With scenes in which, acrossnunblemished sands,nUnborn, my children come tontouch my hands.nJane Greer edits Plains Poetry JournalnThe Revenge ofnHistorynby Michael WardernUtopia in Power The History of thenSoviet Union From 1917 to the Presentnby Mikhail Heller and AleksandrnM. Nekrich, New York: SummitnBooks.nHistory has a way of taking its revengenon those who would violate it. It doesnnot forget. Mikhail Heller and AleksandrnNekrich are some of the fewnSoviet-born intellectuals who havenstudied how much current Soviet policiesnand propaganda abuse Russiannhistory, Their book is an eloquentneffort to set straight the historical recordnsince the seizure of power by thenBolsheviks in 1917. It is thorough,nbalanced, and massively documentednwith primary sources from a broadnrange of scholarship. With apologiesnto Dr. Donald Treadgold (author ofnthe classic Twentieth Century Russia),nUtopia in Power is now the best generalnhistory of the Soviet Union available.nA fourth of the book is devoted tonthe first five years of Communist Partynrule, culminating in the death ofnLenin, whose legacy is a key for understandingnall that follows. Stalin is presentednas the natural heir to Lenin,nbecause he alone among the survivorsngrasped the fundamental truth:nMarxism-Leninism is essentially annideology to preserve and expandnpower. So long as this requirement isnmet, any expedient policy is justifiable.nIn March of 1918, Lenin demandednthat a peace treaty be signed withnimperialist Germany at Brest-Litovsk,nwhich would give the Germans thenUkraine, Belorussia, and the Balticnstates—all of which belonged to ImperialnRussia. Trotsky, Bukharin, andnothers were opposed to this compromisenwith capitalism, but Lenin reasonednthat the treaty allowed the Com­nmunists to hold power, from which allnelse would follow.nIn addihon to leading the SovietnUnion into the civil war and the faminenof 1921-22, thereby causing overn15 million deaths, Lenin also creatednand presided over the Soviet secretnpolice, the propaganda and censorshipnapparatus, the concentration camps,nthe state planning of the economy, andnthe structure of the party and government.nWith the exception of the 15nmillion, all of these achievements livenon today, in the Soviet Union of MikhailnGorbachev—including the sophistrynand rationales for proposed reforms.nHeller and Nekrich make a compellingncase that Stalin was the logicalnsuccessor to Lenin. An instinct fornpower dominated his commitment tonMarxism-Leninism. Killing and deportingnKulaks, collectivizing, andnlater starving the peasants, executingnhis fellow revolutionaries, decapitatingnhis armed forces on the eve of WorldnWar II, and signing a pact with NazinGermany all showed Stalin’s priorityn—the extension of power, even if itnmeant nearly destroying his country.nAs Hitler’s armies swept through thenSoviet Union in the summer of 1941nand the Baits, Belorussians, Ukrainians,nand others escaped their Sovietnmasters, Stalin rallied his people with,nof all things, an appeal to ancientnRussian Orthodoxy and patriotism.nThe Soviet deaths from World War IIn(13.6 million soldiers; 7.7 million civilians)nand citizens killed by the SovietnState (25-60 million) are some of thengrim ingredients of Stalin’s omelette.nIt is frequently asserted that thenbrutality of Lenin and Stalin was annecessary part of their attempt to modernizenthe Soviet Union. The facts arenthat in 1910 the Russians, with anpopulation of 180 million, exported 40npercent of the world’s grain. Seventynyears later they are massively import­nnning it. Their housing, on a per capitanbasis, in 1940 was half of what it wasnbefore 1917. There is a good case to benmade that the Bolshevik seizure ofnpower actually set back industrialization.nHeller and Nekrich have a soft spotnfor Khrushchev. They do point out hisnbrutality in 1956 in Hungary and hisnnaivete and amateurism in causingnsudden policy changes in agriculture,nthe military, literature and the arts (hisn”Thaw” refroze almost as soon as itnbegan). But Khrushchev did one redeemingnthing: He exposed the evils ofnStalin. Admittedly, he did it to implicatenpotential rivals to power, but hendid do it.nIn addition to providing a wealth ofnstatistics on economic decline andngrowth during the different eras ofnSoviet power, Nekrich and Heller alsonbring to light the historical circumstancesnand policies toward the family,nreligion, culture, and education. Theynpresent detailed accounts of the artistsnand writers who chose to support andnlegitimize the regime: those likenGorky, Ehrenburg, Eisenstein, as wellnas of those who defied it: Zamyatin,nPasternak, Mandelstam, Solzhenitsyn,nand many others. The whys and thenhows of state control of social andncultural institutions are poorly understoodnin the West, with our basicnpremise of limited government. Sovietntotalitarianism must weave everythingntogether, in a web of total control.nIn the United States there is nownintense discussion of the extent tonwhich education should teach thenJudeo-Christian moral tradition as opposednto simply teaching mental skills.nFrom Pravda of June 9, 1984, we learnna different idea: “Their (the schools’)njob is to awaken the aspiration tonbecome an exemplary soldier.” FromnProblems of Philosophy, again in 1984,nwe learn that: “It is as though the armynat a certain stage takes the ‘baton’ fromnthe family or the labor or educationalncollectives, and later, after active dutynas a fighting man has been completed,nthe army returns it—now with a highernlevel of breeding—to the same ornother collectives of the types mentionednabove.” So much for the debatenon values in education.nSometimes, the authors speculate:nThe breakdown of the Soviet-nAmerican disarmament talks of 1960nOCTOBER 1987 / 37n