It’s unlikely that most American news consumers have ever heard of Ukrainian nationalist groups like the OUN-B, but these days, ideas espoused by these groups will have a familiar ring to New York Times readers.
As far as progenitors of anti-communism, Ukrainian nationalists (a designation which includes fascists, Nazis old and neo-, and other reactionary elements) have always punched above their weight class, with their stories providing a lot of right-wing grist for Washington’s propaganda mills. This has happened when US interests drive a surge of aggression against Moscow, specifically during three distinct periods. The first two were during the Cold War—first in the 1950s, then during the 1980s.
The third major period is happening right now. As the US establishment’s dreams of full-spectrum dominance over a unipolar world grind and howl against the Russian border, ideas popularized by Ukrainian fascists and their friends in Washington are en vogue to an unprecedented degree, particularly through highly publicized figures like author Timothy Snyder.
However, unlike during the first two Cold War-era periods, the current offensive is being driven primarily by the Empire’s “liberal” wing, a.k.a. the ruling class elements that coalesce around the Democratic Party. All this adds up to a bizarre scene in America circa 2017, and strangely enough, it was summarized most accurately by the Bulgarian Communist Georgi Dimitrov in his 1935 text “The Fascist Offensive” (which could serve as an alternate title to this piece):
Let us take, for example, so important a country in the capitalist world as the United States of America. There millions of people have been set into motion by the crisis. The program for the recovery of capitalism has collapsed. Vast masses are beginning to abandon the bourgeois parties and are at present at the crossroads.
Embryo American fascism is trying to direct the disillusionment and discontent of these masses into reactionary fascist channels. It is a peculiarity of the development of American fascism that at the present stage it comes forward principally in the guise of an opposition to fascism, which it accuses of being an “un-American” trend imported from abroad… American fascism tries to portray itself as the custodian of the Constitution and “American democracy.”
This is an attempt to explain what’s going on with an “American fascism that at the present stage it comes forward principally in the guise of an opposition to fascism.” Or, as it’s become known since the 2016 election, the #Resistance. This spectacle, largely centering around a series of conspiracy allegations about Russia, draws upon decades of reactionary misinformation and is inspired less by traditional liberal heroes like Franklin D. Roosevelt than Ukrainian fascists like Stepan Bandera. This is the story for how and why America’s ruling elite chose to make Ukrainian fascism mainstream.
Chapter 1: Fascism and Anti-Communism: a Match Made in Hell – on Soviet anti-racism and the shared class interest between liberals and fascists.
Chapter 2: Goebbels, Hearst, Bandera, and McCarthy – Nazi propaganda makes its way to North America; the activities of Ukrainian nationalists during WWII; Ukrainian fascists come to America at the dawn of the Red Scare.
Chapter 3: Ronald Reagan and his Conquest – the Reagan administration’s plans for a gargantuan military buildup and propaganda offensive; Western intelligence agencies’ favorite “scholar” Robert Conquest; Ukrainian nationalists take up Reagan’s campaign.
Chapter 4: Washington Über Alles – Washington plunders a unipolar world; fascist advocacy groups and liberals promote Nazi lies; the birth of Cold War II.
Chapter 5: Timothy Snyder, Euromaidan, and the Fascist Offensive – Timothy Snyder brings fringe revisionist history into the mainstream; the specter of Stepan Bandera haunts Euromaidan; Democrats make friends with modern-day Banderites.
Chapter 6: #Resisting the Oriental-Bolshevik Menace – Democrats take up Ukrainian fascist propaganda; liberal luminaries manufacture an Orientalist hysteria; NATO threatens to unleash another Operation Barbarossa.
Fascism and Anti-Communism: a Match Made in Hell
It’s worth noting that contrary to the mainstream narrative, Western anti-communism wasn’t a response to Soviet aggression. It didn’t originate during the McCarthy period, or even the First Red Scare, but in the 19th century. According to Michael Parenti’s Inventing Reality, as early as 1880, Ulysses S. Grant was lionized as an eternal foe of “communism, lawlessness, and disorder.” A decade and a half later, “The great Pullman strike outside Chicago in 1894 was greeted with shrieking headlines like ‘MOBS IN CONTROL OF CHICAGO’ and ‘CHICAGO FACES FAMINE’ and was dubbed the ‘Debs Rebellion.’ At about that time, to whip up public alarm about radical disorder, the New York Tribune ‘discovered’ and alerted the readers to ‘ANARCHIST PLOT TO BLOW UP THE CAPITAL.’”¹
It’s important to note something else, in addition to the fact that official anti-communism predates the first socialist state by several decades. Equally important is that the tropes we hear today existed in the 19th century, and reality has little-to-no bearing on how, why, or when these narratives are deployed. Propaganda doesn’t have a relationship to facts, its relationship is to its intended recipient.
After all, whatever came of the Chicago Famine of 1894 inflicted by America’s socialists?
In 1917, the October Revolution established a socialist state in the middle of the Eurasian continent, and wealthy exploiters, royalty, and racial chauvinists worldwide saw their worst nightmare realized. Fearing that they would meet the same fate as the slaveholders of St. Domingue and the Romanovs, the armies of 14 nations invaded Soviet Russia. The allied expeditionary forces fought alongside the “White Russian” armies, commanded by those elements of Tsarist society whom the newborn socialist republic had divested of their privileges. In an evocative illustration of the class forces arrayed against one another, British planes allied to White Russian forces airdropped anti-Semitic propaganda leaflets over Russian cities to agitate against the “Judeo-Bolshevik” menace.
In America, official anti-communism exploded during this period, as recounted in Robert Murray’s Red Scare: A Study in National Hysteria, 1919-1920:
Anti-Bolshevik testimony was played up in the columns of the nation’s newspapers and once again the reading public was fed on highly colored tales of free love, nationalization of women, bloody massacres, and brutal atrocities. Stories were circulated that the victims of the Bolshevik madmen customarily had been roasted to death in furnaces, scalded with live steam, torn to pieces on racks, or hacked to bits with axes. Newspaper editors never tired of referring to the Russian Reds as “assassins and madmen,” “human scum,” “crime-mad,” and “beasts.” Russia was a place, some said, where maniacs stalked raving through the streets, and the populace fought with dogs for carrion.²
Reactionary émigrés fleeing Soviet Russia, and later the Soviet Union, were usually the primary sources for this and later propaganda campaigns against the USSR. The first major wave of émigrés was the White Russians; one of the major sources of anti-Communist material in this early period was a virulently anti-Semitic, 12,000-word pamphlet titled “Crimes of the Bolsheviks,” published in Munich in 1926. One of the fables concocted by the pseudonymous author “Dr. Gregor,” in the section titled “Fiendish tortures devised by the Jewish Cheka,” alleged that Soviet torturers forced rats to eat through the bodies of helpless Christians. This story about rats was later borrowed for the grim conclusion of George Orwell’s 1984. From then until now, the primary sources for anti-Communist agit-prop are fascists, whose stories are filtered out to various target audiences through different salespeople.
Anti-communism is, if not an expression of fascism itself, proximate to fascism. Orwell provides a perfect example. This might sound shocking to someone who only knows Eric Blair as the patron saint of the permissible left, but as could be expected of a lifelong anti-communist, he was a man of retrograde attitudes. In his infamous “Orwell’s list,” in which he snitched on suspected communists, socialist, and various progressives, he noted everyone he suspected of being Jewish (Charlie Chaplin earned a “Jew?” in the margins of Orwell’s list). Next to Paul Robeson, the black communist who fought for social justice alongside progressives of all races his entire life, Orwell wrote “very antiwhite.” Orwell believed the contemporary neo-Nazis slogan that “anti-racist” is code for “anti-white.”
This could be expected because contrary to anti-communist nonsense about “totalitarianism,” it is the liberal capitalist ideology that resembles fascism. As early as the 1950s, the Martinican political philosopher Aimé Césaire observed that fascism was colonialism imported to Europe from the periphery. The Nazis admired European colonialism, American Jim Crow, and Western eugenics, and sought to constitute white supremacist rule in Germany and create settler-colonies in Eastern Europe. The same categories of racial exclusion that are expressed most nakedly in fascism are immanent to the liberal worldview: John Stuart Mill claimed that “Civilization is the direct converse of rudeness or barbarism. Whatever be the characteristics of what we call savage life, the contrary of these constitute civilization.” Edward Said similarly observed that “Underlying these categories is the rigidly binomial opposition of ‘ours’ and ‘theirs,’” with “their” savage world legitimizing “our” enlightened civilization.
Fascism and liberalism share a foundational class interest in maintaining capitalist enterprise, and from this springs the shared ideological view of a world divided between the enlightened and barbarians. In contrast, communism rejects all the ideological aspects of fascism, to the extent that it is an entirely opposed worldview. Here are how three observers characterized the differences between fascism and communism:
When speaking to several American journalists after the rise of the Nazi party, Germany’s Count Hugo von Lerchenfeld beamed that the Führer was a “prophet,” and characterized his agenda thusly:
Who is this man Adolf Hitler? The first and most important dogma in Hitler’s creed from the very beginning has been anti-Semitism… Like Mussolini he has unfolded the banner of nationalism. The spirit of the trenches, the spirit of unswerving fidelity to the Fatherland, must be revived in order to strengthen and unite the German people. Hitler looks upon Socialism and Internationalism as purely Jewish inventions.³
Fascism is based on extreme racial chauvinism—particularly against Jews (which it sees as the masterminds of Communism)—and the most vicious dictatorship of capital justified by a highly idealistic blood-and-soil mythos. In contrast, here is how journalist Edgar Snow discussed the Soviet perspective during World War Two:
It is true enough that Marxist ideology must reject the notion that the “German mind” exists as apart from class forces which shape it, or that the “German race” is biologically and congenitally incapable of human decency. It is also true that basic propaganda in Russia usually stressed the “anti-fascist” and “anti-Hitlerite” nature of the war, rather than the anti-German.
I remember seeing a big cartoon chart in a Soviet military school which showed the figures of a Red Army man and a Nazi soldier, side by side. There was little physical difference in the two figures. But above the Soviet fighter were slogans such as “racial equality,” “support of all freedom-loving nations,” “people’s ownership of production,” “international peace,” “highest development of the individual,” “international brotherhood,” to indicate the moral equipment which made him a good soldier. The top of the Nazi trooper’s skull was cut away, and inside it the contents were displayed: “false racial theories,” “ignorance,” “plunder of peace-loving peoples,” “Germany over all,” “reactionary Prusso-German militarist tyranny,” “moral filth,” and so on. You got from that cartoon the distinct impression that whoever drew it believed that if you emptied out the contents of that German skull and refilled it with the correct ideas, the man beneath it would not differ so much from the Soviet hero beside him.4
Describing the 1936 Constitution of the USSR, journalist Anna Louise Strong summarized the opposing worldviews of Hitler and Stalin: “its adoption was intended as a direct challenge to the theories and practice of Nazi fascism, which had risen to power in Berlin… While Hitler preached the view of ‘inferior and superior races,’ the Soviet Constitution made even the preaching of race privilege or inferiority a crime. Stalin directly challenged Hitler in what is perhaps the most sweeping statement ever made of equality: ‘Neither language nor color of skin nor cultural backwardness can justify national and racial inequality’.”5
This was as much a rejection of liberal capitalist governance as it was Hitlerism: in 1936, black Americans were de facto disenfranchised by a series of measures including de jure Jim Crow (the United States had only relinquished direct military rule over the Philippines, Nicaragua, and Haiti in the last few years). Three-quarters of people governed by Paris lived under colonial rule; it was nearly 85% for British subjects. Indigenous people in the dominions of Canada and Australia were similarly barred from voting.
Anti-communists dismiss comments like Stalin’s 1931 reply to the US Jewish Agency as cant, but the Soviet commitment to anti-racism is confirmed by sources with no stake in defending the USSR, including explicitly anti-communist ones (it should be obvious that the following is not a claim that the USSR was “perfect,” nor that it was a “paradise,” nor that retrograde bigotries had been entirely eliminated).
A report published by the RAND Corporation in 1958 titled Smolensk Under Soviet Rule, and authored by Merle Fainsod (with the help of a young researcher named Zbigniew Brzezinski), claims that “Indifference toward the expression of anti-Semitic sentiments by worker Communists was singled out for special censure” by Soviet authorities. Smolensk also claims that between 1929-30, dozens of university students were expelled and one professor removed from his post for anti-social crimes including anti-Semitism. During one of the purges, a party functionary was reprimanded for failing to report that his wife had made bigoted comments against Jews.6
A survey conducted by Harvard University in 1950-1 among displaced Soviet WWII refugees asked subjects to describe differences between the country’s nationalities. The respondents claimed that there were no differences, except for the preferential treatment afforded to historically marginalized groups. According to the respondents:
There is no chauvinism. You can get ten years for it.
In the army, a soldier got seven years for calling a Jew ‘Zhid.’
All are alike. You cannot tell somebody that he is a Ukrainian and brag that you are a Russian or you would be arrested.
If you cussed out a member of a minority group, there was serious trouble.
Since Nazi-fascism was the most virulent form of white supremacy, which was invented and pioneered by West European colonists in North America, the USSR and Nazi Germany embodied two opposing systems. The capitalist West, which the Reich sought to replicate, shared Hitler’s goal of extinguishing the socialist system—a struggle that would both create the conditions for World War II and succeed that horrible conflict.
Goebbels, Hearst, Bandera, and McCarthy
Between the First and Second World Wars, business interests in both Europe and North America were resolutely opposed to the demands of communists, socialists, anarchists, labor activists and syndicalists around the world. During the fascist insurrection against the Spanish Republic beginning in 1936, the UK and US organized a non-intervention campaign in order to allow Nazi Germany and fascist Italy to crush the progressive government. According to Carl Geisler, an American who fought for the Republic with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade:
Some American businessmen deliberately helped the fascists. When the rebellion occurred, Texaco had five oil tankers at sea fulfilling a contractual agreement with the Republic’s oil company, CAMPSA. Captain Thorkild Rieber, Texaco’s director, ordered all tankers to go to ports controlled by the fascists. Texaco, helped by Standard Oil, supplied three and one half million tons of aviation and truck equipment to the fascists and one half million tons of aviation and truck gasoline to the fascists that Germany and Italy could not supply, much of it on credit. While Hitler and Mussolini were able to supply 3,000 military trucks, General Motors, Ford, and Studebaker provided 12,000. These transactions were violations of the Neutrality Act and though known to Secretary of State Cordell Hull were kept secret.7
In late 1936, when it was clear that Germany and Italy would not observe the neutrality act, the Soviet Union and Mexico became the only two countries to aid the Republic. In contrast to the blind eye afforded to the fascists, France blocked materiel sent overland at the border. On March 20 1938, the US Ambassador to Spain Claude Bowers telegrammed Secretary of State Hull informing him that “Germany and Italy are acting openly on a very large scale,” that the legitimate Spanish Government “cannot compete,” and “this is all due absolutely to the non-Intervention scheme of the British which has tied the hands of France and the other Democracies while making no pretense to enforcing the agreement upon the Fascist Powers.”8 It stands to reason that Britain would take an active role against the Republic, since General Francisco Franco was an asset of Britain’s secret service, the MI6 (MI6 even chartered a plane to ferry Franco to Morocco in order to begin the rebellion).
Major newspapers, owned as they are by millionaires, were generally willing to oblige. Following the Luftwaffe’s infamous bombing of the Basque town of Guernica, The New York Times published a proto-hot take titled “The Ruins of Guernica. A Rival View,” which posited that Guernica’s destruction was largely the result of fires started by fleeing civilians. One Times correspondent in particular, William Carney, was an indefatigable supporter of Franco’s insurrection. A May 18th 1937 telegram from Ambassador Bowers to Secretary of State Hull said that an Italian propaganda station in Salamanca “solicits war correspondents to make propaganda speeches for them for from one to ten thousand lire… One American, Mr. Carney of the New York Times responded.” Carney concluded his broadcasts with the fascist motto Arriba España.9
A discussion of the links between the Nazi regime and its capitalist supporters worldwide is outside the scope of this piece (check out this great Michael Parenti lecture for that), but one prominent example is industrialist Henry Ford publishing the notorious anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, and subsequently receiving the Order of the German Eagle from the Nazi government. Along with the progressive activists in their own respective countries, reactionaries targeted the USSR. According to author Douglas Tottle, “German Nazis, defeated right-wing Ukrainian Nationalist exiles, European conservatives, neo-fascist millionaires like [William Randolph] Hearst—all wanted to isolate and bring pressure on the Soviet Union, to discredit and reverse socialist developments”10
As far as wealth, influence, and reach, fascists agitators like the Times‘ Carney and Father Charles Coughlin were manic street preachers compared to publishing impresario William Randolph Hearst. In the 1930, Hearst was known as “America’s number one fascist.” According to Tottle, Hearst employed Benito Mussolini; “for a long time his chief source of income was $1500.00 per week from the Hearst press.” The Hearst press frequently derided President Franklin Roosevelt as a “communist,” so one can imagine how he felt about actual communists.
