| Join the party!|
|Opiates for the masses|
| Not just a river in Egypt|
|♫ We're not listening ♫|
“”Marxism says, "Eliminate class distinctions" and Stalinism does so by the simple and effective process of destructions, as Tamerlane destroyed his enemies or the Hebrew prophet [Samuel] slew for the glory of Jehovah.
|— Walter Duranty, infamous Holodomor denier and Stalin apologist|
Their motivation stems from standard "my enemy's enemy" logic, combined with the idea that The Revolution required and requires a strong leader, and Stalin fits that bill. Therefore, his flaws must be papered over, for the good of all.
Stalin apologists call people who disagree with them "revisionist" — particularly their mortal enemies, the Trots — while calling themselves "anti-revisionist", much like how TERFs call themselves (and insist on being called) "gender critical", or how white supremacists call themselves "race realists". If talking about non-communists, they will use the curious phrase "right-wing liberal".
In Russia, a worryingly large percentage of the modern-day population think highly of Stalin (although a rather lesser proportion would want to live in a country actually ruled by Stalin). He is also quite popular in his native Georgia. This is best understood as a form of nationalism distinct from Western communist apologism.
- 1 Argument tropes
- 2 Particular atrocities
- 3 Other apologetics
- 4 Apologists
- 5 Types of apologists
- 6 See also
- 7 External links
- 8 References
The most common arguments are:
- It's all propaganda!
- Loss of central control — it was Stalin's subordinates, not him! (rehashing the "Good Tsar with evil advisors" — and "If only the Tsar knew about this" — tropes of Romanov Russia)
- NKVD acting alone — basically, this comes down to blaming the entire Great Purge on Yezhov, though this causes problems trying to explain the atrocities carried out by Lavrentiy Beria (though, given the horror stories about his personal life that came to light in 2003, he probably didn't need Stalin to encourage him), Genrikh Yagoda, and to an extent, Felix Dzerzhinsky (though he was active under Lenin).
- Farm collectivization totally works, but Lysenkoism is rubbish, so it failed.
It is important to keep in mind that before World War II and the Cold War, believing pretty much everything Stalin said about himself and the Soviet Union was completely standard among many Western progressives and even some government circles, although Anti-Stalin leftists and Trotskyists such as Tony Cliff and Isaac Deutscher were vocal in their opposition to Stalin's repressions. It became less so as the Cold War progressed and more details of what Stalin was actually doing came out, with Nikita Khrushchev's De-Stalinization campaign 1950s causing a further schism among the Western left, and became completely untenable with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the release of extensive source documents.
None of these happened or will be discussed. But his victims deserved it anyway, even though it all just happened naturally, and WHAT ABOUT AMERICA, HEY? LOOK AT AMERICA'S PRISON POPULATION! IRAQ WAR! JAPANESE INTERNMENT CAMPS! TRAIL OF TEARS! YOU LYNCHED NEGROES!
The Holodomor may or may not technically qualify as an attempted genocide (though the UN, EU, Canada, and Ukraine all regard it as one). So Stalin apologists will ride that lack of unanimity for all it's worth. Note, however, that the equation goes:
The debating tactics closely resemble those of Holocaust deniers, because it's very closely analogous: denial of an extensively documented attempted genocide. You'll see attempts to minimise the numbers, with the implication that the number might be zero, or to assert that it was unintentional or entirely natural (e.g. plant rust diseases that those mere peasants were too stupid to spot, being, er, farmers). Or, "best" of all, that the Kulaks deserved it. Tankies usually will point to how the Kulaks in an act of disobedience and rebellion against the Soviet government engaged in a mass killing of their livestock that the Soviet government was going to steal from them at gunpoint anyway. This is also refuted by the fact the famine in Kazakhstan where the Soviet government successfully collectivized the nomad's livestock and nomads actually fled with their cattle with them had an even worse death toll in proportion to the population than Ukraine- (although the Ukrainian population in Kazakhstan coincidentally fell from 859,396 to 549,859 (almost 36% of their population) which was significantly higher than other minorities in Kazakhstan who lost between 12% and 30% of their populations; this still was even less of a depopulation then the heavily Ukrainian populated region as the Kuban was the most heavily effected area by the famine, coinciding forced relocation, and Russification policies during the period resulting in the self-identified Ukrainian population in the area being reduced from 915,000 in 1926 to 150,000 in 1939.).
Robert Conquest — author of The Great Terror, which sets out in detail the case for Stalin as murderous tyrant (for the second edition, which benefited from Perestroika-era document releases, his friend Kingsley Amis suggested the title I Told You So, You Fucking Fools) — doesn't refer to the Holodomor by the term "genocide". So this will be literally the one topic on which a tankie will decide, well, maybe Robert Conquest wasn't so bad after all.
Holodomor denial takes many forms. The most offensive is arguably outright denial of its existence by those like Maoist Rebel News. That is quickly debunked by some maths.
Mark B. Tauger (an apologist, though an actual historian) is a popular source among apologists. He claims that the famine was an accident and unavoidable, but his data is of dubious origin and selection criteria, and Tauger does not offer an argument why his "data" is representative of all collective farms in Ukraine, not just the farms from which he got his data.
