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Topic: Soviet Atrocities and the Killing of Disabled and Innocent Children  (Read 36972 times)
Reply #15
« on: February 26, 2006, 05:43:20 PM »
AGRBear Offline
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We can speak about various countries and who did what to whom.  There are no countries who have not had their own atrocities during their course in history.  This topic is not about Germany's Hitler, American Indians or China or Korea, it is about the Soviet Atrocities.   And,  these words always echo within me when I think about Russia under the yoke Lenin and Stalin, so I'll share this with you:

Serge Schmemann's book ECHOES OF A NATIVE LAND,  TWO CENTUREIS OF A RUSSIAN VILLAGE:

p.24:

"However obsolete, inequitable, or impractical that old world may have been, whatever we may think of the monarchy and the society that supported it, it's abrupt collapse tragically severed Russians from their roots and cultures and denied Russa whatever chance it might have had for a normal development.  It was not only an elite or an economic system that the Communists dismantled and replaced; an entire world was laid waste.  Industry and initiative were shackled, religion was crushed; art was perverted; the land was raped."

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« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 05:00:00 PM by AGRBear » Logged

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Reply #16
« on: February 26, 2006, 07:03:54 PM »
Tsarfan Offline
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"However obsolete, inequitable, or impractical that old world may have been, whatever we may think of the monarchy and the society that supported it, it's abrupt collapse tragically severed Russians from their roots and cultures and denied Russa whatever chance it might have had for a normal development.  It was not only an elite or an economic system that the Communists dismantled and replaced; an entire world was laid waste.  Industry and initiative were shackled, religion was crushed; art was perverted; the land was raped."


I agree with that characterization of the soviet regime.

This will call down anathema upon my head, I'm sure . . . but as horrible as I think the Stalinist Terror was, I think it had spent itself and passed into history, as had previous atrocities that came with the establishment of other states.

I think the lasting travesty of soviet society was in imposing on Russia an economic theory and a draining of talent and initiative that has her gasping for breath even today and, I'm afraid, well into the future.  Granted, some people became victims of the terror exactly because they displayed those traits in greater measure than others.  But the thoroughness with which the entire system of government -- and not just its murderous rampages -- stripped those features from the society was without precedent in human history.

Germany recovered from Nazism within a couple of generations because, despite its depredations across the western world, it did not strip from Germany her middle classes or the incentive of property ownership and turn every area of endeavor into an uncontestable reign of bureaucrats.

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Reply #17
« on: February 27, 2006, 01:00:51 AM »
Tsarfan Offline
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I think the lasting travesty of soviet society was in imposing on Russia an economic theory and a draining of talent and initiative that has her gasping for breath even today and, I'm afraid, well into the future.  Granted, some people became victims of the terror exactly because they displayed those traits in greater measure than others.  But the thoroughness with which the entire system of government -- and not just its murderous rampages -- stripped those features from the society was without precedent in human history.


This is being "sympathetic to the Soviet cause"?

I really do not understand this determination to accuse me of saying the exact opposite of what I said.

Of course, I also do not understand why saying that historical events, even atrocities, have a historical context causes one to be accused of being an "apologist".

My definition of "apologist" is someone who says there was a valid reason for something to have happened.  There was no valid reason for the Stalinist Terror.  He was a madman.

But . . . Stalin himself personally killed relatively few people.  The gulags, the people being hauled away in the middle of the night, the basement interrogation chambers, the decimation of the military leadership were all things done by large numbers of other Russians acting on his orders.  And the reason this could be so emerges from a historical context.  Madmen need no historical context to explain their existence.  Their ability to get legions to follow them, however, does.

(By the way, quite a few people on this site know my real name, know where I live, and have my e-mail address and phone numbers.  However, they are generally people who do not twist what I say and put arguments into my mouth that I never made.  I have no desire to have someone with such an agenda know how to reach me outside of this site.

And, since you apparently misunderstood the thrust of my post on American history, let me state in less facetious language what I was saying.  America, while she has accomplished wonderful things, has much to answer for in her past and much still to rectify.  I grew up in the deep South during the flowering of the civil rights movement, and I know in intimate detail how the system it struggled to overturn worked to preclude some Americans from having anything like the chances others had.

Finally, and with no disrespect intended . . . I will not respond any further to your posts.  Regardless of which of us is right or wrong, we do not speak our mother tongue in the same way, and it takes the discussion off track for others and is not fair to them.)
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 05:00:00 PM by Tsarfan » Logged
Reply #18
« on: February 27, 2006, 09:07:41 AM »
Louis_Charles Offline
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My understanding, based upon information posted upon this Board, is that Tsarfan is an Anglo-Saxon Protestant, born and bred in the Southern United States.  He is well-educated, if one can deduce such things from spelling, syntax and argumentative methodology.

