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The 75th Anniversary of Stalin's Terror Famine and the Genocide-Mass Murder Distinction:

Cathy Young, a fellow Russian emigre, has a fascinating article on the 75th anniversary of Stalin's terror famine of the 1930s. Some 6 to 10 million peasants were deliberately starved to death by the Soviet government as part of its campaign to force the peasantry to accept the collectivization of agriculture.

Unfortunately, as Young points out, proper commemoration and public understanding of this horrendous atrocity has been partially forestalled by an ongoing dispute between the Russia and Ukrainian governments. The Ukrainians claim that this case of mass murder amounts to "genocide" because Stalin deliberately targeted Ukrainian peasants in order to prevent any possible resurgence of Ukrainian nationalism. The Russian government notes that many of the victims were members of other ethnic groups (including millions of ethnic Russians), and therefore argue that there was no genocide, but "merely" a mass murder.

Despite the current Putin government's efforts to minimize the scope of Soviet atrocities and play up the supposed positive aspects of the communist era, the Russians do not deny that millions of people were deliberately starved to death during the collectivization campaign. Instead, they focus on denying the "genocide" charge. As Young puts it, "it seems that the only time Russia's government remembers the Russian victims of the Terror-Famine is when it needs them to counter Ukrainian claims [of genocide]."

The ridiculous nature of this dispute highlights the arbitrariness of distinguishing between genocide and "mere" mass murder, and of holding that the former is somehow far worse than the latter. I have written about the issue before in this series of posts.

To the millions of peasants who died in the terror famine, it hardly matters whether they were targeted on ethnic grounds or merely because they were "class enemies" and "kulaks" who were considered obstacles to Stalin's plans. Moreover, given that Kulak and class enemy status was largely determined by family background (and both were defined broadly enough to include virtually all peasants whose families owned even a small plot of land), one cannot even make the claim that a genocide targets people for characteristics they cannot change, while more traditional communist mass murders target people based on mutable attributes.

On a more personal note, I recently discussed this dispute with my grandmother, who actually lived through the famine in early 1930s Ukraine (though she is not Ukrainian). She reacted with incredulity. "How can anyone doubt there was a genocide," she said, "I saw the starving and dying people myself!" I tried to explain to her the genocide-mass murder distinction embedded in current international law as neutrally as I could, noting some of the justifications offered for it. She, of course, was unmoved, and continued to see the distinction as a dubious contrivance. I have to agree.

UPDATE: I should note, in response to commenters, that there are clearly cases where Soviet policy could be considered genocide under the international law definition thereof. Examples include Stalin's deportation of the Crimean Tatars and other defined ethnic groups from the Crimea. This led to thousands of deaths, and clearly targeted the Tatars on ethnic grounds.

Cornellian (mail):
Mass murder v. genocide looks a lot like murder conviction v. murder conviction with a hate crime enhancement.

Apparently, there's a lot of power in a label.
12.7.2008 5:37pm
Reader5000:
Isn't the (agreedly false) distinction just the cultural fall out of the Western emphasization of the Holocaust and American racial history in general (which remarkably came in to cultural prominence around the same time as the Holocaust)?
12.7.2008 6:03pm
SSFC (www):
I suspect that some of the resistance to calling efforts to destroy of groups based on class or subcultural distinctions comes from those who do not wish to confront this crime (Stalin's destruction of Ukrainian kulaks), in particular.

But one can lay genocide at Stalin's door anyway. Ask a Chechen, or a Volga German (if you can find one). Khrushchev suggested that Stalin wanted to do to the Ukrainians as a whole what he did to the Chechens. He just lacked the means.
12.7.2008 6:12pm
Sua Tremendita (mail):
Why dwell on the negative? Surely we can all agree that the death of millions greatly reduced CO2, and is this not the standard by which we measure all good and evil? I foresee significant rehabilitation of Stalin's reputation. The first real Green. (And here we thought he was merely a Red.)
12.7.2008 6:14pm
SSFC (www):
And following up on the contentious nature of the definitional dispute, consider the case of Turkey (where it is a crime to call what happened to the Armenians genocide) and France (which passed a law making it a crime to deny that what happened to the Armenians was genocide).
12.7.2008 6:23pm
Norman Bates (mail):
I wonder if Putin would be willing to concede that the Katin Forest massacre (and the many similar massacres the Russians carried out across Poland) were genocide. The targets were any persons the Russians thought were carriers of Polish culture and the families and close contacts of these persons including men, women, children, and infants. Stalin's allies during WW II, e.g., Churchill and Roosevelt, were aware of these massacres and their aim and were therefore abettors, if not accomplices.
12.7.2008 6:26pm
glangston (mail):
A professor at Hawaii University, R.J. Rummel, coined the term Democide (murder by government) to apply to situations like this. A distinction with little difference but pretty accurate.
12.7.2008 6:32pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
I think some of these discussions miss the point that even if this is merely mass murder, it is hard to suggest that Stalin did not have some genocidal intentions and that he did not commit other acts of either extermination or genocide (for example, the Cossack massacres).....
12.7.2008 6:44pm
Anderson (mail):
The Russians' efforts to put lipstick on the pig re: the famine doesn't affect whether genocide is distinguishable from mass murder. We shouldn't let our concepts be muddled by self-serving apologists.

There is a distinction, for the reasons articulated by Arendt in her book on Eichmann. Mass murder kills a lot of innocent people. Genocide kills (or seeks to kill) *a* people.

Wiping out every Jew in Europe would have been a greater crime than killing an equal number of people of various nationalities, just as killing every Italian or Scot would have been.
12.7.2008 6:51pm
Cardozo'd (www):
One thing I wish people would take out of a story like this...more of a pet peeve than something terribly important, is something poignant because of its use in the past election. Many people immediately associate the word socialism with what went on in Russia in the 20th century. What this does is cause people to immediately assume any semblance of socialism is inherently evil. What happened under Stalin in the Russian regime was not socialism. Let me now say I am a capitalist and a proud American...but I recall a time when I raised my hand in a college sociology class and mentioned with no disdain in my voice, socialism, everyone went quiet and kinda looked at me wierd...it was disappointing in a scholastic atmosphere that people couldn't seperate socialism and Stalinism. In the past election Obama was called a "socialist" as if that meant he was going to turn America into 1933 Russia and evil things would follow. Nobody said "while that's not accurate entirely, what's so bad about it, that's just another theory." It disappoints me because other countries have parties with social or socialist in the name and it's not unacceptable...can you imagine a Socialist Democrat running in this country anywhere else besides maybe Vermont? I can't. They would be ripped apart.

Whew...sorry. Just aggravates me. With that said, I will now go shopping.
12.7.2008 6:58pm
neurodoc:
Genocides may have a dimension of horror beyond other instances of mass murder. That dimension is the attempt not just to eliminate individuals who are seen at the time of the killings as enemies, but to erase a group's historical and cultural traces, along with any possible future. I think there is added horror in that, combined with the racial/religious/ethnic prejudice that motivates most genocidal slaughters. (The Cambodian slaughter, which is sometimes styled an "auto-genocide," may arguably be seen as sui generis.)

