March 24, 2009

We can only hope the title of this 2008 book isn't already obsolete

History's Greatest Heist: The Looting of Russia by the Bolsheviks is a Yale University Press book by historian Sean McMeekin about the tragicomic Communist economic policies of 1917-1923, which largely revolved around organized and not-so-organized crime.

Russia had been one of the great success stories of the capitalist world in the decade leading up to WWI. War and wartime inflation undermined the government's legitimacy, however, and led to power falling into the hands of increasingly leftist elements, ending up with Lenin.

The Bolshevik takeover led to the near paralysis of the Russian economy. In the midst of the world's largest forest, the Communists were soon running out of the paper to print their decrees, propaganda, and currency. What did they have to sell to buy imported weapons to help them stay in power?

Treasure. The gold, silver, and jewelry amassed over the generations. Lenin and Trotsky imposed a policy of looting on a mass scale. As Marx had prophesied: "The knell of private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated."

This didn't prove as immediately successful as the Bolshevik braintrust had hoped. For example, "inventory shrinkage" proved a recurrent problem. When Lenin and Trotsky called for mobs to sack local landowners, bourgeois households, and churches and send the loot to them, the amount received wasn't as lucrative as expected. Rather a lot seemed to stick to the fingers of local Party operatives.

For instance, the murder of the deposed Czar and his family could have been a gold mine for the regime since the daughters had diamonds stuffed in their undergarments. But, not much got back to Party Headquarters. As late as the 1930s, Stalin would send the Cheka to the villages around where the Romanovs were murdered and the goon squads would find locals who had 100-carat diamonds stuffed away.

Just as it was hard for poor peasants to fence humongous diamonds, it was hard for the Bolsheviks to fence their robberies, of which the largest was the Russian government's huge central gold reserves. The French, in particular, were honorable about not fencing the stolen properties of their old allies, who had saved Paris in 1914 by launching the Russian Army on a kamikaze offensive into Eastern Prussia.
Germain Seligman, whose father Jacques had been one of France's leading dealers in Russian art before the revolution, was invited to Moscow by Mikoyan in fall 1927 to inspect items the Bolsheviks wished to sell in Paris. Taken on a tour of the Gokhran's jewelry storerooms, Seligman later recalled the impression that he had been ushered into "a great cave of ormolu and gilt bronze, with stalactites and stalagmites of gold and crystal. Hanging from the ceiling ... was an incredible array of chandeliers and candelabra." Although impressed by the sheer volume of gilt objects on display, Seligman informed Mikoyan that he was an art dealer, not a jewelry thief...

Although an enormous amount has been written about "Nazi gold" laundered through Switzerland, the much larger amount of "Bolshevik gold" laundered through Sweden in 1918-1923 has previously received little attention. Lenin's problem was that gold ingots stamped with the tsarist Russian seal were obviously stolen by the Bolsheviks, so they traded at a large discount. He found a capitalist, Stockholm bank Olof Aschberg, to sell him the rope. Aschberg would buy Russian gold in Estonia, ship it across the Baltic, and have the Swedish Royal Mint melt down the gold and put its own insignia on this. In return, Aschberg would sell the Soviets weapons needed for their civil war and subsequent 1922 war with their own peasantry.

On the political front, British PM David Lloyd George tired of blockading the Baltic, and legitimized Soviet trade representatives in order to get orders for British factories. The British signed a trade agreement with the Soviets in 1921 and the German Foreign Office, which had done so much to put Lenin in charge of Russia in 1917, signed a loan deal with the Bolsheviks at Rapallo in 1922, just as their gold stock was running out.

By the late 1920s, moral scruples like Seligman's seemed old-fashioned. U.S. Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon bought dozens of Old Master paintings from the Hermitage in 1930-31, which helped Stalin finance his war on the Ukrainian peasants. Those fenced goods now form the heart of the collection of our National Gallery on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. McMeekin writes:
In one of the most grotesque ironies of Communisms, it was Western fat-cat capitalists like Mellon who inherited the great part of Russia's patrimony, while the Russian proletariat received only the lash. It is hard to imagine a better program for destroying a country's wealth than by robbing and murdering its most successful wealth-producers and shipping their riches out of the country. In this way the Russian people were robbed not only of their cultural past, but of their economic future as well.

History's Greatest Heist: The Looting of Russia by the Bolsheviks is available from Amazon.

P.S. Looking through the book's handy appendix summarizing its Dramatis Personae, it becomes evident that, yes, a lot of the figures involved were Jews, such as the key Swedish banker Olof Aschberg. With Aschberg, ethnocentrism doesn't seem to have played a large role: as well as all the help he provided Lenin and Trotsky, he had previously arranged loans for the Czar in 1916 and for Kerensky in 1917. In general, he was a man of the left (he remains a hero to Swedish Social Democrats), but mostly he'd seen his opportunities and he took them. On the other hand, some of the good guys in the book, such as Germain Seligman, were Jews, and many of the book's bad guys who helped the Bolsheviks cling to power, such as Lloyd George and the German diplomats and generals, were not.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

69 comments:

Anonymous said...

Deja vu!

jack strocchi said...

Steve Sailer says:

We can only hope the title of this 2008 book isn't already obsolete

The two decades since the end of the Cold War have certainly given the Bolsheviks a run for their money in the Greatest Heist department. Although kleptocratic statists always have the advantage in that their armed robbery can call upon the military for muscle.

