Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Some Arguments for the Illegitimacy of Anti-Communism (c. 1950)

For Phil Weiss

1. Communism represents the will of the Soviet peoples, and ipso facto it must be respected.

2. The morality of communism could be debated before the October Revolution, but once the Soviet Union has been established, and the people have made their choice, the subject is closed.

3. The singling out of the communism of the Soviet regime for criticism, especially on the part of dissident Russians and those peoples most affected by the regime's actions, can only be explained as indicative of prejudice and bigotry towards the Soviet people.

4. Those who argue for regime change in the case of the Soviet Union, but not in more tyrannical regimes, are deeply anti-Soviet.

5. To question the legitimacy of the communist regime in the Soviet Union is tantamount to wishing the destruction of millions of Soviet citizens -- although the anti-communists may not say so explicitly.

And a P.S. from a reader

6.  The suffering of the Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War entitles them to have great concern about the anti-communist delegitimizers.


pabelmont said...

Love it! Hope Phil loves it too. (Surely he shares your idea!?)

Anders V.M. said...

One could perhaps make the argument even more convincingly (and more controversially) with Nazism instead of Communism - as far as I know, Hitler was elected by the people as Reichskansler, while the Communist takeover in Russia was brought about by an armed revolution and thus not necessarily the will of the people. By the way, thank you for this great blog!

Yitzchak Goodman said...

And, obviously, anyone who arms the great liberator Nasser must be legitimate.

AIG said...

You have a fatal flow in your analogy. Communism was imposed on the Russian people and the Russian empire. Zionism was not. The Soviet Union was closed to information from the outside, free speech and free travel. Israel, the Zionist country, is a free country. There is freedom of speech and its people are free to come and go as they please.

Communism was brought down by the Russians themselves, because they knew it didn't work for them. If you think that Zionism will be brought down from the inside, you are sorely mistaken. Zionism fulfills and sustains the aspirations of almost all of the Jews of Israel and a majority in the diaspora.

Zionism is a free choice of the Jewish people, a choice most continue to make by living in Israel or supporting it. That is why it should be respected. If you choose not to, that is fine also, but don't use lame analogies.

In the end your argument basically is that mainstream Zionism is immoral. We get it, you are moral, we are not.

Jerry Haber said...


I will respond to your post, even though it had nothing to do with what I wrote and reeks of the same indoctrination one would expect from a Soviet citizen c. 1950.

It is not true that Communism was imposed on the Russian people and the Russian empire. It is not true that Communism was brought down by the Russians themselves because they knew it didn't work for them.

But that's not my point. Nazism was enthusiastically embraced by Germans but that does not make it deserving of respect. Ditto for South African apartheid. Ditto for slavery in the South.

If statist Zionism, as implemented by the Ben Gurion and Co., was fundmaentally immoral, then I couldn't give a fig that many Jews backed it, and many Jews did not.

I didn't argue that mainstream Zionism is immoral. I argued that it doesn't become moral or worthy o respect because it was adopted by the State of Israel and its supporters.

Zionist treatment of Palestinians is a moral abomination -- I get it, you don't agree -- and to say that doesn't make me anti-Zionist or anti-Israel, because I can envision an Israel or a Zionism that doesn't treat the Palestinians abominally, that doesn't steal their land, their resources, and their liberty.

And that treatment does not get justified by the fact that "the Jewish people have freely chosen it" (Pardon me, I must have missed that vote....)

AIG said...


If the Russians, Poles, Estonians, East Germans, Georgians, Armenians etc. etc. liked communism so much, why aren't the communist parties thriving there now? If communism was as popular as you try to imply, the communist parties would be much stronger than they are now.

Any movement backed by millions of people deserves respect. Of course it does not mean that movement is moral, like Nazism. But the lack of respect by Western politicians for Hitler and is movement is one of the reasons they were ill prepared to counter it.

Respecting something does not necessarily mean that you hold something in high regard. When you respect your limitations or the capabilities of the Nazi war machine that does not mean you think either are moral or should have special benefits.

It means that you better take them very seriously into consideration in your plans. Zionism as a force should be respected if you want to get anywhere near peace in the middle east.

