Farewell Chubais

Vladimir Putin has been at the top of the Russian system of government for 20 years. Until this week, there was somebody else who’d been around even longer – former Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais. On Wednesday, however, Chubais was dismissed from his job as head of the Russian Nanotechnology Corporation (Rosnano). Only a handful of Yeltsin-era liberals still remain on the scene (former Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko and former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin being the main examples). Chubais’ departure provides an opportunity to look back and reflect on what Russian liberalism wrought and why it enjoys so little support today.

Chubais rose to prominence in the late 1980s as one of group of radical, free-market economists in Leningrad (later renamed St Petersburg), and like Vladimir Putin, in the early 1990s attached himself to St Petersburg mayor Anatoly Sobchak. An advocate of rapid privatization, he became Deputy Prime Minister and then chief of the presidential administration, until he was fired in 1997. Subsequently, he ran the Russian electricity company UES with some success before taking up his post at Rosnano in 2008. Despite his later work, it is his role in the privatization of Russian industry in the early and mid-1990s for which he is best known.

The fact that Russian privatization resulted in a massive and unequal redistribution of wealth, concentrating ownership of industry in the hands of a few so-called oligarchs, while leaving millions of ordinary Russians in poverty, has forever tarnished Chubais’s reputation. In particular, he is blamed for the infamous loans-for-shares scheme in which valuable state corporations were handed over to a handful of private owners for a mere fraction of their true value.

To be fair to Chubais and his fellow reformers, the task they had was extremely difficult. In the late 1980s, the Soviet economy faced a severe crisis. Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika, while well intentioned, had exacerbated the country’s economic problems, producing severe shortages. Chubais and others like him were not wrong in determining that further tinkering of the socialist system would not work, and that something far more radical was required, to transform the socialist economy into a capitalist one.

Chubais was well aware that change of this sort was bound to have some negative effects. There was a certain logic, therefore, to moving as rapidly as possible, both to minimize contradictions in the process, and to make the changes irreversible before opposition could harden. Later, when it came to the loans for share scheme, the dire financial position of the Russian government meant that the temptation to resort to financial short cuts was perhaps understandable, even if the exact method chosen was decidedly untransparent and arguably even corrupt.

An economic experiment on such a large scale had never been attempted. It is hardly surprising that major errors were made. At the end of the day, though, a new system was created, which while far from perfect has provided Russians as a whole with an unprecedented degree of prosperity, albeit after a long period of suffering.

In this sense, the Yeltsin-era liberals don’t deserve all the mud that has been flung at them. That said, there are aspects of Chubais’s career which explain why so much of the mud has stuck.

For in some respects Chubais was a prime example of what one might call ‘liberal authoritarianism’. Russia’s failure to turn into a Western-style democracy is normally blamed on Putin. But in reality, Russian liberals of the reform era were themselves far from democratic in inclination.

This became clear as far back as 1989, when Chubais and fellow members of the Leningrad-based Association of Social-Economic Science published an article calling for a ‘hard course’. Criticising the proposals of Gorbachev’s government as insufficiently radical, Chubais and his fellow authors called for a ‘big leap’ forward, but warned that this would have some ‘extremely negative consequences’, including ‘mass unemployment … social-economic differentiation, illegal speculation on a gigantic scale and also the “unjustified enrichment” of some individuals’. In the face of the inevitable opposition this would provoke, the article demanded that the government take ‘tough measures … such as the dissolution of official trade unions in the event that they spoke out against government measures.’ The main political task, said Chubais, was for the government to keep all power in its hands. The difficulty was that the population as a whole lacked a democratic mentality, meaning that democracy would in practice give power to populists who would stop economic reform. For this reason, ‘The most critical problem for democrats … is the need to express their support for anti-democratic measures which are necessary for reform, such as a ban on strikes, control over information, and so on.’ To this end, it was essential that ‘control of the main element of the mass media remain in government hands.’

What is remarkable about this article is how accurately it predicted the negative consequences of reform. Nobody can say that the reformers didn’t know what they were doing. At the same time they displayed an extremely utilitarian morality – the ends justified the means, with huge inequalities, mass unemployment, and undemocratic methods all being justified by the supposed benefits to be obtained at some later date.

Interestingly, Chubais has never really backed off from his opposition to democracy in the name of democracy. Much more recently, for instance, he declared, ‘Imagine that we organized in the country genuine, fully democratic elections, based on the will of the workers, giving equal access to the mass media, and to money … the result of such elections would be of an order worse, and possibly simply catastrophic for the country.’

None of this would perhaps matter too much if the reformers had been willing to share the suffering they knew that their policies would create. But instead, they exploited the opportunity to grow rich themselves. Chubais is a case in point, being said to be ‘himself worth several million dollars’. In 2009, he caused something of a scandal when he told an academic audience, ‘If you are an assistant professor and you do not have a business, then why the hell do I even need you!’. Failure to get rich is depicted as almost a moral failure. It speaks volumes of the lack of empathy for the real difficulties many Russians had to endure as a result of the economic collapse of the 1990s.

And here perhaps the Chubais case reveals the real failing of modern Russian liberalism. It’s not the basic direction of the policies that liberals pursued in the 1990s. By 1991, Gorbachev had driven the Russian economy into the ground. A radical and rapid move towards a market economy was pretty much the only option left. Nor is the problem necessarily the actual form that the policies took – given that they were in uncharted territory, it’s understandable that the reformers made some bad mistakes along the way. Rather, the liberals’ problem is related to their utilitarian mind-frame and apparent hypocrisy. For it’s very hard to complain that Putin’s Russia is undemocratic when you’ve hardly been democratic yourself; it’s difficult to complain of corruption, when you yourselves appear to be major beneficiaries of it; and finally it’s almost impossible to appeal to what are often deemed the ‘masses’ when you seem to be rather indifferent towards their sufferings.

Between Russian liberalism and the Russian people there appears to be what one might call an ‘empathy gap’. The career of Anatoly Chubais, a man widely despised in his own country but once crowned ‘European Finance Minister of the Year’, is perhaps as clear an example as one could find.

51 thoughts on “Farewell Chubais”

  1. “At the end of the day, though, a new system was created, which while far from perfect has provided Russians as a whole with an unprecedented degree of prosperity, albeit after a long period of suffering.”

    It’s true that a Russian middle class has been created during the Putin years, and that many people are better off than they were. I don’t know if you could talk about “Russians as a whole” being prosperous, though. There is still quite a lot of poverty, especially in the regions. Which also raises another acute problem: that Russians, just like in Third World nations, tend to flock to the metropolises, especially Moscow; because that’s the best place to find an education and a good job, etc.
    What the government needs to do is invest A LOT OF MONEY in regional development. Entice the youth to stay in the regions, if they can find good opportunities there, and stop clogging up the cities.

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    1. It is certainly true that there are huge regional inequalities, with areas of severe poverty. Still, I think it’s true that ‘as a whole’ people are more prosperous.

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      1. I would have to disagree. For most Russians they have never recovered from the implosion of the Soviet Union. Looking at income distribution alone, one can see this. Furthermore at the end of it what emerged was a rent based economy and only after a less extreme faction of the liberals (such as Yevgeny Primakov and Putin himself) gained power. Even then, it is mostly an economy that has lived off the rich legacy of the USSR from the education system to infrastructure. The new Russia is not reformist China – where there was undeniable construction and renewal amid a lot of suffering. Instead there was a lot of suffering, Putin made better use of the Soviet legacy and there it has pretty much limped along. To be sure I am not one who thinks modern Russia is a horrible place where there is no innovation and nothing good happens – I read this blog after all and on your recommendation bought Professor Connolly’s book on Russia’s response to sanctions – but at the end of all the suffering there was no great construction no victory in a great war, nothing like what the USSR even under the horrors of Stalin achieved.

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      2. “what the USSR even under the horrors of Stalin achieved.”

        Here you lost me. What “horrors of Stalin”?

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      3. Sadly, I have to agree with dewittbourchier, Russia under Liberal leadership has been just limping along like the Sick Man of Europe, eking from and trying to manage the great Soviet legacy of accomplishments. Although the reunion with Crimea was certainly a bright spot, in an otherwise gloomy picture.
        🙂

        As for the “horrors of Stalin”, I can’t speak for dewitt, because I don’t know what he means here, but for me the destruction of the Bolshevik Party in a Thermidorian counter-revolutionary terror, not to mention the castrating of the Comintern, certainly qualified as “horrors” and even nightmares. Again, I can’t speak for dewitt, he might have something else in mind.
        😦

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      4. “the destruction of the Bolshevik Party in a Thermidorian counter-revolutionary terror”

        One – communist party was NOT destroyed

        Two – “Red terror” (brought to life as a response to the White Terror) has stopped with the end of the Civil War and Foreign Intervention in Russia. What happened afterwards were repressions – absolutely legal and viable law enforcement tools availible to any state.

        Three – there was nothing “counter-revolutionary” in the way how repressions were conducted.

        Four – Comintern was not “castrated” and, actually, became more widespread and powerful, as well as becoming the prime anti-fascist organization on the planet Earth.

        FIve- Trots are merely edgey Mensheviks, i.e. opportunistic traitors of the working class.

