Episode 24: Combating Tankie Denialism: Specialist in Soviet History Rebuts Grover Furr
Brendan and Andrew interview Lesley Rimmel, a professor emerita of history at Oklahoma State University who specializes in the history of Russia under Stalin. Rimmel pushes back against the efforts by Grover Furr––a Maoist writer newly popular among pro-Stalinist (“tankie”) youth––to “normalize” and defend Stalin. She and the co-hosts discuss Stalin’s direct role in the mass repression campaign of the late 1930s––which Furr has characterized as a rogue anti-government operation!––as well as Furr’s contention that Stalin persistently attempted to “democratize the government of the Soviet Union.” The discussion then turns to considering Furr’s work, and young tankies’ embrace of it, as an instance of denialism, and to exploring how to fight this and other forms of denialism.
During the discussion of the mass repression campaign, reference is made to the infamous 1937 Politburo order No. 00447. For further information, see: an image of its first page; a Russian transcription of the order’s full text; and historian Nicolas Werth’s account of it. Elsewhere in the interview, reference is made to Rimmel’s doctoral dissertation; to Furr’s book Khrushchev Lied and his two-part article alleging that Stalin struggled for democratic reform; and to short pieces in which Deborah Lipstadt and Robert P. Crease discuss denialism and how to fight it.
Radio Free Humanity is a podcast covering news, politics and philosophy from a Marxist-Humanist perspective. It is co-hosted by Brendan Cooney and Andrew Kliman. We intend to release new episodes every two weeks. Radio Free Humanity is sponsored by MHI, but the views expressed by the co-hosts and guests of Radio Free Humanity are their own. They do not necessarily reflect the views and positions of MHI.
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