Reminiscences of Soviet history

When my time is up, will anybody be interested in what I did as an academic studying Russia? Off the bat, it doesn’t seem like a gripping subject for a memoir – ‘And then I wrote this article, and then I wrote that one.’ One can’t imagine it being a great page turner. But it might be useful nonetheless, at least if other examples are anything to go by. Two recent memoirs by Anglo-American scholars provide an interesting comparison of how Cold War era Western academics sought to make sense of the Soviet Union, as well as the manner in which Soviet studies were never purely an academic phenomenon but always inherently political.

The authors could not be more dissimilar. Peter Reddaway, author of The Dissidents: A Memoir of Working with the Resistance in Russia, 1960-1990, is something of a Cold Warrior. By contrast, Lewis Siegelbaum, author of Stuck on Communism: Memoir of a Russian Historian is red through and through, while sensibly avoiding being a Soviet apologist. Reddaway’s view of the Soviet system is top-down, sharing the views of his supervisor at LSE, Leonid Schapiro, whose book on the Russian revolution, according to Reddaway, described it as the work of a small group of people who ‘enjoyed but little popular support’ but ‘seized power for themselves … and kept others from sharing it.’ Siegelbaum, on the other hand, views the Soviet Union from the bottom up, concentrating on labour and cultural history, trying to work out, among other things, what made Soviet workers tick. The two scholars’ attitude to the firmly anti-Soviet (and some would say, Russophobic) historian Richard Pipes strikingly illustrates their varying views of Russia. Seigelbaum notes that Pipes’ ‘representations of the patrimonial/totalitarian/garrison state remain a distorting lens through which to view Russia’s history, [and] crowded out social forces among other things.’ Reddaway’s take is very different. ‘Over time,’ he says, ‘I moved toward the camp of the [Patricia] Blakes and the [Richard] Pipeses in my view that all things Soviet were fair game for analysts in the West’.

Both Reddaway and Siegelbaum benefitted from the opening up of the Soviet Union in the Khrushchev era to make trips there. Reddaway remarks of his first visit that, ‘I embarked on the trip as someone with a critical view of Soviet Communism’. Nothing he saw in Russia ever changed his mind. Instead, it reinforced it, and for a while he assisted the Russian émigré organization NTS by editing its magazine. The NTS was founded in the 1920s by young officers of the anti-Bolshevik White armies, and in the Second World War was associated with the collaborationist Vlasov movement, so you get a sense of the circles in which the young Reddaway moved. Later, as a student at Moscow State University (MGU) his only contact with ‘ordinary’ Russians seems to have been conversations with taxi drivers. Otherwise, he spent all his time in the company of what he calls ‘liberal’ intellectuals. His ability to mix and mingle in Moscow literary circles appears to have been quite remarkable, soon acquiring a large circle of friends among disaffected elements of the Soviet intelligentsia. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this eventually resulted in him being expelled from the country.

reddaway

Back in the United Kingdom, Reddaway in due course became a conduit through which dissident samizdat material was smuggled from the Soviet Union and translated and published in the West, most notably the ‘Chronicle of Current Events’, which detailed Soviet political repression. Much of The Dissidents consists of descriptions of this repression, especially the Soviet practice of deeming dissidents to be mad and locking them up in psychiatric institutions. Reddaway links an upsurge in psychiatric abuse to a failure of the World Psychiatric Association to condemn it and expel the Soviets. Weakness by the West, he suggests, encouraged human rights abuses. The only correct policy is a hard line.

There can be little doubt that in translating and publishing the ‘Chronicle of Current Events’ and in highlighting the struggles of the dissidents, Reddaway played a valuable service. His descriptions of Soviet repression, particularly psychiatric abuse, are a welcome reminder of the negative side of Soviet life, and something we should all bear in mind if ever we start feeling a little bit of nostalgia for times gone by. That said, there was something about The Dissidents which bothered me a little bit. One gets the sense of somebody who began with a negative view of the Soviet Union and then never sought to question it. Having gone to Russia, it’s like Reddaway sought out the type of people who would reinforce his existing position. His Soviet literati friends come across as doing relatively well out of the system but at the same time despising it (comparison with contemporary Kreakly come to mind). But as Reddaway himself notes, these people ‘lived in the cocoons of their comfortable homes, segregated from the people and enjoying a multitude of privileges.’ Was this really the best source of information about Soviet life? I can see the younger me in Reddaway. I used to be like that. But I’ve changed a bit. Reddaway, it would seem, never budged an inch along the way.

Siegelbaum similarly never budged. But unlike Reddaway, he both began and ended on the left. His father was a member of the Communist Party of the USA, and he came of age in the late 1960s when, as he says, ‘We filled courses on revolutions, peasant societies, and guerrilla movements. We read Frantz Fanon, Regis Debray, and Mao Zedong, [and] debated the finer points of revolutionary strategy.’ I have to say that this sort of thing has always baffled me. How did anybody ever imagine that Chairman Mao was the answer to America’s problems? But they were different times, I suppose.

As an undergraduate, Siegelbaum got his knowledge of the Soviet Union from the likes of Stephen Cohen, providing him with perhaps a rather more nuanced perspective than that of Reddaway. Like the latter, Siegelbaum then spent time at MGU, but his experience was dissimilar. As he puts it, ‘My Russian friends … neither revolved in high places nor associated with liberals or dissidents’. Still his experience in Soviet Russia created ‘considerable disillusionment’ in him: communism, it turned out, wasn’t quite what he’d hoped.

siegelbaum

This did not, however, put Siegelbaum off, and from then on he devoted himself to a study of Soviet social history. As he writes, ‘I put workers and shop floor politics at center stage in the drama of Stalin’s industrial revolution’. ‘I was driven’, he says, by ‘my yearning to tell a different kind of story about the Soviet Union’s formative decades, one in which working people occupied the center of the drama.’ The result was a very different version of Soviet history, which brought some much needed sophistication to what was previously a rather lop-sided Cold War perspective.

Has this made any difference to how the general public views the Soviet past? Siegelbaum isn’t too optimistic. He concludes: ‘Despite all our efforts to introduce  other themes and demonstrate their salience, what the public best knows about Soviet history is still the Gulag, Stalin’s brutality, the absence of freedom within the country, and variations on the Soviet Union as a totalitarian empire’. In short, the Reddaway view still dominates over the Siegelbaum one.

And so it will ever be, I suspect. To be blunt, the Gulag sells better than stories of factory workers. Reddaway’s reminder of Soviet repression fits the zeitgeist (evil Russians!!) more than the tales of a historian who finishes his memoirs with a statement that, despite it all, he still sees communism ‘as the only real alternative to the barbarism of capitalism’. The struggle for the soul of Soviet history will continue, but outside the halls of academia, I suspect that the battle was won long ago.

58 thoughts on “Reminiscences of Soviet history”

  1. Regarding the NTS:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Alliance_of_Russian_Solidarists

    Concerning how someone has been remembered for his Russia related commentary:

    https://thesaker.is/vale-jon-hellevig/

    I didn’t have the privilege of meeting him in person. He seemed like a very good guy. In conversation, we learned that our respective grandfathers had received a St. George’s Cross.

    As for Richard Pipes:

    https://www.eurasiareview.com/25062018-remembering-richard-pipes-oped/

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      1. Thanks, Michael, helpful.

