Pink Eyes

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New at Reason: Glenn Garvin excoriates communism's deathless defenders.

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  1. ‘does the author need much “logic” to criticize Stalin for the lives he took?’

    Of course not, zorel. He does, however, need logic if he’s going to criticize other authors’ thesis about Stalin on the grounds that they are intellectually suspect.

    “you can be a good liberal AND can criticize communists.” Yes, and you can be a good anti-communist and admit that industrialization raises living standards.

    As for other countries, the changes in the Russian economy that took place in the second quarter of the 20th century roughly correspond to those that took place in America between 1700 and the mid 1920s.

    I think that the transformation of a giant nation’s economy from feudal agriculture to modern industrialism is a matter that might be worth discussing in historians’ circles. And I don’t think that saying so makes me an apologist for the gulag.

  2. Prior to Communism, Russia was the “bread basket” of Europe. Post-Stalin, it relied upon food grown in the US midwest, purchased with money borrowed from US taxpayers.

    Stalin created a USSR that launched a disasterous war with Finland, and subsequently fought Nazi Germany suffering huge losses in the process. None other than Marshal Zhukov admitted that the USSR was dependent on US aid during WW2, particularly sheet steel, gun powder, and trucks. It is true that Stalin and the Red Army proved superior statigicly than Hitler & OKW (massing their forces to achieve battlefield numerical superiority even when the actual potential forces only slightly favored the USSR), but Stalin’s economic policies resulted in a USSR that was critically dependent on forign aid. Given the resources of the USSR, that suggests serious economic and leadership failures.

  3. “Garvin presents this as a commie-apologist gotcha phrase: “The sophisticated design of Soviet totalitarianism has perhaps not been sufficiently appreciated.” Noting that it is a sophisticated version of totalitarianism is akin to calling it good?”

    It appears to be a commie-apologist phrase to me. “sufficiently appreciated”?!

  4. “Or the speculation on the motives of J. Edgar Hoover. We can’t question “May” Hoover’s psychological makeup, or we’re supporting communism? WTF?”

    There is no actual proof that Hoover was homosexual. Lots of smears by leftists and communists, but no proof.

    Speculating about your support for Stalin and communism is every bit as valid as your speculation about Hoover’s “psychological makeup”, perhaps more so.

  5. “Or the presentation of the KGB’s covert work with the CPUSA as disproving their image as “a collection of amiable folk singers, brave anti-segregationists, and Steinbeckian labor organizers.” This vision of the rank and file couldn’t be correct, because there were agents of Moscow in the leadership. Covert organs don’t take advantage of unrealistic idealists? The guy who put up the flyers was shown in the Venona papers to be a Soviet agent, so Alan Ginsberg couldn’t have been an idealistic dreamer? Again, WTF?”

    Please point me to the place in the article where it says something to the effect that “CPUSA rank and file were not just useful idiots”.

    The problem the left has is that it depicted CPUSA as NOTHING MORE than idealistic dreamers! In fact, it was an arm of the Soviet Union. If the rank and file consisted of useful idiots, it still doesn’t change the fact that the CPUSA was a nest of spies financed & controlled by the USSR.

  6. “Garvin claims 350 CPUSA members worked for Moscow. Out of a party of, what, 1 million? The point is, there is no reason to believe that the CPUSA was not both a conspiracy orchestrated from Moscow AND a collection of fluffy headed Hollywood whatevers. But Garvin keeps insisting that only one of these facets is the true one.”

    No Joe, he states: “More than 350 spies, nearly all CPUSA members, are identified in the Venona cable traffic alone.”

    And again, I don’t think anyone believes that every member of CPUSA was a Soviet spy. One of my mother’s uncles was a member of CPUSA. He was a vile and disfunctional man, but I don’t have any reason to believe he was a spy.

    The important point isn’t what percentage of the CPUSA were useful idiots; what is important is that CPUSA was a front organization for the USSR that acted against American interests, and that the left in the US has consitently failed to recognize this.

  7. Don, as you well know, the collapse of Soviet agriculture was caused not by the collapse of the underlying economy, but by the the brutal transition of that economy and deliberate genocidal policies. The fact the Soviet Union had enough wealth to purchase that American grain is pretty good evidence of how far its economy grew over its first few decades. I can’t believe I have to explain that industrialization fosters wealth creation to a Reason regular!

    I agree, Stalin’s military policies were foolish. But what does this have to do with the issue at hand? Do you think that demonstrating bad military leaderships means that the economy didn’t grow?

    I have only seen the word appreciated in such a context mean “understood” or “grasped.” The fact that you think it means “loved” or “met with gratitude” reflects poorly on your honesty, reading comprehension, or vocabulary.

    “The problem the left has is that it depicted CPUSA as NOTHING MORE than idealistic dreamers! In fact, it was an arm of the Soviet Union.” In fact, it was both. My complaint is that Garvin presents the evidence of Soviet contact as if it disproves the image as idealistic dreamers. It’s a dessert topping! It’s a floor wax! It’s a dessert topping AND a floor wax!

    Ecodude, some of those authors appear to be shallow and delusional as well – at least from the image presented by Garvin. OTOH, I’m not inclined to accept his characterizations of their work at face value. There are biased and shallow thinkers on all sides.

  8. “As for other countries, the changes in the Russian economy that took place in the second quarter of the 20th century roughly correspond to those that took place in America between 1700 and the mid 1920s.”

    Except that the Russia of 1900 was more technically and economically advanced than the colonial America of 1700, and the US of 1920 was more economically advanced than the USSR of, well, pick a date.

    I guess what I’m saying is that you are completely correct except where you are wrong, you just happen to be wrong about almost everything. n

  9. “There is no actual proof that Hoover was homosexual. Lots of smears by leftists and communists, but no proof.”

    Suddenly I’m having flashbacks from watching Ed Wood’s Magnum Opus “Glen Or Glenda.”

    “A transvestite is NOT a homosexual.”

  10. Don, Russia in 1920 was remarkably backwards, technologically. Among the masses of peasants, it was common for hay to be turned using pitchforks formed out of branches, iron implements being too rare and expensive to be in widespread use. A few demonstration projects in, and created by, Moscow does not translate to a widespread diffusion of that technology. The lives of most Russians in 1920 was comparable to that of English colonists in America decades before the War of Independence.

  11. “The fact the Soviet Union had enough wealth to purchase that American grain is pretty good evidence of how far its economy grew over its first few decades.”

    Obtained from US loans.

  12. Ah, yes, the good old Communism debates.

    Where lefties insist on defended the indefensible, while conservatives insist on tarring innocent idiots as threats to national security.

    A pox on both your houses!

  13. zorel,

    joe is not defending Stalin.

  14. “A transvestite is NOT a homosexual.”

    There is no proof Hoover was that, either.

    Actually, there isn’t even any reason to think Hoover was a transvestite.

