About the talk
Dictators seem to be all the rage recently and those of the post war world can be divided into the "approved” ones (Franco, Marcos, Salazaar) and the others (Amin, Saddam Hussein, Gadhaffi) who can be safely reviled and even killed. In the popular mind, Hitler remains as the high priest of dictatorship, the embodiment of evil and ä man worth overthrowing at the cost of 50 million lives to save democracy, whatever that might be.
But how should we view Joseph Stalin? As Hitler’s twin brother in Evil? There is little doubt about the cost in human lives during his reign. Or should we remember him as a man who took charge of a semi-medieval country in the 1920s which put the first man in space forty years later? And what to make of the fact that many older Russians regard him as the country’s greatest leader ever? Where does this leave the advocates of democracy?
Looking at five facets of his time in power, one can see a man who is deeply prone to paranoia but one who had the will and the qualities necessary to protect himself against his enemies, both real and imagined. In particular, his ability to master detail was incredible and he may even be seen as the patron saint of micro-management.
For Australians, the lesson is fairly clear: be careful what we wish for. In grumbling about the untidy and pointless nature of parliamentary democracy, we may be inviting a dictator to rule over us.
To finish, a brief promo for On Stalin’s Team, a book by Sheila Fitzpatrick from the University of Sydney. A great read about a most basic issue.
About the Speaker
Greg Dodds was born in Cottesloe in 1947 and went to St Louis Jesuit School. After doing matriculation, he attended RMC Duntroon and graduated into the Australian Army Intelligence Corps In 1968. Over the next ten years, his postings included 1 ATF Vietnam, JIO, the Army Language School at Pt Cook and the US Foreign Service Institute at Yokohama.
After graduating from Army Staff College in 1978, he resigned from the Army and moved to the Australian Embassy in Tokyo where he held six separate positions until he retired in 2004.
Greg Dodds. In Praise of Dictators; The Life and Times of Joseph Stalin.
Tuesday 11th July 2017, 7:30pm
Reid Library, Second Floor Conference Room
Doors open 7pm, talk commences 7:30pm Cost: $5 donation (Free for Friends of the Library Members)
University Library +61 8 6488 7425