Thursday, February 7, 2008 67 Comments

How to read and enjoy bogus history

I thought it would be fun to take a semi-break this week and, instead of pontificating in the usual manner, throw in a little more historical reading.

Today we will focus on bogus history. As we have realized here at UR, there is no shortage of Lysenkoist pseudohistorical nonsense at large in the world today. I use the L-word because this history is not just accidentally bad - it exists because it serves a political function.

A great way to sharpen your ability to detect and neutralize present bad history is to read past bad history. And period sources are a perfect epistemological sparring partner, because they don't really hit back.

Hopefully UR readers have become comfortable in their new life on the off-world colonies, and adapted to the realization that the gentle democratic seas of objective information which rocked them so cozily in the sweet palmy days of youth are in fact a black, whirling, bottomless storm of lies. And who wants to live in a bottomless storm of lies? So there is a strong temptation to just not look at the news.

But if we have learned anything, we have learned that we have no reliable source of news. So the art of reading nonsense matters, and it never gets easy. Once your brain detects that an entire school of thought is in fact best classified as canting, manipulative tripe, a sort of allergic reaction sets in that makes the stuff physically painful to read. Perhaps worst is the realization that the material is created for an audience and the audience is, more or less, buying it. The sense of being outnumbered by one's enemies produces a deep reflex terror in the hominid brain. And there is the endless nagging temptation to give in, to go with the flow, to believe.

None of these responses are triggered by period cant. Old cant does not exist to manipulate you. It existed to manipulate people who are now dead. We can ooh and aah and maybe even shed a little tear over whatever damage it did, but the virus is inactive.

Of course, old writing that is not cant, but the unmistakable product of a perceptive and independent mind, is much more fun to read. I do hope everyone read the Charles Francis Adams, Jr. essay, An Undeveloped Function, that I linked to the other day. I know it is long, but I'm afraid it is pretty much required.

I would not say An Undeveloped Function is entirely free from cant. Quite the contrary. It is instantly identifiable as a product of its era. It illustrates the tremendous difficulty of stepping outside history to look back at it. Nor are Adams' conclusions in any way infallible - in fact, I don't think it's at all unfair to describe the remedy he proposes as disastrous. But as a portrait of the American political system after the Civil War I have not seen its like, its attitude toward history is absolutely timeless, and its author is clearly in possession of many real facts about heaven and earth that are far, far outside the philosophy of his present-day heirs at the AHA.

Who was Adams, anyway? La Wik is regrettably terse, but it includes this fine photograph of the man in his element (third from left). Suffice it to say that Charles Francis Adams, Jr. was:
  • the grandson and great-grandson of Presidents (John Quincy Adams and John Adams).
  • the son and aide to a politician and diplomat who was almost President himself (Charles Francis Adams Sr).
  • a brigadier general in the Union Army.
  • a prominent and successful railroad lawyer and regulator.
  • a prominent and successful railroad executive.
  • a prominent and successful historian and biographer.
In other words, his dick is basically a yard long as far as I'm concerned. I am particularly fond of the fact that - unlike his more famous brother Henry - CFA did not spend his entire working life as an intellectual. Perhaps I'm being fanciful, but I suspect that his stint in the productive sector gave him an unusual perspective on politics and political history. I don't always agree with him, but when he errs I always find it worth wondering why.

If you enjoyed An Undeveloped Function, congratulations. You are probably a weirdo, like me. Some other CFA essays you might enjoy are a couple of retrospectives on the Civil War, Shall Cromwell Have a Statue? (1902) and 'Tis Sixty Years Since (1913). The young CFA is on display in a lovely collection which I have only read a small part of, A Cycle of Adams Letters.

But these are extras. If you have an hour or two to spare, click away. This week, though, we are going to look at some genuine, undiluted period cant, as produced by two authors whom literary history has quite justifiably forgotten: Chauncey Depew and Quentin Reynolds.

Basically, Depew was a very ordinary orator and politician of the Unionist period, and Reynolds was a very ordinary journalist and broadcaster of the New Deal period. It is only the unusual writers whose work survives. But it is only from their hack competitors that we can get a sense of what the average citizen of the time actually thought.

Take a look at Depew's oration on the hundredth anniversary of Washington's inauguration. (In case the page link gets screwed up, this is the first piece in his Orations and After-Dinner Speeches (1896).) Like Adams, Depew is delivering a summary of American history. There the resemblance ends. The piece is long, but quite skimmable, I think you'll find.

Have you ever been to a park in an old American city and looked at some of the monuments from the 1860s through 1890s? Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn is a good example. The style can only be described as high-Unionist, and this is precisely the term I would use for Depew.

His history of America is simply garbage. I can find no other word to describe it. Almost every sentence incorporates some horrendous lie, preposterous misrepresentation, or bombastic boast. The teleology by which the great Union was formed, the flame shooting through the Cimmerian darkness, is so ahistorical that it actually exerts a strong comic effect, at least for me. But perhaps I have been spending too much time with this stuff.

(If Depew's first oration leaves you craving more, by all means continue to the second, The Political Mission of the United States. In case you don't get it and wonder what all Depew is lying about, I have found no better starting point then Lecky's American Revolution.)

In any case, I feel that the depew is a good candidate for a new SI unit of Lysenkoist history. The depew will be a little like the farad - one depew being a heroic level, seldom equaled. I'm not saying that it is impossible to produce a confection of nationalist cant that surpasses Chauncey himself. Certainly if you look at the Soviet bloc, the Nazis or the Third World, giants abound. But I see few American writers who routinely exceed the millidepews.

The interesting question to ask while reading Depew is: where did this stuff come from? How could people possibly have not only swallowed this brand of guff, but actually fought a war for it? And what exactly is the relationship between Depewian high Unionism and the various flavors of nation-worshipping tripe to which our countrymen subscribe today?

Now let me type in some Quentin Reynolds. Here is the start of chapter 6 from his 1944 collection of wartime columns, The Curtain Rises. A lot of this product moved - you can still get it for less than $1, plus wine, tax and tip. Very typical WWII wartime journalism. Note especially the demotic tinge of the writing, so opposite Depew - Reynolds is clearly "writing down" to a mass-market audience. My copy is marked "Property of US Navy," and I imagine it did its time on some bulkhead or other.

Our chapter is entitled "Poland Believed Goebbels." Readers unfamiliar with the modern interpretation of the events described herein may consult La Wik. By "we," Reynolds means himself and his fellow international correspondents in Moscow. The piece is dated June 1943.
Late last April Dr. Goebbels announced on his radio that the bodies of 10,000 Poles had been found buried near Smolensk. He charged that these bodies had been identified as Polish officers listed as missing since the Russian occupation of Eastern Poland in 1939. Dr. Goebbels charged that these Poles had been executed by the Red Army and tossed into the graves which the German Army had now discovered. When we first heard this (we listened constantly to the German radio because it came to us so clearly) we yawned and switched over to the Rome station. It was, we thought, just another one of the good doctor's bedtime stories. But he hammered away at it again and again. He suggested that the International Red Cross be sent to Smolensk to see for itself. We laughed at that too. To begin with Russia was not a member of the International Red Cross. Then, too, we knew that any Red Cross commission sent to the occupied territory around Smolensk would see exactly what Goebbels wanted it to see - and nothing else. It was an absurd suggestion in line with the Goebbels tactics of the past four years.

Then we were shocked to see that the Polish government in London was actually taking the story seriously. We heard on the BBC that Vladimir Kot, former professor of law at the University of Cracow, later Polish Ambassador to Russia, and now Minister of Information in London, had published a statement by the Polish Minister of War, denouncing the atrocity. This was followed by an official request by the Polish government that the Red Cross be allowed to investigate.

There is an old Russian saying: "What's the use of being a Pole if you can't be stupid." The alacrity with which the Polish government in London so stupidly walked into the Goebbels trap made us wonder if perhaps the proverb didn't have some meaning. Whether the atrocity story were true (and Goebbels never produced proof that it was true), the Poles certainly did everything they could to handle it in the most undiplomatic way possible. The diplomacy of the Poles is as subtle as the path of a Mark VI tank through a flower garden.

For years the Russian-Polish pot has been simmering dangerously and this incident caused the lid to pop right off. On May 8th we were all called to the Foreign Office and handed a copy of a letter sent to Polish Ambassador Romer by Molotov that afternoon. This marked the end of Russian-Polish diplomatic relations, though there was some doubt at first whether this was a mere suspension of relations or a definite break.

The letter was given to us in Russian, and the confusion arose in regard to the wording used. All of the correspondents, translating freely, wrote that diplomatic relations had been broken off by the Soviets. The censors refused to allow this to go through. They insisted that the boys use the word "suspended." They pointed to the word in Molotov's letter. The word was "prerivat" which, by dictionary definition means, "to suspend." The word "porviat" (to break) was not used, the censors insisted. However, it all came to the same thing.

Alexander Werth, Marjorie Shaw, Ralph Parker and two or three others who knew the Polish Ambassador well hurried to his embassy. Ambassador Romer has been a charming, well-liked member of the diplomatic corps. Romer is the ideal diplomat - a great rarity in a Pole. He is smooth, tactful and he has the knack of seeing the other man's viewpoint. Even that night he never lost his temper. He was sad at having to leave. He regretted the whole incident exceedingly, but he emphasized the courteous treatment he had always received from the Soviet officials. He would leave in the morning, he said. He would not comment on the attitude the government in London had taken, but he told Alexander Werth that he did not for a moment believe the Dr. Goebbels story of the 10,000 dead Polish officers.

Werth and the others hurried to send the story, but the censors refused to allow them to quote Romer.

"We do not have diplomatic relations between Russia and Poland at the moment," Palgunov explained, "therefore Romer is not an ambassador. He is merely a private citizen and you cannot quote him."

That was, I regret to say, typical of the petty bureaucracy we were exposed to from Palgunov and his censors. The quote from Romer would have helped Russia enormously. But unfortunately, and despite what so many Americans think, the Russians are the worst propagandists in the world. They sometimes seem to go out of their way to show themselves in an unfavorable light.

Anyhow, Romer left the country. Clarke-Kerr and Standley went to the railroad station to see him off. Standley gave Romer a carton of American cigarettes as a going-away party, while Clarke-Kerr gave him a bottle of Scotch.

The open rupture between the two countries is only the culmination of an underground diplomatic war that has been waging since the end of the first war. It is pretty difficult to bring their fundamental differences into the open because they have been so befogged by petty quarrels.

If you look at their struggle objectively and realistically the whole conflict boils down to power politics. It is a conflict between a first-rate power determined and able to wield overwhelming force, and a second-rate state trying to perform a first-rate role with the aid of coalitions.

Poland was afraid of Germany because the leaders of Germany were, for the most part, Prussians, and the Prussians have traditionally hated Poland. When Hitler came into power, Poland felt new hopes that she might get along with Germany. Hitler was an Austrian by origin; Goering a Bavarian; Goebbels a Rhinelander and Hess came from a German family which had settled in Egypt. Poland was sure that these men would not be imbued with the anti-Polish feeling of the Prussians who had hitherto ruled Germany. Josef Lipski was the Polish Ambassador to Germany then (1934), and the Germans wooed him with soft words. In the Polish White Book, a collection of all official documents and agreements concerning Polish-German and Polish-Russian relations, Ambassador Lipski writes to his boss, Foreign Minister Beck: "Hitler said to me... 'The theory of hereditary German-Polish enmity is very unsound. In the history of our two countries there have been periods of co-operation against the mutual danger threatening from the East... (Russia had recently made great progress with her military preparations.) ... The moment may come when both our countries might be compelled to defend ourselves against aggression from the East.'" Hitler told Lipski that in his opinion the policy of former German governments (especially the Reichswehr) which had wished to unite with Russia against Poland was unsound. He knew Bolshevism well, the Chancellor added, he had fought it from the very beginning, and he recalled his struggle against communism in Bavaria. Lipski apparently fell hard for Hitler. Josef Beck, always a hater of communism, too, listened to Hitler and fell into a poppylike dream induced by the opium of his words.

Then came the Polish-German declaration of January 29, 1934. It was a beautiful document of less than 300 words - but what pretty words of neighborly love they were! Such phrases as, "The maintenance of a lasting peace between the two nations is an essential prerequisite for the general peace of Europe," abound in their declaration. It added: "Both governments announce their intention to settle directly all questions of whatever nature which concern their mutual relations." Four days later Hitler spoke in the Reichstag. He paid a glowing tribute to Marshal Pilsudski and he wound up his sweet speech by saying that the whole thing "fills us with especial joy."

And of course Poland had a pact with Russia too - a non-aggression pact signed in 1932 and ratified in 1934 with the added provision that it would remain in force until 1945. She was officially, at least, on very good terms with her two big neighbors, and she could hardly be blamed if she had some wistful secret thoughts to the effect that she held the balance of power.

Poland felt pretty comfortable now. Yeah man, she had a partner, big Germany. Hitler was her pal and that nasty Stalin man had better not start anything. Pal Adolf would slap him down if he did. Meanwhile Pal Adolf was bringing in German-born residents of Poland and showing them how to shoot little guns; how to undermine Polish authority; how to sabotage; how to organize a strong minority so that when the time came it could handle a large unorganized majority. Poland, thinking its nice declaration all sealed and tied with red ribbons, continued its complacent way. Complacency was the style in the 1930's anyhow.

Then at 4:45 A.M., the morning of Sept. 1, 1939, the complacency of Poland was disturbed by the roar of bombs dropped on the city of Westerplatte. Germany was waging its undeclared war on Poland, and the lovely 1934 declaration lay in the Foreign Office gathering dust on its pretty red ribbons.

In ten days Poland had folded up. Her resistance was heroic if futile. But Warsaw no longer existed as the capital of Poland. Her industrial areas melted before the mechanized strength of the man who had murmured such sweet nothings to Ambassador Lipski. For all practical purposes the Polish government had ceased to exist.

