Author Topic: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?  (Read 115639 times)

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Offline LisaDavidson

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #30 on: September 09, 2006, 12:11:54 PM »
[]

In prerevolutionary Russia, long before Stolypin's reforms, a kulak was a rich peasant. ("Kulak" literally means "fist" in Russian and probably originally referred to the so-called tightfistedness of this class of people. And yes, there were rich peasants even before Stolypin.) To be honest I don’t know how many new kulaks were created by Stolypin’s land reforms. However, judging from the overall lack of success of these reforms, especially in central Russia, it seems reasonable to assume that the number was not great, at least, not relative to the overall size of the peasant population. (And remember, just because a peasant chose to take advantage of Stolypin’s land reforms to leave the commune and establish his own farm does not mean that he became a successful, much less a rich, peasant as a result. Probably – I’m going out on a limb here – most of these people became "middle" peasants, neither rich nor poor.) 

After the Revolution, the term "kulak" took on a much broader meaning. During Stalin’s collectivization campaign, which forced the peasantry into collective farms, a kulak was redefined to mean any peasant of means who owned, say, two cows. In other words a kulak was any peasant, "high" or "middle," who had a good reason to resist collectivization and therefore, the state determined, had either to be shot or deported to Siberia.

For this very reason, most historians in my experience do not use the term "kulaks" to describe Stalin’s peasant victims. To do so is, intentionally or unintentionally, to mislead the reader as to the true extent and nature of the crimes committed against the peasantry by the Soviet regime.  But you're quite right, Griff, that the new class of peasant farmers created by Stolypin's reforms was wiped out by Stalin's collectivization program.

And speaking of the peasants... I get tired of always hearing about the Bolshevik regime's crimes against the imperial family (much as I sympathize with OTMA and Alexei in particular). I would define the Bolshevik regime criminal not only because it seized power illegally from the freely elected Constituent Assembly (which it forcibly disbanded) but also because from its very earliest days it had to spill oceans of blood to keep its new government afloat. I refer not to the purges directed against the IF and the aristocracy and bourgeoisie, but precisely to those workers and peasants who rebelled against Communist power in the early 1920s and brought the new regime almost to its knees. The peasant rebellions against War Communism (i.e., grain requisitions and collective farms) swept virtually the entire country, and paralyzed Soviet power in various regions. Lenin said the peasant rebellions were "far more dangerous than all the Denikins, Yudeniches, and Kolchaks put together."  Meanwhile the Soviet workers who had supported the new regime in its infancy turned against it as its true coercive nature began to be known. Lenin's government had to respond with terror to both the workers' (the Kronstadt Rebellion) and to an even greater extent to the peasants' rebellions (which were not entirely put down until 1923). I don't think anyone knows exactly how many people died as a result, but it was easily in the tens of thousands. To me, a regime that can only maintain its power through a campaign of terror directed against the entire population (with the sole exception of the ruling party itself) is a criminal regime.


Brava. That's me clapping in the background. You have made my point so much better than I did.

I was reading through the other posts on this thread thinking, it's really too bad I can't explain myself better about how insidiously criminal Soviet Russia was. I was thinking about Cambodia under the Rhmer Rouge as an analogy to how evil the Bolsheviks were. And, I think you've hit the nail on the head. "A regime that can only maintain its power through a campaign of terror directed against the entire population is a criminal regime".

Yes it is. I abhor what the murder of so many members of the Romanov dynasty. I no less revile the suppression of the Navy in the Kronstadt Rebellion. Equally despise the destruction of the Ukrainian agricultural system via collectivization and a man made famine. Am livid beyond belief over the murder of so many Russians under Stalin. And I get steamed as heck with bickering about how many tens of millions of people he killed. I mean, pick a number - he's still the most prolific mass murderer in the history of the world. Grasp that idea, if you will.

Yes, many governments and rulers commit criminal acts in governing. No disagreement there. And, there were many things that were wrong about Tsarist Russia. But, it never sought the anihilation of its subjects on a mass scale or the destruction of the ability of the country to feed itself. What happened to the Imperial Family was horrible, but I think after studying them for so long, that what they would have wanted us to focus on was not them, but on what these criminals did to their country. If I may be pardoned for my presumption in speaking for them, they loved Russia above nearly everything after God, and it was a travesty that the Bolsheviks brought to their beloved country.

