Joseph Stalin, World's Greatest Humanitarian?

Repost from the old blog. This post aroused a lot of controversy, mostly from the deliberately outrageous title.
Here at Robert Lindsay, we are getting sick and tired of endlessly refuting this the “murderous Jewish Communism” line, not to mention the “murderous Communism” line. The real killing system is called capitalism. Under the Soviet Communists, life expectancy, as McNally implies below, increased from 32 in 1913 to 63 in 1956.
That set a world record for the quickest doubling of life expectancy by any nation in history. Most of that increase in life expectancy occurred under Stalin. By that standard, incredible as it sounds, Stalin was one of the greatest humanitarians of all time.
He was also a mass murderer.
And this is the paradox.
Progress continued even with the incredible loss of 27 million Soviet citizens by the Nazi aggression of the Great War Against Fascism. Interestingly, all progress in life expectancy in the Soviet Union ended by about 1960-1965, about 10 years after Stalin’s death. This gives the lie to the notion that life expectancy increases were inevitable at this time no matter what the system.
Arguments are made that even without the October Revolution, Russia would have seen an equivalent increase in life expectancy as that accomplished by the USSR. This notion is questioned by data showing life expectancy at 35 in Albania and 32 in China in 1949. Given the savagery and callousness of Russian elites, there is no reason to think that Russia would have been any different.
The end of progress soon after Stalin’s death suggests frighteningly that hardline Communists who protest post-Stalin “revisionism” may have been onto something.
Russians lived far longer under Gorbachev (when Soviet repression was hardly killing anyone anymore) than they do now. The collapse of life expectancy from the mid-sixties in the early 1960’s to 56 under Russian capitalism has led to 15 million excess deaths since 1989.
Stalin killed 2.5 million people during peacetime. That figure does not include various wartime deaths, especially the deaths during the population transfers in WW2. I believe it also does not include executions during WW2
But evidence, based on my calculations after reading the data here and here (warning – the latter link is actually a 275 page book), indicates that Stalin saved 39 million lives (the evidence shows 36.5 million, but to arrive at that, we must subtract the 2.5 million he killed), or around 1.5 million per year during his tenure.
This is why Russian opinion polls show 35% of Russian would support Stalin returning to power. This is why you see aging Russians carrying Stalin’s picture at rallies. It’s not some sick “Stalin cult”. He really did save lives, and these people remember that well.
There were 900,000 executions (mostly in the Great Terror) and 1.6 million premature deaths in the camps and in forced relocations. The figures are somewhat controversial and the true figures may be higher, but that is the best I can come up with, and I studied the issue in depth. That adds up to 2.5 million.
Regarding the Holodomor, the truth is, the Ukrainian resisters tried to starve an entire nation. They destroyed much or most of their grain crops by setting them on fire or leaving them to rot and refused to sow many other acres.
They also decimated the supply of horses, cows ,pigs, sheep and goats in the USSR. In 1928, there were 34 million horses, 70 million cows, 150 million sheep and goats, and 26 million pigs in the USSR. By 1932, the resisters had killed 56% of the horses, 43% of the cows, 66% of the sheep and goats and 55% of the pigs in the nation.
As a result, the resisters were out of food.
I guess they expected the state to feed them or something after that stunt.
I guess they were wrong.
There was also armed struggle going at this time, with continuous armed attacks by resisters against collective farms in the area; in early 1930, resisters were staging an average of 23 attacks a day. They destroyed farms, crops, and livestock, and killed lots of people, including thousands of party activists. The USSR took up arms to fight them, and counterinsurgencies are not pretty.
There was an all-out war going on between Stalin’s regime and 6 million Kulaks. In Ukraine, due to generations of brainwashing by the Catholic Church and the landlords, many middle and poor peasants took the side of the Kulaks, even though they had been exploited viciously by these Kulaks for generations.
Many of the other 114 million Soviet peasants overwhelmingly backed the fight against the Kulaks. Those peasants had been savagely abused by the feudal system, including the Kulaks, for centuries.
About 5,000 resisters were executed. All had engaged in armed actions against the state.
The famine of 1932 had several causes:
First, the resister destruction of livestock mentioned above, combined with several years of destruction of grain crops and refusal to seed new fields.
Second, there were three years of drought from 1930-32. In 1932, drought also affected other regions of the USSR. There were also a variety of other poor weather conditions .
Third, there was an epidemic of typhoid and other water-borne diseases in the still-primitive region.
Fourth and probably most importantly, an epidemic of wheat rust spread through the region.
Fifth, the Kholkoz, or new collective farms, had been organized chaotically, and were not yet producing well.
As a result of all of the above, the harvest of 1932 simply failed. People died of hunger and especially related diseases all over the USSR. 1 million died of these causes in Siberia. The ethnic Russian area of the Lower Volga was hit by mass deaths just as hard as the Ukrainians were. So much for “the Ukrainians were targeted.” It’s true that the deaths were worse in the Ukraine. That’s because the harvest failure was worst of all there.
There was no Holodomor or man-made deliberate famine. It simply never happened. The state was forced into the horrible choice of feeding the cities or the villages. Cities were prioritized. In particular, the army had to be fed. At this time, people started fleeing the famine-struck regions, hoping to find areas with more food.
At one point, the state tried to stop people from moving around the country because they needed them in the harvest zones the harvest the crops the next year, else there would be yet another famine.
All of the above combined to create the perfect storm of a famine in which possibly 5.5 million died in 1932. There was also famine in the Volga and Caucasus in that year, which showed that it was a regional problem. The next year, 1933, there was an excellent harvest. The USSR had a desperate manpower shortage at this time. That they would deliberately exterminate millions of healthy workers is absurd.
It is interesting that soon after the Western powers intervened on the side of the Whites in the Russian Civil War, there was a huge famine in the USSR in which 9 million people died in 1921-22.
Why is it that these deaths, (mostly attributed to an outpouring of weaponry to the Whites from the West), not to mention the 27 million Soviets killed by the Nazis invasion in World War 2, are never discussed, while “Stalin’s Ukrainian famine” is discussed to the point of tedium?
Soon as the famine started, the USSR started sending food to the Ukraine, but famines are funny. Once they start, they reach a point where they are already in motion and it is hard to stop them. Most victims of the Holodomor died not of starvation but of disease. At the time, there were massive shortages of medicines in the USSR, and in much of the rest of the world for that matter, to deal with these epidemics.
The Kulaks had savagely exploited the peasants in that region for centuries, as that 32 year life expectancy attests. It is interesting that these deaths from Kulak exploitation never enter into anyone’s figures.
Yes, 5.5 million Soviets died. But the resisters were trying to starve an entire nation.
McNally also goes into some great details about the “Jewish Communism” business, a canard that led to WW2, the Holocaust of 75% of the Jews in Europe, and carnage, destruction and death all across Europe and North Africa.
In truth, in 1917, 71% of Russian Jews voted for the Jewish nationalist (later to become Zionist) party. The real “Jewish party” was the Menshevik (Social Democratic) Party, not the Bolshevik Party. Only 3% of rank and file Bolsheviks were Jews as early as 1918.
I think it is interesting that at some point, most hardcore anti-Semites decide that:
1. Jews killed Jesus (Deicide)
2. Jews are responsible for Communism (Judeo-Bolshevism)
3. The Holocaust didn’t really happen the way the Jews say it did (Holocaust Denial)
To me, this indicates that hardcore anti-Semitism looks like some kind of mental illness, with specific, DSM-like features all its own.
McNally’s comments posted below come from the comments at the end of a a post on Ziopedia:

