Joseph Stalin Sucked!
Caleb Maupin has a new book out — and, because the book is by Caleb Maupin, it’s a bitter and dishonest piece of garbage that nobody should take seriously. Maupin’s new book, BreadTube Serves Imperialism: Examining The New Brand of Internet Psuedo-Socialism, is marketing itself as a critique of the online left, but even a reading of the small spinets of Maupin’s book posted on Twitter show it to be nothing more than him ranting about left-wing YouTubers he does not like.
Maupin hates Vaush because Vaush beat him on a debate regarding Tankies and did not bite his tongue regarding how many evil people use his tactics. Maupin hates Thought Slime because Thought Slime called out his transphobia and pointed out how he has literally no understanding of history. Maupin hates Lance of The Serfs because Lance has mocked Maupin and pointed out his odd use of the term “international bankers.”
Of course, it makes sense Maupin and BreadTube would not get along. Much of BreadTube — a term that describes a loose collection of left-wing YouTubers — are anarchists, hence why they’re named after Peter Kropotkin’s book The Conquest For Bread. Caleb Maupin, however, is a self-described “Tankie,” or someone who defends the Soviet Union. (The term originates with defenders of the Soviet Union invading — or sending the tanks into — Hungary in 1956.) Specifically, Maupin belongs to a sub-section of Tankies who are defends of the most infamous leader of the Soviet Union: Joseph Stalin.
Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union from 4/3/1922 until his death on 10/16/1953, has become one of the most infamous human beings in all of history. Along with Germany’s Adolf Hitler, China’s Mao Zedong, and Italy’s Benito Mussolini, Stalin has become one of the go-to examples of an evil authoritarian dictator who did not care his people.
With that said, some on the fringes of the left have tried to rehabilitate him — or at least argue that the claims about him are over-exaggerated. Those who defend him range from communist authoritarians like Grover Furr to Neo-Nazis like Kerry Bolton, who argues that Stalin fought all those bad Marxists. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also engaged in Stalin apologetic on occasion, and a large amount of Russians look fondly on Stalin’s rule over their country. Then there’s the aforementioned Caleb Maupin, who just feels that being a communist means that you must defend every leader who declares himself one.
On that note, I wish to introduce you to Dr. Asatar Bair, a professor of economics on YouTube and a self-declared communist. On 6/26/2021, Bair tweeted the following, which actually resulted in him trending on Twitter because of how insane he sounded:
People say I “idolize” Stalin. Not true, I hold a fair and balanced view. The man was neither savior nor saint, but he was, at once, a very successful revolutionary, a great contributor to Marxist theory, and said to be a great listener and collaborator during discussions and then there are his successes as a leader. First, the foresight to fear a belligerent German fascism, then the tactical ability to successfully defeat the world’s greatest invading army, combined with the strength to make tough decisions that have no easy answers. I simply think one should read everything the man wrote and then make up your own mind. I would certainly conclude that he is one of the great leaders of the 20th [century] though.
First off, Joseph Stalin’s role in the Russian Revolution was actually incredibly minor. While Stalin did take part in organizing July Day and took control of Pravda in Lenin’s absence, both of those make him really just a minor character in the revolution. After the Tsar so badly botched World War One, combined with the massive unrest in Russia under his rule, meant him being overthrown was inevitable, and there were various groups of revolutionaries in Russia at the time who wanted to overthrow the Tsar — many of them leftists, albeit not all of them agreed with the authoritarian communism of Lenin. (Anarchists, Democratic Socialists, and various other left-wing groups all played an important role in the Russian Revolution.)
Basically, even if Stalin played a role in the Russian Revolution, it was an inevitable revolution and he played an incredibly small part in the grand scheme of things.
As for the claim that he had “the foresight to fear a belligerent German fascism,” that’s just a lie. Stalin spent two years honoring the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, which was a non-aggression pact between Russia and Hitler’s Germany. The only reason why Stalin stop honoring the pact was because Hitler invaded Russia in 1941, which also resulted in the international community officially considering Hitler a threat. Stalin’s enemy Leon Trotsky warned Stalin that the pact was doomed to fail, as did Winston Churchill and George Orwell, and Stalin ignored them and continued to be allied with Hitler.
And while Stalin did play an important role in defeating the Axis powers during World War Two, he did that on the back of the United States. Had it not been for President Roosevelt’s Lease Lend program, the military of the Soviet Union would have not stood a chance against the military powerhouse that was Nazi Germany. The Lease Lend program gave nearly three billion dollars to the Soviet military, roughly eleven billion dollars in 2021 money.
