Autopsying the Communist Cadaver
The present unraveling of the Soviet empire is proceeding so quickly that it seems to have left political and historical analysts breathless. One of the gruesome epochs of history seems to be evaporating from the scene, like an evil miasma, almost as abruptly and unaccountably as it arrived, three- quarters of a century ago. We may say of history but we certainly cannot say in history. If Historical Revisionism has found active dishonesty in the purveying of the Jewish Holocaust legend, for example, it has before it in the Communist issue what must be one of the most grandiose exercises in intellectual distortion and suppression of all time. Little of its true story has ever been told. Revisionism, then, faces a great challenge in exploring not only the why's and wherefore's but even-predictably-in grappling meaningfully with the Marxist issue at all.
The great floodtide of printer's ink that has sloshed futilely around this subject since 1917 is proof enough that little is to be expected now. We can trust our left-liberal, and even our Conservative," news and opinion mediators to fudge, fumble, or distort this crucial new transformation as surely as they have every other important geopolitical issue since the 1930's. The lack of the most rudimentary historical sense, to say nothing of any Revisionist awareness, in the face of these developments has been striking. We've had a steady diet of gushing over Soviet Communist Party chief Mikhail Gorbachev, a skilled media manipulator and supposed initiator of all these changes, but very little else.
This is easily the most significant rearrangement since the end of World War Two, which of course was in large measure fought because of Sovietism; but there has as yet been no public comprehension, not only of the surface events but especially of the titanic backstage power that can so effortlessly wind down a vast international enterprise which it surreptitiously helped establish and preserve in bygone decades.
The task falls to Revisionism to take up the slack, and this will be the subject of prolonged examination in these pages throughout the coming decade and beyond. If Marxism really is about to be pushed into the landfill of history, its true significance will find a thorough appraisal here.
If it were desired to range further afield than Revisionism has thus far, there would be many new avenues to explore. On the psychological dimension, one might examine the extremely pervasive condition, not a mental illness but seemingly almost as disruptive, which has made Communist takeovers and their consolidation possible. This is the widespread leaning toward statism and the instinctive reliance upon bureaucracies to resolve a vast array of asocial problems," real and imagined. The statist impulse has been accompanied by a parallel disregard for the legitimacy and efficacy of private enterprise, and an anti-human dismissal of the key role of private property in serving man's pleasures and needs.
The statist habit seems reflexive among left-liberal personality types, who have a virtual monopoly upon social activism and opinion molding today. The fact that this element is monotonously "soft on Communism" and has been since 1917 is certainly fitting when we consider that sovietism represents the extreme point of the bureaucratic syndrome, as Bruno Rizzi pointed out long ago in his prophetic The Bureaucratization of the World. (Statism on the American right has proliferated, in the form of almost automatic support for a bloated military and security state, since the beginning of the "Cold War.")
Beyond the banal bureaucratic compulsion, however, lies comparatively virgin psycho-philosophical territory of great interest and depth. The Utopian delusion, or obsession with earthly paradises of one sort or another, often on the most nonsensical bases if the tenets are carefully thought out, is very widespread. A yearning after Utopian dreams by the gullible many is seemingly always played upon by the manipulative, power-grabbing few. As is so clearly visible in the Soviet arena, these latter often degenerate into extremely evil creatures, which was well-discussed by James Billington in his path-breaking study of revolutionary psychology, Fire in the Minds of Men.
The aspect of Marxist empire-building that always rivets attention is its systematic and often seemingly gratuitous brutality. The stupefying hecatombs piled up under Scientific socialism" pale earlier epochs of murder and rapine like the Assyrian conquests or the Mongol invasions into paltry insignificance.
Short of access to Moscow secret police archives, which probably will not soon open up, no one knows how many millions of Russians, Ukrainians, Balts, Volga Germans, Crimean Tatars, Central Asians, and, following World War II, East Europeans, were immolated during Josef Stalin's three decades in power. It is a number so gruesomely gargantuan that it can only be approximated in the tens of millions. A low figure would be somewhere in excess of the "ten million kulaks" casually tossed off by Stalin to Winston Churchill as after-dinner tabletalk (recorded in the latter's Hinge of Fate). A maximum estimate by various refugee groups and historians such as Robert Conquest might exceed five times that many.
