Monday, February 10, 2014

Abuse of language

How would you feel if I killed your family, perhaps most of your townfolk too, in the name of my politics and then said to you and a few of the other survivors languishing in some hellhole of a prison that you should just think of it as "one of modern history's pivotal experiments."

Not much :(

In fact I think you would rightly want to punch my face in.

Yet this phrase, "The revolution that birthed one of modern history’s pivotal experiments" has been used in NBC's opening montage to its coverage of the Winter Olympics to deftly cover the whole history of Russia from 1917 to 1990. (H/T MCJ)

The slide of Western civilization into historical oblivion continues unabated. When we stop telling the truth, darkness waits pouncing at the door.

As Christopher Johnson rightly observes, thank goodness Germany is not due to host an Olympics anytime soon.

54 comments:

Shawn Herles said...

Thats NBC for you. One of the most militantly Left-Liberal channels in the US.

carl jacobs said...

The intellectual roots of the political Left are too deeply entwined with the intellectual roots of the Russian revolution. There is no way for the Left to repudiate it without repudiating itself. And so 1917 becomes the Great Experiment that went horribly wrong. If only Lenin hadn't died. If only there hadn't been a counter revolution. If only Stalin hadn't seized power. It's all historical nonsense to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the Revolution. But the demand for sanitization is paramount. The Idealized Vision of the Left must be isolated from practical work of its bloody hands lest people realize the former inevitably leads to the latter. There are plenty of Leftists who don't want to face that reality.

That's why Leftists keep pining after the next revolution. They keep hoping to find one that doesn't dissolve into terror and bloodshed.

carl

Bryden Black said...

... I think I have just heard Malcolm Muggeridge turning in his grave ...

Andrei said...

I think you are being just a little bit precious here.

What was the clip excerpted from?

The Russian Revolution and civil war did happen and the Reds did win and did try that experiment.

And bad things were done, very bad things.

But it wasn't all bad - the very first image in that excerpt is Mamayev Kurgan, the Memeorial to the fallen at Stalingrad the pivotal battle in WW2 and that is a legacy everyone should be grateful for because beyond any doubt the Red Army did the heavy lifting in the War to defeat the Third Reich and Facism.

And as a pointer to where we might be headed in the 21st century it is worthy of noting that when American or any Western Astronauts head into space that they do it in Russian space craft designed under the Communists.

Communism was an experiment and it failed but we can't pretend it didn't happen

Anonymous said...

Carl is correct. The default position of liberal-leftists is to give communism a pass, or at least to make many excuses and mitigating comments or to turn a blind eye or two to its endless list of evils. It can scarcely do otherwise because it shares the same ideological vision. Consider this. In many countries, displaying a portrait of Hitler and wearing a swastika will get you arrested, but the portrait of Stalin and the hammer and sickle are revered. Why is this, when Stalin killed many more that Hitler and devastated countless lives for decades?
Because of wilful ignorance and lies. The USSR invaded and occupied Poland, and helped arm Nazi Germany against France and Britain until it was invaded itself in 1941; at which point massive historical revisionism (i.e. lying) became the order of the day. And that lying has gone on to this day.
Remember that in the 1930s William Durante of the NY Times went to the Ukraine and 'saw no famine', while in Britain, the Webbs and Bernard Shaw penned propaganda in support of 'the Russian experiment'. Why did these things appeal? Because the left-liberal ideology always knows better than the Great Unwashed and longs to micro-manage the details of other people's lives, even if it means destroying them.
In a word, it is demonic.

Martin

Jethro Day said...

"Discover what we share with them"

The Soviet Union is supposedly gone, and Hitler was defeated, yet Western greed, with its unbridled consumerism, continues to destroy the lives of many.

We too are the product of empires that have conflated progress with domination. We just did it and continue to do it in other peoples countries, not our own.

Peter Carrell said...

Hmm, Jethro
Would you care to substantiate the charge you make that unbridled consumerism continues to destroy the lives of many?

Some of the latest reports around tell us that there are less poor people in the world today than in the heyday of communism around the globe.

Without Western consumerism, would the middle class in China have been created? How would the Philippine and South Korean economies cope if we turned that consumerism off like the flick of a switch?

North Korea has forsworn the path of unbridled consumerism but I don't think you want to live there, do you? The price it has paid for its peculiar nutcasery has been the deaths of many through famine.

Jethro Day said...

I do not disagree that consumerism has been good for the economies of these places, but how good has it been for the majority of people within those places?

Sweat shops, political turmoil, land confiscation, environmental damage. All this leading to health problems, disempowerment and more desperate forms of poverty, even forms of enslavement.

These things could describe many of the situations over recent years in parts of South America, Africa and the Caribbean.

Another example could be in China where big companies provide people with a factory job. These people are often from uneducated rural backgrounds. These jobs come with a room to live in, but they deduct that from your pay. These payments can be quite high, so you don't have enough money to buy food, but the benevolent company will provide you with food at an affordable price. So at the end of the day you are left with nothing to show for your 12 hour 7 day a week job, unable to travel anywhere, no family contacts because they are all back home, and therefore you are unable to sustain yourself outside of the company structures, all so we can have a an iPad or a toy match-box car.

I am sure this is great for the economy, not having to pay workers properly and having them effectively enslaved to your company. I am sure this would create less poverty for some people (you need a middle-class to help administer all this) but only at the cost of others. Globally there is a growing wage gap between the richest and the poorest. This is even the case in NZ.

It would be really nice if we did not have to feel guilty about this, if we could pretend that our economic system helps people, but alas I do not think it does. It seems to me that much evil gets done in the name of having a "healthy economy" and we then call it "progress" or "development".

If we have 50 children dying a year from poverty related diseases, as is the case in NZ, how can we call our economy healthy? But maybe it is only "healthy" because we have a steady stream of child sacrifices being fed into the greedy jaws of Mammon.

We humans are creative and clever enough to create iPads and complex banking systems, therefore we must be imaginative and clever enough to create an alternative economic system that does not rely on greed and the subjugation of others to better our lives.

