Professor Grover Furr
Interview for the project
Fascism-XXI at your door
June 15, 2012.
Part I. – The return of Nazism
1. Would you agree, that during the last years, there has been a rise of neo-Nazism throughout Europe at a scale that was unheard of since the end of the World War II? For instance, each year the Baltic countries honor their Waffen SS veterans who march through the streets of Riga and Tallinn. In October 2010, in Historical museum of Berlin, there was Nazi organized exhibition "Hitler and the Germans: Nation and Crime". The main objective was to present Hitler as an ideal example of the national savior. What is your attitude towards such events? What are the root causes for the resurgence of Nazism?
Video part 1
There has been an increase in right-wing political agitation and movements in Eastern Europe in the former Soviet bloc...causes...I think it can be traced back to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the ending of the concept of internationalism. There are also, of course, due to the resurgence of an especially predatory type of capitalism, which has impoverished the working populations of these countries since 1991 and has deindustrialized, severely harmed the economies of many of them as well, in order to enrich and profit a small number of people.
Something similar happened in Germany, of course, and in other European countries during the great depression of the 1930s, and at that time there was also a rise of what we now call nationalism, far right-wing authoritarian nationalist movements in Germany - Nazism, in Italy – Fascism, certain kind of militarism in Japan. But in fact, this was the case in virtually all of European countries, in particularly in Eastern Europe, and I think the same conditions or similar conditions exist today.
This nationalism, far right-wing kind, racism, xenophobia, attacks against the foreigners and immigrants, seems to be used to detract, deflect attention away from the impoverishment and the increased level of exploitation against the working populations and to try to find scapegoats.
One of the biggest scapegoats of course is the Soviet Union. In order to hide the right-wing and often ultimately frankly Nazi activities of the nationalist movements and those same nationalist movements or the descendants of those nationalist movements now powerful or even the ruling parties in many of these states, but in order to disguise the collaboration with Nazism, the focus is turned against communism against the Soviet Union.
So that, in order to do this, it’s been necessary to fabricate atrocity stories and in general to associate the Soviet Union during the 1930s with Nazism, Stalin with Hitler and to use this association as a cover for the frankly Nazi murderous activities of the nationalist groups in the 1930s, and, of course, during World War II and their repressive exploitative and racist acts today.
I think that all of these elements contribute to the rise of Nazism, neo-Nazism which is really a form of sort of rebirth of old Nazism in Eastern Europe, but my specific interest and competence is in the history of the Soviet Union during the 30s and 40s and therefore in the fabrication, as a part of this neo-Nazi movement, a fabrication of claims of atrocities by the Soviet Union which are used to excuse or to cover up or to hide both the Nazi activities of the nationalists during the period of the war and the pre-war period and also their ferociously exploitative anti-working class economic policies today, which have caused a tremendous amount of suffering among the working people of these countries.
2. The General Assembly of the United Nations annually adopts the resolution A/RES/64/147, A/RES/66/143 on inadmissibility of certain practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Why each year many countries still refuse to vote for this resolution?
Video part 2
Every year the General Assembly of the United Nations sets forward a resolution declaring a certain practices of advocation of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance as inadmissible and it’s true that every year certain countries refuse to vote in favor of it. I think it’s helpful to look at two aspects to this question, however. That is to say I don’t view it as being a completely positive resolution.
Number one, of course, those countries and there are more and more of them in the former Soviet bloc in Eastern Europe, those countries whose governing bodies or influential bodies are actively engaged in these forms of discrimination well, of course, it’s not surprising they don’t support them: that resolution couldconceivably be turned against them.
But on the other more negative side of the resolution there has been a concerted attempt in a number of the Eastern European countries where these neo-Nazi forces are either very powerful or even might be set to be the ruling power. There has been an attempt to indite the Soviet Union as a racist, xenophobic or genocidal force and quite dishonestly in my opinion but resolutions of this nature which are broadly worded and therefore can be interpreted in various ways lend themselves to being misused by these right-wing nationalist forces for their own purposes. Perhaps, even just as much as they can be used against those practices, engaged in by those forces.
For example, a couple of examples: in Ukraine a powerful political movement wishes to declare not only that the famine of the 1932-33 was an act of genocide against Ukrainians by the Soviet state - a position which is completely false which is supported by no evidence what so ever. But not only do they teach this in the schools as a compulsory part of the curriculum but they would like to have it declared illegal to question or to argue against this position on the grounds that one ought not to be free to speak in favor of genocide.
In Poland there is a similar movement to declare discussion over the issue of the Katyn killings, of the Katyn massacre to declare that out of bounds. And there, of course, there is a serious scholarly and historical debate over who was responsible for killing the Poles whose bodies were found in Katyn and certain other places. It is not the case that all the evidence points towards the Soviet guilt in this act there is a lot of evidence that points towards the Nazis so and there is that evidence, the evidence that points towards the Soviet guilt may have been fabricated. So this is actually an open question but there is an effort in Poland to declare it a closed question that is to say that to declare that anyone who questions it is in some way or other anti-Polish or attacking Polish national sovereignty or even racist against Poles.
Likewise, just sticking with Poland because I’ve been doing a little work on this period and this question more recently, the pre-war Polish government who were defeated in the war by the Germans and who fled the country there by leaving Poland defenseless against the German invasion, in fact, leaving Hitler nobody to negotiate with. The pre-war Polish government interned itself in Romania thus depriving Poland of a legitimate government and necessitating the Soviet Union to come in, to enter, in order to keep the German army away from the Soviet borders. This pre-war Polish government is regarded in official Polish circles and in our education as heroic, having fought a heroic war against the Germans and having them been stabbed in the back by the Soviets. And of course they take it for granted that the Soviet Union invaded Poland and in fact they, the nationalists the right-wing nationalists’ position now that the Soviet Union invaded Poland in unity with the Nazis and was even and even had a military alliance with the Nazis and even had the victory parade in the city of Brest with the Nazi troops. All of these things are false but they are declared out of bounds in Poland in the service of glorifying the dignity of the pre-war Polish government. The pre-war Polish government was as close to a fascist government as one can find: racist, anti-union, anti-working class, denied civil rights to the minority groups in its country, in Belorussia, in Ukraine and to Jews.
And of course there is an attempt to say that Belorussia and Ukraine (western Belorussia and western Ukraine) were parts of Poland. Well, they really were parts of Poland they were conquered by Poland in 1920 and ceded to Poland by the Soviet Russia under the treaty of Riga but this is an act of imperialism and it was done with the support of course of the imperialist powers of the French especially. And the Polish government went on to oppress in a racist way the Ukrainian, Byelorussian and Jewish populations of the western Belorussia and western Ukraine. So this issue is seldom discussed (so that) in the service of making it appear that the Soviet Union simply grabbed a part of Poland away from its legitimate possessors and that’s not the case either. But these issues are simply buried that is to say Polish imperialism is forgotten aboutand instead the Soviet Union is blamed.
In Hungary where there is still a very small Jewish population remain the two major political parties today are significantly anti-Semitic and as they were before and during the war. And glorify the pre-war fascist government of Horthy, the first actual fascist country or government in the world was the Hungarian government right after the WWI. And this is put on a pedestal and of course the communist years are denigrated and everything is an attempt to blame anything negative on them. And again this is a cover up for the fact that the Hungarian economy, like the Polish, like the Ukrainian has been devastated by the removal of the social welfare benefits for the population, tremendous unemployment, decrease in the standard of living and in life expectancy that is an increase of the level of exploitation of the population. So here again a nationalist myth of the past is being constructed to accompany the rise of neo-fascist movements similar to Nazism in these countries.
