It is hard to see why Tariq Ali (Top 10 books about the Russian revolution, 12 April) still celebrates the epic scale of Lenin’s programme of rape, torture and murder. Just as hard to understand is that those who have excused the gulag don’t understand the damage it did to the worldwide cause of social justice and good government. Without Stalin attracting the gaze of the German middle classes, it is unlikely that Hitler would have come to power. People like Tariq Ali have landed the kindly and lethargic Russian people, whose heroes are Dostoevsky and Oblomov, with an unjustified reputation for obscene cruelty that they still cannot shake off.
Sadder even than that, Lenin’s orgy of pain was only possible because Lloyd George feared a Russian invasion of India which led him to back a counter-revolution by Kornilov. This which was, if anything , just as damaging as Lenin’s unfeasible policies and the way his ambiguous claim about peace, land and bread justified his seizure of power. The British cabinet papers are still immune to freedom of information requests, although they aren’t the only source. Many other facts, buried by those Tariq Ali thinks were historians of the revolution, have yet to be brought to light. What a triumph.
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