Poland melted before the Germans and then on September 17, 1939, Russia moved her troops across the border into Poland. Poland was between the devil and the deep blue sea. It was a pitiable position and the world sympathized. Russia undoubtedly moved only in self-defense. She needed the security which possession of those 76,500 miles would give her, should Germany ever attempt to invade her. Of course Stalin used the sweet talk of diplomacy when he sent his troops into Poland. He said, "The Soviet Government further cannot view with indifference the fact that the kindred Ukrainian and White Russian people who live on Polish territory and who are at the mercy of fate, are left defenseless."

On October 29, 1939, a plebiscite was held in the Russian occupied territory, and the citizens voted a 90 percent majority to the Soviets. How accurate the count was no one knows. Elections held under the shadows of guns are hardly ever strictly the will of the people, and there were Russian guns about. The Russians say that the population of this territory was 12,800,000 of which 7,000,000 were Ukrainians, 3,000,000 White Russians, 1,000,000 Poles and 1,000,000 Jews. Correspondents in Moscow think those figures are reasonably accurate. I have heard the same figures given in London. Assuming them to be reasonably accurate, perhaps the overwhelming vote was not out of line. In any case, the incorporation took place and my bet will be that it is there to stay.

Ethnographically, the Russians have an excellent case for keeping this territory. But we might as well be realistic about it: Russia wants that belt of land to act as a margin of safety against future aggression.
Now, what can we say about this remarkable confection of mendacity? How many millidepews does it chalk up?

Reynolds' pseudohistory has nowhere near the grand sweep of Depew's. Depew tackles an entire century and fits it into a single triumphant cascade of victory, with plenty of pomp and circumstance. Reynolds is chatty, like one of your pals in the chow line at the mess, except armed with more statistics. He loves those numbers and dates and facts.

If we are to rate these passages for sheer evil, however, I think Reynolds comes out ahead. After all, he is quite wholeheartedly engaged in the task of convincing Americans to overlook a mass murder ordered in cold blood by a ruthless dictator during the aggressive conquest of a friendly nation. (Poland being, of course, the country that World War II was at least nominally "about.") I'm afraid the ol' "Bush lied, people died" line falls a little flat around this one.

And yet you can tell that Reynolds has these little pangs of doubt. Unfortunately, he reveals just enough qualms to establish his mens rea, without actually transmitting any actual skepticism to his actual audience.

The clue is that for everything, he has a backup story. And sometimes a backup for the backup. The Katyń massacre is German propaganda. But even if it isn't German propaganda, the Poles are being awfully rude about the whole thing. The Soviets invaded Poland in self-defense. Quite understandable. Especially since the liberated peoples endorsed the intervention in a smashing landslide. Of course one can never tell with these wartime plebiscites. But they are mostly Ukrainians and Byelorussians anyway, so why shouldn't they be part of the Soviet Union? And in any case, Russia needs to think of her safety.

Note also how quickly Reynolds resorts to ridicule. There is a kind of pseudosatirical humor, or what would be humor if it was in any way funny, that is an unmistakable product of his time in Moscow. I call the trope "crocodile humor" after the Soviet humor magazine, Krokodil. So Poland's diplomatic efforts in the '30s are supposed to be just riotously funny, with all those sweet promises and fancy red ribbons on documents in drawers. Yet as we see, Reynolds is just as capable of evoking the solemn brotherhood between nations, and so on.

Reynolds' pseudohistory may or may not be more evil than Depew's. It is hard to judge these things, and I'm not sure it's worth trying. But it is certainly more modern and more effective. The international press corps of 2008 is more or less a direct descendant of Reynolds' "we," and to the extent that there have been generational shifts they have generally been leftward - eg, from the Higgins generation to the Halberstam generation in Vietnam. And I don't think there is a journalistic trope in Reynolds that you don't see constantly in the papers today, though certainly many new tricks have been added to the book.

Speaking of 'Nam, here is a fun exercise for the reader: a neoconservative history of the Vietnam War in a single op-ed, courtesy of notorious neocon historian Arthur Herman.

Is Herman trying to inform you, or trying to mislead you? We can assume that, like Reynolds, Herman at least has his numbers straight. But what facts has he left out? If Herman's little essay was the only thing you knew about the American war in Vietnam, and you trusted it completely, what else do you think you ought to know that you don't? I've said very little about Vietnam on this blog. I'm curious as to what people think.

67 Comments:

Blogger James A. Donald said...

If communist casualties mattered, America would have won in Vietnam. But communist casualties did not matter, so Tet was a defeat for America. Sure, lots of commies died during Tet. Lots of commies always die. They are expendable. In a war of conscript cannon fodder, Americans were bound to lose, because commies are expendable, and Americans are not.

February 7, 2008 at 2:51 AM  
Anonymous Randy said...

From the last line of the article;

"The collapse of South Vietnam's neighbor, Cambodia, soon followed. Southeast Asia entered the era of the "killing fields," exterminating in a brief few years an estimated two million people -- 30% of the Cambodian population."

And here it is 30 some years later and... who cares? A generation gets caught up in an adventure, and a generation later, no matter the extent of the carnage and devastation, the adventure fades to insignificance. That, to me, is the lesson of Vietnam.

February 7, 2008 at 3:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The people ruling Vietnam care. Their friends that have the estates, power and attractive women. Their children who literally get away with murder if that is what they desire. ninety nine percent of Chinese people spent 40 years after the revolution at subsistance when they could have had life saving medicine and a full belly because their masters had an idea about how they should live.

February 7, 2008 at 7:07 AM  
Anonymous randy said...

Anonymous,

I hear you. My thinking is that bad things happen all the time all around the world, but "America" for some reason seems to make a habit of picking one to get involved in, crying havoc, etc., and then forgetting all about it in a generation. I strongly suspect that the driver is boredom rather than altruism, and I suggest that the lesson we should learn from the adventures of the 20th and 21st centuries, is that the world isn't ours to play with.

February 7, 2008 at 7:54 AM  
Blogger geek1 said...

Well, first I'd like to disclose that I'm from Poland.

Could you give me your opinion on the current mainstream perception of the Katyn Massacre in the US?

Thanks.

February 7, 2008 at 10:23 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

I didn't feel like commenting at first because of that that five-post limit, but it I just came across this via Prozium, which has such a Moldbuggian view of our perception of history (and digs at the Universalist vision) I find myself suspicious that MM himself wrote it.

February 7, 2008 at 11:30 AM  
Anonymous wilberforce said...

the most striking thing is herman's cavalier attitude towards 30,000 american deaths between 1968-1970 -- the population equivalent of a mid-sized american suburb. 'only 4,000 americans died in 'nam in 1970 -- what are you yella-bellies complaining about?!'

February 7, 2008 at 12:09 PM  
Blogger Evan said...

To answer the question posed at the end of your post, some questions come to mind:

1) What happened in Vietnam (North and South) between August 1972 and 1975?
2) How was North Vietnam able to replenish its tanks and artillery so quickly?
3) Why did we leave Vietnam but not Korea?

February 7, 2008 at 1:15 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

1) What happened in Vietnam (North and South) between August 1972 and 1975?
Continued hostilities from the North weakened the South's forces, and Watergate shifted the Washington balance of power to the far left preventing even material aid to the South.
2) How was North Vietnam able to replenish its tanks and artillery so quickly?
Soviet aid
3) Why did we leave Vietnam but not Korea?
Korea is a peninsula - there was no way for the North to invade the south through the DMZ. The DMZ in Vietnam was easily bypassed thru Laos/Cambodia (hence the 1970 incursion into Cambodia - to stop this end-around. It worked for a few years.
Also, Eisenhower negotiated the peace in Korea and placed the troops in place, in the early 50's. In Vietnam, it was Nixon and it was the 70's - night and day.

February 7, 2008 at 5:16 PM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

The history of the Cold War is the realm of unbridled Depew-ism, or perhaps better to say Reynolds-ism. There have been numerous efforts over the past 50 years to justify US detente with the USSR, which is exactly what Reynolds was trying to justify. The Eastern Establishment pursued detente with the USSR relentlessly from FDR through Reagan, and this meant that those who favored containment and confrontation (Arlingtonists) had to be excoriated as stupid, primitive extremists, while those who favored detente (Georgetownists) had to be portrayed as intelligent, sophisticated pragmatists. Of course the USSR had to be portrayed as a country we could do business with, which required a downplaying of Soviet ideology and Russian imperialism, usually represented as a defensive response to US aggression and provocation.

You have seen some of this Reynolds-ism play out in the history of the McCarthy era. In the case of Vietnam, the Reynolds-ist types seek to elide the role of the USSR in Southeast Asia from 1959-75, as if North Vietnam could stand up to the United States without any help from outside. A good example of this is Timothy Naftali's recent history of Khrushchev's foreign policy, which argues that the Soviets were essentially passive observers of events in Vietnam. For the later Cold War, classic examples of Reynolds-ism include anything written by Raymond Garthoff or Strobe Talbott. Look to them for unstinting praise of the Georgetownist faction and unlimited scorn for the Arlingtonist faction.

James Donald, it is obviously not true that "communist casualties did not matter" and that Hanoi could not be defeated because "commies are expendable." For one thing, if that were true as a general rule, the US would never have defeated North Korea and China in the Korean War. For another, the US did defeat a North Vietnamese offensive in 1972 using airpower combined with ARVN ground power. This model would have worked in 1975, too, except Congress pulled the plug on aid to South Vietnam.

What is missing from Herman's piece is any understanding that the decision to get out of Vietnam had already been taken before Tet. The press misrepresentation of the facts of Tet was not the cause of the US withdrawal, but a symptom of it. That is how the political elite conveyed an otherwise inexplicable decision to the public, who actually favored escalation and victory in Vietnam in early 1968, not withdrawal and defeat.

February 8, 2008 at 5:07 AM  
Blogger Alisdair said...

Geek1, not sure about the USA, but in the UK most people are unaware of the specifics of the Katyn massacre. I just finished Norman Davies, No Simple Victory: World War II in Europe, 1939-1945. He puts the evidence for Stalin as Hitler's equal in evil, but the very fact he spends the entire book building this case shows that most people do not see Stalin that way.

Uncle Joe was misguided and Hitler was pure evil. Very simple really.

February 8, 2008 at 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

MM's mention of Chauncey Depew reminds me of what is probably the most famous anecdote about him, one I'm surprised no one else has mentioned yet. It is told in various ways by various people, but arrives at the same basic end, so these probably, rather like the synoptic Gospels, originate from a common source now lost. The best version is as follows.

Depew, then a U.S. senator, was introducing his favoered presidential candidate, William Howard Taft, to a crowd of Republican faithful in New York City. His oratory reached a fevered pitch, as he concluded that Taft was "pregnant with courage, and pregnant with integrity."

When the rotund Taft stepped to the lectern after this introduction, he patted his substantial embonpoint and remarked, "Yes, it is true, my wife and I are expecting. If it is a boy we will name him courage, and if it is a girl we will name her Integrity, but if, as I suspect, it is just gas, we will call it Chauncey Depew."

February 8, 2008 at 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Geek1, on Katyn, I cannot speak for general attitudes about it in the U.S. - most American citizens are ignorant enough of more immediate historical facts that I suspect relatively few even know where Katyn was.

It is, however, not seriously doubted amongst historians that the massacre was carried out by the Soviets. Indeed I think the now opened archives of the former Soviet Union make that clear.

As for Alasdair's comment that Uncle Joe was misguided and Hitler was pure evil, this is regrettably the surviving consequence of history being written by the victors. The real victor of World War II was not Britain or France - they ended up losing their status as imperial powers. It was not the United States, which gained only costs and responsibilities as a result of the war. The victor was the Soviet Union, which gained territory and other assets, and which, even now that it has lost these, gained the allegiance of the western intelligentsia. This has persisted even after the fall of the Soviet Union. The consensus, I suspect, amongst American academic historians, is still that World War II was the Soviets' "Great Patriotic War." As a consequence we still see misrepresentations, for example, of the nature of the WWII-era Soviet aggression against Finland, as if the Finns were in any sense a 'fascist' power. Stalin was purely opportunistic at this time. As one illustration, he only declared war against the Japanese when it was obvious they were about to surrender to the U.S. in the Pacific, his aim being to get back for the Soviet Union some islands lost to Japan in the Russo-Japanese war of 1905.

The main consequence of this Soviet intellectual victory has been the sweeping under the rug of the long collaboration of the Soviets with Germany before the war. The Soviet Union was not a signatory to the treaty of Versailles and began helping Germany to re-arm itself in violation of that treaty as early as the '20s after the secret pact of Locarno. The culmination of this collaboration was the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact under which Poland was invaded. The silence on most of the left in the West about this was evidence of the degree to which it had been suborned by the Soviet Union. Only after Hitler turned against Stalin did the left support war.

I suspect a final consequence has been the persistent misidentification of Nazis and Fascists as 'rightist.' Long before Jonah Goldberg (Mtraven take note!) Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn had pointed out in his "Leftism" and "Leftism Revisited" their leftist roots. Wolfgang Schivelbusch has likewise noted the western left's infatuation with pre-war fascism in his "Three New Deals." Too wide a recognition of these points would seriously interfere with one of the left's favorite rhetorical tropes, the argumentum ad Hitleram. Hence the outrage and derision about Goldberg's book.

February 8, 2008 at 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Rod Serling said...

Mr. Donald-

Of course, Germany could have sulkingly offered exactly the same excuse following D-Day. But we'll let that, and your apparent ignorance of the Selective Service Act, go by.

In general -

One has to marvel at whatever paradisiacal fundamental assumptions concerning the concept of time underpin this constant idiot bickering over the politics of the sixties and seventies. On the bright side, it's slightly less dumb than graffiti claiming that 'Aragon is not Spain' painted on walls in Zaragoza. They would be commentaries on a marriage that tookplace in 1469. A mere difference of degree.

February 8, 2008 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger mtraven said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 8, 2008 at 2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's see now... France and Britain lost the war to the extent that they ceased to be world powers and the USA also lost the war to the extent that it became a world power. Right.