        RS, thanks too. Maybe a lot concerning the author, …

        Otherwise “Whose Face?” (The Games People Play???) surfaces in the LRB’s link to the article you mention, may well refer to the Reddaway part, but yes it does not surface in the review’s title.

        Her earlier LRB article: A Spy in the Archives.

        All this affected my formation as a historian: I became addicted to the thrill of the chase, the excitement of the game of matching your wits and will against that of Soviet officialdom. How boring it must be, I thought, to work on British history, where you just went to the PRO, and polite, helpful people gave you catalogues and then brought you the documents you wanted. What would be the fun of it? Knowledge, I decided, had to be fought for, achieved by ingenuity and persistence, even – like pleasure, in Marvell’s words – snatched ‘through the iron gates of life’. I thought of myself as different from the general run of British and American scholars, with their Cold War agenda (as I saw it) of discrediting the Soviet Union rather than understanding it. But that didn’t stop me getting my own kicks as a scholar from finding out what the Soviets didn’t want me to know. Best of all was to find out something the Soviets didn’t want me to know and Western Cold Warriors didn’t want to hear because it complicated the simple anti-Soviet story.

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  2. “Soviet studies were never purely an academic phenomenon but always inherently political…

    Well said, and also, I would add, inherently war-like.
    I remember reading somewhere that at the annual conference for the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies (the aptly named AAASS), the one that took place the year the Soviet Union fell apart, the keynote speaker got up to the podium and announced (to thunderous applause of conference attendees): “We won!”

    In other words, as if I have to spell it out, ALL of American Soviet and Russian studies, the entire academic community (with the possible exception of Prof. Stephen Cohen), existed for one purpose only, and that one purpose was NOT the advancement of scientific historiography!
    That one purpose was – duh! — to destroy and dismantle the Soviet Union, as the academic arm of the American imperial state.

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  3. I always found the pro-Soviet (but not slavishly so) left wing historical accounts to be the most compelling. You get a full, well rounded picture of the Soviet experiment from Stalin onward.

    To take the Stalin era as an example as told by these historians. There is the repression, the terror, the murder, the fear, the brutality, the cramped living conditions, but also introduction to literacy, running water, machinery, modern living conditions, gaining basic hygiene knowledge, access to high culture, being treated as a citizen, a determination to build a better life, determination to become a more refined and better person – these things coexisted together and to understand that also helps understand why the Russians find it hard to damn Stalin completely. As Stephen Cohen says “it was a time of towering achievements, and monstrous crimes” and those two do not sit well with each other.

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    1. Dewitt, that is an excellent comment, and also an example of “THE DIALECTIC” in action. To quote Hegel, it ain’t always black and white.

      Westie historians obsessing on “Stalin bogeyman” stories probably never understood that the average Soviet citizen (especially working people) living during those times, would not have had much experience (if any) with “The Great Terror”. Their lives were focused on work, educating themselves, raising their kids, etc.

      The system built by Lenin and the Old Bolsheviks had an inner dynamic that was so powerful, it could keep on going like a machine and keep improving the lives of the majority of citizens, even as the political system itself was rocked to the core.

      To be sure, many ordinary people were affected by the Stalin repressions. But, on the whole, the political repressions mostly consisted of Stalin getting even with, and wiping out, the Old Bolsheviks. His blood enemies. My favorite word for this is “office politics”, even though I know that term does not sit well with Professor Robinson.
      🙂

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      1. Not entirely true, Yalensis, as the majority of the population were peasants and so were very violently affected by collectivization.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know, but the collectivization (aka industrialization of agriculture) was going to happen anyhow, under any leadership. Granted, if there had been somebody in charge more competent and more intelligent than Stalin, then it might have been a lot loss less painful. But either way, it was going to happen; and either way things were bound to get ugly at times.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. “Not entirely true, Yalensis, as the majority of the population were peasants and so were very violently affected by collectivization.”

        “Violently”? That’s a new way to spell “positively”, Professor!

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      4. In any case, the collectivizations were a completely different phenomenon from the political purges, even if they happened around the same time. It’s just impressionistic to combine apples and oranges into the same picture, unless one is an artist specializing in fruit.

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  4. If you’re just sitting around with nothing to do (I’m kidding; I know you’re busy with your autobiography), see if you can find a copy of Barry Broadfoot’s “Ordinary Russians”. Barry Broadfoot and Peter Reddaway would have got on like a house on fire. Broadfoot traipsed around the Soviet Union just before it collapsed – “Ordinary Russians” was published in 1989 – and had an infallible instinct for starting up conversations with people who were miserable and couldn’t wait to tell someone. He pitied the Russians for their attempts to be like normal people; every restaurant he ate in, if he asked for a salad, they brought him tomatoes and cucumbers, as if that’s what the word ‘salad’ means in Russian. And didn’t the Balts hate the Russians? He visited Estonia, and greatly enjoyed his conversations with a schoolteacher there who regaled hm with her story of ‘the bitch from Moscow’, and how she had implied that her son was going to fail in order to extort money from her to prevent it. There’s moral rectitude for you.

    You could have met him when you come to visit me, he just lived up the road in Nanaimo, but he died in 2003. I never met him, either, but Vancouver Island is ground zero for people who have interesting views of Russians. Michael Bociurkiw, who was the first westerner at the crash site of MH-17 and claimed the cockpit looked like it had been hosed with machine-gun fire, lives even closer, in Sidney.

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  5. “…so you get a sense of the circles in which the young Reddaway moved”

    Left unmentioned are the political program of the NTS, their collaboration with the Polish military intelligence, immediate switch to new masters in 1939 and therefore their pro-Nazi ideological drift during the War… And how they were paper-clipped to fight for Murika and Mockracy, where in the US of A they’d performed “reboot to the last working version of the program” – i.e. back to the fascism.

    Redway, thus, was ideologically pro-fascist. He found the USSR not to his taste. Ah… boo-fucking-hoo?

    “…especially the Soviet practice of deeming dissidents to be mad and locking them up in psychiatric institutions.”

    Judging by activity of these dissidents’ present day successors, it was a necessary and very sound policy, that should be brought back. And not just in Russia.

    “His descriptions of Soviet repression, particularly psychiatric abuse, are a welcome reminder of the negative side of Soviet life, and something we should all bear in mind if ever we start feeling a little bit of nostalgia for times gone by.”

    A meaningless diatribe. I’m gonna say a mind-blowing thing to you, Professor. Acts of “repression” happen every day all across the world. Because “repression” literally means “putting down”, in this case – disobedience before the law. Fining someone for jaywalking is – surprise-surprise! – an act of “repression”. Just like passing a sentence for the murder or rape. And the citizens (normal ones) are fine with that.

    More honest tract thus, would be to say, that the West drew attention to other country’s having a different set of laws and values and ability to enforce them. I.e. the matter, boils down to values dissonance. Which means – yeah, there will still be people feeling mighty nostalgic about these times. Whatcha gonna do about it?

    “Was this really the best source of information about Soviet life?”

    It is the only ideologically suitable one for any red-blooded Westerner. Find a Native in any of these quaint non-Western states, which, if you squeeze your eyes reaaaaaaaly tight, might pass for the trademark “member of the middle-class” and lionize him/her/zher/“singular” them/абырвалг. Shamelessly. Tirelessly. With a foam in your mouth. Because the alternative is to betray your own class strata.