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #31 on: September 09, 2006, 01:21:39 PM »
Thank you, Lisa! Your opinion means so much to me. I suppose everyone here in the forum, including you, probably shares my innermost fears when posting: sometimes I think I'm sending my posts off into a black hole - perhaps no one reads them - or if they do, no one understands them - or (worse yet) no one cares. So it's always a particular pleasure to get positive feedback from someone who is so empathetic and kind in their remarks. Spasibo!

But (sigh!) back to business...

Dear Elisabeth,

I agree with your definition of a criminal regime up to a point. But can such a regime acquire legitimacy? By the 1950s, is the Sovet government "legitimate", i.e. it handles power transitions without violence?

I think the question at the head of this thread is a little dicey: okay, the Soviet Union was a moral mistake. It abused its' citizens. But it also succeeded in many of the foreign policy aims of Tsarist Russia. She became a feared world power, she excercised enormous influence over central and eastern Europe, and she survived the destruction of France, Germany, England and Austria as imperial powers. In a Realpolitik sense, the Soviet Union experienced some success.

Simon

Hi, Simon. Even in the 1950s, after Stalin’s death, the Soviet government was still shooting down in cold blood ordinary striking workers (this happened in Siberia, and was kept a top state secret, so almost no one knew about it until Solzhenitsyn published Gulag Archipelago illegally in the West). At the same time the Soviets were also putting down various revolts in the Gulag with equally bloody impunity (again, it took Solzhenitsyn to publicize this almost two decades later). By my definition, the Soviet Union of this era was still a criminal regime, and had only gained spurious international legitimacy from the fact that 1) it was less obviously a threat to international peace than Nazi Germany and Hirohito’s Japan and 2) as a result Stalin’s Soviet Union had emerged as an Allied victor in World War II.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the Western world had any choice but to deal with the Soviet Union as a coequal nation, at least once Hitler was defeated and Stalin had taken over eastern Europe and got the atomic bomb. On the other hand, there’s no question in my mind but that his regime and that of his successors retained their power through coercion and force, and remained totalitarian until the era of glasnost’, when Gorbachev decided (mistakenly, as it turned out) that such a system, built and sustained as it was by obvious evil, could somehow be redeemed and thereby salvaged by internal reform. And the result of that misjudgment was and is plain for all to see… the Soviet Union was dust by the start of the new decade. As indeed  Hitler’s Germany would have been dust, if it had somehow managed to win the war, last until the 1980s, and then sought to reform itself under a new generation of new and more enlightened rulers. But how can you reform absolute evil?

Also consider the fact that the Soviet empire only lasted a wee bit longer than seventy years. That’s pretty pathetic when you compare it to other empires… How long did the Roman Empire hang around? Four centuries or more? The empire of the ancient Egyptians? Several thousand years? For that matter, the Chinese empire of so many dynasties, stretching back from antiquity and well into the modern era? Some people even claim the United States is an empire, and here we’ve lasted two hundred years and counting. I think 70 odd years is a rather dismal record for an empire, all things considered! That’s only the lifespan of one person (well, okay, somewhat more, if you’re talking about the lifespan of the average Russian male). But clearly the rulers of the Soviet empire were shortsighted, to say the least: not only ethically but ethnically, demographically, technologically, economically, politically, and so on and so forth.
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David_Pritchard

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #32 on: September 09, 2006, 01:26:05 PM »
While I have not spent a great deal of time thinking about the topic of this thread, I do want all of those participating to know that their posts have been very interesting and thought provoking to read. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts, opinions and facts with the forum. Let the debate continue!

David

Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #33 on: September 09, 2006, 02:00:22 PM »
Dear Elisabeth,

The story of my life: when people turn to speak with me, they sigh!  ;D

Of course I agree with you about the horrors of the Soviet system; Reagan was right on the money in referring to them as an "evil empire".

That being said: ask an Indian about the Raj, ask a native American about manifest destiny, ask the people of Zaire about Belgium. I'm not just being a snotty kneejerk liberal, either. There are some good things to say about Great Britain, the United States and Belgium. And I doubt that in the end this kind of moral relativism is at all useful.

The Tsars believed that God put them in place; the Bolsheviks, that the dialectic of history. The Soviet regime was overthrown, but significant remnants survive under Putin --- most especially the role of Russia as a Great Power in the 21st century, albeit a staggering one. And in many respects the autocracy of imperial Russia foreshadowed the autocracy of Stalinist times.

