October 2, 2013


Stalin's gulags and his Left wing British apologists (Michael Burleigh, 1 October 2013, Daily Mail)

The U.S. historian Anne Applebaum estimates that a minimum of 2,750,000 people died in the gulag system.

The camps were but one aspect of a tyrannical socialist system that, from the beginning of the Russian Revolution in 1917, under Lenin, relied on extreme violence to purge Soviet society of its 'class' enemies.

About 14 million people were killed in the civil war that followed the revolution, five million of them in a famine triggered by the insane economic policies of the Bolshevik government. 

A deliberate famine, designed to force peasants into collective farms, resulted in a further seven million deaths between 1928 and 1932.

Historians have compared conditions in some camps with those that Allied troops met in Hitler's Belsen concentration camp, with starving people lying down waiting to die. Many survivors resorted to cannibalism.

Such a system -- whose goal was 'social justice' -- relied on any number of Western apologists to deny what others had witnessed first-hand. 

Many of these were British academics, intellectuals and journalists. Among them were the founders of the London School of Economics, Sidney and Beatrice Webb. 

They merely said of Stalin's terror famine: 'Strong must have been the faith and resolute the will of the men who, in the interest of what seemed to them the public good, could take so momentous a decision.' 

When Stalin decided to purge entire swathes of the Communist party in the mid-1930s -- resulting in 600,000 or so people being tortured and shot -- Western apologists lined up to excuse actions that had been motivated by his envy, paranoia, hatred and spite.

The fact that the vengeance extended to the families and children of the Soviet butcher's victims, and blighted the lives of others down the generations, was no hindrance to putting a rosy gloss on mass murder. 

For Stalin established a few model prisons especially to show visiting Western dupes such as Professor Harold Laski, the mentor of Ralph Miliband at the LSE and chairman of the Labour Party.

Laski, who was seemingly not shocked by prisoners having their teeth smashed out with iron bars, reported back: 'Basically, I did not observe much of a difference between the general character of a trial in Russia and in this country.'

This pattern of exculpation of extreme brutality -- provided it was meted out in the name of social justice -- extended to justifying the infamous Nazi-Soviet Pact in 1939, which led to their joint invasion of Poland, the occupation of the Baltic states by Russia, and the Soviet invasion of Finland. 

Among Western socialist sympathisers of the Soviets was Ralph Miliband's friend, the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, who claimed the real enemy was capitalism, not the two criminals in Berlin and Moscow. 

Of course, every revolutionary organisation needs the fig-leaf of well-intentioned academics -- and there was no shortage of such apologists. These were the kind of people whom Lenin had earlier called 'useful idiots'.

The irony is that these Western intellectuals of the Left were the very people who should have been most suspicious of naked power. 

But, in fact, they more often than not worshipped Stalin -- demonstrating a shocking naivety, or, worse, a frightening amoralism worthy of Stalin himself.

Indeed, Hobsbawm remained a Communist Party member despite Soviet tanks rolling into Hungary in 1956.

He was still lecturing his Marxist creed to students and writing books at a time when Soviet tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia in 1968, and during the period when thousands of dissidents were imprisoned or shot dead by execution squads.

Posted by at October 2, 2013 7:58 PM

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