    “I can see the younger me in Reddaway. I used to be like that. But I’ve changed a bit.

    […]
    […]
    […]
    […]
    […]

    😉

    “The struggle for the soul of Soviet history will continue, but outside the halls of academia, I suspect that the battle was won long ago.”

    There were no “battle” in the first place. All so-called “Russian/Soviet studies” in the West were ordered by the needs of the Cold War promulgators, in need of “right” ideological ammo. When will you shed this preposterous notion about pure, Ivory Towers world of Academia, unaffected by the politics?

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    1. psychiatric abuse ‘a necessary and very sound policy, that should be brought back’?? That’s a low one, even by your standards.

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      1. “psychiatric abuse ‘a necessary and very sound policy, that should be brought back’??”

        Oooooh! Playing your “trump cards” from the very start? Niiiice! “Abuse”? Really? Trying to get on a hero’s white horse, eh, Professor? Okay, then! I guess this makes Tetyana Chornovol’s case:

        “diffirent”. Here you are – a clearcut nutcase is allowed to go frolic around in the “free and democratic” post-Soviet Ukraine. And then she did… stuff… in 2014, for which she’s now prosecuted.

        You need real victims of “psychiatric abuse”? Look no further than Andriy Parubiy:

        “Abuse” here took the form of not putting him in the institution, so that young Andriy would in UkrSSR’s twillight years go around and try to restore the tarnished glory of the UPA…

        [He ended up as Rada’s speaker under Poroshenko, proving, once again, that the Ukraine is a land of equal opportunity]

        “That’s a low one, even by your standards.”

        […]

        I’m reminded of an anekdote about poruchik Rzhevsky and “a beautiful starry night”… 🙂

        Plus such concern about my “standards” – really touching, Mr. Robinson! Anyway, Professor – I’m not voicing something odd or outlandish for most Russians re: the return of the punitive psychiatry.

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    2. “Left unmentioned are the political program of the NTS, their collaboration with the Polish military intelligence, immediate switch to new masters in 1939 and therefore their pro-Nazi ideological drift during the War… And how they were paper-clipped to fight for Murika and Mockracy, where in the US of A they’d performed “reboot to the last working version of the program” – i.e. back to the fascism.”

      *****

      Really!?

      The Bolshes secretly collaborated with Pilsudski – something that was later acknowledged:

      https://wikileaks.org/gifiles/docs/13/1319241_russo-polish-relations-ukraine-and-russia-s-image-.html

      https://www.eurasiareview.com/08042016-fuzzy-history-how-poland-saved-the-world-from-russia-analysis/

      NTS wasn’t Nazi. The USSR under Stalin as well as some key Western nations had “collaborated” (seeing how that word gets selectively highlighted) with the Nazis. For that matter, the Anglo-American WW II alliance with the USSR didn’t make Washington and London Communist.

      The pro-Russian NTS didn’t support the anti-Russian platform of the Captive Nations Committee influenced Captive Nations Week for reasons expressed at this link:

      https://web.archive.org/web/20050205051751/http://russian-americans.org/CRA_Art_Captive.htm

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      1. “Really!?”

        Really, userperson Michael Averko. Really. Also – you really are a masochist, what with you once again initiating a sequence, that would make you look more foolish than before.

        “The Bolshes secretly collaborated with Pilsudski – something that was later acknowledged:”

        “The Bolshes”? Oh, you mean the legitimate government of Russia aka the state? The states can do that. Individuals – not.

        “NTS wasn’t Nazi.”

        No, they were fascists, who collaborated with the Nazi’s and ended up including lots and lots of their talking points (including re: The Jews) in the end. Al Qaeda and ISIL are also different. Doesn’t mean one of them should be lionized though.

        Also noted – you have nothing against fascists.

        “The USSR under Stalin as well as some key Western nations had “collaborated” (seeing how that word gets selectively highlighted) with the Nazis. For that matter, the Anglo-American WW II alliance with the USSR didn’t make Washington and London Communist.”

        […]

        Do you have a lolbertarianism of the head brain? Again – are you capable of proceeding the difference between the official state powers and capabilities vs the powers and capabilities of the individual citizens?

        “The pro-Russian NTS didn’t support…”

        First of all – it’s hilarious to read about someone being “pro-Russian” from a Vlasivite pindo-khhol like you. Second – why wouldn’t you cite more egregorious examples of NTS activities and words of their leaders from, gee, I dunno – how about RusLang version of the WikiDorkia article you like to post so much?

        “В июне 1953 года восемь агентов НТС были сброшены с парашютами с американского самолёта в районе Майкопа. Каждый имел при себе рацию, шифровальный блокнот и оружие. Все восемь агентов были схвачены сотрудниками советской госбезопасности. Провал произошёл благодаря информации, полученной советской разведкой от Кима Филби.

        До этого, в конце апреля 1953 года, агенты НТС были заброшены в Винницкую область УССР, район станции Казатин. Там были схвачены и позднее расстреляны Александр Маков, Сергей Горбунов, Дмитрий Ремига и Александр Лахно. Заброску планировала английская разведка, а технически осуществляли американцы. Добровольцы нашлись из числа курсантов разведшколы ЦРУ под Мюнхеном”

        Were “pro-Russian” soooooo much, that kept doing the same shit as they did pre-War, this time collaborating with the insanely incompetent early CIA. Worked for the CIA outlet “Radio Liberty”. Which means one thing – they’ve become pro-American.

        Leaving aside their unhinged lionization of Vlasov and support of Yeltsin in the 90s – their modern day activity is hardly better. In December 2010 then leader of the NTS in Russia Komarytsin called for the immediate release of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. In March 2011 they had two rallies in support of the “Lybian rebels” against their struggle with Quadaffi. During the “White-ribboners movement” of 2011-12 they actively participated in protest action on the side of the opposition. In September 2012, to noone’s surpsides, they’ve staged a rally in support of “Syrian rebellion against the regime of Bashar Assad”.

        Damn! How come these “pro-Russian” patriots support the most despicable cads possible while always managing to follow the official line of the US State Dept’s policy? Could it be – [gasp] – that old CIA habits are not dead, alive and kicking, fed and cared for by their old masters?

        And you, userperson Michael Averko support them – real life fascists in CIA’s employ.

        […]

        Nuff said

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      2. More long winded crapola on your part after getting intellectually plastered at a not too distant thread by yours truly. Keep living in your dream world of hypocritical inaccuracies.

        At the time of the Russian Civil War, the Bolshes (after staging a coup) weren’t so “legitimate” to many.

        Calling the NTS fascist is debatable:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Alliance_of_Russian_Solidarists

        I acknowledge your hokey explanation regarding the use of collaborate.

        NTS types are by no means monolithic. The ones with roots to the 1930s aren’t so in sync with the likes of Navalny. The Cold War era NTS en masse opposed the Captive Nations Committee influenced Captive Nations Week, as explained here by someone who was in sync with the NTS:

        https://web.archive.org/web/20050205051751/http://russian-americans.org/CRA_Art_Captive.htm

        The Cold War era West had competing mindsets on Russia – not too dissimilar from Germany in WW II. The aforementioned two mindsets were/are pro-Russian/anti-Soviet and anti-Russian/anti-Soviet. Related:

        https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2019/12/14/czech-russian-relations-and-the-roa-conflicting-historical-narratives/

        In the post-Cold War era, the Russian based NTS has come to include others with the views you mention. Put mildly, they (at least a good number of them) aren’t quite the same as the original. Reminded somewhat of what the US based Novoye Russokye Slovo was (pro-Russian/anti-Communist) to what it has become – kreakl like.