Shawn Herles said...

Capitalism cures poverty.

"In 1981, 70 percent of those in the developing world subsisted on the equivalent of less than $2 a day, and 42 percent had to manage with less than $1 a day. Today, 43 percent are below $2 a day and 14 percent below $1.

"Poverty reduction of this magnitude is unparalleled in history: Never before have so many people been lifted out of poverty over such a brief period of time.

The start of most global trends is hard to pinpoint. This one, however, had its big bang in the early 1970s, in Chile. After a socialist government brought on economic chaos, the military seized power in a bloody coup and soon embarked on a program of drastic reform -- privatizing state enterprises, fighting inflation, opening up foreign trade and investment and unshackling markets.

It was the formula offered by economists associated with the University of Chicago, notably Milton Friedman, and it turned Chile into a rare Latin American success. In time, it also facilitated a return to democracy. Chile was proof that freeing markets and curbing state control could generate broad-based prosperity, which socialist policies could only promise."

http://reason.com/archives/2012/03/29/toward-the-conquest-of-world-poverty

"But poverty is decreasing and the world is gradually becoming a better place to live in: health is improving, school enrolment is increasing and democracy is on the rise. Many people seem to be unaware of this fact. An important reason for the progress that is taking place is the fact that during the last decades of the 20th century, there was a movement towards liberalization and globalization almost everywhere."

http://www.adamsmith.org/research/articles/the-triumph-of-global-capitalism

tachesterton said...

I am glad to see that I have now been exonerated from the charge that I am part of the 'liberal left'. Three dme gators here have made blanket statements about the support of liberal-leftist for communism. Since I have never supported communism,, I guess I can no longer be defined as a liberal-leftist!

Anonymous said...

"a legacy everyone should be grateful for because beyond any doubt the Red Army did the heavy lifting in the War to defeat the Third Reich and Fa[s]cism."

And should Poland be grateful that the Red Army invaded that nation in September 1939 and murdered thousands of its officers, under the German-USSR Friendship Treaty?
Should France and Britain by grateful that the USSR supplied weapons and material to attack France and Britain?
Yes, the Red Army did kill 2 out of 3 German soldiers in WWII. It also raped millions of German women and occupied Eastern Europe for 45 years. This was probably the worst 'victory' in history.

Martin

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Jethro,
I know of no one arguing for the general virtue of capitalism over other forms of economic development who thinks nothing can be improved. Lots can be and, often unheralded in the media, lots is improving in many places. (And, on closer investigation, often places where improvement is not taking place, it is local greed of corrupt ruling classes rather than general capitalist global greed which is the problem).

I suggest care be taken over the gap between the rich and the poor. The gap exists but does it mean there is a problem? The richest man in the world, Bill Gates (I believe) is wealthy through making software (etc) which has enable the world's development to speed ahead so that all have access to computers. Does it matter that Bill Gates has billions in the bank when billions have technological advantage their grandparents could not imagine?

Or we might worry about the wealth of oil barons. But here is the thing, I never think about that when I put petrol in my car. I am just grateful that someone discovered the connection between oil and internal combustion!

Andrei said...

I'm no apologist for either communism not the Soviet Union Martin

But
And should Poland be grateful that the Red Army invaded that nation in September 1939 and murdered thousands of its officers, under the German-USSR Friendship Treaty?

We need to note that modern Poland didn't exist until 1919 and that the first thing it did when it came into being was to extend its borders to the east by invading lands that what are today Belarus and Ukraine, also Lithuania - this was during the Russian civil war of course. They even occupied Kiev in 1920 but the local population there rose against the puppet administration they set up and the Red army appeared and drove them back right to the gates of Warsaw eventually the Poles prevailed and were able to hold onto some of the land taken from what had been the Russian Empire before WW1. And it was these lands that Stalin took back in 1939 - what was the exact ethic make up of these territories in 1939 was I couldn't say but there wasn't a Polish majority and they remain today as parts of the nations of Belarus and Ukraine - there is a lot of long standing complex history at play here and it is playing out again today in the current unrest in Ukraine.

It also raped millions of German women and occupied Eastern Europe for 45 years

The Red Army actually had strict prohibitions on rape enforced by (often female) commissars. In Germany these fell by the wayside for a few days - these were men whose own mothers, sisters wives and daughters had been raped, their homes and livelihoods had been destroyed by the soldiers of the Wehrmacht. In Berlin this lasted about three days when it was clamped down upon by the Red Army leadership on the personal orders of Stalin.

If you want a sense of life in Berlin from the perspective of a German woman (who was raped) there exists a diary written at that time by a German female journalist published as Eine Frau in Berlin.

And these matters interesting as they may be are not something to highlight in the lead up to a television presentation of a major sporting event

We live in a fallen world Martin and the only prescription for improving it is to follow Jesus Christ and to live by the Gospels - Any politician who tries to claims he has a prescription to cure all human ills by following a rigid system will lead us over the cliff - whether this prescription be communism or laissez faire capitalism.

As the psalmist says "Put not your trust in princes"

Father Ron Smith said...

" beyond any doubt the Red Army did the heavy lifting in the War to defeat the Third Reich and Fascism -

- Andrei -

Andrei is correct when he draws our attention to the fact that, at one point in world-War 1, the allies were glad that Russia stood in the way of Nazi Fascism. Having been alive in England at the time, I remember Mrs. Winston Churchill being at the forefront of those of us glad to have been delivered from the Fascists Far-Right!

Many of us now try to distinguish between between the Communist view of socialism and the Far-Right economic theory of survival of the fittest. Of course, the Far-right are inclined to call us 'Crypto Communists', but I, rather like TC here, prefer to call myself a moderate Socialist (myself leaning towards Liberal - Conservative entrepreneurism), but with a bias towards the disenfranchised.

Political labels are often misleading - especially when used by anti-liberal conservatives. (how oxymoronic is that?) Ha.Ha.

