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April 5, 2008
Was the Starvation of the Kulaks Genocide?
In the 1930's, Josef Stalin unleashed a man made famine on the peoples of the Ukraine. Red soldiers siezed the harvest from Kulaks - peasant who owned their own land. Stalin's goal was to starve the Ukranians into submission and wipe out private property while feeding the hungry people who lived in cities. It was they who would riot and rebel if not fed and Russia under Communism was unable to feed its people.
Today, there is a movement in the Ukraine to get that deliberate starvation of from 3-10 million people declared an act of genocide. Not surprisingly, the Russians are violently opposed.
But their reasoning is mindboggling. They say that no one ethnic group was targeted by the deliberate famine, that in fact, it was a social class that Stalin wanted to murder:
Historians agree that the 1932-33 famine was engineered by Soviet authorities under dictator Josef Stalin to force peasants to give up their private plots of land and join collective farms. Ukraine, with its rich farmlands, suffered the most. Jonah Goldberg:
Authorities confiscated grain from village after village and prohibited residents from leaving, effectively condemning them to starvation. Some are convinced the famine targeted Ukrainians as an ethnic group.
Others argue authorities set out to eradicate private landowners as a social class and say the Soviet Union sought to pay for its rapid industrialization with grain exports at the expense of starving millions of its own people.
"There is no historical proof that the famine was organized along ethnic lines. Its victims were million of citizens of the Soviet Union, representing different peoples and nationalities living largely in agricultural areas of the country," the Russian State Duma resolution said.
Now, part of what fascinates me is why anyone would think murdering people because of their economic status is somehow any less evil than murdering people because of their ethnicity. I know what many of the whys are, and I think they reveal something profound about how different people see the world. Perhaps some day, we will have the language skills to invent a word to describe what Stalin and his henchmen did in the Ukraine. Until then, "genocide" suits me fine.
In America and the West generally, vast numbers of leftist intellectuals forgave Stalin, Mao and others for murdering people who stood in the way of Progress — and historians continue to do so today. Indeed, "modernization" was one of the great excuses and rationalizations for murder, theft and, yes, genocide in the 20th century and, I fear, people will be going back to this intellectual well for a good long time.
One last point: If you are a Marxist you generally consider race, ethnicity and nationality to be mere epiphenomena, absurd and archaic categories of the Old Order, right? And, you believe that class is an enduring category of humanity, more "real" than mere ethnicity, right? So by your own definitions, isn't slaughtering a whole class of people a form of genocide or attempted genocide?