3. What is the position of Jewish organizations in the fight against resurgent Nazism? How this position has evolved since the end of WWII? Is the spirit of Nazi hunters of 50s and 60s still in demand?
Video part 3
If you ask me about the position of Jewish organizations in the fight against resurgent Nazism in Eastern Europe, I think there's a number of complex things going on here as far as I can tell. On the one hand the Jewish historical research organizations that I am somewhat familiar with in Eastern Europe have been firm on the whole and maintaining the truth that it was the Red Army, the Soviet forces that liberated those Jews who got liberated from the slaughter perpetrated by the Nazis and their Eastern European allies and refuse to equate (Hitler) Stalin with Hitler, the Soviet Union with Nazi Germany and criticize those nationalist forces in Eastern Europe who do equate them, so that's on the one hand.
On the other hand the right-wing governments of Eastern Europe have recognized, it appears, that the way to political respectability and also the way to fend off accusations or to attend to fend off accusations of anti-Semitism is to take a very strong stand in favour of Israel. So all of these governments are very strongly in favour of Israel which puts or at least is intended to put the Jewish research organizations that are critical of the involvement in Nazi sponsored atrocities during World War II and those governments today that look back favorably upon those forces, it puts them or is intended to put them in a difficult position, that is to say, it's intended to give a kind of insurance I think that criticism of the current right-wing regimes will not go beyond a certain, certain limits, so that's the situation as I understand it, particularly in Ukraine and Poland, where I’m a little bit more familiar with the situation.
Of course because these Eastern European countries look back to their ancestors in the anti-Communist nationalist movements and because these ancestors for the most part allied with the Nazis and helped to perpetrate the massacres of not only Jews but also Communists and Slavic people, generally anybody, who the Nazis did not like, these nationalist organizations have glorified, rewarded the veterans of those forces that fought on the Nazi side, these people are getting very old now, but there’s still quite a number of them around, that is to say, the same neo-fascist movements and governments in Eastern Europe who praise Israel and ritualistically deplore the Holocaust, at the same time reward and honor those forces that aided the Nazis in perpetrating the same Holocaust.
It’s a remarkable contradiction but that's what is in fact going on and of course everybody teams up, I say, everybody I mean even including some of those involved in the Jewish anti-Nazi research groups, everybody teams up on attacking the Soviet Union. I think some of the researchers of these Jewish (that) Jewish research organizations do so, because they're more concerned about the Holocaust than they are about the Soviet Union. They’re not really, you know, they’re not really, they don’t really focus on that so they don't really fight much when others blame or criticize the Soviets, other than to say, that the Soviets can’t be equated with the Hitler but in generally the right-wing groups cover up the support of their ancestors, so to speak, in this nationalist movements, their supportive of Nazis by blaming the Soviets and in fact they regard the forces that fought on side of the Nazis as freedom fighters, anti-imperialist, those fighting for the independence of Ukraine or fighting for the independence of the Baltic countries and so on this is, this is what's going on.
So (it's a) it's a complicated, interestingly complicated situation, there’s very little Nazi hunting going on anymore of course, some of the Jewish groups are concerned about this I’ve had contact in the past with some people who were involved in that kind of research but there is not a lot of it going on anymore. There's another dimension to this. In, let’s say, a country like Poland, there was a certain amount of continuity between the policies of the pre-war government (Polish government) and the policies of the Nazis carried out there was a contradiction, because the Nazis got rid of Poland as an entity but there was also a continuity anti-Semitism was a big part of the continuity and anti-Communism was another part of the continuity, so this means that there are certain aspects of, let's say, German atrocities, German activity in Poland, it can't be criticized too sharply because the same kinds of things were perpetrated before the war by the independent Polish government, which the contemporary Polish government would like to hold up as a nationalist example.
So (it's a) it's a somewhat complicated picture but the (ultimate) ultimately it boils down to downplaying the role of Nazi collaboration, since the nationalist heroes in these countries, or many of them were frankly Nazi collaborators, and at the same time intense anti-Communism focused again against the Soviet Union try to blame the Soviets whenever possible for anything that they can be blamed for which we tend to justify or might seem to justify the World War II era (Nazi) right-wing forces siding with the Germans and that's a dangerous ideological trend that's very strong in Eastern Europe now.
Part II. – Nazism and Communism
1. Is there any scientific ground for a comparison of Communism and Nazism? Could you outline the fundamental differences between them?
2. Why is it common today to hear historians, politicians and journalists draw an equal sign between Communism and Nazism with a tendency to favor the latter? Even during the years of Cold War nobody would have thought to equate these two ideologies.
Video part 4
You’re asking about the issue of the comparison or contrast between Communism and Nazism, which we hear a lot about. So let me say something about that. Basically, I think Communism and Nazism are polar opposites. Communism, of course, the communist movement, based itself upon the working class and among the poor, among the peasantry.
Nazism is a movement of the wealthiest, the most powerful groups among the capitalists, but groups that were able through some political party or other organization to mobilize support mainly among the middle class people, but to some extent among some workers too.
So the basis in society, the class basis if you want of Communism and Nazism is very very different. In capitalist countries they don't like to talk about this, that goes back to the 20s and 30s as well, because they don't want to talk about the issue of class and exploitation at all. So there was even before WWII there was a good deal of discussion in the (among) capitalist press and scholars about trying to equate Communism and Nazism as though they were two somewhat similar phenomena. Nazism showed its true colors in WWII and was extremely unpopular as a result. Nazism also was a form of capitalism. The big corporations and the capitalist relations of production were maintained under Nazism. And of course the Communist movement led by the Soviet Union was the main force responsible for defeating the Nazis and was extremely popular throughout the world and particularly in Europe after WWII.
This posed a big problem for the western Allies all of which were capitalist powers and so ideological arguments (formations) formulations that tended to equate Nazism and Communism were very welcome. And I think that that tendency has continued and only grown stronger with time. As I said, it is a way of not talking about class and not talking about exploitation. It's particularly important I think today because by attempting to equate the Communist Bloc with Nazism, Stalin with Hitler, the Soviet Union with Nazi Germany, the nationalist forces in Eastern Europe and elsewhere attempt to delegitimize anything that the Communist movement worldwide and the Soviet Union specifically accomplished and to legitimate at least to some extent the activities of those who sympathized with or even actively supported the Nazis.
So you ask about the scientific ground for comparison of Communism and nationalism and I would say no, there isn’t a scientific ground for it but it is commonly heard because it performs an important function in this attempt to legitimate the increasingly exploitative and racist and nationalist practices that we see not only in Eastern Europe of course but now in virtually in every large capitalist country such as the United States. Western Europe has its own form of crisis and similar neo-fascist; neo-Nazi movements had developed in all of these countries too.
3. Have you seen the film "The Soviet Story"? Can you share your thoughts and make any comments? Do you know about the public response to this film?
4. Can you, comment on the following allegation made in the film: "USSR helped Nazi Germany to instigate the Holocaust."
5. The film received the Mass Impact at the Boston film festival in 2008 and got plenty of attention in the Western media. Why this kind of position is actively promoted by the officials and the media while opposite views are not known to the public?
Video part 5
I saw the film The Soviet Story not in a theater but on the Internet when it came out and was immediately struck by its similarity in a broad sense to a book published about 15 years ago called The Black Book of Communism, heavy and heavily documented collection of horror stories that were allegedly committed by Communists and specifically by the Soviet Union, particularly during the Stalin period but also beyond it.