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      5. Of course, dewittbourchier is right in his “horrors of Stalin” characterization – something acknowledged in post-Soviet Russia, along with the sovok counters. A sign that Russia is an expressively diverse country when it comes to openly stated views.

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      6. Hm… if Trots were actually Mensheviks, then surely they would have stood with the Mensheviks as well as alongside those Bolsheviks (Zinoviev, Kamenev and, yes, Stalin) who opposed Lenin’s April Theses. Well, to be sure, Stalin didn’t come out directly at the time, he just kept his mouth shut; but as the editor of Pravda he was busy printing calls to support the Provisional Government right around the time just before Lenin returned.

        I’m not saying Zinoviev-Kamenev-Stalin didn’t have the right to that opinion (that the Provisional Government and the Duma should be supported), it was a valid political opinion, it’s just that it wasn’t Lenin’s position; and was also a MENSHEVIK position. So, to compare Trots with Mensheviks is unfair and counter to the facts.

        And speaking of betraying the working class:
        Seems like Stalin never actually met a Revolution he liked. Including the October one! And certain none after that, and especially not in other countries.

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      7. “[I]f Trots were actually Mensheviks, then surely they would have stood with the Mensheviks as well as alongside those Bolsheviks (Zinoviev, Kamenev and, yes, Stalin) who opposed Lenin’s April Theses.”

        One: I already explained why the Trots, for all intends and purposes, are Mensheviks.

        Two: It’s so good that you brought up Zinoviev here. Because it was him, who wrote the most full and concise paper, that did prove that Trotsky and his ilk are just Mensheviks in disguise. Not “bloody Stalin”. *Zinoviev* did.

        “Seems like Stalin never actually met a Revolution he liked.”

        “Press [x] to doubt” (c)

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      8. Lyt: Zinoviev and Kamenev always belonged to the “moderate” wing within the Bolshevik Party. Nothing wrong with that, parties are allowed to have “wings”. Stalin was also a “moderate” in his own way, which is why he frequently ended up on the same side of a given issue as Zin/Kam.

        So, all three of them (along with most other Bolshevik leaders) supported the Provisional Government, they thought they had to live through a stage of bourgeois revolution and were not quite ready for socialism yet. Stalin, as the editor of Pravda at the time, was quite explicit about this and called on workers to support the Duma. So, his position, along with Zin/Kam, was actually quite close to the Menshevik position.

        Then Lenin returned, with his radical “April Theses”; which most Bolshevik leaders opposed, but Lenin was able to win them over with the force of his personality and leadership. Around the same time Trotsky took his small Party (he wasn’t really a Menshevik any more, by that time, although he had supported the Mensheviks before the war) and merged with Lenin’s faction. Trotsky’s theory of “Permanent Revolution” was a carbon copy of Lenin’s April Theses, so the political merger made total sense.

        Fast forward a few years. Zin/Kam once again find their natural proclivity to side with the more moderate Stalin against Trotsky, this time on the issue of Socialism in One Country. Office Politics, my dear boy! With Lenin dead, all three of them easily slip back into their Menshevik proclivities. Namely, doubting the working class and trusting more in the liberal bourgeoisie (in other countries, though, since the Russian bourgeoisie was gone).

        I could end this comment on a sour note about all the mean things Stalin did later to his old pals Zin/Kam, but maybe best not go there, everybody knows that history anyhow… Just to say that Zin/Kam got a boot in their face as payment for their earlier support. Literally.

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      9. So you chose to ignore/not read anything I wrote about the issue. A very mature and time honoured debate tactic, yalensis. Otherwise you’d not write: “[Trotsky] wasn’t really a Menshevik any more, by that time, although he had supported the Mensheviks before the war”.

        Kamenev and Zinoviev became a dead men walking not for their rhetoric in the first half of the 1917, but for their butt-fuck treachery that nearly sabotaged the October Revolution. The fact that they then (very lamely) recanted their prior “mistakes”, but, later, chose to ally with Trotsky (despite Zinovie penning a devastating critique of the whole Trotskyism, which you, yalensis, chose not to read) just shows them for they really were – opportunists and traitors.

        “Namely, doubting the working class and trusting more in the liberal bourgeoisie (in other countries, though, since the Russian bourgeoisie was gone).”

        […]

        Remind me, who was in charge of hobnobbing with the international capital in 1924-27?

        […]

        Yalensis, do you plan to have a honest debate here? If yes, then go and read my linked comment above, for I won’t repost it here in it’s entirety. If, OTOH, you will just repeat your credo without basing it in facts, well, d’uh! Just shows your superior consistency and debate skills.

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      10. Lyt, you’re not being fair to me. I DID read all your comments on this issue. I read them very carefully because I respect you. I even agree with some of your analysis, just not all of it. We always go in circles around the same points.
        And I think we already went over (in previous forums) your debating point about Trotsky being put in charge of capital investment in 1927. It was a make-work job the Party made for him, his assignment was to try to get capitalists like Arm & Hammer and similar to invest in the Soviet economy. The entire Party was desperate to entice such capitalists to invest money. That was the only alternative to what everybody knew had to happen next: Forced industrialization at the expense of the peasantry, as rkka talked about in his comment.

        Ilf/Petrov even have a funny skit based on this, in Golden Calf, where Ostap on his road trip meets up with some American industrialists who are being wooed for their investment capital. Anyhow, it’s just libel and conspiratorial to conclude from that, that Trotsky “hobnobbed” with capitalists. Even most hard-core Stalinists don’t read anything from that.

        It’s also unfair to me to make out like I am some True-Believing Trotskyist the way there are true-believing Stalinists. The difference is, that the Stalinists have to buy the whole package: Not just Stalin’s political platform (“Socialism in one country”), but his whole personality, including the lies and repressions and bullying; PLUS endow him with magical powers, even the ability to peer into the future, like Nostradamus, and foresee the Nazi invasion ten years before. Which, retroactively, in their view, justifies everything that preceded.

        On the other side of the fence, it’s possible for people to agree with Trotsky’s main theories of Permanent Revolution and Thermidor, without feeling like they have to adore Trotsky’s personality — which was actually quite waspish and arrogant, although not nearly as narcissistic as Stalin, when you get right down to personalities; nor to believe that Trotsky was as “infallible” as Stalin: He clearly wasn’t, although he (Trotsky) did predict, in one of his writings (I have to research and find the link) that the Stalinist Nomenklatura might eventually get together to restore capitalism. Which they did eventually, under Yeltsin.

        C’mon, Lyt, we used to be friends. Can’t we still be friends? Is the political divide between us really such a red line? You’re always welcome to post your thoughts and opinions on my blog, if you ever want to again. I kind of miss editing your wild screeds.

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      11. “I DID read all your comments on this issue. I read them very carefully because I respect you. I even agree with some of your analysis, just not all of it.”

        If that’s true, yalensis, I expect you to make a fact based argument, instead of repeating what you, apparently, want to repeat ad nauseum. You write that you agree with “some” of my “analysis” – which? Don’t agree with the rest – which? What are your counter arguments based in facts?

        As you might have noticed, I base my arguments not in appeal to the emotions, but in evidence – I provide both the historical context and relevant words of the people pertinent to the discussion, i.e. words of Lenin, Trotsky and various Mensheviks. You fail to respond in kind. What you are doing is the equivalent of the childish “nu-uh – YOU are!” retort.

        So I ask – once again – do you, yalensis, interested in having a meaningful debate? Your phrases like:

        “The difference is, that the Stalinists have to buy the whole package: Not just Stalin’s political platform (“Socialism in one country”), but his whole personality, including the lies and repressions and bullying; PLUS endow him with magical powers, even the ability to peer into the future, like Nostradamus, and foresee the Nazi invasion ten years before.”

        tell me otherwise. As you wrote it yourself in your own blog, your (deeply) personal dislike for Stalin stems, for the most part, from the projection of your bad experience with your then boss. Not being a historian, you took the “pop-history” view of Stalin (popular in the segment of the American society you inhabit) and transplanted it on the “tyrant” of your own. Well, guess what, yalensis? Not only you have to deal with bad bosses.

        My first boss (way back in late 2000s) was stereotypically Jewish humanitary, whose mother worked in the same institution but at much, much senior position and which – by his own admission – played an inordinary vital role in his “employment” and power status. He was a passive-aggressive dick, a “native Muskovite” who despised poor provincial me and also engaged in a corruption scheme we, his subordinates, were told not to notice – and we obliged.

        My second trademark bad boss was our acting brigade commander, previously brigade’s Chief of Staff. For me, as a historian, he reminded of nothing but czar Pavel I only without redeeming traits. He even looked the part – short, pugnosed, ruddy complexion. Absolute, obsessive control freak with no interpersonal skills whatsoever, whom his own officers did not respect in the slightest. What’s worse – he once got so drunk and then paid a visit to the HQ for making a fuss over yet another none-issue, that enormous number of us, rank’n’file, were witness to that.

