[bas relief by Oleh Lesiuk]
The New York Times. 24 June 1931
STALINISM SMASHES FOES IN MARX’S NAME
Harsh Creed of Leader is Based on Putting the Founder’s Theories Into Practice.
THUS CZARISTS ARE GONE
“Former People” Have Been Wiped Out Completely for the Good of the State.
KULAKS NOW GO SAME WAY
Rich Peasants Suffer Cruelly in Effort to Eliminate Class Boundaries in Russia.
By WALTER DURANTY.
Special Cable to The New York Times.
PARIS June 23—If any one doubts that Russia is swallowing Marxism, or that the “Stalinism,” for want of a better word, of today is something integral, new and growing with its own strong life sap, take what has happened to “the Former People,” as the Bolsheviki call the old ruling class, or more immediately, to the Kulaks that is to the richer peasants ‘who opposed the collective farm movement.
Marx theorized about “the elimination of class distinctions” in his proletarian Utopia, but Leninism and Stalinism showed what the words meant in practice. So Tamerlane made pyramids of hostile skulls, or Samuel “hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord.”
The last three words give a fiery glimpse of the Asian fanaticism that is Russia’s heritage—tempered flow by icy winters and a cold, north European blood mixture to less violent if no less ruthless action.
The old ruling class—royalty, nobles, generals and officials from Governor to gendarme, have disappeared already. “The people who were’ is a literal translation of the phrase byvshi lyndi’’ used universally to describe them. They were but are not—most of them have fled, or perished, and those who survive are living dead—phantoms of the past in the Soviet present.
Same Happening to Kulaks.
They are so dead as to be already negligible, but what is happening now to the Kulaks is leading to the same result—the kulaks who, under Leninism were an almost privileged class, encouraged to work and prosper (did not Bukharin then Leninism’s chief spokesman, who wrote ‘The A B C of Communism” as a students’ bible once say to the peasants, “Enrich yourselves,” that is, become kulaks better than—or a different class from—your fellows by individual, self—helping effort?)
“The liquidation of the kulak as a class” runs the present slogan whose meaning in terms of reality is that 5,000,000 human beings, 1,000, 000 families of the best and most energetic farmers are to be dispossessed, dispersed, demolished, to be literally melted or “liquidated” into the rising flood of classless proletarians.
Here, when you get right down to it, is the supreme justification from the Bolshevik angle of the cruel and often bloody pressure upon “the former People” or class enemies from Czar to kulak. Where Marxism theorized Stalin acts. Marxism says, “Eliminate class distinctions” and Stalinism does so by the simple and effective process of destructions, as Tamerlane destroyed has enemies or the Hebrew prophet slew for the glory of Jehovah.
Stalinism a Hard Creed.
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.
An ugly, harsh, cruel creed this Stalinism, flattening and beating down with, so far, no more than a hope or promise of a subsequent raising up. Perhaps this hope, is vain and the promise a lie. That is a secret of the future. But whatever happens later, it is the key and core of: present Russia.
© The New York Times. 1931. N.B. The executive editor of The New York Times, Bill Keller, told The Washington Post on October 23 2003, that the newspaper would have no objection if the Pulitzer Prize Board wanted to revoke Mr. Duranty's award. Mr. Keller called Mr. Duranty's work "pretty dreadful. ... It was a parroting of propaganda." It will be taken as read that no royalties are due on this un-authorised reproduction of this article As such they are also perceived, as having no truthful value whatsoever, are only reproduced for academic and educational purposes, not intended to defraud The New York Times of any morally legitimate royalty revenue and are published without financial gain. In any event, the copyright for the above may well only reside, 70 years after its publication with the heirs of Walter Duranty, and with whom we have no personal animosity whatsoever. Nevertheless, any contention of copyright violation may by taken up under the jurisdiction of English Law. My service address for any legal correspondence is: Nigel Linsan Colley, 1, Crown Street, Newark, Nottinghamshire, England, NG24 4UY. Any prosecution will, you can be assured, be defended in the public domain.
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