Archive for the ‘USSR’ Category

As the twig is (violently) bent . . .

February 27, 2020

As a twig is bent, so shall the tree grow.

In 1917, Vladimir Lenin and his Bolshevik revolutionaries  launched an armed insurrection to overthrow the fledgeling post-Czarist government of Russia; the Bolsheviks imposed a Communist dictatorship.

Lenin’s very forceful leadership extinguished what would have been a more democratic form of government. Up until the moment when the Bolsheviks grabbed control, there was a deliberative congress, composed of several political parties.

Lenin’s strong-man tactics nipped-in-the-bud that nascent Russian representative  congress. From the moment of Lenin and the Bolsheviks’ commandeering of the revolution, the emerging Soviet regime was fatefully routed into a tyrannical authoritarian path—in spite of the supposed “masses,” who would have–or so it was assumed according to Marxist doctrine– established a “dictatorship of the proletariat.”

The dictatorship that became entrenched following Lenin’s bully tactics became an actual “dictatorship” controlled one man–Vladimir Lenin.

The subsequent development of the Soviet State never escaped dictatorial  control by (first) Lenin, then (second) Stalin, until Stalin died in 1953.

I recently watched an excellent documentary series on Amazon:

Red Chapters: Turning Points in the History of Communism.

This 6-part work of historical video includes, in its first two episodes,  a very informative and concise explanation of the fatefully oppressive forces that were set in motion in St. Petersburg (Petrograd), beginning on the night of October 24, 1917.

At that nocturnal turning point, the Bolsheviks were absconding control of an emerging popular revolution. They wrested power from a multi-partied congress and dumped it into the hands of the dictator, Vladimir Lenin.

According to Red Chapters narrator Daniel Evans, on the fateful night of October 24, 1917 . . .

“Lenin’s left-wing delegates doubted the delegates’ resolve to oust (provisional government head Alexander) Kerensky.” . . .

“Paradoxically, Lenin did not want the Congress to vote for Soviet power. A ‘yes’ vote by the ballot box would translate into a coalition government, in which the Bolsheviks would be only one of many parties represented” (in that congress.) Lenin would not be the central figure. He might not even get into the cabinet . . . But if he seized power before the congress met, he could dictate the terms of government and open the way to a Bolshevik dictatorship.”

“Lenin harangued the party members to seize power.”

Red Chapters scholar-contributor Orlando Figes clarifies:

“Everything suggests that what he (Lenin) wanted was a Bolshevik dictatorship from the start, and that’s precisely why it was so important for him to seize power before the congress opened, to provoke the other socialist parties to walking out in protest.”

Red Chapters narrator Daniel Evans continues their account of what happened on that fateful night:

“ (Julius) Martov, the leader of the Menshevik party, proposed the formation of a coalition Soviet government. His proposal was greeted with a great cheer, and passed without a vote.

But this was not the Soviet power Lenin had intended.”

RussiaLenin

Leon Trotsky, Lenin’s #2 revolutionary intimidator, shouted down  Menshevik party leader Julius Martov. As Martov was taking leave of the assembly room, Trotsky commanded:

“Go where you belong, into the dustbin of history.”

Julius Martov headed for the back door. Here’s the video overlay as Martov’s face appears in the Red Chaptersdocumentary:

RussiaMartov

Red Chapters Narrator Daniel Evans explains,

“Walking toward the door, Martov warned the remaining delegates, ‘One day, you will understand the crime in which you are taking part.’

And it was indeed a crime, which would be cruelly perpetrated for several generations upon the entirety of the Russian people.

Ultimately, Lenin’s strong-arm tactics dictated the oppression by which  Kerensky, and later many others, were ousted. By the same means, Trotsky would also later be ostracized.  By 1938 fellow-dissident-leaders Liev Kamenev and Grigory Zinoviev would likewise be purged out by Stalin’s post-Lenin manipulations.

The Lenin-Stalin hegemony became the dark heart and soul of Soviet oppression in the USSR for many decades to come.

Lenin imposed his dictatorial will by violent rejection of what would have been a nascent representative government. After Lenin’s death, Stalin continued and extended the pattern of tyranny; he wrested control of their dictatorial  party machine and established hundreds of gulag prisons where millions perished.