In contrast supporters of the view that the Holodomor was an act of genocide consider that the famine is related to the Soviet policy of Russification, including the suppression of the Ukrainian language and Ukraine's cultural elites after the famine. Stalin personally signed an order blockading citizens of only Ukraine and the Kuban, a heavily Ukrainian populated territory in Russia, from fleeing starving villages. This is argued to clearly prove a genocidal intent to the famine in regards to the Ukrainians in particular. Tankies will defend this by saying that sealing the borders was actually meant to control the spread of famine from rural villages into cities, much like how quarantining a virus... Because that's totally how famines work. However, 600,000 starving Kazakh refugees were able to flee their famine successfully. That's almost three times the number of Ukrainians stopped at the border and deported to back to their villages to die, and it didn't seem to make the famine into a national rather than regional catastrophe as the Tankies moan on about. Also, most of the refugees survived, proving migration would have saved those locked in their villages. Though there were some vagrants among the refugees, that hardly justifies letting them just die. Also, you gotta love how communists, people who are supposed to fight for the poor and marginalized, will defend letting millions of peasants starve so a bunch of city slickers don't have to get their apples nabbed by starving homeless people.
The anti-Ukrainian nationalist sentiment in the Soviet leadership is evidenced by the General of the Joint State Political Directorate (later succeeded by the NKVD), Vsevolod Balyts'kyi, who believed armed uprising would take place in the spring of 1933 to overthrow the Soviet government in order to create a new capitalist nation of Ukraine. Affirming this view, the secretary of the Kharkiv Oblast in Ukraine referred to the "bourgeois nationalists" as "class enemies" that must continue to be fought near the end of the famine, implying the "battle" had already started. Coincidentally, the Kharkiv Oblast was the one most affected by the famine in Ukraine, losing around a fifth of its population. Since then, more than 800 documents have been discovered in the Oblast documenting administrators condemning state farms for encouraging "the behaviour of class aliens" (which, again, Ukrainian Nationalists were considered to be), ordering administrators to confiscate grain and to deny food aid to villages who failed to meet grain procurement quotas. There was also wholesale blockading of villages on the "Blackboard", prosecution of those who tried to take state property such as spikelets to use for farming, and migration of starving villagers was restricted through the internal passports system.
In this vein the first wave of political purges in Ukraine, which took place between 1929 and 1934, was aimed at the revolutionary generation of the Party, which in Ukraine included many supporters of Ukrainianization. On February 23, 1933, Andrii Khvylia was appointed Deputy Commissioner of Education in Ukraine. He advocated destroying nationalist sentiments in Ukraine on the battlefield of language. The Soviet authorities specifically targeted the Commissioner of Education in Ukraine, Mykola Skrýpnyk, for promoting Ukrainian language reforms that were seen as dangerous and counterrevolutionary; due to this Skrýpnyk committed suicide in 1933. The next wave of political purges, which took place between 1936 and 1938, eliminated a large part of the new generation of politicians who had replaced those who perished in the first wave. The purges halved the number of members of the Ukrainian Communist Party, and the purged Ukrainian political commissars were largely replaced by cadres sent from Russia, who also suffered many "rotations" due to Stalin's purges. The Russification policy was more intense in Ukraine than in other parts of the Soviet Union, so much so that the country now contains the largest group of Russian speakers who are not ethnic Russians: in 2009 there were around 5.5 million Ukrainians whose mother tongue was Russian. Russian speakers are more numerous in the southeastern half of the country, while both Russian and Ukrainian are used equally in the center, and Ukrainian is the dominant language in the west. In addition, hundreds of Ukrainian writers were killed in the "Executed Renaissance" and musicians were killed in the same way, becoming known as the Persecuted bandurists.
Also, the Soviet Union unambiguously DID persecute entire national and ethnic minorities regardless of the Holodomor — more than a dozen, actually. They did it like A LOT. Sure, maybe one or two ethnic cleansings once in a while to spice things up, but ten? Come on, you're just an addict at that point; see Population transfer in the Soviet Union, Mass operations of the NKVD. Why, then, does the idea that Ukrainians would be one of the targeted groups seem so absurd? Especially coming from a regime that literally went to door to door and deported EVERY SINGLE PERSON (LITERALLY ALL OF THEM) of the Chechen nationality to work for food coupons in inhospitable mines where Chechen children were beaten to death for not complying. I mean, who would suspect such an innocuous regime of committing genocide (as if what we just said wasn't already genocide)? So unthinkable! Come on guys; come on.
The kulaks were originally the richest independent farmers, risen from the peasantry. Lenin had condemned them as class enemies, "bloodsuckers, vampires, plunderers of the people and profiteers, who fatten on famine."
Stalin, wishing to collectivise, expanded the official definition of "kulak" to any peasant owning land or livestock; any peasant even selling surplus goods on the market could be labeled a kulak. In practice, any peasant who did not provide grain to quota, particularly the artificially high quotas of 1929-1933, was labeled a kulak. Not appearing to be starving was taken as evidence of hoarding.
On January 30, 1930, the Politburo approved the extermination of kulaks as a class. Soviet archives published in 1990 show 1,803,392 people being sent to labour colonies and camps in 1930 and 1931, with 1,317,022 actually reaching the destinations. 389,521 "kulaks" and their relatives died in labour colonies from 1932 to 1940. Read Nazino affair for a sample.
A serious Stalin apologist will, at some point, come out with "the kulaks deserved it". When humans with any sense of proportion react with outrage and disgust, they will often then try to justify Stalin's actions, deny them, or both simultaneously.
The Stalin Society maintains that the gulags were only for offenders who had committed serious crimes (economic, rape, homicide, etc.) — perfectly ordinary prisons for deserving criminals, not forced labor camps that dissenters were shipped off to arbitrarily. In reality, people could be sent to the gulags for even minor offenses.