When Hearst visited Nazi Germany in 1934, he met with Hitler personally, and Hearst, Hitler, and Joseph Goebbels struck a deal worth $400,000 for Hearst’s presses to cover the Third Reich. One of the Nazi party’s chief ideologists, Alfred Rosenberg, began publishing articles in the Hearst presses worldwide under his own name, as did Hermann Goering (this means that at least two Hearst columnists were sentenced to death at Nuremberg). A 1936 biography of Hearst claimed that he “derived a new political vision from his Nazi contacts,” which included both fulsome praise for Nazi Germany and “denouncing the Soviet Union in particular and Communism in general.”¹¹
The Nazi regime provided him with an idea that would be in the mutual interest of both European fascists and North American tycoons. From 1931-33, there was a serious famine in several parts of the USSR, including the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Western Siberia. According to Professor Mark Tauger, “the famine resulted from drought, plant disease and pest infestations that caused two years of crop failures.” Tauger observes that extensive contemporary historical evidence attests to the fact that the Soviet government cancelled exports from and sent aid to the afflicted regions, even to the point of ceasing to pay foreign debt during the crisis. “Most of these points are also documented in easily available sources,” Tauger adds. “Soviet leaders made bad decisions that worsened the famine, but the regime also provided relief and helped peasants produce a larger harvest that ended the famine” in 1933. Tauger concludes: “The famine that took place was not limited to Ukraine or even to rural areas of the USSR, it was not fundamentally or exclusively man-made, and it was far from the intention of Stalin and others in the Soviet leadership to create such as disaster.”
Stephen Wheatcroft and R. W. Davies, two prominent historians who dispute aspects of Tauger’s work, nonetheless conclude that “The authorities overestimated harvests and tried to impose high procurement quotas, but they also reduced those quotas when difficulties developed, and returned procured grain to villages for food and seed; they decided in the face of crisis to feed the cities as well as possible, but they also made significant efforts to support agricultural recovery, though this failed for millions of people.” In contrast to the genocide narrative pushed out by powerful reactionaries, Wheatcroft and Davies’ study of primary sources claims:
Soviet leaders, even if their actions contributed to the famine crisis, found it unexpected and extremely undesirable […] archival and published sources on high-level policy discussion and decisions in this crisis, including the formerly secret records of the Politburo and the now published correspondence of Stalin with some of his top lieutenants like Kaganovich and Molotov…decisively refute intentionalist explanations of the 1931-1933 famine. None of these sources contain any evidence indicating that Stalin or his officials intended or wanted to create a genocidal famine to suppress Ukrainian nationalism or any other such objective.
However, the Nazi regime and the Hearst press colluded to turn this serious crisis into a story about a Stalin-instigated “famine-genocide.” For the Nazis, this served two chief purposes. First, it laid the groundwork for the Nazis to claim they were acting in the interests of beleaguered minority groups—they conquered several nations while claiming to be defending German speakers, and during the war the Reich founded a “Committee of Subjugated Nations” to co-ordinate stay-behind terrorist armies. Second, portraying Moscow as genocidal augmented the Nazi propaganda ploy to claim self-defense (for this reason, the Nazis were frequent users of false-flag attacks, from the Reichstag fire to the Gleiwitz incident). The Reich’s propaganda initiative against the Soviet Union coincided with Hearst’s own red-baiting campaign: Hearst papers called for legislation requiring teachers to swear loyalty oaths, and “Hearst assigned ‘hundreds’ of reporters to ‘expose’ radical professors…and while taking a soft line on Nazi activities in Germany, Hearst launched his press attack portraying alleged ‘famine, misery, and brutality’ against the Soviet Union.”¹²
This section, discussing the origins of the “famine-genocide” myth, will draw heavily from Tottle’s Fraud, Famine and Fascism, which debunked the genocide narrative three decades ago. Those interested in learning how the smear campaign was carried out from the 1930s-‘80s should read the book in full [here]; in addition to being exhaustive, Tottle is very witty (especially given the subject matter), so the book is a quick read.
To summarize, the sources for the famine-genocide myth are the presses of Hitler-admirer William Randolph Hearst and propaganda from Nazi Germany. The initial Hearst campaign began with a man calling himself Thomas Walker, who claimed to have visited Ukraine and documented a famine (and providing photos). A few months later, the Hearst press began broadcasting stories about a famine which had killed 6 million people in Soviet Ukraine. Noting numerous discrepancies in Walker’s story, a reporter for The Nation named Louis Fischer investigated, and found that “Walker” was an escaped convict and career criminal named Robert Green, who entered the USSR in 1934, spent a week in Moscow, traveled to Manchuria, and then left, while never coming within hundreds of miles of the Ukraine. Tottle points out that the Walker photos used in publications pushing the genocide myth can be traced to Tsarist Russia, Austria-Hungary during the First World War, and the famine that resulted from the White Terror during the Russian Civil War. Many are obviously doctored or of dubious provenance. “Walker’s fake photographs are the most prominently displayed pictorial ‘evidence’ associated with post-war famine-genocide campaigns, despite the fact that this material was exposed as fraudulent immediately following its release in 1935.” However, “Despite the Thomas Walker fiasco, Hearst did not give up his famine-genocide campaign—it was part and parcel of his overall propagation of anti-Soviet, pro-fascist views.”¹³
“Simultaneously with Hearst’s 1935 famine-genocide campaign,” continues Tottle, “the Nazi press in Germany and similar papers elsewhere in Europe issued materials on the same theme. The Nazis had been flogging the issue as early as 1933, complete with fraudulently mis-dated photos.” The official Nazi party publication Völkischer Beobachter repeated and spread the stories of the Hearst presses. A 1935 book published in Germany was translated to English as Human Life in Russia the next year, and Tottle observes that Human Life in Russia set the tone for many publications pushing the genocide myth: “Documentation is minimal: footnotes are remarkably scarce and no bibliography is included.” The author, Ewald Ammende, attested to the authenticity of the photographs within, declaring that they are the work of “an Austrian photographer.” Like “Thomas Walker’s” photographs, those pictures that could not be identified as fabrications were of dubious origin. Tottle points out that many were first published in the German Nazi party’s organ Völkischer Beobachter.14
In other words, the famine-genocide narrative was debunked shortly after Joseph Goebbels and his fascist North American confederates like Hearst invented it. However, it would be a powerful propaganda myth for those whose interests it served, which included Ukrainian nationalists.
In the interwar period, the territory that today comprises Ukraine was partitioned into what were then 4 different countries; in 1922, eastern Ukraine became a union republic of the USSR. There were multiple competing schools of thought among Ukrainians and Ukrainian émigrés (which ranged from Communism to monarchism), but those who espoused fascist views are the ones germane to this discussion. One of the most prominent groups, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), formed an alliance with Nazi Germany. OUN leaders like Stepan Bandera and Andriy Melnyk were recruited by Germany’s military intelligence, the Abwehr, for espionage, terrorism, and irregular warfare. The OUN’s motto was Slava Ukraini, slava heroyam! (“Glory to Ukraine, glory to the heroes”).
After WWII, many OUN activists and sympathetic chroniclers would present this as a marriage-of-convenience or an act of grudging realpolitik, but there was deep ideological affinity. Before the war, the OUN was preparing a plan for what it would do if it managed to rule Ukraine, and one historian explained its platform like this: “During the 1930s, the anti-Jewish, anti-Polish, and anti-Russian stance of the Ukrainian nationalist leadership hardened. The fascist tendencies of the movement flourished…the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) declared, ‘The Jews are guilty, horribly guilty, because they were the ones who helped secure Russian rule in Ukraine. […] Only when Russia falls in Ukraine will we be able to secure the Jewish question in our country in a way that lies in the interest of the Ukrainian people.’”15 Before the Second World War, the OUN had a vision for Ukraine that was almost identical to that envisioned by the Hitler regime.
In the United States, a constellation of reactionary émigré groups maintained a structure for advancing Ukrainian nationalist interests (in competition with pro-Soviet socialist émigrés). One group called the United Ukrainian Organizations of America (UUOA) organized demonstrations in late 1933 “save Ukraine from death by starvation.” In 1934, when the Nazi/Hearst campaign began, the UUOA adopted the famine-genocide theory and lobbied Congress to do so as well.
During this period, a monarchist organization called the Hetman Sich engaged in paramilitary activities. A pastor of the Ukrainian Catholic church in America praised the group for combating the “infection of socialism,” and the Chicago Sich enjoyed the sanction of the US government—as did many right-wing paramilitaries of the era. According to one historian, the Chicago chapter “bubbled with excitement,” proclaiming “By joining the American militia, we shall realize the main aim. i.e., to be the base and the beginning of the new Ukrainian army.” An informant reported the paramilitary activities of a different nationalist group to the FBI, including running “Nazi drills,” but the FBI cleared the group. In order to organize a “National Front against the Bolsheviks,” the Organization for the Rebirth of Ukraine (ODWU) staged an event in 1938 which brought OUN leaders (visiting from Nazi Germany) and 5,000 participants to New York. At the end of the rally, participants sieg-heiled and shouted Slava Ukraini, slava heroyam!16
On June 22nd, 1941, Nazi Germany commenced Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. [content warning: descriptions of Holocaust violence]
As Barbarossa began, it was Banderites who sounded the tocsin of what was to come.
On June 22nd 1941, via a German radio broadcast, “A young man in Trembowla [Ukraine] heard an important member of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) demand ‘Death to Jews, death to Communists, death to Commissars, exactly in that sequence.’”17
Members of the OUN were incorporated into the Nazi command as the Nachtigall and Roland Battalions. Author Saul Friedländer explains what happened when these units began the Holocaust on the Eastern Front:
Bandera’s men led the OUN-B auxiliary units that marched into [the Ukrainian region of] eastern Galicia in June 1941 with the Wehrmacht. In Zloczow the killers belonged first and foremost to the OUN and to the Waffen-SS “Viking” Division, while Sonderkommando 4b of Einsatzgruppe C kept to the relatively passive role of encouraging the Ukrainians (the Waffen SS did not need any prodding).
Aryeh Klonicki, a Jew from Kovel, described the events of June 1941 in Tarnopol: “On the third day of the German invasion a massacre lasting three consecutive days was carried out in the following manner. The Germans, joined by the Ukrainians, would go from house to house in order to look for Jews. The Ukrainians would take the Jews out of the houses where the waiting Germans would kill them…This is how some five thousand people found their death, mostly men.18
In his diary, Otto Korfes, a Nazi general in Ukraine, described a pogrom that took place on July 3rd 1941:
We saw trenches 5 meters deep and 20 meters wide. They were filled with men, women, and children, mostly Jews. Every trench contained some 60-80 persons. We could hear their moans and shrieks as grenades exploded above them. On both sides of the trenches stood some 12 men dressed in civilian clothes. They were hurling grenades down the trenches… Later, officers of the Gestapo told us that those men were Banderists.19
This was the beginning of Nazi barbarism on the Eastern Front. In May 1943, the SS declared the region of eastern Galicia, which had a Jewish population of over 650,000, Judenrein (“free of Jews”). At the first tribunal for Nazi war criminals, held in 1943 in Kharkov, Ukraine shortly after its liberation by the Red Army, presiding judge Major General A. N. Myasnikov summarized the horrors perpetrated by the Third Reich as “crimes and atrocities whose magnitude and baseness far exceed anything inscribed in the blackest pages of human history.”20
However, after the war, the capitalist West maintained the class interest that it had shared with Nazi Germany. Winston Churchill advocated re-arming the Wehrmacht and attacking the USSR before the war had even ended; in Greece, Britain implemented a small-scale version of this plan by massacring anti-fascist partisans to bolster the collaborationist regime. While pursuing a superficial policy of denazification, the Reich’s successor state in western Germany retained much of the Nazi state apparatus. This included hundreds of former Nazis in the Bundestag, putting Nazi general Reinhardt Gehlen and his clique at the head of the post-war intelligence service, an interior ministry that was “77% former Nazis” in 1957, and a clandestine Gladio-style stay-behind army comprised of 40,000 Wehrmacht veterans. Theodor Oberländer, who served the Nazi regime as both an adviser to the OUN-B’s Nachtigall battalion and an ideologue for the Holocaust, was made the FRG’s Minister for Refugees and Expellees for much of the 1950s (as well as an OSS/CIA advisor), where he found new careers for OUN-B members.
Through the OSS and then the CIA, the United States opened countless “rat lines” to funnel fascist war criminals towards new jobs under Washington’s supervision. Through a network of programs including Operation Paperclip, Operation Sunrise and Project Bloodstone, the US imported thousands of former Axis personnel to work for the US government and stateside businesses. Through the Lodge Act of 1950, 200 Eastern European former Waffen-SS killers became the nucleus of the US Special Forces, and one of their advisors was Nuremberg war criminal Franz Six. As Harry Rositzke, a former head of CIA secret operations put it, “It was a visceral business of using any bastard as long as he was anti-Communist.”21
The Congressional debate in 1948 over the Displaced Persons Bill noted that “No doubt every one of them [Eastern European Nazi collaborators] now bears a new name, passes [himself] off as a martyr of Soviet oppression, and answers to all the specifications of a political refugee.”22 If this description suits anybody, it fits the Ukrainian nationalists who joined the ranks of Washington’s allies.
In order to transmute their wartime experience from Holocaust perpetrators into genocide victims, Ukrainian nationalist émigrés fashioned the “double genocide” narrative. In North America, the fleeing fascists claimed to have been caught between Hitler and Stalin—though they presented the Soviets as the greater evil. In order to continue Hitler’s anti-communist crusade, Washington took up their stories about Bolshevik barbarism, a narrative that necessarily whitewashed Eastern European fascism and minimized the Holocaust.
But what of the OUN-B’s fabled anti-Nazi campaign? After all, this is an indispensable part of their post-war claim to heroism: they say that both the Nazis and Soviet committed genocide, and that the OUN consequently fought both equally. Much like the claim of Soviet genocide, the OUN’s fight against the Reich is largely a fraud. It is true enough that on June 30th, the OUN-B declared an independent state with Yaroslav Stetsko as its Prime Minister (the text concluded with an oath of fealty to Stepan Bandera and “slava Ukraini”). The OUN-B’s declaration stated that independent Banderite Ukraine would “work closely” with Nazi Germany “under the leadership of Adolf Hitler.” The OUN-B celebrated their newfound independence by initiating a pogrom that murdered thousands of Jews in Lviv over the course of a few days—a propaganda pamphlet written by the Banderite government told the region’s Jews “we will lay your heads at Hitler’s feet.”
However, while the OUN-B anticipated an independent fascist Ukraine under Hitler’s aegis, the Nazis wanted a subordinate puppet state. As a result, the OUN-B’s dream was short-lived. Though many OUN members ran afoul of the Reich, and some OUN-B leaders were imprisoned for several years, the latter received preferential treatment (including the ability to send and receive correspondence). One author explains that “Although Stetsko was under an ‘honorary arrest’ by the Germans because the creation of the Stetsko regime hadn’t been cleared by the Germans, he was still active in OUN-B affairs and even allowed to travel.”23 Though the Reich arrested many high-level OUN leaders, the Nazi’s regional government was staffed by low- and mid-level Banderites. In 1943 and ‘44, Stepan Bandera and his OUN-B lieutenants Stetsko and Roman Shukhevich were formally recruited by SS commander (and future Mossad agent) Otto Skorzeny to fight the Soviets. At this point, they relocated to Berlin and rejoined the Nazi ranks. After the war, Bandera and Stetsko both lived comfortably in Munich, West Germany. This is a far cry from the fate which befell genuine enemies of the Third Reich like Ernst Thällman, to say nothing of the OUN-B’s Jewish, Polish, and Soviet victims.
As the Cold War began, Winston Churchill adopted Joseph Goebbels’ line about an “iron curtain,” and the Second Red Scare began. For the American ruling establishment, Ukrainian fascists were ideal collaborators—not only were they battle-tested killers, but they had come to America’s shore with ready-made anti-communist fables. In 1953-4, Ukrainian fascists living in North America assembled a compendium of Nazi lies into a two-volume work called The Black Deeds of the Kremlin. In 1959, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) invited the authors of Black Deeds of the Kremlin to contribute testimony about the “crimes” of Stalin and Khrushchev.The first speaker was Lev Dobriansky, an OSS officer who had managed rat lines to smuggle Ukrainian fascists away from justice (CIA programs BELLADONNA, LYNX/TRIDENT, and many others). According to a CIA report, the Banderite network Dobriansky helped maintain was “primarily a terrorist organization” [original emphasis].