        If I were you, yalensis, then I’d let these two past experiences to dictate my entire outlook on persons both past and present. But you won’t see me ranting about, say, Bibi Netanyahu or Volodymir Zelensky, drawing a direct parallel between their, let’s say, “not ideal” personalities and “highly controversial policies” with their Jewishness. Neither would you see me condemning, young Pushkin style, of the entire czarist period of Russia. Why? I’m more mature than that. I, yalensis, understand that “the role of the person in history” is overhyped nonsense and that in all times, as per Henry IV of France, “retinue maketh the king”. Meaning – whoever is in charge of anything is not as much a full forced “autocrat”, but a singular expressor of will of the ruling class/Powers That Be. *Meaning* – personality of Stalin takes a second if not third row compared with his ability of expressing the will of the ruling class of the USSR, i.e. the proletariat and its legitimate representatives.

        For you, apparently, perpetuating flimsy fiction and personal attacks about a historical figure are more important. What are you trying to prove by repeating things that are easily disprovable? That “народ не тот” because it fails to follow your darlings? Here in Russia we already have these kind of people given over to exactly this kind of thinking. We call them (among other terms) demschiza. Which proves – once again – the ideological singularity of the Trotskism and so-called “Russian liberalism”, for they, ultimately, serve the same set of masters.

        As for possessing “Nostradamus like power” – I’ve been repeating it for a long time, both here on irrusionality and elsewhere, that virtually everyone (both in the capitalist world and in the Soviet Union) understood full well, that the First World War failed to resolve principal contraventions between the main belligerents, which meant that, as per Marx and Lenin, the capitalist states will *inevitably* take “round two” in the not so distant future. Failure of the so-called Versailles-Washington system of the international relations to build a truly multilateral international order and implement a reliable collective-defense system, compounded by the Global Economic crisis of 1929, meant that this *inevitable* will happened much sooner. Even before that, so-called War Alert of 1927 and caused by it hike in food prices (inspired by kulaks) aptly demonstrated the fragility of the post Great War peace and vulnerability of the Soviet Union. After that event it became clear that NEP is not suitable as a basis for preparing the country for the (inevitable) war. Which left only *one* path available to achieve that.

        Are you projecting again here, yalensis? For the leadership of the USSR at the period were not idiots and understood this, while you, apparently, do not. Or are you, in principle, against any kind of measures undertaken by the state to prepare the country in whole to the global conflict?

        Because I still have doubts that you read let alone understood what I wrote, yalensis, let me repeat it here bullet point-style. Trotsky:

        a) Denied the need for the discipline and organized party;
        b) Insisted on introducing factions within a party;
        c) Have been cozying up to the foreign capital beyond the line of duty;
        d) Start-upe the “unions” made up of the shed fringe from the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks;
        e) Preached unattainably “permanent” as opposed to the “continuous” Revolution;
        f) Harmed the common working class cause by alienating peasants, instead of trying to gradually radicalize them;
        g) Served (still serves) as representative of the petite-bourgeoisie intelligentsia and bohemians, at the expense of the proletariat at large.

        Meaning – they strive to enfeeble a real proletarian movement and, thus, inevitably empower it’s class enemies, with which, as history shows us, both the Mensheviks and Trotskysts can and do strike deals. Couple this with the clear and present danger from the anti-Soviet “capitalist international” (for which fascists were completely handshakable on the basis of rabid anti-Left attitudes).

        Also note, yalensis – nowhere here in my comments to you in this comment section do I resort to the petty personalization or dwell on the figures, background and character of the Trotsky, Martov or Axelrod. Whatever their personal flaws or ethnicity doesn’t matter for the purporse of the dispute we are having here. We are talking about (at leas – I’m) about their political programs and what kind of socio-political forces they represent. That’s the only way to have a substance based debates.

        “C’mon, Lyt, we used to be friends. Can’t we still be friends? Is the political divide between us really such a red line? You’re always welcome to post your thoughts and opinions on my blog, if you ever want to again. I kind of miss editing your wild screeds.”

        Thanks for the invitation, yalensis. It’s duly noted. As for the rest… A person can not live in a society and be independent from it. You, yalensis, live in a certain part of the American society… for a long time already. Your comments and blogposts firmly reflect that. Your comment in this particular comment section, where you call Russia a “Third World nation” is also duly noted.

        I think, yalensis, that your chrysalis ended years ago, and that you, mentally, are an American by now. Me? I’m still old Russian me living in Russia. That’s where the real divide lies. I understand from where I come from. Do you?

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      12. “that Russians, just like in Third World nations…” was the quote, as you can see, right below the words you wrote.
        So, I didn’t call Russia a Third World nation, I said this one phenomenon of people flocking to the cities, was similar to what happens in Third World nations.

        But even if it wasn’t that quote, or rejecting me because I’m too “American” (which I actually consider quite a hurtful insult!) or whatever, okay, I get it. I have been rejected! I guess I’ll just go and cry myself to sleep…

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    2. “that Russians, just like in Third World nations, tend to flock to the metropolises, especially Moscow”

      Third world nations? Isn’t it also typical for most western countries; UK/London, for example? Hell, I remember my one-time buddy Hans from St Gallen saying that Zurich is the only place to live, and eventually he did move there…

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      1. That’s true. Maybe I shouldn’t even use the term “Third World” any more, as it has become quite meaningless. In fact, everybody is Third World now. (Except for Canada, maybe?)
        Even the Mighty USA has become a Third World nation, and I’m not kidding. If you don’t believe me, just come over here and walk through any urban neighborhood in any city.

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  2. “At the end of the day, though, a new system was created, which while far from perfect has provided Russians as a whole with an unprecedented degree of prosperity, albeit after a long period of suffering.”

    […]

    Professor, do you understand, that there are NO non-obscene way to comment on this pathetically ideology-driven claim of yours?

    “[F]inally it’s almost impossible to appeal to what are often deemed the ‘masses’ when you seem to be rather indifferent towards their sufferings.”

    That you don’t give a shit about “the masses” (let alone “the Russians”) is a given, Professor. But your fellow liberal Chubais also said this:

    Chubais: “You are too squamish. Let 30 millions die out. That’s no big deal – new ones will be born. These 30 millions just failed to fit into the market”.

    Inordinary number of the people, who perished (literally – they’ve died) in the 90s thanks to Chubais and his liberals, were members of the Russian intelligentsia – doctors, teachers, writers, artists, poets, journalists, members of the Academy of Science, bloody St. Pete’s philologists, the whole lot. People, who, at least nominally, share socio-economic strata with you, Professor.

    Go ahead and lie to me, Mr. Robinson, that you were unaware of his sentiments. I know what’s your libe of defense gonna be – “Chubais made return to the Soviet socialism impossible”. If the capacity to satisfy your hateboner to all things Left and “pwn the commies” is bare a mininal requirment to get in your good graces, then, no doubt, there are a lot of 3rd Reich’s personnages you *surely* (will) find to your liking.

    P.S. You had and option not to comment on Chubais recent “retirment”. You chose otherwise. You chose.

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      1. I’m not Lyttenburgh and I disagree with him more often than not, but I’m compelled to chime in here:

        The difference between enormous death toll of communism and enormous death toll of liberalism in Russia is quite apparent:

        Communists reaped their bloody harvest in a country destroyed by war, decimated by famine and disease and surrounded by hostile and aggressive powers. And they used this blood and toil to build up a country that was capable to survive even worse ordeal and then progressed into the status of world superpower.

        Liberals took reigns in a country suffering mere economic crisis when the world political stage was unprecedentedly stable with no country or power bloc outright hostile to the former Soviet Union in general and Russia specifically. And they still killed comparable amount of people in such ideal conditions to deal with internal problems. And what the end result of that transition was? Was democracy achieved? No. Did Russia become a truly independent power that can dictate its will to the competitors? No. Is Russia truly more economically prosperous than pre-crisis Soviet Union? Also no. So what was achieved in the 30 years of liberalism-induced suffering of Russian people?

        I can look at the Socialist Russia of 1922 and then look at the Soviet Union of 1953 and see the difference, the achievements, the progress, something besides the tyranny of Stalin, victims of the industrialization and Purges. But when I look at the RSFSR of 1990 and Russian Federation of 2020, I do not see a lot things can justify or even simply explain the cost that was paid to get us through this three decades. Yes, we have cheap wi-fi now. Some of us at least. Was it worth it?

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      2. The yup is for the Professor’s retort.

        1990s Russia under Yeltsin was quite problematical. Bringing that up relative to the USSR doesn’t successfully debunk to the “horrors of Stalin” reference (brought up at this thread), which prompted this exchange.

        Agree that the way the USSR broke up was bad. A reformation of some of the former USSR republics could’ve arguably occurred.

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      3. When was the last time a country had to cram 50yrs of military-industrial development into 10, as a war of racial extermination approached for them?

        Do you think that factories designed by the greatest industrial architect of his time were just lying around for free? Or were they bought with grain exports in a time of shortage?

        Do you think people like having the investment share of national income raised to around 50% for a decade, at the expense of consumption, to fund the industrial investments above? Do you think a lot of people might oppose that? And should such opposition have been permitted, in view of the coming war of racial extermination?

        I truly hope that neither your country nor mine ever has to prepare for a war of racial extermination in a decade, but unlike you, I tend not to judge those who actually had to face that horrific problem.

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    1. I mourn all the doctors, teachers, writers, artists, poets, journalists, etc., who perished in the Yeltsin Reign of Terror. However, as someone trained in Scientific Linguistics, I cannot bring myself to mourn the philologists.

