On "entrepreneur" (and MS)

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Thu Feb 1 14:26:45 MST 1996


On Thu, 1 Feb 1996, Justin Schwartz wrote:

> Louis, give me some credit. I don't get my Soviet history potted from
> Nove. I've studied it on my own and even published in respecxted left
> journals on Soviet politics and history. I agree, and so does Sam, I know,
> that revolutions can unleash people's creativity. That's one reason we
> like them. In Russia, though, for a complex set of reasons, the people who
> ended up on top decided that popular self-determination had gone too far
> and had to be squelched, and the circumstances allowed them to follow
> through with this.  --jks

Louis: Well, the trouble is that Sam's book is a horrible exercise in 
second-guessing. Lenin should have done this... Lenin should have not 
done that... 

No matter how many books like this are written, and Sam has done an 
admirable job of cutting and pasting from the best of them, they have no 
effect on the actual trajectory of actual revolutions. Revolutions do not 
proceed by Robert's Rules of Order. They are by definition uncontrolled, 
raw, violent and messy.

On the level of scholarship, Farber is also second-rate and biased. He 
asserts that the roots of the Gulag are to be found in some prison camps 
maintained by the Soviet government during the civil war. This is 
preposterous.

The prison camps of the Soviet civil war were like the camps used to house 
contras during the Nicaraguan civil war, no more, no less. Stalin's camps 
were used as dungeons to house forced labor. Farber can not make this 
elementary distinction. He is a typical social democrat, no matter how 
many times he quotes Victor Serge or other ex-Bolsheviks.


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