Shawn Herles said...

Hi Andrei,

"Any politician who tries to claims he has a prescription to cure all human ills by following a rigid system will lead us over the cliff - whether this prescription be communism or laissez faire capitalism."

I support total laissez faire capitalism, to the point where I could be described as an Anarcho-Capitalist, not because I believe it will cure all humanities ills (although it would cure many economic ones) but because we are fallen sinful people, and thus I am decidedly sceptical about political concentrations of power and the use of power over others lives by the State.

Ron,

radical capitalism is not about survival of the fittest, but about freedom. I leave notions about survival of the fittest to those who think we used to be apes.

Shawn Herles said...

Jethro,

"If we have 50 children dying a year from poverty related diseases, as is the case in NZ, how can we call our economy healthy?"

Our economy is not a true capitalist system, but a mixed one with a large welfare state. We have had a welfare state now since the 1930's, and even with the minimal reforms it remains one of the most generous in the world. If we still have unacceptable levels of poverty, I would suggest that is the fault of welfare socialism, not capitalism, at least in part. I would also suggest that culture plays a role.

I remember being at a party in south Auckland and listening to several people complaining that they were having trouble financially and sometimes could not give their kids a school lunch and that the "evil National government should help us more."

That was after more than ten boxes of beer and several trips to the gas station to buy more cigarettes.

carl jacobs said...

Ya know. If you listen to the old Nazi speeches you won't hear lackeys of the Capitalist overlords. There is a reason that Hitler's party was called the National Socialist German Workers Party. Just saying...

The Nazis were positioned 'on the right' because Leftists found it tactically convenient to do so. The Enemy of the Left is 'on the right.' Unless of course you are a Menshevik to Lenin' Bolsheviks. Or to use the phrases made popular in the 20s (when all the Old Bolshevists were shot), a Left Deviationist like Kamenev or a Right Deviationist like Bukharin.

National Socialism is permanently attached to the Holocaust and rightfully so. We don't say that Hitler corrupted a good vision. But Socialism somehow escapes the tag of the Harvest of Sorrow. And the Terror. And the show trials. And the gulags. You know Auschwitz. Do you know Kolyma? If Auschwitz is the face of the Nazis, why isn't Kolyma the face of the Socialists?

Why indeed?

carl

Anonymous said...

"I'm no apologist for either communism not the Soviet Union"

I'm glad to hear it, since neither is defensible. And neither is the rape of 2 million German women by the Red Army, or the murder of untold numbers of Russians and other ethnicities by Stalin. There was a good reason the people of the Ukraine initially welcomed the German invasion. Communism killed many, many more than National Socialism. But who in the west knows this?
As for the borders of Poland and its ethnic makeup pre-1939, the National Socialists wiped out most of the Jews, while the Soviets simply stole the German lands of Pomerania and Silesia to 'compensate' the Poles for the land they had stolen off them.
But then it has always been the curse - and the driving geopolitical factor - of eastern Europe to have no natural barriers on the North European Plain until you get to the Urals.
'Good fences do good neighbors make' sang the poet.

Commissar Martin

Shawn Herles said...

Spot on Carl.

Several years ago the Liberal-Left in the city I live in, including the then Mayor, started calling us "The Peoples Republic of Christchurch." Several people who did not have convenient memory holes, including actual refugees from countries subjected to Communist terror, protested, but were ignored.

Make no mistake. The Progressive/Liberal-Left is not the other side of the coin in a healthy debate. It is the enemy of the West and the Christian Faith, and should be treated as such. We are not in a debate with this kind of Liberalism, we are at war with it, or should be. My goal is not dialogue, my goal is to see the ideology of the Progressive Left buried in the ground and the earth salted as a warning to future generations.

Andrei said...

You know Martin most soldiers of the Red Army were not rapists and more than American GIs in the European theater were and yet the American Military saw fit to hang a couple of hundred of their own in the European theater, sometimes in public, for the crime of rape - they are buried in Normandy in a secluded cemetery their graves only marked by numbers for which the pentagon holds the key as to which number represents which individual.

But this is not an aspect of the American war effort that people give much attention to - we could talk about the behaviour of other armies in the Western theater in this context as well but mostly this is a subject that remains buried.

Its the cold war mentality in you showing through that allows to you brush off the horrors inflicted upon the citizens of the USSR at that hands of the Nazis while making the worst behaviour of their compatriots the major feature of their triumph over their persecutors.

There was a good reason the people of the Ukraine initially welcomed the German invasion

Yes and this was particularly true in Galicia in Western Ukraine where a SS division was raised as well as thugs recruited to do the dirty work of tormenting their compatriots.

And these memories are alive today and your cold war mentality may indirectly help to contribute to something very unpleasant in the near future.

Remember Yugoslavia, wise heads said stay clear and let the legitimate government work it out but such was the eagerness of the West to dismember that country so it might be absorbed piecemeal into the new European Empire that nobody listened and it all turned rather nasty.

Everybody needs to keep that cold war thinking in check and just enjoy the Olympics

MichaelA said...

"Remember Yugoslavia, wise heads said stay clear and let the legitimate government work it out but such was the eagerness of the West to dismember that country so it might be absorbed piecemeal into the new European Empire that nobody listened and it all turned rather nasty."

Truth is a two-edged sword, Andrei. Many people of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia would strongly disagree with you on this one.

Leaving it to "the legitimate government"to work it out was no more than an invitation to oppression, if not genocide.

You will find that most people of those countries are much happier now that they are out of a Yugoslavia which had abandoned Tito's vision and become little more than an oppressor.

To use your own words above: Its the cold war mentality in you showing through that allows you to brush off the horrors inflicted upon the citizens of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia at the hands of certain Yugoslav imperialists, while making the worst behaviour of their compatriots the major feature of their triumph over their persecutors.

Note that I do not disagree with many of your points above that are well made - but you then seem to lose perspective when it comes to a more recent example of countries wishing to leave the orbit of Serbia, which just happened to be a Russian ally.

carl jacobs said...

