Anne Applebaum’s Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine  provides an explicit accounting of the manmade famines in Ukraine under the rule of the Soviet Union.
What is chronicled is not just pertinent given the modern Russian and Ukrainian geopolitical position but also how authoritarian, socialist operations use oppresive, divisive tactics to build their power while annihilating humans living under their control.
Some of these same tactics can even be seen in modern America.
Below is a summary of high-level takeaways.
- Creating an “other” group to act as a scapegoat (e.g. “kulaks”) for all problems at best leads to social cohesion unraveling and at worse mass death
- Top-down orchestration inevitably fails due to 1) lack of proximity to the problem and 2) lack of awareness of individual needs throughout the system
- Hierarchies naturally form in self-organizating systems and they should be encouraged to form around productive outcomes (e.g. crop yields at “kulak” farms)
- Farming efficiencies are possible with larger, self-organized farms with incentives to employ labor and equipment efficiently
- Farmers are highly resillient and independent when left to their own operations
- Socialist collectivization directly eliminates any sense of ownership or respect for property boundaries - anything owned by the state is up for grabs
- Creating and demonizing an “other” group is a hallmark of authoritarian philosophies
- Journalists are just as easy to corrupt as any other institution and can be effectively used to spread propaganda even in opposing nations
- Establishing a narrative and condemning anything outside of it is a way of turning journalism into propaganda
The past should be respected for the lessons it teaches us.