Anarchist position on WW2

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Dec 30 2009 17:09
Anarchist position on WW2

I recently had a debate with an anarchist mate who said even though hes an internationalist, during WW2 it was/would have been correct to support the allies as the Nazis had to be stopped no matter what

to me this completely goes against internationalism and if one has this outlook I wonder where the line is drawn. Throughout history states have committed atrocities, how bad do they have to be to support one ruling class vs the other? (for people who would agree with my mate)

opinions on this?

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Dec 30 2009 18:03

Given that most of the fighting happened on the eastern front, its doubtful that anyone had the choice Firstly because not supporting ''the allies'' would most likely have got you shot, and secondly because had the russians had lost, a hundred million of them would have been exterminated. Where WW2 became total war, the question of participation became somewhat academic.
Personally I think its kind of a pointless question in the end though, since next time we have a world war, we will only get three minutes to think about how internationalist our position was, so again it will be pretty academic. Its much better to focus on smaller localised wars, since this is the reality the world faces today, the only response to these wars being internationalism.

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Dec 30 2009 18:34

What about people not in areas effected by WW2 to the scale of europe? I would imagine there are many situations where people have little or no choice but to fight that doesn't stop us putting forward an internatonalist position

Also Often when I try to put forward an internationalist position to people they come back with what about WW2?

I agree that its basically academic but academic shit can be interesting smile

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Dec 30 2009 19:55

There is at least one internationalist action that could, and was made at the time, and is really simple to defend: oppose the Allies' refusal to accept most Jewish and other persecuted refugees when they were still allowed to leave German-controlled areas.

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Dec 30 2009 21:56

In the terms of inter-capital war, we have to take the same position, as we do in the time of "peace": revolutionary defeatism. There were comrades doing exactly this in the so-called world wars and doing the same in all of armed conflict.

akai
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Dec 31 2009 03:01

Actually, I wish my archives where at hand because the WW2 question was actively discussed amongst American anarchists at the time, including some people I knew. There were some interesting articles about this written by people who had earlier been in the Vanguard Group. As a matter of fact, the Vanguard group split on this issue, which wiped one of the most active groups of anarchists out for a while.

So "D" is right that this was a different issue, for example for people in the States. Of course you could imagine the arguments for and against joining in.

In Poland it was a little more complicated, many people were against both forces, as you'd have had to be an idiot to really support the allies. Of course there were some people like this, but it was more the naive hope that the Allies would come "save" Poland. Many people understood though that the Allies turned their backs on people. Most people were, understandly, just interested in surviving. In terms of political alliances, there was of course an Anglofile group, including a government in exile, but mostly people wanted to fight to reconstitute the Polish Republic.

I do know that some anarchists had reservations about fighting with the Russians or not. Polish nationalists wouldn't have fought with the Russians at all, unless under extreme coercion, but sometimes anarchists who found themselves near the Russians joined. For example, I met one guy who was fighting with the anarchosyndicalists in the old town during the Warsaw Uprising. He wasn't a committed anarchosyndicalist - he just needed to join someone and they had guns and he thought they were reasonable enough. He was one of the people who managed to escape through the sewer and swim across the river. (It's a famous story.) But when he reached the other bank, he was already in Russian occupied terrority. So what could he do. He was 'conscripted willingly' as he put it. He simply saw it as the best way to survive.

A lot of anarchists were not as lucky as this guy though. He was a young kid. A lot of anarchists with the Soviets wound up in Siberia or just shot.

rooieravotr
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Dec 31 2009 06:18

Supporting the Allies in WW II means more than taking a gun and joining an Allied army or something. Supporting for instance the UK against Germany means: NOT supporting strikes (als strikes tend to harm the war effort), NOT supporting mutinies, bread riots etcetera. Supporting any side in an inter-imperialist war means: suspending your support of class struggle. If you suspend class struggle then - even if "your" side wins the war - our class ends up weaker, and the government will look even MORE like the repressive givernment that "your" side opposed (because it meets less opposition from our side). Support for one side in WWII leads to a break with a revolutionairy politics and revolutionary practice. And one who accepts this break in regard to WW II, will be weakened when new but similar wars occur. If you support the Allies against the Axis, why not support anly less- repressive state against a more-repressive one? Supporting the Allies in WW II is wrong in principle, counterproductive as class struggle goes, and it creates a very dangerous precedent.

