That One Guy Who Wasn't Stalin...
While reading 1984, I got stuck. It was when Goldstein (Party Enemy #1) was being introduced. I couldn’t remember who he was in real life and this put a halting stop to my reading. I had read a book about Stalin’s party purges. I knew he was Snowball (or was it Napoleon?) in Animal Farm; the name was on the tip of my tongue. I asked the people around me, but couldn’t phrase my question as a coherent request. The best I gave was ‘the guy who wasn’t Stalin’ and the best I got was ‘Mussolini?’. My mom, who tried to instill a basic knowledge of European History in me, would have been ashamed. Before getting stuck like this again, I think it’s best that I brush up on the Russian Revolution.
1917. Lenin has himself a series of revolutions, overthrowing the Tsarist regime (see Sympathy for the Devil, or Anastasia). The Soviet Union is created under a provisional government, which, after a second revolution in the same year is replaced by a Bolshevik (literally meaning majority and in reality meaning Communist) government.
Lenin dies, creating a power vacuum in his own party. Stalin and TROTSKY (that’s his name!) fight it out. Stalin wins, and claims that Trotsky, though part of the original revolution, is actually a closet counter-revolutionary, and the he, Stalin, the only defender of the true Leninism, must purge the party Trotsky and all Trotskyists. Trotsky gets sent to Siberia and eventually disappeared along with 20 million other saboteurs, defectors, artists, and intellectuals.