Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Nye Bevan defends Russian gulags


An abandoned gulag. Stalin sent 12m - 15m Russians to these hells.

As debates in the Commons demonstrate, Nye Bevan was perfectly well aware that the Russian timber trade he was defending was based on the slave labour of the gulags; there is no possible excuse of ignorance here. The Anti Slavery Committee and other international enquiries had established beyond doubt the scale of Stalin's terror. Member after member of the Commons repeated the damning evidence in the chamber.

Anyone who can not only tolerate but actively praise and support a regime that operated gulags, summary execution, imprisonment without trial, torture and the foulest degradation of men at any stage in their lives is forever beyond redemption. If any man has it in him to support such things at any time he is damned. It's like saying 'I used to support paedophilia, but lately I've had a change of mind'. You can't do it. You are betrayed by the fact that you once supported something utterly foul. And so Bevan stands condemned still.

In the post below, Bevan defended the horrors of Stalin's Russia and defended the desirability of dictatorships until 'class enemies' were destroyed. In the quote below from Hansard, he does so again.

One quote may be out of context; two constitute evidence, and three or more make a convincing case.
BEVAN: I am prepared to accept the Noble Lady's admission that prison labour is not sweated labour, and that people outside prison have to sweat more than those who are in prison. But we are getting rather tired—I think the whole House is—of these diatribes about the awful labour conditions in Russia. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I dare say it is agreeable to Tory ears continually to hear these horrible stories about a country against whose commercial success they are now going to legislate. We used to be told in former years that the Bolshevists would never succeed, and that all we had to do was to sit down and wait till they collapsed. Now the House of Commons is proceeding to arm the Government with a most formidable power of discrimination against the exports of that country.... The goods are cheap because the Russians have thrown off the parasites who were on their backs.
So Conservatives are 'vermin' and the millions of innocents slaughtered by Stalin are 'parasites'. You can tell a lot about a man by his use of language.

31 comments:

Guthrum said...

Bevan was a wolf in sheeps clothing

Dick Puddlecote said...

Crikey! The guy was a far left apologist for torture and degradation .. no wonder he invented the NHS - boom, boom. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Yes, you can tell a lot about a man by his use of language. Bevan used language that would not have been out of place describing Jews in Nazi Germany.

The problem is that modern lefties have whitewashed their own history. For the most part, they know nothing of Bevan beyond that he was Good (with a capital G). Precious few of them have ever read The Communist Manifesto or Das Kapital, primarily because precious few of them are intellectually or educationally equipped to understand the concepts at work.

In place of a critical understanding of the ideology they espouse and the historical figures they worship, you have a simplistic mentality of "Four legs good, two legs bad". They don't understand communism or socialism, either as ideologies or as historical phenomena, but they know it's Good. Mainly they know it's Good because it had Good Intentions. And we know what the road to hell is paved with...

tory boys never grow up said...

"The Anti Slavery Committee and other international enquiries had established beyond doubt the scale of Stalin's terror."

Not in 1932 at the time of this debate it hadn't. Yet more selective quoting and intellectual dishonesty I'm afraid.

It is quite clear that Bevan's attitude towards the Russian Communists changed when the evidence became more apparent - the show trials and Spain also had a significant impact.

And no I'm not denying that there was slave labour in the Soviet Union in 1932 just that it was no where near the full scale that it later reached. Yes many on the Left were viewing Russia through rose coloured spectacles in 1932 - that would be difficult to argue. Just as many on the right (in fact most of the political establishment) were to take a similar view over the Nazis, in subsequent years. The differnce was that Nye was only 35 (and had only been an MP for 3 years) at the time, was not in power and did not have access to same level of information.

tory boys never grow up said...

Anon 21:18

I'm afraid that this is just a patronising statement which actually tells me quite a lot about yourself but precious little else.

Perhaps you might wish to give me a explanation of the philosophy being espoused by the leaders of the Conservative Party at this moment - since even though my skills in ideological analysis may be somewhat diminished of late I'm still struggling to identify any discernible and consistent train of thought.

tory boys never grow up said...

And perhaps before continuing this squalid and dishonest attack on Bevan for being both a fascist and a Stalinist - you might want to ask yourself why Churchill and other otehr senior Tory politicians at the time, who would have had a better understanding of the facts and certainly showed no restraint in attacking Bevan in other regards, did not make similar accusations to yourself.

Libelling the dead although legal is still a pretty disreputable activity.

Bill Quango MP said...

Tory Boy's point about right wing conservatives supporting Facists is well made.
Very different times the 1930s some 75 years ago.

