Many reasons, and all of them have to do with politics and nothing to do with facts. The reality is that the kulaks were not the sole reason for the Holodomor, but a substantial reason for it. Drought, a higher birthrate prior to the famine, and inefficient farming methods also played a large role. Of course famines in Russia were not exceptional—they were the norm, going back hundreds of years, especially during the Tsarist period.  It wasn’t until collectivization under Stalin that the famines ended.  Food security came with Putin’s adoption of large scale, technology driven farming methods.
Soviet workers discover grain hidden by kulaks to be sold on the black market at exorbitant prices while people starved.
The Holodomor as deliberate was a fiction of propaganda, fashioned by Goebbels, to invoke Ukrainian nationalism ahead of the German invasion. It worked. Thousands of Ukrainian Red Army soldiers abandoned their duties and became the willing soldiers of Hitler. In fact, many of these were used by the Nazis to commit the most despicable acts of violence against Jews, as many were virulently anti-Semitic. Poland and other bordering Russian nations were pro-fascist and right wing, and that is why Stalin wanted to bring them into the Soviet Union—to tame them and to prevent them from collaborating with the West to amass troops and missiles at the borders.
Hans Frank and Dr. Hofstetter of SS Galizien enter a Ukrainian Greek Catholic church prior to the installation of volunteers in Sanok, 1943.
Askaris admiring their work murdering Jews
Excerpt from a report by a member of the battalion about shooting “all Jews which were met” in Vinnytsia region
The Simon Wiesenthal Center contends that between June 30 and July 3, 1941, in the days that the Battalion was in Lviv the Nachtigall soldiers together with the German army and the local Ukrainians participated in the killings of Jews in the city. The pretext for the pogrom was a rumor that the Jews were responsible for the execution of prisoners by the Soviets before the 1941 Soviet withdrawal from Lviv. The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust states that some 4,000 Jews were kidnapped and killed at that time. It further states that the unit was removed from Lviv on July 7 and sent to the Eastern Front.
Out of spite at the loss of their comfortable bourgeois existences, the kulaks ensured the death of many. Often they hid grain that was supposed to be collected and rationed so everyone could have some. Instead, they sold “their” grain on the black market at exorbitant prices.
There are many analogies between the kulaks of yesterday with the American bourgeoisie and their willingness to seal the fate of hundreds of thousands of people to make profits off the labor of their workers by sending them into the open economy during a COVID-19 pandemic. They put their interest in profits above the lives of people. This is why socialism hates capitalism so much. It is why socialism cannot permit capitalism to exist. It must be smashed. Individual morality and whether the kulaks were greedy or spiteful is not the Marxist Leninist question. The kulak system enabled their behavior.
In 1929, Joseph Stalin said:
We are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this distance in ten years. Either we do it, or they will crush us.
Speech “The Tasks of Economic Executives” (4 February 1931) Stalin said this in 1931, at the beginning of the rapid industrialization campaign. Ten years later, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union.
He couldn’t have been more prescient. Had he not pushed for collectivization, then industrialization could not have been achieved on time. Had that not happened, then Hitler had his own plans, including the Hunger Plan, which planned on starving most of the genetically “inferior” people in the Soviet Union and enslaving the remainder. But for Joseph Stalin and his iron will in smashing the kulaks, the Nazis would have likely prevailed in Europe.
For their courage. Courage to face scorn, ridicule and hatred every day. And they do it voluntarily. Nobody is paying them to be on Quora. They do it because they have heart.
For their openness. Few people have the guts to look at their entire worldview and ask “Is this true? Did my parents, teachers, and pastor get it wrong?” Talk about cognitive dissonance. But they do it. They muck through the pool of sewage against Marxism Leninism, against Lenin, against Stalin, and Mao Zedong while others shake their heads in smug defeat and walk away.
For their love.
4. For their grit. For writing answers with hundreds and thousands of views but 3 upvotes. For fighting to defend Comrade Stalin, not to convince people to become communists—the ones who won’t listen to the truth about history wouldn’t have become communists anyway—but out of a sense of comradeship. The injustice of the propaganda war against the USSR and Stalin, Lenin and others doesn’t sit well with them, even if convincing the world is a Sisyphean task.
5. For their patience. Patience in knowing that real change will never come from a bourgeois ballot box, but working each day to build communism in the long term. Patience to hold on, never knowing when the time will be ripe for revolution, and humbly accepting their larger place in making things happen. They don’t get the consolation of believing that real change might come from simply building a communist “brand” that will convince enough voters to elect their candidate. Patience in accepting that if reason and rationality won elections and brought change then there wouldn’t be a Republican President—ever. Patience in knowing that the bourgeois election system would never permit a socialist candidate who might really disrupt the power of the oligarchs to take office. Whether it be stuffing ballot boxes, manipulating super delegates, or even assassination, the bourgeoisie won’t ever peacefully give up their power.
