Home > Archives (2006 on) > 2013 > A Rejoinder to Grover Furr: Points Not Met

Mainstream, VOL LI, No 19, April 27, 2013

A Rejoinder to Grover Furr: Points Not Met

Sunday 28 April 2013, by Anil Rajimwale


I went through Grover Furr’s reply (Mainstream, April 6, 2013) to my comments. Unfortunately, he meets none of the points raised by me, and repeats his views mechanically without dialec-tical logic and arguments. Everybody is, of course, entitled to one’s views. But when one is arguing a point or points, one should at least try to meet them. Simple and general statements do not help resolving issues. Besides, most unfortunately, Furr has gone personal and has attacked me as being under the influence of ‘anti-Communist’ imperialist falsehoods and so on. This way of arguing also does in no way help finding answers to problems. I am certainly not going to adopt this method of polemics.

 It is not the question of following ‘‘Trotsky-Khrushchev-Gorbachev-cold war anti-Commu-nist ‘anti-Stalin paradigm’’’ (!) etc. The question is very simple, unnecessarily complicated by bringing in other issues and labelling in an uncalled for manner. The question is: whether it is permissible for revolutionaries to repress, harass, and kill and murder other revolutio-naries. And in that case who is a revolutionary? Why were the atrocities committed at all in the Soviet Union, mainly under Stalin? And do all these square up with ‘socialism’? Were those repressed any less revolutionary? Did they not contribute to furthering and strengthening the Soviet Union?

Furr once again absolves Stalin of any responsibility for the repressions even while giving examples of the serious crimes committed during his rule! This is a very strange and absolutely subjective approach. Furr himself mentions that Nikolai Ezhov “illegally murdered hundreds of thousands of Soviet citizens”! These are his own words. And yet he completely spares Stalin of any responsibility, as if he, Stalin, did not know of it at all in the years Ezhov was there! This is really a strange argument indeed.

It is interesting that Grover Furr provides another information, and one need not go to the imperialists for any. Here is what he says: “Rokossovsky was indeed arrested, imprisoned and beaten by Ezhov’s men.” Again Ezhov, not Stalin, is responsible, according to Furr. Rokosso-vsky, one of the outstanding Marshals of the Red Army and commander of the one of the major western fronts during the second world war, was physically


Can you imagine it? So were innumerable others, not just under Ezhov but under Yagoda, Beria etc. What about Tukhachevsky, Blyukher and many many others? If they had been shot under Ezhov, they would be innocent, but under Stalin they become enemy agents and so on. All these intelligence men worked directly under Stalin, carried out his orders and reported to him. All the excesses were allowed if they did not harm Stalin’s plans. And if they did, they were removed and done away with. That is what happened with Ezhov.

Repressions under Ezhov were only a conti-nuation of what had been going on earlier; and the repressions continued even after Ezhov was arrested and shot. Why and how Stalin removed Ezhov is a story that needs detailed treatment. It seems from Furr’s argumentation that all were guilty except when Ezhov repressed them. Only those suppressed by Ezhov were wrongly treated! This is really a strange line of argu-mentation followed by Furr.

Invoking Trotsky and imperialism does not justify the wrong methods and injustices committed by the revolutionaries including Stalin. And one need not go to imperialists for facts; revolutio-naries themselves have provided enough of them. Imperialism, of course, uses all these facts. Whether or not Trotsky committed mistakes is not the issue, nor is it anybody’s case that other members of the Soviet ruling elite, including Trotsky, were all saints or committed no mistakes. But all these do not justify the repressions at all.

The point about repressions committed by Stalin has been brought to light and emphasised by such honest Communists as RPD or Rajani Palme Dutt, Gromyko and many others all over the world and in the USSR. Anna Louise Strong, a great admirer of Stalin, only confirms the mindless repressions under Stalin. Beatings, tortures and shootings of fellow revolutionaries are no revolutionary acts. There can be no com-promise on this aspect even if the revolutionaries concerned committed mistakes. Stalin himself committed any number of mistakes.

Besides, it is not true that the accused were allowed to defend themselves. There were no defence counsels, no system at all to frankly state points, no atmosphere of just court pro-ceedings. In fact, the accused gave statements under severe threats and fear of dire consequences. They were intimidated and beaten (as during the Ezhov period), forced confessions were extracted, as was the case with Bukharin and many others. The whole legal procedure was faulty and totally one-sided. This was so during the Ezhov period as also before and after him.

Bukharin’s great work, The Philosophical Arabesques, has a revealing introduction, exposing the treatment meted out to him. This great work from by a philosophical giant was written under the most tragic circumstances brought about by the most unfortunate and weird history of the period and did not see the light of the day until it got published only a few years ago. That reflects how the ‘socialist’ centralised bureaucratic state functioned, and its most cruel form was the Stalinist one.

New Delhi Anil Rajimwale

Notice: The print edition of Mainstream Weekly is now discontinued & only an online edition is appearing. No subscriptions are being accepted