Dobriansky would play an outsized role in Western anti-communism for the rest of the century. Like the Nazis, he established fascist advocacy groups operating under a veneer of human rights, creating the National Captive Nations Committee and the Victims of Communism Memorial Fund (The Captive Nations Committee was a Washington-backed update of the Nazis’ Committee of Subjugated Nations). Dobriansky, Yaroslav Stetsko, and other Banderites also founded the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN), to co-ordinate Nazi-aligned émigré groups and advance various fascist agendas; in the 1980s, the ABN “attack[ed] the Office of Special Investigations of the Justice Department, the branch engaged in prosecuting alleged Nazi war criminals residing in the United States,” according to authors Scott and Jon Lee Anderson. Dobriansky and his associates were a “central element,” in the words of anti-fascist researcher Dave Emory, of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL), a big-tent congress of seemingly every Nazi, fascist war criminal, anti-Semitic genocidaire, death squad leader, and right-wing terrorist that Washington could find from around the globe.
Petro Pavlovich, HUAC’s second speaker, repeated a series of claims that he had made in Black Deeds for the HUAC board. However, the Congressional record omitted that Pavlovich’s testimony in Black Deeds were a continuation of his earlier propaganda work for the Nazis. Working under the pen name Apollon Trembovetskyj, Pavlovich was the editor of a fascist publication and authored a text called Zlochyn U Vinnytsa (“Crimes in Vynnitsa”), which was printed and disseminated by the Nazi regime.
In Zlochyn U Vinnytsa, Pavlovich wrote: “Let [the massacre] strongly unite our people with the mighty strength of Germany, the liberator of Ukraine, let it unite [us] in the cruel and merciless struggle with the terrible enemy of mankind—Bolshevism.” Douglas Tottle continues: “By 1943 the Nazis had caused the death or transport for slave labor of millions of Ukrainians; still the Nationalist’s appeals continued. Proclaiming Hitler ‘the great humanitarian and savior,’ Trembovetskyj urges: ‘Only by hard work and our lives will we be able to repay our debt to Hitler, and defeat Judeo-communism.’ Zlochyn U Vinnytsa is riddled with anti-semitic slurs. Trembovetskyj calls upon Ukrainians to be steeled ‘in the greater and cruel struggle against Jew-communism.’” 15 years later, a man whose wartime propaganda missives often included the phrase “Stalin the Jew” was passed off by the US Congress as an objective and dispassionate witness.24
Another speaker, Mykola Lebed, was one of the OUN’s founders and was responsible for organizing the genocide of 100,000 Poles in the regions of Volhynia and Eastern Galicia during the war. Lebed claimed that Soviet authorities subjected victims to gruesome bacteriological experiments and even crucifixion. Tellingly, with the former claim, Lebed was trying to pass off a barbarity practiced by the Nazis on concentration camp inmates as something done by the NKVD to Ukrainian nationalists—in other words, to supplant Jews as the primary victims of the Holocaust. The accusation that the Soviets crucified victims might sound like it originated in a lurid pulp novel, but it had a different provenance: one SS General claimed that, in order to motivate them, the Ukrainian invaders were told that the Soviets killed children and prisoners by “nail[ing] them to the wall.”25
With the testimony of these Ukrainian fascists at HUAC, Nazi lies invented to justify Barbarossa and the Holocaust became part of America’s mainstream historical record. Had he not gotten what was coming to him years before, Joseph Goebbels would’ve been proud.
Ronald Reagan and his Conquest
When Ronald Reagan and his clique moved into the White House, they drastically increased an escalation in armaments and subversive activities that began under Jimmy Carter. In 1981, the US began a massive rearmament campaign that included the MX intercontinental ballistic missile, the Trident II submarine-launched missile program, the cruise missile program, the B-1 strategic bomber, and countless others, including the quixotic, trillion-dollar plan to militarize space known as the Strategic Defense Initiative (or “star wars”). On August 6th, 1981—the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima—the Reagan Administration announced plans to develop the neutron bomb.
In 1982, the US invaded Lebanon. The next year, it began moving nuclear-armed medium-range Pershing II and cruise missiles into Western Europe (capable of reaching Soviet targets in as little as 5 minutes). By 1984, the US was 5 years into Operation Cyclone (the proxy war in Afghanistan), and beginning the dirty wars in Latin America that would kill hundreds of thousands of people and devastate the region. The entire time, administration officials spoke about the feasibility of waging a “limited,” survivable nuclear war. White House figures, like Richard Pipes in a 1982 Time Magazine interview, explained that the goal was to destroy the Soviet economy through an arms race even if the two nations didn’t go to war. That same year, Reagan declared a “crusade” against communism “which will leave Marxism-Leninism in the ash heap of history.”26
In the 8 years that Ronald Reagan occupied the White House, the US spent over $2 trillion on its military. However, this massive overt buildup was accompanied by an explosion in American covert capabilities. One of the most influential Pentagon planning documents from this era, entitled “Fiscal 1984-1988 Defense Guidance,” planned for not only waging a “long nuclear war” and spending $1.6 trillion on the military in the next 5 years, but expanding psychological operations and irregular warfare capabilities. The Pentagon claimed that “We must revitalize and enhance special-operations forces to project US power where the use of conventional forces would be premature, inappropriate or infeasible, particularly in Eastern Europe.” The New York Times explained that “Special operations [means] guerrilla warfare, sabotage and psychological warfare.”
Concurrently with Pentagon plans to ramp-up psychological warfare capabilities against the socialist world, the Reagan Administration was expanding the CIA’s ability to carry out its own PsyOps. One historian explained that:
The Intelligence and National Security Affairs Office has been revived to coordinate all the special subversive activities of the US secret services. The new charter of the CIA introduced by the president’s executive order of December 4, 1981, lifts the restrictions on the Agency’s activities in the USA and, what is more, vitalizes its work against those whom Washington considers its opponents. The new charter reaffirms the doctrine of “plausible denial,” namely: “Special activities means activities conducted in support of national foreign policy objectives abroad which are planned and executed so that the role of the United States Government is not apparent or acknowledged publicly.”27
Consequently, the Reagan years were a good time for anti-communist fabulists. A prominent example was Claire Sterling’s The Terror Network, which alleged that the Soviet Union was responsible for inspiring, funding, and/or coordinating most of the terrorism around the world. Sterling’s work, while fraudulent, was an excuse for covert actions and imperialist interventions around the world, as well as providing countless propaganda talking-points.
It was at this time that the CIA’s remit for disseminating “grey” and “black” propaganda was expanded, and the White House sought to weaken the Soviet Union by deploying PsyOps “particularly in Eastern Europe,” that Robert Conquest updated Ukrainian fascist propaganda for the 1980s.
Anti-communists will tell you that Robert Conquest is the “towering” anti-Soviet historian of the 20th century. Conquest served in the British military in WWII and then transferred to the Foreign Office in Bulgaria, before being expelled from the People’s Republic in 1948 due to what appears to be his involvement in espionage activities. He then joined the Information Research Department (IRD), a “‘propaganda counter-offensive’ unit created in order to ‘collect and summarize reliable information about Soviet and communist misdoings, to disseminate it to friendly journalists, politicians, and trade unionists, and to support, financially and otherwise, anticommunist publications.’ The IRD was also engaged in manipulating public opinion.”
His most famous book was and is 1968’s The Great Terror, which he compiled mostly from reactionary émigré sources and which was written at the behest of the IRD. “In fact, the book was a re-compilation of articles Conquest had written when working for the secret services,” writes Professor Grover Furr: “The Great Terror was finished and published under the supervision, and with the help of, the IRD–at that time the chief anti-communist propaganda wing of the British political police. A third of the publication run was bought by the Praeger Press, normally associated with the publication of literature originating from CIA sources.”
Liberal historian J. Arch Getty had this to say about Conquest:
Sometimes, the “scholarship” had been more than simply careless. Recent investigations of British intelligence activities (following in the wake of US post-Watergate revelations), suggest that Robert Conquest, author of the highly influential Great Terror, accepted payment from British intelligence agencies for consciously falsifying information about the Soviet Union. Consequently, the works of such an individual can hardly be considered valid scholarly works by his peers in the western academic community.
Conquest (The Great Terror, p. 754) … makes the astounding statement that “Truth can thus only percolate in the form of hearsay.” And, further: “On political matters basically the best, though not infallible, source is rumor.” He believes that the best way to check rumors is to compare them with other rumors–a dubious procedure given the fact that émigrés read each others’ works. Of course, historians do not accept hearsay and rumor as evidence in any other field of history.
Furr adds that “In 1980, I interviewed Professor John Hazard of Columbia University, at the time the world expert on Soviet law. Hazard told me that people in the Soviet studies field had told him that British intelligence was still doing Conquest’s research for him.”
Of course, when it comes to creating horror stories about the communist movement, the traditional rules for determining historical truth are inverted—as Getty says, historians do not accept hearsay and rumor as evidence in any other field of history. Think of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the reactionary anti-Semite who was celebrated as a moral paragon. His wife Natalya Reshetovskaya explained that his most famous work was what we’d today recognize as “creative non-fiction,” writing:
that she was ”perplexed” that the West had accepted The Gulag Archipelago as ”the solemn, ultimate truth,” saying its significance had been ”overestimated and wrongly appraised.” Pointing out that the book’s subtitle is ”An Experiment in Literary Investigation,” she said that her husband did not regard the work as ”historical research, or scientific research.” She contended that it was, rather, a collection of ”camp folklore,” containing ”raw material” which her husband was planning to use in his future productions.
Indeed, Timothy Garton Ash rhapsodized Conquest as “Solzhenitsyn before Solzhenitsyn.” In 1986, Conquest brought his talents as an anti-communist propagandist to the “famine-genocide” with the release of The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine (now termed the “Holodomor” to both cement an analogy with and steal emotional impact from the Holocaust). As he did with his previous work, Conquest worked closely with reactionary émigrés, used specious methodology, and he did so at the behest of Western intelligence services.
Anti-communist academic Myron B. Kuropas beams that “Among the highlights of Ukrainian activity was the publication in 1986 of The Harvest of Sorrow by renowned Sovietologist Robert Conquest. His research was subsidized by the UNA [the Ukrainian National Association]. The UNA was also involved in having the US Congress appropriate money for the creation of The Ukraine Famine Commission. The Commission published a 524-page report to Congress in 1984, which concluded that ‘Joseph Stalin and those around him committed genocide against the Ukrainians in 1932-1933.”28
The UNA, which funded and provided testimony to Conquest, was identified as fascist and openly anti-Semitic by progressive journalist Albert E. Kahn in the 1940s. Conquest’s input was exclusively fascist, as he essentially plagiarized The Black Deeds of the Kremlin—comprised of Ukrainian fascist propaganda and Nazi lies—and added his academic imprimatur to a fringe work that reeked of the basest McCarthyism. As one academic put it, the two volumes of Black Deeds of the Kremlin “went virtually unnoticed by the scholarly community until the appearance of Robert Conquest’s The Harvest of Sorrow,” which slapped Black Deeds with a fresh coat of paint for the Reagan ‘80s.
Tottle observes that “It was not by accident that mass campaigns were funded across North America in 1983 to commemorate the ‘50th anniversary of famine-genocide in Ukraine.’ The main purpose of the resurrection of so dubious an issue was to elevate anti-communist sentiments and facilitate Reaganite Cold War aims. Unlike earlier ‘anniversaries’ which were limited to the periphery of right-wing Ukrainian exile circles, the latest commemoration was highlighted by mass media advertising, billboards, public rallies, and continuing attempts to include the Ukrainian ‘famine-genocide’ in school curriculum,” as well as a film (pretending to be a documentary) called Harvest of Despair, which was broadcast on PBS and the CBC.
The unprecedented public relations campaign was augmented by a push to put a scholarly veneer on long-debunked Nazi claims. According to Tottle, “‘Scholarly’ backing of the famine-genocide campaign reached unprecedented heights in the 1980s. ‘Credit’ for this is taken by Harvard University, as stated in a recent publication.” Prior to the Reagan-era push, the Holodomor theory “occupied a marginal place” in Western anti-Soviet academia, according to a statement by the President and Fellows of Harvard College, whose ranks included Robert Conquest and James E. Mace. Tottle observes that Harvard “has long been the center of anti-communist research, studies and programs, often in collaboration with US military and intelligence agencies.” Tottle points out that Harvard’s famine-genocide campaign was based on a post-war commission by the State Department’s Office of Policy Coordination—a CIA front.29 There is a long and inglorious history of collaboration between Langley and academia, with no less an authority than CIA Director McGeorge Bundy claiming in 1964 that “It is still true today, and I hope it always will be, that there is a high measure of interpenetration between universities with area programs and the information-gathering agencies of the government.”
However, the famine-genocide story was, ultimately, still based on Nazi fabrications, so the scholarly community remained largely unreceptive. One book that was promoted to North American schools, The Ninth Circle, was authored by a likely Nazi collaborator and first published in 1953 by the OUN-B: Canadian professor John Ryan observed that “Their brief is a polemic, devoid of any documentation, and the book, The Ninth Circle, is in the same category and lacks the essence of any scholarship.”30 One writer notes, with trademark academic circumspection, “Many of Conquest’s critics in the West rejected his argument…it was held by some that his position lacked subtlety, and that his contentions were far more geared towards popular appeal at a time of Cold War tensions.”
It would be accurate to say that Conquest’s claims were highly controversial: one searing 1988 critique by Jeff Coplon in the Village Voice calls the propaganda campaign “a fraud,” “the most cynical of swindles,” “a brash bit of larceny,” and “in the Goebbels tradition.” Coplon observes that it was the leading scholars of the era whom “most vehemently of all…reject Conquest’s hunt for a new holocaust. The famine was a terrible thing, they agree, but it decidedly was not genocide” [original emphasis]. Coplon goes on to quote some of the leading scholars of the era responding to Conquest’s Harvest of Sorrow:
“There is no evidence it was intentionally directed against Ukrainians,” said Alexander Dallin of Stanford, the father of modern Sovietology. “That would be totally out of keeping with what we know—it makes no sense.”
“This is crap, rubbish,” said Moshe Lewin of the University of Pennsylvania, whose Russian Peasants and Soviet Power broke new ground in social history. ”I am anti-Stalinist, but I don’t see how this [genocide] campaign adds to our knowledge. It’s adding horrors, adding horrors, until it becomes a pathology.”
“I absolutely reject it,” said Lynne Viola of SUNY-Binghamton the first US historian to examine Moscow’s Central State Archive on collectivization. “Why in god’s name would this paranoid government consciously produce a famine when they were terrified of war [with Germany]?”
“He’s terrible at doing research,” said veteran Sovietologist Roberta Manning of Boston College. “He misuses everything, he twists everything.”
Conlon observed that what “academic” support Conquest found was from the fascist fringes, because “here was a way to rehabilitate fascism—to prove that Ukrainian collaborators were helpless victims, caught between the rock of Hitler and Stalin’s hard place.”
To wit, this bit of psycho-journalism from the March 24 Washington Post, in a story on accused war criminal John ‘Ivan the Terrible’ Demjanjuk: ‘The pivotal event in Demjanjuk’s childhood was the great famine of the early 1930s, conceived by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin as a way of destroying the independent Ukrainian peasantry … Several members of [Demjanjuk’s] family died in the catastrophe.” Coupled with the old nationalist canard of “Judeo-Bolshevism,” faminology could help justify anti-Semitism, collaboration, even genocide.
How inspiring that as late as the 1980s, a writer in a mainstream publication could organically surmise both the fascist ideological content and political intent behind the “double-genocide” theory!
Not even Conquest, the arch-anti-communist, sustained the thesis that Stalin committed a genocide against the Ukrainians: according to historians R.W. Davies and Stephen G. Wheatcroft, by 2003 Conquest noted via personal correspondence that he no longer considered “that Stalin purposely inflicted the 1933 famine.” However, while Conquest’s book was disputed by many contemporary mainstream historians and loved by Holocaust-deniers, in the 21st century, the story created by Goebbels and pushed by Banderites would take root via Conquest: “his ideas on the subject were inﬂuential in conditioning attitudes towards that event.” Of course, Conquest wasn’t alone: the White House, the CIA and its academic lackeys, and Ukrainian nationalists pushed his work hard.