Andrei

The Debauchery of the Red Army in Europe in 1945 was official Soviet policy. Officers who tried to stop it were themselves arrested. Stalin saw it as a reward for his soldiers and a way to punish the Germans - except the soldiers weren't too discriminating in terms of nationality. Soviet soldiers were never punished for what happened. Don't compare the isolated incidence of rape with the what happened in Eastern Europe.

Perhaps we should ask Polish women how many Soviet soldiers were rapists - and what it was like to be liberated by the Red Army. I am sure there experience would be enlightening.

carl

Kurt said...

Gimme a break! Two hundred years ago some of you folks would have gone on yammering about the French (and American) Revolutions in the same manner you are with the Russian Revolution. Let's face it, revolutions can be messy things. They are full of contradictions. That's why revolution should be resorted to only when all other methods of change have been tried and have failed. (In today's America, we are running out of options--fast.)

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY
(For Martin: Site of the Battle of Brooklyn in 1776)

Shawn Herles said...

Kurt,

"Gimme a break! Two hundred years ago some of you folks would have gone on yammering about the French (and American) Revolutions in the same manner you are with the Russian Revolution."

No, I certainly wouldn't, not in the case if the American revolution, which led to more freedom, not less, as in the case of Russia.

". Let's face it, revolutions can be messy things."

Millions were starved to death by the USSR. Up to 6 million Kulaks were deliberately starved to death. I would describe that as horrific evil on a massive, almost incomprehensible scale, not "messy."

'the Soviet Union appears the greatest megamurderer of all, apparently killing near 61,000,000 people. Stalin himself is responsible for almost 43,000,000 of these. Most of the deaths, perhaps around 39,000,000 are due to lethal forced labor in gulag and transit thereto.'

https://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/COM.ART.HTM

Your attempt at moral equivalence and minimizing of the horrors of the USSR is extremely disturbing.

"(In today's America, we are running out of options--fast.)"

Who's "we"? The far Left? The far Left in the US is a tiny minority utterly unrepresentative of most Americans, including working class Americans. There will be no far Left revolution in the USA, ever. The military, and heartland Americans who are well armed, would crush any such attempt at a far left revolution.

The fastest growing political movement in the US is libertarianism. Over a quarter of Americans now describe themselves as libertarian.

Your post is one of the most morally questionable (and that's being polite) I have ever read on this blog.

carl jacobs said...

Kurt

The Russian revolution is properly grouped with the French revolution - to which it owed its intellectual heritage. Even a cursory knowledge of Left-wing revolutionary histiory will reveal the connection.

Let's face it, revolutions can be messy things.

Yes, that's what Hitler said. Oh, wait. Wrong revolution. That's not one of the messy revolutions that can be justified.

Back when I was in college, I took a course called "Understanding Socialism" because I knew it would be an easy grade. I had just spent the previous five years in self-study of Russian history, and so I already knew the subject. i figured the class would be taught by:

1. A refugee from Eastern Europe who understood the subject first hand.

2. A sixties hold-over who once read Marx and spent his life isolated from the real world in academia. The kind of guy who would never realize he would be among the first shot in any actual revolution.

The correct answer was number 2.

Eventually, he had to get around to Stalin and the Terror, and the Gulags, and the fact that Stalin turned 5% of the Soviet population into slave labor for the purpose of industrialization. He talked about all the "good things" Satlin did in terms of development, but you will be pleased to know that his final judgment was that "It wasn't worth it." Direct quote. Perhaps if Stalin had only enslaved 4% of the population. Perhaps if only 8 million had died in the Ukrainian famine instead of 16 million. We will never know what his threshold would have been to judge Stalin's time "worth it" for the cause of Socialism.

Revolutions are messy things, all right. Full of contradictions. And famines. And arbitrary arrests. And slave labor camps. And torture. And death by slow starvation. And bullets in the back of the head. Rivers of blood flowing from acres of death. From amidst the human wreckage and charnal corruption come the dead sing a hymn to themselves. Slow and sad and bitter.

Arise, ye workers from your slumber,
Arise, ye prisoners of want.
For reason in revolt now thunders,
and at last ends the age of cant!
Away with all your superstitions,
Servile masses, arise, arise!
We'll change henceforth the old tradition,
And spurn the dust to win the prize!


carl

Andrei said...

To use your own words above: Its the cold war mentality in you showing through that allows you to brush off the horrors inflicted upon the citizens of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia at the hands of certain Yugoslav imperialists,

I'm not going to litigate the Yugoslav wars with you but will note that Slovenia actually left Yugoslavia without much difficulty whereas for Croatia and and for Bosnia Herzegovina much blood was spilled and many people displaced along the way.

And that this would be entirely predictable to anyone who had a basic knowledge history.

Key Words: Ustashi Jasenovac

Anyway when people seek independence from a larger National body how we view their claims and recognize them depends entirely upon our own pragmatic interests.

Thus the West was entirely happy to recognize Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, to the extent of using the West best and latest bombers against Serbian civilians to enforce the lasts departure from Belgrade's authority

But no such courtesies are extended for Abkhazia or South Ossetia, which remain "breakaway regions of Georgia" because it suits the interests of Western Europe and the USA that they do so

I view such matters with a little cynicism myself

When the rich man goes to war its the poor man who bleeds

Kurt said...

"No, I certainly wouldn't, not in the case if the American revolution, which led to more freedom, not less, as in the case of Russia."--Shawn

Freedom for whom, Shawn? Black people? Women? Native Americans?
Certainly not for the Loyalists (Tories) who were chased from their homes, lynched in the streets, driven into exile, etc.

Perhaps if the reactionaries had kept their collective nose out of the business of the people of France (and Russia)bad things would not have happened to their friends...Even the USA fought the Quasi War with France in 1798 and had thousands of troops in Eastern Siberia after 1917...