First, Wall Street, from the later eighties through nineties onto mid noughties, discovered that it could fleece the US financial system and get paid for it. S&L, Drexel Burnham, junk bonds, LTCM, dot.com, Enron, WorldCom, Country Wide, City Bank, Lehman, Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns, AIG et al. All looting their own coffers under the watchless eyes of shareholder and taxpayer accountability agencies.

Then in the early nineties the Russian kleptocratic capitalists decided that they wanted a piece of the action, even getting US suitcase economist advice on how best to loot Russia's mineral assets by an unholy alliance of industrial oligarchs, financial technocrats, political apparats and criminal associates. Ever wondered why mineral prices collapsed in the aftermath of the Cold War: the ore was dumped on international markets in a "take the money and run" strategy of extraction and exploitation.

But the verdict is still out on the Iraq Oil Law, potentially the biggest transfer of wealth in history. This is the quasi-privatisation of untapped Iraqi oil fields, secured by US enduring bases with a pay off to the weak moderate Shiite Iraqi govt.
From the Iraqi state to the Big Oil a bonanza worth perhaps in excess of $20 trillion.

Financial capitalism is a plague on industrial capitalism. Part-predator, part-parasite. It has brought down Russia and it is bringing down America.

But I guess this is a small price to pay in order to maintain high real estate prices in SW1/Surrey and Upper Manhattan/Conneticut.

Mark said...

For instance, the murder of the deposed Czar and his family could have been a gold mine for the regime since the daughters had diamonds stuffed in their undergarments.

They expected them to remain hidden there?

Seligman later recalled the impression that he had been ushered into "a great cave of ormolu and gilt bronze, with stalactites and stalagmites of gold and crystal.

Russians strike me as being the most conspicuous of the conspicuous consumers. They spend without even a nod to modesty. I can see why Russian capitalists would spark the envy of the proles.

a_c said...

Just how much of a discount was levied in the Swedish route?

PrestoPundit said...

How long do you think before the Democrats begin dividing up the gold in Fort Knox?

Mark said...

Steve, I don't know if the title of your post is in reference to the current US situation or to the pillaging of post-Communist Russia (or both), but it strikes me that the Bolsheviks got shafted. All they stole was diamonds, gold, artwork, etc - these are the perquisites of wealth, not it's real source. The oligarchs of post-Communist Russia managed to steal oil wells, steel mills, ad infinitum. To me it seems like there's little comparison. I'd rather be Roman Abramovich. Unlike in 1920, the world doesn't seem to to be too worried about purchasing his stolen loot - or with granting him a visa.

Anonymous said...

I once remember reading that if the 1914-18 war never occurred, and Russian economic growth rates held up (it was the world's fastest growing economy at the time), then Russia and not the USA would have been the 20th century's economic heavyweight.
How true this is I don't know.

silver said...

I once remember reading that if the 1914-18 war never occurred, and Russian economic growth rates held up (it was the world's fastest growing economy at the time), then Russia and not the USA would have been the 20th century's economic heavyweight.
How true this is I don't know.


Then WWII probably wouldn't have occurred either so it's reasonable speculation.

ben tillman said...

How long do you think before the Democrats begin dividing up the gold in Fort Knox?

Can you really be confident that it's still there?

Anonymous said...

The GDP of Tsarist Russia was growing at rate of 14-16 percent in 1911-13. With growth rates like that, they'd have overtaken anybody in the long term. Of course, there's no way they would have maintained them.

Underdeveloped economies can often post high growth rates while they are playing catch-up with the more advanced economies. Even the centrally-planned Soviet economy grew at an impressive rate for several decades (inspiring Khrushchev's "We will bury you" boast). But at a certain point you need shift from "extensive" development (moving peasants from the fields into Dickensian factories based on imported technology) to "intensive" development (invention and implementation of new techniques). The Soviets hit that wall in the 1960s; the Tsarist regime would have too, eventually. However, the Tsarist regime would have still have been ahead, probably far ahead. The Revolution and Civil War destroyed the economy, which didn't return to 1913 levels until the 1930s. Secondly, of course, central planning is inferior to capitalism as a motor for economic growth, though it can do OK during the extensive phase of development.

Dutch Boy said...

The late Armand Hammer's father was Lenin's fence-in-chief (the swag the Hammers got for their services was used to found Occidental Petroleum). The Communist hand washed its Capitalist opposite.

Epicurean said...

Mark:
... but it strikes me that the Bolsheviks got shafted. All they stole was diamonds, gold, artwork, etc - these are the perquisites of wealth, not it's real source. The oligarchs of post-Communist Russia managed to steal oil wells, steel mills, ad infinitum.

The real source of wealth is brains, far more than natural resources such as oil and steel. Look at Japan for a good example. The Bolsheviks did focus on the baubles of the decadent nobles - they were easy to loot. As for the brains of the bourgeoisie, the Bolshies simply crushed those out of existence, then wondered why there was so little real wealth.

Remember it was the expanding, Westernized middle class that was responsible for Russia's pre-1914 economic growth. They were the ones who transformed a semi-Asian medieval theocracy into a modern republic - until the commies reversed their gains!

Anonymous said...