Hungry56
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Dec 31 2009 11:08

On the Ian Bone vs Socialist Party of Great Britain (I think) video that someone posted a link to on that thread, Ian Bone criticises the SPGB for having an anti-war position on WW2. It's in the first part.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOMYcVE0dI8&feature=PlayList&p=EEC21E7B910D599C&index=0

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Dec 31 2009 11:28
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And one who accepts this break in regard to WW II, will be weakened when new but similar wars occur

When WW3 breaks out and a hail of nuclear warheads descends on us, i think the theoretical extent of our internationalism rn regards to WW2 will literally be the least of our worries.
Reminds me of that question time sketch tbh
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVGFh5bnB7I

nastyned
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Dec 31 2009 11:33

Class War on the Home Front.

Mark.
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Dec 31 2009 12:45
Jack wrote:
I may be misremembering, but isn't revolutionary defeatism where you want your 'own' ruling class to lose?

Stinas on revolutionary defeatism

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Dec 31 2009 15:09
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Just because looking back you can probably say 'on a balance, more misery would have been caused if Hitler had won than the Allies winning'

If Germany had really had won, then probably we would have been thinking that "if US had been the victor the outcome might have been worse"...

On another level, an Ally defeat might have resulted with a destruction of American, Russian and British, etc., capitals rather than German, Italian and Japan...

it is the victors who writes the history.

By the way; in fact there is a sci-fi. book right on that topic! (I forget its name though)

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Dec 31 2009 15:29
Hungry56 wrote:
On the Ian Bone vs Socialist Party of Great Britain (I think) video that someone posted a link to on that thread, Ian Bone criticises the SPGB for having an anti-war position on WW2. It's in the first part.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOMYcVE0dI8&feature=PlayList&p=EEC21E7B910D599C&index=0

Well he's pretty much an out and out nationalist - check out his hysterics over a recent No Borders article (one which didn't even mention WW2):

Quote:
The new Black Flag contains an article by Manchester No Borders crtical of my enthusiasm for Frank Newbould’s wartime propaganda poster ‘ Our England – Let’s fight for it’ – presumably it should have read ‘Our England – lets throw the towel in to the Nazis – thank god we got rid of borders by concreting in the Channel’


Link

Also this:

Ian Bone wrote:
It may be that after all it wasn’t my generation of 1968 that were the true radicals but our boring old mums and dads in their stuffy clothes and values that were the truly radical generation – fighting the war, bringing in the Labour landslide of 45, voting in Communists, ILP ers and the almost anarcho-utopian Commonweal party in the war. As always Orwell summed up the Left’s problem with patriotism and derided how out of touch with our people they were. Orwell said it was the upper class and the working class who valued physical courage and bravery – the middle class sneered and mocked it…….check out how that pans out in our movement now comrades.For Orwell in 1940 that meant dismissing the leftie pacifists and turning the forerunner of the Home Guard into a revolutionary fighting force. He even imported Spanish anarchists to teach petrolbomb throwing in sedate OSterley Park! We need a similar sea change in our attitde to our Englishness and our recent history.
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Dec 31 2009 15:38

Lenin, for all his shitness was good for one fucking thing and that was saying, fuck world war 1, take those guns and kill the fucking rich! (obviously not as eloquently put as that but that was the jist).

If they'd done that in world war I, or II for that matter we'd be living in a better world! anyway, you don't know what the fuck went off during wwII only what we've been told by the victors, and as history shows it never smiles upon the defeated! (excluding the spartans but Greek prevailed in the west, so they didn't "lose").

Tbh, you can't say that the world would of been worse off if the Nazi's had won, because that is completely hypothetical, for all we know five years after the Nazi victory there could of been a social uprising, and communism could have been placed throughout the world. The worse "force" of WWII was Russia.

