Speaking of Stalin August 23, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
Coincidentally a fascinating review by Sheila Fitzpatrick on Joshua Rubenstein’s latest work ‘The Last Days of Stalin’ which deals with the international ramifications of Stalin’s death. There’s further thoughts on the, well it wasn’t a liberalisation, but a loosening of constraints in the USSR.
Rubenstein gives a fair account of all this, if a slightly grudging one. “We can dismiss the possibility that it was an act of conscience,” he writes of the new leaders’ repudiation of the Doctors’ Plot, although in fact there is substantial evidence that Stalin’s close colleagues had disliked and passively resisted his antisemitic initiatives in 1952. Rubenstein takes a similar approach to the reform programme in general, ruling out the possibility that the new leaders actually thought change was needed and concluding that they must simply have been pursuing some “pragmatic advantage”, albeit one whose nature is unclear – perhaps a “signal to the west”?
Yet it is a fair point Fitzpatrick makes. What was the justification for change by the leadership other than, not necessary conscience, but a sense that the status quo ante was unsustainable and unsupportable.
And what of the US? Rubenstein, and Fitzpatrick move in the direction of suggesting that an historic opportunity for detente was missed, in no small part due to the determination of some in the US government, particularly secretary of state John Foster Dulles, not to engage at all with the changes emanating from the Kremlin.