Don’t forget the US’s own Armand Hammer who made lots of deals fencing stolen goods from the Bolsheviks

DJF

RKU said...

It's interesting that a recent Russian survey of their most popular historical figures in had Stolypin, one of the last pre-Bolshevik prime ministers ranked #2 (below Peter the Great). Stalin came in third, but (I think) he mostly drew his support from elderly pensioners and such. My impression is that almost other Communist leader of the 20th Century is pretty much hated and despised everywhere in Russia.

It's also interesting that one of the most widely popular Russian films, produced by Putin's government, features a White general of the Civil War as its central hero, with the Reds mostly being portrayed as bloodthirsty anti-Russian foreigners and criminals. Sometimes factual reality does actually win out in the end...

Frankly, it wouldn't totally surprise me if a few years down the road much of America's history over the course of the 20th Century undergoes a similarly massive "inversion"...

josh said...

There will always be the Shabbos goys!

AllanF said...

Hard saying, but when you add up all the bail-outs being funded ultimately by the US treasury, it's easily north of one trillion. Goldman Sachs is definitely getting the lion's share; indeed, they are personally seeing to it in more ways than one could account in a single blog post. But a trillion dollars is no mere elephant, it's a blue whale and there is plenty getting spread around.

The ultimate question is how much of the one trillion will be paid by the US taxpayer and how much by the Chinese.

Kijkfaas Mcgee said...

Phew. Thanks for the P.S. caveat!

Captain Holodomor said...

"It is hard to imagine a better program for destroying a country's wealth than by robbing and murdering its most successful wealth-producers and shipping their riches out of the country."

It's not destroying a "country's" wealth. It's simply one ethnic group taking the power, and subsequently the treasure, of another (loosely-defined) ethnic group. The fingerpointing on the one side and the clever denials on the other all serve their purpose, but at the end of the day, that's how it goes - Alexander nabs the riches of Persia, the Romans take from his descendants and heirs, Northern Europeans take the accumulated loot of the Church, the Spanish fill up on the treasures of the New World, the English steal the gold and gems of India, the Jews of the Pale and the Diaspora loot Russia. It just is. No emotion. No obfuscation.

Mark said, "All they (the, ahem, Bolsheviks) stole was diamonds, gold, artwork, etc..." No, that's not all. Stealing gold doesn't instantly make a nation impoverished. What you're not including are the millions of people forced into slave labor and exterminated, which means a theft of their actual lives.

It's discouraging to read lines like McMeekin's, "Although an enormous amount has been written about 'Nazi gold' laundered through Switzerland, the much larger amount of 'Bolshevik gold' laundered through Sweden in 1918-1923 has previously received little attention."? How many times have we read variations on that statement? It's a theme that's redundant in conservative circles (along with, "Hey, can you imagine if the races were reversed?!), yet are there really any left, in this Internet age, who are truly scratching their heads, wondering why some national crimes are trumpeted and others not?

Mike said...

The WSJ has suddenly a newfound respect for the rule of law. The very folks cheerleading lawbreakers by writing editorials in favor of open borders and illegal wars in the mideast is asking congress to respect AIG's contract with employees. It is a wonderful time to be a paleo-conservative.

RGH said...

Lenin raising a mob to sack the local landholdings and Obama raising a mob to recover the AIG bonuses is a difference only of degree, not of kind.

testing99 said...

It would not have been true Anon.

Russia had high growth rates because it had almost nothing. If you start from nothing even next to nothing means something as far as growth.

Russia contra Steve, was not a great success story. On the CONTRARY, it was a massive failure. What little wealth existed tended to be concentrated among the aristocracy and so on, leaving most with almost nothing. No rights, less property, no interest at all in defending the status quo other than the lash.

When Napoleon granted peasants appropriated land, he turned the former radical angry mob into deeply conservative enemies of revolution. Since a man with a little wealth he has just got will jealously defend it against all comers. While a man with no wealth always seeks chaos and violence, the more the better, since anyone can then grab a rich aristocrat and loot his wealth.

Russia was before 1914 beset by constant peasant revolts and failures when up against other military powers. This was because their export wealth was entirely petroleum and agricultural based, no manufacturing, no middle and working classes, no technical understanding, nothing but Czars and peasants. Which does not make for a powerful and robust nation.

The Bolsheviks by sheer industrial killing (Stalin in particular) managed to hold things together, and after WWII coasted on patriotic feelings against the idiotic and insane genocide against the Russian/Slavic people (who would have welcomed the Third Reich if not for all the killing) by the Wehrmacht and other forces of the Third Reich.

But even that fell apart by sheer demographic inertia (constantly less people makes for not enough thugs to intimidate) and loss of petroleum income as the Saudis upped production to break the USSR over Afghanistan.

Stalin and Lenin were stupid-clever. Clever in that killing all those people meant little opposition to them could be mustered in the short run. Stupid in that the various wars the Bolsheviks conducted upon their own people, and Stalin's stupidity in fighting the Wehrmacht (stupid stand-and-fight orders instead of fighting retreats) left Russia demographically devastated.

If you wonder why the Russian people are dying out, look no further than Lenin and Stalin. Who between them destroyed Russia's demographic future.

John Seiler said...