But Stalin was aware that he was opportunistic? Alright, say he was. If the Tsars cloaked opportunism behind religion and the divine right they believed that they had, what difference does it make as far as the results were concerned? An aggressive Rus seized and held a large empire through force.

I think I hear you sighing!

Simon

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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #34 on: September 09, 2006, 02:12:01 PM »
I think I hear you sighing!

Simon

No, Simon, if you could only hear me now - I'm laughing! :D Your great good humor has in fact given me my first genuine moment of lightheartedness today. All I ask is that you give me a little while (maybe several hours in fact) to recover myself and to think of an appropriately serious response to your thoughtful and thought-provoking observations. At the moment I'm just too lighthearted, lightheaded, and, to be totally honest, exhausted... I have spent the entire day painting the house and trying to respond intelligently to all the brainteasers posed in this thread... I badly need a break... and am now reaching for my favorite opium of the masses... not religion but vodka on the rocks. Na zdorov'e! 
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Offline Tania+

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #35 on: September 09, 2006, 03:30:36 PM »
Dearest Elizabeth,

For you, indeed Spasibo, and most appreciatively, Na zdorov'e !
You are terrific, and thanks for all the hard work.
Those in the great beyond thank you !!!!

Tatiana+
TatianaA


Offline griffh

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #36 on: September 10, 2006, 02:08:54 AM »
Griffth, I'm not sure that your description of Nicholas II's government (let alone him, if you intended that) as responsible for three years grim resistance to the Germans is enough to make him a competent, moral leader. Stalin and his boys did pretty well in 1941 and are (justly) stigmatized as criminals.



Louis_Charles I was probably pursuing my own agenda and therefore was not really responding to this question of what makes a leader moral and what makes a leader criminal.  Is it impossible to define evil because every leader is responsible for something evil, i.e. big government’s treatment of minority populations; or to define a good leader by might; i.e. the ability to win wars and wield international power?  

I think that you can discern the character of a leader and that there are a number of very clear judgments that can be made about what makes a leader moral and what makes a leader criminal.  

I am sure this is going to sound really off, but one of the most outstanding examples that I know of was George Washington and this is not about the Apple tree.   Napoleon watched Washington, who he considered one of the most modern and one of the greatest military strategists of his time, during a very crucial time in American history.

Washington had made many public statements about civil freedom and a government of the people to explain why the Revolution was necessary.  All the while Napoleon was looking to see what Washington would do when, through a series of unexpected events,  all the power landed in his own hands.  

This occurred several years after the Revolutionary War when Washington’s troops, who had not been paid for the war wanted him to lead them in an open rebellion.  Napoleon knew that Washington had the power to become king at that moment.  In order to restore the spirit of his troops and to turn their loyalty back to the American government, Washington rode out to his troops and with a message to read to them about not rebelling and assured them that they would be paid.  As I recall he really did not know how they would respond to him.  Before reading his message, he took out a pair of glasses and put them on.  His men had only known him from years before as their fierce Commander who had lead them to victory.  It broke their hearts to see Washington wearing glasses and that broke the rebellion.  Napoleon could not believe that Washington had not taken that opportunity to take over the country and be it’s military dictator.  That is a moral leader and it was Napoleon’s judgment of Washington as well.

Nothing to be ashamed of, Griff. Everybody makes mistakes when it comes to the kulaks. That's because the term itself is terribly misleading. Who constituted a kulak depends to a large extent on the period of Russian history you’re discussing. There were prerevolutionary kulaks, and there were post-revolutionary kulaks, and there’s a world of difference between the two.

In prerevolutionary Russia, long before Stolypin's reforms, a kulak was a rich peasant. ("Kulak" literally means "fist" in Russian and probably originally referred to the so-called tightfistedness of this class of people. And yes, there were rich peasants even before Stolypin.) To be honest I don’t know how many new kulaks were created by Stolypin’s land reforms. However, judging from the overall lack of success of these reforms, especially in central Russia, it seems reasonable to assume that the number was not great, at least, not relative to the overall size of the peasant population. (And remember, just because a peasant chose to take advantage of Stolypin’s land reforms to leave the commune and establish his own farm does not mean that he became a successful, much less a rich, peasant as a result. Probably – I’m going out on a limb here – most of these people became "middle" peasants, neither rich nor poor.)  

