Stalin and the POWs

Russell Grinker grinker at
Sat Aug 7 10:11:48 MDT 1999

Lou Proyect wrote:

>president used a weapon he knew had no military justification. Having made
>a decision difficult to defend, he created a rationale for public

I think this is correct.  The Japanese, long demonised as almost sub-human
in Allied propaganda, were an easy and useful exemplary target which served
as a warning to the Soviet Union.
>Some may say it's unpatriotic to review these facts 50 years later. Yet we
>are in a bad way if we have to rely on distorted history to uphold our view
>of ourselves.

So is it ever justified for the left to be American patriots?  I'm a bit
confused about what is being said here.

The misrepresentation to Americans in 1945 may not have
>started a trend. But it illustrates an ominous practice, increasingly
>accepted by officials, of telling people what they think we ought to know
>rather than what we are entitled to know. No one's suggesting there's not a
>time when government has to conduct affairs privately.

When is there such a time?  When are "national security" justifications OK
as a pretext for keeping ordinary people in the dark - or are you talking
about something else?

What's equally clear
>is that this legitimate need is too easily invoked and becomes a means by
>which politicians shield themselves from their errors.

When would there be such a "legitmate need" from the point of view of
Marxists working in an imperialist country?  Surely you're not suggesting
that time of war suspends the necessity to maintain opposition to bourgeois
rule and strategies?  Is this not the moment in history when as the saying
used to go: "the main enemy is at home"?
Was/is it ever OK to be patriotic in a war in defence of the USA (or any
imperialist country)?

I believe the question of the relationship between Marxism and patriotism is
also fundamental to an understanding of what Stalinism was - essentially
social patriotism, the growth of patriotic tendencies within national
sections of the Comintern and of the notion that there were national roads
to socialism [rather than the commonly-held idea that Stalinism was a form
of bureaucratic centralism and led to sectarian attitudes and practise
towards other political tendencies on the left].


More information about the Marxism mailing list