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The Hotness of Young Stalin

Two nights in a row, when I was out drinking with comrades, someone has started a conversation about the hotness of young Stalin.  Is this simply a coincidence or is there something in the leftist networking world (i.e. facebook, from which I am still successfully abstaining) I've missed?  For it seems rather odd, in the context of the default and generally uncritical anti-Stalinism that affects the western left, that people would be exchanging pictures of young Stalin.

Apparently, now people cannot avoid the fact of Stalin's 20-30 something hotness.  I mean, even if you're a Trotskyist you cannot deny that young Stalin was hotter and hipper than young Trotsky––who looked like, let's be clear, a maladjusted basement nerd trying hard to be cool.  Hell, I would like to say that young Stalin was possibly hotter than Lenin but I worry that this would be tantamount to revisionism!  Whatever the case, we cannot deny the uber-hotness of the youthful Stalin in the glory days of the Bolshevik revolution.

Stalin was a hotter hipster than anything that passes as "hipster" today!
Look at that picture: transpose the young Stalin to any contemporary hipster bar and he would be outclassing the other hipsters with his hip good looks.  Only he would also be holding up trains and robbing banks for the revolution, which would make him cooler than that guy who is trying to pick you up (and only wishes he was as hot and hip as young Stalin) with his knowledge of a bunch of obscure indie bands.  Or maybe if young Stalin was alive today, he would seduce you with his indie band knowledge one night, and rob a bank for the revolution the next night––he just looks like that kind of hipster, doesn't he?

And they try to tell us that communists have no style––that we're all troglodytes who resist style, unattractive because of our rejection of bourgeois attractiveness.  Well, yeah, that's probably the case for most of us––and yeah, fuck bourgeois notions of attractiveness––but when you look at young Stalin, irregardless of potential anti-"stalinism" [note to new readers: I scare-quote "stalinism" because I don't believe there is any such thing, really, as "stalinism––see the above link for clarification], you have to recognize the style and attractiveness.

"Hey baby, let me read you my kick-ass poetry. "
But seriously: how did such a hot hipster, who we all wish was our friend because of his suave coolness, transform into the iconic senior Stalin of the cold war?  The transformation is jarring: it's like comparing the character of "Angel" in the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with how he ends up looking in the last season of Angel, without any of the seasons between the aging, and wondering why the fuck he developed a football neck.  (Yes, I know I'm showing my age, but I also suspect that a significant portion of my readership knows what I mean.)  How the hell did David Boeranaz age in such a jocky and annoying fashion?––this was the question many of us asked, unaware that the question was already solved, as all questions are solved, in the history of communism: the young-to-old Stalin equation.

Stalin proves by his very development, and with iron fisted "stalinist" precision, that slender young celebrity male hipsters will grow up to be thick necked jocky looking fellows.  This is a hipster law of history.  I mean, compare the profiles of younger and older Stalin:

wtf happened?
Could this even be the same person?  It looks as if a hipster was replaced by an Amerikan football player––and even the hair isn't as cool.  The only thing senior Stalin has going for him, when it comes to hipsterism, is his moustache… and I think he might be trying too hard.  And is it just me or did his chin somehow shrink?  Obviously the split in the Third International and fascism is to blame: the hipster had to grow up and try to fill the shoes of Lenin while trying to make sense of the destiny of actually existing socialism.

Young Stalin and senior Stalin are different people––they even have different theme songs.  While senior Stalin gets to march along to this intense theme, the youthful and more frivolous Stalin gets to dance the night away to this euro-hit.  Come on, you know this is awesome: I bet all of you, whether you critically like or uncritically dislike Stalin, want to see him dance…


[Since over 5000 people clicked on this post today for some reason, I will again attempt to solicit funding my reminding the interested, generous, and economically stable readers that they can donate to this blog!]