Commenter: Under Communist rule, the Soviet people suffered for decades, eventually leading to the deaths of anywhere from 20 to 100 million people, depending on which sources you believe.
Patrick McNally: That’s a Cold War invention from beginning to end. Nothing in any of the demographic studies which have been assembled from the archives since 1991 or any of the records of the GULAG supports such absurd myths. They clearly show that the expected life-span of the average Russian gradually grew as the Soviet economy was developed.
Even when one takes into account the hundreds of thousands of executions which occurred in 1937-8 and the one million or so who died in the GULAG during the 1930s, there is nothing which can rationally allow one to conclude that anything resembling 20 million died who would somehow have lived under either the old Czarist government or a White government.
The mortality rate in 1937 actually was already significantly reduced from 1913 and it would go down much further by the 1950s.
Given the total rejection of the Whites by the ordinary Russian, the most one can really say is that the revolution might have been healthier if more Gentile intellectuals had committed themselves to revolutionary aims in advance of 1914.
Among the educated people who were seeking to investigate some type of revolutionary solution prior to World War I there was certainly a disproportionate share of Jews, as educated Gentiles tended to buy into the established social order more easily. But that’s the most any knowledgeable person can say.
The revolution which spread chaotically all across Russia in 1917 was definitely not something brought about by a small cabal of any ethnic type. The question from that time onward was what organized party of intellectuals would be able to place themselves at the head of it and give direction.
The Constitutional Democrats proved to be almost totally out of touch, and the more conservative parties were completely removed from any connection with the main Russian populace.
The only real political rivals which the Bolsheviks ever had were the Mensheviks (which had a high percentage of Jews in its leadership, and was potentially able to attract support among the Russian labor force) and the Social Revolutionaries (who had a base of support among the peasantry).
These parties were unable to take charge of anything because they had not developed an organizational apparatus for the seizure of power as the Bolsheviks had.
That automatically meant that political authority among those forces opposed to the Bolsheviks in the civil war went to the commanders of the ‘Volunteer Army’ and these people lacked any bridge of contact to the ordinary Russian (which the Bolsheviks were often able to make).
That’s why the Reds won. It’s amazing how people who clearly have never studied the Russian Civil War draw up extravagant theories without being acquainted with the facts.

