Stalin’s Barber by Paul M. Levitt

Consciously or not, Stalin conjoins religion and politics. Why?

Religion, especially the monotheistic religions profess the idea of damnation and divine retribution for sinners. Stalin must have thought that where bullets and the baton are inadequate in suppressing dissent, the fear of God would serve as a complete deterrent. Another explanation for Stalin’s mixing of politics and religion is to develop cult followership. In religion, we find how the revealed word of God is never contested. It would suit Stalin’s totalitarian agenda quite well to have the citizens worship him as a cult figure. By encouraging religion, Stalin is promoting certain personality traits that are complementary to running a totalitarian regime.

What is the point of having numerous Stalins? (the plaster of Paris busts in the basement)

Although Stalin was a man in possession of enormous political power, deep inside he was very insecure. Some consider him to be suffering from paranoia and delusion. Having made many enemies during his rapid ascent to the highest office, Stalin was ever fearful of retaliation from his enemies. He constantly feared the threat of assassination and did his best to minimize the chances. Toward this end, Stalin deployed body doubles of his during public events. In case an assassination attempt is made, he would thus survive. The plaster of Paris busts in the basement must have been models or dummies serving as his decoy.

In Stalin’s world, why is the state more important than the individual?

By all accounts, Stalin’s reign as the premier of the USSR was a terrifying one for the population. He is surely one of the most feared dictators of the 20th century, second only to Adolf Hitler (who was, ironically, defeated by Stalin). The summary executions, curtailment of several fundamental human rights (including freedom of speech) and intolerance toward dissenters were abominable features of the Stalin years. Stalin was thus a monster in terms of his practice. But when it came to rhetoric he was a seasoned politician. He paid lip service to the superiority of State over the individual, imploring his fellow countrymen to put the interests of their country above their own interests. This is a ploy to mellow down the citizeny and condition them to not raise any critical questions. When the sustenance of the State is put above concerns for individual human rights, social unrest is nipped in the bud. It is thus an effective strategy to control the population by invoking allegiance to a vague notion of patriotism.

Argue for or against the proposition that Stalin was right about konspirazia.

In the politically surcharged years of the Russian revolution, it was understandable why several conspiracies were hatched. There was mistrust, opportunism and exploitation even among stakeholders of the revolution, let alone the aristocracy that is smarting from its loss. Stalin was so absorbed in the intrigue and uncertainty that prevailed during the revolutionary years that that modus of thinking had continued with him for years later. So in this sense, Stalin’s articulation of Konspirazia is much exaggerated. When we take into account his paranoid and delusional tendencies, the credibility of Konspirazia is even more depleted.