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      3. “More long winded crapola on your part after getting intellectually plastered at a not too distant thread by yours truly. Keep living in your dream world of hypocritical inaccuracies.”

        :))))

        Hope your knowledge of Russian didn’t atrophy entirely, userperson Michael Averko:

        You are referring to that? No, it’s not you “intellectually plastering” me. I could easily believe you being plastered, though. No, that’s the equivalent of you behaving like a pigeon from that joke about playing chess with it – you are incapable of learning the rules, can only knock down figures at random, at the slightest threatening move on your part, you’d crap the board and fly off, thinking yourself a victor.

        The facts, Averko, is that you are a tad worried after my words about Nazi rehabilitation being a criminal offense in Russia. *This* is what made you bugger off. Good thing you are not a citizen.

        “At the time of the Russian Civil War, the Bolshes (after staging a coup) weren’t so “legitimate” to many.”

        One can, of course, use the term “coup”. Or one can use a term “Revolution”, or, better still, “a resolution to the crisis of Dual Powers”. Because the Soviets were legitimate form of power, and post October 1917 they were the only one standing. From the purely legalistic POV this grants them the best legitimacy especially in the times of Civil War. But what is more important – they had both the institutions of the state power and executive power or enforcing their decisions. Aka – they possessed all prerequisites to be considered a “state/government”, and should be treated as such.

        Which was exactly a point I was making – states are incomparable to the private individuals.

        “Calling the NTS fascist is debatable”

        Nah, it’s not. They are fascists.

        “NTS types are by no means monolithic. The ones with roots to the 1930s aren’t so in sync with the likes of Navalny.”

        Who’s talking about Navalny here? Lame deflect, Averko. But, hey, good for bringing him out! You know that half a score of dumbasses who sent to “Immortal Regiment” site photos of Vlasov and other Nazis, and who are now persecuted in accordance with the Art. 341.1 of the Criminal Code of RF (“Rehabilitation of the Nazism”)? Both of them Navalnites! Their Fuhrer recently called a 93 year old veteran of War “a lowlife”, for which (inshallah!) Alexey the Sisyan will finally answer before the law. Even now people in Russia (Russian citizens – not cultural mules like you) are comparing Navalny to Vlasov.

        What’s the meaning of this? Don’t think you (and mean you – userperson Michael Averko) can go off the hook with your own excuses and attempts to whitewash Nazis and their collaborators, plus the assorted scum and traitors. You are already toxic as fuck, and no one of importance will ever, ha-ha, “collaborate” with you. No one needs an unhinged Nazi apologist with your background. Your defense tactic of claiming “they were not Nazis/fascists!” makes it only worse for you. Watch these dumbasses getting their just deserves in Russian courts, their lives forever affected with the fact, that they did commit a crime. Let it be warning for you.

        You are a pathetic loser with no future and no present to speak of. You are coming here like a whore that (somehow!) gotten herself kicked from the brothel “for too much lewdness”, but who knows only one way how to earn for a living. So you flash your 3-rd rate not exactly young tities in the form of a constant stream of links that promote results of your (past – long, long past) logorrhea, hoping for just a morsel of recognition, fame and, yes – money. It gets at you that you have to denigrate yourself to begging and link-post at the comment sections, instead of Big Names asking you to share your “wisdom”, right, userperson Михаил Аверко?

        “The Cold War era West had competing mindsets on Russia – not too dissimilar from Germany in WW II. The aforementioned two mindsets were/are pro-Russian/anti-Soviet and anti-Russian/anti-Soviet”

        You are a pathetic bootlicker, Averko. It won’t surprise me in the slightest, if your parents – or you yourself – worked for the Americans as weaponized immigrants of the Cold War. NTS fascists surely did. This resulted in generations of Western students forever poisoned with their views, like having a soft spot on various “right” movements and capability to find excuses to the traitors and collaborators.

        Here, in Russia, we don’t have any fucking nuance about it. All of them – NTS, Vlasovites, other turncoats and defectors no matter their reasons for betrayal – were traitors of our country. The Americans never really differentiated between the USSR and “Russia”, between the Soviet citizens and “the Russians”. They wanted to nuke us and annihilate our country. And people like your “heroes” – even maybe people like you – were helping them to achieve their heart desire. Which makes all of them our enemies. Even today, because the aims of the US of A remain the same.

        Like I said – we don’t have any nuance. Nor should we. There are no “moderate Nazis” – only still, unfortunately, alive and, thankfully, finally dead.

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      4. Michael, are you a member of the NTS?
        You don’t have to answer if that’s private. It just seems to me that your political views follow their platform very closely, not to mention your historical allegiances.

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      5. I’m not nor have ever been a formal member of the NTS. Yes, much of what they’ve stood for is in agreement with me.

        So there’s no misunderstanding, at one point (especially during the Stalin years) there was a basis to oppose the USSR. The likes of Khodorkovsky and Navalny, are carrying on under different circumstances. Specifically, there’s no more USSR, with Russia having considerable freedoms.

        In Nazi captivity, Vlasov never said the kind of anti-Russian things that some of the Russian liberasts, kreakls, (whatever you want to call them) have said.

        Seeing how you like to shift gears, this post and thread very much relates to what’s wrong with the former USSR coverage:

        https://www.unz.com/akarlin/old-libs-getting-eaten-by-wokespawn-in-russia-watching-field/#comment-3957895

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      6. “In Nazi captivity, Vlasov never said the kind of anti-Russian things that some of the Russian liberasts, kreakls, (whatever you want to call them) have said. “

        Are you trying to rehabilitate the image of the traitor general Vlasov, who to this day is still considered to be a criminal in Russia, and whose apology in any is covered by the Art. 341.1 of the Criminal Code?

        Oh, and btw – this extends to the ROA as well (who, from the legal POV, are the same scum as the Banderites). No wiggle room for a half-fart like you. In short – you are just a rare speciment akin to the North America based Banerites… only more pathetic, lonely and, thankfully, without a country where your vile ideas could be celebrated.

        Sucks to be you, userperson Mikhaylo.

        Like

      7. It’s not unreasonable to believe that Stalin betrayed the revolution, with his idiotic policies killing many more Russians than whatever you can accuse Vlasov of.

        Once again fool, my background isn’t Ukrainian. Like it or not, Vlasov’s army has nowhere near the negative baggage of the Ustasha and OUN/UPA.

        This piece first appeared at a Russian based venue, which is the opposite of being anti-Russian:

        https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2019/12/14/czech-russian-relations-and-the-roa-conflicting-historical-narratives/

        Like

      8. It’s not unreasonable to believe that Stalin betrayed the revolution, with his idiotic policies killing many more Russians than whatever you can accuse Vlasov of.

        1) For the matters of belief – go to the nearest church. In the debate among the laymen on things f this world it does not apply.

        2) You are literally one of the least suitable people for passing a judgment on “betrayal of the Revolution”, given your biases and abysmal knowledge of the topic.

        3) The oath general Vlasov swore was not to Stalin – it was the USSR. He betrayed that oath of the RKKA member. He is a traitor. You are trying to whitewash and find some apologia for a traitor.