Since this era represents the worst outbreak of political criminality and sheer anti-human psychopathy that the world has seen, even the most generalized listing of its crimes would far exceed these confines, as the voluminous works of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn suggest. However, there have been a number of nodal points along the way which show the evolution of the movement from minute origins to a globe- girdling import:
- Organized terror" proclaimed against the citizenry by Lenin, Trotsky and other Bolsheviks immediately after the 1917 revolution, and maintained by the Soviet secret police into the 1980's;
- Assassination of Tsar Nicholas and his family, together with secret police administrative executions of untold thousands of former members of the aristocracy and middle and professional classes;
- Imperialist and colonialist subjugation, oppression, and dispersal of non-Russian nationalities, from the civil war to the invasion of Afghanistan;
- Murder of untold millions in Soviet collectivization of agriculture, and often-fatal imprisonment of many more in concentration camps;
- Systematic slaughter of Red functionaries, cadres, and innocents during the various Stalin purges;
- Incitement of foreign Communist revolutions, such as in Germany, Hungary and Spain, which were accompanied by torture and deaths of unknown thousands;
- Murder of 15,000 Polish military officers at Katyn Forest and elsewhere, and similar massacres of Ukrainian, Baltic, and other elites;
- Bestial crimes against captured soldiers and civilians alike during World War II, with open encouragement from the highest political level.
Exactly who inspired these horrors against the Soviet and other peoples, and with what end in view, is a proper Revisionist concern. If only within the newly liberalized captive nations, such an investigation of the slaughterhouse era, together with some effort at compensation of survivors, would seem to be the only way to build a new order under a publicly respected rule of law that has been extolled by Gorbachev.
It is natural enough to concentrate opprobrium on the furtive and enigmatic Georgian who came to personify this dire era. Yet Josef Stalin, for all of his repugnant agility at scrambling to the top of the mountain of skulls, was only one man who, had he not existed, would surely have been represented by someone else. Deeper analysis also must examine the infernal machine which had the will and found the way to unleash this genocide: the secret police cadres on the cutting edge, the Stalin clique and Communist Party directorate which set the wheels in motion, the propaganda apparatus that concealed and alibied, and supporting it all, with reserves of enthusiasm and personnel, the nomenklatura ("name list" of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
Sure enough, we already have declamations from someone in the Moscow Kremlin named Yakovlev that, not only should the murdered millions be rehabilitated (they were always accused of some crime), but that their torturers and executioners also must be cleared in this beneficient wave of perestroika so that an Ethical democracy" can be established.
He is possibly speaking for those with something to be ashamed of, many of them no doubt still hesitating in the secret-police shadows. But what can be the ethical bonafides of any new order that reinstates the murdered but then liberates the murderers?
Revisionists must demand with renewed vigor that the grim Soviet reality at long last be factored into the established Western perception of the Second World War, as well as the rise of authoritarian European nationalism which preceded it. If such horrendous things were going on in the Soviet as is now suddenly and casually admitted, why on earth did we, if not join with the Germans in their epic struggle to clean out the Bolshevist pest house, not at least maintain an opportunistic neutrality? As the claim of German guilt for the fabled "Six Million" seems to be retreating ever farther from the shores of probability, more and more official academics will be emboldened to tussle with such questions as why, in view of Mussolini's comparatively benign regime (a couple of dozen executions during the eighteen years he ruled before the war), the word "fascist" evokes an obligatory and automatic shudder among educated Americans, while the word Communist" most often calls forth a programmed Civil liberties" response. And how much longer can those Westerners, from Roosevelt and Churchill on down, who not only steadfastly turned a blind eye to the atrocities of Stalin and his henchmen, but cheerily promised, then brutally delivered, millions of more victims for slavery and destruction, evade the kind of stern accounting to which our opinion leaders routinely call the likes of Kurt Waldheim?
If justice were all, such a bringing to the bar of every Communist murder apparatchik who followed orders should, according to the Nuremberg precedent, now be well underway and supported by everyone of goodwill. Interestingly, however, the "never forgive, never forget" international Zionist element, who are still relentlessly hounding octogenarian "Nazi war criminals", and indeed have recently rammed through a law in the Mother of Parliaments and home of Anglo-Saxon justice mandating such prosecutions, are silent here. In the real world, that may be tantamount to a veto.