And Ilya, with all due respect for your grandmother and profound sympathies for what she and those around her experienced, both those who survived and those who didn't, I don't think her opinion deserves special weight with respect to the question whether there is a difference between true genocides and "mere" mass murders. The immediate victims of either will have firsthand experience to inform their views, but may lack the perspective that those not immmmediately/directly involved have to answer this question.
12.7.2008 7:09pm
wm13:
Hitler lost the war. Stalin won the war. Lawyers, scholars, bureaucrats and intellectuals around the world have adjusted their vocabularies, doctrine and thought processes to respect that result. That is the way of the world.
12.7.2008 7:16pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"but "merely" a mass murder."

According to Robert Conquest, his book Harvest of Sorrow, met with resistance from fellow academics. They simply didn't want to believe that Soviet Communism was that evil. Circa 1987, I remember a socialist friend of mine insisting that the terror famine was not possible because "people could just walk out of the country." Given more evidence this normally affable person began to lose his temper. Even today the academics are still at it. History professor Mark Tauger says that genocide label
" ... is wrong. The famine...was not limited to Ukraine or even to the rural areas of the U.S.S.R...and it was far from the intention of Stalin and others in the Soviet leadership to create such a disaster."
They will never give up trying to make excuses for the Communists. No matter how much evidence you come up with, they will nitpick everything and amplify the slightest error in evidence into a complete rebuttal.

I asked a Ukrainian friend of mine who was there how his family survived. He said they buried food, gathered the dirt in blankets and dumped it in the forest. Nothing like hearing from the horse's mouth.
12.7.2008 7:33pm
Allan Walstad (mail):

What happened under Stalin in the Russian regime was not socialism.

A lot of things happened in Communist Russia. Mass murder and/or genocide do not equal socialism per se, but state ownership of the means of production does.

It's an interesting question, to what degree the killing under Lenin and Stalin was independent of their attempt to impose collectivism. Was Lenin, in particular, a mere power-hungry tyrant, or was he an idealist who found murder necessary to achieve his goals? Can full-fledged collectivism be achieved by other than tyrannical means? How murderous would Kerensky have been?
12.7.2008 7:49pm
JDS:
glangson mentioned R.J. Rummel's work on democide.

See http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/ for this excellent resource.

http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/MEGA.HTM and http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/20TH.HTM deal with Stalin and other deka-megamurderers (those who kill more than ten million people) The USSR (1917-1987) is credited with 61,911,000 murders, second only to Mao's China which murdered 76,702,000 people 1949-1987.
12.7.2008 7:52pm
Repeal 16-17 (mail):
Who cares about the name? He killed 6-10 million people, in that one incident alone. Whether it was genocide or merely mass murder, the number of deaths is what matters.
12.7.2008 7:52pm
Bruce_M (mail) (www):
People just have to feel proud about things, even when they have no right to feel pride.

This is a great example of the dangers of nationalism. "He's a evil guy who intentionally killed millions of people, but he was the leader of our country, and our country is great because it's the country in which we were arbitrarily born, so it's important that it's only mass murder and not genocide." National pride n stuff.

It's analogous to how a blatantly bad call by a referee during a sporting event will always be welcomed and justified by the team, and the fans of the team, which it helps. Our team, our pride. "We" won. It's also why I get pissed off when people wave flags at boxing and soccer matches, etc. You have no right to feel proud just because someone from your country did something better than someone from another country. Why does anyone from the Phillipines have any right to feel "pride" over Manny Pacquiao's win over Oscar de la Hoya the other night? Why are they justified in waving their country's flag? And if it had been a dishonorable victory (low blows, ear biting, etc), or an arguable, extremely questionable victory by split-decision, they'd we waving those flags with no less enthusiasm.

People and their pride. They should all be slapped.
12.7.2008 8:18pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
Stalin's allies during WW II, e.g., Churchill and Roosevelt, were aware of these massacres and their aim and were therefore abettors, if not accomplices.

Yes, Churchill and Roosevelt are just as guilty as Stalin (which is the meaning of being an accomplice -- or an "abettor" which is not legally different). Churchill &FDR should have declared war on the USSR, and/or not allied themselves with Stalin. That would have made a lot of sense and would have saved lots of lives.
12.7.2008 8:21pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
"People and their pride. They should all be slapped."

Or at least have their ears bitten. We should distinguish between varieties of pride. I'm no boxing fan, but had de la Hoya won, would have no reason to take pride. (1) this Pacquiao fellow could have let me have a low blow and an ear bite and still cleaned my clock in two seconds and (2) for all I know he's a nice guy and I wouldn't have wanted to fight him anyway. (Of course if they offered about a million dollars to the loser, I might be willing to take the 1-2 hits it would take to send me down, knowing that the odds of feeling guilty about hitting him were right up there with me being named to Hillary's vacant Senate seat).

The pride that says "we won't stoop to that, even though others might" is a different creature.

I do like a good football game, but could care less about the teams. Unless it involves my old high school, where I at least did play frosh year.
12.7.2008 8:39pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"You have no right to feel proud just because someone from your country did something better than someone from another country."

Do you ever feel proud of your children or your family? If you're like most of us you do. That's the way humans are. A nation is a group of people that share common attributes: language, race, culture etc. Thus the feelings of pride in one's nation are simply an extension of family-like feelings. But multiculturalists have no real national identification because fundamentally they believe all people are exactly equivalent in every possible way. The whole idea of a nation is anathema to them.

The old Brooklyn Dodgers had very loyal fans because they were a local ball club. The players lived in Brooklyn and would often give some of the fans a ride home after the game. They belonged with the "Brooklyn family" of fans. Now ball clubs have players from everywhere, so who really cares who wins? The local team if no longer local-- it's a kind market entity. Similarly the market-state is replacing the nation-state, but if the market crashes, then what's left?
12.7.2008 8:40pm
Midnight Rambler:
Two interesting letters have come to light in recent research of Soviet archives. In August 1932, Stalin wrote a letter to Lazar Kaganovich saying, "If we do not start rectifying the situation in Ukraine now, we may loose Ukraine." In early 1933, Stalin signed a decree that sealed the borders of two particular regions of the USSR, specifically forbidding people from leaving those two regions to search for food: Ukraine, and the North Caucasus, which was a predominantly ethically Ukrainian area.
Was there harsh collectivization and starvation in many parts of the USSR? Undoubtedly. But the policies and goals of the Soviet government were always the harshest in Ukraine.
Sergio Gradenigo, an Italian consulate official in Ukraine at the time, wrote to his superior that the starvation in Ukraine "will result in [Russian] colonization of this country and changes in its ethnographical nature. In the future ...nobody will talk, about Ukraine or Ukrainian people, to say nothing about Ukrainian problem as such because Ukraine will de facto turn into the territory with predominant Russian population".
12.7.2008 8:42pm
Midnight Rambler:
Much more can be cited, but I leave you with one more tidbit. Rafael Lemkin, the Jewish-Polish intellectual who coined the term "genocide" and successfully lobbied for the UN to pass a convention on genocide, declared Soviet actions in Ukraine to be genocide. The Famine, according to Lemkin, was one of several actions the Soviets took to try to wipe out the Ukrainians. http://www.faminegenocide.com/kuryliw/lemkin.htm
12.7.2008 8:47pm
Anderson (mail):
In early 1933, Stalin signed a decree that sealed the borders of two particular regions of the USSR, specifically forbidding people from leaving those two regions to search for food: Ukraine, and the North Caucasus, which was a predominantly ethically Ukrainian area.