        4) Vlasov was not an individual at liberty of picking and choosing how much his troops have to kill – he served the Nazi, he was part of their military forces. It is utterly dumbfuck moronic (i.e. typical of you) to jump to the conclusion, that he was, therefore, “better”. He, Vlasov, was also “just following orders”, and, no – this is not a defense. He, along with the others like him, were traitors who were killing their fellow countrymen.

        5) The whole thing is a moot point, for the state has wields the monopoly to the violence, so it can’t “murder”. Vlasov lost it by becoming a traitor.

        6) Everything in this paragraph of yours is lame – and you are a dumbass, who keeps posting easily disprovable things, and just can’t stop, lest the people might think you’ve “yilded”. Go on, dubass – post more of your apology of the Nazis!

        “Once again fool, my background isn’t Ukrainian. Like it or not, Vlasov’s army has nowhere near the negative baggage of the Ustasha and OUN/UPA.”

        Said like a true pindo-khohol you are, userperson Mikhaylo! Vlasov’s army “negative bagage” in Russia is equal to even greater than those of UPA and other collabrateurs, precisely because he was a traitor to Russia. And you keep trying to said it ain’t so, meaning – you are engaging in the rehabilitation of the Nazism. Meaning – you yourself are, ultimately, pro-Nazi.

        P.S. I’m not clicking any of your articles, especially the one you’ve been posting and reposting ever since. No clicks from me for your logorrhea.

        Like

      9. Do as you please oh sick and twisted one. Your personal attacks at this and some other threads come across as projection, thereby indicating that you’re a pathetically miserable piece of crap.

        Stalin was in fact responsible for more deaths (Russian and otherwise) than what Vlasov can be legitimately accused of. Vlasov wasn’t a Nazi. Stalin collaborating with Hitler at one point didn’t make the Georgian dictator a Nazi.

        Like

      10. Two questions of the “Yes/No” variety.

        1) Do you deny the validity of the Russian laws, that recognize Vlasov as a traitor?

        2) Is Vlasov a traitor for you?

        Now, are you physically capable of answering these?

        Like

      11. The manner of such questioning is done to oversimplify things for the benefit of the given bias.

        There were German officers who plotted against Hitler. George Washington was a British officer. Some French officers saw a basis to assassinate de Gaulle.

        Within reason, it can be said at Vlasov became disenchanted with the USSR under Stalin. Where’s the evidence that he was anti-Russian?

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      12. “Once more into the breach”

        It’s no rocket science or philosophy – these are legal questions of the “Yes/No” variety.

        1) Do you deny the validity of the Russian laws, that recognize Vlasov as a traitor?

        2) Is Vlasov a traitor for you?

        Now, are you physically capable of answering these?

        Like

      13. Once again:

        The manner of such questioning is done to oversimplify things for the benefit of the given bias.

        There were German officers who plotted against Hitler. George Washington was a British officer. Some French officers saw a basis to assassinate de Gaulle.

        Within reason, it can be said at Vlasov became disenchanted with the USSR under Stalin. Where’s the evidence that he was anti-Russian?

        I’ll add that Lenin had written a cautionary note of Stalin’s behavior. A good number are of the view that Stalin deviated from what the revolution was intended for. Stalin is responsible for more Russian and other deaths than what Vlasov could ever be legitimately accused of.

        Like

      14. Okay, Averko. I hope everyone will note, that I’ve been treating you much, much better and granting you more respect that you’d ever (ever) deserve. Last chance for you to give an answer like a man – not like a sniveling arse-covering toady you are.

        Let me help you make the choice with bits and pieces of relevant info:

        Exhibit A: Art. 58-1b of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR. Understanding, that you might very well forgotten Russian language (or never knew it being a pindo-khohol). There are translations a-plenty in the Net, so you’d have no excuse.

        Exhibit B: Art. 275 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Likewise – I provided the link to the original legal document, not my problem if you have trouble understanding it.

        Exhibit C-1:

        (the crime of) showing no loyalty to your country, especially by helping its enemies or trying to defeat its government
        – Definition of the word “treason” according to the Cambridge English Dictionary.

        Exhibit C-2:

        “1: the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign’s family”
        – Definition of the word “treason” according to the Merriam-Webster English Dictionary.

        Exhibit-D: General Vlasov was hanged all right: Yesterday, the military board of the Supreme Court of Russia refused to rehabilitate the general by Kommersant (02.11.2001). Quote (this one I gonna translate for everyone’s benefit):

        “Alexander Yakovlev, chairman of the commission for the rehabilitation of victims of political repression under the President of Russia, on the contrary, believes that the Supreme Court did the right thing. Mr. Yakovlev told Kommersant that earlier the relatives of General Vlasov had already applied to the commission, but they were refused: “And while I am alive, I will not bring the issue of Vlasov’s rehabilitation to the commission for consideration.” According to Alexander Yakovlev, he takes Vlasov’s case particularly sharply: “I myself was fighting at the front as part of the 6th Marine Brigade, and I saw soldiers breaking through the encirclement in groups. Vlasov lacked a sense of manhood and a general sense of holiness the oath. And then he was on the side that was killing our soldiers.” Alexander Yakovlev said that the Vlasov’s issue periodically turnes up at the commission: “But we have a clear and firm position: such cases should not be considered.” Mr. Yakovlev is sure that the crimes of the Stalin’s regime had nothing to do with the affairs of the Vlasovites, who are in any case traitors and accomplices of the Nazis.”

        Exhibit-E: Russian court refused to rehabilitate Vlasovite General Arzeso (27.08.2019). Quote:

        “The Russian Supreme Court refused to rehabilitate Colonel of the Red Army Vladimir Arcezo, who went over to the Germans, served in the Russian Liberation Army of General Vlasov, and was executed in the USSR in 1947 for treason. A certain foreign citizen sought rehabilitation, the press service of the Main Military Prosecutor’s Office said.

        Was it you, Averko? 😉

        Like I said – for the last time. Like in case with the young UK residing boychik we had recently, the one who was seeking a “nuance” instead of answering a direct question about Crimea’s status. If you, Michael Averko, won’t provide a short, concise, honest answer, I (and, hopefully, the rest of the commentariat – plus the people outside who’d stumble to this exchange via the magic of net-algorithms) will know for sure, how you really think.

        The questions still are:

        1) Do you deny the validity of the Russian laws, that recognize Vlasov as a traitor?
        2) Is Vlasov a traitor for you?

        The possible answers to them are still “Yes” or “No”.

        Like

      15. “Russian” law or “Soviet”? From a pro-Russian, especially anti-Communist variant, Vlasov can be legitimately seen as a non-fiend. Prior to his capture, he was highly regarded within the ranks of the Soviet military. In Nazi captivity, his forces and himself refrained from the kind of murderous behavior evident among the Ustasha and OUN/UPA.

        Post-Soviet Russia (at least to a noticeable degree) have come to take a more favorable overview of the Russian Civil War era Whites, when compared to the slant of the Soviet period there. Overall historical interpretations have been known to change – some times more accurately.

        Like

  6. Thirty years ago, I took Peter Reddaway seriously. Since then, I have come to think that he exemplifies what happens when one prefers to talk exclusively to people who share, or profess to share, one’s worldview, rather than actually paying attention to emerging evidence.

