Continuing to review this piece by Evgeny Krutikov, which he penned just a couple of weeks ago. In the reporter’s previous piece on Beria, we learned that his (Krutikov’s) grandfather had been rather a big deal in the Soviet government of the late-Stalin era. Evgeny himself has admitted to dabbling occasionally in the dark arts, i.e., intelligence and counter-intelligence; hence his heightened interest in these characters. While giving due respect to Beria’s leadership of the Soviet Atom program (thanks to which, in all likelihood, the Russian people are still around today, and still have their own sovereign nation, such as it is), Krutikov advances the thesis that Beria’s activities helped lead to the dissolution of the USSR. While neither agreeing nor disagreeing with that thesis, I am just helping my readers, by working through Krutikov’s reasoning.
So: Where we left off, Beria made a big speech at the 19th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. This was 1952, and Stalin was still alive, but only hanging on by a whisker. The peculiar thing is that, around that time, Stalin was singing his aria about the threat of “rootless cosmopolitans” (i.e., Jews); and yet Beria was singing a completely different aria, about the exact opposite threat. Hence, this was more of a cacophony than a duet.
Now, in Stalin’s defense, he was no racist nor Jew-hater; and yet he had always hated Jewish intellectuals, especially of the Old Bolshevik flavor (**cough cough** Trotsky **cough cough**). And when talking about Old Bolshevik intellectuals, well, they truly were cosmopolitans, although not always rootless. They lived in several countries, spoke several languages, had no particular loyalty to Russia except as the socialist homeland; abided by Marx’s dictum that “the working men have no country.” Yeah, Stalin always hated those guys…
And here’s the thing: As a bona fide dictator (from 1936 onward, at least), Stalin had no qualms about turning his pet peeves into a national campaign. If Stalin felt threatened by certain Jews; if he felt that they were trying to poison him, for example (which may not have been a paranoid delusion at all), then he felt he had to harness the whole nation and drag it into the fray. L’état, c’est moi.
While Stalin was fussing about Jewish Doctors, Beria took it upon himself to go after sort of the opposite threat to the nation: Great Russian Chauvinism. Which, ironically, had also been one of Lenin’s pet peeves. Lenin simply couldn’t stand those Russians who went around bowing and scraping to their Tsar and crossing themselves a zillion times to show how holy they were. Having said that, Beria was no Leninist. Recall that Lavrenty Pavlovich belonged to the ethnic group of Mingrels, which is where the English word “Mongrel” comes from (I’m not kidding); as in local Caucasian tribes which really mixed it up. And with Stalin not even on his death-bed yet, Beria brazenly went after the “new people” that Stalin had recently advanced. All ethnic Russians. (Because, I forgot to mention, in addition to Jews, Stalin also felt threatened by Gruzians and Mingrels, and probably, again, not without a rational basis for his paranoia.) Just prior to this time, Stalin had stopped surrounding himself with Mingrels (he was scared that they too were trying to poison him, which they probably were), and only admitted ethnic Russians into his inner circle. As if ethnic Russians don’t also know how to mix poisons – hahaha!
Oh, what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive!
And so, with dimming eye, the aging Silverback Alpha male looks around him, and sees the fresh young Beta Males all ready to take his place. And with not a glimmer of mercy or loyalty to be seen in any gleaming eye.
But Who Will Be Loyal To The Union Itself?
And so, Dear Readers, Stalin died. And Beria continued with his potshots against “Great Russian chauvinists”. Again, it is dubious that Beria was a racist or maintained any actual ideology about various ethnic groups. Again, this was just pure Office Politics. Stalin’s latest creatures stood in his way. If they had been Latvians, he probably would have criticized the attitude of Latvians.
Now, getting to the meat of Krutikov’s thesis: Beria’s campaign for power included a plan to “broaden the independence of the [various] Communist Parties” of the constituent republics and nationalities. For example, the settled practice was to have a Russian be the First Secretary, and a member of the local ethnos to be the Second Secretary. Beria’s plan, starting in Gruzia and the Baltic Republics, was to replace this system by having the First Secretary be an ethnic guy. Not counting the Ukraine (which was whole ‘nother ball of wax all to itself), these were the two national regions most problematical and most at risk for weakening Union cohesion. Beria, are you mad? These regions required more not less central government! Do you see where this is going, and what this leads to, Dear Readers? It would be as if, in the United States, after the Civil War, President Grant had granted (little pun there) semi-autonomy to the former Confederacy States, and encouraged them to “just go ahead and do things y’all’s way!”
[to be continued]