Unfortunately, most aristos and bourgeois keep on screwing "their" people, right up until the moment that their heads hit the basket...or their backs hit the wall...

"Let them eat cake." Now, here in the USA, the Rethuglicans (with a little help from the Dumbocrats)are recently responsible for cutting food stamps and extended unemployment benefits for millions. Guess how those actions are going to play out in the streets in ten months or a year when people get really desperate...

From 80,000 to 100,000 people marched against austerity in North Carolina over the past weekend and the corporate ("libbruuuul") media did not even bother to pretend to cover it; talk about a "free press"...

Unjust ruling classes dig their own graves...

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Andrei said...

The Debauchery of the Red Army in Europe in 1945 was official Soviet policy. Officers who tried to stop it were themselves arrested. Stalin saw it as a reward for his soldiers and a way to punish the Germans - except the soldiers weren't too discriminating in terms of nationality. Soviet soldiers were never punished for what happened. Don't compare the isolated incidence of rape with the what happened in Eastern Europe.

Where do you get this stuff from Carl?

This might surprise you but the soldiers of the Red army were actually instructed to see themselves as liberators and ambassadors for the new world order of Communism.

Rape in war is as old as humanity, of course, and there never has been nor ever will be a war in which it doesn't occur.

tachesterton said...

I've never quite figured out how American fundamentalists square their support of their armed revolution with the literal interpretation of Romans 13 that they so often quote at pacifists...

carl jacobs said...

Tim

Well, in my case, I don't. The Declaration of Independence is a bad argument for rebellion. Every complaint it lists describes an action that is within the lawful authority of the Crown. Its ... uncomfortable...to be American with this attitude. To possess the uncomfortable knowledge that I would have been a Tory. (Worse! My children might have ended up Canadian.) But there you are.

That's probably why the American Revolution is the one area of history I have always avoided. It's all water under the bridge for me anyways.

carl

carl jacobs said...

Andrei

I get it from the same place that I get all the stuff about Einsatzgruppen and Japanese experimentation on POWs. It's a well established historical fact. How do you not know these things?

If you want a primary source, then I would refer you to the biography of Solzhenitsyn.

carl

Shawn Herles said...

Kurt,

"Freedom for whom, Shawn? Black people? Women? Native Americans?
Certainly not for the Loyalists (Tories) who were chased from their homes, lynched in the streets, driven into exile, etc."

More freedom is still freedom, not perfect freedom, but a start, certainly better than starving to death or dying in a Gulag. And trust me, you really don't want to trot out the Native American card with me. I know my own history (Cherokee) better than any white New York Liberal.

"Unfortunately, most aristos and bourgeois keep on screwing "their" people, right up until the moment that their heads hit the basket...or their backs hit the wall..."

The vast majority of people who died in the Soviet Union were the poor and the powerless.

""Let them eat cake.""

Do you know what an urban myth is? Try a little actual history instead.

"Unjust ruling classes dig their own graves..."

Mass murdering Communists dig their own graves.

Do you have another argument as to why the deliberate murder through slow starvation of hundreds of millions of the poor and the weak, of women and children, was just a bit of "messiness"?

Andrei said...

This is the relevant part of the order given by Stalin to the Red Army immediately prior to entering Germany
Officers and men of the Red Army! We are entering the country of the enemy... the remaining population in the liberated areas, regardless of whether they're German, Czech, or Polish, should not be subjected to violence. The perpetrators will be punished according to the laws of war. In the liberated territories, sexual relations with females are not allowed. Perpetrators of violence and rape will be shot

It contradicts your statement The Debauchery of the Red Army in Europe in 1945 was official Soviet policy......

How strictly it was adhered to varied no doubt from unit to unit but it was in force and enforced because Red Army soldiers were executed under its provisions.

Germany in 1945 was a hellhole. In Berlin as the Red Army arrived young boys and old men were rounded up, given obsolete rifles with maybe three rounds of ammunition or a hand grenade and told to defend a position against Russian tanks - if they ran away they were hanged at a convenient location nearby with a sign around their necks proclaiming their treachery and there were young boys, old men and deserting soldiers hanging from trees and lampposts all over Berlin. Germans did this to themselves

Europe, Russia was in ruins, the Third Reich was in its death throws, there were millions of young men, Russians, Americans, Frenchmen and English with guns getting drunk at any opportunity - it was a bad place to be and bad things happened - some of those young men negotiated all of this in an honourable fashion and some didn't. Some of them were well led, some were not.

And at the end of it all there were a lot of dead people

Shawn Herles said...

If Kurt's thinking is in any way reflective of the view of the Liberal Left that currently controls TEC then it confirms for me that the rest of the Anglican Communion should expel TEC and disassociate ourselves from this kind of hideous evil.

Inclusive? Tolerant? Compassionate? Yeah right!

carl jacobs said...

Andrei

It doesn't matter what Stalin said in public. He said publicly that Trotsky was the center of a huge conspiracy. He said publicly that Kirov was murdered by wreckers of the Revolution. Stalin routinely lied for public consumption. What is important is the actual policy he established and expected to be followed.

There is no way - No Way - for Rape on such a massive scale to have occurred without the complicity of the command structure. The leadership would have tried to stop it if for no other reason as debilitating to military discipline. They would have to be prevented from stopping it. What happened in Eastern Europe was supposed to happen. And for the reasons I said.

carl

Anonymous said...

I've generally been pro-American through most of my life and believed in America's good faith in the cause of freedom. However, I've never really believed the American revolution was particularly justified, though there were real grievances.
And I can't be the only person to be annoyed by the absurd Hollywood trope of making the villain an upper class Englishman (like 'Scar' in The Lion King).
Most Americans, IIRC, didn't support the Revolution.
I'm afraid I don't find Andrei's apologia for the Red Army in Germany very convincing either.
A figure of 2 million German women raped suggests there was a massive breakdown of discipline - or rather that no such discipline was imposed for a time. Communiques from the Communists were worthless.

Martin

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Kurt
We might just excise a comment within your comment ...

