I’m afraid, dear reader; you have read the title of this essay correctly. This is a polemic against an article in the “Dictators” section of the infamous internet shock site, Rotten.com. A curious entity existing in the endless depths of the internet for seemingly no other reason than to embody the fetishization of violence under imperialism and give vent to the bottomless alienation and hopelessness that comes naturally under capitalism, Rotten.com is (or was, since the website is several years old) very popular among those youth who seek to desensitize themselves to the underside of the tortoise of life, myself included.
Why, you ask, does such an apparent intellectual blog want to “waste” its time arguing with a website that spends its bandwidth displaying pictures of mutilated bodies and various other fare worthy of a carnival freak show? The answer is simple: because the website reflects, perhaps without realizing itself consciously, what is really on the minds of non-communist working class people when referring to the records of Lenin, Stalin and Mao. It’s written on the level of blunt, easy language, the kind used in normal conversation even among the most blue-blooded ACLU Democrats. Even more than this, it uses many of the clichés Marxist-Leninist activists have grown accustomed to on the street in a remarkably straightforward and honest manner, becoming one of the best available sources free from bourgeois academia in all but ideology.
In short, answering Rotten.com’s accusations against communism will provide a platform with which to give easy answers to the working class’s questions about Leninism and history in general. It is the best grocery list of anti-communist slanders that can be found outside of everyday conversation. This isn’t meant to be an academic research project filled with sources. Instead, I’ll use much the same methods as the website itself and give the revolutionary analysis.
Let’s start with the most obvious first. The list itself is questionable, and is clearly geared towards the liberal capitalist criteria of “dictator,” which is in this case someone who has state power, kills people and is not a liberal capitalist.
Politically, it is not at all obvious except to the person entirely sold to the dominant ideology that people like CIA puppets Mobutu Sese Seko, Pinochet, Franco and Saddam, as well as fascists and militarists like Hirohito and Mussolini belong in the same category as progressive socialists such as Stalin and anti-colonialists such as Qaddafi. Indeed, if death tolls are any criteria for being on this list, surely Lyndon B. Johnson, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan and Andrew Jackson belong on it, since each of them, individually, were responsible for more deaths than any of the above mentioned people.
The Vietnam War, over which Lyndon Johnson presided, killed over 3,500,000 Indochinese people, and not all with the courtesy of a bullet, but rather by being burned with the jellied gasoline we call “napalm.” This figure also does not include the American deaths, nor the Laotian ones, which resulted from the heaviest bombing campaign in history, and the famines that resulted from those bombings, in both countries and Cambodia, nor does it include the countless people since affected in grotesque manners by Agent Orange.
As can be proven by documentation, this single war alone killed far more people than Stalin’s entire 30-year reign, and, I might add, was done for nothing more than US imperialist interests, rather than revolutionary purposes. Keep in mind also, that this list of massacres does not include only enemy soldiers, but also many civilians, as documents on the My Lai and Son My Massacres and the various “brush-clearing policies” can show much better than I can. And finally, please note that this is merely one war in a sea of other imperialist wars such as the ones against the Native Americans in the battles such as the Creek & Seminole Wars, or others such as WWI, which most agree today was a worthless battle fought for kings, or the invasions of Korea, Nicaragua, Spain, Russia, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan…etc.
As a young man, Iosif Vissarionovich Djugashvili joined the Marxists in their bid to seize power and overthrow the Russian Tsar. He was exiled and imprisoned several times for his persistent revolutionary activities. After the police arrested him in 1902 for staging a prison raid, they made these notes in his record:
Height 2 archins, 4 1/2 vershoks. Body medium. Age 23. Special features: Second and third toes of the left foot attached. Appearance: Ordinary. Hair dark brown. Beard and moustaches: Brown. Nose straight and long. Forehead straight but low. Face long, swarthy and pockmarked.
The swarthy, pockmarked perp with the deformed toes would later adopt a series of aliases to avoid future arrests. In 1913, the year after he was appointed to the party’s Central Committee, Djugashvili finally settled on the humble name “Stalin,” which means Man of Steel.
Well, so far, so good. Most of what is said here is objectively true and shows that the author at least did a small amount of research, which is more than I can say for Robert Conquest. Stalin did indeed have pockmarks from contracting smallpox as a kid, though I must say I’ve never heard anything about his toes.
In addition to his official duties, Mr. Steel immediately undertook the task of empire building. He capitalized on the vicious internecine warfare endemic to the Socialist movement, even going so far as to order the assassination of fellow revolutionaries whenever he thought it would help him consolidate power. Which was fairly often.