The Great Purge
Stalin personally signed 357 execution warrants which authorized the execution of 40,000 individuals, 90% having been confirmed executed. Historian Oleg V. Khlevniuk said in his book Master of the House: Stalin and His Inner Circle regarding the Great Purge: "… theories about the elemental, spontaneous nature of the terror, about a loss of central control over the course of mass repression, and about the role of regional leaders in initiating the terror are simply not supported by the historical record."
Stalin hand-picked Nikolai Yezhov to accomplish what Yagoda could not. Yezhov carried out his new position with ruthless efficacy.
Stalin apologists blame the NKVD being out of control.
The more sophisticated Stalin apologists will argue that while he may have done some nasty things, it's all right because he was an anti-fascist and the Soviet Union was vital in taking down Hitler. This will often be contrasted with the policy of appeasement pursued by Western bourgeois powers, and whataboutist comparisons with other non-aggression pacts signs with Nazi Germany, such as the German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact
But while Stalin clashed with Hitler during the Spanish Civil War, he didn't let this get in the way of making a deal with the Nazis when it suited him. Having first ordered his subordinates to "purge the ministry of Jews," Stalin got down to business. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was signed between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union on August 23, 1939. Less than three weeks later, Germany invaded Poland and the much-maligned Chamberlain promptly declared war on Hitler. Stalin waited a few more weeks before declaring war... On Poland. In celebration of their victory, the Wehrmacht and Red Army held two joint parades in Brest-Litovsk and Minsk, Belarus. As a further show of solidarity, Stalin handed over some German Communist exiles to Hitler, who promptly sent them to the concentration camps.
The pact contained secret protocols which divided Europe into spheres of influence between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. In practice, it allowed Stalin to pursue imperialistic policies without any objections from the Nazis, which included the aforementioned invasion of eastern Poland, occupation of the Baltic states, a failed invasion of Finland and the takeover of Bessarabia. Stalin's apologists tend to justify his imperialism by saying that he wanted to spread the communist revolution to neighboring countries.
Stalin stuck to his agreement with Hitler, to the extent that he refused to mobilize the Red Army even when it was apparent to everyone else that Operation Barbarossa was in the making. French Communists, who after Barbarossa became the backbone of the Resistance, were ordered at the time not to resist the Germans in the portion of France they occupied or the Vichy government elsewhere (temporarily) in France. Similarly, other Communist parties in Nazi-occupied Europe had been ordered to work with the Nazis, but then had to go underground at the beginning of Barbarossa when all Communist parties were outlawed and their members risked being sent to the camps if caught by the Nazis.
The Stalin apologist line is typically either that Stalin knew that Hitler would eventually attack and bought the USSR some time (this is the 20/20 hindsight version; it glosses over the fact that Stalin refused to acknowledge that Hitler had actually broken the pact during the first hours after the invasion had begun and was furious at army officers who reported the massive onslaught). Another excuse stems from the Soviet propaganda of the time, which claimed that the pact had pre-empted a sinister capitalist/imperialist plot, which had tried to get the USSR and the Third Reich into a war with each other to weaken both to the benefit of especially Britain and France. While it's undoubtedly true that the leaders of Britain and France would have been more than happy to watch the two totalitarian regimes slug it out, how this wishful thinking would actually have led to a Russo-German war in the absence of the pact is unclear.
The best spin to put on the sordid affair that was the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is to view it as Stalin's recognition that collective security and trying to build a common anti-Nazi front was unrealistic in the wake of appeasement. However, at best the pact was a temporary measure, resting on several rather optimistic assumptions, e.g. that the Wehrmacht would not be able to defeat the Western Allies (a prospect made less likely by the removal of the risk of a two-front war involving the USSR), or that if the Third Reich did manage to pull this off, it wouldn't turn on the Soviets next. While the pact did buy Stalin time and a buffer zone in Poland, he squandered both in the disastrous war with Finland, and lack of preparations for a Nazi invasion. Even worse, as a consequence of the pact, the USSR would end up on its own, facing the vast majority of the Nazi war machine after it had been honed in the Polish, Scandinavian, Benelux and French campaigns, by which time it was also backed by the resources of the Nazi-occupied countries.
In 1940, the Soviets murdered an estimated 22,000 Polish military officers they had captured after invading the eastern part of Poland at the start of the Second World War. The Katyn massacre — so called because it took place in the forest of the same name — was authorized by Stalin and five other members of the Politburo in an order to execute 27,500 Polish "nationalists and counterrevolutionaries" created at the request of Beria. The executions were carried out by the NKVD; Vasili Blohkin, the NKVD chief executioner, shot 7,000 of the prisoners himself. Documents coming to light since the dissolution of the USSR undeniably confirm Stalin's involvement with the Katyn Massacre.
When the mass graves in Katyn were discovered, they were used by the Nazis to attempt to smear the USSR. The Soviets, in turn, appointed a commission that blamed the incident on the Nazis.
Stalin apologists ignore questions on the topic, blame the NKVD for being out of control or blame the Nazis. Both these objections are absurd: Stalin knowingly signed the orders, which undermines the argument that the NKVD acted alone or that the Nazis were responsible for the Katyn massacre.