Indeed, we have lately been hearing a mournful new wail, in familiarly stentorian tones, about the sufferings under Stalinism of the Natan Schcharanskys, the Eleanor Lippers the Madame Sakharovs, and a legion of others of similar stripe. This sort of shameless co-optation has to be guarded against, to be sure, but in addition it introduces, or reintroduces, one of the most important questions for the new historical revisionism.
Exactly where does the trail of evil run from the Russian killing fields? What are the antecedents of this apparent blood orgy in the ruins of that vast, ramshackle Slavic empire? We know of the international ambitions of Marxism, of course: that has never been concealed since the earliest days. Deeply hidden, however, in fact never mentioned in polite discourse, are the transnational powerlines that always have run in the opposite direction, from the "free" Euro-American world into the Soviet darkness.
A working hypothesis might suggest a bipartite origin of the Russian tragedy: the Zionist Jewish and the international plutocratic. Whether the former were the working and the latter the asilenr partners is an important question but one that, again, must be left to future consideration. (We use the term Zionist here, not in its usual limited sense of an adherent of the present-day state of Israel, but in the generic meaning of a partisan of Jewry in the sense of a worldwide nation, rather than a religious group).
There are indications of a Jewish predilection for communistic movements since the ancient world, according to Nesta Webster's Secret Societies and Subversive Movements, a possibility which merits further examination, along with her accompanying observation that Judaic religious literature inculcates hatred and political domination of the non-Jew in the severest possible terms.
By the nineteenth century, there was little doubt among the informed as to the Jewish bias in the nascent Marxist movement. Marx's contemporary revolutionary, Mikhail Bakunin, who was prophetically enough a Russian prince by birth, observed of what was taking shape:
This would be for the proletariat a barrack regime, under which the working men and the working women, converted into a uniform mass, would rise, fall asleep, work and live at the beat of the drum; the privilege of ruling would be in the hands of the skilled and the learned, with a wide scope left for profitable crooked deals carried on by the Jews, who would be attracted by the enormous extension of the international speculations of the central banks _ (Polémique contre les juifs).
The prediction is particularly incisive in view of the rise of such characters as Armand Hammer, the American-based entrepreneur who has been a fixed star in the Soviet financial firmament since the revolution, and made a large fortune in the doing.
In the catastrophe of the Russian revolution and civil war itself, the situation becomes much more graphic, with an overwhelming proportion of the leading personnel being of Jewish extraction, many of them not even of Russian origin. This fact has been noted in a variety of sources, some of them journalistic and some confidential intelligence reports sent out to authorities in England and the U.S.A. According to one listing, by London Times correspondent Robert Wilton, of thirty top officials in the Bolshevik government at the seizure of power, only one, Lenin, was not Jewish.
The tendency was sufficiently obvious that it impressed no less a philo-Zionist than Winston Churchill, who wrote an essay with the heading of Zionism Versus Bolshevism: A Struggle for the Soul of the Jewish People":
There is no need to exaggerate the part played in the creation of Bolshevism and in the actual bringing about of the Russian Revolution by these international and for the most part atheistical Jews. It is certainly a very great one; it probably outweighs all others ... (Illustrated Sunday Herald, London, Feb. 8, 1920)
In practice, the Communist-Zionist split often seemed to be less of a struggle than a shrewd planting of one foot in each camp, an attitude neatly summed up around the turn of the century by Rachel Leah Weizmann in a small ghetto town of west Russia: Whatever happens, I shall be well off. If Shmuel is right, we shall be happy in Russia; and if Chaim is right, then I shall go to live in Palestine" (Jehuda Reinharz, Chaim Weizmann, 1985, p. 12). Shmuel Weizmann was an early-day Marxist revolutionary, while his older brother, Chaim, became the first president of the state of Israel.
It is now Revisionism's task to pierce through the murk which has obscured the Jewish role in igniting the revolution, consolidating it, and spreading it to other lands. Determining the factual extent of Jewish leadership and participation depends in great part, of course, on gaining access to evidence which still reposes in Soviet archives, but also on dispelling the haze generated by the exaggerations of certain anti-Jewish polemicists, as well as the philo-Semitic reflex, far more influential, by which the totality of the Jewish experience in the USSR since its inception is classified under the rubric of "Anti-semitism".
