Information icon.svg Nominations and campaigning for the RationalWiki 2021 Moderator Election are completed. Voting is live now, until 17:00 UTC, 30 November!

Talk:Stalin apologetics

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Icon communism.svg

This Communism related article has been awarded BRONZE status for quality. It's getting there, but could be better with improvement. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.

Icon sociology.svg This article contains information about one or more living persons.

Articles about living people must be handled carefully, because they are more open to legal threats.
Reference any contentious allegations solidly; unreferenced allegations should be removed.
If legal threats are raised on this page, please direct the potential litigant to RationalWiki:Legal FAQ; do not interact with them.

Archives for this talk page: <1>, (new)

Adding to the Apologists section[edit]

Since this is apparently contentious, here are some notable persons that, as far as I can tell, would fit into this section, and some supporting evidence:

Nelson Mandela “Every Party member must raise his revolutionary qualities in every respect to the same level as those of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin.”  –Nelson Mandela, from his book: “How to be a Good Communist” (1962)

W.E.B Dubois “As one of the despised minorities of man, he [Stalin] first set Russia on the road to conquer race prejudice and make one nation out of its 140 groups without destroying their individuality.” His book “On Stalin.”

Paul Robeson “Yes, through his [Stalin’s] deep humanity, by his wise understanding, he leaves us a rich and monumental heritage.” New World Review, April, 1953

I don't know enough about them to argue about Dubois and Robeson, but I took issue with your attempt to taint Mandelas legacy there. I take the position that his siding with the Soviets and praising of Stalin in 1962 was a matter of pragmatism. He had sought help from U.S. and rest of the western world in his fight against the apartheid before, but to no effect.[1][2] Where else than the Soviet block was he supposed to turn to? Hell, in the end it was CIA who ratted him out to the South African police too.
After his release he started to work together with the capitalist South African whites as well as westerners. And he essentially dropped any affiliation to communism (with the exception of some of the mildest of rethoric like using the word "comrade" and shit). 'Cause Soviet Union had collapsed and what not, so there was no need to lean towards them for help anymore.[3] Knight CommanderIn ServiceTo HerGoatness 19:54, 15 November 2020 (UTC)
”taint Mandelas legacy” don’t you think you’re taking it a bit personally then? Sure you could argue he was being totally pragmatic, but I doubt you could really prove that his adherence in communism was a total Machiavellian fabrication. You should be able to accept that activists like Nelson Mandela would align with socialism and communism, and even Stalin—after all, there’s a long history of major political activists in oppressed nations that have done similarly, and many who still do today. I understand your concern with wanting to believe that the “good” people in history would never sincerely align with the “bad” people, but I just don’t think that fits with an objective view of history. — Unsigned, by: 2605:a601:a989:2700:f4b6:fd52:288c:73a7 / talk / contribs
On talk pages, please sign your comments using four tildes (~~~~) or by clicking on the sign button: SigButt.png on the toolbar above the edit panel. You can also indent successive talk page comments using one more colon (:) for each line. Thank you. --Goatspeed. Stalk meCircularREmail2.gifasoningSteal my ideas 20:10, 15 November 2020 (UTC)
(Edit Conflict)Well I still haven't figure out what the English word for inverse white washing would be and the Google isn't helping. That's what I meant with with "taint Mandelas legacy". I'm drunk, it's past 10 p.m. and English is a second language to me so sue me. (I'm also a white westerner so this isn't a tribal beef I have with your edits). Maybe one of the other people who took issue with that edit and who might also know more about Dubois and Robeson may continue from here. I'd like to get back to drinking and video games. Knight CommanderIn ServiceTo HerGoatness 20:12, 15 November 2020 (UTC)
All of these people lived before the Iron Curtain fell. This isn't fair. Oxyaena Harass 22:12, 15 November 2020 (UTC)
Fairness is rarely a practical metric. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 22:27, 15 November 2020 (UTC)
Practicality is the death of all movements dedicated to social justice. Also, the Eastern Bloc was the only group willing to support national liberation movements, and the rights of minority and colonized peoples. There's a reason for this beyond realpolitik. It'd make sense to ally yourselves with the people who are actually willing to hear you out and help with overthrowing oppression and encouraging self-determination. It's like Malcolm X said: "There's a reason many newly independent third world countries are adopting the banner of socialism." Oxyaena Harass 19:43, 16 November 2020 (UTC)

Stalin's apology vid[edit]

Still waiting for the apology video, tears and all. Captain's log: "12 million?... turns out it's not just a statistic. —Stalin out, location: gulag in the sky. LeucippusTalk 20:12, 20 April 2021 (UTC)

Estimates of the death toll[edit]

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: / 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.
P.P.S. And counts forced labor of war prisoners the same as Katyn massacre. Maybe we should separate the numbers for death toll and for all non-lethal repressions? — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact[edit]

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.
  • 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)

Asatar Bair[edit]

There is a certain Marxist economist, Asatar Bair, who has recently profiled himself as a Stalin apologist. Surely he should be mentioned here? — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

Michael Parenti subheading should be removed[edit]

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)
You could always just collapse it. —cosmikdebris talk stalk 00:25, 17 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
Aren't there other two? ;;;, ;;;? 2600:387:9:9:0:0:0:AB (talk) 14:09, 17 November 2021 (UTC)