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Saturday, April 2, 2011

A historical double-standard


City Journal's Claire Berlinski has written a great article about the disinterest around Pavel Stroilov's 50,000 unpublished, untranslated, top-secret Kremlin documents dating from the close of the Cold War.
journalists [have] initially shown interest in the documents, only to [say] later that their editors have declared the story insignificant. In advance of Gorbachev’s visit to Germany for the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Stroilov says, he offered the German press the documents depicting Gorbachev unflatteringly. There were no takers. In France, news about the documents showing Mitterrand’s and Gorbachev’s plans to turn Germany into a dependent socialist state prompted a few murmurs of curiosity, nothing more. Bukovsky’s vast collection about Soviet sponsorship of terrorism, Palestinian and otherwise, remains largely unpublished....

No one talks much about the victims of Communism. No one erects memorials to the throngs of people murdered by the Soviet state. (In his widely ignored book, A Century of Violence in Soviet Russia, Alexander Yakovlev, the architect of perestroika under Gorbachev, puts the number at 30 to 35 million.)
Indeed, many still subscribe to the essential tenets of Communist ideology. Politicians, academics, students, even the occasional autodidact taxi driver still stand opposed to private property. Many remain enthralled by schemes for central economic planning. Stalin, according to polls, is one of Russia’s most popular historical figures. No small number of young people in Istanbul, where I live, proudly describe themselves as Communists; I have met such people around the world, from Seattle to Calcutta.

We rightly insisted upon total denazification; we rightly excoriate those who now attempt to revive the Nazis’ ideology. But the world exhibits a perilous failure to acknowledge the monstrous history of Communism. ... Above all, they should be well-known to a public that seems to have forgotten what the Soviet Union was really about. If they contain what Stroilov and Bukovsky say—and all the evidence I’ve seen suggests that they do—this is the obligation of anyone who gives a damn about history, foreign policy, and the scores of millions dead.
Everyone has a motivation to reduce dissonance. It's awfully hard to stand behind gooey ideas of happy collectivism if history overwhelmingly suggests that it leads to brutality and the mass murder of millions.

I see in my generation a lack of historical understanding that really troubles me.
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  1. Seems to be a project tailor-made for crowdsourcing, at least the translation part. Pavel Stroilov could then publish the documents in amazon or blurb...or am I missing something..?

  2. Last year I was working a seasonal job with a company that scores student yearly assessments. Many of the people I worked with were former teachers or had worked in the public sector in some capacity. Many of the younger people held Masters degrees and were heavily indoctrinated with liberalism.

    It was funny that with all their knowledge, these young teachers or wanna-be teachers had no understanding of twentieth-century history and the conditions that led up to World War II. They didn't understand the causes of the Russian Revolution, the repressive nature of the Communist government once it took over the country, and so on.

    One older lady was pontificating on the beauties of St. Petersburg and commented that the people were better off under communism. I couldn't restrain myself. I asked her if she had read "The Gulag Archipelgo." Yes, she had. Had she read the chapter on torture. Yes, but she still believed that the economic turmoil that followed the collapse of communism was WORSE than the deaths of millions of people including the millions of Ukrainians that Stalin deliberately starved to death. I never spoke to her again! Ignorance that massive is impenetrable. It's the old idea, "I've got mine so the rest of the world can go He**. She was absolutely unmoved by the unbelieveable suffering of the Russian people both during WWII and under Stalin.

  3. @ Ulises, the point of the article is that nobody really cares enough to publish it.

    @ AndCanItBe, I hear ya.

  4. Kathleen,

    I'm talking about self-publishing... you can do that with amazon and blurb...

  5. @AndCanItBe

    A hispanic lady I work with who is very leftist and whose husband is a bit of an activist, was leaving work one day and announced that she and hubby were going to see Michael Moore's "Sicko."

    I playfully groaned and asked her to reconsider and she snapped, "If only our health care and our universities were like Cuba's!!" as she walked out.

    You don't know where to begin with these people. It's hard to deprogram people who don't seem to see reality clearly.

  6. The 'denazification' has been stripped of its socialist components. Few remember that of the dozens of political parties in Germany only the Communists were to the left of the Nazis. Hitler was a SOCIALIST, which is why the party he founded was called the National SOCIALIST party. Mussolini, Franko, Peron, all were socialists.

    Today, in America, the word Nazi is most often used as an accusation by the left against a conservative. Fascism and Conservatism are nearly diametrically opposed. The former is socialist and statist, the other stands for individualism and limited government.

    The indoctrinators in our schools and media have been largely successful in the campaign to strip the Socialism from Fascism. They portray it as racist and authoritarian, which it was of course, but leave out the fact that Nazism is a logical result of the national success of a Socialist movement. You can't get to Fascism through Conservatism. They have nothing in common.

    Fascism is a form of Socialism. While not all Socialists are Fascists, all Fascists are Socialists.

  7. You talk to anyone in the Obama administration or anyone who is still a strong Obama supporter and they'll agree... Communism is a good idea!

  8. These days, should you happen to mention Robert Conquest's compelling work, "Harvest of Sorrow", detailing the period of Soviet collectivization, dekulakization, and the subsequent terror-famine that was imposed, especially on the people of the Ukraine, you will more likely than not get a confused response from someone who is only familiar with the Metallica song of the same name.