  15. “A transvestite is NOT a homosexual.”

    There is no evidence Hoover was a transvestite.

  16. “Where lefties insist on defended the indefensible, while conservatives insist on tarring innocent idiots as threats to national security.”

    Except that this part of the debate is based upon relatively recent information from the former USSR showing that, indeed, the idiots are not as innocent as the left insists.

  17. Don, either show some evidence that the GDP of the Soviet Union didn’t grow exponentially during the period of industrialization, or retire from the field. You are making arguments one step removed from editting my spelling.

    Again, I cannot believe I have to explain to a Reason regular that idustrialization increases wealth.

  18. Joe:

    “In East Minus West = Zero, German historian Werner Keller gives the answer: by communist parasitism on the very capitalist system declared to be its mortal enemy, a parasitism which was–and still is–aided and abetted by the capitalists themselves.

    The first architects of communist economic development, as this richly documented industrial-scientific history of Russia reveals, were businessmen. In 1921, Lenin launched a “New Economic Policy” and offered Westerners generous “concessions” in exchange for the rapid industrialization of Russia. English, German, Italian, Swedish, Danish and American firms “took the bait,” as Mr. Keller puts it, and rushed to provide the new communist nation with airfields and railroads, with gold, copper and iron-mining installations, with ship, textile, and aircraft factories, with oil refineries. …

    Despite this artificial force-feeding, Russia remained industrially impotent, its peasant populace unable to understand, maintain or operate the complex transplants of capitalism. “We smashed a great deal of machinery,” a grinning Khrushchev was to tell the world many years later.

    Before the decade was up, the “Bolshevik colossus” was twice invaded by Finland, and, by 1941, Russia was desperately begging the West for aid against Hitler’s armies. Again, capitalists rushed to save the collapsing communist dictatorship.

    Under Lend-Lease, writes Mr. Keller, “the immense industrial potential of the United States was put freely at the disposal of the Soviet Union.” Between 1941 and 1945, a vast flood of goods was flown and shipped to Russia: raw materials, machinery, tools, complete industrial plants, spare parts, textiles, clothing, tinned meat, sugar, flour and fats, as well as purely military supplies such as arms, trucks, tans, aircraft and gasoline.

    Lend-Lease was granted in the form of an interest-free loan, but not one cent has ever been repaid. It turned out to be an involuntary “gift” from capitalism to communism–a “gift” estimated at the incredible sum of $10,800,000,000. …”

    From a book review by Edith Efron.

  19. thoreau,

    Well, to be frank, none of the statements in the article are defenses of Stalinism or communism.

    BTW, I am going to take issue with the notion that Tsarist Russia was the breadbasket of Europe in the early 20th century: starvation and malnutrition were rampant in Tsarist Russia.

  20. you forget that many readers had girlfriends [real or imaginary] stolen from them by dashing marxists, complete with goatees and musical instruments of some sort. these pied pipers had the machismo of che with which no hayek essay can hope to compete with.

    so surely you understand.

  21. you forget that many readers had girlfriends [real or imaginary] stolen from them by dashing marxists, complete with goatees and musical instruments of some sort. these pied pipers had the machismo of che with which no hayek essay can hope to compete with.

    so surely you understand.

  22. From Glenn Garvin’s review:

    If Franklin Roosevelt had died just nine or 10 months earlier, his third-term vice president, Communist sympathizer Henry Wallace, would have become president. Wallace once said that if he were president he would appoint Harry Dexter White treasury secretary and Laurence Duggan secretary of state. Both of them, we now know unambiguously from Venona cables, were Soviet spies.

    The long history of the belittling of anti-Communists by the Democratic Party establishment is thus understood.

  23. so why give the money in the first place?

    serious question, here, no goofin’. surely someone was getting paid something or the shit just wouldn’t have happened. let them eat cake!

  24. Don,

    To be blunt, the critique is meaningless. It is a bit like saying that American markets developed in large part due British and French capital (which it did), and in that way America in the 19th century was a parasite on British and French capital markets.

    As to workers destroying machinery, well that’s a common component in industrialization everywhere (its a bit of a myth that this did not occurr in the US with regularity in the 19th century). People really have to stop treating Soviet industrialization as it were something unique; extreme and costly yes; also unwise and inhumane; but the themes we see in industrialization in the US, Japan, Germany, etc. are also seen in the USSR.

    Finally, your Lend-Lease critique is also a point without meaning; especially given how lend-lease was also offered to the UK, France and other nations, and how none them repaid the U.S.

    I suppose if your point was that the USSR could not “survive” (or at least “succeed”) on its own without the “help” of other nations, then I would also make the equally valid point that I cannot of another country – capitalist or otherwise – where the same condition also doesn’t hold true.

  25. The issue at hand is not whether industrialization increased wealth in Russia (though it’s clear that it did, just as it does pretty much everywhere it occurs). The issue is whether making that statement is tantamount to approving of every bad thing Stalin did to make it happen.

    It is entirely possible to believe that Stalin made Russia richer AND that he committed widespread atrocities. It is a failing of Garvin to believe otherwise.

  26. On a related note, I do think that discussions of the USSR – at least amongst conservatives – are rampant with a lot of conservative PC talk. Sorts of caveats and gesturing one has to do in order to discuss Soviet history, politics, etc., after a while stifles a hell of lot of discussion, and allows for a nasty echo chamber effect.

  27. “Don, either show some evidence that the GDP of the Soviet Union didn’t grow exponentially during the period of industrialization, or retire from the field.”

    Joe, I feel like I’m punching a Krusty the Clown doll.

    “Again, I cannot believe I have to explain to a Reason regular that idustrialization increases wealth.”

    The problem is the means of accomplishing the industrialization, i.e., central planning. The industrialization in Stalin’s USSR was to increase the military capacity of the USSR, not to improve the lives of ordinary Russians. Central planning produces what central planners want (or think society needs)-not what consumers want or need.

  28. “To be blunt, the critique is meaningless. It is a bit like saying that American markets developed in large part due British and French capital (which it did), and in that way America in the 19th century was a parasite on British and French capital markets.”

    Nonsense.

    The Soviets never paid back the investors. The USSR was never based upon anything but theft.

    “Finally, your Lend-Lease critique is also a point without meaning; especially given how lend-lease was also offered to the UK, France and other nations, and how none them repaid the U.S.”

    Let’s see.

    Stalin’s industrialzation is supposed to have provided the USSR with “a territorial security absent in all history”, yet this “territorial security” was based upon US aid. It is indeed a critique with meaning.

    “I suppose if your point was that the USSR could not “survive” (or at least “succeed”) on its own without the “help” of other nations, then I would also make the equally valid point that I cannot of another country – capitalist or otherwise – where the same condition also doesn’t hold true.”