And let's not forget how the Neocons STILL lionize their beloved Leon, the mass-murdering looter. Here's Irving Kristol rhapsodizing on Alcove No. 1: http://www.pbs.org/arguing/nyintellectuals_krystol_2.html

Here's Christopher Hitchens worshipping "The Old Man" as "a prophetic moralist": http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200407/hitchens

And here's Stephen Schwartz, writing in National Review, on "the fact is that many of the original generation of neoconservatives had a background of association with Trotskyism in its Shachtmanite iteration": http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-schwartz061103.asp

Anonymous said...

@Mike re:AIG

Here is an interesting letter that was sent to the NY Times. A lot of these bonuses are basically salaries, and are going towards people who had no hand in creating the current mess.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/25/opinion/25desantis.html

Anonymous said...

It's also interesting that one of the most widely popular Russian films, produced by Putin's government, features a White general of the Civil War as its central hero, with the Reds mostly being portrayed as bloodthirsty anti-Russian foreigners and criminals. Sometimes factual reality does actually win out in the end...

I find it very interesting that so many "judeo-skeptics" in the US want to pin the vast bulk of the blame for the Russian revolution on the Jews when Russian polls show there isn't a great deal of antisemitism/hostility towards Jews in Russia.

If the Jews were as heavily responsible for the revolution as certain posters here indicate, you would expect far more hostility to Russian Jews then there actually is in Russia - especially when you consider that political correctness doesn't exist over there.

rast said...

sell the Soviets weapons needed for their civil war and subsequent 1922 war with their own peasantry.

That could never happen to us!

Anonymous said...

I once remember reading that if the 1914-18 war never occurred, and Russian economic growth rates held up (it was the world's fastest growing economy at the time)

As another commenter noted, they would never have been able to sustain that level of growth, but the counterfactual is meaningless anyways, since the Russian GDP growth rate was a main reason for Germany's welcoming and stoking the 1914-18 war in the first place: they wanted to beat Russia while they thought they still had the time. The Kaiser's advisors all thought by the late 1920s or 1930s Imperial Russia could easily squash all of Europe.

then Russia and not the USA would have been the 20th century's economic heavyweight.

Prescient futurists as early as the 1880s and 90s were predicting that the mid-to-late 20th c. would be characterized by a face off between Russia and the US. I think one of them was even Otto von Bismarck.

Paymaster Gets Paid said...

...it becomes evident that, yes, a lot of the figures involved were Jews...and many of the book's bad guys...were not.

What's next, Steve? Reminding readers that Cortez had plenty of help from the natives in conquering the Aztecs? So it wasn't really a Spanish operation?

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

The GDP of Tsarist Russia was growing at rate of 14-16 percent in 1911-13. With growth rates like that, they'd have overtaken anybody in the long term. Of course, there's no way they would have maintained them."

The corrolary to this was pointed out by Solzhenitsyn: the average Russian was far better off materially (and far more free) under the Tsars than under the Bolsheviks.

I had also read once that international trade reached a level in 1914 that it would not reach again until the 1980s. So much for Tom "The Mustache" Friedman's hypothesis that nations that trade with one another don't fight with one another.

anony-mouse said...

I believe Friedman's take was that no 2 countries with MacDonalds in them will go to war with each other (Jihad vs McWorld). This was disproven during the Balkan crisis (that is, the more recent Balkan crisis)

This is a continuation of the notion that no 2 Western capitalist democracies will go to war against one another. Speaking of Bolshies, one exception to this rule took place during WWII when many Western democracies declared war on Western democratic Finland.

jack strocchi said...

RKU said...

Stalin came in third, but (I think) he mostly drew his support from elderly pensioners and such. My impression is that almost other Communist leader of the 20th Century is pretty much hated and despised everywhere in Russia.

Stalin led the USSR to victory in the Great Patriotic War. Beating Hitler and the Nazis is a pretty decent sized feather in your cap in the Alpha-Male stakes.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Bolshies, one exception to this rule took place during WWII when many Western democracies declared war on Western democratic Finland.

In WW2 most western democracies were under German occupation, so they wouldnt be declaring war on anyone. The reminder were neutral and didnt declare war on Finland. That leaves the two most obvious ones, Britain and the US and as far as I know they didnt declare war on Finland either.

So who were these "many western democracies" then?

Anonymous said...

"P.S. Looking through the book's handy appendix summarizing its Dramatis Personae, it becomes evident that, yes, a lot of the figures involved were Jews, such as the key Swedish banker Olof Aschberg. With Aschberg, ethnocentrism doesn't seem to have played a large role: as well as all the help he provided Lenin and Trotsky, he had previously arranged loans for the Czar in 1916 and for Kerensky in 1917. In general, he was a man of the left (he remains a hero to Swedish Social Democrats), but mostly he'd seen his opportunities and he took them. On the other hand, some of the good guys in the book, such as Germain Seligman, were Jews, and many of the book's bad guys who helped the Bolsheviks cling to power, such as Lloyd George and the German diplomats and generals, were not."

A little anodyne, don't you think Steve?

Whether they were Jewish bankers or not, as in the case with the "Swede" Aschburg, their motives for dealing with and financing the Reds, and with their 'opponents', such as with the Czar and Kerensky had more to do with them financing both 'sides' of the conflict than with a solely monetary gain in mind.

You see, the 'money masters' are monetary mercenaries, they gain either way, whoever "wins' or 'loses", cause they keep everyone in hock to them; a classic "heads I win, tails you lose" conundrum.