After the Revolution, the term "kulak" took on a much broader meaning. During Stalin’s collectivization campaign, which forced the peasantry into collective farms, a kulak was redefined to mean any peasant of means who owned, say, two cows. In other words a kulak was any peasant, "high" or "middle," who had a good reason to resist collectivization and therefore, the state determined, had either to be shot or deported to Siberia.

For this very reason, most historians in my experience do not use the term "kulaks" to describe Stalin’s peasant victims. To do so is, intentionally or unintentionally, to mislead the reader as to the true extent and nature of the crimes committed against the peasantry by the Soviet regime.  But you're quite right, Griff, that the new class of peasant farmers created by Stolypin's reforms was wiped out by Stalin's collectivization program.


Thank you Elizabeth for explaining to me all of those historic facts so clearly and I join in with Lisa and Tatiania, and everyone in expressing my admiration for your incredible ability to speak to the heart of this matter.  
« Last Edit: September 10, 2006, 02:12:21 AM by griffh »

Offline griffh

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #37 on: September 10, 2006, 12:50:50 PM »
The following is from Andrew Gregoovitch, I will post his site later:

THIS GREAT CRIME OF GENOCIDE AGAINST the Ukrainian people has not been completely ignored by the history books of the world. Any history of the Soviet Union will mention the triumph of "Collectivization" in which the Kulaks, or well-off farmers, were "liquidated as a class." Collectivized farming, which is today the most inefficient agricultural system in existence, had to be instituted for Marxist reasons. The Kulaks (Kurkulsin Ukrainian) constituted only 4 to 5% of the peasantry -- yet they endangered the success of Communism!

The Communist Party on January 5, 1930, as part of the first Five Year Plan, started the machinery of Collectivization rolling. Collective is, incidentally Kolkhoz in Russian and Kolhosp in Ukrainian. The Russian peasantry demonstrated little opposition to Moscow because of their past tradition of communal farming. The Russian mir, or village commune, where the land is owned by the village and not by the individual, had for centuries prepared the Russians psychologically for Collectivization. On July 30, 1930 the first RSFSR decree abolishing the mir was passed to make way for the Collectives.

The Ukrainians, on the other hand, had an independent, individualistic farming tradition of private ownershp of land. The Russian communal spirit was comething completely foreign to the farmers of Ukraine and so they opposed Moscow bitterly. While the collectivization in the Russian Republic (RSFSR) went on schedule, the stubborn resistance of the Ukrainians slowed it down to such a standstill that Moscow even had to retreat temporarily...

WHY DID THE FAMINE TAKE PLACE?
OPPOSlTlON TO COLLECTIVIZATION is only half the story why Moscow created the famine in Ukraine. The Ukrainian opposition was not only ideological, that is against Communism, but also political. Russian nationalism reared its ugly head at this time. The Kremlin used the famine as a political weapon to destroy Ukrainian aspirations for independence. At the same time as the famine (1932-34) a wave of persecutions of thousands of Ukrainian intellectuals, writers and leaders took place. Plots for liberating Ukraine were discovered not only in the smallest villages but even in the top ranks of the Ukrainian Communist Party itself. Purges took hundreds of Ukrainians. Suicide was the escape of many. In 1933 the famous writer Mykola Khvylovy and the veteran Ukrainian Communist, Mykola Skrypnyk, both chose suidde.

"This famine," says the American authority William H. Chamberlin, "may fairly be called political because it was not the result of any overwhelming natural catastrophe or of ... a complete exhaustion of the country's resources... "

THE STRANGEST WAR IN HISTORY
THE DEATH AND DESOLATION caused by the famine is likened to war by many of the eyewitnesses. And in fact, the unequal struggle between the peasants of Ukraine and the agent of the Russian Kremlin certainly may be accurately called a "war". This Ukrainian-Russian "war" between peasants armed with pitchforks and the Red Army and Secret Police, was carried out mercilessly with no pity for the aged or young, nor for women and children. According to Bertram D. Wolfe: "Villages were surrounded and laid waste, set to the torch, attacked by tanks and artillery and bombs from the air. A Secret Police Colonel, almost sobbing, told the writer Isaac Deutscher:


"I am an old Bolshevik. I worked in the underground against the Tsar and then I fought in the civil war. Did I do all that in order that I should now surround villages with machine-guns and order my men to fire indiscriminately into crowds of peasants? Oh no, no!"