The Soviet Story is a similar kind of thing although not directed to an academic audience. It is an attempt to parade a number of historical falsehoods and anti-Communist fabrications as historical fact, something that is routinely done, even very commonly in historical scholarship. And it is done by setting forward certain certified or legitimated experts who are in fact anti-Communist ideologues and historians, to interview them and to use their statements to legitimate the false claims that are made. There’s been some attempts to attack it. Alexander Dyukov wrote a good brief critique of it which is available in a number of languages online.
I have no idea of how much distribution this film has gotten and therefore I don't know what its impact is but certainly it would have a large impact on the majority of people who are not educated about these issues, who don't know anything about it and they certainly would not have any idea of how to refute it. It's convenient not only to neo-fascist and right-wing organizations but to ... in any capitalist country it suits the ideological bias of the kind of history that we get in the Unites States, for example.
It does not go so far as to explicitly exonerate or free of blame those forces that sided with the Nazis and of course it is not explicitly pro-Nazi. So, it is the kind of propaganda that can have a broad though perhaps somewhat shallow impact among a large number of people and I think that's what it was designed to do. It was created and conceived by basically the same forces that created the monument to the victims of Communism in Washington DC. That is to say, those forces, that if you trace their histories back to World War II, were directly involved in collaborating with the Nazis so I think there's a potential if you were to teach it and in teaching it uncover the real roots, the real sources of the film and of the false statements made in it and it could be potentially useful to do that in a negative sort of way, right, that is to say, to discuss it as a work of right-wing anti-Communist propaganda but it's obviously that's not the way it was intended. It was intended to be presented as, you know, mainstream well-established historical fact. Instead it’s a piece of shrill right-wing anti-Communist and essentially crypto-fascist propaganda.
Hitler had some interesting things to say about propaganda in Mein Kampf, his major work, and what he basically said is that the big lie works. If you can repeat the same statements over and over again in somewhat different ways to the same audience over a period of time, they will become accepted as fact. And it's important I think in all capitalist countries to teach people to think that any attempt to oppose exploitation through mass organization and violence where necessary is going to lead straight to some sort of horrible society like Nazi Germany or like they portray the Soviet Union to have been. So that, it's useful to slander the Communist movement and particularly the Soviet Union whenever possible for contemporary purposes, right, to... as it were in advance de-legitimate anyone who would question the prevailing status quo which as we all can see is getting more and more exploitative, creating more and more misery not only in Eastern Europe but throughout the world now.
So I think that's the kind of political impact and the importance today of anti-Communist propaganda. Which, as the history of the Communist movement recedes, as the period of the Soviet Union gets further and further back in history instead of hearing less and less about it we hear more and more about it, because, it is more and more important to attack the history of the Soviet Union, the history of the Communist movement as capitalism gets more and more repressive and exploitative.
The argument the Soviet Union helped Nazi Germany to instigate the Holocaust can't withstand scrutiny. When we discuss the book Bloodlands by Yale Prof. Timothy Snyder, maybe I'll say a little bit more about that. But it is the case that there is an attempt to blame the Soviets for allying in one way or another with the Nazis. And that of course is a theme of this movie as well.
6. Yale historian Timothy Snyder in his book “Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin” stated that Communism and Nazism were not antagonists and the Communism was a more terrible regime. It looks like he and some of his fellow historians are working at moving Nazism out of the category of “absolute evil” into one of the “relative evil”. What could be the consequences of such a paradigm shift for Europe and for the rest of the world?
Video part 6
Since 2010 when it was published the book Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin written by Yale historian Timothy Snyder has gotten a great deal of attention. It's gotten a lot of awards although the nature of those awards I think needs to be investigated. It has been translated into well over 20 languages though interestingly the last time I checked it had not been translated into Russian but certainly all of the languages of the other post-Soviet countries. And it is an attempt to put the Soviet Union on either on a par with or perhaps only slightly less evil than Nazism. In fact more space more pages are spent on anti-Communism, on anti-Soviet statements in the book than are spent on the Nazis. After all, you know, Nazi crimes are well-known and there are many, many books about them. The innovative aspect of this work I would say is an attempt to create a new kind of paradigm or model through which the Soviet Union could be usefully compared to if not equated with Nazism. I am doing a detailed and somewhat lengthy review and refutation of this book as we speak.
It bases itself on a small number of fundamentally false premises. There of course in addition to that there are a lot of individual false statements in it. And some true statements too, particularly about the Nazis. The false statements that are fundamental to this book are first of all the notion of the Holodomor or the famine, the deliberate man-made famine. There a number of aspects to this Holodomor story that are false. Number one: the famine in the Soviet Union in 1932-33 is called man-made that is to say it's asserted that it was caused by collectivization. That itself is not true. It was not caused by collectivization. It was one of the famines that occurred with great regularity for the past thousand years in what is now the Russia and what then was the Soviet Union.
The collectivization was in part an attempt to stop this endless cycle of famines by changing the way in which agriculture, agricultural activity was carried on, but it was... but there was... there were natural disasters that caused the famine, it was not created by collectivization. So that's one element of it and there are scholars who say well the famine was created by collectivization but... but it was not deliberate. Snyder goes on to say it was not only created by collectivization which means deliberate in one sense that is to say it was a byproduct of the process of collectivization but not necessarily intended. He goes on to say that it was man I should say he goes on to say that it was deliberate that is to say that it was carried out in order to reduce to political passivity the Ukrainian nationalist movement, among who... among the peasantry and that too is false and there's not a shred of evidence for it.
Snyder's discussion of the Holodomor or the famine of 1932-33 is based entirely on Ukrainian nationalist historical works and on some Polish historical works that summarize Ukrainian nationalist historical works. He completely ignores the major scholars in the field who are not Ukrainian nationalists, none of whom accept the either the idea that the famine was man made or that it was deliberate.
Why does he do that? Well if you're going to count up the bodies, if you're going to say that well the Nazis maybe killed 12 million people or 14 million people but the Soviets also killed millions of people, you have to find some millions of bodies that the Soviets supposedly killed and there are not too many places to look and the famine of 32-33 is one.
So somehow to make the Soviets into mass murderers of sort of Nazi scale you have to attribute the deaths in the famine of 32-33 to Soviet malice, they have to be victims of some sort of deliberate Soviet policy and then they can be compared to the Nazis and that's what he does. So it's completely fallacious and it isn't supported by the mainstream scholars. Forget about left or pro-Soviet scholars but mainstream scholars either in the West or in Russia but it is a fundamental part of the historical mythology of Ukraine today that the Ukrainian national movement was so dangerous to Communism that Stalin and company had to deliberately pacify the Ukraine by starving people to death. And (it's) it's is completely false. By the way, Snyder's book contains no documentary evidence to support the idea that this famine was deliberate and that is because there isn't any documentary evidence and no one has ever found any. So that the Holodomor is one important fundamental rock on which Snyder's thesis is based.
Another is the Katyn massacre. I've said something about the Katyn massacre. There is a serious historical and very interesting historical dispute about just who killed the Poles. And there's lots of evidence that the Soviets killed some of them but I think there is lots of evidence that the Germans killed a lot of others and the idea that the Soviets killed them all is supported by evidence which is... has been seriously questioned. Its validity has been I think seriously compromised by recent discoveries. So the Katyn massacre is simply taken as an example but you see the Katyn massacre doesn't help very much if you're trying to come up with this... with millions of dead killed by the Soviets because you talking about at most 25,000 people even if the Soviets had shot them all which I don't think happened. But even if they did, that's 25,000 and you are not going to get to millions that way.