6. For their realism. For knowing that we have less than 12 years to stop using fossil fuels or climate change will be the end of civilization as we know it. For accepting that historically, no libertarian socialist society has lasted more than a few years. For seeing how the Green New Deal was crushed by Democrats, not just Republicans. For knowing that the Paris Commune of 1871, Revolutionary Catalonia, and others were smashed and massacred by anti-socialist forces. For accepting that libertarian socialism, the Democratic Party, and others cannot save us, and that only a Marxist Leninist revolution has been able throughout history to push out the capitalists and build a long term socialist society. For knowing that this position will mean hate, ridicule and scorn, and may one day even cost one’s life, but holding it anyway. Because it is right.
I am incredibly thankful for my Marxist Leninist comrades. I consider them true friends. And I am grateful we can share ideas and work together to destroy capitalism, one day at a time.
Are they always right? No. Who is? But are they more right than wrong? Absolutely.
To properly understand the nature of this question, first we must examine the implications of Glasnost for the Communist Party and the fall of the Soviet Union:
Glasnost proved to be an equal disaster.
“What happened in our country is primarily the result of the debilitation and eventual elimination of the Communist Party’s leading role in society, the ejection of the party from major policymaking, its ideological and organisational unravellling, the formation in it of factions, careerists’ and national separatists’ penetration of the leadership of the party and state as well as the party and power structures of the republics, and the political conversion of the group headed by Gorbachev and their shift to the position of elimination of the Communist Party and the Soviet state.” Id.
“It’s worth pointing out that Gorbachev never put much meat on the bones of ‘democratisation’. With hindsight, it’s obvious that his use of the term reflected an ideological concession to western capitalism; that he had come to believe that the Soviet Union should aspire to the political norms defined in Western Europe and the US. Such thinking neglects a number of factors that should be well understood by any Marxist:
‘Free speech’ in the advanced capitalist countries is essentially a piece of attractive icing beneath which lies a bitter cake of plutocratic repression. Via its monopolisation of the mass media, the ruling class dominates the field of ideas almost comprehensively. There is a level of debate and criticism, but only of a few individual policies and not of systemic features of capitalism. As Chomsky famously put it: “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum”.27
The political freedoms available in the west are much constrained owing to the correlation between wealth and power. Ordinary citizens have the right to vote, but their choice is nearly always restricted to two or three pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist parties, between which there is little substantive difference (so rare is the appearance of a meaningfully different option within mainstream politics, that when it happens it sends the ruling class into a frenzy of confusion, as is being witnessed at the moment with the rise of the Labour left under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn). Actual power is monopolised by the wealthy, and challenging it can be extremely dangerous, as is evidenced by the treatment of Irish Republicans that have served time in Britain’s colony in the north of Ireland, or the many longstanding black, Puerto Rican and indigenous political prisoners in the US who have spent decades behind bars on account of their struggle for equality and human rights.
In a context of ongoing class struggle waged by the working class of a socialist country against its internal enemies (those that want to restore feudalism or capitalism) and its external enemies (the leading capitalist countries that will inevitably work to destabilise a socialist country), a level of political repression is an unhappy necessity; this is elaborated in the article on ideological deterioration28 in relation to Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin. The needs of the few – to get fantastically rich – can’t be allowed to compromise the needs of the many to enjoy a dignified, peaceful and fulfilling life.” Id.
“Szymanski describes “a few basic assumptions of Soviet society” that were not debated in the press: socialism as a system, communism as a goal, and the leading role of the Communist Party. “These issues are considered to have been settled once and for all and public discussion of them is considered by the regime to be potentially disruptive of popular rule.” This is consistent with Fidel Castro’s famous formula: “Within the revolution, everything; against the revolution, nothing.” These basic assumptions of socialism can be compared with the basic assumptions of capitalism: the supremacy of private property; profit as the major engine of economic activity; exploitation of labour as the source of profit. Id.
“Dissidents and anticommunists were appointed as editors of newspapers and magazines, and were given carte blanche to use their publications to openly attack the basic ideas of socialism and the whole nature of the Soviet system. “Liberal intellectuals were named to run Ogonyok, Sovetskaya Kultura, Moscow News, Znamya, and Novy Mir… The top political leadership had actually given editors, journalists, writers, and economists freedom to write as they wished, using the mass media as their vehicle.” Id.
“Added to all this was the fact that Gorbachev and his allies decided to end restrictions on foreign propaganda, for example putting an end to the jamming of Radio Liberty– a generously-funded propaganda arm of the CIA, focused on spreading anticommunist lies around the socialist countries of Europe. So Gorbachev’s idea of “improving socialism” was in fact based on bulldozing its structures and legacy.
