[Marxism] Nestor on 1921 famine

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Jul 18 16:09:25 MDT 2006

[Louis Pr.]

 > If famine was was caused by War Communism, then what caused War
 > Communism other than the invasion by 21 counter-revolutionary
 >... In all likelihood, the USSR would have adopted something
 > fairly close to the NEP as early as 1918 if had been left in peace.

In fact, the early weeks of Bolshevik rule were rosy for the 
bourgeoisie.  Even the foreign banks were treated with velvet glove,
as Epstein, the head of the foreign banks caucus, recalls (quoted byE.H. Carr).

The blame for the tragedy of the USSR should be laid, first and foremost, 
at the doorstep of the Western bourgeoisies (and by extension, of Social 
Democracy as a whole).  The Civil War (and thus War Communism and 
Stalinism) was Petrograd 1917 as seen by the Western bourgeoisie, in the 
same way that Nazism was Versailles 1919 as seen by the German bourgeoisie.

Once this is clearly understood, then we can move on to criticisms of what 
did "we" (or "our cdes. in Russia") do wrong.  Not before.

This, methinks, is an answer to J. Baranov's

[Respuesta a:"Marxism Digest, Vol 33, Issue 45"
Enviado por:marxism-request at lists.econ.utah.edu
Con fecha:17 Jul 2006, a las 21:41]

 > some souces claim that the
 > Bolsheviks could have conducted War Communism differently and  far
 > more mildly but didn't.

The Bolsheviks feared the destruction of what little remained of a 
socialist state, and had a very clear idea of what would ultimately
happen to the peoples in the revolutionized Republic if they were 
ousted.  They answered to the savage war machine of the imperialist
powers, which counted with the backing of the Russian bourgeoisie, with the 
same ruthlessness that these imperialist powers had displayed since 1914 
(and, outside Europe, since long centuries, particularly since 
1860).  Thus, War Communism was the way to counter War Capitalism.

Of course, they could have been "milder".  Of course, too, the revolution 
in such a case might well have been crushed.  The Bolsheviks thought they 
could not be mild, particularly when they remembered the responsibilities 
of German Social Democrats after 1914.

Thus, the possible mistakes of the Bolsheviks are simply the expression of 
the betrayal by social-democrats.  This may sound harsh, but that is the 
way it happened.  It is up to social-democrats and bourgeois to face the 
accusation, not to the Bolsheviks.

They did what they thought best, and the final result was that, famine or 
non-famine, the country somehow survived.  Of course, that famine was one 
of the main breeding grounds for Stalinism.  But it is important not to 
forget _who_ generated the conditions for the famine. If it was the 
Bolsheviks with War Communism, then Stalinism is simply the expresion of 
Eastern backwardness, if it was the imperialists with their aggression, it 
is the expression of Western barbarism.

Maybe we could agree that it was both.  But what Louis Pr. points out, and 
I agree with, is that _without Western barbarism_ there would
have been no War Communism, and certainly no famine [1].

In the dreams and wishes of the Bolsheviks, the beast of Eastern 
backwardness could have receded to its cave, and slowly sleep itself away 
towards the realm of forgotten nightmares, while the West revolutionized 
itself, beginning by Germany.  In the dreams and wishes of the Western 
leading classes, the same beast would ultimately kill the first socialist 
revolution ever.  Famine was one of the most important breeding grounds for 
the beast and its offspring.

We should never forget this.  Because the Bolsheviks are gone, but  the 
Western imperialists are still there.


[1] Even the famine, once it set in, could have been alleviated.
Hipólito Yrigoyen, the Arg President of those years, a popular-
democratic petty bourgeois leader, made a huge donation of grain to
the Russian Republic on simple humanitarian considerations, under no
conditions at all.

The Western "donations" came with unacceptable claims over who, how,
where and when would distribute them inside Russia, etc.

BTW, the greatness of Hipólito Yrigoyen towards Soviet Russia did not
impede the local "Left" to help the oligarchic efforts to overthrow
him, and eventually applaud the September 6, 1930 coup that installed
in my country what was to be known as the "Infamous Decade"

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