“In the struggle which was necessary, many guilty persons fell without the forms of trial, and with them some innocent. These I deplore as much as any body, and shall deplore some of them to the day of my death. But I deplore them as I should have done had they fallen in battle. It was necessary to use the arm of the people, a machine not quite so blind as balls and bombs, but blind to a certain degree. A few of their cordial friends met at their hands, the fate of enemies. But time and truth will rescue and embalm their memories, while their posterity will be enjoying that very liberty for which they would never have hesitated to offer up their lives. The liberty of the whole earth was depending on the issue of the contest, and was ever such a prize won with so little innocent blood? My own affections have been deeply wounded by some of the martyrs to this cause, but rather than it should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated. Were there but an Adam and an Eve left in every country, and left free, it would be better than as it now is. I have expressed to you my sentiments, because they are really those of 99 in an hundred of our citizens. The universal feasts, and rejoicings which have lately been had on account of the successes of the French shewed the genuine effusions of their hearts.”
– Thomas Jefferson, “Letter to William Short” (3 January 1793), Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress, Series 1, Reel 17.
Dimitrov to Stalin, 28 November 1937, with enclosed draft resolution of the ECCI. Original in Russian. Typewritten with handwritten comments by Stalin.
Top secret, 
Dear Comrade Stalin!
We are thinking of passing the attached resolution on the dissolution of the Polish Communist Party in the ECCI Presidium, and then publishing it.
After publishing this resolution, we would send an open letter to the Polish Communists that would reveal in greater detail the enemy’s decomposing activities within the ranks of the Communist Party and the Polish workers’ movement.
In reestablishing the CP of Poland, it has been suggested that a special organizational commission be formed. We plan to select some of the members of this commission for the most distinguished and tested fighters from the International Brigades in Spain.
We beg you, Comrade Stalin, to give your advice and directives:
- Regarding this issue, whether this announcement will be expedient before the investigation of the former Polish party leaders under arrest is completed, or should we wait longer?
- Regarding the contents and the character of the resolution on the dissolution of the CP of Poland itself.
With fraternal greetings.
28 November 1937
RESOLUTION OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL
Polish fascism, unable to cope with the growing mass revolutionary movement by means of overt terror alone, has made espionage, sabotage, and provocation the major tool of its struggle against the workers’ movement, against all anti-fascist, democratic forces, [having] poisoned the entire political and social life in Poland with this foul system. For many years, it has been planting its spies and agents among all the workers’ and peasants’ democratic organizations. However, the Pilsudchiks  made a special effort to infiltrate the Communist movement, which represents the greatest threat for Polish fascism.
The Executive Committee of the Communist International has established, on the basis of irrefutable documentary evidence, That for a number of years enemies, agents of Polish fascism, have been operating within the leadership structures of the Polish Communist Party. By organizing splits, often fictitious, within the workers’, national-democratic, and petty-bourgeois organizations, the Pilsudchiks poured their spies and provocateurs into the Communist Party, disguised as oppositional elements coming over to the ranks of the Communist movement (the PPS group headed by Sochacki-Bratowski, the Poalei-Zion group headed by Henrykowski and Lampe, the Ukrainian s[ocial] d[emocratic] group, the UVO group of Wasylkiw-Turianski, Korczyk’s group of Belorussian SRs, the “Wyzwolenie” group of Wojewodzki).  By arranging the arrests so as to remove the most loyal elements from the Communist ranks. the Polish defenziwa [counterintelligence] gradually advanced its agents into leading positions in the Communist Party. At the same time, in order to give its agents provocateurs and spies authority among the workers [and] members of the Communist Party after staging mock trials, the fascists would often subject their own agents to imprisonment so that later they could be liberated, at the earliest convenience, by organizing “escapes” or by “exchanges” for spies and saboteurs caught red-handed in the USSR. With the help of their agents in the leading organs of the party, the Pilsudchiks promoted their people [for example Zarski, Sochacki, Dombal] to the Communist faction of the Sejm [parliament] during the elections to the Sejm, instructed them to deliver provocative speeches, which the fascists used to attack the Soviet Union and for the bloody repression of the workers’ and peasants’ movement.
The gang of spies and provocateurs entrenched in the leadership of the Polish Communist Party, having planted, in turn, agents in the periphery of the party organization, systematically betrayed the best sons of the working class to the class enemy. By organizing failures, [they were] destroying, year after year, party organizations in the Polish heartland, as well as in Western Belorussia and Western Ukraine. [This gang] systematically perverted the party’s political line so as to weaken the influence of communism among the masses, to make the party increasingly alien and hostile to the Communist International. For its work of disintegration, Polish fascism widely used a Trotskyist-Bukharinist reprobates, [who] either were already, or were willingly becoming, agents of Polish defenwiza, by virtue of having a common outlook with fascism. The Polish defenwiza kindled the factional struggle in the party, through its agents both in the Kostrzewa-Warski group and in the Lenski-Henrykowski group, and used both factions to disorganize the party and its work among the masses, and to separate the workers from the Communist Party.
However, the most ignoble role that this espionage agency played was following the directives of the fascist intelligence in relation to the USSR. Playing on the nationalist prejudices of the most backward masses among the Polish people, it sought to create obstacles to the rapprochement of the peoples of Poland and the peoples of the USSR, and in the interests of the fascist warmongers, to wreck the cause of peace that is selflessly defended by the great country of the Soviets. At the same time, this network of class enemies, disguised as political emigres, was transferred by Polish fascism to the USSR so as to conduct espionage, sabotage, and wrecking activities.
All attempts to purge the agents of Polish fascism from the ranks of the Communist movement, while retaining the current organization of the Polish Communist Party, prove futile, since the central party organs were in the hands of spies and provocateurs who used the difficult situation of the underground party to remain in its leadership.
Based on all this and in order to give honest Polish Communists a chance to rebuild a party, once it is purged of all agents of Polish fascism, the Executive Committee of the Communist International, in accordance with the statutes and the decisions of the Congresses of the Communist International, resolves:
1. To dissolve the Polish Communist Party because of its saturation with spies and provocateurs.
2. To recommend that all honest Communists, until the re-creation of the Polish Communist Party, shift the emphasis of their work to those mass organizations where there are workers and toilers, while fighting to establish the unity of the workers’ movement and to create in Poland a popular antifascist front.
At the same time, the ECCI warns the Communists and the Polish workers against any attempt by Polish fascism and its Trotskyist-Bukharinist espionage network to create a new organization of espionage and provocation, under the guise of a pseudo-Communist Party of Poland, to corrupt the Communist movement.
The Communist International knows that thousands of Polish workers sacrifice themselves and their lives to serving and protecting the vital interests of the toiling masses; it knows that the heroic Polish proletariat had, in its glorious revolutionary past, many remarkable moments of struggle against the tsarist and Austro-Hungarian monarchies, against Polish fascism. It knows about the heroic deeds of the Dombrowski battalions sent by the Polish proletariat to defend the Spanish people. It is convinced that the Polish proletariat will have [again] a Communist party, purged of the foul agents of the class enemy, which will indeed lead the struggle of the Polish toiling masses for their liberation.
 Handwritten in the margin: “N1433/2 XII 37.” Across the letter, Stalin wrote: “The dissolution is about two years two late. It is necessary to dissolve [the party], but in my opinion, [this] should not be published in the press.” This resolution was first published in Voprosy istorii KPSS, 1988, no. 12, p. 52,
 Pilsudchiks: a derisive name used to describe the Polish government under Marshal Pilsudski, and a generic term for his followers. Jozef Pilsudski was a leader of the right-wing of the Polish Socialist Party. In 1918 he was war minister, and between 1918 and 1922 head of state. After May 1926 he was again war minister, then prime minister, and later inspector general of Poland’s armed forces – Trans.
 Various Polish, Jewish, Ukrainian, and Belorussian groups.
From “Dimitrov and Stalin, 1934-1943: Letters from the Soviet Archives” by Alexander Dallin and F.I. Firsov, pp. 28-31.
“My spirits brightened, however, when former Congressman Stephen Solarz, long interested in Korean affairs, found a ‘brilliant and breathtaking’ study by a CIA analyst and concluded it was for North Korea ‘what the Rosetta Stone was to ancient Egypt’. So rare and privileged was the author’s knowledge that it took him a decade to get the CIA to declassify the book. Helen-Louise Hunter was for two decades a ‘Far East Specialist’ in the CIA, which is where her first book appeared (if that is the right word) as a long internal memorandum. Here was the solution to another problem we hear a lot about from the Beltway pundits: ‘a country about which we knew virtually nothing’ (in Solarz’s words). That is, we have trouble penetrating and surveilling them: how scary!
Hunter’s work has some excellent information on arcane and difficult to research subjects like North Korean wage and price structures, the self-sufficient and decentralized neighborhood living practices that mostly eliminated the long lines for goods that characterized Soviet-style communism, and the decade of one’s young life that almost every North Korean male is required to devote to military service in this garrison state. She points out the many achievements of the North Korean system, in ways that would get anyone outside the CIA labeled a sympathizer – compassionate care for war orphans in particular and children in general, ‘radical change’ in the position of women (‘there are now more college-educated women than college-educated men’), genuinely free housing, preventive medicine on a national scale accomplished to a comparatively high standard, infant mortality and life expectancy rates comparable to the most advanced countries until the recent famine, ‘no organized prostitution,’ and ‘the police are difficult, if not impossible, to bribe’. The author frequently acknowledges that the vast majority of Koreans do in fact revere Kim Il-Sung, even the defectors from the system whose information forms the core evidence for her book. According to Prince Sihanouk, a close friend of Kim’s who frequently stayed for months at a time in the North, ‘Kim ha[d] a relationship with his people that every other leader in the world would envy”; he described it as ‘much closer’ than his own with the Cambodian people (where he is both venerated and highly popular).
American cheerleaders for the South never tire of saying that its GNP is ten times larger than North Korea’s; certainly it is much larger, but if, say, the World Bank were to value goods and services in the North in terms of what the equivalents would cost in the United States, as it did for China after it opened up, the North’s GNP would mushroom overnight. In Hunter’s account of the DPRK when its economy was still reasonably good, about twenty years ago, she found that daily necessities were very low priced, luxuries vastly overpriced. Rents were so nominal that most housing was effectively free, as was health care, and ‘the government subsidizes the low prices of rice, sugar, and other food necessities, as well as student uniforms and work clothes.’ All homes in the country had electricity by 1968, far ahead of where the South was at the time. To take a measure close to home, she estimates that a husband and wife who were both university professors would be able to save about 50 percent of their monthly salaries. Rice and corn, the major staples, were rationed by the state, as were cooking oils, meat, soy sauce, bean curd, and kimch’i. Other things – fruits, vegetables, nuts, noodles, beer – could be purchased at low prices, with meats and luxury food overvalued. The general egalitarianism of the society was remarkable, in her view, even if the elite lived much better than the mass.”
– Bruce Cumings, “North Korea: Another Country,” The New Press, New York, 2003, pp. 194-196.
“In 1933 Adolf Hitler, with the full support and assistance of powerful monopoly capitalists, seized power in Germany. On April 24, Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda and Popular Enlightenment, issued a May Day Manifesto which was carried on the front page of every newspaper in Germany. Addressed ‘to the whole German people,’ it announced that May 1st had been made ‘the festival day of national labor’ and called for a celebration in which ‘Germans of all classes’ would ‘clasp hands’ and ‘in solid formation march into the new future.’ Class was a thing of the past, ‘since Marxism is smashed.’…
The London Times praised Hitler and the Nazis for having ended ‘the glorification of class-warfare and made May Day an occasion for the abolition of class differences and for the unification of workers and employers in the Fascist model.’ What it did not tell its readers was that despite the Nazi terror, the illegal Communist Party of Germany (KPD) held demonstrations on May 1, 1933, at which the red flag was displayed in Berlin, Chemnitz, Dresden, Halle, Hamburg, Leipzig, Sachsen, Thüringen, and Wittenberg. In Berlin workers raised the cry ‘Freedom for Thaelmann’ (the Communist leader who was facing death in a Nazi concentration camp), ‘The KPD lives,’ . . .