The Stalin Society attempts to cast doubt upon the authenticity of documents implicating Stalin in the massacre. They offer unsourced "eyewitness" testimony of locals seeing German soldiers at the scene or being pressured by German soldiers to blame the shootings on the Soviets. They then claim:
Moreover, pathologists who examined the bodies in 1943 concluded that they could not have been dead longer than two years. Furthermore, documents were found on some of the bodies which had obviously been missed by the Germans when they doctored the evidence. These included a letter dated September 1940, a postcard dated 12 November 1940, a pawn ticket receipted 14 March 1941 and another receipted 25 March 1941. Receipts dated 6 April 1941, 5 May 1941, 15 May 1941 and an unmailed postcard in Polish dated 20 June 1941. Although all these dates pre-date Soviet withdrawal, they all postdate the time of the alleged murder of the prisoners by the Soviet authorities in the spring of 1940, the time given as the date of the supposed massacre by all those whom the Germans were able to bully into giving false testimony.
No citation is given to these supposed items or their discovery.
Murder and deportation of ethnic groups
Some 1 to 1.5 million were killed, often deliberately, as a result of mass deportations of ethnic minorities under Stalin — of those deaths, the deportation of Crimean Tatars and the deportation of Chechens were recognized as genocides by Ukraine and the European Parliament respectively. For example, in the deportations of Chechens, everyone was rounded up, and anyone resisting, or anyone physically unfit to withstand the deportation - the sick, the elderly, pregnant women - were unceremoniously shot on the spot. Their villages were burned to the ground, and in some cases there were atrocious mass murders, such as the burning of 700 people alive in Haibah on the orders of NKVD generals. As many as 60% of the "deported" Chechens perished, in part due to deliberate poisoning of food rations. This represents a per capita death toll almost as high as that inflicted on Europe's Jews during the Holocaust.
NKVD National Operations
Stalin was fond of shifting around, or just killing, entire ethnic groups in the Soviet Union that he considered "reactionary" rather than "progressive". Operations included the Greek Operation (an organised mass persecution that Greeks considered a "pogrom"), the Korean Operation (in which ethnic Koreans were moved from the far east to Kazakhstan), the German operation (1937-38), and the Polish Operation.
The Polish Operation, implemented by NKVD Order No. 00485, was probably the worst. It led to the execution of 111,901 Poles resident in the Soviet Union. The original text of the order appears to target Polish spies but was interpreted by the NKVD as "absolutely all Poles" — a straight-up ethnic cleansing. Timothy Snyder estimates (conservatively) that 85,000 of the executed individuals were ethnically Polish, and the rest were suspected Poles.
Stalin himself even said, "keep on digging and clean out this Polish filth." 
Apologists don't mention the Polish Operation and tend to claim not to have heard of it, with the default excuse being how totally out-of-control the NKVD was, and a second one of claiming that the idea Stalin was targeting Poles is ludicrous.
Estimating total deaths
Some apologists argue that the total number of Stalin's victims is unknown (which is true as the documentation is lacking for some areas) or that the total estimated number is shrinking (which it has been). They use this to attempt to discredit the scholarly research placing the death toll around 20 million, not including deaths from WW2, trying to imply that a decreasing or foggy estimate might reasonably end at a trivial number. (100,000 is apparently a trivial number, as noted above.)
- Famine / Holodomor 4.3 to 9.1 million
- Soviet famine of 1946–47 1/2 to 1.5 million
- Forced Labor 1,634,896 to 7.2 million
- Great Purge 681,692 to 1 million
- Population Transfers (Genocide by deportation) 790,000 to 1.5 million
- Occupation of Poland 150,000 (22,768 in Katyn Massacre) to 500,000
- Women raped to death during the occupation of Germany 240,000-(Yes literally fucking raped to DEATH)
- Civilians killed in Siege of Budapest 23,000
- Civilians killed in Battle of Berlin 125,000
- NKVD prisoner massacres 100,000
Total: 9,544,588 to 21,288,000
The total may be greater then this due to missed events and lack or recording or lower due to overlapping systems of repression and some of the higher estimates being from understudied events. This estimate roughly falls within Snyder's range of 6 to 9 million deaths for the minimum and Conquest's claim that the deaths can "hardly be lower than some fifteen million"
It should be noted that some of the less reality-based anti-Communists, usually those who are bringing up a list of Stalin's crimes in some attempt to absolve Adolf Hitler of his, will include deaths in WWII in their estimate of people who were killed by Stalin. This distortion ranges from including Nazi troops killed by Stalin's forces, all the way up to attributing every death of any side to Stalin, as well as the "Hitler didn't kill his own people" argument, with some more explicit neo-Nazis even going so far as to include all the victims of the Holocaust in that count. Criticism of this pseudohistorical practice is reasonable and, in and of itself, is not the same as Stalin apologism. However, this isn't to say that Stalin apologists don't have a habit of trashing distorted death counts from niche fascists with no platform as a form of bad faith questioning of the validity of the accurate death counts.
Some apologists will defend the atrocities by arguing that the gulags, purges, and so forth were all necessary for industrialization: that mass collectivization and escalation of the class conflict with the Kulaks (which ironically was supported by Trotsky and the Left Opposition) was necessary to defeat Hitler and industrialize the USSR.
Robert Service argues that continuation of the New Economic Policy (NEP), with the exception of Grain Procurement Crisis of 1928, would have brought about the same level of production in its mines and factories as was brought about by collectivization and rapid industrialization. Other historians have concurred that, had the NEP been maintained, higher living standards and the ability to withstand invasion would have been possible. If only they had listened to Bukharin.
