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Andrew Mason





Joined: 18 Sep 2006
Posts: 4
Reputation: 12.4

PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 7:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't really understand Donald's point about not discussing the true numbers of Stalin's victims (possibly as high as 20 million) simply because "I tend to find that such exaggeration is connected with ideas that fascism was somehow less of a threat than Communism".

First of all, one could argue that fascism and communism were essentially two sides of the same coin: both embraced anti-traditionalism (despite propagandising the past where appropriate for the "cause"), anti-conservatism, both were also utopian and practised aggressive social engineering. Little surprise then that both "movements" were responsible for such misery. However, Donald's point also brings up the issue of whether fascism and national socialism are one and the same (and here I am assuming that he was equating fascism and national socialism) - there are (distinguished not revisionist!) scholars who note that the definition of "fascism" used by historians and pundits (i.e. authoritairan, autarkist, nationalist/chauvinist) would apply equally to Mussolini and Mao, Castro and Hitler, Franco and Stalin.

BUT - more importantly, how does commemorating the victims of communism somehow suggest fascism was less of a threat? This is a odd approach to take. Both communism and fascism/national socialism were historical blights - admitting the extent of the crimes of the one does not make the other seem more attractive. At least not to a rational observer.
Donald Hughes





Joined: 02 Sep 2006
Posts: 166
Reputation: 16.2Reputation: 16.2
Location: Libertarian socialism

PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I don't really understand Donald's point about not discussing the true numbers of Stalin's victims (possibly as high as 20 million) simply because "I tend to find that such exaggeration is connected with ideas that fascism was somehow less of a threat than Communism".
I never said that the true numbers were unimportant. I said that the exaggerated margins (20 million is exaggerated) are typically connected with ideological arguments that conflate fascism with Communism, or worse try to say that Communism is somehow "worse" than fascism. They also seem unable to accept that there were profound successes in some areas of policy under Communist leadership in places like China. But arguing these things ends up with a lot of people criticizing you as if you think Mao didn't commit crimes. Of course Mao committed crimes, he just didn't deliberately kill tens of millions of people.
Quote:
First of all, one could argue that fascism and communism were essentially two sides of the same coin
And I find this argument to be false, unless you mean from a statist perspective in which certainly capitalist liberal-democracies also have huge tolls to shoulder.
Quote:
both embraced anti-traditionalism (despite propagandising the past where appropriate for the "cause"), anti-conservatism, both were also utopian and practised aggressive social engineering.
Aggressive social engineering was not happening in liberal-democracies as well?
Quote:
there are (distinguished not revisionist!) scholars who note that the definition of "fascism" used by historians and pundits (i.e. authoritairan, autarkist, nationalist/chauvinist) would apply equally to Mussolini and Mao, Castro and Hitler, Franco and Stalin.
Yes, I understand this. There certainly is a part of "Stalinist" Marxist-Leninist thought that fuses together nationalism with a strong state. The chief difference is that fascism was a "revolution against the revolution" - it sought to essentially fuse corporate and state power together with a nationalist ideology. It may be described as a tactic of capital and elites in the face of the threat of a system that sought to eliminate or at least displace these elites. To an advanced degree the socialist ideology they claimed to share was functional. In any case, as a supporter of the libertarian-Left I oppose nationalism, statism and other tendencies that are common to a wide range of ideologies.

More to the point, however, the policy of the German state was to systematically murder entire ethnic categories. This is of a wholly different nature than say the unintentional deaths of famine in China or the killing of high-up party members in Russia.
Quote:
BUT - more importantly, how does commemorating the victims of communism somehow suggest fascism was less of a threat? This is a odd approach to take. Both communism and fascism/national socialism were historical blights - admitting the extent of the crimes of the one does not make the other seem more attractive. At least not to a rational observer.
Perhaps you have been fortunate enough not to encounter such arguments as frequently as I have. Many people tend to exaggerate estimates of those killed through state policy in the USSR and/or PRC to deliver a much larger number than Nazi Germany. This argument is often taken in two directions. One, popular among the far Right in Europe and elsewhere, is to present German policy as a logical and admirable reaction to the greater threat of Bolshevism. They then argue that we were essentially on the wrong side and should have helped Germany fight Stalin, or that we should have stayed out of it, or at least that Germany needs to be seen as a constrained by the aggression of its neighbours. The second connected argument is to try and undermine the uniqueness of the Holocaust and to try and associate Communism with it somehow by arguing that Stalin or Mao intentionally killed tens of millions of people. Here we get again the idea that somehow Stalin (or Mao) was a greater evil or somehow directly comparable with the crimes of fascism. This is also false.

In any case, I do understand the more narrow splits you may want to make between some "fascism" and specific ideologies like German National Socialism, but they are secondary to my only point: That it wasn't a matter of Stalin simply being some psychopath in some murder contest, and in any case that he didn't kill 25 million people.

Edit: I just noticed this is a massive derail so feel free to ignore it!
Andrew Mason





Joined: 18 Sep 2006
Posts: 4
Reputation: 12.4

PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I said that the exaggerated margins (20 million is exaggerated) are typically connected with ideological arguments that conflate fascism with Communism, or worse try to say that Communism is somehow "worse" than fascism."

There was a Globe and Mail article published on a (but which? I can't remember) anniversary of the retreat from Saigon which tallied the dead caused by fascism (including Nazi Germany, Italy and even people like Franco and Pinochet, I believe) and the dead caused by Communism. Communism had claimed more victims: USSR, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia etc. But this kind of numbers game isn't really useful in determining what is a more baneful ideology.

" They also seem unable to accept that there were profound successes in some areas of policy under Communist leadership in places like China."

