Anti-Socialist Tendencies

Thursday, February 27, 2003

War is not 'the best way of settling differences'; it is the only way of preventing their being settled for you.

-- G. K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News 7/24/15

Wednesday, February 26, 2003
...But the Peaceniks Aren't Listening

Consider the following statement from one of several Iraqis free to speak thanks to being in Syria:

We want the Americans to come, and if they come tomorrow it will not be too soon. People are nervous, people are afraid, we don't want war. But do we want to change the government and we will welcome anyone who comes to get rid of Saddam.

And this one, from another Iraqi:

We will be angry with America if they don't come to remove Saddam Hussein. They could have removed him before, and all the Iraqi people were behind the Americans, but they didn't do it. This time, we pray that they will.

Still aren't getting the idea? Maybe this will help:

The people of Iraq want war tomorrow. Ask any Iraqi, are you ready to take a gun and fight with the American soldiers, and he will say, yes, we will go in front of the American soldiers to Baghdad.

Hardly the picture of innocent Iraqis cowering in quaking terror at the approach of brutal American imperialists that anti-war activists like to paint, is it? But to be fair, these Iraqis are indeed living in fear of what America may do to their country -- in fear of the U.S. not attacking hard enough and finishing the war, making Iraqis bold enough to rise up against Hussein only to have the U.S. stand down and let them be crushed as it did after the Gulf War:

If the Americans try to reach Baghdad, all the people will come out on the streets to join them. What we don't want is for them to stop in the middle, so that the government can kill us again....

One would think that peace activists would be all too eager to hear from the people on whose behalf they consider themselves to be acting. One would be wrong, as Amir Taheri discovered at the big anti-war protest in London. Not only were the organizers and big-name attendees (including Jesse Jackson) uninterested in listening to the Iraqi dissidents, they were also totally unwilling to give them an opportunity to voice their views to anyone else. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised about this reception, though, considering the opinion these Iraqis in exile seem to have of the protesters. Here's what Iraqi poet Awad Nasser had to say to Taheri about them:

These people are mad. They are actually signing up to sacrifice their lives to protect a tyrant's death machine.... Are these people ignorant, or are they blinded by hatred of the United States?

And here are some thoughts by Dr. B. Khalaf, an Iraqi residing in London, printed in The Guardian:

I am so frustrated by the appalling views of most of the British people, media and politicians. I want to say to all these people who are against the possible war, that if you think by doing so you are serving the interests of Iraqi people or saving them, you are not. You are effectively saving Saddam. You are depriving the Iraqi people of probably their last real chance get rid of him and to get out of this dark era in their history.

An anonymous Iraqi writing in The Christian Science Monitor has some questions for peace activists:

What if you antiwar protesters and politicians succeed in stopping a US-led war to change the regime in Baghdad? What then will you do? Will you also demonstrate and demand "peaceful" actions to cure the abysmal human rights violations of the Iraqi people under the rule of Saddam Hussein?.... Will you question why Hussein builds lavish palaces while his people are suffering? Or will you simply blame it all on UN sanctions and US "hegemony?".... No. I suspect that most of you will simply retire to your cappucino cafes to brainstorm the next hot topic to protest, and that you will simply forget about us Iraqis, once you succeed in discrediting President Bush.

But perhaps the most stinging statement is from Rafat Muhammad, imprisoned for 14 years by Hussein for the crime of selling film to a journalist:

I am surprised to hear of all the anti-war demonstrations in the West. I wish that the demonstrators could spend just 24 hours in the place I have come from and see the reality of Iraq.

Fourteen lost years of my life. Nothing but bread for food — darkness, filth, beatings, torture, killings, bitterness and humiliation. I wish they could experience it for just 24 hours.

Those who have lived through both war and dictatorship -- those such as my own mother -- understand that while war is horrible, it is not the most horrible thing, and that it can be countenanced if the alternative is an entire country lost in the fear and darkness of totalitarian rule. The anti-war activists might yet learn this bit of wisdom, if they will only allow the very Iraqis they presume to be championing to dispell their naivete.


Blogger Juan Paxety has helpfully compiled an exhaustive list of U.N. Resolutions regarding Iraq. There have been 19 over the past 12 years, stretching from Resolution 660 in 1990 (condemning the invasion of Kuwait and demanding Iraqi withdrawal) to the current Resolution 1441 in 2002, the requirements of most of which -- needless to say -- have been ignored by Saddam Hussein. But don't let this make you become a cynic yet! He's sure to comply with the 20th Resolution... well, OK, maybe the 21st... or 22nd...


At long last, Glenn Frazier has returned to the Blogosphere. Now if only Varenius can do the same... :-)

Thursday, February 20, 2003

This just in, as the likelihood of a showdown with Sauron grows ever greater:

MINAS TIRITH (Gondor News Network) - Thousands of peace activists took to the streets of Minas Tirith and other cities of Middle Earth today to protest what they termed a rush to war with Mordor.

“We need more time for diplomacy,” said a key member of the Middle-Earth Security Council, Saruman the White. “I am not convinced by the evidence presented by my esteemed colleague, Gandalf the Grey, or that the Dark Lord Sauron presents an imminent danger to the peoples of the West.”

Many of the people protesting war in Mordor agreed with Saruman’s remarks. “Sauron says he’s destroyed his Rings of Mass Destruction (RMD) and that’s good enough for me,” said one fellow carrying a sign that said “Elrond is a Balrog.” Another demonstrator urged, “Give the RMD inspectors more time. There’s no reason to rush to any judgment just because Mount Doom is belching lava, the Dark Tower is rebuilt, and Osgiliath has been decimated.” A third protester piped up, “I haven’t heard a single bit of convincing evidence connecting the Nazgul with Sauron. I think they destroyed Osgiliath on their own initiative without any support from Sauron. Besides, it’s understandable they’re angry with Gondor. We haven’t done nearly as much for the Orcs and Goblins and Easterlings as the Nazgul and Sauron have. It’s understandable they throw their support to them. It’s our own fault really.”