    I’d say that the US could survive and succeeed without any other nation. Not with the current level of prosperity, but survive and succeeed nonetheless. Countries such as France and England would require an external source of natural resources, but that’s due to a lack of natural resources. The USSR couldn’t survive on its own regardless of natural resources.

  29. You know, I’m willing to consider the possibility that maybe Stalin really did upgrade Russia from abject poverty to merely miserable poverty. Of course, I’d have to inspect the evidence before I actually decided one way or another on that claim.

    But I wonder why I should care when it’s clear that he (a) also murdered millions of people, (b) denied any semblance of freedom to the ones he didn’t murder, and (c) pursued economic policies that squashed any hope of further advancement beyond “miserable poverty”.

    Anyway, Joe, I understand your point: You claim it’s a historical fact that Stalin lifted Russia from “abject poverty” to “miserable poverty”. (Adjectives mine, not Joe’s.) You further claim that some people are so blinded by ideology that they can’t acknowledge this historical fact.

    The problem is that (1) We already know that some H&R posters are blinded by ideology (some even make our new poster Sen. Santorum look open-minded) and (2) you picked a really irrelevant point to challenge them on. All you do is feed into bad liberal stereotypes when you challenge them on a fine point about Stalin instead of, say, anything else.

  30. “BTW, I am going to take issue with the notion that Tsarist Russia was the breadbasket of Europe in the early 20th century: starvation and malnutrition were rampant in Tsarist Russia.”

    Actually it was, specifically, the Ukraine that was the “breadbasket of Europe”. But in the early 20th century, both Russia and the Ukraine exported grain.

  31. “You know, I’m willing to consider the possibility that maybe Stalin really did upgrade Russia from abject poverty to merely miserable poverty. Of course, I’d have to inspect the evidence before I actually decided one way or another on that claim.”

    My guess is that the people of the Ukraine who were exporting grain under the Czar but who starved under Stalin wouldn’t agree.

  32. Becoming industrialized bears fruit, there’s no question about that, but proposing that Russia became industrialized because of Stalin isn’t clicking for me. Surely the industrial world would have knocked on Russia’s door with or without Stalin.

    Crediting Stalin with industializing Russia is like crediting the Great Leap Forward with China’s remarkable transformation. Would you not agree, Joe, that Russia became industrialized in spite of Stalin rather than because of him?

  33. I won’t bother making the argument that Stalin actually held back Russia even in economic terms, since his totalitarian regime necessarily hindered the birth of a more capitalist economy that may have been better for the country than 70 years of hell. Also, going from rural peasant to industrial slave is not necessarily a positive tradeoff in terms of quality of life, which I would think everyone could agree is the reason economic progress is a good thing, even if the Reds were able to build some really crappy military equipment.

  34. Don,

    “The Soviets never paid back the investors. The USSR was never based upon anything but theft.”

    Well, to be frank, neither did American railroads and other investments in the 19th century; indeed, economic historians have often been bemused about how foolish investors were and how often they lost money. As to the USSR “never paying anything back,” I would say that the massive sacrifice of Russians, Ukrainians, etc. that oh so aided the allied war effort, and considerably weakened the Nazis, was payback enough. Or rather, ask yourself this question, imagine a D-Day where the Soviet Union was defeated in 1940 or 1941.

    “Stalin’s industrialzation is supposed to have provided the USSR with ‘a territorial security absent in all history,’ yet this “territorial security” was based upon US aid. It is indeed a critique with meaning.”

    Maybe if you actually addressed my point we could have a useful conversation. The above qoutation is not my claim; now address my statement.

    “I’d say that the US could survive and succeeed without any other nation. Not with the current level of prosperity, but survive and succeeed nonetheless. Countries such as France and England would require an external source of natural resources, but that’s due to a lack of natural resources. The USSR couldn’t survive on its own regardless of natural resources.”

    This is conjecture and does not undermine my point.

    Don,

    The Ukraine was not the “breadbasket of Europe” in the early 20th century. In the early 20th century every nation in Europe – except the UK – still in large part fed itself; this is especially true of Germany and France, and even more so of far less developed regions of Europe (Italy, Spain, eastern Europe, etc.).

    Anyway, Argentina and the US were far larger exporters of food (beef and grains for example) than Russia was in the early 20th century. Russia’s (including the Ukrain) dominance in the area began to decline the 1890s partly due to the horribly ineffecient agricultural sector they had.

  35. thoreau hits upon the far more interesting question that the criticized author appears to have been getting at, and something which I and my classmates in a seminar on Soviet industrialization wrestled with for several months – was the approach Stalin took towards industrialization worth the cost in human lives, the environment, etc.?

    I mean, if the extent of your conversations about the USSR is that it was a bad, bad place – which is Don’s line, and the line of the writer of the article – then you aren’t going to have a particularly interesting or illuminating conversation. Indeed, what one gets is the same sort of PC talk that liberals are accused of so often.

  36. Gary-

    Maybe all scholarly discussions of the Soviet Union should begin with all participants signing a document to the effect that:

    “________ acknowledges that the Soviet Union was an awful and tyrannical place and that nothing can justify the mass murder and oppression committed by the Soviet dictators. Any statements made about the Soviet Union are subject to that caveat. Any statement about economic, technological, or cultural advancement in the Soviet Union is only part of an attempt to understand exactly how such progress occurred under such ghastly conditions, and should not in any way be interpreted as praise for the Soviet leaders. Any seemingly positive statements about Soviet leaders and/or policies are merely made to point out that some leaders and/or policies lacked certain flaws, or did not have those flaws to the egregious degree that others did. At no point should the undersigned be construed as expressing support for the Soviet Union.”

    Sort of like I do sometimes when posting on this forum.

  37. “Don, either show some evidence that the GDP of the Soviet Union didn’t grow exponentially during the period of industrialization, or retire from the field.”

    Read this:

    “Because of one-sided emphasis on investment in industrial expansion, agriculture, housing, clothing, and other areas of consumer production were relatively neglected. The real wages of workers declined and apparently did not again reach the level of 1928 until the late 1950’s. In other words, Soviet economic planners could not rely on a rising standard of living as a stimulus to raise levels of labor productivity but had to try to attain the same ends through persuasion or coercion.”

    From:

    http://mars.acnet.wnec.edu/~grempel/courses/stalin/lectures/EconDev.html

    To the above explanation, I’d add that Soviet planners lacked the information (or simply didn’t care) to produce what people actually wanted or needed.

    The the point is that Soviet GDP figures misses the point; production for production’s sake is idiotic (although it would seem to fit in with your New Deal mindset). The point of producing somthing is to produce something someone wants. When central planners are deciding what gets produced, that gets thrown out the window. Hence, we get a USSR that effectively drives farmers off of farms so that they can produce tanks or what have you.