On the very next day after May Day, Hitler signed legislation outlawing the free trade unions in Germany with their membership of 4,000,000, and seized their assets of over 180,000,000 marks. All union leaders who could be seized were taken into custody. Dr. Herbert Ley, president of the Prussian State Council, gave the following reason for the action against the free trade unions: ‘Marxism today is playing dead, but is not yet altogether abolished. It is therefore necessary to deprive it of its last strength.’ The New York Times noted that the action came one day after ‘the May Day wooing of German labor.’”
– Philip S. Foner, “May Day: A Short History of the International Workers’ Holiday”
“Present-day thinking on Marx and Engels’s strategy is often muddled by a curious misunderstanding. We tend to visualise a contrast between ‘developed’ countries like Germany, France and England on the one hand and ‘backward’ ones like Russia on the other. But how ‘developed’ were countries like Germany, France and England in 1848 or 1871? Only in England did the working class, if defined in an extremely loose sense, form a majority of the population. In France, and even more so in Germany, it formed a small minority. As soon as one realises that in Marx’s lifetime France and Germany were overwhelmingly peasant countries, his comments on revolutionary strategy in such states acquire a different significance from the one usually attributed to them.
In the Manifesto, the German communists were advised to join with the bourgeoisie against the absolute monarchy and its feudal hangers-on. But after the democratic revolution the workers should *immediately* begin the struggle against the bourgeoisie. The overthrow of the monarchy was the ‘immediate prologue of a proletarian revolution.’ Two years later, Marx and Engels expected a revolution of the petit bourgeois democrats. Subsequently, the proletarians should again *immediately* form ‘revolutionary workers’ governments’ in order to ‘make the revolution permanent, until all more or less propertied classes are removed from power, [and] state power has been conquered by the proletariat.’ Although the completion of this process would take a ‘rather long’ period, there was no hint of waiting with the second, proletarian, revolution until the workers formed a majority of the population. A few months later, Marx ridiculed those communists who aimed for an immediate proletarian revolution in Germany. He warned the workers that they might perhaps be fit to rule only after fifty years of civil war. But in 1856 he regained his optimism. The victory of the ‘proletarian revolution’ in Germany depended on the possibility of backing it up by a ‘second edition of the Peasant War.’ Under such conditions, its chances of success looked excellent.
As we saw in the previous chapter, Marx called for a ‘dictatorship of the working class’ in the predominantly peasant France of 1850. He expected the peasants to accept the urban proletariat as their natural leader, because only an ‘anti-capitalist, proletarian government’ could stop their social degradation. And once the French peasants understood where their true interests lay, then, Marx said, ‘*the proletarian revolution will obtain that chorus without which its solo song becomes a swan song in all peasant countries*.’ And Marx and Engels did not hesitate to call the Commune a workers’ government. Had Paris been triumphant, the peasant majority would have recognised the ‘spiritual leadership’ of the cities, and the workers as their ‘leaders and educators’, their ‘natural representatives.’ Hunt quotes a particularly interesting comment by Marx in his 1874-75 notebooks on Bakunin, which summarises Marx’s view on the matter very well:
A radical social revolution depends on particular historical conditions of economic development; they are its prerequisites. Thus a revolution is possible only where, together with capitalist production, the industrial proletariat occupies at least an important place within the population. And to have any chance of success it must mutatis mutandis be able immediately to do at least as much for the peasants as the French bourgeoisie during its revolution did for the French peasants of the time.
‘An important place within the population’–no more. In summary, in the predominantly peasant countries of the continental Western Europe of his day, Marx hoped for the establishment of democratic republics under proletarian minority governments supported by the peasantry.”
– Erik van Ree, “The Political Thought of Joseph Stalin”
“Since 1845 Marx and I have held the view that one of the ultimate results of the future proletarian revolution will be the gradual dissolution of the political organisation known by the name of state. The main object of this organisation has always been to secure, by armed force, the economic oppression of the labouring majority by the minority which alone possesses wealth. With the disappearance of an exclusively wealth-possessing minority there also disappears the necessity for the power of armed oppression, or state power. At the same time, however, it was always our view that in order to attain this and the other far more important aims of the future social revolution, the working class must first take possession of the organised political power of the state and by its aid crush the resistance of the capitalist class and organise society anew. This is to be found already in The Communist Manifesto of 1847, Chapter II, conclusion.
The anarchists put the thing upside down. They declare that the proletarian revolution must begin by doing away with the political organisation of the state. But after its victory the sole organisation which the proletariat finds already in existence is precisely the state. This state may require very considerable alterations before it can fulfil its new functions. But to destroy it at such a moment would be to destroy the only organism by means of which the victorious proletariat can assert its newly-conquered power, hold down its capitalist adversaries and carry out that economic revolution of society without which the whole victory must end in a new defeat and in a mass slaughter of the workers similar to those after the Paris Commune.
Does it require my express assurance that Marx opposed this anarchist nonsense from the first day it was put forward in its present form by Bakunin? The whole internal history of the International Workingmen’s Association is evidence of this. From 1867 onwards the anarchists were trying, by the most infamous methods, to conquer the leadership of the International; the main hindrance in their way was Marx. The five-year struggle ended, at the Hague Congress of September 1872, with the expulsion of the anarchists from the International; and the man who did most to achieve this expulsion was Marx.”
– Frederick Engels, “Letter to Philipp Van Patten in New York”
Jeff Sessions (Attorney General) – close association of white nationalists and opponent of birthright citizenship, denounced by Coretta Scott King for being racist, lover of the CIA and mass surveillance.
Wilbur Ross (Secretary of Commerce) – billionaire monopolist Trump donor who drew criticism for safety failures after an explosion killed 12 workers at a coal mine owned by his company.
Ben Carson (Secretary of Housing and Urban Development) – retired creationist surgeon who admits himself he isn’t qualified to be in the Cabinet.
James Mattis (Secretary of Defense) – an extreme warhawk removed from command in 2013 for his hardline behavior.
Ryan Zinke (Secretary of the Interior) – freshman Congressman with an anti-environment record who doesn’t believe in climate change.
Betsy DeVos (Secretary of Education) – billionaire heiress anti-public school crusader who favors unregulated charter schools.
Rex Tillerson (Secretary of State) – ExxonMobil executive with no experience in the public sector.
Steve Mnuchin (Treasury Secretary) – a hedge-fund manager and one of the chief architects of the financial crisis, became infamous for his bank’s cruel foreclosure practices.
Elaine Chao (Secretary of Transportation) – former head of the Bush Administration Labor Department that was investigated and found to regularly fail to protect the rights of low-wage workers.
Andy Puzder (Secretary of Labor) – a fast-food CEO who opposes minimum wage increases and worker protections; one remarked that machines don’t need days off, sick days, or maternity leave and don’t file lawsuits.
John Kelly (Secretary of Homeland Security) – retired general and immigration hardliner who favors mass deportations and ICE raids.
Tom Price (Secretary of Health and Human Services) – staunch opponent of women’s rights and access to contraception who supports cuts to Medicare and Medicaid and has already tried to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
Rick Perry (Secretary of Energy) – former Governor of Texas and climate change denier who wants to eliminate his own department completely.
Scott Pruitt (EPA Administrator) – former Oklahoma Attorney General and climate change denier who sued the EPA to roll back its efforts for clean water and clean air and tackle climate change.
Stephen Bannon (Chief Strategist) – alt-right former banker and self-proclaimed white supremacist, former chief executive editor of the far-right Breitbart News.
Compass: Journal of the Communist League
No. 87; August 1990
LIBERIA, on the west coast of Africa, has an area of 43,000 square miles (about the size of Iceland) and a population of 2.4 million. It was founded in 1847 by American philantrophic organisations as a colony for liberated black slaves from the United States.
Liberia’s two main exports are iron ore (which accounts for 70% of export earnings) and rubber — mainly from the vast US-owned ‘Firestone’ plantations. According to the late President of Liberia, William Tubman,
“. . most people were earning as little as pounds Sterling 38 a year”
(Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 18; p. 25,052).
Liberia’s capital, Monrovia (population 425,000) is named after James Mon~oe (1758-1831), the fifth President of the United States. Liberia’s unit of currency is the US dollar. Although Americano-Liberians comprise only 5% of the population, they have dominated Liberian politics since the foundation of the country in consequence of the country’s dependence on United States imperialism.
VIRTUALLY FROM ITS FOUNDATION TO THE PRESENT DAY, LIBERIA HAS BEEN A SEMI-COLONY OF UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM.
American interests in the country include:
“. . a ‘Voice of America’ transmitter. . . a telecommunications relay station . . ; an Omega satellite station; private investment amounting to some $350 million and extensive outstanding bank loans.”
(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 28; p. 31,283).
“Liberia was dependent on the USA for one-third of its budgetary needs.”
(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 32; p. 34,147).
“Access rights to Monrovia’s port and airport give to the US its only reliable gateway into West Africa and a staging area for supplies to anti-Soviet forces in Angola.”
(‘Time’, 6 August 1990; p. 27).
In 1971 William Tubman; who had been President since 1944 as leader of the ‘True Whig Party’ (which had ruled Liberia since 1870), died, and was succeeded by William Tolbert, previously Vice-President,
“. . a prosperous Liberian coffee and rice grower.”
(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 26; p. 30,405).
Unlike Tubman, however, Tolbert came to stand for
“closer links with the Soviet Union, a vision of cooperation with the states of the region and a tendency to believe in the rhetoric of the Organisation of African Unity.”
(‘Financial Times’, 1 August 1990; p. 4).
SUCH A FOREIGN POLICY WAS, OF COURSE, UNACCEPTABLE TO LIBERIA’S MASTERS IN WASHINGTON, WHO INSTRUCTED THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY TO MAKE ALL PLANS FOR TOLBERT’S REMOVAL.
The ‘People’s Redemption Council’ Coup
In April 1979 large-scale demonstrations broke out in Monrovia over a proposed increase in price of rice. According to official figures, 41 persons were killed and 548 injured when police fired on demonstrators. Damage was estimated at $40-49 million. Congress granted Tolbert emergency powers for a year and the university — described by Tolbert as:
” . . a breeding-ground for revolutionary and subversive ideas”
(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 25; p. 29,732).
— was closed down.
By this time Liberia’s foreign indebtedness
“. . was estimated at about $800-million.”
(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 28; p. 31,282).
In April 1980 it was judged that the time was opportune to put the CIA plans into motion. A military coup, carried out by a ‘People’s Redemption Council’, composed of junior army officers, seized the presidential mansion assassinated Tolbert and his Ministers, and proclaimed the coup leader Master-Sergeant Samuel Doe — President. Doe
“had recently received training from a United States military mission in Monrovia.”
(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 26; p. 30,405).
The new regime suspended the Constitution, proclaimed martial law and banned all political parties.
Liberia’s Increased Dependence
Following the coup United States ‘aid’ to Liberia was increased.
Between April, and December 1980 the US government sent four missions to Liberia (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 28; p. 31,283).
“Since the overthrow of President William Tolbert in April 1980 total grants to Liberia were increased from $13.8 million in 1980 to $51,5 million in 1981.”
(Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 29; p. 32,296).
In April 1981 US forces took part in joint manoeuvres with the Liberian armed forces and the US destroyer ‘Thorn’ visited Monrovia. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 28; op. 31,283).
In May 1981 the Libyan ‘People’s Bureau’ in Liberia was ordered to close, and the Soviet Embassy in Monrovia was ordered to reduce its staff from 15 to 6. In July 1985 diplomatic relations were severed with the Soviet Union. (Keesings’ Contemportary Archives’, Volume 28; p. 31,283).
In August 1982 Doe paid a two week official visit to the USA during which he had a meeting with President Ronald Reagan. The US government agreed to provide training facilities for the Liberian armed forces, together with military aircraft and $15 million in military credits during 1983. (‘Keesing’s Contempotary Archives’, Volume 29; p. 32,296).