Comments

  1. Tell you who was hot, young Enver Hoxa http://espressostalinist.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/12b51.jpg%3Fw%3D500

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    1. Yep, pretty hot... But still not as hip as young Stalin. Young Mao was also hot, but even though I'm a maoist I still have to say his hipness was unfortunately eclipsed.

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    2. Its a good photo of En Hoxha but he is not at all hot in the great majority of photos of him from that time...google image search. I think by a substantial margin the hottest hipster communist leader would have to be ─░brahim Kaypakkaya http://a5.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/36987_408877898010_564883010_4209686_7361374_n.jpg if he were a model, his colleagues would be jealous of his looks.

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    3. he looks even hotter here-http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/52/Arka_kapak.jpg

      those blue eyes! And he died young too, rockstar style.

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  2. Joe was hot, but short, real short. Jeff to Mao's Mutt. Wonder if Mao should have tried a soul patch to cover that bigass wart?

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  3. As I said on FB where I first saw young, hot Stalin - I would join his revolution any day, if you know what I mean.

    Do you think this points to the Left's inability to galvanize support for a revolution? Is it that there just isn't someone attractive and dreamy enough to imagine fighting alongside?

    This inspires me to write a quasi-historical romance novel, or a cosmo-esque dating quiz.

    [young Lenin was also handsome, and has been compared to Leonardo DiCaprio - http://englishrussia.com/2007/02/09/lenin-and-leonardo-di-caprio/]

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    1. I look forward to said novel and/or quiz. You should also write a paper theorizing a hotness factor for revolutionary building and argue that this crucial point was overlooked by Lenin in What is to be Done.

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    2. I actually see the resemblance between young Lenin and Leonardo DiCaprio. Pity Hollywood is in the hands of clueless bourgeois studio execs...there's an amazing performance in a Lenin biopic we'll never get to see. Oh, well. At least we'll always have Leo's performance as reactionary asshole J. Edgar Hoover. :-P

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    3. We'll always have Patrick Stewart as Lenin

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  4. This pic circulates on facebook periodically (there was a wave recently though). I remember when a maoist third worldist friend changed his facebook picture to Young Stalin and everytime i saw it, i was like "that dude is hot", "noooo, its STALIN", "but he's hot" and it was a real mind-fuck. Also, it doesn't look anything like Stalin. Maybe he had all his photos in the archives replaced with some random hot guy...

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    1. I think my example of David Boreanaz as "Angel" proves that it is the same person. Another example that one of my friends brought up yesterday is Leonardo DiCaprio who has also thickened. Plus, as another friend reminds me, older Stalin is a bear and if you're into bears (as they are), then older Stalin is possibly hotter.

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    2. Older Stalin is most definitely hotter. I like bears but other types too. Young Stalin has a nice look but he just doesn't grab my eyes like the over 40 version.

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  5. Myself and a few others on my facebook friend list have posted on the good-looks of young Stalin last week, so maybe we have the same group of contacts?

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    1. Probably yes on the second person who mentioned young Stalin, but the first person wouldn't have. I don't know: not being on facebook, I miss these quasi-memes.

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  6. Funny, my opinion was that in his youth, the butcher of the Old Bolsheviks bore a striking resemblance to Borat.

    http://i270.photobucket.com/albums/jj101/OrangeGummiBear_2008/Funny%20Shitz/borat-stalin.jpg

    JMP, I love your blog, you're a great writer, I think you always have an interesting perspective on things...but Jesus Christ, this almost feels like a "jump the shark" moment. I know this post is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but who gives a damn about Stalin's youthful good looks when he drew a river of blood between the ideals of October and the authoritarian regime that ultimately prevailed in the USSR? Stalin constitutes a large part of the reason why people give me strange looks when I tell them I'm a communist. "What? How could you be in favour of gulags and secret police," blah blah blah.