Anyway to answer your question "to me this completely goes against internationalism and if one has this outlook I wonder where the line is drawn. Throughout history states have committed atrocities, how bad do they have to be to support one ruling class vs the other? (for people who would agree with my mate)"

I don't think the ruling class can ever and should ever be supported, and if they are it should only be to the end aim of destroying those bourgeoisie motherfuckers.

Edit: I'm currently thinking though, how Communism wouldn't actually solve the problem, i think it may be an "half-finished" theory, and it is upto us to solve the problems within it, and complete it. Say there are workers ocuncils, you basically become your job, some jobs will eventually gain more prestige than others, start ruling over others through suberversive means, there must be a way to make it truly equal, so we can live in harmony over nature and i don't think Internationalism is the answer, i think that will just bring global oppression.

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Dec 31 2009 16:23

Jack;

If what you mean is that betting over nazis vs. democrats is science fictional fantasy that should not affect any politics I agree.

However I think the post-IIWW's post-modern world is just as racist and irrational as any nazism could have been. Just think about all the heidegger-levinas-derrida line... The secret essentialism of the modern day democratic thoughts. All the ideas implicit in it about "respecting".The ends of histories etc... Cloacked under a "lefty" varnish. Hiding its nietzschean nazi essence, its negation of universalism-internationalism under the pretext of democratic conciliation mechanisms. As if antagonists can not "understand" each other so they should grasp their essences and accept each other "as they are"...

So if democracy is anything it is polite and obscurantist nazism for me.

akai
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Dec 31 2009 17:00

In terms of American anarchists, I think any that joined the US army were simply fools. There were other ways to act against the Nazis - they could have made some attacks to nazi business interests for example.

Probably the biggest lost opporunity was the lack of some organized international resistance in Poland in 1939, similar to that in Spain. The Polish Stalinists who were pro-Soviet anti-fascists in Spain did not take an anti-fascist stand in Poland and were happy about Molotov-Ribbentrop and the chance to serve in the occupying Soviet army. (The great majority of Polish international brigaders were not from Poland but Poles from France.)

The Polish army for the most part retreated to Romania and waited for allies who never came. They then took the bulk of Poland's arms and went to Britain and France.

This meant that, for the most part, the Nazis and, to a lesser extent the Soviets, were fought by underground resistance movements that included an important anarchosyndicalist group. These movements really started taking action in 1940, but in 1939, much real combat was seen as German troops progressed and very often this was organized by local villages, without the support of the army.

Help from people in other nazi-occupied places could not be expected, but if some group of Americans wanted to go risk their lives to fight fascism, Poland would have been an excellent place because, in fact, despite the fact that the nazis may have looked like some overwhelming force, there were lots of weak areas and lots of opportunities for sabotage actions. There were some rather porous border areas and lots of potential for partisan resistance that were missed due to having just too few people or weapons. Of course it is understandable that, unless they had some way to go join a force in a resistance area, they weren't going to go because they would have been too afraid to organize any actions themselves. Particularly given the fact that the Germans must have looked overwhelming and they would have wanted to fight them in a large, heavily equipped regular army, not in a partisan or underground one.

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Dec 31 2009 19:30

I'm going to post on this properly in the next few days, as I think its an interesting and important issue given as WW2 is one of the central planks of British national identity. But one point I'd make now regarding the "what if the nazis won" issue is that a tyranny of comparible brutality to Nazi Germany did win - the USSR. WW2 didn't make the world 'safe for democracy', it allowed for Russia to dominate much of the world (leaving aside the west's support for various brutal dictatorships in the postwar world).

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Dec 31 2009 23:34
mikail firtinaci wrote:
On another level, an Ally defeat might have resulted with a destruction of American, Russian and British, etc., capitals rather than German, Italian and Japan...
it is the victors who writes the history.
By the way; in fact there is a sci-fi. book right on that topic! (I forget its name though)

The Man in the High Castle - Philip K. Dick.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2009/feb/05/philip-k-dick-high-castle-hugo

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Jan 1 2010 04:42
Django wrote:
I'm going to post on this properly in the next few days, as I think its an interesting and important issue given as WW2 is one of the central planks of British national identity. But one point I'd make now regarding the "what if the nazis won" issue is that a tyranny of comparible brutality to Nazi Germany did win - the USSR. WW2 didn't make the world 'safe for democracy', it allowed for Russia to dominate much of the world (leaving aside the west's support for various brutal dictatorships in the postwar world).