Do his ethnic and religious backgrounds meet the standards that allow participation in this discussion? Should we take, say,  Tania's Russian ancestry into account when reading her posts, as a source of possible bias?

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Reply #19
« on: February 27, 2006, 11:05:58 AM »
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Dorogoi i uvazhaemyi (dear and respected) Tsarfan is not being anti-American or pro-Soviet in making his argument. He is actually being very American - expecting reasonable explanations for what was essentially a completely  unreasonable political regime. The true American - egalitarian, rational, and tolerant - above all, tolerant - has great trouble understanding the mindset of an ideological fanatic, particularly those of the twentieth-century "scientific" school, who were not ostensibly appealing to the baser emotions, but to the so-called rational and scientific spirit of mankind.

Tsarfan, I am not at all suggesting that one should ignore the larger historical context in discussing Soviet atrocities. But in order to put Soviet atrocities into a larger historical context then you must necessarily be comparing human losses under the Soviets to human losses under other Communist regimes. And in this context, isn’t it interesting that so many different countries, all around the world, with their own very distinct histories and cultures, have experimented with Communism and ended up with pretty much the same results as the Soviet Union? Give or take a couple dozen million lives (notably in the case of China, the numbers of victims there being far more horrific even than Russia’s, despite their large and thriving middle class and their culture of social mobility – neither of which categories imperial Russia exactly shone in!).

What I am suggesting is that the ideology of Communism itself, instituted as a state ideology, leads to mass killing on a massive scale, and I would like to see you dispute this. Frankly  I don’t think you can. It’s like arguing that Nazism, instituted as a state ideology, does not lead to mass killing on a massive scale. Both ideologies argue that man is perfectable on earth. And that those who don't make the cut, deserve to die.

And whether you like it or not, Stalin was a natural outgrowth  of Lenin. You have only to look at Lenin’s other possible successor, Trotsky, to understand this. If anything, Trotsky might have been even worse than Stalin because he was a true demagogue who believed in perpetual revolution. Moreover, he was a revolutionary of the charismatic type, like Hitler (but unlike Lenin and Stalin). If you’re boggled by the cult of personality under Stalin, just try to imagine what heights of cruel absurdity it could have reached under Trotsky. The man was notoriously vain (kind of like Osama bin Laden, always impeccably turned out and magnetically gleaming for the cameras). Russia might actually have been lucky that it got Stalin instead of Trotsky. And that’s saying something, given the tens of millions who perished under Stalin.
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Reply #20
« on: February 27, 2006, 11:55:36 AM »
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Tsarfan, I am not at all suggesting that one should ignore the larger historical context in discussing Soviet atrocities. But in order to put Soviet atrocities into a larger historical context then you must necessarily be comparing human losses under the Soviets to human losses under other Communist regimes. And in this context, isn’t it interesting that so many different countries, all around the world, with their own very distinct histories and cultures, have experimented with Communism and ended up with pretty much the same results as the Soviet Union? Give or take a couple dozen million lives (notably in the case of China, the numbers of victims there being far more horrific even than Russia’s, despite their large and thriving middle class and their culture of social mobility – neither of which categories imperial Russia exactly shone in!).

What I am suggesting is that the ideology of Communism itself, instituted as a state ideology, leads to mass killing on a massive scale, and I would like to see you dispute this. Frankly  I don’t think you can. It’s like arguing that Nazism, instituted as a state ideology, does not lead to mass killing on a massive scale. Both ideologies argue that man is perfectable on earth. And that those who don't make the cut, deserve to die.


As has happened with us before, Elisabeth, we end up not as far apart as we began.

Of course communism has been a complete train wreck everywhere it was tried, because it rests on a fundamentally flawed economic theory.  Karl Marx wrote on the assumption that his theory was the evolutionary endpoint of mature capitalism and that it would first take eventual root in the most developed countries.

In the event, it took root in the parts of the world you list, where it became a tool for those with totalitarian aspirations looking for a utopian appeal for enlisting adherents who were willing to overturn the established order at any price.

Marxism never took hold in the West, where the evolution of more democratic institutions and viewpoints put a stop to its economic/ideological nonsense at the outset.  Instead, it took root in the parts of the world where participatory political instutions were least developed.