Another sort of bedrock part of all the of Snyder's thesis is the what's called the Great Terror. Anti-Communist scholars have called this the Great Terror and the term has stuck to some extent although historically and traditionally in the Soviet Union it is called the Ezhovshchina, which means the terrible time of Ezhov. In my opinion, Ezhovshchina is a more accurate term because we have a lot of evidence about it now and it's clear that Nikolai Ezhov who was the head of the NKVD, the Soviet security police in 193...from late 1936 until late 1938 did go about deliberately massacring large numbers of people in order to (Soviet citizens) in order to spread discontent with the Soviet system and that he himself had a conspiracy with either Germany or with Germany and Japan because he himself wanted to seize power. The... his misdeeds were gradually uncovered, at a certain point he was forced to resign in late 1938, more and more of these legal massacres were uncovered by Beria, Lavrentiy Beria who took over the NKVD position from Ezhov and the Politburo - Stalin.
By April 1939 Ezhov and his major lieutenants were arrested and they began to give a very interesting testimony, confessions which along with a great deal of documentation from the rest of the Soviet Union, from other NKVD men, from the party officials and from individual citizens, makes it very clear that Ezhov was massacring people for his own purposes.
By the way there is some interesting evidence that the defendants in the third Moscow trial at least, that is to say the Bukharin-Rykov trial of March 1938, knew about this. My colleague Vladimir Bobrov and I discuss this in one of our recent books. It seems that Bukharin specifically knew that Ezhov was doing something along these lines and in any case knew that Ezhov was a conspirator and refused to name him at the trial.
Had Bukharin done this of course Ezhov's massacres could have been cut short. Nevertheless it’s certainly the case that while all of this was going on, Stalin and the Politburo believed that Ezhov was actually combating sworn enemies of the Soviet government, people who were leading rebellions or who were in conspiracy with one of the other opposition groups or with Germany or with Japan. We know that because a recent collection of documents published by the Memorial society, which is certainly very anti-Communist organization but that does have good enough ties with the Russian government so that they are permitted to publish collections, very valuable collections of Soviet documents, Memorial Society published a book, a collection of documents last year, in 2011, in which it is made clear by the editor, Khaustov, that the Politburo and Stalin believed these reports so that it is the case that 600,000 or so Soviet citizens were executed in 1937-38 but it was not the case that Stalin and company did it deliberately. In fact it was done to a great extent behind their backs and Snyder of course says this was all Stalin's doing. So that the Ezhovshchina or the Great Terror is another part or another pillar of his thesis.
There some more he still has to come up with some more millions of deaths at the hands of the Soviets if he is going to compare the Soviets to the Nazis and this he does mainly by assertion. Asserting that the Soviets killed many Soviet civilians, who they suspected of collaborating with the Nazis, for example; by asserting that the Soviets spurred on the Warsaw uprising against the Nazis and then failed to support it and by a number of smaller individual falsifications.
All and all though putting them all together he still doesn't manage to come up with the number anything like the number of the Nazis so he concedes in the book that the Nazis killed Hitler killed many more than Stalin but Stalin comes in as having killed some millions of people and this is completely false. These facts are not well known that is to say the true state of affairs is not well-known among historians even among historians who are specialists in the Soviet Union but among other historians of the World War II period, for example of the prewar period. They are not well known at all because most (most) of them most of them don't concentrate on Soviet history and even if you specialize in Soviet history in order to refute Snyder's falsehoods as... and the same thing goes for The Soviet Story for example, you really have to keep up with the publication of documents from the former Soviet archives and not too many people do this.
And most of the people who do it are themselves strongly enough anti-Communist that they are not going to be motivated to refute statements that are they may recognize as false but that they don't perhaps regard as very important. After all they don't want to be accused of apologizing for Stalin.
Snyder came and spoke at Kean University here in New Jersey in April 2012, couple of months ago and I went, prepared an informative flyer and gave it out at the talk and attempted to raise some questions about it. And he …
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Video part 7
… was able I expose at other places as well to make his statements without challenge simply because (most) very few people know very much about these materials. Another of his tactics is to use, perhaps I’ve mentioned this to you, to use Ukrainian and Polish historians when discussing Soviet history and that's… It doesn't make sense to do that. If you're really interested in Soviet history you should use sources primarily in Russian and secondarily by scholars of any language. But Ukrainian and Polish are languages that Snyder can read. He particularly reads Polish very well. Very few people who are not specialists in that field can read these languages and therefore it's very difficult for any non-specialist to check his statements of fact, to go and check the footnotes and see whether the footnotes really give evidence for the statements made. That's one of the things that I'm spending a great deal of time doing. I know Russian very well of course. I know Ukrainian and Polish less well but I can I can read them and it's evident that he normally does not bother to cite evidence at all. What he does is he cites some other book that states some anti-Communist statement or other as though that were evidence, as though citing another secondary source, anything else in print establishes a statement as a fact. Of course it doesn't establish a statement as a fact, to establish a statement as a fact you need evidence. Which means you need primary sources. Snyder almost never uses primary sources. Nevertheless, for all these reasons, for the reasons that I’ve mentioned because Soviet history is not well known, because few people are studying the documents of the former Soviet archives, and because few people want to take the risk of being labeled as apologists for Stalin, few of his statements, few of the statements in this book have been seriously challenged except in a few cases where Snyder has appeared to equate the Soviet attitude towards Jews with the Nazis attitude towards Jews and there some experts in the Holocaust and some experts of the second world war have said “well that's not right, you shouldn't do that.” But except for that, Snyder's book has been widely reviewed in a very positive manner.
Another problem of course is reviewers who review books for intellectual journals are very seldom specialists in the subjects that they, on which they are reviewing the books. Snyder's book has been reviewed and a number of Western intellectual journals but virtually never by anyone who is in a position to really tell whether Snyder was telling the truth or not. So that reviews are not really so much reviews as summaries and more and appreciative summaries of what Snyder has to say that is to say the authors are in no position to verify whether what Snyder has said is true or false.
One last thing on Snyder, although I don't want to go on too long about it. Snyder claims that the Soviet Union was allied, had a military alliance, uses those words with Nazi Germany in 1939 and carried out a joint invasion of Poland. He uses those words.
This is completely false. The Soviet Union had no military alliance with Nazi Germany. The so-called Molotov-Ribbentrop pact which anti-Communists love to call the Stalin-Hitler pact, that Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was a nonaggression pact that had a secret clause about spheres of influence in the Baltics and particularly in Poland. It agreed under this clause the Soviet into the Soviet sphere of influence about half of Poland that is to say the part that had been conquered by Poland in 1920 - Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia - fell. Okay, this was not an attempt by the Soviets to seize Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia; (it) was an attempt to keep the German armies far from the 1939 Soviet borders. That is to say the German armies agreed not to come closer than the borders of roughly the Curzon line the borders of Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia to the Soviet Union in the event they conquered Poland as they did. Winston Churchill said that it was extremely important for the West, for the allies because Great Britain was formally speaking at war with Nazi Germany at this time it was very important that the Soviet troops stand along that line, that is to say that they not permit the Germans to come up to the old Soviet frontiers. No one at the time in the 1930s -- 1939, 1940, no other… no country thought that the Soviet Union was allied with Nazi Germany, no country moved to have the Soviet Union expelled from the League of Nations for example, as has… as happened a few months later with the Russo-Finnish war. Every country accepted the fact either explicitly or de facto of the Soviet Union was neutral in that war.