E. H. Carr
An English journalist and historian with the interesting distinction of being an apologist for Stalin, Mao and Hitler. Although he later regretted defending Hitler in the 1930s, he remained a staunch supporter of Stalin until his death in 1982. Among other things, he declared that the Kulaks deserved it, that Stalin's success in making the Soviet Union outweighed any misdeeds, attacked the Polish Government-in-Exile for asking that the Red Cross investigate the Katyn Massacre, claimed that Stalin did not want a puppet government in Poland, and … well…
Despite being an unabashed groupie for murderous autocrats, Carr enjoyed considerable acclaim during his lifetime.
Joseph E. Davies
U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, 1936-1938. His 1941 book Mission to Moscow was made into the 1943 film of the same name at the behest of Franklin D. Roosevelt (!) because World War II. Stalin is a kindly grandfatherly sort who only wants world peace, Finland was invaded because Stalin really cared about the Finns and wanted only to protect them from the imminent Nazi invasion, and the Great Purge victims were all guilty as charged of plotting to break up the Soviet Union in a plot instigated by Germany and Japan and led by Trotsky. The only thing that can be said in defense of Davies' apologism is that it stemmed from the apparent fact he was really just that naive. To add insult to injury the House Un-American Activities Committee blacklisted the scriptwriter and others involved in that film during the darkest 1950s, even though they had made the film as a patriotic act of World War II propaganda—exactly the sort of thing Stalin would have done.
New York Times correspondent in Stalin's day. Very into being feted in Moscow. Called anyone reporting on the Holodomor a fascist.
The Stalin apologist par excellence. A professor of medieval English (read: not History) at Montclair State University, he has written many books about Russian history, some of which bear a resemblance to actual events, and are published by small left-wing presses rather than any sort of academic publisher. Furr has no credentials as a historian.
He also accepts admissions of guilt (and fascist conspiracy) made during the Purge show trials as actual evidence, then asserts some massive fascist conspiracy to undermine the USSR without providing any historical documentation from Nazi Germany that would support his assertion.
Grover cherry picks evidence which supports his agenda and ignores/denounces as propaganda anything that makes Stalin look bad, even if it comes directly from the Soviet archives or Stalin's close associates like Vyacheslav Molotov. He also likes citing documents that do not even exist. His Katyn denial has been debunked and his deep incompetence on the issue demonstrated. His notion that Stalin's Moscow trials were not staged was also thoroughly rebutted.
Stalinists will cite Furr as academic credibility — look, a professor! — for their views, and try to get you to debate the quality of Furr's scholarship (as if that determines the truth of the historical consensus on Stalin), ignoring that he is a minor fringe academic whose historical work is outside any peer review and, when he does manage to publish it in scholarly venues, does so in some of the lowest ranked and least impactful ones.
There was some controversy in 2012 when some
Trotskyist revisionists libertarians recorded him telling a class that Stalin murdered nobody whomsoever and committed no crimes. (For that last, it helps if you're the dictator and get to define "crime".) The libertarians were baiting him, but he said it. The libertarians were attempting to use this as evidence of liberal bias in the political beliefs of academics, and never mind that liberalism and libertarianism are near-twins compared to Stalinism.
In any discussion involving communism or the USSR, citing Grover Furr as a credible source loses you the argument immediately and gets you laughed out of the room.
Domenico Losurdo was an Italian philosopher known for his defense of Stalin. He denied the Katyn massacre, the great purges and Stalin's anti-Semitism.
Types of apologists
Serious devotees of Soviet apologetics are often referred to by the derogatory epithet tankies, after the tanks that rolled into Hungary when they dared leave the Soviet Union's loving hugs. This term was coined by other communists who didn't agree with such actions and originated as a term for the Communist Party of Great Britain when they followed the Kremlin line.
The term is routinely used concerning Stalin apologists. Because he was dead by the time the tanks rolled, they will often claim the word properly refers to someone other than them — though approximately nobody goes along with this. You'll also see it being used for Berlin Wall apologists, North Korea apologists, Enver Hoxha apologists, Nicolae Ceausescu apologists, Khmer Rouge apologists, Mao Zedong apologists, and those who cheered on the
June Fourth Incident Tiananmen Square Massacre. Other groups get called "tankies" if they take an authoritarian line. There are actually tiny Trotskyist groups that supported military "intervention" in Hungary, such as the Marcyites who argued that Stalinist repression is a lesser evil compared to Western imperialism.
Ironically enough, most actual tankies despise Nikita Khrushchev, who sent the tanks into Hungary in 1956, as being "revisionist".
Modern Russian Stalin apologists
Quite a lot of modern-day non-communist Russians — and not just Russian nationalists — are disconcertingly apologetic toward Stalin: he was a strong leader, he won World War II, shit happens along the way, nostalgia, crazification factor. Stalin is most popular among older Russians, who have personal connections to memories of World War II, when 27 million war deaths dwarfed the human toll of Stalin's repression. Older Russians also experienced privations resulting from the end of Soviet communism and its replacement with Yeltsin-era neoliberal looting, tending to view the Soviet era as a time of relative stability and security. Some older Chinese who experienced the short of the Chinese economic reform stick also regard Mao Zedong the same way, as do Romanians who support Nicolae Ceauşescu due to the relative lack of economic prosperity following the end of communism.
