Talk:Stalin apologetics

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Proof of communist parties collaborating desired[edit]

"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."

I would really like some hard evidence of this statement. In the Netherlands, the Dutch Communist Party (CPN) (which were staunch supporters of the CPSU at the time) was immediately outlawed by the Nazi occupiers, but they were prepared for this and on the day of the capitulation became an underground resistance movement. This was in May 1940, long before operation Barbarossa launched. As such, the CPN were the first resistance movement in the Netherlands and more importantly: were organizers of the February Strike,which was the biggest strike organized against the mistreatment of the Jewish population. This took place in February 1941. The organizers who got arrested were shot. Now it is true that until operation Barbarossa the CPN considered the French and English nations as imperialist enemies, but it's dishonest, false and plainly an insult to their memory to suggest that they collaborated with the German Nazi occupation before Operation Barbarossa took place. The CPN leadership might be loyal followers of Stalin's line, but there's zero proof that they worked together or had received orders from the CPSU to do so. Read about it here: (Dutch) & (English).

It is due to their resistance from the very start against the nazi occupation that they gained a lot of popular support when the war was over and the first national election after the war received 10 seats (10% of the votes, 32% in the first post-war municipal elections in Amsterdam, were the party had it's hq). They lost support and members in the 50's again because of rising tensions in the cold war (the CPN were one of the most loyal supporters of the CPSU in the west) and even more when the leadership of the party supported the Soviet Union during the Hungarian uprising in 1956, but that doesn't diminish the fact that they played a key role in the Dutch resistance movement.— Unsigned, by: Hugo de Geus / talk / contribs

Working together was part of the wp:Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and was recorded mostly in Czechoslovakia, Britain, and France. The sentence seems to make it more organized than it was. It was mostly antiwar rallies and being pains to anti-German groups at the time. Communists burning the Reichstag was pretty much a tipping point for Hitler to come to power, and abused anyone he thought might be part of it terribly, then they became enemies of the state when they went to war. Stalin wasn't much nicer to his own people during the same time. It's all in the WP link above. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 19:06, 17 June 2015 (UTC)

Grover Furr[edit]

I'm a bit dubious about suggesting that anyone serious takes this man seriously. Some years ago I was active on the H-Net History of American Communism list (most were scholars and/or academics) where Furr participated, and every single other person -- left, right or inbetween -- barely paid a bit of attention to this flake. Who actually cites him for anything?---Mona- (talk) 04:17, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

Tankies. wp:Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Grover Furr, holy crap - David Gerard (talk) 12:21, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
But no one serious takes Furr seriously, John Earl Haynes has cited him a time or two as the ONLY person still defending Stalin, but one who's regarded as a crank.---Mona- (talk) 14:36, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
No-one serious takes tankies seriously either. I think that deletion discussion is pretty good initial evidence Furr is a crank magnet. (Also, I giggle slightly at his reaction to libertarians calling him a "liberal".) - David Gerard (talk) 20:34, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

The Great Irish Famine[edit]

I've been adding a reference note to a review of a scholarly work representative of many historians who feel the horror that was the Great Irish Famine was or was not a genocide. I tend to agree it was not, but it was nevertheless a human rights abomination. It is, at best, unseemly for an article to deploy that issue only as a repudiation of Stalinists -- how they abuse the topic for whataboutery purposes does not alter the need to know the truth about the slow and awful deaths of 1 million Irish, and the displacement of 1 million more. A reference note, with link, briefly explaining the atrocity -- reflecting the views of the majority of Irish historians -- would seem in order. Contained in a reference note, this important historical point does not dilute the point of the article.---Mona- (talk) 22:10, 27 November 2015 (UTC)

Are you an Anglo-phile who dislikes telling the truth about what the Brits did to 1 million Irish? I can't understand your objection, and you haven't given one.---Mona- (talk) 00:47, 27 November 2015 (UTC)