Conquest’s goal, as it had been throughout his career, was not to illuminate historical truth but to support the dictatorship of capital. In this case, he was providing cover for an offensive so extreme that it pushed the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation. Amidst the campaign, J. Arch Getty observed “We might profitably wonder about the resurgence of the intentional famine story just now… The not-so-hidden message behind the campaign coincides with long-standing political agendas of émigré groups: given that the Soviets could murder so many of their own people, might they not be willing to launch a destructive war in order to spread their evil doctrine? Because the Soviets are like the Nazis, we must avoid appeasement, maintain our vigilance—and stop deporting accused World War Two war criminals to Eastern Europe.”31
This mention of the deportation of war criminals refers to a controversy in the 1980s over prosecuting Nazis: specifically, the fact that the West maintained a policy of turning down extradition requests from the socialist countries. As early as the 1950s, Britain turned down a Polish request for an accused Auschwitz butcher, and “the British government announced that it no longer considered itself obligated to surrender war criminals and, over the course of the next decades, proceeded to reject five Soviet extradition requests.” In the 1980s, the British government “repeatedly pressed” Soviet authorities to release the imprisoned deputy führer Rudolf Hess (the Soviet government, lacking NATO’s soft spot for Nazis, declined, and Hess rotted in Spandau prison till his dying day).
It stands to reason that in this climate, a president so viciously opposed to socialism would take an unprecedented step to rehabilitate the Third Reich. This infamously occurred in 1985, when Reagan and Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Helmut Kohl added a visit to Germany’s Bitburg military cemetery to the president’s itinerary. Those interred at Bitburg included not only Nazi Wehrmacht soldiers but 49 Waffen-SS officers. At the time, the plan was out-of-bounds enough that 53 Senators and 101 Congresspeople sent letters to the White House imploring the president to reconsider. In the face of considerable controversy, Reagan doubled-down on his plan, saying that “there’s nothing wrong with visiting that cemetery where those young men are victims of Nazism also, even though they were fighting in the German uniform, drafted into service to carry out the hateful wishes of the Nazis. They were victims, just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps.” Just as surely…
The next week, Reagan visited Bitburg and laid a wreath.
Washington Über Alles
While the Soviet Union and the People’s Democracies existed, anti-communists were limited in how brazen their slanders could be—see the backlash against Reagan visiting Bitburg. In 1982, when Susan Sontag called communism a variant of fascism, her audience booed and shouted at her. Back in the 1980s, according to one writer, “even the president of the World Zionist Organization, Nahum Goldmann, had not adopted Tim Snyder’s nazi revisionist line:
To compare in any way the policy of the Soviet government with the Nazis is not only a hideous distortion, but highly unfair to Soviet Russia, which has saved hundred of thousands of Jews when they escaped from the Nazis at the beginning of the Second World War.
Things were different back then!”
And how! Things were different because the presence of a bloc of socialist states created an ideological and material basis for anti-racism and anti-fascism. The socialist countries produced counter-propaganda and funded countless proletarian historians—for much of the 20th century, the world’s largest publisher was the Soviet government. The global battle for hearts-and-minds also imposed serious constraints on how openly the NATO governments could valorize fascists. Both decolonization and the formal end of Jim Crow were inextricably linked to the presence of the socialist bloc.
“Soviet diplomatic pressure could turn even the most emollient émigré groups into a liability,” according to one historian. “In the case of immigrant or émigré groups on the right-wing end of the political spectrum, the contacts that existed between their predecessors and the Nazi regime were often publicized with much fanfare by the East German press in order to discredit the Federal Republic and its Western allies.”³² An anti-Communist Canadian author complains that “the liberal political and social environment in the 1970s in the west was conspiring against them [Eastern European nationalists]. The ABN [the Banderite “Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations”] delegation in Canada, for example, complained bitterly about Prime Minister [Pierre] Trudeau’s policy of ‘flexibility’ with respect to the USSR.”33
In 1963, the British Marxist R. Palme Dutt observed that the Cold War was directed against the Soviet Union and the People’s Democracies because they were “completely independent of American domination and control. The aims of American world domination required the overthrow of this independent power, just as the aims of the re-establishment of imperialist rule required the defeat of the advance of socialism and of popular democracy and colonial liberation.” Dutt’s words proved prophetic.
With the Soviet Union dismembered, the world’s wealthiest looked at the globe with ravenous eyes. The ruling class saw the opportunity for what it was: a chance to recolonize the globe. Their propaganda machine responded in kind. A 1993 New York Times Magazine headline hailed the dawn of the new age, announcing “Colonialism’s Back – and Not a Moment Too Soon!” The British historian Paul Johnson praised the “altruistic revival of colonialism,” explaining that in a world now riven by “extremist” governments, “there is a moral issue here; the civilized world has a mission to go out to these desperate places and govern.” The year of the Soviet Union’s dissolution, writer Barry Buzan boasted in the pages of Britain’s prestigious International Affairs journal that “West has triumphed over both communism and tiers-mondisme [third-worldism].” Linking the end of the socialist bloc with the defeat of post-colonial self-determination, Buzan beamed that “The deeper reality is that the centre is now more dominant, and the periphery more subordinate, than at any time since decolonization began.”34 In 1992, seeing the writing on the wall, UN Secretary-General Boutros-Boutros Ghali declared “the time of absolute and exclusive sovereignty…has passed.”35
The first target for plunder would be the former USSR. The new Russian president, Boris Yeltsin began a policy of privatizing everything in sight. Most importantly, Yeltsin and his clique opened up Russia to foreign exploitation, as the country’s wealth was vacuumed-up and its quality-of-life plummeted. Michael Parenti explains what measures the Yeltsin regime took to protect the wide-scale theft of Russia’s assets and cultural heritage:
In late 1993, facing resistance to his free-market policies, Boris Yeltsin forcibly disbanded the Russian parliament and every other elected representative body in the country including all the regional and city councils. He abolished Russia’s constitutional court, and launched an armed attack on the parliamentary building killing hundreds of resisters. Estimates are about 3,000, actually. Thousands were rounded-up and detained, opposition leaders went to jail without trial, hundreds of elected officials were placed under investigation; some are still in jail. Yeltsin banned labor unions from all political activities. He suppressed dozens of publications and television shows. He exercised monopoly control over all broadcast media. He outlawed 15 political parties. He re-wrote the constitution giving the executive nearly total power over legislation.
For these crimes he was treated as a defender of democracy and reform by US leaders and the media. What they most liked about Yeltsin was, to quote the San Francisco Chronicle, that “he has never wavered in his support for privatization of state-owned industries.” I think that really says it all.
In October 1993, when Yeltsin sent OMON troops to fire on the Russian Parliament, hundreds of people resisting the country’s privatization were taken to Presnaya Stadium and summarily executed. Yeltsin called President Bill Clinton, and according to White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers, Clinton “felt reassured by the conversation… Yeltsin basically said the obstacles to democracy and [economic] reform had been removed.”36 Clinton approved, saying that Yeltsin had “no other alternative but to try and restore order.” In 1996, the US pumped millions into Yeltsin’s election campaign, and American spin-doctors gave him the Madison Avenue treatment to defeat Communist Party candidate Gennady Zyuganov. US electoral chicanery was typical in the former socialist states: Bulgaria and Albania got their first taste of capitalist democracy when Washington didn’t approve of their choices and replaced their first “free” elections with coups. The Eastern European parties favored by Washington were (and are) usually comprised of society’s most retrograde elements in an alliance with the exploiters kicked out by the Communist parties decades earlier.Anyone who wonders what Russia will look like if the NATO countries succeed in their plans to install a pro-Washington leader in the Kremlin need not speculate—we’ve seen what their designs look like.
According to the mainstream accounting, “With the fall of the Soviet Union, free-market capitalism had triumphed, and no one seemed badly hurt.” Naturally, the reality is starkly different. According to the most conservative figures from UNICEF in 2001, “There were 3.2 million ‘excess’ deaths in the period 1990-99 in the transition countries, deaths that would not have occurred had mortality rates stayed at their 1989 levels [emphasis added.].” The UNICEF report continues: “the number of children in poor families has increased sharply as real incomes have fallen, and inequality has widened,” “Cases of HIV/AIDS have skyrocketed in Russia and the Ukraine,” and “Tuberculosis has returned to the region with 50 per cent increases in incidence registered in poorer countries.” Higher estimates calculate 6 million “excess” deaths in Russia alone during the same period, with nearly 10 million throughout the former Eastern Bloc: the United Nations Development Program calls it a “demographic collapse.” One economist working for the agency says “the transition to market economies [in the region] is the biggest…killer we have seen in the 20th century, if you take out famines and wars.” In other words, in order to pillage the socialist world, Western capitalists murdered between 3.2 and 10 million people between Eastern Europe and Central Asia in the 1990s.
This was the state of Russia when Vladimir Putin succeeded the cirrhotic Yeltsin in 2000. The US regime assumed that Putin would do as Yeltsin had done, and that he would choose to enjoy the benefits that redounded to Washington’s favored servants. When the George W. Bush administration took power and immediately decided to pull out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty (which had for decades been a cornerstone of strategic deterrence), the Putin government “made only pro forma complaints.”
Then the September 11th attacks handed the US regime the perfect casus belli to drastically expand its plans to re-colonize the world. Washington thought that Russia would remain compliant, as they had when NATO dismembered Russia’s last major European ally, Yugoslavia: Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleischer claims that “American could have had no better ally on September 11th than Putin and Russia.” In 2001, Bush famously claimed to look Putin in the eyes, “get a sense of his soul,” and determine him “straightforward and trustworthy.”
However, the contours of Washington’s endless global war soon became clear, and it proved to be too many infringements on and sacrifices for Russia’s bourgeoisie. NATO began a “new great game” with an endless occupation of Afghanistan; the US invaded Iraq, and added Iran, the D.P.R. Korea, Syria, Cuba, and Libya to an “axis of evil.” The hydrocarbon and mineral industries were heavily represented in the Bush administration’s ranks, and Washington sought to dominate oil and resources in the Caucuses, Central Asia, and the Balkans—Russia’s periphery. Under the pretext of its war in Afghanistan, the United States began building long-term military bases in the former Soviet Central Asian republics.
There was also the major issue of NATO accession: shortly before the end of the Soviet Union, the US and USSR were discussing the issue of German reunification; Gorbachev consented under the condition that NATO’s borders not expand any further (a reasonable demand if NATO’s purpose were actually to deter Soviet aggression). Secretary of State James Baker allegedly assented.
Though this account is disputed, it is indisputable that Moscow has always sought a barrier between its borders and armies that could impose another hellish maelstrom of war on its people (in a 1981 Nuclear War Strategy Hearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Senator John Glenn ironized the Soviet sacrifice as “the 20 million they lost in World War II that they keep talking about in every speech”37). It is likewise indisputable that NATO began gobbling up former members of the Warsaw Pact (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia), and then former Soviet states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), the latter of which brought NATO forces to Russia’s borders. A Washington-backed color revolution overthrew the pro-Russian government of Yugoslavia in 2000—the same fate befell Georgia in 2004 and then Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine in 2005.Russia had always considered it indispensable to be bordered by a Ukraine that 1) was not a member of NATO and 2) respected the Russian military’s use of the Crimean port of Sevastopol. In the West, ruling class think-tanks, foundations, and government planners had long salivated over the prospect of a Ukraine firmly in the Western orbit, which is why Washington spent $5 billion on regime change in Kiev between 1991 and 2014. Every few years, one or another institution will fantasize about finally defeating and dismembering Russia once and for all: after the 2005 Orange Revolution, the private intelligence firm Stratfor (often called “the private CIA”) beamed that, “Without Ukraine, Russia’s political, economic and military survivability are called into question… To say that Russia is at a turning point is a gross understatement. Without Ukraine, Russia is doomed to a painful slide into geopolitical obsolescence and ultimately, perhaps even non-existence.” By the end of the Bush years, the Russian government’s insistence on being a peer rather than a colony had turned it into an enemy in Washington’s eyes.
Concurrently with this, anti-communists in Europe and North America made great strides in bringing specious “revisionist” historical theories into the mainstream. The surge in official anti-communism in the last decade served two purposes: first, it slandered the force that had undergirded decolonization at a time when Washington was recolonizing the world. Second, by resurrecting Nazi-originated stories of a “Red Holocaust,” Washington was both empowering the fascist proxies that it would use against Russia and defaming the USSR’s successor state. Resurrecting myths about Stalinist barbarism cast a now-capitalist Russia as putatively genocidal, which is Washington’s most treasured arrow in its imperial quiver (if Putin wants to be Stalin, and Stalin was genocidal, then Putin aspires to commit genocide).
This is as good a time as any to address a favored anti-communist talking point. Why oh why, they bleat, do these Stalinist tankie losers obsess over the history of the USSR? Why be chained to this millstone when we can just say: “yes, all the worst horror stories about socialism are true—but with that out of the way, please hear me out about this version that I came up with!” (or substitute “I” with some chauvinistic American anti-Communist mediocrity like Harrington or Bookchin).
Leaving aside how stupid it is to think that this sort of appeal would be compelling to anyone, there are a couple reasons why defending communist history is a worthwhile project, and to answer why, it’s easier to flip the question.
Why oh why are anti-communists obsessed with denigrating the records and minimizing the achievements of socialist states in the real world? Why did William Randolph Hearst obsessively re-publish Nazi propaganda? Why did the United States obsess over importing and hiring fleeing fascists and escaped SS killers, to the point that they made a whole new intelligence agency with that task as a substantial part of its remit? Why did Robert Conquest obsessively mine the testimony of Ukrainian fascists for his book, even though its thesis was mostly appealing to other fascists? Why does every “Left”-branded commentator manage to obsessively work in some dig at Communism (and especially the USSR), no matter how tendentious or poorly founded or nonsensical—from Noam Chomsky to Oliver Stone to career Freedom House operative Sarah Kendzior to newly minted celebrity Chelsea Manning (the latter of whom seemingly sprang from incarceration fully formed, like Athena emerging from Zeus’ head, as a catchphrase-spouting leftoid pundit conversant in esoteric anti-Communist Twitter-speak)?
This subject is so contested because theories about Soviet barbarism that contribute to the “double genocide” narrative are either contentious or not true, and the pursuit of historical truth is a worthwhile project. The USSR did not provoke Nazi Germany—Hitler enumerated the ideas for lebensraum in Mein Kampf. Hitler was probably the first to promote the idea that he was provoked: in an address the day that Barbarossa began, Hitler claimed “the Jewish-Bolshevist rulers in Moscow have constantly attempted to subject us and the other European peoples to their rule. They have attempted this not only intellectually, but above all through military means.” Here we have the other aspect of the “double genocide” theory: not only is it a lie, but it is a fascist lie, and as such it necessarily contains genocidal anti-Semitism at its core. Israeli-American Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff writes:
If Communism equals Nazism, then Communism is genocide, which it is not. If Communism is genocide, then Jews committed genocide because among the Communists, some of them were Jews. If Jews committed genocide, then obviously it does undermine the arguments of Jews against the peoples in Eastern Europe, who helped the Nazis mass-murder the Jews. In other words, this is designed to deflect the criticism of Nazi collaboration in Eastern Europe.
Zuroff touches on the final reason why anti-Communists are obsessed with revisiting and revising Soviet history. These narratives undergird wider propaganda offenses, which are deployed in order to serve larger agendas. In the case of this subject, those agendas are generally large imperialist offensives. According to Soviet historian Pavel Zhilin:
Imperialism’s ideologists have turned the historiography of the Second World War into a key instrument in the ideological struggle against the USSR and other socialist countries. Today the two main centers of spreading anti-Soviet fabrications are the USA and the FRG [the Federal Republic of Germany, a.k.a west Germany].
Much publicity is given [to] the time-worn thesis about the alleged existence of the “communist threat” to Germany before the war and that nazi Germany’s attack on the USSR was a forced, “preventive” measure…Their objective is clear: to give the Western reader a distorted picture of conditions in the Soviet Union before and during the war and to make certain circles…believe that nazi Germany’s defeat in the war against the USSR was an accident, and that now when Hitler, who had messed up the whole thing, has been replaced by “sagacious” US and West German NATO leaders such miscalculations will not occur and therefore, it is possible and even necessary to “refight” the war against the USSR.38
Much of the “revisionist” history about the USSR and the Third Reich originated in west Germany, not long after the Second World War, to serve imperialist interests. In the 1950s, some west German historians began rehabilitating the reputation of the Nazi command in order to make Hitler look like a rogue bad-apple elements amongst an otherwise honorable government: a typical historian wrote “Respectful admiration and love for the Fatherland command us not to impair the prestige of those names with whom we have grown accustomed to connect the victories of our army.” Zhilin explains “The purpose of this practice is clear. Today the exoneration of the ex-nazi generals is necessary both for the Bundeswehr, which is forming its officers’ corps entirely out of former Hitlerite generals and officers, and for the North Atlantic bloc as a whole. The revenge-seekers want to preserve the military cadres of nazi Germany for a future war.”39 Specious historiography to minimize the evils of Nazism served a concrete end: to justify the preservation of much of the Nazi state apparatus by Federal Germany.