In Bevan's time the 75 year gap would have him discussing what Tories and Whigs said about the Russians in the Crimea.

The past is a foreign country..

William Gruff said...

TBNGU: Your game sir! Well played.

William Gruff said...

PS: It's worth bearing in mind that the parasites Bevan spoke of were not Conservatives, or even conservatives, but those who regarded Conservatives as useful idiots.

Raedwald said...

TB - Not so. When Bevan was praising Stalin's Russia in the post below in April 1933 Gareth Jones had already (in 1932) published a number of articles in nespapers including the Times following his visits to Russia describing the state of things; In October 1932, before Bevan's comments in this piece, he had also publicised the growing famine in two articles entitled 'Will there be Soup?'.

In March 1933, in the same month that Muggeridge had three unsigned pieces on the Russian famine published in the Manchester Guardian, Jones' famine stories broke world wide. Both of these were before Bevan stood up in the Commons to defend Russia in April 1933.

The Anti Slavery Committee had presented conclusive evidence to the Commons in 1932 on the use of slave labour and labour camps to produce materials including timber; this evidence was read into the very same debate in which Bevan attributed the cheapness of the wood to the elimination of 'parasites'.

So you see, I am quite justified in claiming that Bevan knew all about the conditions in Russia at the time and chose to ignore the evidence. It's you I fear who is being intellectually dishonest on this one.

Jones, as Lloyd-George's aide, had unimpeachable credentials.

Bevan knew.

Henry North London said...

He created the NHS to break the power of doctors.

He thought it would take about 60 years

Quod Erat Demonstrandum

tory boys never grow up said...

I am well aware of what Jones and Muggeridge said and when they said it - and as you will see I referred to it much earlier, and indeed I'm the proud owner of a first edition of Muggeridge's Winter in Moscow which was only published in 1934 and was written as a novel. If you bother to read wider on the subject you will see that the prevailing views were far from conclusive at the time - in those days it took a lot longer for the truth to be established than it does at present - indeed it took many Tories 6 or 7 years before they understood the true nature of the Nazis.

As I also said why do you think that those Tories who were around at the time, and had a much better understanding of the actual events as well as a motive for attacking Bevan, did not attack him on the same grounds as yourself. The simple answer is that they did not want to make complete idiots of themselves.

Anonymous said...

Tory Boy,

Please die of rectal cancer in a country that hasn't discovered morphine at your earliest convenience.

Anonymous said...

TBNGU 21:30

Amazing. You're actually saying that apologists for Communist mass murder are right and morally superior because they have a more easily discernable ideology than David Cameron.

You don't answer any point I made. You certainly don't contradict my assertions about the general ignorance of left-wingers. You simply say "Oh yeah? Well, David Cameron sucks!".

What I find fascinating is not so much that you immediately devolve to name-calling (FYI, I'd rather be patronising than an ignoramus) nor that, when your basic thesis is called out, you respond not by defending it but by attacking someone who is tangential to the argument (namely, Cameron - for whose party I have never voted but, hey, don't let objective reality get in the way). No, the thing I find really fascinating is your belief that not having an all-encompassing ideology that defines all areas of human activity and relations is a Bad Thing. It's an amazing thing, given what blind dogmatic devotion to ideology has wrought in the world, that you consider the absence of slave-like devotion to Theory to be the worst insult imaginable.

Since you value ideology so highly and obviously consider Cameron an Untermensch for not publicly espousing Theory, could you explain to me what your party's ideology has been the last twelve years? Y'see, it looks to me a whole lot like Labour's ideology from John Smith's death until present can be summed up as "Get elected at all costs". I wonder what part of egalitarian socialist ideology made Bliar and Brown close the gates of universities to the poor. I wonder what part made them start a series of foreign wars in support of neo-fascist imperialist ideologies.

Edward Spalton said...

This correspondence is to do with someone of a totalitarian world-view. That was originally a "progressive" concept, like "No child left behind" or, as Mussolini put it "Everything inside the state and nothing outside the state". In one of his flights of witty hyperbole, Bevan (I believe) said that, as Minister of Health, he was responsible for every bedpan.

For a refreshing view of the origins of this all-encompassing mindset, may I recommend LIBERAL FASCISM by Jonah Goldberg (Penguin £9.99 ISBN 978-0-141-03950-3)
It traces the lineage of many fashionable, progressive ideas and is subtitled "The secret history of the left from Mussolini to the politics of meaning".

One anecdote may enlighten. In the Thirties the Germans had done first rate work on the connection between lung cancer and smoking. Hitler said he would like to ban smoking altogether. He had even considered putting fearsome health warnings on every packet of cigarettes as a first step. But he thought that would be too bossy and dictatorial!

tory boys never grow up said...