If you can read Russian, the Encyclopedia of Russian Civilisation is an amazing window into the thought processes involved in modern-day Russian quasi-fascism — pro-Eastern-Orthodox, anti-Jewish, anti-Masonic, anti-Communist and anti-democratic. There are no articles about any Soviet leader other than Stalin; even Vladimir Lenin is mentioned only in passing as a Jewish, anti-Russian (!) and anti-Christian criminal, and Stalin's purges of the old Bolsheviks are celebrated. Such nationalists generally prefer to associated Stalin with the other Vladimir, Putin, in their pantheon of "great" Russian leaders.
Stalin, Iosif Vissarionovich, a Georgian Bolshevik. From late 1930s — a Russian statesman, and the military leader of the Russian people during the Great Patriotic War … The mighty Russian civilization spiritually subjugated itself to the Bolshevik leader and sanctified his activity with positive content … By eliminating the Bolshevik old guard, Stalin did not only struggle for power but also redeemed his guilt in front of the Russian people…
Vladimir Putin "has described Stalin as an 'effective manager', and "told teachers to avoid history that 'makes your hair stand up' — meaning no mention of executions, starvation from forced agrarian collectivization, purges, mass deportations and gulags." This is not a surprise given Stalin's popularity among Putin's own nationalistic support base.
In a rare stopped clock moment, during a 2010 visit to Poland, Putin provided documentation related to the NKVD's role in the Katyn massacre and paid tribute to its victims, stating that "this crime cannot be justified in any way." Putin also condemned Stalin's claims that the missing officers had "fled to Manchuria" as "cynical lies." This managed to repair Polish-Russian relations for a short while.
Stalin apologist organizations
- Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) (not the other three CPGBs). Also North Korea apologists. Reporter Johann Hari attended a meeting and noted about 30 people attending who were primarily "elderly to the point of decrepitude."
- New Communist Party of Britain, who left the original Communist Party of Great Britain in the 1970s for not being quite tankie enough, have a whole series of tributes to Stalin on their website.
- Maoist Rebel News (Jason Unruhe), who (besides whitewashing Stalin) pushes the envelope all the way to overt North Korea and Pol Pot apologism. Amusingly enough, Unruhe despises the current leadership of the the Chinese Communist Party for its exploitation of Africans, in a rare stopped clock moment.
- Stalin Society — UK — "The Stalin Society was formed in 1991 to defend Stalin and his work on the basis of fact and to refute capitalist, revisionist, opportunist, and Trotskyist propaganda directed against him."
- Stalin Society Pakistan — "Refuting anti-Stalin propaganda & lies through Research & Advocacy"
- Stalin Society of North America — The Society "serves as an educational and research organization devoted to studying and popularizing the life, work, and legacy of Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin."
- The U.S. Revolutionary Communist Party, a Maoist party led by "Chairman Bob" Avakian, says their vision of a future society is based on all the good things about the Soviet Union, with the side note that they want to forgo whatever bad things arose from the Soviet system. In effect, this is a rhetorical strategy to get your mind to think that there were enough really great things about the Soviet system and that the bad things were very few (and possibly just amoral mistakes, even unrelated to mass murder and mass torture). Chairman Bob is currently living in self-imposed exile in France, after fleeing the U.S. following a violent protest against the revisionist Deng Xiaoping.
- The U.S. Party for Socialism and Liberation, heavily Marcy-influenced, insists that the bad stuff associated with the Soviet Union is actually just Western propaganda.
- Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany, the first party to have erected a Lenin statue in what was West Germany. Undoubtedly Stalinist and uncompromising, a creepy uncle of other leftist parties. Believes that the USSR practiced true socialism, and that a Dictatorship of the Proletariat coupled with fresh and improved Democratic Centralism is mandatory to solve current societal problems, which capitalist system is too inadequate to solve. Join the fun! or not.
- The Stalinist Society of Australia, currently with a defunct website and reduced to a Facebook page with a few hundred likes. How the mighty has fallen!
- Duranty, Walter (June 24, 1931). "Stalinism Smashes Foes in Marx's Name". Garethjones.org. The New York Times. https://www.garethjones.org/soviet_articles/duranty_1931_8.htm
- However, left-wing pejorative use of the word "liberal" is not a practice unique to Tankies: It's common for American progressives to despise "liberals" in what they see as a Democratic Party that's moved too far right. Compare the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.
- The Stalin Puzzle: Deciphering Post-Soviet Public Opinion
- This is not to deny that the British invoked laissez-faire capitalism to justify perpetuating the famine and doing nothing to prevent a million Irish deaths from starvation. "Some have classified the famine as an act of genocide (the term was not in use at the time). [John] Kelly calls this charge 'discredited,' but his portraits of some of the more insufferable English statesmen are withering… Charles Edward Trevelyan was a civil servant at the Treasury who oversaw much of the British response. God had 'sent the calamity to teach the Irish a lesson,' he declared, and it 'must not be too much mitigated.' Some time later he wrote that the famine was a 'direct stroke of an all-wise Providence.' Malthusianism was much in the air in those days, and men like Trevelyan saw the famine as, among other things, a means of transforming Ireland by reducing its population and the number of small farms." New York Times review of: The Graves Are Walking, by John Kelly.
- Ellman, Michael (2007). "Stalin and the Soviet Famine of 1932–33 Revisited" (PDF). Europe-Asia Studies. 59 (4): 663–693. doi:10.1080/09668130701291899 http://www.paulbogdanor.com/left/soviet/famine/ellman1933.pdf
- Dr. David Marples. "Debating the undebatable? Ukraine Famine of 1932-1933".
