Wednesday, November 30, 2011

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Excellent historian, Keeran, revisits Soviet history

Sorry if you cannot read the below article then check it out at its original source at

http://mltoday.com/subject-areas/books-arts-and-literature/khrushchev-lied-but-what-is-the-truth-1246.html

Excellent writer, Keeran, revisits Soviet history

Written by Roger Keeran writing at the US site  Marxism Leninism Today 

Khrushchev Lied: The Evidence That Every ‘Revelation’ of Stalin’s (and
Beria’s) ‘Crimes’ in Nikita Khrushchev’s Infamous ‘Secret Speech’ to the
20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on February 25,
1956 is Provably False by Grover Furr. Kettering, Ohio: Erythros Press and
Media, 2011. $25.00. Pp. 425.

In 1987 William Morrow and Company published a biography of a leading
Soviet Communist, L. M. Kaganovich, written by Stuart Kahan, an American
journalist and allegedly Kaganovich’s nephew, who claimed to have
interviewed Kaganovich in Yiddish in Moscow and who portrayed Kaganovich as
the “architect” of Soviet terror.[1] In a blurb a Yale historian praised
the book as “an important contribution.”

A few years later, Kaganovich’s daughter and five other close relatives of
Kaganovich issued a statement that they never heard of this so-called
nephew, that Kaganovich did not understand or speak Yiddish, and that no
interview with Kahan ever occurred. They detailed lies that riddled the
book from beginning to end.[2]

This episode was emblematic of the difficulty of knowing Soviet history. No
modern history is more lacking in reliable official sources or more
shrouded in ideology, propaganda and disinformation than the history of the
Soviet Union. Even though the Soviet archives were briefly and partially
opened to researchers in the 1990s, the lack of official archival material
remains a problem, and the end of the Cold War only slightly diminished the
anti-Soviet vitriol of most writing.

On the whole, writing on the Soviet Union represented what a mainstream
historian has called the “totalitarian thesis.”[3] According to this
thesis, the Soviet Union could only be understood as a top-down
dictatorship driven by power hunger and paranoia that sustained itself by
arbitrary authority and violence. Leon Trotsky’s writing on the Soviet
Union supplied the original inspiration for the totalitarian thesis [4],
and Hanna Arendt gave it an academic imprimatur in 1951.[5]

After Nikita Khrushchev’s so-called secret speech to the 20th Congress of
the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1956 supplied the thesis with
seemingly unimpeachable verification from the inside, the totalitarian
thesis became the dominant academic paradigm as found in the works of its
most prolific and influential expostulators, Robert Conquest and Roy
Medvedev.

Starting in the 1990s, Soviet scholarship experienced a change. Researchers
for a time gained access to the Soviet archives, and studies emerged that
historians J. Arch Getty and Roberta T. Manning called “anomalous” to the
totalitarian paradigm.[6] Historian after historian found that the
repression was not nearly as widespread as Conquest and others had
proposed, that previous estimates of the number of victims of Soviet,
figures of 20 million or 12 million or 10 million or 7 to 8 million
victims, were simply phantasmagorical.[7]

According to historians J. Arch Getty and Oleg V. Naumov, a careful
examination of archival records revealed that the number of persons shot
during the repression of 1937-38 at 681,692, and adding those who died in
prison and exile “we reach a figure of nearly 1.5 million deaths due to
repression in the 1930s.”[8] These are large numbers to be sure but nowhere
near the previous exaggerations. Other studies, from those of telephone
directories in Leningrad to census data confirmed that previous estimates
vastly overstated the size of the repression.

Still other studies discovered that the repression did not simply emanate
from the top but developed a life of its own in factories, local party and
government organizations and the army, where the accused were most often
officials and where the repression, as ironic as it sounds, was accompanied
by growing democracy at the grassroots level.[9]

Also, the repression occurred in the context of economic problems,
industrial sabotage, and plots against the regime. According to Getty and
Naumov, three opposition groups actively conspired against the Stalin
regime in the early 1930s: “The Riutin group, a reactivated Trotskyist
organization, and the Eismont-Tolmachev-Smirnov group.”[10]

Other studies provided a more nuanced view of Stalin, who emerged as less
powerful, more competent, more hands-on, and more seriously theoretical
than the brutal tyrant drawn by the totalitarian paradigm.[11]

Though the new revisionist Soviet history contradicted or modified parts of
the totalitarian paradigm, it did not overthrow it, but then in 2011 Grover
Furr’s book, Khrushchev Lied appeared.[12]

Furr aimed further than any previous revisionist account. Indeed, he aimed
at a central pillar of the totalitarian paradigm, Khrushchev’s secret
speech, in which Khrushchev made a broad indictment of Stalin’s leadership,
including the “revelations” that that Stalin had created a “cult of the
individual,” that in his “last testament” Lenin had warned of Stalin’s
propensity to abuse power, that Stalin had been a fearful and incompetent
wartime leader, and that he had engineered the trials of the 1930s that had
devastated the leadership of the CPSU and resulted in phony trials,
imprisonment and executions of countless numbers of good Communists and
other innocents. Furr promised to provide evidence that “every ‘revelation’
of Stalin’s (and Beria’s) ‘crimes’ … is provably false.”

Given the importance Khrushchev’s speech played in all subsequent
scholarship as well as in the thinking of most Communist parties,[13]
Furr’s book promised to be a tour de force of momentous historical and
political implications. This turned out to be not quite the case.

The book begins with nine chapters in which Furr, a Montclair State
University professor who is fluent in Russian, tries to rebut the sixty-one
revelations that Khrushchev made in his speech. Then, follows a chapter in
which Furr categorizes Khrushchev’s lies, a chapter on the “falsified
rehabilitations” that followed the speech, and a chapter on the reasons,
implications and legacies of the speech. Nearly half the book is taken up
by an appendix, in which Furr supplies quotations from primary and
secondary source material to support his argument.

Before taking up some of the problems with Furr’s book, I would like to
give him credit for a number of contributions. First , Furr underscores the
importance of Khrushchev’s speech, “the most influential speech of the 20th
century,” in shaping all subsequent views of Stalin and the Soviet Union.

On this point, Furr reinforces the observation of the Italian Marxist
Domenico Losurdo, who says, “Without a doubt there were two turning points
that have determined the contemporary view of Stalin: the outbreak of the
Cold War in 1947 and the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU.”[14]

The impact of the speech is what gives such gravity to Furr’s contribution
in shining a spotlight on the fundamental mendacity of Khrushchev’s speech.
Furr is certainly right that much in Khrushchev’s speech was false, even
knowingly and maliciously false.

The disingenuousness marked even its publication, in which editors added
such audience reactions as “commotion in the hall” and “indignation in the
hall” and “applause,” even though those who actually heard the speech
recalled “total silence reigned in the hall.”[15]

The allegation in the secret speech that more or less tied all the other
allegations together was that Stalin had built up a “cult of the
individual” in order to enhance his dictatorial powers. Furr shows how
misleading this accusation was. First, the existence of a cult of
personality was no revelation since Party leaders had discussed it for
years. Secondly, Stalin not only did not foster the cult but expressed
distaste with it, or at least with some of its excesses. Third, all Party
leaders bore responsibility for the glorification of Stalin. Indeed, no one
surpassed Khrushchev when it came to sycophancy.

In his memoirs, Party functionary, Dmitri Shepilov, recalled the 18th Party
Congress in 1939, where Khrushchev lauded Stalin twenty-six times as “our
genius of a leader,” “our great Stalin,” “our beloved leader,” and so
on.[16] Furr gives examples of Stalin resisting its excesses, as when he
prevented the renaming of Moscow after himself. (Furr’s most amusing story
concerns Stalin’s attitude toward idolatry. Once in chastising his sons’
arrogance, Stalin reportedly said, “Do you think you are, STALIN? Do you
think I am STALIN? HE is Stalin—there!” he said pointing to a pompous
portrait.)

Yet, by trying to absolve Stalin entirely for the cult around him, Furr
strains credibility. Stalin may have opposed renaming Moscow, but he
apparently did not object when scores of other cities, towns, streets,
squares, parks, factories and so on were named after him and when his
pictures and statues became ubiquitous.[17] Unlike Fidel Castro, Stalin did
not do as much as he might have to discourage the cult that developed.

Another Khrushchev lie that Furr exposes concerns the so-called Lenin
testament. Toward the end of his life Lenin wrote a letter in which he said
Stalin had “unlimited authority,” and Lenin was “not sure whether he
[Stalin] will always be capable of using that authority with sufficient
caution.” Lenin also said Stalin was “too rude.”