I have never argued that tsarism produced the violence of communism.  I have argued that tsarism had blocked the evolution of the democratic impulses that would have stopped it in its tracks by depriving it of the energy it drew from mass disenfranchisement of the populace.

Where we do more fundamentally disagree is on the question of whether the initial violence of communism could have endured.  Taken to its logical extreme, it would have consumed the very society it was attempting to control.  In a sense, the French revolution dissipated its momentum by just such a cannibalistic excess.  Communism crossed this line in parts of southeast Asia.

But in Russia, I believe mass violence ran its course with Stalin.  Certainly Kruschev and his successors had no taste for it on the scale and with the crudeness Stalin practicsed it.  The capacity for violence remained, and it was on tap when needed.  But the Russia that was trying to win the Cold War could not have afforded to continue unrelenting depredations against its own people.  It needed a much more subtle form of control . . . which it found in a stultifying rule of bureaucrats.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 05:00:00 PM by Tsarfan » Logged
Reply #21
« on: February 27, 2006, 04:26:57 PM »
Tsarfan Offline
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What I am suggesting is that the ideology of Communism itself, instituted as a state ideology, leads to mass killing on a massive scale, and I would like to see you dispute this.


I've been thinking about this one for a while, Elisabeth, because it poses some semantic difficulty in the confusion of state capitalism with communism.  But let's assume you're talking about state capitalism as Stalin implemented it rather than communism as Marx envisioned it.

Certainly state capitalism required violence to implement.  The ownership of all production capacity had to be seized by the state.  The notion of private property had to be eliminated.  The population had to be forced into work the state mandated be done rather than what individuals pursuing their own interests might choose.

But, up to this point of violence, I would argue that state capitalism was not unique in its dependence on violence.  Wars of conquest use violence for the same ends -- to seize property from its owners, to remove those whose interests run irreversibly counter to the new order, to force people into allegiances against their will.  Even the imposition of state religion has often resorted to violence for similar ends.

I think the violence of the Lenin era remained within the confines of those purposes -- large scale, but not unique to communism.  (You pose an interesting question about whether Trotsky would have stayed within those confines.)

Stalin broke the mold when he moved to wholesale violence to eradicate not just resistance to state capitalism, but real and imagined resistance to his personal rule.  That extreme of violence was not necessary to establish the soviet state.  It was necessary to fend off the paranoic demons of a madman.

I do not agree that all communist states resorted to violence for purposes beyond those in common with wars of conquest.  For instance, I don't think Castro crossed the line of violence necessary to secure the new state order.

I will agree, though, that most communist regimes have been extremely violent, particularly in Asia.  But I think the real question is whether communism as an ideology requires that level of violence, or whether communism, because of its false appeal to impoverished masses, has been a convenient ideology opportunistically seized upon by some 20th-century madmen to establish their control.

Hitler and Idi Amin and too many others visited similar horrors upon their people without resort to communism.

The rogues gallery of 20th-century genocidal maniacs is not populated exclusively by communists.  Ask a Kurd.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 05:00:00 PM by Tsarfan » Logged
Reply #22
« on: February 27, 2006, 07:42:56 PM »
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Did violence remain at its core?  Yes, but only in the sense that it remained embedded in tsarism -- progressively less used, but always available, as neither form of government had any inherent limit on its ability to invoke violence.


Quoted from Robert Tucker in Stalinism as Revolution from Above:  (the underlining is my own)

"The basic underlying fact confronting us is that when the Russian revolutionary process resumed in the Stalinist stage, it had a different character from the revolutionary process of destruction of the old order and makeshift creation of the new that had marked the earlier, 1917-21 stage; and this change of character is to be understood in terms of a reversion to a revolutionary process seen earlier in Russian history."

"Leninist revolution from above was essentially a destructive process, a tearing down of the old order from the vantage-point of state power; Stalinist revolution from above used destructive or repressive means, among others, for what was, both in intent and in reality, a constructive (as well as destructive) process.  Its slogan or ideological banner was the building of a socialit society.  But in substance, Stalinism as revolution from above was a state-building process, the construction of a powerful, highly centralized, bureaucratic, military-industrial Soviet Russian state.  Although it was proclaimed "socialist" in the mid-1930's, it differed in various vital ways from what most socialist thinkers -- Marx, Engels, and Lenin among them -- had understood socialism to mean.  Stalinist "socialism" was a socialism of mass poverty rather than plenty; of sharp social stratification rather than relative equality; of universal, constant fear rather than emancipation of personality; of national chauvinism rather than brotherhood of man; and of a monstrously hypertrophied state power   rather than the decreasingly statified commune-state delineated by Marx in The Civil War in France and by Lenin in The State and Revolution."

