joseph_a at msmail.muohio.edu
Wed Mar 22 13:36:25 MST 1995
In defense of Uncle Joe.
I have become mildly distressed reading the mush about the so-called
"crimes of Stalin". Joe Stalin, "Uncle Joe" to the millions of European
workers who waited for liberation by the RED ARMY during WW 2, was a
revolutionary communist. Attacks on Joe Stalin, whether from Rush or from
some pseudo-leftist is in reality an attack on communism, workers' power.
The following is an article that was printed in the June 29, 1994 issue of
Challenge. Challenge is the newspaper of the Progressive Labor Party.
--I've just reread The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey, the skillful but
reactionary, British mystery writer. Although, this is a work of fiction,
she shows how generations of historians have repeated the British "party
line," the myth- first put abroad to justify Henry's VII's usurpation of the
throne in 1485- that Richard III murdered the "Two Princes in the Tower."*
In the course of her argument she makes a few remarks through her
character, Laura, which I find highly relevant to discussions about the USSR
during Stalin's time:
"It's an odd thing when you tell someone the true facts of a
they are indignant not with the teller but with you. They don't want to have
their ideas upset. It rouses some vague uneasiness in them, I think, and
they resent it. If they were merely indifferent it would be natural and
understandable, but it is much stronger than that, much more positive. They
are annoyed. Very odd, isn't it?"
Or again..."Perhaps there was something in Laura's theory that
found difficult to give up preconceived beliefs. That there was some vague
inward opposition to, and resentment of, a reversal of accepted fact."
I first read this book half a decade or so ago after writing an article
about the Military Purges in the USSR. In doing research on them in the late
'70s and early 80s, I found-as did Josephine Tey about the story of Richard
III's "murder" of the Princes In The Tower- that there was no evidence
whatsoever for the almost universally accepted version of the Military Purges
of '37- '38: that Stalin planned this in advance, and that the officers in
question were "innocent" of whatever they were charged with. On the
contrary, I discovered that there was a great deal of circumstantial evidence
that the charges were true, and much evidence too, that Stalin and the Soviet
government reacted with great shock to their discovery of a plot.
Persevering in this research, I read virtually every book and
by Robert Conquest in his "magnum opus," THE GREAT TERROR . With widening
amazement, I discovered that Conquest either flagrantly misused his sources;
misrepresented them; or that in many cases, the "sources" Conquest cited
(often hundreds of times) were dismissed as virtually valueless by even
anti-communist scholars at the time they were published. I also discovered
that virtually nobody ever sharply questioned Conquest on this- though there
were certainly questions ( very polite questions) raised in some of the
scholarly book reviews of his book.
In the '80s, I spent a good deal of time researching the movie,
Despair , about the so-called "man-made famine" in the Ukraine in the early
'30s. When I discovered that this story, too, was a complete fabrication,
and was known to be such even before it was shown on PBS ( it is still making
the rounds, by the way)- I was less surprised than I might have been.
Still, the extent to which utter lies were simply accepted as historical
truth- as long as they were anti-communist, anti-Stalin lies- was
It was interesting to see a well-known article in the Village Voice
late '80s come to the same conclusion, and cite several historians as stating
that Conquest was a liar.
Of the horror tales virtually taken for granted as true concerning
have researched many at this point in my life, and have never found a single
one that is true, or anywhere near it. Naturally, they have a life
completely independent of my research. They go on and on. Naturally,
because they are good anti-communist stuff. And- not incidentally- they feed
the prejudices of quite a few of those on the "left", such as the admirers of
Trotsky, the Social-"democrats", and anarchists, whose whole political
edifices are built around the figure of Stalin-As-A-Monster.
One can read books by J.R. Getty and the other historical revisionists
associated with him nowadays to see how real, if bourgeois, research
dismantles the fantasies and myths of the Stalin-haters. Few do, I suspect,
and for the reasons that Josephine Tey mentions in the quotations reproduced
The truth is that the statement by Marx and Engels- that the
"have nothing to lose but their chains"- does not adequately take ideology
into consideration. Workers can, in struggle, abandon the false ideologies
that have gripped their minds in this capitalist world. But many
intellectuals on the "left" seldom engage in struggle, or in enough of it;
or, there is too much "bookworm" allegiance to certain ideologies that have
long been found comforting to really want to see them overturned.
How many of us go out there and look for good critiques of our own
preconceived positions? How many of us lean over backward, so to speak, and
check out the evidence for the positions that call into question our own
cherished preconceptions? The truth is- we are, too often, afraid to do
this. The truth will forever elude those who act in this way.
Concerning Stalin, I personally have no fears. When I find
evidence, I look
at it. When the horror stories that are universally repeated by bourgeois
and "leftist" sources together are supported with good evidence, I'll accept
them. Can the Trotskyists, anarchists, social-democrats, et al.., say the
Tey is an arch-conservative and elitist. Nonetheless, The Daughter of
Time effectively demonstrates that a version of history that has no decent
evidence can hoodwink, for centuries, even "professional" historians
supposedly "trained" to look for evidence, but who in fact are looking for
minor variations o some orthodoxy or other. For Richard III, read Stalin; it
*Henry VIII killed two of his wives: Anne Boleyn in 1536 and Catherine
Howard, in 1542. Richard III was, and is, said to have murdered his two
nephews, who were one-time heirs to the throne of England, in 1484 or 1485.
The Josephine Tey book deals with Richard III and the "Princes in the Tower."
It concludes that probably Henry VII, who defeated Richard III and seized
the throne of England in 1485, was the one who really had the princes
murdered. Their bodies were in fact found in the 17th century, buried under
a staircase in the Tower.
Henry VII was the father of Henry VIII, but otherwise the murders
related. British history is confusing enough. The Tower was a Royal
residence then, not exclusively a prison, as it later became.
Enough already with these mindless and thinly veiled anti-communist attacks
on Joe Stalin and the communist movement. While millions around the world
suffer and die from war and famine and homelessness and .... So-called
"leftists" debate, wondering if Stalin is to communism as Ariel Sharon is to
Zionism. This is insanity!! Fight for Communism
More information about the Marxism