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Have to put the forced collectivization under Stalin into context.  The New Economic Policy jump started the Russian economy and could have led to a Social Democratic-like political system.  Stalin allied with the Top/Down authoritarian wing of the Bolshevik Party in order to kick-out Bukharin and the 'westernizer' Wing.  

The payoff to the authoritarians was the Central Plan type of political-economic methodology which necessarily meant collectivization of agriculture and the suppression and liquidation of the kulaks.    

Since the Ukraine did relatively well under the NEP it did worse under the new, imposed, system.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 07:15:52 PM EST
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One of the things people are trying to put together is a list of the precursors to genocide. Things like the existence of an existing conflict, an ethnic/religious/racial divide (but explicitly not a political divide), the growth of nationalism, etc. The Kulaks had been demonized even during the tsarist regime, and the logic of Lenin's socialism certainly allowed no place for them. Lenin made common cause with the Kulaks early on because he needed to, but it was only a matter of time before they were targeted themselves.

This wasn't politics, but ideology. It could have been attempted differently, and what transpired is not a reflection of socialism, but of Stalin's personality and of Russian tax-farmers gone wild.

So was it genocide? The new diplomatic initiative called The Responsibility to Protect (pdf) is an attempt to answer this question. Based on a twenty year old notion first expressed by Francis Deng of the Brookings Institute (later United Nations Secretary General's Representative on Internally Displaced Persons), R2P elevates the responsibility to ensure that a government's citizens are safe to a vital condition of that government's soveriegnty. Never mind targetting a group, failure to send aid, or to block aid in event of a natural disaster can trigger an intervention by the international community.

So, Raphael Lemkin's word, "genocide," becomes less important as this issue develops and it moves more in the direction of a newsman's term though the flawed and ambiguous Convention Against Genocide remains the only legal definition in place. The move away from the word genocide is perhaps deliberate, as the language on this issue tends towards absolutes and away from something that can be agreed to by the international community.

I'm loath to give Stalin the benefit of doubt on this issue (I just can't get my mind around the image of a benign Uncle Joe), but under R2P proposal, I can do so and still call what happened a crime against humanity.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 09:47:20 PM EST
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Stalin was a murderous thug.  A stupid murderous thug.

The kulaks were The Other under the Bolshevik tyranny and once Bukharin's notion of letting the peasants spring-board the Soviet Union into industrialization had been discarded the way was open to forced collectivization via appropriation of wealth through murder (the kulaks) and theft (everybody else.)

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 01:51:15 AM EST
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 Why would the NEP have led to an democratic political system? Stalin' opponents, including Bukharin, were just as happy killing folks who were genuinely opposing the regime as Stalin himself. The difference was that Stalin went quite a bit further in his paranoid encouragement of rooting out anyone who might possibly  privately not be a big fan, or at least had an enemy who would say that was the case in a denunciation. That in turn created a sick dynamic of people seeking to denounce people who they suspected might denounce them, and the whole thing snowballed.

Secondly, the NEP was largely a small scale service sector thing, plus small scale private farming.

Finally, Stalin first allied himself with Bukharin to get rid of the 'left' starting with Trotsky, then Zinoviev and Kamenev. He then flipped, but that was because of the belief that you needed to develop heavy industry at an intense pace. To do that you needed to shift resources and manpower from the agricultural, rural sector to the industrial urban one. That meant destroying rural society in order to be able to wring every last bit you could out of them, while getting mass migration to the cities.

by MarekNYC on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 11:52:55 PM EST
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Re-read please.  I wrote "could."

For a society to change there has to be something allowing the forces of change to build.  The NEP provided that mechanism as the economic basis for a slow transition to democracy.  Or, if you think that is too strong, insert "the NEP provided a hope for" in the appropriate place.

Once the Command Economy has been installed the Soviet Union was firmly entrenched in authoritarian, bureaucratic, control over every aspect of life.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 01:38:21 AM EST
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