Estimates of the death toll
I love how this article cites Zemskov's estimates for the Great Purge (unlike Conquest's and such, they are based on real archive work and are the most accurate ones up to date) yet manages to completely gloss over Zemskov's main conclusion that "97.5% of the USSR's population [between 1924-1953] never experienced repressions in any way or form". The article tries to make fun of judging history against the standards of its own time, but, even when compared to the more democratic nations of the first half of XX century, 97.5% is hardly a bad result and when compared to Tsarist Russia it is a huge improvement. Again, according to the very sources the article cites these are all repressions there were, and including those against real Nazi collaborators, real spies, ROA, "forest brothers", etc.
According to the same source, mortality in Gulag only exceeded that outside by a fraction of a percent, except on three occasions:
- In 1942-43 because of the war (the situation wasn't great anywhere at the time and the prisoners obviously got less attention than industry and agriculture did);
- To a lesser extent, in 1937-38 because the Gulag was poorly prepared for the purge and large influx of inmates;
- Finally, in 1946-47 because of a famine (by the way, for some reason regular famines stopped abruptly right after the success of collectivization; 1946-47 was the sole exception due to human and material losses in the war, especially in the more developed western regions).
It's pretty much up to the people here to decide if the article needs to be reworked to reflect the information it cites or the information deleted to keep the article pretty. — Unsigned, by: 220.127.116.11 / talk
- Which source are you referring to? There are many, and ctrl-F did not bring up Zemskov. 𝒮𝑒𝓇𝑒𝓃𝑒 talk 03:10, 4 May 2021 (UTC)
- Citation 38: "Communism: A History (Modern Library Chronicles) by Richard Pipes, pg 67". Whenever these exact numbers appear, the citation chain always goes to Zemskov. By the way, most Communists that I have talked to actually do consider these numbers accurate (rather than "Western bourgeois propaganda" as the article paints it), as an argument against real propaganda.
- P.S. I have also noticed that the article represents the famine of 1946-47 as deliberately caused by Stalin's government, as opposed to it being a logical consequence of a war resulting in over twenty million in losses and destruction of most infrastructure in the main industrial and agricultural regions of the country.
I think that the section on the MRP is missing a lot of important information. It appears to portray the idea of a Soviet-German war as unlikely when there were in fact several indications of hostility between the Germans and Soviets that both parties were quite well aware of. At a minimum, I think these points should be included as historical context for the MRP. As far as I'm aware, that these things happened isn't under any dispute, although the overall significance of them in the context of provoking a Soviet-German war may be under dispute (as are many aspects of interwar German-Soviet relations and the early organization of the Eastern Front):
- The Lebensraum (living space) plan: First existing as a geopolitical goal of Germany in World War I, with the concept and aspects of it going back much further (for example, Bismarck's calls to exterminate the Polish people) -- essentially colonizing lands in the East for the long term growth of a new German Empire/Reich. The more explicit version of this plan manifested with Generalplan Ost (Master Plan for the East), which explicitly called for the displacement, enslavement/sterilization, or extermination of no less than 100 million people in Eastern Europe, including 70 million Russians, and 20 million Poles, with the remaining populations in the area to be Germanized. The area would then be organized into a number of Reichkommisariats and colonized by ethnic Germans. It's worth noting that explicit numbers for ethnic cleansing were created in internal memos around the time Operation Barbarossa launched and while it was looking like the A-A line may have been reached (i.e. before the Soviets pushed back). However, an entire chapter of Mein Kampf (volume 2) was dedicated to the concept of Lebensraum and mentioned Russia specifically, as well as the concept of Judeo-Bolshevism -- the Soviets were not, by any stretch of the imagination, ignoring German affairs to the extent that they would have ever missed this, so the concept of a German invasion on Russian soil was not new. For that matter, a German invasion was literally happening when the October Revolution began. The Soviets did react to the acknowledgement of the Lebensraum plan at the time (initially in a restrained way, though), so they were quite well aware of this sentiment. The extent of what exactly people should have expected from Generalplan Ost at the time given the knowledge they had is likely debatable since the extent of the Holocaust took a lot of people by surprise, though it should have been abundantly clear to any power which had reasons to be concerned about Germany that they had malicious intentions towards the East.