    Of course, GG might point out that in America people also left farms for industry, and he would be right. And he would also (as usual) miss the point: in a free market prices determine what tasks will be rewarded. Farmers only leave the farm for industy when the market values the outputs of industry more than the outputs of the farm: i.e., when there is enough to eat.

    Joe type central planners can pretend that industrialization is always the right answer. That’s false: the right answer is the free market answer.

  38. Don,

    “Joe type central planners can pretend that industrialization is always the right answer. That’s false: the right answer is the free market answer.”

    That’s a bullshit cheap shot and you know it; joe has not advocated central planning in this discussion. Either be honest or shut the fuck up cretin.

  39. “As to the USSR “never paying anything back,” I would say that the massive sacrifice of Russians, Ukrainians, etc. that oh so aided the allied war effort, and considerably weakened the Nazis, was payback enough. Or rather, ask yourself this question, imagine a D-Day where the Soviet Union was defeated in 1940 or 1941.”

    Actually, I’d rather imagine not getting involved in WW2 in the first place. I’d just as soon sit back and let the Nazis and Soviets fight it out.

  40. Don,

    With all the repercussions that would have? Such the real extermination of every Jew in Europe? The capitulation of the UK? Inceasing mass-enslavement of millions more people under the Nazi regime? I find it particularly humorous that in your absolute hatred of the USSR you join sides with the Nazis. Indeed, you’ve taken on the cause of those who supported the rise of Nazism in the 1930s – that it would be a bulwark against the Soviets; congratulations, you are now Vichy French!

    Furthermore, the post-WWII settlement that lasted in 1989 might not have been the greatest thing in the world, but it is better – as far as I can tell – than a Europe dominated wholly by the Nazis (as to one only partly dominated by the Soviets).

    Don, BTW, I should note that if you ever used the “defeat of Nazism” as a analogy for the invasion of Iraq, then that particular argument has just been tossed out the window.

  41. “That’s a bullshit cheap shot and you know it; joe has not advocated central planning in this discussion. Either be honest or shut the fuck up cretin.”

    Any defense of Soviet industrial growth is a defense of central planning. After all, the Soviet industrial growth was all based upon central planning. Producing things that the state wants, even if it means less of what people want or need. So sure, he’s defending central planning. So are you.

    In any case, Joe is a New Deal type, who IIRC is a city planner of some sort. He has central planning written all over him. That’s why he thinks industrialization is a good thing in and of itself, without regard to actual market demand.

  42. “Furthermore, the post-WWII settlement that lasted in 1989 might not have been the greatest thing in the world, but it is better – as far as I can tell – than a Europe dominated wholly by the Nazis (as to one only partly dominated by the Soviets).”

    The Nazis would’t have lasted until 1989. They would have collapsed after Hitler’s death. Hell, Hitler chose Donetz–who wasn’t a Nazi–to replace him.

    In any case, the Communists murdered many more people than the Nazis ever did.

  43. Don-

    Ysay that Joe is mounting a “defense” of Soviet industrial growth. It sounds to me more like Joe is simply asserting the existence of such growth. There is a difference.

    Nonetheless, it seems to me that in this thread Joe is doing everything in his power to reaffirm the stereotype that liberals are Commie sympathizers. I don’t think Joe is in fact such a person, but he’s desperately trying to reinforce the stereotype. And Don is being as stubborn as he can be, and making as many unfair statements about Joe as he can.

    In physics parlance, Joe and Don are using this thread as a particle/anti-particle annihilation process. They are opposites that cancel out, and afterwards information is destroyed and all that remains is heat.

  44. Correction:

    My first sentence should begin with “You say…”, not “Ysay…”

  45. Mona,

    First, the man’s name is Genovese (Eugene D. Genovese). His most famous work is Roll, Jordan, Roll. I happen to have met both men.

    Oh, and my name is Gary Gunnels.

    First of all, this is a very different charge than what the reviewer went into; so this is not really a defense of the reviewer, its more of a demonstration of a poor review.

    And let’s be certain what Foner was outraged about; not that someone was stating that Stalin was a mass-murderer, but the claim that this was never acknowledged.

    “Never mind that Foner trashed Ronald Radosh when left-winger Radosh concluded in a 1983 book that the Rosenbergs were guilty.”

    How is denying Stalin’s crimes linked to doubt about the guilt of the Rosenbergs? Also, using the word “trashed” is highly subjective in nature. Did he really trash it, or did he merely disagree with it?

    “…makes ‘the American Communist Party into a heroic organization that profoundly changed America for the better.'”

    Well, I even have to admit that this is the case; for example, communists were involved in the Scottsboro boy case (indeed, they paid for their defense – a defense which was likely the best that one could get in America at the time), which brought about a series of Supreme Court decisions that helped lead to the end of all-white juries in the South, raised awareness about the plight of blacks in the South, and of course saved the lives of nine innocent men. Also the case led to reforms in the nature and competency of counsel for criminal defendents. So yes, I can see a lot of good coming out of the CPUSA.

    Does this mean that I wholly agree with Foner’s statement? No. Do I think that his statement is wholly without merit or is a lie? No. That’s his particular take on the issue, and there is evidence to support such.

    Garvin’s review was poorly done.

  46. Don,

    “Any defense of Soviet industrial growth is a defense of central planning.”

    Not really; I can state that some benefit came from it, while at the same time stating that I don’t think it was the best way of going about things. Which is what I have done. You are letting ideology get in the way of clear thinking; well, and being dishonest to boot.

  47. Don,

    “The Nazis would’t have lasted until 1989.”

    That’s pure conjecture on your part.

    “They would have collapsed after Hitler’s death.”

    Again, pure conjecture.

    “In any case, the Communists murdered many more people than the Nazis ever did.”

    Most of whom died prior to WWII I might add (at least with regard to the USSR).

    Look, your option is to allow the Nazis to control all of Europe; again, I’ll take the post-WWII settlement over that any day.

  48. * Hitler chose Admiral Donitz mainly because his first option — Goering — had a few weeks before urged he surrender, negotiate, something to that effect. This totally pissed the silly mustache off.

    * Joe’s arguments seem to depend on the false premise that Russia was a backwards, backwards, backwards place before 1917. It was a common image back then, and remains up till now, but it’s false. Industrialization, legal reforms and the like were abounding. Let’s not forget the commies only got as far as they could because they were originally a faction of a faction of a faction of a broad group that ended tsarism but (among other things) wasn’t smart enough to get out of WWI to create stability.

  49. Don,

    “Any defense of Soviet industrial growth is a defense of central planning.”

    Stating that industrial growth happened in the USSR is hardly a defense of the Soviet system; stating that some benefits may have been derived from such is not a defenseof the Soviet system. Now if to defend it I would have to state that Soviet industrialization was right and proper, and otherwise the best means to go about industrialization. I have not stated that; I have stated that I believe that the benefits weren’t worth the cost. If stating the latter is a “defense” of central planning, then its a weak defense indeed.

