Downplaying Nazi crimes to pursue Russophobia – neocon revisionism hits Britain

Neil Clark
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
Downplaying Nazi crimes to pursue Russophobia – neocon revisionism hits Britain
We live in an age of ‘outrage.' Make one crass politically incorrect comment on air, and it could well be the end of your career.

But if you‘re a right-wing neocon, peddling the most outrageous anti-Russian historical revisionism and downplaying the crimes of the Nazis, you can be sure the 'Establishment Thought Police' won’t come knocking on your door. Far from it, you’ll probably be lauded by other members of ‘The Club’ for your ‘great work.’

Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan claimed in a British Sunday newspaper column last weekend that while the Nazis had killed 17 million, communism had killed 100 million.

Between 60 and 85 million people were killed in World War Two, the bloodiest war in human history, including 27 million citizens of the Soviet Union. So how does Hannan arrive at his figure of just 17 million deaths attributable to the Nazis, without whom there would have been no war in the first place? Is he adding the victims of Hitler and his Axis allies, on to the Soviet Union, the country which played an absolutely critical role in defeating the Wehrmacht? If so, this is taking ‘blaming the victim’ to an all-time moral low.

According to Hannan’s figures communism killed over five times more people than Nazism. But this simply can’t be true if we hold the Nazis responsible for the majority of the deaths in World War Two.

No one disputes that mass killings took place under Mao in China, in the Soviet Union under Stalin and under some other communist governments at other times. While it’s difficult to calculate the number of people killed under communism, especially since a large proportion of the deaths which are usually included were due to famines, Hannan’s figure looks too high if we go by average estimates and way too high if we take the figures at the lower end of the scale. Earlier in the day I read another article which put the tally at 95 million, one million higher than the controversial Black Book of Communism, published in 1997.

No doubt, in the next article I read tomorrow, it’ll be 105 million, and this time next week if the inflation continues, 140 million. All this comes just six years after historian and Yale professor Timothy Snyder, a man hardly known for a pro-communist bias, admittedthe total number of civilians killed by the Soviets, however, is considerably less than we had believed. We know now that the Germans killed more people than the Soviets did.

It would be easy to dismiss Hannan’s piece as the work of a very ignorant person who‘s never picked up a history book in his life. The thing is though, he isn’t. He attended a top HMC public school (Marlborough) and got a first-class degree in Modern History from Oriel College, Oxford.

I also know that Hannan is not an ignoramus because I once met him at a party. He was bright and sparky and certainly knew the price of fish. Another journalist friend of mine said he thought Hannan was one of the smartest people he had ever met. So where has he gone wrong?

The only conclusion one can draw is that Dan is peddling propaganda in pursuance of a political agenda. No prizes for guessing his stance in the current ‘Cold War.' Yes, it’s a virulently anti-Russian one.

In November 2015, he wrote an article for a Conservative website entitled ‘Why we must back Turkey against Putin,’after Turkey had shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 flying over Syria and its pilot was killed by ‘rebels’ on the ground.

In September of that year, he attacked the anti-war movement for not protesting against Russia’s (legal) intervention against terrorists in Syria.

In January 2017, he penned a piece for the Washington Examiner entitled 'Why you can’t reason with Putin,' in which he accused the Russian President of “sponsoring wars in contiguous countries,” “threatening to switch off gas supplies,” “propping up Bashar Assad in Syria” and “meddling in US elections”. He didn’t accuse Putin of eating his pet hamster, but that probably came in a later column.

In his latest article for the paper, he attacks - you’ve guessed it - RT, accusing it of dealing in “cartoonish propaganda.”

You could say that description applies more aptly to his article on Sunday. It’s clear that going for the very highest estimates of people killed under communism is one way of scoring anti-Russian points today. Never mind that Russia is no longer run by the Bolsheviks and that Stalin was a Georgian, ‘The Kremlin’ has always been the same: the home of sinister individuals hell-bent on killing lots of people and threatening the ‘civilized West.' Repeat after Me (by Order of the neocons): Lenin, Stalin, Putin; Lenin, Stalin, Putin.

There’s another agenda also at play. Namely to frighten people away from any socialistic or genuinely progressive alternatives to neo-liberal globalization. In the second part of his piece, Hannan homes in on British Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn and his Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell. “For all its faults, our main left-wing party never fell for the violent revolutionary socialism that was common across Europe……Until now.”