      THAT WAS A JOKE, people!

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      1. I can’t say that I follow philology, but supposedly the later years of the Soviet Union made important contributions to the field via Yuri Lotman of the University of Tartu.

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      2. Pertaining to before the Soviet breakup and prior to the enhanced development of a separate Ukriian identity, here’s another joke picked up at one of your favorite sites by someone describing himself with roots to the former Ukrainian SSR:

        A Ukrainian prays to God:

        – Dear God, why are you so unfair? Russians have oil, natural gas, diamonds, gold, great writers and poets, great composers, painters, etc., while Ukrainians have nothing.
        – But you had it all.
        – When?
        – When you were a Russian.

        I know svidos, Ukes have some accomplished figures. Jesting aside, your independence is recognized..

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      3. Professor, I’m mostly joking here, but among Scientific Linguists there is a saying something like “Philology is to Linguistics as Alchemy is to Chemistry, as Numerology is to Mathematics, as Astrology is to Astronomy….” etc etc.
        🙂

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  3. Really interesting analysis as to why Russian liberals cannot make much traction in Russia. How do you think Nemtsov fit this picture or those liberals from Yabloko – were/are they also seen as corrupted and hence just can’t get sufficient political support? And what of Navalyny or today’s young activists whose MO is exposing and fighting corruption – how do these relate to the “empathy gap” you suggest tanks liberal fortunes in Russia?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. He isn’t out yet, Professor. While his new position (President’s special representative for ties with international organisations) is certainly much less glorious, it’s not quite a retirement still.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. First, thank you for the zoom invite. It was fantastic to see such power house academics and analysts come together and I’m sure I speak for many when I say – thank you professor.

    On the subject of this something I must admit floored me – that Sergei Kiriyenko is THAT Sergei Kiriyenko. I know Putin is from the Yeltsin Liberals but how did Kiriyenko rehabilitate himself after what he did in 1998? How did he become so trusted?

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  6. Hmm he is back

    Mr Chubais is

    “New special representative of the President of the Russian Federation for cooperation with international organizers in the interests of achieving the sustainable development goals.”

    Don’t know what this means but it shows these liberals don’t die like zombies rise again.

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  7. From the memoirs of N.A. Panichev – Minister of the machine-tool and tool industry of the USSR:
    “At the beginning of 1992, I hardly made my way to the office of Acting Prime Minister Gaidar, came to him with a detailed plan for the preservation of machine-tool building. He did not even look at anything, frowned disdainfully: Do you need your shitty machines ?! If you need it, we will buy everything abroad. The visit lasted no more than a minute. I went to an ally, I got to the worst enemy of the cause, to whom I gave my whole life. In one of his words, the program of destruction of domestic industry, the transfer of Russia from a country – a manufacturer of equipment to a country – a buyer, which made us completely dependent on the West. ”
    Anatol Lieven:
    “I vividly remember one Russian liberal journalist state his desire to fire machine guns into crowds of elderly Russians who joined Communist demonstrations to protest about the collapse of their pensions. The response of the western journalists present was that this was perhaps a little bit excessive, but to be excused since the basic sentiment was correct.”
    Crazy stuff.

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    1. “Anatol Lieven:
      “I vividly remember one Russian liberal journalist state his desire to fire machine guns into crowds of elderly Russians who joined Communist demonstrations to protest about the collapse of their pensions.”

      It’s “better” than this. Why quote some nameless Russian liberal journalist, if you have the words of the uber-democrat Valeria Ilyinichna Novodvorskaya:

      “I don’t give a damn about public decency.

      At the risk of being considered raw meat eating predators, as long as we are alive we will celebrate this day – October 5, the day we won the second round of our only Civil War. And the “White House” is a battle trophy for us forever. May 9 – this is a story of grandfathers and fathers. Someone else’s story.

      After October 4, we, full participants of our only Civil War, we who managed to kill and do not regret it, are now welcomed guests at the next Ball of Kings at Satan’s.

      On the morning of October 4, volleys of tank guns broke the azure silence, and we caught every sound with delight.

      If at night we, democrats and humanists, were given tanks, at least the most crappy ones, and some discounted airplanes and other thingies like machine guns, grenade launchers and machine guns, no one would hesitate: the “White House” would not have survived until morning and only ruins would be left of it.

      I wished those who gathered in the “White House” one thing – death. I regretted and regret only that someone from the “White House” left alive. We need bullets to deal with them. The big blood wouldn’t stop us either …

      I am quite prepared for the fact that I’d have to get rid of every fifth [Russian]. And about our white clothes, we can always say that we handed them over to the wash. Fresh blood is well washed.

      No matter how many of them there were, they died at our hands. It also turned out that I can kill and then sleep and eat peacefully.

      We already have nothing against the government’s bayonets, which protected us from the fury of those very 20%.

      We want the rallies of our enemies to be dispersed with powerful water cannons.

      We snatched the country away from them. In the meantime, we get everything that we agreed on either with Woland, or with Mephistopheles, or with Yeltsin”

      – Source: “Огонёк/Ogonyok” weekly magazine, №2-3 (1994), article “На той единственной гражданской” (“At this only Civil War”).

      This breed of “Russian liberal” is alive and well, both in country and abroad. These people learned nothing, and forgot even less. There is no repentance, as Professors lame apologia of Chubais shows. The West considers them “handshakable” cuz they are “our SOBs”, who, given power, will eliminate Russia for good.

      P.S. You resort to “whataboutism”, Professor, and ask, why I’m forgiving to the Soviet times and repressions that happened back then but not to the liberals. This article is an illustrative reason why. How about you stop your ostrich tactics and admit the centrality of the class struggle approach? Meaning – I am on the side of my own class, the proletariat. Soviet Union was the dictatorship of this class. You and other liberals, are on the side of the capitalists and exploiters and support their dictatorship as a class… while not really belonging to it. You, dear liberals, are class traitors. Simple as that.

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  8. “…Chubais and others like him were not wrong in determining that further tinkering of the socialist system would not work, and that something far more radical was required…”

    Not wrong? Why didn’t they go for economic reforms like in China and Vietnam at the time? Collapse of USSR would have been avoided.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Re: recent Zoom-er event on Russia.

    🙂

    There’s gonna be another Russia related academic video event coming Monday:

    “A collection of archival documents about the betrayal of General Andrei Vlasov, previously released in Russia, and now published in English, will help convey to Western society the truth that this traitor did not pursue any high goals at all, but directly helped the Nazis to fight against the Soviet Union , says Sergei Kudryashov, a researcher at the German Historical Institute in Moscow.”

    The collection “The Vlasov Case: History of a Betrayal. Volume 1: 1942–1945” prepared by the Federal Archival Agency of Russia (Rosarkhiv) and the Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History (RGASPI). A large-scale academic project, implemented jointly with American partners, introduces an unprecedented wide range of documentary sources on the modern history of Russia into the international scientific circulation, the Rosarkhiv report says. The presentation of the collection in the format of videoconference will take place on Monday. The organizers of the virtual presentation are the American Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) and the Elliot School of International Relations at George Washington University.

    “In the perception of World War II by Western society, thanks to propaganda, there are many stereotypes that the Soviet people who collaborated with the Nazis allegedly had some other idea. They say that these are not traitors to their people, but those who just did not like power communists, and therefore were forced to cooperate with the Germans, and that the fate of these people is very tragic, and in general they are not just victims of the war, but even its heroes who wanted to help their people get rid of Bolshevism, “Kudryashov told RIA Novosti.

    All this is bluff and nonsense, the same Nazi war-time propaganda,” the historian emphasized.

    According to Kudryashov, people who study history professionally cannot have two opinions: Vlasov is a traitor to his people and an accomplice of the Nazis. “But ordinary people abroad cannot read materials from our sources, because they do not know Russian. And now these documents have been translated into English,” he added. Experts have done a long and painstaking work on the preparation of the English-language edition of the collection about Vlasov, Kudryashov noted.

    “So the people will be able to read the documents and see for themselves who in reality were Vlasov and the people who assisted him, that he was a traitor who broke the oath, acted against his country and helped the Nazis fight for their goals,” said the historian.

    “During the Second World War, according to the criminal law of the United States, European countries and even Germany, Vlasov would be subject to the death penalty for what he did. But in the West, during the Cold War, they made him a figure used against the Soviet Union,” added Kudryashov.

    Source

    Well, this gonna set the arses of the rootless nationalists on fire, that for sure. 😉

    P.S. For those who missed it – both Rosarchiv ((“federal executive body under the jurisdiction of the President of the Russian Federation”) and RGASPI (Federal Government institution managed by Rosarchiv) are Russian State institutions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “ He’s certainly not responsible for anywhere near as many Russian and other deaths as Stalin.”

      He just joined the racial exterminators during the war of racial extermination the Nazis initiated & waged against the Slavic peoples 1939-1945.

      On the other hand, that war was won by the preparations & actions of the people who showed how comprehensively showed how bad you Whites sucked at every aspect of war, whom traitor Vlasov came to oppose.

