The Magazine

The Great Man Theory of History

Russian style.

Jan 26, 2009, Vol. 14, No. 18 • By CATHY YOUNG
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The Stalin who today enjoys semi-official approval, then, is not so much a Communist leader as a great Russian nationalist, a patriot who rebuilt the strong state torn down by internationalist Communists. Many of Stalin's supporters also praise him for restoring the nearly exterminated Russian church in the war years; on the fringes of Stalin worship, a small, bizarre cult regards the Communist dictator as a closet Christian and even advocates his canonization.

Today, when economic crisis looms over Russia, there is a widespread sense that the Putin era has truly ended, its "stability" having collapsed with the price of oil. If this is true, Russia may soon find itself once again at a crossroads, facing a choice between integration into the free world and authoritarian isolation. Perhaps it could start by exorcising some of its undead heroes.

Cathy Young, a contributing editor to Reason, is the author of Growing Up in Moscow: Memories of a Soviet Girlhood (1989).