It is also not the case that the Soviet Union, Soviet troops had a victory parade in the city of Brest with German troops. That's not a matter of opinion we know that's the case because the memoirs of the two generals involved, general Heinz Guderian for the Germans and the general Krivoshein for the Soviets have left memoirs of the event. It's perfectly clear that it was simply a matter of the Germans having to pull out because under the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact the city of Brest became part of the Soviet sphere of influence. But he insists that this was a victory parade. So where do these ideas come from? Well just as the idea of a Holodomor, of the so-called deliberate man-made famine of 32-33 didn't originate with Snyder, this idea of Soviet-German alliance and a victory parade didn't originate with Snyder either. The Holodomor story ultimately goes back to the, and was originated by the pro-Nazi Ukrainian nationalists in the 1930s and is perpetrated by Ukrainian nationalists today.
The myth of the Soviet alliance with the Nazis and the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact goes back to the Polish émigré government and after the conquest of Poland, and is the position that is taken today by the Polish government. So it’s the Polish, it’s the official position in Poland that this was the case and of course it's completely false and as I mentioned earlier its function appears to be to obscure the betrayal of the Polish population by the prewar Polish government which abandoned the country, left it without a government in 1939 in the face of the German invasion and really left no alternative for the Soviets but to move in.
I just want to mention, to make this one point because it's not sufficiently stressed. Under the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, the Soviet sphere of influence would fall well to the west of the 1939 Soviet border. Basically it would encompass Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia. But it was it was a… it was a clause in a pact, but it was a clause in a pact concerning the state of Poland. Why? Poland is a state. Once the Polish government fled the country, it was no longer functioning as a government in a… under international law the Polish state ceased to exist and the diaries of general Halder, the German general who was in overall charge of the general… high command at this time, make it clear that Hitler had declared that the Polish state no longer existed.
The Germans suddenly in the middle of September start to refer to Poland as the former Polish state. This in effect meant that the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was no longer valid and if the Germans consider the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact no longer valid that meant that they could either bring their troops right up to the Soviet border or, as Halder mentioned, threaten to create anti-Communist pro-Nazi puppet governments aided by Ukrainian nationalist, Belorussian nationalists there.
So the Soviets really had no alternative but to send the troops in. Moreover, in the 1950s an American expert in international law, a man named George Ginsberg who was a professor at Rutgers University here in New Jersey at that time and later on went onto UCLA published two articles in Journals of International Law about Soviet activity and concluded that the Soviets had a very good case by international law for what they did. And this was at the height of the Cold War, when it was in general not professionally rewarded for American scholars to come to conclusions that the Soviet Union (was) did not act improperly, but Ginsberg came to that conclusion. So all of this material is available to Snyder as it is to me or anyone else. It’s clear that he chose to deliberately deny it this… this notion that the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was some sort of military alliance between the Nazis and the Soviets is completely false but you can see how ideologically convenient it is for the anti-Communists to promote that idea, and that idea is now widely promoted among others by Snyder. That’s too long, but you can cut it now.
7. Do you share the anxiety expressed by some historians that anti-Communism might result in the return of Nazism in the long run? Do we have a ground to speak about the predetermined path: from consumerism to anti-Communism to Nazism?
8. Do you see political opportunities to stop historical falsifications promoted by mass media and press charges against the major responsible figures?
Video part 8
Well, might anti-Communism result in the return of Nazism in the long run? I think, yes and no. There is a sense in which Nazism was itself a response to communism. The fascist movements around the world, of which Nazism, let us say, was one form - in Germany were all a response to the upsurge of Communism after the Russian Revolution. There was a German saying in the 1920s…I’m not sure where it originated, but it was widespread. Which is "Gegen Sozialisten helfen nur Faschisten". That is, “the only way to stop the Socialists (they meant the Socialists and the Communists) was by the Fascists. The Fascists seemed to be for the anti-Communist forces, for the capitalist forces, seemed to have the solution for how to stop the Communist movement. This was the only way to do it. Communist movement was based on the working class, there is an awful lot of working class people, the more active and class-conscious they become, the more of a threat they are to the established order. So if one understands Nazism in the historical sense, the Nazism is a response to a strong Communist movement. And absent a strong Communist movement, other forms of protest movement might be controllable by means other than outright fascism. You follow me?
If one understands Nazism in a somewhat less historically determined way perhaps, as form of… of capitalist rule that’s based upon violence and on a heightened degree of exploitation, on a heightened sense of nationalism, patriotism, and equally heightened sense of xenophobia, or racism, on an increase in the level of attacks on the working class, de-legitimizations of labor unions perhaps, or working class parties,… If you understand fascism in this way, which is somewhat more broadly, right, than a historically determined definition of fascism, then yes, sure! In fact we’re seeing an upsurge of fascism now, neo-fascism, without the resurgence of powerful protest movements based among the majority of population, based among the working class, much less strong Communist movements, right?
So, I think that anti-Communism is always, consistently an important ideology in capitalism. You could you can even trace it back to the French Revolution, where it took the form of anti-Jacobinism, you know? There was anti-Communism, in a certain sense even before there were communists, right? That is, people who attacked movements who attacked in the name of the common people, movements who attacked the rule of the capitalists, the rule of exploiters. This I think is always a component part of capitalism. Even when it’s not moving in a particularly fascist direction. So I wouldn’t say it’s consumerism to anti-Communism to Nazism, or to fascism, I would say that the anti-Communism is a constant. Its forms, no doubt, change. But it’s always there.
I think there is a general and a more specific cause of the rise in neo-, or crypto-, or fascism today. One of which is the legitimization, in Eastern Europe particularly, of the prewar and wartime fascist collaborators whose inheritors, and in some cases, in a few cases, actual individuals, came to power in the… in Eastern Europe, in the post-Soviet states. That’s one, one. But another is a reaction to the greatly increased level of exploitation that we see now. And not only in Eastern Europe, but throughout the world. I mean, there is a real attempt in, let’s say, Western Europe to demolish to get rid of the social welfare state. There big attack on this. And therefore to denigrate those forces which are far from Communist, they’re really Social-Democratic, who want to maintain the welfare state.
There is a real attack on that… of course there is a real attack on that in the United States. We’ve never had much of a welfare state, what little we’ve had is sharply under attack as well. But I think it’s useful to look at Western Europe where the welfare state is increasingly under attack we’re constantly being told these days by the elite economists and politicians and publications that we cannot afford the welfare state anymore. That is to say, the only solution to the financial crisis is to drastically lower the standard of living, the wages and the, and the, standard of living generally.
The non-wage benefits distributed to the majority of population. That’s the only way that capitalism can survive in this countries. And under those circumstances anti-Communism performs somewhat different function. It’s not so much to rehabilitate pro-Nazi forces form the past, right? Who are the direct ancestors of the… those in power today, as it is an attempt to state that fighting for government, fighting for big government, fighting for social welfare, distributed by the government is a move in the direction of… a move in the direction of communism. Communism is more and more equated with Nazism, and therefore a move in the direction of something that is you know something that’s akin to Nazism.
So I think that’s in my view that’s what we are witnessing today. And that’s the context in outside of Eastern Europe in which let’s say Timothy Snyder’s book functions. In Eastern Europe it performs this other function, right; it helps to rehabilitate the current regimes whose legitimacy rests to great extent upon anti-Soviet, anti-Communist falsehoods. But in the West it’s serves to de-legitimate any attempt to look at a…try to struggle for a society beyond capitalism beyond the most exploitative kinds of capitalism. And I think it’s got to get only stronger as level of exploitation, you know, the level of unemployment, the level of immiseration, the level of… and the level of protest against these things as that get stronger, we’re going to just hear more and more about how any of this kind of protest is, you know, is a move in a totalitarian direction.