If we're referring to the 'costs and responsibilities' of maintaining Bretton Woods (the ultimate unviability of which ended the Vietnam war, BTW, or vice versa as our host might claim), they were consciously assumed by the American government partially in order that domestic industry would be able to avail itself of the reconstruction of Europe. I'm certain that representatives of that interest group would not agree with the assessment.

Nor am I sure that Russia was the winner. The Soviet Union had ceased to exist by 1990, I believe. On the other hand, its demise made us all poorer, riskless environments being the breeding ground for the triumph of imbecilic, backwards oriented bickering over situationally apt public policy.

February 8, 2008 at 3:08 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Mtraven, before saying that putting Hitler on the left is 'beyond idiotic,' I suggest you look at Schivelbusch's book. It's short and a much better one than Goldberg's. He lets the Nazis talk for themselves. One example he quotes is a glowing 1934 description from the "Volkischer Beobachter" about how Roosevelt was applying the principles of National Socialism in the United States.

The left conveniently forgets the "socialism" and concentrates on the nationalism of Nazism and Fascism. Germany and Italy were nationalistic because they were recently founded nations, dating from no earlier than the 1870s after the consolidation of the Protestant principalities under a Hohenzollern emperor in Germany, and after the conquest of the papal states and the kingdom of the Two Sicilies by the house of Savoy. These new nations were playing catch-up with established imperial powers like Britain and France.

Anonymous, the costs and responsibilities assumed by the United States I have in mind are those of the Cold War - the maintenance of a standing army on a war footing in western Europe. I very much doubt that the cost of this was repaid by business done through American contractors in Europe. On the other hand, the U.S. taxpayer essentially subsidized the advent of social democracy in western Europe by providing an army for which the people of western Europe did not have to pay. If any western European country had had to devote the percentage of its revenues to defense that the U.S. did from 1945-90, it would not have had the money for cradle-to-grave welfare measures.

The Soviet Union has, indeed, ceased to exist. However, some sort of collectivism - functional, if not classical socialism - is now dominant in evey western European country and in the United States. Marxism has lost a battle but seems well along the way to winning its war.

February 8, 2008 at 3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael S.

That may well be true, but those are among the de facto costs of acting on extraterritorial pretensions. It was the case for France, England, Spain, Constantinople and Rome in their respective day. The historical fact that the benefits do not eternally outweigh the price paid does not diminish the advantage this strategy conveys at a certain point in its evolution.

As for attempting to prove that Russia won the war anyway, despite the admitted failure of the USSR, through the mere existence of collectivism in the world... I think someone recently mentioned there might be a link between history and ideology.

February 8, 2008 at 4:45 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

[I deleted my earlier comment because I thought it was too rude, but Michael S managed to reply to the rude part before it was gone, so I might as well repost it.]

I'm trying to stay out of this because I have not found the patience to read the extremely longwinded required readings. But since somebody mentioned my name...I don't see what the news is here. Wars generate propaganda, this is supposed to be surprising? It's even a cliche, "the first casualty of war is truth".

The silence on most of the left in the West about this was evidence of the degree to which it had been suborned by the Soviet Union. Only after Hitler turned against Stalin did the left support war.
This is partly true, and certainly shameful, mitigated only by the fact that it took some time for the truth about Stalinism to emerge and pentrate the rosy glow of idealism. Some people held on to their illusions way longer than they should have. But "the Left" was never unitary and there were many anti-fascist leftists during the Hitler/Stalin pact era, and much opposition to Stalin throughout his reign and after.

But my main reaction is, who cares? How many Stalinists are around today? Who today denies or minimizes Stalin's crimes (maybe some ancient Reds in old age homes)? How much does Stalin have to do with the beliefs of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or Tom Hayden? It's idiotic to lump everyone with liberal views with Stalin, just as it's idiotic to lump all rightwingers with Hitler. Lumping Hitler in with the left is beyond idiotic.

BTW, if you poke around at the link you'll see a more recent attempt to spin the Katyn massacre. Do I believe this? No, not in the slightest. But who knows for sure? They cite evidence and everything. This raises once again the epistemological question of whom to believe. As a source I would rank the Stalin Society and Debbie Schlussel at about the same level.

February 8, 2008 at 6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many Stalinists are around today? Who today denies or minimizes Stalin's crimes (maybe some ancient Reds in old age homes)?

Uh, it's not the ancient Reds. In 2007, 54 percent of young Russians think Stalin was "a wise leader."

And who denies or minimizes Stalin's crimes? Try the most powerful man in Russia, Vladimir Putin (from the same article):

Last year, the president informed a group of history teachers that Russia "has nothing to be ashamed of" and that it was their job to make students "proud of their motherland." His government has tried to help by commissioning guidelines and books that present a more balanced picture of Joseph Stalin, described in one approved volume as "the most successful Soviet leader ever."

The new textbooks suggest that Stalin's methods, though harsh, served the important need of bringing about economic progress. But the collectivization drive brought on a famine that was one of the worst the world has ever seen.

The new texts compare Stalin to Otto von Bismarck, the "Iron Chancellor" who unified Germany in the 19th century.


And from a different story about the textbooks:

The book describes Josef Stalin as “the most successful Soviet leader ever” and dismisses the prison labour camps and mass purges as a necessary part of his drive to make the country great. The manuals are intended to serve as the basis for developing new textbooks in schools next year, though Education Ministry officials insisted that they would not be compulsory.

Mr Putin gave them his seal of approval at a conference he hosted for teachers at his presidential dacha last month. He described Stalin’s Great Purge of 1937, in which 1.5 million people were imprisoned and 700,000 killed, as terrible “but in other countries even worse things happened”.


Imagine if a German leader said similar things about Adolf. Imagine if German schoolbooks celebrated Adolf's achievements.

February 8, 2008 at 7:30 PM  
Blogger Studd Beefpile said...

A couple years ago I spent a few weeks in Russia, spent a lot of time talking to Russians. I make no claims as to the scientific validity of my survey, but one of the things that suprised me most was that the one they cursed in their cups wasn't Gorby or Lenin or Stalin, but Nicky II. Despite some of the most oppressive leaders in history, the one they hate the most is the one that wasn't oppressive enough.

February 8, 2008 at 8:09 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

Sigh, I knew I should have qualified that. When I said there are no more Stalinists, I meant the sort of Stalinists who would be found in Party meetings in New York in the 1930s, not actual Russians who yearn for the return of a strongman to make their nation powerful again. The existence of the latter is disturbing, but it has nothing to do with ideology, nothing to do with anything that could even vaguely be called "the left".

February 8, 2008 at 9:15 PM  
Blogger Mencius Moldbug said...

If what you mean by "Stalinist" is someone who thinks Stalin was a good guy, there's certainly a negligible number of Stalinists in the US today. (There is some luscious Stalinolatry in Reynolds. But my fingers were tired.)

There's also no significant body of American intellectuals who deny the NKVD's responsibility for Katyn. That case is quite closed.

I think it would be going quite a bit too far, however, to say that there is anywhere near anything like a symmetry between the attitude of the average educated American toward Stalinism, and the attitude of the average educated American toward Hitlerism. (Even the concept of "Stalinism" is a copout - Lenin was no less ruthless. He just didn't live as long.)

Why is this? It certainly can't be that Hitler had fewer people murdered. Because he didn't.

One can certainly explain the disparity as a coincidence of history. After all, the war was A and C against B, not A and B against C. One would expect some hard feelings to remain.

To believe this, however, you rather need to believe it was a luck of the draw, a mere coincidence, that the US sided with Stalin against Hitler rather than the other way around.

And I'd say this is very, very far from the truth. The relationship between the American intelligentsia and the Bolsheviks dates, of course, to 1917 in the person of John Reed. It is not restricted to members of the CPUSA or KGB spies or "agents of influence" - none of which I have any reason to think of Reynolds as being. And even if Reynolds was "a Communist," he was, as you can see, a hack like many others. They were certainly not all agents of the Center.

There is certainly no comparable network of social links to the Nazis. The Third Reich was a rebellion against the American ascendancy. It is possible that the US could have remained neutral in WWII. It is not possible that it could have sided with Hitler.

While I admire the efforts of Kuehnelt-Leddihn and the like to describe National Socialism as left-wing, I have to disagree. To K-L, "right is right and left is wrong." This is one definition. And it certainly makes Nazism left-wing. But is it useful?

Certainly the Nazis borrowed many Leninist tactics. Tactics are universal. When we look at the social networks that brought Hitler to power, however, we see the security forces and in general the carcass of the Prussian old regime.

I think we can actually rely on the Universalist classification of Nazism as "right-wing." After all, you would expect the thing to know its enemies.

If we think of "fascism" as the last ditch of aristocratic, Europeanist resistance to chiliastic democracy, using Leninist tactics and masking itself in nominal socialism where needed (not utterly unlike Disraeli's "Tory democracy"), I think we have a pretty good picture. The use of socialist tropes in Nazism becomes equivalent to the use of nationalist tropes in Stalinism, ie, tactical camouflage.

This tells us, intrepid historical detectives that we are, two interesting things. One, Leninist tactics don't work well for reactionaries. (Post-1945 failures demonstrate this principle even more clearly.) And two, Hitler and fascists in general are despised by modern progressives not primarily because of their crimes, enormous though they were, but because they were the enemy.

It is almost impossible for young people today to realize that World War II was almost completely unaffected by the Holocaust. The Holocaust could not have happened without the war. But the war could easily have happened without the Holocaust. Some people to some extent knew, or thought they knew, about it. But if anything the mass murder of the Jews was very much downplayed in Allied wartime propaganda. And it's an interesting exercise indeed to wonder how the war would be regarded in 2008 if, in '45, five or six million Jews had turned up alive in some giant Lager outside Vienna.

So, when I hear that there are no Stalinists in the US today, in a sense, this is true.

But in a very different sense, the progressive movement in the US in 1945 was divided into Stalinist and Trotskyist wings. These wings are perfectly recognizable today. We call them "Democrats" and "Republicans." Or to be more precise, "progressives" and "neoconservatives." Of course all the ideas have evolved. But in the social networks, the continuity is clear.

What really fascinates me is that the faction that gave us Quentin Reynolds never really suffered for its sins, which as you can see were quite considerable. Well, okay, it did suffer. There was McCarthyism. It lasted a few years. Some peoples' careers did not do so well between 1952 and 1956.

But it's absolutely clear who, in the end, won that battle. I liked the Perlstein essay that TGGP linked to, because it makes an important point about the '60s: what we remember of "the sixties" is the side that won.

The losers were annihilated, utterly. Erased from memory, or remembered only as sordid figures. Google Reynolds v. Pegler - whose memory has fared better? Yet Pegler was a significant figure, which no one would say of Reynolds.

And this is even more true of the losers of the '50s. And still more true of the '40s. Lindbergh, for example, remains a deeply soiled figure. Apparently he once shook hands with Hitler, or something. Imagine if we applied that standard to, say, Mao.

I think this is more than coincidence. Don't you?

I am not saying that Dalton Trumbo ought to be dug up and hanged. I am saying that, from the perspective of history, we see something that appears to be a received asymmetry.

And if our goal is to construct a perspective of the 20th century that lacks such asymmetries, that is not crudely Georgetownist in the way that Putin's new history is crudely Russophile, we should expect to see some very, very significant revisions.

There is simply no question but that Georgetownism and Stalinism were allies, and that even after the US-Soviet breach they pined muchly for each other. For heaven's sake, they were both "progressive" and "democratic."

But one of the weird legacies of the political wars of the '50s is that we tend to see this alliance in terms of Communist espionage and subversion. Which certainly existed. Focusing on it, however, gives us the bizarre impression that the Slavic side of the bond was the senior partner.

Not at all the case. Russia to Reynolds was a sort of client state. It turned out that the American establishment was not really in control of the Soviet Union, of course. No one who knows anything about the reality of Leninism could be surprised. But it did come as a shock to many New Dealers. And many ascribed the breach to lingering fascist elements in American society, whose paranoia and xenophobia had alienated our big, furry friend.

Since no one who gets a whiff of Mr. Depew can deny that there is indeed a history of something very much like fascism in American history, this interpretation - though clearly false, and I would say quite arrogant and egocentric - becomes understandable.

What was high Unionism, after all? Bourgeois, populist romantic nationalism. I rest my case.

(If you draw the tree of the writers mentioned in this post, Depew and Adams are siblings (at least they were both Republicans). To connect Reynolds with Depew, you have to go way up and then back down a little. I'm afraid the connection between Adams and Reynolds is much more monotonic. But this conjecture probably deserves its own post.)

History, after all, exists to be understood. There are those who read history solely for the sake of finding something to hate. I can be astounded at the level of crack that Reynolds and Depew were on, but I can't really find it in me to despise or condemn them.

However, I also cannot find it in me to despise or condemn Lindbergh, RE Lee, Ben Hill, and others who did not happen to be on the winning team. I hope reading these kinds of period sources helps people get out of the habit of trying to excommunicate their political enemies, a tendency I find remarkably nasty - if, of course, understandable.

February 8, 2008 at 11:55 PM  
Blogger Mencius Moldbug said...

I meant, of course, that it couldn't be that Hitler had more people murdered (than Stalin).

February 8, 2008 at 11:56 PM  
Anonymous Charles Butler said...

Moldbug,

More as an addendum than a critique, there is also a notable and opposite lack of symmetry between American attitudes towards authoritarian states of the right and the left. Marxist dictators get let off the hook but marxism does not. Select fascist (inadequate catch-all phrase that it is) dictators are personally reviled as the devil's spawn but their totalitarianism itself remains underplayed.

February 9, 2008 at 2:57 AM  
Blogger Mencius Moldbug said...

CB,

Welcome to the weird world of UR! (CBis a visitor from the prosperous but perfectly unassuming realm of Cassandra. Apparently he knows more than most of us about olive oil...)

February 9, 2008 at 10:29 AM  
Blogger Charles Butler said...

