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Mainstream, VOL L No 47, November 10, 2012

Reply to Grover Furr: Senseless Defence of Stalinist Repressions

Wednesday 21 November 2012, by Anil Rajimwale

COMMUNICATION

I must first thank Mainstream for starting some kind of debate on the Stalin question.

I read through Grover Furr’s reply (Mainstream, October 27, 2012) to my review of his book (that appeared in this journal’s August 4, 2012 issue). I must thank him too for responding. But he has not met any of the points raised in the review. The ‘documents’ that he refers to in his book and mentions in his reply just show nothing: they do not provide any grounds to justify the measures taken against those repressed by Stalin. The ‘documents’, if the word can be used here at all, are simply statements of unsubstantiated accusations by the official side, nothing more. The accused were given no chance to defend themselves and a vicious campaign was run to defame them even before the ‘trials’. In other words, the charges themselves were fabricated.

Besides, have any documents been made public that defend the point of view of the accused? None at all! The Soviet (now Russian) archives are all full of official materials. Not all documents have been opened or made public. How can you judge those accused on the basis of such materials? This is blatantly unjustified and illegal, and clearly points to the misuse of the huge state machinery against the individuals. Any powerful state can use all its powers to justify itself and to defame, demean and wrongly ‘judge’ (accuse) those whom it wants to repress and suppress. It happens in the bourgeois and advanced capitalist states quite commonly, and it also happened in the Soviet state. The Soviet Union did not set any better example in this regard; by no means. It tried to suppress any difference and dissent. It suppressed simple expression of views, not only the activities. This was the most unfortunate and indefensible aspect of the Soviet state, and Stalin’s regime was the most blatant example of it. This happened much before he led the USSR to victory over fascism, and continued well after the War was over.

The author has not been able to counter any of the arguments/points raised in the review. Khrushchev himself might have been a useless fellow as the author asserts. But many of the questions raised in his report had been referred to/raised even earlier and certainly after it in great details by several authors including prominent figures of the communist movement: RPD, Gromyko and a host of others, even Marshal Zhukov have critically referred to Stalin’s highly questionable methods. So much has been written by prominent persons of the communist movement, and their credentials cannot be doubted. They have even seen with their own eyes things like disap-pearances of people. Even if we take it that cer-tain details in the Khrushchev report are wrong, this does not refute the fact that inhuman and severe repressions took place widely under the guidance of Stalin. And Lenin no doubt had foreseen some such trend in Stalin.

The author of the book himself admits that millions of people and prominent leaders were repressed, harassed, tortured and killed. I have referred to the page numbers in his book to this effect. Why and on what grounds were they repressed? Furr simply keeps quiet. Having admitted the repressions, the author shifts the blame on Stalin’s henchmen, and spares Stalin of any responsibility. And then Grover Furr claims: “I do not ‘defend’ the Moscow trials, executions, ‘atrocities, repressions, tortures’” etc! A wonderful claim indeed! This is really a very strange attitude.

He refers to the achievements under the Stalin regime. How do these justify the killings? Were these achievements certificates to kill and repress as and when the ‘great leader’ wished? This question has not been answered and it is this which is very disturbing. Vast number of com-mon people as well as communist activists and members contributed to the Soviet advance and to the positive aspects of Soviet rule. And pre-cisely a large number of them were killed! Was that not shocking? Should one keep a ‘cool’ stance in the face of these horrendous crimes?
The author of the book says: “These magni-ficent achievements took place during Stalin’s regime.” So?! Should we then give a clean chit to Stalin as regards the atrocities committed under his regime and through his express approval and knowledge? An assessment of achievements, failures and problems of the Soviet regime is quite another matter and a welcome one. But here we are discussing the specific issue of repressions and killings under his regime and that too of the revolutionaries themselves.

I am really surprised at the attitude of people like the author of the book, who try to cover up the crimes committed by referring to the victory in the War and other achievements. Those repressed, arrested and killed also contributed greatly, and they were therefore far greater than Stalin himself: despite severe repressions they did not lose faith in the Soviet system. There were any number of people, Army officers etc. being released for Army duty, who fought bravely during the War, earned victories against fascism, and then they were simply arrested by the Stalinist authorities and sent to long impri-sonments and/or shot! Many of them returned from the fascist jails and camps only to land in Stalinist camps and even got ‘eliminated’. Those who survived, wondered and sought to fit in or justify on the basis of some ‘mistake’ by ‘somebody who misled’ Stalin. Were they not far greater and braver than Stalin himself? And what does it all amount to as far as the regme and the system were concerned?

The author himself confirms in the book that ‘millions were repressed’ etc. But puts the blame, not on Stalin but on people like his henchmen like Yezhov and others! So, it is Stalin bothways!

Details of unjust repression, arrest and shooting of Bukharin, the giant of a Soviet theoretician and leader, have recently come out along with his extraordinary book, The Philosophical Arabesques. The Stalinist regime tortures and kills the writer of this great work on Marxist philosophy and Hegelian dialectics, suppresses his work, the subsequent Soviet regimes knowingly or unknowingly ‘lose’ the manuscripts, and they are published after ages, after the Soviet regime has collapsed! A stinging commentary on the Stalinist and Soviet regimes! One wished this task was rather performed by some reactionary capitalist dictatorial regime.

No amount of repressive acts and killings can ever be justified, more so when committed by revolutionaries themselves. Bukharin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Trotsky, Blyukher, Rokossovsky, Ordjonikidze, Tomsky, Rykov, Krzhizhanovsky, and so on were giants of revolutionaries, each contributing to the cause of the people and the revolution. They had their failings; so too had Stalin and others. Those do in no way justify their killings, tortures or repressions. Even Marshal Zhukov himself was sought to be demoted and isolated. A falsification and hate campaign was carried out against them by the Stalinist regime, and Stalin never came to their rescue or defence. It is interesting that Stalin has hardly a word of praise to say about his colleagues, or none at all. What kind of revolutionary ‘leader’ was he?! Contrast this with the great Lenin, and one is at once struck by the difference.

Revolutiona-ries paid with their lives for suggesting improve-ments in socialism or expressing different views, and Stalin was squarely responsible for their persecution and elimination. Millions of common masses deported to the labour camps will always remain a blot on the Stalinist regime. No amount of cover-up can hide these facts, Khrushchev or no Khrushchev.

Today, those who seek to justify Stalin’s crimes try to refer to some ‘documents’ fruitlessly. But they do not seek any documents when it comes to the victims. What kind of revolution is it where the topmost ‘leader’ sets in motion a whole machine of repressions against his own comrades and people actively working and devoting their lives for freedom, socialism and the Party?

It is time that one stops justifying the crimes against revolutionaries and their killings. We do not live in a medieval world. It is really sickening when one learns of the repressions, the frame-ups and killings in the Soviet Union under Stalin. One can understand such things happening in capitalist or imperialist countries. But one can never forgive and forget such injustices under a regime claiming to be revolutionary and socialist.

This is the least we can do for the millions of great builders of socialism who gave their lives in the most tragic circumstances, not to any imperialist machine but to the repressive state machinery headed by just one person in the name of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union. It was a typical Stalinist dictatorship. It is to the credit of those millions and those great names, who remained loyal to the cause of socialism despite the severe repressions, which were enough to break anybody.

It is to these real heroes and heroines that socialism owes its successes.

Anil Rajimwale

New Delhi

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