Staunton, April 2 – A major reason for popular support among Russians for Stalin and his system as a model for the future is the mistaken belief that the Soviet dictator destroyed the hated elite and thus served the interests of the people, Mikhail Pozharsky says. But in fact, the people were the chief victims of his repression; and they would be if his system were somehow restored.
The Moscow commentator says that those, like television personality Misha Svetov, who say they “want a new 1937” (youtube.com/watch?v=UT2x3fe8LxY&feature=youtu.be), hope that such a development would punish and remove from the scene the hated members of the elite who are now oppressing ordinary Russians (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5AC079799BD26).
But in making this argument, Pozharsky says, Svetov and those like him put forward “two extremely mistaken theses.”
The first of these is that “’in 1937, it was the nomenklatura first and last that suffered.’” This is “simply historically untrue.” According to NKVD statistics, only six percent of the 937,000 Soviet citizens arrested in 1937 were members of the communist party. The real targets of Stalin’s criminal enterprise were elsewhere.
The largest number of arrests came as a result of the Soviet dictator’s continuing “campaign for the struggle with ‘anti-Soviet elements.’” Fifty-four percent of those arrested were jailed as “’former kulaks,’” and another 36 percent were members of non-Russian groups like the Germans, the Poles and many others Stalin wanted to punish.
Yes, the arrests and trials of senior Bolsheviks attracted and still attract the most attention, but these people were not Stalin’s main targets in 1937 or at any other time.
The second mistaken thesis advanced by Svetov and his ilk is that the party, having been chastened by Stalin’s attack in 1937 “ceased to drink our blood.” History shows just the reverse with the deportations of whole nations, the shooting and arrest of Soviet soldiers by their own government, the growth of the camps in the late 1940s, and the shooting of the Novocherkassk workers coming after that date.
“The regime learned to survive without mass murders only in Brezhnev’s time,” thirty years after 1937.
The reason for that should also be instructive to those who worship at Stalin’s altar. “Repressions against the elite did not weaken but on the contrary STRENTHENED the autocracy.” These actions caused many people to think that the regime was working for the people just as the current regime’s occasional and sporadic fights against corruption do.
But the consequences of the one and the other is to attract more support for the regime. As a result of the events of 1937-1938, Pozharsky says, the nomenklatura grew by 26 percent; and the new people in it were even more personally devoted to Stalin and his way of doing business than those they replaced.
Consequently, the Moscow commentator says, no one should want a new 1937: It would mean far more suffering for the people than for the elite and it would “only strengthen the regime allowing it to hold on for many more years.”