"Oh, please Shawn. As I've told you before, I'm part Cherokee myself--decended from those who "passed" as white after 1838when the US government ordered the removal to the West. Big deal. You are not unique; there are literally millions of us in the USA.

"expel TEC and disassociate ourselves from this kind of hideous evil."

[] If there is a "hideous evil" in America today, it's those who support the 1% of banksters and other corporate gangsters who have been bleeding the American people dry.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY
"

Andrei said...

I was going to let this go Carl but I can't.

Looking into this further I find that a large proportion of those GIs executed for rape in the European theater were Black or in the parlance of the times Negros.

Now if anyone were to suggest that the contribution of Black American GIs to the War effort was the rape of European women this would cause great offense and would be seen as racism.

And yet you are prepared to do this for the soldiers of the Red Army the vast majority of whom raped no-one.

The other reason that this is highly offense is that it totally ignores the atrocities committed in the Soviet Union by the Germans, transforming the Germans into the victims and those that who were on the receiving end of these vile actions the villains.

The soldiers of Germany were taught that the Slavic peoples they were conquering were Untermensch sub human and as I'm sure you are no doubt aware the long goal of the Third Reich was to eliminate the Slavic people from their lands and replace them with Germans.

World War 2 in the East was a war to extermination Carl - not a cricket match

And yet

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn

I think you may be missing an important point about something Kurt said above re revolutions being messy things. That point is that he did not then go on to say that the consequences of the Russian Revolution (i.e. Stalinism) were justified. (But, Kurt, if you are reading this, it would help us, I am sure, if you could distance yourself from Stalinism ...).

On just about any reading of Russian history, a messy revolution was in prospect as WW1 took its course, and I suggest needed given the awfulness of Tsarist mismanagement. That Leninism triumphed eventually as the lasting post-revolutionary force is regrettable as it murders its own masses and paved the way for Stalinism.

Accordingly I am moderating the comment below where I think you are pressing against Kurt's comment on the basis of something he has not actually said (i.e. he has not explicitly justified the evil of Stalinism).

""Oh, please Shawn. As I've told you before, I'm part Cherokee myself--decended from those who "passed" as white after 1838when the US government ordered the removal to the West. Big deal. You are not unique; there are literally millions of us in the USA."

I never said it was a big deal, I said I know my history. And their are millions of people with a few drops of blood. I'm quite a bit more than the average, and I have spent time on tribal land, thanks to my folks.

[The question your comment re revolutions are messy raises is this: are] you [] avoiding the issue, that you called the starvation of hundreds of millions of the poor and weak just a bit "messy"? [Have you revealed] your true face, and that of many on the far left, a face of evil that is willing to minimize or justify the most horrific crimes against humanity because of a sense of political self righteousness?

[]
"

Father Ron Smith said...

"If Kurt's thinking is in any way reflective of the view of the Liberal Left that currently controls TEC then it confirms for me that the rest of the Anglican Communion should expel TEC and disassociate ourselves from this kind of hideous evil." - S.H. -

A question of Peter: Why is this awful statement allowed to remain on your blog? Is it because you think in similar terms?

carl jacobs said...

Peter

But you are avoiding the main point. Why do you allow people on the Left to distance Socialism from Stalinism? You would never allow a National Socialist to distance the cause from Hitler. And yet you do precisely that when it comes to the ideological Left. The instructor to whom I referred above actually said during the class "Socialism has never been tried yet." Do you know why he said that? Because every example of a Socialist revolution to which he could point follwoed exactly the same bloody trail. They try to avoid the obvious, but it remains obvvious nonetheless.

Stalinism wasn't a distortion of the revolution in Nov 1917. It was the natural outworking of that revolution. All the seeds were there under Lenin. The Cheka goes right back to the first days of the Revolution. Dzerzhinsky was there from the beginning. It is a myth that Leftists tell themselves that the Russian Revolution was somehow put off the path by Stalin. It wasn't. They just don't want to admit it. And they should be made to wear Stalin just the same way that neo-Nazis are made to wear Hitler.

carl

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
You raise a good set of questions and I am happy to answer them.

First question: the key word in the statement is "if". If Kurt's thinking (i.e. the seemingly easy way in which he blithely refrains from condemning Stalinism as an evil outcome of the Russian Revolution) is reflective of the 'Liberal Left which currently controls TEC' then something is not right with TEC. That leads to two questions: (a) what kind of 'Liberal Left' controls TEC? (b) specifically, is it the kind that reflects Kurt's (in my estimation, on the basis that he sees Obama Democraticness to his right) 'hard left' thinking?

Second question: I find this quite impertinent. Many views are published here, and many of those many are clearly not views I subscribe to. Why would you ask if a storngly expressed view published here is published because it is my own view? And why about this subject and only this subject? (Some very strong views are being expressed about the Russian Revolution, the Russian counter-attack into Germany in 1945, the ins and outs of post-WW2 Yugoslavian policy etc. Are you going to ask whether I publish those views because I support them all?

As a matter of fact I do not see Kurt's views as representative of the Liberal Left clique currently governing TEC.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl
In general terms I do not think that Socialism necessarily leads to Stalinism. It has not done so in Nyerere's Socialist Tanzania. It might not have done so in Allende's Chile, though we will never know because You Know Who interfered in the governance of that country. I think it worth discussing whether Cuba has been Stalinist in its approach to Communism.

I do think that Leninism leads to Stalinism and Leninism prevailed in the Russian Revolution. It might not have done - Kerensky and co might have prevailed, but it was not so.

For what it is worth, it strikes me that American 'exceptionalism' was at work in the Revolution there which did not descend into the murderous aftermath the French experienced (which was the harbinger of where the Russian, and Chinese Revolutions went).

Shawn Herles said...

"I think you may be missing an important point about something Kurt said above re revolutions being messy things."

No Peter, unlike you I understood exactly what his point was, just as it was clear what Ron's point was about narrow minded people. Your just trying to make facile excuses again and justify why you inflict both individuals on the rest of us. Your making excuses, not valid observations.