One Moscow agent, mighty Hatayevich, in reprimanding Comrade Victor Kravchenko, one of 100,000 men "selected by the Central Committee of the Party" to help in Collectivization said:


"... I'm not sure that you understand what has been happening. A ruthless struggle is going on between the peasantry and our regime. It's a struggle to the death. This year (1933) was a test of our strength and their endurance. It took a famine to show them who is master here. It has cost millions of lives, but the collective farm system is here to stay, We've won the war."

Hatayevich, Secretary of the Regional Committee of the Dnipropetrovsk Communist Party and one of the foremost Communist in the Ukrainian SSR reveals here that the famine was intentional, that it took millions of lives, and that he considered it a "war" aganst the Ukrainian farmers.

One woman in Poltava said, "No war ever took from us so many people." This was true, since Ukraine's losses in 1932-33 were greater than that of any nation that fought in the First World War. It should be emphasized that the main weapon in this struggle was not tanks, machine guns or bullets -- but hunger. Famine, a man-made "Collectivized" famine, was the main cause of the loss of life in this "war," one of the strangest in history."


Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #38 on: September 10, 2006, 01:15:15 PM »
Griff, while I think it's only just to publicize the Ukrainian famine to as large an extent as possible, and while I agree that Stalin's Soviet Union was guilty of attempted genocide in this instance, nevertheless, a lot of the information this fellow Andrew Gregorovich presents as facts are nothing of the kind.

As I stated before, the term "kulak" in Stalin's Soviet Union did not refer to merely "well off" peasants. It referred to peasants of any means whatsoever, even those who only owned two cows (in other words, peasants who would be considered practically indigent by Western standards). These so-called kulaks could not have made up a mere 4-5 per cent of the total peasant population. They must have accounted for a considerably larger percentage of it. But as far as I know, no one has yet really accurately calculated how many millions were involved. But rest assured it was in the millions.

As far as I know, central Russia was no more prepared than the Ukraine for the trauma of collectivization. Large sections of the Russian peasantry had revolted en masse in the early 1920s when the Soviet government first attempted to impose collective farms as a measure of War Communism. It's simply not fair to draw these comparisons between Russia and the Ukraine. Both populations suffered intensely under Stalin's collectivization campaign, although the Ukrainian peasants seem to have demonstrated more sustained and stalwart resistance to it (but maybe because they were farther away from Moscow they could afford to?). And of course the Ukrainians suffered the consequences under the later, punitive government-enforced famine. But then so did areas of the Russian Caucasus, which had also shown unusually high levels of resistance to enforced collectivization.

It seems to me that a certain measure of Ukrainian nationalism vs. Russian nationalism is being played out in Andrew Gregorovich's presentation of the Great Famine, which is unfortunate because it is so unnecessary.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2006, 01:28:51 PM by Elisabeth »
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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #39 on: September 10, 2006, 01:35:11 PM »
I would define the Bolshevik regime criminal not only because it seized power illegally from the freely elected Constituent Assembly (which it forcibly disbanded) but also because from its very earliest days it had to spill oceans of blood to keep its new government afloat.

First, I want to be absolutely clear.  I am not one who thinks that the Bolshevik regime had both its good points and its bad points.  I think it was a complete abomination . . . in its origins, its ideology, its policies, and its outcomes.

But I am still troubled by applying a term to it using definitions that encompass other governments as well which are not generally thought to be criminal.

The American Civil War was launched when almost half the states of the union decided they wanted to throw off the yoke of a government they decided was onerous to them and intent on pursuing policies that were destined to destroy their economies and their political rights to make certain choices locally.  From a strictly legal standpoint, the law was on their side.  (And one must also remember that the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the southern viewpoint more often than not on questions of states rights before the Civil War.)  The United States had originated as a voluntary association that contained no stated compulsion that all its members remain conjoined.  Lincoln, in his determination to hold together a federal authority (and many even in the north disputed the right and wisdom of his policy) over a group of unwilling state legislatures, engaged in a war that remains to this day the costliest in American lives, both in absolute numbers and relative to the size of the population.

If the standard of criminality is using force to maintain authority over large groups of citizens who, though once willing suppliants to that authority, have now changed their minds, then wasn't Lincoln's administration a "criminal" government.  Having been raised in the south, I know most southerners still take this point very seriously (even though they are finally starting to get over their spleen that Lincoln got it his way).

