The centenary of the Russian revolution should be mourned, not celebrated

The centenary of the Russian revolution should be mourned, not celebrated, by Max Hastings.

As its centenary looms, never forget the brutal oppression ushered in by the Russian Revolution. …


Joseph Stalin was the leader of the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953

The 1789 French revolution killed only a few thousand aristocrats and transferred land to peasants, who thus became ardent upholders of property rights. The Russian version required liquidation of the entire governing class and transfer of land to collective ownership, an incomparably more radical proceeding. …

Any examination of the Bolshevik revolution and its legacy must linger on the Great Patriotic War [WWII], because that victory remains the only indisputable and durable achievement the rulers of Russia can boast since 1917, save the invention of some remarkable weapons systems and spacecraft. …

No modern reader can set down the works of Solzhenitsyn, Robert Conquest, Robert Service or Anne Applebaum without a sense of awe at the cruelties committed in the name of ‘the people’, the cause of Russian communism; cruelties indulged almost to this day by their western defenders. It bears notice that German people under the Nazis, with the exception of Jews, enjoyed much greater personal freedom than did Russians at any time after 1917.

Putin’s land retains only nominal links with communism, and has been transformed into an authoritarian gangster society, much less dangerous than the old Soviet Union partly because it is smaller, and also because its leaders seek only personal wealth and power, rather than to promote an ideology. Even the cruelties are much reduced: the occasional enemy of the state is murdered in the street by hired killers, but dissidents are no longer executed by hundreds and thousands in state prisons… or in the forests of Katyn.

hat-tip Stephen Neil