Sunday, February 03, 2013

Martyred in the USSR


Like many conservatives, I get annoyed at the free pass that the Soviet Union often gets in the history of 20th century tyranny.  Students think nothing of having a poster of Stalin on their walls.  And as I have blogged before, Stalinist academics somehow become national treasures.  A decade ago, a woman who delivered our nuclear secrets to the Kremlin was let off on the grounds she was getting on a bit.

So, it is good to note that people are still trying to put the record straight.  In particular, work is ongoing on a new film about the persecution of people of faith in the USSR.  The atheism of the communist system is an embarrassment for modern secularists which they deal with in various ways.  But most commonly, they just ignore it.  It is unlikely that atheism per se made the USSR even more murderous than it would have been anyway.  But there is little doubt that it did lead the communists to persecute believers simple because they were believers in a way that is little appreciated today.  

The film is called Martyred in the USSR and if you think it is a worthwhile project, you can find more details here (note the film sampler is pretty gruesome).


Discuss this post at the Quodlibeta Forum

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

You wrote:

"It is unlikely that atheism per se made the USSR even more murderous than it would have been anyway. But there is little doubt that it did lead the communists to persecute believers simple because they were believers in a way that is little appreciated today."

I disagree.

Please see: http://creation.com/atheism#atheism-communism

An excerpt from that link:

Vox Day wrote:

“Apparently it was just an amazing coincidence that every Communist of historical note publicly declared his atheism … .there have been twenty-eight countries in world history that can be confirmed to have been ruled by regimes with avowed atheists at the helm … These twenty-eight historical regimes have been ruled by eighty-nine atheists, of whom more than half have engaged in democidal162 acts of the sort committed by Stalin and Mao … .163

“The total body count for the ninety years between 1917 and 2007 is approximately 148 million dead at the bloody hands of fifty-two atheists, three times more than all the human beings killed by war, civil war, and individual crime in the entire twentieth century combined.164

“The historical record of collective atheism is thus 182,716 times worse on an annual basis than Christianity’s worst and most infamous misdeed, the Spanish Inquisition. It is not only Stalin and Mao who were so murderously inclined, they were merely the worst of the whole Hell-bound lot. For every Pol Pot whose infamous name is still spoken with horror today, there was a Mengistu, a Bierut, and a Choibalsan, godless men whose names are now forgotten everywhere but in the lands they once ruled with a red hand.
“Is a 58 percent chance that an atheist leader will murder a noticeable percentage of the population over which he rules sufficient evidence that atheism does, in fact, provide a systematic influence to do bad things? If that is not deemed to be conclusive, how about the fact that the average atheist crime against humanity is 18.3 million percent worse than the very worst depredation committed by Christians, even though atheists have had less than one-twentieth the number of opportunities with which to commit them. If one considers the statistically significant size of the historical atheist set and contrasts it with the fact that not one in a thousand religious leaders have committed similarly large-scale atrocities, it is impossible to conclude otherwise, even if we do not yet understand exactly why this should be the case. Once might be an accident, even twice could be coincidence, but fifty-two incidents in ninety years reeks of causation!”

unkleE said...

I think we have to be willing to judge communist USSR and (say) the Crusades equally. In neither case was religion/irreligion the only factor in the atrocities, and in both cases christians/atheists can find arguments to attack or defend their "side". We need to be careful in apportioning blame

But regardless of blame, the events should be recognised as shameful, though historically understandable.

I am surprised James, that you find people are defending the Soviet atrocities, for I haven't seen that.

I have seen Enver Hoxha quotes about killing christians in communist Albania for the 'cause' of atheism. and Alister McGrath in 'The Twilight of Atheism' mentions a letter by Lenin to the same effect. So there is evidence there.

Rocket Scientist said...

How can we see this documentary?

RPerrin said...