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  10. I’d like to submit two comments: (1) State authorities in Moscow have identified (or classified) three categories of monotowns, or what we would call one-company towns. These monotowns were created during the period of the planned economy. Ninety four of these monotowns are in the ‘red zone’ — ie, they are in-distress and in decline. (UNESCO has a brief article on this subject.) With time, adjustments will occur. The overall economy will change for the better. (2) Robert A. D. Ford (1915-1998) was Canada’s diplomat to the USSR: “I spent nearly twenty-one years in the Soviet Union as a diplomat over a period extending from 1946 to 1980.” He characterized the Soviet Union as an open-air prison.
    But no longer. Surely a great improvement. Given another 20 years of peace, stability, and growth, Russia will be almost invincible. Still, to those retired citizens of the RF who lived through the Yeltsin Times, I defer to your judgments.

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    1. “He characterized the Soviet Union as an open-air prison.”

      Shows that he was an idiot Cold Warrior and you are a credulous Canuck with an ax to grind against any kind of Russia, whether Soviet or not.

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  11. “ I can look at the Socialist Russia of 1922 and then look at the Soviet Union of 1953 and see the difference, the achievements, the progress, something besides the tyranny of Stalin, victims of the industrialization and Purges.”

    For the Anglosphere Foreign Policy Elite & Punditocracy (AFPE&P), these are literally the only important things that happened in the entire history of the USSR, and their crocodile tears over “the suffering of the Russian people at the hands of their government” flow endlessly.

    On the other hand, the AFPE&P pass over in silence the comparable suffering of the Russian people at the hands of the catastrophic Yeltsin Deformers.

    And today, the AFPE&P search Russia’s length & breadth, looking for someone who’s not happy, so they can generalize about “the suffering of the Russian people at the hands of the Putin regime”

    The AFPE&P clearly care not how, or even whether, Russians live, only that their government submit, and their main tool is unremitting information war, which they have waged since shortly after the Battle of Waterloo.

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  12. On the topic of Permanent Revolution (sorry, Professor, this is a bit off-top from your post, but relates very strongly to some discussion on your forum):
    I know almost zero about Indian politics, but was fascinated to read about the mass one-day general strike in India. So, over the weekend, did some quickie research to learn what I could about the various players. Disappointed, but not surprised, to learn that it fits every single pattern of every single potential workers revolution since 1927.

    By its massivity (estimates of half a quarter million workers and farmers on strike on a single day), this would clearly be a revolutionary situation in any country. And the strikers demands all very reasonable, demanding economic relief during the covid crisis: a minimum wage, healthcare, government subsidies to farmers, end to austerity, etc. The workers are also fighting militantly against “black hundreds” style right-wing Hindu Nationalist parties who try to drive a wedge in the working class, between Hindus and Muslims. The usual stuff, and workers clearly the good guys here.

    Anyhow, with such mass support and militancy, seems like the political parties involved in this United Front could easily bring down the Modi government if they chose and switch all governmental functions to workers and farmers councils (whatever the Indian equivalent of “soviet”).
    But will they? No. Because all of the left-wing political parties involved in this movement are all Stalinists or Maoists, of one ilk or another. My research shows that the main parties in play are the following:

    The Communist Party of India (the historical one, orthodox Stalinist)
    The Communist Party of India (Maoist), which is Maoist – duh
    The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), which is also Maoist
    (and a couple others with similar names)

    Each of the mass trade unions involved in the strike is affiliated with one of these political parties. If you look at at photos and vids of the strikers, many are waving red banners with hammers and sickles, but the hammers/sickles sometimes have slightly different styles or fonts. So, these are the different Communist parties.

    What ALL of these Stalinist/Maoist parties have in common, aside from their common platform and demands, is that NONE of them want to run the government. Each of these Stalinist parties is also affiliated with, or in alliance with, a BOURGEOIS party. Which they support, and want that bourgeois party to run the government. Not a workers/peasant government. Just a bourgeois government with some worker/peasant friendly platforms.

    That, my friends, is the essence of Menshevism, and why Stalinism is one and the same as Menshevism! I’m not saying it’s bad just because of the word, and a lot of people might agree with that approach, which is fine. I’m just saying it is what it is, and it definitely ain’t Marxism-Leninism!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “The Communist Party of India (the historical one, orthodox Stalinist)
      The Communist Party of India (Maoist), which is Maoist – duh
      The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), which is also Maoist…

      …Each of these Stalinist parties is also affiliated with, or in alliance with, a BOURGEOIS party. “

      You forgot to add – “appointed and designated “Stalinist” and “Maoist” by yours truly, yalensis”. Whatchyoucallit? Oh, yeah:

      Like

      1. No, Lyt, I didn’t designate them or put these labels on them. I got curious what was going on and researched the history of these Communist parties and trade unions (well, wikipedia, to be sure, but also Russian wiki), and that was their history that was described. Go ahead and wiki it yourself. The Communist Party of India was founded in 1925 and follows the lineage of the the Stalin faction, so can rightfully be called “Orthodox Stalinist”; the one that calls itself “Maoist” is Maoist by its own definition. The one that calls itself (Marxist-Leninist) is also (according to wiki) considered to be within the Maoist tradition. These are not abusive terms that I made up, they are political descriptions. Here, research it yourself, here is a link I used, among others:

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

        My main point, which you miss entirely, is that none of these parties is calling for the transfer of government to workers and peasants committees, none of them are pushing for the dictatorship of the proletariat, all of them supporting this or that bourgeois political party.
        Which is why I am not optimistic about the outcome, even though it seems there is a true opportunity there.

        Now, who is shooting at a scarecrow?

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  13. On Trotskyism (take 2)

    Intro.

    Comment section here, on Irrussionality, surely attracts a diverse cast of people all over the world. Several of regular comments made it abundantly clear, that they hold what’s called in the West “Leftist views”. One of our regulars, “ralphiesmom”, even admitted way back this summer, that she used to be a Trotskyte. User “dewittbourchier” by his comments and attitude makes it abundantly clear, where his sympathies lie (at least – in general). My conversation with “peter moritz” also elucidated on his labour experiences and influences on his political views. User person “Pete” of the “spreadanidea” (which also used to comment here regularly) also makes no secret of his leanings. Finally, yalensis has been most active and promotional here on this blog from the very begging.

    I’m sure – all of these people, as well as many “lurkers” who comment rarely if ever at all, are decent human beings, who can’t help but feel justified revulsion at the capitalist “norm” that surrounds them. Not leaning “right” towards the status quo that benefits the few at the expense of the many (including them), means that they ought to lean “left”.

    Unfortunately, they are all also products of their very own distinct but similar Western societies. How they lean Left is predetermined by many, many well developed ways. Developed, unfortunately, by the reigning capitalism in their respective societies. So it’s a little surprise, really, that for all of them, and for the circles of people they exemplify and serve as representatives here in the Net, everything USSR related is treyf, while various derivatives of the social-democratic tradition are all good and kosher. Old marketing trick – lots of colourful wrappings, catchy tunes in ads, but same crap inside.

    So, for the sake of these good, decent, smart/educated people, who really feel the injustices of the world, I have to offer a look inside their brands of ideology, and ask them to re-evaluate their previously held assumptions… if they want to be consistent and honest with themselves. Which means – fighting against the most insidious form of Menshevism aka the Trotskyism. One way or another, in the West most so-called “Left leaning strains of thought” are infected by it. Along the way, I will refute some long-held misconceptions and outright lies about the Soviet Union/Russia, inserted in the Leftist “credo” by the real beneficiaries of these views.

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    1. Part I. The Trotskyte Credo

      In nomine Pa…

      Ahem. Sorry. So – the Trotskyte Credo.

      [Lyt takes a deeeeeep breath]

      Leiba Davidovich Bronstein (Trotsky) is a consistent, implacable and irrepressible fighter for (yours and ours) Freedom ™!

      Although many communists in the ages of yore spoke eloquently about the struggle against czarism, the bourgeoisie, fascists, etc., at the same time they did not notice (or did not want to notice) that in their own Party The Freedom ™ was cynically trampled on by an arrogant Dictator – an illiterate, narrow-minded slob, who did not understand anything about Marxism and socialism, who, at the same time, was a spiteful, petty-vengeful, painfully suspicious, intolerant of any dissent…

      [Sharp exhale. New deeeeeep intake of breath]

      …ready to baselessly call everyone who disagrees with him an “enemy of the revolution.” Some communists were ready to endure the Dictatorship of this Bastard (some out of illiteracy, others out of fear of reprisals, others being fascinated by the dictator’s charisma) – but not the fiery Lev Davidovich! Trotsky cannot be charmed, nor intimidated or deceived! Trotsky said directly and openly that the antics of the accursed Dictator would destroy the Party, lead it to complete decay – “theoretical, political and moral” (c). Trotsky directly and openly accused the Dictator of lying and distorting. Trotsky ridiculed the Dictator’s pathetic attempts to cover up his irrepressible lust for power with pseudo-Marxist phrases. Trotsky scoffed at the Dictator’s ignorance, at his organic inability to comprehend the lofty ideas of Marx and Engels… Trotsky mercilessly exposed the Dictator’s attempts to crush the entire party and even the entire proletariat under him:

      “…The party organization “replaces” the Party, the Central Committee replaces the party organization, and, finally, the “dictator” replaces the Central Committee…” (c)

      [Sharp exhale. Some time needed to come back to norm]

      In short, the damned Tyrant-Dictator Lenin got a lot of flack from the dear and beloved Lev Davidovich!