The attack on the party went so far that Fidel Castro, in December 1989, at an event commemorating the 2,000-plus Cubans who died in the course of their heroic internationalist duties in Angola, was moved to remark:
It’s impossible to carry out a revolution or conduct a rectification without a strong, disciplined and respected party. It’s not possible to carry out such a process by slandering socialism, destroying its values, discrediting the party, demoralising its vanguard, abandoning its leadership role, eliminating social discipline, and sowing chaos and anarchy everywhere. This may foster a counter-revolution – but not revolutionary change… It is disgusting to see how many people, even in the Soviet Union itself, are engaged in denying and destroying the history-making feats and extraordinary merits of that heroic people. That is not the way to rectify and overcome the undeniable errors made by a revolution that emerged from tsarist authoritarianism in an enormous, backward, poor country. We shouldn’t blame Lenin now for having chosen tsarist Russia as the place for the greatest revolution in history.” Id.
Gorbachev then began a full scale assault on reducing the power of the CPSU, the communist party, in an attempt to consolidate his own power. But by weakening the party he left there no gatekeepers of communism in the society. The party had always been the heart of the worker’s revolution and the keepers of the spirit of Marxism. Once it was destroyed the system was doomed.
In China they did the opposite. There was no criticism of the party. All attempts were made to preserve the power of the communist party. There was no trashing Mao or the founders of the government. There was no obsession with supposed crimes committed by the leaders. Economic reforms were slowly rolled out, and with careful deliberation and consultation with economic planners and members of the party. Serious attempts to reduce corruption and maintain ideological purity were made. Market reforms were introduced, but the economy remained primarily a planned economy. The government controls over 75% of the businesses and has party cells in most. Plans are made to develop future industries, such as high tech, solar energy, A.I., robotics, automation, and others.
Money was put into improving the educational system. The reforms were enormously successful. The economy has grown so quickly that it will overtake the U.S. by 2032. The standard of living for all Chinese people has risen.
A Marxist Leninist state is a socialist bridge toward achieving full communism. We lack the technological ability to eliminate most forms of labor. Our levels of automation are limited. Scarcity of resources still remains a reality. In capitalist societies the real power lies with those who own the means of production. Wealth is power. Wealth is freedom.
In the U.S. and other bourgeois democracies there is no effective “freedom of speech” because there is self censorship built into the structure of the system. In fact, the corporate mainstream media has tight informal restrictions on free speech.
There are unofficial “filters” by which the prevailing values of the capitalist system are promoted. Therefore, there is no need to censor anything. In fact, it is more believable when it is not censored. Nothing seems more authentic than someone tells you something they actually believe.
“Manufacturing Consent,” a documentary about the Chomsky Herman propaganda model
The other issue is concision and drawing the boundaries of discussion ahead of time. This is important.
Most of this was described by Noam Chomsky and Ed Hermann in Manufacturing Consent.
The mainstream media is owned by a few very large multinational corporations. These corporations are interconnected with other areas of the economy.
These mainstream media outlets are not going to voice opinions which hurt the business of their owners.
3. Advertisers pay for individual programs. If something is said that offends the advertisers, such as something that will cause a public outcry, then advertisers pull their support, and a show will be cancelled.
4. Journalists and media personalities are hired based on their adherence to the underlying assumptions of the corporate system. For example, a reporter who is a hard core communist or Islamic extremist is not going to be hired, because they might say things that offend people and the advertisers. So this filter acts as a way to keep dissent away.
5. News shows are called “content.” They exist to keep people watching them so advertisers can market their products. Real news isn’t important so much as getting people to view the ads. So the media gravitates toward stories that get attention, such as violence, fearmongering, anger, and things that are entertaining.
6. Your average person goes to work and comes home. He or she isn’t interested in checking the foreign press, double checking sources, and seeing independent media. He or she passively listens. If the source is something like NPR for liberals or Fox News for conservatives, they go along with it. They have “trust” in that news source. But watching the stuff that they are saying and checking it shows how unreliable, propaganda filled, and sensationalized it actually is.
In fact, a study was done that showed that viewers of Fox News were actually less informed than those who didn’t watch.
And this is not to say that Fox News is the only bad one and others are ok. Far from it. Recently the BBC was covering the coup in Venezuela. They reported the large crowds as being “anti-Maduro supporters.” In fact, all other media outlets revealed that the protesters were out because it was a national holiday commemorating their freedom. NPR during the 2016 election was predicting the morning of the election that Hillary Clinton had a 78% chance of victory. They were even guessing who the cabinet picks might be.
All media has some bias.
Chomsky also talked about a thing called “concision.” This means that because there is only so much time between commercials on news programs to squeeze in content, they could only have guests that spoke about things which contained conventional wisdom because explaining real alternatives would take too much time.
