America, thru Stalin's spectacles
October 28, 2004 8:48 AM   Subscribe

"I have become more and more aware of the Stalinist tactics and mentality of much of the American Right..... Relentless insistence on unity, on the existence of an unprecedented and overwhelming external threat, and on the total moral depravity of political opposition were all integral to Stalinist propaganda, and they are a growing part of conservative rhetoric in the United States today.....[Hateful] rhetoric was the prelude to a terrific acceleration of state murder in the Soviet Union....when I read posts on right-wing websites and blogs such as Free Republic or Little Green Footballs, I am reminded strongly of the rage and rhetoric of the young Communist Party activists in the late 1920s....The drive to sustain the administration's alternative world, and the blind hatred and rage of many of President Bush's supporters, may well have disastrous consequences for America." [ Matthew Lenoe, author of Closer To The Masses. Stalinist Culture,Social Revolution, And Soviet Newpapers. Harvard University Press, 2004 ] An op-ed, by someone who knows a bit about totalitarianism, it reminds me of Metafilters 36201, 32747 24363....
posted by troutfishing (9 comments total)
So is Bush=Stalin better than Bush=Hitler?
posted by smackfu at 8:59 AM on October 28, 2004

Various conservatives' attempts to control public discussion by sending mass hate mail to dissenters, dispatching hecklers to shout down Democratic speakers, and even making death threats (it is routine for prominent public figures opposed to the presidential administration and its policies to receive death threats) all resemble Stalinist tactics. The administration's own efforts to script tightly and control participation in all public events, intimidate journalists by cutting them off from access, and destroy prominent political opponents with lies about their past and private lives also have direct parallels from Stalin's rule.

Efforts at intimidation and scripting public discussion are aimed at enforcing the administration’s view of reality. Increasingly the administration's "reality" is completely at odds with the real world.

posted by amberglow at 9:05 AM on October 28, 2004

smackfu, RTFA:

I should state right now that obviously the Bush administration and its supporters do not have Stalinist economic policies and do not engage in domestic mass murder of the Stalinist sort. I'm saying rather that there are important parallels in mentality, propaganda, and methods of intimidating dissent between the Republican Party leadership today and the Stalinist regime
posted by psmealey at 9:08 AM on October 28, 2004

(Which goes to show there's no such thing as a perfect analogy.)

Why bother martyring your opponents when it's more damning to discredit them?
posted by alumshubby at 9:15 AM on October 28, 2004

smackfu no like big words. make smackfu all confused.
posted by quonsar at 9:17 AM on October 28, 2004

smackfu - No, I'd say they are more or less equally evil, but Stalin was somewhat less obsessed with killing Jews and had far less of a genius for evil than Hitler.

Whereas Stalin's evil was a bullet to the head or death by cold and hunger in the frozen wastelands of the Gulags, Hitler's evil involved horrible, sadistic medical torments, dreams of the extermination of whole classes of humanity....

There always have been and always will be Stalins, I suspect, their shifty, beady eyes greedily fixed on their approach - as they craftily sidle ever closer - to the knobs and levers of power while dispatching encroaching rivals by ambush or in furious silent combat, with poison knives, slippery deceit, and icepicks.

Hitler, I hope, was a one-off.
posted by troutfishing at 9:52 AM on October 28, 2004

Continuing the derail... I've thought for a that Stalins evil was (if one were to try to grade these things) slightly more "honest" than Hitler's. Like Napoleon, I think he knew that he was really after power and that was pretty much the story. Hitler deluded himself into thinking that there were nobler aims. (What

That said, can I level a pre-emptive strike, and say that this is exactly the kind of thing I come here for? The bloody blogosphere, and the blue, too, are so full of people observing the same weird hypersensitivities -- we can't even have a discussion about some things for fear of someone squawking "GODWIN!!!" or sneering "Bush-filter." Jeebus. Can't we just have a discussion like edjgimicacted adults sometimes?
posted by lodurr at 11:51 AM on October 28, 2004

...don't ask me what I was starting to say at the end of para 1...
posted by lodurr at 11:52 AM on October 28, 2004

Oh, BTW, troutfishing -- I think you meant these: 36201, 32747; 24363 is currently a bit problematic...
posted by lodurr at 12:10 PM on October 28, 2004

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