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When Evil is Ignored…

April 18, 2010

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, a new work seems to be coming out every year, shaking our understanding of Communism to the root. The opening of the archives in Moscow has facilitated the phenomenon. The Forsaken by Tim Tzouliadis tells us about a forgotten mini-migration, the story of those Depression era Americans, who left America and went to the Soviet Union in the 30s to find some work.

For a twenty-first century person, it is hard to imagine that someone would want to migrate from America and go to the Communist Russia, of all places. In the post-Cold War era of television, the splendor of America is too well-known for anyone to even harbor such a thought. But those who are familiar with the work of John Steinbeck would be less skeptical. Tzouliadis chooses this as his starting point of reference in his first chapter, The Joads of Russia, naming it on the hero of The Grapes of Wrath.

The America of early 1930s was full of depression, and though people were not actually starving, destitution was common. It was especially a hard time for the Americans, who had just experienced the roaring twenties. Psychological depression was widespread and public anger was directed towards America and the American dream.

Now, after the fall of Communism, we know that at no point in history, Communist Russia was better than America in material terms, but this was not the general perception in 1930s America. Though the Bolsheviks had destroyed a lot already and hushed reports had seeped to the West of the Red Terror, the complete control of the channels of communication was preventing the true picture from coming out in the public. The Communist fifth column in America helped to hide the Communist crimes. The Great Terror was yet to come and the collectivization had just begun. The relative prosperity of NEP still had some lingering effects on the Soviet people.

In those times, it was possible for an American, who was formerly used to material prosperity and was currently facing financial ruin, to believe in the Communist dream. The Communist propaganda had painted a picture of worker’s paradise. American capitalism was their sworn enemy. And only if for the time being, capitalism had failed a lot of Americans.

The Forsaken tells us the story of those unfortunate Americans who took the bait and migrated to the USSR, believing in the Communist propaganda.

The troubles started as soon as they stepped on the Russian soil. Their passports were confiscated by the Communist authorities and were conveniently misplaced. Like every ordinary Russian, they were now, the prisoners of Stalin.

At first, they got jobs and places to live but as the Terror approached, things began to deteriorate. These Americans began disappearing gradually into the innumerable forced labor camps of the USSR. The beginning of the World War did not bring respite for them. They were continued to be suspected as foreigners and were hauled in the labor camps.

Most of the Joads had by then realized how better their native land was. They had seen the reality of the workers’ paradise. But now there was no way to leave. Stalin would not let them. How could he let these damned Americans go after all they had seen in Russia? It was a security risk!

Tzouliadis describes the realities of Stalinist Russia and the mechanism of the Communist bureaucracy and secret police through the travails of these unfortunate Americans.

It is written in flowing prose and the reader is compelled to keep the pages turning. Communist indoctrination, show trials, mock parades, complete suppression of the freedom of expression and the general atmosphere of fear, are all beautifully described. Though readers who are already familiar with more serious Stalinist studies of Conquest, Pipes, Service, Malia, Figes and Applebaum etc. will hardly find anything new.

The book has one fault. The first chapter promises the readers a tragic story slowly unfolding with the pace and passion of a thriller. However, there is no such story in the following chapters. Tzouliadis is too occupied in explaining Stalinism. There is no secret held, to be told in the later chapters. From the point of view of the development of the story, every chapter is complete in itself with a snapshot review of the individual stories.

The more important story which The Forsaken tells us is how the West ignored the crimes of Communism. How it was fooled or chose to be fooled by the Communist propaganda. How intellectuals such as Shaw, Russell and Sartre turned a blind eye towards the atrocities committed in Soviet Russia. How artists and rock stars such as Paul Robeson and Bob Dylan blamed America for everything, while turning a blind eye towards nationwide starvation in Russia; how politicians, academicians and journalists like Walter Duranty lied to their country and to the world. How Roosevelt ignored every warning of Churchill and gave a red carpet treatment to Stalin, ignoring the genocides he inflicted upon the Soviet population. How he traded with Stalin in the gold of Kolyma while he knew how it was mined.