Shawn Herles said...

I'm done. I have tried for a year to improve things and I'm tired of hoping things will change. They are not going to, and what could be a good and important blog for us in NZ will just keep spiraling down into farce. I have pleaded for a year for the insults to stop, and you have shown me and your other guests zero respect by refusing to stop it. Moderation does not work with either individual, and your refusal to clean things up has become so tiresome that I can't be bothered anymore.

MichaelA said...

Andrei wrote:

"I'm not going to litigate the Yugoslav wars with you"

And you then proceed to do just that! You made a claim that was obviously incorrect and I called you out on it. Now you are still trying to justify it. Okay, let's examine your arguments:

"but will note that Slovenia actually left Yugoslavia without much difficulty whereas for Croatia and and for Bosnia Herzegovina much blood was spilled and many people displaced along the way."

The reason Slovenia left "without much difficulty"was that the Yugoslav leadership realised very quickly that they had no hope of holding the country (go there, and you will see what I mean). Slovenes have no doubt today that if Yugoslavia had defeated the Croatian and Bosnian independence movements, it would then have turned on them.

"And that this would be entirely predictable to anyone who had a basic knowledge history."

Having a basic knowledge of history is indeed an issue in this debate.

"Key Words: Ustashi Jasenovac"

So that is your only argument? Okay, let's look at it: According to you, oppression by Croats and Muslims in the 1940s justified oppression by Serbs 50s years later: 'They killed our children two generations ago, so now we are justified in killing the great-grandchildren of the murderers'.

"Anyway when people seek independence from a larger National body how we view their claims and recognize them depends entirely upon our own pragmatic interests."

In some cases that is true, but I suggest it mistakes the nature of this debate: You made the startling claim that Yugoslavia broke apart because the West was "eager to dismember it" and absorb its pieces into "the new European Empire". You were not prepared to concede that Yugoslavia had a serious issue with popularity - many of the people in it simply didn't want to be there any more, and they were prepared to risk death to get out of it.

"Thus the West was entirely happy to recognize Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, to the extent of using the West best and latest bombers against Serbian civilians to enforce the lasts departure from Belgrade's authority"

Oh please. Belgrade used plenty of its own military technology against civilians, and some of its supporters were prepared to use Ustashi methods against defenceless people. Belgrade wasn't going to win because in the final analysis the legitimacy of any government depends on popular support and Belgrade didn't have it. It took a genius like Tito to hold a "country" as disparate as Yugoslavia together for so many years. After Tito was gone, his successors just didn't have the political talent to maintain it.

"But no such courtesies are extended for Abkhazia or South Ossetia, which remain "breakaway regions of Georgia" because it suits the interests of Western Europe and the USA that they do so"

Sorry, but once again you just do not know your facts. The vast majority of the world's governments still recognise both of those territories as part of Georgia. That includes many countries who do not like USA or Western Europe. Last time I looked, the independence of those territories was recognised only by Russia, Nicaragua and Venezuala. Not a single African or Asian nation recognises them. So don't go trying to blame this on the evil Americans.

"When the rich man goes to war its the poor man who bleeds"

Precisely.

Kurt said...

“But, Kurt, if you are reading this, it would help us, I am sure, if you could distance yourself from Stalinism ...).”—Fr. Carrell

I’ll be happy to do so, Peter. As I have mentioned on this site more than once, I’m an anarchist. So, I thought that would sufficiently explain my anti-Stalinism to other folks. However, apparently it hasn’t. In the 1960s I was a member of Students for a Democratic Society. When SDS came apart in 1969, I joined the Young Socialist Alliance, a Trotskyist youth group totally opposed to Stalinism. I broke with Trotskyism in 1979, and have been an anarchist for nearly 30 years. Christian anarchism has a long and honorable history in the USA and elsewhere.

I’m surprised by Shawn’s take on your blog, as well as his dismissal of your right to set certain standards for comment. This blog is, in a sense, your “living room” and you have the right to ask guests to respect your house rules. I have tried to do that to the best of my ability—no matter how provoked I have felt—with some success, I think.

“For what it is worth, it strikes me that American 'exceptionalism' was at work in the Revolution there which did not descend into the murderous aftermath the French experienced (which was the harbinger of where the Russian, and Chinese Revolutions went).”—Fr. Carrell

Part of the reason for this is that other nations did not intervene against the American Revolution on the side of Britain. Just the opposite, in fact. That was not the case with the French and Russian Revolutions, as I touched on earlier. Therefore, there was less paranoia in the American Revolution, thus fewer atrocities.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Andrei said...

MichaelA;

You know most people where ever you go in the world just want to be left alone to farm their fields, fix cars in their workshops, sell whatever they sell in their shops and at the end of the day go home, eat dinner with their families and watch TV. And provided the Government doesn't get in their faces too much they don't give a damn where the capital is.

Then along come rabble rousers, who actually are seeking power for themselves, who attract the disaffected to their cause and stir people up based on old grievances and if these people start getting traction, perhaps from outside help due given for geo political reasons (as we see unfolding in Ukraine even as we speak) then people start getting worried and retreat into tribal groupings for protection.

Slovenia could leave easily because the overwhelming majority of the population identified themselves as Slovenes and perhaps also felt they had an affinity with Western Europe.

Croatia and Bosnia were far more problematical because a significant minority (30%+) did not identify with the majority and also had bad memories (recent) of what happened the last time Croatia became an "independent" state.

In fact there is a new European Empire the EU and neither Croatia nor Slovenia are truly independent, they have surrendered much of their sovereignty to the EU which is slowly working its way through the Balkans gobbling them up.

And it is also working on gathering in Ukraine, in these days of trial

Shawn Herles said...

Some housekeeping before I take a bow. This is my last post.

Kurt,

I never said anything about you being a Stalinist. That was not my question. My one and only question was very simple, but you have simply not answered it. You have not even responded to it.

