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"Stalin - Crazy or Sane?" Topic

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19 Feb 2019 4:50 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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882 hits since 10 Jul 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian10 Jul 2018 5:25 p.m. PST

Was Stalin a psychopath? Or was he sane and knew what he was doing?

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian10 Jul 2018 5:40 p.m. PST
Lion in the Stars10 Jul 2018 5:44 p.m. PST


Then again, when you come to power through violence, it's pretty easy to be removed from power through violence. (Conversely, when people come into power without violence they tend to get replaced without violence)

I'd still have to say "more paranoid than he needed to be" and "so paranoid that he severely damaged Russia in early WW2"

Personal logo Jlundberg Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2018 5:58 p.m. PST


jwebster10 Jul 2018 6:04 p.m. PST

The number of people he condemned to death is shocking.

Whether that technically makes him a psychopath I don't know


Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2018 6:14 p.m. PST

Evil is defined by Stalin

Cacique Caribe10 Jul 2018 6:20 p.m. PST

Evil. To say mentally ill is to give him an excuse.

TMP link
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JayM48110 Jul 2018 6:27 p.m. PST

Psychopaths still know what they are doing. They just don't care.

wrgmr110 Jul 2018 6:35 p.m. PST

+1 JayM481

VCarter Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2018 6:42 p.m. PST

Evil from an evil system.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2018 6:42 p.m. PST

As someone with Ukrainian grandparents I am pretty sure that Evil is an absolute for Stalin

advocate10 Jul 2018 6:53 p.m. PST

This is ridiculous.

Ceterman10 Jul 2018 7:07 p.m. PST

WHY? When are you gonna ask THE REAL CRAZY of SANE question? When? To be as evil as these people you ask about, and those you won't, they are insane. IT'S NOT AN EXCUSE. When you start out as evil as these so called humans are, it will make you insane. Again, NOT an EXCUSE. No "sane" human could ever do the things they have done or will do. Whether you call it a plan or not. Yes, they know what they are doing. But pure evil, mixed with power, will cause mass insanity on the World. Every damn time. Wht do you put these questions up here? What does it have to do with minis, btw?

Achtung Minen10 Jul 2018 7:38 p.m. PST

I'd just point out that more people are saying Stalin is evil than in the Hitler poll, but then again why am I surprised…

TGerritsen Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2018 7:51 p.m. PST

Stalin killed far more people than Hitler, and yet many people think Stalin is A-Ok while Hitler is rightly reviled. Is there a point at which it really doesn't matter if one is more evil than the other? Both men are hopefully enjoying their cohabitation of a very much warmer afterlife together and no one should ever be given the chance to emulate them again.

Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao. The list goes on. Does it matter if they were sane or not? Evil or not? What they did to their fellow man was wrong regardless of their justifications or motivations.

Calico Bill10 Jul 2018 8:23 p.m. PST


Cacique Caribe10 Jul 2018 8:24 p.m. PST

TGerritsen: "Stalin killed far more people than Hitler, and yet many people think Stalin is A-Ok while Hitler is rightly reviled … Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao … What they did to their fellow man was wrong regardless of their justifications or motivations."

You are exactly right.

Each of their killcounts is what it is. Talking about their place on that list is not even remotely the same thing as saying that one is more evil (or insane) than the other. I believe they were all utterly evil and, if they had been given the opportunity, they would have all killed many more people if they had lived longer and had felt their victims (often their own citizens) were an obstacle.

What I can't believe is that some people here are actually counting the initial dozen votes of what is essentially a very random poll, and then making insinuations about the entire membership based on this, as if one of those evil bastards was being given a free pass. That's pretty pathetic. No one is giving Hitler a free pass. But neither are we coming up with political justifications for Stalin (or themothers), copying the way he probably justified and excused himself.


Winston Smith10 Jul 2018 9:04 p.m. PST

Cold blooded calculation.
He knew what he was doing.
By the way, I find comparative body counts meaningless.

Personal logo 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2018 9:36 p.m. PST

Sane. Ruthless in the ultimate expression of his kill-or-be-killed "survival instinct." He shot many of his best generals before the war which hurt the Soviet war effort at the beginning, but Georgi Zhukov wasn't one of them so dodged a bullet, whew.

D A THB10 Jul 2018 10:47 p.m. PST

Being Insane and being a Psychopath are completely different things.

Being a Psychopath does not mean you kill or have people killed.

I'd say he was sane but a Psychopath which makes him evil.

ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2018 1:53 a.m. PST

Evil just like Hitler.

Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2018 4:27 a.m. PST


CSherrange11 Jul 2018 6:35 a.m. PST

Cold blooded ruthless man. Not crazy. Uncle Joe isnt so friendly.

