Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Genocide & Anti-Fascism

We didn't have time to write the reports at the time. What does it matter anyway, when we are trying to wipe out the bourgeoisie and the Kulaks as a class?
     Vladimir Smirnov, (Bolshevik)  Checka Report, 1919

In the aftermath of WWII the victors were coming to grips with the staggering reality of the Final Solution.  Raphael Lemkin, a Polish lawyer and a Jew gave to the world the word to describe what the Nazis had done – “genocide.”  There was a personal dimension for Lemkin as well.  The Nazis had murdered forty of his family members. [Raphael Lemkin Papers, The New York Public Library, Manuscripts and Archives Division, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundation, Raphael Lemkin ZL-273. Reel 3. Published in L.Y. Luciuk (ed), Holodomor: Reflections on the Great Famine of 1932–1933 in Soviet Ukraine (Kingston: The Kashtan Press, 2008). Available www.uccla.ca/SOVIET_GENOCIDE_IN_THE_UKRAINE. pdf online.  A. M. Rosenthal, "A Man Called Lemkin," New York Times, October 18, 1988, .A31]  
The task of defining genocide, however, was almost immediately turned into an ideological struggle. Genocide was not a spontaneous, individually initiated action.   It was the planned, systematic work of ideologues, and it could only be carried out by entities (namely governments) that wielded vast powers willing to use their armies, police, weaponry and logistical support to subdue and destroy entire groups of people.  Genocide, thus, was thus a political as well as a criminal act, given its linkages to the ideological motivations of its perpetrators.   What the Nazi’s had done to the European Jews was an act of genocide that proceeded from their ideologically based hatred of Jews. This was clear and undeniable, a closed case.  Convicted before the eyes of the world of this new, modern form of hyper-immorality and barbarity, the government that ruled Germany from 1933 to 1945 was then and forever more a fully branded criminal enterprise, completely outside the pale of the civilized order.       
The Soviet Union endured for another 45 years or so, its leaders pretending to be the opposite of the Nazis with whom in 1939 they had collaborated in the rape of Poland and the mass murder of Polish people.  In 1947 Stalin insisted on a linkage between Fascism and genocide in the United Nation definition of genocide.  Genocide as the Soviets would have it: “was organically bound up with fascism-nazism and other similar race theories which preach racial and national hatred, the domination of the so-called higher races and extermination of the so-called lower races.” [Norman M. Naimark, Stalin’s Genocides, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J. 2010, 22]
Stalin, always wily, in this effort was at the same time playing both offense and defense.  Offensively, he could create a special and unique linkage of genocide to his vanquished foe, Nazi Germany.  This further strengthened the phony moral dichotomy built upon the Soviet Union’s status as the world’s bulwark of anti-Fascism. 
Defensively, he could insulate himself from condemnation from what his regime had a long history of doing. “[T]he Soviet Union and its allies in the United Nations eliminated any social, economic, or political groups from the genocide convention—and, I would add, made it very difficult for scholars to talk about genocide as a product of the Soviet system.” [Naimark, Stalin’s Genocides 23-24]  With this Stalin and the Soviet Union sought to exempt themselves from accusations of genocide for actions that in many essential ways resembled what Hitler had done, namely, the planning, persecution and destruction of entire groups of people based on a fabricated ideological rationale.
The truth is that from the earliest days of the regime, before the Nazis existed, the Soviet Union had systematically targeted groups for extermination based on social class and ethnicity.  In 1920 the Cossacks of the Don and Kuban became an object of physical extermination.  From a secret resolution of the Bolshevik Party Central Committee during the civil war against the Whites: “In view of the experiences of the civil war against the Cossacks, we must recognize as the only politically correct measure massive terror and a merciless fight against the rich Cossacks, who must be exterminated and physically disposed of, down to the last man.” [Black Book of Communism, 99]  There you have it succinctly stated with the distinctive, sentimental Bolshevik touch.  Massive terror and no mercy -- the Socialist workers' paradise was not yet in place.  Clearly, even at this early stage of Communist rule, the rich were in for a very bad time.  Class warfare as the Bolsheviks waged it was class annihilation.

Later during World War II, Stalin ordered the forced deportation of entire ethnic groups beginning with the Volga Germans, followed by the Chechens, the Ingush, the Crimean Tatars, the Karachai, the Balkars and the Kalmyks.  They were moved in mass under the most primitive and appalling conditions to inhospitable places, guaranteeing that large numbers (men, women and children) would die in transit and many more would perish upon arrival. [Black Book of Communism, 216-20)] The Soviet leaders, like the Nazi’s planned and systematically carried out the extermination of people based on membership in a group or groups they had demonized and dehumanized.
 For much of the remainder of the twentieth century Stalinism in it various manifestations and contortions, whether in China, Cuba, and Vietnam, has been advanced by Marxists, neo-Marxists, Soviet apologists, and Communist sympathizers, as anti-Fascist. Their opposition, whoever and wherever it might be, was of logical necessity “Fascist” – the term by itself a smear with its inevitable association with Mussolini and the genocidal Hitler.
 Because Fascism was openly racist, militarist and expansionist, Communists as self-proclaimed anti-Fascists were able to present themselves to the world as exemplars of racial and ethnic toleration, seekers of peace, stalwarts of justice, when in fact their history shows the opposite. Anti-Communists were thus defined by their opposition as Fascists, and therefore as racists.  Racism then became an easy and useful smear of the Left and has been in their repertoire ever since.   

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