    As regards his statement that ‘over time’ he ‘moved toward the camp of the [Patricia] Blakes and the [Richard] Pipeses in my view that all things Soviet were fair game for analysts in the West’.

    What ‘fair game’ is supposed to mean in this context is not clear to me.

    Anyone and everyone, I believe, should be open to rational criticism on the basis of evidence. But academics and others, with some professional conscience, should not practice the kind of ‘case for the prosecution’ which looks for evidence that confirms it, and ignores that which calls it into question.

    As regards Pipes, the evidence has been unambiguously clear for a generation now that, on crucial questions to do with the role of military power, and in particular nuclear weapons, in Soviet strategy he adopted the latter approach.

    A central strand in ‘glasnost’ actually had to do with the belief that it would be in Soviet/Russian interests to lift the veil of secrecy that had covered their military strategies.

    One result was a study done by the BDM Corporation in 1995 for the ‘Office of Net Assessment’ at the Pentagon. When it was declassified in 2009, and the contents reproduced on the invaluable ‘National Security Archive’, the headline ran:

    ‘Previously Classified Interviews with Former Soviet Officials Reveal U.S. Strategic Intelligence Failure Over Decades.’

    (See https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/nukevault/ebb285/ .)

    A relevant paragraph from their summary reads:

    ‘The Soviet military high command “understood the devastating consequences of nuclear war” and believed that nuclear weapons use had to be avoided at “all costs.” In 1968, a Defense Ministry study showed that Moscow could not win a nuclear war, even if it launched a first strike. Although Soviet ideology had insisted that survival was possible, no one in the leadership believed it. In 1981, the General Staff concluded that “nuclear use would be catastrophic.” [I: 23-24, 26; II: 24 (Danilevich), 124 (Mozzhorin)] This does not support arguments made by Richard Pipes in the late 1970s that the Soviets did not believe that a nuclear war would result in “mutual suicide” and that the “country better prepared for it and in possession of a superior strategy could win and emerge a viable society.”’

    An irony is that by 1995, publicly available information had already made clear that Pipes had been the gullible victim of a Soviet disinformation operation. An account given by a leading Russian security intellectual, Andrei Larionov, in a book published that year was clearly restated, in English, in a paper published on the site of the Belfer Center at Pipes’s own university, Harvard, in 2003.

    (See https://www.belfercenter.org/sites/default/files/legacy/files/kokoshin_2003_01.pdf .)

    Back in Gorbachev period, at the ‘Institute of the U.S.A. and Canada’, Larionov had collaborated with his mentor, General-Mayor Larionov, in developing the military dimensions of the ‘new thinking.’

    In the paper on the Belfer Center site, he recalls his erstwhile collaborator’s explanation of the origins of the classic Soviet statement of the strategy of winning a war by nuclear pre-emption, the original 1962 edition of the study ‘Military Strategy’ published under the name of Marshal Sokolovsky:

    ‘As recalled by the main developer of this work, General–Major V. V. Larionov, Sokolovskii, having been commissioned to prepare such a collective work, decided to obtain direct orders from the head of the government and of the Communist Party, Commander-in-Chief N. S. Khrushchev. At the time, Sokolovskii was no longer in office; he had resigned the post of chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the USSR because he was dissatisfied with Khrushchev’s policy of reducing the number of the Armed Forces of the USSR as the role of missiles and nuclear weapons increased. Sokolovskii did not obtain an audience with Khrushchev right away. The members of the group of authors for the preparation of Military Strategy waited for him impatiently. Sokolovskii emerged from his session with Khrushchev in a somewhat flabbergasted state. Khrushchev’s main directions in Sokolovskii’s account were very distinct and clear: “Write the book so that when they in the West read it they’ll be scared half to death” (Khrushchev, in his characteristic style, actually used a much coarser expression). The directions (given before the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962) were successfully carried out. Many years later, this book (having gone through many editions in translation in the West) was used by “hawks” in the USA and other countries as a basis for their own analogous military strategy and for massive military build-ups, especially for those that assumed that it is possible to wage nuclear war and achieve victory in a nuclear war.’

    The point was that Khrushchev, quite rightly, believed that the preferences of figures like Sokolovsky for a large conventional military establishment, while they might make sense in narrowly military terms, were economically ruinous.

    Accordingly, he wanted to rely on nuclear ‘deterrence.’ Actually, a viable ICBM capability was still some way away. However, he had noticed that people like Pipes had, as it were, scared themselves into a jelly with hopelessly inflated estimates of Soviet military capabilities (’bomber gaps’ ‘missile gaps’ and the notion that the Soviets had 175 fully mobilised divisions.)

    So, Khrushchev reasoned, why they not scare them some more, to cover for conventional force reductions? As Larionov intimates, the strategy actually backfired.

    In relation to very many societies, and particular the Soviet Union, the external security dimension is critical. Misunderstanding it is likely to lead to misunderstanding very much else.

    So, as to Reddaway, a question has to arise: does he not realise this? Or is he among the many, including some former communists I have known, who continue to believe that Pipes has been proven right, in spite of rather conclusive evidence to the contrary?

    Like

    1. Apologies. Sloppy error. It was Andrei Kokoshin, quoting his collaborator Valentin Larionov, who authored the study on the Belfer Center website.

      An earlier English language discussion, which quotes the 1995 Russian-language study by the former in which he relayed the latter’s account of the genesis of the ‘Military Strategy’ book, is in the January 1999 paper ‘Forecasting Future War: Andrei Kokoshin and the Military-Political Debate in Contemporary Russia’ by Jacob W. Kipp, then with the U.S. Army’s ‘Foreign Military Studies Office.’

      (See https://fas.org/nuke/guide/russia/agency/990100-kokoshin.htm .)

      Previous studies by Dr. Kipp, which in my view are critical to understanding the – neglected – role of technical military debates in early Soviet history, include his 1986 paper ‘Lenin and Clausewitz: The Militarization of Marxism, 1914-21’, and his 1987 essay ‘Mass, Mobility, And The Red Army’s Road To Operational Art 1918-36.’

      (See https://www.clausewitz.com/bibl/Kipp-MilitarizationOfMarxism.pdf ; see https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a195053.pdf .)

      The continued relevance of these arguments of the interwar years is evident from the fact that, in his crucial 2013 address on ‘The Value of Science in Prediction’, the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, General Valery Gerasimov, referred perhaps the most intellectually important figures on the opposing sides of them.

      Of these, Georgy Isserson, the Jewish doctor’s son from Kaunas, who was a key ‘ideas man’ for Tukhachevsky, and as such a pivotal figure in the development of ‘deep operations’, was a ‘true believer’ Bolshevik.

      By contrast, Aleksandr Svechin, probably the most brilliant of the Tsarist ‘genstabisty’ with whom Lenin formed the alliance which Kipp describes in his 1986 paper, who was central to the development of the idea of ‘operational art’, clearly wasn’t.

      The points at issue Tukhachevsky and Svechin, and their relevance for Stalin’s shift towards crash industrialisation and collectivisation, are brought out in the 1987 paper.

      For the – tendentious – discussion of Gerasimov’s 2013 address by Mark Galeotti, which gave rise to the notion of a ‘Gerasimov Doctrine’, and his subsequent apologia, see

      https://inmoscowsshadows.wordpress.com/2014/07/06/the-gerasimov-doctrine-and-russian-non-linear-war/ .