    “After all, the Soviet industrial growth was all based upon central planning.”

    That’s not even true; it really depends on the era you are discussing. During Stalin’s rapid industrialization this is more true than during the 1960s and 1970s, when planning was de-centralized.

    “Producing things that the state wants, even if it means less of what people want or need.”

    Hmm, well, when did I ever write anything about that?

    “So sure, he’s defending central planning. So are you.”

    Again, you are mischaracterizing my statements.

    “In any case, Joe is a New Deal type, who IIRC is a city planner of some sort. He has central planning written all over him. That’s why he thinks industrialization is a good thing in and of itself, without regard to actual market demand.”

    Instead of just making things up about people, I tend to just ask them straight out what they think about a subject. That tends to work better for me.

  50. Well, Joe, I’ll quote from Haynes and Klehr, from their book Garvin reviews: “There would be — and deservedly so — an uproar should a scholarly journal publish an essay with the passage, ‘The sophisticated design of Nazi totalitarianism has perhaps not been fully appreciated. However brutal, it was a remarkable human achievement despite its flaws.'”

    There are those who argue exactly thus, about Hitler’s Germany (they just do not do so in well-respected acadmeic journals). Many people dismiss them as cranks and/or anti-Semitic bigots who place their ideology ahead of truth and common decency. I’m one of those many, and am so whether the murderous tyrant and his “achievments” is Hitler or Stalin.

    So, if I’m P.C. about Stalin, I am also so about Hitler. And I can live with that.

    –Mona–

  51. Cisco,

    Though industrialization and economic progress were underway in Russia before WWI, they largely remained foreign to the lives of most Russians. And of course WWI dealt a serious blow to such; indeed, the economic dislocations of that war were a primary reason for both the February and October revolutions, the Bolsheviks in the latter exploiting worker and soldier resentment over the continuation of the war under the provisional government led by Kerensky.

    Russia was a backward place in the early 20th century; hell, it remained so under the Soviets. There is a great book about Magnitogorsk (this huge steel factory in the Urals) which details how backward the USSR remained up to its collapse (factory workers still living in tents, no running water, etc. – at one of the USSR’s premiere steel factories).

    Again, the more interesting question is not whether there were some benefits to Soviet industrialization – these are undeniable – but whether the means by which it was undertaken was worth the hell it put the Russian, etc. people through.

  52. Mona,

    “There would be — and deservedly so — an uproar should a scholarly journal publish an essay with the passage, ‘The sophisticated design of Nazi totalitarianism has perhaps not been fully appreciated. However brutal, it was a remarkable human achievement despite its flaws.'”

    Ahh, there have been several articles on Nazi production techniques – one concerned cement factories as I recall – in the journal Technology & Civilization (the premiere history of technology journal) that discussed the sophisticated nature of Nazi production techniques, and the use of slave labor in such. Sorry, but your paucity of knowledge makes you into a fool.

  53. Gary, I am a wretched typist and probably too tired to acquit myself well in a discussion; I jumped in only because I am avidly interested in this subect and it will soon scroll into archives. In any event, I do apologize for mispelling your name, as well as Genovese’s.

    And actually, I agree with you that the CPUSA was in some respects a force for good. (That Richard Wright joined the CPUSA is hardly surprising; a gifted black man was embraced and accepted there as he was not by the larger culture.)But it also took its orders from Moscow, and literally ran a strict Party line. That included denying the sheerly monstrous murders and purges that went on under Jospeh Stalin, and it also included recruitment for and the performance of espionage against the United States.

    It turns out that the right — and the significant leftwing anti-communist movement in the U.S. — was correct about much where the U.S.S.R and domestic communists were concerned. This is a bitter pill for many to swallow, and many are prety much gagging on it. I encourage you to read Haynes and Klehr’s book.

    –Mona–

  54. “Stating that industrial growth happened in the USSR is hardly a defense of the Soviet system;”

    I didn’t say “defense of the Soviet system”, I said defense of central planning.

  55. Gary-

    You might want to post here a little more before you call Mona a fool. A little more time reading her posts might convince you otherwise.

    To be honest, I was enjoying your participation in this thread until you did that.

  56. Well Gary, I was quoting two eminent historians, and am willing to take their word for it that no reputable scholarly journal would examine Hitler’s production achievements by coupling them with the apologia that however brutal his murderous reign was, damn, he really got the goods going. If I am a fool for quoting them, I like the company.

    –Mona–

  57. thoreau: thanks for the kind words. Since you are one of my favorite posters I especially appreciate them. Gary is right, tho, that my argument about Foner where Stalin is concerned is not supported by my parenthetical point that he condemned Radosh’s book about the Rosenbergs (Radosh co-wrote it w/ Joyce Milton.)

    I’ve been waiting for Garvin’s book review to become H&R fodder, and am sorry that it did so when I am in such poor form from severe lack of sleep. (I’d be in bed now, but do not wish to be up at 4 a.m.)

    As an aside to Gary, he may be right about the title of Genovese’s most acclaimed book, but I had thought it was “Time Upon the Cross.” I read it as an undergrad and was given to understand it was his greatest work, but this is not my particular field of expertise, and I could be recalling incorrectly.

    –Mona–

  58. Mona,

    “And actually, I agree with you that the CPUSA was in some respects a force for good. (That Richard Wright joined the CPUSA is hardly surprising; a gifted black man was embraced and accepted there as he was not by the larger culture.)But it also took its orders from Moscow, and literally ran a strict Party line. That included denying the sheerly monstrous murders and purges that went on under Jospeh Stalin, and it also included recruitment for and the performance of espionage against the United States.”

    Well, that’s one of the problems with most things historical; they can be both beneficial and detrimental. For example, in the long run can we argue that the growth of capitalism in the 19th century wasn’t greatly beneficial? Yet the cost to individuals and groups was at times staggering. Of course one must weigh those costs against the benefits; as well as the costs of the events not occuring at all (which involves one in the whole debate of whether a 18th century peasant’s life was better than a 19th century industrial worker’s life on average).

    “It turns out that the right — and the significant leftwing anti-communist movement in the U.S. — was correct about much where the U.S.S.R and domestic communists were concerned. This is a bitter pill for many to swallow, and many are prety much gagging on it.”

    Well, its not particularly bitter for me; I accept that Stalin’s regime was monsterous, totalitarian, vicious, etc. But for me the discussion doesn’t end there.

    As to the statements concerning Nazi production methods, the authors are flat wrong (just as some “eminent” historians were wrong about the CPUSA not being at least partly a front from Soviet spying). Again I direct you to the journal Tecnology & Civilization; they’ve got their own website (hosted by Johns Hopkins as I recall) and you can peruse the articles published in the journal by title. One should concern Nazi cement factories. Besides, I do not see what’s wrong with say that “x” production method, or whatever, was done effeciently. In the field of slave studies we remark all the time on such things as production capacity, the nature labor regimes as they relate to certain types of crops, etc. To me it seems rather bizarre that an author would be attacked for making such a statement, and the only reason I can think for such an attack is it gets on someone’s “PC nerve.”

