Pete Seeger Is Wrong About Stalin (And So Is Ronald Radosh – Naturally)

Anticommunist Lies Cause Love-In Between Right-wingers and the Phony Left

An issue has come up that illustrates how anticommunism brings together rightwing crypto-fascists and the phony "communist"- revisionists.

The NY Times and NY Sun have reported that Pete Seeger, the famous darling-of-the-fake-left folk singer, told Ronald Radosh, a little-known rabid anticommunist liar and propagandist, that he had been right about how "evil" Joseph Stalin was. Seeger even said he had been wrong not to attack Stalin more loudly.

Seeger left the old Communist Party in 1950 or so, but from the right, not from the left, as some few were doing. This was when the CP was (a) under vicious attack; and (b) had abandoned revolution and was on the brink of abandoning reliance on the working class.

Seeger knows zero about the history of the communist movement. But up till now he has never pretended to be anything but what he is -- a singer, musician, and balladeer. You'd never go to Seeger for good political, historical, or economic analysis.

But you'd never go to Radosh for those things either. Yet Seeger did!

Where’s That Alarm In Your Head?

Seeger has written a new song: "The Big Joe Blues". Seeger sings, Radosh applauds.

When you find yourself agreeing with an anticommunist liar, an alarm should go off in your head: "Wait a minute! How can I possibly be right?" Seeger doesn’t know this, obviously. After 88 years, he should.

Ronald Radosh gets paid to lie. He works for the Hudson Institute which, as he says himself, "is a private think tank that does not claim to have a balanced perspective. Everyone knows it is right of center."

What that means is that it employs people to write, not the truth, but propaganda for "conservative" – elitist, pro-capitalist, anticommunist -- interests. In short  Radosh is hired to lie.

If you do not aim to be objective, to study the evidence and "let the chips fall where they may" -- a difficult thing to do at best -- you sure aren’t going to do it by accident. By his own admission Radosh doesn’t try.

Everything he says about the communist movement and the USSR during Joseph Stalin’s period of leadership is wrong too. That should not surprise us. Radosh doesn’t know much about Soviet history. But if your goal is to tell right-wing, anticommunist lies, you don’t have to know much -- except how to lie.

In fact Radosh doesn’t even say very much. Mainly he implies, insinuates, makes general, non-specific statements. That’s a tacit admission, no doubt, that he does not even know enough to make many plausible lies.

Radosh Lies, Seeger Applauds

Here are ALL the few specific statements of fact Radosh makes in his two articles. All are false.

* "In August 1939 Hitler and Stalin signed a pact and became allies." False! The treaty was a non-aggression pact. Both England and France had such pacts with Nazi Germany – those made at the Munich sellout of Czechoslovakia to the Nazis in 1938.

When the Nonaggression Pact was signed Hitler’s emissary von Ribbentrop – later hanged at Nuremberg for war crimes – began a prepared speech with the words "The spirit of brotherhood which has united the Russian and German peoples…" Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov interrupted him and said:

"Between us there can be no brotherhood. If you please, let us talk business."

In his report to Hitler Ribbentrop wrote that Stalin stated

There can be no neutrality from our side, as long as you yourselves do not cease making aggressive plans in relation to the USSR. We haven’t forgotten that your final goal is an attack upon us.

In a secret protocol the Soviets tried to help fascist Poland, which everybody knew fascist Germany was about to attack.

The Soviets insisted on a line down the middle of the country that would divide Poland into "spheres of influence." If the Polish Army was defeated by the Germans, they and the government could retreat behind this line, and the Germans could not follow.

The Soviets did not do this because they loved the super-anti-communist, fascist and racist Polish government, of course. The Soviets wanted a Polish state – ANY Polish state – between its borders and those of Nazi Germany, so they would have a buffer between themselves and the Nazi invasion they knew was inevitable.

But the Polish government sold out its people overnight! The Nazis invaded on September 1, 1939. By September 17 the Polish government had crossed the border into Rumania, where the Rumanians had to intern it – prevent it from functioning (if Rumania didn’t do this, it would be an act of hostility against Germany).

So Poland had no government at all. Hitler, who had not thought of destroying the Polish state, had nobody to negotiate with. So the Red Army moved into Poland, eventually occupying the same land the Polish imperialists had taken away from the fledgling socialist Russian state at the Treaty of Riga in 1920 (the USSR was not created till 1923).

Radosh also attacks Seeger for supporting US neutrality in WW2 during 1939-1941. This was the CPUSA’s position and, as far as it went, it was correct. Like the communist movement worldwide Seeger took the position that the war between France, Britain, Germany and Poland was a war between imperialists and, as such, against the interests of all workers.

Seeger, like the CPUSA, changed when the USSR was invaded. Of course! The USSR was the workers’ state.

Barbara Fields, a liberal historian of the American Civil War who has written on the history of racism in the USA, once said that slavery was the only issue that made the Civil War different from all the other wars among various ruling elites in history, in which the common people were simply the cannon-fodder and the victims. The issue of slavery gave the working people in the USA a stake in the war, because slavery – a form of super-exploitation of labor -- was a dagger aimed at them!

Likewise, the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union was the only thing that made WW2 different from WWI, the only issue that gave the war a meaning to working people and those under the imperialists’ heel.

* "Stalin was planning the obliteration of Soviet Jewry." False! This lie has been definitively exploded by the Zionist, and ferociously anticommunist and anti-Stalin researcher Gennady Kostyrchenko ("Deportation – Mystification", Lekhaim September 2002; Otechestvennaia Istoriia No. 1, 2003).