Even more so because it is a successful popular movement whose popularity has not waned over time and whose supporters are free to choose whether to be part of it or not.

Since most Zionists believe that the current treatment of Palestinians (give or take)is the best option for Zionism to thrive, you in fact believe that main stream Zionism is immoral, even if you don't want to say it outright. Your position does not make sense otherwise.

You live in Israel, at least part time, you were in the IDF and you sent your sons to serve also. That is how you "voted" for Zionism. You could have raised your family in the US, but you didn't. Ask your friends on Mondoweiss. They will tell you that the best way to fight Zionism is for Jews to leave Israel and refuse to serve in the IDF.

Shmuel said...

Who is Phil Weiss?

shmuel said...

Who is Phil Weiss that you write to, and why did this topic arise?

Jerry Haber said...


Actually, Hitler did not come to power democratically, though I think that both regime changes represented the will of most of the people at least in the sense that there were no mass protests.

On Hitler read this excellent post by Daniel Luban.

Jerry Haber said...


Communism was neither as popular as you think I am claiming nor as unpopular as you think you are claiming. You clearly have no idea of the history of communism and anti-communist movements in the former Soviet Union. Note that the time frame of the title was the early 1950s.

Here's from the wiki on the history of the Soviet Union during this period.

The Soviet people also benefited from a type of social liberalization. Women were to be given an adequate, equal education, and legally had equal rights in employment. In practice, these goals were not reached, but the efforts to achieve them and the statement of theoretical equality led to improvements in socio-economic status for women. Stalinist development also contributed to advances in health care, which was a massive improvement over the health care system under the Tsars. Stalin's policies granted the Soviet people access to free health care and education. Widespread immunization programs created the first generation free from the fear of typhus and cholera. The occurrences of these diseases dropped to record-low numbers and infant mortality rates were reduced by many times, resulting in the life expectancy for both men and women increasing by over 20 years by the mid-to-late 1950s.[7] Many of the more extreme social and political ideas that were fashionable in the 1920s such as anarchism, internationalism, and the belief that the nuclear family was a bourgeois concept were abandoned. Schools began to teach a more nationalistic course with emphasis on Russian history and leaders, although always with Marxist underpinnings. Stalin also began to create a Lenin cult. It was during the 1930s that Soviet society assumed the basic form it would have until the end in 1991.
Urban women under Stalin were also the first generation of women able to give birth in a hospital with access to prenatal care. Education was another area in which there was improvement after economic development. The generation born during Stalin's rule was the first near-universally literate generation. Engineers were sent abroad to learn industrial technology, and hundreds of foreign engineers were brought to Russia on contract. Transport links were also improved, as many new railways were built, although with forced labour, costing thousands of lives. Workers who exceeded their quotas, Stakhanovites, received many incentives for their work, although many such workers were in fact "arranged" to succeed by receiving extreme help in their work, and then their achievements were used for propaganda.

Jerry Haber said...

I am not an apologist for communism, or for Stalin, God forbid, but I am pointing out that there were great social achievements in Soviet society, achievements that benefited the people and therefore command our respect -- at the same time as their being terrible inequities and injustices, for example, towards minorities. There is no indication that the USSR was falling apart in the 1950s or that most of its peoples were rebellious or dissatisfied.

As for "respect", you are trading off an equivocation. Sure, Don Corleone commands respect as a mafia don, Hitler commands respect as an orator, the Boston strangler commands respect as a serial killer, etc., etc. But what does that have to do with anything. I am sure you respected Yasir Arafat for his ability to put the Palestinian issue on the world stage when virtually everybody had forgotten about them.

Look, here's where we agree: I realize that most Israelis are perfectly happy with the status quo. Most South African whites were happy with the status quo; most Southern whites in the US were happy with the status quo. The issue is how to change the status quo in such a way as to get most Israelis to go along with that change because they will perceive it to be in their interest. I actually have faith in many of the Israeli people that under the right circumstances they will be able to see how their indecent behavior towards the Palestinians hurts their society. I am not calling for a violent overthrow; I am calling for creative rethinking of the Zionist enterprise to ensure that there is a truly liberal and democratic state or states for Israelis and Palestnians.