Yep. You don't confiscate the harvest and then close the borders without intending to starve the people therein.

I suppose one could argue whether Stalin meant to *exterminate* the Ukrainians or *enervate* them by mass deaths to the point where the remaining Ukrainians could give no further trouble. An academic question in every sense of the word.
12.7.2008 9:22pm
Kazinski:
Of course there should be a distinction between mass murder because of ethic or racial reasons, and mass murder because the victims are just in the way.

Perhaps you could compensate for the difference by adding 1/2 inch to the length of the hangman's rope.
12.7.2008 9:42pm
Bruce_M (mail) (www):
A. Zarkov: vicarious pride is different from actual pride. It's vicarious pride I take issue with. If you sit at home drinking beer and eating nachos watching the football team that just so happens to call your city home (and would readily move to another city for more money and a bigger stadium), you have no right to be proud if your city's team wins. "We won!" No, you ate nachos and got drunk. The players won.

Dave Hardy: If De La Hoya had won, then all the Mexicans and the Americans would have been proud! De La Hoya has always tried to claim the fans, and thus the pride, of two countries as a Mexican-American. They even sang both the Mexico and United States national anthems for him before the fight. You're right, there would be no reason to be proud had de la hoya won, but the mexicans with their mexico flags would have been proud anyway. And it's the vicarious pride i was talking about before. Completely unearned.

My country is the best. My state is the best. My city is the best. My school is the best. My religion is the best. My race is the best. My skin color is the best. My sexuality is the best. My car is the best. My brand of coffee is the best.

People are so insecure, so pathetic, so miserable that they find pride in the status and existence of things they had no choice or influence over. Wars are fought over it, and it causes people to legitimately debate over whether killing millions of people is genocide or only mass murder, because national pride is at stake. It's pathetic.

And no, I have no pride in my race, skin color, nationality, language, religion (or lack thereof), etc. Is anyone going to try to insult me or make me feel bad?
12.7.2008 10:12pm
sbron:
I will be the first to agree that morally the crimes of Russian, Chinese and Cambodian Marxists were just as evil as those of the Germans. The problem is that the Ukrainians themselves are hardly sympathetic. Ukrainians historically were as ferociously anti-Semitic as the Baltic peoples. Tens of thousands of Jews may have been killed by Ukrainians in 1940-42 when the Germans swept into previously Soviet-held parts of Poland for example, and probably thousands more in the Ukraine itself.
12.7.2008 10:15pm
Bama 1L:
From my reading years ago:

In the late 1920s, Stalin wanted to decrease rural population while increasing agricultural production. This was absolutely essential to his economic plans. Ukraine would feel this policy heaviest, since it was supposedly the breadbasket. Of course Stalin and the rest of the Soviet leadership was too brutal and stupid, as well as too impatient, to accomplish by any means other than confiscating food, dumping it in cities, and expecting the farmers who'd grown the food to emigrate or starve down to a more efficient population level. Supposedly technology and better planning would let fewer farmers grow more food. (That never quite worked out for the Soviets.)

Stalin also wanted to appear to be "doing something" in terms comprehensible to communist ideology. Of course he was fitting into the scheme of economic progress by emphasizing modern industry over feudal agriculture.

But he felt had to cast the brutality as revolutionary. Surprisingly to us, perhaps, Stalin and friends continued to worry that a genuinely popular communist movement would displace them from power and so pandered to the base. Thus, the rural people who would starve were classified as rich peasants, wreckers, and class enemies. (Same phenomenon as the purges of the 1930s: Stalin thought the threat to his power came from the popular left, so always portrayed his victims as counterrevolutionaries no matter why he was acutally killing them.)

There was also a bit of ethnic prejudice at work, although whether this was because of Stalin or his mostly Russian audience is hard to say--probably both.

So, probably not genocide as we define it, just an inherent defect of bad central planning and indifference to human life. The other notable totalitarian regime of mid-20th century Europe evinced obsessive, although ultimately failed, central planning and applied great industry to killing particular groups of people for no economic reason.
12.7.2008 10:35pm
John Moore (www):
Unfortunately, the USSR was never conquered, just defeated. Hence its people have never been forced to accept the many horrors of that regime. Add to that what seems to be an inherent Russian paranoia and xenophobia, and normal nationalism, and they are quite happy sweeping it under the rug.

Worse is their abettors in the West, which includes most members of the left. Few have admitted their errors or how their actions abetted the evil empire - from its founding until its death.

Most recently, in the 1980s, the left was doing everything it could to obstruct the efforts of Reagan and Thatcher to destroy that regime. To this day, Reagan is disliked by the left while Gorbachev, who presided over the most massive biological weapons program in history, is treated as a peace maker.

Denial is a normal human emotion. Leftist denial of the evils of communism is morally similar to holocaust denial.
12.7.2008 10:43pm
MarkField (mail):
I think John Moore just proved that Hugh Everett was right.
12.7.2008 10:53pm
Kazinski:
sbron:
The Ukrainians wore their skirts too short?
12.7.2008 11:03pm
Midnight Rambler:
sbon:
You downplay the victims of a 1932-1933 mass starvation by citing the evil actions of some of their countrymen during a war 10 years later? Huh?

As for those who think Russia has come to terms with Stalin's legacy, I suggest some more research. The Kremlin continues and encourages the veneration of the Soviet Union, period. Stalin's standing among the populace is increasing, according to poll numbers, and school textbooks explain to students that Stalin's brutality was necessary for the strengthening of the Soviet state. Google the article called "Flirting with Stalin" by Arkady Ostrovsky. It appeared on prospect-magazine.co.uk in September 2008.
12.7.2008 11:34pm
Cardozo'd (www):

Leftist denial of the evils of communism is morally similar to holocaust denial.

This statement is absurd. The holocaust was "mass murder" or "genocide" however you'd like to label it done by a maniac. What happened to farmers in rural Russia during the 20th century was a "mass murder" or "genocide" however you'd like to label it done by a maniac. Neither was actually done by Fascism or Communism...rather by a person with serious troubles. Marx was a sociologist...he wasn't trying to think of a way to enable someone to murder farmers or anyone else for that matter. If people being murdered in the name of a cockeyed distortion of another theory like Stalinism was of Socialism in Russia, is condition enough for something being evil than things like Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Capitalism are all evil...and are being denied.