As Zhilin mentioned, these campaigns were nurtured in official circles when the NATO governments undertook policies of rearmament or imperial aggression. In 1958, the Federal Republic of Germany began plans for the Bundeswehr to take on NATO nuclear weapons, prompting protests given that this was only 13 years after Hiroshima and Auschwitz. In the face of an anti-nuclear campaign fronted by physicist Albert Schweizer, Chancellor Konrad Adenauer took up the frequently disproved thesis that the Third Reich had waged a “preventive war” against the USSR (as he did when addressing a Congress of the Christian Democratic Union in 1959).40
The idea that Nazi Germany was provoked by the Soviets into incinerating much of Europe is one part of a parcel of reactionary misinformation spread by anti-communists. Other tropes include the “double-genocide” theory (sometimes dubbed a “Red-Brown Holocaust,” or even just a “Red Holocaust” to erase the memory of the Shoah entirely), that the Nazis were more humane than the USSR, and that Hitler drew inspiration for the Holocaust from the Gulag system. These comprise the essence of a campaign to rehabilitate Nazism as a “lesser evil” to the Soviet bloc. One of the producers of the Harvest of Despair film, responding to the fact that the movie used Nazi collaborators as talking-heads, said “Just because they’re Nazis is no reason to doubt the authenticity of what happened.” This is a microcosm for the entire spectacle: liberals and their fascist friends wag their fingers at communists and say just because this is highly dubious Nazi propaganda doesn’t mean it’s not true! And only an evil thug would say otherwise!
These ideas used to be extraordinarily contentious. In his 1988 Village Voice piece on the fascist push to recognize the “Holodomor,” Jeff Conlon observed that what “scholarly” support Conquest’s book found was mostly from the fascist fringes: “In the latest catalogue for the Noontide Press,” wrote Coplon, “run by flamboyant fascist Willis Carto, The Harvest of Sorrow is listed cheek-by-jowl with such revisionist tomes as The Auschwitz Myth and Hitler At My Side. To hype the Conquest book and its terror-famine, the catalogue notes: ‘The act of genocide against the Ukrainian people has been suppressed until recently, perhaps because a real ‘Holocaust’ might compete with a Holohoax.’ For those unacquainted with Noontide jargon, the ‘Holohoax’ refers to the Nazi slaughter of six million Jews.” In other words, the famine-genocide theory used to be the sole domain of fascists and other Holocaust deniers, and these remain its most vociferous proponents (The website “Holodomor Info” advertises it as “the Jewish ethnic cleansing of Europeans”; one of the more popular recent works of neo-Nazi agit-prop, which I will not be linking to here, spends a long time discussing the crimes of Stalin, beginning with the Ukrainian “Holodomor”).
Take the example of Ernst Nolte, a “revisionist” west German academic who situated French Jacobins and then Soviet Bolsheviks as the originators of the horrors of the 20th century. In 1974, Nolte published a book (Germany and the Cold War) arguing that until 1939, the “rule of law” prevailed in Nazi Germany, which he called “a liberal idyll,” compared to the Soviet Union under Stalin—a year after the Nazi regime’s Nuremberg laws and the Night of Broken Glass! In 1986, Nolte blamed Stalin for the Holocaust (and cast the Soviets as “Oriental”): “Did the National Socialists under Hitler accomplish an ‘Asian’ act perhaps only because they regarded themselves and their peers as potential or real victims of an ‘Asian’ act? Was not the ‘Gulag archipelago’ more original than Auschwitz? Was not the ‘class murder’ of the Bolsheviks the logical and actual origin of the ‘racial murder’ of the National Socialists?.”
Nolte’s work was considered highly controversial, even fringe, so much so that his car was set ablaze outside the university where he taught. In response to an award given to Nolte in 2000, Harvard historian Charles Maier said “The award of the prize to Nolte was a clear political statement intended to promote the view that there is no particular stigma to Nazism in the light of what some Germans now call the ‘Red Holocaust’ in the Soviet Union… It’s exculpatory in the German context. It’s also really scandalous.”
In case the point isn’t entirely clear: an extremist position that was “really scandalous” as recently as 2000 (even to a Harvard historian, no less!) has been made mainstream—so mainstream that anyone questioning this heretofore “really scandalous” fringe idea is likely to be derided as some kind of amoral monster.
This is because over a decade of untrammeled American hegemony had taken root, and fascist lies in the mainstream were its fruit. The dissolution of the socialist bloc enabled a new stage in the campaign to revise the history of WWII. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Federal Republic of Germany annexed what had been the German Democratic Republic, and the victors inscribed their version of history as gospel truth in a continuance of a project begun largely by west German historians in the 1950s.
When Buchenwald concentration camp was in the GDR, one part of the camp was a museum dedicated to Nazi links to the FRG, anti-fascist resistance, and international solidarity. When the Federal government took over, it eliminated this exhibition in favor of a memorial to German inmates held at Buchenwald by the Soviets after the war. These inmates included Waffen-SS men, concentration camp guards and functionaries, and members of the Nazi Party and Hitler Youth. One Jewish survivor of the camp said “I have to assume that the majority of visitors will think that those who were inmates after 1945 were innocent little lambs.” Other measures were taken throughout Germany to erase memorials glorifying the victory over fascism and to otherwise elevate many “Hitler acolytes to a status on a par with the Third Reich’s victims,” in the words of a Washington Post reporter summarizing the Buchenwald controversy.
At the same time, the Central Institute for Social Science Research at the Freie Universität in Berlin was dissolved, and its 230,000-volume collection was distributed to several smaller libraries and distributed to antique stores. According to journalist Klaus Hartung, this collection to be broken-up and sold contained 31,000 volumes on the “conservative revolution” that enabled the rise of the Nazis and 78,000 volumes on the history of the GDR. “No question, the connection between these three areas is imperative for German democracy,” argued Hartung, but the collection’s new owners were not interested in “the prehistory of national socialism.” According to Patricia Brodsky, “the well-documented continuity between the Third Reich and the political and industrial leadership of the Federal Republic has been dismantled,” as “part of a larger pattern, both in Germany and worldwide,” in which libraries “have been burned or emptied of books pertaining to GDR history, Marxism-Leninism, and the like.”41
By the George W. Bush administration, Lev Dobriansky’s Banderite Victims of Communism foundation succeeded in getting a Victims of Communism memorial erected in Capitol Hill, and similar plans went through in Canada several years ago. When Dobriansky died in 2008, Bush called the deceased “one of our nation’s greatest champions of freedom” (Lev’s daughter, Paula Dobriansky, was a signatory to the Project for a New American Century). Today, Victims of Communism has a series of billboards in Times Square.
Bourgeois authors followed suit; Antony Beevor—a pop-historian who rarely encounters a Nazi talking-point he won’t include in one of his books—claimed in a 2002 work on the Battle of Berlin that “In many ways the fate of the women and the girls in Berlin is far worse than that of the soldiers starving and suffering in Stalingrad.”
The campaign was strongest in the former socialist states, where majorities or pluralities in most countries preferred socialism to capitalism (figures for Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Moldova, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, East Germany, Bulgaria, Romania, & Hungary). In the mid-2000s, to consolidate the rule of Western European and North American businesses, a slew of governments passed laws equating Communism with fascism and banning communist symbols.
In January 2006, the Council of Europe voted to condemn “the crimes of totalitarian communist regimes.” The “double-genocide” theory went mainstream in Europe in 2008, following the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism (signed by luminaries like Václav Havel) and the European Parliament’s Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism. One Canadian journalist, objecting to Canada’s Victims of Communism memorial, observed that “Not only are [politicians pushing the “Red-Brown Holocaust” theory] engaged in Holocaust revisionism to diminish their own governments’ complicity in Nazi war crimes, they are doing so even as they honor politicians who were Nazi sympathizers or outright collaborators.”
To use just one example, Bulgaria’s “Victims of Communism” memorial includes tributes to Bogdan Filov, the wartime Prime Minister who sent 11,000 Jews to their deaths at Treblinka, and Hristo Lukov, a Jew-killing fascist general who is honored by Bulgarian neo-Nazis with an annual torchlight march. In 2002, Bulgaria’s Orthodox Church beatified the country’s “victims” of Communism as holy martyrs. Commemorating the victims of Communism and Nazism means simultaneously honoring the Holocaust’s victims and its perpetrators.
This is a feature, not a bug: as the bourgeois governments in the imperial core become more fascist, there’s a utility to having a “politically correct” form of Holocaust denial.
Timothy Snyder, Euromaidan, and the Fascist Offensive
In this fascist intellectual climate, there were handsome career prospects for a historian who could add academic citations to Nazi propaganda and collate them all into a blockbuster package for a mass audience worldwide. The task was taken up by Yale’s Timothy Snyder, who delivered the goods with his 2010 book Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin.
Bloodlands was heralded as one of the best books in its field by numerous mainstream publications, it won awards including the 2013 Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought, and it was translated into over 20 languages. Bloodlands is so celebrated because it finally made fringe, fascist-inspired “revisionist” history fashionable: The Economist called Bloodlands “revisionist history of the best kind.” However, as one could expect from such a work, which enjoyed such success in the current climate, Snyder’s primary goal is propaganda, not historical truth.
Mark Tauger expands on Snyder’s propensity to ignore historical evidence and proffer unfounded, agenda-driven opinions as facts:
Another [particularly egregious] case involves the Yale historian Timothy Snyder, who revived the old views of collectivization as exploitation and the 1933 famine as genocide in his recent book Bloodlands. Snyder asserted (on p. 41-42) that during the famine of 1932-1933, Stalin did not reduce exports and did not provide famine relief. He cited as evidence the article on Soviet grain stocks. In fact our article documented (pp. 652-653) that the Soviet government reduced exports and distributed millions of tons of grain as famine relief. I had documented these points in my other articles, dating back to 1991. Snyder stated at the honorary Callahan Lecture at West Virginia University in February 2012 that he had read “everything” I wrote. Snyder also asserted (on p. 395) that Stalin allowed grain exports in order to make a “profit,” citing no evidence.
Snyder claims that the burden of proof is on his critics, rather than himself, which is already not a good sign for a historian making extreme claims (which were, until his success, considered fringe and disreputable). We see a microcosm of Snyder’s whole project in an interview he did with the Encyclopedia Britannica: look at Snyder explaining the barbarities of the Third Reich by claiming that “Hitler’s plan to demodernize the Soviet Union makes no historical sense unless we understand Stalin’s prior plan to modernize the Soviet Union.”
This is, in addition to being vacuous history, quite a blinkered way to describe one of humanity’s gravest crimes. Snyder contrasts “Hitler’s plan to demodernize the Soviet Union” against Soviet industrialization and collectivization, and implies that the latter prefigured the former. Soviet industrialization provided the materiel that would defeat the Nazi war machine, and collectivization ended the famines and deprivation that had characterized Russian peasant life for millennia. In contrast, Hitler’s dream for the East involved exterminating or enslaving nearly every human being between Gdansk and the Urals. “Revisionist” history has always minimized and tacitly justified the barbarities of Nazi Germany, but the idea that “Stalin’s” plan to feed millions set the stage for Hitler’s plan to murder millions is really quite an extraordinary claim.
It is also categorically wrong. Snyder’s comparison with the USSR not only fails on its own evidentiary merits, Hitler’s plans actually make perfect sense in a different context: namely, that of Western colonialism. Hitler explicitly admired the white supremacist caste system which originated in Western Europe and was codified in US law, particularly in the southern states. The British invented the concentration camp during the Boer War, and Hitler drew inspiration from seeing it deployed so effectively by the British throughout the Commonwealth, as well as by the American military in the Philippines and in the form of Indian reservations. Nazi plans for lebensraum were a settler-colony in the east, like the white settler-colonies in North America, Oceania, and southern Africa. The aerial bombardment of civilians did not originate in Guernica—the Royal Air Force invented it more than a decade earlier over the skies of Iraq. However, minimizing Nazi crimes, repeating fascist lies about the USSR, and erasing the bourgeois Western origins of the Nazi regime are all the essence of Snyder’s project.
It’s outside the scope of this piece to analyze Bloodlands in full (Grover Furr did that, as have multiple bourgeois historians if one insists on that), but Snyder expounded upon its thesis in many places, so it’s worth dissecting this article in The New York Review of Books to see how he does what he does. In an article titled “Hitler vs. Stalin: Who Killed More?,” Snyder posits the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact (which he erroneously calls an “alliance”) as a pivotal moment in unleashing the Holocaust (why is the Munich Pact—which is never called an “alliance” between Britain, France, and the Reich—not the origin of the Holocaust, seeing as Kristallnacht happened 5 weeks later? One MacArthur Genius Grant, please). In between portentous factoids that prove Snyder had access to a map (“The most fundamental proximity of the two regimes, in my view, is not ideological but geographical.” What a valuable insight!), the superstar author asks “What can we make of the fact that the lands that suffered most during the war were those occupied not once or twice but three times: by the Soviets in 1939, the Germans in 1941, and the Soviets again in 1944?” What conclusion can we draw from this, indeed? Snyder doesn’t come out and say it—I guess we have to read Bloodlands for that—so we’re left with the implication that this information is somehow germane to the USSR being worse than Nazi Germany.
Snyder does not point out that when the Nazis occupied the “bloodlands,” they began the Holocaust, while the Soviet “re-occupation” saw the Red Army crush the Reich and liberate the extermination camps. This is why the “double holocaust” theory necessarily minimizes the Shoah: even at its most seemingly benign, it holds that starting and ending the Holocaust were equally troublesome.
As he does in Bloodlands, Snyder claims “The Holocaust began when the Germans provoked pogroms in June and July 1941, in which some 24,000 Jews were killed, on territories in Poland annexed by the Soviets less than two years before. The Nazis planned to eliminate the Jews in any case, but the prior killings by the NKVD certainly made it easier for local gentiles to justify their own participation in such campaigns.” Snyder then cites 3 more “examples” of the Soviets prompting Nazi atrocities before offering 1 “example” of conditions that the Nazis forced on the Soviets. In other words, while offering superficially even-handed, banal pseudo-profundities like “the pool of evil simply grows deeper” (which would be objectionable in and of themselves), Snyder does quite a lot to imply that the Bolshevik menace forced Nazi Germany’s hand—he even makes the astonishing implication that partisans “provoked” the Gestapo’s gruesome collective-punishment campaigns (did the British “provoke” the SS to murder two entire towns when they trained Czech assassins to kill “the butcher of Prague” Reinhard Heydrich?).
Snyder’s closing question—“Were these people victims of Stalin or of Hitler? Or both?”—would have been considered beyond the pale of mainstream historiography until relatively recently. Until this stage of Washington’s project to reconquer the globe, such equivocations would’ve been the domain of marginal “revisionist” historians. These figures had reputations that were tainted with the stink of fascism—one pamphlet on Holocaust denial explains that the most extreme form of “revisionist history” is Holocaust denial, since both are points on a spectrum of minimizing Nazi crimes. Several critics and historians observed the parallels between Snyder’s blockbuster text and the work of people like Ernst Nolte: one critic writes that “Snyder applies many of Nolte’s tropes without framing them as such.” Another historian goes so far as to call Snyder “Ernst Nolte’s grandson.”
Again, keep in mind that about 15 years ago Nolte’s ideas were “really scandalous.”
Snyder’s work was useful at this particular moment because it augmented the rise of US-backed regimes throughout Russia’s periphery, which consolidated Washington’s rule over Eastern Europe by rehabilitating earlier fascist governments.
A journal which “respectfully diagree[s]” with Snyder points out that in 2011, Snyder was honored by Lithuania’s foreign minister the same week that the Lithuanian government reburied the country’s Nazi-puppet prime minister with full honors. The same Lithuanian foreign minister explained that Snyder’s work would be useful for pushing the wider “double genocide” offensive. Advocating for the interment, one professor in Kaunas, Lithuania complained that “the Jews” and “Jewish organizations aren’t really predisposed to looking further into these complex nuances of Lithuanian history,” and praised Timothy Snyder specifically for “helping the West to comprehend what happened here.” Defending History explains that “Earlier (ab)use of Bloodlands included a September 2011 book event held at the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry where passages were misquoted to defame Jewish partisan veterans,” and notes that Snyder has typically remained silent when such moves are publicly condemned by Holocaust scholars.