"It was not, however, by mere caprice or accident that this happened.  Stalinist revolutionism from above had a prehistory in the political culture of Russian tsarism; it existed as a pattern in the Russian past and hence could be seen by a twentieth-century statesman as both a precedent and legitimation of a political course that would, in essentials, recapitulate the historical pattern."

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What I am suggesting is that the ideology of Communism itself, instituted as a state ideology, leads to mass killing on a massive scale, and I would like to see you dispute this. Frankly  I don’t think you can. It’s like arguing that Nazism, instituted as a state ideology, does not lead to mass killing on a massive scale. Both ideologies argue that man is perfectable on earth. And that those who don't make the cut, deserve to die.


I agree with this, but Tsarfan's original question was is it uniquely evil.  In response, how is the ideology of Communism (or Nazism) any different from the ideology of Ossama Bin Laden and Al Queda?  Does not the ideology of these latter-day groups also lead to mass killing on a massive scale?

Isn't Tsarfan's basic point that repression is respression, no matter how much you dress it up?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 05:00:00 PM by RichC » Logged
Reply #23
« on: February 27, 2006, 10:55:57 PM »
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Dear Elisabeth,

There was opposition to Stalinism among American intellectuals both left and right during the late 1940s and through the 1950s. Mary McCarthy, Dwight MacDonald, Philip Rahv and several other leftists were sharply critical of his regime because of the excesses of the 1930s, and of course there was significant criticism of FDR's actions at Yalta as a betrayal of Eastern Europeans. Throughout the Cold War there was persistent criticism of American administrations for their "softness" in regard to the Soviet Union. The Realpolitik of Nixon's visit to China didn't mitigate the fury of those whose slogan was "Better dead than Red."

That being said, I think the tone was set by the successive Presidents who dealt with the monster Stalin and therefore gave the communist regime an international legitimacy it might otherwise not have attained. I think that in the throes of World War II, Roosevelt countenanced a deal with the devil to defeat another one.

Hitler's regime lasted barely twelve years, and he was at war for six of them. It was a war that he instigated. I think it very likely that had Nazi Germany not invaded Poland in 1939, we would indeed have been treating them as we treated Stalin --- deplorable, untrustworthy, but not ultimately "our" affair. Hitler declared war on the United States as a gesture of solidarity to Japan, and so forced the Americans into a violent confrontation with Nazism. Had he not, I wonder if the isolationists would have carried the day in regard to American foreign policy.

Simon

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Reply #24
« on: February 28, 2006, 05:38:46 AM »
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Elisabeth, this is a post you put up on another thread in which you took the position, if I understood correctly, that Orlando Figes' work was meritorious:

"I think Figes actually argues that the so-called 'innate' Russian brutality and disregard for individual human life was only a by-product of the arbitrary and unjust brutality of the Russian state from time immemorial. In other words, he blames the violence of the Russian Revolutions on tsarist rule: one extreme form of violence created another, even more extreme, but also nevertheless still state-imposed violence."

How does this differ from the position I took earlier on this thread -- other than being more extreme?  Figes says tsarist violence created soviet violence.  I only said that tsarism enabled it by retarding the development of political institutions and instincts that could have resisted it.

I don't know Figes' background.  Is he another of those naive Americans who simply cannot grasp the fundamental concepts of how atrocities happen?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 05:00:00 PM by Tsarfan » Logged
Reply #25
« on: February 28, 2006, 11:37:31 AM »
Tsarfan Offline
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Quoted from Robert Tucker in Stalinism as Revolution from Above:


I did a little checking on Robert Tucker and found he is a professor emeritus at Princeton University and a former director of its Russian studies program.

The thesis of the book to which RichC refers contains the view that Stalin's revolution from above was "a throwback to the state-building of the earliest Muscovite princes", as one reviewer put it.

I guess Professor Tucker joins in the "utter crap" of my earlier assertion that the Bolshevik revolution shared many traits with the earlier establishment of monarchical systems.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 05:00:00 PM by Tsarfan » Logged
Reply #26
« on: February 28, 2006, 12:12:15 PM »
Elisabeth Offline
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Sorry, Tsarfan, that does sound like utter crap to me! But I'm not an expert on Muscovite princes.