      What, you thought that when a certain “Dictator” was mentioned above, I was talking about the accursed Stalin? No, damned Stalin, vigilant comrade. Trotsky also exposed, but much later. However, Trotsky’s charges against Lenin and Stalin were very similar. Let’s read Trotsky’s chief theoretical work “Our political tasks” (1904)… and be amazed!

      “What a tragic and soul-rending situation, when we see broad circles of our Party content to sink into organizational pettiness (while in the distance thunderclaps announce an imminent historical tempest). They begin to suspect the best and the oldest of our comrades, those in the front ranks of Social Democracy internationally; they accuse them of sinning against theory (though the accusers are quite incapable of defining these ‘sins’ concretely); they call for a crusade against one half of the party; they dissociate themselves from their political friends when the later propose conciliation with the ‘oppositional’ wing, and in short they are ready to declare implacable war, not only on the active ‘conciliators,’ but also on all those who, without taking up this role, move among the ‘conciliators’..”

      Go figure, what year was it written… Only, perhaps, according to the use of the term “international social democracy”, one can understand that the text is not from the 1920s, but from more ancient, pre-revolutionary times. That we are not talking about the struggle of Comrade Stalin with the Trotskyists, Zinovievites and other counter-revolutionaries, but, instead about the struggle of Comrade Lenin with the Trotskyists, Mensheviks and other counter-revolutionaries. But the essence is the same: “the oldest and best revolutionaries are dared to accuse of a deviation from Marxism by all sorts of stupid upstarts, so stupid that they cannot even formulate their accusations plainly.” What a tragedy! Trotsky (according to his shy self) and his friends are the real revolutionaries, correct Marxists, who are opposed by the tyrant Lenin – “the leader of the REACTIONARY WING of our party” who is trying to “prevent Social Democracy from becoming Social Democracy.” Got it? The Leninists are a reactionary wing in the glorious Social Democratic Party, the party of Trotsky and… huh… Axelrod.

      But why exactly does Trotsky dislike Lenin so much? He does not like him so much that he even quotes his “Step forward, two steps back” with a certain disgust? How exactly did Lenin’s dictatorial habits manifest themselves? How exactly was Trotsky going to fight Lenin and Leninism (we are sure that a Real Revolutionary would not have left his native Proletarian Party to be torn apart by an ignoramus-impostor-tyrant)?

      Let’s take a closer look at the brochure “Our Political Tasks” – and we’ll find out everything. Moreover, Lev Davidovich remained faithful to the principles that he proclaimed in this work until the end of his days. Yes, and the polemical methods that Trotsky uses in “Our Tasks”, he used then again and again, until his inglorious death. Trotsky begins his opus with honeyed, downright sick-saccharine speeches about the benefits of peace and the harmfulness of quarrels. How annoying that we, the socialists, have constantly some kind of quarrel in our “camp”. Everyone is accused of opportunism, revisionism and other sins. Every group strives to exalt itself to the skies, and mix its opponents with dirt… Bad, bad socialists! OTOH, there is one real Marxist among the tyrants and squabblers – comrade Pavel Borisovich Axelrod (nee Borukh Pinhas ben Iosel), to whom Trotsky dedicated his brochure.

      Fortunately, Trotsky continues, now we have a real group in our Party that, in all fairness and conscience, can be extolled to heaven. And these are the Mensheviks, of course. Not the Bolsheviks, honestly – they are icky! Quote:

      “The so-called “minority” in fact represents the first case in which the spokesman of a new tendency have tried consciously to establish themselves, not on the bones, but on the shoulders of their predecessors, by considering themselves in the perspective of the whole development of the Party. And this is a good sign: both for the “minority” and for the whole Party. And the representatives of the “minority” are the spokesmen of the progressive tendencies of this maturation.”

      Got it? We, says Trotsky, the Mensheviks, are living evidence that the Party is maturing ideologically. We (unlike the Ulyanov-Lenin’s ilk here) are the carriers of progressive “tendencies”. Also – we are very, very humble! However, let’s not indulge our awesome selves too hard! Let’s to put into practice our excellent skills of Marxist analysis and draw before our readers the shortest path to the Revolution!

      And further Trotsky discusses the shortcomings of Party work at length, arduously, and rather vaguely. Like, he claims, that the socialists do little work with the proletariat – “we need more!”. They say that the Party rarely organize strikes, so we need to organize more often. Likewise, socialist propaganda should “not to slide on the surface of the masses, but to penetrate deep inside them”. And most importantly, about socialists main goals:

      [T]he development or selection of spontaneously emerging tactical forms in which workers could collectively react to all events of social life, the coverage of which is the task of our party literature. It is precisely this response that needs to be organized systematically and according to the plan.”

      “Propaganda slides over the surface of the mass” – what does that mean? How can you “develop” forms that “spontaneously arise” themselves? How exactly do we “organize the response”? Everything is vague. Some readers, probably, were already scared and decided that they either lack either the knowledge or insight to understand what exactly Lev Davidivich means there. As if we, mere mortals, are not keeping up with the flight of thought of the Genius… Do not worry, people – that’s not a bug, but a feature of all Trotsky’s writings, the text should be vague, according to the author’s intention. He says this directly:

      “We are using general psychological terms here, because we do not now want to complicate the exposé by translating these basic ideas into the language of concrete examples and illustrations as long as we only raise the problems without putting forward the means of resolving them.”

      Well, yes, concrete examples of “developing forms” or examples of correct propaganda “penetrating deep” would greatly complicate the presentation. The essence of the work is not to reveal the Menshevik brilliant plans, the essence is to show the stupidity of the Bolshevik, Leninist plans. The book is anti-Leninist!

      Now Trotsky, having complaining about the dangers of strife in this very work, slowly begins to diss Lenin, to ridicule his ideas via “reductio ad absurdum” fallacy. First he distorts the idea beyond recognition, brings it to idiocy, and then laughs at this idiocy.

      E.g., Trotsky takes on the famous Leninist idea: “a newspaper is a collective organizer.”

      What is the idea? As long as the situation does not allow us to hold congresses normally and organize the electoral process normally, the party apparatus must be replaced, to a certain extent, by a central party newspaper. On its pages, discussions should take place between factions and groupings, a general party point of view on a particular subject should be developed. It was the newspaper, according to Lenin, that was to become the collective leader of the Party, a large network of rigidly centralized and highly specialized, as far as possible, organizations.

      Lev Davidovich, on the other hand, stubbornly pretends that Lenin had proclaimed that revolutionaries do not need to do anything but a newspaper. Lenin thinks, they say, party = newspaper. Trotsky attacks a strawman (notice a common trend here with Trotsky and his followers?): “Of course, this is how the autocracy will collapse by itself – after we all will write articles to the newspaper, and then read them! It’s clear to a fool that”

      “…The Party is something more than a simple addition to the Party newspaper… The Party consists not simply of careful readers of Iskra, but of active and collectively active elements of the proletariat from day to day… This identification of the Party with its paper – which made some sense organizationally in relation to the given tasks of the preceding period – today turns into an extremely reactionary residue.”

      Oh, that stupid reactionary Lenin! However, Trotsky still shows condescension and grudgingly notes that the absurd Leninist ideas, in their time, did bring some benefit to the Common Cause. Although they were “primitive,” even though they occupied an “insignificant place” in the total amount of ideas contributed by Iskra. So “praised”, in short, that it would be better just scolded. Well, yes, of course, Lenin’s primitive ideas are far from the wise, titanic, brilliant ideas of “comrade” Axelrod (and his pupils)!

      Another example. Trotsky takes and perverts Lenin’s phrase: “The Jacobin, inextricably linked with the organization of the proletariat, conscious of its class interests, is a revolutionary Social Democrat.

      What is Lenin talking about here? That we, Revolutionary socialists, must learn from the Jacobins about determination. That we, like the Jacobins in their time, must be ready to go all the way for the sake of the interests of our class. They must be ready to cut their own throats, or substitute their own throats under the knife, if needed for the Cause. We must become consistent revolutionaries for whom the goals of the revolutionary class are everything. Jacobin’s decisiveness in the heart, Marxist science in the head and the newspaper Iskra in the hand – here’s a portrait of a revolutionary Social-Democrat, a Bolshevik according to Lenin.

      Lev Davidovich pretends that in this case Lenin spoke of Jacobinism as a political trend, that is, as a radical bourgeois liberalism. His denouncement amounts to yet another strawman, that could be summarized thusly: “Gevalt-gevalt! Lenin and the Bolshies believe that a socialist and a Jacobin are one and the same ?! What a bunch of stupid meshugers! After all, every schoolchild knows that the Jacobinism is a bourgeois ideology. And Lenin just equated it with socialism! This Lenin is the second Berdyaev/Bernstein/ Bulgakov/All of Them. By the way, it is now clear why Lenin is always trying to write off those who disagree into “enemies”! Jacobin methods, good sirrah! Purely Jacobin persecution mania! Give this schizo free rein and he will send us all to the guillotine!”