Another failed technique is the media using “balance.” This means having two opposing viewpoints, even if the opposing viewpoint is not considered valid. This is designed to give the viewer the idea that the journalism is fair and balanced. But it really just legitimizes views which are not equal to what is actually true. Consider climate change. The vast majority of scientists believe climate change is real. Yet the news media presents the views of some skeptics who in real scientific circles aren’t taken seriously.
Actually getting the truth is a lot of work. You have to look at several sources, including the foreign press, independent media, and synthesize all this information to find the truth. It is not something most people want to do with their busy lives. But the danger is that they will become propagandized and ill informed. And this leads to a serious erosion of our democracy. Voters must be aware to vote for the right people and push their elected representatives in the right direction. If not, dangerous demagogues with simple answers to complex problems can exploit them. These people becomes Presidents, and this can be a dangerous situation.
Sadly, in the U.S. the political parties also act as filters to promote candidates that serve the needs of the capitalist military-industrial complex. The media often ignores independent candidates, so voters then ignore them. Then you have an ignorant populace picking candidates for the wrong reasons while the rich elites laugh all the way to the bank.
China seems to do a very reasonable job of maintaining the right balance between protecting the masses against Western bourgeois propaganda and promoting lively debate.
In the U.S., “freedom of speech” only applies to the prosecution by the government against a person for violating “free speech” laws. Private actors like social media companies—i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc. provide no “freedom of speech” whatsoever. Private employers can also restrict certain forms of speech in the workplace, as they are not governmental actors. Corporations are unelected, unaccountable, private tyrannies. They are hierarchical private power structures which control the U.S. economy. Large corporations and the oligarchs of the U.S. own and operate the entire system.
In the U.S. and Western capitalist nations journalist and public speech which threatens the power of the elites is punished very harshly. For example, the persecution of Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden has been shameful.
Western “democracies” also have very harsh informal punishments for anyone who is caught saying something offensive in public. For example, the celebrity Roseanne Barr had a few too many beers and posted some offensive racist jokes. Her lucrative television program was cancelled and she was immediately blacklisted. The career of Michael Richards, former “Seinfeld” character “Kramer” found his career destroyed after he lost his temper while being heckled during a stand up comedy performance. Chris Matthews, a journalist on TV for decades with his own show was also forced into retirement for making the wrong offhand comments on air. The owners of the U.S., the corporations, don’t want to associate themselves with anything which might reduce their profits and harm their “brand.”
The brilliance of the Western bourgeois “democratic” system is that most of the journalists are true believers. If they were they wouldn’t have been promoted to their positions. The narrative of Western “democracy” moves the entire system forward. And that narrative is born of the capitalist system and the modes of production. The belief systems of the bourgeoisie become the basis for the belief systems of the whole system.
Is it whataboutism?
No. The reason I mention the nature of Western “democratic” free speech is that the modes of production really determine the nature of public speech. If you permit unbridled public speech in a Marxist Leninist state you are going to see a weakening of that system. In a capitalist system “free speech” is an afterthought because self censorship, corporate control of media, wealth inequality, and other informal “filters” protect the capitalist system and enable the narrative to continue effectively while the people remain soundly propagandized against socialism and even voting for their own interests.
A Marxist Leninist system should be as such:
“Szymanski describes “a few basic assumptions of Soviet society” that were not debated in the press: socialism as a system, communism as a goal, and the leading role of the Communist Party.
“These issues are considered to have been settled once and for all and public discussion of them is considered by the regime to be potentially disruptive of popular rule.”
This is consistent with Fidel Castro’s famous formula: “Within the revolution, everything; against the revolution, nothing.” These basic assumptions of socialism can be compared with the basic assumptions of capitalism: the supremacy of private property; profit as the major engine of economic activity; exploitation of labour as the source of profit.”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “FDR,” served the longest number of presidential terms. He became President during the height of the Great Depression, which lasted years and devastated the American people. The poverty was crushing. Meanwhile, fascism arose in Italy, Germany, and Spain. Imperial Japan was ready for war. The implications of FDR’s choices had a monumental effect in determining the post war world.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
The Great Depression
FDR was up to the task. Despite being a paraplegic from polio he created the New Deal to repair the nation’s infrastructure and put people back to work. As Britain was about to fall to the Germans the U.S. entered WWII after Pearl Harbor.
FDR also approved the development of the atomic bomb, which would forever change the face of total war.
The meeting of the Allied leaders at Yalta during WWII—Churchill, FDR, and Stalin.
Barack Obama was President during the 2008 Great Recession. His stimulus program helped prevent another depression. His major policy achievement was the Affordable Care Act, which greatly increased the number of Americans with medical insurance, saving lives.
