Fifty years ago today,
Nikita Krushchev gave his Secret Speech to the Closed
Session of the Twentieth Party Congress in which he
denounced Joseph Stalin.
At that time Krushchev,
the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the
Soviet Union, held the most powerful political office in
the world. The power that Stalin had accumulated in this
position had made communism unsafe for communists.
Heroes of the Bolshevik Revolution had been subjected to
“barbaric tortures” and forced to incriminate
themselves “with all kinds of grave and unlikely
Stalin before the Party Congress “in order that we
may preclude any possibility of a repetition in any form
whatever of what took place” under Stalin.
Stalin had turned the
unaccountable power that Lenin had embodied in the
Communist Party against the party itself. Karl Marx`s
reasoning leaves violence as the mediator between
classes. Lenin took the reasoning one step further and
made violence the mediator of disputes between the Party
and the people. Stalin completed the logic and made
violence the mediator between the Party and its members.
Consequently, no one was
safe. The situation was intolerable for all, and Nikita
Kruschev brought it to an end.
He no doubt realized that
he was reducing his power by reducing the fear
associated with his position. But he probably did not
know that in denouncing Stalin he was shattering the
myth of Party Infallibility and setting in motion the
ultimate demise of the Communist Party.
Party members have
explained the shattering effect of Krushchev`s speech on
their belief system. The Eastern European satellites
responded first, with the Hungarian Revolution in 1956
and the Czechoslovakian Revolution in 1968, both put
down with Soviet tanks.
But life behind the Iron
Curtain nevertheless changed for the better. Camps were
closed. Prisoners were released. Innocent victims were
rehabilitated. Dissent became less dangerous. An
underground press grew up.
Stalin, said Krushchev,
“absolutely did not tolerate collegiality in
leadership and in work”, but
violence, not only toward everything which opposed him,
but also toward that which seemed to his capricious and
despotic character, contrary to his concepts. Stalin
acted not through persuasion, explanation, and patient
cooperation with people, but by imposing his concepts
and demanding absolute submission to his opinion.
Whoever opposed his concept or tried to prove his
viewpoint, and the correctness of his position, was
doomed to removal from the leading collective and to
subsequent moral and physical annihilation.”
Krushchev went on to say
“Stalin originated the
concept `enemy of the people.` This term automatically
rendered it unnecessary that the ideological errors of a
man or men engaged in a controversy be proven; this term
made possible the usage of the most cruel repression,
violating all norms of revolutionary legality, against
anyone who in any way disagreed with Stalin”…or
were even imagined to disagree with Stalin.
Even ordinary practical
and scientific discussions became laden with deadly
“The only proof of guilt
Krushchev, “was the confession of the accused
himself.” Confessions, Krushchev said, “were
acquired through physical pressures against the
By making communism safe
for communists, Krushchev created a toehold for truth.
Truth grew in importance and influence. After three
decades more, the reformer, Mikhail Gorbachev rose to
General Secretary, reached an understanding with Ronald
Reagan and brought an end to the Cold War and to the
Soviet Union itself.
But the growth of truth
in the Soviet Union is what did the job. When Krushchev
denounced Stalin, he released the truth.
We need to remember this
in our own days, faced as we are with a regime that
brooks no dissent, seeks no expert advice, and
deceitfully pursues agendas inimical to the US
Constitution and to the rights and safety of citizens.
We have already fallen
dangerously far when the US Department of Justice
produces justifications for torture of detainees held
without charges or access to attorneys, when Congress
and the judiciary acquiesce to the executive
disregarding statutory law, and when wars of aggression
are started on the basis of lies and false accusations.
We now read of
Halliburton awarded a $350 million contract to build
detention camps in the United States. Bush says “you
are with me or against me.” Rumsfeld and Cheney
already speak of “fifth columnists” and enemies
of the regime.
It is a great lie that
America needs to give up its civil liberties, the
separation of powers, the Geneva Conventions, and humane
treatment of prisoners in order to defend itself against
If these are the Bush
regime`s terms for protection, Americans need quickly to
find another government.
CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
with Lawrence M.
for Peter Brimelow`s
Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the
recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.