      Like

      1. Майкл Аверко (Michael Averko) is a Nazi and a coward.

        No matter how often you gonna delete this, it won’t become less true, Mr. Robinson.

        Like

  7. On a different topic (sorry!), but if anyone is interested in geography and geo-politics, I started this 2-parter on the Vistula Spit. Just explaining the geographical features involved.
    In tomorrow’s post (hopefully) I will get into the geopolitics of it, why Poland is digging this canal, how Russia responds, and why the EU is not behind this project.
    I personally find it very fascinating that the border between Russia and NATO runs through a sand-dune in the middle of a lagoon!

    Like

  8. It would really be a shame if historians couldn’t prevent the Hollywoodish, black-and-white, Good versus Evil worldview to prevail.

    The Moscow trials, to name perhaps the climax of Soviet knavery in the western picture, was for example to a great degree propelled from below. Wendy Goldman has gone through a lot of minutes from trade union meetings where ordinary members called for punishment of the evil people who had caused Soviet society to go astray; somebody had to be made responsible for an outcome that was so much worse than the one they had been promised. And Sheila Fitzpatrick shows in Stalin’s peasants how the peasants called for punishment of those who had pestered them with collectivization and brutally suppressed those who tried to prevent it. It seems that the government could only dodge being accused and try to direct the wrath to anybody but itself. Perhaps not the most magnanimous thing they could do, but which government would act differently, in the circumstances?

    Witch-hunt is not a speciality of Russians alone, there is plenty in it that is drearily familiar to Europeans or Americans. If historians could re-frame Russian history into something more normal, more commonplace, I think it would be salutary. True, the turmoil of the 20s-40s was not normal, but the people who tried to make some kind of order out of it were. They didn’t do it very well, but one could only wish that one could have done it better oneself. Seeing what we do about our own predicaments I am however not sure.

    Like

    1. That’s a very good point, Westie historians don’t regard anything happening in Russia as “normal” or comparable to processes in other countries. They paint everything going on in Russia as something completely abnormal and different from what happens in other societies. Hollywood, comic-book type thinking, very good point. Everything so fraught, as if taking place on another planet.

      As for the “groundswell from below” and trade unions demanding the Moscow Trials and the like… well, color me dubious!
      By that time, Party functionaries were quite adept at manipulating “ordinary” workers and the like to “call for” various things which served the interests of the majority bloc. There were a lot of jokes about that in Soviet times, along the lines of “As a worker, as a woman, as a mother, I call upon… blah blah blah….”
      In modern times we might call it “virtue signaling”, LOL.

      Like

      1. According to my experiences, people can not be manipulated into doing something they would have done nevertheless. Functionaries may perhaps wrest resolutions, grudgingly, from members, but as I read Goldman, the demands came on member initiative.

        I don’t find that curious at all. I can believe that a lot of trade union members were rather angry at higher-up people. There was even a general strike in the Ivanovo textile district against higher production norms and lower pay; a book about that has been written by Jeffrey J Rossman. This was not what they had been promised. From the floor it may well have looked like fraud and sabotage somewhere in the administration.

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    2. By the way, if historians want a more dramatic approach they could write a Soviet history as a tale about hubris. They wanted so much, these heirs to the Russian intelligentia tradition, and they achieved so little (Russia today is a raw material exporter as it was a hundred years ago). Perhaps they would have achieved more if their ambitions had been somewhat realistic?

      Like

      1. “They wanted so much, these heirs to the Russian intelligentia tradition, and they achieved so little “

        […]

        I’m sorry, you have to forgive me, what with this modern times avalanche of new fads and fashions in “thinking” and Internet “culture”. Was that baseless claim of yours an example of the so-called “post-irony” or just a plain ol’ concern trolling?

        P.S. Btw – it’s okay, Professor, for allowing my earlier comment to languish in your “spam filter” for days. This is your blog – here you are the Master and Commander. Don’t let anyone forget that.

        Like

      2. Jan Wiklund,

        Following on from my earlier comments. I think this history may prehaps be more complex, and tragic, than you seem willing to grasp.

        As I attempted to bring out in those, my understanding of this period was radically reshaped by the writings of Dr Jacob W. Kipp – ironically, a key figure in an organisation run by the U.S. Army. Of course, he cannot be held responsible for the conclusions I draw from his work.

        What he taught me was that the project for turning a backward peasant society, at breakneck speed, into one capable of producing the the technologies required to prevail in modern industrial war, was Tukhachevsky’s, and Isserson’s, before it was Stalin’s.

        And he also made me realise that both they, and their great opponent, the old Tsarist ‘genstabist’ Aleksandr Svechin, were in crucial ways right and wrong.

        So Tukhachevsky and Isserson were quite correct to conclude that the new technologies which had emerged in First World War made ‘Napoleonic’ strategies of ‘destruction’ once more both possible, and indispensable.

        At the same time, as Svechin had pointed out, both German and Russian enthusiasts for ‘blitzkrieg’ were quite wrong in thinking that such strategies could avoid the need for a prolonged war of ‘attritrion.’

        It is actually the fact that the kind of ‘offensive’ posture which Tukhachevsky and Isserson had recommended, for the outset of a war, and about which Svechin had been sceptical, resulted in Stalin getting into problems out of which there were no good solutions, and that Isserson could see the risks he was running, to which Gerasimov is alluding, in his 2013 address.

        So, you have paradoxes.

        On the one hand, Stalinism succeeded in making it possible for backward Russia to defeat perhaps the most formidable military machine since the time of the Romans, in what was quite literally an ‘existential conflict.’

        A war to defend oneself against being annihilated, or turned into a people of helots, is something of which people in the West have no experience, and which in general they lack the capacity even to try to imagine.

        On the other, the cost, in all kinds of different ways, was very great. Much less, as is now clear, than the higher-end assumptions of ‘anti-Stalinists’, alike among Russians, inside the country, and in the emigration, and many Western scholars, used to claim. But quite great enough, all the same, in all kinds of ways – not simply in the count of the dead.

        Just to clarify: my own instinctive sympathies are emphatically not with the Bolsheviks.

        But, I have come to understand better, with time, how Aleksandr Svechin and his brother went their different ways: the one siding with the Bolsheviks, the other with the ‘Whites.’

        Actually, it’s all there in Mikhail Bulgakov – see especially the play ‘Flight’, and the way that the White ‘hangman general’ Roman Khludov, modelled on the real life General Yakov Slashchev, both of whom return to (Soviet) Russia, becomes part of the basis for the figure of Pilate in ‘The Master and Margarita.’

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      3. Famous Lenin quote when asked to define communism:
        “Communism is government by worker councils, plus electrification of the whole country.”
        Doesn’t sound hubristic to me, sounds like a realistic goal!
        And one that was accomplished eventually.
        Just making the point that Lenin was no starry-eyed dreamer and did not arouse false expectations. The bureaucrats that followed him, well, I can’t speak for them, they might have indulged in some hype from time to time…

        Like

    3. Jan Wiklund,
      Had there been a few basic human rights such as free speech, free associations (including political ones) and, of course, a true Fourth Estate, then I doubt that many of the hideous events that occurred in the USSR would have been “propelled from below”. They were propelled from above, not from below. Who propelled the terror? Who created the
      apparatus of terror?

