[Marxism] Putin on Trotsky

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Apr 17 05:54:41 MDT 2015

On 4/17/15 1:59 AM, Ken Hiebert via Marxism wrote:
> http://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article3972
> Speaking at a meeting of his All-Russia People’s Front a couple days ago, Vladimir Putin said, “Trotsky had this [saying]: the movement is everything, the ultimate aim is nothing. We need an ultimate aim.” Eduard Bernstein’s proposition, misquoted and attributed for some reason to Leon Trotsky, is probably the Russian president’s most common rhetorical standby. He has repeated it for many years to audiences of journalists and functionaries while discussing social policy, construction delays at Olympics sites or the dissatisfaction of the so-called creative class. “Democracy is not anarchism and not Trotskyism,” Putin warned almost two years ago.

FT.com, Apr. 17 2015
Attitudes to Stalin show Ukrainians are not Russians
Taras Kuzio, University of Alberta

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, likes to say that Russians and 
Ukrainians are one people. Such views are reminiscent of the Tsarist 
Russian Empire and negate Ukraine’s recognition as a separate nation in 
the Soviet Union, whose collapse he laments as the “major geopolitical 
disaster” of the past century. Moscow, indeed, views the Ukrainian state 
as at best a legend or fantasy.

Yet Russians and Ukrainians hold widely divergent attitudes to their 
Soviet past. Nearly half of Russians believe the “sacrifices” (mass 
murder) made under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin were justified by rapid 
economic growth. Nearly 40 per cent of Russians view Stalin positively, 
according the a poll by the Levada Centre.

The pollsters say Stalin’s rehabilitation has come about because the 
current Russian leaders “seek the legitimization and justification of 
their actions by resorting to the past. It gives them a certain 

When Putin came to power in 2000, most Russians had a negative view of 
Stalin. This has changed thanks to media and educational policies that 
have focused the public mind on Soviet industrialization and victory in 
the “Great Patriotic War” while ignoring the millions who were murdered. 
Re-Stalinisation began in 2007, when the west was courting Putin and 
Russia was a member of the G8. Putin ordered teachers and historians to 
revise their texts to write positively about Stalin as one of the most 
successful leaders of the USSR whose aim was “the restoration – 
political and territorial – of the Russian Empire”.

Stalin’s purges were henceforth to be viewed in a positive way because 
they created a “new governing class, able to cope with modernisation”. 
In Russia there is not a single monument to Stalin’s crimes against 
humanity. Instead, the Russian Military History Society, a body created 
by Putin in December 2012, is planning to open museums dedicated to Stalin.

We would be rightly alarmed if half of all Germans believed the 
“sacrifices” of World War II were justified because Adolf Hitler had 
built autobahns and eliminated unemployment. Thankfully, Germany and 
Ukraine have consciously debunked and destroyed Hitler in the former 
case and Hitler and Stalin in the latter. Huge majorities throughout 
Ukraine (outside the Donbas and Crimea) view Stalin negatively and 
describe the 1933 artificial famine, known as the holodomor, as a 

De-Stalinisation has been taking place in Ukraine for nearly three 
decades. On April 9, Ukraine’s parliament adopted laws opening public 
access to Soviet archives (they remain closed in Russia), on Ukraine’s 
participation in the defeat of Nazism in World War II and no longer 
using the name “Great Patriotic War”, denouncing Nazi and Soviet 
totalitarianism and banning their symbols.

Russian has condemned critical Ukrainian research and publications on 
Stalinism and the opening of monuments to his crimes and museums on the 
holodomor, which killed an estimated 4m people. Over 500 monuments in 
Ukraine to Vladimir Lenin have been toppled since the Euromaidan began 
in late 2013. Russia condemned Ukraine’s new laws for equating Nazism 
and Soviet totalitarianism.

Ukraine’s legislation is in keeping with laws adopted by the 
Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation 
in Europe (OSCE) and the European Parliament to commemorate August 23 as 
a Day of Remembrance for the victims of Stalinism and Nazism.

Russia’s re-Stalinisation has three outcomes.

Firstly, it underpins the choice to build an authoritarian Russian 
empire over a democratic nation state, which in turn means an inability 
to equate Nazi and Soviet crimes while ignoring Stalin’s three-year 
collaboration with Hitler in 1939-1941.

Secondly, Russia and Ukraine have been left with two very different 
identities after a quarter of a century of destalinisation in Ukraine 
and re-Stalinisation under Putin.

Thirdly, Russian television has become full of lies, disinformation and 
anti-western diatribe on a scale not seen since the pre-détente days of 
the 1950s and 1960s. One recent example is the made-up reports of the 
death of a young girl from Ukrainian shelling. The BBC’s Natalia 
Antelava remarked that such lies “fuel the hatred that drives this war”, 
visible in the execution by separatists of Ukrainian prisoners viewed as 
“fascists”, an act condemned by Amnesty International as a war crime.

Taras Kuzio is a research associate at the Centre for Political and 
Regional Studies, Canadian Institute for Ukrainian Studies, University 
of Alberta and non-resident fellow at the Center for Transatlantic 
Relations, School of Advanced International Relations, Johns Hopkins 

More information about the Marxism mailing list