BOOK REVIEW: Thoughts on Stalin – the history and critique of a black legend by Domenico Losurdo – Part 2

The Gulag

Propaganda in the imperialist organs of mass communication portrays the Soviet Union as a gigantic prison camp – the gulag – where the inmates are tortured, subjected to humiliating and dehumanising treatment. Losurdo demolishes these lying assertions, first, by reference to the treatment of prisoners in Soviet prisons; second, by referencing the complete omission by imperialism and its ideologues, of the vast network of gulags abd concentration camps in the imperialist world and the mass extermination of millions of people by imperialist and colonialist countries over the past several centuries as well as recently.

Australia, he writes, was Britain’s Siberia, to which Irish dissidents as well as people who had committed minor crimes such as theft of a shilling or a handkerchief were sent, not to speak of the millions of Australian aborigines who were exterminated. 

Under British rule in the mid-19th century, millions of Irish people were condemned to death through famine and a very large number were forced to emigrate to America to avoid death by starvation.

In India tens of millions of people died through man-made famines under Britain’s watch, including 3 million Bengalis during the Second World War.

Then there are the Canadian holocaust and those in the United States. Slavery and lynching of blacks in the US until quite recently were regarded as public spectacles and well-advertised as something to be viewed as entertainment.

The practices of the Third Reich, says Losurdo, cannot be separated from the history of relations instituted by the Western powers towards colonial people and peoples of colonial origin.

Racial extermination, stressed Benjamin Disraeli, is the expression of an “irresistible natural law”.

Gandhi, quite correctly, equated British imperialism and Nazi imperialism in his denunciation of colonial Britain and Nazi Germany: “In India we have Hitlerian rule, however disguised it may be in softer terms”; and “Hitler is Great Britain’s sin. He is only the response to British imperialism.”

Even today, captured Taliban members are incarcerated in a place resembling the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz.

Annihilation by air of entire cities – Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki – on the one hand and of the Jews by the Nazis on the other hand are comparable in their cruelty, cynicism and scale of death and destruction. In other words, there is a long history which connects Western imperialist countries to racial hierarchical theories and extermination of the so-called ‘inferior races’.  Hitler’s Germany was a continuation of the same genocidal tradition which condemned the ‘inferior races’ to slavery and physical destruction.  It is by no means an invention of the 20th century, nor can it, in the interests of objectivity and truth, be confined to the vile Nazi regime.  Hitler was not a lone mad German: he was a representative of German imperialism engaged in a deadly struggle for world domination against its rival imperialist powers.

Devoid of all context, ‘history’ books written by the paid flunkeys of imperialism, and, therefore, best falsified in the interests of the bourgeoisie, are characterised by the absence of history.  “Colonialism, imperialism, world wars, national liberation struggles, different and opposing political projects, they all disappear.  Nor do they even ask about the relations of the liberal West with fascism and Nazism” (pp.205-206).

All that is left is the centrality of the personalities of Hitler and Stalin, who, in a grotesque display of absurdity, are put on the same pedestal and equated with each other.  Such books are an insult to the intelligence of the thinking reader.

That Andrew Jackson, US president in the mid-19th century, ordered the deportation of Cherokee Indians; that Theodore Roosevelt thought that the “inferior races” should be met with extermination in case of their rebellion; that large numbers of US citizens of Japanese descent were put behind bars by the administration of US President Franklin Delaney Roosevelt during the Second World War; and that he also seriously considered castrating all German males following Germany’s defeat in the war – all this is omitted by bourgeois historians.  It was the onset of the Cold War against the Soviet Union that saved defeated Germany and Japan from the fate otherwise reserved for them by the US.

A simple comparison between the attitude of the West, on the one hand, and that of the Soviet Union, in particular of Stalin, to the national awakening in Eastern Europe and the colonies, reveals clearly the racism of the former and the liberating character of the latter.  Stalin was very impressed by the awakening of the marginalised nationalities within the Hapsburg Empire and greeted this development with joy.

The Bolshevik government in Russia was the first government systematically to promote the national aspirations of the minority nationalities; it created a dozen republics, promoted to leadership positions people from national minorities;  where necessary it created written languages where none had before existed; the Soviet state financed the mass production of books in non-Russian languages, newspapers, magazines, movies, operas, museums, orchestras and other cultural products.  Nothing comparable had ever before been attempted (see Terry Martin, The affirmative action empire: nations and nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1929-39, Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London).

The Republics were endowed with a national flag, an anthem, a language, a national academy, and in some cases a Commissar for Foreign Affairs, and they had the right to secede from the federation.

The nationalities policy of the Soviet Republic constitutes a glaring contrast with that of the colonialist and imperialist states, with their obsessive pursuit of uniformity.  In the US and Canada, for instance, people belonging to the national minorities (those lucky enough to have survived the genocides) were compelled to “break ties with their birth community and with their own family, native children must also renounce their dances and their ‘strange’ clothing, forced to have short hair and, above all, avoid the use of their tribal language as if it were the plague; breaking the rule that demands exclusive use of the English carries severe punishment, and in Canada they are subjected to electric shock” (p.188).

Losurdo writes that “we are forced to think of Nazism when we read of the forms in which” Canada perpetrated its Holocaust – or the ‘final solution’ to the indigenous question.  The Commission for the Truth about the Canadian Genocide speaks of “death camps”, of “men, women and children” who are “deliberately exterminated”; of “a system whose objective is to destroy the greatest part possible of native people through sickness deportation, and murder.” In the pursuit of this objective, the champions of white supremacy don’t even spare innocent children, who die “from beatings and torture, or after having been deliberately exposed to tuberculosis and other illnesses”; others go on to be subjected to forced sterilisation.  It is evident that we are face to face with “practices identical or similar to those in force in the Third Reich, and their application arises out of similar ideology, and that’s again similar to that which presides over the construction of Hitler’s racial state” (ibid. p.193).

Turning to the southern states of the US, we find that, in the decades following the Civil War, black prisoners, who constituted the overwhelming majority of the prison population, were frequently rented out to private companies, crowded into “large wheeled cages that followed the encampments of construction and railroad tycoons, where they were cruelly punished, poorly clothed and fed. On falling sick these prisoners received no medical treatment, a great many of them have broken shoulders, with sores, scars and blisters, some with their skin cruelly ravaged from lashings … they lie there dying … with living parasites crawling across their faces …” and much more (ibid. pp.183-184).\

The bourgeoisie of these states, which presided over these horrific practices, has the audacity to point an accusing finger at the great and glorious Soviet Union’s alleged maltreatment of its prison population, which was positively humane and cultured, as is testified to by even the fiercely anti-communist, anti-Soviet and anti-Stalin writers such as Anne Applebaum.  The picture drawn by Applebaum of the conditions prevailing in Soviet prisons is such that it could be confused “with a product of Soviet propaganda, if it had not come from a fiercely anti-communist author” (p.165).

Here is a depiction of the conditions in Butryka prison, Moscow, in 1921 at a time when the civil war was raging:

The prisoners were allowed free run of the prison.  They organised morning gymnastic sessions, founded an orchestra and a chorus, created a ‘club’ supplied with foreign journals and a good library … A prisoners’ council assigned everyone cells, some of which were supplied with carpets on the floors and walls.  Another prisoner remembered that ‘we strolled along the corridors as if they were boulevards.’ To Bobima, prion life seemed unreal: ‘Can’t they even lock us up seriously’?” (Applebaum, cited in Losurdo p.165).

There were frequent protests.  The reader may be interested to read the demands, partially accepted, made during a hunger strike by political prisoners (a goodly part of them Trotskyites): expansion of the prison library to include newspapers published in the USSR; complete update of the economics, politics and literature sections; subscription to at least one foreign newspaper; enrolment in correspondence courses; acquire paper in quantities no less than ten notebooks per person each month.  So observes Applebaum of the conditions in June 1931 – the height of the campaign for the “liquidation of the kulaks as a class”.  That, however, does not appear to have dramatically altered the existing situation in the prisons.  Here is an excerpt on the penal colonies in the far north at the start of the 1930s:

Needing hospitals, camp administrators built them, and introduced systems for training pharmacists and prisoner nurses.  Needing food, they constructed their own collective farms … Needing electricity, they built power plants.  Needing building materials, they built brick factories.

“Needing educated workers, they trained the ones they had.  Much of ex-kulak workforce turned out to be illiterate or semi-illiterate … The camp’s administration therefore set up technical training schools, which required, in turn, more new buildings and new cadres: math and physics teachers, as well as ‘political instructors’ to oversee their work. By 1940, Vorkuta, a city built in permafrost, had acquired a geological institute and a university, theatres, puppet theatres, swimming pools, and nurseries” (Applebaum, cited in Losurdo at p.167).

As strange as it may be, “the Gulag little by little brought ‘civilisation’ … to remote uninhabited areas”, concedes Applebaum.

As in society at large, the prison administration encouraged “’socialist emulation’ among the prisoners.  Those who stand out enjoy additional food and other privileges.

“Eventually, top performers were also released early.  When the [White Sea] Canal was finally completed, on time, in 1933, 12,484 prisoners were freed.  Numerous others received medals and awards.  One prisoner celebrated his early release at a ceremony … as onlookers shouted ‘Hooray for the builders of the Canal’” (p.169).

The camps were permeated with a production obsession and a thirst for knowledge, as is revealed by the presence of an ‘Educational-cultural department’ (KVC) in the prisons.  Precisely for that reason, wall newspapers were taken seriously.  If we read them, we find that the biographies of the rehabilitated prisoners are written in a language extraordinarily similar to those of good workers outside the colony.  They worked, studied, made sacrifices and tried to improve.  The aim was to re-educate them into ‘Stakhanovites’, among the first in line to participate with patriotic enthusiasm in the development of the country… In the camps, as in the world outside, ‘socialist competitions continued to take place’ … the guard addressed the prisoner as ‘comrade’ … many prisoners ended up working as guards or camp administrators” (ibid. p.120).

No small number of them learned a profession to exercise following the moment of their release.

Even during Nazi Germany’s war of annihilation against the USSR, time and money were generously invested to strengthen and improve the political education meetings for the prisoners: In the first quarter of 1943 … at the height of the war, frank telegrams were sent back and forth from the camps to Moscow, as camp commanders desperately tried to procure musical instruments for their prisoners. Meanwhile the camps held a contest on the theme ‘The Great Motherland war of the Soviet People against German Fascist occupiers’;; fifty camp prisoners and eight sculptors participated” (Applebaum cited in Losurdo pp.170-171).

The atmosphere of national unity brought out by the Great Patriotic War was felt within the Gulag.  Consequent upon several amnesties, the Gulag experiences a massive reduction in population; ex-prisoners heroically took part in combat, expressing their satisfaction and pride in the fact that they had access to technologically advanced weapons “thanks to the industrialisation of the country”; they found careers in the Red Army, were accepted into the Communist Party, and won honours and medals for their military courage (see Applebaum in Losurdo p.172).

Just one more example: On Solovetsky Islands, prisoners, many of them having been scientists in St Petersburg, not only had access to a theatre and a library with 30,000 volumes, but also had a botanical garden, including “a museum of flora, fauna, and of local art history” (Applebaum, in Losurdo p.166).

Losurdo rightly points out that the “prison system reproduces the relations of society in which it is expressed”.  Inside and outside of the Gulag, one sees in action a state focused on development seeking to mobilise and ‘re-educate- all forces to overcome the country’s backwardness, becoming more urgent in view of the then approaching war that was, by Hitler’s explicit declaration in his Mein Kampf, to be one of enslavement and annihilation.

In these conditions, harsh treatment of the opponents of Soviet power is combined with the “emancipation of oppressed nationalities, as well as a strong upward social mobility with access to education, culture, and … leadership positions by part of the social strata that until that time had been totally marginalised.  The pedagogical concerns with production and the social mobility related to it is fact … even inside the Gulag”.  By contrast, the world of Nazi concentration camps reflects “… a racial hierarchy that characterises the racial State, by that time established, and the racial empire to be built” (Losurdo p.182).

To conclude”, says Losurdo, “the prisoner in the Gulag is a potential ‘comrade’ obligated to participate in particularly hard conditions in the strengthening of production, [whereas] the prisoner in the Nazi Lager is firstly an Untermensch, forever marked by their nationality or racial degeneration” (ibid.).

Further, “the Nazi concentrationary universe is set up to devour millions upon millions of slaves … and that project would have devoured an infinite number of more victims, had it not been destroyed by an opposing project, based on the recognition not only of existential rights, but also the cultural and national rights of the natives” (ibid. p.191).


It is an essential part of the imperialist narrative that the Soviet Union, in particular Stalin, practised anti-semitism.  Through endless repetition by the bourgeois media, this outrageous lie has acquired the force of a public prejudice.  It is not just the ordinary bourgeois ideologues who push this lie, but also the Trotskyites.

The accusation of anti-semitism was for the first time raised by Trotsky in 1937 – the year in which, alongside the Betrayal of Revolution, he denounced the re-emergence of the barbarism of anti-semitism in the USSR.  Trotsky gives no proof for his baseless slandering accusation, which is built around a syllogism: “The October Revolution put an end to the outcast status of Jews.  But that doesn’t in any way mean that it has forever wiped out antisemitism … Legislation alone doesn’t change men … Their thoughts … depend on tradition … The Soviet regime isn’t yet twenty years old… despite exemplary legislation, it’s impossible that national chauvinistic prejudices, especially antisemitism, have not stubbornly survived among the most backward segments of the population” (Thermidor and anti-semitism).

Losurdo correctly replies to this slander thus: “By definition, the weight of a secular tradition couldn’t miraculously disappear in the segments of the population that had not yet adopted modern and revolutionary culture. But what sense was there, then, in accusing a regime or leadership group, who had in no way altered the ‘exemplary legislation’ approved by the Bolsheviks, and who, in committing to a colossal process of industrialisation, expanding literacy and access to culture, had continuously restricted the social and geographical areas in which ‘national and chauvinistic prejudices, particularly anti-semitism’ were deeply rooted?  Was it not Trotsky himself who spoke of the unprecedented speed with which the USSR developed the economy, industry, urbanisation and culture, and verified the rise of a ‘new Soviet patriotism’, a sentiment ‘certainly deep, sincere and dynamic’, shared by the various nationalities previously oppressed or incited against one another?” (p.241).

At the same time that Trotsky poured down his vile slander, a. Jewish German writer, Lion Feuchtwanger, fleeing the Third Reich, spoke in his travel report effusively of the resolution of “the old and apparently unsolvable Jewish Question” in the USSR.  He wrote of the “… consensus in support for the new [Soviet] State among the Jews I have met”; and further, “like all national languages, Yiddish is lovingly cared for in the [Soviet] Union.  There’s schools and newspapers in that language, and congresses are held for the supervision of Yiddish and the performances in that language enjoy the highest consideration”.

Even more devastating was the reaction of the American Jewish community to Trotsky’s accusation, one of whose authoritative representatives responded thus:

If his other accusations are as baseless as his complaint against antisemitism, then he has absolutely nothing to say” (cited in Losurdo p.242).

Another leader stated: “In relation to antisemitism, we are used to seeing in the Soviet Union the only glimmer of light.  Therefore it is unforgivable that Trotsky launches such baseless accusations against Stalin” (ibid.).

While in Germany”, writes Losurdo, “the denunciation of ‘Judeo-Bolshevism’… became more frantic than ever, and the process that would lead to the ‘final solution’ was quickly advancing, a strange campaign of insinuations was launched against the country that … more courageously than any other, classified Hitler’s antisemitism as ‘cannibalistic’, against the country that very often inspired those who in German territory resisted the wave of hatred against the Jews” (ibid.).

Those who defied the Nazi regime were members of the Communist Party of Germany. They were members or sympathisers of a party that, “…at the international level, had Stalin as their essential point of reference” (ibid., p.243).

The accusation of antisemitism hurled at Stalin is all the more grotesque in view of the fact that he fought against, and denounced, antisemitism intrepidly during his entire political life.  Beginning with 1901, as a 20-year old youth in Georgia, in one of his first written works, he lists the struggle against oppression of nationalities and religious confessions as being one of the most important tasks of the ‘social democratic party‘.  Particularly targeted being “the Jews, continually persecuted and insulted, deprived of those miserable rights that other Russian subjects enjoyed – the right to move freely, the right to attend school, the right to occupy public jobs, etc.” (Stalin, Works, Vol 1 p.19).

A few years following the outbreak of the 1905 revolution he wrote that the Tsarist regime reacts by encouraging or unleashing pogroms. The only way, he said, to eradicate pogroms is through “the destruction of the Tsarist autocracy’ (ibid., p.71).

He developed the same theme following the overthrow of Tsarism between February and October 1917. Beaten in Russia, antisemitism became an evermore menacing threat in Germany.  Stalin did not wait for the rise to power of the Hitlerites before denouncing antisemitism in the most uncompromising terms.  On 12 January 1931, in a declaration to the American Jewish Telegraph Agency, he classified “racial chauvinism” and antisemitism as a kind of “cannibalism” and the return to “the jungle”.  And this stance of his was reproduced in the Soviet Union, in Pravda on 30 November 1936 by way of warning governments and public opinion the world over against the terrible threat looming over Europe and the wider world.

In a speech of 6 November 1941, on the anniversary of the October Revolution, Stalin went on to characterise Hitler’s Germany in the following scathing terms:

In its essence, Hitler’s regime is a copy of that reactionary regime that existed under Tsarism.  It’s well known that the Nazis trampled on the rights of workers, the rights of intellectuals, and the rights of peoples, just as the Tsarist regime trampled over them, and that it unleashed medieval pogroms against the Jews, just as the Tsarist regime unleased them.

The Nazi party is a party of the enemies of democratic freedoms, a party of medieval reaction and the most sinister pogroms” (Selected Works Vol 14, p.253).

Contrast this with the attitude of Churchill, who in 1937 stressed the ‘nefarious’ role of Judaism in the Bolshevik agitation.  In the same year, he wrote an article, that remained unpublished, in which he expressed the thought that the Jews were at least partly responsible for the hostility directed at them (see Howard Zinn, A people’s history of the United States). Stalin’s position is diametrically the opposite; he continued to characterise the Nazis as cannibalistic “champions of pogroms”, from whose barbarity the Soviet people had the honour and credit of saving “European civilisation”.

Hitler for his part, literally two days later (i.e., after Stalin’s 6 November 1941 speech), at a Munich rally to mark his coup attempt in 1923, condemned Stalin as “the man that has, for the time being, become the head of that state [the USSR] which is nothing more than an instrument in the hands of the all-powerful Jews.  While Stalin stands on stage before the curtain, behind him are Kaganovich and that expansive network of Jews who control that enormous empire” (see Losardo p.248).

On this premise, the war for the enslavement of the Soviet Union is, at the same time, the war for the annihilation of the Jews.

In view of this it is perfectly understandable, then, that the ethnic group which became the particular target of the Third Reich’s genocidal fury, distinguished itself in the fight against its barbaric Nazi tormentors. “During the war, in relation to its population, Jews earned more medals than any other Soviet nationality” (Michael Ignatieff, ‘In the centre of the earthquake’, New York Review of Books, 12 June 1997, quoted in Losurdo p.249).

This is hardly compatible with the slanderous theory of Stalin or the USSR’s alleged antisemitism.  Throughout the existence of the Soviet Union, Jews continued to be disproportionately represented in the country’s universities and scientific establishments and institutions.  According even to Montefiore, anti-Stalin to his fingertips, determined to label Stalin as antisemitic, in 1937 “Jews formed a majority in the government”. These facts can hardly be cited in support of the theory of Stalin’s or the Soviet Union’s alleged antisemitism.

After the formation of the Eastern socialist bloc in the aftermath of the Second World War, the new regimes offered to the Jews political positions that they had never before occupied. They could become judges, officials and enter the government. Far from being discriminated against, the Jews enjoyed preferential treatment.

When at the end of the 1940s the Zionist movement was outlawed, the overwhelming majority of the Jews rejected the idea that the Jewish community should mark itself out as a national minority.

When, during a conversation with the famous Soviet writer Ilya Ehrenburg in Moscow in 1948, Golda Meir expressed her displeasure over assimilated Jews (“it disgusts me to see Jews who don’t speak Hebrew or at least Yiddish”), Ehrenburg responded angrily: “You are a servant of the United States”.  Speaking to another interlocutor, Ehrenburg stated:

The state of Israel must understand that in this country the Jewish Question no longer exists, that the Jews of the USSR must be left in peace and that all attempts to induce them to Zionism and to repatriation must stop.  It will be met with resistance not only by the [Soviet] authorities but by Jews themselves” (p.261).

The Zionists, by attempting to seduce Soviet and Eastern European Jews were engaged in an attempt to cause a colossal brain drain of the sort of people needed for reconstruction after the devastating war.  The overwhelming majority of the Jews themselves opposed such Zionist activity.  Israeli diplomats in Moscow, behind the backs of Soviet authorities, established direct contacts with the Soviet Jewish community.  By now, Israel aligned itself closely with the West; many important scientists of Jewish origin were sought to be lured by Zionist propaganda to emigrate and join a bloc determined on crushing the very country that had been responsible for their emancipation and social promotion.  In view of their anti-communist activity in the socialist camp, active Zionist circles were ruthlessly repressed.  In Czechoslovakia, for instance, Slansky was imprisoned and sentenced to death because, according to his daughter’s testimony, he had favoured emigration to Israel.  None of this can, however, be attributed to “Stalin’s war against the Jews”, as is absurdly claimed by those determined to demonise Stalin and the Soviet Union that he led for three decades.

Why the venom against Stalin?

If Stalin was such a monster as he is made out to be, how come that for three decades communists, as well as famous philosophers and statesmen, paid tribute to him with approval, respect, and even admiration? How come that Deutscher paid tribute to the statesman, Stalin, who had made a decisive contribution to the defeat of the Third Reich and built socialism in the USSR?  How come that, led by a generalissimo and such a ridiculous figure as Khrushchevites and ordinary bourgeois historians would have us believe Stalin was, the Soviet Union was able to defeat the monstrous Nazi war machine that had in succession subjugated the rest of continental Europe?  And how was the USSR, starting from a position of extreme weakness, able to transform itself into an industrial and military superpower?

How did such the absurdly grotesque Stalin as portrayed by Khrushchev and bourgeois scholars achieve the status of historiographical and political dogma?

Losurdo answers thus: “The key to explaining that unique phenomenon can be found in the history of political mythologies.  After Thermidor, the Jacobins are put to the guillotine at the moral level.  They become ‘those sultans’, ‘those satyrs’, who had nearly everywhere created ‘palaces of pleasure’ and ‘palaces of orgies’, in which ‘they gave in to all excesses’”. In addition Robespierre was accused of being possessed of libido dominandi – the desire to dominate – preparing to get married to Capet’s daughter in order to be able to ascend the French throne!

The Jacobins were accused of hating culture; of planning to ban libraries; of being enemies of humanity, intent on spreading darkness and ignorance; of having set the human spirit back by many centuries.

Forgotten was the fact that the Jacobins had mandated compulsory schooling, which earlier the Thermidorians had denounced as the hubris of reason, and celebrated the beneficial advantage of prejudice.

With regard to the number of the Terror’s victims, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions, are flaunted without any recourse to evidence; “In many, it’s a matter of genocide, as denounced by the Jeunesse Dorée in their anti-Marseillaise anthem against ‘the drinkers of blood of humanity’, ‘that anthropophagic horde’, ‘those terrible cannibals’.  It is an accusation taken up and radicalised by the left.  Soon after Thermidor, Babeuf speaks of a ‘process of depopulation’ carried out in Vendée by Robespierre who goes as far as to pursue the infamous, unprecedented political objective of ‘wiping out the human race’ … we witness a convergence between the extreme right and extreme left … both agreeing to depict Robespierre as a genocidal monster” (pp.331-332).

But it didn’t take long for Babeuf to grasp the real meaning of Thermidor; before the judges who were prepared to send him to the guillotine, he expressed his disdain for the “system of hunger” brought in by the new Thermidor rulers.

Similar venom to that unleashed by the Thermidor on Robespierre and his revolutionaries was unleashed by imperialism on the Bolsheviks in the aftermath of the October Revolution of 1917.  The Bolsheviks are considered synonymous with debauchery and depravity; of having nationalised women and forcing every girl over the age of 16 to be turned over to an arbitrarily chosen man, forced  to suffer on her body and soul the government’s impositions.  These lurid slanders were published with the authorisation of President Wilson in such an authoritative organ as the New York Times.

The Bolsheviks are depicted, just as the Jacobins were, as being ‘barbarians’, as agents of Jewish internationalism, even more alien to civilisation both for their geographic origin, as well as the support provided by them to colonial revolts and to the people of colour, just as Nazi propaganda insisted on repeating.  Finally, while Robespierre was accused for some time by Babeuf of having wanted completely to ‘wipe out the human race’, Robert Conquest satisfies himself in blaming Stalin for organising the starvation of the Ukrainian people – the same Stalin who had done so much for Ukraine in the field of culture and industrial development (see p.333).

Belakun, the Hungarian communist and leader of the short-lived Hungarian revolution was accused of having “established a harem with a lavish assortment of women, where the perfidious and insatiable Jew could ‘rape and dishonour dozens of virgins of the Christian caste’.  Repeating this slander is a newspaper that will later become the official organ of the Nazi party, … But at that time shares an outlook that’s widespread in Western public opinion and on both sides of the Atlantic” (ibid., p.332).

All this reminds us of Marx’s penetrating observation that the “English Established Church would more readily pardon an attack on 38 of its 39 articles than on 1/39 of its income”.