Thanks for the introduction. I wouldn't have imagined...

Very excellent piece of work, UR - with certain reservations, totally aside from differences of opinion that may exist, arising from what I see as the housing of political content in a novelistic structure. You may be updated as the theory of your planet congeals sufficiently to slouch up out of the waves and onto the beach.

Cheers

February 9, 2008 at 12:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The existence of the latter is disturbing, but it has nothing to do with ideology, nothing to do with anything that could even vaguely be called "the left".

Rubbish. Of course they are leftists. What possible purpose could it serve to whitewash and rehabilitate Stalin except to facilitate the expansion of state power and the return of a socialist government? Honestly, do you think these neo-Stalinists in Russia are libertarians?

It is fascinating that anyone would even make such a claim. You'd never hear anyone claim that the arguments of neo-Nazi Hitler apologists "had nothing to do with ideology or anything that could vaguely be called the Right."

February 9, 2008 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger Zimri said...

I am not a Polack. But my grandmother was born (in Chicago) of a father from Brest-Litovsk and a mother from Grodno. So I've made a bit of a study of the region of "Poland" which Stalin reconquered.

These towns are now on the corners of the Poland / Belarus border, on the Russian side. When my great-parents left those two burgs, they were majority-Jewish cities in greater Russia. Grodno was, I think, deeded to Lithuania at first and Brest to Russia; but during the convulsions of Russia's civil war Poland annexed the whole region. (They even got Lithuania's historic capital Wilno.)

Under Pilsudski, life for my fellow Jews in Grodno and Brest went on more-or-less as before. Unfortunately the good general died in the 1930s and Poland became wholly antiSemitic, worse than Hitler's Germany in many respects. Before 1937 east European Jews looked to Russia as a bulwark against the pogroms. Mind you then in 1937 Stalin instituted a pogrom of his own, although since he went after Bolshevik atheist Jews it wasn't seen as such.

Anyway. From my perspective and my researches based on that, I would say that between Hitler as of 1939, Stalin as of 1939, and the ongoing Polish occupation as of 1939 my relatives would have preferred - Chicago. What voting we did was with our feet before 1921 and really, can you blame us?

I can't speak for Ukrainians and Belarussians and Poles. I do know that Ukrainians and Belarussians aren't Russians any more than they are Poles. I can further surmise that in 1939, having dealt with refugees from the 1932 famines further east, one would not find too many people in the region at all keen on Pan Slavic Solidarity.

February 9, 2008 at 4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is almost impossible for young people today to realize that World War II was almost completely unaffected by the Holocaust.

Ironically, the group most likely to grasp this is committed Zionist Jews, who have had drummed into their heads America's failure to bomb Auschwitz, rejected boatloads of refugees, censored translations of Mein Kampf, etc.

February 10, 2008 at 11:07 AM  
Anonymous Tripp said...

MM wrote:
"While I admire the efforts of Kuehnelt-Leddihn and the like to describe National Socialism as left-wing, I have to disagree. To K-L, "right is right and left is wrong." This is one definition. And it certainly makes Nazism left-wing. But is it useful?"

I think it is useful, because it explains so much. You've got all sort of evidence of New Dealers admiring Stalin; K-L provides evidence of the same people liking Mussolini. Even David Lloyd George, who you'd think would be wary of Germans, said nice things about Hitler. It explains Hitlerian hatred of Austria-Hungary; it explains why anti-Catholic (not merely anti-clerical, which I see as a milder term) forces tended to like both national as well as vanilla socialisms; it explains the whole Molotov-Ribbentrop deal.

"Certainly the Nazis borrowed many Leninist tactics. Tactics are universal. When we look at the social networks that brought Hitler to power, however, we see the security forces and in general the carcass of the Prussian old regime."

But the Prussian old regime isn't very right, at least not by the whole "Thirty Year War Redux" schema of left vs. right. They set national education standards, went to Lutheran churches borrowing theology from proto-communist Bohemians, etc. Fascists (and "fascists" - K-L denies that the term is accurately applied to Dolfuss, Salazar, and Franco) in Catholic countries weren't particularly anti-clerical, but they were also less anti-semitic and generally less violent and totalitarian. Which is really what matters if you ask me. Hitlerism is more-or-less the medievalist Lutheran equivalent to fascism (sure, you can point out Hitler's Catholic and Austrian origins, but the point is, he hated his background and deserted his homeland). Fascism proper is hard to place ideologically, but national socialism is easy.

"I think we can actually rely on the Universalist classification of Nazism as "right-wing." After all, you would expect the thing to know its enemies."

I wouldn't, myself. Universalism is a thin veil designed by international socialists to conceal the similarities they have with national socialists. Both isms see people essentially as machines which can be improved with proper engineering. This is why modern leftists obsess so much over questions of genetics vs. environment - it's one of the few ways they really differ from national socialists.

For centuries, European government and civil life was led by a class of people who did everything they could to pass good genes and good environments to their children - they would have been mystified at the (dare I say manichaean?) distinction between the two in modern thinking. To recognize this leadership and respect its advantages (can't we all admit there are a few advantages to aristocracy?) is the hallmark of someone who is at least a little bit rightist. With the scions of that class largely dead by 1918, it's not surprising that people think of Nazi eugenics as the "opposite" of Lysenkoism just as they think of national socialism as they opposite of internaitonal socialism.

Not surprising, just wrong.

February 10, 2008 at 3:26 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

I think it would be going quite a bit too far, however, to say that there is anywhere near anything like a symmetry between the attitude of the average educated American toward Stalinism, and the attitude of the average educated American toward Hitlerism. (Even the concept of "Stalinism" is a copout - Lenin was no less ruthless. He just didn't live as long.)

Well, who said there was?

Hitler and Stalin, or Nazism and Communism, have many similarities. Starting from different places, both ultimately converged to murderous totalitarian personality cults. But they are not the same. They had different histories, different politics, different social networks, and grew up in different cultures. And as you point out, different relationships to the United States.

And, more importantly, the structure of the neighboring ideology space is different. There's not much that's close to Nazism that is worthwhile, but there are forms of democratic socialism that people seem quite happy with. The left existed before Lenin, before Marx, in a wide variety of subspecies. While a large fraction of it got sucked into the Bolshevik black hole there were sizeable parts that didn't. This complicates things. It doesn't excuse any of the crimes of Stalin (or Lenin, you are right about him), but it means that those crimes are tied together, strongly or loosely, with things that are not so evil. I know that some people like to lump Hillary Clinton and Kim Jong Il in the same bucket, but that just seems idiotic to me. The left is founded on a set of ideals that, while they have sometimes been murderous when reduced to practice, have not lost their appeal.

In contrast, the Nazis managed to make themselves into the gold standard, the iridium meter bar, of evil. Pretty much everything they touched or that touched them is contaminated (with a few exceptions -- VWs were unaccountably adopted as the hippie vehicle of choice, and George Lucas felt free to rip off Leni Reifenstahl). Unfair? Maybe. But perhaps you are looking for more symmetry than circumstances will support.

There is certainly no comparable network of social links to the Nazis. The Third Reich was a rebellion against the American ascendancy. It is possible that the US could have remained neutral in WWII. It is not possible that it could have sided with Hitler.

Probably not, but Lindbergh and Ford certainly had social links to the Nazis and would have been happier if the US had allied with them rather than the USSR. I don't see why an alternate universe in which they succeeded is so impossible. Philip Roth wrote a novel on this premise, which doesn't prove anything of course except that it's plausible.

But in a very different sense, the progressive movement in the US in 1945 was divided into Stalinist and Trotskyist wings. These wings are perfectly recognizable today. We call them "Democrats" and "Republicans." Or to be more precise, "progressives" and "neoconservatives." Of course all the ideas have evolved. But in the social networks, the continuity is clear.

That is pretty silly. There has always been a US progressive movement independent of Soviet factions; the New Left was explictly about shaking loose from the remaining connections to those factions. As for the mainstream parties being captured by Stalinists or Trotskyites, that's even sillier. Both mainstream parties spent the half-century after WWII fighting the Cold War with the USSR; to the brink of nuclear war. The capture of the Republican party by ex-Trot neoconservatives is certainly an interesting phenomenon but I don't really see what it has to do with anything. Those guys are no longer progressives; they are hated by progressives.

But it's absolutely clear who, in the end, won that battle. I liked the Perlstein essay that TGGP linked to, because it makes an important point about the '60s: what we remember of "the sixties" is the side that won.

Right, the hippies and SDS triumphed over the hardhats and silent majority...and yet somehow we've had but two Democratic presidents since then, both centrists who did jack shit to push the country even slightly to anything that a European would recognize as left of center. I suppose you could consider the Clintons children of the sixties, but they achieved their high station by carefully backing off from all but the most milkwater goals and values of the time.

In fact, the battles of the sixties are still being fought today, with the conservative movement continuing to frighten their audience with the scary hippies (or gays, who seem to be the modern equivalent). And until quite recently, it looked like the conservatives were winning.

And this is even more true of the losers of the '50s. And still more true of the '40s. Lindbergh, for example, remains a deeply soiled figure. Apparently he once shook hands with Hitler, or something. Imagine if we applied that standard to, say, Mao.

He did considerably more than that. And while he may have been a "deeply soiled" figure, he was appointed a brigadier general, sent by Truman on a mission to postwar Germany, and invited to the White House by Kennedy and Johnson. Not exactly sent into internal exile, was he?

Since no one who gets a whiff of Mr. Depew can deny that there is indeed a history of something very much like fascism in American history...

Sorry, I got nothing from my skimming of Depew, except a lot of boring vanilla patriotic bombast. Didn't smell much like fascism to me. If there's some grand systematic political distortion operating there I'm not seeing it at all. I admit to not reading it very closely, life is too short.

However, I also cannot find it in me to despise or condemn Lindbergh, RE Lee, Ben Hill, and others who did not happen to be on the winning team. I hope reading these kinds of period sources helps people get out of the habit of trying to excommunicate their political enemies, a tendency I find remarkably nasty - if, of course, understandable.

"Excommunicate"? Lindbergh was an active antisemite working hand-in-glove with people trying to slander and kill my relatives. So I feel perfectly free to despise him all I want. It's not because he was on the losing side, it's because he was on the opposite side in a life and death struggle. What do think the word "enemies" means? Do you imagine politics to be some kind of polite debating society?

Now, there's something to be said for having compassion for your enemies, at least in being able to see things from their point of view. Certainly that's the way to read historical documents. It would be nice if we could all acknowledge each other as brethren, have a dialog, settle our differences peacefully, turn the other cheek, forgive, forget, and reconcile. But such Gandhian sentiments seem somewhat out of place here.

February 10, 2008 at 5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Probably not, but Lindbergh and Ford certainly had social links to the Nazis and would have been happier if the US had allied with them rather than the USSR. I don't see why an alternate universe in which they succeeded is so impossible.

Because the US siding with the Nazis rather than the USSR would run counter not only to ideology but to geopolitical / national interest. The US did not want any single power dominant from the Atlantic to the Urals, and supporting the powers that were trying to stop a German-dominated European superpower from emerging made as much sense in 1941 as it did in 1917.

Philip Roth wrote a novel on this premise, which doesn't prove anything of course except that it's plausible.

It was a bad, boring novel and bad alternate history.

In fact, the battles of the sixties are still being fought today, with the conservative movement continuing to frighten their audience with the scary hippies (or gays, who seem to be the modern equivalent). And until quite recently, it looked like the conservatives were winning.

Say what? The conservatives have been fighting a desperate rear-guard action since the sixties, but have been losing constantly, not winning. America is more liberal in 2008 than it was in 1998, and in 1998 more liberal than in 1988, and in 1988 more liberal than in 1978, and so on. The conservatives are like King Canute, shouting at the tide, but it keeps coming in.

February 10, 2008 at 8:47 PM  
Blogger Mencius Moldbug said...

Lindbergh was an active antisemite working hand-in-glove with people trying to slander and kill my relatives. So I feel perfectly free to despise him all I want. It's not because he was on the losing side, it's because he was on the opposite side in a life and death struggle. What do think the word "enemies" means?

At the risk of sounding like Darth Vader - it's good that you have this hate.

Seriously. It is very healthy. It shows that underneath the progressivism there is a normal set of human social instincts. The idea that it is somehow not okay to have enemies and to hate them is perhaps the weirdest of all the delusions at large in the world today.

Hate is precious. There is no doubt. But I strongly suggest that you reserve this hate for enemies who actually exist.

My Jewish communist grandfather, who was exempt from the draft, enlisted as an infantryman to fight Hitler. If I could go back to 1944 and join him, would I? Perhaps. But I can't, and I don't need to.

Hitler is not your enemy. Hitler is a person who doesn't exist. Neither do any meaningful number of his followers. It makes no more sense to hate Hitler than to hate Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun or Napoleon.

Of course it's a free country and you can hate whoever you like. Mostly. But I really think you are better off hating people and movements who actually pose an actual physical threat to yourself, your family and relatives. It strikes me that you are quite sane enough to realize that Hitler is not in that category.

BTW, saying Lindbergh "was an anti-Semite" is ridiculous and overblown. Henry Adams was an "anti-Semite" by exactly the same standard. So was Albert Jay Nock. So was basically everyone, including quite a few Jews. Imagine if Barack Obama came to office and orchestrated the mass murder of Southern whites, and 30 years later someone found your diary and discovered that you'd used the word "redneck."

This situation in which we use the same word for (a) anyone who ever expressed any opposition to Jews as a collective political force, and (b) the people who planned and executed a mass murder, is linguistically absurd and intolerable. The only way to avoid it is to avoid using these code words of hate.

He did considerably more than that. And while he may have been a "deeply soiled" figure, he was appointed a brigadier general, sent by Truman on a mission to postwar Germany, and invited to the White House by Kennedy and Johnson. Not exactly sent into internal exile, was he?

