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On Critical Compassion in the Historical Judgment of Stalin

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image of The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review

I write my comments on Von Laue's encomium to Stalin's "Tragic greatness" not as a specialist in Soviet affairs but as someone primarily concerned with humanizing the practice and possibilities of contemporary world politics. In reacting to his essay, first let me applaud Von Laue's effort to convey a "compassionate understanding" of Stalin's evil "greatness." Secondly, I shall comment critically on his standards for judging, or refraining from judging, Stalin's political greatness and moral responsibility. Thirdly, I shall address certain issues which these views raise when reapplied to the contemporary Soviet-American foreign policy context from which they originate.

Affiliations: 1: (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass., U.S.A.


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