USAFpilot11 Jul 2018 6:41 a.m. PST

A sane person can choose to be either good or evil. An insane person cannot distinguish between right and wrong. I think Stalin (and Hitler) knew what they were doing. They were sane and evil.

Frontovik11 Jul 2018 8:06 a.m. PST

I find the word evil utterly useless.

A man who had been through the world of konspiratsiya. Engaged in a life or death struggle against the Okhrana who had Malinovsky as an informer at the very top of the Bolshevik Party directly betraying Stalin to them so he was arrested is going to warp your view of people.

As Sebag-Montefiore says the greatest achievement of the Okhrana was to have the Bolsheviks still killing each other attempting to root out traitors thirty years after the demise of the Tsarist state.

Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2018 9:27 a.m. PST

Diagnosing actual mental disorders is serious work, and requires specific, trained observation. When anyone wants to examine a historic figure, usually through secondary and tertiary sources, and make a diagnosis I always feel the whole exercise is sophomoric. Sure, you can make an argument that Napoleon had whatever or that so-and-so was an alcoholic, but counter arguments are possible, we only have selected information about these people, so you pick the answer you like and deem the supporting evidence more worthwhile than the counter evidence and there you go. But that's not a valid psychiatric assessment.

And if we're going to use technical terms like "psychopath" we shouldn't mix them with ambiguous terms like "sane", and we shouldn't mix mental health vocabulary with moral vocabulary. Is it not possible for a person to be a psychopath and *not* evil? So good and evil are independent of mental health issues. Plenty of people with mental or emotional health issues are good and plenty are bad. So if Stalin did have an issue it doesn't mean he wasn't also evil.

And while sympathetic I'm a little concerned about the logic that says that since what he did was *so* bad we can't forgive him and a mental health issue requires we forgive him therefore he doesn't have a mental health issue. If a person with a disorder can be forgiven for kicking a cat because they are not in control, does that mean we forgive them for killing a person because they are not in control? And if we forgive them for killing one person because they are no in control do we also forgive two? And by extension, tens of millions.

That said, I don't think he was disordered. Plenty of people have acted like Stalin through history, though usually not as "successfully". It's ridiculous to say they were all deranged and therefore partially victims themselves. People with serious disorders often drag a few people into their sick spiral, but usually weak-willed people. To do what Stalin did requires dragging a *lot* of strong willed people into your evil, and that can't be done if the leader is not functional.

The real lesson is not how to label Stalin, or the long list any of us could produce of similar blights on humanity throughout history, but how to recognize these people in the future, how to recognize when they are setting up a tyranny we won't be able to resist, how to prevent them from gathering people around them, centralizing power, and initiating such immense suffering.

Pizzagrenadier11 Jul 2018 12:23 p.m. PST

If you are interested in an excellent and thorough historical analysis of both of them, and what their regimes did both separately and together to their populations and those caught in between, I highly recommend Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands. It is recent and cutting edge academic historiography.

Pizzagrenadier11 Jul 2018 12:27 p.m. PST

I would add that trying to figure out if these men were crazy or sane or whatever is a bit narrow focused when the better question is asking what was it about the twentieth century that allowed men like this to wield such immense power and why so many people were willing to die for such, to use Benedict Anderson's term, "limited imaginings" as nationalism and other political pathologies.

Old Peculiar11 Jul 2018 12:41 p.m. PST

What makes you think a psychopath or sociopath does not know what they are doing?

donlowry11 Jul 2018 2:54 p.m. PST

Both Stalin and Hitler appear to have grown increasingly paranoid as time wore on -- but then, is it possible to be paranoid when everyone really is out to get you (for the things you have done to them and others)?

Lee49411 Jul 2018 4:03 p.m. PST

Do you even need to ask????

Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2018 7:04 p.m. PST

The 20th century had full on industrialization, so tyrants were operating more efficiently and at a larger scale. There were plenty of very, very bad people in the 19th century and before. Evil people just got more done in the 20th century, as we all did.

goragrad11 Jul 2018 9:08 p.m. PST

Actually, prior to the 20th (or 19th) Century quite a number of people got a lot done – they just had lower tech methods of getting it done.

Pizzagrenadier11 Jul 2018 10:23 p.m. PST

+1 Goragrad. Exactly. The largest loss of life in human history per percentage of the population was the Mongol invasions. Pre industrial people could kill on a mass scale. The 20th century gave humanity new, and often imagined reasons for doing so. Race and Nation were two ideas born in the modern world and drive much of the bloodshed of our era.

trailape30 Jul 2018 4:38 a.m. PST

Just plain evil

Old Wolfman30 Jul 2018 7:29 a.m. PST

He also was reputed to have said he didn't trust anyone,not even himself.

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