Friday, February 21, 2003

RESPONSE TO: “CHRISTIANITY AND INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY”

(I received the following email from “JG” about my post on Dissecting Leftism about whether Christianity had any role in fostering the respect for individual liberty that characterizes the Anglo-Saxon nations)

Greetings,
Interesting post that touches on several themes, and in general I agree with you, though I think you left out a few points:

** I'd argue that the roots of Protestantism were based more on political differences, than theological. Even though Luther is often cited - the truth of the matter is he had more in common with the Catholic Church than with the modern definition of Protestants (how many Protestants today believe in the Perpetual Virginity of Mary?). Modern day Protestantism is a product of a continual schismatic process, of individual will taking precendent over that of the community. Its process, beginning with the Age of Enlightment, and later the Industrial Age (Calvinism leading to growth of capitalism as a sign of predestination) was about individual over institution. To a certain extent that's anti-Catholic in concept.

** Your point about Africa, I think could be misconstrued to suggest Africans are more prone to violence, as if it were a genetic defect. I don't think you meant that, rather I think that what you were saying is that the pattern of governments has led
to the violence (and Christianity failing perhaps to address that issue).

** The graf that begins "It is then the fact that Protestantism became the characteristic religion of the Anglo-Saxon peoples" I believe is incorrect from a
statistical standpoint, both looking at history and certainly with respect to current trends (just check a few of these figures for 2001: Austria: Catholic 6.4
million, Protestant 407,500; Belgium: Catholic, 7.7 million, Protestant 2.5 million; Canada: Catholic 13.3 million, Protestant 12.6 million; France: Catholic 54
million; Protestant 1.2 million; Germany: Catholic 28.2 million; Protestant 31.54 million; Netherlands: Catholic 5 million; Protestant 3.4 million to name only a few countries - of course with respect to US there are more Protestants in total, but the largest Christian faith remains Catholic.)

** The problem with using a broad Protestant paintbrush, could be another issue - Methodist, to Amish, to Baptist, to Quaker, etc. -

Cheers
JG

Reply:

JG
Thank you for that interesting email. You may be interested in my much more extensive treatment of the issues concerned here

Just two points at this stage:

I do believe in the reality of racial differences and that some of those differences are genetic. I think both statements to be obviously true in fact. But what is true of races may not of course be remotely true of any given individual within that race. And I do think that the universality of high rates of violence among negro populations -- whether the negroes concerned are in any part of Africa, in the USA, in the UK or in Europe -- does point to a genetic difference in that respect.

You are quite right that Protestantism was fairly thoroughly suppressed in most of Europe (particularly the South) but my point concerned the Anglo-Saxons particularly -- and the Anglo-Saxon countries (UK, Australia, USA, Canada, NZ) do have Protestant majorities.

I might be inclined to post this correspondence on my blog. Do I have your permission for that? Can be anonymous or not as you like.

Cheers
JR

Reply:

John
Greetings
I appreciate your comments back, and I hope that you gathered that I am interested in dialogue, and that I wasn't criticising your post. I truly enjoy posts that cause one to think, my background is in sociology (with emphasis on religion) although I work in a separate field.

I too believe in racial differences. In fact, I believe that each race has certain aspects that are unique to them, and which can either enrich or degrade the global
human race as a whole. But I have to admit, and I hope this doesn't end our dialogue, that I have serious doubts that violence is of a genetic quality, but
rather I see it (violence) more of a product of ingrained habits, trends, etc. that have been passed on from generation to generation... I believe that the Bible to
a certain extant almost says the same thing when it speaks of the sins of the father being visited upon those of the 3rd generation following... I suspect that we're actually arguing the same thing, but perhaps it's a question of semantics.

You of course are free to use anything that I´ve written if it is for the purpose, as I suspect, to create an atmosphere of dialogue. i´d only ask that you don´t say that it´s from me. and if, to allay any doubts on your part, JG isn´t my name (it's a name that I use to protect me a bit here in Spain - suffice it to say that I am Anglo-Saxon, and a convert to Catholicism (from Anglicanism, although as a child I was raised Protestant), married to a Peruvian), and I could be found fairly easily if I used my real name, which would cause me security problems, etc as in the line that I work we are on the list of ETA terrorists (I am being serious about this... In fact, a bomb went off in my offices a few years back)...

Just as an fyi... I don't really align myself with any political definition, as I find myself on social issues leaning left, on personal and family issues leaning right, on economic bothways... but what I do try to do is be consistent, so when I say I am
pro-life, I also mean that in other aspects of life, meaning that I don't support buildup of weapons of massive destruction, etc. I suppose some would say that makes me leftwing, but the truth of the matter is I probably wish in the utopian ideal of a "divine dictatorship," (which is what makes a General Franco so dangerous) but since that will never happen, I suspect the next best thing is democracy, and that's pretty much my view on life.

I believe that man is a fallen creature and thus all the things he touches are flawed, not that they are bad, but that they can never reach perfection.

With respect to Catholicism, Protestantism and Anglo-Saxons, I'm afraid I wasn't meaning the South of Europe... I know the trend changed when we speak of
some of the Nordic countries, but what I was just trying to point out was that even "core" Europe is and was predominately Catholic. That said, another thing that I've noticed is that even in cultures where the majority may be Catholic, it's often the Protestant voice that is heard.

I will read your other writings. Anyway, I hope this helps and look forward to the
"chats"

Cheers
JG

Reply

JG
Good to hear back from you.

Yes. The idea that blacks have a genetic predisposition to violence has not to my knowledge as yet been examined by the geneticists. The only evidence I have is sociological -- the universality of frequent violence among negroes regardless of their history or the political system under which they live.

I will put our correspondence up.

Cheers
JR

Thursday, February 20, 2003

**************

Wednesday, February 19, 2003


Let Them Fend For Themselves

By Arlene Peck

So! They don't like us? Germany and France are in a huff about our "policing the world." You know, I sort of agree with them. We have taken far too much on ourselves in the care and feeding of much of those European countries. We had a war there over fifty years ago. Can anyone tell me why we are still spending millions and millions of dollars sending our troops over to those ingrates? For what? Who are we protecting? The French? Germany, that started both World Wars? It nauseates me when I think of the short memories those countries have.

I hope to G-d that when all of this is over, we'll remember who was with us, and who sided with the terrorists. What possesses us to continue sending our tax dollars to people who not only treat us with scorn but also, obviously, hate. So they don't like us? They don't want our help? Fine. We'll stop giving them money, aid, and for sure, we don't need any troops there to drain our economy while building up theirs. Hey, if it weren't for our saving the French not so long ago from their newest buddies, the Germans, they wouldn't even have a nation called "France." It would have come under the heading, "Greater Germany."

As to the Jewish aspect, the French were the ones who rounded up their Jews for the Nazi ovens even before they were ordered to do so. And the French were the ones who tried to build a nuclear plant capable of making a bomb for Iraq. No wonder they now want to appease Iraq. However, what's our excuse? We owe them nothing. If they do decide to give their "approval", are they going to send troops? Give money? No way! The most we can expect from our 'allies' the French is to sit back and watch as again, America liberates a country from a madman. Isn't that what they are good for. Standing on the sidelines like they did in WWII?

We, the United States, I'm sorry to say are not always dealing with a full deck. There is a long list of violent acts from these Muslims. Many American lives have already been lost by their radicalism. Right? So, why is it when I go to my local post office I am faced with a celebration stamp for the Muslims and their religion? To me, it is obscene that our government has a stamp honoring those who killed so many Americans. In our quest to be "politically correct", have we totally lost our minds? Why aren't these anti-war activists marching against terrorism instead of war? Someone ought to tell them that just about every corner of the world is under direct attack or under immediate threat by the "peaceful" nation of Islam.

For years I have been writing about the senseless violence that Israel has had to contend with at the hands of evil, mindless people with evil, mindless, sub-human values. For some reason, our press, and, actually, the world press, has been unable to articulate them for what they are. Has anyone, besides me, noticed that terrorists and murderers are never referred to as that? They are called "gunmen", "militants", "activists", and good old-fashioned "guerillas." And oh yes, "freedom fighters." Why? They are terrorists! Why is that word so difficult to put into print? Why must the news desk often only describe the carnage wrought by "homicidal terrorist" and refer to them as "suicide bombers"?

Radical Muslims are the source of most of the evil in the world! Just look where there is a brutal regional conflict, and you'll find that the radical Muslims are the root cause. I'm sorry, I just don't buy it when I'm fed the fallacy of a "peaceful people" and how the Arab world doesn't support the policy of the few. Their few are what? Three hundred million? Four? Show me one mosque that has come out publicly in support of our fight against terrorism. Is there one Arab cleric who has done so? Not to my knowledge.

