More on the Sixties and anti-Communism

Grover Furr (
Thu, 18 Apr 1996 10:43:07 -0400

I appreciate Tony Williams' response to my post, in part because
it shows just to how great an extent anti-communist lies are accepted
as "truth" without any basis at all in our society, despite the
anti-authoritarian lessons of the activism of the '60s.

Tony writes:

> But the defence of Stalinism in terms of human freedom? How does one
>reconcile this with the millions who died in the pourges (far more
>than under the Nazis), the perversion of the original Bolshevik ideals, and
>the brutal elimination of figures such as Bukharin now "rehabilitated."

Here we have anti-communism at its finest: unintentional, taken
for granted not as "ideology" but simply as FACT.

There has been lots of good research on the USSR and "Stalin's
time" during the past 15 years or so. You may read the pages of the
major "Soviet studies" journals: _Soviet Studies_, _Slavic Review_,
_Russian Review_, and some of the major historical journals, as well.
It has completely exploded the Cold-War version of the 1930s.

For example, there is no evidence whatsoever that "millions died
in the purges" (I pass over the fact that it is not the "purges",
which were a Party verification operation, that Tony is referring to
here at all, but a wider phenomenon).

The notion that "far more" were killed in the USSR "than under
the Nazis" is a lie concocted by Nazi collaborators who were imported
_en masse_ to the US after WWII.

For some of the considerable documentation of these and other
statements, see, for example, the article at:

-- in fact, the whole series, from /ukfam1.html through
/ukfam6.html (I think) AND THE SOURCES CITED THEREIN, are worth
careful study. This is an account informed by study of the latest
research (US and British, not 'communist', research, I might add).

As for the "rehabilitation of Bukharin", what makes you think
that the Yeltsin forces -- in comparison with whom Reagan was a
positive liberal -- are interested in the "truth"? There's more to say
about Bukharin, but I'll save it and move on.

To see a good arraignment of Cold War liar Robert Conquest, the
"official" historian of the "Terror" in the USSR, see the article by
Jeff Coplon in the _Village Voice_ 1988, , which I have retyped and
put on my web page:

It's worth a careful study too.

Tim continues:

>Surely, some recognition of the errors and monstrous nature of this
>regime need voicing. Otherwise, we are back again to the old dogmas of
>obedience to the Party line and falsification of history which bedevilled
>something which did begin as a viable alternative. I do not wish to fall
>into the company of Max Eastman and others here but elevating Stalin as an
>apostle of human freedom is tantamount to those mental gymnastics performed
>by James Jones in Guyana, David Koresh, and Rush Limbaugh.

This is anti-communism, pure and simple, I contend.

The fact is: until very recently, "we" had very little idea what
actually happened in the USSR during the '30s, because the Cold War
histories were, and remain today, so far out of touch with reality,
such lies. Again, this statement of mine should never be taken at face
value (little danger of that, though!). But there is no way that the
huge deception and falsification of history perpetrated by Cold War
"scholars" can be appreciated without spending considerable time
studying the latest, "revisionist" academic research, and, for a
pretty good, though far from exhaustive, bibliography of that research
up to about '86, see the first series of articles whose URL I have put

A little history: I studied Russian in college, thinking I'd like
to teach the subject, but was of course conventionally anti-communist
and in fact apolitical.

When the anti-war movement got me involved as a grad student, I
found -- to my astonishment -- that (a) I was being called a
"communist" for opposing the war, however mildly at first; and (b)
that the anti-war movement had within it very fine, dedicated, and
admirable human beings who were self-professed communists. There were
also some jerks who were self-professed communists, but not many! For
the most part, however, these were pro-chinese or otherwise breakoffs
from the CPUSA -- in my experience.

During the '70s I used some of my time while doing an
interminable dissertation on Medieval Literature to go through Robert
Conquest's tome _The Great Terror_. Being able to read Russian,
German and French fluently, I decided to read the books he used as his
"evidence" -- his footnotes.

What an education! The vast majority of Conquest's "evidence" was
from (a) Nazis; (b) Nazi collaborators; (c) books which had been
unfavorably reviewed _by anti-communists at the time they had been
published_. Of the rest, the actual citations frequently did NOT
support the "conclusions" Conquest tried to make them bear. Even
anti-communist Sovietological reviews of Conquest's book made
allusions to this kind of stuff, while praising the work overall.

I can't stress enough the cumulative impact of this discovery on
my consciousness. Conclusion: you simply can't believe this crap; you
have to recheck everything. Few make the attempt; most of us simply
think "where there's smoke, there's fire"; "25% or so of this stuff
must be true," etc. etc. IN other words: the anti-communist propaganda

Conquest, BTW, was a great supporter of the US War in Vietnam.
Anti-communism -- I need hardly remind those on this list, I guess --
was the _main_ ideological justification for imperialism in the
post-WWII period, as "bringing Christianity and civilization to the
savages" was in the pre-War period.

I spent -- or mis-spent, from a Medievalist's point of view -- a
long time writing a study of the Military Purges of 1937 and the
evidence both ways, finally succeeding in having it published in
_Russian History/ Histoire Russe_ -- not, however, without a big
battle with the publisher, who refused to publish it for two years
despite the editor's, and anonymous reviewer's, enthusiastic
endorsement, simply because I can to the "wrong" conclusions, i.e. my
article tends to show that there may well have been a conspiracy
within the Soviet military against the government. Those who are
interested may consult it at:

-- but this is an afterthought; the really significant research
is done by those cited in the articles above.

Conclusion: the Cold War anti-communist propaganda affected me --
and US -- so profoundly that, despite my distrust of the Cold Warriors
who waged the horrors of Vietnam, I continued to swallow the
demonization of the USSR under Stalin until I'd spent years reading
the sources. Pretty powerful stuff!

Tony concludes:

>Some critical perspectives are really needed on this issue.

I have tried to provide some here.


Grover C. Furr

English Department | Phone: (201) 655-7305
Montclair State University | email:
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