    The authors of “Time on the Cross” (two volumes) are Robert Fogel & Stanley Engerman. Robert Fogel won the Nobel prize in Economics in part due to this work; along with “Without Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery” (four volumes). Both of those works come with companion volumes that detail methods, sources, etc. he (and his many graduate students) uses to do his cliometrics.

    My masters thesis dealt with slavery and reconstruction. I’ve also done some work concerning early modern Europe (particularly early modern Britain, France and Denmark), and my undergraduate concentrations were in Russian/Soviet history (mostly Soviet), American colonial & revolutionary history & ancient Greece.

    Don,

    Alright then, I will amend my statement:

    “Stating that industrial growth happened in the USSR is hardly a defense of central planning.”

    They still end up denying the same damn thing; I mean, if the extent of argument has devolved into quibbling over word choice, then I can safely ignore you know.

    thoreau,

    You are likely correct.

  59. Gary writes: “”And let’s be certain what Foner was outraged about; not that someone was stating that Stalin was a mass-murderer, but the claim that this was never acknowledged.”

    Well, Haynes and Klehr state, “Responding to Genovese, Eric Foner insisted that ‘the question’ of Communist crimes had been discussed in his ‘Old Left family’ ever since 1956. Since several Foners in this family were historians, it is striking that it took Nikita Kruschev’s 1956 admission for them to begin to credit the voluminous information about Stalin’s crimes that was publicly available before then…In other words, …the Foners did not credit the overwhelming evidence of Stalin’s crimes until an authoritative SOVIET leader, Nikita Kruschev, ruled that they were crimes.” (emphasis in original)

    Even then, as Haynes and Klehr point out, the nature and extent of the crimes continued to be downplayed by pro-communist American historians in terms of both absolute numbers and of relative importance (they document this), and the fact of domestic communist spies was also denied to the bitter end. Now that this denial is no longer tenable, the contortions some revisionist historians are going through are amusing to watch. And I have to say again, I loved Garvin’s review for the fun he has with said contortions. His review is more sarcastic than I usually care for, but in my view, the sarcasm is justified. (Robert Conquest SHOULD have retitled his book “I Told You So, You Fucking Fools.”)

    Foner did not care for a post-U.S.S.R. Moscow exhibit about the Gulag, and as Garvin acidly inquires, “why should anyone care about THAT?” No, Foner frets about “the obsessive need to fill in the blank pages in the history of the Soviet era.” Um, Foner IS a historian, right? And understands that the job description has a whole lot to do with filling in blank pages of history?!

    –Mona–

  60. Mona,

    Also, Fogel was part of that line University of Chicago professors who won the Nobel prize in economics 1990-1993; Ronald Coase is included in that group. John Nash & his fellow recepients broke the string in 1994; though Lucas got Chicago a prize in 1995. I think that was the last year for a Chicago scholar.

  61. Mona,

    The basis of my statements stem from what you write of the book; if you keep on changing the story on me that’s really not my fault.

    Were the atrocities (their nature and extent) of the Soviets well known prior to the “secret speech?”

    Furthermore, given that knowledge of the extent of soviet spying was not known until the 1990s, I don’t particularly see how denial before the information comes to light is all that damning. In fact, since no one knew either way – as the Venona files, etc. remained secret until just recently – any claim either way was at best conjecture.

  62. Gary–I have to disagree with your statement that CPUSA did a lot of good. They didn’t. I really think that we all would have been just fine had they not gotten any traction whatsoever, or if Moscow had let them drift.

    This is different than saying they were eternally wrong viz things like the Scottsboro boys….Jim Crow was wrong. But I suspect integration and the broader civil rights movement would have been able to succeed without their empathies.

    I cannot recall–I want to think it was Radosh, but maybe it was his buddy Peter Collier, who once compiled a chart of all the crappy, wrong and wrong-headed orgs that CPUSA (read: Moscow) backed. It was extensive.

    A lot of good? no. Right on a select few things ….yes.

    Please be more careful.

  63. Garvin keeps making the same mistake. “They say X is true. But Y is true. Therefore, X wasn’t true.” He does this, even when the people he criticizes state that both X and Y are true.

    For example, the Clark University professor states that Stalin improved the material quality of life of Russians and gave the country the highest degree of territorial security it has ever known. He also says that Stalin slaughtered people on a world war level scale, that the price of these achievements was very high. These are all true statements, but because he acknowledges facts that Gavin would prefer to ignore, he is accused of ignoring something which is clearly a central part of his thesis.

    Not exactly a great advancement for historical understanding.

  64. joe,

    Stalin slaughtering millions of people is a negative fact used against Stalin.

    ‘Giving “territorial security” to Russians who could be taken away from their homes to disappear for ever’, means what? Is that supposed to counteract the above negative fact?

    ‘improved material quality of life’ – when a guy rules a country for 20-30 years, general material quality of life improves (except may be in North Korea) over that many years. Should Stalin get express credit for that? The ‘positives’ you list are the general norm and are not above ordinary (hence need not be repeated by the author); whereas the ‘negatives’ were too much to be balanced by any ‘good’ Stalin might have done.

    that is the general impression I got from reading the article.

    didn’t realize defending Stalin (although in an indirect manner) was still the in thing (unlike Castro)

  65. I’m not defending Stalin, you ass, I’m criticizing the author’s logic. Though I was wondering how long it would take for some moron to post that charge.

    The economic growth in Russia from the mid 20s (agricultural peasant economy) to the mid 50s (global industrial powerhouse, heavily urbanized) is “the general norm?” Um, no.

  66. Joe,

    There’s certainly some truth to what you say, and without reading the whole book, I don’t know exactly what the author’s response would be. However, from the brief clip offered, it sounds as though Von Laue is not only saying that there was some value and profit to the way Stalin governed, but that the benefits outweighed the costs. The “exorbitant sacrifice of human beings” doesn’t trade off equally with national defense and industrialization, and to suggest that it might reveals a frightening worldview in which human lives are simply pawns that the nation’s ruler has free reign to do with what he will.

    Where else did the author make the same error? It sounded from your post like he made at least three or four.

  67. joe,

    you can’t openly defend Stalin; so you criticize the author’s logic when the author was criticizing Stalin. does the author need much “logic” to criticize Stalin for the lives he took?

    haven’t you seen other countries develop from agricultural economies in 1920 to industrial in 1950 without killing millions of their countrymen?

    from the perspective of these deaths, I guess it is not the norm.

    you can be a good liberal AND can criticize communists.