In September 1982 the International Monetary Fund approved grants to Liberia totalling $88 million. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume,29; p. 32,297).
In February 1983 Liberia signed an agreement with the USA worth $5 million for an improvement of Roberts International Airport in return for the granting of refuelling facilities for US military, aircraft. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 29; p. 32,296).
The Rigged Elections
As a result of
“pressure from Washington,”
(‘Financial Times’, 1 August 1 1990; p. 4),
” a Congress alarmed by Mr. Doe’s systematic abuses of human rights,”
(‘Financial Times’, 1 August 1990; p. 4),
In July 1984 political parties were allowed to reform, subject to registration by the government. The ban on political parties was lifted. By the time elections were held (in October 1985), four parties had been registered:
Doe’s own ‘National Democratic Party of Liberia’ (NAPL),
and three opposition parties —
the Liberia Unification Party,
the Liberian Action Party and,
the Unity Party.
“It was noted that those parties which had succeeded in obtaining legal status were considered to be right of centre.”
(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 32; p. 34,146).
In October 1985 elections were held, in which Doe was declared elected President, with 51% of the vote, while Doe’s NDPL was declared to have won 22 out of 26 seats in the Senate and 51 out of 64 seats in the House of Representatives… By early November all the opposition parties had denounced the elections for:
“intimidation and irregularities.”
(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 32; p.34,147).
while the US Congress had characterised them as
” . . fraudulent . ‘. marred by intimidation and ballot rigging”;
(‘Financial Times’, 1 August 1990; p. 4).
Only 9 representatives of foreign states (including that, of the USA) attended Doe’s inauguration.
‘Human Rights’ Breached
Although the US government – – and especially the US Congress — paid lip-service for political reasons to its concern for ‘human rights’,
” . . Washington had turned a blind eye to detention without trial, torture and summary execution.”
(‘Time’, 6 August 1990; p. 27).
and to the fact that
“. . more than $500 million in economic aid and military assistance Doe used to put down domestic opponents.”
(‘Time’, 6 August 1990; p. 27).
Before the election had been held, however, the Liberian government had committed the gravest ‘breach of human rights’ imaginable to Washington: it had defaulted on the repayment of its loans.
In June 1985 the International Monetary Fund ruled that Liberia was no longer eligible for IMF credits because of its failure to pay on time arrears of some $52.4 million.
In November 1985 Doe announced austerity measures, including 25% cut in the salaries of government servants:
“The measures were seen as a response to IMF demands for economic reforms.”
(‘Keesing’s Contemporary,Archives’, Volume 32; p. 349148).
Early in 1986, both Houses of the US Congress passed resolutions urging the Administration to suspend ‘aid’ to Liberia on the grounds that the 1985 elections had been rigged and that the Doe regime’s record on human rights was ‘poor’. The Administration, however, rejected Congress demands on the grounds that:
“. . President Doe had the power to govern.”
(Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 33; p. 34,979).
In April 1986 US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Chester Crocker visited Liberia and had talks with both Doe and the opposition party leaders. The latter were arrested in May.
Although economic ‘aid’ to Liberia had been suspended under US law because of arrears of debt servicing payments, which by 31 March amounted to $660 thousand, after Crocker’s visit it was announced that the USA would give Liberia $42 million in economic ‘aid’ during 1986. The funds had reportedly been made available in exchange for ‘political concessions’ from the Liberian government. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 33; p. 34,979).
In January 1987 US Secretary of State George Shultz visited Liberia,
“. . urging President Doe to undertake political and economic reforms.”
(‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 33; p. 34,979).
Shultz praised Doe’s elections as
“. . quite open,”
(‘Time’, 6 August 1990; p. 27)
and as signifying Doe’s
“. . genuine progress towards democracy.”
(‘Time’, 6 August 1990; p. 27).
He did, however, express ‘serious concern’ about a secret arms purchase agreement signed between Liberia and Romania. President Doe had paid an official visit to Romania in October 1986. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 33; p..,34,979).
However, the USA continued to finance Liberia during 1987 at a time when most of the country’s backers donors had suspended ‘aid’. The World Bank, for example, took such action in June 1987 because of the Liberian government’s arrears in repayments, resulting, it was alleged, from
“corruption and local mismanagement,”
(‘Financial Times’, ibid.; p. 4).
Nevertheless, US ‘aid’ to Liberia was cut to $36 million in 1987 and to $31 million, in 1988, and the Liberian government was warned that US ‘aid’ would cease unless payment of $7 million of arrears was received by May 1989. (‘Record of World Events’, Volume 35; p. 36,610).
In January 1988 a team of 17 US financial experts arrived in Liberia and wree given effective control of the Liberian government’s finances:
“The advisers . . . were empowered to countersign all financial documents issued by the government.”
(‘Record of World Events”, Volume 34; p. 35,885).
However, the American experts found themselves so frustrated by the Doe bureaucracy that their two-year contract was terminated after one year. By this time Liberia’s foreign debt totaled $1,700 million, with arrears on repayments amounting to $671 million. (Record of World Events’, Volume 35; p. 36, 610).
BY 1989, THEREFORE, THE DOE REGIME HAD CEASED TO BE ACCEPTABLE TO UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM, AND ITS INTELLIGENCE SERVICE SET IN MOTION FORCES DESIGNED TO CARRY THROUGH ANOTHER COUP WHICH WOULD REPLACE THIS REGIME WITH MORE ACCEPTABLE LOCAL PUPPETS.
A New Coup is Prepared
In May 1984 a former employee of the Liberian government named Charles Taylor was arrested in the United States and charged with misappropriation of $1 million of government funds. However, it was later announced that he had ‘escaped from custody’ and in December 1989 he appeared in the Ivory Coast in command of a small armed force which he led across the frontier into Liberia. (‘Review of World Events’, Volume 30; p, 32,898; Volume 36, p. 37,174).
By the spring of 1990 Taylor’s armed force was some 15,000 strong, had taken the name of the ‘National Patriotic Forces of Liberia’ (NPFL), had occupied most of the country and had advanced to the outskirts of Monrovia. (‘Le Monde’, 1 August 1990; p. 3; ‘Review of World Events’, Volume 36, p. 37,174; ‘The Independent on Sunday’, 5 August 1990; p. 14).
“An American offer to ferry Doe to safety was refused. His soldiers in the mansion are said to have told him that he could not leave without them.”
(‘Sunday Times’, 5 August 1990; p. 21).
The NPFL is very far from being a disciplined force:
“His men . . look as though they are at a weird fancy dress party. Instead of camouflage fatigues, they sport brightly coloured track suits. Some turn up for battle in crash helmets, others don dressing, gowns and women’s wigs . . . Looting has been rife on all sides.”
(‘Sunday Times’, 5 August 1990; p. 21).
The Split in the NPFL
In February 1990 one of Taylor’s officers, ‘Prince’ Johnson,
“…executed a number of NPLF commandos for alleged looting and desertion.”
(‘The Independent on Sunday’, 5 August 1990; p. 14).
This aroused Taylor’s wrath and a split occurred in the NPLF forces, Johnson breaking’away with a force some 500-1,000 strong. (‘Le Monde’, 1 August 1990; p. 3).
Johnson accused Taylor of being:
“a criminal and a rogue.”
(‘Financial Times’, 1 August 1990; p. 4).
and, embarrassed by Taylor’s
“. . refusal to commit himself to elections,”
(‘Time’, 6 August 1990; p. 27),
by July 1990 the US imperialists had come to regard Taylor as as unacceptable as Doe:
“Both Mr. Taylor and the man he is trying to overthrow, President Samuel Doe, are now seen (in Washington — Ed.) as dangerous and unacceptable leaders.”
(‘The Independent on Sunday’, 5 August 1990; p. 14).
and transferred their backing to Johnson:
“Mr. Johnson’s men (are) thought to have at least the tacit support of the US. . . . Diplomatic sources saw the offensive by Mr. Johnson as a US-inspired move.”
(‘The Independent on Sunday’, 5 August 1990; p. 14).
While Taylor’s forces were still camped on a ‘Firestone’ rubber plantation some 30 miles east of Monrovia, at the end of July Johnson’s forces
“suddenly appeared at the gates of Doe’s mansion, According to Tom Woweiyu, Taylor’s ‘Defence Minister’: ‘. . the US helped airlift ‘Prince’ Johnson and his fighters into central Monrovia.”
(‘The Independent on Sunday’, 5 August 1990; p. 14).
The three-sided civil war continues at the time of writing.
Meanwhile, on 29 August, at least 600 civilian refugees, including women and babies, were murdered by Doe government troops in St. Peter’s Lutheran church in Monrovia. (‘Financial Times’, 31 July 1990; p. 22).
For weeks, Joseph Stalin had been plagued with dizzy spells and high blood pressure. His personal physician, Professor V. N. Vinogradov had advised that Stalin step down as head of the government for health reasons. That was not what Stalin wanted to hear from the good doctor. Soon the Professor would pay for this temerity and indiscretion with his arrest and alleged involvement in the infamous Doctor’s Plot (dyelo vrachey).
According to Dmitri Volkogonov in Stalin — Triumph and Tragedy (1991), the night before Stalin (photo, left) became ill, he inquired from Beria about the status of the case against the doctors and specifically about the interrogation of Professor Vinogradov. Minister of State Security Lavrenti Beria replied, “Apart from his other unfavorable qualities, the professor has a long tongue. He has told one of the doctors in his clinic that Comrade Stalin has already had several dangerous hypertonic episodes.”
Stalin responded, “Right, what do you propose to do now? Have the doctors confessed? Tell [Semyon D.] Ignatiev [Minister of the MGB security organ] that if he doesn’t get full confessions out of them, we’ll reduce his height by a head.” Beria reassured Stalin, “They’ll confess. With the help of Timashuk and other patriots, we’ll complete the investigation and come to you for permission to arrange a public trial.” Then, “Arrange it,” Stalin ordered. And from there, they went on to discuss other matters until about 4:00 a.m. on the morning of March 1, 1953.
Stalin was irritable and in a bad humor. He castigated his guests. Volkogonov based his account on the testimony of A.I. Rybin, who he personally interviewed. Rybin had been in the NKVD and later had become one of Stalin’s bodyguards. But Rybin, though, had not been there during Stalin’s final days. He had only been told what had happened by the guardsmen. And at the time Volkogonov had written his book those guardsmen could not be found or had refused to talk.(1)
Nevertheless, we do know that the guests had become a captive audience that evening and could not leave the Blizhnyaya, his nearer dacha in Kuntsevo, without Stalin’s permission. They simply had to wait until Stalin dismissed them. But Stalin was not finished. He was still complaining that the leadership, which included many of his guests that night, were basking on past glories — but “they were mistaken.” The implied threat to his inner circle was ominous. When Stalin finally got up and left, his shaken guests seized their opportunity and left the dacha. Georgy Malenkov and Lavrenti Beria, two of Stalin’s henchmen whom he allowed to commingle socially, left together in the same volga. The others left separately.
Stalin did not leave his chamber that morning and by noon his staff became worried. To make matters even more difficult, no one was authorized to enter his private chambers unless they were summoned. All through the afternoon the domestic staff and his personal guards worried and waited for Stalin to come out. They were finally reassured when an outside sentry reported that a light from his dining room had come on about 6:30 p.m. Volkogonov writes: “Everyone sighed with relief and waited for the bell to ring. Stalin had not eaten, or looked at the mail or papers. It was most irregular.” As late evening came, the domestic staff and guards began to worry anew. They debated what to do until sheer panic forced them to act. It was now 11:00 p.m., the evening of March 1, 1953.(1)
While Volkogonov interviewed Rybin years later, Russian journalist Edvard Radzinsky obtained documents that have even more bearing on Stalin’s final days from the secret Russian Archives. In his 1997 book, Stalin, Radzinsky relates that on March 5, 1977, the 24th anniversary of Stalin’s death, Rybin organized a little party that included the guardsmen who were “at the nearer dacha around the time when Stalin died.”