I for one respect those things so won't call them evil.
12.8.2008 1:33am
Cardozo'd (www):

Worse is their abettors in the West, which includes most members of the left. Few have admitted their errors or how their actions abetted the evil empire - from its founding until its death.


Moore,

Are you willing to admit Reagan's errors in his support of both Afghan terrorists and Iran - both seemingly are an evil empire at this point?
12.8.2008 1:39am
CrazyTrain (mail):
The problem is that the Ukrainians themselves are hardly sympathetic. Ukrainians historically were as ferociously anti-Semitic as the Baltic peoples. Tens of thousands of Jews may have been killed by Ukrainians in 1940-42 when the Germans swept into previously Soviet-held parts of Poland for example, and probably thousands more in the Ukraine itself.

Ahh, collective guilt. Wonderful way to view the world. Ukrainians deserved genocide (or mass murder) because some other Ukrainians later on helped Hitler kill the Jews. Makes a lot of sense. [Hint: no nation of millions is going to be "sympathetic" in the long run, and we will all find faults with the past actions of certain people in that nation. Your silly statement would be like someone saying that "the Americans" who died at Pearl Harbor don't deserve much sympathy,, because "the Americans" were complicit in the genocide of the American Indians.]
12.8.2008 2:50am
whit:

You have no right to feel proud just because someone from your country did something better than someone from another country. Why does anyone from the Phillipines have any right to feel "pride" over Manny Pacquiao's win over Oscar de la Hoya the other night? Why are they justified in waving their country's flag? And if it had been a dishonorable victory (low blows, ear biting, etc), or an arguable, extremely questionable victory by split-decision, they'd we waving those flags with no less enthusiasm.

People and their pride. They should all be slapped.



this is so absurd.

"do you believe in miracles?"
12.8.2008 2:55am
Tracy W (mail):
Cardozo'd
Many people immediately associate the word socialism with what went on in Russia in the 20th century.


And also what went on in China in the 20th century. And what went on in Cambodia in the 20th century.

What happened under Stalin in the Russian regime was not socialism.


State planning of the economy, collectivist farms, national ownership of the means of production, transport and communication. Sounds like socialism to me.

The trouble with socialism as an economic system is that it has to settle on a view as to what means the economy should be directed, and then everyone has to act in accordance with that view. So it has massive trouble coping with dissent. This pushes the leaders away from human rights such as freedom of speech and democracy generally. And once you lose democracy what protection do you have against a murderous madman getting control of the system of government? This is why socialism is so dangerous to living creatures. Of course other economic systems have also thrown up murderous madmen, so it's not enough to merely abhorr socialism. Just the best protection against mass murder appears to be the vote and a free press, which is reason enough to avoid economic systems like socialism.

It disappoints me because other countries have parties with social or socialist in the name and it's not unacceptable...


When it should be as unacceptable as having a political party with Nazi or Nazism in the name.

Socialism or socialist should not be used as a name to disparage people who do not actually advocate central planning of the economy. But it is amazing to me that you can still find political parties with the word "socialism" in their name. With such a disastrous record as socialism (not merely the genocides, but the common denial of human rights, and the environmental damage, without any offsetting virtues) any sensible person should run a mile from the word.

Neurodoc:
Imagine a child, a child you know and adore, with bright eyes and a big smile, being starved to death brtually over months, as the result of a political decision. Imagine her or him crying out for food, then eventually becoming too tired to cry any more. Imagine her or his stomach and limbs swelling with odema. Imagine the agony of his or her parents, watching their children die. How on earth can you add an extra "dimension of horror" to that? How can it be worse?

As for erasing a group's historical and cultural traces, people try to do that to themselves all the time voluntarily. Eg the Reformation in Christainity. The Puritans may have been nasty guys for banning Christmas, but that's hardly the same as genocide. And if you kill someone you are denying them any possible future, regardless of whether you kill them as part of a plan to kill a whole cultural group, or just as part of a plan to kill individuals.

Incidentally I lack first hand experience in genocide or mass murder. Make of this what you will.
12.8.2008 4:42am
alkali (mail):
Oversimplified history of international law for these purposes:
1648: Peace of Westphalia ends Thirty Years' War, new idea is that sovereign nations cannot make war on each other except in self-defense (and it follows that anything that happens strictly inside the borders of one country is not subject to international law)
1948: UN adopts Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, creates an exception to the Westphalian rules calling for punishment of genocide even if it happens entirely within a country's borders; provisions of the proposed convention defining mass murder based on political opinions or social status as genocide deleted at insistence of USSR and other countries
In a nutshell, this is why genocide is punishable under international law and other forms of mass murder are not. It's not because of white American liberal guilt or political correctness, or because postwar American Democrats secretly thought Stalin was teh awesome. It's because international law consists of what the nations of the world accept as binding international law, and the USSR wasn't going to sign on to a convention that made its own brand of mass murder punishable. The 1948 convention is far from perfect, but it is much better than what came before it, which was nothing at all.

If you don't like the fact that genocide is punishable under international law, and other kinds of mass murder are not, feel free to introduce a convention against mass murder and try to convince the nations of the world to sign on to it. (Emphasis on "convince": you may think that China has no moral standing to object to your proposed convention, but if they don't sign on, there is no convention.) I'd be happy to write you a check, even if I don't think you'll succeed.
12.8.2008 8:35am
Happyshooter:
Ilya, what you claim is unpossible.

The New York Times covered the events and reported all was happy and joy and good for the people. They got an award for the reporting, an award they are still proud of.
12.8.2008 8:59am
American Psikhushka (mail):
Intending to destroy members of a national group qualifies as genocide:

"...intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such."

So if the focus was on destroying the Ukrainians as either a national or ethnic group it would qualify as genocide under the present day genocide laws and treaties.
12.8.2008 9:04am
American Psikhushka (mail):
Anderson-

I suppose one could argue whether Stalin meant to *exterminate* the Ukrainians or *enervate* them by mass deaths to the point where the remaining Ukrainians could give no further trouble. An academic question in every sense of the word.

One doesn't have to move to destroy a whole group to be guilty of genocide under the modern definitions:

"The phrase "in whole or in part" is important. Perpetrators need not intend to destroy the entire group. Destruction of only part of a group (such as its educated members, or members living in one region) is also genocide. Most authorities require intent to destroy a substantial number of group members -- mass murder. But an individual criminal may be guilty of genocide even if he kills only one person, so long as he knew he was participating in a larger plan to destroy the group."

So you could just engage in efforts to kill or terrorize the young males, the educated, the politically active, the wealthy, the landowners, etc. - in short, members of a group most likely to cause you real trouble - and it could be considered genocide.
12.8.2008 9:14am
American Psikhushka (mail):
Anderson-

Forgot to add that you don't have to kill members of a group to be guilty of genocide:

"Genocidal acts need not kill or cause the death of members of a group. Causing serious bodily or mental harm, prevention of births and transfer of children are acts of genocide when committed as part of a policy to destroy a group's existence."