So, one simple question. How can the deaths of hundreds of millions of people, mostly the poor and powerless, be described as just a bit "messy"?

That and that alone was my question and my critique.

I realize this is Peter's house and he can set the rules he wants. My concerns are simply that the rules currently in place are not, to me, being adequately enforced.

Goodbye.

Kurt said...

Shawn, what I wrote (in context) was the following:

“Let's face it, revolutions can be messy things. They are full of contradictions. That's why revolution should be resorted to only when all other methods of change have been tried and have failed.”

You wrote: “So, one simple question. How can the deaths of hundreds of millions of people, mostly the poor and powerless, be described as just a bit ‘messy’?”

This is a distortion of what I wrote, Shawn. Nowhere did I discuss the deaths of “hundreds of millions of people” let alone “describe” their deaths as “just a bit ‘messy’.” In fact, your figure for casualties in revolutions is also a gross historical distortion in, and of, itself. Even the monsters Hitler and Stalin were not responsible for the deaths of “hundreds of millions of people. “ If your point is that, in revolutions, the innocent often suffer, then I would agree with you. That is one reason why I wrote “revolution should be resorted to only when all other methods of change have been tried and have failed.”

I respectfully suggest that you learn to cultivate a sense of proportion when you debate issues with others—whether these issues are theological, historical, or current affairs.

Goodbye, Shawn. Go with God in Peace.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY


Shawn Herles said...

Kurt,

The subject of the topic thread was the Soviet Union, and Peter's concern over the minimizing of that horror.

So in that context “Let's face it, revolutions can be messy things" reads exactly as I assumed. If that was not your intent, then the fault is your lack of clarity.

As to "proportion" please, your first ever response to one of my posts was so over the top (because I quoted Francis Schaeffer) that I wondered if I had stumbled onto the Democratic Underground site by mistake. Not to mention, "Redneckistan."

What may be proportional to those on the far left, may not be to others.

Goodbye and God bless.

Caleb said...

I didn't read all 50 comments, so someone has probably said this already, but:
This is no different to how the history of colonisation (which in many cases is accurately described as genocide), war, mass murder, mass theft, segregation, inequality, exploitation, environmental degradation etc is whitewashed in e.g. the US, Australia, NZ.

In fact, the Winter Olympics' description of the USSR isn't even as bad as that, because at least it's not whitewashing and legitimating a regime that still exists.

MichaelA said...

Okay Andrei, so now Croatia and Bosnia just before the war of independence were happy non-political entities, full of contented primitives, who were led astray by evil "rabble-rousers"!

That doesn't wash. Slovenia and Croatia had been pressing for independence and democratic rule since the 1980s. And if they really had been led astray by the few, one would expect to see some sign of it afterwards.

I appreciate that the ethnic serbs were a minority in Croatia and Bosnia, but the real problem is that most of those ethnic serbs did not want to fight to stop Croatia and Bosnia leaving Yugoslavia. The ones who did want to fight to stop it were actually quite small. So whether at the ballot box or militarily, they weren't going to win.

"Slovenia could leave easily because the overwhelming majority of the population identified themselves as Slovenes and perhaps also felt they had an affinity with Western Europe."

There were a number of reasons for Slovenian success, including (a) that the Yugoslav Army was mainly officered by Serbs, so the Slovenian (and Croatian and Bosnian) people felt little affinity for it; and (b) the Yugoslav army was plagued by desertions. The reality is that even many Serbs saw little point in fighting to keep Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia in a union where they did not want to be. It was only a relatively small number of Yugoslav imperialists who were prepared to pulverise most of Yugoslavia in an attempt to keep it together.

The Croatian Army started off, if anything, in worse state than the Yugoslav Army. But it had a much greater level of popular support which combined with weaponry from overseas plus captured weaponry soon shifted the balance of advantage.

"In fact there is a new European Empire the EU and neither Croatia nor Slovenia are truly independent, they have surrendered much of their sovereignty to the EU which is slowly working its way through the Balkans gobbling them up."

You obviously have no idea how Europe works.

"And it is also working on gathering in Ukraine, in these days of trial"

The EU doesn't have to "work on gathering in" anyone. Russia has proved itself so untrustworthy and self-interested that countries are lining up to enter into agreements with the EU. It is remarkable that this is happening even in the Ukraine where many of the citizens are of Russian origin and happy to have ties with Russia, but not at the expense of foregoing a trade agreement with the EU. They can see from their neighbours what trade with Europe means.

The answer for the Russians is simple - treat other countries well and they will WANT to deal with you.

Caleb said...

With regard to "capitalism cures poverty" or "the general virtue of capitalism over other forms of economic development," China under Mao showed the most dramatic improvements in life expectancy, infant mortality and in history. Here's one illustrative quote from research done at Stanford University:

“Indeed, despite the higher death rates associated with the Great Leap Famine of 1959-1961, China’s growth in life expectancy from 35~40 in 1949 to 65.5 in 1980 ranks as the most rapid sustained increase in documented global history. These earlier health improvements and growth of the working-age population contributed to China’s unprecedented economic growth for the past quarter century.”
http://iis-db.stanford.edu/pubs/23743/AHPPwp_29.pdf

Similar gains happened in Soviet Russia. Both nations went from feudalism to industrialisation in a few short decades and conditions improved dramatically compared to other similar countries under Western colonial rule and capitalist development (e.g. India).

But of course that is not to say that Maoist or Soviet communism is beyond criticism, worth emulating, or even generally praiseworthy. The same is true for capitalism, despite its own significant improvements in standard of living.

It seems that it's most accurate to say that industrialisation is what has reduced poverty and improved standards of living (arguably faster with communist industrialisation). But industrialisation has also come with significant costs in oppression, corruption, alienation, destruction of community and tradition, and wealth/power being unfairly and unhealthily concentrated in a few hands (which has looked differently depending on whether it's capitalist or communist industrialisation). Not to mention the colossal environmental costs that we're only just beginning to experience.