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The BBC Documentary about Mikhail Gorbachev and Part Three of the German
documentary about Joseph Stalin entitled Three Faces of Evil have portrayed the both
Soviet leaders as seekers of a high amount of power. In the Part Three of the Three
Faces of Evil The Tyrant, Stalin is shown to have did everything he can to maintain his
position as the supreme leader of the Soviet Union. He ordered Trotsky, his opponent,
killed. He ordered executions of millions of men suspected of being opposing him.
Gorbachev tried with all his resources to keep the Soviet Union from breaking up and
struck deals with his opponent Boris Yeltsin in order for him to remain as the one who
holds the highest amount of power within the Soviet Union.
The point is that leaders need to maintain the highest degree of power among its
constituents in order to remain a leader. First of all, there is a belief held among a wide
margin of writers that totalitarianism is the avenue towards instilling the values of
communism. One of them, Franz Borkenau even remarked that totalitarianism helped
unite the Soviet Union1. Stalin believed that in order for the state to control almost all
aspects of the citizens life, he has to be brutal as a leader. His way of thinking should
not be questioned. His beliefs must be the best solutions for a greater Soviet Union.
This sort of attempt at training people like they were herds of cattle was evident
throughout the union. The activities inside are carried out by dictates of a reign of terror.
This is actually Stalins way of achieving his dream of a communist state. Gorbachev
however is a complete opposite. He thinks there are better ways. However, his policies
(which are several leaps away from what are expected in totalitarianism) turned out to
be catalysts of the collapse of the Union.
Clearly, the videos show that Mikhail Gorbachev is a more favorable character
compared to the devil-incarnate Joseph Stalin. Gorbachev gave the Russians freedom
of speech and several other freedoms that are commonly featured in democracies.
Joseph Stalin killed, tortured and starved millions of people throughout the Soviet
Union. However, when it pertains to the overall integrity of the union, Stalins policies

Nemoianu, V. (1982). Review of End and Beginnings . MLN , 97 (5), 1235.

proved effective, at first. His ways only led to the conditions that existed when
Gorbachev took power. That is, a deteriorated Soviet economy. A budget focused only
on military spending and a peasant life without incentives for hard work proved as the
formula to a downward spiral of an economy. That is why Gorbachev allowed
businesses to exist in Russia.
Going back to my first argument, the two leaders tried so hard to maintain power
because they want their methods in achieving a better union carried the way they want
them carried out. The only question is: Is the life of the ordinary constituent good in the
process of carrying out these ways? This is actually where the two vastly differ. First of
all, life under Stalins rule cannot even be considered as life. I would rather shoot myself
on the head than to live in Russia under Stalins regime. The people, actually, are all just
robots remote-controlled by Stalins bureaucracy. If one robot proves to be defective or
showing characteristics of uncontrollability, the robot gets eliminated. Simple as that.
Aristotle believed that human beings often seek to have a good life. Now, one can
assert that many people believed in the ways of Stalin and are willing to live life under
him because Stalins ways are the ways towards what they believe is a better life;
maybe not for them, but for their children. But then a good life is the goal here, and you
have to have a life in order to have a good life. Stalins ways are attempts at reducing
humanitys potentials. Stalin reduced human beings into robots he can control. This is
much like a teenage boy playing a strategy computer game in which he commands
several units to do what he wants them to do. One can argue that this communist state,
in order to achieve its perfection, requires sacrifice. They can argue all they like but life
is not as livable under Stalin. One can also argue that Stalins regime was too much of a
sacrifice. A sane and rational human being will not stand living in Russia under Stalin.
Firsthand accounts, like those in the documentary proved the USSR was hell on Earth
under Stalin. The kind of society the USSR tries to achieve was a utopian one.
However, nobody said it has to undergo being a dystopian one.
Stalin obviously believed that the end will justify the means. You can only say that
as long as you are not a casualty of the means to that end. Gorbachevs thought
process can be summarized as knowing that other means are available. This is why

Gorbachev is a hero among much of the Western world. He, one might say accidentally,
ended a war. He did not kill millions of people. He did not falsify historical records. He
did not make an attempt at brainwashing, torturing, or starving citizens. Stalin is more
than happy to do so as long as he achieves his purposes. Now that the USSR has fallen
apart, one can assume that Stalins time was a nightmare and Gorbachevs rise to
power was the awakening after a bad dream.