Nobody’s fool

“In 1949, Josef Stalin was the dominant figure in the entire Communist world. He had controlled Russia for more than a quarter of a century. Of the leading architects of the Russian Revolution, he was the last one standing. Others might have been more brilliant, more charismatic, better speakers, more original strategists, but he was the greatest apparatchik of them all, the man who seemed to understand best the single enduring truth of that particular revolution: that when it came to the consolidation of power—sustaining it, and making sure that no one did to you what you had just done to your enemies—ideas did not matter much, but police power did. In the world as Stalin knew it, you were either the hunter or the hunted. He survived and succeeded because he was the one with the fewest illusions (and perhaps the greatest paranoia), the man who understood best when stage one of the revolution was over and stage two—the consolidation of power—had begun. He was the one who broke the system down to its most elemental truth: there were enemies everywhere, and you removed them not only before they struck at you, but before they even grasped that they were your enemy. It was his greatest strength, the sheer darkness of his soul, that he understood this more quickly than others, and pursued it more cold-bloodedly, with fewer restraints.” – David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.