One of the words that’s used to sort of group, or yoke, communism with Nazism is totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is a word popularized, if it ever became popularized, by the political theorist Hannah Arendt. Who… who was an expert and knew a great deal about Nazi Germany, being a German Jew. knew very very little about Soviet Union. But she wrote a book called “Totalitarianism” that… extremely popular in the 1950s because it provided a sort of intellectually respectable framework for yoking and in that way equating communism and Nazism. So this is heard over and over again. And I know, I hear it all the time. And I think that… that… so that’s the way I see this… the relationship of neo-Nazism, or resurgence of fascist political movements and ideologies to anti-Communism.
Part III. – Reactions in America
1. Do you observe any rise in Nazi feelings in America?
2. How does the American society react to the rehabilitation of Nazism?
3. What is the position of the American political establishment?
4. Americans are proud of their contribution to the defeat of Nazism during WWII. Can you explain why now the American media avoid criticism about regular events commemorating Nazis in the former Soviet republics – Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine?
Video part 9
Okay. I don't observe a rise in pro-Nazi sentiment in the United States in quite the way in which I think it may be intended. I think that in the United States people know very little bit ... very little about Nazism. Other than, you know that it was the ideology of Hitler. But exactly where it came from, what its function was? They certainly don't relate Nazism to capitalism. They don't see Nazism as ... or fascism as one aspect of capitalism under attack by (by) working class movement. They don't see Nazism in class terms at all. Nazism has never been popular there have always been a few Nazis around but it has never been very popular. I think there may be some element of pro-Nazi feeling and then there is a great deal of interest in certain circles about the German army.
I know that there are people who collect discuss endlessly German ... German military, you know, Nazi military matters and paraphernalia and there's no similar movement to collect Soviet materials. I think this is in part at least due to the fact that for a long time in the West it was the Germans who ... the former Nazis who got to write the history of World War II on the Eastern front.
If you grew up at the time that I did and you were interested in reading about the war on the Eastern front, the war between the Nazi forces ....the German... Germany and its allies and the Soviet Union, the Red Army, it was mainly of former German officers accounts that you got to read. And there is a (there is a) kind of strange character to those accounts.
You read them - and the Germans seem so brilliant and the Soviets seem to being defeated all the time and then somehow or other it’s not the outcome. So well, what was the reason for that? Well, Hitler, you know, Hitler was the bag guy!
The impression is left that’s somehow or other the "good" Nazis had managed to get rid of Hitler somehow or other, then they would have ... things would have been very different. So, there is a great deal of ignorance about it, there is a little ... there is some fascination with Germans, but with ... with Nazism but I don't think there is a resurgence of interest in Nazism or even a rehabilitation of Nazism as such.
And I think that goes pretty much across the board for the American political establishment as well as for the population. But we’re taught very little about the resurgence of pro-, explicitly, pro-Nazi enthusiasm in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union, this gets very little publicity - the political positions represented by the governments of let's say the Baltic countries, you know, Poland or Ukraine, other post-Soviet countries are what we hear.
And (they are not) the historical background for them is not explained. So that to the extent that Americans learn about these figures... these countries, they get this essentially a cut of clandestine pro-Nazi viewpoint but it isn't ... it isn't the case that most Americans know very much at all about these countries.
On the other hand there's the demonization of Stalin. Stalin ... the figure of Stalin is so demonized slandered in Western popular culture and in Western historiography that almost anything can be justified by making a gesture to Stalin.
The most prestigious newspapers in the country like the New York Times think nothing of printing statements about Soviet history during Stalin's time or about Stalin himself, that have no relationship to reality, that even bourgeois historians would not support, without any fact checking. It's almost considered illegitimate to say that Stalin didn't do something once he's been accused of having done it. And this means that the history of the Soviet Union is virtually not understood at all, it's …it's caricatured.
But that's not new. It may have been intensified somewhat, but I mean this was the case when I was growing up too, when I was growing up Khrushchev ... of course no Soviet history ... no Soviet political figures were very popular, but if any figure had been popular it would have been Khrushchev. Khrushchev...there was really an attempt from time to time to make Khrushchev look like a positive figure or a relatively positive figure. So I think this demonization of Stalin has a lot to do with ... with the attitudes that people in the United States have towards world war two.
That's not an explicit rehabilitation of Nazism, but it often comes across as a kind of critique of the Roosevelt administration for being naïve somehow or other about allying with Stalin about the Soviets. There was also a large communist movement in the United States during the 30s and 40s and 50s and the attacks on Stalin are used to try to discredit its anti-Fascist activities. The soldiers who fought ... the American soldiers who fought on the side of the Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War 1936 to 1938, they are now called the Abraham Lincoln brigade were called premature anti-Fascists and were regarded as ipso facto disloyal simply because they hated fascism too much before it was fashionable to hate fascism.
So, you know, there have been these elements of what you might call "being soft on Nazism". I think that most people also, just to conclude, know almost nothing about the degree of collaboration with the Nazi regime that took place among American industrial and financial circles. There are some good books on it but they are not widely read and virtually nothing is ever said about this. So, Nazism isn’t seen as a movement that was very popular among elite circles ... elite circles in capitalist countries and among capitalists including in the United States, including by figures like Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh and others....you know, the Prince of Wales ...
Part IV. – A broader perspective
1. Could you evaluate the contribution of CIA in the revival of Nazism after WWII and make any comments about the activities of Reinhard Gehlen.
2. Does it seem like a similar scenario is now being implemented with participation of Baltic Nazi organizations?
Video part 10
The western allies were very anti-Communist before World War II. I think it is not well enough understood the extent to which the western allies (as they became) had contained strong elements that wanted to unite with the Nazis against the Soviet Union. There were a number of cases in which it seemed very likely in the pre-WWII period that the western allies would unite or might unite with Hitler against the Soviet Union. So the Nazis were always seen or were seen for a long time in 1930s as useful, potentially even allies against the Soviets. That’s an interesting topic which might be useful to talk about another time.
But in the case of post-WWII situation the fact that former Nazis were employed on a wide scale by the victorious western allies is less surprising when you consider how popular the Nazis were in certain ruling class capitalist circles in the west before WWII.
Reinhard Gehlen who was intelligence expert for the Nazis against Communism against the Soviets was simply hired by the West Germans, by the Americans essentially to continue this activity. Once again, the Nazis were the experts in anti-Communism, in Germany particularly, where they have been successful in smashing very large Communist movement.
That lesson was certainly appreciated by the western allies. It’s a huge Communist party that had been successfully smashed very quickly by the Nazis. And therefore the Nazis were pretty capable of this sort of stuff. Along with the use of former Nazi intelligence figures and apparatus came the recognition that in order to set up anti-Communist governments in Germany, for example, it was going to be necessary to use former Nazis on a large scale.
There were former Nazis in government, business, academia on a large scale in Western Germany, so and of course to some extent in the other ally countries. American space program, for example, developed by people who had developed the rockets for Nazi Germany.
I suppose, along with that comes the reluctance to prosecute or to pursue Nazi war crimes on any kind of broad scale. Some prosecutions were carried out, but certainly a great number of significant Nazi figures escaped any punishment. That was simply not the main problem after WWII. I mentioned earlier the world anti-Communist league and the league of captive nations, these groups that ultimately ended up constructing the monument in Washington DC the anti-Communist memorial.