The guardsmen remembrances were written down, and Rybin recorded the substance of the testimony in which all of them agreed:
“On the night of February 28-March 1, members of the Politburo watched a film at the Kremlin. After this they were driven to the nearer dacha. Those who joined Stalin there were Beria, Khrushchev, Malenkov, and Bulganin, all of whom remained there until 4:00 a.m. The duty officers on guard that day were M. Starostin and his assistant Tukov. Orlov, the commandant of the dacha, was off duty and his assistant, Peter Lozgachev, was deputized for him. Matryona Butusova, who looked after the Boss’s linen, was also in the dacha. After the guests had left, Stalin went to bed. He never left his rooms again.”
Radzinsky found that Rybin had also recorded separate testimonies from the guardsmen. Starostin’s statement, which was the briefest, read: “At 19:00 the silence in Stalin’s suite began to alarm us. We (Starostin and Tukov) were both afraid to go in without being called.” Because they were afraid to go in, it was the newly deputized Lozgachev who went in, and “it was he who found Stalin lying on the floor near the table.” Moreover, according to Starostin, Stalin gave an order he had never given before and that statement was subsequently corroborated by Lozgachev. Stalin told his servants and guardsmen in the words of Tukov, “I’m going to bed. I shouldn’t be wanting you. You can go to bed too.”
But there was more to the story, and many years later after painstaking persistence, Radzinsky tracked down Peter Vasilievich Lozgachev, and the old guardsman, “still robust in spite of his age,” finally agreed to an interview about Stalin’s final days. According to Lozgachev “only light wine was drunk, no cognac, no particularly strong drink to make him ill.” Lozgachev’s account differs from Tukov’s in that according to Lozgachev, it was not Stalin who gave that unusual order but another guardsman, attachment Khrustalev, who had left the dacha at 10:00 a.m. on March 1. Only then was Khrustalev relieved by the aforementioned guards, Starostin, Tukov, and Lozgachev.
Before leaving them that morning, Khrustalev told them:
“Well, guys, here is an order we’ve never been given before. The Boss said, ‘Go to bed, all of you, I don’t need anything. I am going to bed myself. I shouldn’t need you today.’ ” To Radzinsky, there was more here than meets the eye, and he clarifies the situation, “To be precise, [Lozgachev] heard it not from the Boss but from the attachment Khrustalev, who passed down the order, and left the dacha the next morning.”(2)
Radzinsky included the following narrative as recounted by Lozgachev:
“The next day was Sunday. At ten, as usual, we were gathered in the kitchen, just about to plan things for the day. At ten there was no movement that was the phrase we used when he was sleeping. And then it struck eleven — and still no movement. At twelve — still none. That was already strange: usually he got up between 11 and 12, but sometimes he was awake as early as 10. Soon it was one — still no movement. His telephones may have rung, but when he was asleep they were normally switched through to other rooms. ‘Starostin and I were sitting together and Starostin said: ‘There’s something wrong. What shall we do?’
“And indeed, what were we to do — go in to him? But he had always told us categorically: if there was ‘no movement’, we were not to go in. Or else we’d be severely punished. So there we were, sitting in our lodge (connected with his rooms by a 25-metre corridor), it was already six in the evening, and we had no clue what to do. Suddenly the guard outside rang us: ‘I can see the light in the small dining room.’ Well, we thought, thank God, everything was OK. We were all at our posts, on full alert, ready to go, and then, again… nothing. At eight — nothing. We did not know what to do. At nine — no movement. At ten — none. I said to Starostin: ‘Go on, you go, you are the chief guard, it’s your responsibility.’ He said: ‘I am afraid.’ I said: ‘Fine, you’re afraid, but I’m not about to play the hero.’
“At that moment some mail was delivered — a package from the Central Committee. And it was usually our duty to hand over the mail. Mine, to be more exact. ‘All right, then,’ I said. ‘Wish me luck, boys’. We normally went in making some noise — sometimes even banged the door on purpose — to let him know we were coming. He did not like it if you came in quietly. You had to walk in with confidence, sure of yourself, but not stand too much at attention. Or else he would tell you off: ‘What’s all this good soldier Schweik stuff?’
“Well, I opened the door, walked loudly down the corridor. The room where we put documents was right next to the small dining room. I went into that room and looked through the open door into the small dining room and saw the Boss lying on the floor, his right hand out-stretched…like this [here Lozgachev stretched out his half-bent arm]. I froze. My arms and legs refused to obey me. He had not yet lost consciousness, but he couldn’t speak. He had good hearing, he’d obviously heard my footsteps and seemed to be trying to summon me to help him. I hurried to him and asked: ‘Comrade Stalin, what’s wrong?’ He’d wet himself and he wanted to pull something up with his left hand. I said to him: ‘Should I call a doctor?’ He made some incoherent noise — like ‘Dz…Dz…’
“On the floor there was a pocket-watch and a copy of Pravda. And the watch showed, when I looked at it, half past six. So this had happened to him at half past six. On the table, I remember, there was a bottle of Narzan mineral water. He must have been going to get it when the light went on. While I was talking to him, which must have been for two or three minutes, suddenly he snored quietly… I heard this quiet snoring, as if he was sleeping.
“I picked up the receiver of the house phone. I was trembling and sweat beading on my forehead, and phoned Starostin: ‘Come to the house, quick.’ Starostin came in, and stood dumbstruck. The Boss had lost consciousness. I said: ‘Let’s lay him on the sofa, he’s not comfortable on the floor.’ Tukov and Motia Butusova came in behind Starostin. Together, we put him on the sofa. I said to Starostin: ‘Go and phone everybody, and I mean everybody.’ He went off to phone, but I did not leave the Master. He lay motionless, except for snoring. Starostin phoned Ignatiev at the KGB, but he panicked and told Starostin to try Beria and Malenkov. While he was phoning, we got an idea — to move him to the big sofa in the large dining room. There was more air there. Together, we lifted him and laid him down on the sofa, then covered him with a blanket — he was shivering from the cold. Butusova unrolled his sleeves.
“At that point Starostin got through to Malenkov. About half an hour had gone by when Malenkov phoned us back and said: ‘I can’t find Beria.’ Another half hour passed, Beria phoned: ‘Don’t tell anybody about Comrade Stalin’s illness’. At 3 o’clock in the morning, I heard a car approaching.”(2)
At this point, Radzinsky notes that it had now been four hours since the first phone call and many more hours since Stalin had been struck down by the sudden illness, and he had been lying there without medical assistance all that time. Malenkov and Beria finally arrived without Khrushchev.
Lozgachev continued his recollection:
“Malenkov’s shoes creaked. And I remember how he took them off and stuck them under his arm. He came in: ‘What’s up with the Boss?’ He was lying there, snoring gently… Beria swore at me, and said, ‘What are you panicking for? The Boss is sound asleep. Let’s go, Malenkov!’ I explained everything to him, how he’d been lying on the floor and how he could only make inarticulate noises. Beria said to me: ‘Don’t panic, and don’t bother us. And don’t disturb Comrade Stalin.’ And they left.
“And again, I was left alone. I thought I should call Starostin again and have him alert everybody again. I said: ‘If you don’t, he’ll die, and our heads will roll. Phone them and tell them to come.’ Sometime after seven in the morning Khrushchev turned up. [That was the first time that he made an appearance, noted Radzinsky]. Khrushchev, said ‘How’s the Boss?’ I said, ‘He’s very poor, there’s something wrong’, and I told him the whole story. Khrushchev said, ‘The doctors are on their way.’ Well, I thought, Thank God’! The doctors arrived between 8:30 and 9:00A.M.”(2)
Thirteen hours had now passed without Stalin receiving any medical assistance. Radzinsky hypothesized that Lavrenti Beria feared that Stalin intended to proceed not only with the conspiracy against the Jewish doctors, but also against some of the members of his inner circle, particularly Beria himself. He needed to act and so he did. Radzinsky posited that after Nikolai Vlasik, Stalin’s loyal, longtime bodyguard, had been arrested and implicated in the contrived Doctors’ Plot as well as the developing purge of the MGB, Beria, in an act of personal survival, recruited Khrustalev, a bodyguard strategically placed in Stalin’s current personal attachment. Reportedly, according to Molotov, Beria later claimed that the inner circle should thank him, with the words, “I did him in,” Beria boasted to Molotov, “I saved all of you!”(3)
“The doctors were all scared stiff…They stared at him and shook. They had to examine him, but their hands were too shaky. To make it worse, the dentist took out his dentures, and dropped them by accident. He was so frightened. Professor Lukomsky said, ‘We must get his shirt off and take his pressure.’ I tore his shirt off and they started taking his blood pressure. Then everybody examined him and asked us who was there when he collapsed. We thought, that was it, the end. They’ll just put us in the car and it’s goodbye. But no, thank God, the doctors came to the conclusion that he’d had a hemorrhage. Then there were lots of people, and, actually, from that moment we did not have anything to do with it. I stood in the door. People — the newly arrived — crowded around behind me. I remembered [MGB] Minister Ignatiev was too scared to come in. I said, ‘Come on in, there is no need to be shy.’ That day, the second of March, they brought Svetlana.”(2)
Between March 2 and March 5, when Stalin died, members of his inner circle were dividing the spoils of power. Beria had already gone through the Kremlin vault and removed incriminating documents. All the henchmen had returned to the dacha and assembled there to pay their respects, Beria, Malenkov, Khrushchev, as well as the disgraced quartet, Molotov, Mikoyan, Voroshilov, Kaganovich, and other members of the Presidium. They were regaining their confidence as the greatest mass murderer in history lay dying.
Radzinsky quoted the physician Professor Myasnikov:
“Stalin sometimes groaned. At one point, only for a brief moment, his conscious gaze seemed to go round the faces by the bed. Then Voroshilov said: ‘Comrade Stalin, we, all your true friends and colleagues, are here. How are you feeling, dear friend?’ But his eyes were devoid of all expression already. We spent all day March 5 injecting things, and writing press releases. Politburo members walked up to the dying man. The lower ranks just looked through the door. I remember that Khrushchev was also by the door. In any case, the decorum in the hierarchy was well observed — Malenkov and Beria came first. Then Voroshilov, Kaganovich, Bulganin and Mikoyan. Molotov was not well, but came over two or three times, for a short time.”
Molotov himself recollected, “They told me to come out to the dacha… Stalin’s eyes were closed, and, when he opened them and tried to speak, Beria would come running and kiss his hand. After the funeral Beria laughed: ‘The light of science, ha-ha-ha!’”(2)
According to Svetlana, Stalin’s daughter,
“Father’s death was slow and difficult…. His face became dark and different… his features were becoming unrecognizable…. The death agony was terrible. It choked him slowly as we watched… At the last moment he suddenly opened his eyes. It was a horrible look — either mad, or angry and full of fear of death…. Suddenly he raised his left hand and sort of either pointed up somewhere, or shook his finger at us all… The next moment his soul, after one last effort, broke away from his body.”
Svetlana also wrote, “Beria was the first to run out into the corridor, and in the silence of the hall, where everybody was standing around quietly, came his loud voice ringing with open triumph: ‘Khrustalev, the car!’”
To Radzinsky, this is another piece in the puzzle:
“In this account by Svetlana, the memorable thing is the triumphant voice of Beria addressing Khrustalev! From all the assignees he was choosing Khrustalev!”(4)
Finally Radzinsky asked Lozgachev the whereabouts of the guard attachment:
“‘They got rid of everybody. They’d summon you and send you away from Moscow, ‘leave the city immediately and take the family with you’. Starostin, Orlov and Tukov decided to go and see Beria. To ask him not to send them away. So they went into his office, and he said: ‘If you don’t want to be out there, you will be down there.’ And he pointed down to the ground. So away they went.”