America was in crisis during the Obama period. But Obama’s main legacy was to continue the neoliberal capitalist system which he had inherited. He also expanded the role of the imperial presidency. Obama engaged in thousands of drone strikes around the world. The U.S. also supported the disastrous coup in Libya, upending the Quaddafi government and causing Libya to be a failed state.
Quaddafi was leader of Libya for 40 years, and was the wealthiest and most successful African nation until it was destroyed.
In Libya there are public slave auctions thanks to the U.S. backed coup which killed Quaddafi. Some people even find it hilarious:
And if you aren’t convinced yet, consider the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln’s leadership and strength held the nation together during the bloody American Civil War. There would be no United States but for Lincoln’s leadership.
Brigadier General Gregg with his staff, near Fredricksburg, 1862. Colorized.
They didn’t. Only Pol Pot’s regime was guilty of this. And based on his actual deeds it is clear Pol Pot wasn’t actually a Marxist Leninist, aka “communist,” either.
Lenin and Stalin radically increased literacy and provided free universal education. Stalin himself encouraged the building of engineering schools so the Soviet Union could industrialize, modernize, and arm itself against a potential German or Japanese invasion. You don’t lead the Space Race by exterminating all of your educated people.
Mao Zedong and his revolution also increased literacy and provided universal education. Mao also wanted to modernize as quickly as possible to defend the nation against imperial attacks. The purpose of the Cultural Revolution was to increase the public engagement of the masses, educate the youth about socialism, and enable the oppressed peasants to vent their frustrations with the former landlords who had oppressed them. They didn’t “kill all the educated people.”
Castro, Ho Chi Minh, and other communist revolutionary leaders were friends of education, not enemies.
Perhaps you are thinking about the U.S., which sponsored Operation Condor, a CIA operation which enabled right wing dictators to round up, torture, and exterminate working class intellectuals, communists, Catholic priests, and other opponents to the U.S. enabling neoliberal capitalism throughout Latin America to maintain its economic domination of “it’s backyard,” as the Monroe Doctrine so goes. Or maybe the political imprisonment of Julian Assange, a journalist who has exposed the horrors of the U.S. empire.
This is how the U.S. treats its dissident journalists:
No, they’re not. They have been taught to fear the communist bogeyman for a reason—because it serves their capitalist masters.
Communism never killed 100 million people. Most of the propaganda developed against communism and the Soviet Union was first developed by Goebbels and the Nazis. Communism took a semi feudal, agrarian, illiterate peasant nation and within 40 years it had defeated Hitler, dramatically raised the living standard and life expectancy, became the second largest industrial economy and a superpower, and was leading the Space Race. In China, Mao Zedong had also taken a semi feudal, agrarian, illiterate and drug addicted, superstitious peasant nation and unified it, ended slavery, drove out the Japanese, and laid the foundation for modern China.
66% of Russians regret the breakup of the Soviet Union.
It scandalized the Communist Party. It put into question Stalin’s role as hero of the Soviet Union, who industrialized the nation and saved it from Nazi extermination. It would be the equivalent of President Obama coming out and revealing that George Washington was a mass murderer. The role of national heroes helps build a narrative for a nation which provides a sense of cohesion. Nations live or die by such narratives. Stalin represented Marxism Leninism. He represented the planned economy and socialism. Suddenly nothing was sacred anymore. And Khrushchev then began the process of dismantling the socialist state. He began the process which ultimately caused the Soviet Union to move far away from socialism, and ultimately, fail.
Mao Zedong and members of the CCP were horrified by Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin. Mao knew Khrushchev was a liar. But he also knew that denouncing Stalin meant undermining the socialist cause itself. Khrushchev’s arrogant and condescending behavior toward Mao and the denunciation of Stalin ultimately led to the Sino-Soviet split, which Nixon was later able to manipulate to put pressure on the Soviet Union.
It was hypocritical. Khrushchev was known to be one of the most partisan and bloodthirsty purveyors of the Great Purges. In fact Stalin had to intervene to reduce Khrushchev’s requests for increased violence. Everybody in the Politburo knew that Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin was nothing more than scapegoating to send a message to other members of the Communist Party in an attempt to consolidate Khrushchev’s own power.
Khrushchev later “rehabilitated” those convicted during the Great Purges, some of them posthumously. The purpose was clearly political, in an attempt to vilify Stalin and Stalinism because Khrushchev began the process of dismantling socialism to make way for “market reforms.”
The Gulag system was a prison system. Gulag was simply the name of that system.
The Gulag was built not by Stalin or Lenin, but by the Tsars.
The vast majority of people in the Gulag were actual convicted criminals, not political prisoners.
Political prisoners included actual conspirators against the government, along with some who were victims of unjust oppression. There were actual conspiracies against the government by Trotskyists, right wingers, and many military officials.
Most people who entered the Gulag survived.