In the Russian revolution, Bolshevik violence begat a very long legacy of USSR violence and oppression.

Government reaps what government sows.

As the twig is violently bent, so shall the tree distortedly grow.

As societal control is established through tyrannical cruelty and violence, government tyranny expands accordingly–by the extension of force and violence.

The American revolution, on the other hand, brought forth a bi-cameral representative democracy with judicial oversight.

Rule of Law

Liberty begat liberty. Lawful rule begat Rule of Law (not dictatorial tyranny.)

A nation reaps what it sows.

As the twig is bent, so shall the tree grow.

In Russia’s case, Lenin’s dictatorial tyranny brought forth an abusive system of imprisonment.

We Americans should help the Russians to overcome their past mistakes of Lenin and Stalin.

Glass half-Full

Birgitta’s Historic Book

November 22, 2017

If you’re an early baby boomer like me you grew up with a sinister presence in the background of our American life—the threat of nuclear war with the USSR. On the distant edges of all that fear we could almost hear the low rumble of a Cold War; it was perpetually being waged somewhere in the world between “us’ and “them.”

We young Americans were told that those Russians over there in the Far East were perpetrators of terrible, repressive political system called Communism.

In 1956, the Premier of the USSR, Nikita Khruschev, began to talk about the widespread abuses that were heaped upon the a Russian people through Josef Stalin’s cruel network of surveillance and prisons.

It was said that many, many citizens, perhaps millions, of  Soviet citizens were unjustly persecuted, arrested, imprisoned and executed without due process of law. American paranoia about the threat of Russian aggression and enslavement grew more and more intense through the 1950’s and ’60’s. We generally heard and believed reports from our Western news-gatherers, both military and journalistic,  warning us about the nefarious presence of a horrific Communist empire on the other side of the world.

In 1973, Alecksandr Solzhenitsyn managed to publish to the world his voluminous report on the Soviet system of imprisonment. His book, Gulag Archipelago, was written from personal experience. Its IronCurtain-busting contents became for the world generally, but also for the Soviets, a basis for a widespread re-evaluation of the Soviet Union and its immense network of prisons and slave camps.

In 1989, the peoples of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics fomented a revolution in which they overthrew the old communist system and began to replace it with something new and far more democratic than Russians had ever known. The great thrust of this revolution was powered by the people being sick and tired of communist oppression and cruelty.

In 2017, I learned that a woman in my hometown is daughter of a man who survived eleven years in the Soviet gulag, in a slave camp in Siberia, above the Arctic Circle.

Having heard about this stuff all my life, I was amazed to meet someone whose life had been directly affected by that infamous gulag archipelago.

In her historic book, Years Stolen,  Birgitta Gottlieb McGalliard releases to the world her father’s own written account of his enslaved life, which was imposed on him by Russian soldiers in Bulgaria in 1944. That long imprisonment included months of miserable train transports, years in Lefortovo and Lubyanka prisons in Moscow, and ultimately Arctic imprisonment at Vorkuta slave labor camp in the faraway, frozen Siberian north.

YearsStoln

Yes, Virginia, there really was a Siberia. And it was absolutely as bad as anything you ever heard about it. This terrible tale was not made up by yankee Red-baiters.

Birgitta’s account, obtained and documented meticulously from her own father’s memoirs, is a truly amazing testimony of his survival saga through unimaginably cruel, cold conditions. Roland Gottlieb wrote and spoke of his real life experience there after his release in 1955. Birgitta’s writing about his ordeal is laced with the tenderness of a daughter’s love; it is also strengthened with a visceral thoroughness that painstakingly communicates the immensity of Roland’s achievement in surviving eleven years in the gulag.

If you have ever doubted all those post-WWII reports of Soviet oppression and cruelty, this book will dispel your doubts. Thank God the people of the former USSR have seen, since 1989, the light of freedom and are now following that hopeful star of democratic reforms instead of the old Red Star of communist enslavement. One reason that beacon burns brightly in our world today is because of the testimony of survivors like Roland Gottlieb, as reported by his daughter, Birgitta.

The book is, as they say, a good read. Buy it now and you will be much the wiser after this textual journey into the hell of suffering that some humans have historically imposed on other humans.

Glass half-Full