The Fall of Stalin, 2010

It was probably this piece of mine that precipitated the move—I’m rather popular in certain Georgian provinces, you see—but last night authorities in Tbilisi, under the cover darkness, decided to remove the giant statue of Josif Djugashvili (a.k.a. Stalin) from downtown Gori, the former Soviet dictator’s hometown. Every member of the Georgian government that I spoke with last month wanted the statue removed, though were worried about causing offense to those who love mass-murdering tyrants. One official told me—later confirmed by a second official for a different department—that the Saakashvili government even enlisted their mortal enemy in trying to expunge ol’ Koba from Gori, as I explained last month:

In the center of Gori, in front of the city hall, stands a hulking gray statue of Stalin, who appears, from a distance, to be wrapped in an ill-fitting winter coat. According to one government official, during the August 2008 war, the Georgian military suggested to their Russian counterparts that, in their shelling of the city, they might train artillery on the Stalin statue, thus solving a contentious political issue. The Russians declined, he sighed, and instead hordes of drunk soldiers made pilgrimages to the statue during the brief occupation of Gori.

More thrilling tales from my trip to Gori here.

The BBC has a list of recent statue removals here. And according to this story, the Georgians plan on replacing the Stalin statue with a memorial for those who died in the August 2008 war with Russia.  Here is a video from RFE/RFL of the statue being brought down:

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    In Soviet Russia, Stalin take you down.

  • ||

    I'd like it if they'd extend their mission and come over here to Phoenix and take out the giant teapots and teacups the state put along the 51. No political angle to the cups that I can think of, still they are proof that modern American "public art" is one of the dumbest things going.

  • ||

    We used to have a giant tire along I-94 here. It was put up by Uniroyal or some such company. It was pretty cool but it wasn't art, it was plain ol' advertising.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Behold! The Longaberger Corporate Headquarters.. Located in Newark, OH, Longaberger specializes in highly-overpriced...baskets. I mean, we're talking hundreds of dollars here.

  • AA||

    Ya those cups are stupid. What do you think of the art along the new light rail? Not quite as bad...

  • ||

    Well, all I can recall is the Stargate on Camelback--don't know if it actually works, haven't travelled through it yet...though really I consider the light rail itself to be a very bad $1 billion chunk of performance art.

  • ||

    What is the timetable for getting rid of the Stalin statue in Fremont (a Seattle neighborhood)?

  • ||

    Damn it, I forgot it was Lenin, not Stalin. They were both ratfuckers though.

  • Liberal Ignoramus||

    No way, dude! Stalin was the bad one, not Lenin. It would have been totally different if Lenin had lived longer. All my professors said so.

  • Paul Krugman||

    Heretic!

  • Progressive Douche||

    Liberal Ignoramus, you're just going along what what you've been told, like a good little boy. All the real kool kids know that Trotsky was the man - him and Che would have totally created a world of pure justice, man.

  • ||

    In a similar vein, how many roads, bridges, airports, canals, dams, parks, schools*, etc are going to be named "Barack Obama Canal/Airport/Whatever"?

    *I think there is already a school named after His Messiahness.

  • Rich||

  • ||

    MLK deserves respect, even though I disagreed with his economics.

    Barry O is going to be a leftist saint for the next 100 years due to the Health Care bill.

  • Fearsome Tycoon||

    Don't forget that being the first black President makes him a civil rights warrior or something, too. Marxist historians at our hallowed institutions of higher learning are already trying to figure out how to write the story of the most incompetent President of the 20th century in such a way that he was an American King Aruthur or something.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    21st century? Or are you referring to someone else?

  • Jordan||

    A school in Dallas is set to be renamed after Obusha fairly soon. It's going to be called the "Barack Obama School of Leadership" or some shit.

  • Robert Byrd||

    Nothin' wrong with having things named after you, long as you're great. And I am great, motherfuckers.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Sadly, Orlando has already named a street after the idiot. And there is (seriously) a "Lyndon Johnson School of Public Policy".

    No, I'm not making that up.

  • Max||

    all great people, not that that you fucking right-wing Ron Paul cocksuckers would understand true greatness

  • AA||

    I thought you were going to stop coming to our site?

  • Max||

    I lied, assholes.

  • ||


    Max|6.25.10 @ 7:57PM|#
    I lied,

    Must be a spoof, no true liberal would ever admit that he lied, even if he did.

  • Max||

    It's okay to lie if it advances Obama's agenda! Go suck Ron Paul's cock!

  • Vietnamese Napalmed Orphan ||

    ...all great people...

    Yes, thank you, Max. LBJ was a great person. I couldn't see that for the longest time because my eyes suffered third degree burns. Thank you for making me see the greatness of the one who burnt off my skin, Max. Your compassion is the greatest thing about you.

  • ||

    That video makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Here's hoping they melt it down to make iPhones that drop calls when you hold them wrong.

  • ||

    Not that Steve Jobs has Stalinist tendencies.

  • Fitzroy||

    Steve is a modernist! Can't be caught in the past, got to move on to the future!

    http://www.macnn.com/articles/.....on.valley/

  • Oh no not this again||

    When i saw this on BBC, i just knew it would be here.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Disappointed because it's here, or because of the removal of the Stalin statue?

  • Oh no not this again||

    Disappointed, why would i be disappointed? I was able to guess the tactics and movements of Reason Magazines further efforts in class warfare against the middle and working class.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    "Rich people suck" is not an economic policy, ONNTA.

    Now that's some class warfare, bitch. What you're saying above, straight out of the liberal horseshit playbook.