Solzhenitsyn’s account of the Gulag was highly fictionalized. The actual state of the Gulag depended upon the level of security involved, the seriousness of one’s offense, work detail, and in many instances, the personalities of one’s prison officials. This is typical of prison life anywhere. Some guards are sadistic, some not.
Only very small percentage of the overall Soviet population was in the Gulag.
Prisoners were paid. Rewards and bonuses given for hard work.
The Conditions of the Prisons
A 1957 CIA document titled “Forced Labor Camps in the USSR: Transfer of Prisoners between Camps” reveals the following information about the Soviet Gulag in pages two to six:
1. Until 1952, the prisoners were given a guaranteed amount food, plus extra food for over-fulfillment of quotas
2. From 1952 onward, the Gulag system operated upon “economic accountability” such that the more the prisoners worked, the more they were paid.
3. For over-fulfilling the norms by 105%, one day of sentence was counted as two, thus reducing the time spent in the Gulag by one day.
4. Furthermore, because of the socialist reconstruction post-war, the Soviet government had more funds and so they increased prisoners’ food supplies.
5. Until 1954, the prisoners worked 10 hours per day, whereas the free workers worked 8 hours per day. From 1954 onward, both prisoners and free workers worked 8 hours per day.
6. A CIA study of a sample camp showed that 95% of the prisoners were actual criminals.
7. In 1953, amnesty was given to 70% of the “ordinary criminals” of a sample camp studied by the CIA. Within the next 3 months, most of them were re-arrested for committing new crimes.
The following are excerpts of the CIA document, underlined and put together for the reader:
These facts negate the narrative that Gulag prisoners were unpaid. The labour was indeed forced; however, material rewards were provided. The prisoners were paid from 1952 onward, and rewarded by food prior to 1952.
According to bourgeois fantasies, the Soviet “regime” sought to deliberately starve the Gulag populations. However, as a matter of fact, there indeed were Soviet efforts to increase the food supply of prisoners, after World War II.
The fact that the working day was only two hours more than that of the free workers until 1954, and equal to that of the free worker from 1954 onward is a clear demonstration of the egalitarian tendencies of the Soviet State.
All the while, the noteworthy fact is that criminals, not “pro-democracy revolutionaries” were sent to the Gulags. Like all justice systems, there certainly were errors and some innocent people were sent to the prisons; the point though is that this fact has been exaggerated by the imperial press.
Let’s compare the Soviet system to that of the United States. The 13th amendment permits prison slavery, with many prisoners victimized by racial profiling. Even the Clinton Dynasty had slaves in the Arkansas Province (News 2017).
According to page four of another CIA (1989) document titled “The Soviet Labour System: An Update,” the number of Gulag prisoners “grew to about 2 million” during Stalin’s time.
These figures match Soviet statistics as well, from declassified Soviet achieves. The following is a 1954 declassified Soviet archival document (Pyakhov), an excerpt of which is translated into English:
“During the period from 1921 to the present time for counterrevolutionary crimes were convicted 3,777,380 people, including to capital punishment – 642,980 people to the conent in the camps and prisons for a period of 25 years old and under – 2,369,220 into exile and expulsion – 765,190 people.
“Of the total number of convicts, approximately convicted: 2,900,000 people – College of OGPU, NKVD and triples Special meeting and 877,000 people – courts by military tribunals, and Spetskollegiev Military Collegium.
“It should be noted… that established by Decree … on November 3, 1934 Special Meeting of the NKVD which lasted until September 1, 1953 – 442,531 people were convicted, including to capital punishment – 10,101 people to prison – 360,921 people to exile and expulsion (within the country) – 57,539 people and other punishments (offset time in detention, deportation abroad, compulsory treatment) – 3,970 people…
Attorney General R. Rudenko
Interior Minister S. Kruglov
Justice Minister K. Gorshenin”
The Soviet archives remained declassified for decades, only to be released near or after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In addition, after Stalin died, the pro-Stalin head of the NKVD (Soviet interior ministry) Lavrenty Beria had already been executed by Khrushchev, a staunch anti-Stalinist (History in an hour 2010). These facts make it very unlikely that the Soviet intelligence would have a pro-Stalin bias.
The Italian-American historian Michael Parenti (1997, pp. 79-80) further analyzes the data provided from the Soviet archives:
“In 1993, for the first time, several historians gained access to previously secret Soviet police archives and were able to establish well-documented estimates of prison and labor camp populations. They found that the total population of the entire gulag as of January 1939, near the end of the Great Purges, was 2,022,976. At about that time, there began a purge of the purgers, including many intelligence and secret police (NKVD) officials and members of the judiciary and other investigative committees, who were suddenly held responsible for the excesses of the terror despite their protestations of fidelity to the regime.