No. It is you that have sent him into intellectual exile. Lindbergh, Kennedy, Truman and Johnson are all as dead as Hitler. They are neither your friends nor your enemies, nor mine.

You are alive, and so are many people who think like you. It is your attitude that concerns me, because you are applying a double standard to history, an extremely dangerous and unsound practice.

Lindbergh did not even come close to proposing an alliance with Hitler. No one did. Lindbergh was working for the traditional American foreign policy of neutrality.

In retrospect, clearly the most effective policy that the US could have adopted toward the Eurasian war was to remain neutral and accept Jewish refugees. No alliance with Stalin, no Holocaust. At any time before 1942, perhaps even after, Hitler would have sent us all the Jews we could take.

Lindbergh was not advocating this. He probably should have. On the other hand, the Holocaust was planned and executed after the US entered the war, by desperate men who knew their fate was destruction.

And it's very curious how FDR gets brownie points for opposing Hitler, because Hitler murdered the Jews. The US did not fight Hitler to save the Jews. Saving the Jews was not anywhere near the agenda. And if it had been, the efforts could hardly be described as successful.

Right, the hippies and SDS triumphed over the hardhats and silent majority...and yet somehow we've had but two Democratic presidents since then, both centrists who did jack shit to push the country even slightly to anything that a European would recognize as left of center. I suppose you could consider the Clintons children of the sixties, but they achieved their high station by carefully backing off from all but the most milkwater goals and values of the time.

Dude, the point is not the slogans. The point is that the Movement won. People always change their tune when they get into power.

(Hitler certainly did. Did Hitler "back off from all but the most milkwater goals"? A heck of a lot of Germans in the '30s thought exactly that.)

What matters is who wins and who loses. Read this letter and tell me whose side you want to be on. Then Google "Grayson Kirk" and tell me who won.

And I love this trope of citing "European" standards. Once again: Europe is not an independent reality check. Europe is a dominion of the State Department. It's like a Victorian Tory saying that the colour bar is the greatest thing since sliced bread, because that's how they do it in the Raj.

You'll note that in '56 at Suez, the European perspective didn't matter so much. That was pretty much the last gasp of any political force from prewar Europe. Counting one's sock puppets does not constitute an argument.

In fact, the battles of the sixties are still being fought today, with the conservative movement continuing to frighten their audience with the scary hippies (or gays, who seem to be the modern equivalent). And until quite recently, it looked like the conservatives were winning.

You're on so much crack, I can't even begin to start. Do you know how the average person who voted for Nixon in '68 would react if he went into a Starbucks today, and read the little slogans on the cups? He'd think he was in some sort of weird Communist cult reality.

Attitudes toward gays are an excellent barometer for me, because tolerance of homosexuality is one of the few issues I completely agree with progressives on. That curve is absolutely monotonic. It has been rising for a century. That it is not quite done, that there are perhaps three old people in Kansas who are still 'phobic, means jack. You are hating Hitler again.

Here is an exercise you can perform: find any newspaper from 1968. Read it. Read a couple. And then tell me who won.

Yes. A lot of people - including Mark Rudd himself - will try to convince you that the Movement lost. After all, if it had won, why would anyone still need to be an "activist"? Poland is always invading Germany in some peoples' minds. Suffice it to say that if the Movement had lost, no journalist would be publicly fellating Mr. Rudd, any more than they publicly fellate, say, Eric Rudolph.

The left is founded on a set of ideals that, while they have sometimes been murderous when reduced to practice, have not lost their appeal.

Please allow me to shout for a moment.

THAT'S MY ENTIRE FREAKIN' PROBLEM!

In contrast, the Nazis managed to make themselves into the gold standard, the iridium meter bar, of evil. Pretty much everything they touched or that touched them is contaminated (with a few exceptions -- VWs were unaccountably adopted as the hippie vehicle of choice, and George Lucas felt free to rip off Leni Reifenstahl). Unfair? Maybe.

No, it's not unfair. You can't be unfair to people who are dead.

It's not unfair - it's just stupid. Moreover, it is stupid in a way that serves the interests of powerful people who actually do hold power. And are actually quite dangerous - as you yourself observe.

I hope you'll excuse me for finding this a little creepy.

The reality is this: all three sides in WWII saw the war as a battle between peoples, not armies. All three committed wanton, militarily useless mass murders of millions of civilians. The Holocaust was especially weird and creepy, but it was also a military secret that very few in the Axis regimes knew about.

And certainly, any of the sides had more than enough dirt on any of the others to make it their iridium bar of evil. If the Nazis had won the war - let's say they actually had produced a miracle weapon in 1945 - how would the Holocaust be remembered in 2008? Probably much like the murderous ethnic cleansing of the Eastern Germans, the firebombing of Tokyo, etc, etc, etc.

Everyone is guilty. No one is innocent. To ascribe unique guilt is a mendacious and surreptitious way of ascribing unique innocence.

And when you allow people to cleanse themselves of Stalinist contagion just by saying "I divorce you," three times, whereas no amount of soap can scrub off the Nazi stain, you are not improving your understanding of either the past or the present.

February 11, 2008 at 7:04 AM  
Blogger Mencius Moldbug said...

tripp,

But the Prussian old regime isn't very right, at least not by the whole "Thirty Year War Redux" schema of left vs. right. They set national education standards, went to Lutheran churches borrowing theology from proto-communist Bohemians, etc. Fascists (and "fascists" - K-L denies that the term is accurately applied to Dolfuss, Salazar, and Franco) in Catholic countries weren't particularly anti-clerical, but they were also less anti-semitic and generally less violent and totalitarian.

The trouble is that when you follow K-L and say "right is right and left is wrong," you are basically saying that the whole right-left concept is useless and meaningless. Because why say "right" and "left" when you could just say "right" and "wrong"?

It is very difficult to form any kind of coherent theory of politics from the isolated utterances of politicians. They are always trying to deceive you and each other. If Hitler had not wanted to pretend to be a socialist, he wouldn't have called his party what he did.

Yet people in pre-1933 Weimar Germany used very much the same political spectrum as we do. They defined the Communists as the extreme left and the Nazis as the extreme right. Surely this fact is interesting and useful.

"Left" to me means that you are seeking the support of people whose desire is to destroy traditional European social systems. "Right" means you are seeking the support of people whose goal is to preserve these systems. These desires and goals are not always achieved, but the spectrum of left and right is real - if only in the minds of the politicians' marks.

Did Hitler preserve anything? Of course not. But Hitler would not have come to power and remained there without people who thought of him as the savior of old Europe against a tide of Americanism and Bolshevism. These people were deluded, but their opinions mattered.

February 11, 2008 at 7:14 AM  
Blogger Charles Butler said...

The thorough and complete embedding of the 'left wing' symbolism and idiom of the 1960's in all communication renders cries to 'take back the night' more than a little hypocritical. Perennial touter of Republican candidates (this year, Ron Paul), Howard Stern, would have been a Weatherman in 1968. Right wing freedom fighter, Ted Nugent, working a pop rivet machine at GM were it not for the '60's. The 'intelligent design' website reads like it was written on a commune. The list is endless. Everyone, 'right' or 'left' is lounging around in that paradise. Will the children of the baby boom ever come up with something of their own devisement? Continuing to argue whether to get off in Grand Central or Penn whilst the train's pulling in to Los Angeles 40 years later is, at the very least, dumb - but more probably very close to a rude awakening.

February 11, 2008 at 8:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In retrospect, clearly the most effective policy that the US could have adopted toward the Eurasian war was to remain neutral and accept Jewish refugees. No alliance with Stalin, no Holocaust.

Absolutely wrong, unless "effective" is defined in a strange way. If we define "effective" as meaning advancing human freedom in general and American interests in particular, then direct American intervention in Eurasia (and de facto alliance with Stalin) was absolutely required in WW2.

The question of an alliance with Stalin only arose for us because Hitler attacked Stalin. At that point, one of the two was going to win, and both of them sought an absolute victory entailing the annihilation and enslavement of their opponents. If the US did not intervene, there were only two possible outcomes: Hitler dominant from the Atlantic to the Urals, or Stalin dominant from the Atlantic to the Urals. Neither one served US interests, and no policy that resulted in either outcome could be regarded as "effective". We should also note that if Hitler wins, then Japan dominates East Asia, and if Stalin wins, he turns and crushes Japan, and is then dominant from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Either way, the US is locked out of the Eurasian landmass, which is dominated by a single, totalitarian, ideologically hostile power.

Bottom line, US long-term security required that neither Hitler nor Stalin win. We chose Stalin for a number of reasons, but the fact that he was on the ropes after Hitler attacked was not an unimportant reason.

Some historians have argued that it would have been "more effective" to fight WW2 as if we expected confrontation with the Soviets afterwards (and thus we should have raced to beat them to Berlin, Vienna, and Prague, invaded the Balkans to shut them out of the region, tried to force Japan to surrender before the Soviets invaded Manchuria, etc. etc.) Perhaps. Yet FDR's effort during the war to establish a basis for post-war US-Soviet cooperation was worth trying, and it certainly didn't fail for lack of effort on our part.

Hard to see how US neutrality in WW2 would have prevented the Holocaust. Setting aside the logistic and US domestic political difficulties of moving all of Europe's Jews here, the fact remains that Hitler wanted to kill the Jews and wouldn't have let them go.

February 11, 2008 at 11:03 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

It is indisputable that Mussolini's fascism and Nazism had leftist roots. Mussolini came from an anti-clerical and socialist family. He was a socialist before he was a fascist. There was likewise in Nazism a strong anti-capitalist, social-revolutionary strain - Otto and Gregor Strasser and Goebbels were exemplary of this in the early NSDAP. If you have the patience to sit through the whole "Truimph of the Will" - not just Riefenstahl's son-et-lumière moments, but all the speeches of Nazi luminaries - you will recognize that much of what they said would not have been out of place at a communist rally.

What was the "right" in these days? Basically, following Pareto's principle that all past elite factions, whatever may have been their previous conflicts with each other, are bundled together in the declining elite faction, it consisted of two elements that had predominated before World War I. These were respectively the old, laissez-faire liberals of the Guizot or Manchester type, and the old squirearchical right, made up of landed gentlemen who were devoted to throne, altar, and their rents. The latter was seen as discredited by the outcome of the Great War and the former as by the Great Depression.

Against these were arrayed, first and foremost, Marxist socialism (as represented by the Bolsheviks), and later its nephew philosophies, Fascism and Nazism. As the latter two matured and acquired power they were able to acquire support from some of those on the traditional right simply because they were seen as the lesser of evils compared to Bolshevism.

This required strategic compromise on the parts of Nazi and Fascist leadership. Thus, for example, the atheist Mussolini, who once challenged God, if he existed, to strike him dead, negotiated the Lateran Treaty of 1929 with the Catholic church. This was not the result of some sudden religious epiphany on his part, but of shewd calculation that it would be useful to lay to rest a challenge to the legitimacy of the government of unified Italy since the Risorgimento. Similarly, Hitler had to get rid of the Strassers, Ernst Roehm, and his SA rowdies, and let Goering with his blue max and aristocratic wife, Ribbentrop with his rich in-laws, and Himmler with his tenuous connections to the Bavarian court, cultivate the wealthy and the noble.

Still and all it is worth observing that after Mussolini was dismissed by the Savoy monarchy and sprung from his prison by Skorzeny, his last exercise of authority under the Salò republic was considerably more 'leftist' in style than it had been at any time since the early 'thirties. It is also worth noting that the German aristocracy was mostly never won over to Hitler, and aristocrats were disproportionately supporters of the various plots to depose him, especially that of Stauffenberg. Hitler proscribed the great religious orders of chivalry, the Protestant Johanniterorden and the Catholic Knights of Malta, to which a great many aristocratic officers of the Wehrmacht had belonged. The Roosevelt administration turned a blind eye to these people because of its false assumption, left over from World War I, that "Prussian junkers" were in control of Germany.

MM's and Charles Butler's comments about the cultural dominance of the left are dead on target. The American conservative movement has concentrated on winning elections, while the left has taken the long march through the institutions and controls the culture. The college student who trashed the dean's office in the late 'sixties is now the dean. In the end, all that conservatives in political office have been able to do is to slow, and that very slightly, the implementation of the left's aims. The culture will go in the direction it will go, and politics will be dragged along despite its protestations to the contrary.

February 11, 2008 at 11:07 AM  
Anonymous Tripp said...

Thanks for your reply, moldbug.

"The trouble is that when you follow K-L and say "right is right and left is wrong," you are basically saying that the whole right-left concept is useless and meaningless. Because why say "right" and "left" when you could just say "right" and "wrong"?"

Okay, how about we say "right is antisocialist and left is socialist". This does, oddly enough, put anarchists on the same side as conservative monarchists, but plenty of people have made the case more eloquently than I could, that the anarchist/monarchist pairing isn't very strange after all.

"It is very difficult to form any kind of coherent theory of politics from the isolated utterances of politicians. They are always trying to deceive you and each other. If Hitler had not wanted to pretend to be a socialist, he wouldn't have called his party what he did."

Okay ... up until this point I wouldn't have guessed you thought he was pretending. Hitler hated Bolsheviks for the same reason he wanted to blow up T-34s - he didn't control them. Which underscores the basic leftist belief that people are robots, and differ only in how well-engineered they are, and who is at the controls.

"Yet people in pre-1933 Weimar Germany used very much the same political spectrum as we do. They defined the Communists as the extreme left and the Nazis as the extreme right. Surely this fact is interesting and useful."

Oh sure, but I was hoping that fact would make you agree with me. No such luck! Coming after the Spartacist uprisings, untrue but painful legends about socialists being the cause of Germany's defeat in WWI, etc., it's no huge surprise that people had a pretty tweaked view of left and right (just as a few decades earlier in France, left and right meant desiring Dreyfus's acquittal and conviction respectively). The weird thing is that we just adopted the German 30s views outright. Sadly, every now and then you run into truly cretinous Americans - "conservatives" by self-identification only - who decide they need to prove their anti-left credentials by praising ... national socialism. Oops. So Anglophilic agrarian neo-feudalists have to try to think of nice things to say about an industrializing hypermodernist who is linked in their minds to a bunch of Britain-hating Prussians with lengthy titles and funny hats. I can just see them penning their little screeds against the Tennessee Valley Authority while praising the autobahn.

