"...Khrushchev's explanation of the crimes he
conceded - Stalin's insane suspiciousness - concealed the most characteristic aspect of totalitarian terror, that it is let loose when all organized opposition has died down and the totalitarian ruler knows that he no longer need to be afraid. This is particularly true for the Russian development.
Stalin started his gigantic purges not in 1928 when he conceded, "We have internal enemies," and actually had still reason to be afraid - he knew that Bukharin compared him to Genghis Khan and was convinced that Stalin's policy "was leading the country to famine, ruin, and a police regime," as indeed it did - but in 1934, when all former
opponents had "confessed their errors," and Stalin himself, at the Seventeenth Party Congress, also called by him the "Congress of the Victors," had declared: "At this Congress ... there is nothing more to prove and, it seems, no one to fight."