Spanish versus Russian red terror

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Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
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May 2 2018 20:07

Mike Harman wrote:

(as opposed to labelling political opponents prostitutes),

For the record, I never claimed that the term was just derogatory for political opponents, I always took he meant plain prostitutes.

Battlescarred
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May 2 2018 20:08

Sure, it's just a few thousands or tens of thousands of human lives give or take one way or the other

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Noa Rodman
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May 3 2018 04:51

It goes without saying that every individual unjustly killed is horrific. But if you care so much about the casualties of the Bolshevik executions, then a basic thing would be to establish some range for their total. It's not an edifying task for sure. Otherwise you're contributing just more of your hallmark snark.

Steven wrote:

it's quite funny really, in bringing up all of this information which is unrelated to the point I was making, Noa is actually helping my point.

As a reminder, essentially my point was that the Bolsheviks themselves ordered mass killings in the Russian revolution, and these mass killings included revolutionary workers. And that in Spain, the CNT-FAI did not order mass killings, and did not murder those on their own side.

If you don't dispute my point about the numbers, then what would your argument ultimately prove? Your argument would show that genuinely revolutionary democratic spontaneous violence in Spain is more murderous than organised counter-revolutionary violence in Russia (and the Spanish case still lost). As an analogy take another comparison: what if numbers-wise the "good" Kurdish forces (including their sympathizers or allies) in Syria carried out a greater number of executions against local population than "bad" ISIS? That Kurdish are qualitatively different from ISIS could be readily admitted, but that would still leave the point that they committed more executions, and how does that reflect on their good side?
Uncreative wrote:

Give Noa a few minutes, im sure they can find something thats been "mistranslated"...

I stand by all the points I made about the translation.

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Steven.
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May 3 2018 14:27

Noa Rodman wrote:

It goes without saying that every individual unjustly killed is horrific. But if you care so much about the casualties of the Bolshevik executions, then a basic thing would be to establish some range for their total. It's not an edifying task for sure. Otherwise you're contributing just more of your hallmark snark.

Is that my hallmark?

I'm not really interested in numbers. In a civil war situation I don't really have a problem with executing fascists, and people who partook in mass murders of workers (for example some priests who were shot in Spain were people who told fascists who the union members were, so they could be executed en masse). What I do have a problem with is mass murders of revolutionary workers, and innocent people like sex workers. Neither of which the CNT-FAI did, and both of which Lenin and Trotsky either did or tried to do.

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May 3 2018 16:56

Not yours, but Battlescarred's hallmark.

I don't insist that you should be interested in numbers (more likely you just don't have time to go into it), but that's what my point is. If you want to debate about Kronstadt, that's another thing. If you allow me some snark; it's a strange kind of massacre where the victims manage to inflict 4x times as high number of casualties on the perpetrator side, isn't it? When someone says that they would rather die than continue in these circumstances, that also signals that they are prepared to kill. So accept your responsibility; what if Kronstadt won and went into the offensive in Petrogard against the Bolshevik? Would the "third revolution" not necessarily involve fighting the Bolshevik party and thus killings?

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May 3 2018 16:57

On Bolsheviks in Spain; Antonov-Ovseenko’s is an interesting story, he was one of those whose loyal counter-revolutionary role in Spain at the service of Stalin’s foreign policy couldn’t save them from the Terror when they returned;.
Quote:

Antonov-Ovseenko was the Soviet consul general in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War. He arranged for Russian advisers to help the Popular Front government while expanding the influence of the Soviet Union in the country.
When the show trials took place in August 1936, Antonov-Ovseenko was quick to praise Joseph Stalin. He wrote an article in Izvestia entitled "Finish Them Off" where he described Lev Kamenev and Gregory Zinoviev as "fascist saboteurs". He added "the only way to talk to them" was to shoot them.
Joseph Stalin was convinced that Antonov-Ovseenko was plotting against him and in August, 1937, he recalled him to the Soviet Union. Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko was arrested and shot without trial in 1939. A fellow cellmate remembered: "He said goodbye to us all, took off his jacket and shoes, gave them to us, and went out to be shot half-undressed." http://spartacus-educational.com/RUSantonov.htm

An interesting old thread about Antonov-Ovseenko’s unusually close relations with both the Makhnovists and CNT; https://libcom.org/forums/history/strange-bolshevik-treated-anarchists-well-antonov-ovseenko

Though others retained more dignity under the Terror, Antonov-Ovseenko’s readiness to denounce his Party comrades was probably desperation to try to save his skin and that of others close to him (his wife was executed in 1936). His son, who was sent to the Gulag for 13 years in 1940 for refusing to denounce his murdered dad as ‘an enemy of the people’, later became a historian of Stalin’s Terror. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/anton-antonov-ovseyenko-historian-and-survivor-of-stalins-gulag-dies-at-93/2013/07/13/aed01ec0-ebcc-11e2-aa9f-c03a72e2d342_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.f7826c979457

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May 4 2018 08:20

the figure of 10,000 killed by the Kronstadt rebels is mentioned in Avrich (by an American diplomat), but it was a minimum estimate. I found another estimate puts it at 40,000:

Quote:

As it was, the Bolshevks had to attack over open ice. Of the 50.000 troops committed, 80% lost their Iives.

