Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Mon Jan 31 12:18:26 MST 2000

John Lacny:
>       Come on, Lou!  This is the kind of superficial gloss
>on things you profess to detest in other people.  Have
>you read the Getty-Naumov book?  Far from arguing that
>the Terror was "minor," The Road to Terror puts forth
>a wealth of hitherto-unknown documents, and comes to
>the conclusion that the "thosands" killed during the
>Terror meant hundreds of thousands.

The big question is not the numbers, but the political interpretation that
Getty gives. In an Oct. '93 article in the American Historical Review,
Getty makes a big thing about the "elite" composition of Stalin's
prisoners; their level of education was higher than working-class Soviet
citizens. The particular spin he gives is that Russian politics was a nasty
business and the purges were essentially a brutal inter-party affair that
went on above the heads of the average Russian. What this does not take
into account is the way in which "elites" always articulate the class
interests of those who can not. People in the party, most especially those
sympathetic to Bukharin, were always protesting the treatment of Soviet
workers. Loren Graham's "Ghost of the Executed Engineer" details the fate
of Peter Palchinsky, who was a Bukharin supporter and never stopped
complaining about how Soviet workers were being abused on the Great Dneiper
Dam project. After Palchinsky was thrown in prison, it was much easier to
move ahead on similar projects. By analogy, the social composition of those
who supported Allende was probably "elite" by comparison to the average
worker or peasant in Chile. Once Pinochet was able to jail, exile or murder
them, it became easier to impose a "neoliberal" work camp on the Chilean
people. It is of some interest that Putin, trained as a Stalinist, admires

>     Now Bukharin.  I admit to a personal liking for
>the guy.  I'm willing to bet that his recantations and
>confessions were torture-induced rather than sincere.
>But then again, how do you explain his final letter to

I wouldn't try to explain letters that are written when one is being
tortured, when the sole person capable of ending the torture is the addressee.

Louis Proyect

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