So much for objective. First off, “empire-building” is quite a stretch for someone who is not yet in power and would not be for a long time. “Empire-building” is a word better fitting to what Czar Nicholas (known to his European buddies as “Bloody Nicholas”) was doing at the time by expanding the Russian Empire, first through invasion, then through millions dead in World War I and also through his massive and genocidal anti-Semitic pogroms. But then, our High School history books don’t mention any of those, now do they? And despite this, he is upheld as Saint by the Russian Orthodox Church. We’ll see more whitewashing of the Czar later, I’m sure, since it has become so fashionable to romanticize feudalism and oppressive slave-owning monarchs (the Dalai Lama) in the bourgeois films churned out of liberal Hollywood.
And as for the charge of killing his political opponents, once again before he even got into power, it would be helpful to have a mention of who exactly the author is talking about—he provides no name or information. As such, I feel no need to respond.
The Bolshevists staged a coup in November 1917, following on the heels of the Russian revolution. Suddenly, Vladimir Lenin was in charge with Stalin as a member of his cabinet. The immediate result was yet another revolution.
This is a rather head-scratching passage. It is true that the anti-Czarist revolution, also called the bourgeois-democratic stage of the revolution, was waged first before the socialist phase. For a while after the Czar was overthrown, power was handed over to a capitalist named Kerensky, whose corruption was so great that it was easy for the Bolsheviks (not “Bolshevists”) under Lenin’s command to overthrow him and establish socialism for the first time in human history. To seize power was the plan all along, at least by Lenin. But the author has it wrong—the Russian Revolution was in two stages, one in March 1917 and one in October 1917. The language here makes it sound like there were three stages, and that the first capitalist phase was called the “Russian Revolution,” when really the whole process was. As a note, the entire credit for the leadership of the working class and peasants to overthrow the Czar is given to the Bolsheviks.
American troops landed on Russian soil in August 1918 to assist the anti-Bolshevik forces. They did not withdraw until 1920. By that time, it was all over; the Communists had won.
Yes, we finally have a mention of the “White Terror,” which again is more than we usually get from an anti-communist author, and not only that, but recognition of the invasion of American forces to assist the reactionary “Whites,” or Czarist, forces in trying to overthrow the Bolshevik government. Still, we don’t get the whole story—it was more than simple American forces, but in fact 16 different armies from 16 different countries that invaded Russia to stop the Bolsheviks and communism from winning, and all of them joined the Whites against the Reds, of course. Due to the language here, it seems the author finds it preferable if the Whites had won.
At the Steelmeister’s direction, the Kremlin launched a repressive campaign against Freemasonry in 1922, ultimately leading to the arrest and torture of avowed Masons. Masonic lodges were forced underground and did not emerge until the 1990s.
Another very odd passage. I must say I’ve never heard of such a thing, so I don’t feel qualified to say anything on the matter, but I wonder what this has to do with the Civil War. No greater detail is given, so this passage seems to serve no purpose other than to reassure is that the dreaded Reds were just as bad as the Whites because…they arrested Masons. At that, it fails. I will say nothing, except I would love to see a source for this.
Although Lenin was nominally in charge, his failing health soon left his ministers to fight over the resulting power vacuum. By 1928, Stalin’s ascendance was complete. He had assumed the reins and most of his enemies were either dead or in exile.
Good. Most of Stalin’s political opponents were Czarist terrorist forces who slaughtered farmers and Jewish civilians and sabotaged machinery and grain, leading to mass starvation. His political enemies inside the Bolsheviks were usually exiled for treason, although several of them betrayed the Bolsheviks before and after the revolution, such as Zinoviev and Kamenev, who snitched to the press and told them about the coming overthrow. Even then, both those men were allowed back into the Party again, though years later they would be exposed again and executed for organizing the assassination of several high-ranking CCCP members.
In 1929, Stalin expelled his chief rival and harshest critic, Leon Trotsky.
Uh no, actually “Stalin” did not. The entire Bolshevik party did by a vote of 737,000 to 4,000, because Trotsky was a bastard and a traitor to socialism who helped out the bourgeoisie a lot. This was the right decision, as even abroad Trotsky did everything he could to destroy the USSR, from claiming that Lenin wanted him to be leader, to calling for an overthrow of Stalin right in the middle of Nazi aggression, to collaborating with the Nazis to overthrow him outright. Try and make a guess who the bourgeoisie’s favorite Bolshevik is, and then try and see how many bookstores stock “The Revolution Betrayed,” as opposed to anything by Lenin or Stalin.