Because it's a tangent of a tangent at that point, and not one anyone was seriously questioning. The explanation is tangential even if true - it does not enlighten about Stalin in any manner. You also splattered it over several other places - David Gerard (talk) 14:11, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
I put it in TWO articles where the Irish Famine was mentioned vis-a-vis Stalin. Excuse me, but that famine is not "tangential" when it is being contrasted with Stalin's atrocities. The British killed 1 million fucking people, and caused 1 million more to flee. It is not an issue properly relegated to a ping pong ball in politics about Stalinism. And moreover, I put the explanation in a reference note. There is no reasonable reason for it not to remain. Finally, someone had inserted a link to the lunatic, fascist David Horowitz Discoverthenetwork. I assumed you'd have a fit if the claim had no reference, so I found the Ronald Radosh one instead. PJMedia is better than the cesspool that is Discoverthe network, but I agree no reference at all is better than either. I was trying to effect a compromise, and would hope for the same from you on issues I feel strongly about.---Mona- (talk) 17:00, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
It's literally called a "genocide" right there in the article as something comparable to the Holodomor (and a link to the Wikipedia article should anyone doubt it). This is hardly downplaying it. Your additional ref and comment add nothing. Adding this ref appears to be a furious riposte in an argument with someone who isn't me. If you don't want to just be gilding the lily, add something relevant to it that's actually about Stalin - David Gerard (talk) 19:11, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
I'm with you on this one, David. Wandering off into Irish potato land in a Stalin article that is really way too short as it stands now almost looked like whataboutism in an attempted defense of the man. Mustering a vaguely defined concept of economics - however shitty - to balance out the signed-order actions of a crazy dictator? I'm not even saying that that is even close to what Mona was adding, but my hunch from admittedly, just glossing it over was that this appeared to be contextually wandering way off from Stalin, who - just for the record - was a baboon's ass. So certainly we need sources that are way, way closer to Stalin to start mixing in Ireland in any coherent sense of the word. *shrugs* Reverend Black Percy (talk) 20:36, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
I note also that the exciting new reference was ... some random Salon popularisation. Really, is this the best you can do? You want to go off on a tangent and do so crappily? AT LEAST FIND SOMETHING THAT ADDS SOME STALIN. Y'KNOW, THE TOPIC OF THE ARTICLE - David Gerard (talk) 22:59, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
I am sleepy and there are kids running around the house screaming (late Thanksgiving), so I lazily slapped some stuff onto Mona's talk page. Here it is: Narky SawtoothNarky.png (Floof!~) 23:12, 27 November 2015 (UTC)

The point is that it's senseless to claim Holodomor wasn't a genocide while also claiming the potato famine was a genocide (I think that's what it's going for, anyways). Maybe you'd be better off with a "this event was similar" footnote that flows with the article instead of awkwardly jamming itself in. Narky SawtoothNarky.png (Floof!~) 22:59, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
Or, rather, the... didn't happen... not Stalin's fault... blarg, I can't think correctly at the moment. Too many noisy kids. Piece the words together yourself. Narky SawtoothNarky.png (Floof!~) 23:04, 27 November 2015 (UTC)

There. Narky SawtoothNarky.png (Floof!~) 23:12, 27 November 2015 (UTC)

I don't see what all the fuss is about. It's a simple bulleted list of putative genocides: Potato famine? Yup. Bengal famine? Yup. Holodomor? HELL no, lies lies lies... gets the message across just fine, in a style to which RW has been accustomed since it all began. I don't see the footnote doing any particular harm. MaillardFillmore (talk) 23:37, 27 November 2015 (UTC)

Exactly, it's a mere footnote, and David got it entirely WRONG. The author of the book clearly decides against calling it a genocide, which supports the article. But since David has objection to a Salon book review, I changed the reference to the NYT review.---Mona- (talk) 00:01, 28 November 2015 (UTC)

− David, can you read? The Salon piece is a book review, about this book. The book, as well as the review, literally says the opposite of this that you wrote: "It's literally called a 'genocide' right there in the article." No, the article says the author of the book DOES NOT consider it a genocide, and I also said I did not either. And Rev, the day I defend Josef fucking Stalin is the day you should lock me in an asylum, for my personality will have utterly disintegrated. No, this is solely about the Irish Famine, and I see no reason what why a mere footnote cannot point out that Stalinist whataboutery notwithstanding, the Great Irish Famine was a monstrous event. The author, John Kelly, agrees it WAS NOT GENOCIDE.

Now, if the issue is a book review from Salon, then fine. The NYT reviewed the same book. I've changed the reference to THAT review.---Mona- (talk) 23:59, 27 November 2015 (UTC)

Mona the tankie. This is getting better and better.--Arisboch ☞✍☜☞✉☜ 17:43, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for your very relevant and useful addition to this discussion Arisboch. --"Paravant" Talk & Contribs 17:56, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
@Paravant. Arisboch knows I'm not a tankie. And I know Arisboch knows I know he knows I am not a tankie. And we all know why he's annoyed with me and that it has nothing to do with Stalin or the Great Irish Famine.---Mona- (talk) 19:43, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
With pleasure :P --Arisboch ☞✍☜☞✉☜ 18:03, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
@Mona "And Rev, the day I defend Josef fucking Stalin is the day you should lock me in an asylum, for my personality will have utterly disintegrated." Passion appreciated! The same goes for me. Though, in fact; the same goes for anyone who an apologetic of motherfucking STALIN :3 Reverend Black Percy (talk) 18:02, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
  • So many Stalin apologists and tankies. In this section. All liars, all frauds. No proof, no evidence.

