This article outlines the causes of the mass repressions of 1937–1938 in the Soviet Union. Primary- source evidence strongly supports the hypothesis that these repressions were the result of anti-Stalin conspiracies by two groups, which overlapped somewhat: the political Opposition of supporters of Grigorii Zinoviev, of Trotskyists, of Rightists (Bukharin, Rykov, and their adherents); and of military men (Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky and others); and high-ranking Party leaders, nominally supporters of Stalin, who opposed the democratic aspects of the “Stalin” Constitution of 1936. It discusses Stalin’s struggle for democratic reform and its defeat. The prevailing “anti-Stalin paradigm” of Soviet history is exposed as the reason mainstream scholarship has failed to understand the mass repressions, misnamed “Great Terror.”
On February 25, 1956, Nikita S. Khrushchev delivered his “Secret Speech” to the delegates at the XX Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In it, he attacked Stalin for committing a number of crimes against members of the Party. Khrushchev stated:
It was determined that of the 139 members and candidates of the party’s Central Committee who were elected at the 17th Congress, 98 persons, i.e.,70 per cent, were arrested and shot (mostly in 1937–1938)…. Of 1,966 delegates with either voting or advisory rights, 1,108 persons were arrested on charges of anti-revolutionary crimes.
. . . Now, when the cases of some of these so-called “spies” and “saboteurs” were examined, it was found that all their cases were fabricated. Confessions of guilt of many arrested and charged with enemy activity were gained with the help of cruel and inhuman tortures.
Khrushchev claimed that Nikolai Ezhov, the Commissar of the NKVD from August 1936 until November 1938, must have acted under Stalin’s orders.
It is clear that these matters were decided by Stalin, and that without his orders and his sanction Yezhov could not have done this. (Khrushchev 1962)
Journal of Labor and Society · 2471-4607 · Volume 20 · September 2017 · pp. 325–347 VC 2017 Immanuel Ness and Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
The “Great Terror”
In 1968, British writer Robert Conquest published a book titled The Great Terror. Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties. Conquest relied heavily on Khrushchev-era books and articles, which he cited without source criticism, as though the claims made in them were unproblematically accurate. Conquest’s book proved to be of enormous value as anticommunist propaganda. Scholars of Soviet history began to employ “the Great Terror,” as a designation for this period of Soviet history.
The Anti-Stalin Paradigm
The goal of my recent book, Yezhov vs. Stalin, is to identify the causes of, and properly locate the responsibility for, this mass repression. Historians of the Soviet Union have proposed several different explanations. My research concludes that all of them are fundamentally wrong. These historians have in fact not been trying to discover the causes of the mass repressions. Instead, they are groping for an explanation that fits the dominant historical framework, or paradigm, for this period. I call this the “anti-Stalin paradigm.”
The proximate origin of the anti-Stalin paradigm is the writings of Leon Trotsky. In service to his own conspiracy, Trotsky depicted Stalin as a monster. Today, we know that Trotsky lied about virtually everything that concerned Sta- lin and the USSR. In his “Secret Speech” Khrushchev took up a number of the same falsehoods that Trotsky had invented (Furr 2015).
At the XXII Party Congress in 1961, Khrushchev and his men accused Stalin of yet more crimes. From 1962 to 1964, Khrushchev sponsored hundreds of articles and books attacking Stalin. These were avidly repeated by Western anti- communist writers. Between 1987 and 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev sponsored yet another avalanche of anti-Stalin writings. These contributed significantly to the ideological dismantling of the Soviet Union. Today, we know that Khrushchev’s and Gorbachev’s men were lying in virtually everything they wrote about Stalin.
According to this anti-Stalin paradigm:
Stalin was a “dictator.” Therefore, he must have initiated, or at least could have stopped, everything important that occurred. Whatever happened, hap- pened because he wanted it, or something very like it, to happen. Stalin was always “in control.”
The alleged conspiracies against the Stalin government were all fabrications.
The evidence produced in the testimony at the Moscow Trials, and in the interrogations and confession statements that have gradually been published since the end of the USSR in 1991, must be fabrications too.Most mainstream historians of the Stalin period bind themselves a priori to these tenets. They are not questioned, nor is there any attempt to validate them.
These strictures dictate the kinds of explanations and the types of evidence that are deemed acceptable. Their purpose is to guarantee that the only historical explanations set forth in mainstream historiography are those that make Stalin and the USSR “look bad.” They are convenient to the view of the USSR as “totalitarian,” a “dictatorship” ruled by “terror.” They reinforce the concept of this period as “the Great Terror.”
These are disabling assumptions. Accepting them makes it impossible to understand Soviet history of the Stalin period. But their aim was never to facilitate a truthful account of history. Rather, their purpose is to reinforce an anti- communist, virtually demonized view of Stalin and the USSR, and thereby of the world communist movement of the twentieth century.
Grover Carr Furr III is an American professor of Medieval English literature at Montclair State University, best known for his books on Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union. Born in Washington, D.C., Grover Furr graduated from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1965 with a BA in English. He received a Ph.D in Comparative literature from Princeton University in 1978. Since February 1970 he has been on the faculty at Montclair State University in New Jersey, where he specializes in medieval English literature.
^0Stop using all mainstream media.
No exceptions...It’s brainwash propaganda.
Instead, build YOUR media. Share these articles!
GROVER FURR—The goal of my recent book, Yezhov vs. Stalin, is to identify the causes of, and properly locate the responsibility for, this mass repression. Historians of the Soviet Union have proposed several different explanations. My research concludes that all of them are fundamentally wrong. These historians have in fact not been trying to discover the causes of the mass repressions. Instead, they are groping for an explanation that fits the dominant historical framework, or paradigm, for this period. I call this the “anti-Stalin paradigm.” This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
By subscribing you won’t miss the special editions.
Parting shot—a word from the editors The Best Definition of Donald Trump We Have Found
In his zeal to prove to his antagonists in the War Party that he is as bloodthirsty as their champion, Hillary Clinton, and more manly than Barack Obama, Trump seems to have gone “play-crazy” — acting like an unpredictable maniac in order to terrorize the Russians into forcing some kind of dramatic concessions from their Syrian allies, or risk Armageddon.However, the “play-crazy” gambit can only work when the leader is, in real life, a disciplined and intelligent actor, who knows precisely what actual boundaries must not be crossed. That ain’t Donald Trump — a pitifully shallow and ill-disciplined man, emotionally handicapped by obscene privilege and cognitively crippled by white American chauvinism. By pushing Trump into a corner and demanding that he display his most bellicose self, or be ceaselessly mocked as a “puppet” and minion of Russia, a lesser power, the War Party and its media and clandestine services have created a perfect storm of mayhem that may consume us all.—Glen Ford, Editor in Chief, Black Agenda Report
Make sure many more people see this. It's literally a matter of life an death. Imperial lies kill! Share widely.