Causing serious bodily or mental harm includes inflicting trauma on members of the group through widespread torture, rape, sexual violence, forced or coerced use of drugs, and mutilation.

Prevention of births includes involuntary sterilization, forced abortion, prohibition of marriage, and long-term separation of men and women intended to prevent procreation.

Forcible transfer of children may be imposed by direct force or by fear of violence, duress, detention, psychological oppression or other methods of coercion. The Convention on the Rights of the Child defines children as persons under the age of 18 years.
12.8.2008 9:23am
pst314 (mail):
"What happened under Stalin in the Russian regime was not socialism."

It was socialism until Western socialists could no longer deny the crimes. Soon after they started working on a new Party Line that the Soviet Union was not socialist.

Oh, and by the way: The evil did not start with Stalin; Lenin and his comrades started the process, so it cannot be blamed on a rogue Stalin.
12.8.2008 9:40am
sbron:

Your silly statement would be like someone saying that "the Americans" who died at Pearl Harbor don't deserve much sympathy,, because "the Americans" were complicit in the genocide of the American Indians.]


The difference is that America has long recognized the suffering of Indians and we regularly engage in ruthless self-criticism of our treatment of them. American historians have exhaustively cataloged every injustice from the Trail of Tears to the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre.

The Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia have _never_ admitted their role in mass murder of Jews in the way the U.S. recognizes its mistreatment of Indians. Furthermore, these nations feel no shame for their pro-German stance in WWII. Estonia for example held a parade in 2004 in "honor" of its soldiers who volunteered for the SS.
12.8.2008 9:52am
Anderson (mail):
Thanks, Psikhushka!
12.8.2008 10:34am
American Psikhushka (mail):
Anderson-

You're welcome.
12.8.2008 11:39am
American Psikhushka (mail):
Cardozo'd-

Nobody said "while that's not accurate entirely, what's so bad about it, that's just another theory." It disappoints me because other countries have parties with social or socialist in the name and it's not unacceptable...

Well the problem is that when socialism is tried it has resulted in totalitarianism, oppression, stagnation, often starvation, declining living standards, and poverty. In my opinion this article does a good job of explaining why.

In a nutshell the article explains that socialism basically requires totalitarianism to exist. Central economic planning eventually turns to price and wage controls to "plan" the economy. These result in shortages, and black markets spring up to supply the needed goods.

At this point a socialist government has two choices: if it lets the black markets operate it remains a socialist economy in name only; the other alternative is to undertake police state measures to stamp out the black markets. As the drug war illustrates, stamping out black markets is often a losing proposition - and that's only one small set of illicit goods. Imagine if, like the Soviets, you had to fight a war on blue jeans, a war on walkmans, a war on boomboxes, etc. And not only that, often the economic conditions created by socialist regimes cause people to flee, resulting in the socialist governments preventing people from leaving the country. So at the same time they are trying to police large sections of the now-underground economy they also have to undertake large scale efforts to keep people in the country. The result is totalitarianism.

Note that these are theories from the Austrian School of economics. The Austrian School doesn't generally consider the "social democrat" countries of europe to be truly socialist. Those are generally referred to as "hampered market" economies, because they are market economies hampered by a high level of taxation and regulation.
12.8.2008 12:01pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Cardozod:

The holocaust was "mass murder" or "genocide" however you'd like to label it done by a maniac.


I am not at all certain that is an accurate statement. Having studied a fair bit of WWII history, in particular a fair bit about Nazi Germany, I don't think you can pin either the Holocaust or the atrocities committed by the Communists on a single individual.

We suffer from a mistake in this country that the Holocaust happened simply because of Hitler's hatred for the Jews. In reality, the holocaust became a central element of the Nazi control mechanism over the populace, and the main individual responsible for the execution of the holocaust (Himmler) extended its reach significantly in order to establish this control.

I use the term "Holocaust" here to refer to the entire work and death camp system regardless of who was thrown in (not confined to the Jewish experience) because I don't think you can separate out the ethnic groups entirely from the political and ideological competitors (German nationalists who were NOT members of the NSDAP, for example). In fact, if we see the goal as pushing towards a more uniform, less diverse society, these two goals are fundamentally intertwined.

Thus I am inclined to suggest that while the Holocaust had a genocidal component, the primary goal in its orchestration (at least from Himmler's viewpoint) was social control. I think the same can be said for the terror famine, that there was an attempt to wipe out ethnic culture but that the real goal was that of social control. Thus it, like the Holocaust sought a cultural uniformity which did not exist prior, with the goal of social control. This uniformity requires the destruction of other cultures within the bounds of the state.

BTW, to give you an idea of how powerful Himmler was, Hitler tried to fire him unsuccessfully towards the end of the war. After Hitler's suicide, Admiral Doenitz did succeed in firing Himmler, but Himmler then went on to negotiate his surrender separately from the Third Reich!
12.8.2008 12:02pm
Portland (mail):
Genocide, as has been pointed out above, has to do with who is targeted and why. It has been associated in the public mind with mass murder, but mass murder is not necessary to meet the legal definition of genocide.

I'm confused by the invocation of Ukrainians' behavior in the Second World War to explain or excuse their slaughter ten years before, by Stalin. When it's pointed out that all groups have done bad things, the caveat is added that, unlike Americans, they don't feel bad about it:

The Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia have _never_ admitted their role in mass murder of Jews in the way the U.S. recognizes its mistreatment of Indians. Furthermore, these nations feel no shame for their pro-German stance in WWII. Estonia for example held a parade in 2004 in "honor" of its soldiers who volunteered for the SS.



Many Americans, of course, do not feel bad about their country's record at all, and indeed are full of bile for the "political correctness" which brings our crimes into the light of day.

Nor are the victims of the Ukrainians, the Jews, innocent of the same crime of celebrating their past atrocities. In the genocide of the Palestinians (and the acts of the Jewish forces in 1947-49 do meet the definition of genocide, although since in the popular mind genocide requires the killing of millions, their actions would today be more commonly referred to as "ethnic cleansing") and during the British occupation that preceded it, the Stern Gang (Lehi) and the Irgun (Etzel) slaughtered hundreds of innocent people in terror attacks and massacres of many kinds. Both groups have since been honored by Israel with service ribbons:

http://en.wikipedia.org

/wiki/Israeli_military_decorations#Service_ribbons

. . . and the leaders of these terror organizations both became prime ministers of Israel.
12.8.2008 1:10pm
celebrim:
"Marx was a sociologist...he wasn't trying to think of a way to enable someone to murder farmers or anyone else for that matter."

Sure he was. Being a sociologist - if Marx is even worthy of that label - or an economist or a philosopher is not incompatible with advocating terror and murder.

If you actually bother to read Marx - even something as basic as the Communist Manifesto - you'll see that Marx's most basic recommendations require and advocate the use of force to obtain their ends. As such, it's even by Marx's own conception impossible to imagine the implementation of Communism without recourse to murder. This is made much more explicit by Marx's own critique of the Paris Commune, which in Marx's opinion failed precisely because it wasn't violent enough.