Furr maintains that Lenin never viewed or labeled what he wrote as a
“testament” and that Khrushchev most likely lifted this characterization
from Trotsky. Moreover, Furr points out that Lenin never used the words,
“abuses his power.” More significantly, Furr disputes Khrushchev’s
implication of a rift between Lenin and Stalin. At the time of the letter,
not only was Stalin in charge of safeguarding Lenin’s health, but also
Lenin entrusted Stalin with his very life by making Stalin the caretaker of
a cyanide capsule Lenin wished to take if his suffering became unbearable.
Furr might also have pointed out that, however critical Lenin was of
Stalin, he was even more critical of Trotsky and other top leaders.[18]

Furr convincingly rebuts many other Khrushchev statements. Some of the
falsehoods are trivial. Many are not. Several of the widely believed
revelations concerned Stalin’s conduct during the war—that he was
demoralized and inactive at the start of the German invasion and that he
was an incompetent commander. Furr points out that this view is completely
at variance with those who worked most closely with Stalin, including
Marshall Georgii K. Zhukov, who (even after Stalin had demoted him) praised
his wartime leadership.[19]

The most extensive part of Furr’s book and of Khrushchev’s speech concerns
the Moscow Trials and related repression of 1936-38. Here, Furr makes his
most important contribution, though, it is a contribution beset with
problems of its own. Throughout the secret speech, Khrushchev attempted to
place the entire blame for the repression on Stalin and Beria.

For example, Khrushchev maintained that Stalin demanded “absolute
submission” and those who opposed him were doomed to removal from leading
bodies and “moral and physical annihilation”; that Stalin and Andrei
Zhdanov’s telegram to the Politburo on September 25, 1936 was responsible
for the appointment of Nikolai Ezhov as head of the NKVD and for pushing
the NKVD “on the path of mass arrests and executions”; that Stalin
justified “a mass terror policy” by the idea that “as we march forward
toward socialism class war must allegedly sharpen”; that the repression
involved the preparation of lists, 383 lists, of thousands of persons
“whose sentences were prepared in advance” that were sent to “Stalin
personally for his approval.”[20]

Furr convincingly argues that putting exclusive blame on Stalin and Beria
is entirely misleading. For example, far from repressing dissent, Stalin
showed great tolerance for disagreement. More importantly, no one had
greater or more direct responsibility for the repression than the heads of
the NKVD, first Genrikh Yagoda and subsequently Nicolai Ezhov (sometimes
spelled Yezhov), and Party first secretaries like Khrushchev.

The memoirs of Party leader, Dmitrii Shepilov, completely supported Furr on
this point. Shepilov said, “During the devastating purges of 1937-38, and
later in Moscow and Ukraine, no individual cases were decided without
Khrushchev’s personal knowledge and approval….Perhaps the most glaring and
revolting aspect of Khrushchev’s activity was that many of the persons whom
he sent to the gallows, he later, with a hypocrisy unsurpassed in history,
mourned the demise of from the highest party and government rostrums. In
these lamentations there was the added twist that the men held responsible
for the deaths of our glorious communists were, of course, Stalin, and his
colleagues, but never Khrushchev himself.”[21]

Moreover, Furr points out that though Khrushchev blamed Stalin for the
repression, he completely ignored that Stalin deserved credit for ending
the repression in 1938 and for the punishment of Yagoda and Ezhov for their
excesses. Historian Boris A. Starkov recounted that in 1938 A. A. Zhdanov,
A. A. Andreev, K. E. Voroshilov, L. M. Kaganovich, A. I. Mikoyan and V. M.
Molotov turned against Ezhov and convinced Stalin and the Central Committee
that Ezhov’s excesses were undermining the morale, the economy and the
defense of the country, and Stalin removed Ezhov.[22] Shepilov said simply,
“Stalin stopped Ezhov’s churning meat grinder.” [23] In short, Furr has
come up with a valid and momentous insight that one of the most influential
speeches in history was riddled with lies, distortions and fabrications.

This discovery, however, has made Furr (to use one of Stalin’s memorable
phrases) “dizzy with success.” In his exuberance, Furr allows all sorts of
problems to bedevil and enervate his account. First, there is a conceptual
problem. The point of studying history is to understand what happened.
Disputing Khrushchev’s views does not provide an alternative account of
what happened. Furr admits this and says his study cannot satisfy the
curiosity about “what really happened.”[24] In spite of this disclaimer,
Furr does suggest an alternative to Khrushchev’s view, and his alternative
view is not credible.

Moreover, some of Furr’s specific refutations lack either the facts or
arguments to be convincing. Instead, he often resorts to a tendentious and
one-sided reading of the evidence, to innuendos and speculation, to
overblown and hyperbolic language, and to unsupported allegations of his
own.

The book’s problems start with its title and argument. To call every
Khrushchev revelation a lie has dramatic appeal and a figurative truth, but
no one in their right mind could buy this as literal truth, because no one
in their right mind could imagine Khrushchev or anyone else speaking for
hours before a congress of the Communist Party about revelations that
contained nothing but falsehoods. Even Furr himself does not believe this.

A reader, however, has to wait until page 142 to hear the author
acknowledge that “it would, of course, be absurd to say that every one of
Khrushchev’s statements is false.” Yet, by not admitting that Khrushchev’s
“revelations” artfully mixed truths and lies, this absurdity is precisely
what Furr is guilty of. Having staked this extreme claim, Furr makes no
effort to sort out the truth and falsehood of Khrushchev’s speech, but
proceeds to focus only on what in Khrushchev’s statements were dubious,
even if it means lumping together the trivial, disputable and half lies
with the significant, provable and total lies. Moreover, when the evidence
to make his case is unavailable, Furr slips into the role of a dubious
defense attorney who nitpicks the evidence, badgers witnesses and kicks up
sand.

Take Furr’s treatment of one of the most important episodes in Soviet
history, the Kirov assassination. On December 1, 1934 in the Party
headquarters in Smolny, Sergei Kirov, the head of the Communist Party of
Leningrad, was shot in the head and killed by a Party member, Leonid
Nikolaev.

Kirov was a supporter and friend of Stalin’s, (the two had vacationed
together the previous summer), and Kirov had been sent to Leningrad at
least in part to counteract the opposition elements in the party there. The
day after the assassination, Stalin went to Leningrad and took personal
charge of the investigation, which ended up implicating the opposition
leaders, G. Zinoviev and L. Kamenev, and set off the Moscow Trials and
associated repression. In the secret speech, Khrushchev implied that Stalin
was behind Kirov’s murder.

Furr argues that Khrushchev’s insinuation was baseless and that the
opposition leaders convicted were in fact part of a murder conspiracy. Furr
is right on the first count but fails to prove the second. Moreover, his
refutation is superficial and tendentious. Furr’s refutation takes up less
than two pages and involves quotations from three historians, all of whom
dispute Stalin’s involvement in Kirov’s murder.

One would never know from Furr’s account that Khrushchev’s implication
became the conventional wisdom among such Cold War Sovietologists as Robert
Conquest, The Great Terror,[25] and Amy Knight, Who Killed Kirov? The
Kremlin’s Greatest Mystery.[26] In other words, a serious rebuttal of what
Khrushchev implied would involve acknowledging what the Cold Warriors have
written in support Khrushchev’s view and then refuting or at least
disputing it. Furr does not do this. He does not even identify two of the
historians he quotes, Pavel Sudaplatov and Alla Kirilina. Furr neither
provides their credentials (though strong), nor gives any reason that they
are more credible (though they are) than Amy Knight or Robert Conquest. In
other words, sometimes Furr has a stronger case than he bothers to make.

Moreover, Furr is highly selective about what he chooses to use from his
sources. He fails to acknowledge, for example, that though the three
historians he quotes disputed Khrushchev ‘s view, none of them supported
Furr’s view. That is, none of them believe that the oppositionists
convicted in the Moscow trials were guilty of Kirov’s murder. For example,
Kirilina dismissed Stalin’s culpability for the murder but argued that
Nikolaev was a lone assassin.[27]

A recent examination of the case by historian Matthew Lenoe (The Kirov
Murder and Soviet History [2010]) relied heavily on the recollections of
Genrikh Samoilevich Liushdov, one of the lead investigators in the Kirov
case, who subsequently defected to Japan, and whose papers were examined by
Lenoe in the Hokkaido University Library in Japan. Lenoe provided evidence
that Stalin had nothing to do with Kirov’s murder, hence proof that
Khrushchev lied, but he also supported the lone assassin theory, hence not
supporting Furr’s view either.[28]

If Furr is right about the Kirov murder, he does not prove it here, and at
best one will have to await his forthcoming study of the case. In spite of
Furr’s claim about “every” Khrushchev revelation being a lie, Furr actually
does not dispute much that Khrushchev said about the repression. He does
not question that mass repression occurred, that it was directed not just
against Trotskyites, Zinovievites, and Bukharinites, but against “many
honest Communists”; that the repression involved “the fabrication of cases
against Communists,” “false accusations,” “glaring abuses of socialist
legality,” “barbaric tortures,” and “the death of innocent people”; that 70
percent of the Central Committee elected at the 17th Congress were
“arrested and shot” and a majority of the delegates to the 17th Party
Congress were arrested; that on January 10, 1939 Stalin sent a telegram to
various bodies declaring that “methods of physical pressure” were
permissible “in exceptional cases”; and so on.[29]

Thus, while Furr accepts the major facts of the repression, he often
quibbles over minor points, and without sufficient evidence, disputes the
idea that everyone punished was innocent, and objects to laying the blame
for the repression on Stalin (and Beria). Granted that many people besides
Stalin carried out the repression and granted that Stalin played a role in
ending the 1936-38 repression, the question remains how involved, aware and
responsible was Stalin for the repression? If Khrushchev tried to shift
total responsibility to Stalin, Furr seems bent on trying to deny Stalin
any responsibility. In any case, Furr’s reasoning and evidence on this
point are dubious.