These were virtually exclusively Fascist groups or anti-Communist people who had been working with the Germans against Communism. And they were used for intelligence purposes: Ukrainian nationalists groups, nationalists groups from all of these countries. We had a big Byelorussian nationalist group here in South River New Jersey. For one reason or another the Byelorussian nationalists don’t seem to be quite successful in Byelorussia as the Ukrainian nationalists had been in Ukraine. It was not because they did not try and it was not because they were not cultivated here. They certainly were.
So I think the real continuing theme though or thread in all of these is anti-Communism. And it is anti-Communism because it is in the service of exploitation. And that is fundamental to Capitalisms. I don’t think that it is possible to imagine capitalist society without some strong ideological anti-Communism component. Because it is necessary to de-legitimate the struggles of working people to get rid of exploitation to get better conditions to fight racism and so forth.
I do not know much more than I have already been said about Baltic Nazi organizations except that they do not attract a much attention in the elite American press. And so clearly they are not considered much of a problem by American elites. That does not to say that if challenged American elites would approve of them exactly, but they don’t consider them to be a problem. I think that they are wildly viewed as a kind of natural reaction to Communism like these people where the true Nationalists. That is the why they portrait themselves.
That if you are a Communist you can’t be a Nationalist so that you can’t be loyal to the nation. They have an exclusively capitalist notion of what constitutes a nation. So if you are a Communist, ipso facto, just by being a Communist you a traitor to the nation. But if you are a Fascist you are not a traitor to the nation. So the whole concept of nationhood is bound up with that sort of Fascist notion of what constitutes a people or a nation, since Communist can’t be a Nationalist. And that because Americans and people in the west generally, and I think people in the capitalist countries generally, are taught to think of nationalism and patriotism as positive values.
Then once you can demonstrate, once you can argue that the Polish anti-Communists or the Lithuanian, Estonian and Latvian anti-Communists or Ukrainian anti-Communists or the Georgian anti-Communists or whoever were patriotic, then to that extant their anti-Communism becomes so called supposedly understandable. And then of course, you know, they should not have killed the Jews. That was certainly bad. But the rest of it is somehow seen as a sort of legitimate Nationalism. That is certainly the way they are treated in those countries.
I was looking at some materials about Poland just the other day. The Polish home army (Armia Krajowa) did not completely surrender to the Soviets in 1945. Some of them went underground and stayed active in Western Ukraine and Western Byelorussia. Up until the last ones weren’t killed until the 1960s. They went around assassinating basically anybody who they thought was insufficiently pro Polish.
That is to say they simply insisted that Western Ukraine and Western Byelorussia can only be parts of Poland and therefore they were the only ones who having a legitimacy. In other words ...In other words they were terrorists. Ok and all terrorists have their ways of legitimating their activities. This people were terrorists, but they are never described that way.
You know, they are just described in terms of their anti-Communism and their perverted nationalism. That's certainly true. So, therefore, that tends to legitimate them. It tends to make them look legitimate, likewise the Ukrainian nationalists, likewise the nationalists in the Baltic countries. And so just by describing them as patriots, as nationalists in their own terms, that tends to legitimate them in the eyes of people who don't know any better in the eyes of most people who maybe learn about them.
3. What factors keep the legitimacy of the authorities in the West? Do you think that Russia with its communist past might still be playing the role of an external enemy and could the Western authorities be tempted to play the Russian card in order to keep their legitimacy in an increasingly unstable political environment?
Video part 11
I think that contemporary Russian government and elite, particularly the political elite, are stuck with the communist past whether they like it or not. On the one hand Gorbachev and Eltsin legitimated their getting rid of the Soviet Union by essentially anti-Communist ideology, anti-Communist arguments: Stalin was terrible and the whole Soviet Union was terrible. And that is what legitimates it.
On the other hand the Soviet history took place to a great extent in Russia. Russians created that history, the part of it. And it looks attractive to a great many former soviet people including great many Russians. On top of that, other countries ... elites of other countries thinking along nationalist ... national lines have a kind of tendency to blame Russia for what the Soviets did or what they claim the Soviets did.
So I think that the Russian government and Russian nationalists generally are kind of tormented by the Soviet past. The West, the United States, I think really played Michael Gorbachev for a fool. It seems to have been some sort of implicit or explicit understanding that if the Soviet Union were gotten rid of, if the capitalism were restored, that Russia would be regarded as the western NATO allies were regarded.
And that is seems like some people in late Soviet elite like Gorbachev thought that the tensions between East and West were wholly due to the ideological differences between Communism and Capitalism. That was not true. This is great power diplomacy. So the United States never relented really in its political antagonism to Russian interests.
And maybe that’s inevitable maybe huge powerful countries have antagonistic interests in a competitive capitalist imperialist world. And that’ll always be the case. But I think it is helpful to the United States to portray Russia, just as it is to portray its other rivals or antagonists, in a negative way.
And part of that has to do with using stereotypes that survive from the Soviet period: Russia has being acting like the Soviets acted; Russian leaders are acting like Soviet leaders acted. Well, they are not really. But I think that’s often used to cover up the more fundamental conflicts of interests, because capitalist competition is based on conflict of interests.
There is just no way, that Russia and China are going to have the same kinds of interests in, let’s say, the Middle East that the United States does. This is their backyard, so to speak. And the American presence in Iraq and Afghanistan was established ... was possible only because the Soviet Union was being dismantled at that very time. It certainly could never have happened if the Soviet Union had been a strong powerful country. And the United States took advantage of that and they are not going they are not leaving.
So that creates an inevitable antagonism. And may be that spurs on some of the anti-Communist propaganda. May be it causes some of these comparisons between (I don’t know) Stalin and Putin or something like that. But I tend to think that the national interests as large capitalist country of the United States and Russia are going to be conflict in many ways. These are the kinds of conflicts that led to WWI which was not an ideological war. I mean, you can argue that WWII was in part an ideological war, in part anyway sure, you know, Capitalism, Fascism, Communism, Nazism. Ok. But WWI was not.
It was simply different capitalist imperialist countries fighting over their interests, and then historically that is what wars have been: conflicts of the interests of the ruling groups of these countries if different countries are against one another. And that is going to continue.
The legitimacy of the authorities in the West is being sharply criticized, I think, that not only in the United States but in all of the Western Europe. I’ve just got back from Belgium. The protests against the very harsh cutbacks, being forced down the throats of the majority of the populations throughout Western Europe like in the United States because of this financial crisis, this depression. These protests are themselves a form of questioning the legitimacy.
The New York Times in the last week has been full of articles about how great many people in Greece, let's say, question the legitimacy of the Greek government. Why shouldn’t they? So I think that anti-Communism will continue to play an important role, and I have mentioned that previously. I think we can see a continuing and perhaps even an increasing importance of anti-Communism in propaganda in the West. And by the way it is not only in the West.
There is a lot of it is going on in Russia, of course. So there is an issue in Russia which you, I’m sure, know much more about than I of course, but I observe it from afar. It is the whole issue of how to deal with the Soviet past. And the Soviet past is, in a large sense, up for grabs.
The figure of Stalin is a good example of this, on his own and all of these attacks on Stalin by people who… many of them appear to be pro-western, but I mean you can’t say that they all are, and at the same time Stalin is a very popular figure, mainly among working people. So, to some extent, even in Russia the struggle over the Soviet past, the struggle over Communism and anti-Communism is a kind of measure of the popular discontent with the policies of the government which are, you know, exploitative as they are in the other places.