We talk about going to the "source". What exactly have we, as Americans, done to offend these Islamic radicals with our policies? It offends them to have "infidels" walking around their "hallowed ground." Interesting how nobody ever finds fault with the continuous desecration of Jewish and Indian (Hindu) holy places and icons perpetrated by Muslims with impunity. Any of you want to remember Josephs Tomb? Also, if my memory serves me, they sure didn't have a problem just a few short years ago when we sent in our troops to save them AND their oil! Oil, which I believe should be used to reimburse us for the destruction they've caused us. And, I'm talking every last dime! France isn't fighting for peace. It all comes down to their billion dollar oil deals that both France and Germany have struck with Saddam Hussein. And, speaking of oil, we shouldn't be buying any of ours from those people either!

The roots of their terrorism lie in the evil and totally abusive way their families are being raised. That is the nature of their infrastructure. They bring up their children to be terrorists. That is the natural result of a fundamentalist culture that raises their children in a dysfunctional system from birth. They are pre-conditioned in a misogynist system where farm animals are treated with more sensitivity than women. Why do we keep saying Saudi Arabia is a "moderate country"? We know of their barbaric laws: chopping off body parts and creating a system that constitutes a total degradation of women. Yet, the press always overlooks that. These people are so barbaric that they still cut off their daughter's sexuality with razor blades or pieces of glass in one of their "rituals."

I'm sick and tired of the Western world overlooking the murderous tactics that are being pushed through by the seventh century mentality of the Arab countries. There is no "cycle of violence." Israel is in a defensive mode. Indeed, the entire Western world is now in the same boat. The same way their ultimate goal has always been the demise of Israel, so now are we facing the same reality.

I wrote two years ago about how the wave of terrorism in Israel was only the beginning. I said that 9/11 was the canary in the mine because they were "testing." If the Arabs got away with such destruction, then the flood doors would be opened. Today, we are talking about running out and stocking up on water and duct tape and plastic sheeting to make "safe rooms." Gee, didn't we watch that not so long ago in Israel? And, now it's coming to our shores. I fully expect the "suicide bombers" to start in Starbucks and our shopping malls. Hey, they were pretty successful doing it to Israel. The world still is meeting and passing resolutions for a "balanced approach." There is no "balanced approach" to terrorism. If they won't live in the twenty-first century, that's their problem. We can't let them bring us back to live in caves and eat road kill which they seem to prefer.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

POSTWAR IRAQ: PROPOSALS FROM KARL POPPER

By Rafe Champion

If we do go into Iraq, how can we be sure to win the war and not just the battles? By winning the war I mean producing a good long term result, especially freedom and prosperity for the people of Iraq.

This means getting rid of Saddam and his police state on a permanent basis, not just changing the bums on the seats of unchecked power with a new rule of terror under different management.

I would like to commend the "Popper Plan" for dealing with this situation. The plan was sketched in a long note (7) to Chapter 9 of The Open Society and its Enemies. The chapter was a critique of the utopian impulse, the quest for ideal societies, in conformance with some mad plan, regardless of the human consequences. The paradigms were post-revolutionary France and Soviet Russia.
Note 7 is an essay on keeping the peace on an international scale and the Popper Plan was sketched as a suggestion for the steps that might have been taken after World War I to prevent Germany from getting out of control again. The aim was to prevent Germany from re-arming, without harming the citizens of Germany. The parallel with Iraq is obvious.

"We must realise that we can treat individuals fairly, even if we wish to break up the power-organization of an aggressive state or nation to which those individuals belong. It is a widely held prejudice that the destruction and control of the military, political and even the economic power of a state or 'nation' implies misery or subjugation of its individual citizens. But this prejudice is as unwarranted as it is dangerous."


The plan is extremely simple, in principle.

"The fringe of the aggressor country, including its sea-coast and its main (not all) sources of water power, coal, and steel, could be severed from the state and administered as an international territory. Harbours as well as the raw materials could be made accessible to the citizens of the state for their legitimate economic activities, without imposing economic disadvantages on them, on the condition that they invite international commissions to control the proper use of these facilities"
.

And that is about it. Of course for people who regard the state as a sacred thing, this would represent an intolerable intrusion upon state sovereignty. However the aim is to ensure that a rogue state is never in a position to wage aggressive war again and this would appear to be desirable even at the cost of some hurt feelings on the part of aggressive nationalists. This plan would not stop the nation from making an impact in ways other than war, for example in sport, in economic achievement, science or the arts.

Popper's plan did not address the internal politics of the defeated state. Presumably if the winners of the war and the international authorities had the will to execute his plan to prevent the state from re-arming, it would be feasible to supervise free elections and nurture some democratic processes and institutions. The plan was designed for a nation like Germany which had democratic institutions in place (for all their defects) and democracy did not need to be built from scratch, as may be the case in Iraq.

Drop into the Rathouse Forum to look at some of the Popper Centenary papers...



Monday, February 17, 2003

LEFTIST DENIAL

An Email from a reader:

I read your monograph. I found it very interesting. As regards to anti-Americanism however, I believe that there is an added dimension to the phenomenon. You point out that leftists in general have a strong propensity to engage in "denial," pretending that inconvenient facts simply do not exist. I think it can and does go beyond this to what Orwell described as "doublethink," holding two contradictory ideas in your mind at the same time and drawing upon each at need to reach a preordained conclusion.

On the one hand the left is confronted with a mountain of evidence that free market capitalism produces prosperity on a scale that no socialist scheme has ever been able to match, and that the wealth produced tends to lift up the poorer members of society as well, not just the evil capitalist class. On the other hand they suscribe to their core notions that capitalism is, by definition, oppression, and that equality of result is the ultimate goal of society. On some level I think that the theoreticians of the left realize that the institution of their schemes will ultimately alienate the proletariat so long as the "proles" have the example of a large and vibrant non-socialist economy to compare to their own standard of living. People simply prefer prosperity to egalitarian poverty. The US is hated because it is the largest example of a free market economy. If it ceased to exist tomorrow then the left would probably transfer their hatred to the next largest free-market economy. This dynamic can also be seen in the EU, where the forces that be seek to force all the nations into the same economic mold. God forbid that there be any diversity in taxation or economic policy which might show the practical disadvantages of a given EU policy. Ireland drew heavy flak from the EU bureaucracy because of its low taxes on corporations, but the screws are slowly tightening.

The Durban conference in S. Africa also tends to demonstrate this. Two points that were often made by the speakers were that:
(1) free market capitalism is not a workable or desirable system, and
(2) it would be impossible for the third world countries to acheive standards of living comparable to those in the West, because the resources needed have already been consumed by the US and other wicked countries.

Of course, the notion that the resources no longer exist is a total fabrication. The basic thrust is that on some level the Greens know that the system they wish to impose on the developing world probably cannot provide such a standard of living, and they are hedging their bets by creating an excuse beforehand, which is of course the USA and other capatalistic nations.

As to post-modernists, I think that this ties in again to the tendency to pretend that inconvenient facts do not exist. It is nothing more than an application of Orwell's "Newspeak." Concepts which are antithetical to the tautological precepts of the left are declared to be mere "contructions," and are therefore meaningless. It follows then that there is no argument, and therefore nothing to address or refute. It is simply a mechanism to avoid analysis and thought rather than a tool OF analysis. It is denial masquerading as wisdom.

*********************

Sunday, February 16, 2003


MORE ON PRUSSIA

It is often said that to understand Hitler you have to understand the Prussians -- the people who created modern Germany in the first place. Roughly speaking, Prussia is the Northeastern part of Germany which, over the course of the 19th century, gradually came to dominate the whole of Germany. And the Prussian army had a famous tradition of requiring that its troops be Kadaver gehorsam (corpselike obedient) so how that squares my claim of a Germanic respect for individual liberty does at first seem very difficult to explain indeed.

Perhaps the first thing to note about the Prussians, however, is that they were not originally Germans. They were a Baltic people until conquered by the Teutonic Knights and the Old Prussian (Baltic) language did not die out until the 17th century.

The second thing to note is that the militarized and bueaucratized nature of the Prussian State was largely the the creation of one man -- King Frederick William I, who ruled from 1720 onwards. And although Frederick William was undoubtedly German, he may have been assisted in setting up his militarized State by the large non-German element in his subjects.

Frederick William’s son, Frederick the Great (who reigned from 1740), did nothing to undo the efficient bureaucracy set up by his father and made triumphant use of the army created by his father but he was nonetheless notably tolerant and humane. He was hailed by Voltaire (whose model was England) as the “philosopher king” and was noted for instituting freedom of conscience in religious and other matters. As a result, at one time the only place in Western Europe where the Jesuit order was legally permitted was Protestant Prussia. And Voltaire was welcomed in Prussia at times when he was unwelcome in France. So, under Frederick, Prussia was the acme of individual liberty in the continental Europe of the time! An efficient military did NOT mean an oppressed citizenry. Even in militaristic Prussia, the ancient Germanic respect for individual liberty was alive and well and thriving.