Radzinsky asked him, “And what became of Khrustalev?” Lozgachev responded, “Khrustalev fell ill and died soon after… Orlov and Starostin were given jobs in Vladimir, and I stayed at ‘the facility’ — the facility was empty, with me as superintendent. It was handed over to the Ministry of Health…. That was the end of the nearer dacha.'”(2)
Clinical Course of Stalin’s Illness
When the doctors arrived to treat Stalin on the morning of March 2, the Boss was soaked in urine and lay unconscious on the sofa. Both his right arm and leg were paralyzed with a right Babinski reflex (i.e., right-sided hemiplegia consistent with a left cerebral stroke). He had a blood pressure of 190/110 with a pulse of 78. The doctors ordered absolute quiet, and eight leeches were applied behind his ears for slow bloodletting. Cold compresses and hypertonic enemas of magnesium sulfate were administered. Despite the doctors treatment, Cheyne-Stokes respiration appeared at 2:10 p.m. and Stalin’s blood pressure climbed to 210/120. Over the next two days, Stalin’s condition continued to deteriorate and he remained unresponsive.
On March 3, a flicker of hope appeared when the doctors observed that Stalin “reacted with open eyes to the speech of his comrades who surrounded him.” But this was only momentary. Stalin soon lost consciousness and never regained it.
On March 4, Stalin began to hiccup uncontrollably and vomit blood. On March 5, the sweating became profuse and the pulse undetectable. Stalin did not respond to oxygen or injections of camphor and adrenaline. Stalin’s death was recorded at 9:50 p.m. on March 5, 1953.(5)
“Arising on March 5 in connection with the basic illness — hypertension and the disruption of circulation in the brain — a stomach hemorrhage facilitated the recurrent collapse, which ended in death.”
But in the final draft of the report submitted to the Central Committee, Brent and Naumov note:
“All mention of the stomach hemorrhage was deleted or vastly subordinated to other information throughout in the final report.”(3)
It was reported that Stalin only drank diluted Georgian wine the night before his illness of March 1. Brent and Naumov suspect in one scenario that Beria with the complicity of Khrushchev (whose memoirs, Khrushchev Remembers, relating to the events of Stalin’s final days have been found to be unreliable), slipped warfarin, a transparent crystalline substance into the wine. Warfarin is a tasteless chemical that in 1950 had just become patented and available in Russia as a blood thinner for patients with cardiovascular disease, and later, widely used as rat poison. A hypertensive hemorrhage of itself would have caused a stroke as Stalin sustained, but it would not necessarily be associated with gastrointestinal or renal hemorrhaging. Warfarin, on the other hand, could have produced both a hemorrhagic stroke as well as a bleeding disorder affecting multiple organs. The autopsy findings would be critical and, fortunately, just recently they have become available.
AUTOPSY OF THE BODY OF J. V. STALIN: “Post-mortem examination disclosed a large hemorrhage in the sphere of the subcortical nodes of the left hemisphere of the brain. This hemorrhage destroyed important areas of the brain and caused irreversible disorders of respiration and blood circulation. Besides the brain hemorrhage there were established substantial enlargement of the left ventricle of the heart, numerous hemorrhages in the cardiac muscle and in the lining of the stomach and intestine, and arteriosclerotic changes in the blood vessels, expressed especially strongly in the arteries of the brain. These processes were the result of high blood pressure.
“The findings of the autopsy entirely confirm the diagnosis made by the professors and doctors who treated J. V. Stalin.
“The data of the post-mortem examination established the irreversible nature of J. V. Stalin’s illness from the moment of the cerebral hemorrhage. Accordingly, the energetic treatment which was undertaken could not have led to a favorable result or averted the fatal end.
“U.S.S.R. Minister of Public Health A. F. Tretyakov; Head of the Kremlin Medical Office I. I. Kuperin; Academician N. N. Anichkov, President of the Academy of Medicine; Prof. M. A. Skvortsov, Member of the Academy of Medicine; Prof. S. R.” (6)
Obviously, the above signatories in the Ministry of Health included in the report as much as was possible to put in writing from a political standpoint, without getting their own heads into the repressive Soviet noose! They also correctly protected the physicians who treated Stalin. Needless to say the Doctors’ Plot episode was very fresh in their minds.
While prudently citing hypertension as the culprit, the good doctors left behind enough traces of pathological evidence in their brief report to let posterity know they fulfilled their professional duties, as best they could, without compromising their careers or their lives with the new masters at the Kremlin.
High blood pressure, per se, commonly results in hypertensive cerebral hemorrhage and stroke but does not usually produce concomitant hematemesis (vomiting blood), as we see here in the clinical case of Stalin, and a further bleeding diathesis affecting the heart muscle, scantily as it is supported by the positive autopsy findings.
As I have written elsewhere, we now possess clinical and forensic evidence supporting the long-held suspicion that Stalin was indeed poisoned by members of his own inner circle, most likely Lavrenti Beria, and perhaps even Khrushchev, all of whom feared for their lives.(7) But Stalin, the brutal Soviet dictator, was (and still is in some quarters of Democratic Russia) worshipped as a demigod — and his assassination would have been unacceptable to the Russian populace. So it was kept a secret until now.
1) Dmitri Volkogonov, Stalin—Triumph and Tragedy, edited and translated by Harold Shukman, NY, Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, pp. 567- 576.
2) The references to Edvard Radzinsky are from his book Stalin, translated by H. T. Willetts, Anchor Book edition, 1997, pp.566-582; and/or an article, “The Last Mystery of Stalin” by this same author, published in Sputnik, Moscow, June 1997.
3) Jonathan Brent and Vladimir P. Naumov, Stalin’s Last Crime — The Plot Against the Jewish Doctors, 1948-1953, NY, HarperCollins, 2003, pp. 312-322.
4) Svetlana Alliluyeva, Only One Year, translated by Paul Chavchavadze, NY, Harper & Row, 1969
5) “The History of the Illness of J.V. Stalin”; this was a secret Report submitted to the Central Committee, July 1953. It was quoted and referenced in Brent & Naumov, ibid.
6) Autopsy of the Body of J. V. STALIN. Pravda, March 7, 1953 p. 2, Complete text.
7) Faria MA. The Jewish Doctors’ Plot — The aborted holocaust in Stalin’s Russia! A book review of Stalin’s Last Crime —The Plot Against the Jewish Doctors, 1948-1953 by Jonathan Brent and Vladimir P. Naumov. 2011. Available from: http://www.haciendapublishing.com/articles/jewish-doctors%E2%80%99-plot-…
Article written by: Dr. Miguel Faria
Dr. Miguel A. Faria is a former Clinical Professor of Surgery (Neurosurgery, ret.) and Adjunct Professor of Medical History (ret.) Mercer University School of Medicine; Former member Editorial Board of Surgical Neurology (2004-2010); Recipient of the Americanism Medal from the Nathaniel Macon Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) 1998; Ex member of the Injury Research Grant Review Committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2002-05; Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Medical Sentinel (1996-2002); Editor Emeritus, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS); Author, Vandals at the Gates of Medicine (1995), Medical Warrior: Fighting Corporate Socialized Medicine (1997), and Cuba in Revolution: Escape From a Lost Paradise (2002).
This article was originally published in Surgical Neurology International and also featured in RealClearHistory.com on June 26, 2012.
This article may be cited as: Faria MA. Stalin’s Mysterious Death. Surg Neurol Int 2011 2(1):161. Available from: http://www.haciendapub.com/articles/stalins-mysterious-death
Funeral of Joseph Stalin video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-EwVVm89og
Copyright © 2011, 2015, Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.
Originally published in The New York Times.
REVIEW OF 1984
By Isaac Asimov
I’ve been writing a four-part article for Field Newspaper Syndicate at the beginning of each year for several years now and in 1980, mindful of the approach of the year 1984, FNS asked me to write a thorough critique of George Orwell’s novel 1984.
I was reluctant. I remembered almost nothing of the book and said so – but Denison Demac, the lovely young woman who is my contact at FNS, simply sent me a copy of it and said, ‘Read it.’
So I read it and found myself absolutely astonished at what I read. I wondered how many people who talked about the novel so glibly had ever read it; or if they had, whether they remembered it at all.
I felt I would have to write the critique if only to set people straight. (I’m sorry; I love setting people straight.)
A. THE WRITING OF 1984
In 1949, a book entitled 1984 was published. It was written by Eric Arthur Blair under the pseudonym of George Orwell.
The book attempted to show what life would be like in a world of total evil, in which those controlling the government kept themselves in power by brute force, by distorting the truth, by continually rewriting history, by mesmerising the people generally.
This evil world was placed only thirty-five years in the future so that even men who were already in their early middle age at the time the book was published might live to see it if they lived out a normal lifetime.
I, for instance, was already a married man when the book appeared and yet here we are less than four years away from that apocalyptic year (for ‘1984’ has become a year that is associated with dread because of Orwell’s book), and I am very likely to live to see it.
In this chapter, I will discuss the book, but first: Who was Blair/Orwell and why was the book written?
Blair was born in 1903 into the status of a British gentleman. His father was in the Indian civil service and Blair himself lived the life of a British Imperial official. He went to Eton, served in Burma, and so on. However, he lacked the money to be an English gentleman to the full. Then, too, he didn’t want to spend his time at dull desk jobs; he wanted to be a writer. Thirdly, he felt guilty about his status in the upper class. So he did in the late 1920s what so many well-to-do American young people in the 1960s did. In short, he became what we would have called a ‘hippie’ at a later time. He lived under slum conditions in London and Paris, consorted with and identified with slum dwellers and vagrants, managed to ease his conscience and, at the same time, to gather material for his earliest books.
He also turned left wing and became a socialist, fighting with the loyalists in Spain in the 1930s. There he found himself caught up in the sectarian struggles between the various left-wing factions, and since he believed in a gentlemanly English form of socialism, he was inevitably on the losing side. Opposed to him were passionate Spanish anarchists, syndicalists, and communists, who bitterly resented the fact that the necessities of fighting the Franco fascists got in the way of their fighting each other.
The communists, who were the best organised, won out and Orwell had to leave Spain, for he was convinced that if he did not, he would be killed From then on, to the end of his life, he carried on a private literary war with the communists, determined to win in words the battle he had lost in action.
During World War II, in which he was rejected for military service, he was associated with the left wing of the British Labour party, but didn’t much sympathise with their views, for even their reckless version of socialism seemed too well organised for him. He wasn’t much affected, apparently, by the Nazi brand of totalitarianism, for there was no room within him except for his private war with Stalinist communism. Consequently, when Great Britain was fighting for its life against Nazism, and the Soviet Union fought as an ally in the struggle and contributed rather more than its share in lives lost and in resolute courage, Orwell wrote Animal Farm which was a satire of the Russian Revolution and what followed, picturing it in terms of a revolt of barnyard animals against human masters.
He completed Animal Farm in 1944 and had trouble finding a publisher since it wasn’t a particularly good time for upsetting the Soviets. As soon as the war came to an end, however, the Soviet Union was fair game and Animal Farm was published. It was greeted with much acclaim and Orwell became sufficiently prosperous to retire and devote himself to his masterpiece, 1984.
That book described society as a vast world-wide extension of Stalinist Russia in the 1930s, pictured with the venom of a rival left-wing sectarian. Other forms of totalitarianism play a small role. There are one or two mentions of the Nazis and of the Inquisition. At the very start, there is a reference or two to Jews, almost as though they were going to prove the objects of persecution, but that vanishes almost at once, as though Orwell didn’t want readers to mistake the villains for Nazis. The picture is of Stalinism, and Stalinism only.
By the time the book came out in 1949, the Cold War was at its height. The book therefore proved popular. It was almost a matter of patriotism in the West to buy it and talk about it, and perhaps even to read parts of it, although it is my opinion that more people bought it and talked about it than read it, for it is a dreadfully dull book – didactic, repetitious, and all but motionless.
It was most popular at first with people who leaned towards the conservative side of the political spectrum, for it was clearly an anti-Soviet polemic, and the picture of life it projected in the London of 1984 was very much as conservatives imagined life in the Moscow of 1949 to be.