Some of them were not just blind. They were the collaborators of the totalitarian regime in Moscow. Paul Robeson knew about the Great Terror, but the benefits showered on him by Stalin silenced his ‘voice for the people’. Walter Duranty, hailed as a great journalist of ‘people’ in his times, was a Soviet spy.

There were some, though, who accepted the reality. Steinbeck was on the side of liberal Left before his Russian visit. But once he saw the reality he could no longer lie. He continued to speak the truth about Communism till his death, even supporting the Vietnam War. Andre Gide, in stark contrast to Jean Paul Sartre, declared his loss of faith in Communism in his famous, The God that Failed.

The Forsaken is a lesson to those who ignore the evils of Communism and Islamism while opposing American politics blindly. It exposes the Chomsky generation, which blamed America for everything and overlooked the crimes of Soviet Union, Communist China and the Viet Cong. It is a warning to those who get influenced by the contemporary Left, a crop which now works for Islamic apologists as it had worked for Moscow two decades before.

Nations were destroyed because some intellectuals lied about the reality of Communism. Though Communism is gone, they continue to live: now, for their new masters, Islamists.

And if we do not manage to see through their lies, much can be destroyed again.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. Ajit permalink
    April 19, 2010 2:08 AM

    You poor, sorry, retarded little man.Your twitter is symbolic of everything that is wrong with India today. Loudmouth, boorish, inane nonsense – but spouted with confidence. Well done, moron. Well done indeed.

  2. April 19, 2010 10:34 AM

    Do I even need to comment? Read your first line again and you will find out who is what.

  3. Joivre permalink
    May 15, 2010 11:04 AM

    Wow – Pankaj! Great post on some very interesting perspectives of the influence of propoganda. I think I might pick up that book on Amazon. Thanks for the heads up.

    Also – you are very tolerant and patient in allowing such negative comments such as the one by Ajit to remain on your blog. Name calling is an easy thing to do. Arguing intelligently and effectively takes skill and knowledge.

    I look forward to more posts from you and mining your blog for what you have already written.

    I saw your link at the Hogs Head. Hope to see you there often!

    • May 17, 2010 10:27 PM

      This is a great book! Please do buy it.

      And do you blog? Please tell me if you do so and yes I will keep visiting the Hog Head.

  4. May 18, 2010 11:06 PM

    Fascinating piece! I have friends who lived under Communism, and they say very similar things.

    I just read Dorothy Day’s From Union Square to Rome and it was interesting to see her thought process in first accepting and then rejecting Communism. The Church brought her out of Communism while giving her a purer motive and means for helping the poor. Not sure she ever fully understood how terrible the regimes have been, but she at least rejected Communism’s use of violence and hatred of religion.

    • May 19, 2010 12:01 AM

      Communism was the greatest evil of the 20th century, until the rise of Islamism. But the surviving Left in academia and media tries to prevent the truth from getting out.

      Get The Forsaken from amazon and read it. Its great!

      I have read Dorothy Day, though many have completed the journey from the Left to the anti-Left. There are better books on this issue. If you wish to know about them, I have a long list on my amazon wish list of Communism. True Communism should be opposed but we should be careful not to fall to the opposite extreme of blind religiosity.