The violence is inherent in the system. You can't have Marxism without recourse to violence. This is obvious from a reading of the text, and demonstratable from a reading of history. In the case of Christianity, your swipe misses the mark because I can easily counter with the example of something like the Amish to demonstrate that the same is not true of Christianity. The two things are not alike. Christianity has surely been misused and evils done in its name, but you can't argue that communism belongs to the same class of ideas because Marxism completely without distortion advocates bold, unrestricted, violent action to achieve its ends.
12.8.2008 1:35pm
Cardozo'd (www):
Ok, to a few people,

When I said, the holocaust was done by a "maniac" i wasn't necessarily pinning it on an individual, I was just pointing out it was the people who did it, not Fascism.

Tracy,

When I said what happened in Russia in the 30's wasn't socialism I was referring, as it is the point of the article above, about the atrocities committed. Of course the collectivization of Russia in the 30's was, at minimum a version of socialism. But the atrocities committed by Stalin, and yes Lenin, were not part of the theory of socialism, just some miscontruction but a group of clearly mixed up bunch. Read Marx and it's easily understood.

Ameican P - All those points are well and good, and don't argue against me at all. Those tend to point to the shortcomings of Socialism and why pure socialism is almost certain to fail and frankly is not a good theory....not why it is inherently evil and I say it isn't. All it points out is that it isn't a good idea...and is why I don't believe in it.

Everyone needs to stop comparing socialism to naziism (is that how that would be spelled?) because it's just reprehensible. I can see a comparison of say Stalin's rural mass murder compared to a naziism...but Socialism itself has nothing to do with mass murders. I'd be ok if you said Stalinism is comparable. But equating putting "social" in your party name with putting "nazi" in your party name is absurd and deplorable. A lot of other countries...Canada, U.K., Germany, France, have parties with "social" in their names...they are not comparable with a Neo-Nazi group...just absurd.
12.8.2008 1:46pm
Portland (mail):

The violence is inherent in the system.


Help, help! I'm being repressed!


You can't have Marxism without recourse to violence.


Nor can you have the American Revolution, or the survival of the nation intact through the civil war, etc. You can't, in fact, have government of any kind (let alone a change in an undemocratic form of government) without violence, since governance involves violence. All political theories, therefore, have recourse to violence.

Marx was a prolific writer and his ideas about the revolution and how it is to be achieved evolve -- or maybe just shift -- over the course of his career. Soviet Marxism, much like many movements with a large a complicated body of founding texts, chose the aspects of Marx's work that supported their inclinations.

Basically (according to the scholarship I have read) Lenin greatly simplified and in the process radicalized Marx; Stalin greatly simplified and further radicalized Lenin.

I would argue that there is something of an inherent tendency in revolutionary ideology to succumb to more and more violent and intolerant interpretations. You can see that, for example, in the English Civil War, the French Revolution, and the Russian Revolution. But that's a subtle point, and not something the Marx could reasonably be expected to anticipate.

So while Marx, like all writers, is responsible for everything he wrote, including a comparatively small amount of violent rhetoric which the Soviets emphasized far out of proportion to its extent, Marxism, as such, does not imply or advocate, and does not necessarily lead to, the terrors of the Russian, Chinese, or Cambodian interpretations.
12.8.2008 1:51pm
Cardozo'd (www):

you'll see that Marx's most basic recommendations require and advocate the use of force to obtain their ends.


Fair.....how did we get our democracy, France? Germany?

And any prescription that Marx says violence throughout is necessary, well is either inability to comprehend or bias.
12.8.2008 1:54pm
Cardozo'd (www):

Help, help! I'm being repressed!

Made my day...Monty Python explained all you need to know about history.
12.8.2008 1:57pm
kurt9 (mail):
I think the notion that genocide is a worse crime than mass murder elevates the status of group identity and, therefor, group rights over that of individual rights. This notion supports the collectivist argument that the value of an individual is increased if he or she is a member of a group.

As an individualist of libertarian leanings, I find this notion to be somewhat offensive. It does not matter if someone kills me in the course of robbing my house or because I am a member of some group. The fact that I get killed is relevant. I resent the notion that the value of my life is depreciated simply because I refuse to identify with and be a part of some larger group.

These Geneva convention resolutions were written in the late 40's, shortly after the end of WWII. For those of you not in the know, this was a time of collectivism, in terms of personal matters and especially in economic affairs. The "new deal" mentality was prevalent, Truman was president, and Keynesian economic theory held sway in the day. It is only to be expected that the authors of the Geneva convention would have had group rights in the forefront.
12.8.2008 2:01pm
Portland (mail):

These Geneva convention resolutions were written in the late 40's, shortly after the end of WWII. For those of you not in the know, this was a time of collectivism, in terms of personal matters and especially in economic affairs. The "new deal" mentality was prevalent, Truman was president, and Keynesian economic theory held sway in the day. It is only to be expected that the authors of the Geneva convention would have had group rights in the forefront.


A lovely theory, but not in accordance with the facts. Genocide was defined not by the Geneva Conventions, but by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Its motive force was not Truman, but a Jewish lawyer named Lemkin, who lost 49 relatives to the Holocaust and coined the term "genocide" in 1943. Lemkin was studied in the history of the Armenian Genocide, not Keyesian economic theory. The primary moral and legal impetus for the convention was the impotent of international law in the face of Axis rule in occupied Europe.

In history, even more so than politics, you will rarely succeed in trying to infer the reality from first principles.
12.8.2008 2:36pm
John Moore (www):
Many Americans, of course, do not feel bad about their country's record at all, and indeed are full of bile for the "political correctness" which brings our crimes into the light of day.


Many of us are proud of our country's more recent record, while acknowledging it's failures of the past (slavery, segregation, massive killings of Native Americans).

We are, however, really tired of those who take very controversial modern action, elevate it to some high crime, while ignoring the context and more particularly ignoring worst behavior of most of our critics and all of our enemies.
12.8.2008 3:04pm
Sagar:
John Moore,

to add to your point, those who accuse the US of every conveivable "crime", either have no idea of what goes on in the rest of the world, or don't want to discuss that ...
12.8.2008 3:48pm
Michael B (mail):
"Basically (according to the scholarship I have read) Lenin greatly simplified and in the process radicalized Marx; Stalin greatly simplified and further radicalized Lenin." Portland

I'd like to see even a single "scholarly" reference in support of that statement.

To put it in understated terms, this is doubtful. Lenin's mass starvation - also taking roughly 6,000,000 lives - took place between 1918 and 1922. Lenin's is one that receives even less print and media space than Stalin's Ukrainian genocide, but their minds worked very similarly. Likewise, Marx's views and ideology is very cold-blooded and pre-meditated. There are certainly worthy aspects of analysis within Marx's more sweeping ideological and philosophical outlook, but again to put it in understated terms, it helps to be selective with what is appropriated from Marx.