That's a really good point.
Also consider the long-standing, violent racial oppression against Blacks in the US South. That and the USSR were the big winners of WWII, and it took an overwhelming social upheaval, violently suppressed by the Southern States and eventually recuperated through the Federal Government to overturn it. Going back to the USSR, even using the Jewish angle, it seems that only Stalin's untimely death stopped him from going through the same stages of Hitler's antisemitic hysteria, which caused to murder of many prominent Jews, and seemed to be headed towards mass deportation or extermination.

And this is without going into how much Nazi policy took verbatim from American practice (e.g. eugenics), or how many corporations played both sides during the war, or how the Allies seemed to be utterly callous towards the Holocaust as it was occurring, which isn't surprising considering their unwillingness to accept Jews as refugees when this was still possible.

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Jan 1 2010 14:34
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how many corporations played both sides during the war

http://libcom.org/library/allied-multinationals-supply-nazi-germany-world-war-2

akai
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Jan 1 2010 16:41

If any of you are interested and won't be offended by a rather emotionally detached account, I found the book "Hell's Cartel: IG Farben and the Making of Hitler's War Machine" to be full of quite a lot of interesting details.

I found the analysis, albeit it quite simplified, of the the economic rationale of the Buna Werke and other projects to be quite thought provoking and sometimes not straightforward.

I am thinking about the comment that Stalin's death stopped him from going through the same stages as Hitler. Stalin was responsible for anti-semitic purges before and after the war. Was his anti-semitism similar to Hitlers?

I think there were some differences. Ultimately, Stalin was afraid of several things:
- intellectuals or political people who could have any sort of public influence, especially is this might in anyway undermine his influence or position
- bourgeoise nationalism which would undermine the Soviet identity
- anti-Soviets, in particular anybody who might have, through different channels, support in or support force enemy foreign states (ie the US, Israel)

It is questionable to be whether the hatred of a nationality motivated by the ideology of creating a common identity not only based on nation (whether or not soviet ideology actually did this is another story) is equal to the hatred of a nationality accompanied by the desire to create a master race. In practice though, this sometimes had the same results.

We know Stalin had many Jews killed - but he also had many other people killed, even for reasons totally irrespective of their nationality. Of course Hitler also had communists killed besides people of "inferior races". Stalin didn't believe in inferior races - but he believed that national identity undermined loyalty to the Soviet cause as he saw it.

(Of course the campaign against "rootless cosmopolitans" at the end of Stalin's life was quite contradictory with many things he claimed or did earlier, but this is a different matter. The struggle against "rootlessness" is always the struggle for local identity. "Rootless cosmopolitanism" on the other hand was a mood which helped to forge the communist fealings against nationalism in the first place.)

The scale of Stalin's total killing spree is so terrible that this can be compared with Hitler, but I think that if we are to look at the portion of his terror that he reserved for Jews, Hitler no doubt surpassed Stalin.

Now, one thing which is interesting to consider is whether or not there was a plan for resettling Jews. Remember that such plans were discussed before Hitlers times - the Polish government, before Hitler's invasion tried to see if the Madagascar idea would work, there was the Uganda idea, etc. etc.

On the other hand, setting up Birobidzhan by Stalin mostly had different motivations. These were geopolitical - for example, just 2 years before, the Japanese occupied Manchuria and Stalin wanted to build up the Soviet East as much as possible. The Birobidzhan option was an alternative to Zionism - better to send Jews to Birobidzhan than to Palestina from the Soviet point of view.