  68. Matthew, here are a few more examples. Garvin presents this as a commie-apologist gotcha phrase: “The sophisticated design of Soviet totalitarianism has perhaps not been sufficiently appreciated.” Noting that it is a sophisticated version of totalitarianism is akin to calling it good? That certainly changes all of the articles I’ve read in National Review that call Al Qaeda’s organization “sophisticated.”

    Or the speculation on the motives of J. Edgar Hoover. We can’t question “May” Hoover’s psychological makeup, or we’re supporting communism? WTF?

    Or the presentation of the KGB’s covert work with the CPUSA as disproving their image as “a collection of amiable folk singers, brave anti-segregationists, and Steinbeckian labor organizers.” This vision of the rank and file couldn’t be correct, because there were agents of Moscow in the leadership. Covert organs don’t take advantage of unrealistic idealists? The guy who put up the flyers was shown in the Venona papers to be a Soviet agent, so Alan Ginsberg couldn’t have been an idealistic dreamer? Again, WTF?

    Garvin claims 350 CPUSA members worked for Moscow. Out of a party of, what, 1 million? The point is, there is no reason to believe that the CPUSA was not both a conspiracy orchestrated from Moscow AND a collection of fluffy headed Hollywood whatevers. But Garvin keeps insisting that only one of these facets is the true one.

    People with so little capacity for adult thought shouldn’t be lecturing others on how to interpret history.

  69. Joe,

    You’re a might bit tetchy today. “Moron”, “so little capacity for adult thought”, …

    Kinda reinforcing my stereotype that lefties resort to ad hominem when things aren’t going their way. Very disappointing.

  70. “People with so little capacity for adult thought shouldn’t be lecturing others on how to interpret history.”

    Does this apply to the ridiculous quotes by the academic historians in the article as well?

  71. People who paid attention to Malcolm Muggeridge, Arthur Koestler, Gareth Jones*, and others, would have seen contemporary accounts of the Ukrainian Holodomor, or terror-famine. Of course, leftoids were listening to frauds such as Walter Duranty, who fooled the Pulitzer committee. That collectivization was a brutal tool that could in some circumstances be adjudged genocide should have been evident in the 1930’s. Years after the Secret Speech, some leftists still refused to blame Stalin for this, condemning Robert Conquest’s work.

    In Duranty’s infamous phrase, “You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.”

    Kevin

    * http://colley.co.uk/garethjones/soviet_articles/soviet_manmade_famine.htm

  72. rod,

    Well, as I wrote, that is a matter of opinion; but its not so far out there (again, based on things like the Scottsboro boys trial, etc.) that Foner is loony. I am defending his opinion as credible; that doesn’t mean that I share it. One of the great things you learn as a historian – or least what I learned as one – is that you can come to very different, quite credible conclusions in light of the same or similar information. It tends to skewer ideological puritanism.

    kevrob,

    I suppose the question would be whether disagreements with their statements were credible at the time; or rather, whether there was room for credible disagreement in light of the evidence at hand (a lot of people tend to get trapped in ex post facto errors). Anyway, given the heated nature of the debate at the time – just look at how Maurice Hindus and Paul Hollander went after each other – it seems entirely credible for someone to pick either side in the 1930s. This is especially true of people who never went to the USSR. Indeed, think of Chamberlain, who went to the USSR in 1922 for the first time; it took him over ten years to change his position and oppose Soviet methods – and he had direct experience with the place most of that time!

    I suppose the other thing that should be noted is that the some of the most vicious critics of the USSR in the 1930s were of course European liberals and social democrats! Furthermore, American liberals like Dewey, James T. Ferrel were also outspoken critics Stalinism (though they supported Trotsky). So its not as if American liberals at the time spoke with one voice in support of Stalinism.

    Anyway, even though I studied Russian for a time, and was once prepared to embark on a graduate degree in some aspect of Sovietology, its for the reasons that surround this debate that we’ve been having that I stopped that endeavour. It is impossible be neutral or remotely objective about this field of study; one is assailed from the right and the left in this area and it simply makes for a whole of rather silly PC barking that I cannot stand.

  73. I’m reading a fascinating bio of Uncle Joe right now. For a genocidal tyrant, he apparently would have been a smash hit on the karaoke circuit. Who knew?

  74. “I raised the point to refute Garvin’s contention that one cannot both recognize the economic progress that occurred under Stalin and object to state terror.”

    The problem is that you think increasing GDP or industrialization are good things in and of themselves. In fact, they are only good in as much as they serve people’s needs. Hence my quote of:

    “The real wages of workers declined and apparently did not again reach the level of 1928 until the late 1950’s”

    So what if GDP went up in the 20s and 30s if it didn’t benifit the actual people.

  75. “For example, in the long run can we argue that the growth of capitalism in the 19th century wasn’t greatly beneficial? Yet the cost to individuals and groups was at times staggering.”

    In capitalism, you have the choice of working in the factory or on the farm; industrial workers made the best choice they can under the circumstances. And, in the process, the market place is making sure that the most desired items are produced.

    In the USSR, people were forced from farms to factories, and the factories built what the state wanted.

  76. Don,

    “I’ll try to finish at least one more point: poining [sic] out that Stalin attained good GDP figures and claiming that this reflects some form of benifit [sic] IS a defense of central planning”

    There you go inventing arguments for me again. I have as yet to use the term GDP; however, I have mentioned industrialization. Please, don’t conflate joe’s arguments with mine idiot.

    Anyway, my comments centered on industrialization, and how his industrialization scheme led to some benefits. And as I have stated repeatedly, I do not think those benefits were worth the barbaric costs they incurred. Again, if this is a defense of “central planning” – that central planning is not worth costs that it incurs – then it is a rather weak and anemic “defense.” I might suggest a bit of reading for you on the nature of centralized planning – “Seeing Like A State.” It deals with and criticizes centralized planning in a number of contexts – from American agriculture to Soviet industrialization.

    “Further, your pointing out that in the 60s, the Soviets decentralized some of their planning doesn’t impress me very much.”

    It wasn’t supposed to “impress” you; it was supposed to demonstrate that central planning varied in degree over time (which you didn’t appear to understand earlier). Again, it was a factual statement, it was not meant to argue for or against central planning. If you don’t like me pointing out your errors, then please don’t make them. Also, please, at least keep your statements anchored to the issue at hand.

  77. MALAK,

    Ever read Mao’s horrible poetry? 🙂

  78. Don,

    “…industrial workers made the best choice they can under the circumstances.”

    Which completely avoids my question.

  79. “In capitalism, you have the choice of working in the factory or on the farm…”

    Well, that’s how it works in theory; and the theory has come closer to reality over time of course. But in the 19th century the distance between theory and reality were quite divergent.

    “…industrial workers made the best choice they can under the circumstances.”

    You appear to admitting that they really didn’t have much of a choice.