For example, Khrushchev said that “mass repressions grew tremendously”
after Stalin and Andrei Zhdanov sent a telegram to members of the Political
Bureau on September 25, 1936 calling for N. I. Ezhov to replace Yagoda as
head of the NKVD.[30] In the telegram, Stalin said the NKVD was “four years
behind” in “unmasking the Trotskyite-Zinovievite bloc.” [31] Furr says that
Khrushchev lied about this. Furr narrowly focuses, however, on what Stalin
meant by saying that the NKVD was four years behind. Furr says that what
Stalin really meant was the NKVD was four years behind in unmasking the
opposition bloc not four years behind in applying repression.

Furr is right about the meaning of those particular words, but Furr ignores
the other truth in Khrushchev’s statement, namely that Stalin bore direct
responsibility for increasing the repression by picking Ezhov, who
broadened the scale of repression. In a similar vein, Furr asserts that
Khrushchev “seriously distorted” Stalin’s words when he said that Stalin
tried to justify mass repression by saying “as we march forward toward
socialism class war must allegedly sharpen.”[32] Furr asserts that Stalin
actually said, “the further we advance…the greater will be the fury of the
remnants of the broken exploiting classes, the sooner they resort to
sharper forms of struggle.”[33]

Does Furr really believe that the slight variation in words makes any
difference in the meaning? Stalin’s words differ from Khrushchev’s
paraphrase, but the meaning does not.

Molotov’s testimony made this clear. When Chuev asked Molotov whether
Stalin was correct about the class struggle intensifying under socialism,
Molotov did not equivocate: “It was correct in view of the periods analyzed
then.”[34] Furr contends, “Stalin went on to call for an individual
approach and for political education, not for anything like repression or
‘terror.’”[35] In reality, according to Furr, “it was the Party First
Secretaries and others around the country…who turned to ‘mass
repression.’”[36]

Though Furr is correct about Stalin’s statements and the First Secretaries’
actions, this hardly proves that Stalin opposed mass repression. If anyone
knew Stalin’s views on repression, it was Molotov, and Molotov said, “It
was mainly Stalin who took upon himself this difficult task [of
repression]“[37] and that Ezhov “overdid it because Stalin demanded greater
repression.” [38]

Furthermore, Furr’s notion that Stalin opposed mass repression is
contradicted by the historians Getty and Naumov, who found in the Soviet
archives “Stalin’s signature on documents authorizing mass executions.”[39]
Granted that authorizing mass executions of persons duly convicted by the
courts was not the same as ordering them, still Stalin’s signature showed
that he was fully aware and supportive of the most extreme punishment for
those convicted of serious crimes against the state. Furr seems loathe to
acknowledge this.

As for the so-called torture telegram, Furr may be right in questioning the
provenance of this wire and whether it was ever sent. Moreover, Furr is
certainly right that in quoting the telegram Khrushchev omitted sentences
so as to put Stalin in the worst possible light, that is, omitting
sentences where Stalin stressed that physical pressure was permissible only
“as an exception” and those sentences where Stalin condemned those who had
abused these methods.

Khrushchev’s skullduggery notwithstanding, the telegram clearly showed
Stalin’s willingness to condone torture in exceptional cases such as where
a convict refused to divulge the existence or whereabouts of
co-conspirators still at large. Had Furr acknowledged this and thus sift ed
and winnowed the truth from the falsehoods in this matter, his account
would have been forthright and useful rather than a strained effort to
argue that every Khrushchev allegation was simply a lie.[40]

A similar one-sidedness adheres to Furr’s treatment of Khrushchev’s and
Stalin’s views of Trotskyism. Furr points out that Khrushchev suggested
that Stalin favored annihilating Trotskyists even those who had long ago
broken with Trotsky’s ideas and returned to Leninism. Furr correctly points
out that Stalin never called for the persecution of such erstwhile
Trotskyists, but instead called for “an individual, differentiated
approach.”[41]

Furr goes further, however. Furr says that Stalin opposed persecuting
Trotskyists altogether. Here are Furr’s exact words: “Stalin did refer to
Trotskyites in very hostile terms. But he did not advocate persecuting them
[i.e. Trotskyites]. While stressing the need for renewed vigilance Stalin
also proposed the establishment of special ideological courses for all
leading party workers. That is, Stalin saw the problem of Trotskyism as a
result of a low level of political understanding among Bolsheviks.”

One has only to read the complete texts of Stalin provided by Furr in the
appendix to appreciate nor only that Khrushchev lied but also that Furr
misleads. Stalin made clear that two categories existed, those who had once
been Trotskyists, and those who not only remained Trotskyists but who had
become “a gang of wreckers, diversionists, spies, assassins, without
principles and ideas, working for the foreign intelligence services.” The
former should not be persecuted. For the latter, however, Stalin thought
that “not the old methods, the methods of discussion, must be used, but new
methods, methods for smashing and uprooting it.”[42]

Of course, Furr knows that such recent historians as Getty and Naumov
confirm the oppositional activity of Trotskyists in the 1930s and knows
that Stalin thought these forces had to be smashed and uprooted. Yet, his
narrow preoccupation with Khrushchev’s lies leads him into careless
formulations that play fast and loose with the truth. Though Furr expends
many words parsing Khrushchev’s statements in detail and indeed spends a
whole chapter categorizing the various kinds of deceptions engaged in by
Khrushchev, he makes little effort to sort the truth from the lies. In the
end, one is left with two competing versions of the repression. Since Furr
is content to act as a defense attorney and merely attack Khrushchev’s
credibility without venturing his own interpretations of events, one never
knows exactly what he thinks happened.

Still, Furr seems to hold a version of the repression something like this:
A massive repression occurred in the Soviet Union in the years 1936-38.
This repression took the lives and liberties of large numbers of Communist
leaders, including members of the Central Committee elected at the 17th
Party Congress. This repression involved torture and forced confession and
the framing and punishment of many innocent people. The blame for this
repression rested primarily with the regional party secretaries, like
Khrushchev, and the leaders of the NKVD, notably Ezhov. Furthermore, many
of those who suffered from the repression were guilty. Others were
knowingly framed by Ezhov and his cohorts who were in league with the
opposition and who used excessive repression to discredit the leadership.
This version of the repression is thus the diametrical opposite of
Khrushchev’s, which was more or less that no legitimate reason for the
repression existed, that virtually all those punished were innocent, and
that the only reason for the repression was to ensure Stalin’s unchallenged
and absolute authority.

The problem with these competing narratives is that neither have much
evidence to support them. To support his view that the vast majority of
victims were innocent, Khrushchev relied on a review of cases prepared
before the 20th Congress known as the Pospelov Report, which was cursory at
best. To support his view, Furr repeatedly makes sweeping references to
evidence about the guilt of those punished: “the evidence we know exists,”
“all the evidence we presently have,” “all the evidence at our disposal,”
“a great deal of documentary evidence,” “a great deal of evidence,” “the
vast preponderance of evidence,” etc., but he never actually explains what
evidence he is referring to.[44]

Apparently, he is simply referring to the well-known confessions and
interrogations of the condemned, because he takes pains to argue that just
because someone confessed does not mean he/she was innocent. Furr never
acknowledges that confessions, particularly when given under duress, are
pretty useless as historical evidence.

An example of the warring narratives occurs over the most sensational of
Khrushchev’s allegations, namely that the ninety-eight members and
candidates (70 percent) of the Party’s Central Committee elected at the
17th Congress and the majority of the delegates to the 17th Party Congress
who were “arrested and shot” were in fact innocent. Furr claims that “a
great deal of evidence” suggests that “a significant number” of these high
ranking Communists “appear to have been guilty after all.” A little later,
Furr strengthens his claim by asserting that “the vast preponderance of
evidence” points to their guilt. [45] Strong words, however, are no
substitute for proof. What is Furr’s evidence? Does he just mean the
confessions and interrogation reports? He refers to nothing else.