The third thing to note is that rigid obedience to orders was NOT a requirement higher up the chain of command in the Prussian army. The famous Prussian general and military theorist, Clausewitz (1976), is clear that an innovative, flexible, opportunistic, improvisatory strategy is of utmost importance among military commanders. Kadaver gehorsam was, in other words, even in the military context a strictly limited requirement. Germans have always been good military men and the strict obedience to orders of the ordinary soldier is an age-old military ideal. It has no necessary implications for what is true of the society as a whole. The armies of many very different societies have endeavoured to impose such an attitude in their troops -- though probably it is only the Japanese who have ever achieved it!

And such a robotic attitude was certainly not true of Prussians generally. Prior to their subjugation by another strong figure in German history -- Bismarck -- the Prussian parliament was in fact notably liberal (in the 19th century meaning of that term). Though Napoleon himself ran a police State in France, Prussian legislators of the 19th century were influenced by his liberal ideals rather than his authoritarian deeds. As one small sign of that, the emancipation of the Jews was proclaimed in Prussia in 1812. So to mistake Prussian military requirements for the nature of Prussians themselves is a large mistake.

So militaristic Prussia does challenge only to some degree the notion of German individualism. Our Anglo-Saxon ancestors were great warriors too but they still respected individual liberties.

Perhaps the most important thing here, however, is to see things with an historian's eye and realize that recent times are atypical. Right up until Prussia's ascendancy in the late 19th century, Germany was remarkable for its degree of decentralization. What we now know as Germany was once always comprised of hundreds of independent States (kingdoms, principalities, Hanseatic cities etc.) of all shapes and sizes: States that were in fact so much in competition with one another in various ways that they were not infrequently at war with one-another.

So prior to 1871, Germany was a disunited and decentralized agglomeration that generations of Prussians, French and others tried unsuccessfully to subdue. And from 1871, unity of a sort was achieved and maintained only by the diplomatic genius of Bismarck. And even with the armed might of Prussia behind him even Bismarck had a lot of trouble with the other German States. He could not even get his Prussian monarch declared as being "Emperor of Germany". He had to make do with "German Emperor" as a title. And even Bismarck was not able to shake the independence of the Germans in the Austrian lands. He had to be content with them as not always reliable allies.

And after the remarkable restraint provided by Bismarck was dispensed with by the new Kaiser (Wilhelm II or “Kaiser Bill”) , the German Empire very quickly self-destructed. We know it as World War I. And Hitler's attempt to revive it went the same way.

So now Germany today is back to something much more like what it always was -- a nation with a strongly decentralized power structure in the form of the various Land (State) governments. And that is of course exactly the same structure that certain other countries of mainly Germanic origin (the USA, Canada and Australia) have adopted too -- a system of State governments which markedly limits central (Federal) government power. And it might be noted that "devolution" is rapidly leading to a similar state of affairs in Britain itself. So the German origins of the English do make their historic dislike of concentrated power at the Centre just one part of a larger picture.

Saturday, February 15, 2003

***********************



They’re Getting Older. Not Me!

By Arlene Peck



Recently, I went shoe shopping with a friend and reality hit! I no can longer wear those “hooker shoes that I walked around in for so many years. Now, when I even try on those four-inch stilettos, I want to park my feet in handicapped. If high heels were so terrific, then I suppose that men would still be wearing them. Is that how it happens? Just when you think you’ve got your head together you find that your body is falling apart. One day you wake up and your rear end is three inches lower. Just like that! Maybe I thought that the best way to forget my troubles was to wear tight shoes. You’re tripping along thinking you’re somewhere between eighteen and twenty-two and suddenly pass a mirror and think, “Who is that woman?” Am I the only one who feels that inside of every older woman is a teenager wondering what the hell happened?

It’s shocking. Just when I thought I was getting used to yesterday, along came today and Al Qaeda and terrorists weren’t in my vocabulary. I’ve tried however, to tone down my political views at parties. This was about the same time that I decided that either I would have to control my attitude or be offered medication. I no longer compare myself to others. They’re often more messed up than I thought. Besides, it’s not so bad. Sometimes just having friends like that makes their dysfunction makes me feel better about myself.

Over the past few years I’ve noticed my eating habits changing also. I read fat contents and strive to go to the gym. In LA, everybody is going to the gym. It’s a mantra. They learn early on, brain cells come and brain cells go. However, fat cells go on forever. In the old days, if I didn’t die from it, it had to be healthy. Growing up in Georgia, we all married so damn young that nobody ever had to worry about biological clocks. My mother had friends that were grandmothers in their 30’s. We all believed that there was a reason that women over fifty didn’t have babies. We would probably put them down and forget where we put them. I lost my dog Kugel that way two times last week. I think that there is a bit of a generation gap with the girls I see today. The women of my era were taught that it was better to be a girl than a boy because it was more preferable to hold out than to beg.

Relationships change. No matter how old I think I’m getting, there is always a “younger man” out there who looks upon older women as a challenge. I used to avoid what I considered inappropriate men. However, my younger men seem to have gotten a lot older. As time goes by, you somehow learn that it takes you a long time to sleep with the person you want. We get jaded and no longer believe in love at first sight. Age has taught me that I may not have always won, but when I lost, I tried to not lose the lesson that I was taught. It’s funny though, how all the people you care most about in your life are taken from you far too soon. The older you get you sometimes you are able to get flashbacks. There are times in your life when you miss someone so much that you even if your dreaming, you just want to pick them up and hug them for real.

Yet, the less important ones just never go away and hang on forever. However, now that I’m an “older woman” I’ve learned to appreciate that it’s possible to look upon life as a blessing and whatever “adventures” that come along with it. I have bras in my closet older than some of the men who contact me, but, hey, G-d must have a reason? No? So, maybe the secret is learning the rules and then learning how to break some of them. Falling in love is awfully simple. Falling out of love is simply awful. The heights are great. But, I don’t like the valleys so much.

Besides, I firmly believe that Jewish men, or maybe just men, don’t look at grown up women. For over twenty years I have had an Israeli male friend. He still continues to invite me to his parties along with the guys he grew up with there. Over the past few years I’ve noticed that I’m the only adult female person there. The guys still come. However, the dates hanging on the arms of these men

are younger and younger. Usually I feel as though I’m swimming in a sea of Barbie dolls. Unfortunately those men haven’t learned the value of conversational skills. These girls could be dumb as dirt. What could these girls possibly know? To them, Michael Jackson has always been white. They don’t care who shot JR. Hell, they don’t even know who JR was! In the words of that great sage, Erica Jong, “You see a lot of smart guys with dumb women, but you hardly ever see a smart woman with a dumb guy.

Women, I think, tune into the truism that you have to have someone around that you can talk to. The older you get, conversational skills become just as important as any other. With this crowd, I could be invisible. Ah, but when I go out with my girlfriends, the guys who could probably be their sons approach me and, ask for my card. And, I’m at the stage where I can appreciate their good taste. I’ve also learned never to interrupt when I’m being flattered. Older men and I’ll go further, American men, don’t usually have the same way with words.

A friend recently accused me of being a bit of a snob because usually upon meeting someone new, I wait about two minutes and then inquire, "What do you do in real life? … Do you have a day job?" I'm not into asking, "What's your sign?" and deplore it when someone asks it of me. I usually answer, "Dollar bills — Yield, why fight it?" Besides, I don't see anything wrong with that. I think my questions show an inquiring mind. Also, they tend to weed out the wimps.

But, I'm not especially drawn to people who think that way. It’s possible that growing up in Georgia and dealing with the Redneck Riviera population jaded me in some respect. Too many of the men that I met had me believing I was living in Darwin’s waiting room. Evolution was an option. There are guys down there who I am sure grew up to be their own fathers. Men sometimes just do such dysfunctional things. Other than going out of their way to start silly wars. Spitting, for instance. It’s such a disgusting habit. How many women have you ever seen do that?

Granted, the Jewish ones had a little more savoir-faire. I think, even a little naive. They thought that KKK was the symbol for Kosher. Today, the Jewish men seem to prefer Asian women. They think they are unlike the Jewish women and will be subservient. Yeah, right! To them, meeting an older Jewish woman is the wife they left.

And finally, on the subject of men, G-d bless them. Life is so easy for them. When women are depressed they either eat or go shopping. Men invade another country. It’s taken me a while but I’m learning “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.”







Friday, February 07, 2003


SEX AND LEFTIST YOUTH

(I received the following email from Andrew Ian Dodge)

I think you missed the most obvious reason why young men go for lefty causes. Right-of-centre women are colder and less ... um ... “willing” than their left-wing counterparts. The socialist/Democrats have the best parties and that is where all the good looking women are. Sasha is the first right-of-centre woman I have ever been serious with, and she is to be my wife. I know quite a few soft-Labour/Blairites who are that way inclined merely because the Tory group at their university was full
of oiks and was bereft of single women.

