This month (December) in Russia there was a voting of the greatest Russian of all time. Among the winners, Stalin ranked the third, "after a concerted campaign in Russia to rehabilitate the Soviet dictator..."(quoting The Times) Just like in China, the greatest one may be Mao Zedong... This reminds me of what Carr said decades ago on great men in history.
EH Carr, a distinguished historian of Soviet history, quoted Hegel, "The great man of the age is the one who can put into words the will of his age, tell his age what its will is, and accomplish it. What he does is the heart and essence of his age; he actualizes his age."
Carr continued, "The great man is always representative either of existing forces or of forces which he helps to create by way of challenge to existing authority. But the higher degree of creativity may perhaps be assigned to those great men who, like Cromwell or Lenin, helped to mould the forces which carried them to greatness, rather than to those who, like Napoleon or Bismarck, rode to greatness on the back of already existing forces. Nor should we forget those great men who stood so far in advance of their own time that their greatness was recognized only by succeeding generations. What seems to me essential is to recognize in the great man an outstanding individual who is at once a product and an agent of the historical process, at once the representative and the creator of social forces which change the shape of the world and the thoughts of men." (E.H. Carr, What is History, P.54-55, 1977)
Did Stalin deserve to be called a great man, in the light of Carr's words?