One is left with warring assertions: Khrushchev’s baseless claims of
innocence and Furr’s baseless claims of guilt. No doubt serious anti-Soviet
activity and plots existed. No doubt the repression took the lives of
countless innocents. But how great was the anti-Soviet activity and who was
guilty and who was innocent remain unresolved questions.

Still, these are extremely serious questions. The construction of the first
socialist society, the lifting of an illiterate, impoverished, oppressed
and backward people into an era of literacy, culture, material well-being
and atomic energy; the Soviet defeat of fascism, the Soviet role in the
Chinese, Cuban, and Vietnamese revolutions and in the liberation struggles
of the third world arguably make the Russian Revolution the most important
event of the twentieth century. Understanding that history, its failures
and its accomplishments, consequently has the utmost interest not only to
professional historians but to socialists and revolutionaries worldwide.

For this reason, some persistent writing and editing anomalies in Furr’s
book are particularly annoying. While the second edition has corrected the
most egregious errors of the first, the book still contains some
inconsistent spelling of Russian names, a lack of identification of
persons, and an uncommon amount of speculation, insinuation and
overstatement. The seriousness of the problems under discussion deserve
more care in the writing.

However glaring, the manifest weaknesses of Furr’s book should not obscure
the conclusion that Furr and other revisionist historians have driven a
stake into the reliability Khrushchev and historians like Conquest who
relied on Khrushchev.

If Khrushchev’s portrait of Stalin as an all-powerful, megalomaniacal,
paranoid and bloodthirsty tyrant was wrong, still what is one to make of
the Stalin in Furr’s dodgy portrait? One can hardly avoid concluding that
Furr views Stalin as a leader who was removed from, or even opposed to, the
mass repression occurring around him, a leader who sought individual and
educational remedies to those who sought to undermine or overthrow him, and
who was unfairly blamed for repression committed by others? This Stalin is
no more believable than Khrushchev’s.

Both portraits ignore a simple idea—that first and foremost, Stalin was a
revolutionary, and the repression of the 1930s must be understood in the
context of revolutionary violence.

The great American sociologist C. Wright Mills wrote about the difficulty
that most Americans have in accepting revolutionary violence. In Listen,
Yankee: The Revolution in Cuba, Mills wrote as if a Cuban revolutionary
were speaking to an American. In response to American outrage over the
pictures of the revolutionaries summarily executing five or six hundred
supporters of the dictator Batista without “a fair trial,” the Cuban says:

This was war. During the Batista regime, thousands of our people were
murdered….So what would you expect? Maybe in easy moral terms, no killing
is excusable….But however immoral the purposes and the results of killing
are quite different in different places and at different times. Because you
see it does matter who is getting killed and why. But whether you think so
or not, you certainly have no grounds for talking about injustice: Who gave
any trial to the people of Hiroshima? Well, this, too, was a war. Remember,
too, Yankee, that morals are easy to come by sitting in your quiet suburbs
away from it all protected from it all. Morals are easy to say out [sic]
when you’re rich and strong and all the unpleasantnesses of the world are
hidden from you—by distance, by amusements, by your own indifference, by
your own private way of life.[46]

Not much has changed. If anything, it requires an even greater stretch for
Americans today to imagine the strain on Soviet revolutionaries, who were
surrounded by hostile imperialist powers that actively plotted their
overthrow, faced with ambitious and unscrupulous internal foes that were
masters of political intrigue and convinced that they knew better than
Stalin how to lead the country. The Soviet leaders were confronted with the
daunting tasks of constructing a socialist society, collectivizing a
recalcitrant peasantry, industrializing at breakneck speed, all while
bracing for an inevitable conflict with Nazi Germany.

To empathize with these revolutionaries and to understand the repression of
the 1930s, one must do what Mills did, seek the voice of the Russian
revolutionaries of the 1930s. The two revolutionaries who provide the best
insight into Stalin and the repression were Lazar Kaganovitch and
Viacheslav Molotov. Both were veteran Bolsheviks, who played a variety of
crucial roles in building socialism and defeating German fascism. Both were
extremely close to Stalin in the 1930s and 1940s. Both were demoted by
Stalin in the 1950s (Molotov’s wife was even imprisoned), but neither
turned against Stalin or the revolution. Both opposed Khrushchev, were
defeated by him and expelled from the Communist Party. Both lived long
lives. Molotov died in 1986 and Kaganovich died in 1991, and both left
behind memoirs that present remarkably similar views of Stalin and the
repression.

Before turning to what they had to say, it is important to remember that
just as the Cuban revolutionaries were shaped by the violence they had
experienced at the hands of Batista and his men, so Stalin and his
colleagues were shaped by the repression they had endured at the hands of
the tsar and the tsar’s secret police. In Stalin & Co.: The Politburo — The
Men Who Run Russia, Walter Duranty, a correspondent for the New York Times
in Moscow, put a fine edge on this point.

Duranty noted that the conflict in the Soviet Party after Lenin’s death
involved two camps, the “Western Exiles,” those like Trotsky, Kamenev and
Zinoviev, who had spent a considerable amount of time before the revolution
abroad, and the “Home Guard,” those like Stalin and his close associates
who had stayed a struggled at home. The latter had to endure spies,
provocateurs, arrests, imprisonment, torture, threats to family and
friends, conditions unknown to those in exile. The experience of struggle
under dire conditions made Stalin’s suspicious and hard as well as
contemptuous of those whose circumstances had been easier.[47] To
understand the ruthlessness displayed by Stalin and his associates in the
1930s, one must never forget the ruthlessness they had endured.

Kaganovich[48] and Molotov viewed Stalin and the repression, differently
than Furr does. I would paraphrase their views like this: The period from
1930 through the start of World War II constituted an extremely perilous
time for Soviet socialism. The danger was represented by a combination of
circumstances. The Soviet Union was surrounded by hostile imperialist
states and the inevitability of war increased with every passing year. To
survive the Soviet Union had to industrialize quickly and to obtain the
resources and manpower to do this, it had to quickly collectivize
agriculture. Industrialization and collectivization involved wrenching
social transformations that directly threatened the interests of some of
the people and demanded great sacrifice.

Those whose interests were threatened and whose conditions worsened
provided a base of opposition to these policies. These circumstances put
immense strains on the unity of the Communist Party and the Soviet
government. Some in the Party leadership and government opposed the
policies of industrialization and collectivization, and in some cases this
opposition developed into a determination to end these policies and
overthrow of the Soviet government even if that meant resorting to
assassination, industrial sabotage, inciting insurrection, and cooperating
with foreign governments. Even where opposition stopped short of such
extremes, it nevertheless meant an insupportable violation of unity and
democratic centralism.

Stalin showed patience with opposition for years, but after the
dissemination of the openly oppositional Riutin Platform, the assassination
of Party leader Kirov, and signs of industrial sabotage impeding growth,
Stalin reacted. He supported the appointment of Ezhov as head of the NKVD
and endorsed the repression under Ezhov, including the arrest and
punishment of Party leaders in the three Moscow Trials. Many excesses
occurred that in retrospect were regrettable: torture, forced confessions,
the railroading of innocent people.

Stalin, Molotov, Kaganovich and others viewed these measures not simply as
“terror” or “political repression,” but as a Party “purge,” that is
measures necessary to rid the Party not just of demonstrably treasonous,
criminal, and opposition elements but of all elements that were divisive
and unreliable because under the circumstances weakness, divisiveness, and
unreliability were tantamount to treason.

In this sense, even with their excesses, the purges were necessary to give
the Party and hence the nation a unified and resolute leadership with which
to prepare itself to wage a life-and-death war with fascism. If Stalin had
not had the foresight, the courage, and toughness to preside over these
purges (and to end them when they became became counterproductive), the
revolution and the country may not have survived the German invasion and
millions of more people would have suffered and died than actually did.

Both Kaganovich and Molotov regarded Stalin’s ruthlessness or hardness not
as a personal defect but as a quality that the times forged and demanded.
It was a steeliness for which Stalin was named. It was a quality necessary
and admired by true Bolsheviks. It had nothing at all to do with vainglory,
or power hunger, or paranoia. It did, however, become more and more
pronounced as Stalin experienced the betrayal of former colleagues in the
Party leadership.

Yet, his ruthlessness did not reflect a desire for personal power or for
the wealth or luxury or flattery or deference and the other trappings of
power. Rather, Stalin’s toughness, like his intellectual prowess, his hard
work, long hours, and modesty were traits totally in service of the Party
and the revolution. This more or less was the view of Kaganovich and
Molotov, two of Stalin’s closest associates, who lived through the hardest
times with him, and lived long enough to write memoirs.