During the McCarthy era in the United States, 1984 became increasingly popular with those who leaned towards the liberal side of the political spectrum, for it seemed to them that the United States of the early 1950s was beginning to move in the direction of thought-control and that all the viciousness Orwell had depicted was on its way towards us.
Thus, in an afterword to an edition published in paperback by New American Library in 1961, the liberal psychoanalyst and philosopher Erich Fromm concluded as follows:
‘Books like Orwell’s are powerful warnings, and it would be most unfortunate if the reader smugly interpreted 1984 as another description of Stalinist barbarism, and if he does not see that it means us, too.’
Even if Stalinism and McCarthyism are disregarded, however, more and more Americans were becoming aware of just how ‘big’ the government was getting; how high taxes were; how increasingly rules and regulations permeated business and even ordinary life; how information concerning every facet of private life was entering the files not only of government bureaux but of private credit systems.
1984, therefore, came to stand not for Stalinism, or even for dictatorship in general – but merely for government. Even governmental paternalism seemed ‘1984ish’ and the catch phrase ‘Big Brother is watching you’ came to mean everything that was too big for the individual to control. It was not only big government and big business that was a symptom of 1984 but big science, big labour, big anything.
In fact, so thoroughly has 1984-ophobia penetrated the consciousness of many who have not read the book and have no notion of what it contains, that one wonders what will happen to us after 31 December 1984. When New Year’s Day of 1985 arrives and the United States is still in existence and facing very much the problems it faces today, how will we express our fears of whatever aspect of life fills us with apprehension? What new date can we invent to take the place of 1984?
Orwell did not live to see his book become the success it did. He did not witness the way in which he made 1984 into a year that would haunt a whole generation of Americans. Orwell died of tuberculosis in a London hospital in January 1950, just a few months after the book was published, at the age of forty-six. His awareness of imminent death may have added to the bitterness of the book.
B. THE SCIENCE FICTION OF 1984
Many people think of 1984 as a science fiction novel, but almost the only item about 1984 that would lead one to suppose this is the fact that it is purportedly laid in the future. Not so! Orwell had no feel for the future, and the displacement of the story is much more geographical than temporal.
The London in which the story is placed is not so much moved thirty-five years forward in time, from 1949 to 1984, as it is moved a thousand miles east in space to Moscow. Orwell imagines Great Britain to have gone through a revolution similar to the Russian Revolution and to have gone through all the stages that Soviet development did. He can think of almost no variations on the theme. The Soviets had a series of purges in the 1930s, so the Ingsoc (English Socialism) had a series of purges in the 1950s. The Soviets converted one of their revolutionaries, Leon Trotsky, into a villain, leaving his opponent, Joseph Stalin, as a hero. The Ingsoc, therefore, convert one of their revolutionaries, Emmanuel Goldstein, into a villain, leaving his opponent, with a moustache like Stalin, as a hero.
There is no ability to make minor changes, even. Goldstein, like Trotsky, has ‘a lean Jewish face, with a great fuzzy aureole of white hair and a small goatee beard’. Orwell apparently does not want to confuse the issue by giving Stalin a different name so he calls him merely ‘Big Brother’.
At the very beginning of the story, it is made clear that television (which was coming into existence at the time the book was written) served as a continuous means of indoctrination of the people, for sets cannot be turned off. (And, apparently, in a deteriorating London in which nothing works, these sets never fail.)
The great Orwellian contribution to future technology is that the television set is two-way, and that the people who are forced to hear and see the television screen can themselves be heard and seen at all times and are under constant supervision even while sleeping or in the bathroom. Hence, the meaning of the phrase ‘Big Brother is watching you’.
This is an extraordinarily inefficient system of keeping everyone under control. To have a person being watched at all times means that some other person must be doing the watching at all times (at least in the Orwellian society) and must be doing so very narrowly, for there is a great development of the art of interpreting gesture and facial expression. One person cannot watch more than one person in full concentration, and can only do so for a comparatively short time before attention begins to wander. I should guess, in short, that there may have to be five watchers for every person watched. And then, of course, the watchers must themselves be watched since no one in the Orwellian world is suspicion-free. Consequently, the system of oppression by two-way television simply will not work.
Orwell himself realised this by limiting its workings to the Party members. The ‘proles’ (proletariat), for whom Orwell cannot hide his British upper-class contempt, are left largely to themselves as subhuman. (At one point in the book, he says that any prole that shows ability is killed – a leaf taken out of the Spartan treatment of their helots twenty-five hundred years ago.)
Furthermore, he has a system of volunteer spies in which children report on their parents, and neighbours on each other. This cannot possibly work well since eventually everyone reports everyone else and it all has to be abandoned.
Orwell was unable to conceive of computers or robots, or he would have placed everyone under non-human surveillance. Our own computers to some extent do this in the IRS, in credit files, and so on, but that does not take us towards 1984, except in fevered imaginations. Computers and tyranny do not necessarily go hand in hand. Tyrannies have worked very well without computers (consider the Nazis) and the most computerised nations in today’s world are also the least tyrannical.
Orwell lacks the capacity to see (or invent) small changes. His hero finds it difficult in his world of 1984 to get shoelaces or razor blades. So would I in the real world of the 1980s, for so many people use slip-on shoes and electric razors.
Then, too, Orwell had the technophobic fixation that every technological advance is a slide downhill. Thus, when his hero writes, he ‘fitted a nib into the penholder and sucked it to get the grease off. He does so ‘because of a feeling that the beautiful creamy paper deserved to be written on with a real nib instead of being scratched with an ink-pencil’.
Presumably, the ‘ink-pencil’ is the ball-point pen that was coming into use at the time that 1984 was being written. This means that Orwell describes something as being written’ with a real nib but being ‘scratched’ with a ball-point. This is, however, precisely the reverse of the truth. If you are old enough to remember steel pens, you will remember that they scratched fearsomely, and you know ball-points don’t. This is not science fiction, but a distorted nostalgia for a past that never was. I am surprised that Orwell stopped with the steel pen and that he didn’t have Winston writing with a neat goose quill.
Nor was Orwell particularly prescient in the strictly social aspects of the future he was presenting, with the result that the Orwellian world of 1984 is incredibly old-fashioned when compared with the real world of the 1980s.
Orwell imagines no new vices, for instance. His characters are all gin hounds and tobacco addicts, and part of the horror of his picture of 1984 is his eloquent description of the low quality of the gin and tobacco. He foresees no new drugs, no marijuana, no synthetic hallucinogens. No one expects an s.f. writer to be precise and exact in his forecasts, but surely one would expect him to invent some differences.
In his despair (or anger), Orwell forgets the virtues human beings have. All his characters are, in one way or another, weak or sadistic, or sleazy, or stupid, or repellent. This may be how most people are, or how Orwell wants to indicate they will all be under tyranny, but it seems to me that under even the worst tyrannies, so far, there have been brave men and women who have withstood the tyrants to the death and whose personal histories are luminous flames in the surrounding darkness. If only because there is no hint of this in 1984, it does not resemble the real world of the 1980s.
Nor did he foresee any difference in the role of women or any weakening of the feminine stereotype of 1949. There are only two female characters of importance. One is a strong, brainless ‘prole’ woman who is an endless washerwoman, endlessly singing a popular song with words of the type familiar in the 1930s and 1940s (at which Orwell shudders fastidiously as ‘trashy’, in blissful non-anticipation of hard rock).
The other is the heroine, Julia, who is sexually promiscuous (but is at least driven to courage by her interest in sex) and is otherwise brainless. When the hero, Winston, reads to her the book within a book that explains the nature of the Orwellian world, she responds by falling asleep – but then since the treatise Winston reads is stupefyingly soporific, this may be an indication of Julia’s good sense rather than the reverse. In short, if 1984 must be considered science fiction, then it is very bad science fiction.
C. THE GOVERNMENT OF 1984
Orwell’s 1984 is a picture of all-powerful government, and it has helped make the notion of ‘big government’ a very frightening one.
We have to remember, though, that the world of the late 1940s, during which Orwell was writing his book, was one in which there had been, and still were, big governments with true tyrants – individuals whose every wish, however unjust, cruel or vicious, was law. What’s more, it seemed as though such tyrants were irremovable except by the chance of outside force. Benito Mussolini of Italy, after twenty-one years of absolute rule, was overthrown, but that was only because his country was suffering defeat in war.
Adolf Hitler of Germany, a far stronger and more brutal tyrant, ruled with a steel hand for twelve years, yet even defeat did not, in itself, bring about his overthrow. Though the area over which he ruled shrank and shrank and shrank, and even though overwhelming armies of his adversaries closed in from the east and west, he remained absolute tyrant over whatever area he controlled – even when it was only over the bunker in which he committed suicide. Until he removed himself, no one dared remove him. (There were plots against him, to be sure, but they never worked, sometimes through quirks of fate that seemed explainable only by supposing that someone down there liked him.)
Orwell, however, had no time for either Mussolini or Hitler. His enemy was Stalin, and at the time that 1984 was published, Stalin had ruled the Soviet Union in a ribbreaking bear hug for twenty-five years, had survived a terrible war in which his nation suffered enormous losses and yet was now stronger than ever. To Orwell, it must have seemed that neither time nor fortune could budge Stalin, but that he would live on forever with ever increasing strength. – And that was how Orwell pictured Big Brother.
Of course, that was not the way it really was. Orwell didn’t live long enough to see it but Stalin died only three years after 1984 was published, and it was not long after that that his regime was denounced as a tyranny by – guess who – the Soviet leadership.
The Soviet Union is still the Soviet Union, but it is not Stalinist, and the enemies of the state are no longer liquidated (Orwell uses ‘vaporised’ instead, such small changes being all he can manage) with quite such abandon.
Again, Mao Tse-tung died in China, and while he himself has not been openly denounced, his close associates, as ‘the Gang of Four’, were promptly demoted from Divinity, and while China is still China, it is not Maoist any longer.
Franco of Spain died in his bed and while, to his very last breath, he remained the unquestioned leader he had been for nearly forty years, immediately after that last breath, Fascism abruptly dwindled in Spain, as it had in Portugal after Salazar’s death.
In short, Big Brothers do die, or at least they have so far, and when they die, the government changes, always for the milder.
This is not to say that new tyrants may not make themselves felt, but they will die, too. At least in the real 1980s we have every confidence they will and the undying Big Brother is not yet a real threat.
If anything, in fact, governments of the 1980s seem dangerously weak. The advance of technology has put powerful weapons – explosives, machine guns, fast cars into the hands of urban terrorists who can and do kidnap, hijack, gun down, and take hostages with impunity while governments stand by more or less helplessly.
In addition to the immortality of Big Brother, Orwell presents two other ways of maintaining an eternal tyranny.
First -,present someone or something to hate. In the Orwellian world it was Emmanuel Goldstein for whom hate was built up and orchestrated in a robotized mass function.
This is nothing new, of course. Every nation in the world has used various neighbours for the purpose of hate. This sort of thing is so easily handled and comes as such second nature to humanity that one wonders why there have to be the organised hate drives in the Orwellian world.
It needs scarcely any clever psychological mass movements to make Arabs hate Israelis and Greeks hate Turks and Catholic Irish hate Protestant Irish – and vice versa in each case. To be sure, the Nazis organised mass meetings of delirium that every participant seemed to enjoy, but it had no permanent effect. Once the war moved on to German soil, the Germans surrendered as meekly as though they had never Sieg-Heiled in their lives.
Second – rewrite history. Almost every one of the few individuals we meet in 1984 has, as his job, the rapid rewriting of the past, the readjustment of statistics, the overhauling of newspapers – as though anyone is going to take the trouble to pay attention to the past anyway.
This Orwellian preoccupation with the minutiae of ‘historical proof’ is typical of the political sectarian who is always quoting what has been said and done in the past to prove a point to someone on the other side who is always quoting something to the opposite effect that has been said and done.