There was a split in ideas in the Soviet Union in the 20s and 30s as to Jewish settlement projects. One has to remember that, at the time, Jewish groups, in both Europe and the Soviet Union, were split and many supported and even lobbied for settlement projects. (I also don't know if you know, but the Birobidzhan settlement was also supported internationally, by some American Jews, Jews from Canada and S. America... I think about 1500 Jews even immigrated from these places to Birobidzhan.) There was a strong group of Jews lobbying rather for a settlement project in the Crimea. Stalin, of course, had very special paranoia about the Crimea, which is logical considering its geo-political importance. The Crimea area became a target for mass deportations.

In the late 30s, Stalin changed and his attitudes and actions as well. There were purges and forced deportations to Birobidzhan - quite another story. Whether this was planned by Stalin at the beginning is hard to say.

After the war, Americans proposed to help finance plans for a Jewish settlement in the Crimea. If during the 20s and 30s the Soviets allowed American support of Birobidzhan and even welcomed immigration, in the post-war era, such a thought was impossible. Those who supported taking this American support were immediately seen as traitors.

Then there was a mass immigration to Birobidzhan.

I don't doubt that Stalin was considering a mass deportation of Jews to Birobidzhan before his death. Historians have stated though that no such plans were being discussed or made at Stalins death because there is no archival evidence at all and such an immense project could not have been secret. Secret to the point that even people like Beria did not seem to be in on it.

BTW, after Stalin's death, most immigration to Birobidzhan were Russians and Jews are actually a small minority there.

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Jan 2 2010 01:57
akai wrote:
(I also don't know if you know, but the Birobidzhan settlement was also supported internationally, by some American Jews, Jews from Canada and S. America... I think about 1500 Jews even immigrated from these places to Birobidzhan.)

I have a history of the Jewish communists in Palestine lying around somewhere. I could never finish it, but the early pages do go over the Birobidzhan issue, and the fact that some Jews in Palestine heartily supported it and went through with leaving towards there.

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Jan 2 2010 04:43

Hungry mentions "Ian Bone criticises the SPGB for having an anti-war position on WW2"

Its a regular criticism of the SPGB and on our discussion forum it was again recently discussed , mostly concerning the Holocaust , before as usual it spun off into some other tangent of meditation and yoga !!

Starts here http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/WSM_Forum/message/41725
"Can someone tell me why the Socialist Party of Great Britain has been "Opposing every single war" since it started in 1904? Wouldn't that have included WWII, when the Nazis were bombing them? Just wondering."

And continues til it spirals off topic

baboon
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Jan 2 2010 13:49

I agree with the importance of taking a position on World War II, an unambiguous internationalist position denouncing all the camps involved. There were enormous pressures on revolutionary elements at the time to be pushed towards the defence of democracy through anti-fascism, the support for the “lesser evil” and so on. But whatever the difficulties of the time – it was a period of counter-revolution - we have to, with foresight and hindsight, maintain the defence of internationalism on imperialist war global or not.

I agree with the above about the way that this event has been seared onto our consciousness and the way the ruling class through a complex of propaganda constantly reinforces its lies about the defence of democracy and its 39-45 fight for “freedom”. The wide-scale brutality and destruction of this war is unprecedented. The road to world war, the fight for markets, raw materials and strategic power, was being laid in the 30s when, apart from some isolated pockets, the balance of power shifted decisively towards the bourgeoisie after the revolutionary years. The installation of the Hitler regime put into power by the British, Americans and French to act as Europe’s policemen against bolshevism (ie, the working class) in the mid-30s was the expression and concretisation of the counter-revolution.

It’s only in its developed and continuing campaign after the war that the ruling class of the major democracies has shown its “concern” for the plight of the Jews. As Tree says, there was no such concern at the time and it could be argued that in terms of courage, many ordinary Germans did more to save Jews than the British government say, which condemned hundreds of thousands to death.