      This is followed by a lengthy excursion into history. Comrade Trotsky describes on 8 (eight, Karl!) pages what kind of bad guys they were the Jacobins. How they stepped across the march of progress, and how they threw all decent Frenchmen under the axes, how they believed in all sorts of insane utopias, and how they did not want to understand class organizations and set ups… Thus spake Trotsky:

      “This is the secret of Lenin’s failures and the cause of his petty distrust. The distrust is only the heritage of the tactics of the former Iskra. But these methods and practices, which had their justification at a certain historical period, must today be wiped out of all costs, before they threaten our Party with total political, moral and theoretical decomposition.

      It is no accident, but a characteristic position, that the head of the reactionary wing of our Party, Comrade Lenin, believed himself psychologically obliged, by keeping up the tactics of a caricature of Jacobinism, to define Social Democracy in a way which is a theoretical attack against the class character of our Party. Yes, a theoretical attack, no less dangerous than the ‘critical’ ideas of some Bernstein. For what was the theoretical operation Bernstein carried out in relation to liberalism and socialism?”

      This is followed by lengthy, almost a page each, quotations from Bernstein, Berdyaev and Bulgakov, in these quotations said philosophers try to “prove” the equality of socialism and liberalism. Quotations have nothing to do with Lenin’s ideas, but they lend weight to Trotsky’s attacks and ridicule. Lev Davidovich ends his work with a “joke”: calls Lenin “Maximilian Lenin”! Got it right? Maximilian! Like Robespierre! Funny, isn’t it?!

      And that’s it about the most fundamental work of the “faithful pupil of comrade Lenin” and much worthy heir Leib Davidovich Trotsky.

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    2. Part II. Betrayed Revolution.

      TL;DR version: Trotsky’s magnum opus popular especially among non-Trotrskyte Russophobes and Anti-Sovietists is pathetically lame.

      Not TL;DR version: over-hyped “The Revolution Betrayed” nearly lacks specifically Trotskyist (i.e. Menshevik) ideas. Instead, it is full of bald-faced, shameless lies, covered with cherry-picked quotes from the works of Marx and Lenin. Moreover, Leiba Davidovich often refers to those works that refute his very ideas and concepts.

      About “socialism in a single country” Trotsky writes:

      “The October Revolution in Russia brought about the dictatorship of the proletariat … The era of the global proletarian, communist revolution began.” These are the opening lines of the program. Its authors not only did not set themselves the goal of building “a socialism in one country” – this goal did not occur to anyone at that time, least of all to Stalin …

      “Socialism in a single country” before October did not occur to ANYONE AT ALL. Let’s remember this claim. Meanwhile, we open the works of Lenin and read what he wrote in August 1915, a couple of years before the October Revolution:

      “United States of the World (not of Europe alone) is the state form of the unification and freedom of nations which we associate with socialism — about the total disappearance of the state, including the democratic. As a separate slogan, however, the slogan of a United States of the World would hardly be a correct one, first, because it merges with socialism; second, because it may be wrongly interpreted to mean that the victory of socialism in a single country is impossible, and it may also create misconceptions as to the relations of such a country to the others.

      Uneven economic and political development is an absolute law of capitalism. Hence, the victory of socialism is possible first in several or even in one capitalist country alone. After expropriating the capitalists and organising their own socialist production, the victorious proletariat of that country will arise against the rest of the world — the capitalist world — attracting to its cause the oppressed classes of other countries, stirring uprisings in those countries against the capitalists, and in case of need using even armed force against the exploiting classes and their states. The political form of a society wherein the proletariat is victorious in overthrowing the bourgeoisie will be a democratic republic, which will more and more concentrate the forces of the proletariat of a given nation or nations, in the struggle against states that have not yet gone over to socialism. The abolition of classes is impossible without a dictatorship of the oppressed class, of the proletariat. A free union of nations in socialism is impossible without a more or less prolonged and stubborn struggle of the socialist republics against the backward states.”

      A person who is in the slightest degree familiar with the history of Russia/USSR will notice that Comrade Stalin and the Party since the mid-1920s has scrupulously implemented the Leninist ideas quoted above. They expropriated from the bourgeoisie, cooperated with the petty bourgeoisie (i.e. the peasantry), organized socialist production in the USSR, stood up against the entire capitalist world and, as we know, by 1953, they “repainted” almost half of the globe in red. The Trotskyists, on the other hand, all the way dragged themselves along in the baggage train of the Revolutionary movement, hysterically lied, interfered with other’s works, harmed and spoiled it – but at the same time they shouted that it was they who had understood Leninism better than anyone else.

      Perhaps Lev Davidovich simply did not read the work of Lenin quoted above? Or read, but forgot? Nah, it’s “highly unlikely” (c). After all, the work cited above was devoted to the Trotskyist slogan of the “United States of Europe”. As early as in 1915, the Trotskyists shouted that the victory of socialism is possible only if the revolution is victorious at least in the main European countries. And Lenin then wrote that the Trotskyist slogan was worthless, and Trotsky immediately rolled out an indignant rebuke in his favorite style: Lenin, he said, does not understand a damn about Marxism.

      Unfortunately for Lev Davidovich, Lenin became such an authoritative Marxist during the Revolution and the Civil War that directly accusing him of not understanding Marxism meant only disgracing himself. Fortunately for Lev Davidovich, many Leftists do not particularly like to read the classics, so you can blatantly and shamelessly lie to them.

      One can say that “socialism in a single country” is an idiotic invention of an illiterate Stalin… although in fact this is Lenin’s idea. Damn!

      One can say that the Bolsheviks in 1917 adopted the Trotskyist idea of “the permanent revolution”, although Lenin in 1917 explained in detail what exactly his idea of the hegemony of the proletariat in the Revolution contrary to the Trotskyist nonsense of “without a tsar, but a workers’ government” means. Damn. Again!

      We can say that as long as the state has not died out in the USSR, there can be no socialism – and in support of this thesis, cite quotations from the works of Marx and Lenin … In which Marx and Lenin just prove that the state is in the first phase of communist society (that is, under socialism) will certainly remain! Ugh, double damn!

      It is even possible to repeat a fierce insane nonsense that in modern society the motorist and the pedestrian are “two different classes”; and consequently – until every citizen of the USSR has a personal “Ford”, there can be no talk of socialism in the USSR. Seriously, Lev Davidovich literally writes about that in his “super smart” work! I’m even wondering if “comrades” Trotskyists will defend this thesis?

      And what about the thesis that Stalin is another Hitler? Yes, dear readers, this thesis was not invented by the Russo-Soviet demschiza, like Novodvorskaya, Solzhenitsyn, Svanidze or Bykov-Zilbeltrud, but by the great and terrible Lev Davidovich Trotsky himself! So much for his entire “Marxist analysis of the situation”.

      But what about Trotsky’s brilliant prediction that in the event of a major war, Soviet citizens will not fight for a “Mustachioed Tyrant” ™ and the Stalinist USSR will quickly collapse? Hmm, interesting: is it just a coincidence that this thesis is spelled out in the Barbarossa plan? Or did the developers of Barbarossa still use Trotskyist “analytics”? They didn’t know, apparently, the popular Soviet proverb “he fucking lies like Trotsky” (rus. “пиздит как Троцкий”), so the lofty Aryans fell for this nonsense and set-up. Well – dem Nazi’s deserved it!

      Trotsky was clearly very fond of the proverb: “If you won’t praise yourself – no one will”. Thus he didn’t skimp on panegyrics to himself. Meanwhile the Trotskyists/Westerners simply studied both the socialism and the history of the USSR exclusively according to Trotsky. That’s why they believe that Trotsky is a great sage and hero, while the USSR is a literal Mordor populated by subhuman Orks.

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    3. Part III. Repressions

      Hot topic – repressions. In this very comment sections we have such “hot takes” as dewitt’s:

      “what the USSR even under the horrors of Stalin achieved.”

      and by our gracious Host:

      “Yet, somehow the enormous death toll of communism never seems to bother you.”

      Lets shot down the most obviously false part – the term itself. What the hell is “Stalinist repressions/horror/whatever”? There were no such thing. There were repressions against the enemies of the Soviet socialist system. But Stalin was neither the main initiator of those repressions, nor their organizer, nor even the inspirator. Even during the disastrous XX Congress of the Party Khruschev &Co failed to present any kind of evidence – only hints and innuendo.

      Stalin did not have personal “death squads” that he could send to exterminate of his enemies. Stalin did not give the order to the country’s special services to destroy people without trial or investigation. For some reason, under Stalin, it was customary not to kill on the spot even evil and terrible terrorists, as it is done in (and by) very democratic USA. Instead in the USSR of that time they’d grab the perp, handcuff, drag to an investigator, interrogate and then judge. Or were they “Stalinist” repressions because Stalin’s personal enemies were being destroyed? You gonna laugh, but the “comrades” Trotskyists themselves insist that the victims of those repressions were not Stalin’s enemies!

      No, instead lets talk about treason.


      ^7 Dec 1991, to the day.

      Let’s talk about 1991 in USSR/Russia. Let’s talk, what preceded Chubais and his ilk.

