Viacheslav Molotov

In authoritarian, tsarist Russia, Viacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, at the age of 16, joined the Bolshevik wing of Russia’s Social Democratic Party. Six years later, in 1912, he helped found the Bolshevik newspaper, Pravda. In 1915 he was exiled to Siberia, and the year after that he escaped and did more organizing for the Bolsheviks. In the civil war years of 1918-21 he held a number of positions in various provinces for the Bolsheviks. In 1921 he was elected Secretary of the Communist Party’s Central Committee and was a candidate for the party’s leading body, the Politburo. He was Lenin’s chief of staff, and when Stalin became General Secretary of the Central Committee, Molotov became Stalin’s deputy secretary. In 1926 he became a full member of the Politburo. He took part in the collectivization of agriculture and in the purging of anti-Stalinists and became the head of the Soviet government (in addition to holding other party positions). In 1939 he was appointed commissar of foreign affairs (foreign minister).

In 1957, Nikita Khrushchev dismissed Molotov from all posts and expelled him from his position on the Central Committee and the Presidium. Khrushchev was moving against old Stalinists, and in 1962 Molotov was expelled from the Communist Party. His career as a high-ranking Communist revolutionary was over.

He had a reputation as having been Stalin’s yes-man, but Molotov had not been afraid to disagree with him. Rather than having felt threatened by Molotov, Stalin had seen him as a reliable supporter. And Molotov’s support for Stalin continued after his dismissal from the Party.When interviewed in his old age, Molotov was confronted with the comment that people saw him as having been “inhumane,” that he had had people shot because of the views they held. In a “bourgeois parliamentary system,” he was told, “senators are never placed before a firing squad.

“Molotov replied:

That’s because in bourgeois democracies they don’t do what needs to be done. Initially we did not take everything into account, we did not understand everything that was going on. Of course we did not believe that everything would go smoothly, but certain developments escaped our attention. When wrecking began, however, we quickly began to understand.

Asked about Stalin and the class struggle, Molotov replied: 

The service rendered by Stalin’s leadership in strengthening the unity of the party – and of the world communist movement as well – is tremendous. Stalin was a man of integrity.

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The book from which this is drawn is Molotov Remembers, an English translation of conversations between Molotov and Felix Chuev that began in 1969. The book was published in 1993, ISBN: 1-56663-027-4.

Tax Revenues as a Percentage of GDP, 1945-2011

Economic recovery and growth produce more tax revenues for the federal government, and more tax revenues help pay off the government’s debt. Regarding tax revenues, President Obama in 2009 and 2010 was about where President Truman was for 1949-50: below 15% of GDP. The economic recovery that coincided with the Korean War produced more revenue for the federal government and helped Truman and the Republican Congress pay down the gross national debt – which in 1950 was a little greater than in January, 2011.

Tax revenues declined with the recovery from the 1980-82 recession that Reagan inherited, and the revenue decline continued into 1983 despite a highly successful GDP real growth rate that year of 4.5%. And through the remainder of his administration they hovered around 17.5% of GDP and in 1987-88, his last years in office, tax revenues improved. These two years had GDP growth rates of 3.2 and 4.1%. Revenues declined slightly under Reagan’s successor, President Bush the elder, including through a mild recession and slow economic growth.

Revenues increased and the debt declined during the Clinton administration. Revenues decreased with the economic recession of 2008, during the presidency of George W. Bush. Revenues will increase during the Obama administration with an economic recovery.

Religious Drift: the Tenrikyo

The inclination toward the drift in religious thinking that went as far back as ancient Mesopotamia and Greece was alive and well in 19th century Japan, taking shape in a new sect called the Tenrikyo. It would have some similarities with the drift that would be taking place in the United States into the 20th century.

In the early 1800s, Nakayama Miki (surname first) was married at twelve to the eldest son of one of the most affluent families in town. She gave birth to seven children, three of whom died. Her husband was self indulgent and led an idle and dissipated life. Miki lived according to the moral and ethical duties for women taught by the Buddhist sect to which she had belonged since childhood. She saw wives of poor farmers working everyday alongside their husbands, appearing to be happy, and she was not. She was exhausted after years with the wealthy Nakayama family. She concluded that poverty was a starting point for happiness.

At the age of forty, Miki’s son suffered from leg pains. An exorcist was called and failed to relieve his pain. Another exorcist was called and Miki took the place of the female shaman who was to accompany the exorcist. Spontaneously during the exorcism she began uttering words – as if speaking in tongues. It was a conversion moment for her. Her son’s leg pains are reported to have been relieved. She renounced her family wealth and began a new career relieving suffering among poor people. She became a practitioner of safe childbirth, and she helped others in pain. She developed a reputation as a healer and acquired a following.

As her following grew, it became a target of criticism by established religious leaders and journalists. Miki died at the age of 88, in 1887 – two years before the Meiji constitution went into effect. Miki left behind a new sect, the Tenrikyo, and it was considered by authorities as one of those not protected by the Constitution. In 1896, with the Tenrikyo in mind, the Meiji regime ordered a ban on new religions that the government considered heretical. Charges against Tenrikyo included indiscriminate socializing between men and women, disregarding medical science and compulsory donations. The government directive recommended increased police surveillance.

Tenrikyo labored on. During the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 they bought and helped sell government bonds. They donated money for assistance to soldiers going to war and for the war effort itself, to demonstrate their patriotism. In 1899 the Tenrikyo applied to the government for official recognition as a legitimate religious sect. The application was denied. A few more attempts would be made and would finally be accepted in 1908.

Tenrikyo, meanwhile, had accumulated a number of ideological points. Members viewed negativity not as sin but as dust that can be swept from the mind through ritual and genuine expressions of gratitude – hinokishin. They believed in a constructive attitude toward personal troubles and in avoiding judgments concerning the past. And Tenrikyo adherents believed in a single god, Tenri-O-no-Mikoto, whom they defined as the creator and caring parent of all mankind.