What Obama and Stalin Really Have in Common

Nearly a century ago, Joseph Stalin (1878-1953) was in charge of a country that was living in the past. Changes had to be made, so Stalin did what he had to do to drag Russia, kicking and screaming, into the 20th Century.

Today, Barack Obama (1961- ) is in charge of another country that’s living in the past. Again, changes have to be made, so Obama is doing what he has to do to drag America, kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century.

If history has proven one thing, it’s that there is always resistance to change—the bigger the change needed, the greater the resistance. The changes facing Russia a century ago and facing America today would have to be called MASSIVE by any reasonable standard!

From here, though, the similarities between Stalin and Obama start to polarize.

What They DON’T Have in Common:

Building from the Ground Up Vs. Remodeling

A century ago Russia was still a peasant economy… meaning most people’s worldly awareness didn’t venture much outside the home. Nearly nine out of ten people lived on farms (80 percent of the workforce had farm-related jobs, 2 percent worked in factories, nearly 2 percent were in the noble class, and 1 percent were in the military), so few Russians gave much thought to the large, integrating forces that we today take for granted—things like nationwide transportation and communication networks and big conglomerates of manufacturing, mining, medicine, finance, and other such activities. Except for the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, the economy began and ended at the grassroots level, for all intents and purposes. Stalin’s job was to build an entire national infrastructure almost from scratch—kind of like a real-estate developer putting up a brand-new, 100-unit apartment complex on a big open field.

America’s challenge under Barack Obama is more like a massive urban renewal or community development project—say, doing a complete overhaul of 100 leaky old mansions that need new appliances, furnaces, water heaters, windows, insulation, roofs, paint jobs, banisters, flooring, and so on. Until recently, the USA always had abundant resources, compelling it to evolve into a conveniently disposable society… simply use products, throw them away, and buy new ones. The new America, with dwindling resources, has to stop throwing away so much stuff and start recycling; has to give up gas-guzzling cars for hybrids and mass transit systems; has to replace wasteful old infrastructure components with efficient new ones; has to switch from an oil economy to sustainable energies… and so on. You get the picture! Rebuilding a wasteful growth economy into a thoughtful, sustainable economy is a much more imposing challenge than simply building a new economy from scratch! And the resistance is just as intense, though it comes from different sources.

Resistance from the Left, Resistance from the Right

Stalin’s fascist government was at the political right, and it was the Left Opposition that was doing most of the kicking and screaming. The massive changes that Stalin brought Russia a century ago could only materialize after overcoming stiff opposition from the provisional government first of all, and then from Leon Trotsky and other adversarial party members.

Obama is at the political left, and it’s America’s right-wing opposition that’s throwing tantrums to undermine Obama’s plans and policies. His first test—a bill to bring American healthcare up to modern standards—barely squeaked through the Senate, with unanimous, vicious opposition by right-wing adversaries. Even a couple of fellow Democrats had to be bribed to get the bill passed. And healthcare is just the first of many huge changes needed to drag the USA into this young century! So Obama’s big question now is, how to go about renovating America against such fierce opposition?

Overcoming the Resistance by Force or by Dialog

Stalin had a noted advantage over Obama in terms of expediency; he met the opposition with purges, exiles, assassinations, Siberian labor camps, and other brutal practices left over from Russia’s authoritarian history. Despite the many freedom-related disadvantages of autocratic government that we’re so familiar with today, there is that one advantage of dictatorship—its ability to implement quick decisions despite opposition. Even modern authoritarian countries have that expediency advantage over lumbering democracies like America. China’s recent decision to go green is an excellent example.

Obama, by contrast, holds liege over a democracy that requires a softer hand and exhaustive debate before big decisions can be made. He entered the Presidency hoping to foster dialog and collaboration with the political opposition, but that illusion quickly vanished during the opening play of the healthcare issue, when it became clear there’d be no collaboration of any kind by Republicans. So Obama relies on a fragile majority in the legislature 1) that has to approve his plans before they take effect, and 2) that’s populated largely by self-seeking politicians influenced largely by special interests whose undeclared motto is, “Damn the changes if they’re not profitable to us.” Will Obama be able to overcome the polarization obstacles and special interests inherent in democracy… in order to bring America into the 21st Century? The jury’s still out, so stay tuned….

And the most apparent difference…

Finally, Stalin maintained a head of thick, black hair through most of his career, whereas Obama’s already starting to go gray just a year into his Presidency. I suspect that trying to make big necessary changes to a democracy does that to a guy!


Further Reading:

Politics and the Human Spirit series

Best and worst countries to be born  –   Election fraud 2012  –   Best and worst US presidents  –  Humor in politics  –  Biggest political news –  End of the American dream  –  Blown to bits in the computer age  –  Standards, the key to peace  –   What Obama and Stalin really have in common   –  Bad counsel and a short leash   –   Capital punishment & the human spirit   –  Edward Snowden and a transparent world


About Mark Macy

Main interests are other-worldly matters (www.macyafterlife.com) and worldly matters (www.noblesavageworld.com)
This entry was posted in Politics and Economics, Worldly matters. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to What Obama and Stalin Really Have in Common

  1. Jean Peterson says:

    Dear Mark,
    Love your new reader-friendly format. Your other blog was visually beautiful, but difficult to read. What a great article and insight into Stalin, Obama, Russia and America. I have a new perspective of Stalin and his contribution to his country.