""Left" to me means that you are seeking the support of people whose desire is to destroy traditional European social systems..." [I snipped this paragraph; I largely agree.]

"Did Hitler preserve anything? Of course not. But Hitler would not have come to power and remained there without people who thought of him as the savior of old Europe against a tide of Americanism and Bolshevism. These people were deluded, but their opinions mattered."

Okay, but I think the same thing has been said about social democrats and even Eurocommunists - they offered a uniquely local third way between Wall Street and the Kremlin. Leftists are always offering to defend you against other leftists. Not always a wholly bad deal; brownie points or no, FDR was the best of a crummy menu.

(Major kudos on your "I divorce you / no amount of soap" paragraph ... excellent writing.)

February 11, 2008 at 1:07 PM  
Blogger George Weinberg said...

I think the whole "left-right" way of looking at things is misleading. From what I can tell, "left" means communist and "right" just means anti-communist, with all anti-communists including heretical communists lumped together.

February 11, 2008 at 1:25 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Both Tripp and MM make good points on how to place the Nazis. First off, never believe people when they tell you who their enemies are. Fanatics often define themselves in terms of our enemies, and we are extremely prone to self-deception that makes us look better. He is also right that the Prussian regime seems rather "progressive" and distinct from the Catholic ones, and the Nazis were certainly less "conservative" in any sense of the word I know. At the same time, the Nazis did exalt nationalism and militarism and promote themselves as crusaders against Bolshevism who generally crushed rather than co-opted (as they did religious and other "conservative" groups) labor and social-democratic organizations. They got in power because the German right thought they were useful against the left.

mtraven:
There's not much that's close to Nazism that is worthwhile, but there are forms of democratic socialism that people seem quite happy with.
The point the Jonah Goldbergs of the world seem to be making is that social democracy is about as close to national socialism and totalitarian communism. There were also people happy under fascism and various authoritarian regimes.

The left is founded on a set of ideals that, while they have sometimes been murderous when reduced to practice, have not lost their appeal.
Fascism also has its appeal. The Nashi don't call themselves fascist, but it certainly seems similar.

In contrast, the Nazis managed to make themselves into the gold standard, the iridium meter bar, of evil.
In what sense are they worse than Stalin, Mao or Pol Pot?

I don't see why an alternate universe in which they succeeded is so impossible. Philip Roth wrote a novel on this premise, which doesn't prove anything of course except that it's plausible.
Even bringing up Roth's book while denying it proves anything makes you look silly.

the New Left was explictly about shaking loose from the remaining connections to those factions.
The New Left was generally Maoist. The split between Mao and Kruschev occurred in part because the Soviet Union was backing away from Stalinism.

As for the mainstream parties being captured by Stalinists or Trotskyites, that's even sillier. Both mainstream parties spent the half-century after WWII fighting the Cold War with the USSR; to the brink of nuclear war.
That's actually a good point that I'm sure Mencius will dismiss without good arguments about how they really weren't anti-communist because look at McCarthy and blahblahblah.

Those guys are no longer progressives; they are hated by progressives.
What about Wilson and Stalin? They had plenty of progressive admirers back in the day. MM has been talking about the spread of "Universalism" and its distorted history, so the roots of neoconservatism seem relevant in that respect.

And until quite recently, it looked like the conservatives were winning.
Didn't gay marriage become legalized in a number of areas? Aren't there now numerous conservative intellectuals who support it? Do you think gay marriage will become legal across the country? Did you ever have any doubt that it would? I think that's what happen even if conservatives continue to win elections. The Overton window will keep moving left.

He did considerably more than that. And while he may have been a "deeply soiled" figure, he was appointed a brigadier general, sent by Truman on a mission to postwar Germany, and invited to the White House by Kennedy and Johnson. Not exactly sent into internal exile, was he?
I discussed Lindbergh here. He was in Germany hobnobbing with Nazis because his government asked him to do so. His feud with Roosevelt, who did not permit him to reclaim his old position in the Air Force, which is why he worked with Ford to develop planes used by the military during the war and then later served in the Pacific flying combat missions despite his civilian status. His reputation has been smeared enough that you continue to demonize him and his name is used to smear those who are anti-war.

except a lot of boring vanilla patriotic bombast.
Some would say that is indicative of fascism.

Lindbergh was an active antisemite working hand-in-glove with people trying to slander and kill my relatives.
I would question labelling him that and he did not work with Nazis but met with them on behalf of the U.S government. It was because of Kristalnacht that he decided not buy a house in Berlin, despite your earlier claim that he continued to receive medals from them afterward. I would have hoped you would have learned better after our previous conversation on the topic.

It's not because he was on the losing side, it's because he was on the opposite side in a life and death struggle.
As I stated before, Lindbergh served his country loyally throughout his life before and during the war. Why do you continue to smear him?

Now, there's something to be said for having compassion for your enemies, at least in being able to see things from their point of view.
It's a rare thing that I respect and it just so happens it was exhibited by Charles Lindbergh even as he was killing Japanese himself. I think IOZ takes a different view of that combination though.

MM:
It shows that underneath the progressivism there is a normal set of human social instincts.
GODDAMN IT! Hobbes was right, humans are depraved, nasty and brutish and it makes no sense to cherish something for being "human" than it does to reject studying hard because it is "acting white". It is these defects in humanity that produce both "racial idealism" and "universalism" and you'll become mired in the same "morbid" delusions unless you decide to rise above. I don't think you actually wish to do that and it makes me a bit sad. You know as well as I do that progressivism has always had animosity and if it had not it wouldn't have caused as much harm (possibly due to irrelevance).

A heck of a lot of Germans in the '30s thought exactly that.
Yeah, I think they grumbled a bit until the Night of the Long Knives sorted them out.

Suffice it to say that if the Movement had lost, no journalist would be publicly fellating Mr. Rudd, any more than they publicly fellate, say, Eric Rudolph.
How many people did Rudd kill?

The trouble is that when you follow K-L and say "right is right and left is wrong," you are basically saying that the whole right-left concept is useless and meaningless.
People have been saying that for years. It's an artifact of the French Revolution. Different places at different times are hard to compare.

They defined the Communists as the extreme left and the Nazis as the extreme right.
I don't doubt they thought that for the communists, but I'd be interested in reading what Weimar Germans thought of the Nazis.

But Hitler would not have come to power and remained there without people who thought of him as the savior of old Europe against a tide of Americanism and Bolshevism.
Aren't the people who promote "Americanism" considered right-wing?

Anonymous, get a screen name:
If we define "effective" as meaning advancing human freedom in general
And why should I want my taxes to pay for someone else's freedom?

American interests in particular, then direct American intervention in Eurasia (and de facto alliance with Stalin) was absolutely required in WW2.
I guess staying out of the fight with Napoleon was silly too. Why should I care what goes on in Europe?

At that point, one of the two was going to win, and both of them sought an absolute victory entailing the annihilation and enslavement of their opponents.
Wasn't it quite normal for countries to enter into wars and end them without unconditional surrender in the past? And shouldn't we have waited until both had worn themselves out before expending any effort?

Either way, the US is locked out of the Eurasian landmass, which is dominated by a single, totalitarian, ideologically hostile power.
How awful for a country to be locked out of a landmass on an entirely different continent/hemisphere of the earth.

Hard to see how US neutrality in WW2 would have prevented the Holocaust. Setting aside the logistic and US domestic political difficulties of moving all of Europe's Jews here, the fact remains that Hitler wanted to kill the Jews and wouldn't have let them go.
Early on many internal documents reveal the Nazis were fine with merely expelling jews. They actually held a somewhat favorable view towards Zionism, which is why some of the more exteme Zionist groups took a liking to Hitler.

Michael S., have you considered writing blog posts of your own rather than just long comments? I'll make you a contributing author to mine if you e-mail me at aljaynock AT hotmail dot com
Otto and Gregor Strasser and Goebbels were exemplary of this in the early NSDAP.
Didn't the first two get dead or something?

Thus, for example, the atheist Mussolini, who once challenged God, if he existed, to strike him dead, negotiated the Lateran Treaty of 1929 with the Catholic church.
Why was his behavior toward clerical as opposed to labor powers so different?

This does, oddly enough, put anarchists on the same side as conservative monarchists, but plenty of people have made the case more eloquently than I could, that the anarchist/monarchist pairing isn't very strange after all.
Most anarchists consider themselves socialists. Benjamin Tucker even called himself a "scientific socialist" once, though he also called himself a "thoroughgoing Manchester man" and "unterrified Jeffersonian". I believe there are also socialist monarchists.

George Weinberg:
I think the whole "left-right" way of looking at things is misleading. From what I can tell, "left" means communist and "right" just means anti-communist, with all anti-communists including heretical communists lumped together.
Politics doesn't consist of communism vs anti-communism and people were using left-right distinctions in the French Revolution before Marx put pen to paper. Trotskyites and Maoists are certainly considered left by anyone other than some Stalinists.

February 11, 2008 at 3:57 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

TGGP, you're right about Gregor Strasser, who was killed during the night of the long knives. Otto managed to survive until 1974.

As for Mussolini's contrasting treatments of the Catholic church and of labor organizations, it pays to remember that until 1943, Mussolini served as the prime minister of a monarchical government which had come to power in part through the conquest of the Papal states. The legitimacy of the government in which he served was threatened by "Roman Question" that had festered in Italian politics for more than sixty years. By resolving it he closed what was probably the most significant avenue of potential challenge to his authority, namely that through a Church that viewed itself as victimized and traduced by the secular government of Italy under the house of Savoy. Nothing remotely approaching the importance of this threat arose from the labor organizations.

February 11, 2008 at 4:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And why should I want my taxes to pay for someone else's freedom?

Your taxes paid for your freedom. The idea that America would be free and happy after either the Nazis or Stalin's USSR took over Eurasia is absurd. We would have turned into a garrison state that would have made the Cold War USA look like anarchy. Since neither the Nazis nor the USSR were big believers in free trade, our economy would have been a miniscule fraction of what it became in real life.

It would have been stupid to stand aside and let another power dominate Eurasia. This was obvious to strategists at the time.

I guess staying out of the fight with Napoleon was silly too.

Actually, yes it was. America would have been in big trouble if the French had won. We were fortunate that the Brits won in spite of our reckless declaration of war on them.

Our participation in that contest didn't matter much, though, since our power in 1812 was not very great. In contrast, our power in 1941 was vast and our intervention in WW2 was decisive.

Wasn't it quite normal for countries to enter into wars and end them without unconditional surrender in the past?

Do you know anything about the Eastern Front in WW2? It was a struggle to the death. It wasn't going to end short of total victory for one side or the other.

shouldn't we have waited until both had worn themselves out before expending any effort?

Ultimately it wasn't up to us. We might have liked to have stayed out and kept feeding the Soviets for a while longer, but then Japan and Germany declared war on us, remember?

How awful for a country to be locked out of a landmass on an entirely different continent/hemisphere of the earth.

Well, let's see, since preventing that outcome was the objective of 60 years of American foreign policy, one has to assume either that (a) the political elite who devised and maintained this bipartisan policy over more than half a century - at considerable cost in political and material resources - were stupid, or (b) that outcome would indeed have been awful (or at least, awful enough to generate long-term agreement among politicians who aren't usually known for agreeing on much of anything for very long).

It's basic geopolitics, my friend. No single power should control the heartland.

February 11, 2008 at 7:25 PM  
Anonymous Tripp said...

tggp wrote: "Most anarchists consider themselves socialists. Benjamin Tucker even called himself a "scientific socialist" once, though he also called himself a "thoroughgoing Manchester man" and "unterrified Jeffersonian". I believe there are also socialist monarchists."

Your first sentence doesn't sound completely wrong, but I can't tell if you're guessing or if you know something I don't. I would have guessed that there are plenty of anarcho-capitalists, but that's only from the number that I've run into on the web. I'm not much of an expert on the varieties of anarchist thought. Let me rely on the garden-variety definition of libertarianism, and say that people who believe initiating force is okay to create economic equality, social justice, or whatnot are leftists. So, I suppose anarchists and monarchists can be leftists too.

And now of course you can correctly point out that there left-libertarians, after all, and I'll reply in a meek voice that I don't really know what to make of them. As to the socialist monarchists, while I suppose not everyone is the UK's Labour Party is a republican, so I guess they'd qualify. Ditto for various parties in Scandinavia, Benelux, and Spain I suppose. Those aren't the folks I'm thinking of when I talk about monarchists though. Maybe "royalist" would be a stronger word ... someone who believes in a king (as part of a "mixed government", as K-L would put it) as an alternative to mob rule. (Even still, you could probably make a case that Bismark qualifies as a little bit of a monarchist socialist.)

February 11, 2008 at 8:45 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

mm: Seriously. It is very healthy. It shows that underneath the progressivism there is a normal set of human social instincts. The idea that it is somehow not okay to have enemies and to hate them is perhaps the weirdest of all the delusions at large in the world today.

Note that I pulled my punch. If I was around during Lindbergh's era, I might be hating him but I might also be wanting to sit him down and talk to some Jews. Invite him over for Pesach, see that we're not so bad. Conflict does suck, especially when you are on the weaker side.

Hate is precious. There is no doubt. But I strongly suggest that you reserve this hate for enemies who actually exist.

Dude, listen to yourself. You are the one dredging up obscure speeches from 100 years ago and inviting us to hate on them. I don't really spend that much of my time obsessing about Hitler, even less Lindbergh. You and the others here are the ones who are dragging me into refighting poltical battles from 50, 75, 100 years ago.

It makes no more sense to hate Hitler than to hate Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun or Napoleon.

While it's certainly possible to overdo it, Hitler was within living memory whereas the others are not. My Congressman (until today -- he just died) was a Holocaust survivor.

