WAIS Thanks Daryl DeBell and Cameron Sawyer
As Stalin's power grew. so did his paranoia. He traveled by a specially designed train, and crowds were kept at a safe distance from it. He became convinced that his Jewish doctors were out to poison him and had them purged. Then he became suspicious of intellectuals, and many of them were sent to gulags. Power had ruined his family life. His daughter Svetlana got a divorce got a divorced, broke with her father, and sought refuge abroad. His incompetent son was given a military post for which he was unqualified. He became an alcoholic and was jailed after Stalin's death. How would a psychologist explain Stalin's behavior? He was the son of a poor, unsuccessful¡ Georgian shoemaker, an alcoholic who beat him mercilessly. Was that the origin of his psychosis?
What about the Russian masses? Despite Stalin's excesses, when he died they mourned, and even Orthodox priests were seen weeping. Then came Khrushchev's posthumous denunciation of him, and the crowd's attitude changed. Now, according to a poll, he again is revered as a hero by the Russian people because he made the USSR a great power. It is like the recent poll in France which showed that Napoleon is the ruler most admired because he made France great. How far similarly does this explain the popularity of President Bush? The fate of President Nixon shows how fickle the masses can be. This calls for a study of crowd psychology.
What can be done about the leader and the crowd? Do psychiatrists have a role to play? My friend Sidney Raffel, MD thinks that the problem lies in man's genes and that therefore a solution is impossible, We are back to the old argument about nature v. nurture. Unfortunately Dr. Abrams' committee was disbanded. There should be a permanent committee, including psychologists and psychiatrists, to counsel the public on these matters. I am not optimistic. The American Bar Association used to be consulted on candidates for the Supreme Court. This wise precaution was dropped; the Association gave politically incorrect answers. We would appreciate the views of Herb Abrams and Daryl DeBell.
Your comments are invited. Read the home page of the World Association of International Studies (WAIS) by simply double-clicking on: http://wais.stanford.edu. Mail to Ronald Hilton, Hoover Institution, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. Please inform us of any change of e-mail address.