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Elisabeth, this is a post you put up on another thread in which you took the position, if I understood correctly, that Orlando Figes' work was meritorious:

"I think Figes actually argues that the so-called 'innate' Russian brutality and disregard for individual human life was only a by-product of the arbitrary and unjust brutality of the Russian state from time immemorial. In other words, he blames the violence of the Russian Revolutions on tsarist rule: one extreme form of violence created another, even more extreme, but also nevertheless still state-imposed violence."

How does this differ from the position I took earlier on this thread -- other than being more extreme?  Figes says tsarist violence created soviet violence.  I only said that tsarism enabled it by retarding the development of political institutions and instincts that could have resisted it.

I don't know Figes' background.  Is he another of those naive Americans who simply cannot grasp the fundamental concepts of how atrocities happen?


Gotcha! Although in my defense, this quote has been taken somewhat out of context. At the time I was having an argument with Stephen Kerensky over Figes’ interpretation of peasant violence in A People’s Tragedy. Kerensky was thoroughly outraged because in his opinion Figes views the Russian people as innately violent and careless of human life; therefore Lenin-Stalinism and the Gulag were somehow a natural expression of the Russian national "character." In Kerensky’s view, then, APT boils down to blaming the Russian people – specifically their national character – for the fact that they wound up with the Bolsheviks. I thought this was an absurd interpretation, if for no other reason than that Figes makes clear that there were various explanations for peasant violence, one of which was the fact that the people had suffered for centuries under the "general lawlessness of the state" (p. 99, APT). So yes, in this context it would appear that Figes views the tsarist state as ultimately more responsible than the Russian people for helping to bring about the Bolshevik regime. Having reread Figes, however, it occurs to me that it really does him a disservice as a historian to reduce the subtlety of his position to some simplistic "blame game." Nowhere does he absolve the Russian people of responsibility for their own fate. And anyway, it’s a chicken and the egg argument: which came first, the Russian national character or the tsarist state?... But this is leaving out the whole question of ideology… which I still think is more pertinent to the discussion than questions of national character.

Anyway, I honestly don’t think that anyone here, least of all myself, is arguing that the form the Russian Revolution took was not in some ways influenced by Russian history and specifically the history of the autocratic Russian state. In the same way there were probably precedents for Hitler in German history. But at the same time I’m not going to make a sort of simplistic Daniel Goldhagen-style argument that tsarism was directly to blame for the Soviet regime. Nor am I saying that Communism was uniquely evil (haven’t I mentioned Nazism enough? I think my point was that Nazism was not uniquely evil, either). And yes, RichC, Islamic fascism insituted as a state ideology would no doubt lead to mass killing on a massive scale. As I said, I thought we were discussing  the impact of evil ideologies. No one can convince me that the tsarist state would have murdered people en masse if they’d simply had the technology. What made the major difference in the Soviet regime was the ideology – not the technology, not centuries of tsarism or peasant violence, not the Russian national character, etc., etc. And I think we see that truth reflected in what has happened to other countries that have tried the great Communist experiment.

But actually I’m no longer sure what we’re arguing, Tsarfan. It seems to be merely a question of degree. You posit that Stalin was as much an aberration as Ivan the Terrible; I have argued on the contrary that he was a natural  outgrowth of Lenin and communist ideology, and that other successors such as Trotsky might even have been worse. Nowhere did I say that revolutionary fervor would not have eventually expended itself and settled into the mire of bureaucratic red tape.

And Simon, I guess I was being sarcastic when I said that if Hitler had died in 1938, I would like to think we wouldn’t be congratulating his successors and applauding his many successes on the domestic and international fronts, even while the Nuremberg laws and the euthanasia program had until only recently still been in force… As the Clash put it, "If Hitler were alive today,/ They’d roll out the red carpet anyway." Of course. And that’s the whole point about the Soviet Union, it murdered more people than Hitler but it managed to get away with it, because of the longevity of the regime (although come to think of it, less than 75 years is less than one lifetime, after all - unless you’re a Russian male, that is).  
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Reply #27
« on: February 28, 2006, 12:30:04 PM »
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I did a little checking on Robert Tucker and found he is a professor emeritus at Princeton University and a former director of its Russian studies program.

The thesis of the book to which RichC refers contains the view that Stalin's revolution from above was "a throwback to the state-building of the earliest Muscovite princes", as one reviewer put it.

I guess Professor Tucker joins in the "utter crap" of my earlier assertion that the Bolshevik revolution shared many traits with the earlier establishment of monarchical systems.