In 2012, the Estonian government passed a law honoring anyone who fought the Soviets during WWII as a “freedom fighter”—a designation that includes fascist irregulars and the country’s Waffen-SS. The same year, neo-Nazi rallies began enjoying government sanction (they have increased in number since then). Naturally, in 2015, the President of Estonia honored Timothy Snyder for his work.
In the post-socialist states, the strongest fascist currents blew through Kiev. When the 2005 “Orange Revolution” brought pro-Western leader Viktor Yushchenko to power, his administration began a major campaign to rehabilitate and publicly honor Ukrainian nationalist leaders. Dave Emory points out that Yushchenko’s wife, First Lady of Ukraine “Ykaterina Chumachenko, [was] head of the OUN/B’s leading front organization in the US and Ronald Reagan’s Deputy Director of Public Liaison. With the Yuschenko regime in power, OUN/B founder Stephan Bandera was named a hero of the Ukraine. [Bandera’s lieutenant] Roman Shukhevych was also granted that honor.” Ukraine honored Stepan Bandera with a postage stamp in 2009. In 2010 the Yushchenko administration organized the installation of a plaque for Yaroslav Stetsko, the OUN-B leader who oversaw the massacre of 7,000 Jews in Lviv, outside of what had been Stetsko’s Munich home. Statues were erected to OUN-B leaders and other Nazi collaborators throughout Ukraine, and streets were re-named in their honors.
With Snyder’s success, ideas that were once relegated to the fascist fringes were brought into the mainstream. The Economist, which called Bloodlands “revisionist history of the best kind,” didn’t need to be told twice that revisionist history of the worst kind was on its way in.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, who was canonized as an untouchable cultural titan when he was dubbed the next James Baldwin, listened to most of one chapter of Bloodlands and concluded that the Nazis weren’t necessarily the “bad guys”: “no struggle versus fascism, just ‘chaos out there.’” It’s worth pointing out that this hand-wringing over “moral ambiguity” is less ambivalent than it looks. Someone in Coates’ position would never defend something like the Soviet government’s mass-relocation of Crimean Tatars, for instance, because the dispensations of “moral ambiguity” are reserved for legitimizing the atrocities of their class confederates. Just like the “shoot-and-cry” sub-genre only defends American imperialism and not, say, Hezbollah resistance, faux “moral ambiguity” in WWII revisionism is only used to normalize Nazi crimes, not to achieve a genuinely nuanced understanding.*
Snyder’s work also solidified the fascist “Holodomor” narrative in the mainstream. Until relatively recently, the fact that the 1932-3 famine was not genocide was relatively well-established. Academic Barbara Martin explains that the term “Holodomor” became canonical following a Ukrainian government campaign in the mid-1990s, which was aided by émigré nationalist historians and career anti-Communist operatives like Robert Conquest and James E. Mace. According to Martin, the famine-genocide narrative would be pushed hardest during periods where the Ukrainian government sought closer ties to the West and took a harder line against Moscow. The most extreme Ukrainian nationalist aspirations would be expressed in late 2013.
The Euromaidan coup, which occurred over the winter of 2013-14, removed the democratically elected, pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych and empowered fascist elements on a scale not seen since the OUN’s declaration of an independent Ukrainian state.
The biggest gains were enjoyed by fascist groups like the Svoboda party, Right Sector [a.k.a. Pravy Sektor], reconstituted Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) members, and the neo-Nazi gang called the Azov Battalion, all of whom comprised part of the fighting cadres that brought down the elected government. As the Nazis did before them, the Maidan regime incorporated existing Ukrainian fascist elements into its command. Multiple high-level US regime figures like John McCain met with neo-Nazi leaders like Svoboda’s Oleh Tyahnibok (Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland distributed donuts along the barricades during the initial protests). In May 2014, a crowd of fascists murdered 48 progressive activists in Odessa when they set fire to the House of Trade Unions. US military advisors trained the Azov Battalion in counterinsurgency warfare. Neo-Nazi torchlight marches returned to Ukraine in a major way after the 2005 color revolution—following Euromaidan, they were back for good, as fascists paraded through the streets with pictures of Stepan Bandera, sieg-heiling and shouting slava Ukraini, slava heroyam (Soviet Constitutions criminalized “advocacy of racial hostility or contempt”).
A more comprehensive accounting of how lousy the Maidan regime is with fascist elements would take many more pages, but Dave Emory provides some examples:
Exemplary of the Nazification of Ukraine is the elevation of Pravy Sektor’s [Dymitro] Yarosh to being an advisor to the chief of the Ukrainian general staff.
Pravy Sektor associate Valentyn Nalyvaichenko had been the head of the SBU (Ukrainian intelligence service) since the Maidan Coup, up until his ouster in June of 2015. Not surprisingly, he had operated the organization along the lines of the OUN/B.
Next, we cover the latest attempt by Volodomyr Viatrovych and Ukraine’s Institute of National Memory to purify Ukraine of any memories that might portray “nationalist” groups like the UPA (the military wing of the OUN/B) as a bunch of Nazi collaborators: Ukraine is investigating a 94-year-old Jewish WWII hero over the death of a UPA propagandist/Nazi collaborator back in 1952… Viatrovych heads the institute for National Memory, the Ukrainian government agency that is implementing the total perversion of Ukraine’s World War II history. The excesses of his department are being created under the aegis of “decommunization.”
An article in the Jewish Chronicle documents the extent of anti-Semitic sentiment that prevails amongst the Maidan clique:
Vasily Vovk–a general who holds a senior reserve rank with the Security Service of Ukraine–wrote that Jews “aren’t Ukrainians and I will destroy you…”
Meanwhile, Ukrainian war hero-turned-lawmaker Nadiya Savchenko came under fire in March after saying during a television interview that Jews held disproportionate control over the levers of power in Ukraine.
More recently, opposition politician Yulia Tymoshenko was forced to apologize after being filmed laughing at an antisemitic comedy act at a gathering of her Fatherland party, and Volodymyr Viatrovych, director of the state-run Institution for National Memory accused Jewish activist Eduard Dolinsky of fabricating antisemitic incidents for money. Viatrovych is also running a public awareness campaign whitewashing the participation of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), a Ukrainian nationalist militia, in the Holocaust.
With fascists in Kiev, neo-Nazis began pogroms against the country’s Roma population, in a modern-day resurrection of the Holocaust’s Romani genocide (known as the Porajmos). For a taste of how easily the capitalist press euphemizes fascists approved by the ruling class, see how the Times of Israel calls the Azov Battalion Nazi death squad the “right-wing Azov neighborhood watch.” This is akin to calling the Ku Klux Klan “a concerned group of conservative citizens,” or ISIS “a club of passionate and pious young activists.”
This sort of treatment typified the Western media’s treatment of Ukrainian nationalists. The bourgeois press either dismissed concerns over fascists as Muscovite propaganda (Timothy Snyder naturally called Euromaidan “a classic popular revolution,” and compared its critics to Lyndon Larouche and Kremlin homophobes), minimized such fears, ignored them altogether, or valorized neo-Nazis while using euphemisms.
One example of the latter case was a spread in Elle France glamorizing attractive young “volunteers” in a “self-defense” group otherwise known as the neo-Nazi Aidar Battalion. Another was a Guardian piece profiling “volunteers in the struggle against pro-Russian separatists,” including a “baby-faced” young woman wielding a Kalashnikov rifle posing in front of a Soviet-made UAZ van adorned with the number 1488 and the symbol of the 36th Waffen-SS Grenadier Division (the Guardian deleted comments pointing out that these women were Nazis, them added some less-vague language about their extremism).
The Maidan coup cemented two trends in American foreign policy. Far-right émigrés had, until recently, been firmly in the Republican camp—one spokesman for an ABN-linked group claimed “The Democratic Party is doing the dirty work of Communism.”42 However, when the Obama administration oversaw the Maidan coup, Ukrainian nationalists became a fully bipartisan project.
Second, a major offensive against Russia once again called for an all-out propaganda campaign, and, once again, Ukrainian fascists were more than happy to be its ideological wellspring. In December 2014, when the United Nations voted on Resolution 69-160 (combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism, and other forms of racial hatred), most of the world voted in favor—the only major states to oppose it were the United States, Canada, and Ukraine.
Brown University professor Vladimir Golstein summarizes the current revisionist trend as dominated by “proto-nazi regimes of Ukraine, Baltics and other East European countries, and among the academics and pseudo-liberals of Timothy Snyder type.” As far as the former, since Washington’s interests were now contiguous with those of Ukrainian fascists, Ukrainian nationalists themselves were brought on as pundits in order to cut out the proverbial middleman. One such person, Andrea Chalupa, became a prominent anti-Russia commentator in 2013. Chalupa was one of the activists behind “Digital Maidan,” and much like Eugene McCarthy, she promotes Ukrainian nationalists (like Right Sector members) as objective experts. One writer argues that there’s extensive evidence to conclude that “the Chalupas are not Democrat or Republican. They are OUN-B.” Like so many others, Chalupa’s star would skyrocket following the 2016 election.
As far as the newly minted anti-Russia “thought” leaders in the Snyder mold, the campaign against Russia offered a fertile field in which to work. For instance, in a September 2015 Time Magazine piece, Timothy Snyder purports to explain “The real reason Russia is ‘helping’ Syria.” Snyder’s argument boils down to what he calls the “Russia doctrine,” which according to Snyder is: “authoritarian leaders are legitimate, while popular resistance is not.” In other words, Putin/Russia’s philosophy is that “dictators are good, democracy is bad.” This would be a good template for a Disney/Marvel superhero movie, but it’s an extremely asinine and vacuous excuse for “scholarship”: leaving aside that Putin, Yanukovych, and Assad were all democratically elected, any objective reading of history says this is a more apt description of the “America doctrine”—as the CIA’s Rositzke put it, “using any bastard as long as he’s anti-communist” (there are also inconvenient facts about how anemic America’s democracy really is; only one president this century has entered the White House with an electoral majority). Or at least it would be, if scholarship were Snyder’s goal, but his job, like that of Conquest and countless others, is to act as a force-multiplier for the NATO foreign ministries.
Just as the Nazis allied with the OUN due to shared ideological affinity, perhaps that’s why the liberal establishment did, too. Setting a model for today’s Democratic luminaries and the ruling class interests they represent, the Banderites were likely the first genocidal fascists to claim the mantle of “anti-fascism” for marketing reasons.
This is the spectacle that would explode in 2016.
#Resisting the Oriental-Bolshevik menace
When Hillary Clinton shocked the world by picking a fight with a cartoon frog and losing, the Democrats decided to blame Clinton’s unexpected loss on Russian treachery. The current panic over “Russian interference” refers to a set of what would objectively be described as conspiracy theories, which range in plausibility from “Russia interfered in the election” by phishing and then leaking emails detailing the actions of the Democratic Party leadership to theories that the KGB turned Donald Trump into a Soviet/Russian asset as early as the 1980s. This was both a continuation and escalation of the anti-Russia campaign that had brought fascist narratives into the mainstream and made Ukrainian nationalists indispensable to the ruling class. By going all-in on a Russian conspiracy panic, the liberal establishment not only owned Ukrainian fascism, it largely adopted its worldview.
It has by now been over a decade since the Democratic Party began marketing itself as the real patriotic American faction. During the George W. Bush years, it’d been a favorite Democratic tactic to manufacture ways that Bush was supposed to be fundamentally different than any other president—think of Michael Moore watching the US invade foreign countries and shovel money to the rich and asking “Dude, where’s my country?”
Liberal luminaries contrasted the “failure” of Iraq against the success of dismembering Yugoslavia and the efficacy of killing Iraqis through sanctions, while peddling countless iterations of the “inept empire” theory. By the time Barack Obama was made the Democratic candidate, their selling-point was that members of the Empire’s liberal wing were more capable stewards of its power. The speech against the Iraq war on which Barack Obama built his candidacy, for instance, used as a leitmotif the phrase “I don’t oppose all wars,” only “dumb” ones. During the Obama years, much was made of a return to soft-power or “smart” power; when the Emperor wasn’t crying crocodile tears over his vaunted soul, he crowed that he was “really good at killing people.” This was the essence of the case for Hillary Clinton. Molly Crabapple, a pundit who dresses like Wednesday Addams so that people won’t notice she sounds like Samantha Power, summed up this aspect of the case for Hillary: she “is a smart, amoral and competent steward of American empire.”
It’s the same spirit animating the calls to impeach Trump in order to install the competent evangelical Christian theocrat Mike Pence, (someone could be forgiven for thinking Elizabeth Warren is next in the line of succession, given the tenor of the #WithHer crowd).
Trump makes the ruling class look bad by saying what they’re doing with some of the niceties and euphemisms removed. Trump declared that he would build a border wall at a major campaign event, whereas Obama waited for smaller events like a 2011 speech in El Paso to boast that “the fence [along the Mexican border] is now basically complete,” and “we have gone above and beyond what was requested by the…Republicans.” Where Trump bragged that he would approve murdering the family members of accused terrorists, it fell to press secretary Robert Gibbs to say that Obama felt no remorse for murdering the family members of accused terrorists. Of course, many of the differences were no differences at all, like how both Trump and Obama claim that white racists are equivalent to anti-racist radicals.
The current campaign has been useful for rehabilitating seemingly every member of the power elite, and every ruling class institution, that isn’t directly connected to the Trump administration or the Breitbart network. The non-stop cavalcade of Trump horrors on the news, coupled with Trump’s high-profile antipathy to the media, has made Americans who pay attention to these things “increasingly confident in the news media,” according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll. Media celebrities who comprised the “far-right” during the Tea Party’s heyday get to be rehabilitated as reasonable centrists as long as they say that Trump and the alt-right go too far. Trump essentially wiped not only Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s slates clean, he has rescued the reputations of even the Bush junta, from George W. to John Yoo. Pundits are even saying nice things about Katrina—as in Hurricane Katrina.
Trump is so repulsive that he provides a unique opportunity to paint American evils as foreign impositions. To that end, on the campaign trail, Trump was compared to Hugo Chávez, Mao, Kim Jong-il, Ali Khameini, Rodrigo Duterte, and seemingly every “bad” Third World villain. He is African, he is Central Asian, he is Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Latin American. He should be anything other than American or quintessentially Western, and this is in keeping with the racist and reactionary liberal tradition. Hannah Arendt’s argument against white supremacy is that bigotry was a vestige of “African tribalism” or “Oriental” thinking. In a rules-for-resisting Trump article, Timothy Snyder tells his readers to “Be a patriot. The incoming president is not,” by which he means that Trump serves Oriental masters rather than Lady Liberty (he also accuses Trump of “the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary”). In an extreme case, Timothy Snyder’s forebear Ernst Nolte contrasted the “liberal idyll” of Nazi Germany against the “Asian” despotism of the USSR.
Liberal luminaries who had established themselves as anti-Russian experts have been very busy shoring up support for the existing order. Timothy Snyder, for instance, quickly put out a glorified Facebook post called On Tyranny which shot to #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. The messages that aren’t just feel-good platitudes amount to various iterations of “pay fealty and redouble your allegiance to the traditional liberal establishment”: Follow the courts or the media; be a patriot; vote (Democrat); subscribe to print media; and read Václav Havel, George Orwell, Hannah Arendt, and Peter Pomerantsev.
Take a moment to appreciate that Snyder advocates resisting the Trump Administration (in a patriotic American way) while he blames anti-fascist partisans for “provoking” Nazi reprisals. This is a common theme with the celebrity #resist crowd: Wire creator David Simon told people to “pick up a goddamn brick“ in response to the latest Trump court intrigue; a couple years earlier he told black Americans protesting police brutality to “go home,” specifically scolding them for being unable to “seek redress and demand reform without a brick in your hand.”
Sarah Kendzior, who was well-positioned as an anti-Russia operator, was one of the first to apply the “Russian hacking” narrative to the 2016 election back when people were shutting down airports to protest Trump rather than being browbeaten about the virtues of World War 3. Kendzior helped shape the liberal #Resist campaign, promote the next crop of celebrities, and peddle LaRouchite misinformation (remember when Snyder compared Euromaidan skeptics to Lyndon LaRouche and said that was bad?)—while fomenting hysteria by claiming that Trump was going to assassinate her (if there is a modern-day COINTELPRO, Kendzior is definitely involved, although not on the side she claims on twitter).
