Friday, November 28, 2014

Nearing the end of the Semester Again

The semester is coming to an end. As far as teaching goes I think this semester was pretty successful. It certainly seems like these were the best and brightest students I have ever taught. But, maybe I am just so tired from waking up at 4 am to teach them that I can't tell.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Random Happenings

This is the fourth Thanksgiving I have spent in Africa. Like every other Thanksgiving here I had fufu, groundnut soup, and goat to eat. This week I will finish up my classes. All they will have left is to take the exam. This semester's students were probably the best collective group of students I have ever taught. I am not exactly sure why, but this semester's classes were also much smaller than previous year. Other than that I have been trying to write and send off to big name journals as many articles as possible. I don't expect any of the big name journals to actually accept any of the articles. But, I am hoping that the peer review reports will prove to be useful. So far this year I haven't had any editors refuse to send my articles out for peer review. It has, however, happened in the past and it is very annoying.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Reader Survey 2014

It has been a while since I have done a reader survey. It has also been a long time since anybody has commented on this blog. I am not sure if that is because I have no human readers left other than my parents or if people have just given up arguing with me. Granted my ideas are so far outside the  mainstream it may just be that people figure that there is no place to even start to disagree.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Terror in Crimea Today

Since the Russian annexation of Crimea a total of 15 Crimean Tatars have been killed or disappeared. I want to say I was wrong, but I did predict that this would happen. The first victim in this new round of terror was Reshat Ametov whose tortured body was found on 16 March 2014. Since him another 14 have met similar fates. The renewed use of this type of terror against the indigenous population of the Crimean peninsula was completely predictable. The continued peaceful struggle by the Crimean Tatars in the face of such repression is thus all the more admirable. Mustafa Dzhemilev, the leader of the Crimean Tatar national movement really should finally win the Noble Peace Prize after all these decades.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

70 Years Since the Deportation of the Meskhetian Turks

On the morning of 15 November 1944 the NKVD began the systematic deportation of the Meskhetian Turks, Kurds, and Hemshins from the area of Georgia near the Turkish border. By 6 pm that day the NKVD had loaded a total of 26,591 people on to train echelons bound for Kazakhstan and Central Asia (Pobol and Polian, doc. 3.175, p. 533). Between 15 to 18 November 1944 the NKVD cleared Meskhetia-Javakhetia of Turks, Kurds, and Hemshins. On 25 to 26 November 1944, they forcibly removed these nationalities from Adzharia. In total the NKVD deported a reported 91,095 Turks, Kurds, and Hemshins from Georgia and sent them on their way to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan by 28 November 1944.Their houses and lands were to be settled by some 7,000 Georgian households  (Pobol and Polian, doc. 3.176, p. 534). By December the NKVD had revised the number of deported Turks, Kurds, and Hemshins up to 92,374 people. Adult men made up only 18,923 of the deportees while the rest consisted of 27,399 adult women and 45,985 children under 16. A total of 53,163 were shipped to Uzbekistan, 28,598 to Kazakhstan, and 10,546 to Kyrgyzstan. The Soviet government settled 84,596 of them on kolkhozes, 6,316 on sovkhozes, and only 1,395 in industrial enterprises (Bugai, doc. 7, p. 157). A report from Beria to Molotov on 13 January 1945 noted that in the process of the deportations that the Soviet government had confiscated 8,525 tons of grain, 3,948 tons of potatoes, 453 tons of vegetables, 312 tons of fruit, 60,007 head of long horned cattle, and 80,049 head of small cattle from the Turks, Kurds, and Hemshins. In exchange they received an advance of only 1,480 tons of flour and 371 tons of cereal between 15 January and 15 March 1945, a ration of 16 kg of flour and 4 kg of cereal per person, while waiting for their vouchers for the rest of their property to be redeemed (Pobol and Polian, doc. 3.178, pp. 535-536). On 5 March 1945, the SNK ordered that the Turks, Kurds, and Hemshins deported from Georgia to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan be provided with 3,158.4 tons of potatoes, 453.7 tons of vegetables, and 312.4 tons of fruit. But, missing from this order was any mention of any livestock despite the loss of over 140,000 head of cattle by the deportees or the 8,525 tons of grain (Pobol and Polian, doc. 3.179, p. 536). By 11 March 1946, they still had only received 518 tons of grain and 4,659 kilograms of wool, cattle, and sheep (Bugai, doc. 19, p. 165). This meant that during the intial months and years in exile, food, especially meat was in quite short supply. This led to increased morbidity and mortality due to malnutrition. By June 1948, 11.8% of those deported in 1944 had perished (Pobol and Polian, p. 524).  Like other nationalities deported from the Caucasus the Mekshetian Turks, Kurds, and Hemshins were placed under special settlement restrictions until 1956. Unlike the Karachais, Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, and Kalmyks they were not allowed to return in significant numbers to their homeland after 1957.


N.F. Bugai, ed., Iosif Stalin - Lavrentiiu Berii: "Ikh nado deportirovat'": Dokumenty, fakty, kommentarii (Moscow: "Druzhba narodov", 1992).

