Comparing the Imperium of Man and the Soviet Union

Humanity’s creations often bear resemblances as a result of inspiration, be it conscious or subconscious. This can also be explained by coincidence. But sometimes, coincidence can seem awfully strong. Much like the number of coincidences to be found between the Soviet Union and the Imperium of Man from the Warhammer 40,000 universe. And, as the 8th edition of the game has recently been released, what better a time to explore them!


They Were Both Inspired by an Idealist Man

Ten thousand years before the 41st millennium, the Emperor of Mankind ruled over the Imperium. When many wished to worship him as a God Emperor, he said, “I am not a god; rather than enslaving humanity I want to free it from ignorance and superstition.” After his ‘death’ at the hands of Horus and his installation into the Golden Throne, 10,000 years  passed, and throughout this time, the citizens of the Imperium and its custodians all revered him as the God Emperor that he wished not to be.

Much like the Emperor, Karl Marx was simply a scholar with a strong mind and a pure vision for humanity who believed religion to be “the opiate of the masses,” and throughout the duration of the Soviet Union after his death, was considered almost god-like by its citizens and rulers.

They Both Had Commissars

Within the structure of the Imperium are Commissars. Often assigned to Imperial Navy ships or to regiments of the Astra Militarum, the Commissars act independently of the entities that they are assigned to, their primary roles being the enforcement of discipline and devotion to the Emperor of Mankind.

The Soviet Union also employed Political Commissars, who also existed outside of the official bulk of the Red Army. Their primary roles were also discipline and devotion to the Soviet Union, and they performed this role through the production of propaganda that they formulated based on their experiences with their assigned regiments and entities.


They Both Had Go-Getters to Realise Their Ideals

By the Emperor’s side sat Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines. He was considered by many a Paragon of the Imperium, and before his brutal brush with death led the Ultramarines and all the other Space Marine chapters not fallen to chaos on a glorious crusade to unite the galaxy under the Imperium of Man. On the brink of death after his battle with Fulgrim, Guilliman was placed into stasis, until his resurrection in the 41st Millennium, wherein he condemned what the Imperium had become, saying: “Look what they’ve made of our dream. This bloated, rotting carcass of an empire is driven not by reason and hope but by fear, hate and ignorance. Better that we had all burned in the fires of Horus’ ambition than live to see this.”

Similarly, Vladimir Lenin was a significant figure in the forming of the Soviet Union, himself leading the revolution that resulted in its formation. He championed Marx’s ideals in the same way that Guilliman did the Emperor’s, and upon his demise his body was preserved and kept in a tomb, still to be seen this day behind glass in Moscow. This is very weird, but is also almost a kind of stasis if you think about it. And I have no doubt that, were Lenin to be resurrected like that bit in The Simpsons, then he’d also be rather upset about the legacy of the Soviet Union.


They Both Have Winter Soldiers that Wear Ushankas

The Astra Militarum are the primary fighting force of the Imperium of Man. One of its regiments, The Valhallan Ice Warriors, are “famous for their tenaciousness in holding their ground against even the most hopeless odds, and their ability to suffer the most appalling casualties without breaking.” They adorn long, grey coats and ushankas that keep them warm on their homeworld of Valhalla.

The Soviet Union’s Red Army is awfully similar to the Valhallan Ice Warriors, which is definitely a massive coincidence and not because they were based off of them, honest. They had long, grey coats and ushankas as Russia is a very cold place, and they were famous for their ability to stand ground and defend positions, as well as to suffer heavy casualties, like at the Siege of Stalingrad in 1942.


Well, there you go. I’d say the evidence is pretty compelling: Warhammer 40,000 is actually secretly Communist Propaganda, and I bet it doesn’t even know that it is. Say what you will, I merely spread the hard facts. What do you think? Let me know!

[Disclaimer: any nonsensical connections made between video games and Communist themes, zealous and self-righteous dictator-esque behaviors, and perceived support and/or apologism of oppressive regimes like the Soviet Union are purely instances of self-satire as a means of comical introspection, and in some cases have no basis in truth or personal belief.]

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Astrid Johnson

Astrid is a games journalist living in Bournemouth. She's the Editor-in-chief of Indie Haven, co-host of the Gameographers and the Real Heroes podcasts, and has freelance pieces published on Waypoint.

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