The other day, I was having a conversation about corruption in Russia under Putin rule, and his use of 'altered' historical narratives according to what would more beneficial to his rule as Russia's President. Putin has stated in official speeches that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the 'catastrophe of the century'. So, I told my colleague that during the initial years of Stalin's rule there was the great famine, that killed millions. He then replied those deaths were akin to what happened in Europe during the industrial revolution.

Hence my question:

In which way are the industrial revolution and the famine during the first years of Soviet rule comparable? In which way are they not?

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    I think you really should ask your colleague what he meant by that. It is easy to dismiss criticism by making an off-hand analogy, it is more difficult to explain the basis of the analogy. This case sounds just an example of "whataboutism"; in fact your colleague was not addressing your point (relative magnitude of the humanitarian consequences of the famine and the fall of the SU) but just claiming that capitalism had been equally evil. – SJuan76 Feb 11 at 10:46
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    Without supporting/preliminary research, this seems intentionally subjective. Historical sources and methods are of little value in determining why a specific (unnamed) individual advanced a particular opinion at one (unspecified) time. History works on records and sources. – MCW Feb 11 at 11:36
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    Did a tiny bit of digging, and this appears to be a myth prominent among Marxist Historians. The only real widespread famine in Europe during that period was the Irish one, and that was more a matter of imperialism. Industrialization hadn't seriously reached Ireland at that time. – T.E.D. Feb 11 at 13:54
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    As far as I know, industrial revolution does not creates famine, actually is the contrary, it creates surplus of food due to mechanization. That surplus of food is necessary to allow people move from agriculture to industry. Famine created by communism usually is due to poor management. – Santiago Feb 11 at 19:12
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    @T.E.D.: I'd disagree that the Irish Potato Famine was really a matter of imperialism. It was simple biology: Ireland had become dependent on a single crop - the potato - which was attacked by a disease that destroyed much of the crop. Not all that different from the current COVID pandemic. (Of course the British government could have done more to alleviate the problem, just as the prior US administration could have done more to fight COVID.) – jamesqf Feb 12 at 1:10