starting from the top, The Great Terror. This was a time of intense political upheaval, the purges of party and army members, and the killing of thousands of innocent civilians. I should at this point mention that among scholars there is very little debate about whether Stalin killed thousands of people. The debate is about whether you hold Stalin as the only one accountable (Which people in the West do) or whether you take a broader look to it as Stalin was an initiator and the system pervaded due to participation from the masses.
The argument that the West makes is that Stalin was a psychotic mass murderer who wantonly slaughtered millions of his citizens. The reality is that he made choices directly pertaining to the future of socialism, and made those choices in response to stimuli happening at the time. Communists often will argue about his ideology and if what he did was really the correct interpretation of Marx and Lenin. As a communist I cannot accept any criticism of Stalin's work without verifying all primary data pertaining to the question under debate and without considering all versions of facts and events, in particular the version given by the Bolshevik leadership.
Anyway back to the matter at hand. The Great Terror saw thousands of people killed, both innocent civilians, high ranking party members, and army members. At the time internal tensions were still extremely high within the SU. The civil war had only ended a few years prior, with thousands of White Guard Russians dying in defense of the tsar. The Western Powers had rendered assistance to the Whites under in the form of 250,000 troops spread across large portions of Russia. Internally spies sabotaged the limited industrial heart of the country. Truth and trust were in short supply.
The assistance provided to White Russian forces weighed heavily on the minds of the commitern leaders throughout the 20s and 30s, especially the idea of capitalist encirclement, and especially to Stalin who warned of external and internal threats to the country. Additionally, fascism was swiftly on the rise, Hitler was making no bones about his expansionist plans.
One of the big things that precipitated the Russian Revolution was military defeats by the Tsarist government. Its not too difficult to see why Stalin was so worried that the revolution could be overthrown, especially considering Japans imperialist pushing in Manchuria and the rise of fascism. External threats were as much a concern as internal ones.
Stalin and the upper comitern leadership therfor decided to eliminate internal and external threats that would provide a "fifth column" to the enemies invading the Soviet Union. Less a desire to murder randomly to instill terror, and more a desire to prepare the country for war. Most modern interpretations of the Great Terror believe that it was initiated at the top, to deal with close and obvious threats, but then spiraled out of control due to paranoia in Soviet society.
Another thing to realize is that the Soviet Union was a vast vast entity made up of republics. Abuses of human rights thus can be attributed to local implementation. Pointing out the foreign threat does not negate the importance of ideology or Stalins personality, but it remains an important factor in what happened.
As for collectivization. It was a dual implemented policy along with industrialization. Pretty much the entire party leadership, as well as almost every Communist and non-Communist engineers and technical specialists agreed that industrialization was important. Lack of industrialization had cost Russia dearly in WW1 against Germany, and contributed greatly to the military defeats suffered by the Tsar. Thus the dual policies of attempting to grow the agricultural and industrial output of the nation became matters of urgent national importance.
Some things accomplished under the SU (mostly with the basis established by Stalin)
- In a decade the country went from an industrial production of 12% of the US, to a country with 80% of the production of the USA, and 85% of the agricultural production. And then after a devastating war where 1/5 of the country had been demolished by the Nazid, they restored and exceeded that.
- Monetarily the USSR was inherently stable and had a currency more valuable than the dollar, (1.15 dollars over the Cold War)
- Employment was guaranteed, trade unions had the power to veto firings and recall managers and injured workers had job guarantees and sick pay as well as maternity leave
- Free education for all, including higher education (university). And the 10 grade system was in many ways more efficient than the US 12 grade system. The soviet's concerted effort to bring literacy to the more backwards areas of Russia brought literacy to nearly 100%. In 1983, the United States Commission on Excellence in Education published A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Education Reform, in which it said that in regards to education, Americans were falling behind Russia. It is self evident that education significantly dropped in the USSR after capitalist reform (starting in 1986).
Before the Revolution,76% of the people were illiterate, including 88%of the women. Virtually complete illiteracy prevailed among the indigenous populations of Siberia and Soviet Central Asia. Indeed, more than 40 languages had not been reduced to writing at all. Prior to the revolution, only 290,000 Russians possessed any kind of higher education, whereas the 1959 census reported that more than 13 Million citizens had some higher or specialized secondary education, and more than 45 million people had 7-10 years of education....Raising the literacy rate from 24% to 98.5% within the span of a single generation for more than 200 million people would be an achievement in itself if only one language were involved, to say nothing of the severe problems posed by a multilingual society....