    I think people tend to feel hopeless in the face of such horror, and tragically even many otherwise well-meaning people go into some form of denial or other about it.

  9. While most people attribute the liberal, one-world, socialist/communist, utopian view to ideology, I think there might also be a significant psychological aspect to it as well.

    It seems that people whose motivation is based upon their deficiencies are more prone to gravitate towards the short term security that can be had by working for the state. In such occupations, they never have to sing for their supper. They will never have to be concerned about competition, nor will they ever run out of customers. These people who have little confidence in their own ability to go out into the marketplace and compete, seem to be stuck in the lower levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy. They are simply looking to have their basic needs met, because they do not have the self confidence that enables them to effectively compete in a free market economy.

    People whose motivation is more a product of their proficiencies and who are more self confident, would rather not settle for the limitations of security. Such people are more prone to take risks and go out into the world and compete in the marketplace because they believe they can attain more that way.

    The former group, with little ability to prevail on their own merits, not only prefer security, they also want to bring the achievers down to their level by increasing state control as much as they can. This is why they gravitate towards socialist and communist ideologies. Thus, their psychological make-up (insecurity and deficiency) is really the basis for their ideology. This is why they are ok with ruining our economy and having the government take over everything. In their short sightedness, they don’t see the history of communism as being bad because they are in denial. They actually think it would be better (for them) if our economy imploded, because then the wealthy CEO’s and Wall Street brokers will all be forced to come down to their level.

    They simply cannot see the long term implications of doing away with our free market system because they have been educated by liberal academe, fed by the state, and isolated from their own deficiencies because people in government jobs never have to compete with the private sector. Thus, they are not only ignorant and deficient, they exemplify the psychological phenomenon whereby large numbers of people collectively engage in denial of the obvious in order to perpetuate a farce. They do this in order to have solidarity with their brethren, who are equally in denial as much as they are. The preservation of the collective stands above reality and is their foremost goal. This phenomenon is gloriously illustrated in the parable of the emperor who has no clothes.

  10. Kathleen, you have put your finger on something very profound. The left is relentless in it's outpouring of anti-Nazi propaganda. Nazis are under a constant Alinskyite barrage - films, novels, essays and scholarly articles one after another. The Nazis deserve it and more.

    But what of the 100-150 MILLION people who have been killed by leftist utopians? Hardly a whisper. The Communists/Marxists also deserve this kind of treatment. Until that happens the playing field is tilted.

    The French, of all people, have started on that project. And Harvard, of all people, translated and published it. I recommend to anyone, this:

    The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression - Mark Kramer and Jonathan Murphy (Translators), Stéphane Courtois, Nicolas Werth, Jean-Louis Panné, Andrzej Paczkowski, Karel Bartošek, Jean-Louis Margolin

    "When it was first published in France in 1997, Le livre noir du Communisme touched off a storm of controversy that continues to rage today. Even some of his contributors shied away from chief editor Stéphane Courtois's conclusion that Communism, in all its many forms, was morally no better than Nazism; the two totalitarian systems, Courtois argued, were far better at killing than at governing, as the world learned to its sorrow."


    It is almost 900 pages of scholarly research, notes and sources on the crimes of the left. Heavy going but a crucial milestone of a book.
    A great reference.

  11. Kathleen, I add my kudos to the others that salute your discernment and courage in asking intelligent but politically awkward questions. Your observations here are spot on. The lightweights today who blithely support Communism have absolutely no comprehension of what it is.

    For that we can thank the NEA and our marvelous national public school system. What they've collectively done [no pun intended] to US and world history should be considered a capital crime, but instead has rewarded them with jobs for life.

  12. You may wish to look at this archive by Vladimir Bukovsky.

  13. And speaking of Robert Conquest, he wrote:

    "There once was a Marxist named Lenin,
    Who did two or three million men in.
    That's a lot to have done in,
    But where he did one in,
    That grand Marxist, Stalin, did ten in."

    Chap named H. Bruce Franklin gets invited to respectable academic conferences although he stoutly maintains that Stalin was misunderstood.

  14. If you want to see a film that, in the end, is extraordinarily uplifting about the human condition, and which literally encapsulates the death-throws of one of the ugliest and most repressive communist systems of the twentieth century -- that of East Germany -- please watch "The Lives of Others."

  15. I second that! "The Lives of Others" is a great movie.

  16. If I might add, thousands of people have made their careers turning out fiction and non-fiction attacking fascism and Nazism. It is an industry that shows no signs of flagging.

    That trove of Russian documents you mention could be a career maker for some graduate student and the foundation of an important book which could be published.

    When an equal number of people are cranking out films, novels, documentaries and TV shows about the crimes of the Marxists/Communists then the world will be a better place and the intelligentsia will once again be doing something useful.

  17. @geoffb,

    That's what I was asking basically; why is Mr. Stroilov waiting for someone else to publish his archive? Why don't he just post them on a website?

  18. Publishing these documents on the web would be a labor of love, a gift to mankind. It's hard to understand what is really preventing their publication if the motivation is to expose the crimes of communism. I wonder does Mr. Stroilov want money? In which case, there are plenty of independently wealthy conservatives and/or libertarians who could probably pay him to publish or purchase the materials. Five million or ten million is a drop in the bucket to wealthy people like the Koch brothers or the Trumps of this world.