- Nicolas Werth, Karel Bartošek, Jean-Louis Panné, Jean-Louis Margolin, Andrzej Paczkowski, Stéphane Courtois, The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression, Harvard University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-674-07608-7
- Archive of the Directorate of Internal Affairs of Kharkiv Oblast (Arkhiv Upravlinnia vnutrishnikh sprav Kharkiv'skoi oblasti) fond 48, list 1, file 1, vol 3, fols. 3-4
- A. Khvylia "Vykorinyty, zbyshchyty natsionalistychne korinnia na movnomu. Fronti," Bil'shovyk Ukraïny. us. 7-8 (1933): 55
- Paul Robert Magocsi (June 18, 2010). History of Ukraine - 2nd, Revised Edition: The Land and Its Peoples . University of Toronto Press . pp. 496-7. ISBN 978-1-4426-9879-6.
- Juliane Besters-Dilger (2009). Language Policy and Language Situation in Ukraine: Analysis and Recommendations. Peter Lang. pp. 7-8. ISBN 978-3-631-58389-0.
- Werth, Nicholas (2008). "The Crimes of the Stalin Regime: Outline for an Inventory and Classification". In Stone, Dan (ed.). The Historiography of Genocide (repeated ed.). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 412. ISBN 9780230297784. LCCN 2007048561.
- Gessen, Masha (2015). The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy. Penguin. p. 18. ISBN 9781594632648. LCCN 2015295427.
- Comrade Workers, Forward To The Last, Decisive Fight! (V.I. Lenin, 17 January 1925)
- http://www.stalinsociety.org.uk/lies.html#Labour camps
- Steven Rosefielde. Red Holocaust. Routledge, 2009. ISBN 0-415-77757-7 pg. 67 "…more complete archival data increases camp deaths by 19.4 percent to 1,258,537"; pg 77: "The best archivally based estimate of Gulag excess deaths at present is 1.6 million from 1929 to 1953."
- Alexopoulos, Golfo (2017) Illness and Inhumanity in Stalin's Gulag. Yale University Press
- http://www.stalinsociety.org.uk/lies.html#sentenced to death
- Communism: A History (Modern Library Chronicles) by Richard Pipes, pg 67
- "Stalin and the Soviet Famine of 1932 – 33 Revisited". Europe-Asia Studies 59 (4): 663–693. June 2007.
- Oleg V. Khlevniuk. Master of the House: Stalin and His Inner Circle. Yale University Press, 2008. ISBN 0-300-11066-9 p. xix
- Faria, MA (December 29, 2011). "Book Review of Stalin's Loyal Executioner: People's Commissar Nikolai Ezhov, 1895-1940 by Marc Jansen and Nikita Petrov". Retrieved 25 July 2014.
- Herf, Jeffrey (2006). The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda During World War II and the Holocaust. Harvard University Press. pp. 97–98. ISBN 0-674-02175-4.
- Crowdy, Terry (2007). French Resistance Fighter: France's Secret Army. p10. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84603-076-5.
- Jackson, Julian (2003). France: The Dark Years, 1940–1944. p115. USA: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-925457-6.
- The poor performance of the Red Army was largely due to Stalin having had large numbers of its officers executed or sent to the gulags.
- Brown, Archie (9 June 2009). The Rise and Fall of Communism. HarperCollins. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-06-113879-9. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
- David Remnick (1994). Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire. Random House Digital, Inc. pp. 5–. ISBN 978-0-679-75125-0. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
- Fischer, Benjamin B. (1999–2000). "The Katyn Controversy: Stalin's Killing Field". Studies in Intelligence (CIA) (Winter). Retrieved 25 July 2014
- [ UNPO: Chechnya: European Parliament recognizes the genocide of the Chechen People in 1944 http://www.unpo.org/article/438 ][Naimark, Norman M. Stalin's Genocides (Human Rights and Crimes against Humanity). Princeton University Press, 2010. p. 131. ISBN 0-691-14784-1Naimark, Norman M. Stalin's Genocides (Human Rights and Crimes against Humanity). Princeton University Press, 2010. p. 131. ISBN 0-691-14784-1][Rosefielde, Steven (2009). Red Holocaust. Routledge. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-415-77757-5.][ "Ukraine's Parliament Recognizes 1944 'Genocide' Of Crimean Tatars". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-tatar-deportation-parliament-genocide/27360343.html ]
- Snyder, Timothy (2010). Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-00239-0.
- Wheatcroft, Stephen G. (2004). "Towards Explaining the Soviet Famine of 1931–1933: Political and Natural Factors in Perspective". Food and Foodways. 12 (2–3): 107–136. doi:10.1080/07409710490491447
- Stanislav Kulchytsky, "How many of us perished in Holodomor in 1933", Zerkalo Nedeli, 23–29 November 2002. Available online "in Russian". Archived from the original on 21 July 2006. Retrieved 10 January 2003. and "in Ukrainian". Archived from the original on 5 May 2006. Retrieved 1 February 2003.
- Volkava, Elena (2012-03-26). "The Kazakh Famine of 1930–33 and the Politics of History in the Post-Soviet Space". Wilson Center. Retrieved 2015-07-09.
- Snyder, Timothy (2010). Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. London: The Bodley Head. ISBN 978-0-224-08141-2. Page 42 onward
- Conquest, Robert (1986), The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine, Oxford University Press, p. 306, ISBN 0-19-505180-7.
