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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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