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    1. First of all Mulciber, although I think Stalin should be critiqued from the left, I think the whole "river of blood" discourse that you uncritically repeat––and which is prevalent amongst leftists who have lived at the centres of capitalism, as well as Trotskyists who just hate Stalin uncritically, and is a hallmark of cold war ideologues like Robert Conquest––is somewhat problematic. Rightly or wrongly, the majority of the world's communist movement (which is in the global peripheries and not at the centre of capitalism where anti-communism thrives) sees Stalin as being the inheritor, though a problematic inheritor, of Lenin's legacy. People look at you oddly when you tell them you're a communist not just because of the stories told about Stalin (or Mao for that reason, or Che Guevera, or all the crap "the Black Book of Communism" will tell you) but because anti-communist is prevalent in a movement that has been undermined by the default opportunism and reformist practice common to the centres of imperialism.

      And the secret police of the Soviet Union, unfortunately, were established when Lenin was in command and Trotsky also had no problem with them. Nor did Trotsky or Lenin have problems with the notion of sending enemies of communism to prison. In retrospect we should critique this sort of thing as a bad approach, and recognize that it was the result of an erroneous attempt to deal with the problems encountered in actually existing socialism, but if we want to critique it properly we cannot just accept anti-communist narratives by the likes of Robert Conquest and Richard Pipes, narratives that are not accepted by the majority of the world's communist movement.

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    2. Also, if this was an attempt to jump the shark, then I did better than Happy Days. Bizarrely enough, I had the highest ever traffic in single days (over 6000 hits on the first day it was post, another 8000+ hits on the second day it was posted, and the bloody thing was reblogged and tumblred all over the f••king place) when, unlike the story where the Fonz jumped a shark, I was pretty certain no one would care very much (or at most find the post weird) about some drunken humour regarding the young Stalin.

      And yes, this was "tongue and cheek". This blog began as an ill-advised mixture between troglodite marxist humour (check out those crude "Tao of Mao" comics posted in the first days of MLM Mayhem) and half-formed philosophical rants. Now and then I return to whiskey-soaked humour to keep my original and far tinier audience happy… You get so many posts that are serious, now and then you need some demented levity. This post was also inspired by bemusement, as noted in the post's first paragraph, that random people in my life were obsessing over the "hotness" of the young Stalin, two days in a row (and people who didn't know each other), and I was somewhat confused as to whether or not young Stalin was some sort of weird internet meme. To be honest, if I had encountered obsessively weird comments about "young Trotsky" two nights in a row, regardless of my knee-jerk anti-Trotskyism (and I admit it is as knee-jerk as your response to Stalin), I would have written a post about the hotness of young Trotsky. It was just that weird.

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    3. Haha. Okay, I understand where you're coming from. I think I did before as well, but the subject of Stalin riles up enough emotion from me that it's hard for me to avoid appearing humourless when encountering a post such as this one.

      It's amazing how many views your blog got from this single post. With my blog (which I barely ever write in anyway), I was pretty much resigned to the fact that no one ever read it, other than Maoists looking to criticize the IMT. ;-) But I guess there's a different logic when it comes to the internet. You can write as many well-thought out theoretical discourses as you want, but the post that garners the most hits, apparently, will be the shorter one that deals with an easy-to-understand yet ultimately shallow topic.

      You know, I'm not going to lie - young Stalin was indeed very good-looking (which is funny, considering we always read about a childhood illness that left him "disfigured"). But admittedly, I just hate this guy so much that it perturbs me to even bring up the subject. I can understand why Stalin made the choices he made, but his excesses tarnished the ideals of communism to such a degree that we still have to explain away his bullshit when dealing with potential contacts today.

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    4. I would again reiterate the comments I made about Stalin in my first reply. I think we need to get beyond the rightist "evil Stalin" discourse and be able to critique him properly. Similarly, I could say that I hate Trotsky so much for being a "wrecker", for meeting with the American intelligence community to provide information about the Soviet Union, for producing a legacy of sectarianism that did far more damage to the international communist movement than Stalin's autocracy. Except, despite the fact that I think there are very good reasons to critique Trotsky and Trotskyism, I also think that this simplistic and knee-jerk approach to the matter doesn't accomplish very much. Nor can I hate someone who I didn't know, who was still a revolutionary in his own right; I'd urge you to be more critical, and understand how to critique Stalin from the left rather than the right.