“Soviet labor camps were not death camps like those the Nazis built across Europe. There was no systematic extermination of inmates, no gas chambers or crematoria to dispose of millions of bodies…. [T]he great majority of gulag inmates survived and eventually returned to society when granted amnesty or when their terms were finished. In any given year, 20 to 40 percent of the inmates were released, according to archive records. Oblivious to these facts, the Moscow correspondent of the New York Times (7/31/96) continues to describe the gulag as ‘the largest system of death camps in modern history’.
“Almost a million gulag prisoners were released during World War II to serve in the military. The archives reveal that more than half of all gulag deaths for the 1934-53 period occurred during the war years (1941-45), mostly from malnutrition, when severe privation was the common lot of the entire Soviet population. (Some 22 million Soviet citizens perished in the war.) In 1944, for instance, the labor-camp death rate was 92 per 1000. By 1953, with the postwar recovery, camp deaths had declined to 3 per 1000.
“Should all gulag inmates be considered innocent victims of Red repression? Contrary to what we have been led to believe, those arrested for political crimes (‘counterrevolutionary offenses’) numbered from 12 to 33 percent of the prison population, varying from year to year. The vast majority of inmates were charged with nonpolitical offenses: murder, assault, theft, banditry, smuggling, swindling, and other violations punishable in any society.”
Thus, according to the CIA, approximately two million people were sent to the Gulag in the 1930s, whereas according to declassified Soviet archives, 2,369,220 up until 1954. When compared to the population of the USSR at the time, as well as the statistics of a country like the United States, the Gulag percent population in the USSR throughout its history was lower than that of the United States today or since the 1990s. In fact, based on Sousa’s (1998)research, there was a larger percentage of prisoners (relative to the whole population) in the US, than there ever was in the USSR:
“In a rather small news item appearing in the newspapers of August 1997, the FLT-AP news agency reported that in the US there had never previously been so many people in the prison system as the 5.5 million held in 1996. This represents an increase of 200,000 people since 1995 and means that the number of criminals in the US equals 2.8% of the adult population. These data are available to all those who are part of the North American department of justice…. The number of convicts in the US today is 3 million higher than the maximum number ever held in the Soviet Union! In the Soviet Union, there was a maximum of 2.4% of the adult population in prison for their crimes – in the US the figure is 2.8% and rising! According to a press release put out by the US department of justice on 18 January 1998, the number of convicts in the US in 1997 rose by 96,100.”
Seeing the USSR as a major ideological challenge, the Western imperial bourgeoisie demonized Stalin and the Soviet Union. Yet after decades of propaganda, declassified archives from both the US and USSR together debunk these anti-Soviet slanders. Worth our attention is the fact that the CIA – a fiercely anti-Soviet source – has published declassified documents debunking the very anti-Soviet myths it promoted and continues to promote in the mainstream media. Together with declassified Soviet archives, the CIA files have demonstrated that the bourgeois press has lied about the Gulags.
History is the story of class struggle, and capitalism is built on the private ownership of the means of production, which due to competition, requires that workers get paid as little as possible as their labor is performed but not fully paid, as employers create profits—this leads to alienation, oppression, and exploitation, as workers become wage slaves—capitalism incentivizes the development of automation, which will cause such high levels of unemployment that the people will revolt and seize the means of production and usher in a new age, that age of communism, which is a moneyless, stateless, and classless society which is owned and managed by the workers, under the philosophy of “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”
Communism—Marx said that capitalism will give rise to automation to eliminate labor costs. Competition will lead to automation. But this will displace so many jobs that unemployment will rise, causing misery and suffering that would make the Great Depression look like nothing. People will rise up and seize the means of production for themselves. Workers will own the means of production and managethemselves. A new age will begin, the age of communism. Society will become moneyless, stateless, and classless. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”
“Communism”—colloquialism. In America the term “communist” is used to describe Marxist Leninist socialist nations like the USSR, China, and Cuba. As indicated by the definition above, these nations did not meet the definition of true communism as they still used money and still had a state. Colloquialisms are words that are everyday meanings used by people but which are not accurate.
Socialism—Workers own the means of production. There is still money and a state.
Marxism-Leninism—a form of socialist government that relies upon a vanguard party of revolutionary intelligentsia that help lead the proletariat toward increased class consciousness and understands Marxist theory. The means of production are owned by the workers and held by the state. There is one party, the Communist Party. It maintains ideological purity and filters out candidates that don’t believe in socialism. State managers must be members of the Communist Party.
How would I feel if the government changed to communism?
Here’s a hint:
It would be the best day of my life if the U.S. government changed to Marxism Leninism. All of my struggles over the years to defeat capitalism will have paid off. Americans would finally be able to get guaranteed employment, universal healthcare, free education from preschool to graduate school, a sustainable economy like Cuba, and guaranteed housing.