I agree with the post above about the division of “victor” and “vanquished” after the war which further reinforces divisions within the working class. Churchill for example, as an intelligent representative of the British bourgeoisie, was very aware of this and reinforced it with military means. The mass bombing of working class areas in Germany was aimed to some extent at economic targets but its primary aim was to shatter with terror any prospect of the working class in Germany from repeating any sort of insurrectional uprising from the ruins of war – as it did in 1918. In Italy, 1943, when Mussolini had to be replaced after a wave of workers’ strikes, the RAF, on urgent political orders, bombed the working class areas of Milan, Turin and Genoa. This allowed the German army to mop up and maintain their own brand of order. “Letting them (the workers) stew in their own juice” as Churchill put it. In the south of Italy the Allied leadership propped up the fascist and monarchist elements for the same reason. As well as doing deals with local fascists in France and Italy, the Allies made use of former fascist forces as in Greece 1944. Churchill gave specific orders for widescale murders here and in the first three months of British “liberation” more damage was done to Athens than under four years of Nazi rule. We also have the well known example of how the Russians stopped their advance in order to allow the SS to finish its execution of bourgeois order on the Warsaw Ghetto.

The idea of the closet nationalist Bone above that it was the generation who fought in the war who were the real “heros” is not so bizarre when you hear the sort of “class struggle” that he advocates.

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Jan 3 2010 05:42

george orwell believed that bringing socialism to Britain was the only way to win the war, so that class struggle and supporting the allies were complementary, not opposing. i personally think that that view was retarded, but interesting nonetheless.

I think that oppression under capitalist America, Britain, etc. is much less harsh than under Fascist Germany; its perfectly logical to support the Allies. I think that there's a sort of ultra-nationalist pan-working class attitude with some anarchists to the extent that the goal of ending oppression for all is eclipsed in some cases... if our goal is to end oppression/rulership, than supporting the Allies is the logical thing to do.

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Jan 3 2010 08:13
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Given that most of the fighting happened on the eastern front, its doubtful that anyone had the choice Firstly because not supporting ''the allies'' would most likely have got you shot, and secondly because had the russians had lost, a hundred million of them would have been exterminated. Where WW2 became total war, the question of participation became somewhat academic.

The important point is not only where most of the fighting happened. Millions of people who were not Russians were caught up in WWII too.

Of course the Stalin regime was much bette only twenty to thirty million dead.r:

Wiki wrote:
Accordingly, if famine victims are included, a minimum of around 10 million deaths—6 million from famine and 4 million from other causes—are attributable to the regime,[83] with a number of recent historians suggesting a likely total of around 20 million, citing much higher victim totals from executions, gulags, deportations and other causes.[84] Adding 6–8 million famine victims to Erlikman's estimates above, for example, would yield a total of between 15 and 17 million victims. Researcher Robert Conquest, meanwhile, has revised his original estimate of up to 30 million victims down to 20 million.[85] Others maintain that their earlier higher victim total estimates are correct.[86][87]
Jack wrote:
For me the whole question of support per se can be kinda irrelevant - there are perfectly good arguments for prefering to live under liberal democracy as oppossed to German fascist occupation. In some places, being part of 'the resistance' would have actually just been a matter of survival. Sure, I wouldn't dispute these things. But as other posters have said, the de facto result of support is opposition to strikes in the name of national unity, it's putting the class struggle on hold got the greater good. What is important is maintaining a class line - to me, this means you wouldn't be supporting the allies in any meaningful sense. Sure for some briefest of moments there could be things that both sides have in common (for very different reasons), but that doesn't mean you 'support' one side.

I would imagine that in most places keeping your head down and not being a part of the resistance would have given you a much better chance of survival.

Quote:
Just because looking back you can probably say 'on a balance, more misery would have been caused if Hitler had won than the Allies winning' doesn't mean the position at the time should have been any different - defence of working class demands and the maintenance of a class line. Sometimes you'd be directly up against the Allies doing this, and almost certainly more often you'd be up against the Axis. But you still aren't forced into picking sides.

It depends where you lived. If you lived in England you would be almost certainly up against the Allies.

It is not a question though of what individuals do. There are times when revolutionaries are forced to fight in bourgeois armies and times when they can't help but having to kill other workers in uniform. There are also times that troops mutiny, and struggles for their own interests. The point is that communists are struggling for the later even when the situation is the former.

Django wrote:
I'm going to post on this properly in the next few days, as I think its an interesting and important issue given as WW2 is one of the central planks of British national identity. But one point I'd make now regarding the "what if the nazis won" issue is that a tyranny of comparible brutality to Nazi Germany did win - the USSR. WW2 didn't make the world 'safe for democracy', it allowed for Russia to dominate much of the world (leaving aside the west's support for various brutal dictatorships in the postwar world).