- Pool, The Stalinist Penal System, p. 131
- Alexopoulos, Golfo (2017).Illness and Inhumanity in Stalin's Gulag. Yale University Press
- In his revised Russian language edition of Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses, Krivosheev put the number of German military POWs at 2,733,739 and dead at 381,067(356,700 German nationals and 24,367 from other nations)G. I. Krivosheev Rossiia i SSSR v voinakh XX veka: Poteri vooruzhennykh sil; statisticheskoe issledovanie OLMA-Press, 2001 ISBN 5-224-01515-4 Table 198
- Rüdiger Overmans, Soldaten hinter Stacheldraht. Deutsche Kriegsgefangene des Zweiten Weltkriege. Ullstein., 2000 Page 246 ISBN 3-549-07121-3
- (in Hungarian) „Malenki Robot" Magyar kényszermunkások a Szovjetunióban (1944–1955) (in English) "Malenki Robot" – Hungarian Forced Labourers in the Soviet Union (1944–1955)
- Communism: A History (Modern Library Chronicles) by Richard Pipes, pg 67
- Pohl, J. Otto (1997). The Stalinist Penal System. McFarland. p. 58, 148. ISBN 0786403365. Pohl cites Russian archival sources for the death toll in the special settlements from 1941-49
- Naimark, Norman M. Stalin's Genocides (Human Rights and Crimes against Humanity). Princeton University Press, 2010. p. 131. ISBN 0-691-14784-1
- Rosefielde, Steven (2009). Red Holocaust. Routledge. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-415-77757-5.
- AFP / Expatica (30 August 2009), Polish experts lower nation's WWII death toll, Expatica Communications BV.
- Kużniar-Plota, Małgorzata (30 November 2004). "Decision to commence investigation into Katyn Massacre". Departmental Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
- Tomasz Szarota & Wojciech Materski (2009), Polska 1939–1945. Straty osobowe i ofiary represji pod dwiema okupacjami, Warsaw: Institute of National Remembrance, ISBN 978-83-7629-067-6 (Excerpt reproduced in digital form).
- Helke Sander/Barbara Johr: BeFreier und Befreite, Fischer, Frankfurt 2005
- Seidler/Zayas: Kriegsverbrechen in Europa und im Nahen Osten im 20. Jahrhundert, Mittler, Hamburg Berlin Bonn 2002
- Ungváry, Kristián (2003). Budapest Ostroma [Battle for Budapest] (in Hungarian). London: I.B. Tauris. ISBN 1 86064 727 8.
- Clodfelter, Michael (2002), Warfare and Armed Conflicts: A Statistical Reference to Casualty and Other Figures, 1500–2000 (2nd ed.), McFarland & Company, ISBN 978-0-7864-1204-4
- Robert Gellately. Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe. Knopf, 2007 ISBN 1-4000-4005-1 p. 391
- Snyder, Timothy (2010). Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin. New York. p. 384.
- Snyder, Timothy (27 January 2011). "Hitler vs. Stalin: Who Was Worse?". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 13 October 2017. "" The total number of noncombatants killed by the Germans—about 11 million—is roughly what we had thought. The total number of civilians killed by the Soviets, however, is considerably less than we had believed. We know now that the Germans killed more people than the Soviets did . . . All in all, the Germans deliberately killed about 11 million noncombatants, a figure that rises to more than 12 million if foreseeable deaths from deportation, hunger, and sentences in concentration camps are included. For the Soviets during the Stalin period, the analogous figures are approximately six million and nine million. These figures are of course subject to revision, but it is very unlikely that the consensus will change again as radically as it has since the opening of Eastern European archives in the 1990s."
- Conquest, Robert (2007) The Great Terror: A Reassessment, 40th Anniversary Edition, Oxford University Press, in Preface, p. xvi: "Exact numbers may never be known with complete certainty, but the total of deaths caused by the whole range of Soviet regime's terrors can hardly be lower than some fifteen million."
- Robert Service (2009) The Penguin History of Modern Russia: From Tsarism to the Twenty-First Century. p. 275: "Nor can it be wholly discounted that the USSR would have been able to achieve about the same volume of output from its factories and mines if the New Economic Policy had been maintained."
- Holland Hunter & Janusz M. Szyrme. Faulty Foundations: Soviet Economic Policies, 1928-1940. ISBN: 9780691600802
- Edward Hallett Carr, The Soviet Impact on the Western World, p.2
- The video. "I'm gonna answer you, I'm gonna answer you, I'm gonna answer you, I'm gonna answer you. What you said is bullshit! It's wrong, it's a lie! The history of the Soviet Union is the most falsified! American history is falsified. Alright, I lived in Canada for a number of years, the Canadian school system falsifies Canadian history. But of all the falsifications that go on in the school systems of this world, Soviet history is falsified the most. I have spent many years researching this, and similar questions and I have yet to find one crime! Yet to find one crime! That Stalin commited. I know they all say he killed 20 to 30 to 40 million people, Its bullshit!"
- Stalin: The Enduring Legacy by Kerry Bolton (2017) Black House Publishing. ISBN 1910881848.
- Why so many Russians still love Stalin
- Ceaușescu still most beloved President of Romania Transylvania Today. December 27, 2018
- Энциклопедический словарь русской цивилизации
- Сн-Ся (Энциклопедический словарь русской цивилизации)
- In one country, a Josef Stalin revival is under way by Jack Epstein (May 7, 2015 Updated: May 8, 2015 11:07am) San Francisco Chronicle
- Putin Gesture Heralds New Era in Russian-Polish Relations by Benjamin Bidder (April 08, 2010 10:25 AM) Der Spiegel.
- Johann Hari: The horrors of the British Stalin Society