Trotsky fled to Mexico City, where he wrote books and newspaper articles denouncing Stalin and his regime. In rebuttal, Stalin ordered his assassination.
That’s basically true, and what of it? As a note, the man who killed him by hitting him with an ice axe was an employee of Trotsky’s who volunteered for the job. The NKVD then hired him to kill Trotsky, but it’s quite interesting that he was a man so hated that his so-called “assassin” actually wanted to kill him before the Soviets asked him to. In his memoirs, the killer, Ramon Mercader, said the following: “[…] instead of finding myself face to face with a political chief who was directing the struggle for the liberation of the working class, I found myself before a man who desired nothing more than to satisfy his needs and desires of vengeance and of hate and who did not utilize the workers’ struggle for anything more than a means of hiding his own paltriness and despicable calculations.”
Trotsky was finally killed in 1940 after several unsuccessful attempts on his life.
No, actually it was the first attempt that succeeded, at least from Moscow, though I wouldn’t be surprised if other people tried to kill Trotsky. It says something about how “brutal” Stalin was that Trotsky was able to leave Russia in peace after decades of being what Lenin called a “swine,” write books calling for his death, called for his followers to infiltrate other Communist Parties (such as the French one, giving rise to Trotsky’s own term for Party infiltration, “French Turn,”) call for terrorist actions and assassinations to overthrow the Soviets, and other despicable lies and actions on the international scene, and do this for decades after he was exiled. Finally, when Trotsky had a secret meeting with Nazi agents to discuss overthrowing Stalin and dividing up the USSR under Trotsky’s rule, the entire CCCP (not just “Stalin,”) had had enough and used Mercader, who volunteered to kill Trotsky to finish the job once and for all.
Not to mention Trotsky’s written lies have done more damage to socialism than any other in history, passing even Hitler and George Orwell. The idea of a “bureaucracy” as a “new class” comes from Trotsky, as well as other pitiful analysis, such as the idea that Stalin “betrayed” socialism, or that “Stalinism” is an ideology separate from Leninism, or that socialism was never achieved in any country, even the USSR and Albania.
The assassin was the recipient of the Order of Lenin (Orden Lenina) upon his release from a Mexican prison.
Good for him. If Lenin had been alive, he would’ve ordered Trotsky’s assassination decades before Stalin. In his memoirs, when asked which one was the harsher of the two, Molotov (top Soviet official) recalled, “Lenin, certainly. I remember how he scolded Stalin for softness and liberalism…”
Then Stalin deliberately engineered a famine in the Ukraine.
I don’t know what to say except LOL. This is sarcastic and dry as hell, not to mention out of fucking nowhere.
In 1932 he ordered all of the granaries emptied and their contents hauled off for export. In the spring of 1933, seven million people died of starvation in the nation’s breadbasket.
Funny how the figure for the so-called “Ukrainian Holocaust” or “Holomodor” goes up every year. Recently when the President of the Ukraine commemorated the famine, he claimed 10 million. As a note, the population of the Ukraine was only about 30 million at the time. A death toll of this size would have been comparable with the Black Death devastation in Europe. Before someone accuses me of “Holocaust denial,” let me say that there was a famine in the Ukraine, but the true death toll was not 10,000,000. It was in the thousands and not millions, and it certainly was not deliberately engineered.
I have to ask: exactly WHY the hell would Stalin intentionally engineer a famine? Did he just despise Ukrainians that much? What would be the possible political gain of such an action?
Do I even need to say that there is not a shred of evidence to suggest this was an intentional policy of the Soviet Government? Even many violent anti-communist and reactionary writers, such as Robert Conquest and Solzhenitsyn, claim also that it was not a genocide. Many supposed pictures of the famine’s victims were actually pictures of the Volga Famine’s victims. William Randolph Hearst (a Nazi supporter) and Hitler’s agents themselves also were instrumental in helping to fabricate and exaggerate the famine for propaganda purposes. A good book to read on this subject is “Fraud, Famine & Fascism” by Robert Tottle.
It was genocide on an immense scale.
The word “genocide” these days has become a buzzword used by the imperialists for political reasons. Saddam’s gassing of the Kurds was a terrible act, but not“genocide,” since he did not intend to wipe out the Kurds as a race. “Genocide” has been used as an excuse to invade other countries, from Cambodia to Iraq to Sudan, where there were strifes but never “genocide.” This is because after WWII there was an international imperialist treaty drawn up which gave the leading nations (mostly the US) the right to invade sovereign nations unprovoked in the case of a genocide. In reality, there have only been a few actual or attempted genocides this century, such as Rwanda, the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide and the extermination of the Native Americans.