This is a very good point.

Devrim

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Jan 3 2010 11:01

lol @ citing Robert Conquest.

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Jan 3 2010 11:13

People who compare stalin and hitler as though they were exactly the same don't understand Hitlers fundamental malthusianism and anti-modernism.
Nazisms long term goal in launching barbarossa was to ethnically cleanse russia up to the urals (via starvation, death squads, lowering the birth date, killing the male population and labour camps), killing or ''deporting'' the majority of the population and leaving a far smaller number of survivors to work as slaves in the more outlying regions. The remaining area would be turned into agrarian provinces of the third reich patrolled on its borders by SS Mechanised Corps. Hitlers plan for moscow was literally to turn it into a lake. I mean your literally talking about pol pot style emptying cities and tens if not hundreds of millions dead.
Certainly this was the program of the hardcore nazi elements of the regime. In fact you can read their plans for Poland in great detail in offical nazi documents, which basically detail how by the early 50's 80-85% of poles were to be ''deported'' to the east. In short I'm not saying the russians and poles fighting hitler were ''right'', but more, as jack points out, that you really didn;t have much choice in the matter, since 1) it was simply an issue of survival in the face of genocide and 2) the NKVD or partisans would have had you shot as a collaborator if you didn't.
I mean events like the warsaw ghetto uprising weren't tactical decisions or political ones, (and militarily it was an absolute failure) it was simply the case of thousands of people knowing that the nazis were going to have them all killed. Hence they couldn;t ''keep their heads down'' or some other revisionist nonsense. Most resistance in the east was about survival, and about trying together enough food to live on. When einsatzgruppen cleanse several towns and villages in your area, you're pretty likely to decide that getting a gun and taking to the forests might be better than just sitting and waiting for them to come and burn you alive in a barn.

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Jan 3 2010 13:51

I think its justifiable to say that Stalin’s Russia and Nazi Germany are “comparable”, though with significant differences. The same holds for comparisons between Mussolini’s Italy and Nazi Germany, as in that case too there were significant differences in ideology and practice, though comparisons in that case are uncontroversial. Italy didn’t see the kind of crusading racism or industrialised racial extermination that you had in Nazi Germany, you didn’t see the same manifestation of anti-Semitism and even while gas was being dropped on Ethiopia I think the racist ideology at work was more of a logical extension of Western Colonialism than what you saw with the Nazis.

Nazism clearly had its own ideological identity which led to distinct practices – the diversion of war materials to the extermination of Jews even once the war had turned against Germany shows something more is going on that the “national scapegoat” explanation for racism suggests. I think Postone’s Anti-Semitism and National Socialism is the most compelling argument I’ve seen from a Marxist/communist viewpoint and is well worth a read (though I don’t know much about the “scene” it comes from and would like to see responses or counter-arguments to it). As far as I’m aware you didn’t see anything like this ideology in Stalin’s Russia, and even the persecution of the Jews there doesn’t follow the same logic. Nazism comes from a specific place and is pretty much alone in taking a huge amount of influence from American eugenics though you had similar rabid anti-semitism following the Nazis in the Ustaše movement in Croatia.

Still, I think its justifiable to make comparisons between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia as you have comparable state organs, a comparable role for the party, a comparible regime of ideology and propaganda, a comparable cult of leadership, a comparable merger of state and capital, etc. Soviet Russia lacked the ideology of national decline and had different origins to fascism, but I don’t think fascism would have been possible in the form it took without the example given by Russia in terms of the role of the party, propaganda and a mass base, and the state administration of capital. And of course the brutality and levels of surveillance are comparible, as is the disregard for human life and willingness to exterminate huge sections of the population, albeit with a different rationale (even when ethnic minorities were being persecuted) and using different methods. Some of these methods reappeared after ww2 had made the world safe for democracy however.

