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Yanks for Stalin
Interview Transcript

Stephen Kotkin    (cont)

The Soviets were hoping to build a steel plant modeled after Gary, Indiana, the flagship plant that was built in 1909 and after in the Midwest in the United States. Many people who were involved in either the design or the construction of Gary were employed by the Soviets.  John Scott was a low level person in all of this.  He hadn't worked in Gary.  He wasn't an engineer or a planner or designer, he was just in a construction brigade, building the blast furnances along with Soviet citizens.  Some, had been (russian) or deported to the (city) construction site.  Some of whom had come voluntarily to build a better way of life.  He was caught up in the dream.  He was caught up in the construction of a new way of life.  He was an activist in political terms. He was an organizer as well as a construction worker.  He did a lot of welding on the blast furnace site.  He made his way up the ladder like many people did of the Soviet generation he was with and for him, his own life and his own rise on moving up the ladder corresponded with the Soviet Union doing the same thing on a larger scale. Magnita Gorsk was the quisessential example and Stalin showcased Magnita Gorsk as the place where Socialism was being built and the defining legitimacy for the Soviet project as a whole.  Scott moved to other positions once he was in the town.  He eventually went over to the chemical plant inside the steel factory and became a chemical operator, another skilled position.  He also remained involved in the political terms, he edited a newspaper for foreigners which was sort of like a leaflet or a newsletter inside the town.  He was a correspondent for the English newspaper published in Moscow.  In many ways he was as politically active as anyone in the town, although at a lower level. He wasn't an official.  He didn't give orders.  He didn't make commands, but, he was an active participant in the building of Socialism in the Soviet Union.  Scott also met a young woman, a young Russian woman, and he was swept off his feet by this young Russian woman and, in fact, he would marry her.  Her name was Maria Scott, known as Masha Scott.  Maria Scott looked with pity on John Scott who was there with the refugees from the depressed world of American Capitalism, where workers were mistreated and barely survived.  Here he was in the Soviet Union building Socialism.  They hit it off.  They got married and eventually they had two children together. During the course of the 1930's, John Scott, who was quite successful in rising up Magita gorsk and was quite pleased with the life he made for himself, Scott began to sour on the Soviet experiment.  He began to be a little bit afraid for his own life, because many people were being arrested, including people he knew personally, under the charges of spying and sabotage, which he wondered whether they were true or not.  There was a possibility that he himself as a foreigner could be arrested, or, at the very least, that his family could suffer demotion , that he could lose his job, if not be arrested.  The arrests which began in full steam really in 1937 and 38, made Scott reconsider his allegiance to the Soviet building of Socialism.  The interesting thing about him is he continued to believe, despite all the waste, despite the forced labor, despite the inefficiencies that the Soviet Union presented a potentially successful model of economic development, which could be popular in other countries, especially the developing world.  But, he began to see that the political system was not what he imagined it to be and , if fact, it was Authoritarian and dangerous. So, souring on the political system but, nonetheless, believing in the power of the ecomonic model to industrialize and develope, he became after the war the quiessential cold warrior, which meant that he fought the Soviet Union out of conviction.  Because he feared that it was ecomonically successful and  nafarous.  He even during the war participated in something called the board of economic warfare, collaborating with American intelligence efforts to explain Soviet factories, Soviet capacities and Soviet abilities to fight the Germans.  After the war, he made a number of speeches, he became a journalist.  He was in favor of American involvement in Vietnam, which in his Connecticut community where he and Masha settled after having left the Soviet Union, was a very divisive issue.  He fought the Cold War against the Soviet Union not only because he was a former Soviet sympathizer who came to see Communism as politically dangerous, but because he remained til very late in his life, perhaps even til the end of his life in the 1970's, convinced that the Soviet economic model was viable, was feasible and especially attractive to third world countries.  You fight the Cold War to prevent the third world from going the Soviet way economically and politically.  This is what Scott did til the end of his days and his experience in Magnita gorst is what convinced him and what moved him in this direction of anti Soviet aggitation with all of his might.

Q. Give us a quick perspective on Armand Hammer

A. Hammer was a little bit early.  Armand Hammer, a little bit earlier than Henry Ford got involved in collaboration with the Soviets.  His original motives for going there are unclear and in dispute.  Clearly, opportunity and opportunism, the sense of adventure were part of it and, also, I think he saw economic opportunities once he was there and, perhaps, even before he left.  He enjoyed a relationship with Lenin, which was quite unusual and a relationship with Lenin became a kind of myth for Hammer and Hammer became an Icon for capitalist collaboration, even before Henry Ford, who was another icon of Capitalist collaboration. But, everybody knew that Henry Ford had no sympathy for the Soviets politically, but everyone also knew that Hammer had once met with Lenin and his meeting with Lenin in a way became almost a religious experience in the way the Soviets interpreted it.  I can't say, however, that Hammer necessarily (BREAK) .  Hammer wasn't the only one who had access to Lenin.  What was different about Hammer was that he had money and was economically oriented, whereas, most of the other people in the early phases, right after 1917, who were from the United States and went to the Soviet Union often went for the political reasons.  They were mostly journalists or members of leftest parties and they didn't have his kind of economic resources and connections, so Hammer was unique in that regard.

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