Discussion in 'Eastern Europe' started by arca, Jun 15, 2013.
fyi its corps. a corpse is a dead body
Thanks for correction. I thought that plural is spelled corpses.
its the same spelling singular and plural, I just double checked the dictionary
Domenico Losurdo stated: "Without a doubt there were two turning points that have determined the contemporary view of Stalin: the outbreak of the Cold War in 1947 and the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU."
The role of history is to describe events exactly how they happened, not how we want to see the past through certain optics. In this particular case the picture has been distorted at least twice. We know today that Khrushchev lied postmortem in the most allegations against Stalin. On the other side contemporary western history judges Stalin by using the present day morality without taking into account that he was a revolutionary obliged to employ revolutionary methods. Besides, he was a leader of a country which was constantly under a threat of aggression.
Finally, those who accuse Stalin should first answer the question: Why no one was ever accused or persecuted for Hiroshima?
Now, to the subject of this thread: It is true that the USSR, not just Stalin, has used rather radical measures to modernize a country in order to prepare it for the war. Indeed, according to Molotov's memoirs it was Stalin who has increased repression but it was Ezhow who overdid it. But as Shepilov said: "Stalin stopped Ezhov's churning meat grinder."
So whom to blame: Stalin, communists or those who have jeopardised the existence of the USSR?
I was also reflecting on these questions.. While IMO the greatest blame must be on Stalin, how the external circumstances affeted what was happening in USSR during it's entire existance? How much can we expect democratic processes to develop in a country where there is a constant state of present or imminet danger? This was the country upon which entire capitalist world declared war and tried to strangle it at it's birth, with those threats remaining during it's existance and new even bigger threats arrising in form of Germany and Japan. What effect this emergency had on country's economy and how much food and consumer goods shortage was induced by constant need for armament, while preparing to wage war on the richest and most powerfull countries. Of course I'm not saying that Stalin and USSR were just innocent victims, because thay also wanted if given the opportunity to export communism, by violent means if necessary. The fact remains though that they were victims of aggresion (at least until post WWII period) much more often then they were agressive to others.
There is also a question of nature of economic system. Soviet system was aimed at eradicating social differences and giving something to lowest classes. This put it in unfavorable position when compared with efficent capitalist economies aimed at optimal way of making profit and accumulating money, regardles of it's distribution. The latter economy is stronger, it's goal beeing healthy economy itself, while former's (at least theoreticaly) goal was just distribution of wealth. This weaker economy needs optimal conditions (peace, cooperation) to suceed, but if it is forced into state of perpetual preparation for war, it's certanly doomed to fail with greater or lesser suffering of population it was supposed to bring better(more just) life.
I thought it was a forum of military history.
Well the refusal of communism doesn't need a theoretical response. It doesn't works. In fact it had killed more people than the Nazis, the "imperial famines" in India and the small pox in America together. And the fact is that communism creates a new extractive class: the apparatchik, with all the tools ever known in the human history in his hands to oppress their own people. The fear to loose the power was the reason of the purges. This way the purges in the SU resemble the intrigues and purges of the ancient roman empire.
My problem with Joseph Stalin is that without his non agression pact and his trade treaty with Adolf the WWII wouldn´t have been possible. More, the industrialization of the SU from WWI to WWII was slower than the industrialization in other undeveloped countries with free enterprise.
But this is matter of "what if" the fact is that the SU suffered more than all the other allies to win the WWII.
I too must quibble with the depiction of the Soviet Union as some innocent victim of outside forces bent upon their destruction, when all the wished to do was exist in peace and harmony in the world community.
Let us start with the revolution and its aftermath. The communists freely admit that they were quite unprepared for the revolution when it started and they rather proudly state that they 'stole" it from the more democratic elements that began it with the abdication of the Czar. These elements were, at least originally, in alliance with the Western powers militarily and politically. That the western powers would support the "white" faction is then understandable. The "whites" at least made noises about creating a free democratic state, whereas the "Reds" made no question that Russia was only the first step in a world revolution that would shatter both existing political and economic structures.
When someone vow's to change the way you live, whether you like it or not, some measure of pro-active resistance is understandable.
There was the Soviet-Polish war of the twenties, a rather aggressive and direct act. But the Soviet Union's main forte was infiltration of nations from within. They lost no opportunity to flame up any revolutionary group within Europe if it could be turned into a Communist organization. Spain, and France were possibly the worst affected, but to some degree, anywhere they could effect a foothold with money and agitator's exporting world revolution, they did so.
Hitler's form of aggression was more direct, but Stalin's was far more effective long term because it was subtle.
As for the shortages, they are largely the creation of the Soviet overlords themselves. The Soviet economy did not work before the war with Germany and it did not work after the war when they had the largest standing Army. It did not work because the system did not work. The peasants did not get the land they were promised, they traded landowners they had to labor for. Workers were forced to produce "products" they could have no use for, weapons. And as esfestos points out, a new privileged class got to sup at the king's table.
What has this got to do with the topic? Hiroshima was a legitimate target attacked during wartime. Stalin stands accused of a number of acts that are far more reprehensable.
It looks like I was misunderstood. I wanted to point out that it wasn't ONLY soviet militarism and their desire for conquest/spreading of communism,the reason for building of military industrial complex that had enormous price in human lives, but also real threat from outside. Also constant outside threat is very good enviroment for dictators who can than scare people with this threats and eliminate any opossition/democratic process more easily, justifiing it with state of emergency.
