[Marxism] Re: Stalingrad Paper

Louis Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Thu Feb 12 08:45:29 MST 2004

>Mr. Proyect,
>I stumbled across your Stalingrad paper while Googling for certain
>terrain features important to the battle, and was left wondering how you
>could be so sympathetic to the Russians, while disdaining the Americans
>who fought the same enemy.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m hardly the most
>reactionary supporter of capitalism, but Stalin’s insane social
>experiments must be viewed as barbaric and totalitarian regardless of
>the philosophy underpinning the state, whether fascist, socialist,
>Marxist, theocratic or otherwise.

Actually Stalin's social experiments were conducted in the spirit of what 
Marx called "primitive accumulation", namely the violent dispossession of 
small peasants and indigenous peoples in pursuit of industrialization and 
the creation of a modern self-sufficient state. If anything, Stalin was a 
piker in comparison to the USA which exterminated something like 90 percent 
of the Indian population in the pursuit of a land grab and left millions of 
Africans dead during the slave trade. Not to speak of all the millions of 
dead Filipinos, Vietnamese, Indonesians, Chileans, et al who stood in the 
way of the consolidation of an American Empire.

>Also, I reject your suggestion that class-consciousness or any other
>concept of a great Proletarian revolution played a major part in
>individual Russian determination, indeed heroism.  Every common
>soldiers’ recounting (aside from those published by Soviet
>government-controlled presses) refers to the Rodina.  Which is more than
>enough.  Honestly, do you really believe that ill-educated
>peasant-soldiers consciously fought for dialectical materialism?

Nobody fights for "dialectical materialism". On the other hand, the average 
Russian had learned about the cruelties of Nazi occupation in the Western 
territories under occupation. No matter how bad Stalin was, life under the 
Germans was worse. It is of some interest, by the way, that the USA has 
just concluded an offensive in Iraq called "Iron Hammer" that has the same 
name as a Nazi action in the USSR called "Eisenhammer". No doubt, all the 
Nazi war criminals smuggled out of Germany after WWII and protected by the 
CIA have had a lingering impact on how we conduct foreign policy.

>   You
>say that Marxism is the difference between the determination present in
>the Second World War and its absence in the First?  You need to review
>the awful Russian casualties suffered in World War I where the fighting
>took place in Poland and not a thousand miles into the Russian interior.
>As well, you might wish to consider the determination of Russian
>soldiery in 1812.  The best case for a single difference determining
>outcomes (and I really doubt there is just one) is that Russian military
>commanders of the First World War were profoundly less competent than
>their counterparts in the Second.

In fact the Russian officers were much more competent in the First World 
War. You have to remember that Stalin purged all the top officers on the 
eve of WWII and left the USSR highly vulnerable. The defeat of the Nazis at 
Stalingrad is much more a function of the heroism of the ordinary Russian 
worker than it is of competence at the top.

>While I found many aspects of your paper to be interesting and
>informative, I could not ignore evidence that your analysis was colored
>by emotional predilection ­ a substantial failing for anyone concerned
>with truth.
>With regards,
>Phil Goodman

What's a nice Jewish boy like you doing with the American flag clenched in 
his fist?

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