I guess my real problem is that, to me at least, a "crime" is defined as the violation of law, and government -- be it good or bad -- is the source of laws.  And any government or ruler that has succeeded -- by forceful means or other -- in gathering the power to make laws cannot be deemed "criminal".  Otherwise, the list of "criminal" governments encompasses those of William the Conqueror, the Roman Republic and Empire, Catherine the Great . . . to name but a very few.

Also, using "criminal" to define governments has another pitfall.  For instance, Hitler was already re-arming Germany in clear violation of the Treaty of Versailles and international law by 1936 when he hosted the 1936 Olympics.  The world that beat a path to attend this propaganda fest would have been loathe to use the term "criminal" to describe his government at that point, although it clearly was by any literal definition of the term.  So, when talking about governments, people tend to use the term "criminal" relativistically.  They are criminal when we don't like them, and not criminal when we do.

If one wants to discuss the evil, the immorality, or the ineffectiveness of a government, why not just carry out the discussion on those very terms.  Using "criminal" as a proxy for all of the above requires that we ignore the fact that many "good" governments were nevertheless "criminal" in a literal sense, or that many governments that are "criminal" only acquire the lable when we start not to like the outcomes.

Offline Tsarfan

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #40 on: September 10, 2006, 01:53:44 PM »
Not to nitpick, but Louis Charles did not testify in an open court; his words were quoted at his mother's trial (bad enough, she heard them). Louis XVI was taken to his death in a closed coach, although Marie Antoinette did travel in a tumbril. She objected to it on the grounds that her husband had not suffered this indignity.

This is when I get really frustrated with myself.  I can read a half dozen books on a historical topic . . . but then let me watch one cheesy black-and-white melodrama, and that's what sticks.

Thanks for the catch, Simon.

And sorry for the sloppiness, folks.

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #41 on: September 10, 2006, 02:08:38 PM »
Tsarfan, you’re still missing the point, I think, which is that the Bolshevik government almost from its very inception had to carry out mass terror against virtually the entire population of the Soviet Union in order to stay in power… I can't imagine a government in the early modern age or the medieval period or for that matter even antiquity being able to accomplish such a thing, since even if they might have possessed the will to do so, they didn't have the technology to carry out such a diabolical scheme!

So, big surprise, your comparison of Lenin's Soviet Union with the US in the Civil War period doesn’t exactly convince me... Even if Abraham Lincoln was a pretty unpopular president, his government was supported by at least half of the population of the United States during the war period – more than half of the population, in fact, since as far as I remember the North was more heavily populated than the South and in turn the South was heavily populated by black slaves, many or most of whom were not supporters of the Confederacy but themselves "traitors" to that government in spirit if not in deed.

At any rate Lincoln was not rounding up random members of the bourgeoisie and having them shot "as an example," or for that matter, rounding up and shooting citizens born in the South and now relocated to the North who therefore were "probably" confederate agents, by virtue of their birth and social background… You just don’t see this concentration on possible crimes of intent (based on birth, social background, class) rather than actual commission, as you do see very early on in the Soviet Union. There’s a world of difference between the two, and frankly, I don’t see why you can’t see it!
« Last Edit: September 10, 2006, 02:10:50 PM by Elisabeth »
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Offline Bev

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #42 on: September 10, 2006, 05:15:25 PM »
Griffh, I believe your definition of kulak is similar to Solzhenitsyn's - "In Russian a kulak is a miserly, dishonest rural trader who grows rich not by his own labour but through someone else's, through usury and operating as a middleman...subsequently, after 1917, by a transfer of meaning, the name kulak began to be applied to all those who in any way hired workers..."  Of course the term grew exponentially to encompass anyone perceived as an enemy of the state.  Sergei Maksudov, who undertook a study of Ukhraine and the period, claimed that of the 3.5 million Ukrainians who died during that period 700,000 died of starvation and the rest of related diseases. 

Tsarfan, the correct answer is that the Soviet Union was a criminal enterprise unique in the history of the world and any comparison to any other country is invalid.

Offline Tsarfan

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #43 on: September 10, 2006, 05:52:52 PM »
Tsarfan, the correct answer is that the Soviet Union was a criminal enterprise unique in the history of the world and any comparison to any other country is invalid.

Well, I'm sure that Mao and Pol Pot will be glad to hear they're off the hook.

Offline Bev

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #44 on: September 10, 2006, 06:14:22 PM »
We were discussing a subject similar to this on another forum - everything within living memory is always worse than what preceded it - and everyone's suffering is always more intense than the other person's suffering.  Just human nature, I suppose...