      One chief “killing” argument of both the Trotskyists and other diverse anti-Sovietists and Russophobes, is that “there were NO conspiracy” coming from those repressed on political charges and the mere thought is preposterous to them. They keep claiming, that comrade Stalin invented the conspiracy in order to deal with his enemies under a convenient pretext. Whom (the enemies) he actually did not have either, because the victims of the “Moscow trials” did not manifest their anti-Stalinist essence in any way, apart from “participation” in an imaginary “conspiracy”. On the contrary, claim handshakable anti-Soviet Leftists, they were almost the most zealous and noisy fans of Comrade Stalin. And then they will have to turn to the discussion of the mental health of Iosif Vissarionovich and his personal traits and flaws: to kill people who do not threaten you in the least – is it paranoia, schizophrenia, or senile marasmus (ask the people without proper psychiatric training or education, but with the excess of opinion)?

      Trotskyist argument about “destruction of the Old Bolshevik party on flimsy grounds” is both predictable and tiresome. At the time of V.I. Lenin’s death in 1924, the Politburo had seven members. If you count with candidates – twelve. Those ill-fated members of the Politburo targeted by the repressions did not immediately and en masse enlisted as agents of foreign intelligence services. First there were intrigues, then politicking, then illegal underground organizations, then conspiracies, and only then – as a logical result of the all above – friendship and mutua; love with all sorts of the Gestapos and MI6s. At the time of the death of Comrade Lenin only Bukharin (a candidate member of the Politburo) was in contact with foreign intelligence services, and Bukharin’s cooperation with foreign intelligence services was only occasional at that time. The USSR was anti-capitalist country. Do you really think that the intelligence services of the capitalist countries did not try to subvert, sabotage and harm it in all ways possible?

      Then, I don’t know how appropriate the definition of “agent of foreign intelligence services” is in this situation. Was Yeltsin, for example, an “agent of foreign intelligence”? Or did he have mutually beneficial cooperation with foreign intelligence services? Let me remind you (or just elucidate those in the unknown) that the candidates and members of the Politburo at different times were, for example, such paragons of “democracy” as Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Nazarbayev, Shevardnadze, i.e. the people, who betrayed the Soviet Union for the sake of the petty nationalism and (ultimately – global) capital. In Russia’s Federation Council, among other worthy “statesmen” is a former member of the Politburo of the CPSU, Mr. Ryzhkov. So membership in the Politburo is by no means a guarantee against “rebirth” or betrayal.

      It might surprise some honest, innocent souls, but the intelligence services, in fact, have the job of recruiting foreign citizens for all sorts of nefarious/good reasons. Moreover, it is desirable to recruit citizens holding important positions. Recent history have enough of coups staged by the Western special services in the so-called “Third World”. Everywhere the scheme is pretty much similar – it suddenly turns out that half of the government and half of the generals have sold themselves to the “Bastion of Democracy”. And the conspirators are led by the former main local “fighter against corruption” (or with “the privileges”), who, quite possibly, been living abroad for a long time. No, I understand that Trotsky managed in the 1930s to peddle the thesis “Communists, in principle, cannot become sell-pits” – lack of examples. But why is this thesis still alive after 1989/91, when almost the entire CPSU together with control and governing institutions “sold out” before our eyes?

      Another source of the fake, “crocodile tears” coming from the Trots and, this time, from the right-wingers in the West, often former military/intelligence personnel – faulting Stalin with undermining country’s war readiness by repressions. I’ve addressed this myth years ago. Since then, I’ve kept digging and studying, and now will talk on the topic merely touched upon by me, i.e. the political character of some of the repressions, i.e. targeting of “innocent” officers who, by default, were incapable of betrayal.

      Let’s view this question from the position of the formal logic. One has to ask (rhetorically) – how many Soviet military leaders remained faithful to the cause of socialism in 1991? My linked article provides just two example of the no-frills, ordinary traitors from the ranks – Dmitry Volkogonov and A.N. Jakovlev. Many of the then generals and marshals nearly raced to sell military secrets to recent foreign adversaries. I don’t remember that then at least one general even verbally called on to fight for Lenin’s cause. So the massive betrayal of the leaders of the Red Army (given the “favourable” political circumstances) should not surprise anyone. And why not? There is no axiom that the former heroes of the Civil War can not betray socialism and go to the imperialists in the service. And then what about Trotsky, whose words about the “danger of degeneration of everyone and everything” for a long time were almost the main thesis in all speeches? What about Budyonny and Voroshilov, for example? They are the heroes of the Civil War. Nevertheless, the same Trotsky insists that Budyonny and Voroshilov were “reborners and sold-outs”, though they sold not to the imperialists, but to the “Thermidorian” Stalin. Does this mean that the “axiom” about the impossibility of rebirth does not apply to Stalin’s supporters? Again, as with the Politburo members, the Red commanders did not suddenly become traitors and not all at once.

      Trots &Co also charge Stalin personally with “elimination” of the civil service cadres (diplomatic corps, industry, railroads, finance directorates, heads of the republics etc.), or, at least, with targeting it with repressions. They are especially pained with the repressions targeting Comintern. There, as everywhere, their chief/only defense is “it [treason] cannot be because it cannot be”. V.S. Chernomyrdin, a source of countless mangled aphorisms, used to be in charge of all gas industry of the USSR. B.N. Yeltsin was in charge of the Soviet construction. Both of them, ultimately, betrayed the USSR and found themselves in charge of the country – one as Prime Minister, another as a President. Important note about proper order of events – first they reached the lofty positions in the USSR, then they betrayed it. Same situation in 1930s – first certain people (say – Zinoviev, Bukharin, Radek) became head of their respective departments and institutions, then they became traitors.

      Just take a look at the immediate aftermath of the USSR’s break up and apply late 1930s lenses on these events. In 1991 (some – even earlier) heads of the SSRs and local KGB/military leaders rebranded themselves in newly nationalist colours. Let this sink into your minds – the Soviet power was in their hands, and at that time they were plotting to overthrow Soviet power. KGB, whose task was to combat nationalism in all of its forms, sided with the nationalism (Ukrainian SBU says “hello”).

      Second chief “killing” argument (serving to arse-cover their previous killing argument) by the Trotskyties is that by late 1980s the USSR was “wrong kind of state” as well as the Party, what with them sprouting from the “Stalinist source”.

      Again – let’s employ the wonders of the formal logic. Western Leftists find it hard to believe that loyal Leninists and staunch revolutionaries turned out to be degenerates, traitors and spies. Okay. However, *for some reason*, their skepticism no longer applies to Stalin and his team. Here they willingly believe that Stalin (a member of the Party since 1898, a real Marxist and a Leninist who, unlike Trotsky and Bukharin, was always on the side of Lenin in all internal party disputes) is a perverter of the communism and a traitor. They believe that his comrades-in-arms and supporters (heroes of the Civil War, authoritative party members clothed with the confidence of the working masses, deserved leaders) are all either morons, unable to distinguish the truth from absurd fiction, or scoundrels, ready for the sake of personal comfort and without batting an eye to send yesterday’s comrade brothers to death. They do not believe in the betrayal of individual communists, but they readily believe that the entire NKVD, all the judicial courts, all the prosecutor’s offices of the USSR were nothing more than Stalin’s personal private security company. According to them, it turns out, the entire Soviet people was just a bunch of idiots and cretins, once for a quarter of a century in a row they absolutely obediently endured terrible bullying, and began to rebel and riot (for some reason) only after the exposure of the ” Stalinist cult of personality.” That is, at first, the Soviet people endured the destruction of their favorite heroes, endured the arrests and executions of innocent compatriots, relatives and friends, and then, a couple of Five Year Plans after the death of the “Mustached Tyrant”, they began to smash the police precincts and take away machine guns from the army – because the salaries at the plant were not raised on time.

      […]

      Only most complete and foam-in-the-mouth Russophobes can really believe that to be true about the Soviet people… or clinical imbeciles.

      And why would Stalin perform a terrible reprisal against Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Rykov and others? These guys were not Stalin’s competitors. Stalin’s popularity was significantly higher than the popularity of all of them combined. At the time of their final fall, the “original” ideas of the “victims of repression” had long been abandoned – publicly and solemnly. They did not officially strived for the Stalin’s position. Zinoviev and Kamenev were kicked out of the Party and lead a private lives. Bukharin and Rykov dispersed their “schools” and for several years in a row diligently posed as fanatical Stalinists

      If, e.g., Pyatakov, was an honest communist – how did Stalin’s satraps make him repent of disgusting crimes, and even to the public? Why Dimitrov, at the same time, did not confess to the arson of the Reichstag? And what kind of honest communist is those who will not only defame his own name, but will readily accuse his friends of monstrous crimes? It turns out that “comrades” Trotskyists cannot believe in any way that Pyatakov turned out to be a traitor to the cause of socialism, but it is easy for them to believe that Pyatakov was a vile coward and a weak-willed selfish man, ready to bow before any impudent executioner!

      [As there are thousand roads leading to the Revolution, there are as many roads to the counter-revolution. Incidentally, Leiba Davidovich himself often boasted at the end of the 1930s that in the USSR he had many supporters, a vast underground, agents, etc. etc – and money, of course. COULD it be, that “old guard” had to align with Trotsky for the simple issue of… geshaft?]

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