Furr ends his account with some speculation on the reasons Khrushchev
engaged in his meretricious attacks on Stalin and Beria. He suggests four
possible explanations: that Khrushchev wanted to shift blame from “his own
role in the unjustified mass repressions of the 1930s,” that Khrushchev
wanted to take the USSR on a “sharply different” political course, that
Khrushchev wanted to gain an edge on his rivals in the leadership who had
been close to Stalin, and that Khrushchev wanted to stop the “democratic
reforms with which Stalin was associated.”[49]

All of these are plausible explanations, and they are not mutually
exclusive. Yet, the second of these is the most consequential. In the book,
Socialism Betrayed: Behind the Collapse of the Soviet Union, Thomas Kenny
and I argue Khrushchev did take the Soviet Union on a new course
domestically in many ways that sowed the seeds of the collapse under
Gorbachev.[50] So, we hold no brief for Khrushchev.

Nonetheless, I would suggest that Furr neglects yet another reason for
Khrushchev’s behavior, namely, a desire to close the door decisively on the
period and practice of harsh and widespread political repression. And he
did. For all his limitations as a leader, when he expelled Malenkov,
Molotov and Kaganovich from the leadership and from the party, Khrushchev
understood that neither the times nor circumstances required their
imprisonment or execution.

Furr concludes his account on an utterly false note, namely by proposing
that Khrushchev’s ignominious lying can be traced to Lenin, Marx and
Engels. Thus, Furr goes from ignoring an obvious reason for Khrushchev’s
behavior to entertaining an incomprehensible reason. He ignores
Khrushchev’s undeniable contribution in ending the practice of mass
repression, but then suggests a trail of blame worthy of the most
hard-bitten Cold War ideologues. Just as they would fancifully trace the
repression and all other problems of the Soviet Union to Marx and Lenin, so
Furr would do the same with Khrushchev.

This is a troubling but fitting coda for a book that provides a much needed
but deeply flawed re-assessment of Khrushchev’s secret speech and the
totalitarian paradigm the speech did so much to foster.

November 23, 2011


Endnotes
1. Stuart Kahan, The World of the Kremlin: The First
Biography of L. M. Kaganovich, The Soviet Union’s Architect of Fear (New
York: William Morrow and Company, 1987).
2. “Statement of the
Kaganovich Family,” http://www.revolutionarydemocracy.org and
http://.oocities.org/capitolhill/embassy/7213/kagan.html (accessed July
2011).
3. Christopher Read, “Main Currents of Interpretation of
Stalin and the Stalin Years,” in Christopher Read, ed., The Stalin Years a
Reader (Houndmills, Basingstoke, and Hampshire, England: Palgrave
MacMillan, 2002), 9.
4. Leon Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed: What
is the Soviet Union and Where is it Going? (Garden City, New York:
Doubleday, 1937).
5. Hanna Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism
(New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1951).
6. J. Arch Getty and
Roberta T. Manning, “Introduction,” Stalinist Terror: New Perspectives
(Cambridge, England and New York, New York: Cambridge University Press,
1994), 4.
7. Getty and Manning, 10-13.
8. J. Arch Getty and
Oleg V. Naumov, The Road to Terror: Stalin and the Self-Destruction of the
Bolsheviks, 1932-1939 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1999),
591.
9. See essays by Hoffman, Manning, Fitzpatrick, Nove, and
Weathcroft in Getty and Manning, and Wendy Goldman, Terror and Democracy in
the Age of Stalin: The Social Dynamics of Repression (Cambridge and New
York: Cambridge University Press, 2007).
10. Getty and Naumov,
52-68.
11. See for example essays by Davies and Harris in Sarah
Davies and James Harris, eds., Stalin: A New History (Cambridge and New
York: Cambridge University Press, 2005).
12. Grover Furr, Khrushchev
Lied: The Evidence that Every “Revelation: of Stalin’s (and Beria’s)
“Crimes” in Nikita Khrushchev’s Infamous “Secret Speech” to the 20th Party
Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on February 25, 1956 is
Provably False (Kettering, Ohio: Erythros Press and Media, 2011).
13.
For an example of the immediate impact of the speech on western Communist
Parties, see The Anti-Stalin Campaign and International Communism: A
Selection of Documents Edited by the Russian Institute of Columbia
University (New York: Columbia University, 1956).
14. Domenico
Losurdo, “History of the Communist Movement: Failure, Betrayal or Learning
Process,” Nature, Society and Thought vol. 16, no. 1 (2003), 41.
15.
Furr, 141.
16. Dmitrii Shepilov, The Kremlin’s Scholar: A Memoir of
Soviet Politics under Stalin and Khrushchev (New Haven and London: Yale
University Press, 2007), 72.
17. See for example, “List of places
named after Joseph Stalin,”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wike/List_of_places_after_Joseph_Stalin (accessed
July 2001).
18. Furr, 11-20.
19. Furr, 95.
20. Khrushchev
quoted by Furr, 22, 41-42, 43-44, 73
21. Shepilov, 71.
22.
Boris A. Starkov, “Narkom Ezhov,” in Getty and Manning, 36-38.
23.
Shepilov, 41.
24. Furr, 143.
25. Robert Conquest, The Great
Terror: A Reassessment (New York and Oxford: Oxford Universuty Press,
1990), 479.
26. Amy Knight, Who Killed Kirov? The Kremlin’s Greatest
Mystery (New York: Hill & Wang, 1999).
27. Matthew Lenoe, “Key to the
Kirov Murder on the Shelves of Hokkaido University Library,” Slavic
Research Center News No. 3 (February, 2006),
http://src-h.slav.hokudai.ac.jp/eng/news/no13/enews13-essay3.html (accessed
July 2011).
28. Matthew E. Lenoe, The Kirov Murder and Soviet History
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010).
29. Khrushchev quoted by
Furr, 35 and 79.
30. Khrushchev quoted by Furr, 42.
31. Furr,
42.
32. Furr, 43.
33. Furr, 43-44.
34. Albert Resis, ed.
Molotov Remembers: Inside Kremlin Politics Conversations with Felix Chuev
(Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1993), 259.
35. Furr, 44.
36. Furr,
45.
37. Resis, 258.
38. Resis, 263.
39. Getty and Naumov,
25.
40. Furr, 330-331.
41. Furr, 30.
42. Stalin in Furr,
262.
43. Getty and Naumov, 62-64.
44. Furr, 26, 29, 30, 37,
39.
45. Furr, 37, 39.
46. C. Wright Mills, Listen, Yankee: The
Revolution in Cuba (New York: Ballantine Books, 1960), 51.
47.
William Duranty, Stalin & Co.: The Politburo—The Men Who Run Russia (New
York: William Sloane Associates, 1949), 18-19.
48. See for example:
“Thus Spake Kaganovich,”
http://www.oocities.org/capitolhill/embassy/7213/kaganovich.html (accessed
July 2011).
49. Furr, 197-199.
50. Roger Keeran and Thomas
Kenny, Socialism Betrayed: Behind the Collapse of the Soviet Union (New
York: International Publishers, 2004). .


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

reminder - DCTU Demo

IMF endorses Stiglitz!

Long-term IMF-watchers may be interested in this fascinating IMF web-post, on a conference on management of the financial crisis in Iceland. In it, the Fund implicitly endorses former IFI arch-nemesis Joe Stiglitz, as well as capital controls (for now), and a government refusal to allow tax payers to bail out private banks. It lists the three lessons from Iceland as being: real country ownership makes for stronger recovery; a heterodox policy approach helps; and it’s important to protect the welfare state during crisis.

More:
http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/survey/so/2011/CAR110311A.htm

check it out

Latest IPSC events

Dear all,

This is going to be a busy time for Palestine solidarity work in the Dublin area - please see below for a list of events coming up in the next month or so. We would appreciate it if you could forward or otherwise publicise these events to those who may be interested. In addition, there are two important events taking place during the coming week - a series of protests outside the Israeli Embassy sponsored "Israeli Film Days" in Filmbase (Thur 24 - Sun 27), and a report back from the Irish Ship To Gaza crew (Thur 24). We will also be marking ten years of the IPSC on Tuesday 29th November, and our ever popular Fundraising Christmas Dinner will take place on Saturday 10th December. Full details for all events are at the links below.