Not so much the Bolshevik revolution itself, but Stalinism, specifically.  Elsewhere, Tucker refers to the "striking similarities" between Stalin's "revolution from above" to Peter the Great's Westernization program of the early 18th century.  The goals of both were to transform a backward nation overnight into a leading world power regarless of the cost in human suffering.  Isn't the only difference that Stalin had the technology available to make every single Russian feel the immediate effects of his "revolution" -- which resulted in a lot of "collateral damage" -- while many Russians during Peter's time lived their entire lives never having heard "boo" from Tsar Peter?

I could see someone making a case that Peter I (as an individual) was every bit as psychotic as Stalin (the individual).  Just look at how both men treated their families.  Has anyone read Massie's depiction of how Peter taught his men how to chop people's heads off -- using live humans for the training exercise?

I think Tsarfan's idea makes a lot of sense.  Repression is repression.  But I don't see how Tsarfan's thesis takes personal responsibility out of the equation.  If anything I believe it enhances the responsibility of the individual because it doesn't matter what flavor-of-the-month ideology we are talking about -- communism, nazism, religion.  I wonder how many in history have died, been relocated or had their lives ruined because of religious ideology?  Maybe that one can give the communists a run for their money.

Yurovsky said he was "doing the work of the revolution" in killing the Imperial Family.  That's how he absolves his own personal responsibility for killing them.  Isn't that a textbook example of not taking personal responsibility?
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Reply #28
« on: February 28, 2006, 01:57:28 PM »
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No one can convince me that the tsarist state would have murdered people en masse if they’d simply had the technology. What made the major difference in the Soviet regime was the ideology – not the technology, not centuries of tsarism or peasant violence, not the Russian national character, etc., etc. And I think we see that truth reflected in what has happened to other countries that have tried the great Communist experiment.


I tend to agree with the statement about the Tsarist state, Elisabeth, largely because of the strong religious component of certain levels of the society. Of course there were persecutions and atrocities in states identified themselves as Christian throughout Western Civilization, but a key element of Christianity is the stress upon the worth of the individual. In a state which recognizes no authority higher than itself --- and I don't just mean God, there is room for ethical humanism here --- then of course there is no value placed upon its opponents qua human beings. Combine that with the murderous technology of the 20th century, and you get Stalinism, Hitlerism and Maoism, to give these "ideologies" their proper names.

Simon  
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Reply #29
« on: February 28, 2006, 03:50:59 PM »
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No one can convince me that the tsarist state would have murdered people en masse if they’d simply had the technology.


I may not be able to convince you, but I'm at least going to argue the point.  I don't think the matter revolves around technology, but around reasons.

First, is a serial killer who kills 4 people less evil than one who kills 40?  If you say yes, then read no further.  If you say no, then read on.

We may disagree with the reasons Lenin and Stalin killed people, but they had reasons.  So the question becomes how did the tsarist state behave when it had reasons to kill.  And I won't even go back to pre-Romanov Russia to look at the Boris and Gleb saga from the Kievan era or Ivan the Terrible, where some hair-raising tales can be told.  And I won't discuss the wars to subjugate ethnic groups as the empire expanded, which are slam dunk shots for my argument.

Let's take a look at the more civilized period of tsarist history.

Peter the Great wanted St. Petersburg built quickly to consolidate his hold on lands newly-conquered from Sweden.  Most reports say thousands died in the haste to work through all seasons and weather conditions.  What value did Peter assign to human life against something he wanted to accomplish quickly?

When the Winter Palace burned in 1837, Nicholas I, despite having numerous other palaces at his disposal, spent hundreds of lives to have it rebuilt over a winter season, due to such practices as unsafe interior fires being maintained to dry plaster and workers being improperly clothed.  What value did Nicholas I assign to human life against something he wanted to accomplish quickly?

Even during gentle Nicholas II's reign, the government supported and/or failed to suppress widespread pogroms in 1905-06 in order to divert attention from Russia's anti-monarchical turmoil.  What value did Nicholas II assign to human life or suffering against something he wanted to accomplish?

I think the tsarist state only failed to engage in mass murder because, once it had already consolidated power and set up the institutions to maintain its power, it had no reasons to engage in mass murder.  I find nothing in the ideology of tsarism that imposed a limit on the sacrifice of life.

A few thousand people to speed up the building of a capital.  A few hundred people to speed up the repair of a palace.  A few hundred people killed and countless others burned out to divert attention from government failures.

4 people or 40 people?  Thousands or millions?  From a moral or ideological standpoint, do the numbers matter?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 05:00:00 PM by Tsarfan » Logged
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