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Joseph Stalin

Iosip Vissarionovich Djugashvili [Joseph Stalin] (1879-1953) was a Communist revolutionary and leader. He had originally studied to become an Eastern Orthodox priest in Tbilisi, Georgia, but he was kicked out of there. Nevertheless, much of the style stuck with him:

The fact that it was a Church education helped to form the mind of a man who was to become known for his dogmatism and his propensity for seeing issues in absolute terms, in black and white. Anyone reading Stalin's speeches and writings will notice their catechistic structure, the use of question and answer, the reduction of complex questions to a set of simplified formulas, the quoting of text to support his arguments. The same Church influence has been noted by biographers in his style of speaking or writing Russian: "declamatory and repetitive, with liturgical overtones." -- Alan Bullock, "Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives" (1991)

He deconverted and joined the Bolshevik revolutionaries, and after their leader Vladimir Lenin died, he outfought his rivals and became supreme Soviet leader in the late 1920's, with his main rival, Leon Trotsky, fleeing into exile.

His rule featured breakneck industralization, with industrial accidents often blamed on "wreckers", ruthless persecution of peasants who resisted collectivization, and bloody purges that sent much of the Communist and Army leadership into gulags or to their deaths. He also severely repressed the Church, though he brought it back to help rally the troops after Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union.

In science, he supported the plant breeder and quack geneticist Trofim Denisovich Lysenko, who believed that his treatments could alter the heredity of crop plants in suitable ways. Supporters of mainstream genetics were made to recant their Mendelian beliefs, and were sometimes imprisoned or even executed.

In the last years of his life, he suspected a Doctors' Plot of "killers in white coats" against him, and it is widely rumored that he was poisoned by his underlings in order to prevent another of his purges.

This atheist got not only Lenin, but also himself worshipped as a sort of divinity; in his personality cult, people would compose flattering adulation and hymns of praise to him, like

O great Stalin, O leader of the peoples,
Thou who broughtest man to birth.
Thou who fructifies the earth,
Thou who restorest to centuries,
Thou who makest bloom the spring,
Thou who makest vibrate the musical chords...
Thou, splendour of my spring, O thou,
Sun reflected by millions of hearts.

(from Stalin and the "Cult of Personality")

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