Anything which keeps alive the memory of the evils of totalitarianism is welcome, but I strongly disagree that the Soviet Union gets a free pass. Hobsbawm was far from being a "national treasure". Everyone knew about his pro-Soviet politics and how they tainted his writing. There were the usual platitudes on his death, but the same was true of Oswald Mosley (as Not the Nine O'Clock News was quick to point out). Re Melita Norwood, there were similar controversies about whether Nazi death camp guards should be put on trial in old age. And as for putting Stalin on the wall, I can just about imagine '68ers doing this, but these days they're less concerning with smashing the system than with buying a new stairlift.

James said...

The documentary hasn't been made and the site is attempting to raise funds for it.

I didn't say people defend Stalin's atrocities, but plenty seem willing to gloss over them.

Norwood wasn't prosecuted, Nazis (quite correctly) were. But the comparison with Nazis is one I avoid. They deserve their infamy. Stalin (and Mao) do as well.

Noons said...

Students in the UK putting up pictures of Stalin? I could understand Lenin or Marx, because they wrote revolutionary and idealistic works, but Stalin? He was nothing more than a brutal dictator. Even the Soviets recognized that after he died.

One thing I will give Western communists (as opposed to neo-nazis): I don't see them making references to the worst atrocities of communist regimes while at the same time denying that those atrocities ever took place. Hopefully there isn't a punk band called "The Gugag"

Joel said...

The closest thing would be the people arguing that the Ukrainian famine was not really Stalin's fault and was either from natural causes or an unfortunate accident. But recent historical work and archival information has shown that it was definitely intentional and malicious on Stalin's part, even if it started out with a natural famine.

The Ukrainian famine is probably his most evil crime, by the way. He starved about half as many people as the Holocaust to death in the span of a year or two. The Ukrainians sometimes call it the "Holodomor." I believe Gulag death rates have been revised downward somewhat (still very high).

tonsil stones prevention said...

i will be looking forward to that film.

Alfred Morris said...

guiding people through a problem does not work if you are using a false pretense, religion to teach them on how to get out of their problems. Examine religion first, read about why science is the answer on our blog please and answer there.

Anonymous said...

"Examine religion first, read about why science is the answer on our blog please and answer there"

Nice false dichotomy there, Al.

David B Marshall said...

David Aikman's doctoral dissertation, "Atheism in the Marxist Tradition," badly needs to be published as a book. He focuses on Marx, Engels, and Lenin, and shows that atheism was indeed very important in their conversion to communism -- that anger at God came first, the rest was a "superstructure."

See also my Jesus and the Religions of Man, chapter 3, "Where did Marx Go Wrong?" Aikman and I both studied under that Cold Warrior historian, Donald Treadgold, at the University of Washington.

Unknown said...

Yes Stalin was brutal but the times required brutality. Stalin stopped Trotsky and that fact alone preserved the Orthodox Church in Russia.

Stalin fought International Communism (in some ways) with National Bolshevism.

This is gross oversimplification from a man I have over the years grown to expect the exact opposite from.

Stalin's legacy is incredibly complex. He is in fact the one that finally stopped (via execution) the bloodthirsty communist that devastated Hungary (Bela Kun). He shut down the Comintern. He purged the Communist party of those bent on Internationalism. He was just a Russian Nationalist. He reversed laws that granted the rights to abortion. He glorified the nuclear family.

He was the anti-Trotsky in short and you fail to include this in your assessment.

This is coming from what one commenter referred to as a "neo-nazi" so don't accuse me of being a communist.

Saqib younus said...
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Anonymous said...

according to the historian radzinsky in his book Stalin: The First In-depth Biography Based on Explosive New Documents from Russia's Secret Archives stalin may not have been an athiest for very long and also had religious people in his inner circle. so says an article at an atheist website that advertises books by acharya s

muhammad kumail said...
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Anonymous said...

“The total body count for the ninety years between 1917 and 2007 is approximately 148 million dead

Anonymous said...

These twenty-eight historical regimes have been ruled by eighty-nine atheists,

Anonymous said...

godless men whose names are now forgotten everywhere but in the lands they once ruled with a red hand.

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