To detail the massive character of the Soviet educational effort in Central Asia, the Uzbek Republic, which is the most advanced of the Central Asian areas today, as it was in pre-Revolutionary Russia, provides an apt illustration. Before the Revolution, only 2% of the population was literate. There were no native engineers, doctors, or teachers with a higher education. In short, Central Asia was no different in this respect from most of the colonial dependencies of the European powers, and worse off than many.
Today, in the Uzbek Republic alone, there are 32 institutions of higher learning, more than 100 technicums, 50 special technical schools, 12 teachers' colleges, and 1400 kindergartens. Nearly 2,500,000 children attend school, and more than 50% of its teachers have had some higher education...The rate of literacy is over 95%. The Republic before the Revolution possessed no public libraries: today there are nearly 5,000. The number of books printed in the Uzbek language in 1913 was 118,000;today it approaches 19 million. When this record is compared with that of Iran, Afghanistan, the Arab countries, the states of Southeast Asia, or even Turkey, all of which were at a comparable or more advanced level of educational attainment in 1914, the achievement is impressive...
Vernon V. Aspaturian
Modern Political Systems: Europe
- Free healthcare for all and about twice as many doctors as the USA (and that isn't even counting the countless medical innovations of the USSR:
"Citizens of the USSR have the right to health protection.
This right is ensured by free, qualified medical care provided by state health institutions; by extension of the network of therapeutic and health-building institutions; by the development and improvement of safety and hygiene in industry; by carrying out broad prophylactic measures; by measures to improve the environment; by special care for the health of the rising generation, including prohibition of child labour, excluding the work done by children as part of the school curriculum; and by developing research to prevent and reduce the incidence of disease and ensure citizens a long and active life." (Soviet Constitution, 1936)
Heart-lung transplant, lung transplant, kidney transplant, MRI, Radiological Keratomy, Cadaveric blood-transfusion, blood bank, artificial heart, Gramacidin S, Anthropometric cosmetology, Ilizarov Apparatus, Oxygen cocktail, Excimer laser (can be used as an eye surgery tool), EHF-therapy, experiments in head transplantation, etc.
- State regulated and subsidized food prices; State subsidies kept the price of books, magazines, periodicals, food etc. down
- No segregated housing by income existed (Though sometimes Party members lived in nicer areas). Housing was given for free, if you waited in a line, and in the meantime, apartments were given, (their limited amounts creating communals, the reason being the lack during Czarist Russia and WW 2 destroying almost all that had been built during the 20s and 30) OR if you wanted to get it sooner, you paid a 100 rubles annual fee for a few years (equivalent to a mortgage).
- Excellent public transport: In the USA we can have 1 inch of snow and the trains already have problems arriving and often are an HOUR late, I know from PERSONAL experience. I have never heard a complaint about late trains in the soviet bloc and I have read much and met many. Also the soviet train system was and is still considered one of the worlds best.Stalin turned a backwards nation into one of the worlds superpowers, and to say that all deaths that occurred under his rule can or should be attributed to just him and the Communist Party policies of the time is unfair and does not embrace the true depth of information that is available to us.
Grover Furrs analysis of every accusation of Stalin's "crimes"; msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/vv…
Douglas Tottle analyzing the myth of the Holodomor;
2 seperate papers written by Tauger on the subject of the realities of the Holodmor;
Article summarizing and disputing holodomor myths;
2 articles by Robert Lindsay disputing the lies of Stalin being worse than Hitler;
Bourgeois sources blithely claim that Soviet evidence in support of blaming the Germans for the atrocity was either totally absent or based purely on hearsay evidence of terrorised inhabitants of the region. They don’t mention one piece of evidence which even Goebbels had to admit was a bit of a bummer from his point of view. He wrote in his diary on 8 May 1943,
“Unfortunately, German ammunition has been found in the graves at Katyn … It is essential that this incident remains a top secret. If it were to come to the knowledge of the enemy the whole Katyn affair would have to be dropped. “
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