The Show Trial: Moscow to Minneapolis

Stalin aiming a rifle at the Soviet Union’s Central Committee in 1934. His comrades took it as a joke; it’s doubtful many of them were still laughing a few years later.

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One of the more fascinating spectacles of the twentieth century’s totalitarian smoke and mirrors was the show trial, courtesy of Joseph Stalin. With his Leninist view of history and its underlying theme of the triumphal ascendency of the Socialist Man as the thematic driver, the show trial — a fake legal proceeding with built-in theatrics — would become the national stage for an elaborate morality play and “teachable moment” that affirmed the moral perfection of Big Brother.

The Georgian playwright was Josef Vissarionovitsj Dsjugasjvili himself, who later took the nom de guerre of “Stalin,”...

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Sep 28th 2022
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