Thursday, December 18, 2008

Treason Bill fuels Stalinist Fears

David Nowak has written an article for the Associated Press which has been quoted widely, albeit with different titles. The subject title was the one selected by my local paper. But here is the article as quoted by Yahoo News:

I haven’t studied the Stalinist period for many years because it is like reading Kafka. Yeah, it is good to study once, but to do it too often is depressing. And in regard to Stalinism, surely it is a thing of the past. Surely it is no longer possible to revive that terroristic ideology – no more so than for Germany to once again embrace the Nazi Party. And yet there is Arch Getty and some others saying Stalin wasn’t at all as bad as his critics have argued. The poor fellow lived in a confused period in Russian history and needs to be viewed with more sympathy than he has in the past.

Could it be that the revisionist historians have an agenda? It is easy to imagine an agenda, but maybe it is a coincidence that Getty and others argue as they do, and any support for the Leftist agenda is inadvertent. To consider what this agenda might be, back off and look at the Communist ideology itself. Leftist intellectuals around the world embraced it. Unfortunately for them, the individual who epitomized Communism, was indeed Communism in the flesh, was Joseph Stalin. Whether that was intellectually a good thing for Communist supporters is beside the point. Stalin was viewed as the most prominent leader of Communism in the world. After his death he was demonized by the Soviet leaders who followed him, but what if he could be exonerated? What if Yezhof and others could share or take the blame (see ). Surely this would make it more respectable to admire Stalin. Communism could be given a new birth, and dedicated leftists who hoped for a “better Socialism” could be closer to their desire. Would that not be an agenda worthy of their pursuit?

Unfortunately for such revisionists and hopeful Leftists, there is a whole messy nation full of people who lived through what Stalin actually did. And some of them have a different attitude toward any revitalization of Stalinism. Nowak quotes Russian Civil Rights activists to say the new Treason Legislation is “in the spirit of Stalin and Hitler.” Ah, that is the sort of thing Professor Ludwik was criticized for saying in his book Hell on Earth. And he was fairly easy to criticize being merely a retired professor from Montclair University in New Jersey, but the Russian Civil Rights activists are not so easy. They are over there in Russia on the front lines, and they believe this new Treason Legislation “returns the Russian justice to the times of the 1920-1950s.”

Will our Left side with the Civil Rights activists in Russia? They certainly believe in having their Civil Rights protected over here in the West, but will they side with the Russian Civil Rights activists? Aren’t all Civil Rights activists equal? One would think they ought to be but I am cynical. We might think in advance that all women were equal in the eyes of the Women’s Rights movement, but Women’s Rights activists did not rally to Sarah Palin’s defense during the recent election. It would seem that one needs to be more than merely a woman to have the Women’s Rights activists worry about your rights. And I wonder if one also needs to be more than a Civil Rights activist to have ones Civil Rights supported by American Civil Rights Activists. I look forward with interest to see if the American Media continues to follow Nowak’s and the Russian Civil Rights Activists’ Lead in referring to this new Treason Legislation as a return to Stalinism. How can revisionist historians make any progress with people saying things like that?

To be more specific, I expect the media to play down this story, or if they do need to mention it, criticize the Treason legislation itself without mentioning that it smacks of a return to Stalinism.

1 comment:

Ludwik Kowalski said...

An interesting recent article of Vladimir Shlapentokh is worth reading at:

It describes how different Russians address Stalinism.

Ludwik Kowalski