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Submitted by AWL on Tue, 19/08/2014 - 14:50

Hi John,

My point is that there is a distinction between the Bolshevik party and the revolution it led, which generally had an honorable record on Jewish rights and anti-semitism, and various Stalinist states and movements, which often had a poor or even shameful record.

The Bolsheviks' record isn't reducible to the number of Jewish members they had, but the figures you cite seem to bear out my argument. Jewish representation and leadership in the Bolshevik party declined as it ceased to be a vibrant social movement and became part of an increasingly bureaucratised state setup. No coincidence if Jews were better represented among the various opposition leaders (eg Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev) than in the dominant Stalinist trend - which is why even in the 20s the Stalinists surreptitiously used anti-semitism against their opponents.

This until a qualitative worsening with the Stalinist counter-revolution: "Between 1936 and 1940, during the Great Purge, Yezhovshchina and after the rapprochement with Nazi Germany, Stalin had largely eliminated Jews from senior party, government, diplomatic, security and military positions" - and of course also whipped up anti-semitism as part of a revived Russian nationalism and imperialism.

Sacha

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