Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Red star in decline

Given how very much more acceptable it still is to declare allegiance to Communist ideology and Communist 'heroes' than it is to do the same for Fascism and fascists, an odd line of argument has been developing within the pages of the Guardian. Apart, of course, from anything written by Richard Gott, who was after all a paid agent of the KGB, or Seumas Milne, whose article comparing colonialism disfavourably with communism was the subject of one of this blogs first ever extended posts, there have been a few pieces now that have declared that Communism was not as black as it has been painted, and that modern historians are artificially condemning the Communists while rehaibilitating the far right.
My initial response is that this is nonsense. No-one wears a wristwatch with a picture of Himmler on it - not even ironically - while Che or Mao or Lenin are considered chic. George Galloway can describe Stalin as a hero of his, and Ken Livingstone has a bust of Lenin in his office. Even Alan Clarke didn't take his regard for Hitler that far. But, here we are, and another piece seeks to defend the Soviet Union and claim that unprincipled politicians are manipulatin history to rehabilitate the far right and condemn the Soviet Union.
The first point to make is that, for Eastern Europe, the Second World War was hardly a clear cut case of good against evil. Nazi Germany invaded and occupied through brutal puppet governments until they were defeated by Soviet Russia who invaded and occupied through marginally less brutal puppet governments. The claim by Hegyi that millions of Soviet soldiers died for the freedom of Europe is nonsense - they died for the conquest of Eastern Europe. As such it is hardly surprising that war memorials to the Red Army are being removed in Poland, Lithuania and Lavia - you don't expect to see war memorials to the English dead in Aquitaine, who fought to liberate France in the Hundred Years War do you?
The Baltic republics should remember Stalin's victims, and we have to understand their mixed feeling towards Russia. But those who sacrificed their lives against the Nazi regime should be heroes for every democrat.
Again, this is rubbish. Those who died fighting in the Red Army in Eastern Europe were undoubetdly very brave men, but the replacement of one brutal left-wing dictatorship by another is not cause for celebration by democrats the world over. Talking of the Soviet occupation of Hungary she writes:
They had come as liberators but, due to the geopolitical reality, they became oppressors.
What on earth does this mean? It wasn't the geopolitical reality that 'turned' the Red Army into oppressors - it was the nature of the Red Army, the Soviet Union and the ideology of Communism that did that. The statue of Soviet soldiers in the Baltic states, in Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic are memorials of oppression and of subjugation. It is not only right for them to be taken down; it is wrong that they have stayed up so long.

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