Upcoming IPSC and related events

  • 1. [Dublin] Nov 24-27: Protest the Israeli Embassy "Film Days” at Filmbase
    Thu, 24 November 2011, 5:30PM - Sun, 27 November 2011
    (FilmBase, Curved Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2)

  • 2. [Dublin] Public Meeting: The Hijacking of the MV Saoirse and the Siege of Gaza
    Thu, 24 November 2011, 8:00PM
    (Wynn's Hotel, Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1)

  • 3. [Dublin] Boycott Israeli Blood Diamonds stall
    Sat, 26 November, 11:00AM
    (Grafton Street, Dublin 2)

    *

  • 4. [Dublin] On International Day of Solidarity With the Palestinian People, the IPSC marks its 10th Anniversary
    Tue, 29 November 2011, 7:30PM
    (The Pearse Centre (aka Ireland Institute), 27 Pearse Street, Dublin 2)

  • 5. [Dublin] IPSC Dublin Branch Meeting
    Thu, 1 December 2011, 7:30PM
    (The Central Hotel, Exchequer St, Dublin 2)

  • 6. [Dublin] Film Premiere: How we can solve the Palestinian-Israeli problem by Sami Moukaddem
    Tue, 6 December 2011, 7:15PM
    (The Pearse Centre (aka Ireland Institute), 27 Pearse Street, Dublin 2)

  • 7. [Dublin] IPSC Annual Christmas Fundraising Dinner 2011
    Sat, 10 December 2011, 2:00PM
    (The Silk Road Cafe, Chester Beatty Library, Dublin Castle, Dublin 2)

  • Saturday, November 19, 2011

    65 Years of anti-imperialist struggle!

    WFDY Exhibition

    Greetings from Budapest!

    In the link below you can find the exhibition of the 65 years of WFDY. We ask you to share it and promote it within the framework of the efforts to inform all the youth of the world about what is WFDY.

    http://www.wfdy.org/2011/11/18/exhibition-on-the-65-years-of-life-and-struggle-of-wfdy/


    WORLD FEDERATION OF DEMOCRATIC YOUTH
    1389 Budapest P.O.B. 147, XIII Frangepan u. 16, Hungary
    Tel./Fax: + 361 3502202 / 3501204
    E-mail: wfdy@wfdy.org
    Web: www.wfdy.org
    WFDY is an International NGO.
    It has consultative status with the United Nations (ECOSOC) and operational
    relation with UNESCO.
    Presented a Peace Messenger award by UN Secretary General in 1987

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Who runs Ireland?

    COMMUNIST PARTY OF IRELAND

    Press Release: Who runs Ireland?

    17 November

    The revelation that documents relating to the forthcoming budget were found today (17
    November) in the German Bundestag, with German politicians poring over their contents,
    while neither Dáil Éireann nor, most importantly, the Irish people have seen or read
    what is in store for them, is almost beyond belief.

    The opinions of the Irish people count for little, for it is now clear that what
    Germany wants, Merkel gets, and the Irish people will pay the price. It seems clear
    that Enda Kenny delivered these documents by hand on his recent visit to Berlin.

    Working people and their families are being made to pay for a debt that is not
    theirs, but they are also now paying with democracy being shredded to keep German
    and French banks afloat.

    Democracy is now in grave danger, with events in Greece, Italy and now Ireland
    exposing the real power at the heart of the European Union. We have seen two virtual
    coups d’état, in Greece and Italy, and the removal of two complete governments, to
    be replaced in Italy by a government made up of “technocrats,” representatives only
    of business, and in Greece by a government not elected by the people.

    Democracy is being set aside in the interests and for the needs of European monopoly
    big-business interests. The will and opinions of the peoples within the European
    Union are now being pushed aside, and great dangers now face all democrats.

    Anti communism in Spain

    Dear comrades:

    Once again, from CJC (Collectives of Young Communists) Spain we write you with the occasion of our anti-repressive campaing, looking for international solidarity with the three comrades from our organisation and our party (Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain) who are in a trial for false proves of the police.

    We send the report where the case is explained. The trial will be the 1 of December. Until that day, in Spain, all the comrades will struggle to denounce this case of represion and to make pressure against the goverment to let free our comrades.

    This case is the most obvious expresion in Spain of the worldwide anti-communist campaing, that the capitalism needs to criminalize our ideas, and put in prision our militants, we ask you to send your solidarity with our comrades, and to publish the case in your countries.

    Send the information of your acts or statements of solidarity to those mails before the first of december:


    (please the both e-mails)

    Comrades the international solidarity is our best weapon against the represion of the capitalist state in any country.

    Together we will have succes and our comrades will be free!

    No pasaran!

    Revolutionary greetings from Spain!

    Trade Union Left Forum

    Comrades

    The Trade Union Left Forum now has an e-mail address:

    tuleftforum@gmail.com

    JCP Speech from WFDY Assembly, Lisbon

    Dear Comrades and friends,

    Speech by Diogo D’Ávila, member of Secretariat and the Political Bureau of the National Leadership of JCP

    On behalf of the National Leadership of JCP, I salute everyone present in this rally! It is proof that even with the arrival of Autumn, with rain and naked trees, with cold and gray days, the youth is present! To all who have come from all parts of the country, to all friends and guests who were willing to participate in this initiative we say: No cold, no rain and no gray days can make us stop the struggle for Spring!

    We salute the international delegates in the 18th Assembly of the World Federation of Democratic Youth, coming from Angola, Argentina, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bhutan, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cyprus, Cuba, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Great-Britain, Greece, India, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Mauritania, Mexico, Mozambique, Nepal, New Zealand, Norway, Palestine, Pakistan, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Syria, Sweden, Tanzania, Turkey, United States of America, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Western Sahara, and Zimbabwe. All of them have contributed to make this Assembly in a great success, coming out of it with more strength and tools to combat imperialism and transform the world in each of their countries. We salute the elected organization for WFDYs leadership, particularly the comrades of UJC Cuba that assume the General-Secretary and the comrades of EDON Cyprus that assume the Presidency. We wish all the continuation of good work, and we are certain that the Assembly has given a great step to, as it is stated on the Assembly's motto: Reinforce WFDY, Intensify the anti-imperialist struggle, for a world of peace, solidarity and revolutionary social transformation!"

    The 18th WFDY Assembly is the final moment of eight years of presidency, which we assumed with great honor. By hosting this Assembly in Portugal, we are also willing to reaffirm our total commitment to the continuity of WFDY's work and with Anti-Imperialist struggle. We believe that the best contribute we can give to the development of WFDY's work and progress is: the mobilization of portuguese youth for the struggle against right-winged policies and for the materialization of their rights here in Portugal; the solidarity with all the struggling youth as well as the participation and development of WFDY activities.

    In a moment when the danger of new imperialist aggressions rises, when all around the world war, hunger and right withdrawal is spread, but also in a moment when resistance and struggle increases, we find in WFDY the greatest most important space to exchange experiences and to articulate and stimulate youth resistance and struggle in each country.

    Comrades,

    Last Thursday we celebrated the 32 years of Portuguese Communist Youth. Since the unification between the Communist Students Union and the Communist Youth Union, JCP assumes itself as The Revolutionary Organization of the Portuguese Youth. We are Revolutionary because we are deeply aware and we acknowledge youth problems today, because we are the only ones who are truly willing to do anything to solve these problems, because the basis of our intervention is Marxism-Leninism, which allows us to define the struggle aims according to the historical moment that we are living. We are Revolutionary because we are proud that every day we stimulate, mobilize, and encourage struggle, bringing more and more friends, organizing them and showing the way. But above all we are Revolutionary because we know we are not alone, because we put all our trust in the Portuguese Youth, sure that it will assume the struggle against right-winged policies and the imposition of a patriotic and and left-winged policy as its own.

    From here, we call upon the portuguese youth to organize and intensify struggle! A struggle that is increasingly difficult as increasingly strong the attacks from the government are: by PSD / CDS – PP, with support from PS and the President of the Republic.

    From education to work, from housing to health and culture, we witness an unprecedented attack to our rights, that in many ways reminds us of times past. It happens in José Afonso High School in Seixal, where students cannot take food inside the school. It happens in the University of Minho, where, while having fees of thousands of euros, students are forbidden to demonstrate. It happens in the ZON call center in Porto, where over 90% of workers have a precarious labour link even though they perform a permanent job. This is an attack that brings us the darkest days the most part of us here present have ever witnessed and that in any way has a solution for the problems of our country: it takes it from the frying pan into the fryer. An attack that has in workers and youth its major enemies, while great company holders and great bank owners are getting richer, while the successive governments (PSD, CDS – PP e PS) are totally submitted to the interests of imperialism. They opened the doors of our economy to the IMF and the European Union, they happily host NATO summits (our country being a founding member during fascist times) and they actively participate in their military aggressions to Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

    From here we state our solidarity with the General Strike next 24th November, called by CGTP-IN, as well as the National Superior and High school students' struggles, on 22 and 29 November, respectively. We also value the hundreds of struggle initiatives that took place in the let week of October, as well as the great demonstration of the Public Administration workers that took place here in Lisbon today and where 180,000 workers, many of which young workers, participated.

