Nov 9, 2007

Walter Duranty on Stalinism

It is hard and horrible, for twentieth century America to hear this, but facts are facts. Stalinism not only aims but boasts of aiming at the complete smashing of class boundaries, at the death of all distinctions save talent and State service between man and man. Rank may replace class in the Bolshevik cosmogony to satisfy human needs, but rank based on merit, not on wealth or birth.

But what, you may ask, becomes of “the Former People” or the kulaks or engineers thus doomed apparently to perish? Must all of them and their families be physically abolished? Of course not—they must be “liquidated” or melted in the hot fire of exile and labor into the proletarian mass.

To illustrate—they take a kulak or other type of “former” individualism—a private business man or self-seeking engineer—and send him to the northern woods or Siberian construction camps. Sometimes his family goes, too. More generally it remains to be absorbed by poverty into the lower proletarian surroundings.

No Compromise Permitted.

Then they tell him: “You outcast! You man that was, and now is not! You can get back your civic rights; can be reborn a proletarian; can be come a free member of our ant heap by working for and with us for our communal purpose. If you don’t, we won t actually kill you, but you wont eat much, won’t be happy, will remain forever an outsider, as an enemy, as we consider it, even if ultimately you return from exile and rejoin your family. Because in this sub-Communist ant heap those who are not with us are against us, and the final fate of such enemies is death.”

That, reduced to its harsh essentials is Stalinism today. It is not lovely, nor, in the outside world, of good repute, and your correspondent has no brief for or against it, nor any purpose save to try to tell the truth. But truth it is—ant-heap system, ant-heap morality—each for all and all for each, not each for self and the devil take the hindmost.

~ Walter Duranty, "Stalism Smashes Foes in Marx's Name," June 24, 1931

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