An Exceptional Case? Problematizing Soviet Anti-Racism – AAIHS:
This is the best short examination of anti-racism and the Soviet Union I’ve read, with a comment below the article that’s also worth reading. I’ll just quote the first and last paragraphs.
In 1932, African American poet Langston Hughes crossed the Soviet border as part of a group of Black actors invited to the Soviet Union to make an antiracist propaganda film. In his memoir, Hughes described this crossing in almost biblical terms: “In Helsinki, we stayed overnight and the next day we took a train headed for the land … where race prejudice was reported taboo, the land of the Soviets… . When the train stopped [at the border] for passports to be checked, a few of the young black men and women left the train to touch their hands to Soviet soil, lift the new earth in their palms and kiss it.” That Black visitors to the Soviet Union during the two decades before World War II encountered a society they saw as largely free of racism seems to be borne out by multiple contemporaneous accounts and later memoir literature.
As the Soviet Union learned the hard way, simplistic Marxist-Leninist prescriptions rarely worked when addressing the question of race in the United States and across the Third World. The Soviets, it seems, had difficulty connecting to the postcolonial sensibilities of their third world friends and intended beneficiaries. They routinely underestimated and underappreciated the centrality of race in postcolonial discourses, including the very liberation discourse that they claimed to articulate and champion. The presence of third-world people, especially thousands of African students, in the midst of Soviet society, and the idiosyncratic and often unpredictable foreign policy moves by Moscow’s supposed allies and sympathizers in the Third World (not to mention their opponents) defied the Soviet Union’s expectations of forging a “natural” internationalist alliance with non-white populations oppressed and underprivileged by Moscow’s Cold War Western rivals. It is partly in relation to some of these frustrations that one can better understand the intensity of the xenophobic and racist backlash that swept across the former Soviet spaces in the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse.
Docs Reveal Pentagon Plan to Destroy USSR, China as “Viable Societies” with Nuclear Weapons:
documents shed light on a U.S. nuclear war plan developed in 1964 by the
Pentagon’s Joint Staff to bomb Russia – then the Soviet Union – and
China with nuclear weapons so extensively that it would destroy them “as
viable societies.” The war plan itself, known as Single Integrated
Operational Plan 64 (SIOP-64), has not been declassified, as no SIOP has
ever been released to the public by the United States government.
However, newly declassified documents that record the Pentagon Joint Staff’s review of SIOP-64 were recently made available
through George Washington University’s National Security Archive
project. The documents reveal numerous details about the
still-classified plan that shine light on the Pentagon’s willingness to
wage nothing short of total war against its adversaries at the time.
In particular, the documents show
that the plan sought to accomplish the destruction of Russian and
Chinese society by targeting and eliminating their industrial potential
while also wiping out the majority of their urban populations. Still
more troubling, urban civilians were proposed to be the main target
and measure of the U.S. nuclear war plan as the Joint Staff sought to
use “population loss as the primary yardstick for effectiveness in
destroying the enemy society, with only collateral attention to
This gambit to use population loss as a
“primary yardstick” was notably developed prior to the 1964 meeting
detailed in the newly released document. The meeting considered studies
that had been jointly conducted by the Joint Staff and the Joint
Strategic Target Planning Staff in order to determine how many Soviet
and Chinese cities and industrial areas needed to be wiped out in order
to destroy both countries as “viable societies.”