- As a side note, Generalplan Ost is also quite important when discussing the moral weight of any decisions made here: although we should be aware of hindsight bias in how we apply this and it shouldn't be interpreted as a wholesale defense of actions taken by the Soviets, it shouldn't be disputed that if the Nazis won, most of the peoples in Eastern Europe would cease to exist. Any proposed alternative course of action that would make a Nazi victory more likely should rightly bear this burden, and we should be very careful to not morally equate the actions of the Nazis and Soviets (as in the wp:Double genocide theory, which is generally regarded as a form of Holocaust denial or revisionism). I don't think the article is extremely blatant about this in any case, but the whole article should be passed over in light of the double genocide theory in order to remove anything that can be seen as equating their crimes, in order to avoid engaging in Nazi apologetics. Criticizing any Soviet involvement in enabling the Holocaust, Stalin's own anti-semitism, and any Soviet crimes on their own merits without equating them to the Holocaust, are all still fair game. In fact, you may want to include things like the Doctor's Plot that never came to fruition due to Stalin's death as an example -- I'm quite surprised that the article doesn't mention it at all.
- The allied tripartite talks between the Soviets, Britain and France regarding Poland. At the same time what would become the MRP was being negotiated, Stalin was also negotiating terms with Britain, France, and Poland to station troops on the German-Polish border. Poland rejected this deal, citing (probably well-founded) suspicions that if the Red Army was allowed in, that they would never leave. Wikipedia has a good, brief, but well-cited section on this. I don't think that it can be disputed that the Soviets' desire to expand their sphere of influence was a large part of this, but it absolutely shouldn't be left out that the Soviets were also attempting to pursue an anti-fascist alliance. Such a discussion should also include the historical hostility of the Western powers towards the USSR, where at many points the Soviets were regarded as an equal or greater threat compared to the Nazis. Notably, this article claims that Stalin apologists think Stalin building an anti-fascist front was unrealistic. I have never seen this claim in the wild, instead I see people repeatedly pointing out that Stalin did, in fact, try to build an anti-fascist front, and that the Allies blew him off -- arguably this is just a more specific version of the claim, but the point should be engaged with while acknowledging it in order to be an effective refutation.
- The Anti-Comintern Pact between Germany and Japan (later joined by Italy). One of the functions of the MRP (at least from the point of view that a Stalin apologist would take) would be to undermine the pact between Japan and Germany, since this presented a potential threat of a war on two fronts in the USSR. While I wouldn't expect a Japanese invasion of the Russian Far East to be extremely effective (this would all be assuming that the Japanese diverted most resources spent on the Pacific towards this end), it is worth noting that the eventual pushing back of Operation Barbarossa depended on moving troops from the Far East, which Stalin had to be repeatedly assured of the unlikelihood of a Japanese invasion to do. Ultimately, the Soviets avoided nearly any large-scale Japanese intervention other than a few border disputes (despite their history of conflict), and ultimately invaded Japanese-occupied territory towards the end. In fact, the Japanese were quite persistently seeking the USSR's assistance as a neutral arbitrator for a peace deal with the US later on (with Stalin repeatedly blowing them off, since he thought he had more to gain from participating in the final invasion), so if ensuring Japan's neutrality towards the USSR is regarded as a goal, the pact was effective in this regard.
Furthermore, some factual inaccuracies:
- Stalin did not declare war on Poland, the invasion and occupation was notably not done with a formal declaration of war. This obviously changes nothing about the general point that the article is trying to make (that Stalin wanted to expand the USSR's territory), and it is also clear that the current wording was chosen for rhetorical/snark reasons, but this shouldn't be a substitute for accuracy.
- The joint military parade in Brest is generally not disputed and is well-documented, but joint parades in other cities are not. I'm not able to find any source at all claiming one in Minsk. As far as I am aware, works mentioning joint parades in other cities do not cite sources for their claims. If the parades in other cities can't be cited (and the sources themselves checked for validity), then the mentions need to be removed.
- The Winter War. "Failed invasion of Finland" doesn't accurately reflect the most important consequences of the Winter War. Firstly, the Soviets got the territory adjustments they desired from the peace agreement (mainly a buffer zone around Leningrad), so the invasion *was* successful (at least in terms of the stated goals of the invasion, if we take the position that the Soviets wanted nothing short full conquest of Finland it was a failure, though I would say that this should be clarified), albeit with an extremely disproportionate cost of hundreds of thousands of casualties, a large loss of materiel, making the Red Army look weak (which was a contributing factor to the eventual Nazi invasion), and prompted closer ties between Finland and the Nazis and eventually the Continuation War briefly after the start of Operation Barbarossa (which was a comparable meat grinder to the Winter War). In short, the issue is not that the invasion failed, it is that it was very much a pyrrhic victory. I don't dispute the rest of the paragraph, as it was clear that these were all attempts to expand the Soviet sphere of influence, and whether this was to spread communism or to create a buffer between the USSR and capitalist states isn't very important if we're looking at it from a consequentialist point of view.