I said that in a rather cruder way in the comments section of Iain's blog. Its very simple: you men want to get laid, they go where the loose(r) women are. The left knows this and use it to their advantage as often as possible. The left is very good at using penis-politics, the right would rather not even think of it.

My way of getting volunteers to a campaign? Very easy, get a damn fine looking woman who seems to be unattached (ie no wedding ring). Guys will volunteer to go out in a blizzard if they think they can get into her knickers. It is pathetic but it works like a charm!

I got in a bit of a row with Tory woman over this point. She wanted to get more "young people" involved in the party. I told her how to do it...she was not willing to listen. You need to get people involved via fun and partying, then you introduce the work side. I tried to explain the main motivation for a 19 year old Tory-leaning bloke is not politics most of the time.

Also I know a few women friends of mine who would tell you what I say is right. They only ever went to leftie events because Tory/Republican blokes were so ... er ... dorky. I have to tell you, signing the "Red Flag" while pickled is most fun. Not to be outdone the YC/EYC/IYDU types came up with their own songbook of true blue songs.




(Text posted in “Comments” facilities often seems to get lost so I also reproduce below what Andrew said on Iain’s blog)



A big reason that young adults (male) are left-wing in sympathy is fairly obvious. The right never like to state it; well barring me. Let's face it in the thinking of a young male it’s pretty simple: socialist women put out, right-of-centre ones don't.

Do you honestly thnk that all the young men who hung around with the hippies in the '60s were in it for the politics or the drugs?

Or as I have been known to put it: "a Conservative is a former socialist who has gotten married and had daughters."


(NB: If this is a bit off the wall...sorry. I am still stuck in Maine at Her Majesty's Immigration Service's pleasure. Think The Shining with no bleeding walls.)

Thursday, February 06, 2003


A LEFTIST VERSION OF COLLEGE EDUCATION

(Email sent to me by a victim of the “liberal” bias in academe)

I am a senior in college now and my final semester just began a few days ago. Just the other day, I started a new class called Human Resource Management (required for all who are in the school of business, such as myself).

I've had several management classes before, with nothing particular to note about them. This one was rather different, to say the least. I had heard many awful things about the alleged difficulty of the professor teaching this class. No problem there - I like to be challenged.

When said professor came into the door, however, I knew I was going to be in for a world of pain. He's a young man; could not be more than 40 - absolutely brimming with eccentric personality and energy. After a rather amusing 20 minute introduction filled with comedy and the occasional expletive, he launched into his own personal views about race and such. Immediately starting with IQ and how tests are meaningless - ANY KIND OF TEST. Actually, this was the prevalent theme for the entire two hour and thirty minute class.

One of a few phrases that stuck out was: "[regarding my tough assignments] ... but I am compassionate! Compassionate .... you know ... well ... not like the Republicans. Compassionate conservatives? No, not like that."

Ok, fair enough, the man has his views. But he kept harping at the issue of tests. Kept citing things after which he would say "It's a proven fact!". Some examples:

1) "Nobody knows what IQ is, THAT'S A PROVEN FACT! Nobody knows what it measures." "The IQ test was made by, what, a few white boys, right? Doesn't it make sense, then, that it would measure something these white boys had?" (as I thought to myself "didn't you say race didn't exist?"

2) "At the age of 18, Charles Manson had an IQ of 85. After the murders, when he was incarcerated, his IQ was 135-140. Did he get smarter after killing?"

3) "When I was in high school, my guidance counselor said, based on a standardized test that I took, that I would never go to college. That I wasn't bright enough. At my 20 year reunion, I made him address me as 'Doctor' [refering to his PHD.]" (I note this because it was another prevalent theme in his "discussion" - constantly talking about his achievements (many being noteworthy), but following them up with "AND I WAS TOLD I WOULDN'T GET INTO COLLEGE!")

4) Poetic justice had its revenge, however. When going around the room asking each of us to introduce ourselves, he got to the sole Asian girl in the class. Immediately, he said "you know, Asians, as a whole, are interesting. I mean, yes, we draw on a stereotype - but some stereotypes are good, if we can back them up. For example, asians are usually ... what? "Yes, yes, hard working is one...they generally excel at math." Somebody else calls out "Shy?"
"Yes ... well ... yes ... you can say shy. They are modest. Many Asians find it difficult to say 'the best thing about myself is...' - they are very modest people".


Whoa whoa whoa. Hold your horses here, buddy. This is coming from a guy who just spent the past hour saying how race does not exist and how blacks are treated unfairly because of it, etc etc; now you're twisting it all around?

The Asian girl in question actually responded with "Well, actually, I'm adopted from Korea, and I was raised with American values."

After taking the obligatory shot at Pres. Bush (whom he calls "baby Bush", along with "daddy Bush", not to mention "Ronnie" before that), he told us that we need to watch TV news/debate programs and be aware of the world. Fair enough. What does he suggest?

Virtually everything on CNN - especially Hardball with Chris Matthews, Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, Dennis Miller (though he had some reservations on him), the comedy of Chris Rock, etc. When one person in the class suggested The O'Reilly Factor (conservative show on Fox News - not sure what you do/don't get down where you are), said professor immediately exclaimed "Oh, Bill can be a real jerk. But, well, I guess he makes the occasional good point. Eh, you can do better."

At this point, I could continue, but I won't. I simply want to ask if you have any advice in dealing with people like this. Mind you, I try to avoid confrontation and almost always keep my views to myself, but I cannot help but feel that he is robbing the other 20+ students in my class of all sides to the story.

Ah, hell, one final example: "Now, the media misrepresents affirmative action. It is NOT this bad thing which everyone thinks - it does not say that an employer should hire a black person over a white person if they have fewer skills - that's actually illegal! Did you know that? Did you also know that quotas are illegal too? Well, in some limited government jobs there are a small amount of quotas, but they're out of necessity. Affirmative action simply states that an employer needs to get word out of a job opening to all people - they must do their best to make sure that happens." I leave you with that, to make as you will with it. This is Human Resource Management, right? Just checking.

My blood just starts boiling whenever I hear this tripe, but I feel so helpless. I suppose I just needed some reassurance that I'm not going crazy, but to be libertarian/conservative where I live (New Jersey) is not exactly a positive thing, so I don't get much sympathy. Your " MOTIVATIONS OF POLITICAL LEFTISTS" essay (along with Orwell's classic leftist critiques - he points out many of the things that this professor has already done/said) has been one of the few things keeping me at my wits.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

YOUTHFUL LEFTISM: A 60s PERSPECTIVE

(A reader who had a very close-up look at the famous Leftist youth of the 60’s has another idea why Leftism often appeals to youth. I reproduce his email on the subject to me below:)

Having been on campus in the Sixties, yet a conservative from the beginning, I think I have another reason the Left attracts the young: Kids are protected. When things are wrong, grownups are supposed to fix them. When we have a war, it's bad. Somebody is supposed to fix it. Failure to fix (when the grownup is supposedly omnipotent) demonstrates that the grownup likes the war. Otherwise, the grownup would fix it. The Kids demand it. But he doesn't. Thus, it's the grownup's fault.
Government is the grownup.

Kids are in artificially extended adolescence, exacerbated by a reduction in the education of how the world has harsh edges (save for those historical issues condemning America) and people just have to cope.

My kids are take-charge, confident, kind, and conservative. One reason, I believe, is that we did not race to protect them from every possible inconvenience. They were encouraged to solve their own problems, which, I suspect, gave them an intuitive grasp of the concept that not all problems can be solved. Not even by Big Daddy.

I should say, and not because it is my idea, that I think my idea carries more of the weight of the reason the Left appeals to the youth. I can recall people in college who appeared (sometimes it was SDS schtick) to be genuinely surprised and outraged at their discovery that war killed people and others didn't know it. These were, it turned out, not the sons and daughters of veterans.

One of the flakiest, the recently released Linda Evans (not THAT Linda Evans) of Weather Underground fame, dated a fraternity brother. Either she was absolutely stone ignorant of just about everything or she had a good act. In either case, the discovery, at age eighteen, that the world had its little vexations, came as a shock, or a feigned shock.

It's possible that the shock of discovery-all-at-once had an impact that learning more gradually did not. Hard to say. That patented, wide-eyed "Oh, wow," mantra of surprise and helpless distress at the advent of yet another injustice, either war in Southeast Asia or a desk at the admin building which closed early, might have been an act.

Just for the fun of it, I spent some time in Mississippi in what was loosely called The Movement, summers of ‘67 and ‘68. The next couple of years, I followed my father to Infantry OCS (my buddies insisted I had a legacy appointment) and did my time in harness. So I guess I have a view from several angles of those jumpin' times.


Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Judging Nazism and Communism.

By: Martin Malia.

(I could not find the full text of this article anywhere online so I am posting it here until someone tells me the proper way to access it)

NOW THAT the 20th century is at last "history", what does this enhanced perspective tell us about the relationship between that century's two great threats to liberal democracy, Nazism and Communism? During the high Cold War decade following 1945, the matter appeared simple to the majority of Western opinion: the two systems should be equated in their infamy. Yet, as and-Communism came under fire in the 1960s, and as the Cold War itself dwindled into detente in the 1970s, the Hitler-Stalin comparison largely fell into disrepute. At the end of the 1980s, however, European Communism's ignominious end re-opened the question, thus inaugurating a decade of debate over the issue of which "totalitarianism" was the greater scourge. Nor will this issue ever really go away again. For while Nazism and Communism are most unlikely to recur in the historical forms in which we knew them, the political impulses underlying them are still at work in modern political culture, indeed in the human condition itself.

Thus far, however, the renewed debate has suffered from an exceptional imbalance between heat and light. And this is because when we ask whether it is Communism or Nazism that must be judged the greater evil, we are too often unclear about what exactly should be compared in order to frame an answer. The usual procedure is to contrast inventories of horror: numbers of victims, means and circumstances of their deaths, types of concentration camps. Yet how do we make the transition from the raw facts of atrocity to a judgment of their moral meaning? Why, for example, is the industrialized extermination mounted by Hitler more evil than the "pharaonic technology" employed by Stalin and Mao Zedong? (1) It would be an error to suppose a simple or direct answer to such a question. Rather, this greatest of vexed issues handed down from the 20th century must be approached on three interrelated levels: moral, political and historical.

On the moral level we are concerned with the philosophical matter of ascertaining degrees of evil; it is this exercise that arouses the greatest passion and that has produced the most extensive literature. On the political level, we are inquiring whether the two systems may be legitimately equated as totalitarian polities; and since totalitarianism is clearly a bad thing, this subject also has moral ramifications that make it almost as contentious as the first. Yet to give convincing answers to either of these questions, the indispensable preliminary is to confront some basic historical problems: Nazism and Communism's two-decade relationship with each other, their organizational structures, their ideological purposes, and their actual res gestae.

It is to delineating a perspective on this third, historical level that the present essay is devoted. The first level will be touched on only by implication; the second level, which is more easily grounded in history, is given greater direct attention and evaluation, and something like a concept of generic totalitarianism will emerge by the end. As for the third level, the task here is not to make a substantive, still less a systematic, historical comparison, but rather to trace the historiographic parameters of such an investigation. The reason for this, as we shall see, is that scholarly writing on Nazism and Communism has developed so unevenly that most combined analyses of the pair to date can hardly qualify as serious. To compare and contrast them from a moral or a political perspective presupposes an equal level of understanding of both as historical phenomena. Since this is alas lacking, dissecting their two somber historiographies is the necessary preliminary to any other judgment.


Sorting Out the Basics
EVEN WITHIN this narrowed-down task we encounter a complex mixture of overlapping and asymmetry. As to the former, there is, first and obviously, a temporal overlapping: Hitler and Stalin were contemporaries; Nazism developed in part in opposition to Communism while Communism's primary defining adversary was always claimed to be "fascism"; and in this interlocking relationship the two went to Armageddon together in the most traumatic moment of the century. Conversely, there is a major temporal asymmetry: Nazism lasted only twelve years and centered in a single country, spreading outward only by conquest, whereas Soviet Communism lasted 74 years and eventually cloned itself over a third of the planet. Indeed, Communism is still with us, though in anemic form, in East Asia and just offshore from Miami.

Then, too, there are asymmetries of a conceptual sort. Is Nazism a unique case or part of a generic "fascism", beginning with Mussolini's March on Rome in 1922 and embracing the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War, the Romanian Iron Guard, and Tojo's generals in Japan? After all, Hitler and Mussolini intervened together to aid Franco, they formed a Rome-Berlin Axis and eventually, with Japan, an Anti-Comintern Pact. Until well after the war, the term "Axis" was colloquial shorthand for everyone on the "fascist" side (only Finland escaped obloquy for its involvement).

With the passage of time, however, this picture was significantly blurred. Throughout the century the Communists alone adhered consistently to the category of generic fascism (which they had indeed invented in the 1920s). From the mid-1930s onward the slogan "anti-fascism" beckoned liberals to their side in one or another "popular front", and even today it remains a mobilizing watchword. Non-communist historians, for their part, wavered on this issue; most have distinguished "national authoritarian" regimes, such as Franco's Spain or Salazar's Portugal, with their commitment to social conservatism, a purely defensive foreign policy and traditional religion, from the "neo-pagan" and imperialistic "mobilization regimes" of Germany and Italy. (2) The exceptional nature of the Nazi death camps and the growing postwar awareness of the Holocaust, in conjunction with the thesis of its world-historical uniqueness, have also increasingly argued for Nazism's singularity among European "fascisms."

By contrast, the existence of a generic Communism can scarcely be questioned. It has existed everywhere a Leninist party with the mission of "building socialism" has taken power, that socialism requiring the suppression of private property and the market in favor of institutional dictatorship and a command economy. Even so, this formula has in practice yielded significantly different results from one case and period to another. Thus, within the Soviet matrix there were marked fluctuations in coercive power: from Lenin's War Communism of 1918-21 to the semi-market New Economic Policy (NEP) of 1921-29; from Stalin's "revolution from above" of the early 193 Os to his Great Terror of the decade's end; and so on to the perilous wartime and imperial postwar periods. (Nazism, on the other hand, subdivides chiefly into prewar and wartime periods, and public attention has focused overwhelmingly on the latter.) Finally, in the Soviet case, the Khrushchev and Brezhnev eras are distinguished from Stalinism by diminished revolutionary vigor and a much-reduced level of terror.

Outside the Russian matrix, variations in the Leninist formula are even more notable. The Soviets' postwar "outer empire" in Eastern Europe was significantly different from the "inner empire" of the USSR itself. There were no real revolutions in Eastern Europe (outside of Yugoslavia, which soon left the Soviet orbit, and the strange case of Albania), but instead a diversified process of conquest and absorption. Postwar Poland, for example, where the peasantry was never collectivized, is hardly comparable to Russia under Stalin, or even to Romania under Nicolae Ceausescu. And although political police were active everywhere in Eastern Europe, there was simply not space enough for real Gulags.

When we move from the Soviet zone in Europe to the Communisms of East Asia, we find greater differences still. Not only were all these regimes institutionally independent of Moscow, but each was different from the other. Kim Il-sung's socialism in North Korea meant a hermetically closed family dictatorship as surreal as that of Ceausescu; yet the "Great Leader" retained the Soviet alliance as a shield against China. Mao Zedong, on the other hand, was Moscow's greatest enemy on the Left; so to prove his superiority over Khrushchev and his "capitalist roaders", he outdid even Stalin's terror in seeking instant socialism through the Great Leap Forward of 1959-61 and the Cultural Revolution of 1966-76. Ho Chi Minh, by contrast, though as authentically Leninist as his predecessors to the north, at least channeled his party's energy into a war his population supported. Pol Pot, finally, produced the demented reductic ad absurdum of the whole Communist enterprise as he attempted to out-radical not just Moscow, but B eijing and Hanoi as well. All these Communisms, moreover, varied in the intensity of their fury from one period to another, most notably as Maoism gave way to Deng Xiaoping's "market
Leninism."

Another important variation on the generic Communist formula is introduced by the overlap of Leninism with nationalism, not only in the Soviet zone and in East Asia but also in Cuba. It has often been noted that "proletarian internationalism" has been a very weak competitor to modern nationalism; and indeed, ever since European socialist parties in 1914 voted for war credits in their respective parliaments, in almost any crisis workers have put patriotism first. Consequently, it has been claimed that Stalinism was basically a new species of messianic Russian nationalism, that Maoism was an exacerbated Chinese reply to Soviet "hegemonic" pretensions, that Ho Chi Minh was a kind of a Vietnamese George Washington, and that the sui-genocidal rampage of Pol Pot was a product of traditional Cambodian hatred of Vietnam directed now toward surpassing the Communist exploits of Ho Chi Minh. Obviously, also, Fidel Castro's revolution was a reaction to Yankee imperialism. Nationalism, of course, has played a role in all these cases; the real question, however, is whether that role has been sufficient to demote generic Communism to secondary rank.

The answer depends on what we consider to be Communism's social base. If we take the rhetoric of the "international workers' movement" literally, then worker addiction to nationalism argues against generic Communism's importance. (3) In truth, however, that "movement" has always been a movement of parties, not of proletariats. These parties, moreover, were founded and largely run by intellectuals, at least in their heroic phase, not by their alleged worker base; only later were any Communist parties run by such ex-worker-apparatchiks as Khrushchev or Brezhnev. By then, of course, the full administrative autonomy of the East Asian parties (and the relative autonomy of the East European ones) had fragmented Stalin's genuinely international movement into sovereign entities. Even so, each entity preserved its Leninist structure and goals.

