[Marxism] Putin

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Feb 12 20:38:42 MST 2016

On 2/12/16 10:08 PM, Andrew Stewart wrote:
> As for Checnya, you do understand that their aspirations were
> manipulated and hijacked by CIA-linked World Muslim League, right?

Actually, Russia had no business invading Chechnya whatever form of 
government the people chose, even if it was one based on Sharia law and 
worshiping plastic busts of Allen Dulles. That is why Lenin called for 
the self-determination of Tsarist colonies. It was Stalin's Great 
Russian Chauvinism that made up Lenin's mind to wage a struggle to 
remove him from leadership in the CP. You can read all about this in 
Moshe Lewin's "Lenin's Last Struggle", large parts of which can be read 


In terms of Chechen politics, it is a good idea to pay much more 
attention to Tony Wood's article in the New Left Review than non-Marxist 
sources--at least if you take your Marxism seriously. Fortunately, it is 
not behind a paywall:


The leading role played by Cossacks in the White Army, which moved into 
the North Caucasus in 1919, galvanized opposition in Chechnya. Mobilized 
by Sufi brotherhoods in the countryside and by radicals such as Sheripov 
in Grozny—which survived a 100-day White onslaught in 1918—the 
resistance engaged fully a third of Denikin’s forces at a crucial moment 
in the Civil War. [8] After the White withdrawal in 1920, however, the 
Red Army initially replicated the pattern of punitive raids, and 
resistance continued. By 1921 Stalin was forced to pledge full autonomy 
for the rechristened Soviet Mountain Republic, accept local Islamic laws 
and return lands granted to the Cossacks. Within a year the Soviets had 
reneged on these promises, sending in army detachments to forcibly 
disarm the Chechens in the highlands; further pacification measures were 
required into the summer of 1925, including artillery and aerial 
bombardment of mountain villages.

Yet although many Chechens saw Soviet rule as Russian domination 
refurbished, others were better disposed to the Communist order, seeing 
it as Chechnya’s path to modernity. Much of this ambiguity persists to 
this day, since the Soviet system provided professional opportunities 
and social infrastructure that the patriarchal order had never offered. 
In the field of culture, Chechen writers turned away from the Arabic 
poetic traditions of preceding centuries towards realist fiction in the 
manner of Gorky; it was the playwright and novelist Khalid Oshaev who 
devised the Latin transcription for Chechen in 1925—anticipating Atatürk 
by three years. [9] By the late 30s, however, modernization had become 
unambiguously synonymous with Russification. This was expressed on a 
symbolic level with an enforced shift to Cyrillic script, and in a 
literal sense with adjustments to administrative boundaries designed to 
dilute the weights of the titular nationalities of the newly formed 
Caucasian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics, merging distinct groups 
and adding to them areas with predominantly Russian populations. [10]

As elsewhere in the USSR, the onset of collectivization in Chechnya in 
the autumn of 1929 marked the beginning of a qualitatively different 
phase of Soviet history. In response to arbitrary arrests and 
confiscations of livestock, armed resistance began once more: archives 
were burnt and dozens of GPU agents assassinated, prompting the despatch 
of the Red Army to Checheno-Ingushetia that December. It suffered heavy 
losses, and the Kremlin line was softened until 1931, when the GPU 
arrested 35,000 Chechens and Ingush for ‘anti-Soviet’ activity. The 
following year saw the beginning of a crackdown on the local 
intelligentsia, though the 3,000 arrests of 1932 were outdone by the 
14,000—3 per cent of the population—that took place during the 
ezhovshchina of 1937; guerrilla activity continued in Chechnya’s 
mountainous south, however, until 1938. An indirect indication of the 
toll taken by arrests and repression can be seen in the fact that, 
between the Soviet censuses of 1937 and 1939, Checheno-Ingushetia 
suffered a population loss of 35,000. [11]

But the depredations of the GPU pale into insignificance beside the 
genocidal deportations of 1944. If the former were tragically 
generalized across the USSR, the latter were chillingly focused. The 
pretext given by the Soviet authorities was that several North Caucasian 
peoples and the Crimean Tatars had collaborated en masse with the Nazi 
occupying forces. Chechen émigré circles—including the grandson of 
Shamil—had briefly made contact with the German authorities. But in 
Chechnya itself, opportunities for working with the enemy were limited: 
having taken Rostov, Stavropol, Krasnodar and Mozdok by late August 
1942, the Wehrmacht ground to a halt before reaching Grozny; the only 
town in Checheno-Ingushetia over which they managed to establish control 
before their retreat began in late 1942 was Malgobek, which had a 
predominantly Russian population. [12] In Chechnya as elsewhere, the 
handfuls of collaborators were overwhelmingly outweighed by the number 
of Caucasians and Tatars volunteering for service in the Red Army—17,413 
Chechens alone—or fighting with partisan bands behind German lines.

The real motivation undoubtedly lies instead in the obstinate refusal of 
the majority of Chechens, above all, to bow to Soviet authority. It was 
this that underpinned the nationalist insurrection led by Hassan 
Israilov and Mairbek Sheripov, which began in 1940—when Hitler and 
Stalin were officially allies—and which had, by 1942, gained control of 
several mountain regions and formed a provisional government. [13] 
Rather than being deployed against Hitler’s armies, the Soviet air force 
pounded the mountain auls in a bid to crush the North Caucasian National 


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