(And speaking of the "genocide" of the Sunni Arab population aka Palestinians is merely fatuously edgy bullshit. It's reminiscent of the fatuous propaganda so widely disseminated during and after the Vietnam era.)
12.8.2008 3:56pm
alkali (mail):
@kurt9: Read my post above. The 1948 convention was not limited to genocide (as defined therein) because genocide was judged by some American authority to be worse than other kinds of mass murder. It's limited in that way because that's as much agreement as could be reached under the circumstances.
12.8.2008 5:28pm
Portland (mail):

I'd like to see even a single "scholarly" reference in support of that statement.


See "Marxism" by Bertram D. Wolfe. See all Popper's "The Open Society and Its Enemies" which has a section dedicated to Marx.


To put it in understated terms, this is doubtful.


To put it in understated terms, you're blowing hot air.



Likewise, Marx's views and ideology is very cold-blooded and pre-meditated.


Based on your thorough reading of Capital, the Manifesto, and Marx's other writing, I'm sure. Color me skeptical. Is your knowledge of Marx based on anything other than a few lines people who hate Marxism like to quote? Ever made a study of it?


(And speaking of the "genocide" of the Sunni Arab population aka Palestinians is merely fatuously edgy bullshit. It's reminiscent of the fatuous propaganda so widely disseminated during and after the Vietnam era.)


You are actually proving my point, here: the intent of the Israelis was to destroy the Palestinians as a national group, just as the Convention requires. Thereafter -- although the writing of the Zionist leaders, including Jatobinsky and Ben-Gurion, acknowledge the Palestinians as a national group -- the Israelis denied that the Palestinians existed, and enlisted credulous people like yourself, ignorant of the basic facts of the conflict (such as the fact that many Palestinians, then and now, were and are Christian) to repeat the lie uncritically.

It's a great example of "consciousness of guilt" in a perpetrator. The Zionists of the 30s acknowledged that there was a Palestinian nation. Their (and your) later denials are as good as a confession.
12.8.2008 6:56pm
Portland (mail):

Many of us are proud of our country's more recent record, while acknowledging it's failures of the past (slavery, segregation, massive killings of Native Americans).

We are, however, really tired of those who take very controversial modern action, elevate it to some high crime, while ignoring the context and more particularly ignoring worst behavior of most of our critics and all of our enemies.


If you can't win the argument you can always change the subject, I suppose. No one in this discussion has made the claim that "controversial modern actions" are "high crimes." In passing, it does look as if you are setting yourself up to defend high crimes, by preemptively justifying them as "controversial" and insisting that they must be understood "in context" the context of course being that "all of our enemies" do worse things. If I didn't know better, I'd say you were feeling guilty about something.
12.8.2008 7:02pm
Michael B (mail):
You forget the little fact of V.I. Lenin's genocide within Russia itself, roughly from 1918 to 1922 and how that rather forcefully compares with Stalin's Ukrainian genocide, c. 1932. That was the basic point. (And I have a copy of Popper's "Open Society". It doesn't cover Lenin and Stalin at all that I can recall.)

In terms of Marx himself, admittedly I was referring more to the implications of his views rather than explicit writings. I never did read "Capital" from cover to cover, but I did read L. Kolakowski's "Main Currents of Marxism" from cover to cover and imo the totalitarian implications rest upon firm grounds.

The other I'll leave for another thread.
12.8.2008 8:40pm
psychdoc (mail):
Stalin's state murders are discussed in Whisperers. Stalin wanted to revoke the New Economic Plan which was apparently a kind of springtime for (partial) communism and, in part, enforce farm collectivation. It started out with violence against the leaders of the farm communities and shortly led to famine. During the Second World War you were sent to the gulag if you reported/mentioned the early Soviet military failures, and I read the blocking action as a way to limit information about the problem. Duranty's possibly being misled is a collateral example of this.
12.8.2008 9:33pm
BlackMinorcaPullets (mail) (www):
The Holodomor is not genocide?

Hah!

Why not go to the fellow that invented the word "genocide" and ask him?

As a matter of fact, Lemkin noted with a resounding "YES" that the Ukrainian Holodomor was genocide.

http://www.faminegenocide.com/kuryliw/lemking_intro.htm

The Kremlin targeted for extinction the Ukrainian language, its history (google kobzar purge), its people, and even its music.

http://www.shevchenkofoundation.com/news_01.html

The coup de grace was the replacement of Ukrainians with ethnic Russians - thus the prevalence of Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine, where mortality rates reached 100% in some counties.

http://www.faminegenocide.com/resources/famine_map.html
12.8.2008 9:59pm
Portland (mail):

You forget the little fact of V.I. Lenin's genocide within Russia itself, roughly from 1918 to 1922 and how that rather forcefully compares with Stalin's Ukrainian genocide, c. 1932.


I didn't address it because your argument is silly. There was no genocide in Russia from 1918 to 1922; those are the years of the Russian civil war that followed the Bolshevik revolution. Lots of people starved, but unlike the Ukrainian famine, starvation was not Lenin's goal.

Lenin was a bad guy, big time. None of which has any bearing on the fact that Stalinists used a selective and radicalized reading of Lenin's writings as the theoretical framework for their action.


In terms of Marx himself, admittedly I was referring more to the implications of his views rather than explicit writings.


How do you know what his views were other than by what he wrote? The man never ran anything. As I said above, there are parts of Marx that do indeed tend toward authoritarianism and intolerance of dissent (especially in his writings in and around 1848, when a series of revolutionary upheavals in Europe got him excited at the possibility of violent revolution, an infatuation that did not last). These were the parts of Marx that Lenin loved to quote and used selectively when, for example, he wanted to get around the fact that the proletariat did not want to accept Lenin's control.
12.8.2008 10:18pm
Portland (mail):

Stalin wanted to revoke the New Economic Plan which was apparently a kind of springtime for (partial) communism and, in part, enforce farm collectivation.


The NEP is a notable example of the different approaches of Lenin and Stalin. Lenin began his rule with a wide-ranging plan of forced collectivism and nationalization of industries. As will surprise no one on this blog, the economy collapsed. Lenin then introduced the NEP, which re-legalized small-scale private industry and backtracked on collectivization. The economy recovered.

Lenin, a murdering bastard, was nevertheless capable of recognizing and adapting to the real world.

As soon as he felt strong enough, Stalin abandoned NEP. Production again collapsed, but instead of reversing course, Stalin thought he saw a wonderful opportunity to break the peasants once and for all. The Ukrainian genocide followed directly thereafter.
12.8.2008 10:27pm
Michael B (mail):
Silly?!?! Good grief, far from it. Go read a book, or watch a movie, or listen to some left oriented professor who has his head happily piledriven up his ass.

Lenin initiated a policy in 1918 wherein private property was forbidden and goods and production among the rural peasantry was confiscated by the state. The Cheka, headed by Dzerzhinsky, implemented this policy with utter ruthlessness, confiscating the meager holdings of the peasantry - just short of all agricultural production, livestock, etc. - at gun point, in order that a quota of that produce be handed over to the Bolsheviks, the state. Many among the peasantry protested during this four to five year period and at times the Cheka met out some the most ruthless tortures and barbarities ever recorded in history upon those protesters. I could list some of them but let's simply say some of those barbarities rivaled such methods as scaphism.