Additionally many conflicts like these from which they profit from often fomented by these `Banksters` in the first place:(,
which seems painfully apparent here with the intrigue of these types across an international spectrum.

RKU said...

Stalin led the USSR to victory in the Great Patriotic War. Beating Hitler and the Nazis is a pretty decent sized feather in your cap in the Alpha-Male stakes.

Actually, that's one of the reasons I'm pretty sure it was mostly the elderly Russians who kept Stalin as high as #3 in the popularity contest. After all, they'd lived their whole lives under an endless barrage of "Stalin Won the Great Patriotic War" propaganda.

But I'd guess that today most Russians under 50 or so are completely aware that Stalin was an absolutely disastrous political/military leader, whose huge armies initially collapsed partly because he'd recently executed almost the entire senior officer corps, and also required his defending forces to stand and fight---and be encircled and annihilated.

Russia only won because of Hitler's countervailing brutality and over-confidence. Even half-sensible German policies would have caused the USSR to disintegrate like a balloon. Saying Stalin "won" the war is like giving victory-medals to the American admirals at Pearl Harbor.

Mark said...

The real source of wealth is brains, far more than natural resources such as oil and steel. - Epicurean

No argument from me, just to say that to the extent that wealth is natural resources or other tangible goods, the oligarchs took far more than the Bolshies.

Mr. Anon said...

"RKU said...

Actually, that's one of the reasons I'm pretty sure it was mostly the elderly Russians who kept Stalin as high as #3 in the popularity contest........"

Well put. The fact is - and as the son of a WWII vet this still amazes me - both world wars are as good as ancient history now. Sure we are still living with the consequences of them (and weighty consequences they are), but we still live with the consequences of the Norman invasion too.

To the generations now coming into their prime, whose parents had no direct memory of the war, I get the impression that it just doesn't loom large in thier world view.

Kaiser Bill, Clemenceau, Lloyd-George, Wilson, Churchill, Hitler, Stalin, Roosevelt, Tojo? You may as well be talking about Kublai Khan or Emperor Trajan.

It's a whole new world.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for not posting my previous two attempted comments.

Real courageous and classy.

scottynx said...

Anonymous at 3/25/2009 said: "Prescient futurists as early as the 1880s and 90s were predicting that the mid-to-late 20th c. would be characterized by a face off between Russia and the US. I think one of them was even Otto von Bismarck."

Alex De Toqueville predicted this even earlier, back in 1838:

from Democracy in America:
" There are at the present time two great nations in the world, which started from different points, but seem to tend towards the same end. I allude to the Russians and the Americans. Both of them have grown up unnoticed; and while the attention of mankind was directed elsewhere, they have suddenly placed them- selves in the front rank among the nations, and the world learned their existence and their greatness at almost the same time.

All other nations seem to have nearly reached their natural limits, and they have only to maintain their power; but these are still in the act of growth.101 All the others have stopped, or continue to advance with extreme difficulty; these alone are proceeding with ease and celerity along a path to which no limit can be perceived. The American struggles against the obstacles that nature opposes to him; the adversaries of the Russian are men. The former combats the wilderness and savage life; the latter, civilization with all its arms. The conquests of the American are therefore gained by the plowshare; those of the Russian by the sword. The Anglo-Americans relies upon personal interest to accomplish his ends and gives free scope to the unguided strength and common sense of the people; the Russian centers all the authority of society in a single arm. The principal instrument of the former is freedom; of the latter, servitude. Their starting-point is different and their courses are not the same; yet each of them seems marked out by the will of Heaven to sway the destinies of half the globe."
http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/1_ch18.htm

Reg C├Žsar said...

Olof Aschberg sounds like the George Soros of his day. And "ash mountain" is a really ironic surname for a Jewish Stockholmer and fellow traveler. Or should I say, "prophetic"?

Cossack in a Kilt said...

Regarding Stalin, when I was in Kiev I heard a joke. "You know that the Great Patriotic War (i.e., WW2) was a contest between Hitler and Stalin to see who could kill the most Russians. Stalin won, but then, he had more experience."

Anonymous said...

Don't kid yourselves, folks. The Russians love Stalin because he was a strong leader, another Ivan the Terrible. They like Putin, too.

Remember what happened before the Revolution. The Tsar lost a war. Stalin won a war. Yes, at great cost, but against a formidable enemy. Nobody likes a loser, but Russians will tolerate the abuses of a winner.

Russians expect abuse. Their lives are abuse. Better to tolerate big abuses from a strong leader than waste away in the misery of small quotidian abuses with no dignity. At least their is some patriotism in suffering abuses for the Tsar and Motherland. It's a different way of thinking, probably not really comprehensible to Americans.

"Kaiser Bill, Clemenceau, Lloyd-George, Wilson, Churchill, Hitler, Stalin, Roosevelt, Tojo? You may as well be talking about Kublai Khan or Emperor Trajan."

The baseline of the financial crisis that is happening right now is the unraveling of the post-WW2 world order and nervous fumblings for a new order. At some point these will stop being fumblings and players will start making real moves. Then the show begins, and we are in it.

Some parties are itching for that moment to come. China and Russia come to mind.