Ukrainian nationalist Andrea Chalupa was named one of “16 people who shaped the 2016 election” and has seen her career boom, as with so many others (still no word on her movie about “Stalin’s famine,” although I’m predicting another single-digit Tomatometer rating).
Thought-leaders like these boosted a new crop of reactionaries like Terrell J. Starr. As a glowing profile in The Root put it, by way of dubbing Starr “Black America’s Russian translator”: “outlets are looking for a fresh take on Russian politics and American vulnerabilities. Terrell J. Starr—tall, black, lanky, with a Detroit accent, and who is just as likely to lay out facts in Russian as he is to compare Putin to Marlo Stansfield from The Wire—has stepped into the gap.”
Starr has a biography like that of a traditional Russia commentator/intelligence asset. He did a Fulbright scholarship in Russia, and claims to have been in the Ukraine during the 2005 color revolution, as well as in Georgia during the August 2008 war. He looks very much like an operative positioned to do this for a living, rather than an opportunistic fly-by-night huckster like Eric Garland (who can’t tell the difference between Russian and Serbo-Croatian, and implies that only a Kremlin plant would). At the very least, Starr claims to be able to call up high-ranking US diplomats, in this case former US ambassador to Georgia Richard Miles, to provide quotes for Storify threads—an astonishingly generous dispensation for a lowly online columnist.
Before the 2016 election, Starr wrote generic articles profiling Russian treachery, as well as pieces euphemizing the neo-Nazi Svoboda party as “a nationalist party in western Ukraine that many accuse of being fascist and anti-Semitic.” (“the KKK is a nationalist group that many accuse of lynchings and terrorism.”), while reassuring his readers that Ukraine’s color revolution would turn out much differently than Georgia’s, which somehow did not end corruption.**
After the election, Starr did what all his peers did. Here he is speaking to The Root, a website aimed at black liberals: “The hack happened. I know that we have history with COINTELPRO and that the CIA operates under white supremacy. But they are serious about national security. If we start to doubt them [CIA] when it comes to something like the Russians infiltrating, that really makes us no better than Donald Trump.”
This is a sly bit of propaganda. Speaking to an audience that’s likely to know of America’s fascist treatment of minorities and correctly see white supremacy as systemic, Starr adduces COINTELPRO as something to bolster his own credibility, so he can then boost the CIA’s credibility (while including an insipid grad-studenty hedge about the CIA “operating under” white supremacy, as though all it needs is to be rebooted with a progressive new OS in order to do intersectional drone strikes). He then compares those skeptical towards CIA propaganda campaigns to Donald Trump himself.
Starr also has a habit of describing Russia through a Nazi perspective:
The fact that he analogizes Putin to Marlo from The Wire—rather than Voldemort or King Joffrey or something—surely makes him useful for delivering what amount to Nazi racial theories to a unique target audience.
However, fascist rhetoric is actually the norm these days among liberals. To properly set the stage for what’s going on, here is a video of former MSNBC personality Keith Olbermann with an unhinged rant about “Russian scum”:
Here, from the Stanley Kubrick/Terry Southern classic Dr. Stangelove, is Sterling Hayden’s General Jack T. Ripper. Since 1968 was a long time ago, some of the younger folks might not recognize that Ripper’s obsession with the contamination of America’s “precious bodily fluids” is a reference to the John Birch Society. John Birch members were reactionary zealots whose anti-communism was so extreme that the group even saw Dwight Eisenhower as a Soviet agent.
Notice how the contemporary (real-life) liberal commentator is several orders of magnitude more deranged and bloodthirsty than a literal parody of a genocidal Bircher.
With that in mind, here’s has-been professional “anti-racist” celebrity Tim Wise denigrating Russian society and culture with century-old Orientalist tropes re-heated from the previous Cold War:
And here’s the Executive Director of the Los Angeles branch of CAIR celebrating the deaths of the Alexandrov choral and dance ensemble, and wishing that more Russian citizens had been killed:
Had it really only been 2 years since #IlsEtaientCharlie? I guess a superb music and dance show doesn’t tickle some Westerners the way racist cartoons do.
Here’s America’s anguished liberal Cassandra, David Simon, extolling the relative decency of Adolf Hitler while predictably boosting the latest State Department op (he wisely if quietly backed off from this point while calling all his critics stupid):
Here’s the New Yorker magazine—the lifestyle mag of America’s urban bourgeoisie—presenting various iterations of the thesis that Donald Trump is ruining America by introducing Oriental elements. Observe how in that first story, the fact that Trump associates with known Asians is supposed to be some sort of gallows humor.
The idea that Trump is making America Oriental is a popular one.
Here’s Colin Jost, the “comedian” who hosts Saturday Night Live’s “humorous” news segment, with a “joke” tacitly praising the Nazis’ Operation Barbarossa, which killed 27 million people and saw many of the worst horrors ever conceived of by the human mind:
[C.W.: Disturbing graf] Historian Richard Rashke explains that Eastern Europe’s Waffen-SS divisions “executed Soviet POWs and assisted the Nazi Einsatzgruppen in rounding up, robbing, and killing Jews Gypsies, and communists, […] raped and forced women to work as sex slaves, [and] tossed babies in the air for target practice.” This is what Jost glibly refers to as the Third Reich “taking on Russia.” This is, at the risk of editorializing, monstrously depraved. It is not editorializing to say that this borders on (if not qualifies as) Holocaust denial. No country that would allow a person to legally say this on television, much less be paid for it, has any right to exist.
These are, to borrow from the military poster which Edgar Snow saw all those decades ago, the product of false racial theories, ignorance, and moral filth.
And these are, according to the mainstream accounting, the ones marketed as “progressives.”
There is an unmistakably fascist tone to all this commentary, which smacks of Nazi race science—although fascist race science is truly as American as the lynching, and with Donald Trump in the White House, it’s become fashionable to say so. Since Trump’s election, there have been a spate of articles in mainstream publications detailing how the Nazis were inspired by the American eugenics movement and Jim Crow. This is because with a Republican in office, even the most simpering liberals claim to become “radicalized,” and magically gain the power to see the systemic nature of white supremacy for one or another quadrennial increment. A couple months after the election, Politico was even quoting Michael Parenti.
However, just like the election was a choice between two reactionary extremists (Repulsive Ronald Reagan or Hillary W. Clinton), the ruling class has two brands of fascism to offer at the moment. People can take the Trump variety, with ghoulish jokes about “helicopter rides,” #BlueLivesMatter, and a fringe set of torch-wielding would-be squadristi as ideological confrères.
Liberals offer not antifascism, but a contemporary Banderite variant, complete with ghastly jokes praising Barbarossa, Nazi rhetoric about Slavs, and a set of theories about Vladimir Putin drawn straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
If seeing the world as a product of racist conspiracy theories is the hallmark of fascist thinking, then the mainstream liberal resistance is undoubtedly fascist in content. Hillary Clinton was beta-testing the theory that The Russians are behind all her woes as early as 2014, back when she was claiming that the Kremlin secretly backed the anti-fracking movement (Clinton was, of course, a fracking advocate).
After the election, the Russian-hacking op was spun-up in full, and people have been subjected to a deafening propaganda onslaught every hour of every day. The only propaganda operations that have been this loud this century are the response to 9/11, the drive to invade Iraq, and Obamania (Russian election hacking—from the folks who brought you Iraq’s WMDs!™). It’s hard to calculate all the frauds, speciously sourced claims, and quickly forgotten accusations that fall by the wayside which have been generated by this campaign (though Robert Parry has written a great deal of good material).
Since Russian forces entered Crimea back in 2014, it’s hard to think of some bourgeois anxiety that hasn’t been blamed on the Russian government. The Russian state has been cast with seemingly omnipotent sway over the imaginations of gullible Westerners, and any skepticism towards the State Department line is treated as the result of Kremlin brainwashing. In that vein, it’s not uncommon to see online commenters argue that progressives who didn’t vote for Hillary failed to do so because they had been tricked surreptitiously by the Kremlin. Bernie Sanders is a Russian “useful idiot” or even agent; some months ago, news outlets were passing around a picture of Green Party candidate Jill Stein at a dinner for RT (formerly Russia Today) as “proof” that Stein entered the race to ruin the Democratic Party’s prospects (wanting to spoil Hillary’s dreams is the only motivation that Democrats can impute to anyone more progressive than a Democrat). In fact, it’s common to see anyone who doesn’t toe the line get accused of being a Putin plant, a Kremlin stooge, or an automated Russian propaganda-bot.
Liberals claim that Putin is using his unique powers of deception to destroy the very fabric of Western civilization: see Slate’s “Vladimir Putin has a plan for destroying the West” (July 2016), Politico’s “Russia’s Plot Against the West” (March 2017), Newsweek’s “Inside Putin’s Campaign to Destroy U.S. Democracy” (March 2017), the UK Express’s “Russia’s secret plan to destroy EU and NATO” (August 2016), and–of course—Euromaidan Press’s “Putin using Western values to destroy the West” (June 2016). To document the litany of crimes against civilization for which Putin stands accused is outside the scope of any single 20,000-word essay.
The idea that Jews are both a tiny minority and seemingly omnipotent would seem a contradiction, but fascist anti-Semitism holds that Jews have a powerful corrupting influence and are devoid of morals. The same Nazi narrative suffuses the current anti-Russia campaign, which characterizes the act of deception itself as somehow inherently Russian.
Kompromat recently entered the political lexicon as a supposedly Slavic deception tactic, although it just means “blackmail.” In the practice of espionage, there is an acronym—MICE—which indicates the reasons that an agent traditionally turns-coat, and it stands for Money, Ideology, Compromise, and Ego. Spying is famously known as the world’s second-oldest profession, and compromise (or kompromat, if you’d rather use Oriental sobriquets for deceptive practices) is a central part of spying. So the idea that “blackmail” is somehow an invention of the KGB is based on Western chauvinism rather than fact.
Samantha Power refers to a campaign of “Russian dezinformatsiya,” using a Russian word when the English term disinformation would be perfectly acceptable, much like how Marx’s Capital was invariably called Das Kapital during the Cold War to emphasize its foreignness and incompatibility with American values. As with “whataboutism,” “disinformation” was a term invented by anti-communists at the tail end of the Cold War to paint the Soviets as uniquely dishonest—all of these terms deployed to paint universally used means of rhetoric and political intrigue as “devious invention[s] of the inscrutable Russian mind.”
Adam Curtis, the filmmaker who did quite a good job covering the birth of advertising and propaganda with 2001’s Century of the Self, decided in 2016’s HyperNormalisation that the avatars of elite misinformation were actually Fred and Donald Trump, Hafez al-Assad, New York bankers (hrmm…), and—of course—Vladimir Putin.
Blackmail is Russified as kompromat, disinformation is dezinformatsiya, deception becomes maskirovka, anything inconvenient or embarrassing to the NATO governments is the result of “Russian active measures,” and disagreeing with the State Department isn’t just bad anymore—it’s a front in Russia’s “hybrid war” on the West (skepticism as an act of asymmetrical warfare; it was bound to come to this eventually).
By way of an experiment: if the current anti-Russia campaign has the essential tropes of classical anti-Semitism, then it will probably produce recognizably anti-Semitic agitprop. In case that demonic caricature of Putin looking like a creature straight from the pages of Der Stürmer doesn’t illustrate the point, here is a headline from mainstream political magazine Politico, presented without comment:
For the Nazis, Judaism and Bolshevism were inextricably linked. Since today’s liberal luminaries are also enacting a fascist campaign, they also blend racism with anti-Communism. When he is not being compared to every non-white demon-despot, the current president is called “comrade Trump.” MSNBC’s Joy Ann Reid has been one of the pre-eminent pushers of this racist red-baiting nonsense, calling Trump a fan of “communist Russia” and saying the CPUSA would admire Trump and Putin. When Reid says Trump is suspect because he married “two women from what used to be Soviet Yugoslavia,” this might look idiotic, but it’s consistent with Reid’s goal of propagandizing through racist guilt-by-association. Joy Ann Reid went to Harvard, so she knows that Russia is no longer socialist, just like she knows that Slovakia was neither Soviet nor Yugoslav, just like Yale’s Timothy Snyder knows that the “Holodomor” is a Nazi lie and his work was once considered reactionary fringe nonsense.
Domenico Losurdo observes that it has been a hallmark of right-wing propaganda throughout history to paint one’s target as a mélange of every foreign menace all at once: “To their opponents, the Bolsheviks were Asiatics and colored people, just as the Jacobins were Turks. Both pertained to Islam for the same reason that now, turning to America, the Communards and socialists or communists (or even mere strikers) were equated with ‘redskins’ or, once again, ‘Turks’”43 This is not to compare Trump and Putin to Lenin and L’Ouverture, only to observe that the mainstream narrative about Trump is reactionary to the core.
Of course, this Orientalist campaign against Russian treachery is merely a pretext for further fascist policing and propaganda in the core. Beginning in 2008, liberal ruling class-functionary Cass Sunstein spearheaded a campaign against “conspiracy theories,” advocating for the government to disseminate “grey” or “black” propaganda against alternative thinking, if not employ some kind of ban or sanction on disapproved speech. In the last few years, “Russian aggression” has become an ideal justification. In a leaked email between State Department official Richard Stengel and Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton, Stengel enlisted Sony’s help in countering “Russian narratives in central and eastern Europe” by enlisting A-list celebrities.
Actually, anything that contradicts the State Department is, ipso facto, Russian propaganda pumped out by the Kremlin. A report published by the CIA front known as the National Endowment for Democracy whines that “One need only look at how warped and false arguments about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine snaked their way into the debate in the United States and Europe…In today’s helter-skelter, fragmented media world, it is much easier for authoritarian governments to manipulate the global understanding of important issues, making it harder to distinguish between authentic and phony information.”
The fact that Crimean citizens voted overwhelmingly via referendum to join the Russian Federation is entirely credible, yet it is presumably a “warped and false argument” and “phony information,” since it contradicts the Washington line. If a fact contradicts the DNC and CNN, then it is by definition a Russian PsyOp, regardless of its objective truth-value.
Consider the case of Canada’s current Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, a virulent anti-Russian hard-liner and the granddaughter of a Nazi collaborator. Freeland’s grandfather, Michael Chomiak, was the editor of the Krakivs’ki visti newspaper in Nazi-run Ukraine from 1940-45. According to a Harvard history, “there can be no doubt that Krakivs’ki visti enjoyed more autonomy than any other legal Ukrainian-language publication under the German occupation,” which means that Chomiak’s work pleased the Nazis. Freeland subsequently lied about her grandfather’s history, claiming that he fled in 1939, and she probably did so because she believes in the Ukrainian nationalist project: in a 2008 op-ed for the Financial Times, Freeland described Stepan Bandera as the “western Ukrainian partisan leader…who led a guerrilla war against the Nazis and the Soviets and was poisoned on orders from Moscow.” In 2015, “Freeland was the only MP from the Liberal Party to join with Conservative MP’s including Jason Kenney in a ceremony celebrating a gift from the Government of Latvia to the Memorial for the Victims of Communism project.”
No matter: when controversy erupted in early 2017 over Freeland whitewashing her grandfather’s Nazi history, since it was embarrassing to the anti-Russia campaign, it was automatically a Russian PsyOp. In an interview with reporters to announce an extension of Canada’s military mission in Ukraine, Freeland blamed her grandfather’s collaboration on Russian disinformation and “efforts on the Russian side to destabilize Western democracies…it shouldn’t come as a surprise if these same efforts were used against Canada.” In two op-eds, Canadian author Terry Glavin blasted the revelation as a “hoax” and “a textbook case of Russian disinformation by conspiracy theory.” A professor at Royal Military College in Kingston wrote in the Ottawa Citizen in March 2017 that “It was fake news then and still is.”
Since Trump’s election, “fake news” joined “propaganda” amongst the litany of slurs used to delegitimize critical thinking. Countless oligarchs, corporations, and ruling class institutions have pumped money into policing alternative narratives, including Pierre Omidyar, Open Societies, the Ford Foundation, and others. Last week Samantha Power declared that the West would have to institute “real umpires” to control the flow of information online. At the same time, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook is “actively working with the US government.”