Hannan is appalled that Jeremy Corbyn, “dismissed throughout his career as too extreme to be taken seriously,” is ahead in the polls. In the next paragraph, he tells us that Mao’s regime “exterminated tens of millions of Chinese.” Got the message? Just in case you haven’t, he then compares Jezza to Karl Marx. “In death, Marx became the thing he most despised; the founder of a false religion… Now another bearded prophet is intoning the old incantations, and, horrifyingly, the cult is growing.

So there you have it. If you vote for Corbyn, a mild-mannered moderate social democrat who wouldn’t hurt a fly, you’ll end up with mass killings, a new Maoist ‘Cultural Revolution’ and probably be carted off to the gulag. Better to play safe and keep faith with the Tories, eh?

Hannan’s piece is just one of a plethora of articles that have appeared recently to mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution which are designed to further the geopolitical ambitions of the Western elites.

What all these articles lack is a sense of balance.

Communism is reduced to the very worst periods of oppression- i.e., the Mao ‘Great Leap Forward’ in China and Stalin’s ‘Great Terror’ in the Soviet Union, with no recognition at all that experiences were quite different in other countries at other times. There was a world of difference for instance between the Soviet Union of the 20s and 30s and Yugoslavia and Hungary in the 1970s and 80s, but we tend to hear only about the former. My wife wrote an account of growing up in Hungary under the relatively liberal ‘goulash communism’ (where there was arguably more freedom to express alternative opinions than there is in the ‘thought-policed’ West today) but guess what? She hasn’t found a publisher because her account goes against the dominant ‘everyone was in gulags and there were secret police on every corner’ narrative promulgated by the likes of Daniel Hannan.

Exaggerating and focusing obsessively on the crimes of communism, also conveniently diverts attention away from other great historical crimes. The industrial bloodbath otherwise known as the First World War claimed the lives of over 18 million people and left many more injured and paralyzed. They can’t blame that on communists - in fact, it was Lenin and his comrades who, on coming to power pulled Russia out of the war.

Over 10 million Congolese are believed to have perished after King Leopold II of Belgium decided to claim Congo as his own personal fiefdom. In his article on the topic for the Guardian in 2002, Seumas Milne drew attention to the many millions killed by Western imperialism in Africa and Asia. To this number, we must also add the genocide against the native Indian population of America. But hey - focusing on these horrific bloodbaths doesn’t serve the elite’s current agenda - of demonizing Russia and scaring people away from socialism, so let’s no go there, shall we?

Neither are we meant to spend too much time discussing the millions of people killed by ‘democratic’ states in the so-called US-led ‘war on terror,‘ and other neocon wars/destabilization campaigns against sovereign nations in recent years.

The timely release of the new film ‘Death of Stalin’ keeps us focused on what the establishment wants us to focus on. Meanwhile, while the elites obsess about Russia and communists, fascism goes from strength to strength.

In his tweet promoting his article Hannan says that ‘we’ detest fascism, but that is not the case if the “we” he is referring to is the West. The shocking truth is that Nazism is being rehabilitated at the very highest levels. In 2014, the Western elites supported an illegal ‘regime change’ operated in Ukraine in which neo-Nazis provided the cutting edge to anti-government protests. An EU and NATO member-state Latvia, Waffen SS veterans openly hold marches, and to the best of my knowledge, there’ve been no protests from ‘crusaders’ for democracy like John McCain. Looking at it even more deeply, some would argue that the leading Western powers, with their endless warmongering, and increasing intolerance of dissent, have descended, or are descending, into a 21st-century form of fascism.

Things are certainly worse now than in the old Cold War. Then, Nazi crimes were not minimized, and the enormous sacrifices the Soviet Union had made in World War Two were, as commentator John Wight has pointed out, acknowledged even by anti-communist conservatives, like Sir Winston Churchill. 

The classic 1973 ITV series The World at War, which is still repeated on UK networks, was scrupulously fair in its episodes dealing with the Soviet Union and the war. At the end of the series, the program’s historical adviser Dr. Noble Frankland dismissed the idea that after the war one tyrannical system was replaced by another equally tyrannical one in Eastern Europe.

Today though, as Hannan’s article demonstrates, we’ve gone beyond a ‘communism was just as bad as Nazism’ moral equivalence to an even more dangerous position, namely holding communism to be far, far worse. This can’t be justified by reference to the historical record. But as Seumas Milne noted in his piece about revisionism, this really isn’t about history, but the battle for the future. The question is, where’s the outrage?

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.