    “And, in the process, the market place is making sure that the most desired items are produced.”

    No, humans are. Sorry, but the marketplace is not some disembodied entity or non-corporeal being.

    “In the USSR, people were forced from farms to factories, and the factories built what the state wanted.”

    Which literally has nothing to do with my comment.

  80. No, seriously. Apparently, if he hadn’t gone into the dictator biz, he could have had a career as a professional singer. I have this insane image of a stuporous Stalin skipping lightly to the tune of If I Were a Rich Man . . .

  81. I sorry, but somewhen about 4:00 AM I lost the ability to coherently follow this thread. Let me briefly summarize what I think has been written and then wait for corrections:

    It started out as a critique of an article.

    Joe took issue with the train of logic used by Garvin. It then degraded into an accusation that Joe was defending Stalin.

    Then both Joe and Gary acknowledged that, without justifying the means, there were achievements by both the Stalinist and Nazi regimes. These came at a cost that most civilized beings would agree were both horrendous and abhorrent.

    Mona on the other hand, states that to even acknowledge these achievements, one must be either “cranks and/or anti-Semitic bigots”.

    While I can agree that slamming Joe appears as if it could be fun since I generally disagree with his opinion, I find myself in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with him on something. Not his critique of Garvin’s logic; While it was quite late when I read Garvin’s article, I don’t agree with Joe’s statement that Garvin was denying the accomplishments. As I read it, he took issue with using those accomplishments to try and justify communism.

    And while people who know me might call me an arrogant ass, not even non-friends (not sure I can call them enemies), would call me either a crank or anti-Semitic bigot. Yet, I don’t dismiss the fact that both the Stalinist and Nazi regimes accomplished some things that would be admirable if arrived at by other means. I don’t follow the logic of Mona and some of the others in this discussion, that even acknowledging the accomplishments is endorsing or defending the regime or person. I personally think that both Stalin and Hitler are the best arguments one can have for being in favor of retroactive abortions. A serial killer can love and care for his family with committing atrocities; acknowledging that love doesn’t mean that I admire him or that I wouldn’t push the plunger or throw the switch on him. It is just an acknowledgement of a fact.

    Gavin makes the point that the culture of denial created McCarthyism and that the continued defense of the a discredited and dysfunctional system is leading to the movement to rehabilitate the anti-communists of the middle of the last century. We will probably see the same culture of denial from the rehabilitants. I don’t want to see history repeat itself (if it isn’t already – the Patriot Act comes to mind), because both sides refuse to acknowledge the facts of what happened.

  82. I sorry, but somewhen about 4:00 AM I lost the ability to coherently follow this thread. Let me briefly summarize what I think has been written and then wait for corrections:

    It started out as a critique of an article.

    Joe took issue with the train of logic used by Garvin. It then degraded into an accusation that Joe was defending Stalin.

    Then both Joe and Gary acknowledged that, without justifying the means, there were achievements by both the Stalinist and Nazi regimes. These came at a cost that most civilized beings would agree were both horrendous and abhorrent.

    Mona on the other hand, states that to even acknowledge these achievements, one must be either “cranks and/or anti-Semitic bigots”.

    While I can agree that slamming Joe appears as if it could be fun since I generally disagree with his opinion, I find myself in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with him on something. Not his critique of Garvin’s logic; While it was quite late when I read Garvin’s article, I don’t agree with Joe’s statement that Garvin was denying the accomplishments. As I read it, he took issue with using those accomplishments to try and justify communism.

    And while people who know me might call me an arrogant ass, not even non-friends (not sure I can call them enemies), would call me either a crank or anti-Semitic bigot. Yet, I don’t dismiss the fact that both the Stalinist and Nazi regimes accomplished some things that would be admirable if arrived at by other means. I don’t follow the logic of Mona and some of the others in this discussion, that even acknowledging the accomplishments is endorsing or defending the regime or person. I personally think that both Stalin and Hitler are the best arguments one can have for being in favor of retroactive abortions. A serial killer can love and care for his family with committing atrocities; acknowledging that love doesn’t mean that I admire him or that I wouldn’t push the plunger or throw the switch on him. It is just an acknowledgement of a fact.

    Gavin makes the point that the culture of denial created McCarthyism and that the continued defense of the a discredited and dysfunctional system is leading to the movement to rehabilitate the anti-communists of the middle of the last century. We will probably see the same culture of denial from the rehabilitants. I don’t want to see history repeat itself (if it isn’t already – the Patriot Act comes to mind), because both sides refuse to acknowledge the facts of what happened.

  83. How about “Springtime for Hitler”?

  84. Don, rising GDP is a good thing. It is always a good thing. Other bad things may be happening around it, or in conjunction with it, but that does not mean that making people wealthier is, itself, a bad thing. Providing things people want is one benefit of economic activity, but paying wages that allow workers to buy what they want is another benefit.

    Let’s say I rescued you from a burning building, while wearing a little chiffon number. And I saw that you were in need of rescuing because I passed your building on the way to meet Sen. Santorum at the beagle molestation meeting. Do those two factors mean it is bad for me to rescue you from a burning building?

  85. on the way to meet Sen. Santorum at the beagle molestation meeting

    Wow! My impersonations of Sen. Santorum are spurring references on this forum. Sweet!

  86. Anything but Memories is fine by me . . .

  87. on the way to meet Sen. Santorum at the beagle molestation meeting

    Wow! My impersonations of Sen. Santorum are spurring references on this forum. Sweet!

  88. I do not advocate for central state planning of the economy, nor do I believe that Stalin’s economic policies were the best way to go about industrialization. I raised the point to refute Garvin’s contention that one cannot both recognize the economic progress that occurred under Stalin and object to state terror.

    I think Don’s assumption that urban planning MUST have something to do with central economic planning pretty demonstrates the problem with his thinking. You’d do well to engage the arguments that are being made, and not assume that some other argument is being made because what you read reminds you of something else.

  89. Gary makes good points about how controversial the Soviet experiment was within the broader left in the 1930’s, but it cannot be denied that many important journalists and commentators were willful participants in transmitting propaganda favorable to the regime to the western public. Others who never went to the USSR refused to believe any reports that cast it in a bad light. My harshest criticism is directed at those who knew what was going on, but rationalized the deaths and destruction of civil liberties as a necessity of the revolution, and kept quiet.

    Some were dupes or “useful idiots.” Others were so committed to the Marxist enterprise that they excused it anything.

    Kevin

  90. Gary: have you read Chambers and Bentley as primary sources? Do you think it was ever credible to deny them both as nutjobs? If they told the truth, all else followed, early on.

    –Mona–

  91. >>Mona on the other hand, states that to even acknowledge these achievements, one must be either “cranks and/or anti-Semitic bigots”.

  92. that did not post.
    I am so sick of the problems on this board — H&R, get a clue.

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