For an example of how this will work, see a piece last week on how “Reddit could be the next target for federal investigators exploring Russian influence over the 2016 presidential election.” What is the evidence that Russia exerted influence on Reddit? There were “many fake news stories can be traced back to the platform.” What do pseudonymous people posting about Pizzagate have to do with Russia, though? Well, nothing, really—the expert quoted by the piece concedes that the “fake news” posts “weren’t definitively examples of foreign influence,” and indeed there was nothing to indicate any foreign connection whatsoever. However, the danger is that “Reddit’s open nature makes it more useful to foreign actors,” and “could also be vulnerable to foreign interference because the site has much looser terms of service.” This is a problem because the liberal establishment has adopted both the Banderite fixation on Russia and the fascist propensity for diagnosing all social decay as the result of treachery from the East. So we arrive at the current moment: since Russia can corrupt Western minds through any channel that’s not directly policed or monitored, then all channels must be policed and monitored, lest Russia corrupt Western minds. Q.E.D.
This is naturally being used to disappear Communists and anti-imperialists, which is what happens every time fascists take power (USA Today included Hugo Turner’s excellent radical site Anti-Imperialist-U on a list of “Kremlin-linked alt-right media.” Cheers, Hugo! They also managed to fuck up transcribing a three-word URL, so cheers to USA Today as well). The website PropOrNot, claiming to aggregate sources of “pro-Kremlin” propaganda, included radical websites like CounterPunch and Black Agenda Report—actually, if there’s one thing the ruling class truly fears, it’s not the Russian agenda, it’s a radical black agenda.
Like any fascist campaign, this is aimed at racial minorities in order to bolster the rule of the wealthiest. The fact that many black Americans and their allies started protesting police killings and some won’t stop is undoubtedly causing at least a few billionaires to break sweats, since they know that mass repression of racial minorities is inherent to capitalism and will only end when capitalism itself ends.
Because of this, the anti-Russia campaign will naturally be used to protect American white supremacy. Chris Floyd points out that a series of campaigns organized by ruling class functionaries are invoking the Bull Conner-esque, Civil Rights Era-smear of “outside agitators” to paint Black Lives Matter and other anti-racism campaigns as a Russian plot. Sarah Kendzior herself, doyenne of the twitter “radical-liberals,” was one of the first to resurrect the outside agitator smear against the Ferguson protests—at one point she shared a piece from a neo-Nazi website called The Missouri Torch in order to smear black Communists (what sort of progressive anti-racist is reading obscure white supremacist websites at all, much less sharing them with tens of thousands of people?) As the state murders intransigent black activists, there’s a utility to having “a pox-on-both-houses” liberals like Ta-Nehisi Coates and “woke Banderites” like Terrell J. Starr around to deliver anti-Communism to African-Americans, whom Professor Gerald Horne calls “the least anticommunist and the most left-leaning of any constituency in this nation”
Speaking of PropOrNot, there’s likely no better illustration of how Ukrainian fascists are the spearhead of the ruling class’s current anti-Russia offensive. The Washington Post was always a CIA-heavy publication, even before Amazon’s $600 million contract with the Agency. The month after the last election, the Post published a call for an online blacklist compiled by an anonymous group calling itself “PropOrNot.” Mark Ames points out that PropOrNot’s twitter account tweets the OUN-B’s motto “Heroiam Slava!,” and its blacklist looks very much like a similar campaign against journalists initiated by the Maidan regime beginning in 2014. An anonymous website slandering journalists and obscure blogs alike as Kremlin stooges wouldn’t be newsworthy unless it served some sort of interest, and in the current fascist climate, it clearly does.
In a testament to their fascism (which largely went unnoticed at the time), the team behind PropOrNot told their users to join “The YYYcampaignYYY.” According to their website, “The YYYcampaignYYY is an effort to crowdsource identifying Russian propaganda outlets and sympathizers. To participate, when you see a social-media account, commenter, or outlet echoing Russian propaganda themes, highlight it with YYYs accordingly!” This is exactly like the so-called (((echo quotes))) that neo-Nazis online use to identify Jews or those they perceive as under Jewish influence (we’ll know that the ruling class is serious about anti-fascism when all the blue-checks bracket their usernames with YYYs in solidarity).
In any reasonably humane society, all this would be considered an unhinged, bloodthirsty, and objectively racist campaign. But America is currently in the midst of a fascist hysteria, to drum up support for what the Soviets diagnosed as the “plunder of peace-loving peoples.”
This onslaught has nothing to do with making Russia more democratic. Washington’s current favored candidate for a future Russian color revolution, Alexei Navalny, marches with skinheads and all but advocates for genocide against Russian Caucasians (calling them “cockroaches” who should be shot).
The campaign against Russia and the rest of the world exists because America is the headquarters of capitalism. Capitalism drives imperialism, and there are only so many markets left to open. The war on Syria continues because the Syrian Arab Republic remains the last bulwark of Arab nationalism against Zionism and foreign exploitation. When NATO succeeded in destroying the Libyan socialist Jamahiriya (so that black Africans could be treated like black Americans), the African continent lost its chief bulwark against foreign domination.
Under Emperor Obama, the US made tremendous counterrevolutionary gains in rolling back Latin America’s pink tide, a sustained political movement to undo centuries-long colonial underdevelopment. During the most recent stage of the fascist onslaught against Venezuela, one of America’s great democratic hopes revealed himself: following a terrorist attack on the country’s Supreme Court, the aspiring Pinochet declared himself a “nationalist” in the service of “Jesus Christ.”
Obama announced a “strategic pivot” towards Asia in hopes of crushing the People’s Republic of China. Today, the Trump Administration issues deranged threats against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which was subjected to America’s first Cold War-era genocide as punishment for liberating itself from colonial slavery and has charted an independent course ever since.
For all their ambition, the Nazis could never have hoped to so subjugate the world as Washington has for the last century, and insists on doing today. However, just as the Nazis could not take Britain, Iran, or India before defeating the USSR, Washington seeks to reduce Russia to failed-state status once more, so that the rest of the world will consequently be weaker. The State Department knows that while the Russian government declined to veto the UN resolution that led to regime change in Libya, it ultimately intervened militarily in Syria in 2015—Tripoli fell, Damascus stands.
This campaign for continued global supremacy has meant an enormous buildup of NATO ships, jets, and armor units along the Russian periphery, complete with frequent provocative actions and simulated invasions. As a sign that the United States intends for this state of affairs to be permanent, NATO is building a series of 6 new command centers in Eastern Europe. With a brazenness that would impress Julius Streicher, the bourgeois press accuses Russia of sending troops to “NATO’s borders,” as though Washington and Brussels hadn’t chosen to move that line from the Fulda gap to St. Petersburg (see The New York Times, US News & World Report, and Business Insider).
Russians can’t fail to observe that this looks very much like the prelude to Operation Barbarossa.
NATO is even taking the heretofore unprecedented step of valorizing Nazi terrorists: in July 2017, NATO released a short film in honor of the “Forest Brothers,” an insurgent army which terrorized the Baltics for several years after the end of the Great Patriotic War (Bandera founded the Ukrainian Insurgent Army as a stay-behind terrorist insurgency for the same ends). The ranks of the Forest Brothers were largely made up of Eastern European Waffen-SS members—the savages who “used babies for target practice.” In 1983, Reagan invited OUN-B leader Yaroslav Stetsko to the White House: “Your struggle is our struggle,” Reagan told the Banderite genocidaire, “Your dream is our dream” In 2017, a piece published by a NATO think-tank and shared by Stratfor says “The West is now, commendably, recognizing the post-war anti-Soviet resistance in the Baltic states as a kind of proto-NATO.”
They are correct: just like the OUN-B’s dream is shared by the White House, the fascist gangs who terrorized the USSR were indeed a proto-NATO.
As they did before the Great Patriotic War, fascist barbarians wield torches as they march through Eastern Europe. Moreover, those leaders who send troops to Russia’s borders wail about “Russian aggression” and claim to be acting in the noblest motives of self-preservation as they colonize the globe. This may look a lot like the prelude to another Barbarossa, but at least the current campaign has distinctly American twists: this month sees the release of a star-studded campaign where celebrities prepare Americans for World War III, complete with Morgan Freeman intoning “We have been attacked. We are at war.”
It’s not enough to merely institute fascism under the guise of an absurd, ersatz “anti-fascism”—this can only happen if people don’t know of or recognize genuine anti-fascism (which is why the FRG liquidated much of the GDR’s anti-fascist library). To accomplish this, the NATO governments have to demolish, slander, and bury any reminder of fascism’s gravedigger: socialism, and the Red Army which ended the Holocaust.
Throughout the former socialist world, reactionary governments destroy monuments to the army that defeated the Nazis whom these same governments are celebrating today. Under the country’s “decommunization” campaign, the right-wing Polish government passed a law to demolish all the country’s Red Army monuments. The Maidan regime recently announced that it had removed all the Lenin statues within its territorial control. According to one survey, only 13% of European respondents now believe that the Soviet Union played the decisive role in defeating the Third Reich, with 43% crediting the United States. This is quite the inversion of reality, which was recognized in 1945.
But what do the liberal leaders of the West say about all this? After all, they’re the ones whom we’re told are fighting to protect progressive values from the twin evils of fascism and Oriental illiberalism, brought to America through the emissary of these retrograde values: the Manchurian candidate of Donald Trump.
I’ll tell you what Canada’s golden-boy Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last month: he said “slava Ukraini!”
Special thanks to Kevin Dooley for proofreading.
Further reading and viewing:
Paul Moreira’s documentary on post-Maidan Ukrainian fascists: Ukraine – the Masks of the Revolution
Grover Furr: “The ‘Holodomor’ and the Film Bitter Harvest are Fascist Lies”
Mark Tauger: “Retrospective for Yale Agrarian Studies”
* It’s worth pointing out that the supposed injunction against praising Nazism has always been less ironclad than alleged. While the swastika is banned in Germany and other European countries, Communist symbolism has been de facto banned in right-wing, anti-communist dictatorships throughout the world, like the Southern Cone military dictatorships, Franco’s Spain, Suharto’s Indonesia, Greece under the Colonels, etc. And while progressive mass movements and the presence of the socialist bloc created taboos against excessive praise for fascism, mainstream pundits and thinkers have generally been more willing to praise reaction than socialism. It’s inconceivable that a blue-check would praise Stalin or Mao, while it’s not difficult to find someone as mainstream as Ta-Nehisi Coates’ inspiration Matt Yglesias extolling the “good ideas” of Nazi Germany and Hitler.
For all the mass-culture depictions of Nazis as the ultimate villains, mass-cult products generally depict fascism with a darkly erotic appeal (think of History Channel programming or American History X). In contrast, socialism (with the possible exception of tropical Cuba) is invariably depicted as a drab, grey, “totalitarian” horror, where grim people in unisex jumpsuits queue endlessly for porridge and black bread—in other words, fascism without the sleek Hugo Boss-aesthetic or the trains running on time.
** Fighting “corruption” (which exists in every country) is usually the public rationale behind color revolutions, along with anodyne values like “transparency” and “press freedom.” Yet Washington-backed color revolutions rarely improve these conditions, and even seem to exacerbate these ills. A 2016 article in the Financial Times began by lamenting that “Two years on from the protests that ousted pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich, Ukraine’s revolution is confronting its central paradox: many of the leaders who emerged from it were veterans of the oligarch-dominated political system it aimed to sweep away.” Maidan swept out the elements that weren’t sufficiently obsequious to the US and NATO, but it didn’t do anything about corruption… what a paradox! In a 2008 New York Times article, a Georgian journalist said that “The paradox is that there was more media freedom before the Rose Revolution.” The 2004 color revolution that brought pro-Western president Mikheil Saakashvili to power actually made press freedom worse… another giant paradox!
This is what the world looks like without the benefit of a scientific socialist worldview. Out of the ol’ crooked timber of humanity comes ineptitude and bungling, thus is the course of human events explicable mostly as a bewildering set of hypocrisies, ironies, and paradoxes. If only people other than “us” weren’t so dumb—but until everyone’s as smart as “we” are, the best we can do is endlessly point out double-standards until our leaders realize that their behavior doesn’t live up to their rhetoric. The vacuity of this worldview, and how little it really explains about our world, is a testament to what Fidel Castro summarized as the benefit of Marxism:
Marxism taught me what society was. I was like a blindfolded man in a forest, who doesn’t even know where north or south is. If you don’t eventually come to truly understand the history of the class struggle, or at least have a clear idea that society is divided between the rich and the poor, and that some people subjugate and exploit other people, you’re lost in a forest.
1) Michael Parenti, Inventing Reality: The Politics of the Mass Media (St. Martin’s Press, 1986), 113-14.
2) Robert Murray, Red Scare: A Study in National Hysteria, 1919-1920, quoted in ibid, 114.
3) Count Hugo von Lerchenfeld, quoted in Michael Sayers & Albert E. Kahn, The Plot Against the Peace (New York: Dial Press, 1945), p. 99.
4) Edgar Snow, The Pattern of Soviet Power (Random House, 1945), pp. 99-100.
5) Anna Louise Strong, Peoples of the USSR (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 1944), p. 78.
6) Merle Fainsod, Smolensk Under Soviet Rule (New York: Vintage Books, 1958).
7) Carl Geiser, Prisoners of the Good Fight: The Spanish Civil War, 1936-39, (Lawrence Hill & Co., 1986), p. 4.
8) Ibid., p. 52-53.
9) Ibid., p. 22.
10) Douglas Tottle, Fraud, Famine and Fascism: The Ukrainian Genocide Myth from Hitler to Harvard (Toronto: Progress Books, 1987), p. 35.
11) David Nasaw, The Chief: the Life of William Randolph Hearst (Mariner Books, 2001), p. 510.
12) Douglas Tottle, Fraud, Famine and Fascism, p. 15.
13) Ibid., pp. 12-13.
14) Ibid., pp. 23-27.
15) Wendy Lower, The Diary of Samuel Golfard and the Holocaust in Galicia (Documenting Life and Destruction: Holocaust Sources in Context) (AltaMira Press, 2015), p. 5.
16) Ethnic Chicago: A Multicultural Portrait, eds. Melvin Holli & Peter d’Alroy Jones (Eerdmans, 1995), p. 214; Myron B. Kuropas, “Fighting Moscow From Afar,” Anti-Communist Minorities in the U.S.: Political Activism of Ethnic Refugees, ed. Ieva Zake (Palgrave Macmillan US, 2009), p. 49-52.
17) Richard Rhodes, Masters of Death: the SS-Einsatzgruppen and the Invention of the Holocaust (Vintage, 2003), p. 59.
18) Saul Friedländer, The Years of Extermination (HarperCollins, 2007), p. 253-54.
19) Richard Rhodes, Masters of Death, p. 64.
20) Michael Sayers & Albert E. Kahn, The Plot Against the Peace, p. 160.
21) Harry Rositzke, quoted in Christopher Simpson, Blowback: America’s Recruitment of Nazis and Its Destructive Impact on Our Domestic and Foreign Policy (Collier Books, 1989), p. 159.
22) Douglas Tottle, Fraud, Famine and Fascism, p. 37.
23) Russ Bellant, Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party: Domestic Fascist Networks and their Effects on US Cold War Politics (South End Press, 1991), p. 72.
24) Douglas Tottle, Fraud, Famine and Fascism, p. 37.
25) Richard Rhodes, Masters of Death, p. 62.
26) Nikolai Yakovlev, Washington Silhouettes: A Political Round-Up (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1983), pp. 362-64.
27) Ibid., pp. 362-63.
28) Myron B. Kuropas, “Fighting Moscow From Afar,” Anti-Communist Minorities in the U.S., pp. 58-59.
29) Douglas Tottle, Fraud, Famine and Fascism, pp. 57-59.
30) Ibid., p. 58.
31) Ibid., p. 3.
32) Alexander Clarkson, Fragmented Fatherland: Immigration and Cold War Conflict in the Federal Republic of Germany (New York: Berghahn Books, 2013), pp. 30-31.
33) Vic Satzevich, “Ukraine in the Postwar Diaspora,” The Ukrainian Diaspora (Global Diasporas) (Routledge, 2014), pp. 160-61.
34) Domenico Losurdo, Class Struggle: A Political and Philosophical History (Palgrave MacMillan, 2016), pp. 248-51.
35) Boutros Boutros-Ghali, “Report of the UN Secretary General: ‘Agenda For Peace,’” 17 June 1992.
36) Michael Lee Bruner Strategies of Remembrance, The Rhetorical Dimensions of National Identity Construction (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2002), pp. 35-36.
37) Nikolai Yakovlev, Washington Silhouettes, p. 345.
38) Pavel Zhilin They Sealed Their Own Doom (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1970), pp. 230-231.
39) Ibid., p. 244.
40) Ibid., p. 100.
41) Patricia Brodsky, quoted in Michael Parenti, History as Mystery (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1999), p. 138.
42) Russ Bellant, Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party, p. 11.
43) Domenico Losurdo, War and Revolution: Rethinking the Twentieth Century (Verso Books, 2015).