(Of course, this figure was later dwarfed by China’s Great Leap Forward.)
Mhm. More on this later.
Which is right about the time that Stalin kicked the Gulag system into high gear.
Actually, the so-called “gulags” where originally started by Kerensky, not Lenin or Stalin.
It was a constellation of forced labor camps, dispersed across the USSR.
Funny how every prison system in the world is termed “concentration camps,” “death camps” or “forced labor camps” by capitalists, except of course their own prison system. It would be very easy to term state and federal prisons in the US and many other countries as “concentration camps,” particularly given the incredible disproportionate jailing of African-Americans and minorities, about 90% of which are minor drug offenders (the charges of which result from poverty under capitalism) and the widespread use of police brutality, torture and of course, that classic “totalitarian” image, high cement gates guarded by watchtowers and razor wire. Not to mention the facts from the US Census Bureau that report about 1 in 3 of prisoners in the US have been raped or sexually assaulted.
Criminals, dissidents, and anybody who pissed off the wrong person got shipped off to lay railroad tracks, dig canals, build dams, or extract ore from the mines.
Yawn. And who do you think builds your canals and picks the trash up off your highway?
They toiled under inhuman conditions. Something like 50 million people died in the gulags; more than seven million between 1934 and 1938 alone.
Dude….50 million people? Complete fabrication. Fewer than 25 million died from ALL causes from 1935 to 1941. Less than 1/3 of the gulag prisoners were political. The rest were arrested for anti-government actions, murder, robbery, etc. Another thing is that gulags were not death camps. 400,000 people died in the gulags over the entire 30-year period of Stalin’s reign, as opposed to the 7.8 million people the US has imprisoned today. If prisoners do not die from US prisons, it is because they are in prison in an imperialist country that invades other countries and lives off the blood of third world workers in order to remain rich, while Russia was a poor and backward nation with a 90% illiteracy rate. 400,000 people does not equal 20, 30 or even 50 million imprisoned or killed.
Liberals today love to compare the “gulags” with Nazi death camps, which is at best stupid and at worst pro-Nazi. There was no systematic extermination of inmates, no gas chambers or medical experiments, no crematoria to dispose of millions of bodies. The great majority of gulag prisoners survived to return to society, the average sentence being five years, which was often reduced to three. In any given year, 20 to 40 percent of the inmates were released.
In 1993, historians gained access to the records of the gulag. They found the total PEAK population of the ENTIRE gulag as of January 1939, at he height of the so-called “Great Terror,” was 2,022,976. For comparison, in 1995, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the United States had over 5 million people in prison, which today has grown to almost 8 million.
50 million would be literally impossible: the entire Soviet population was only 150 million. Who would be left to guard the prisons? The other 80 million, I suppose? The entirety of World War II killed 56 million people—you’re telling me this one individual’s reign killed almost as many people as the largest international conflict in all of human history? That would literally be 1 out of every 3 people. Yes, you heard right folks: Stalin = the Black Death yet again. Please. It’s worth noting that those who say 30-50 million died in the USSR under Stalin seem to completely ignore the fact that no less than 22 million deaths are the result of Hitler’s invasion, and as I said, the famine was the result of the war the counterrevolutionaries unleashed against the Bolsheviks. Conveniently, the so-called “objective” bourgeois scholars place Hitler’s death tolls in Stalin’s camp, and subtract it from Hitler’s. No, the liberals aren’t pro-fascist at all!
When Stalin wasn’t busy killing off large segments of his own population, he was dabbling in statecraft. In August 1939, he and Hitler inked a nonaggression pact. In retrospect, it seems that Hitler may not have been clear on the terms of their agreement. Buried way down in the fine print of Article I was some legal mumbo jumbo about the two countries not waging war on each other.
Why do capitalists hate the Non-Aggression pact so much? Is it because it is highly convenient for them to imagine Communism and Nazism as “twin totalitarian titans” and dismiss them both as equally bad? It gave the USSR time to build up. As the dear reader can see from material evidence, Stalin ALWAYS had killing Hitler in mind, and right from the start the non-aggression pact was meant to be a temporary reprieve until the inevitable confrontation with fascism. He gave several speeches to this effect. If you want to know who was really in league with fascism, why don’t you take a look at American bourgeoisie like Hearst and Ford? Or perhaps Truman, who gave a speech in congress saying the US should support whichever side was losing?
