Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Muggeridge examines the liberal mind in relation to death by starvation

By Aussiegirl

The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)

From an interview with Malcolm Muggeridge, who was a witness to the Ukrainian Holodomor, and the reactions of British liberals upon hearing about it. They still appear to have an attraction to death by starvation of the unneeded and unwanted.

But the famine is the most terrible thing I have ever seen, precisely because of the deliberation with which it was done and the total absence of any sympathy with the people. To mention it or to sympathize with the people would mean to go to the Gulag, because then you were criticizing the great Stalin's project and indicating that you thought it a failure, when allegedly it was a stupendous success and enormously strengthened the Soviet Union.

What sort of response did you encounter when you came back from the Soviet Union and published your findings, particularly from people close to you, like the Webbs.

The Webbs were furious about it. Mrs. Webb in her diary puts in a sentence which gives the whole show away. She says, "Malcolm has come back with stories about a terrible famine in the USSR. I have been to see Mr. Maisky (the Soviet ambassador in Britain) about it, and I realize that he's got it absolutely wrong." Who would suppose that Mr. Maisky would say, "No, no, of course he's right"?

You published Winter in Moscow when you got back from the Soviet Union, and you were attacked in the press for your views.

Very strongly. And I couldn't get a job.

Why was that? Because people found your reports hard to believe?

No, the press was not overtly pro-Soviet, but it was, as it is now, essentially sympathetic with that side and distrustful of any serious attack on it.

How do you explain this sympathy?

It's something I've written and thought about a great deal, and I think that the liberal mind is attracted by this sort of regime. My wife's aunt was Beatrice Webb, and she and Sidney Webb wrote the classic pro-Soviet book, Soviet Communism: A New Civilization. And so one saw close at hand the degree to which they all knew about the regime, knew all about the Cheka (the secret police) and everything, but they liked it.

I think that those people believe in power. It was put to me very succinctly when we were taken down to Kharkiv for the opening of the Dnieper dam. There was an American colonel who was running it, building the dam in effect. "How do you like it here?" I asked him, thinking that I'd get a wonderful blast of him saying how he absolutely hated it. "I think it's wonderful," he said. "You never get any labor trouble."

This will be one of the great puzzles of posterity in looking back on this age, to understand why the liberal mind, the Manchester Guardian mind, the New Republic mind, should feel such enormous sympathy with this authoritarian regime.

You are implying that the liberal intelligentsia did not simply overlook the regime's brutality, but actually admired and liked it.

Yes, I'm saying that, although they wouldn't have admitted it, perhaps not even to themselves. I remember Mrs. Webb, who after all was a very cultivated upper-class liberal-minded person, an early member of the Fabian Society and so on, saying to me, "Yes, it's true, people disappear in Russia." She said it with such great satisfaction that I couldn't help thinking that there were a lot of people in England whose disappearance she would have liked to organize.
No, it's an everlasting mystery to me how one after the other, the intelligentsia of the Western world, the Americans, the Germans, even the French, fell for this thing to such an extraordinary degree.


At 7:23 AM, Blogger Michael Morrison said...

Mrs. Webb: "Yes, it's true, people disappear in Russia."
Ninotchka: "There will be fewer but better Russians."

At 10:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is a very chilling comparison to what has happened with Teri.

I still can't believe she was yessed to death.

At 8:28 PM, Anonymous One Eyed Cat said...

I thought this might interest you.


I'll have to admit you have made me think about the premises behind her death.


At 12:12 AM, Blogger Aussiegirl said...

"There will be fewer but better Russians." -- Ahh, Ninotchka -- who could forget that marvelous trio of nudniks who came over with her. If only communism itself could have been so easily seduced. Well, they famously said you couldn't make an omelette without breaking some eggs -- there are still leftists today who say that -- yes -- Stalin killed a lot of people, but then the kulaks needed killing -- or words to that effect -- i.e. -- they were so backward and reactionary the only way to clear the way for wrenching the Soviet Union into the 20th Century was to simply elmininate those who were obstreperous. Starvation is an excellent genocidal tool, if you think about it -- no ovens, no gas chambers, no need to process huge numbers of people through concentration camps, that's too labor intensive -- simply remove all the food - and nature takes care of the rest. Oh, and of course, the are still the Famine deniers -- as recently as a few years ago the Village Voice ran an article denying that a man-made-famine ever took place in Ukraine.

Glad you all came and left comment -- to OEC - thanks for that website - with some excellent articles and lots to read.

I think we've all had to reexamine a lot of our souls after this one.


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