  • Oh no not this again||

    Sure it is. Squeeze those rich fuckers for all they're worth, and spend it on welfare. Works every time.

  • ||

    One can only wonder how many tears David Weigel has shed over this atrocity.

  • hmm||

    Was reminiscent of the removal of Dzerzhinsky's statue.

  • TallDave||

    It's just not the same without the guy slapping it with his shoe.

  • ||

    It was probably this piece of mine that precipitated the move

    Are you joking?

  • cynical||

    Yes, that was a joke.

  • a||

    In 2004, Sandra Roeloffs, the Dutch wife of pro-American president Mikheil Saakashvili, told a newspaper in her home country, “Georgia has produced strong leaders: Stalin, Beria, Gamsakhurdia [the post-Soviet leader], even Shevardnadze before he became addicted to power. They looked further than Georgia alone. My husband does the same. He fits in the tradition. This country needs a strong hand. It is extremely important that respect for authority returns. I think my husband is the right person to frighten people.”
    http://www.amconmag.com/article/2008/sep/22/00008/

  • ||

    I didn't see any Hitler statues in Linz, but they sure keep ol' Mao on ice in China.
    I guess some mass-murderers are more popular than others.

  • shrike ||

    Mao's in China? Cool! I could go there and spill my seed on the real thing, instead of a picture!

  • Ted S.||

    According to one government official, during the August 2008 war, the Georgian military suggested to their Russian counterparts that, in their shelling of the city, they might train artillery on the Stalin statue, thus solving a contentious political issue.

    Really. Did these people not remember that the Soviets initiated a DOS attack on Estonia for trying to move a war memorial statue from the center of town to the war cemetery?

  • ||

    The Soviets ceased to exist long before DOS attacks were an issue. Unless you're making a joke.

  • Some Guy||

    Would have been much better to haul it into the countryside and fire an artillery shell directly into his nuts.

    Then just leave it there for others to have at it with picks, etc.

  • ||

    Late night meeting of Georgian officials:

    "My Uncle Joe? I thought he was you're Uncle Joe."

    "Not my Uncle Joe, I think he's Pyotr's."

    "What! I thought ..."

    And so on.

  • ||

    Oh just leave it and stop trying to erase history.
    Yes, a Georgian was a mass-murdering tyrant. It happened. Leave the statue up, remember it and stop repeating the cycle.

  • ||

    Hitler and Stalin are certainly qualified as mass murderers and in proportion, some African dictators are right up there, too. However, Mao's reputation as a mass murderer is probably more because of socialist economic and farm policy mistakes leading to starvation than intentional murder of opponents. Outside of the excesses of young Red Guards in the late 60s and revenge shootings of landlords and capitalists in the 40s, most victims of Chinese socialism were locked up and reeducated, not executed. Many statues of Mao have already been removed, however, in China's countryside, Mao is still a hero for many people who remember life under the Nationalists. When in the countryside I used to sometimes criticize Mao in regard to his disastrous farm policies, but this often led to lectures about "Mao making some mistakes, but still being the father of modern China", etc.

  • hmm||

    It's a little misleading to call Mao's actions mistakes. I've seen nothing to support that he didn't know what he was doing and accept the casualties of his actions.

  • ||

    One of the biggest socialist disasters, the Commune system, according to one first hand observer was the result of Mao being on a train and reading aloud a large sign on a farm passing by saying, "People's Communes Are Good". A reporter heard him saying this and it was rapidly reported as the new line to be followed by the underlings. Nothing intentional about it apparently.

  • hmm||

    Again. He wielded the power. Any mistake of context could easily have been changed. But wasn't.

    Where did you get that story? I haven't heard it.

  • ||

    His doctor, Li, told this story when he was interviewed for the PBS series on the Chinese revolution.

  • ||

    Another thought is that like Obama's Hope and Change, communes seemed like a good idea to Mao and the party at the time. They were a way to make agriculture more efficient and to build socialism. I saw the last of the communes in 1983, and the ones between Shanghai and Hangzhou were the most telling. In 1983 under the commune system fields were not well kept and there were a lot of farmers in the fields but taking it easy. When I went through there again in 1990 the lands had been returned to family control but not ownership and the private enterprise system was taking hold. By 1990 fields were much better kept, corn was planted up to the train tracks, beans were growing up the stalks, and watermellons were on the dikes. In 83 and 86 I saw people lined up for rationed grain even in Beijing, and by the middle 1990s you could buy just about whatever you wanted in the markets. Some of the old state farms in the far northeast have become very prosperous during the last few years of privatization, and one guy I know there has just bought a new Buick with some of his profits on 500 mu of rice land. Interesting that China is throwing out the old, ragged clothes of socialism while Obama and his crowd are picking them up to try on.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Most of the deaths attributed to Stalin are also due to socialist economics and farm policies.

  • Barack Obama||

    I think Mao is misunderstood.

  • ||

    Most, not all. There was very little in the way of systematic purging done under Mao.

    I'm not a Mao apologist by any means, but it's plausible that his problem was incompetence, not malice. That's not an option for Stalin.

  • db||

    So what you're saying is that the wrong people were in charge of the Cultural Revolution? Where was Obama when we needed him?

  • ||

    Obama will step up to the plate if he is reelected in 2012. As a lame duck he can introduce more socialism, gun control, and all the other wacky left wing dreams then.

  • hmm||

    That's the worst case scenario. We are in trouble if it comes to true.

  • Oh no not this again||

    Why would anyone argue against that, Laoshi?

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement