Guest post: Lenin, Stalin and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe

The following is a guest blog post submitted by Steven Tiffany:

I’d like to share some Social Role Valorization (SRV) insights I gleaned while reading the book “Lenin, Stalin and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe” by Robert Gellately (2007). The level of violence, terror and death described in the book is overwhelming, but it also gives us an opportunity to see the universality of the common wounds and the SRV themes at a particular historical moment.

All three leaders inflicted numerous wounds upon societally devalued groups. In Germany under Hitler, for example, there was a wide variety of groups targeted, but it was mainly the Jews, Communists, Roma and the disabled who suffered the worst: persecution, starvation, ghettos, incarceration, forced labor, concentration camps, widespread killing and slaughter. In Lenin and Stalin’s USSR, the range of groups who found themselves devalued after the Soviets came to power was far reaching and included Jews; Christians; Muslims; various national minorities such as Ukrainians, Belarusians, Georgians, etc; successful and moderately successful peasants; land owners; politicians of all stripes (from anarchists to monarchists), the disabled; and many more.

One of the common wounds taught about in SRV is that of juxtaposition to negative images, including negative language. Here is an example of negative language from Lenin speaking about the rich peasants whom the Soviets referred to as “Kulaks”:

“These bloodsuckers have grown rich on the want suffered by the people in the war; they have raked in thousands and hundreds of thousands of rubles by pushing up the price of grain and other products. These spiders have grown fat at the expense of the peasants ruined by the war, at the expense of the starving workers. These leeches have sucked the blood of the working people and grown richer as the workers in the cities and factories starved. These vampires have been gathering the landed estates into their hands; they continue to enslave the poor peasants” (Comrade Workers, Forward To The Last, Decisive Fight! – http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1918/aug/x01.htm). 

One can imagine the amount of hatred this speech would have incited towards the Kulaks, which in part set the stage for the oppression, deportation, forced starvation, murder and widespread slaughter of the Kulaks which was soon to come. Lenin and later Stalin were consciously deliberate in the negative language and images they used in their efforts to demonize the Kulaks and use them as scapegoats for their (ultimately unsuccessful) policies of collectivization.

Posted on November 11, 2011 at 10:06 am by MTumeinski · Permalink
In: Uncategorized · Tagged with: , , , , ,

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