Sunday, August 24, 2008

Historical relations between Ossetians and Georgians, Stalin

The relations between the two ethnic groups, where the Georgians slaughtered the Ossetians on several occasions according to an ">article by Mark Ames, could explain why Stalin's invasion of Georgia was so brutal. Defenders of the general Communist line like to point out that Lenin only wrote two short notes rebuking Stalin, one of which was in relation to Stalin being rude to his wife, but this isn't accurate. There was a major condemnation of Stalin by Lenin concerning his handling of the invasion of Georgia after the Revolution. In Georgia after the Revolution a Menshevik government assumed power, Menshevik meaning simply a government that was in the form of a parliamentary Republic committed to eventually transitioning to socialism in the future. Georgia had been part of Russia but had declared independence. Stalin, it seems, had retaken Georgia and imposed a Bolshevik system of government onto it in an extremely bloody fashion.

This has made little sense, considering that Stalin himself was a Georgian. But that's not exactly the case. According to Isaac Deutscher in Stalin: a political biography, Stalin wasn't a Georgian but an Ossetian. Perhaps a sense of revenge helped motivate Stalin on this one.

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Personally, the Menshevik idea in the abstract doesn't seem too bad considering its combination of socialism and parliamentary democracy. The reason I say this is that even in trying to establish something that resembles the status quo in many countries it recognizes an alternate end point to the political process of struggling towards freedom. In many countries the establishment of a Republic is seen as enough, as being complete in and of itself, along with the economic system that most goes with that. To suggest that there's some other goal even while reaffirming one of the most common forms of government is a radical act, something that in a small way bridges the all or nothing choice between Social Democracy that recedes into the background in terms of radicalism and the Bolshevik way of total transformation right now. But in turn this chasm was caused in part by the Bolsheviks, who imposed this exclusionary model even though they didn't have to.

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