We all know of Mike Godwin’s famous Law of Nazi Analogies:
Godwin’s law (also known as Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies or Godwin’s Law of Nazi Analogies) is a humorous observation made by Mike Godwin in 1989 which has become an Internet adage. It states: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” In other words, Godwin put forth the sarcastic observation that, given enough time, all online discussions—regardless of topic or scope—inevitably end up being about Hitler and the Nazis.
Godwin’s law is often cited in online discussions as a deterrent against the use of arguments in the widespread Reductio ad Hitlerum form. The rule does not make any statement about whether any particular reference or comparison to Adolf Hitler or the Nazis might be appropriate, but only asserts that the likelihood of such a reference or comparison arising increases as the discussion progresses. It is precisely because such a comparison or reference may sometimes be appropriate, Godwin has argued that overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact.
Various corollaries have been proposed, but — as far as I know — its converse has not found any similar recognition.
So here it comes
The concept arose from a politics.ie thread on the death of Pete Seeger. We actually got as far as the sixth posting before the inevitable:
Amusing song which was inspired partly by Pete Seeger’s band The Almanac Singers who had issued an album in 1941 attacking Rooseveldt as a war mongering fascist. When the Stalin/Hitler Pact broke down they requested anyone who had bought it to destroy it as it no longer reflected the CPUSA line! They then cut a new album full of songs praising Rooseveldt
Seeger eventually admitted that Stalin might not have been an all round good egg in 1987.
For what it’s worth, Bill Friedland and Joe Glazer were associated with the IWW, the definitely non-Stalinist “Wobblies”. More of their work is on-line, and legitimately free here. They were by no means the only lefties who mocked the gyrations of Communists and fellow-travellers trying to adhere to the varying agitprop of the day.
The Redfellow Converse
The more sincere the on-line discussion, the more likely right-wing trolls will seek to subvert it. Inevitably one will mention Stalin, and will thereby claim victory and vindication.
There may even be a corollary:
Stalin will inextricably be the epitome of “socialism”.
This, of course, is as asinine as using “Mormonism” as a synonym for Christianity, or representing Wahhabism as the essence of Islam.
Equally, all deaths that occurred in the Soviet Union, before and during the Great Terror will be ascribed personally to Stalin — and a number will then be conjured out of historical bodgery:
In February 1989, two years before the fall of the Soviet Union, a research paper by Georgian historian Roy Aleksandrovich Medvedev published in the weekly tabloid Argumenti i Fakti estimated that the death toll directly attributable to Stalin’s rule amounted to some 20 million lives (on top of the estimated 20 million Soviet troops and civilians who perished in the Second World War), for a total tally of 40 million.
For the record, and lest any passing troll sees this post as a lamp-post and wants to make a mark, I accept the horrific numbers Robert Conquest proposed in The Great Terror:
Arrests, 1937-1938 – about 7 million
Executed – about 1 million
Died in camps – about 2 million
In prison, late 1938 – about 1 million
In camps, late 1938 – about 8 million