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Reply #9: I know more about Parenti than most people here, so let me take a . [View All]

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RichM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-14-04 09:01 PM
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9. I know more about Parenti than most people here, so let me take a .
swing at your question. Suppose someone said to you, "You know, a careful review of the most objective evidence indicates that Stalin actually didn't kill as many people as generally claimed in the West." Would you automatically regard this as "defending" Stalin; as being a "Stalin apologist?"

If you answer "yes," then you would regard Parenti as a Stalin apologist. Otherwise, you should listen to his argument, because there is a great deal of substance to it. He basically reviews the work of 3 historians who were granted access to KGB archives in 1993, after the fall of the USSR. These authors generally concluded that the number of people who died in the gulags was a hell of lot less than had been previously thought, in the West. Making clear what his assumptions are, Parenti arrives at a figure of about 800,000 total executions in the gulags from 1921-1953. This INCLUDES those who committed nonpolitical crimes (murder, theft, etc).

He also reviews the other numbers that have been bandied about, which range from 5 million (Roy Medvedev) to as high as 100 million. He reviews the flimsy nature of the "evidence" on which these other numbers are based.

The tone of his conclusions is conveyed by this sentence: "In any case, the killings of political opponents were not in the millions of tens of millions -- which is not to say that the actual number was either inconsequential or justifiable." You should be able to hear that this is a fairly moderate statement. He is not trying to tell you that Stalin was a great guy. He is trying to say that our impression of Stalin has greatly exaggerated the numbers of dead, because it was always in the propaganda interest of the US, to make Stalin out to be the devil incarnate. This is very similar to the recent Saddam, or Noriega, or Sandinista, or Milosevic etc experience: all of these guys were plenty unsavory. But the US propaganda system has always encouraged a ridiculous level of demonization. What Parenti is saying, is that it worked the same way with Stalin, too.
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