That is the underlying reason for all this. The smart guys at the top are surprised and clueless too. Human brains have a hard time comprehending multi-generational events, especially with the "live in the moment" Western mentality. The Chinese and Russians are better prepared because they have not accepted that mentality.

anony-mouse said...

"many western democracies"?

Britain and the Dominions

see:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuation_War

Reader said...

P.S. Looking through the book's handy appendix summarizing its Dramatis Personae, it becomes evident that, yes, a lot of the figures involved were Jews, such as the key Swedish banker Olof Aschberg. With Aschberg, ethnocentrism doesn't seem to have played a large role:


Well, that sure is a relief to hear ethnocentrism played no role in all that Jewish networking that created the Bolshevik Revolution.

Ronduck said...

Remember it was the expanding, Westernized middle class that was responsible for Russia's pre-1914 economic growth. They were the ones who transformed a semi-Asian medieval theocracy into a modern republic - until the commies reversed their gains!

Considering where China is now, that does scare me. China currently has 10% growth, if they tank economically they could end up having an officers coup take over their government.

togo said...

In WW2 most western democracies were under German occupation, so they wouldnt be declaring war on anyone. The reminder were neutral and didnt declare war on Finland. That leaves the two most obvious ones, Britain and the US and as far as I know they didnt declare war on Finland either.

Britain declared war on Finland. It's all over something called the internet.

Captain Holodomor said...

I'll join the Anonymous above in thanks for not printing my comments in reply to Testing 99 and the guy who says there's no antisemitism in Russia. I swear, I can't figure out the mental filtering mechanism at work here.

ben tillman said...

If the Jews were as heavily responsible for the revolution as certain posters here indicate, you would expect far more hostility to Russian Jews then there actually is in Russia....

You seem to be relying on one very dubious premise.

Anonymous said...

The biggest Soviet theft was the early hyperinflation, not the looting mentioned in this book. Read up on the early 1920s and appreciate why physical looting cannot compare to destroying a currency.

Anonymous said...

The Schiffs, notorious Canadians, funded the Bolsheviks. Most of the top staff of the KGB were Canadians.

Anonymous said...

Remember it was the expanding, Westernized middle class that was responsible for Russia's pre-1914 economic growth. They were the ones who transformed a semi-Asian medieval theocracy into a modern republic - until the commies reversed their gains!

Considering where China is now, that does scare me. China currently has 10% growth, if they tank economically they could end up having an officers coup take over their government.


The big difference is that Russia's massive growth from around 1895-1914 (and despite what T99 says that growth was *industrial*, not agricultural or resource extraction) was funded by debt held by foreign nationals, particularly the French (cf. US Gilded Age industrialization being financed by wealthy Brits and Dutch--the last usually forgotten). The French middle class that by 1919 was eviscerated by the loss of so many of their sons in the war, had it compounded by financial ruin when the Bolsheviks repudiated the debt so many of the families had invested their life savings in.

Whereas of course the industrializing PRC of 1991-2009 is the bondholder as opposed to the bond issuer.

Anonymous said...

and the guy who says there's no antisemitism in Russia. I swear, I can't figure out the mental filtering mechanism at work here.

I sincerely apologize for not being as visionary as you and Ben are. But to clarify, I said there is not a great deal of hostility to Jews in Russia, not that there is none at all.

Certainly, there is antisemitism to a limited extent in Russia. My main point though is whatever level of antisemitism exists in Russia it is considerably lower than what you would think it ought to be if the Judeoskeptics were right about Jews deserving the great bulk of the blame for the Revolution.

Recent Russian Jewish immigrants in Israel seem to agree with me considering many have started moving back to Russia, though this flow seems to have slowed down with the economic crisis.

Varangian said...

In response to the posters who question and wonder if Russians properly understand their often sordid history (especially in the last century) and the roles various 'elites' played and contributed to this history: The looting of their country, resources and even they and their families very lives (as Capt. Holodomor so soberly and eloquently put it), well, this is my observation:

Many Russians still, unfortunately, have somewhat of a peasant mentality when it comes to dealing with authority.

In other words, just like it was under the Czars or the `Commissars` (both of the communist or the more recent capitalist variety) many Russians still feel themselves subjects of "their' country" rather than it's citizens (an important distinction).

There is somewhat of a similar parallel in this country, the good ol' US of A. No matter how much the Establishment proverbially 'sh-ts' on the common people, its as if there is an inverse proportion to how low in the social class status hierarchy an American (and a Russian) is, and how much they seem to support 'the system' and supplicate before it's power and authority.

Maybe this explains somewhat the psychological motives for both the Russian peasants reluctance to truthfully examine their history and too properly question and examine the 'elites' of their society; and our native 'hick' populations' rah-rahing jingoism and their letting themselves be used and abused by our 'elites' in their imperial wars of conquest abroad, and in tolerating the economic decimation of their lives at home.

I guess with both, vicarious identification with a "powerful" country/empire is more important than a genuine improvement in their lives and real empowerment and self-determination. Perhaps they both wouldn't even know what to do with it.

Now it really makes more sense why so many Slavic leaders in the Middle Ages often invited Germans into their lands to build a merchant and middle class, essentially, the bedrock of any stable society.

Captain Holodomor said...

"...and the guy who says there's no antisemitism in Russia. I swear, I can't figure out the mental filtering mechanism at work here."