      Like

      1. “…and, of course, a true Fourth Estate…”

        A good one here. I didn’t laugh so hard in a while 🙂

        Please, userperson “RS.” – keep going. You liberast talking points are always fun to read!

        Like

  9. The Tragedy of Russia’s Reforms: Market Bolshevism Against Democracy by Peter Reddaway and Dmitri Glinski

    May provide another perspective on Reddaway. At this point he was an aggressive critic of Yeltsin and his American sponsors.

    Like

    1. Book ublished in 2001.

      Short review in Foreign Affairs:

      The Tragedy of Russia’s Reforms: Market Bolshevism Against Democracy
      By Peter Reddaway and Dmitri Glinski
      Reviewed By Robert Legvold
      May/June 2001

      Reddaway and Glinksi deliver a savage frontal assault on former Russian president Boris Yeltsin, the young reformers on whom he leaned, and the Western politicians, advisers, and agencies complicit in the misery they are said to have wrought. “Market Bolshevism” refers to Western-style capitalism imposed from above without regard for Russian values, vulnerabilities, and deficiencies. Not only did Yeltsin and his favorites sacrifice democratic process to “authoritarian modernization,” but the corrupted and painful effects of their economic reform despoiled the very idea of democracy in the popular mind. Critics will say that the authors both underestimate the underlying realities that burden any reform strategy in Russia and overestimate the decisiveness of personalities and their fallible choices. Be that as it may, Reddaway and his Russian co-author bring more detail to this story than anyone has done before. They also offer a thought-provoking assessment of relevant social science theory and the frameworks that other scholars have used to explain the Russian case.

      Like

      1. correction:
        after checking it. His book on Russia was quite easy to read. And easy to understand.

        But I gave up with pn this one:
        Redefining the Market-State Relationship: Responses to the Financial Crisis and the Future of Regulation

        Like

  10. I started this new post today which some might find interesting. It’s about an African-American auto worker with the same last name as our host (=Robinson) who lived in the Soviet Union for 44 years!

    More broadly, it’s the story of how American auto workers (guest workers) helped the Soviet Union start its own auto industry in the early 1930’s. That was actually a fascinating time in Soviet history, with so much construction, and so much new stuff being built.

    Like

  11. A reminder to all that this a forum for reasoned debate, not ad hominem attacks. Gratuitous insults of a libellous nature will be expunged. Attack one another’s arguments not one another’s persons.

    Like

    1. “Gratuitous insults of a libellous nature will be expunged.”

      […]

      Averko wrote this in a way of “answering” my questions:

      “From a pro-Russian, especially anti-Communist variant, Vlasov can be legitimately seen as a non-fiend

      I’ve asked him 3 (three) times to give a full, short, concise answer. Instead I got this. I wrote the only kind of comment it warranted.

      You deleted it, Mr. Robinson.

      I re-posted it again, this time with the quote from Averko, to highlight the reason why.

      You deleted it as well, Professor.

      That’s okay. You have 100% right to do just that. You can go full tyrant – this is your blog. No judgement from me.

      But I have 2 questions for you, Professor:

      1) Do you deny the validity of the Russian laws, that recognize Vlasov as a traitor?

      2) Is Vlasov a traitor for you?

      Like

  12. First of all, I’d like to reiterate, that I hold nothing against Professor for going out of his way to delete my comments to Mikhail Averko – for whatever reasons. Mr. Robinson has absolute right and control to do as he pleases on his personal blog. Nothing should hinder him – including any unsubstantial non-binding stuff like “liberal ideology” or “freedom of speech”. In fact, I can only applaud anyone’s efforts’ to deal away with these flimsy, inherently hypocritical and useless concepts.

    But, Professor, I think you didn’t purge enough of my comments. So I’ll still be using the phrases and expressions that you “sanctioned” (you are living by a precedent rule here, right?) by not-deleting them back, oh, 1-3 years ago? I’ve left plenty of them, Professor, including in convos with the userperson MIKHAIL Averko. My linguistic legacy is rich indeed.

    [Because I don’t want for this to languish indefinitely in the “waiting for approval” Limbo, as its often the case, just easily verifiable quotes here].

    Averko said:

    “I’m pretty sure that in the present day, Vlasov wouldn’t be a kreakl, but more in line with the Russian government.”
    – May 17, 2020 at 1:56 am, commenting on “Wishful Democratic Thinking” blogpost

    “As for the Crimea matter you brought up… if he were somehow brought back from the dead, I don’t think that Vlasov would disagree.
    – June 18, 2020 at 12:45 am, commenting here.

    Putin said:

    “The Allies jointly established the International Military Tribunal to punish Nazi political and war criminals. Its decisions contained a clear legal qualification of crimes against humanity, such as genocide, ethnic and religious cleansing, anti-Semitism and xenophobia. Directly and unambiguously, the Nuremberg Tribunal also condemned the accomplices of the Nazis, collaborators of various kinds.

    “This shameful phenomenon manifested itself in all European countries. Such figures as Pétain, Quisling, Vlasov, Bandera, their henchmen and followers – though they were disguised as fighters for national independence or freedom from communism – are traitors and slaughterers

    “Today as well, our position remains unchanged – there can be no excuse for the criminal acts of Nazi collaborators, there is no statute of limitations for them. It is therefore bewildering that in certain countries those who are smirched with cooperation with the Nazis are suddenly equated with the Second World War veterans. I believe that it is unacceptable to equate liberators with occupants. And I can only regard the glorification of Nazi collaborators as a betrayal of the memory of our fathers and grandfathers. A betrayal of the ideals that united peoples in the fight against Nazism.”
    – 18.06.2020, “The real lessons of the 75th anniversary of World War II” by V.V. Putin.

    “Отакої” (с)

    Let me spell it out – neither Russian people, nor the leadership of Russia wants Vlasov and his ilk. For us (all us) Vlasov and other collaborators are traitors and scum – not heroes. There is no place for them and their modern day worshippers in the modern Russia. Only rootless nationalists, right-wing mankurts devoid of dignity, status and purpose still worship traitors and try to use them as a vehicle to crawl back into Russia. You try – and fail. Because traitors are failures and losers.

    They won’t get a free pass for their crimes just because their modern age cultists argue (very unconvincingly) that they might be in support of “Big Issue X/Y/Z”, should, Highly Unlikely, they’d be somehow brought back to life. The rhetoric “Vlasov will support Putin/Modern Russia” is aimed either feebleminded or children. Why should it matter for us, Russians, that an absolute cunt and a traitor gonna do this? We are not the Ukies, who’s ready to engage in the torrent of “dyakuvaniye” to anyone in the West who says “Slava Ukrajine!”, talks tough to Russia or puts on a vyshivanka. We have dignity.

    Now, there are two options for you:

    1) Admit, in the face of new undeniable evidence, the futility of your argument that “Vlasov is okay for modern Russia”, because, as you can see, a modern day Russia is against him and his and doesn’t plan to change that. For Vlasov to support such Russia, where both the people and the government hates him and equates with Bandera and Nazis would be an act of masochism. Again – tough luck for you lot, for the official stance here is that only traditional family values are worth supporting, not some perversions.

    2) Continue to spew the same old drivel unabated, totally ignoring facts and evidence. But in that case everyone will see that you, userperson MIKHAIL Averko, is deliberately telling something, that cannot be true. Meaning – that you are lying.

    Your call. Your call as well, Professor, for I still don’t see answers to my questions to you.

    Like

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