In Defense of Uncle Joe. To the Stalin Haters

Alfred Joseph ajoseph at magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu
Wed Mar 22 13:20:45 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.
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--------------------------

--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
fictional 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
mythical tale 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
human nature 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
article cited 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,
Harvest of 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 breathtaking.
        It was interesting to see a well-known article in the Village Voice
in the  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
Stalin, I 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 above.
        The truth is that the statement by Marx and Engels- that the
proletarians "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 same thing?
        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 works!

*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
are not 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 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.  What madness. This is a prime example of how we are all
susceptible to the vicious hegemonic process in this society, the ruling
class has convinced some of us that Hitler and Stalin are the opposite
sides of the same coin.  They bring out so-called "scholars" and other
political reactionaries to present evidence concerning what occurred in the
Soviet Union when the Bolsheviks were trying to established workers' power
over one-sixth of the worlds surface.  Before you join the chorous, look at
the mosic sheet.   Fight for Communism.



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alfredo jose

If the misery of our poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our
institutions, great is our sin.  -CHARLES DARWIN.

"The earth shall rise on new foundations. We have been naught, we shall be
all."  Words from the L'INTERNATIONALE
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