Why are there so many lies about this period of communist struggle?
Well, I think that’s clear. On the one hand, there were lies about the Soviet Union from the day of the Communist Revolution. To the capitalists, this was bad! The working class seizing power, taking all the property away from the great landowners, the great industrialists, and everybody down to relatively small enterprises, dispossessing the possessors and empowering the dispossessed – this was bad, this was something they didn’t want. This is basically the reason for all anticommunism. The communists threaten the wealth and power of those who are wealthy and powerful, and that’s always the case, so in one sense there’s no mystery.
During the Stalin period, of course, there were tremendous, world-shaking advances made. Agriculture was collectivized, which meant an end to the thousand-year-old cycle of devastating famine in the Russian area. Famine had gone back to at least the period of the early Middle Ages, if not longer than that. The famine of 1932-33 was the last. Collectivization of agriculture was the only way to abolish medieval strip-farming agriculture, which was the predominant mode of agricultural production, peasant agricultural society, even up till the ‘30s and under those circumstances there was no way that famine could ever be abolished. So collectivization of agriculture set the stage for the higher standard of living, the higher standard of living that the Soviet Union and, after the great famine of 1932-33, and Russia today, enjoy. Collectivization of agriculture as a tremendous, world-shaking reform.
Industrialization of this very poor, very unindustrialized country, to the point where they could produce weapons and other goods to defeat Nazi Germany – that was another tremendous step forward. In the 1930s the Soviet Union was still a backward country, after World War 2 it was one of the greatest powers in the world, along with the United States.
There were tremendous reforms in many other areas, certainly: workers had many more rights on the job; much of the leadership of the Bolshevik Party were workers. Women’s rights were promoted tremendously. Certainly, that accelerated the promotion of women’s rights in capitalist countries. Racism was fought and to a large extent overcome in the Soviet Union. There had been lots of racism, not just against Jews but against other people. I mention reforms such as guaranteed vacations, on basic necessities, very low prices for rent, cheap public transportation, old age pensions. There were many, many reforms for working people that were also carried out during the Stalin period. And these were all very positive from the viewpoint of the majority of people of the world.
So I think that in order to try to counter that, to make people hostile to the Soviet Union, including Trotsky, of course, also capitalists need horror stories. They desperately need horror stories to denigrate the history of the Soviet Union. As it turns out, these horror stories are almost uniformly false. I have spent the last 15 years or so avidly researching this period and I have never yet found a crime that Stalin committed. There were plenty of mistakes, but there were no crimes. But crimes are routinely alleged against Stalin and the Soviet leadership of his time, and I think that can only be to make the tremendous achievements of the Soviet Union in that period either fade into the background, or to not mention them at all. And I think that’s clear why there are so many lies.
Now, a word should be said again her about the Trotskyists. Trotsky had a dedicated following of people who thought that he was a real guru, if you want to call it that, who hung on his every word. Trotsky of course wanted to gain political leadership in the Soviet Union, and he didn’t [refuse to] stoop to lying in a wholehearted manner. I have written several books about Trotsky’s lies about the Soviet Union. I have another one that’s about to come out, that should be out in the next couple of months. So Trotsky had his own reasons for lying about Soviet history. He wanted Stalin to look bad, to facilitate, if possible, his own return to power.
Trotsky is long dead, right? He was assassinated. But the Trotskyists remain faithful to his legacy. They continue to repeat falsehoods — completely unprovable falsehoods — about the Soviet Union. And so they sound like and they are like the overtly anticommunist, pro-capitalist, anti-Soviet experts, scholars, and propagandists and media. They have a somewhat different agenda. Nevertheless, it boils down to the same thing. And today, Trotskyists repeat anticommunist lies of the overtly anticommunist scholars and pundits word for word. And in return, Trotskyist scholars are accepted as part of the mainstream. They are tolerated on the outskirts of major journals. Their own journals are considered appropriate vehicles for academic publication, they are embraced within the mainstream of anticommunist publication, because they are in essence anticommunist in the same way, albeit from somewhat different motives than the overt anticommunists.
The Anti-Stalin Paradigm: What is it and why does it exist?
The Anti-Stalin Paradigm (ASP), simply put, is this: In the mainstream field of world history, Russian history, Soviet history, European history, it is illegitimate to say that Stalin was in any way good. It is required that Stalin be called a dictator, a murderer, a mass murderer, no better than Hitler or little better than Hitler. It’s required to say that the Soviet Union at the time was similar to Nazi Germany. And also it is considered illegitimate to prove that Stalin did not commit some crime with which he has been charged. So if some academic figure, even a very conservative, even a fascist or a crypto-fascist, accuses Stalin of some crime, it is considered illegitimate to publish a disproval of that crime of which Stalin has been accused. It just isn’t done. There are a couple of examples of scholars who have gotten away with it, but only by abjectly apologizing for what they have done, only by reiterating their hatred of Stalin, repeating the key words dictator, terrorist, and so on. Basically, those examples are exceptions. So the anti-Stalin Paradigm dominates not only the history of the Soviet Union, but really world history. Our understanding of the history of the 20th century in all of its facets is seriously false as a result of the Anti-Stalin Paradigm.
In the next video, we’ll talk to Grover about the failure of academia to be objective, and the failure of the Left to be Marxist, when studying communist history.