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Communism in Power: From Stalin to Mao

Look at Communism behind—and beyond—the Iron Curtain.
Communism in Power: From Stalin to Mao is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 42.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous Series, Relevant Today This course follows Liulevicius' "Rise of Communism" and precedes a promised course on the decline of communism. Its Guidebook covers the bare bones of its lectures but loses much course detail and Liulevicius' story-weaving style. The Course is filmed in the new (and perhaps monotonous) close-up style that is relieved only by video clips and wonderful photographic archives. CULT OF DEATH: Lenin was creator of concentration camps (Lecture 1=L1), secret police, and revolutionary terror. Stalin's "5 Year Plan" resulted in the Holodomor (the Ukrainian Hunger Famine of 1932-3) killing 5-7 million. Stalin's brutal purges, his Great Terror, and his Gulag state resulted in 20 million deaths (far outstripping Hitler) but were downplayed because he was a WWII US ally. They are still avoided by most universities...which also ignore Stalin's imprisonment of 15% of the population (25 million). L2 provides the crux of Communism's failure with the quote: "Because the party was infallible…". In essence, the Party (specifically its totalitarian leader) elected itself God…a proposition Liulevicius repeatedly deflates. "Rather than the state withering away…" (per Marx), it totally triumphed over people. Ethnic minorities were targeted and "the Gulag became a continent-sized structure…" holding 15% of the Soviet population. It was desperately inefficient. Ex: without market feedback, the White Sea-Baltic canal was dug out with hand tools by prisoners and "…ultimately proved too shallow to be useful." Trotsky, whose followers were murdered by every communist leader in this course, had warned that the party organizers would become the party, the central committee would replace the organizers, and finally a dictator would replace the central committee - as indeed happened every time. L5 covers the disgraceful history of the U.S. Communist party. TRICKLE DOWN BAFFOONERY: Russia's agricultural chief Lysenko's ideas (L6) that wheat could produce rye seeds and that seeds should be planted close together because "in comradeship" they grow better, were farcical. However, Soviet indoctrination was so deceitful that other communist regimes from Mao (L8) through Ho Chi Minh (L11) adopted the same policy - with results including cannibalism. Anyone with a simple sprouting dish knows better, but central planners don't have competition. (L6) In East Germany instead of workers promoting Communism as salvation, they revolted. Instead of following their lead, the Soviets sent in tanks and 20 party officials were executed for not being forceful enough. My father, a frontline GI into WWII Germany and later a collaborator on the drug Lasix with Germany's scientists, went to East Germany to retrieve family archives after it fell. He described conditions in the former East Germany as medieval. COMMUNISM'S TOOLS DON'T UNITE: L7: Albania's "conservative communist" dictator Hoxha hated hippies, built a military bunker for every 4 people, and completely isolated his country. He became the world's longest ruling dictator. Romania had a playboy, royalty-style Communism under Ceausescu praised by Presidents Nixon and Carter as "our Communist"! Further divergence from Communism's "unifying ideology" is seen in other newly communist countries. L9 asks what motivated the horrendous violence of the Chinese Red Guards and their attack on religion: a "reversal of hierarchies, with the young lording over the old, children over parents…" seemingly imitated by today's school board approach? Liulevicius sums up Korea's family dynasty (L10) by showing the 2006 National Geographic "Inside N. Korea" satellite photo of N. Korean darkness while S. Korea is rich in electrical light. L12's Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge describes senseless murder of 1/7 of Cambodia's population with many photos that sear the mind. While I distinctly remember Krushev's "We will bury the West", pounding shoe speech, his "secret speech" (L6) against Stalin's bloody failures was fortuitously the beginning of the end. CONCLUSION: Liulevicius is encyclopedic in depth, logical in argument, and precise in his differentian of fact from academic wishful thinking and muddle. L6 contained a Soviet General's sagacious observation: "Once communism (spreads), wars would peak…". This presaged Liulevicius' closing remarks (L12): "progressive unified vanguard of the workers international" led to ghastly international wars (L11-12) not monolithic worker unity. Marx's flawed logic had become a secular Black Plague. Perhaps in our rush to increase Federal control, voters should reflect on this course's articulation of the effects of such concentrated central power?
Date published: 2022-11-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Comments from a learner Excellent lectures. I really wished there had been more lectures in the series. I would like to see individual series on communism in the different communist nations still around today, like Cuba and North Korea.
Date published: 2022-10-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Well structured and easy to follow but one sided The course is well structured and the professor's lecture's are engaging and easy to follow. Unfortunately, all course content is presented in a biased manner; the professor always attempted to present the historical content in a manner to convince the viewer that "communism is bad". I would have preferred if the content was presented in a neutral voice with all perspectives presented.
Date published: 2022-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A solid, fact-based, course of study This course of study builds upon and extends that which was presented by the initial entry in this learning program regarding Communism. While already aware of a great many of the (all too frequently very sad) facts contained in this course, it was, nonetheless, quite useful to have them laid out thoughtfully and calmly, enabling the listener to better ponder the iimplications of those facts for our current time and the future. I look forward to the third, capstone course in this particular learning program.
Date published: 2022-10-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Learning Learning snd more Learning! everythjng this gentleman does i way above just learning.. hevis fantastic
Date published: 2022-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from excellent lecturer. His lectures concentrate on ideas and the people involved. And he adds a few jokes to add humanity to a very sad subject.
Date published: 2022-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Lectures I purchased this course after buying his previous excellent course on the rise of Communism. The history of Communists in power is much worse than previously understood.
Date published: 2022-06-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Addition to His Other Courses! I bought this course having already viewed, and enjoyed, three of the other courses provided by this presenter - on The Rise of Communism, World War I, and A History of Eastern Europe. I was not disappointed. This short course helped me to better understand the events in the broader world over the past 75 years, which I had only experienced from my midwestern American perspective. Although I had traveled in Eastern Europe during the period both before and after the 1989 breakup of the Soviet empire, it was difficult to get a real grasp of how all the pieces fit together. This course gave me more insight into the history through which I have lived.
Date published: 2022-05-07
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Overview