In June 1941, Hitler launched a sneak attack on Russia. Three million German troops crossed the border at 3:15am. The incursion paralyzed Stalin. Subordinates handled the Nazi onslaught while he sat on his thumb, stupefied.
Hilarious. If I’m not mistaken, they won that war, thanks to Mr. Stalin and the 22 million Soviet civilians that died fighting the Nazis. If it weren’t for them you’d be speaking German right now, or if you’re Jewish, you would be dead. You’re welcome.
There had been warnings. An agent in Tokyo reported in May that Hitler was preparing an imminent invasion of Russia. The information had been presented to Stalin, who chose to ignore it. For whatever reason, the man who had personally backstabbed countless friends and cohorts in his rise to power somehow believed that Hitler would never break their treaty. Go figure.
One of Stalin’s spymasters put it this way:
The generalissimo preferred to trust his political instinct rather than the secret reports piled up on his desk. Convinced that he had signed an eternal pact of friendship with Germany, he sucked on the pipe of peace.
Holy shit, our author is actually capable of giving sources…oh wait, the quote is unsourced. Not that it matters much. I’m sure if this so-called “spymaster” had anything good to say about Stalin’s military strategy, he would be dismissed as a “flunky” or a “useful idiot,” but if he criticizes him he would get a New York Times bestseller. Entirely predictable.
And he would have been sucking on more than just that pipe if only the Nazis had packed some cold-weather gear.
I thank you for that mental image and of course, your crude anti-communist propaganda.
As it happened, the Germans were counting on their blitzkreig strategy to effect sudden and decisive victory, leaving the Soviets no option but surrender. Consequently, they didn’t bring their long underwear. Soon the Wehrmacht found themselves stuck in the Russian snow — just as Napoleon had, more than a century earlier.
Yeah sure, it was the cold that beat them, not the Red Army.
After Hitler’s betrayal, Stalin was eager to join the capitalist nations fighting against Germany.
A clever way of spinning it. The USSR actually won WWII largely without the help of your precious United States, who didn’t get involved until 1941. Not to mention it was the Red Army bombarding Berlin and Soviet soldiers a few meters from Hitler’s bunker that made him commit suicide.
For the remainder of the war, the USSR suspended their extreme loathing for the West and maintained an uneasy detente with the other Allies. This evaporated immediately after the Japanese surrender.
So what? Stalin wasn’t Khrushchev. He didn’t want “peaceful coexistence” between a state run by exploiters and a state run by the exploited.
The Russians were driven to develop an atomic bomb of their own. President Truman had made an offhard reference to the weapon during the Potsdam Conference in July 1945. During which time, Stalin feigned ignorance. As Truman recalled in his memoirs:
On July 24 I casually mentioned to Stalin that we had a new weapon of unusual destructive force. The Russian Premier showed no special interest. All he said was he was glad to hear it and hoped we would make “good use of it against the Japanese.”
Years later it was revealed that the Communists had actually been receiving periodic intelligence updates from Klaus Fuchs, a physicist working on the Manhattan Project. Stalin sent a telegram to Kurchatov after Potsdam, ordering him to rush their own atomic bomb program, which had been underway for years. The first Russian A-bomb was finally detonated in 1948.
Fine with me.
When the tyrant finally croaked from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1953 — some have theorized that it may not have been from entirely natural causes — the country breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Actually, Stalin’s funeral had a large attendance because he was so loved. Modern polls show him to be the most popular Russian leader ever. The only people who “breathed a sigh of relief” were the capitalists and reactionaries who had had their power stripped by the revolution, the surviving feudal landlords who looked forward to becoming new Russian Mafia bosses and the smallest remainders of the petty-bourgeoisie, who soon converted to running drug rackets and prostitution rings in the wake of the poverty caused by massive privatization. This is not to mention the reformists and revisionists such as Khrushchev, who took the opportunity to seize power. I swear, I will never understand why capitalists love Khrushchev and Trotsky so much—both of them had such terrible qualities they can be liked only on the basis of anti-communism.
A large number of gulag prisoners were granted amnesty and allowed to return home.
Releasing prisoners is not always a good thing. Should Czarists, fascists, rapists and racists on the level of Klan members be let out of prison? As I previously established, only a very small amount of gulag prisoners were political ones, and those that were, were folks such as this.
Of the many thousands of citizens who waited hours in the snow to file past his body, it seems likely that nearly all of them just wanted to make certain he was truly dead.
This post is already too long. I’ll post more later.