Dr. Bair has since been doubling-down on his pro-Stalin takes on Twitter, usually just through the argumentative tactics of getting mad on Twitter and using sarcasm. Trying to find more information on him reveals that he teaches at Riverside City College, a university basically only known for its athletics. Meaning he has a fringe position and it’s rather unlikely he’ll be actually influencing anyone important.
However, Dr. Bair is far from the only Stalin apologist you’ll find in modern academia. Another infamous Stalin apologist is Grover Furr, a professor of medieval English at Montclair State University. Furr is to Stalin apologists what David Irving is to Holocaust deniers, someone who gives their ideas a hint of legitimacy and who appears to be respectable from the outside looking in. Mind you, at least Irving actually had some credentials as a historian before he fell down the Holocaust denial rabbit-hole (in fact, a handful of his early books are still well-regarded by historians to this day), while Furr has no background in history and has never been recognized as a professional historian.
Furr first became known in 2011 with the publication of his book Khrushchev Lied. The Evidence that Every Revelation of Stalin’s (and Beria’s) Crimes in Nikita Khrushchev’s Infamous Secret Speech to the 20th Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on February 25, 1956, Is Provably False. The book is a critique of Nikita Khrushchev’s 2/25/1956 speech “On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences,” which proceeded the Khrushchev Thaw that took place up until the early 1960s.
Far as I can tell, all of Furr’s book are published by Red Star Publishers, which describes itself on its website as “a small publishing company dedicated to making Marxist-Leninist literature available in print format at low cost.” Marxist-Leninism is basically the nice way of saying “Stalinism,” as many key texts for Marxist-Leninists were written by Joseph Stalin. In fact, the term “Marxist-Leninism” was popularized through the book History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), which was commissioned by Joseph Stalin in 1935, Stalin was so involved with the writing of said book that the collective authors met in Stalin’s office everyday while it was being written in order to show him the latest changes made to the manuscript. Another important text to Marxist-Leninism, Dialectical and Historical Materialism, was written by Stalin and first appeared as a chapter in History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
Far as I can tell, the only Stalin apologist who has any legitimate historical background is Robert Thurston, who has a degree in history and a PhD in Russian History. Despite that, Thurston has spent most of his career studying, not history, but coffee. Still, in 1996 Thurston published Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934–1941, which he argues that Stalin’s Russia was nowhere near as bad as most historians make it out to be.
Thurston has never once defended the claims in his book, with his website containing only one mention to it — and that’s just in an article documenting his previous works. The arguments made in the book are usually both nonsense and meaningless, and the whole book is nothing more than a massive waist of paper.
I just want to make note how few academic credentials the Stalin apologists have. The Holocaust deniers have David Irving, who did write a handful of books still well-respected by historians before becoming a Holocaust denialist. The creationists have Ken Ham, who does have a degree in applied science. Meanwhile, the Stalin apologists have a coffee professor and a person who studies medieval English. None of their advocates have ever shown themselves to have even the smallest worthwhile thing to say, and none of them ever provided a reason why anyone take what they say seriously. This makes Stalin apologists the most fringe group I have ever come across, which is actually incredibly surprising.
Again, it should be noted that, even among leftists and communists, Stalin apologetic is an incredibly fringe position. During his lifetime, many leftists sided with his arch-enemy Leon Trotsky over him, and history has done much more to vindicate Trotsky than to vindicate Stalin. Few had even heard of Stalin until he started to slowly gain power after Lenin suffered a series of health issues — most infamous a 1923 stroke which left him without the ability to speak, and Lenin’s own widow later said that had Lenin been saying his theory under Stalin’s Russia, he would have been executed. (Lenin himself was also a massive deviation from traditional Marxism, but that’s another topic.)
However, all of this raises one important question: Why do so many people want to engage in apologetics for one of the most infamous authoritarians in United States history?
Well, I think that goes back to the Soviet Union, specifically its state newspaper: Pravda. Pravda was the official newspaper of the Soviet Union, and its name translated to “the truth.” Calling your newspaper “the truth” carries one important implication, that anyone giving you any contradictory information is lying to you.
Going back to Bair, here’s another tweet of his from 6/27/2021:
One thing to begin with in your study of socialism is to throw away everything you think you know about Stalin
If Bair — or any other Stalin apologist — can debunk the mainstream narrative of one of the most hated men in history, they could convince the population of anything. After all, if you can convince someone a hated man was actually good, then convincing you that his economic ideology is good is much easier — both because of your trust in that person and because you’ve already accepted the narrative that everything you previous believed was wrong.
Of course, Bair’s plan falls apart because Stalin was not a good man — he was a bad man. Despite his constant desire for historical negationism, the idea of Stalin being a good man will likely never become mainstream.