    This is the only way to defeat the aggression pact designed by the portuguese and the foreign Troika, and this will be the only way to defeat imperialism.

    It is possible to defeat these policies, it is possible to build an alternative, it is possible and necessary to hold back this path! Let us end with strength, determination and the trust in portuguese youth, to take in our hands the destiny of our lives!

    Long live the World Federation of Democratic Youth!

    Long live the Portuguese Communist Youth!

    Long live the Portuguese Communist Party!

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    On the death in action of Alfonso Cano

    On the death in action of Alfonso Cano

    Sobre la muerte en acción de Alfonso Cano

    Statement by the Communist Party of Ireland

    12 November 2011

    The death in action of Alfonso Cano is a severe blow to the aspirations of the Colombian people for social justice and peaceful development, which have long been frustrated by the Colombian state and its backer, US imperialism.

    For over sixty years Colombia has suffered the violent repression of state and paramilitary forces. Many times a peaceful way forward was sought, only to find that the Colombian oligarchy and the US imperialists fear peace and profit from war.

    The threat of a peaceful settlement always brings a military response. Civilian politicians and other public figures involved in the search for peace also face state repression and threats from paramilitary death squads.

    The massive military operation with the aim of killing Alfonso Cano, mounted with the aid of the latest technology from the United States, exposes the brutality of the Santos government and the hollowness of his fine words.

    At the same time the state and paramilitary forces continue with their murderous repression of the peaceful struggle of the indigenous peoples, of the peasants whom they are driving from their land, of the workers organised in trade unions, of the students.

    The Communist Party of Ireland pledges its continuing solidarity with the Colombian people in their struggle for a peaceful way forward, for social justice, for national liberation, and for socialism.

    November SV Out Now!

    November Issue of Socialist Voice

    OUT NOW

    http://www.communistpartyofireland.ie/sv/SV-83.pdf

    Check it out

    Political Statement CPI

    COMMUNIST PARTY OF IRELAND

    James Connolly House, 43 East Essex Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2

    12 November 2011

    At an extended meeting of the National Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Ireland, on Saturday 12th November, communists from around the country gathered to discuss the deepening crisis of the system and its impact on the people, north and south.
    The meeting reaffirmed the party’s view that the present crisis is part of the systemic crisis of the monopoly capitalist system, a system with a built-in cycle of boom and slump. The crisis has been made deeper and more contradictory by the dominance of finance capital, throwing forth new features in this crisis that are making it deeper and more complex, and more difficult for ruling-class forces to solve.

    The continuing and growing pre-eminence of finance capital, coupled with the stagnation in manufacturing industry, has created deeper contradictions at the very heart of the system, as each attempted solution creates new problems and exposes further weaknesses.

    The complete lack of any coherent strategy on the part of the political leaders of monopoly capitalism at the recent G20 summit meeting in relation to the global systemic crisis shows that they have few, if any, answers. The continuing and deepening crisis within the European Union, centred on the euro and debt, and the imposition of socialised corporate debt on working people, appears to be their only answer.

    The virtual coup d’état by German monopoly capital has secured the ousting of two already compliant governments, replacing them with even more compliant governments headed by technocrats: the former vice-president of the European Central Bank, Lukas Papademos, in Greece and the former EU commissioner Mario Monti in Italy. These individuals’ loyalties are to the ECB and European monopoly capital rather than to the citizens of their countries.
    This development has exposed one of the many falsehoods that have been constructed, that democracy and capitalism are synonymous. The setting aside of their democratic processes has opened up a new field in the struggle against the European Union and reaffirms the long-held view of Irish communists regarding the anti-democratic nature, values and strategy at the core of the EU integration process.

    The assaults on the democratic will of the Greek and Italian people are among the first public manifestations and a real expression of the EU corporatist state now under construction. The reality that bourgeois democracy will be truncated to meet the needs of capital when in crisis is becoming more open and visible.

    The solutions presented by the EU and by the Irish and British governments are for rescuing capitalism as a system, attacking the trade union movement and rolling back the advances made by the working class during the twentieth century. The ruling class want their austerity measures to be permanent and irreversible.

    The drive for privatisation is to narrow the influence and role of public capital and to open up new investment opportunities for a stagnant global economy in the interest of private corporate capital.

    This is a struggle that is both national and international, linking up with the growing struggles of workers throughout the European Union and globally. The defeat of this strategy requires a resolute response from all workers’ organisations and democratic forces. Workers must not only struggle to defend the economic and social gains made in the twentieth century but must now also be the defenders of democracy and national independence.

    The CPI restates its view that there is no fairer or better capitalism to be resurrected or built from this crisis but rather that it is in resisting the assault of capital that new forces can be drawn into the resistance and into the struggle for a new, socialist Ireland.

    The anarchy, avarice, exploitation, individualism, selfishness, consumer-fetishism and destruction of the global environment can be overcome only by working-class forces leading the struggle for socially planned economic, social and cultural development, nationally and globally. We need a greater role for working people in all aspects of life—economic, political, social, and cultural.

    We call for support for the strike called for Northern Ireland on 30 November and express our solidarity with British workers, who will also be on strike on the same day. Workers in the Republic should come out and support the pre-budget demonstration called by the Dublin Council of Trade Unions on 26 November as well as the protest called by community organisations for 3 December.

    The policies being imposed by the Irish Government, in alliance with the “troika,” have to be resisted. We need to bring real and meaningful power into the hands of the people. This will come about only from a radical realignment of Irish politics and the sweeping away of the moribund economic and political structures that are now incapable of meeting the needs of our people.

    We call on left and progressive forces to demand:

    (1) a referendum on the socialised corporate debt;
    (2) resistance to the privatisation of public companies and services; and
    (3) the building of an alternative economic and social strategy that includes
    —a break with the euro,
    —the establishment of controls on capital,
    —an all-Ireland economic and social strategy,
    —greater regulation and control of essential areas of the economy,
    —democratic planning and accountability, and
    —the nationalisation of all natural resources.

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    New report RMF

    New report out from Research on Money and Finance

    Breaking Up? A route out of the eurozone crisis

    Check it out...

    http://issuu.com/bits_n_bytes/docs/final_rmf3/1

    Pre Budget Demo - DCTU

    The Dublin Council of Trades Unions is calling a pre-budget
    demonstration in Dublin on Saturday 26th November 2011. We are anxious
    that it be an inclusive effort which unites the trade unions,
    community organisations and campaigns against cutbacks.

    The demonstration will promote three simple demands

    Stop the policy of austerity – reverse the cuts.

    Tax the wealthy not the needy.

    For a public investment programme to create jobs.

    Already a broad range of organisations, including the Irish Congress
    of Trade Unions and individual unions and community groups, have
    supported the march. We invite you and your organisation to
    assemble with your banners and placards at 12 noon on Saturday 26th
    November at the Garden Of Remembrance, Parnell Square, Dublin.

    Please find a leaflet/flyer attached for more information. WE WOULD BE
    OBLIGED IF YOU CIRCULATED IT THROUGH YOUR INTERNAL EMAIL LISTS to your
    Branches and members. Some hard copies will also be available.

    If you would like more information or to help organise for Saturday
    26th please contact:

    087 2101370 or dctuforum@gmail.com or the address below.

    Regards,

    Phil McFadden, President
    Mick O'Reilly, Vice President
    Sam Nolan, Secretary

    Dublin Council of Trade Unions
    Mandela House
    44, Lower Gardiner Street,
    Dublin, 1

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    Latest People's News

    Latest from the People's Movement

    http://www.people.ie/news/PN-58.pdf

    Following the finalisation of the euro “rescue deal” announced by EU leaders, the People’s Movement calls on the Government to demand that Ireland be treated on an equal basis to Greece, and demands that the EU open immediate negotiations with representatives of the banking sector—the Institute of International Finance—in order to achieve this objective.

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    Global Research On Greece

    Greek Prime Minister Forced Out in Euro Crisis Deal

    by Patrick Martin

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou agreed to resign Sunday and be replaced by a coalition government of national unity that will have a mandate from the bankers and European heads of state to impose even more drastic austerity measures on the working people of Greece.

    Papandreou held what a spokesman said was his last cabinet meeting as leader of the social democratic PASOK party before entering a protracted meeting with President Karolos Papoulias and Antonis Samaras, leader of the opposition right-wing New Democracy party.

    The talks faced a double deadline Monday—the opening of the financial markets in Europe, hit by huge sell-offs last week over the Greek crisis, and a meeting of European Union finance ministers in Brussels. The Greek delegate to that meeting, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, was expected to confirm the formation of a new government committed to carrying out the terms of the EU agreement reached October 26 on a restructuring of Greece’s debt.