(not sure what the source is)

http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1033&context=uhp_theses
A Look At Kronstadt 1921, James R. Hinchee (Honors Theses)

If correct, that would mean Kronstadt rebels killed a bigger number of people than the whole Spanish red terror (minimum) figure of 38,000...

Mike Harman
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May 4 2018 09:45

Noa Rodman wrote:

So accept your responsibility; what if Kronstadt won and went into the offensive in Petrogard against the Bolshevik? Would the "third revolution" not necessarily involve fighting the Bolshevik party and thus killings?

If they won, it would have been a withdrawal of the Red Army, no food blockade etc. This does not imply that the Kronstadt soldiers would go into an expansionist military assault on Petrograd.

Seems more likely there would be some kind of temporary truce, that they'd have been able to continue to produce Isvestia and similar, and that this might then have emboldened anarchists, Left SRs and dissident Bolsheviks elsewhere (as opposed to seeing the uprising completely crushed and slandered). Or, that the Bolsheviks would have acceded some of the demands to retain stability rather than risk another defeat and without any kind of clear final reckoning.

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May 4 2018 13:28

It's hard to see what point Noa is trying to make but for the purposes of this argument he seems to want to make a neutral equivalent of numbers of killed - as if this will in some unexplained way absolve the counter-revolutionary Bolshevik slaughter. But obviously nobody, neither the Bolsheviks nor their opponents, acted on the premise that deaths on either side were neutral or equivalent. In all conflicts participants evaluate what is worth killing and dying for. For the Bolsheviks it was for state power and its extension and for dictatorial control. For their opponents it was against what they saw as the Bolshevik counter-revolution; these oppositions are really the only thing worth trying to draw conclusions on.

The same article Noa quotes also notes;
Quote:

"Many of the troops the Bolsheviks sent in were Kursanti and Tcheka agents. The regular Red Army was deemed undependable. Only the most loyal troops were committed. Even so, Trotsky and Tukhachevsky took no chances and had the soldiers backed up with machine guns to prevent desertion." - p.18 - http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1033&context=uhp_theses

So some troops were presumably considered less than willing to storm Kronstadt and were forced into battle at gunpoint. If 40,000 of them died how much responsibility should Trotsky & Tukhachevsky share for their reluctant deaths?

Black Badger
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May 4 2018 14:59

If — and it’s a huge “if” — the Kronstadt rebels were responsible for the majority of the deaths of those who were storming across the ice, that was a military operation, not the execution on non-combatants. Apples and oranges, as the saying goes. There is no rehabilitation possible for the Bolsheviks and all the Party Communists who came after.

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May 4 2018 16:12

http://www.icl-fi.org/print/english/esp/59/kronstadt.html

I'm having a look now at this 2006 Spartacist piece, which relies on source materials in:

The documents in Kronshtadtskaia tragediia 1921 goda, dokumenty v dvukh knigakh (The 1921 Kronstadt Tragedy, Documents in Two Volumes) (Moscow: Russian Political Encyclopedia, 1999) confirm beyond doubt the counterrevolutionary nature of the Kronstadt rising.

Not online btw, so will have to rely on what the article quotes/translates from it.

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May 4 2018 16:50

So you've found one article - out of the massive amount of conflicting material available on Kronstadt - that says what you want to believe and you quickly pronounce it as proof "beyond doubt". That illustrates well your regular mishandling of 'history' and a lack of credibility. IMO the most important document of the Kronstadt events is the rebels' publicly stated programme; https://libcom.org/history/petropavlovsk-resolution
- which shows a concern for the improvement of working class conditions against Bolshevik dictatorship and none at all for advancing White Guard interests. For a very different view; https://libcom.org/library/kronstadt-bolshevik-propaganda

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May 4 2018 19:15

That was a quote from the article itself. Let the reader judge for themselves.

My point with the numbers just is that to the broad audience, i.e. average non-radical, humanist, social-liberal or nihilist Mr Dupont people, for who any violence (so even against the bad guys, however defined) is abhorrent, death toll numbers do make an impression, so that's my excuse for such a facile or superficial comparison of the casualties by the reds in the Spanish vs. Russian civil war. We can go into the "qualitative" differences all you want though. I bet I could even find some Stalinists who condemned the terror against priests in Spain.

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May 6 2018 00:03

Quote:

That was a quote from the article itself.

Then use "quotation marks" or the 'quote' formatting button above the comment box. (Highlight quote with left click, then press quote button.)