A new travel story story – of sorts – over at Voyages on the Left. This one follows Joseph Stalin, or Osip as the locals called him, to the Arctic Circle in Siberia: ‘A Sign of Intelligence.’
29 July, 2014
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26 July, 2014
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Let me begin with Joseph Goebbels:
While National Socialism brought about a new version and formulation of European culture, Bolshevism is the declaration of war by Jewish-led international subhumans against culture itself. It is not only anti-bourgeois, it is anti-cultural. It means, in the final consequence, the absolute destruction of all economic, social, state, cultural, and civilizing advances made by western civilization for the benefit of a rootless and nomadic international clique of conspirators, who have found their representation in Jewry.
Behind the advancing Soviet divisions we see the Jewish death squads [Liquidations-kommandos], behind these rise the Terror, the ghost of the starvation of millions, and complete European anarchy.
To be expected, of course. ‘Judaeo-Bolshevism’ it was called in Germany, and it was one of the most effective propaganda efforts to bolster support for the invasion of the USSR, and indeed defend against the Red Army as they destroyed the Wehrmacht.
But now we have General George Patton, commander of the US Third Army in Europe and regarded as the most able of Allied leaders. Apart from opposing the denazification of Germany, he described both Jews and communists as ‘lower than animals’. Jews were ‘greatest stinking bunch of humanity I have ever seen’. As for the Red Army:
I understand the situation. Their (the Soviet) supply system is inadequate to maintain them in a serious action such as I could put to them. They have chickens in the coop and cattle on the hoof – that’s their supply system. They could probably maintain themselves in the type of fighting I could give them for five days. After that it would make no difference how many million men they have, and if you wanted Moscow I could give it to you. They lived on the land coming down. There is insufficient left for them to maintain themselves going back. Let’s not give them time to build up their supplies. If we do, then . . . we have had a victory over the Germans and disarmed them, but we have failed in the liberation of Europe; we have lost the war!
We would easily be able to arm the German troops that we have at our disposition and drive the Russians back. They hate those bastards.
We have destroyed what could have been a good race, and we are about to replace them with Mongolian savages. And all Europe will be communist.
Patton felt that the USA had fought the wrong enemy. Instead, he would have preferred an alliance with Hitler against Stalin’s Soviet Union. No wonder the Germans preferred to surrender to troops from the USA and UK.
22 July, 2014
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In his collection of articles on anarchism from 1906-7, in response to intense anarchist activity in Georgia, Stalin offers his fullest exposition of dialectics (at this point). He closes with this telling rebuttal:
Lastly, the Anarchists tell us reproachfully that “dialectics . . . provides no possibility of getting, or jumping, out of oneself, or of jumping over oneself” (see Nobati, No. 8. Sh. G.).
Now that is the downright truth, Messieurs Anarchists! Here you are absolutely right, my dear sirs: the dialectical method does not, indeed, provide such a possibility. But why not? Because “jumping out of oneself, or jumping over oneself” is an exercise for wild goats, while the dialectical method was created for human beings.
That is the secret! . . . (Works, volume 1, p. 312)
20 July, 2014
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I have just received yet another collection of Stalin’s writings, this one called Stalin on China. But what drew my eye on opening it is the preface by Chen Pota, from 1949:
On the basis of concrete analysis of the concrete conditions in China, Stalin, this great scientist of dialectical materialism, the teacher of world revolution, formulates at the time of the first Great Revolution of China, a series of questions concerning the Chinese revolution, to which he offers extremely brilliant solutions. By this means he demolished the nonsense on the question of China advanced by the counter-revolutionary Trotskyites and assisted the Communist Party of China to embark on the path of Bolshevism.
Great scientist of dialectical material, teacher of world revolution, brilliant solutions … and above all, concrete. You don’t find reviews like that any more – except perhaps self-written pieces on academic profile pages.
19 July, 2014
Stalin was rather fond of the Bible in his library, reading it often and memorising quotations. So it should be no surprise that occasional echoes should appear in his writings. This one appears in his speech after the October Revolution, given to Finnish workers in November 1917:
I should like first of all to bring you the joyful news of the victories of the Russian revolution, of the disorganization of its enemies, and to tell you that in the atmosphere of the expiring imperialist war the chances of the revolution are improving day by day.
The bondage of landlordism has been broken, for power in the countryside has passed into the hands of the peasants. The power of the generals has been broken, for power in the army is now concentrated in the hands of the soldiers. A curb has been put on the capitalists, for workers’ control is rapidly being established over the factories, mills and banks. The whole country, town and countryside, rear and front, is studded with revolutionary committees of workers, soldiers and peasants, which are taking the reins of government into their own hands.
Compare the ‘Magnificat’, spoken by Mary in Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus:
My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour …
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name…
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
18 July, 2014
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I am thoroughly enjoying Domenico Losurdo’s book on Stalin, not least because I am thrilled at being able to read the French text with relative ease. Plenty of food for thought, but three items struck me recently.
First, one of the great achievements of the Bolsheviks was to restore the Russian state, albeit in an entirely new way. For more than forty years, from the late nineteenth century, it had been unravelling. By the time of the Russian Revolution, it was well on the way to becoming a failed state. After the revolution, the ‘civil’ war was the time of the greatest danger, but with the victory of the Red Army against an array of international forces and the White Armies, the state began to be recreated. Losurdo points out that the brilliance and energy – and ‘foi furieuse’ – of the Bolsheviks played a huge role. By the 1930s and under Stalin’s leadership, that task had largely been achieved.
Second, Losurdo shoots down the common comparison between the Gulags, or re-education camps in the USSR, and the Nazi ‘concentration camps’. For the former, the purpose was to create potential ‘citizens’ and comrades’ and everything was geared in that direction. By contrast, the fascist concentration camps were fundamentally racist, setting out to destroy the Untermenschen. In that respect, the Nazi camps are of one with the treatment of African slaves in the USA, of indigenous peoples in Canada, and so on.
Third, Losurdo refers to Terry Martin’s Affirmative Action Empire (2001). Martin argues that the Soviet state was the world’s first state based on affirmative action. It fostered national consciousness among its many ethnic minorities, established institutions, encouraged locals to become involved in education, government and industry, and mandated that local languages would be official. In some cases, the Soviet government had to create written languages where none existed. Immense resources were invested in the publication of books, journals and magazines in local languages, in film, theatre, art, and music. For Martin, ‘nothing comparable had been seen before’. It became standard socialist policy afterwards.
7 July, 2014
Is this an allusion to Paul? Stalin writes in an early study of the party:
Just as every complex organism is made up of an incalculable number of extremely simple organisms, so our Party, being a complex and general organisation, is made up of numerous district and local bodies called Party organisations, provided they have been endorsed by the Party congress or the Central Committee.As you see, not only committees are called Party organisations.To direct the activities of these organisations according to a single plan there is a Central Committee, through which these local Party organisations constitute one large centralised organisation. (The Proletarian Class and the Proletarian Party, Collected Works, vol. 1, p. 67n)
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and we were all made to drink of one Spirit … Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12)