4. Please, express your opinion about the major trends in political processes, the objectives of elite circles and the meaning of the present historical time.
Video part 12
(At present) … We are in the XXIst century. There is a century whole for us. Well let’s take a look at the XXth century. I would like to suggest that the XXth century, in a real sense, was the Soviet century. I don’t mean to demean other important forces and events. But Russian revolution was, probably more than any other single event, the crystallizing event of the past century.
Everything else revolved around this great, what you might call, experiment of Socialism, of Communism. It precipitated, or was the major factor in precipitating, almost all of the major world issues: world crises, world developments that took place. And ultimately the Soviet ... the world Communist movement (the Soviet Union, also I would say Communism in China and other countries) ultimately it came to an end. But, whether it was through internal weaknesses, whether it was because it was sold out by its leaders, whatever the mechanism, which we need to understand, came to an end.
And we are living in the aftermath of that event. We are living in the aftermath of the end of the Soviet Union, the end of the world communist movement. There is for the first time in well over a century there is no powerful movement of common people or of the working class for a different kind of society.
This movement is severely fragmented and fractured, divided amongst itself and unsure of what to do. And this ... It seems ...Or at least this is the way I see it, has presented the capitalists (the globalists of the world, the 1 percent of the world) with a great opportunity. And that is the opportunity to drastically increase their profits by lowering the standard of living of workers all around the world, not just in Eastern Europe. Of course, this happened in a catastrophic manner in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. I don’t need to tell you how catastrophic it was, the landslide the crash of the standard of living in so many ways in the former Soviet Union and Russia in the 1990s, and similarly in the rest of the Soviet Bloc.
But it is now happening in the West, because there is no alternative force. We in the United States have got social security, unemployment insurance, some modest medical benefits (Medicare, Medicaid) a very modest degree of social welfare benefits in the 30s and again in the 60s mainly, in my view (and I think it’s demonstrable with the 1930s), because the American government (the American those who ran the United States) wanted to try to demonstrate that Capitalism could be humane, that you don’t need Communism, we can have a decent life under Capitalism, we can provide all of these. Capitalism can provide all of those things.
That’s explicitly what happened throughout of the rest of Europe, right? The social democratic parties were originally in the same movement back in the XIXth century with the Marxist parties, Marx and Engels parties, they were all social democratic parties. Then they fragmented. But they still all were promoted ... They did not promote revolution like in Russia, but they promoted the social welfare policies and preserved Capitalism, but at the cost of all these benefits.
And now when this movement, the Communist movement is no more or is severely fragmented there is no more reason for the capitalist to buy off the working class with social welfare benefits. So they are not doing it any more. They are not afraid that the workers are all going to turn to Communism today. They are not afraid that they‘ll all be loyal to the Soviet Union.
You know, after the WWII there were cities and towns in France and Italy, where people were naming the boulevard Josef Stalin Boulevard. You know, what did that say to the French ruling class or the Italian ruling class? These people aren't going to fight! If we have to go to war with the Soviet Union, these people aren't going to fight for us. Not if they are naming the street Joseph Stalin Boulevard.
Paul Robson the great American anti-racist and he certainly was procommunist (if he wasn’t a Communist he was certainly procommunist) met with president Truman, I think in 1946 or 1947, and then said: “If you make a war on the Soviet Union black Americans will not fight in that war”.
Soviet Union just by its existence posed a threat, not a threat on the world global scale that they are going to try to take over the world. Soviet Union never wanted to take over the world. It was the United States who wanted to take over the world. Soviet Union never did that. They never did that. They never did try to take over the world. They were very defensive. But the western capitalist countries were afraid. So they gave all of these benefits.
You know, I went hiking couple years ago with a friend of mine from high school, we stay in touch. We went hiking up in New Hampshire. And here is this wonderful trail to the top of this mountain with a little of huts beside the trail, it was all built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Which was government jobs for the unemployed. They had jobs for workers and jobs for writers, jobs for musicians, the jobs to work for the unemployed. The idea was that government should provide jobs if you can’t get a job in private industry. That happened because the Soviet Union was there, because the world Communist movement was there, and they had to do it. So I was hiking along this pass and this friend of mine who knows me since we were 4 years old. He is Canadian, so he has all of these social welfare benefits.
I said, "You know who you can thank for this path that we‘re walking on?"
- President Roosevelt.
I said, "Well, in addition to president Roosevelt? So you can thank Stalin! Because if the Soviet Union hadn’t been there, Roosevelt wouldn’t have done this."
Roosevelt got the nomination in 1932 because (one of the reasons was) Cyrus Eaton (an American billionaire) said: “We are in the middle of the depression and this is the man who is going to save Capitalism for us”. So, we have got our social welfare benefits to the extent that we got them and the Canadians, the Europeans, and the Australians got them because the capitalists were afraid. So this was going to buy off the working class. Well, they don’t have to buy off the working class anymore. There is no place to go. The Union movement is very weak and getting weaker still. They can do what they want. So we are living in the backwash. You know, a big ocean liner heads into the ocean and it cuts the water very neatly in the front and in the back there is this big backwash turns up everything, it is all chaos, it is all big mess. We are living in the backwash.
The world communist movement is left behind and we are getting pulled under by the backwash. So, that is the historical era we have the misfortune to live in. It is less misfortunate for me because I’m pretty old. But for the young people coming up: my kids, your children, others; that’s going to be a much more difficult world than it was. They are not going to have that security. Whatever you going to say about the Soviet Union to the certain extent they had security. That is what people valued about Socialism (Eastern Europe, Soviet Union, every place else). That’s gone. Now you’ve got forces to say that people should pay for everything, that government should not be involved into defending the standard of living of the population or the welfare of the population at all.
So we live in this era and I think there is going to be ....I have faith in the history and the future of humanity ... I think that time will come when human beings - workers and others will mount another, build another mass movement, worldwide movement to fight back against the kind of stuff, this kind of policies that we see, engulfing us now cut back in deprivation, increasing poverty, unemployment and so forth. But I don’t think it’s going to happen tomorrow morning. I think it’s going to be lengthy period. It’s going to be very difficult. It will cause a lot of suffering.
And before something like the movement of the early part of the XXth century the Socialist and the Communist movement (that wasn’t called a Communist until after Russian revolution, there was a Socialist movement) gets going again. So with another one is created .... to until ... the possibility of building the better world is created (the idea that people don’t have to put up with all of this deprivation, with all of this exploitation), it is going to be quite a period of time.
I think we are in for a very difficult period and out of which eventually something better will grow. But that’s what I’ve meant by saying that the Russian revolution and therefore the Soviet Union in some sense characterized the nature of world history in the XXth century.
The main force in the world was this idea that working people could construct society as it would be beneficial to them. And we are living in era.... And we have a misfortune to live in an era when that movement has been greatly weakened. So, what comes to the fore? What comes to the fore is the international rivalries of the kind that produced WWI.
And that is very frightening because that means that we can foresee a period of war. And people are already talking about: 20 years from now there is going have to be a war between the United States and China, you know, maybe which side is Russia going to be on, what side Germany is going to be on. So we are back in that period so as the people in the pre-WWI period were. Now we saw what that period created. So, I think that there is a sense of urgency that I feel, that to ... if not entirely avoid that kind of dismal future to, at least, mitigate some of its worst aspects.
Another movement along the lines - similar to this worldwide socialist movement of the pre-WWI period and then the Communist movement after the Soviet revolution has to ... needs desperately to come into existence.