As any politician knows, no evidence of any kind is ever required. It is only necessary to make a statement – any statement – forcefully enough to have an audience believe it. No one will check the lie against the facts, and, if they do, they will disbelieve the facts. Do you think the German people in 1939 pretended that the Poles had attacked them and started World War II? No! Since they were told that was so, they believed it as seriously as you and I believe that they attacked the Poles.
To be sure, the Soviets put out new editions of their Encyclopaedia in which politicians rating a long biography in earlier editions are suddenly omitted entirely, and this is no doubt the germ of the Orwellian notion, but the chances of carrying it as far as is described in 1984 seem to me to be nil – not because it is beyond human wickedness, but because it is totally unnecessary.
Orwell makes much of ‘Newspeak’ as an organ of repression – the conversion of the English language into so limited and abbreviated an instrument that the very vocabulary of dissent vanishes. Partly he got the notion from the undoubted habit of abbreviation. He gives examples of ‘Communist International’ becoming ‘Comintern’ and ‘Geheime Staatspolizei’ becoming ‘Gestapo’, but that is not a modern totalitarian invention. ‘Vulgus mobile’ became ‘mob’; ‘taxi cabriolet’ became ‘cab’; ‘quasi-stellar radio source’ became ‘quasar’; ‘light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation’ became ‘laser’ and so on. There is no sign that such compressions of the language have ever weakened it as a mode of expression.
As a matter of fact, political obfuscation has tended to use many words rather than few, long words rather than short, to extend rather than to reduce. Every leader of inadequate education or limited intelligence hides behind exuberant inebriation of loquacity.
Thus, when Winston Churchill suggested the development of ‘Basic English’ as an international language (something which undoubtedly also contributed to ‘Newspeak’), the suggestion was stillborn. We are therefore in no way approaching Newspeak in its condensed form, though we have always had Newspeak in its extended form and always will have.
We also have a group of young people among us who say things like ‘Right on, man, you know. It’s like he’s got it all together, you know, man. I mean, like you know -‘ and so on for five minutes when the word that the young people are groping for is ‘Huh?’
That, however, is not Newspeak, and it has always been with us, too. It is something which in Oldspeak is called ‘inarticulacy’ and it is not what Orwell had in mind.
D. THE INTERNATIONAL SITUATION OF 1984
Although Orwell seemed, by and large, to be helplessly stuck in the world of 1949, in one respect at least he showed himself to be remarkably prescient, and that was in foreseeing the tripartite split of the world of the 1980s.
The international world of 1984 is a world of three superpowers: Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia – and that fits in, very roughly, with the three actual superpowers of the 1980s: the United States, the Soviet Union, and China.
Oceania is a combination of the United States and the British Empire. Orwell, who was an old Imperial civil servant, did not seem to notice that the British Empire was in its last throes in the late 1940s and was about to dissolve. He seems to suppose, in fact, that the British Empire is the dominant member of the British-American combination.
At least, the entire action takes place in London and phrases such as ‘the United States’ and ‘Americans’ are rarely, if ever, mentioned. But then, this is very much in the fashion of the British spy novel in which, ever since World War II, Great Britain (currently about the eighteenth strongest military and economic power in the world) is set up as the great adversary of the Soviet Union, or of China, or of some invented international conspiracy, with the United States either never mentioned or reduced to the small courtesy appearance of an occasional CIA agent.
Eurasia is, of course, the Soviet Union, which Orwell assumes will have absorbed the whole European continent. Eurasia, therefore, includes all of Europe, plus Siberia, and its population is 95 per cent European by any standard.
Nevertheless, Orwell describes the Eurasians as ‘solid-looking men with expressionless Asiatic faces’. Since Orwell still lives in a time when ‘European’ and ‘Asiatic’ are equivalent to ‘ ‘hero’ and ‘villain’, it is impossible to inveigh against the Soviet Union with the proper emotion if it is not thought of as ‘Asiatic’. This comes under the heading of what Orwellian Newspeak calls ‘double-think’, something that Orwell, like any human being, is good at.
It may be, of course, that Orwell is thinking not of Eurasia, or the Soviet Union, but of his great bête noire, Stalin. Stalin is a Georgian, and Georgia, lying south of the Caucasus mountains, is, by strict geographic considerations, part of Asia.
Eastasia is, of course, China and various dependent nations. Here is prescience. At the time Orwell was writing 1984, the Chinese communists had not yet won control of the country and many (in the United States, in particular) were doing their best to see that the anti-Communist, Chiang Kai-shek, retained control. Once the communists won, it became part of the accepted credo of the West that the Chinese would be under thorough Soviet control and that China and the Soviet Union would form a monolithic communist power.
Orwell not only foresaw the communist victory (he saw that victory everywhere, in fact) but also foresaw that Russia and China would not form a monolithic bloc but would be deadly enemies.
There, his own experience as a Leftist sectarian may have helped him. He had no Rightist superstitions concerning Leftists as unified and indistinguishable villains. He knew they would fight each other as fiercely over the most trifling points of doctrine as would the most pious of Christians.
He also foresaw a permanent state of war among the three; a condition of permanent stalemate with the alliances ever-shifting, but always two against the strongest. This was the old-fashioned ‘balance of power’ system which was used in ancient Greece, in medieval Italy, and in early modern Europe. Orwell’s mistake lay in thinking there had to be actual war to keep the merry-go-round of the balance of power in being. In fact, in one of the more laughable parts of the book, he goes on and on concerning the necessity of permanent war as a means of consuming the world’s production of resources and thus keeping the social stratification of upper, middle, and lower classes in being. (This sounds like a very Leftist explanation of war as the result of a conspiracy worked out with great difficulty.)
In actual fact, the decades since 1945 have been remarkably war-free as compared with the decades before it. There have been local wars in profusion, but no general war. But then, war is not required as a desperate device to consume the world’s resources. That can be done by such other devices as endless increase in population and in energy use, neither of which Orwell considers.
Orwell did not foresee any of the significant economic changes that have taken place since World War II. He did not foresee the role of oil or its declining availability or its increasing price, or the escalating power of those nations who control it. I don’t recall his mentioning the word ‘oil’.
But perhaps it is close enough to mark Orwellian prescience here, if we substitute ‘cold war’ for ‘war’. There has been, in fact, a more or less continual ‘cold war’ that has served to keep employment high and solve some short-term economic problems (at the cost of creating long-term greater ones). And this cold war is enough to deplete resources.
Furthermore, the alliances shifted as Orwell foresaw and very nearly as suddenly. When the United States seemed all-powerful, the Soviet Union and China were both vociferously anti-American and in a kind of alliance. As American power decreased, the Soviet Union and China fell apart and, for a while, each of the three powers inveighed against the other two equally. Then, when the Soviet Union came to seem particularly powerful, a kind of alliance sprang up between the United States and China, as they co-operated in vilifying the Soviet Union, and spoke softly of each other.
In 1984 every shift of alliance involved an orgy of history rewriting. In real life, no such folly is necessary. The public swings from side to side easily, accepting the change in circumstance with no concern for the past at all. For instance, the Japanese, by the 1950s, had changed from unspeakable villains to friends, while the Chinese moved in the opposite direction with no one bothering to wipe out Pearl Harbour. No one cared, for goodness’ sake.
Orwell has his three great powers voluntarily forgo the use of nuclear bombs, and to be sure such bombs have not been used in war since 1945. That, however, may be because the only powers with large nuclear arsenals, the United States and the Soviet Union, have avoided war with each other. Were there actual war, it is extremely doubtful that one side or the other would not finally feel it necessary to push the button. In that respect, Orwell perhaps falls short of reality.
London does, however, occasionally suffer a missile strike, which sounds very much like a V-1 or V-2 weapon of 1944, and the city is in a 1945-type shambles. Orwell cannot make 1984 very different from 1944 in this respect. Orwell, in fact, makes it clear that by 1984, the universal communism of the three superpowers has choked science and reduced it to uselessness except in those areas where it is needed for war. There is no question but that the nations are more eager to invest in science where war applications are in clear view but, alas, there is no way of separating war from peace where applications are in question.
Science is a unit, and everything in it could conceivably be related to war and destruction. Science has therefore not been choked off but continues not only in the United States and Western Europe and Japan, but also in the Soviet Union and in China. The advances of science are too numerous to attempt to list, but think of lasers and computers as ‘war weapons’ with infinite peaceful applications.
To summarise, then: George Orwell in 1984 was, in my opinion, engaging in a private feud with Stalinism, rather that attempting to forecast the future. He did not have the science fictional knack of foreseeing a plausible future and, in actual fact, in almost all cases, the world of 1984 bears no relation to the real world of the 1980s.
The world may go communist, if not by 1984, then by some not very much later date; or it may see civilisation destroyed. If this happens, however, it will happen in a fashion quite different from that depicted in 1984 and if we try to prevent either eventuality by imagining that 1984 is accurate, then we will be defending ourselves against assaults from the wrong direction and we will lose.
One often hears Trotskyists, Anarchists and bourgeois propagandists accuse Joseph Stalin of killing all or at least most of the so-called ”Old Bolsheviks” and thus being able to allegedly distort the true meaning behind Bolshevism/Leninism. Here I won’t be getting into a thorough debate about what is or is not the real core ideology of Bolshevism but I would like to examine the accusation that Stalin ”killed the Old Bolsheviks”.
1. Who were the so-called ”Old Bolsheviks”?
According to the groups mentioned above, i.e. left-communists, Trotskyists, Anarchists and Right-Wingers the term ”Old Bolshevik” typically refers to people such as Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Rykov etc.
They allege that these people represented ”real Bolshevism” and that Stalin killed them to implement his ”Stalinist distortion of Bolshevism”.
But what makes these people ”Old Bolsheviks”? Sure enough some of them such as Zinoviev were long standing members of the Bolshevik party, but is that all that we’re talking about? Zinoviev, Kamenev & co. had numerous disagreements with Lenin, the founder and leader of Bolshevism so can they truly be called Bolsheviks at all? Second of all, there are many people who were also longtime members of the Bolshevik Party yet they don’t get the same status of being called ”Old Bolsheviks”.
We can only conclude that the Right-Winger, Trotskyist and their ilk define ”Old Bolsheviks” merely as people who were killed by Stalin. That is their only qualification.
2. The Real Old Bolsheviks
Interestingly Right and ”Left” critics of Stalin don’t seem to consider the following group of people Old Bolsheviks despite the fact that they obviously were – or at least ignore them when arguing that ”Stalin killed the Old Bolsheviks”.
Note: The Bolshevik faction ”RSDLP(B)” emerged in 1903-1907. The RSDLP itself was founded in 1898.
Stalin (joined the RSDLP in 1899. Bolshevik as early as 1903)
Kalinin (joined the party in 1898. Bolshevik at least as early as 1905)
Voroshilov (joined the RSDLP(B) in 1903)
Orjonikidze (joined the RSDLP(B) in 1903)
Sverdlov (joined the RSDLP in 1902. Bolshevik as early as 1903)
Molotov (joined the RSDLP(B) in 1906)
Kaganovich (joined the RSDLP(B) in 1911)
These people were not killed by Stalin, in fact they were his allies and I would argue much better Bolsheviks then Zinoviev & co. However for some reason they do not seem to count.
3. Were Zinoviev, Kamenev & Bukharin really such good Bolsheviks?
I think it can be demonstrated rather easily that Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Trotsky & co. were not particularly good Bolsheviks and for that reason calling them ”Old Bolsheviks” (that Stalin ’murdered’ to distort bolshevism) seems dubious.
Zinoviev & Kamenev:
Lenin himself wanted Z. & K. expelled from the Bolshevik party altogether due to their treachery on the eve of the October Revolution. Z. & K. opposed the revolution and criticized it in a bourgeois newspaper, thus revealing the Bolsheviks plan to overthrow the government to the class-enemy.