BTW, saying Lindbergh "was an anti-Semite" is ridiculous and overblown.

Maybe. I tend to lump him in with Henry Ford to whom the word definitely applies, but perhaps that's a case of unfair contagion.

You are alive, and so are many people who think like you. It is your attitude that concerns me, because you are applying a double standard to history, an extremely dangerous and unsound practice.

I don't think I have a double standard.

In retrospect, clearly the most effective policy that the US could have adopted toward the Eurasian war was to remain neutral and accept Jewish refugees. ... Lindbergh was not advocating this. He probably should have.

Depends what you mean by effective. As you point out elsewhere, saving Jews was not high on the US agenda, and especially not on Lindbergh's.

me: Right, the hippies and SDS triumphed over the hardhats and silent majority...and yet somehow we've had but two Democratic presidents since then, both centrists who did jack shit to push the country even slightly to anything that a European would recognize as left of center. I suppose you could consider the Clintons children of the sixties, but they achieved their high station by carefully backing off from all but the most milkwater goals and values of the time.

mm: Dude, the point is not the slogans. The point is that the Movement won. People always change their tune when they get into power.

Won what, exactly?

And I love this trope of citing "European" standards.

They are a comparision point for what constitutes "left-wing", that's all.

Once again: Europe is not an independent reality check. Europe is a dominion of the State Department.

I'm sorry, but stuff like that sounds so nonsensical I don't even know how to begin to respond to it.

me: In fact, the battles of the sixties are still being fought today, with the conservative movement continuing to frighten their audience with the scary hippies (or gays, who seem to be the modern equivalent). And until quite recently, it looked like the conservatives were winning.

mm: You're on so much crack, I can't even begin to start. Do you know how the average person who voted for Nixon in '68 would react if he went into a Starbucks today, and read the little slogans on the cups? He'd think he was in some sort of weird Communist cult reality.

You are using the slogans on Starbucks cups as a political barometer, and I'm the one smoking crack? "Power comes out of the spout of an espresso machine" -- Chairman Moldbug. It's like claiming that because Americans eat a lot of pizza we have become Italian. Have you looked at how wealth distribution has changed since the 60s? That's a hell of a lot more politically relevant than what platitudes get chosen for a cup of corporate coffee.

Attitudes toward gays are an excellent barometer for me, because tolerance of homosexuality is one of the few issues I completely agree with progressives on. That curve is absolutely monotonic.

Somebody else was claiming that society was much more liberal than it was 30 years ago, and my reply (unsent as yet) was that I couldn't see it at all, with the exception of an increasing acceptance of homosexuality. It doesn't seem like a very good barometer to me, because it doesn't seem to be very closely coupled to any other cultural changes. But whatever.

It has been rising for a century.
Has it? Seems to me it's only been since 1970 or so, but I could be wrong...a side issue anyway.

That it is not quite done, that there are perhaps three old people in Kansas who are still 'phobic, means jack. You are hating Hitler again.

You know, we are probably both exaggerating this and minimizing that to make our points, but there's no point making stuff up when there is readily available data:

[from a 2005 poll] 41% believe that same-sex sexual behavior is always wrong. This is a remarkable drop from 58% by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago in 1998.

So the you are right about the trend, way wrong about the current magnitude.

The reality is this: all three sides in WWII saw the war as a battle between peoples, not armies. All three committed wanton, militarily useless mass murders of millions of civilians. The Holocaust was especially weird and creepy, but it was also a military secret that very few in the Axis regimes knew about.

Can't say I really disagree with this, although I think the symmetry is considerably less perfect than you imply.

Everyone is guilty. No one is innocent. To ascribe unique guilt is a mendacious and surreptitious way of ascribing unique innocence.

So why spend so much energy totting up Stalin's crimes, or Hitler's, if we're all equally guilty?

And when you allow people to cleanse themselves of Stalinist contagion just by saying "I divorce you," three times, whereas no amount of soap can scrub off the Nazi stain, you are not improving your understanding of either the past or the present.

Nice line, but not what I was saying at all. My argument is about the structure of the cloud of neighboring beliefs and believers that surrounds both Hitler and Stalin. The people who actively helped Stalin carry out his genocides bear culpability similar to that of the Nazis. But not everyone who is on the left does. And the left has a much broader cloud than that which surrounds Nazism. Many people supported the left without supporting Stalin. Nobody supported Nazism without supporting Hitler.

Your view seems to be that the Stalinist contagion has infected practically everyone. It's the HERV of political memes -- it used to be foreign, now its part of our DNA. In which case, attempts to get rid of it are rather futile. If you substitute Universalism, I might agree with you. That is at least an interesting and plausible thesis in the history of ideas. But trying to condemn all strains of Universalism because some of them mutated into Stalinism seems misguided, and not particulalry interesting.

February 11, 2008 at 10:15 PM  
Blogger mnuez said...

You are using the slogans on Starbucks cups as a political barometer, and I'm the one smoking crack? "Power comes out of the spout of an espresso machine" -- Chairman Moldbug. It's like claiming that because Americans eat a lot of pizza we have become Italian. Have you looked at how wealth distribution has changed since the 60s? That's a hell of a lot more politically relevant than what platitudes get chosen for a cup of corporate coffee.


So Mencius does have reins! And Mtraven knows how to use em! Mencius, I'm glad to see there's at least one feller here who's willing to stand up to lopsided and wild claims about the evils of Socialistic ideas. Don't get me wrong - tinny, half-hearted apologetics among the most extreme misrepresentations of Socialistic ideas aren't quite sufficient to excite blood pressure to dangerous levels, but in the intello-sphere, where rabid Libertarianism is the norm and where leftists of any stripe seem practically extinct, I'll stand to cheer for Mtraven's guts and sense. Without folk like him piping up with a defense of the Left every once in a while (though a defense of the Left seems hardly required when all living intello-bloggers are Paulites) we'd be left with quite a skewed view of reality. So, again, Mtray - obeisance to thee...


mnuez
www.mnuez.blogspot.com

February 12, 2008 at 12:59 AM  
Blogger mnuez said...

"among"? Fourth sentence should have the word "against".

If using the "trash can" option didn't leave the mysterious blotch of wonder "why did the author remove his post? what secret was revealed??" I'd'a gone with it. Alas, this silly post-post seems less blotchy. My apologies to all for the eye-sore.

mnuez

February 12, 2008 at 1:09 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Anoneedsaname:

"How awful for a country to be locked out of a landmass on an entirely different continent/hemisphere of the earth.

Well, let's see, since preventing that outcome was the objective of 60 years of American foreign policy, one has to assume either that (a) the political elite who devised and maintained this bipartisan policy over more than half a century - at considerable cost in political and material resources - were stupid, "

Um. Yes. Unfortunately, there are no "redos" in history, so we can't go back to 1939 and tell everyone to sod off. But that doesn't mean that we can't go to 2008 and tell everyone to sod off now. Trade and trade alike but keep your damn geopolitics away from us.

Sadly this won't happen, at least not in the next 16 years or so -- unless there is some disastrous quasi-religious-racial world war involving "white folks" (that is Europeans and Americans irrespective of skin color) and "brown folks" (that is Middle Eastern, Asian, and African Muslims). Then we might realize a little more quickly that intervention isn't so grand.

The problem with reading history at all is that it is all biased cant. Depending on your viewpoint, you pick what you want and leave the rest. What we need as people who wish to shape policy is a desire to see what doesn't and does work and excise the broken parts while elevating the working ones. Arguing about the leftness or rightness of dead folks doesn't help that much. . .

GMP

February 12, 2008 at 8:47 AM  
Anonymous tripp said...

I'm sort of guessing that moldbug was mostly tongue-in-cheek when he chose the Starbucks example. Having familiarized myself with his blog over the last month or so, I can think of maybe a dozen better examples he's given in the past. So he chose an example of leftist domination that wasn't so much weak as playful, probably because he's hoping we remember more serious salvoes from the past.

He's mentioned the occupation of several universities by politico-racial gangs, a liberal professor drummed out of his job for studying differential business practices of native Kenyans and immigrants, the Korean war's origins in US connivance with Communist aggression, the failure of recent Republican Presidents to significantly reduce the size of the state, etc. He called the Zebra affair "ethnic cleansing", I think, which is fairly accurate. (Does this crime campaign have the same media contagion as crimes by supposed rightists? Hard to say, since most people have never heard of it.)

You can disagree with any of these examples if you want (their importance or their veracity, I suppose), but objecting to the Starbucks example boils down to a call for moldbug to reiterate, which hardly seems necessary given the phenomenon of blog archives.

February 12, 2008 at 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Actually, acceptance of gays is hardly the only instance of how the US has become less socially conservative over the past 50-60 years. It is probably not as significant an example as several other social trends.

Divorce used to be a great stigma. I can still recall when Nelson Rockefeller divorced his first wife, the verdict of the punditry was that he would never be president because American voters would never elect a divorced man. Rockefeller never became president, but not for that reason. Our first divorced president was Ronald Reagan. At a humbler level, divorce was considered disqualifying for many jobs. I was acquainted with a person (now deceased) who had an amicable divorce from his wife some decades ago, and as a consequence was asked to leave his position on the faculty of a state university. This sort of thing simply does not happen any more. There is no stigma to divorce.

Similar examples of behavior that has lost its stigma are couples living together without benefit of wedlock, the bearing of illegitimate children, and the casual use of bankruptcy. Forty years ago any of these would have been considered highly disgraceful and were very rare outside the lumpenproletariat. Fifty years ago recreational drug use was largely the province of the most degraded elements of the lower class. Today, though still illegal, it has spread to the middle and upper classes and despite the efforts of law enforcement is uncontrollable.

Kulturbolschewismus has prevailed! If we want to know the ideas behind these consequences we need look no further than Marcuse, Horkheimer, Adorno, and the rest of the Frankfurt school. Anyone with the patience to plod through Marcuse's "Eros and Civilisation" will find it is just about a blueprint for the crumbling of what used to be called "middle class morality."

February 12, 2008 at 10:17 AM  
Anonymous tripp said...

GMP wrote: "Arguing about the leftness or rightness of dead folks doesn't help that much. . ."

Surely not everything has to help? Web arguments tend to be about stuff like, whether or not the shadows in a given two-second shot in a forgotten movie constituted good cinematography. What we get is a mainstream media saying good stuff = leftism, bad stuff = rightism, so Stalinism and Maoism aren't really leftism, but Hitlerism really is rightism. Then you get someone saying that socialism has been more or less a trainwreck wherever it has occurred, and tracing exactly the pathway it has taken through history, and demonstrating the ways its hands alternately wash and divorce each other. Sure, if we gloss over the main points of the latter view, what I call the "socialism =~ socialism" school, we can reduce it to useless semantics. My point is that the imagined linkage between Burkean and Hitlerite thinking constitute a smear against the former, and that is worth arguing about. Worse still, the imagined linkage between freedom and political rights constitute a very potent, very current, danger to the former.

February 12, 2008 at 10:26 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Tripp --

I don't think it is worth arguing about -- mostly because one is beating a dead horse. The idea of discourse is to change minds.

Bringing up the spectre of dead villains is hardly useful in this regard.

I understand that it is a fundamental failing of the internet that arguments devolve into ephemera and semantics. What I hope is that on UR (as in other places), posters as a whole can ignore the stalin-hitler-semantifiers and focus on the big picture, i.e. who's flying this crazy thing?

February 12, 2008 at 10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Somebody else was claiming that society was much more liberal than it was 30 years ago, and my reply (unsent as yet) was that I couldn't see it at all, with the exception of an increasing acceptance of homosexuality.

This says more about you than about the progression of society in a liberal direction. I bet you're one of these guys who doesn't think the media or academia are liberal, either. =)

Unfortunately, there are no "redos" in history, so we can't go back to 1939 and tell everyone to sod off.

It would be a terrible idea even if you could. Adolf wasn't going to let us sit there in splendid isolation, though he would have loved to have us stay out until he'd crushed everyone else.

But that doesn't mean that we can't go to 2008 and tell everyone to sod off now.

This is at least as childish an idea now as it was in 1939, if not more so.

Trade and trade alike but keep your damn geopolitics away from us.

Alas, you can't separate the trade from the geopolitics. The rules of the international trade game do not exist as they are because everyone likes us. They exist because we are a military superpower. As soon as the US military stops underwriting world order, you will see some very unpleasant economic changes that will affect you personally.

February 12, 2008 at 11:50 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

"As soon as the US military stops underwriting world order, you will see some very unpleasant economic changes that will affect you personally."

Oh, horseshit.

You mean to tell me that if we pulled back all of our troops tonight from the entire world theater, that all of a sudden China would start attacking our ports? That Canada and Mexico would stop shipping us oil? Ple-fucking-ase. Even if we aren't involved in world wars, we still have nuclear subs that outrank every other nation but Russia and China. Last I remember, the US Navy, by itself, is the world's #2 nuclear superpower.

It is simply bellicose naivety to believe that we have to meddle in the rest of the world to be "safe at home," and it's that kind of thinking that will get us attacked in the end.

February 12, 2008 at 12:02 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

and furthermore,

if we had let Germany and Russia kill the hell out of each other in World War II (instead of keeping a good portion of Krauts occupied in France), then the USSR would never have been in a position to create the puppet states of the Cold War.

February 12, 2008 at 12:05 PM  
Anonymous tripp said...

G.M. Palmer: "What I hope is that on UR (as in other places), posters as a whole can ignore the stalin-hitler-semantifiers and focus on the big picture, i.e. who's flying this crazy thing?"

That's fair enough. I get a little tired of Staller and Hitlin myself. But I do think there is some point in tracing the genealogy of ideals (Nietzsche's term, K-L's practice). That is why I have defended K-L here, but I'm ready to move on.