"I sincerely apologize for not being as visionary as you and Ben are."

You misunderstand. That last line of mine was about Steve's erratic censoring method, not you. I'd written a reply to you regarding the images crafted in the L.A. Jewish Journal about antisemitism in Russia versus that crafted by the miniscule amount of nationalists in Russia. He didn't allow it.

ben tillman said...

My main point though is whatever level of antisemitism exists in Russia it is considerably lower than what you would think it ought to be if the Judeoskeptics were right about Jews deserving the great bulk of the blame for the Revolution.

Everyone understood your point. You don't seem to understand ours.

Your argument is unsound because it relies on a flagrantly false premise: that people always know who is behind radical changes in their societies.

Epicurean said...

I guess with both, vicarious identification with a "powerful" country/empire is more important than a genuine improvement in their lives and real empowerment and self-determination. Perhaps they both wouldn't even know what to do with it.

You can see that with "peasants, hicks, rednecks" in all countries, in all times. They love to identify with a powerful country, a powerful leader, and a powerful god. It makes them forget their powerlessness. The same with killing foreign enemies in foreign wars - even if such actions bring no material benefits and are costly in the long run.

Now it really makes more sense why so many Slavic leaders in the Middle Ages often invited Germans into their lands to build a merchant and middle class, essentially, the bedrock of any stable society.

Germans, Swedes, Anglo-Saxons, etc. had more of a middle class than Eastern Slavs. Middle class people as a rule love their work; peasants just work because they must, to survive. For peasants, and even more for slaves, working harder doesn't lead to more rewards.

The middle class mentality also values intangible assets (brains, books, education, leadership). The peasant mentality values tangibles plus manual labour - land, bread, sweat, and the occasional bauble.

Anonymous said...

Your argument is unsound because it relies on a flagrantly false premise: that people always know who is behind radical changes in their societies.

Ordinary people are sometimes unaware of who is causing radical societal change during actual historical events as they happen.

However, decades after historical events have passed, most people become aware of what happened as historians try to assemble a picture of what took place.

It has been nearly a century since the events of the October Revolution, Russian historians have surely had more than enough time since 1917 to research the revolution in tremendous detail, and there is still only a low level of hostility towards Jews in Russia.

And this is despite the fact there is no noteworthy level of PC in Russia or serious taboo against disliking any non-Russian ethnic group.

So, it is very hard for me to see how ordinary Russians could not be fully aware of the historical details surrounding the role Jews, ethnic Russians, Ukrainians, Latvians, Georgians, etc, played during the Revolution of 91 years ago.

Varangian said...

"Your argument is unsound because it relies on a flagrantly false premise: that people always know who is behind radical changes in their societies."


--"In response to the posters who question and wonder if Russians properly understand their often sordid history (especially in the last century) and the roles various 'elites' played and contributed to this history: The looting of their country, resources and even they and their families very lives (as Capt. Holodomor so soberly and eloquently put it), well, this is my observation:"--

I second that Ben!

My point exactly.

Captain Holodomor said...

"...most people become aware of what happened as historians try to assemble a picture of what took place..."

Again, false. First of all "most people" overstates the case. Think of the Italian Christians, prior to the Renaissance, scratching their heads about this thing called "Rome" that used to be there, amidst some ruins. The masses do not generally think about history unless it's culturally inculcated in them to some degree.

Second, from Herodutus to Ron Rosenberg, historians of the victorious side have rarely assembled a true picture of "what took place". Gore Vidal did something pretty funny in "Creation" when, from the viewpoint of Xerxes and his Persians, the now-fabled Battle of Thermopylae was mentioned offhandedly in a single passing sentence, something along the lines of, "We killed some Spartans and their king."

Finally, as I tried to say before, but had the comment deleted (as mentioned), when you murder the majority of the middle class and aristocracy and enact policies to disenfranchise or eradicate the best of the peasantry, what you have left is not exactly a populace that can think historically. You'll probably find a higher percentage of people in Israel who will attest to the Jewish involvement in the overthrow of the Czarist government than in Russia itself.

Anonymous said...

Britain declared war on Finland. It's all over something called the internet.

So only one country in fact, not the many Western democracies anony-mouse claimed. Therefore, in spite of that one qualification, he still falls flat on his face.

I've looked into it as well, as far as I can see Britain did indeed declare war on Finland (in 1941) but seems not to have made the slightest effort to carry the fight to Finland in any way at all. Declaration of war seems to have been an exercise in tokenism, to keep Uncle Joe happy.

Varangian said...

"...most people become aware of what happened as historians try to assemble a picture of what took place..."

A Morsel of Genuine History, a Thing SO RARE as to be Always Valuable.
—Thomas Jefferson

Anonymous said...

Finally, as I tried to say before, but had the comment deleted (as mentioned), when you murder the majority of the middle class and aristocracy and enact policies to disenfranchise or eradicate the best of the peasantry, what you have left is not exactly a populace that can think historically. You'll probably find a higher percentage of people in Israel who will attest to the Jewish involvement in the overthrow of the Czarist government than in Russia itself.

In other words, the Russians aren't as knowledgeable of their own history as American antisemites are.

Sure.

Epicurean said...

I've looked into it as well, as far as I can see Britain did indeed declare war on Finland (in 1941) but seems not to have made the slightest effort to carry the fight to Finland in any way at all. Declaration of war seems to have been an exercise in tokenism, to keep Uncle Joe happy.