And Radosh knows this too -- it came up some years back on the H-HOAC list, which Radosh is active on.

In his 2003 book Stalin and the Jewish Problem. A New Analysis anti-Stalin Soviet dissident Zhores Medvedev admitted that Stalin was not an anti-Semite:

Stalin’s anti-Semitism, about which one can read in almost all his biographies, was not religious, nor ethnic, nor cultural. It was political, and appeared in the form of anti-Zionism, and not of judophobia. (92)

* In his August 31 2007 New York Sun article Radosh refers to "Stalin’s death list." A lie!

What is that? Stalin signed – that is, approved – orders for execution sent him by the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court when those sentences involved members of the Communist Party. It’d be one thing if Radosh opposed the death penalty and called all such orders "death lists," but of course he doesn’t.

The main issue here is that the USSR was faced with serious internal conspiracies, firmly linked to Nazi and Japanese military and intelligence, to overthrow the Soviet government, murder the leadership, and establish. An alliance with Hitler! The Stalin leadership defeated these conspiracies, though only with difficulty. As conspirators blamed and framed each other and many innocent persons, many were executed who should not have been. Those who did this were arrested, tried, and many of them executed in turn, by Stalin.

* Radosh mentions "The Gulag" several times, with no specific criticism. No doubt this is because he doesn’t know anything.

The word "Gulag" – an acronym for "Main directorate of corrective labor camps and colonies" – is used to mean the system of prison camps in the USSR. Since every country has prisons, and labor – as well as recreation – is one of prisoners’ duties, to criticize the USSR for having a "Gulag" is nonsense. The only sensible issues to discuss would be, not the existence of labor camps as such, but (a) whether people were tried and sentenced fairly; (b) the conditions of imprisonment in those camps.

There was bad treatment and abuse in some camps – we know, because complaints sent to Soviet officials, orders for inspections, inspection records, and records of discipline against prison officials who were abusive, exist in large numbers and have been published. Radosh evidently doesn’t know about any of this, so he says "GULAG!" and thinks that is some kind of criticism.

So much for Radosh! He refers to "Stalin’s tyranny", "the most tyrannical of regimes" , but without establishing what was "tyrannical" – because he can’t, or at least not without lying.

Radosh is an unprincipled liar in everything he writes. A few examples:

As for Seeger...

Pete Seeger has supported liberal reforms for decades. For ten years or so (roughly 1939-1950) he was in the Communist Party USA. This was a period when the American CP was at its most liberal, was on the right of the increasingly revisionist world communist movement. At the same time its members were enduring a serious anticommunist attack by the US ruling class, with thousands of Party members persecuted, fired, blacklisted, and many imprisoned. It was all too much for Seeger, who quit the Party in the middle of it all (though at least he refused to snitch on them when the House Committee on Un-American Activities subpoenaed him).

Seeger is a singer, musician, and composer, not a political thinker. He knows nothing about Stalin, so he has repeated what the pro-Moscow CP has said since 1956, when Nikita Khrushchev made his infamous "Secret Speech" attacking Stalin.

Every single accusation against Stalin – every single "revelation" of Khrushchev’s in that speech – is a lie. Not one is true! But Seeger, like the "C"PUSA, believes and repeats them all. Seeger said he "hoped that someone like Khrushchev or Gorbachev could open things up." (NYT 09.01.07).

What a laugh! Khrushchev lied, but with a purpose – to introduce capitalist inequalities in the Soviet Union. Gorbachev did the same, only thirty years later and on a much larger scale. These two right-wingers make Reagan and Dubya look like pikers! But the "C"P followed them, and still does. Seeger still hasn't figured this out.

Seeger told the NYTimes in 1995 that Radosh "had made a career out of exposing the crimes of Soviet Communism." That’s false, of course. Radosh hasn’t "exposed" anything of the kind; he simply doesn’t know anything about the USSR. Why should he, when his purpose is not to find out the truth, but to lie? But Seeger sings Radosh's praises!

Seeger has been badly repaid for his decades of support for the "C"P – he has swallowed their uncritical belief in Khrushchev’s lies hook, line and sinker. They are all false, and so is everything he says about Stalin.

Love-In Among Anticommunists: the Right, Trotskyites, and Revisionists

Khrushchev, Seeger, the "C"P, the anti-communists, the Trots, the right-wingers -- all converge on the question of Stalin. Interesting, isn't it?

Finally, why the constant anti-communist barrage from the bosses and their mouthpieces today when supposedly "communism" is dead? Well, the bosses hate Stalin, Lenin, Marx, Engels, Mao and all communist leaders because they showed the workers and oppressed of the world that there is an alternative to the hellhole of capitalism.

They will never forgive them for that. They know a new communist movement will be rebuilt—that is what we in PLP are fighting for—learning from the lessons of past revolutions, from their achievements and errors. A secondary aspect is that they are now seeing the revival of a Cold War against Russia (and even though the new Kremlin rulers are anti-communist and capitalist), they need to rebuild the anti-Russian feelings of the past.

Also, they still label the rulers of China as communists, even if they are just brutal capitalists. So they still need to attack Stalin, Lenin and Mao. But, we in PLP will bring to the workers of the world the real revolutionary lessons of our red leaders of the past. The future is bright and the Radosh, Seeger and other rats will be sunk.

To find out what really went on in the USSR during Stalin’s time, you can start with PLP’s thoroughly researched "Road to Revolution III".

Here is a cautious but useful article showing how Stalin tried to bring socialist democracy to the USSR and was defeated by creeps like Khrushchev.