Hmmh ... I'm always defending someone. I think I agree with both tggp and moldbug on the hatred thing. If I may make an extended metaphor ... let's say you've got someone who walks around proclaiming to be a robot, talking in a monotone, storing batteries in his hip pockets, etc. Then he gets an itchy skin rash, and moldbug is relieved. It's not that he's pro-skin rash, it's just that he likes people better than robots. And then tggp comes along and points out that scratching your rash won't make it go away. Both are valid points, no? To stop scratching the rash means to stop linking bad socialists with anti-socialists. (I think we can all think of examples of that, and for me to enumerate them would probably prove distracting.)

I think there is something about moldbug's writing that makes me think I agree with him when I don't; his writing may have the opposite effect on others. I think this is a disadvantage to a colorful, quasi-poetic writing style ... but I notice people keep returning to the site.

February 12, 2008 at 1:08 PM  
Blogger Studd Beefpile said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 12, 2008 at 2:33 PM  
Blogger Studd Beefpile said...

you mean to tell me that if we pulled back all of our troops tonight from the entire world theater, that all of a sudden China would start attacking our ports? That Canada and Mexico would stop shipping us oil? Ple-fucking-ase. Even if we aren't involved in world wars, we still have nuclear subs that outrank every other nation but Russia and China. Last I remember, the US Navy, by itself, is the world's #2 nuclear superpower.


If America went home, the great power games would begin again almost immediately. On the first day alone, China would hold a million man swim for Taiwan, Iraq (pre 2003) would invade Kuwait, and god only knows what Russia would get up to. The current order of relatively free global trade is and has always been sustained by american military might.

February 12, 2008 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Michael S:
Nothing remotely approaching the importance of this threat arose from the labor organizations.
Am I just imagining the leftist paramilitary groups based in labor organizations causing the Russian revolution, Finnish civil war and Spartacist uprising and all sorts of crap in Spain around that time? As Stalin said, "How many divisions does the Pope have?". Would you agree if I said a monarchical government was more likely to have a right-wing prime minister than left-wing one?

Guy Who Refuses to Select a Nickname:
Your taxes paid for your freedom.
Bullshit. The government is neither capable nor inclined to look after my interests domestically, why the hell should it abroad?

The idea that America would be free and happy after either the Nazis or Stalin's USSR took over Eurasia is absurd.
Why not? The only folks we really cared about there were the British, who stood up against the Germans alone and still won. We were free with the largest and most populous countries in the world under communist control, why fret about France?

We would have turned into a garrison state that would have made the Cold War USA look like anarchy.
I'd prefer an isolationist garrison over an interventionist stretched thin, but I doubt that would even be necessary if we minded our own business.

Since neither the Nazis nor the USSR were big believers in free trade, our economy would have been a miniscule fraction of what it became in real life.
They were plenty willing to trade when they needed stuff. We traded just fine with the Chinese and Vietnamese, and the "Great Leap Forward" was so insanely autarkic it made Hitler and Stalin look like Cobden & Bright.

It would have been stupid to stand aside and let another power dominate Eurasia.
Why not? I don't live in Eurasia. The strategists at the time were idiots.

Actually, yes it was.
What harm came of it?

America would have been in big trouble if the French had won.
How?

In contrast, our power in 1941 was vast and our intervention in WW2 was decisive.
And yet we don't seem to have been any safer since then. Before we joined in the idiotic game of nations with the Spanish American War our battle deaths were mostly relegated to the Civil War. How many died in the century after?

Do you know anything about the Eastern Front in WW2? It was a struggle to the death. It wasn't going to end short of total victory for one side or the other.
I don't know what would have happened if we hadn't intervened, but I don't see why the only result had to be unconditional surrender. There were German generals who offered to overthrow Hitler so they could wage a less insane war in the East but Roosevelt found that unacceptable. The Iran-Iraq war seemed like a "struggle to the death" that lasted longer than WW2 and featured waves of suicidal attackers, but it still ended with relatively little change to the status quo. The North Koreans also had mass wave attacks (though without martyr theology), but that ended in a stalemate as well.

Ultimately it wasn't up to us.
Read some John Flynn.

We might have liked to have stayed out and kept feeding the Soviets for a while longer, but then Japan and Germany declared war on us, remember?
Since the Japanese were the ones actually attacking our territory and Germany would have preferred to have nothing to do with us, we should have just beat the Japanese back while ignoring Europe & Africa and then negotiated a peace with Tojo.

Well, let's see, since preventing that outcome was the objective of 60 years of American foreign policy, one has to assume either that (a) the political elite who devised and maintained this bipartisan policy over more than half a century - at considerable cost in political and material resources - were stupid,
I'm a libertarian. More specifically, a paleolibertarian. That is exactly what I believe.

It's basic geopolitics, my friend. No single power should control the heartland.
And Arnold Kling told me hegemony was necessary for trade! You and him need to have an argument about the Pax Romana.

Tripp:
I would have guessed that there are plenty of anarcho-capitalists, but that's only from the number that I've run into on the web.
There are only a tiny number of them and a lot more left-anarchists.

I'm not much of an expert on the varieties of anarchist thought.
Keith Preston, Kevin Carson and Roderick Long provide some good info on left-anarchism digestible for righties. Per Bylund promotes a more plumb-line anarchism than Tucker did or Walter Block does now. He used to be more right-wing but now says anarchists should not provide any sort of blue-print for anarchy. Crispin Sartwell seems more left-wing but he considers Barry Goldwater one of his heroes and he's written an online introduction to anarchism as a political philosophy.

Let me rely on the garden-variety definition of libertarianism, and say that people who believe initiating force is okay to create economic equality, social justice, or whatnot are leftists.
Mencius made a very important point with his formalism. Libertarians believe the status quo is somehow illegitimate. The more radical or leftist they are the more illegitimate they think it is. Any use of force they believe is unjustified by ongoing coercion. LeFevreian/Tolstoyan anarcho-pacifists are an exception of course.

As to the socialist monarchists, while I suppose not everyone is the UK's Labour Party is a republican, so I guess they'd qualify.
I was thinking of the more leftist tendencies among the the George Fraziers, Carlyles and Ruskins as well as the "socialists of the chair". Kevin Carson discusses some of the links between his own "mutualism" and the "distributism" (championed by Chesterton and Belloc) or Jacobite and Tory agrarian strands of anti-Whig England here.

mtraven:
I might also be wanting to sit him down and talk to some Jews.
He already had Jewish friends, some of whom he had relied on during the kidnapping case. Even when he was speaking out against Jewish influence he said that not all Jews blameworthy and that it was completely understandable that they (along with the British, although I don't recall he gave an explanation for the behavior of the Roosevelt administration) would want to get America to intervene against Germany. Henry Ford was the one who went beyond isolationism into anti-semitism.

Dude, listen to yourself. You are the one dredging up obscure speeches from 100 years ago and inviting us to hate on them.
You've definitely got a point that MM seems too obsessed with old historical writings, but I agree with him that you need to more critically examine the past to understand where we are now. His bit on the American War of Independence was good because it doesn't inspire hate so much as bemusement at people we're supposed to revere.

While it's certainly possible to overdo it, Hitler was within living memory
Were you born before Hitler died?

My Congressman (until today -- he just died) was a Holocaust survivor.
Lantos?

I'm sorry, but stuff like that sounds so nonsensical I don't even know how to begin to respond to it.
Hear, hear. Mencius can't point to any concrete actions taken by the State Department that go counter to Bush's will.

Have you looked at how wealth distribution has changed since the 60s?
Doesn't most of the growth in inequality come from a few Blue counties?

Somebody else was claiming that society was much more liberal than it was 30 years ago, and my reply (unsent as yet) was that I couldn't see it at all, with the exception of an increasing acceptance of homosexuality.
I'd say attitudes towards straight sexuality, marriage, divorce, child-rearing and dating/"hooking up" have also changed a lot. So have attitudes towards race. Willie Horton went from being used by Republicans to Democrats. We've gone from being a Protestant nation to a Christian one to Judeo-Christian and now the President can't mention our churches without adding references to both temples and mosques. He also repeatedly tells us Islam is a religion of peace, which is why after we bomb the few kooks causing all the problems they'll all embrace America, freedom and democracy. Atheists have begun to demand a spot at the table (usually through the courts) and regard those who look down on their lack of faith as fringe extremists. The Republican Party was once personified by Bob Taft, Ron Paul's idol, and now Bush's humble non-interventionism from 2000 let alone the downright anti-government 90s seems like ages ago. Eisenhower was able to carry out Operation Wetback without passing a single law and we are now told such a thing is simply impossible. We've gone from saying the Fourteenth Amendment certain civil rights acts and court decisions require equal treatment to saying they require preferential treatment, and the Congressman who said he would eat the pages his bill was printed on if it were ever construed in that way has not done so. Environmentalism has shifted from being an object of derision to a more respectable and mainstream position, but despite the hubbub over global warming not a single new nuclear power plant has been built. Then of course there are the Larry Summers and James Watson things.

So the you are right about the trend, way wrong about the current magnitude.
He is, but homosexuals are much more liked than atheists, who themselves have advances considerably since Scopes lost the monkey trial.

if we're all equally guilty?
What's all this "we", paleface?

mnuez:
So Mencius does have reins!
If you think that will give him pause, you haven't hung around here that much.

in the intello-sphere, where rabid Libertarianism is the norm and where leftists of any stripe seem practically extinct
Libertarians are certainly over-represented, but there are tons of leftists. It's really social conservatives that are the most underrepresented.

though a defense of the Left seems hardly required when all living intello-bloggers are Paulites
Not even all libertarians are Paulites.

G. M. Palmer:
The problem with reading history at all is that it is all biased cant
Interestingly, I believe historians are even more left-wing than sociologists.

tripp:
The Zebra killings didn't amount to ethnic cleansing. There is ethnic cleansing going on in America, but MM doesn't care about it.

Michael S:
Fifty years ago recreational drug use was largely the province of the most degraded elements of the lower class.
But before then during Prohibition it was normal. Heroin and cocaine used to be legal as well.

Still not bothering to use a pseudonym:
Adolf wasn't going to let us sit there in splendid isolation, though he would have loved to have us stay out until he'd crushed everyone else.
Any evidence for that statement? He pretty much said everything he was going to do in Mein Kampf, with the only deviation being the unwillingness of the British to join up in Anglo-Germanic alliance against Russia. He didn't expect the U.S and Germany to get into a conflict until long after he was dead.

The rules of the international trade game
What "rules of the international trade game"? The ones created by the Law Merchant?

As soon as the US military stops underwriting world order, you will see some very unpleasant economic changes that will affect you personally.
Why do you think it hasn't happened yet? MM already said that countries like China and Russia are independent. You can argue with him you disagree, but we still trade with them. Iran is now supposed to be the main country defying us, but they trade just fine with the Russians and Chinese and don't disrupt it with anyone else (it's our government that prohibits trading with them). Our invasion of Iraq hasn't seemed to have done global trade any good.

G. M. Palmer:
[much kicking of ass]
Right on.

tripp:
he likes people better than robots
I suppose the difference is that I really do prefer robots to people. I eagerly await the Singularity.

Studd Beefpile:
On the first day alone, China would hold a million man swim for Taiwan, Iraq (pre 2003) would invade Kuwait
Fuck Taiwan and fuck Kuwait. Iraq had already been whipped silly in 91, not that it was necessary for American interests.

February 12, 2008 at 5:51 PM  
Blogger Studd Beefpile said...

Fuck Taiwan and fuck Kuwait. Iraq had already been whipped silly in 91, not that it was necessary for American interests.

Individually, neither country matters. However, drawing lines in the sand keeps the system stable, and instability is the death of markets.

February 12, 2008 at 6:49 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

TGGP, the Savoy monarchy was a beneficiary of the Risorgimento. The Carbonari, Mazzini, Garibalidi, etc., were certainly perceived as 'leftists' in their time. The right of the day supported the Papacy and the Neapolitan Bourbons. The strength of the labor movement in Italy was not comparable to that in more industrialized societies. Nor was it completely loyal to communism/socialism - there were many supporters of fascism amongst the working class. On the other hand, loyalty to the Church was strong, especially in the mezzogiorno. Whether a monarchical government was more likely to have a right- than a left-wing prime minister depends upon the conditions at the time and the nature of its constitutional arrangements. It is my impression that Mussolini just about forced himself on the Italian monarchy. They lent him at least some legitimacy, and he wished to reinforce it by patching up matters with the Church, hence the Lateran Treaty.

On recreational drug use, yes I suppose it was common during Prohibition IF one numbers alcohol amongst recreational drugs. I do not think that alcoholic beverages are necessarily always used as such - and there is a case for viewing wine and beer, at least, as preserved foods. Fermentation is an ancient food preservation technique just as are salting, pickling, smoking, drying, etc. The nutritive value of beer (really just liquid bread) used to be well recognized. Although with all the concern today about foetal alcohol syndrome it would horrify the modern medical profession, it was not that long ago that pregnant women were advised to drink beer to provide extra nutrition for their babies.

Other than alcohol I do not think that the recreational use of opiates, cocaine, marijuana, and the like was ever very common in the mainstream of society. Marijuana use was brought to the United States by Mexican immigrants and for a long time was common only amongst them. A racial element was prominent in the concern about drug addiction. In the early legislative history of drug regulation one can read pronouncements about "the cocaine-crazed negro brain" and other such quaint expressions. Opium use was associated with sinister Orientals. Anti-drug legislation was understood at the time it was passed either as dealing with repulsive alien or lower-class vices (the Harrison Act of 1914) or with the possibility of medical misadventure through inappropriate self-treatment (the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906).

February 13, 2008 at 9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

911 was an inside job.The official story is false history at it's most brazen extreme.I recommend the 911 Taboo and September Clues You tube documentaries for the truth.

October 27, 2008 at 7:00 PM  
Blogger 信次 said...

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January 31, 2009 at 10:15 PM  
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February 12, 2009 at 2:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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March 2, 2009 at 10:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! thanks a lot! ^^

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March 2, 2009 at 10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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March 6, 2009 at 6:08 AM  

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