The economy would go from robber baron capitalism to a planned economy using big data, modern logistics, and modern computing. It would be as efficient as the privately owned planned economies which already exist—Amazon and Wal Mart)— except this economy would be owned for the people and by the people, held by the public. We would shutter the Republican and Democratic Party offices forever. There would only be one party, the Communist Party. It would be composed of dedicated communists. There would be term limits, mandatory age of retirement requirements for Politburo members, and anti-corruption probes to keep the Communist Party with as little corruption as possible. To keep the Party ideologically pure and committed, there must be a regular rotation of cadres. We would put people to work rebuilding the crumbling U.S. infrastructure, making it environmentally sustainable and fossil fuel free. To spur innovation there would be opportunities for the government sponsorship of new high technology divisions within the government, working with the planned economy so it was all integrated. There would be bonuses available for the hardest working and most innovative engineers, workers, and other comrades. Stalin had these types of bonuses and even internal competition among divisions to be more innovative. It all ended after Khrushchev took over.
But what about those who refused to be communist?
America is a very rugged individualist, business loving, and Puritanical society. The fundamentalist Right Wing in the U.S. won’t be happy. Of course all large and mid sized companies would be nationalized. The banks would be nationalized too. The oil companies would be nationalized and slowly phased out as green energy replaced it. Marx predicted there would be a fierce counter-revolutionary response. The bourgeoisie get cranky when you nationalize their means of production.
What to do?
If the anti-communist Americans take up arms against the government then they will face the firm hand of the dictatorship of the proletariat. America has plenty of prisons. Anyone who violently fights the new government would be met with all the military might the government possesses. Those captured would be sent to prison, where they would learn the value of hard labor by day and Marxist classes at night. Many of the wealthy like Jamie Dimon, billionaire and CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase, would begin to understand how hard it is to work on your feet all day, and to see your soft hands grow hard from hard manual labor.
A Lesson from history
In the Soviet Union the pampered landowning class, the kulaks, resisted communism, ferociously. It only ended when Lenin ordered Red Terror (aka Revolutionary Terror)—not terrorism, but the use of overwhelming force to stop them. In fact Marx predicted this, and said:
It may seem tough, but remember, capitalism kills far more people each and every day. The difference is because of attenuation of cause we fail to make the connection. The capitalist system is the most murderous system imaginable.
What would my role be?
I have no interest in holding office or running a political party. I would be happy to do now as I am doing, which is to support communism. If the Communist Party wanted me to write for them, that I would be happy to do. I might even teach one of those nighttime Marxist classes to a room of students like Jamie Dimon, Mitch McConnell, and Michael Bloomberg.
Trump has said that even if he were to “shoot someone in plain sight,” people would still support him. He is polling at 60% approval of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. His response has been disastrous and an utter failure. Trump is the ultimate salesman. He knows how to tap into the darker, more primal impulse of the American psyche. He knows what makes them tick and uses their own fears and concerns to craft his language. He provides a simple, direct, and tangible explanation of the political situation that his supporters can understand. To make matters worse the Democrats are controlled by corporate America and a bourgeoisie that is enamored with identity politics and neoliberalism. These things have harmed the working classes by favoring deindustrialization. For example, by nominating the worst possible candidate imaginable—Hillary Clinton, the Democrats virtually assured their own defeat. Clinton has always been seen as a polarizing figure for working class people. She and her husband were supporters of NAFTA and the eradication of the coal industry, which have done enormous economic harm to the working classes. During the election Trump’s criticisms about the deindustrialization of America were accurate. But this didn’t mean he was going to end all globalization. However, he has taken some steps toward reducing the harmful impacts of NAFTA by restructuring it.
There are segments of Trump’s base that are racist. Not all, of course. But there is an undercurrent of racism to the opposition to social welfare programs. There is a fear that “lazy blacks and Mexicans will get free stuff.” These were brought to the fore when Obama was President. Obama was not perceived as a “real American.” He was a foreigner, an other—like a communist, born in another country and not a citizen, or a Muslim. Trump built his early political career on supporting the Birther Movement, claiming Obama was born in Kenya and thus not able to be President.
The GOP base is now a coalition of right wingers, fundamentalist Christians, and folks who are anti-science, anti-intellectual, and opposed to anything collective. These elements have always existed in the U.S. since its founding.
Trump is a symptom of a larger problem, and not the primary cause. He is the product of both political parties owned by corporate America and the desperation of the working poor, who at times are their own worst enemies. He is a sign of their vices and their virtues, and he has exploited their suffering to enrich himself and his family even further.
Morris Berman has said that America is a culture built by rugged individualists who were always “on the make.” But since everyone is this way then how can you build a cohesive social structure? You cannot. There is no social glue which holds the society together. It can remain while that country is making money. But when it stops then everything begins to fall apart.