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    5. I am critiquing Stalin from the left.

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    6. Are you? Do you understand what "critiquing from the left" means? Because your critique is a rightist critique, not a leftist critique. It doesn't mean "I'm a leftist so therefore every critique I make is from the left"; your claims about the butcher of the Bolsheviks and the rivers of blood––that is the essence of a rightist critique, self-proclaimed marxist or not. You reify rightist anti-communist categories when you make this critique.

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    7. Mulciber, i was once a Trotskyist with the IMT, and I can say quite honestly I used to believe the same stuff you do about Stalin. Nothing has felt more liberating to me than actually discovering the real history of Stalin, his mistaks, and the good things that the communist movement in Russia and the world accomplished during his leadership. The whole "rivers of blood" thing is just bullshit your repeating from IMT/bourgeosie propaganda and not grounded in fact, and is taken out of historical context. Just take a look a the leaders who came after Stalin, who said exactly the same things about him that you're saying. They destroyed socialism claiming they were getting rid of Stalinism. I know the IMT claims they were exactly the same as Stalin, but please look at the historical facts, drastic policy differences, etc.

      Was Stalin such a genious that he fooled nearly the entire world communist movement and the soviet people for his entire life? Why do the people he supposedly murdered and oppressed so badly still love him today? Do the jews love hitler? Who are the people who hate him the most? Intellectuals, petty-bourgeosie and bourgeosie. Average people in the former soviet union still have great respect for Stalin, even after years of anti-stalin propaganda. HowDoes a wreaker of socialism and a bloody tyrant who buchard and oppressed the working class and held them in constant fear get so much respect from that same class? Really some of this stuff is just really common sense, but I again urge you to read more critical evaluations of Stalin, and go over the historical record with a clear mind.

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    8. You guys are oversimplifying my opinion of Stalin. Obviously there are some great historical accomplishments to his name - industrializing the USSR, defeating Nazi Germany, showing that it was possible to run society on the basis of a nationalized planned economy. But that doesn't mean I have to ignore his many crimes - what you might refer to as "excesses".

      There are plenty of reasons that some people still have respect for Stalin, although they're few and far between in the West. Older people in the Soviet Union remember him as the leader of their country during the Great Patriotic War, and look back with nostalgia on the Soviet era because it provided people with a level of material security most can't get in today's cutthroat capitalist Russia. And as for everybody else...

      The fact is that the ideas of socialism were far more powerful than any one personality, be it Stalin, Mao or whoever. The reason people respected Stalin back when he was still around is because he seemed to embody the idea of socialism - the belief that a better world is possible than capitalist barbarism. He cynically exploited that belief to the full, although I'm sure he also fully believed it himself (people will believe their own bullshit).

      So you think I'm critiquing Stalin from the "right" when I say things like that? Tell it to the countless communist movements around the world that Stalin betrayed because proletarian revolution most times didn't serve the interests of the Moscow bureaucracy he presided over. He told the workers in Spain who were occupying factories to hold back (because the main priority was supposedly defeating fascism) and instead ally themselves with the mythical "progressive bourgeoisie", who of course ended up capitulating to Franco. The CPSU under his leadership encouraged the Chinese communists to partner up with Chiang Kai-Shek, who slaughtered hundreds of them for their troubles. He made a cynical pact with Churchill that Greece would fall under the Western sphere of influence, and during the bitter civil war that followed, he left the Greek Communists to the bloody retribution of right-wing forces.