Taught by Professor Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, this course explores the communist movement at its zenith between the 1920s and 1970s, covering the regimes of Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union, Mao Zedong in China, Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, and Marxist-Leninist governments in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. At the time, communism looked like the unstoppable wave of the future.

About

Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius

To study the deepest impulses in human nature, we see the lure of wealth and conquest, the deep-seated urge for fame and glory, the quest for higher ends, a basic human determination.

INSTITUTION

University of Tennessee

Dr. Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius is Lindsay Young Professor of History and Director of the Center for the Study of War and Society at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He earned his B.A. from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. After receiving his doctorate, Dr. Liulevicius served as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University. Professor Liulevicius has won many awards and honors, including the University of Tennessee's Excellence in Teaching Award and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. At the university he teaches courses on modern German history, Western civilization, European diplomatic history, Nazi Germany, World War I, war and culture, 20th-century Europe, nationalism, and utopian thought. Dr. Liulevicius has published numerous articles and two books: War Land on the Eastern Front: Culture, National Identity, and German Occupation in World War I and The German Myth of the East, 1800 to the Present.

Professor Liulevicius participated in The Great Courses Professor Chat series. Read the chat to learn more about diplomacy and war

By This Professor

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Communism in Power: From Stalin to Mao

Trailer

Joseph Stalin: The Soviet Man of Steel

01: Joseph Stalin: The Soviet Man of Steel

Trace the rise of Joseph Stalin after the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1924. As the second leader of the new Soviet state, Stalin fulfilled Lenin’s goal of transforming the economy and culture of the old Russian empire, bringing communism to the country at a cost of millions of lives. Learn how Stalin emerged from obscurity to outwit his rivals, including the renowned revolutionary Leon Trotsky.

33 min
The Stalinist Gulag State

02: The Stalinist Gulag State

Stalin’s rule descended into mass terror, culminating in the Great Purge. At its height from 1936 to 1938, this campaign of political repression saw an estimated 600,000 executed and millions more deported to brutal labor camps known as gulags. No one was exempt from possible denunciation and conviction. Hear some of the dark jokes that ordinary people told to cope with the uncertainty.

