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1955-57: Return of the Stalinists?

MAC161

Well-known member
Published by SLP
Location
WI, USA
Just a random scenario that popped into mind after reading a bit about the effects of Khrushchev's "Secret Speech": In OTL, following Stalin's death and Beria's execution, Khrushchev, Molotov, and Malenkov were effectively the top three contenders for successor, with Malenkov officially in that position for two years. Eventually, Khrushchev made his way to the top, and Molotov, Lazar Kaganovich, Malenkov, and other old-guard Stalinists were expelled or sidelined by 1957, after a last attempt to topple him.

What would have had to change for this hardline faction to stay in power, behind a collective leadership or a single leader? Kaganovich seems the most likely for the latter, based on reputation and character, but who else could fit the bill? Could a new, Stalinist-type dictatorship have taken power in 1955-57, possibly entrenching the hold of the "Vozhd" for decades? And if so, what would this have meant for the Soviet Union, and the Cold War in general?
 

Creekmench

A shade of indigo
Pronouns
He/him
Well, for the 1957 one you would need to turn, neutralize, or become friends with Marshal Zhukov, or have the cold war be more tense like say Ajax being botched leading to a Red or Red adjacent Iran putting the second Red Scare into overdrive, meaning you can spin Khrushchev's relative liberalism and openness as threat to the USSR. As for the effects, you'd get either no, delayed, or softer sino-soviet split which means you can save money on guarding the Chinese border, and china gets more soviet trade. If there's no open split, Nixon won't go to China TTL.
 

Nyvis

Token Marxist
Location
Paris
Pronouns
She/Her
Kaganovich was an empty suit I think? I don't believe he has what it takes.

No sino-soviet split would do wonders for the communist block. Molotov seemed to have been a pretty firm believer of a pro China policy later in his life so that's a possibility.
 

Omund the Wooden-Leg

Chazadjin Marmaduke Brandybuck
My prior opinion of Khrushchev was that he was a fundamentally good-natured man with big ideas, and just some of those ideas turned out horribly.

Upon hearing of how "Tovarishch Corn" ended the more antagonistic aspects of the Cold war confrontation with the United States was "revisionist" by https://onmasspodcast.com/2018/01/16/episode-1-marxism-leninism-maoism-with-j-moufawad-paul/ and secondly, there is how his further actions of catching up with the U.S., to presumably surpass it in the near future; but he did this using the American methods. By using these methods he accidentally set the U.S.S.R. on to stagnation, and later capitalist reconstruction in the country and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Information from this podcast: https://prolespod.libsyn.com/prt-episode-5-fall-of-the-ussr. My opinion of him has understandably gone down. I say the Soviet Union went "revisionist", though it is noted the People's Republic of China did not go revisionist, contributing to the Sino-Soviet Split.

If a Party man did this accidentally, then I naturally draw the conclusion that a Party man who was following Stalinist thought, the Soviet Union should have avoided revisionism, stagnation, and capitalist reconstruction. It may have seen a fiercer or continued Cold War confrontation with the U.S. Could the punishingly hard long working days for the workers have been kept up after Stalin died and a Stalinist came in to power?
Best listened in installments, a drink and a snack at hand.

I hope you do not see my comment too harshly.
 

Gary Oswald

Old and Foolish now
Sea Lion Press staff
Pronouns
he/him
Best listened in installments, a drink and a snack at hand.

I hope you do not see my comment too harshly.
I'm not inclined to watch a three hour video defending Stalin, but given the recommended reading includes a book called the 'Ukrainian Genocide Myth', I have some doubts on it as a source.
 

Makemakean

Rootless Rōnin
I'm not inclined to watch a three hour video defending Stalin, but given the recommended reading includes a book called the 'Ukrainian Genocide Myth', I have some doubts on it as a source.
Not just that, they also have Krushchev Lied by Grover Furr, who is quite probably the most notorious Stalinist apologist you'll ever see. Not just is he an apologist for Stalin, he is also an apologist for Beria, and an insane conspiracy theorist vis-a-vis Leon Trotsky, having written and published several books alleging that Trotsky was working for both the governments of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.
 