- Whether or not Stalin had reason to believe in an eventual Nazi invasion. Wikipedia has a well-cited section discussing Soviet preparations. Notable points, primarily from the third paragraph:
- Stalin acknowledged German plans to attack the Soviet Union on a number of occasions, and the need to prepare for an invasion.
- British intelligence provided Stalin with good intel on Operation Barbarossa right after its informal approval, but he distrusted the British (which had been against the Bolsheviks since the start of the October Revolution, so no surprise here), and believed this was a trick to get the Soviets to enter a one-sided war with Germany. This likely would have had disastrous results at the time, especially if Britain waited a substantial length of time to open a western front.
- Even though Stalin was given intel with a launch date for the invasion that ended up being accurate, he had also been given a number of inaccurate launch dates previously, including by the same spy, so in all likelihood this intel was seen the same way. This can also explain Stalin's initial disbelief in something of a "boy who cried wolf" sense. The initial disbelief was a bad call, for sure, but one should be careful to avoid hindsight bias in analyzing it, which would require analyzing the other intel available at the time. Criticizing it from the angle of Stalin's distrust/paranoia being able to singlehandedly delay the Red Army's response, losing valuable time and ground in the early days of the invasion due to the authoritarian structures in place, is extremely valid criticism, but it must be made clear in this light.
There is plenty to bring up on this subject like Viktor Suvorov's discredited theory that the Soviets were planning a 1941 invasion of Germany (while the Soviets were building up their military, Stalin still sought to avoid war at the time since he believed the Red Army was not ready to fight at the time. Instead, this section appears to create an ahistorical narrative where Stalin was perfectly happy collaborating with the Nazis and was not at all expecting a German invasion, in spite of evidence to the contrary. There are much better angles to criticize the MRP from (for example, looking at why Stalin didn't further pursue an anti-fascist alliance before accepting Germany's offer, Stalin's materia(e?)l support to the Nazis and whether they could have had any success otherwise) than this one. As far as factoring in the role of the Great Purge in informing these decisions, I personally believe it would be better to mention the role of the Great Purge in weakening the Red Army and its consequences in World War 2 in the Great Purge section, denounce those crimes there, and to generally accept that it was already done in the MRP section and evaluate any courses of action going forward in that light (which as of now the section doesn't really discuss the Great Purge except in a footnote about the Winter War, when it also played a part in the Munich Agreement and pretty much anything involving a foreign power's evaluation of the Red Army's strength) -- the Purge should also certainly be mentioned whenever its consequences are relevant in other sections, but mentioning it in the context of new information well after the purge already happened is flirting with hindsight bias unless it is shown how these were reasonably predictable outcomes. I'm not necessarily asking for NPOV, but as far as fulfilling SPOV, the article should be especially careful to not accuse opponents of hindsight bias when the article itself includes hindsight bias. For this to be an effective critique of authoritarianism, the article should not only cover the crimes, but also why these courses of action seemed reasonable at all in the first place (especially if it can be linked solely to preserving authoritarian power structures, with nothing that any other state actor would have a rational interest in), including contextually relevant events, otherwise you're just leaving things wide open for apologists to provide their own explanation that contextualizes things in a light that is uncritical of authoritarianism.
Since the changes I am proposing would constitute a radical rewrite of the section with broader points affecting the whole article (and indeed the critique I have written far exceeds the length of the section I am talking about), I would very much prefer to have some amount of feedback before going forth with the changes, in terms of specific claims and whether some of the things I pointed out need elaboration. Drhead (talk) 22:36, 4 May 2021 (UTC)
I went ahead and added some of the more minor changes that I don't believe should be controversial -- changed the declaration of war on Poland to an invasion only, removed the unsourced claim for a joint parade in Minsk after trying and failing to find a source myself, and changed "failed invasion of Finland" to "disastrous invasion of Finland" (similar wording is used elsewhere in the article). Drhead (talk) 17:57, 6 May 2021 (UTC)
Michael Parenti subheading should be removed
"(Michael ParentiWikipedia).. has written a book titled "Blackshirts and Reds", which there are no academic reviews of, where he attempts to debunk comparisons of Nazism to Stalinism. However, in doing so he makes dubious claims.."