Anon 10:12

And there was me thinking I was going to be strung up from a lamp post. Do you have many friends?

Anon 10:25

Complete garbage I'm afraid - very little point in replying to the ignorant as well as the partonising. Not content with when did you stop beating your wife questions and assertions you are now putting words in my mouth which I would never utter in a million years. Re ideology identification you might find the little guide of some assistance. Francoist Spain (fascist), Italy under Mussolini (fascist), Nazi Germany (fascist), Irag under Hussein (facsist), Al Quadah and the Taliban(fascist) - USA (may be many things but still a democracy and not fascist). Democratic Socialists believe in standing up to fascists - and will be allies of others who do so (e.g USA, Russia/Soviet Union, conservatives etc.)

Anonymous said...

Perhaps worth bearing in mind that Labour politicians did not always believe evertything that was reported in the Papers about Russia at the time. Remember the Zinoviev letter forgery was only in 1924.

Raedwald said...

TB

You've moved from

Bevan never supported Stalin's Russia

to

He supported Stalin's Russia but was wholly ignorant of any abuses

to

He Supported Stalin's Russia and knew about the abuses but chose not to believe them and anyway he was only 35 and he meant well

I suppose to get this much out of you is a success of sorts. My job here today is done ....

tory boys never grow up said...

Raedwell

Completely ridiculous analysis of my position - and of course you address none of my points about your ridiculously broad brush statements about Bevan and your numerous inaccuracies.

Think what you want and don't let the facts get in way - you always have. As you say this is not the place for an academic argument.

Budgie said...

Even after the Gulag Archipelago there were still Labour MPs supporting the Soviet Union. The attitude on the (self styled) 'left' (in reality 'statists') was either outright support of the USSR, or at best a view that the USA was similarly bad.

In the late 1970s Britain was a hotbed of socialism and other quasi-Marxist extremism. There was a real fear that the UK would be dragged into the Soviet empire because of these socialist fellow travelers.

This is why socialism is now widely regarded as being as evil as fascism. And of course they are both statist twins, and closely related politically.

Anonymous said...

"Even after the Gulag Archipelago there were still Labour MPs supporting the Soviet Union."

True there were a small number - and they should be througoughly ashamed of themselves.


"The attitude on the (self styled) 'left' (in reality 'statists') was either outright support of the USSR, or at best a view that the USA was similarly bad."

No it wasn't - you are attributing the views of a few to many on the left. There were all sorts of views on these matters on the "left" - this certainly was not the predominat view. Like Raedwall you are playing the guilt by association game - without realising that it would be all to easy to do the same on the right e.g the Tories appeased Hitler therefore all Tories thereafter are Nazis. Both views are equally stupid however.

"In the late 1970s Britain was a hotbed of socialism and other quasi-Marxist extremism."

An unsupported and simplistic assertion - was Jim Callaghan really a quasi Marxist. Of course we shall take the word of Professor Budgie that there are no diffiernces between Socialism and Marxism despite the fact that many intelligent people, inculding some on the right spend endless hours debating and writing on the subject.

"There was a real fear that the UK would be dragged into the Soviet empire because of these socialist fellow travelers."

Comical really - where is the evidence. The only people who held such a fear were nutters.

"This is why socialism is now widely regarded as being as evil as fascism. And of course they are both statist twins, and closely related politically."


And now of course the ridiculous conclusion - perhaps I could comment on the similarities of your propaganda techniques with Goebbels and draw similar ridiculous conclusions. Of course with you limited brain power I'm sure that you find all you statements to be self supporting and therefore there can be no doubt whatsoever as their authenticity.

Budgie said...

Anon 11:01 - you provide no evidence for your abusive and pathetic defence of your fellow travelers. I have talked to survivors who were near Katyn - you may not remember but a monument to their betrayal and murder was consistently opposed by the Labour establishment of the 1970s.

I lived through the 1970s and I personally witnessed the extent of quasi-Marxist extremism in industry, universities and politics. For example, this included knowing a Trotskyist shop steward who was presented by the BBC as "a typical Midlands factory worker".

Significant numbers of current Labour senior MPs and Ministers were members of revolutionary socialist groups such as the IMG, the CPGB, and possibly the SWP. Of course they, and you, try to cover this up now - after the discrediting of the USSR.

As for socialism being evil you only have to read The Gulag Archipelago or The Road to Serfdom to have all the evidence even you need to see that socialism, fascism and nazism are just slightly different faces of the same evil statist ideology.