It could have to please Uncle Joe, or the leftoids, Jewish lobby, labour unions, academics - or even the general public.

See, we're doing something about fascism by going to war with the evil Finns (who only a few months ago were good guys defending their country, like the Poles defended their country.) And after the War, the Finns became the good guys. Not the same way as the Germans who had to be de-nazified. We just misunderstood the Finns.

Anonymous said...

"In other words, the Russians aren't as knowledgeable of their own history as American antisemites are."

Yawn.

Anonymous said...

Britain did indeed declare war on Finland (in 1941) but seems not to have made the slightest effort to carry the fight to Finland in any way at all. Declaration of war seems to have been an exercise in tokenism, to keep Uncle Joe happy.

SCENE: It is March 1942, and several Allied transport ships have just been sunk in the freezing, ice-clogged Arctic waters NW of the Kola Peninsula. They never made it to Murmansk, being attacked by German Stukas based out of airfields in co-belligerent northern Finland, putting them within easy range of the convoy routes. The camera zooms in on some two dozen British and American able-bodied seamen flailing in the water, succumbing to an agonizing death by HYPOTHERMIA, with no hope of rescue.

One of the sailors is not crying out in pain, however. He seems SERENE as he speaks in a soft voice, seemingly to no one in particular:

SEAMAN: As I die, I can take some solace that my elected government, the Roosevelt Administration, did not declare war on the Finns, unlike those short-sighted Limeys. That would have been rank tokenism, since clearly Finland has done nothing to harm American lives or our war effort.

A wave of oily water washes over him and he DROWNS.

END SCENE

Varangian said...

"---SCENE: It is March 1942, and several Allied transport ships have just been sunk in the freezing, ice-clogged Arctic waters NW of the Kola Peninsula. They never made it to Murmansk---"

Hey 'Seaman' I think this is what you really feel and mean to say:

"--bringing supplies to "Uncle Joe" Stalin, one of the most prolific murderers, eh, I mean 'liberators' in history, so he can further carry out his designs & future wars of "liberation" on behalf of the proletariat.

Of course dear Vanya Joe attempted to conquer reactionary Finland and kill off, mmm, liquidate, its leadership and middle class, ah, I mean the oppressive Finn 'ruling classes', right after Vanya raped, oops, 'liberated' the Baltic nations and eastern Poland, carving up that waste of a bourgeois, antisemite country like a turkey in conjuction with his then-ally Germany (which he had to do!, if he wasn't already tricked into doing it).

Can you imagine the audacity of those duped Finnish proles in raising their hand to the Soviet 'defending' themselves!

Those darn militarist Finns!!!

Didn't they know what was good for them???

As I die, I can take some solace that my elected government, the Roosevelt Administration, even though they didn't officially declare war on the Finns, they did, and are doing, everything they can to help Dearest Uncle Joe and the Soviet Union (and by extension, our very family members), just like those short-sighted Limeys.

B-oy, I wish my family in Brooklyn could hear me now."

Anonymous said...

"Maybe this explains somewhat the psychological motives for both the Russian peasants reluctance to truthfully examine their history and too properly question and examine the 'elites' of their society; and our native 'hick' populations' rah-rahing jingoism and their letting themselves be used and abused by our 'elites' in their imperial wars of conquest abroad, and in tolerating the economic decimation of their lives at home."
~~
"You can see that with "peasants, hicks, rednecks" in all countries, in all times. They love to identify with a powerful country, a powerful leader, and a powerful god. It makes them forget their powerlessness. The same with killing foreign enemies in foreign wars - even if such actions bring no material benefits and are costly in the long run."

Excellent observations, guys!

Maybe Steve could explain why the Whites of the American lower classes are far more susceptible to this problem than the Black lower classes, urban or rural are, or seems to be.

Mr. Anon said...

"Maybe Steve could explain why the Whites of the American lower classes are far more susceptible to this problem than the Black lower classes, urban or rural are, or seems to be."

Are they? What did Jesse Jackson, O.J. Simpson, or Kweisi Mfume ever do for the black poor, urban, or rural? They just have different leaders, and owe their allegiance to a different state.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure that I think that the Bolsheviks "stole" the Czarist government's gold. They took over the governmenet and became the owners of the gold like they became the owners of the rest of the old government's assets.

Anonymous said...

Two points:

1) As of late April, 2010, you can't find this thread directly at Google - you can only find an indirect reference to it:

Olof Aschberg site:isteve.blogspot.com

And since Google owns Blogger/Blogspot, that suggests to me that someone at Google has gone in and tampered with the Google algorithm, so as to try to hide this thread.

2) The reason that I went searching for this old thread was because of a name that I noticed in the news today:

Bribes: Elisa Carrio said "The money from the bribes paid by the companies went directly to Nestor KIRCHNER"
Posted on 25 April 2010 at 11:59
momento24.com

Anonymous said...

And since Google owns Blogger/Blogspot, that suggests to me that someone at Google has gone in and tampered with the Google algorithm, so as to try to hide this thread.

Well, whoever-it-was at Google has gone back in and un-tampered with the algorithm, and now you can see the thread again.

So salutations, whoever-you-were: Welcome to iSteve!!!