Such as? Tell us MORE! Our RationalWiki editor is making a dubious claim. I don't have access to Parenti's work. I don't intend to use Reddit threads as a source for the article but according to the comment on "Stalin's fingers", the chapter wasn't solely a defence of stalin, but contained criticism as well. It appears according to our RationalWiki editor, a "Tanky" is anyone that fails to hate masturbate all the time against communist movement figures https://www.reddit.com/r/communism101/comments/k8jx96/michael_parenti_on_stalin/
Relevant comment from Reddit thread here: "Chapter 5 'Stalin's fingers' from 'Blackshirts & Reds' is devoted to Stalin, his accomplishments and his obvious imperfections. Parenti shows how "the inflated numbers [of the crimes of Stalin] offered by cold-war scholars serve neither historical truth nor the cause of justice but merely help to reinforce a knee-jerk fear and loathing of those terrible Reds." As he argues throughout the book, Parenti is not a fan of Stalin since he would've preferred a more egalitarian, less oppressive leader but at the same time, he sees that Stalin had a significant importance in the history and development of the USSR, and he is not willing to succumb to the abundant anti-communist propaganda."
Anti-Parenti editor continues:
".. in his book that deny Stalinist crimes against humanity to make him seem not as bad compared to Hitler, especially in chapter 5 of his book titled "Stalin's fingers" about the gulagsWikipedia. His book has almost no citations, only the occasional reference to another document in a footnote, and has been called "ahistorical" and a "political essay"."
 Michael Parenti and this book along with other works are frequently cited by Stalinists in arguments and discussions. In recent years he has also attended lectures by another pseudohistorian, Grover Furr.
While he attended Furr's talk, the link provided demonstrated Parenti disputing Furr's content, for which Furr includes in his response "..so you are not entirely wrong..". (LiterallyACommunist)
I can't see ANYTHING on the entry from Michael Parenti worth keeping. It isn't up to me to prove the existing content is false, but on those justifying it's retention. The entry should be culled in it's entirety. — Unsigned, by: LiterallyACommunist / talk / contribs
- Spamming the entire section here was totally unnecessary. As for whether or not to keep it, I'd lean no. Andrew5 (talk) 23:42, 16 November 2021 (UTC)
Why collapse instead of remove? The entry existing entry functions to promote dismissal of Parenti & his content, by use of unsourced, vague assertions & implication. I have seen better on Conservapedia. (LiterallyACommunist)BTW - Your technical demonstration of Collapse was appreciated. "Tankie Ranting" aka fact checking, should be a core function of any wiki & basic journalism. I have reverted that particular collapse only. I have reduced my level of quotation in line with Andrew5's objection. There is also merit in putting those "by whom?" & "source?" prompts for the article itself, but I'm a wikinewb. (LiterallyACommuinist)
- He meant to collapse your spam. --Andrew5 (talk) 01:03, 17 November 2021 (UTC)
- We do realize this is a likely sock, right? Andrew5 (talk) 02:19, 17 November 2021 (UTC)
- Why a sockpuppet? RationalWiki is the target of politically motivated vandalism here. I have pointed out the problems on the Michael Parenti subheading, the response I'm getting is mostly deflection. Instead, I have been called a Tankie, 1st collapsing my text into "Tankie ranting", now "Tankie bitching". That being said, I appreciate the addition of a topic, I wasn't sure how to do it as it looked like I would need a copy paste would be effectively a deletion of both of your submissions. (LiterallyACommunist)
- We have two main sockmasters here - Ken and Mike, and they often like to spam. Hence why I'm suspicious, as even thought-to-be innocent users were banned. --Andrew5 (talk) 14:02, 17 November 2021 (UTC)
- Thanks Andrew5, I can see why people might make the connection to Ken as I brought up Conservapedia, but not a Nazi in Michael Coombs case. Blanket atrocity denial isn't a thing, rather it is politically motivated & targeted according to which points you wish to score for whom eg, the issue of applying genocide to Ukraine vs not applying it to Kazakhstan. (LiterallyACommunist) — Unsigned, by: LiterallyACommunist / talk / contribs
- We have two main sockmasters here - Ken and Mike, and they often like to spam. Hence why I'm suspicious, as even thought-to-be innocent users were banned. --Andrew5 (talk) 14:02, 17 November 2021 (UTC)
How is this even a thing?
Find a non-US Government source for this claim
Joseph Stalin was the murderous dictator he is extensively documented as having been
The current source is a Library of Congress Exhibit, and given that the US Government has a pretty vested interest in keeping Stalin's image down (not saying they're wrong to), we should probably find a better source for that claim. Should be very easy to find. — Unsigned, by: Maxcr1 / talk / contribs