Anonymous said...

You were the idiot making unsupported assertions - the onus is on you to support them - it is very difficult to prove a negative as you ask me to do. I don't defend the "fellow travellers" I just point out that they were of much smaller numbers and of significance than you suggest - and make the other point that there are plenty of valid stands to socialism than the one you identify.

"I have talked to survivors who were near Katyn - you may not remember but a monument to their betrayal and murder was consistently opposed by the Labour establishment of the 1970s."

Evidence please - you can of course tar all socialists with the same brush - what do you mean by the Labour Establishment?


"I lived through the 1970s and I personally witnessed the extent of quasi-Marxist extremism in industry, universities and politics. For example, this included knowing a Trotskyist shop steward who was presented by the BBC as "a typical Midlands factory worker"."

I lived through the 70s as well - and it is really pretty pathetic that the only evidence you can present to support your assertion (Britain was hot bed of Marxism and a is the fact that the BBC presented one Trotskysis as a typical factory worker - so this really proves it all. And anyway most Trotskists I know are ready to condemn what happened under Stalin.


"Significant numbers of current Labour senior MPs and Ministers were members of revolutionary socialist groups such as the IMG, the CPGB, and possibly the SWP. Of course they, and you, try to cover this up now - after the discrediting of the USSR."

They obviously didn't cover it up too well - believe it or not people do change their views once they get a better understanding of the world. Are they now putting forward the same views /policies the short answer is no they are not. I think you will also find that there were ex Communist Advisers of Margaret Thatcher, Iain Dale used to be a Liberal, Guido is ex SDP. Robert Conquest used to be a member of the Communist Party. I say watch out for the bigots who are nver able to change their views.

"As for socialism being evil you only have to read The Gulag Archipelago or The Road to Serfdom to have all the evidence even you need to see that socialism, fascism and nazism are just slightly different faces of the same evil statist ideology."

Read them both - and Orwell, Conquest and many others. Of course there are similar features to all totalitarian regimes but there are also substantial differences in their ideology and there are other strands to socialism than the Stailinist one. You might also wish to note that nationalism and racism are a fairly common features as well - and only an idiot would say that such tendencies cannot be found within the Tory Party and UKIP. All political philosophies can distort into totalitarian regimes - the point is that we have to be vigilant to make sure that it doesn't happen. Most on the left are aware of this - i'm not sure that there is the same awareness on the British right.

Anonymous said...

If anyone is interested a more accurate summary of what happened re the Katyn Memorial can be found at the following link. Needless to say the issue is more complex that portrayed by Budgie and indeed he would probably accuse Alex Douglas Home as being quasi Marxist as well as the Labour Establishment if he had any intellectual consistency.

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/about-the-fco/publications/historians1/history-notes/katyn-massacre/introduction/katyn-in-cold-war/

Budgie said...

There are four clear examples given in my short comment. Only one, the Trotskyist shop steward, cannot be backed up with evidence relatively easily found on the internet. You will just have to accept my word on that one. For example, the 1970s Labour government opposed the Katyn memorial and Crosland's mealy-mouthed 'explanation' in Hansard is a model of hypocrisy and bad faith.

One of the tricks socialists played (and still do) is to pretend vast differences between its various forms. In fact those differences were the result merely of the factions evil proponents: Mao; Trotsky; Lenin; Pol Pot etc, and only of interest to socialists themselves. As Hayek shows there is little difference between them and fascism and nazism.

1970s Britain was riddled with socialism in all its forms, like a house infested with dry rot. Not for nothing was the phrase 'We are all socialists, now' so commonly accepted. Thatcher's principal (and principled) achievement was to roll back the tide of socialism when most thought it impossible.

Socialism, whether national or international, has truly proved the most evil and murderous ideology mankind has ever known. There is no excuse for continued adherence to such a discredited system.

Anonymous said...

So you found 4 Trots/similar in the 1970s - that does not prove your original assertions that the country was overrun by quasi Marxists and about to fall in the hands of the Soviet block.

As for all socialists being the same - can we presume that as well as those listed you would include everything up to social democrats in your list. If so where perhaps you might wish to point out where Hayek supports this analysis. Of course Hayek said lots of crackpot things so could you explain why I should take his word as being the one and only truth as evidence to support your assertion.

As for totalitarian traits perhaps you might wish to note a few such tendencies in yourself namely:

a) the view that there are no alternatives to the ones that you support
b) the cult of the individual (Hayek says it so it must be right)
c) your debating style - i.e. making broad unsupported assertions and then when these are challenged asking the challenger to prove the negative hypothesis.

