Universities are 'luring millennials to communism' says leading professor as student tells BBC Soviet Marxism failed because it didn't have 'the chance to develop'
Orlando Figes said the USSR's pros and cons were being weighed too equally
It came after a Marxist student said on the BBC that communism had not failed
Law student Fiona Lali said the Soviet Union had not had a 'chance to develop'
By Tim Stickings For Mailonline
PUBLISHED: 10:31 GMT, 18 January 2018 | UPDATED: 10:31 GMT, 18 January 2018
A prominent British historian has warned that 'moral equivalence' in university teaching is encouraging students to downplay Joseph Stalin's crimes and think positively of communism.
Orlando Figes' comments came after a Marxist student told the BBC that the Soviet Union had not had the 'chance to develop' and been stifled by Western intervention.
The Today programme had heard from Fiona Lali, president of a Marxist society at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, that 'it would be inaccurate and unfair to say that communism has failed.'
It came as a ComRes poll found that 18 to 24-year-olds were more likely to see big businesses and right-wing pundits as a danger to the world than communists, according to The Times.
Fiona Lali (right), pictured with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (left) and another person during last year's election campaign, said it was inaccurate to say that communism had failed
Prof Figes said he feared the deaths and famines under Stalin's regime in the USSR, from the 1920s until 1953, were being minimised.
Ms Lali, a law student, had said to the BBC: 'For young people today especially, we live in a time in which we basically have no future - we're the first generation that's going to have a living standard worse than our parents.
She was challenged by host John Humphrys, who said that Western capitalist economies had done 'rather better than communists have done'.
But Ms Lali said: 'Historically I would say it would be inaccurate and unfair to say that communism has failed because really it hasn't had the chance to develop.
Historian Orlando Figes warned that 'moral equivalence' at universities is encouraging students to downplay the crimes of Joseph Stalin
'In the Soviet Union you can't say that it was allowed to develop or flourish in the way that it could have done because the U.S. and Britain were all involved in attacking it.
'They still had major gains, the democratically-planned economy, there's a lot of advantages and there's a lot of gains from the Soviet Union.'
Prof Figes, a historian of Russia and an academic at Birkbeck, University of London, said universities were trying too hard to give equal weight to opposing points of view.
He said textbooks were giving equal weight to economic gains under Stalin and the famines, purges and collectivisations which caused millions of deaths.
Fiona Lali said communism in the Soviet Union had 'not had the chance to develop' and been stifled by intervention from the U.S. and Britain
'That sort of moral equivalence is unhelpful, because even the "good" things he did were done with such rates of murder and destruction that they can't be counted as good,' he said.
The ComRes survey asked people between the ages of 18 and 24 which group was 'most dangerous in the world today'.
'Big businesses' and 'Right-wing pundits, politicians and donors' were on 24 per cent each, with capitalists on 12 per cent and communists on 9 per cent.
The survey also suggested that people who are old enough to remember Soviet Russia were more likely to see communism rather than businesses as a threat.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5282961/Universities-luring-students-communism-historian-says.html#ixzz54XF2FHaN
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