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20 thoughts on “Joseph Stalin, World's Greatest Humanitarian?”

  1. Mr. McNally and you are both off your rockers.
    The Ukrainians starved themselves to death by destroying their own grain? They must have been the first people in history to accomplish that trick. Kindly Uncle Joe allowed grain in to feed the victims? Then what were his secret police doing sealing off the area? Jews did not create the Soviet Union? Ridiculous. The revolutionary parties were not dominated by Jews? Did Mr. McNally miss the Bund or Poale-Zion, neither of which he mentioned. Did he forget about the Jewish Socialist Workers Party of Chaim Zhitlovsky? And just what was the life expectancy of the workers freezing to death building the White Sea Canal or did Mr. McNulty miss that one too? Only 1.5 million deaths in the great famine? Preposterous. Try 7-10 million.
    You believe this tripe at the same time you insist on the factuality of fictional “gas chambers”. What an upside down think mind.

  2. The Ukrainians starved themselves to death by destroying their own grain?
    Yes! Idiots! Worse than that, they tried to starve an entire nation of 120 million! Traitors!
    Kindly Uncle Joe allowed grain in to feed the victims?
    Of course, but he had a choice of either feeding the cities or feeding the villages, and the army needed to be fed first. There was starvation all over the USSR. 1 million died in Siberia.
    Then what were his secret police doing sealing off the area?
    At one time, they had to seal off lots of areas and prevent people from travelling around, because people were migrating all over to escape the famine. The problem is they needed people to stay in the Ukraine to harvest next year’s crop, else they would have another famine harvest.
    The whole fake Holodomor charade is just a made up lie by the Nazi Randolf Heart (your hero) and the Nazi regime in Germany (your super-heroes). The Holodomor never even happened. There was no deliberate famine. It’s all just a Nazi lie.
    The revolutionary parties were not dominated by Jews?
    Not at all, the membership was something like 90% Gentile.
    Jews did not create the Soviet Union? The revolutionary parties were not dominated by Jews?
    Indeed, all of these are just Nazi lies. Which is why, you, a Nazi, repeat them.
    Did Mr. McNally miss the Bund or Poale-Zion, neither of which he mentioned. Did he forget about the Jewish Socialist Workers Party of Chaim Zhitlovsky?
    Well, in 1917, 70% of Jews voted for the Zionist or Jewish nationalist party. They did not vote in majority for socialist parties.
    And just what was the life expectancy of the workers freezing to death building the White Sea Canal or did Mr. McNulty miss that one too?
    Yes, some people died.
    Only 1.5 million deaths in the great famine? Preposterous. Try 7-10 million.
    Neither is correct. About 5 million dead, mostly from disease.
    You believe this tripe at the same time you insist on the factuality of fictional “gas chambers”. What an upside down think mind.
    Why not? Historical consensus is with me and against the Nazis like you. You’re an outlier.