There were also successes in fascism (and even Nazism) - I fail to comprehend your point? One can murder but only if it contributes to an alleged "Great Leap Forward"? Walter Laqueur's study of fascism admits there were many "successes" but notes that these hardly justify the regimes themselves.

Quote:
First of all, one could argue that fascism and communism were essentially two sides of the same coin
And I find this argument to be false, unless you mean from a statist perspective in which certainly capitalist liberal-democracies also have huge tolls to shoulder.

How is this argument false? Please explain! To a conservative the ideologies seem very similar.

" The chief difference is that fascism was a "revolution against the revolution" - it sought to essentially fuse corporate and state power together with a nationalist ideology. It may be described as a tactic of capital and elites in the face of the threat of a system that sought to eliminate or at least displace these elites."

Unfortunately, this kind of Marxist or Leftist critique of fascism has been discredited by scholars, see A. James Gregor's Interpretations of Fascism. Fascism was, in essence, every bit as revolutionary as communism - only the hard left assumes that "nationalism" is the essence of anti-revolutionary ideology (e.g. the French Republic was driven by nationalism; so too was the USSR in its early days, when Lenin and co. decided to re-establish the Imperial borders of the Tsars). "Capital" and "elites" (the infamous bogeyman of the left) had little to do with fascism's success - in fact fear of bolshevism had declined by 1922 in Italy AND fascism first took root in the North, and only then spread to the South - where it was indeed welcomed by agrarian landowners. Furthermore, it should be noted that Nazi Germany did not illegalise strikes, and they continued to occur during the Third Reich - infrequently (obviously!) but one wonders if they occured more frequently under Nazism then they did under Communism. It would make an interesting monograph. Finally, under Nazism industry and the "elites" were subject to strict state control. It is unclear upon which course Nazism and fascism would have evolved had they not been defeated, but I imagine their "revolutionary" character would have continued to grow (the Church, the aristocrats, the "elites" would have been dished).

" This is of a wholly different nature than say the unintentional deaths of famine in China or the killing of high-up party members in Russia."

This is a very misleading statement: the millions of deaths caused by Mao were hardly accidental: not only were there monstrous attempts to force collectivisation upon the people, but people were slain for being "reactionaries", for appearing pro-Western and for a whole series of ridiculous, trumped up charges.

The "high-up killings" in Russia (I take it you mean the purges) are not the extent of Soviet atrocities: there was the Stalin-engineered famine in Ukraine; there were the deprivations of War Communism; the destruction of the "successful peasant" class; the mass interning of all Soviet soldiers at one time captured by the Germans; the "reprisals" against ethnic communities within the USSR that were accused (sometime with merit other times without merit) of aiding the Germans; the mass shootings carried out by the Cheka and then the NKVD (by the time the KGB came about the worst atrocities had already been committed).

"Here we get again the idea that somehow Stalin (or Mao) was a greater evil or somehow directly comparable with the crimes of fascism. This is also false."

I would have to disagree. Communists liked to play the role of "defender from fascism", but their methods, means and even objectives were very similar. In the eyes of many conservatives, communism remains the greater threat today not because fascism was not evil but because no one in academia, at universities or in large-scale marches today advocates fascism. If they did we should pass similar judgment about them but fascism is truly a dead movement. This is not true about Communism. Communist apologists continue to vocally spread disinformation about the realities of the Red movement, and are seldom contradicted.

So in conclusion: Stalin and Hitler were both evil, their movements very similar. In my eyes modelling yourself after Stalin is as non-sensical as modelling yourself after Hitler or Mussolini.
Neocon Recovery





Joined: 04 Sep 2006
Posts: 3
Reputation: 12.9
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba

PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 12:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Strange for conservatives to be debating Stalin's merits and demerits. In any case, a few thoughts:
1. Stephen Harper and Joseph Stalin have nothing in common in terms of leadership style, point blank, both rhetorically and factually. First, Stalin was a master organizational psychologist: first cultivating his reputation as a 'practiki' (technical worker of the Party apparatus); then assuming Lenin's title by appearing as the most realistic and sensible candidate to the sucession; literally physically liquidating the only serious challenges to his regime from the most independent-minded of the Bolshevik extreme left; after eliminating the threat of Trotsky, assuming the bulk of the Bolshevik extreme left's political position on collectivization and industrialization, regardless of their inhibitions as to how it would have to be implemented; all the while cultivating the more idealistic of the youth of the Party and State, ingratiating himself to the Russian nationalist tradition and paying the price to satisfy the avaricious. By contrast, Harper's style has been to control dissent, incrementally shift the priorities of the right to winnable socially conservative and economically conservative measures and through control of information. Little in common at best.
2. There should be no inhibitions among the political of assessing the merits of someone like Stalin (or even Hitler) on simple matters such as leadership, strategy and domestic policies. This does not discount denunciation of their criminal ventures, which should be assumed from the fact that we are, or profess to be, conservatives. That being said, one understands little of politics if one has not mastered opposing positions.
3. Backbiting bureaucrats referring to 'Stalin Harper' or party members bemoaning the fact that the Party can not be as reactionary as they desire should seriously rethink their positions. What do you expect out of politics??? Without strong organization and the ability to assess what is winnable and what is not, one can only achieve the meandering poll chasing of the Martin Liberals. If that is your path, they should be your party.
jnarvey





Joined: 04 Sep 2006
Posts: 47
Reputation: 17.2Reputation: 17.2
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 12:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why is this topic even being debated? How does one compare a European dictator synonymous with mass murder with a minority-government Canadian Prime Minister in 2006? Seems to me the only similarity is that they were both leaders of countries inhabiting the northern hemisphere.

This is a waste of everybody's time. Darn. Now I've wasted five minutes of my own time. I can't stop. It's going on and on and on and on and on...
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