Budgie said...

Like many socialists, when confronted with the outcomes in all socialist regimes (national socialist or international socialist) you trot out the same refrain: "that's not my kind of socialism".

Unfortunately, all the evidence shows that the more socialism is put into effect the worse the outcome, and not just from Hayek as you falsely claim.

From the 1970s Labour government's opposition to the Katyn memorial including Crosland's subservience to the soviet socialist empire, to the infiltration of industry, university and political life by extremist socialist groups such as the SWO, the IMG and the CPGB, it is clear that "In the late 1970s Britain was a hotbed of socialism and other quasi-Marxist extremism. There was a real fear that the UK would be dragged into the Soviet empire because of these socialist fellow travelers." as I said.

As Thatcher has stated: "By 1979, when we won the election, the new Conservative government were ready with principles, policies and resolve to roll back the frontiers of socialism and advance the frontiers of freedom, the first nation to attempt the task. If we succeeded, others would follow. We did succeed. Others did follow. And they are still following."

There is yet more evidence, but this seems pretty definite to me.

Anonymous said...

"Unfortunately, all the evidence shows that the more socialism is put into effect the worse the outcome, and not just from Hayek as you falsely claim."

Where did I say that only Hayek made this claim - there are plenty of of crackpots I'm afraid. But there are plenty of others who do not put the "socialist" label on all those schools of thought with which they disagree - and even acknowledge that there are other acceptable ways of running the world than their own even though they may not fully accord with their own views and values.

"From the 1970s Labour government's opposition to the Katyn memorial including Crosland's subservience to the soviet socialist empire, to the infiltration of industry, university and political life by extremist socialist groups such as the SWO, the IMG and the CPGB, it is clear that "In the late 1970s Britain was a hotbed of socialism and other quasi-Marxist extremism. There was a real fear that the UK would be dragged into the Soviet empire because of these socialist fellow travelers."

And yet nevertheless the Katyn Monument was unveiled in 1976 - when this supposedly subservient Labour Goverment was in power. Where is your evidence that Crosland was receiving and acting on orders from the soviet socialist empire - just because you say it it doesn't make it true. As for the infiltration of universities etc - yes there were and still are such people in the educational system (I suppose you would denyt people an education based on their political view?) - but that does not amount to us being on the verge of handing over the Country to the Kremlin as you state.

"As Thatcher has stated: "By 1979, when we won the election, the new Conservative government were ready with principles, policies and resolve to roll back the frontiers of socialism and advance the frontiers of freedom, the first nation to attempt the task. If we succeeded, others would follow. We did succeed. Others did follow. And they are still following."

Ah the leader said it so it must be true - remember what I said about the cult of the individual - Hayek is dead long live Margaret. BTW who is the next Leader of the cult?


"There is yet more evidence, but this seems pretty definite to me."

I'm sure it does - could I suggest that you only appear to be recognising evidence that supports your views and then ignoring anything which runs counter to them.

Long live democracy and pluralism!

Anonymous said...

Budgie's claim that Crosland was subservient to the soviet socialist empire manges to be both comical and offensive. It is probably an even more outrageos smear than Raedwald's of Bevan. It appears that gutter journalism is now being replaced by sewer blogging I'm afraid.

Budgie said...

Anon - you are bone idle - look up Crosland's comments on the Katyn memorial in Hansard.

As for the "cult of the individual" which you preposterously push, since I give numerous examples and quotes it is hardly an individual. In any case, where are your examples, evidence and quotations from the 1970s to counter mine?

If the most successful PM in the last 60 years can "resolve to roll back the frontiers of socialism", I will take her word for it above your anonymous assertions.

Kittenz said...

This correspondence is to do with someone of a totalitarian world-view. That was originally a "progressive" concept, like "No child left behind" or, as Mussolini put it "Everything inside the state and nothing outside the state". In one of his flights of witty hyperbole, Bevan (I believe) said that, as Minister of Health, he was responsible for every bedpan. For a refreshing view of the origins of this all-encompassing mindset, may I recommend LIBERAL FASCISM by Jonah Goldberg (Penguin £9.99 ISBN 978-0-141-03950-3) It traces the lineage of many fashionable, progressive ideas and is subtitled "The secret history of the left from Mussolini to the politics of meaning". One anecdote may enlighten. In the Thirties the Germans had done first rate work on the connection between lung cancer and smoking. Hitler said he would like to ban smoking altogether. He had even considered putting fearsome health warnings on every packet of cigarettes as a first step. But he thought that would be too bossy and dictatorial!