rain of Virginia, I heard a story on NPR concerning the way Joseph Stalin is being viewed in present day Russia.  In a poll last year, Stalin was chosen by Russians, in a sort of American Idol style vote, as the third greatest Russian of all time.  Despite the many millions, yes, millions of Russian citizens who were put to death by Stalin, despite the political purges and gulags and Soviet policies that caused a type of artificial famine that killed far more citizens than any natural famine more than once, the current populace said that this Man of Steel was their guy.


In the story, a present day student compared Stalin favorably to the Adolph Hitler of the early 1930’s, in that both restored pride and self-confidence to their citizens in trying times.  He also cited Stalin’s part in defeating Hiltler’s Germany in WW II as another reason for his positive view of Stalin.

Other present day Russians have said that what Russia needs now is another Stalin.  Rootin’ Tootin’ Vlad Putin has started reintroducing Stalin to the Russian public, reinserting verses praising Stalin to the national anthem that were long ago taken out.

It gave me a bit of a chill.

This revisionist history takes place everywhere when the times become a bit more difficult.  The older population who lived through the Stalin era see the chaos of the current Russia and begin to romanticize for what they now remember as the stability of Stalin’s time.  I have to admit, there is a certain level of stability in under a Stalin-like dictatorship.  One doesn’t have a lot of choices or freedoms to clutter the mind.   Most decisions are out of your hands.  For many, this freedom from choice, when viewed through the distance of time, seems almost nostalgic.  Ah, the way we were.

The real question is, when there is this nostalgia for someone like Stalin, when the mindset of a large swath of the population begins to overlook the atrocities of a man like Stalin and the horror of those times, where is that country headed?

I don’t mean to sound like some McCarthy-era siren, wailing that the Russian are coming, the Russians are coming!  No duck-and-cover here.  I just am mystified by how the nationalism of a people is always morphing and how those in power can manipulate the past to fit the present to achieve their desire future.  I hope I don’t live long enough to see the German  people name Hitler as the greatest German ever…

Just something to think about.

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