      The reason such tragic events took place is precisely because Stalin exploited the goodwill and idealism of communists around the world for his own cynical ends. If you can't see that, you're being willfully ignorant of the historical record. The policies of the CPSU leadership, which originated with Stalin, helped discredit Communist parties around the world (particularly in the West) as tools of Moscow.

      And believe me, I can understand why people (in Russia particularly) looked more favourably upon Stalin than Trotsky in the 1920s and 30s. Stalin pledged consolidation of the gains that had already been made, which was attractive to people tired of years of war, civil war and famine. They didn't have the energy for revolution anymore. It was much easier to look at the bureaucratic state in the USSR and think that this was true socialism, that the workers had won, that a self-reliant "Workers' Homeland" had a glorious future ahead of it as long as nobody rocked the boat.

      I can totally understand that. It's the same reason people succumb to belief in religion, or continue to believe in the myths of liberal democracy, that we the people elect our leaders who then work in our interests. It's just easier to sit back and relax, thinking that the power structure that we live under is fundamentally good and just, than to question and challenge that power. Trotsky told hard truths that people at the time just didn't want to hear, and for his troubles he become the #1 pariah of the world communist movement.

      Anyway, I don't expect you to agree, but that's my point of view. Now how about recommending me some of those "more critical" evaluations of Stalin (since the books I read apparently aren't critical enough)?

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    9. Fair enough, and I don't agree with the erroneous line Stalin took when it came to a lot of movements. But Trotsky took similar lines, and had the same political line when it came to the Kuomintang in China––he also, through Chen Duxhiu, ordered the chinese communists to "partner up" with Chiang Kaishek's organization when it was killing them. Later he switched tack, and Trotskyists now like to forget he had the same position as Stalin... Indeed, outside of Lenin, most of the key theorists that emerged from the Bolshevik revolution had a pretty theoretically unsound grasp of revolution elsewhere.

      I also think the workers movements elsewhere were less critical of Stalin than Trotsky for reasons that are not as simplistic as you indicate. And the best of these movements see him as being a flawed communist leader, but still an important one that did accomplish important things but, despite these things, was: a) an authoritarian commandist in the way he dealt with contradictions; b) lapsed into a metaphysical understanding of things theoretically.

      Yes I agree that revolutionary communism is more important than one individual, but I have a problem with a cold war discourse that was designed to demonize someone who happened to be the chair of the Soviet Union post-Lenin, regardless of his mistakes (and there were many, but similarly there were many mistakes made by every communist leader––they just didn't happen to be a in position of leadership of the first socialist state to have their mistakes be anything more than inconsequential), that was constructed for the sole reason of demonstrating that communism was just as bad as fascism. Indeed, the fact that it should be considered more important than individuals means we need to stop focusing on an individual like Stalin and discussing the fact that "this guy personally murdered millions" because we are doing exactly what you complain of: individualizing, forgetting the fact that Stalin happened to be in a position of leadership in a historical moment, encountering real material facts of revolution. To claim that he was just some psychopath, or some genocidal maniac, and to apply a hitlerian discourse to him is the nadir of critical thought.

      If I was to recommend books I would say to begin with Deutscher's book on Stalin which critiques him but also does not push that "Stalin was a crazy murderer" line. Or even look at the very critical, but not "Stalin was evil", multi-volume thorough study of the Soviet Union by Bettelheim.

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  7. I know this is an off-the wall comment, but I have a funny feeling there's been a soul switch. The young Stalin is NOT the same person as the older. How weird/cool is that? It's called a walk-in phenomena in the spiritual concepts. (Happens A LOT.)

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  8. Hell, I'm a member of a Trotskyist organisation but "Young Stalin was totally a hottie" is pretty much party line.

    Did you know the poet Alan Ginsberg got kicked out of Cuba for calling Che Guevara cute? He had a point.

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    1. Actually, I didn't know that about Ginsberg!

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  9. OK ok I know this is really late but it must be said: young Zhou Enlai was hotter than young Stalin. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Premier_Zhou_1919.jpg

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