N. L. Pobol and P.M. Polian, (eds.), Stalinskie deportatsii 1928-1953: Dokumenty, (Moscow: MFD, Materik, 2005).

Friday, November 07, 2014

The Anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution and the Human Cost of Communism

Today is the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, the first stage of the International Left's global experiment in restructuring existing societies along socialist lines. This experiment was a colossal failure which resulted in mass repression and human misery. Although exactly quantifying the human losses caused by the Soviet government is still not possible, it is certain that the numbers ran into the millions under Lenin and Stalin. Just the tabulated and confirmed numbers so far are astronomical. The recorded number of death sentences issued by the Cheka-GPU-OGPU-NKVD-MVD  in the USSR from 1921 to 1953 comes to 799,455. A figure that does not include death sentences issued by the normal court system or the hasty executions committed by the NKVD in 1940 and 1941 in the areas occupied as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Among the executions clearly missing from the figure are the 21,257 Polish prisoners executed as a result of a 5 March 1940 decree issued by Beria. To these deaths must be added the number of inmates to die in Soviet labor camps and colonies due to poor treatment. The official recorded number of deaths in GULag ITLs (Corrective Labor Camps) and ITKs (Corrective Labor Colonies) from 1934-1956 is 1,606,748. These numbers are incomplete as they do not include deaths in transit or those who died shortly after their release from incarceration. It was under Stalin an official Soviet policy to release prisoners and labor army conscripts that were near death. The mass dekulakization campaign undertaken to collectivize agriculture led to the recorded death of 389,521 exiled kulaks in special settlement villages from 1932-1940. The very large number of people branded as kulaks and deported who perished in 1930 and 1931 is missing from this figure since no comprehensive figures on these fatalities have been found in the Soviet archives yet. Tabulating the deaths resulting from the man made famines of the 1930s is still an incomplete task. But, in Kazakhstan alone the number of indigenous Kazakhs declined by 1,321,000 (36.7%) people between the 1926 and 1939 censuses. The total number of famine related deaths in Ukraine due the Holodmor was considerably higher, although a smaller percentage of Ukrainians perished than did Kazakhs. During the 1940s the deported nationalities suffered huge levels of excess mortality as a direct result of the poor material conditions imposed upon them by the Soviet government. The official NKVD and MVD cumulative tabulation shows 309,100 deaths among special settlers from 1941 to 1948. But, these figures are incomplete and do not include deaths during the initial round ups and deportation. When the reports on figures for deaths among individual nationalities are examined they reach incredibly high levels.  For instance between May 1944 and January 1946 the Soviet government recorded 26,775 deaths among Crimean Tatar special settlers, a full 17.8% of their total population. Among the 316,000 Russian-German men and women mobilized to work in the labor army the Soviet government recorded 31,012 (9.8%) dying from 1942-1944. An almost equal number were recorded as being discharged as invalids and dying shortly after their release. It is quite clear from the small amount of information cited above that socialism in the USSR was an humanitarian disaster on a vast scale that brought about the premature death, often by extremely agonizing means, of millions of innocent men, women, and children.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Yusup Abdrakhmanov executed 76 years ago

Seventy six years ago yesterday the Stalin regime executed Yusup Abdrakhmanov, the man most responsible for the creation of the borders of the modern Kyrgyz state. He was falsely accused of being a member of Alash Orda and shot on 5 November 1938 at age 34. Khrushchev rehabilitated him in 1958. Officially one of the main streets in Bishkek, Sovetskaya, was renamed Abdrakhmanov in his honor following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Despite his extreme importance in creating the current borders of the Kyrgyz Republic and fighting for its upgrade from an autonomous oblast in 1922 to an ASSR in 1925 few people in Kyrgyzstan born after the fall of the Soviet Union have ever heard of him or know what he did. In 1936 Kyrgyzstan would become a full fledged Soviet Republic along with Kazakhstan.  However, Stalin had already removed Abdrakhmanov from Kyrgyzstan and sent him to Samara in 1933.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Burkina Faso

It does not look the recent revolution in Burkina Faso will progress along the lines of the one led by Thomas Sankara from 1983 to 1987. Indeed the result is shaping up to look nothing like Sankara's revolution. Instead a provisional military government has replaced Campaore. The international community including the existing governments in Africa all seem to be hoping for a transition in a few weeks to put a new civilian government in power and then sometime later elections. Such a government will have the legitimacy of democratic elections and the support of France, the US, ECOWAS, and the AU. It will also probably as a result of the influence of these outside powers continue the same neo-liberal economic and social policies of the Campaore regime and repudiation of the policies of Sankara. The main difference will be that the government instituting these identical policies will have been elected rather than imposed by military force. This difference in the procedure of how governments are formed has been fetishized in recent decades at the expense of the actual policies pursued by these governments. Elections have replaced human, social, and economic rights as the highest value supported by the international community in places like Africa.

71 Years since the Deportation of the Karachais

This is two days late. But, 2 November 1943 marked the mass deportation of the Karachais from their Caucasian homeland to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. On that single day the NKVD forcibly deported nearly all 70,000 Karachais to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and placed them under special settlement restrictions. Those Karachai men fighting at the front against Nazi Germany were later removed from the Red Army on 3 March 1944 and joined their families in exile in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Nearly a fifth of the population perished from the harsh physical conditions they met in Central Asia.  Cotton plantations such as Pakhta Aral in Kazakhstan and kolkhozes such as Sadovaya in Kyrgyzstan saw many Karachais die from malnutrition, typhus, and other poverty related causes during this time. On 26 November 1948, the Stalin regime declared the exile of the Karachais and other deported peoples to be permanent. However, Stalin's death on 5 March 1953 led to the Karachais release from special settlement restrictions on 16 July 1956. In 1957 they were allowed to return to a newly created Karachai-Cherkess ASSR in the Caucasus that had replaced the Karachai Autonomous Oblast. By 1960, over 80% of the Karachais had returned from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to their ancestral homelands. The trauma of the 2 November 1943 deportations and the harsh material and legal deprivations the Karachais suffered as special settlers, however, is still remembered by the survivors and their descendants. Like in the case of the other deported peoples in the USSR it remains the single most important event in their recent history in shaping their national self consciousness.