28 min
Pilgrims to Utopia: Foreigners in the USSR

03: Pilgrims to Utopia: Foreigners in the USSR

“I have seen the future and it works,” declared American journalist Lincoln Steffens after visiting Soviet Russia in 1919. Many notables from the West traveled to the new communist state and came away impressed—or rather deluded by Soviet propaganda. Lenin called these credulous foreigners “useful idiots.” Also learn about those who immigrated to the Soviet Union only to discover the truth.

27 min
World War II: Steel Tempered in the Furnace

04: World War II: Steel Tempered in the Furnace

Chart Stalin’s plan for world domination in light of international politics in the 1930s. Then, see how his strategy was upended by Nazi Germany’s surprise attack on the Soviet Union in 1941—the most devastating campaign of World War II. Near defeat, Stalin appealed to Allied help and Russian nationalism to turn the tide, ending with Germany’s surrender in 1945. The Cold War with the West followed.

29 min
American Communists: Beyond the Red Scare

05: American Communists: Beyond the Red Scare

Track the growth of communism in the United States, where the Great Depression was a golden age for recruitment, especially since the party treated all workers—whatever their race, sex, or ethnicity—as equal victims of capitalism. Note how espionage often went hand in hand with party membership, and survey successive “red scares” such as the McCarthy period, and the punitive response of US authorities.

31 min
The Soviet Elephant and the Secret Speech

06: The Soviet Elephant and the Secret Speech

The Soviet Union’s role in defeating Nazism gave the communist movement enormous prestige, heralding imminent global triumph. See how this ambition started to unravel through brewing discontent, spurred by Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin in 1956, three years after the dictator’s death. Disillusioned intellectuals further opened the eyes of the world to communism’s flaws.

31 min
Building East Germany, Albania, and Romania

07: Building East Germany, Albania, and Romania

Despite claims that communism was a universal ideology, it developed differently in different countries. Focus on three post-World War II communist regimes: East Germany, which remained rigidly loyal to the Soviet Union; Albania, which cultivated isolation; and Romania, which broke with Soviet patronage and sought ties with the West. One trait common to all was an imperial style of leadership.

30 min
Mao Zedong and Communist China

08: Mao Zedong and Communist China

No one reshaped Marxist-Leninist dogma as much as Mao Zedong, who led the communist takeover of China in 1949. And no one’s policies killed more of his own people, with estimates ranging from 20 to 40 million dead during Mao’s 27 years in power. Study the first half of his tumultuous reign, which saw China transformed in a bid to bring a sprawling peasant society into the modern industrial world.

30 min
China’s Cultural Revolution

09: China’s Cultural Revolution

One participant in Mao’s “Cultural Revolution,” conducted from 1966 to 1976, called it “neither cultural nor revolutionary.” Instead, it was “nothing but a 10-year-long disaster.” Investigate Mao’s motivation for unleashing this nationwide chaos. Also, see how the backlash against it launched China on its present course, which combines rigid state control with private enterprise in the economy.

30 min
Dynastic Communism in North Korea

10: Dynastic Communism in North Korea

Focus on the world’s last remaining Stalinist state, North Korea, which is also a dynasty with rule passed down through the same family, just like in hereditary kingdoms. Starting from the same point after the division of Korea following World War II, Western-oriented South Korea became one of the richest countries in the world, while communist North Korea became one of the poorest. Explore why.

27 min
Ho Chi Minh and Vietnamese Nationalism

11: Ho Chi Minh and Vietnamese Nationalism

Follow the career of Ho Chi Minh, schoolteacher, pastry chef, communist, and revolutionary. An ardent Vietnamese patriot, he led the struggle against French, Japanese, and American control of his country. Dying in 1969, he didn’t live to see the unification of North and South Vietnam under communist rule in the 1970s. Since then, Vietnam has veered away from pure socialism, much like China.

27 min
Pol Pot and Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge

12: Pol Pot and Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge

Delve into the nightmare of slaughter unleashed by the communist leader Pol Pot on taking over Cambodia in 1975. In 1978, neighboring Vietnam invaded Cambodia to end the anarchy, followed by China’s brief invasion of Vietnam in 1979. In other words, communist states pledged to world revolution and international brotherhood were now fighting each other—just like the imperialist powers they scorned.

31 min