    1. Juan Peron and Jefferson, wow! Nice synthesis. Good luck with your project, comrade. We are a pretty heterodox Left site here. Most liberals and Leftists hate us because we don’t toe the party line on a lot of things. For one thing, I am somewhat conservative on social issues.

  3. ‘Well, in 1917, 70% of Jews voted for the Zionist or Jewish nationalist party. They did not vote in majority for socialist parties.’
    What is the evidence for this? The 1897 Russian census found 5.2m Jews in Russia, so let’s say 4m voters in 1917. 70% of those would be 2.8m voters. Which of the parties in the 1917 elections are we calling Zionist or Jewish nationalist? Below is a list of the parties in the Constituent Assembly of 1917, which the SR’s won.
    A study by Oliver Henry Radkey found the following breakdown. (Note that the figures for Socialist Revolutionaries includes the Ukrainian Socialist Revolutionaries, while the Cadet figure includes other “rightists” as well. The total number of deputies returned for “Others” includes 39 Left Socialist-Revolutionaries and four Popular Socialists, as well as 77 others from various local groups.)
    Party Votes Percent Deputies
    Socialist-Revolutionary Party (SRs)
    17,100,000 41.0 380
    9,800,000 23.5 168
    Constitutional Democratic Party (Cadets) 2,000,000 4.8 17
    1,360,000 3.3 18
    Others 11,140,000 26.7 120
    Total (turnout 48.44%) 41,700,000 100 703

  4. Results from a webpage published by Bryan Caplan of George Mason University: This is a slightly different and more detailed breakdown, without such a large ‘other’ figure, but I still don’t see 2.8m Zionist or Jewish nationalist party votes.
    Party Votes Percent
    Socialist-Revolutionary Party (SRs)
    17,943,000 40.4
    10,661,000 24.0
    Ukrainian Socialist-Revolutionary Party
    3,433,000 7.7
    Constitutional Democratic Party (Cadets)
    2,088,000 4.7
    Georgian Social Democratic (Menshevik) Party
    662,000 1.5
    Musavat (Azerbaijan)
    616,000 1.4
    Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutiun) (Armenia)
    560,000 1.3
    Left Socialist-Revolutionaries (Borotbists)
    451,000 1.0
    Alash Orda (Kazakhstan)
    407,000 0.9
    Various liberal parties
    1,261,000 2.8
    Various national minority parties
    407,000 0.9
    Various socialists
    401,000 0.9

  5. You’re nuts. Your book knowledge is shit. Go ahead sit around some more in your nice American office, maybe you’ll figure out more “facts” about countries you know nothing about. You don’t know your ass from a hole in the ground my friend. My family had gone through Stalin’s repressions, and lost all they had., Through my grandmother’s telling I was able to learn of such atrocities. People died left and right. Parents were shot in front of their children. Modern “capitalist and democratic” Russia is a sham: the same soul-less communists running the show, except they re-branded themselves as democratically elected officials. Most didn’t even bother with the re-branding: they became the mafia that currently controls 60% of the country’s economic activity.