    Press reports from Athens indicated that beyond the ouster of Papandreou, demanded by Samaras as the price of his party’s support, there was no agreement on the composition of the new government or who would lead it. Talks will continue Monday, again chaired by the elderly Papoulias.

    PASOK retains a narrow majority in parliament, demonstrated in the 153-145 vote of confidence won by Papandreou in the early hours of Saturday morning. The next prime minister could thus be another PASOK leader, most likely Venizelos, or a “nonparty” caretaker, such as Loukas Papademos, the former vice president of the European Central Bank, Greece’s largest single creditor.

    New Democracy has abandoned its posture of opposition to the austerity policies of PASOK, which was aimed solely at undermining and ultimately bringing down the Papandreou government. The conservative party has close ties with co-thinkers like the Christian Democrats of Angela Merkel in Germany and the French UMP of Nicolas Sarkozy, the two leaders most active in the imposition of savage budget cuts on Greece.

    As part of the deal with PASOK, New Democracy has now agreed to ratification of the terms of the austerity deal with the European Union, once the final technical details are ironed out, by a deadline of December 15, the date when the Greek government will run out of money to pay obligations like state employee salaries and pensions and interest on government bonds.

    Papandreou is the third government leader this year to become a casualty of the euro crisis, but unlikely to be the last.

    In February, the Fianna Fail-Green coalition in Ireland was wiped out in a general election, replaced by a coalition of the right-wing Fine Gael and the Labour Party.

    In June, the ruling Socialist Party in Portugal was routed in general elections by the right-wing Social Democrats.

    The ruling social democratic PSOE in Spain is expected to lose heavily in the general election set for November 20, and Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero stepped down as PSOE leader long before the vote, announcing he would not seek reelection.

    In Italy, the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi faces another vote of confidence in parliament Tuesday, on a budget bill, which he is widely expected to lose.

    If the Berlusconi government falls, which would precipitate early elections, it would complete a sweep of all five governments of the so-called PIIGS—Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain—that were viewed at the beginning of this year as the most likely candidates for financial crisis and bankruptcy.

    Berlusconi was compelled to accept supervision of the Italian economy by the International Monetary Fund in intensive discussions at the G-20 summit in Cannes November 3-4. This effort to forestall an immediate collapse of confidence in European financial markets may instead precipitate it, since any serious outside review of Italy’s books is likely to find the financial crisis is much worse than currently admitted.

    In Greece, the political crisis takes the form of a de facto takeover of the government by the EU and its emissaries. EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn told Reuters that the European powers backed the change in government in Athens. “We have called for a national unity government and remain persuaded that it is the convincing way of restoring confidence and meeting the commitments,” he said.

    He added that the proposal announced last Monday by Papandreou for a popular referendum in Greece on the austerity measures dictated by the EU and the IMF amounted to “a breach of confidence by Greece” that would “lead it outside the euro zone.” Rehn continued, “We do not want that, but we must be prepared for every scenario, including that one, for the sake of safeguarding financial stability and saving the euro.”

    Papandreou sprang the referendum proposal in order to call the bluff of New Democracy on the one hand and the Greek trade unions and their pseudo-left allies on the other and to force them to drop their professed opposition to the austerity measures, which are fiercely opposed by the broad mass of the Greek people. After being summoned to France by Sarkozy and Merkel on the eve of the G20 summit and threatened with expulsion from the euro zone and a cutoff of funds, Papandreou dropped the referendum proposal, but not before New Democracy agreed to back the EU-IMF austerity plan.

    According to some European press reports, Venizelos has the backing of the major EU powers, particularly Germany, because of his role in scuttling Papandreou’s call for a referendum. After Papandreou’s meeting with Merkel and Sarkozy, Venizelos came out publicly against the referendum and was widely lauded in the European media as a result.

    Venizelos is a long-time political rival of Papandreou, dating back to their contest for the PASOK leadership in 2007, while the party was in opposition. He served as defense minister before Papandreou named him finance minister this summer, seeking to ensure support of all factions of PASOK for acceding to the austerity demands of the EU.

    This connection to the military raises many questions in the wake of Papandreou’s firing of the entire top general staff last week, at the same time as he advanced the proposal for a referendum. Papandreou replaced the heads of the army, navy, air force and joint chiefs of staff, who were all appointed by the previous New Democracy government, but had worked with Venizelos as defense minister.

    The purge of the top generals in the midst of a full-scale government crisis had the appearance of a preemptive effort to forestall military intervention. It was widely reported as such in the European media, but the American press has been virtually silent about it. This alone indicates that the US government is playing a critical but largely behind-the-scenes role in the Greek events, which the US corporate-controlled media loyally covers up.

    Whatever the outcome of the political maneuvers in Athens, the Greek working class has already paid an enormous price. According to a report by Inter Press Service (IPS), the measures already implemented have given birth to a “new poor” in Athens, with wide layers of the population, once accustomed to regular employment and adequate living standards, now plunged into destitution.

    The report published November 1 cited the emergence of homelessness on a mass scale in the Greek capital, as well as a proliferation of aid clinics and feeding stations familiar in third-world war zones, but not seen in the European Union in many decades.

    This includes a medical facility for the homeless, run by Doctors of the World, and a volunteer clinic in Perama, a working class district of Athens once home to longshoremen and shipbuilding workers, most of whom are now laid off.

    Nikitas Kanakis, with Doctors of the World, told IPS, “Out of the 40 kids our pediatrician examined two weeks ago, 23 were malnourished. Some years ago we thought that this country had moved past the point where a lack of food was a prominent social issue. Now we are making public appeals for supplies so that we can provide those in need with dry rations and clothing along with our medicines.”

    The Athens Center for the Homeless reports a 30 percent increase in people seeking food since the beginning of 2011. Together with church facilities and other agencies, charities distribute 12,000 meals a day to the hungry in Athens alone.

    There are also reports of a significant increase in drug abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and other social problems that are the direct consequence of poverty and mass unemployment. Suicides have increased by as much as 40 percent, according to the Greek minister for health.


    Patrick Martin is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

    Saturday, November 5, 2011

    Global Wealth Distribution Pyramid


    While 0.5% of the worlds population have over 1 million dollars 68.4% have less than 10,000 dollars.

    Source: Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    Freedom Waves

    Emergency Demonstration
    Support the Freedom Waves ships to Gaza
    End the Siege of Gaza

    Friday 4th November
    6pm, The Spire
    O'Connell Street
    Dublin 1

    At 7.30pm tonight (Thursday) the Irish Ship To Gaza shore team were informed that Israeli warships were seen 6 miles from the Irish (MV Saoirse) and Canadian (Tahrir) ships attempting to break the siege of Gaza. The ships are currently in international waters around 200 miles from Gaza. Israeli spotter planes were also observed flying overhead according to Fintan Lane, who is on board the Irish ship Saoirse. Crew and passengers on the boats fear being boarded tonight.

    The Irish Ship To Gaza campaign calls on people to mobilise to call for an end to the illegal Israeli siege of Gaza and to support the #FreedomWaves ships by attending this demo tomorrow at 6pm at the Spire in O'Connell Street Dublin 1.

    Organised by the Irish Ship To Gaza campaign - http://www.irishshiptogaza.org/

    Please also send a message to TDs calling for support for the #FreedomWaves - Email Campaign to Protect Irish and International Citizens Sailing to Gaza

    Web: http://www.ipsc.ie/event/dublin-emergency-demo-in-support-of-freedomwaves-end-the-siege-of-gaza
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=286858534667867&context=create
    Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/ipsc48/status/132192757455400961

    KKE: Elections Now!!!

    No to the blackmail of the people with the referendum

    Down with the government

    Elections now

    The government yesterday carried out the most naked and open blackmail and ideological intimidation against the people, in relation to the agreement for the management of the state debt, by announcing a referendum. At the same time the government of PASOK requested a vote of confidence from the Parliament.

    The Press Office of the CC of the KKE made the following statement:

    “Down with the government. Elections now. No to the naked blackmail and ideological intimidation against the people. The blackmail will not succeed. The announcement of the Prime Minister concerning the referendum means that a vast mechanism to coerce the people is being set up, through which the government and the EU will use every means, threats, provocations in order to subdue the working class and the popular strata, to snatch a yes for the new agreement.

    The referendum is going to be carried out with a new reactionary law, lumping together the positions of the KKE with that of ND and the other parties, despite the fact that they are diametrically opposed, while the strategy of the government is identified with the strategy of ND, LAOS and their other stooges. Elections now. The working class and the popular strata must impose them and welcome them with mass mobilizations all over the country. With their activity and vote they must strike hard against the bourgeois political system, to pave the way for the overthrow of the anti-people political line, the power of the monopolies.”