In terms of the Nazi genocide as it actually happened though, and its relationship to WW2, its worth bearing in mind that at least before the war Jews were able to escape Nazi Germany – though the Western countries refused to take many of them - the war precluded this and the mobilisation of Germany was the background to industrialised extermination. So the idea which is part and parcel of British nationalism that the holocaust justified the war doesn’t hold up.

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mikail firtinaci
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Jan 3 2010 14:25

Why nobody is taking up the examples of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, which were among one of the most brutal examples of holocaust that is "not-legitimate" even in a "total war" perspective. Since japan was already getting defeated... So in one sence, democracy is a brutal form of state organization/capitalism in the 20th century.

Statist organization of violence in 20th century was always brutal. And I do not think that it has anything to do with backwardness. Modern state capitalism had to form itself on the basis of genocide and mass murder; all the cases in the 20th century are valid for that definition. The first of these was probably the armenian genocide of turkish nation state;

Before the 20th century there was no ethnic self-identification in the turkish lands, at least for the peasants-lower classes. They were basically calling themselves "muslim" or "christian" rather than "turk" etc -probably except christian minorities. However with the turkish state's turn into nationalism with the 1WW, and its extermination/genocide of armenians, majority of middle and upper peasantry attached itself to turkish nationalism since they confiscated the lands, daughters and property of armenians thanks to turkish nationalism. Moreover this massacre forced them into an allignment with the kemalist bureaucracy since the victorious allies wanted a trial OF ALL TURKISH NATION (first in the history of international law) in terms of crimes "against humanity"; that is when the history of "glorious turkish nation" started.

Similar cases in the third world, after WW2 when the old great powers lost their colonies and these new states formed allignments with the new great powers (US and USSR),emerged... ready for mass murder. Especially in Africa...

There is a liberal academic called Anthony W. Marx who argues that this "original violence" that occured in the formation of third world states occured in the first world in the religious wars period towards the end of feudalism in europe. I think you do not have to go that far. 1stWW and 2ndWW and the following national liberation wars led to the emergance of keynesian or stalinist state capitalisms...

There is a very good article of ICC on that for the developed world;

http://en.internationalism.org/ir/126_popular-front

it is not only related to the spain and france. It also talks about how state capitalism is strengthened through anti-fascism.

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mikail firtinaci
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Jan 3 2010 15:03
Quote:
Nazism clearly had its own ideological identity which led to distinct practices

django;

I could not yet read the article you refer. However I do not think that it does explain much to concentrate on the tenchnical organization of genocide. I think democratic ideology really changed with the great wars. Pre-war democracy (or nationalism like that of Hegel's) was something different than 20th century democracy.

it was the civil society, a liberal community that was the basis of 18-19th century "nation" states. Especially before 1848, nationalism for european burgeoisie was not even clearly an exclusionary one. Obviously that had already contained in a contradictory form, the signs of "white man's burden" ideology, in its claims for carrying freedom to the others by war; like in the revolutionary france. Whatever the case in a world of feudal reaction, revolutionary burgeoisie had to allign itself with the lower classes and burgeoisies of other nations...

Another important factor was the means the wars waged were always uneaqual. Especially in second half of the 19th century, when the wars were mostly occured in third world, "the enemy of the colonializing nation states" was usually wery weak. I read somewhere a while ago that, only 10 or so dutch soldier in africa could easily resist against the thousands of african "natives", for protecting (let's say a bridge).

However in the second world war both the ideology and the means to carry on them has changed. The liberal democratic ideology turned into a strongly nationalist one. Nazism might seem more crude. However democracy also transformed into that. Burgeois ideology lost its universalist claim totally. It is very clear to see that especially in the "post-modernism" of the academy.

Similarly wars and the requirements for war mobilization also changed. Since the enemy was no longer the naked native armed with spear, vast nations had to be mobilized for a total war that every means had to be used. In fact the first genocide worth of its name, was carried out by Britain, against the Boer's in south africa in the war around the begginning of the 20th century. Since Boer's were heavily armed and the war extended and turned into a trench+guerilla war, Britain put the masses of Boers into concentration camps... Britain won but it gave the heaviest casuality compared to all wars that it waged in its history in africa...