Of course they would resist. And I also understand why west supported the Whites (having more to do with their willingness to stay in the war, than with supporting democracy), but all I say is that ultimately Soviets prevailed and they remembered the hostile stand desplayed by west toward them.(one of the reasons they distrusted the west and couldn't find common language to stop Hitler in the late 30's)
Also true, the sistem and economy didn't work because they were flawed. But I have respect(call me naive) for the aspect of this system that at least had the theorethical aim of more just distribution of wealth (at that moment not taking into account how perverse and horrible it turned out in reality). Such a theoretical sistem is weaker than capitalist system and needs support, not constant conflict if it is to survive. I'm not even saying that communist system is good in it's utopistic theory, but neither is capitalism.The midle way is usualy the best, maybe Scandinavians today are closest to this.
I'm aware that this is off topic but just wanted to clarify some things.
It's hard not to. The attractiveness and fundamental flaw of socialism is that it caters to our better side (i.e. wanting the best for all) and promises as close to a perfect society as possible. Capitalism on the other hand depends on one of our baser motivations (greed) to produce a society that functions fairly well. Furthermore if many deviate from altruism in a socialist envirnoment it rapidly poisons that envirnment such deviation is unavoidable unless the population is small and people are allowed or indeed forced to leave if they don't conform (witness the Kibutz in Israel and some of the Menonite communities). On the other hand Capitalism will work as long as most people don't get too greedy, although it probably won't produce a utopia in any circumstances that would cause Socialism to have problems.
I think you have to put everything into context. We are talking of the 1930s - the great Depression. Capitalism had spectacularly failed with the Wall Street Crash and the knock-on consequences.
Of course its true that in a more benign economic climate and with access to capital, under-developed economies can achieve what the Soviets did without bloodshed and pain. However, neither a prosperous world economic climate nor freely available capital was open to Stalin.
I can't find the speech but one of the few times that Stalin addressed the Military, he made the point that every-time Russia fell behind, due to its backwardness, it was badly thrashed by Mongols, Teutonic Knights, Swedes etc.
Russia has always been a hard place, where reforms have always been written in blood whether it be Ivan The Terrible slaughtering the Boyars or Peter the Great punishing the "Asiatic tendencies".
Stalin, hand in hand with his violent industrialisation, recognised Soviet weakness vis a vis the rise of nationalistic Japan and Germany and adopted a cautious and pragmatic rapprochement with the Capitalist West. He pulled back from "Trotsky's World Revolution", joined the League of Nations and signed defence pacts with countries such as Czechoslovakia. The shame is that most politicians in the West did not react to his "pragmatic feelers" to contain Hitler.
Of course he made many serious military mistakes early on but he learnt faster than any other War Leader and in the end was a very impressive performer. And that is not just my opinion but also the opinion of Alanbrook - not a man to give praise lightly.
Without going in politics,there is a difference berween Imperial Russia and the SU:in WWI,Russia was fighting against a minority of the German army and the majority of the Austrian army,and collapsed after 3 years.In WWII,the SU fought against the main part of the WM,aided by some allies: it did not collaps,but arrived at Berlin .
And,in both cases,there was help from the West :direct and indirect .
And,about the OP : Stalin and the Red Army : of course,Stalin was making mistakes ,before and during the war ,but,it is more than questionable that without these mistakes,the Red Army would be earlier in Berlin ;this is only the traditional claim of the military(Soviet AND German),who were claiming the victories and were blaming Stalin and Adolf for the defeats .
Let's look at the actual strength of the 20 MC in the Western Military Districts on 22 june 1941 (site created by Nigel Askey)
The Tank strength was 51 % of the TOE with extremes of 3 % and 9 % for the 17 and 20 MC belonging to the Western special MD.
The Artillery strength was 58 % of the TOE with extremes as 23 % for the 11 MC,7 % for the 17 MC and O % for the 24 MC.
The Motor Vehicles strength was 38 % of the TOE,with extremes as 20 % for the 10 MC,,18 % for the 11 MC,20 % for the 13 MC,12 % for the 17 MC, and 8 % for the 20 MC.
The strength of the tractors was 48 % of the TOE,with 11 % for the 10 MC,,16% for the 11 MC,,8 % for the 20 MC
For motor cycles,the strength was 17 % of the TOE.
At least the half of the 20 MC were that weak that they had no chance at all if the Germans attacked,with as extreme exemple,the 24 MC,which had 28 % of its authorized tanks,no artillery and mortars,4 % of its motor vehicles, and only 5 of the 1678 authorized motor cycles : a typical exemple of a lame duck .
Was there any one to blame for this situation ? Stalin,the generals ? Would the 24 MC not have been a lame duck,if Tuk was still living ?
IMHO,this was the result of the forced and wrong development of the Red Army,and,if there was any blame ,it should be shared by Stalin and the generals .
That was a speech On Soviet Industrialization to Industrial Managers, February 1931:
She was beaten by the Mongol khans. She was beaten by the Turkish beys. She was beaten by the Swedish feudal lords. She was beaten by the Polish and Lithuanian gentry. She was beaten by the British and French capitalists. She was beaten by the Japanese barons. All beat her because of her backwardness, military backwardness, cultural backwardness, political backwardness, industrial backwardness, agricultural backwardness. They beat her because to do so was profitable and could be done with impunity.
Complete text is HERE.
Thanks Tamino - nice one.