Resolution of the question of nationalism prevailing over Communism also depends on historical period: in the case of Lenin's and, indeed, Stalin's Russia, the answer is definitely no; in the case of Jiang Zemin's China it may turn out to be yes. We will not know for sure until we see how the last Leninist regimes disappear. An even deeper answer to this question, however, is that Leninist parties, whether united or at odds with each other, have mastered their populations' nationalism only so long as their millenarian zeal lasted; when that zeal waned, nationalism returned to the fore. Indeed, the withering away of zeal is what explains the fate of both the former Soviet Union and the Yugoslav federation. In each case it was the prior death of the party that produced the collapse of the unitary state, with such former apparatchiks as Slobodan Milosevic and Nursultan Nazarbaev taking up the nationalist cause to retain power.


Compare and Contrast
GIVEN THIS RANGE of asymmetries between Nazism and Communism, as well as the differences among the Leninist cases, what should we compare in assessing their political kinship or the depth of their criminality? Psychologically satisfying though it may be for some to find sharp distinctions between the two systems and for others to find close kinship, it should be obvious that the vagaries of history force us to settle for a mixture of similarities and differences. (4)
The basic similarity is that both movements, whatever they claimed to be themselves, had the same enemy: liberal democracy. Both emerged in the wake of World War I as explicit negations of Europe's long-term movement toward constitutional government founded on universal suffrage; and so both replaced rule-of-law parliamentarianism with a one-party regime under a supreme leader, exercising dictatorial power and employing police terror. Both regimes, furthermore, instituted command economies, whether through outright nationalization as in Russia or by administrative pressure as in Germany. Finally, both were driven by millenarian ideologies: in the case of the Nazis, the quest for the world hegemony of their Aryan Volksgemeinschaft (people's community), and in the case of the Communists, the triumph of world socialist revolution.

These political and ideological characteristics, of course, amount to what is known as the "totalitarian model", as this was defined in the wake of World War II by such figures as Hannah Arendt and the political scientists Carl J. Friedrich and Zbigniew Brzezinski. (5) In truth, however, this perception of similarity antedates the war. In the 1930s it was commonplace to refer to Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin collectively as "the dictatorships." Indeed, this perception had been given scholarly conceptualization as early as 1937 by Elie Halevy in his brilliant book, The Era of Tyrannies, which explained the emergence of the dictatorships by a conjunction of the socialist ideal with the mass mobilization of modern war. (6)

When modern war actually came a second time it confirmed the 1930s' prior judgment, first of all in the collusion between the two chief dictators in the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact of 1939. Even more important, however, was the revelation of the Nazi death camps, which made it starkly clear that modern "dictatorship" was an unprecedented phenomenon in world politics. At the same time, Communism's victory did nothing to mitigate its own, equally unprecedented state terrorist power. In the face of these realities, the classical terms "tyranny" and "despotism" were inadequate, as was the limp modern label "authoritarianism"; so "totalitarianism" carried the definitional day. This choice was confirmed as militant Communism spread during the next five years over a third of the planet to reach its historical apogee. Thus, as World War II gave way almost immediately to the Cold War, Stalin came to fill the whole totalitarian space, becoming in the eyes of the liberal world Hitler's moral heir. (7)

This unitary perception of totalitarianism, however, progressively lost ground after Stalin's death in 1953. As Khrushchev attempted limited reform and as open dissidence appeared under Brezhnev, the Soviet party-state, though it remained tyrannical, appeared distinctly less total and monolithic. Concurrently, as scholarship accumulated about the Third Reich, the Nazi dictatorship came to seem less Behemoth-like--to acknowledge Franz Neumann's early contribution to our understanding of Nazism--and more "polycratic" than had earlier been supposed.

Finally, as public awareness of the Holocaust grew after the 1960s, the Nazi case came to be increasingly distinguished from the Soviet one until it was widely regarded as a historically unique manifestation of "absolute evil." In this perspective, Mussolini's regime, with a weak party-state, no camp system, and only belated anti-Semitism, came to be treated as distinctly less evil than Hitler's. In consequence, the concept of generic fascism retreated into the background.

Concurrently, throughout the postwar period the evil of Nazism was increasingly dramatized to the world: the Nuremberg trials of 1945-46, the Eichmann trial of 1961-62, Claude Lanzman's film Shoah of 1986, and so on to Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List in 1993. But beyond the writings of Soviet dissidents such as Evgeniia Ginzburg and especially Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, there have been no comparable popular dramatizations of the Gulag to world opinion. Nor has any major Communist figure ever stood trial. East Germany's Erich Honecker was permitted to leave for Chile, and sensitive souls, later so zealous in extraditing General Augusto Pinochet to the same destination, were not at all disturbed. The second-rank figures now being considered for trial in Cambodia (who even knows their names?) will surely not be brought to justice in any foreseeable future.

Thus, by the time of European Communism's collapse in 1989-91, most specialists of both Nazism and Sovietism had renounced not only generic fascism but the totalitarian model as well, emphasizing instead the absolute singularity of Hitler's Reich. This may well be the historically justified evaluation, but, for present purposes, the relevant point is that the disproportion between the attention accorded Nazi and Communist crimes has been so great as to constitute, a priori, a double standard in judging them. Indeed, the disproportion has made the exercise of comparison as such a sign of political bad taste.

This double standard, however, was challenged by the Communist collapse--and it has not been sufficiently emphasized that this collapse was not just Soviet, but eminently generic. It began with Deng Xiaoping's conversion to the market in 1979 and the 16-month "self-limiting revolution" of Solidarity in Poland the following year; it became irreversible in 1989 with the simultaneous destruction of the Maoist mystique on Tiananmen Square and the fall of the Soviet "outer empire" in Europe; and it culminated in 1991 with the disintegration of the Soviet matrix itself. Not only were the geopolitical results of World War II undone, but the "short 20th century", as inaugurated by World War I and Lenin's October, was brought to a close.

The impact of this revolution on our understanding of the old century was not that it revealed the full extent of Communist crime: this had long been no mystery to researchers who really wanted to know. The impact came, rather, from the liberating effect that the system's universal failure had on Western minds: It at last became possible to discuss Communism's record realistically and yet remain in good taste. Hence, the 1930s' inclination to compare it with Communism's fascist adversary inevitably returned. The publication of The Black Book of Communism in 1997 was the boldest and most systematic expression of this change. A work of solid scholarship, its greatest originality was to treat the subject of Communist crime not just in terms of the Soviet case, but of Communism worldwide. In this perspective, of course, Communism turned out to be far bloodier than Nazism, totaling roughly 85-100 million as opposed to 20-30 million victims, depending on who is counting and what manner of death is being considered. (8)

Moreover, this unavoidable--and to most people startling--fact raises the question of whether such a quantitative difference translates into a qualitative difference in the degrees of evil embodied by the two systems. At the same time, the geographical extension of the problem affected existing arguments for distinguishing, or conflating, the two systems, in particular as regards the viability of the concept "generic Communism." Is urban, European Communism comparable to rural, Asian Communism? Must generic Communism therefore be broken down, once again, into more basic national and cultural units? (9) Or does the already-noted fact that Communist leaders everywhere were neither workers nor peasants but intellectuals outweigh this sociological consideration? There indeed exists a human bridge between the Red East and its Western godfather: Zhou En-lai embraced Communism in France in 1921, and Ho Chi Minh and Pol Pot were members of the French Communist Party in Stalin's time.

As of the 20th century's calendar end, however, the verdict of 1989-91 had not really been absorbed into our historical consciousness. The Black Book in particular has provoked a mixed reaction. Although almost a million copies have been sold worldwide, including in both Russian and Chinese (Hong Kong) translations, thus indicating widespread interest, the intelligentsia's reception has been distinctly chilly, beginning in France itself but especially in the United States. (10) For reasons addressed below, this split reaction is indeed part of the problem of comparison itself.


The Historiographic Predicate
IN THIS CONFUSED situation, then, the first step toward clarification must be to compare not actual historical cases, but historiographies. As Benedetto Croce long ago remarked, "all history is contemporary history"; and though it is going too far to embrace the post-modern inflation of this point, which would make the past a mere discursive construct or "text", it is true that we invariably read that past through the prism of the present with all of its political, cultural and ethical passions. This circumstance has bequeathed us radically asymmetrical historiographies for Nazism (and/or "fascism") and the different varieties of Communism.

