“They [the Labour Party] point their fingers at individuals with a relish and a vindictiveness not seen since Stalin persecuted the kulaks”

Boris Johnson, launching Conservative Party election campaign in The Daily Telegraph

November 6, 2019

Facts

Stalin did much more than point his fingers at individuals. He announced in December 1929 a policy intended to liquidate an entire class of millions of people. “Kulak” was a pejorative Communist term for anyone in rural areas of the Soviet Union with a higher-than-average income through ownership of land, livestock and other assets, or simply better farming methods than their neighbours. Kulaks were initially repressed by Lenin after the Bolshevik Revolution, but quickly reprieved when this policy led to famine, and largely restored to their former position in the late Tsarist regime.

Stalin was incensed at the kulaks for resisting collective farms (and outperforming them) and for their suspected anti-Soviet nationalist sympathies, especially in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and the Crimea.

Stalin’s policy, applied from 1929-32 and re-applied in the Great Purges of 1937-41, divided kulaks into three classes: those to be immediately shot or gaoled, those to be deported to Siberia or other remote regions, and those to be evicted from their farms and used as local slave labour. Eager local apparatchiks (including his successor and critic Khrushchev in Ukraine) swelled the totals to be shot and added a new weapon against the kulaks, in deliberate starvation.

Estimates of the death toll are as high as 5 million. The policy generated unintended mass famine as well as the regime’s selective starvation. This was hidden from Western media and visitors, often with their collusion. The full total of avoidable premature deaths from Stalin’s policy is probably in the tens of millions.

Verdict

Boris Johnson has made a false and shameful analogy. 

Jeremy Corbyn has not threatened anyone with imprisonment, starvation or execution. At most, he intends to reduce Britain’s billionaires to the status of multi-millionaires by taxation.

To compare this to the persecution of the kulaks is to trash history and language. It is an insult to all of Stalin’s victims.

Johnson’s inflammatory falsehood was emblazoned in large bold type over the front page of The Daily Telegraph. This is one of many examples of the media’s complicity in amplifying Johnson’s lies and falsehoods.

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