Remembering the victims of Stalinism and Marxism

Tue, 05/03/2013 - 06:00
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By RedSquirrels-The 5th of March is the 60th anniversary of Stalin's death, which marked the end of one of the most murderous dictatorships of modern times.

As many as 35 million people are estimated to have died in the purges, forced deportations and deliberate famines which Stalin initiated between 1929 and 1953.

At least 20 million victims were shot, starved, beaten or worked to death in the Gulag camps. Kolyma and Magadan should be names as widely-known as Auschwitz or Belsen.

Here, in far Eastern Siberia, millions were sent to work camps to mine gold and to almost certain death.

There were so many corpses that their bones were used as beds for roads. Other, perhaps more fortunate, victims of Stalin's terror were executed immediately after a cursory 'trial': 700,000 in the Great Purge of 1937 and 1938 alone. Mostly the victims were ordinary Russians, but specific nationalities, particularly the Poles, were also targeted.

Stalin was determined to eliminate any possible opposition to his rule; opponents, real or imagined, were killed in their millions, either directly or by means of deliberate deprivation.

Mass deportation of entire populations was used in an attempt to destroy national groups perceived as hostile to Soviet rule: millions were moved from their homes to isolated parts of the Soviet Union, with large numbers dying en-route or from disease and malnutrition in their new locations.

In the case of Ukraine, in a deliberately engineered famine, now referred to as the Holodomor, and considered to be a genocidal attempt to destroy the Ukrainian peasantry, over 5 million Ukrainians died of starvation, even though the Soviet government was requisitioning grain from the farms for export at the same time.

Peasants starved to death while gun-wielding Communist party activists watched. Elsewhere in the Soviet Union, forced collectivisation of farming led to a further 5 million deaths.

While Stalin's death ended the worst of the systematic terrors, the Gulag system was retained by the Communist regime as a means of suppressing internal opposition, and political dissidents were still being sent to prison or psychiatric institutions until the end of the Soviet Union.

It should not be forgotten that the Soviet regime had been carrying out brutal measures against its opponents from the earliest days of the Russian revolution: Lenin himself established the Cheka secret police in 1918 to enforce Bolshevik rule through show trials, terrorism and executions.

And Trotsky, the 'workers hero' idolised by modern leftists, also ordered thousands of rebelling workers to 'be shot down like partridges' at Kronstadt in 1921.

Approximately 5 million people died in famines caused by the regime's 1920's campaigns against 'class enemies', and Lenin's organisation of the communist party into a completely centralised structure, controlled by a small inner group of leaders, paved the way for Stalin's dictatorship.

Even before the Russian revolution, it was forseen by libertarian writers such as Benjamin Tucker that the Marxist concepts of a 'dictatorship of the proletariat' and enlarging the powers of the state to enforce social justice would lead inevitably to a totalitarian regime.

Marx himself set the precedent for a police state by using censorship and secret agents in an attempt to control the Workers International organisation in the 1860's and 70's.

When we remember the victims of the Nazi genocides, the 40 million victims of the Soviet regime should also be remembered: the Soviet system terrorised more people over a longer period than Hitler's 12-year dictatorship, and the Marxist ideology of absolute state power which led to the Soviet crimes still lives on today in regimes such as North Korea, and in Marxist-Leninist and Trotskyist parties even in Britain.

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