”When the full text of Kamenev’s and Zinoviev’s statement in the non-Party paper Novaya Zhizn was transmitted to me by telephone, I refused to believe it… I no longer consider either of them comrades and that I will fight with all my might, both in the Central Committee and at the Congress, to secure the expulsion of both of them from the Party… Let Mr. Zinoviev and Mr. Kamenev found their own party”
–LENIN, ”Letter to Bolshevik Party Members” (18th Oct. 1917)
Despite being known as a Right-Winger for his views on economic policy, Bukharinists used to be thought of as a Left-Communist faction in the party. This is in the main due to their adventurism and opposition to the Brest-Litovsk peace-treaty.
Lenin slammed the actions of Bukharin & the ”Left”-communists in ”Peace or War?”
”…he who is against an immediate, even though extremely onerous peace, is endangering Soviet power.”
He also attacked Bukharin on the economic front in 1921 in his work ”Once Again On the Trade Unions: On the Mistakes of Trotsky and Bukharin”.
Mentioning Trotsky in this context is perhaps superfluous but I will do it for the sake of thoroughness. He joined the party only in 1917 and cannot be called an Old Bolshevik in any case. Initially he was a Menshevik (1903-1905), then a member of the ultra-opportunist August Bloch (1907-1913) which Lenin ridiculed, opponent of the Zimmerwald Left that Lenin supported (1914-1916) and finally the semi-Menshevik Mezhraiontsy which ceased to exist in 1917. His disagreements with Lenin are too numerous to mention.
He was a longtime enemy of Lenin prompting Lenin to refer to him as a ”Judas”, ”Swine”, ”Scoundrel”, “bureaucratic” helper of the liberal bourgeois and calling his theory of Permanent Revolution both ”absurd” and half-menshevik. Instead of providing quotations sources for the claims will be at the end or otherwise this section would be too lengthy.
Lenin also attacked Trotsky for his flip flopping on the Brest peace deal and his ridiculous economic policy & poor handling of the trade unions together with Bukharin.
4. The Bloc of Rights & Trotskyites
In 1921 at the 10th congress of the RCP Lenin argued for the banning of factional cliques in the Bolshevik party. This was accepted and factions were either expelled or they capitulated. However after his death various factional groups sprung up. In 1927 Trotsky, Zinoviev & Kamenev were expelled from the party for factionalism after organizing an anti-party demonstration, though Z & K. later capitulated to Stalin.
Trotsky was exiled from the USSR, while Zinoviev & Kamenev were marginalized. The Bukharinists also lost the debate against Stalin & the majority. By 1932 Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev & Bukharin had all lost their legitimate political power. Trotsky created a secret conspiratorial anti-soviet group which was joined by Z. & K. and later various Bukharinites. This group became known in the Soviet media as ”The Bloc of Rights & Trotskyites”.
This is the real reason for which these people were later arrested & executed. They wished to carry out destabilization against the Soviet government which was already worried about foreign Fascist invasions. All of this was denied by anti-soviet elements for decades but the discovery of various letters from Trotsky and his associates has proven it without a shadow of a doubt.
”…The proposal for a bloc seems to me to be completely acceptable.”
–Trotsky to Sedov
”The bloc is organised, it includes the Zinovievists, the Sten–Lominadze Group and the Trotskyists…”
–Sedov to Trotsky
” One fights repression by means of anonymity and conspiracy…”
–Trotsky to Sedov
”As far as the illegal organisation of the Bolshevik-Leninists in the USSR is concerned, only the first steps have been taken towards its re-organisation.”
–Trotsky (Dec. 16 1932)
Source: Library of Harvard College 13905c, 1010, 4782 quoted in Pierre Broué’s The “Bloc” of the Oppositions against Stalin
Whether or not you believe the actions of Trotsky & co. to be justified it is dishonest to claim they were framed or unjustly murdered for their so-called Bolshevism. They fought against the Soviet government and lost.
5. Conclusions: Will the Real Old Bolsheviks please Stand up?
Stalin did not in fact kill the Old Bolsheviks, he killed anti-Soviet renegades whose Bolshevik credentials were questionable at best. The real Old Bolsheviks were people like Kalinin and Voroshilov who supported Lenin since the beginning through thick and thin, not flip-flopping opportunists like Zinoviev who stabbed Lenin in the back when ever it was advantageous.
LENIN QUOTES ON TROTSKY:
”…Trotsky’s (the scoundrel… this swindler … pays lip-service to the Party and behaves worse than any other of the factionalists.”
–LENIN CW 34 p. 400 (1909)
”At the Plenary Meeting Judas Trotsky made a big show of fighting liquidationism…”
–LENIN ”Judas Trotsky’s Blush of Shame” (1911)
Trotsky… proclaiming his absurdly Left ‘permanent revolution’ theory.”
–LENIN ”Disruption of Unity Under Cover of Outcries for Unity” (1914)
“Trotsky’s… theory has borrowed… from the Mensheviks…”
–LENIN ”On the Two Lines in the Revolution” (1915)
”The Bolsheviks helped the proletariat consciously to follow the first line… liberal bourgeoisie was the second… Trotsky is in fact helping the liberal-labour politicians in Russia…”
– LENIN, Ibid.
”What a swine this Trotsky is—Left phrases, and a bloc with the Right…”
–LENIN ”Letter to Alexandra Kollontai” (1917)
”It is Trotsky who is in “ideological confusion”… There you have an example of the real bureaucratic approach: Trotsky… Trotsky’s “theses” are politically harmful…”
–LENIN ”The Trade Unions, The Present Situation And Trotsky’s Mistakes” (1920)
”Comrade Trotsky is essentially wrong on all his new points… Trotsky and Bukharin have produced a hodgepodge of political mistakes”
–LENIN ”Once Again On The Trade Unions: The Current Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Buhkarin” (1921)
On pages 279-280 of the book Rajani Palme Dutt: A Study in British Stalinism by John Callaghan (Lawrence & Wishart 1993), the author writes the following:
“… the evidence points overwhelmingly to Dutt’s satisfaction with the Communist record. In preparing his book on The Internationale, for example, he had considered the inclusion of an anecdote to illustrate the ‘basic guilt of the accused’ [in the Moscow Trials]. Fortunately, although Dutt changed his mind about publication, this curious fragment survives and acquires an especially sinister light today in view of the fact that the Soviet state itself eventually admitted the falsity of the charges brought against the leading Bolsheviks in question. Dutt’s ‘evidence’ concerns ‘a lengthy day’s visit to the village at some distance from Moscow’ where Bukharin and Radek were at work in the summer of 1935. Here ‘under the seal of absolute secrecy’ they apparently ‘gave him a serious and alarming account… of the net in which they had become involved and of the dilemmas with which they were faced’. Dutt was told in very general terms, with no names mentioned, of how ‘opposition to the party, however much it might be felt to be justified at a given moment, can lead by its own logic step by step into the camp of counter-revolution’. He was accordingly advised to never enter this ‘fatal path of conflict with the party’ and retired with ‘the memory of this talk… like a nightmare’ weighing on his mind during the ensuing period. At first Dutt tried to convince himself that these old ‘friends and comrades’ had presented ‘an allegory to test him’ but he had ‘a lurking suspicion’ that their confessions of guilt were true and only failed to report them to the party by taking refuge in the ‘cowardly evasion’ that he had no grounds for certainty concerning their sins. Thus ‘when the trials followed, of Radek, and subsequently of Bukharin, it was as if a weight were lifted from the writer’s [Dutt’s] consciousness that, however terrible, the facts at last were out’. Dutt now read the trial statements of both men and as he did so ‘he felt as if he were reading the same story a second time, since their narrative corresponded so closely with what they had told him on that summer’s day and evening in 1935, even with many of the same phrases.'”
The source given is: Dutt, ‘Radek-Bukharin conversations ommitted from The Internationale’, 11 March 1964, CPGB archive.
Joseph Stalin was elected as the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU in April 1922 during the 11th Congress of the Party. Between then and until his death, he asked to be relieved of his duties as General Secretary a total of four times — all of which were rejected.
On Lenin’s motion, the Plenum of the Central Committee, on April 3, 1922, elected Stalin … [as the] General Secretary of the Central Committee, a post at which he has remained ever since.
Alexandrov, G. F. Joseph Stalin; a Short Biography. Moscow: FLPH, 1947, p. 74
Stalin’s first attempt at resignation (likely in 1925) from the post of General Secretary was at a meeting of the Central Committee after the 13th Congress (held in May 1924). This was rejected unanimously by all the delegations, including Trotsky. Stalin remarked on this later in 1927 in a speech at a meeting of the Central Committee:
It is said that in that “will” Comrade Lenin suggested to the congress that in view of Stalin’s “rudeness” it should consider the question of putting another comrade in Stalin’s place as General Secretary. That is quite true.
Yes, comrades, I am rude to those who grossly and perfidiously wreck and split the Party. I have never concealed this and do not conceal it now. Perhaps some mildness is needed in the treatment of splitters, but I am a bad hand at that.
At the very first meeting of the plenum of the Central Committee after the Thirteenth Congress I asked the plenum of the Central Committee to release me from my duties as General Secretary. The congress itself discussed this question. It was discussed by each delegation separately, and all the delegations unanimously, including Trotsky, Kamenev and Zinoviev, obliged Stalin to remain at his post.
What could I do? Desert my post? That is not in my nature; I have never deserted any post, and I have no right to do so, for that would be desertion. As I have already said before, I am not a free agent, and when the Party imposes an obligation upon me, I must obey.
A year later I again put in a request to the plenum to release me, but I was again obliged to remain at my post. What else could I do?
The next two attempts to resign from the post of General Secretary was a year after in 1926 and later in 1927. The British historian Robert Service who specialized in Russian history wrote about this in his biography of Stalin:
On 27 December 1926, he wrote to Sovnarkom Chairman Alexei Rykov saying: ‘I ask you to release me from the post of Central Committee General Secretary. I affirm that I can no longer work at this post, that I’m in no condition to work any longer at this post.’ He made a similar attempt at resignation on 19 December 1927.
All three of these previous attempts were rejected. The last attempt to resign was in 1952, about five months before Stalin’s death, during a meeting of the Central Committee where he urged the Central Committee to relieve him of his duties. This too was rejected.
In a speech given by him to the Central Committee that mainly criticized Molotov for some of his decisions, he was interrupted near the end of the speech by someone from the floor.
VOICE FROM THE FLOOR – We need to elect comrade Stalin as the General Secretary of the CC CPSU and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR.
STALIN – No! I am asking that you relieve me of the two posts!
MALENKOV – coming to the tribune: Comrades! We should all unanimously ask comrade Stalin, our leader and our teacher, to be again the General Secretary of the CC CPSU.
Originally posted by Socialist Musings.
The death of Fidel Castro Ruz, an outstanding leader of the Cuban revolution, is a great loss to not only the Cuban people but also the Korean people fighting on the same front against the imperialists.
The Korean people have highly respected Fidel Castro Ruz as a national hero of Cuba, outstanding leader of the Cuban people and a prominent anti-imperialist fighter.
He was a close friend of the Korean people and an eternal revolutionary comrade-in-arms who had always kept in his mind the comradely relations with President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il and made all efforts to develop the friendly and cooperative relations between the parties, governments and peoples of the two countries and extended firm support and encouragement to Korea’s reunification and the cause of justice with invariable revolutionary principle and obligation.
He was an indomitable revolutionary fighter who defended the banner of socialism in the Western Hemisphere at a time when the red flags of socialism were lowered in different counties at the end of the 1980s and early in the 1990s and the U.S. imperialists escalated their moves to isolate and stifle Cuba.
During those days of hardship, the two countries stood firm in the same trench for socialism under the leadership of the great leaders and Fidel Castro Ruz, and the friendly and cooperative relations between the two parties, two governments and two peoples grew stronger.
Though he passed away, the precious feats he performed in developing the DPRK-Cuba friendship and the cause of socialism will be kept in the hearts of the two peoples and the progressives of the world forever.
The army and people of the DPRK will as ever invariably hold fast to the banner of socialism and get firmly united with the fraternal Cuban people and make all efforts to develop the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries.
Ra Myong Song