The basic factor in explaining this asymmetry is that the Nazis lost World War II while the Soviets won it. Beginning in 1945, therefore, Nazism's disastrous balance sheet was clear to everyone, and historians had its archives to hand. By contrast, the Soviet "experiment" appeared open-ended until 1991; its records remained secret, and for another half century the liberal world was confronted with the global challenge of its power. Moreover, Nazism's historiography was developed primarily by Germans who had to live with the consequences of the disaster, and hence could not avoid treating it for what it was. The historiography of the various Communisms, on the other hand, offers the bizarre case of a scholarly corpus developed almost entirely by foreigners (we may ignore the official, heroic histories of the various Communist regimes). These outsiders, moreover, were deeply divided over the meaning of Communist revolution as it moved from Stalin to Mao to Castro.

Some of them, who for simplicity's sake we may call cold warriors, sought to mobilize Western opinion against Communism's progression, while others, ranging from cautious doves to outright fellow travelers, sought to justify detente with the adversary, active sympathy for its "achievements", and even "convergence" with its institutions. Our historiography of Communism, therefore, has always been as much a debate between the domestic Left and Right about Western hopes and fears as it was an inquiry into Soviet and Maoist realities. (11) So, for almost a century intelligentsia "political pilgrims" trudged from Lenin and Trotsky to Mao and Ho and on to Castro and Che. (12) Nazism, on the other hand, has found foreign admirers since 1945 only among such fringe figures as the British historian and Nazi apologist David Irving.

The result of these contrasting circumstances is that we have radically different "databases" for our two cases: the historiography of Nazism is voluminous, rich and varied, whereas the historiography of Communism, though copious (at least for the Soviet case) is fragmentary, thin and defective. In fact, much of it is out-and-out misleading.

This historiography's weakest link is East Asia. Despite the brief popularity of the "Little Red Book", the Maoist mystique in the West never rivaled that of Lenin and Stalin, and the premier American school of Sinology, that of John K. Fairbank, was, to say the least, lacking in lucidity about the Chinese regime while the Great Helmsman was still in charge. It is no exaggeration to claim that the Western-language historiography of 20th century East Asia (except for defeated Japan) has developed seriously only in the last two decades; and even then the archives of all the East Asian Communist regimes remained closed. Nor was the historical investigation of modern East Asia driven by the quest to measure evil that the Holocaust has provided to the Nazism-Stalinism comparison: Hider and Auschwitz, or even Stalin and the Gulag, have never been a focus of moral debate in East Asia. These issues, then, are not a universal preoccupation, but only a European or Western one.

So we are returned to our point of departure in the Nazi-Communist confrontation in Europe during the period 1930-45 and its treatment in German and Western Soviet historiography. In both bodies of literature, the first mode of explanation was Marxist, or at least marxisant. In the Russian case, this was for the obvious reason that the Revolution was supposedly "proletarian", and Westerners wanted to find out if this were really true. So emigre Mensheviks, until 1939 in Berlin and Paris and after the war in New York, were prominent in spreading this perspective, powerfully aided by the Revolution's great loser (who nonetheless remained its prophet), Trotsky, and such of his disciples as Isaac Deutscher. In the German case, emigrre Social Democrats or other Leftists, such as Franz Neumann or Arthur Rosenberg, played a similar role in molding Western perceptions, with the result that Nazism, when it was not explained in the Communist manner as the product of "finance capital", was given a social base in "lower middle classes threatened by proletarianization." (13)

After the war, however, the two historiographies diverged, with that of Nazism emerging as by far the more complex and variegated. (14) If this scholarly corpus has a leitmotiv it may be called Vergangenheits-bewaltigung; that is, mastering or overcoming the past. In broad outline, this enterprise developed as follows.

After an initial postwar phase of conservative resistance to facing up squarely to that past, in the 1970s a new generation produced a "Hitler Welle", or Hitler wave, an increasingly probing body of literature, as researchers moved from classical prewar Marxism to the para-Marxist Frankfurt School, to Max Weber, to the French Annales School or American structural-functionalism. The first fruit of this methodological mix was a sophisticated elaboration of the totalitarian thesis's emphasis on politics and ideology. This effort in turn, and in conjunction with extensive explorations in social history, fueled a debate over Nazism as the product of a long-term German Sonderweg, or special path of development. In due course, the first of these interpretations was challenged for exaggerating the Nazi regime's internal coherence and the second for oversimplifying German historical development.

All these debates, moreover, were stimulated by the Holocaust's growing centrality in the German national consciousness, a problem clearly resistant to ordinary political or social interpretation. This issue, therefore, engendered still another debate, this time between intentionalists, who emphasized Hitler's racist ideology, and functionalists, who emphasized the regime's institutional dynamics and the unfolding of the war--that is, politics. As was only to be expected, in the late 1980s these developments produced a conservative reaction explaining Nazism as a response to Bolshevism, though in the ensuing Historikerstreit (historians' quarrel) these dissenters clearly lost out. Down to the present, therefore, political, ideological and indeed millenarian explanations have been further refined, and the thesis of Nazi singularity has essentially prevailed. The conclusions of this historiography, moreover, are known in general outline to social scientists in other fields. Who among them has not heard of the G erman Sonderweg, the intentionalist-functionalist debate or the Historikerstreit? And if anyone needs a refresher course on these matters there exist whole books that sum them up. (15)

By contrast, Soviet Communism has never been integrated into the common historical culture of Western academia. For example, a prominent historian of Nazism, in commenting on a recent book venturing some comparisons of Hitler and Stalin, objected that the author "tends to rely more on older scholarship more closely associated with the politicized arguments of the Cold War than on the heavily documented studies by younger scholars of the Soviet Union who have worked extensively in recently opened former Soviet archives." (16) In other words, this Germanist believes that scholarship on Soviet Russia in recent decades has been non-political, "value-free" and archivally based to the same degree as the scholarship on Nazism. (17) This is decidedly not the case. When comparing Nazism with Communism, Westerners are in fact hobbled by a great disparity in our knowledge of the two cases.

Thus, although most Soviet specialists are literate in what academia's common historical culture tells us about Nazism, specialists of Nazism have no comparable literacy about the development of Soviet studies. Who among them knows that calling October 1917 a "coup d'etat" was long a fighting matter within the profession? Who understands what was at stake in the debate over the "Bukharin alternative" versus the "Cultural Revolution" of 1928-31? Or how many non-specialists are aware that Sovietology's still dominant explanations of Stalinism were laid down in the 1970s, two decades before Moscow's archives were opened? In consequence, the comparison of Nazism and Communism has been largely the affair of people who know a great deal about the former but precious little about the latter--if they are not downright misinformed about it.


The Soviet Deficit
CONSEQUENTLY, Soviet historiography must be outlined here more fully than was done for Nazism--all the more so since there exists no handy short course of Sovietology to which an outsider might turn. (18) A still more crucial difference is conceptual: if the Sovietological corpus has a leitmotiv, it is not overcoming a painful past; it is mining it to divine a future in which the "experiment" would at last turn out right. Accordingly, postwar Soviet historiography overall developed in the reverse direction from that of Nazism: that is, it moved from the primacy of politics and ideology acting "from above" to the primacy of socioeconomic processes, particularly popular radicalism, acting "from below." Or, in the field's shorthand, it moved from the "totalitarian model" to social-history "revisionism."

This shift occurred in part for the professional reason that, beginning in the 1960s, social history predominated in all branches of the discipline. And who can deny the necessity of knowing the social facts in any historical configuration? In the Soviet case, though, this trend was pushed to an extreme by politics. For the Soviet Union was then mellowing while the Western cause was turning sour in Vietnam; so the totalitarian model was denounced as mere Cold War ideology and a gross caricature of Soviet complexities. In its place, social process was enthroned as the basic explanatory principle of Communism.

To be sure, "cold warriors" such as Robert Conquest continued to write about Communist terror, but such concerns came then to be viewed by the mainstream as archaic and superficial.

So revisionism proceeded to discover a Soviet Union that was at the same time social and sociable. As the new narrative ran, the Leninist record, though flawed by Stalin's excesses, was nonetheless an overall achievement and a durable feature of modernity. The Communist system thus must be understood as an alternative form of "modernization", one promising, moreover, a social-democratic fulfillment internally and enduring detente internationally.

The ideological subtext of this picture should be readily apparent. The new narrative, after all, began with the thesis that October 1917 was not a Bolshevik coup d'etat, as the "totalitarians" claimed, but a social revolution of workers and peasants; and in 1917 the masses did indeed revolt against the possessing classes. (19) Yet it is equally obvious that they themselves did not come to power; a party of Marxist ideologues did. After such a beginning, it ought not be surprising that revisionism followed October's heirs in real history by developing in two divergent directions. The movement divided into what might be called "soft" and "hard" versions--the cause of the divorce being those troublesome Stalinist excesses.