  5. vivek permalink
    November 13, 2010 5:43 AM

    Of course, there were some capitalists and technologists from the West who did very well out of Stalin’s Russia. I am trying to think of the name of a great Indian Chemist- he went to the States in the 1920’s and worked for Dow Chemicals. Held a number of U.S patents. He relocated to Moscow in the ’30’s and did very well there- marrying a local girl and receiving high honors. He is credited with giving a big boost to the U.S.S.R in fuel technology. A great man. Very simple. Can’t recall his name. I’m sure he was a Telugu speaker.
    Also there was a great Indian historian- Marxist of course- based there all through the most brutal years of Stalinist oppression. His distinction is that he wrote only in Hindi- academically of highest standard…
    Again I can’t recall the name.
    Acharya Kosambi- the Buddhist scholar and father of the Marxist Statistician/anthropologist (brilliant man like his father)- taught first at Ivy League then went to U.S.S.R in the Twenties and taught there as well.
    In one way, the USSR treated guests and foreigners very well- more generously than they treated their own- on the other hand they sometimes gave in to paranoia…
    Still, the older generation will always have a grateful feeling to them for putting a check on Communist extremism within India while also enabling us to stand up to Nixon.
    Good people at heart. Interestingly, Gorbachov was greatly taken with Rajiv Gandhi- considered him very intelligent- at a time when everybody at home thought he was just a nice looking mannequin. ..
    One thing about the Indologists in the Soviet Union, unlike their Western counterparts they wanted to learn from Indian culture and philosophy as a continuing and living tradition. I recall visiting a Hindi school in Leningrad about 30 years back. By God, I’ve never heard such shuddh Hindi, such bright and shining faces, such unshakeable belief in India as living incarnation of Sarasvati. Compare Peter Brooks vaunted Mahabharata- which makes us look like savages- and the Russian ballet of Ramayana- which is of pure spirituality and intellectual beauty.
    Now all that is changed. Skinheads, imitating the British ‘Paki-bashers’ of the 1970’s, desire nothing better than to kill a ‘nigger’. Following America’s disastrous advice, Yeltsin’s Russia exported crime and prostitution. Prior to the Indian robber-barons- like Lalu Yadav’s chaddi-buddy Vedanta’s Aggarwal- it was the Russian oligarchs who were buying up mansions in London.
    Which was worse the Racism of the Capitalists or the Paranoia of the Communists?
    I can no longer say.

    • December 7, 2010 1:10 PM

      The only people which the USSR tolerated were those who served its purpose in creating a goody-goody image of the Commies in the West; who spied on their own countries. The rest went to the gulag… and more often than not even the sycophants of USSR went to the gulag. The only ones who survived were not the best of the sycophants, but were just plainly, simply lucky.

      …and Rajiv Gandhi was a nice-looking mannequin. No doubt about that.

      Racism, or some form of it exists in almost every society. Every crime which exists under the system of capitalism was there in the Soviet Union too. It was just that in Soviet Union, every kind of Evil was organized and perpetrated by the State. It was a land of organized crime, organized evil and organized by the State on that.

      Organized crime is always more dangerous than the random spurts of violence common in any society. Crime can never be eliminated; it can be minimized. That should be aimed at. On the other hand, in an organized society like the Soviet Union it is maximized and institutionalized. That is what is ultimately dangerous! In such a society evil exists in both forms, both random and organized.

      Talking of racism, wasn’t the annihilation of Crimean Tartars by Stalin a racist crime? Wasn’t it a racial genocide? And didn’t it happen in Soviet Union?

      Talking of anti-Semitism, wasn’t the Eastern Trail to Birobidhzan a genocide? Conceptually Stalin ‘gave’ the Jews a ‘home’, resulting in the death of almost half of them…

      And what was the Doctors Plot, if not not anti-Semitism?

      Stalin is more guilty of racial crimes than any ‘dictator’ or the ruler in the capitalist world.

      So, I can firmly say the Paranoia of the Communists was way more evil than the racism of the capitalists as the Commies were guilty of both, the paranoia and the racism…

  6. April 28, 2011 8:22 PM

    You need to expand your horizons. I can only feel sad that somebody who has the job of teaching literature to Indian students has such an extremist view on things. To dismiss communist theory as representative of Stalinist crimes is as laughable as any leftist today saying that Stalin’s crimes were the price needed to be paid for socialism. That leftist view (which is extremely rare in today’s times) and yours as expressed here are two faces of the same coin – no matter which side either of you may purport to support. It is analogous to Stalin and Hitler being two faces of the same coin – no matter they fought each other ostensibly on matters of philosophical difference.

    • May 5, 2013 1:32 AM

      And you need to do the following things:
      1. Get rid of your teenage romance of Communism.
      2. Actually start reading the literature that is coming of Russia.
      3. Relinquish ideologies and accept reality.

      In all, leave opinions, accept facts and again and again. please do read 🙂

  7. FUCK U BITCH permalink
    July 8, 2011 11:35 AM

    You have no fucking idea what you are talking about… communism was the best thing that ever happened, even if it put some greedy capitalist Americans in the gulag.

    • May 5, 2013 1:30 AM

      The title of your reply is enough to show how tolerant you would be in any system, and it also tells something about the systems you espouse.

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