  2. Jean, great hearing from you.

  3. Brian Hubbs says:

    I disagree with a lot of your assumptions about Obama’s job. You seem to have a Pollyanna attitude about liberals and their agendas, which if altruistic in nature are fine, but we live in the real world. Real world politicians are not altruistic. The age of Aquarius has just begun. I doubt we will see a majority of altruistic politicians in the next 100 years.

    I am neither liberal nor conservative. I avoid both sides. I see little common sense on this planet from conservative developers to liberal environmentalists. Instead, I see people pushing ideas and scare tactics to further their own agendas, power, control, and $$$. I hope I’m wrong, and I hope your Obama is what you think he is, but I doubt it…it looks more like another ploy to make more people dependent on govt. and to create more democrats.

    • Brian, I’m not sure what “real world” means to you, nor, frankly, what it means in the big picture, although that latter one is what I’ve been trying to figure out for the past 40 years… and I think I’m getting closer. (Granted, still a long ways to go, when you consider all the nonphysical realms and their influences on our world and our lives… but that’s another, much bigger story!) As far as “real world,” down-to-earth humanity, as my writings indicate…
      I’m a strong believer that no one’s completely altruistic, and no one’s completely self-seeking. We all have what I call a noble side (which includes love, trust, and serving others), and we all have a savage side driven mostly by our fears and insecurities, compelling us to behave in all sorts of harmful ways—hording, stealing, lying, cheating, murdering, and so on. Politicians, like the rest of us, lean one way or the other. In America today, liberal values tend more toward the noble or altruistic end of the scale—helping the poor, fostering education, encouraging a system of healthcare accessible to everyone. Popular conservatism in America leans toward the savage side—protecting what we have, wanting more, ignoring the less fortunate (unless they present a threat to us)…
      I agree with some of your basic points, though. I too doubt that most politicians (or most people) will be altruistic a century from now. The savage side of human nature isn’t easy to tame.
      Say, you’re not related to the Brian Hubbs that works for Mr Obama, are you?
      Brian Hubbs: Sr.Program Analyst, Information Technology and Services | Washington D.C. Metro Area, Senior Program Analyst at Professional Solutions, Presidential Communications Officer Program Manager at White House Communications Agency, PCO Program Manager at White House Communications Agency, Saint Leo University…

  4. Brian Hubbs says:

    Oh, and let me also add…we are not here to have govt. change the world for us (either for better or worse). We are not here to create a paradise. We are here to be in school for our soul’s growth. All of the outside nonsense we have to deal with is for our growth, and anything that impedes the freedom of a soul to make it’s own choices and live freely is not beneficial in my opinion, unless you need to learn the difference between being a slave and being free. I think the goal should be for people to throw off their regulators and learn to be responsible for their own destiny. Obama is not creating that kind of world, nor did Stalin.

    • I think every person and every social system changes the world in some way. When governments change the world (and they all do to some extent), I WISH it was always in a noble way, but they’re driven by a boiling-over of the politicians’ noble-savage nature… so it’s always a mixed blessing, the changes that governments make.
      I believe we ARE here to create a paradise; it’s our common soul purpose—to spread love and order out here in the dense physical world, far removed from the source. Along with that, we each have our own lifetime mission… something that you or I as a soul agreed to try to get done during this short lifetime.
      A soul, by my definition, doesn’t need growth; it’s eternal with complete wisdom and knowledge, and it’s one with all other souls. Its purpose of taking a lifetime on Earth is like volunteering for duty in the trenches along the front lines of a battle. Life here is chaotic, and we’re here to do what we can to spread the love, knowledge and wisdom through our thoughts, words, and actions.
      But all this is just my spiritual belief. Your belief that we’re here for soul growth. We disagree, and that’s certainly a common situation here on Earth, where EVERYone lives in relative ignorance of truth and reality… which exist only close to the source. Out here in the fringes there’s a lot of misperception as reality is filtered by our five senses and limited sciences.

  5. Brian Hubbs says:

    Thanks for the replies. My earth bound soul is not perfect here, and so it tends to see the negative aspects of certain people in a negative light most of the time. We can agree to differ on some points, but I think we are in agreement on many. No, I am not the Brian Hubbs that works for Obama. That’s interesting. I wasn’t aware of him…I’m the Brian Hubbs that writes natural history books about snakes. I guess part of my mission is to educate people about a piece of nature few understand.

  6. Lots of people are a bit freaked by snakes, and it’s good to have someone who can alleviate the fears with better understanding. As you can imagine, I can identify with that mission. 🙂
    Wishing you well with that.

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