Famine and fraud

tottle
The denialist’s bible

Douglas Tottle is a Canadian trade-union activist whose 1987 book Fraud, Famine and Fascism may fairly be described as the bible of Holodomor denial; Tottle himself has been called “a sort of guru” to his fellow denialists. The argument set forth in his book is that the whole idea of the forced famine was an invention of the Nazis, designed to discredit Josef Stalin and his benign regime, and that this myth, this lie, was then taken up by Western capitalists, who have kept it alive ever since as just one more chapter in a long history of evil Western propaganda against the Soviet Union. “Both to undermine support of a socialist alternative at home, and to maintain a dominant position in international economic and political relationships,” Tottle wrote in his introduction, “all manner of lies and distortions are employed” by the Western powers that be “to cast the USSR in as negative a light as possible.” Tottle, who had no apparent training or experience in historical research, singled out Robert Conquest for criticism and ridicule, accusing him of producing “anti-communist propaganda,” charging him with an “unswerving anti-communist bias,” and sneering that his “career as an obsessive anti-Soviet historian has spanned two cold wars.”

Tottle’s book, just so you know, was put out by a Communist publishing house, Progress Publishers, and was praised by such reliable authorities as the Stalin Society (yes, there is such a thing) and the Communist Party of Sweden.

stalin
Josef Stalin

We noted yesterday that the timing of Jeff Coplon’s Village Voice article denying the Holodomor and smearing Conquest was less than fortuitous: only a couple of years later, the Iron Curtain came down, the archives were opened, and Conquest was proven right. Tottle’s timing was lousy, too. His book came out in December 1987, and almost simultaneously the head of the Ukrainian Communist party, Volodymyr Shcherbytskyi, publicly acknowledged the reality of the Holodomor. Being a good Communist soldier (and not an objective historian, as he’d presented himself), Tottle bowed to the party line and withdrew his book.

Nonetheless, the book remains available online, and continues to be cited as definitive by any number of apologists for the Soviet Union. Only last year, an official Russian government “news” site, Sputnik News (which has been described by Foreign Policy magazine, the Center for European Policy Analysis, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty as a Kremlin propaganda outlet), ran an article by Ekaterina Blinova entitled “Holodomor Hoax: The Anatomy of a Lie Invented by West’s Propaganda Machine.” (Blinova makes her point of view crystal clear when she writes of the “bold historical experiment kicked off by Communists” and suggests that Soviet Communism failed only because “it did not comply with the plans of the Western financial and political elite.”)

whitehead
Judy Whitehead

Among the readers who gave Blinova’s fantastical rewrite of history an enthusiastic thumbs-up in the comments section was Judy Whitehead, a professor of anthropology at University of Lethbridge. “Thanks for this,” she wrote. “The anti-Communist paranoia in the west fueled this hoax. Its mythical nature and its use by Nazi sympathizers should be better known throughout the world.” Whitehead, it turns out, is a fervent supporter of the so-called “antifascist resistance in Ukraine” – in other words, the anti-democratic Putin puppets who seek to deny Ukraine a free and independent future and return it to the status of a Kremlin satellite.

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