To the soft revisionists, true Leninism was the semi-market NEP of the 1920s, an allegedly humane path to socialism defended after the Founder's death by Nikolai Bukharin; and in view of this "Bukharin alternative", Stalin's brutal "revolution from above" became an "aberration." (20)

The hard revisionists, on the other hand, rejected the NEP "retreat" to the market and instead claimed that Stalin's first Five-Year Plan was October's real culmination and Lenin's authentic heritage. This "second October", moreover, allegedly developed from below through a "Cultural Revolution" (1928--31) of workers and party activists. The essence of the Stalin era consequently was the proletariat's massive upward "social mobility"--into the Party nomenklatura, that is. (21) As for the Great Terror of 1936--39, the hard revisionists swept it under the rug with the claim that it was only "a monstrous postscript" to the Revolution, while the number of deaths by execution was modestly placed in the "low hundreds of thousands." (22 ) Another revisionist classic recognized only that "many thousands of innocent victims were arrested, imprisoned and sent to labor camps. Thousands were executed." (23)

Even granted that until the opening of the Soviet archives after 1991 our knowledge of the system was incomplete, at no time were these figures anything less than prima facie absurd. It is inconceivable that anyone could get away with similarly egregious claims in German history. Yet the hard revisionists at most encountered polite collegial chiding -- except from the soft revisionists, who were enraged at their whitewashing of Stalin.

The reason for this internecine passion, of course, is that, as the two schools squared off in the 1970s and early 1980s, they were really arguing over what to hope for under the next General Secretary: Bukharinite "socialism with a human face", or a refining of Brezhnev's existing "authoritarian welfare state" with its "institutional pluralism." The underlying reason for these ideological contortions was that Stalin was indeed the culmination of the Soviet story and at the same time, in the eyes of his own heirs, a criminal.

It should be transparent to any neutral observer that we are not dealing here with rival emphases in social history but with a sectarian dispute between two species of ideologues: neo-Bukharinists and para-Stalinists. Indeed, Western revisionism overall developed within what was basically a Soviet, or at least a Marxist, perspective.

Putting matters this bluntly, however, was until recently impossible in academic discourse, especially in America. Down through the failure of Gorbachev's perestroika, any allusion to these obvious facts was met with protestation from the revisionists that they were not Marxists but merely positivists whose "social science", unlike that of the Cold War "totalitarians", was a strictly non-political, "value-free" enterprise. Or they might revert to the countercharge of "McCarthyism."

But bluntness is presently a therapeutic necessity; for, though the time is long past when the revisionist master narrative was plausible, the time has not arrived when this is adequately reflected in the historiography. Where now are revisionism's "conquests"? October as a "social revolution" rather than a Party coup d'etat? The "Bukharin alternative" of market socialism as true Marxism-Leninism? The "Cultural Revolution" of 1928--32 as the democratic crowning of the Soviet edifice? All are no more than fantasy chapters of an epic culminating in a socialism that turned out to be a mirage.

All the same, though revisionism itself ended along with the Soviet regime, the revisionists themselves are still in place, and the debris of their narrative still frames our historical discourse and furnishes the basis for our comparisons with Nazism. (24) Since the parties concerned will not say this, it is necessary to say it in their stead. If they protest their positivist purity, this should carry no more weight than D avid Irving's protestations that he is not anti-Semitic or partial to Nazism.

Why, however, did David Irving fail so utterly, while the revisionists' perspective was so long triumphant? The first reason, of course, is that they wrote before anyone knew how the Communist adventure would turn Out. As Croce's mentor G.W.F. Hegel famously put it, "the owl of Minerva flies only with the falling of the dusk." So it was only after Communism at last ended up in the disaster column, as Nazism had fifty years earlier, that it became possible to have a "normal", post-mortem Soviet historiography. The transformation has begun: in the 1990s a new generation was actively rethinking the Soviet experience -- though as yet no new paradigm has emerged to orient what one commentator has called "a creative disorder." (25) Indeed, given the thirty-year accumulation of revisionist literature, it will take a full generation to dig out "from under the rubble", to borrow Solzhenitsyn's phrase about the Soviet legacy itself. (26)

One thing, however, is already clear: a valid new historiography of the Soviet Union can be built only by reversing revisionism's explanatory priorities; that is, by treating the Soviet system in the first instance not as a society, but as a regime. The reason why Minerva's owl was so slow to fly in the Russian case (contrary to its performance after the French events that inspired Hegel's maxim) is that October 1917, unlike 1789, never knew a Thermidor. To be sure, ideological zeal abated after Stalin's death in 1953, but the structures of Party, Plan, and Police that he and Lenin had between them built remained in place until 1991. The heritage of 1917 therefore ossified into the historically unprecedented phenomenon of an "institutional revolution" (to borrow a label from later Mexican history); and its only Thermidor was its demise. Not until the historiographical consequences have been drawn from such a paradoxical outcome can we hope to have symmetrical "databases" for comparing Nazism and Communism.




(Originally published in The National Interest of Fall, 2002)

Sunday, February 02, 2003

LEFTISM, THE CHURCHES AND GARRETT HARDIN

I have received the following wide-ranging email from Tim Gillin that I think has a lot in it to think about:

John,
You mentioned on the 'blog the more leftist views of youth. How much of this is due to 'wet behind the ears' idealism and how much is due to political indoctrination through the school system, or their greater exposure to the media? Idealism doesn't neccessarily have to be leftist. Youth generally are more peer oriented and the arts/intellectual/media world has a definite left/'progressive' slant. So indoctrinating them is easier. It's interesting that young "computer geeks' and Sci Fi fans are generally less leftist, they tap into a different media network.

Similarly the drive against traditionalism in the Anglican church. Similar problems exist in the Catholic church too. Of course the old fashioned churches often advocated and supported policies many libertarians would oppose, especially in the area of govt. regulation of sex, booze, drugs, gambling, personal morality etc. but the new wave are happy to embrace every kind of personal vice but advocate environmentalist, socialist and third world dogmas as if they were Gospel. Concern for the poor is admirable and charity is a virtue, but the recent advances in China shows that Adam Smith did more for the world's poor than all socialists put end to end.

This article by Samuel Francis is a radical critique of "multiculturalism" but it is really directed against the 'cultural left' agenda more broadly.

Here is what Garrett Hardin says about the article. Hardin is someone worth checking out, a genuine intellectual maverick. Something to offend everyone!

He coined the term 'tragedy of the commons' and argues we are on a trajectory to Malthusian ecological disaster, unlike "greens" ...who claim to be motivated by the same fear..., Hardin advocates a hard headed strategy the greens could not stomach. Population and immigration controls in the first world and population control policies aimed at reducing populations for the third world. He opposes immigration, refugee asylum and foreign aid. Hardin sees eco problems as "global problems" requiring "local solutions", to look for "global solutions" is a fallacy that turns the world into a "global commons" inevitably leading to a "tragedy of the commons" disaster. The alternative to a global commons is a strong sense of local interest i.e. "patriotism".

I certainly don't agree with all of Hardin but his logical and hard headed approach to "environmental crisis" is in such stark contrast to the 'greens' that you have to seriously question whether the greens real agenda is non-environmental. Some links to some of his ideas are here.

Here are a couple of his very un-PC quotes:

Q: How do you respond to Paul Ehrlich's perspective that we cannot survive on an island of affluence in an ocean of misery.

HARDIN: I think his statement is simply false. I think you have to look at one issue after another to see the extent to which we're bound together into one world. But as for his basic statement, "You can't live on an island of affluence in an ocean of misery," I think human beings have been living this way since Hector was a pup. Now, there is a certain amount of instability in it. Every now and then there's a revolution; and somebody invents a guillotine and a lot of heads roll, and so on. And then a new island of affluence develops, living in an ocean of misery, and life goes on. This is the way human life is. It may be that you don't like this or don't think it should be true, but in fact, it is true. And as far as the survival of civilization is concerned, I think that now we have essentially licked the diseases that took care of excess numbers of people, we should want to make it possible for this to happen because it's the only possibility for keeping civilization going. These various things we label as civilization - the art, the music, and so on - these are the offspring of affluence and can be maintained only by affluence....

Q: How do you respond to the church and the Right to Lifers on the accusation of murder? Can you be righteous in the eyes of God and be pro-choice?

HARDIN: The first thing is to be righteous in the eyes of human beings and do your library work. If you do your library work, you will discover that the Hebrew language for the Sixth Commandment is not "Thou shalt not kill." No, no, it is "Thou shalt not murder," and that's utterly different. Because the minute you say thou shalt not murder, you're acknowledging that killing is not necessarily murder. Then you have to settle on when do we want to call it murder. Killing is an objective fact, murder is an interpretation. When do we want to call killing murder? So, the idea that this is the way the Sixth Commandment goes is based on bad-scholarship. We ignore the fact that Bibles that have been produced in the Twentieth Century, almost without exception, say "Thou shalt not commit murder." The King James version mistranslated the Hebrew......