This much, then, for the Jewish-Zionist contribution to the Russian debacle. Still to be evaluated is the precise role played by nonsectarian financial-industrial powers. The childish mythology of communism-versus-capitalism locked in an economic rivalry that has ultimately moved on to nuclear confrontation continues to the present, even among supposed informed opinion. Presumably, some more au courant line will now have to be hatched out, unless the entire defense industry, which has been a major engine of postwar financial activity, is also to be shut down, which seems unlikely.
Recent statistics from Russia, published by Nikolai Shmelev and Vladimir Popov in their book The Turning Point, reveal how long and how flagrantly the Western nations have been lied to, often by their own Intelligence" agencies, to magnify the Soviet regime into a military-industrial juggernaut that must be countered by huge outlays in the capitalist world. it now appears, according to some estimates, that the Soviet economy has never totaled more than 20 percent of the U.S. economy alone.
This points up once again, not only the utterly contrived character of the entire postwar political era, but also-if any reminder were necessary-that such a miserable failure of a system would never have been willingly selected by the inmates of a lunatic asylum, and could only have been foisted on Russia by force from without. Hard as it may be to believe, this latter fact still is not understood by the majority of our pundits and historians, who continue to romanticize about spontaneous revolts by "the workers" to throw off a fiendishly oppressive tsarist tyranny, and so forth.
The exact nature of the foisting process must also be thought on. Some scenarios that have been suggested might seem almost too fantastic, except that in these times one tends to be more tolerant of possibilities. One theory suggests that Imperial Russia was intentionally saddled with a crippling politico-economic system by British-American high finance in order to keep it from becoming a serious mercantile competitor. Much the same strategy seems to have been behind Britain's involvement in the First World War against Germany, as early-day Historical Revisionism has so well documented.
Whatever may be the fruits of such speculations, however, it is a virtual certainty that these vast and sinister pro- Communist financial linkages will continue to be kept in the shadows far from the feeble searchlight of official history. Again-more grist for the Revisionist mill.
Finally, we come to the question of what is to follow? This may be one of the greatest riddles. Are we seeing the miraculous end of what Germany's Josef Goebbels called iniquity with a political masks in the world, to be followed by "they all lived happily ever after", which already seems to be expected by superficial observers?
Again, is it entirely coincidental that this wondrous Soviet denouement is occurring at the same time as the new European Community is about to be set on its feet? If it is not happenstance, but part of some greater chess-like deployment of entire nations and peoples by forces unknown, then we might have to reconsider large-scale theorizing of a type that used to be familiar in traditional anti-Communist circles but which has fallen into disrepute more recently among those who try to avoid what they see as unscientific and hysterical conspiracy fantasies of an embarrassing oldguard element.
Finally, what of those in the West, both pro- and anti- communist, who have developed over the decades a virtually parasitic intellectual dependence on the Soviet Union? As to the first, the ignominious end of Communism in Eastern Europe-no embattled workers heroically giving their last on the barricades, no fiery Gotterdämmerung beneath the ruins of the Kremlin, but at best gray-faced bureaucrats stolidly liquidating a system no one believes in anymore, and at worst, as in Romania, Ceausescu's cruel janissaries firing indiscriminately into crowds of Romanian civilians-bodes as unfavorably for the creation of a romantic communist myth as the system's economic, political, and moral bankruptcy promise for a future Marxist power drive.
Perhaps, however, it is that segment of Western "ant communists" which has allowed their opposition to the Soviet Union to become all-controlling political obsession who have most cause to be bereft. Most of those who have fought the good (and in America unbloody) fight against Communism have gradually metamorphosed into such uncritical cheerleaders for the Western capitalist, egalitarian, agnostic, two-party Democratic" facade that they can no longer recognize just how many objectionable traits it shares with Communism, both ideologically and operationally. Unless our anti-communists, many of them Conservatives" and "neo- conservatives," can bring themselves to challenge the spiritual and cultural emptiness that rules America, to defy the academy's and mass media's Stalinoid proscription of open discussion of the Holocaust," the Middle East, and many other taboos, and to address the conundrum of a political and financial system that indulges the most swinish proletarian impulses while at the same time effectively frustrating the popular will to any kind of effective reform, the anti- communists will quickly render themselves as irrelevant to the West's current concerns as the dodo became to the ecology of Mauritius.
These are some but, we may be very certain, by no means all of the topics that a new, broader historical revisionism will have to address as this improbable century runs down to its end.
From The Journal of Historical Review, Spring 1990 (Vol. 10, No. 1), pages 49-58.