In 1920, due to large scale protestations in several regions, Lenin implemented a yet more ruthless punitive campaign wherein the quota in question was raised to include literally all production and all seed, such that no crops could be planted in the forthcoming season. This had obvious and premeditated consequences such that in 1921 and 1922 it is estimated that 5,000,000 perished due to starvation. A punitive famine most certainly was Lenin's goal during that two year period. Further, he was conscious of the fact that the famine was so severe that it was resulting in cannibalism in some instances.

Further still, Lenin positively exalted in this mass slaughter, specifically statting that such a famine would forward socialism's "progress" and capitalism's demise, also serving to destroy any remaining faith, whether in other systems of this world (i.e. the Czar) or in God, and helping to supplant that faith with a totalizing faith in socialism and a materialist world view. I can provide direct quotes from Lenin that reflect all this. (See ref. below.)

I'm not saying there weren't differences between Lenin and Stalin in terms of policies, intellectual temperment, etc. Still, they were both exceedingly cold-blooded as a result of their materialist dialectic and their pragmatic designs. You're referring to policies and intellectual aptitude and temperment, which I deem to be secondary given the purposed genocide and mass murder being considered.

Lenin had his Bolshevik Terror; Stalin his Red Terror of the 30's. Lenin had his Russian genocide, c. 1920; Stalin his Ukrainian genocide, c 1932. Lenin had his Cheka and Iron Felix and mass executions; Stalin had his NKVD and Yagoda, etc. To put it in understated terms, they were both anti-Czarists, but V.I. Lenin was no Kerensky.

During the 20th century there were three (3) holocausts resulting in approximately 6,000,000 deaths each: Lenin's, c. 1921/22; Stalin's, c. 1932/33; and of course Hitler's.

In terms of the cold-blooded implications of Marx's ideological outlook, there are various short-hand ways of viewing it. For example, one might compare his "scientific materialism," historical dialectic and his totalizing world view in general with the classical liberal underpinnings of governance as developed by Locke, Montesquieu and others and as developed more pragmatically by the American Founders. That serves as one poignant study in contrasts, both theoretically and in more empirical, historical and practical terms.

Ref, The Black Bood of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression
12.9.2008 1:22am
Portland (mail):
Your argument is still silly. You are denying that Stalin used selective quotation to alter and radicalize the writings of Lenin, but you are ignoring the writings and essentially saying that Lenin was as bad as it gets. Well, no, you're wrong.

Your argument is that Lenin committed a "Russian genocide" which isn't recognized by historians. If you were right, that still would not prove anything about the ideological shift that took place between Lenin and Stalin. However, you're not right; you are ignoring the differences between Lenin's authoritarianism and Stalin's totalitarianism; between a civil war and Stalin's purges; between a famine caused by lamebrained economic policies which prompted reforms (the NEP) and a famine which was cold-bloodedly expanded and intensified to target the Ukrainian peasantry.

You also have your facts wrong: Mao's Cultural Revolution killed over 25 million people.
12.9.2008 1:28pm
Michael B (mail):
I didn't say Lenin was as bad as it gets - though he was certainly in that general neighborhood; I didn't say Stalin didn't alter anything of Lenin's; I said absolutely nothing about Mao's Cultural revolution; historians do recognize the punitive and in that sense premeditated famine referred to, wherein most of the deaths took place in 1921/22. Concerning the latter, I gave you one ref., here's another, Lenin: A New Biography, by D. Volkogonov. Excerpts:

"The countryside responded [to Lenin's policies, previously referred to] at first by silent mass resistance, and then numerous uprisings which were ruthlessly drowned in blood. Raids on villages by food detachments became routine, leading to the famine Of 1921-1922. A particularly big uprising - there were many others - was that in Tambov, which began in August 1921."

Also:

"The country was starving, the civilized world was sending food aid to Russia, and yet the government [reflecting Lenin's policies] was selling vast quantities of grain abroad. The famine grew."

It wasn't a premeditated mass slaughter in the same sense Stalin's Ukrainian genocide or Hitler's largely anti-Jewish genocide were, it was more punitive and to a substantial degree was a result of other, "incidental" concerns - e.g., desiring to send large sums to the COMINTERN because "the leaven of world revolution" was becoming ripe for the picking in other areas of the globe. But that is a reflection of motives, not conscious, premeditated awareness.
12.9.2008 3:47pm
datechguy (mail) (www):
When people try to play word games it is usually to hide or deny something.

You know people keep forgetting the Communism was the greatest killer of humanity of the 20th century, not Fascism, not Racism but Communism. It still kills today but people for some reason don't want to admit it.
12.10.2008 10:39am
Michael B (mail):
To be fair to Portland's argument, at least the single, more reasonable aspect of his argument, the famine per se cannot be simply or entirely attributed to Lenin. Lenin greatly and horrifically made use of the famine and also hugely exacerbated it for political/ideological ends, but the famine would have occurred in an attenuated and less horrific sense w/o Lenin. In that sense there is ambiguity associated with Lenin's mass murder that cannot be associated with Stalin's Ukrainian genocide and Hitler's holocaust.

Otoh, there are counter factors as well, such as the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of Don Cossacks, c. 1919. - and that is one example only.

Addressing some of the topics invoked, a couple of supportive links:

R.J. Rummel on the USSR

Marx & Friends in their own words

It isn't a matter of being obsessed with any of this, it's a matter of occasionally redressing the obfuscations, the obscurantism, the systematic lies that have been massively promulgated by the Left throughout the 20th century and continuing to this day - in academe, in print and other media, in histories and documentaries, etc., etc., etc.
12.10.2008 3:04pm
kurt9 (mail):
A lovely theory, but not in accordance with the facts. Genocide was defined not by the Geneva Conventions, but by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Its motive force was not Truman, but a Jewish lawyer named Lemkin, who lost 49 relatives to the Holocaust and coined the term "genocide" in 1943. Lemkin was studied in the history of the Armenian Genocide, not Keyesian economic theory. The primary moral and legal impetus for the convention was the impotent of international law in the face of Axis rule in occupied Europe.

I stand by my point. I did not say that Truman or the belief in Keynesian economics was the driver behind the geneva conventions. I said that Truman, keynesian economics, and the like were examples of the kind of "left of center" (collectivist) world-view that was prevalent of the time that the Geneva conventions were authored and ratified and that such world-view heavily influenced the thinking that went into the Geneva conventions.

I stand by my first point as well. Saying that it is a greater crime to kill me because I am a member of a particular group than to kill me just because you do not like me personally is to say that my group affiliation is of more value than my life as an individual. No matter what words are used to dress this up, it is collectivism. Plain and simple.

You will note that it is always collectivist ideologies that lead to mass murder, genocide, or whatever words you choose to call it.
12.10.2008 6:24pm

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