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Yanks for Stalin
Interview Transcript

Stephen Kotkin    (cont)

Q. Tell me about it.

A. Remember that the Soviet state has a vision of the world is such that the use of force is necessary and in fact, not to use force is in many ways for them to lose or give up, or to fail in their mission.  Their involved in a world in which capitalism is the enemy and Socialism is the solution in the future. So, the use of force to transcend and overcome Capitalism in the class war, and to defeat Capitalism and to build Socialism is a moral and political imperative.  They are not afraid to use force, not ashamed to use force.  They believe that the use of force is normal and necessary and part of the way the world is.  The Capitalists, after all, fought the Imperialist War, as the Soviets called it, of  W.W.I and did not worry about how many people died at the front in order to achieve territorial aims in one state or the other. The Soviet Union takes that model to its extreme, whereby the use of force is something which is not to be hidden,  not necessarily you are ashamed of it, but, you embrace it and use it because that is the way the world is and because you are pursuing worthwhile aims.  Many people will defend the Soviet use of force, including people in the United States for precisely these reasons. So, what to us looks like completely condemnable behavior in the time, in the context, has a rationale whether we agree with that rationale or not.

Q. Tell me about, what were the pitfalls of, is there anything to add, was there not diplomatic relations between the American government and Bolshevik and so the Bolsheviks were more or less on their own to .... .you might fill in that blank if there is one to fill in.

A. Some of the businesses which were involved in the Soviet industrialization were from countries that had diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.  They did not really suffer from the problem of an inability to get government intervention to help defend their contracts or to have the Soviets meet obligations.  The Americans when they first got involved in Stalin's industrialization program in 1929, 30, and 31, did not have diplomat representation in the Soviet Union.  The Soviet Union was not recognized by the United States until the end of  1932 and the beginning of 1933.  For some, this added an element of difficulty because if they couldn't get satisfaction with the Soviet government, they didn't necessarily have a place to turn.  However, what we see is that those countries that do have diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union are in no better position to defend the firms from those countries which are having difficulty with the Soviets.  So, in the end, or, more generally speaking, the problem of the absence of diplomatic relations is less important than the level of connections and the relationships enjoyed by the capitalist firms with their Soviet counterparts.  Those who go high up in the Soviet hierarchy and have deeper relations do better than those who rely on their government to defend them, the Soviet bureaucracy.

Q. Antork, whatever you can tell us about that.

A.   Antork  is the Soviet trade representative in the United States, (Russian) trade with the United States.  Its job is to shake out as much money, as much technology, as much professional engineering capability as it can from the United States on whatever terms it can , in the best possible terms for the Soviet Union.  It's more or less successful and it is involved in almost all the major contracts.  It also will bring many Soviet engineers to the United States for advanced training , which is often part of the contracts of technology transfer, that the next generation of Soviet engineer will be trained.  So, it is a recruitment office.  It is an office for facilitating contracts.  It is an office for targeting and acquiring, by whatever means necessary, technology know how and commitment and the part of the Capitalists to industrialize the Soviet Union. It is involved in many political intrigues, which are related to what is going on in Moscow.  It suffers often from the rise or fall of particular individuals within the Soviet bureaucracy.  The ways that Antork are often mysterious to the American representatives who feel they have a contract or a relationship with a particular individual only to discover that something is taking place in Moscow and that individual is either no longer there in the post, or, is no longer the person they were dealing with before.  So, Antork has many specificities and frustrations for the American side, which are typical of the Soviet bureaucratic behavior, but, the from the Soviet point of view Antork is more or less successful.  It is shaking out the technology and know how from the West and bringing it to the Soviet Union.

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