Web Letters | The Nation

Totalitarianism, Famine and Us


After all is said and done, we only know that a famine happened, with mixed reasons. The desire to jack up the possible casualties reflects the politicized nature of these studies. The author also revisits the old trope of Stalin’s “intentional genocide of 3 million Ukrainians.” The figure applied Union-wide, where more than Ukrainians starved. Nor was it “intentional.” Crop failure was instrumental in the '’33 famine.

Robert Huff

Keithville, LA

Nov 24 2012 - 5:30pm

Totalitarianism, Famine and Us

No secret

Thanks for the article about these two books about Mao’s Great Leap. While it is true that many of the details about what happened in the provinces has not been known, this article says the famine was attributed to periodic famines as under the emperors. This is not really true. As a young reader with no special sources of information, I knew that the disaster was man-made. Publications such as Reader’s Digest (not a real exculpatory publication) had articles that were clear the the famine was man-made. We did not have materials available to find out if the disaster was stupidity or mendacity. Scholars and politicians on the left were still hoping for a good outcome of doctrinaire Communist philosophy in practical application. This blinded many to the fact that this statist total subjugation of the people, with no personal initiative, was and is a prescription for failure (colossal in large governments and small), with China and Cambodia as examples of each. Even the popular press recognized this failure at the time of the Great Leap.

I look forward to looking up both books and perusing them.

Danny Moore

(near) Fort Worth, TX

Nov 13 2012 - 7:04pm