20th century communist leaders alignment chart

I went looking for an alignment chart for communist leaders during the 20th century, and the only one I found was for only soviet leaders…

So, of all the communist leaders, who should be on an alignment chart and where would they fall?


I don’t know where they’d fall, but I’d say include Castro and Tito for sure. And Mao of course. People who were Dear Leaders for a very long time.

I don’t know if North Korea actually counts as Communist, even if they think they are, but they’d be another one. I’m trying to think of ones who’s connection to the Soviets wasn’t entirely “do what the Kremlin says”.


Mariya Nikiforova, Nestor Makhno, the Left Socialist Revolutionary Program, the old Left Opposition, the Kronstadt Program, and, uh, Jack London.

P.S. Actually, fill the chart with well-known communist authors.


Dr. Benjamin Spock ran for POTUS at least once for the Communist Party USA.


I think that should be a separate one! And it should include Gramsci and Kollantai.

Since this is for my lecture next week, I want more well known leaders of countries instead of theorist, I think.

I did not know that!

I think if it’s the the original leader, Kim Il-Sung, it’s more recognizably communist, in the Stalinist mode. I think after the Secret speech, he began to retool the ideology into the current form today, Juche…

So, here is who I’m thinking to include:

Stalin, Mao, Tito, Hoxja, Castro, Khrushchev, Kim Il-Sung, Ho Chi Mihn, and Nkhrumah

These seem like influential and enough difference between them so that we can making meaningful distinctions along the lines of alignment?


So, possible alignments:

Lawful good: Nkhrumah
Neutral good: Tito
Chaotic good: Castro
Lawful Neutral: Ho Chi Minh
True Neutral: Kim Il-Sung
Chaotic Neutral: Khrushchev
Lawful Evil: Mao
neutral evil: Hoxha
Chaotic evil: Stalin


What about Lenin?


Well, he wasn’t running the Soviet Union long, although he’s obviously important. And I wanted representation from all over the world included… if you did put him in, who would you take out?

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I see your point, LOL - but there would’ve been no Stalin without Lenin, so maybe Uncle Joe can go? Or can there be a tie?


True, but Stalin makes such perfect “chaotic evil” figure… and he had a huge impact on how communism changed in the middle of the century.

But then again, Khrushchev wasn’t in power that long either… but he kicked off major reforms after Stalin’s death…


Who made the most difference in how the Party developed - is that a good standard?


I don’t think alignment works that well-- to begin with, classifying someone as evil doesn’t help understand their ideology, and doesn’t help understand why they might do evil.

I think it might be more helpful to think of 6 basic types:

  • Romantic. Thinking in terms of heroism. In the Russian Empire, this traditionally involved assassination, and this is one reason why many Left Socialist Revolutionaries joined the Cheka and supporting extralegal death sentences, while condemning official death sentences.

  • Responsible. Thinking in terms of good and bad processes.

  • Peacemaking.

  • Avenging. But they were the landlord’s children!

  • Self-Sacrificing. e.g. Lenin working himself to death.

  • Self-Serving. e.g. Mao.

I guess this lends itself to a 4x3 grid if we allow Romantic through Avenging as 4 options (not on a scale) and Self-Sacrificing through a middle ground to Self-Serving (on a scale).

Or a 3x3x3 grid. A lot of people would turn out NNN. Still thinking this over.

Romantic vs. Responsible maps to Chaotic vs. Lawful. Self-sacrificing can do a lot of harm in terms of other-people-sacrificing so it definitely does not match to Good vs. Evil. Peacemaking vs. Avenging might map to Good vs. Evil.


That’s a good point… I mean, I was more trying to do a silly thing, but if I can also make it productive in terms of helping students to understand that the communist movement in the 20th century wasn’t just full of cookie cutter dictators, but had lots of variety and nuance. Not to mention the actual outcomes of these governments.

I also want to highlight where things actually did work and where things completely devolved into bloody destruction and madness.


Stalin: Why not both?


Let’s not forget life-of-the-party Pol Pot.


Yeah, I’m wondering if I put him in but he’d have to go on the evil side for sure…


I’m now thinking of a 4x4 grid. Basically similar to the 3x3 D&D grid. It’s the vertices instead of the squares.

That way theres no true neutral, but there’s a difference between leaning one way and being all-out one way. For example, Lenin was definitely vengeful, but not to the same degree as Stalin or Pol Pot or whomever wrote “why are you soft!” Few of the Marxist leaders would go full romantic/chaotic, except maybe some Situationists.

So Pol Pot might be leaning chaotic, full vengeful. And Mao leaning chaotic, leaning vengeful. Stalin leaning lawful, full vengeful. Lenin and Trotskiy leaning lawful, leaning vengeful. Bukharin leaning chaotic in his early leftist period, I’m not sure for his rightist period.

I figure Luxemburg, Nagy, Allende, etc. will help with the better half of the table…


Out of interest, why is Kim Il-Sung neutral in the scale?

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Mainly because I could not think of where else to put him or who to put in as true neutral? Kim Il-Sung ruled over a relatively brutal Stalinist system, but I’m unsure if he rises to the same level as Mao, Stalin or Hoxha?

Where would you put him? Or better, how would you change the classification to better reflect reality of living in these regimes or to better describe their political programs?


I’m not sure, to be honest. He was a Maoist insurrectionary that fought for the Chinese Red Brigades during the Pacific War, who took Stalinism and added extra bits of Nationalism and a belief in Korean exceptionalism to form Juche. He essentially forced China into the Korean War, which would have been completely unwinnable by the North Korean forces alone, and essentially conned Mao and Stalin into supporting the state in which he crowned himself God-King-For-All-Eternity until the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The Korean War was the last large-scale international conflict in history (and the closest the world has ever really come to a full-blown nuclear war) and he practically engineered it single handedly, making him responsible for a death toll that is easily in the millions. Not quite at the level of Mao or Stalin but still a mega-murderer.

I think that neutral in this scale has to be someone like Marx or Engels, really, where they were purely ideological and don’t have millions of deaths to their name. Che, perhaps?

I’ve got no idea where I would put Kim Il-Sung on the scale though… :man_shrugging:

ETA: actually, I might swap Kim Il-Sung with Kruschev on that list. Kruschev was more threatening to the West but (as far as I can remember, anyway) wasn’t responsible for the sorts of shenanigans that Kim got up to, and it’s possible to view the Cuban Missile Crisis as tactical brinkmanship in response to NATO provocation in Europe.

ETA 2: Maybe Tito is the best candidate for true neutral…?