Roland Boer[edit]

I ran across this wonderful Marxist intellectual when I read his curious defense of the failed Soviet Union and its satellites. I found this particularly delightful excerpt towards the end:

I rely upon the insight of Cockshott and Cottrell. Refusing the facile dismissals by many on the Left in order to distance themselves from Stalin, they argue that the full implementation of a communist economic system happened under Stalin...They do not shy away from the conclusion that [Soviet policies were] largely what Marx anticipated, with one caveat: it took place under a form of authoritarian communism. I would add that such a phase is necessary for any effort to construct communism. Genuine revolutionary fervour characterized much of the effort, but for those less inclined to engage, forced labour, exile, and ‘terror’ were deployed. Stalin embodied the sheer grit of the revolutionary ‘miracle’ required to adopt such a radically new economic system.

Looking through his blog, aptly named Stalin's Moustache, you can find similar ideas, such as these ones:

A socialist state must deal with counter-revolutionary forces within and especially international efforts to undermine it (the two are often connected). Whenever a socialist revolution happens, we do not find international capitalist countries saying, ‘Wonderful! Go ahead, construct your socialist country. We will leave you in peace; indeed, we are enthusiastic bystanders’. Instead, historical reality reveals consistent efforts to undermine and overthrow socialist states, including the fostering of counter-revolutionary forces within. We need only recall the ‘civil’ wars in Russia and China, the international blockades, sabotage, efforts at destabilisation in Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong, and the international pastime – found even among international Marxists – of ‘China bashing’.

The communist party is integral to a socialist state. This is a relationship of transcendence and immanence: the party arises from and expresses the will of the masses of workers, farmers and intellectuals, while it also directs the masses. From the masses, to the masses – as Mao Zedong stated. If the relationship is broken, the party loses its legitimacy and the project is over. Thus, the party undergoes constant renewal and reform in order to maintain legitimacy. If a communist party accedes to a bourgeois or liberal democratic system, it is soon out of power, for bourgeois democracy is one of the most effective weapons against socialism.

...Indeed, socialist civil society is based on a redefinition of freedom, which provides a new universal based on the particularity of the majority, in an explicitly open way. This freedom is a freedom from bourgeois civil society and freedom for the socialist project. Eventually, the category of freedom itself will become an everyday habit.

The guy works and teaches Marxism is China, and obviously favors Chinese authoritarianism, but he also feels that the People's Republic of China can literally do no wrong:

[Regarding Internet Freedom] If one understands Chinese and lives in China, he or she will find diversified topics on Chinese websites and heated online discussion. As a political stage that welcomes overseas media, the ongoing annual sessions of the country’s national legislature and political advisory body have also drawn a huge amount opinions and suggestions from Internet users.

As a sovereignty, China doesn’t allow the Internet to be outside the law. Overseas Internet companies are only permitted to enter the Chinese market if they obey Chinese laws. The Chinese government has tightened management on illegal remarks posted on the Internet and it won’t tolerate the West using the Internet to set agendas to interfere in China’s economic and social development.

Many countries have laws to manage the Internet and China will improve its network management.

...[Regarding the South China Sea disputes] Islands in the South China Sea were first discovered, named and used by the Chinese, and China was the first and continues to exercise sovereignty over these islands.

As a matter of fact, peace, security and stability are the common wishes for all countries in the region. China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are actively and steadily pushing forward consultations on a code of conduct in the South China Sea under the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

Since the United States presented its Asia-Pacific rebalance strategy, the region that had been generally peaceful for many years has fallen into tumult. U.S. aircraft and ships have perennially conducted surveillance on countries in the region with increasing frequency, escalating regional tension. This is the greatest danger for “militarization” in the South China Sea.

China has never held back freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Ironically, the United States urged China to obey the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which the United States itself is unwilling to accede into.

The blog also contains plenty of Mao Zedong apologetics, often mixed with Stalin apologetics. A good example:

Never one to shy away from turning a statement on its head, or rather, feet, Mao points out that the brain-washing is actually a very good thing. [Boer goes on to quote Mao saying exactly that]

So, we've learned that:

  • Stalin and Mao were actually really good guys
  • Forced labor, censorship, etc, is necessary for the revolution to succeed
  • China can do no wrong, it's all the West's fault
  • Brainwashing is ok, because people have accepted the evil capitalist lies and this must be fixed.
  • "Freedom" doesn't mean individual freedom, it means the freedom to be a socialist

Wonderful. Lord Aeonian (talk) 00:45, 18 May 2016 (UTC)