ShortsBelfast

Well-known member
Some liberalisation was, I think, politically necessary following Stalin's death. Beria realised that and Beria (to put it mildly) was not a nice man. Stalin's credibility had been given a certain boost during the Great Patriotic War and by eventual victory but large scale purges weren't really sustainable during the Cold War the way they were during the 1930s (locking up all the rocket scientists or aeronautical engineers or decimating the foreign intelligence service would not have been a practical proposition by 1954-7 whatever it was in 1934-7 for instance). And the Soviets were unpopular enough in Eastern Europe OTL. TTL without the same level of subsidy and relative liberalisation, it would be a powder keg
 

Nyvis

Token Marxist
Location
Paris
Pronouns
She/Her
Some liberalisation was, I think, politically necessary following Stalin's death. Beria realised that and Beria (to put it mildly) was not a nice man. Stalin's credibility had been given a certain boost during the Great Patriotic War and by eventual victory but large scale purges weren't really sustainable during the Cold War the way they were during the 1930s (locking up all the rocket scientists or aeronautical engineers or decimating the foreign intelligence service would not have been a practical proposition by 1954-7 whatever it was in 1934-7 for instance). And the Soviets were unpopular enough in Eastern Europe OTL. TTL without the same level of subsidy and relative liberalisation, it would be a powder keg
Yeah, no matter who takes over after Stalin croaks, some political opening is likely, simply because they'd need to placate broader factions of the party resurgent with his death and because they have nowhere near his level of control.

Krushchev was pretty canny and had grown as a politician in the shadow of Stalin so he knew how to manoeuver that, while others who had relied on Stalin's overwhelming control like Kaganovich and Molotov couldn't cut it. I don't think that's too surprising. Good sycophants or seconds in command don't make good leaders when they're on their lonesome.

The best bet for the continuity candidates would be to have a broader base organized to take over as Stalin dies, which he would never tolerate. Maybe a Stalin regency rather than a fairly quick death?
 

Makemakean

Rootless Rōnin
Upon hearing of how "Tovarishch Corn" ended the more antagonistic aspects of the Cold war confrontation with the United States was "revisionist" by https://onmasspodcast.com/2018/01/16/episode-1-marxism-leninism-maoism-with-j-moufawad-paul/ and secondly, there is how his further actions of catching up with the U.S., to presumably surpass it in the near future; but he did this using the American methods. By using these methods he accidentally set the U.S.S.R. on to stagnation, and later capitalist reconstruction in the country and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Information from this podcast: https://prolespod.libsyn.com/prt-episode-5-fall-of-the-ussr. My opinion of him has understandably gone down. I say the Soviet Union went "revisionist", though it is noted the People's Republic of China did not go revisionist, contributing to the Sino-Soviet Split.
The "American methods"? What were the "American methods" that Krushchev used, and how did they put the USSR on the road to stagnation?
 

Jape

Well-known member
Location
On a Ferry
The best bet for the continuity candidates would be to have a broader base organized to take over as Stalin dies, which he would never tolerate.
Andrei Zhdanov cutting out his drinking and living past 1948 seems the best bet. He controlled the Soviet propaganda machine, recieved genuine affection from Stalin and was widely seen as his would-be successor. He'd have a legitimate base and the old man's endorsement. However this also makes him an obvious target for the rest of the Politburo.

His cultural policy, the Zhdanovshchina, which opposed 'formalism' and foriegn influences, was very unpopular. He tried to reduce The Arts and the symbolism within specific works to a chart system. Its the heartless banality of Communism at its most banal. However he was far from bloodthirsty and even mocked his own modernist drive - doesn't mean he'd let anyone else mock it. If he ends up in a position of dominance I can see the leash on society being loosened while at the same time doubling-down on Stalinist culture. Basically exchanging a violent Orwellian dictator for a more insidious one, happy to control media and the arts.
 

Creekmench

A shade of indigo
Pronouns
He/him
Andrei Zhdanov cutting out his drinking and living past 1948 seems the best bet. He controlled the Soviet propaganda machine, recieved genuine affection from Stalin and was widely seen as his would-be successor. He'd have a legitimate base and the old man's endorsement. However this also makes him an obvious target for the rest of the Politburo.

His cultural policy, the Zhdanovshchina, which opposed 'formalism' and foriegn influences, was very unpopular. He tried to reduce The Arts and the symbolism within specific works to a chart system. Its the heartless banality of Communism at its most banal. However he was far from bloodthirsty and even mocked his own modernist drive - doesn't mean he'd let anyone else mock it. If he ends up in a position of dominance I can see the leash on society being loosened while at the same time doubling-down on Stalinist culture. Basically exchanging a violent Orwellian dictator for a more insidious one, happy to control media and the arts.
As an addendum, Kosgyin and men like him were proteges of Zhdanov, until the Leningrad affair of 1948 killed most of them, so you would get both cultural repression and economic reform at the same time. Granted, I dunno how the kosygin reforms would work at full blast but it'd be interesting.
 
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