  6. I must say, I didn’t know this about life expectancy. It does bother me when I visit a great art collection, like The Hermitage (or Louvre), to think that it was assembled through the starvation of millions of peasants. Even many great American collections are traceable to income inequality from the Gilded Age.
    My own opinion is that debating socialism vs. capitalism is too simplistic a reduction of the great complexity of our modern economy. At the extreme end of the scale, there’s no reason any American should lack food or vaccination, considering how cheap they are and how much they improve the quality of life of not just their beneficiaries, but those of us around them.
    Not sure of the original source, but in the film The Descendants, George Clooney’s character summarizes the philosophy that well-off parents “should give their kids enough to do something, but not enough to do nothing.” A person CAN’T live their best life when constantly fighting malnutrition, disease, homelessness, or the inability to attain education. But many WON’T live their best life, if the moral hazard of societal generosity entices them into single parenthood, dropping out of school and substance abuse.

  7. Hi,
    Some of the links above are broken.
    Could you go a little further into the 36 million saved number?
    Does that include estimates of how many the Nazis would have killed if the Soviet Union hadn’t succeeded in rapid industrialization? (I’m not sure how such estimates would be tallied, but they are important all the same.)
    Mao concluded that the leadership under Stalin did not properly distinguish dissent in general (contradictions amongst the masses) from actual counterrevolutionary conspiracy (antagonistic contradiction between the masses and the enemy). Of the 700,000 killed during the Yezhovschina of ’37-’38, has anyone estimated how many were in fact necessary (even given a safe margin) to root out Fifth Columnist elements who could have meant the deaths of countless more Soviets at the hands of the Nazis?

    1. No, 36 million lives saved is based on the rapid increases in life expectancy under Stalin. Those 36 million lives saved is even after you subtract the regrettable and criminal deaths under Stalin.
      I agree with Mao’s critique. Mao said Stalin was 70% correct, 30% wrong.

  8. Has anyone attempted to estimate the number? Because it sounds like what you’re saying is, if we added in an estimate of how many people Stalin saved from the Nazis, the number would be much, much higher than 36 million. Granted over 20 million Soviets died, but if they hadn’t been properly industrialized and had therefore been completely mowed over by the Nazi military machine, what would the excess above 20 million have been? That number might be good to include.
    That said, I still don’t understand the Yezhovchina (“Great Purges”) of 37-38. What the hell happened? Did they just round up anyone who’d ever even associated with Trotsky? And is it historical foolishness to try to estimate how many of those 680,000 might have been necessary to root out Fifth Column elements? 25,000? 50,000? 100,000? Such numbers games can be silly, and certainly we ought to be grave before the deaths of so many people, and not flippant. But given that the Nazis killed 20 million +, and that was WITH industrialization, and AFTER rooting out possible traitors, what would it have been without these? Nevertheless, Mao’s critique still applies.
    And … assuming you give any credence to the anti-revisionist (anti-Krushchev) critique, to what degree did upwardly mobile Krushchevites utilize this as a means of “cutting out competition” in their little feifdoms?

    1. I don’t know about the purges and how many of the deaths were necessary. These things are so hard to prove you know.
      And I can’t answer your question about Kruschevites.
      27 million Soviets died in WW2.

  9. I’m of the opinion that Jews were disproportionately likely to support the overthrow of the Tsar because Imperial Russia was killing tens of thousands of Jews a year in pogroms as a way of distracting peasants from the aristocracy’s failures. Jews would have been off their rocker to NOT offer material support to the Russian Revolution.

  10. Personally, I am a staunch supporter of Stalin. First of all, consider the progress he made. If you read up at all on the history of Russia, you will see that Stalin achieved 150 years of progress in only 10 years time. If the population of Russia were 250 million at the turn of the 20th century then thats roughly 1250 million people that would have had to die if the average life expectancy stayed the same. Opposed to the maybe 50 million that Stalin killed (I dont know the exact number, nobody does), thats 1200 million lives that he saved. Over 1 billion lives. So you tell me, how is Stalin a bad guy when he saved 1.2 billion people?

  11. I don’t think you’re a Christian for one second. Stalin was pure evil if you can’t see that then you really aren’t a Christian. Socialists, Anarchists, Mikhail Bukhain, Unions, MLK, John Kennedy, Che though they may not believe in Christ or Christiany they are more of a Christian than you’ll ever be Robert.

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