  • Well, Stalin and Mao were no angels, but they weren't devils either. Though this might just be my moral relativism talking, I'm hesitant to peg them as outright evil.
  • Depends on the revolution, forced labor and censorship may be necessary as short-term strategies to defeat counterrevolution, although that doesn't mean they are somehow desirable.
A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon — authoritarian means, if such there be at all; and if the victorious party does not want to have fought in vain, it must maintain this rule by means of the terror which its arms inspire in the reactionists. Would the Paris Commune have lasted a single day if it had not made use of this authority of the armed people against the bourgeois? Should we not, on the contrary, reproach it for not having used it freely enough? —Friedrich Engels, On Authority
  • Well, China did embrace capitalism. How much blame can be laid on external capitalist pressure is a different question.
  • References to communist "brainwashing" or "indoctrination" are usually done half-satirically, but they also serve to call attention to the subtle liberal conditioning that happens in society.
  • Unless they are explicitly making a distinction between the liberal conception of freedom vs the socialist conception of freedom, freedom of the individual is usually tied with the freedom of socialism (as individualist anarchists will tell you).
Based on the excerpts you've quoted here, I would say this Roland Boer character does not seem to be an altogether reliable source. Withoutaname (talk) 08:22, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
Stalin certainly achieved a lot in terms of both industrialisation and war. But some of his actions clearly betrayed a disinterest in human life where there were higher goals to be fought for, such as during World War 2. And some of his actions went way beyond any kind of rationality to the behaviour of someone with serious mental problems who is killing imaginary enemies, ranging from the 1936/7 show trials to the Doctors' plotWikipedia. Whether you call him evil or mad is probably unhelpful, and maybe all leaders go in that direction after a few years. But it's impossible to argue he behaved either morally (by any concept of morality except maybe Max Stirner's) or rationally.
I don't know as much about Mao; Mao's China seemed to become locked in a self-destructive logic of self-criticism and the pursuit of imaginary enemies, but it was less obviously based in well-known forms of irrationality such as antisemitism. That said, Mao did face serious threats through the 1950s and 60s, as much from the USSR as the west, while the Soviet Union was probably in a more secure position (especially after World War 2). Annquin (talk) 09:20, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
Also he was a jawdropping incompetent at actually running a country once he'd won it, in a way Stalin really wasn't - David Gerard (talk) 09:52, 25 May 2016 (UTC)

Another reference[edit] Keter (talk) 11:54, 30 May 2016 (UTC)

missing some[edit]

this is missing the post war famine as well as executions not related to the great purge as well as those soviet POW's and captured civilians he sent to colonies (not gulags)— Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

It's actually a bit hard to understand what you mean, what are the apologetics involved, not just Stalin's crimes? ikanreed 🐐Bleat at me 19:29, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
I mean in your sites calculations of total dead. — Unsigned, by: / talk
The exact death count is not really known conclusively, so some estimates are way higher than others. What stats were you looking at? — Dysk (contribs) 20:42, 13 March 2019 (UTC)

Poor quality[edit]

This is the first time I've read a Rationalwiki page and felt that it's written by people who are way out of their depth. It's a poor page, to be honest, with numerous problems and I'll try to find the time to come back and address them in turn.

The main problem is that the tone of the page is amateurish. Dedicated historians who look into a subject and come up with a slightly lower estimate of deaths, or a different set of causes for a famine are not necessarily 'Stalin Apologists'. They may just be good historians. Not everyone is working to an agenda, some historians just value historical accuracy.

The page seems to ascribe some kind of pro-Stalin bias to anyone who thinks (possibly as a result of a career working on statistics in the history of agriculture) that maybe there were complex causes of the 1932 famine, yet accepts unquestioningly the Ukranian nationalists who say "it was Russia!" Perhaps it was Russia, perhaps it was Stalin's evil masterplan. But you need to evaluate the evidence reasonably before taking the arrogant tone of the article and dismissing the work of experts in the field on the grounds that someone with an axe to grind says they're lying.

The list of events contributing to Stalin's death toll includes civilian casualties in the Battle of Berlin. Why is this here? Why are all casualties of the Eastern front not included? Why one battle but not others? Why only civilians? I guess for consistency, you should check the Rationalwiki page about Winston Churchill Apologists and see which casualties in France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Italy, North Africa, Burma etc are included in his death count. Do they count all the battles or just some? Do they include only civilians or armed forces too? — Unsigned, by: Teflon / talk / contribs

You're probably a Stalin apologist.— Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs
No, just a historian who prefers facts to ignorant, unfounded rambling. If you have a valid criticism of my points let's hear it. If not, be quiet. — Unsigned, by: Teflon / 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. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 19:00, 28 June 2020 (UTC)


I wanna make a tankie bingo.--Noobmaster420 (talk) 02:39, 18 September 2020 (UTC)

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. See what I'm up toCircularREmail2.gifasoningPrototype lab 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)

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)