As the protesters continued their march through the city, they chanted, “No blood for Mount Doom,” voicing a common sentiment that the leaders of the Western peoples are really seeking to get their hands on the powerful Mount Doom, where the One Ring of Power was allegedly forged.

Gandalf the Grey was unavailable for comment. A spokesman said he was in an undisclosed underground location, which sources have revealed is codenamed: Moria.


With the recent death of Dolly the cloned sheep as his starting point, William Luse at Apologia offers a thoughtful, extended reflection on the social implications of cloning technology. Deeply disturbing but very insightful.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Mean Mr. Mustard, whom I recently added to my Favorite Blogs list, has come up with a hilarious but sadly insightful spoof of an anti-war poster. I have a sneaking suspicion that this will start appearing around my campus very, very soon... as soon as a certain person gets a new ink cartridge...


Making the rounds on the Internet lately has been the claim that President Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush, help to finance the Nazi regime and oversaw slave labor from German concentration camps during the war. I first encountered it in the form of a really obnoxious multimedia file that someone posted to a discussion on the Palestine Indymedia site. (If you are really, really dying to go see it, I'll try to dig up the link for you.) Anyway, no less a figure of note than Cecil Adams of The Straight Dope fame has come forward to assess this claim, and finds it's more than a wee bit flimsy. The slave labor charge can be dismissed outright, and the financing charge is much less than what's being made of it. Definitely a must-read.

Friday, February 14, 2003

This month, FrontPage has published several pieces on that ultimate Hate America Leftist, Noam Chomsky. Since I'm getting sick of campus idiotarians invoking him to back up their positions, I will here provide a little, uh, tribute to Chomsky by pointing them out.

America's Stupidest Intellectual

In this article, J.D. Cassidy dissects the Chomster's vitrolic spewings emitted since 9/11. There are some real doozies here, even judging by the high standards Chomsky's corpus has set. Cassidy describes Chomsky's basic mindset thusly:

The entire corpus of his work concerning politics and foreign policy is founded on the old left-wing contention that when American policy is judged, it should not be measured against the policies of other existing nations, but against the utopian vision of a heaven on earth... The idea here is to bring America’s imperfections under close scrutiny while strategically dismissing the barbarism of America’s enemies.

That nicely sums up the perspective of the typical campus leftist [1], so it should be no surprise that Chomsky has such a big fan club (though with him, we are definitely venturing into chicken-or-egg territory).

Chomsky, Behaviorist Utopian

Digging a little deeper into Chomsky's philosophy, The Coercive Communism of Noam Chomsky by Barry Loberfeld explores the intellectual connections between Chomsky and behaviorist B.F. Skinner. Despite a few variations here and there, Chomsky agrees with Skinner's view that "economic persuasion" (i.e. wages and benefits) is actually a form of control/coercion, and thus we do not have freedom until we are no longer subject to it. Chomsky pushes out from this into truly loopy waters by then hand-wavingly concluding that the solution is to abolish payment for work and have people do their jobs for the intrinsic reward it gives them, instead supporting themselves through... umm... er... some way or another... well, y'know, it will all work out somehow, the details aren't important.

Hanoi Chomsky

One of the recurring criticisms of Chomsky is his past support for totalitarian regimes that turned spectacularly murderous, namely North Vietnam and Cambodia, followed by his downplaying or denial of that support. In this vein, Tim Starr of the libertarian weblog No Treason tracked down the text of a 1970 speech in Hanoi by Chomsky supporting the North Vietnamese regime. The Chomskyites immediately protested and cried foul, prompting Starr to pen this excellent response defending the veracity of the speech and outlining the full horror of what Chomsky supported.

[1] I read a truly weird example of this Blame America First mindset in this letter to the campus newspaper, in which the author implies it is actually the U.S. who is to blame for the French building Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor because France learned nuclear technology from us!

Monday, February 10, 2003

Every day and every hour, every minute, walk round yourself and watch yourself, and see that your image is a seemly one. You pass by a little child, you pass by, spiteful, with ugly words, with wrathful heart; you may not have noticed the child, but he has seen you, and your image, unseemly and ignoble, may remain in his defenseless heart. You don’t know it, but you may have sown an evil seed in him and it may grow and all because you were not careful before the child, because you did not foster in yourself a careful, actively benevolent love.

-- Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov


Jeff Miller has moved uptown from his old digs at Atheist to a Theist over to his new blog, The Curt Jester. He's already back to his curt jesting with this conversion story, which anyone who has read Catholic apologetics or had to sit through science films from the 1970s in school should find funny.

Still sticking it out with me in the slums of Blogspot is Max Leibman, who has just set up his second blogospheric residence, Radio Free Iraq. Here Max is focusing exclusively on the Iraq issue, and his site makes a nice complement alongside Little Green Footballs' coverage.

Sunday, February 09, 2003

I've been reading David Horowitz' autobiography Radical Son, which chronicles his growth from Red Diaper Baby to leader of the New Left in the 1960s to chastened conservative realist of today. Horowitz was an editor at the influential New Left magazine Ramparts, and in his discussion of his years there made some comments that reminded me of my thoughts on the shortcomings of Participatory Economics. After forcing out the infamous Robert Scheer (who writes sneering and hateful columns for the Los Angeles Times today) from behind the wheel of the magazine for reckless management, Horowitz and Peter Collier took over, and implemented a parecon-type structure for the magazine. He describes how worker equality and lack of hierarchy weren't as great in actual practice as they seemed in theory (pp. 185-186):

After the victory, we set out to institute the revolution we had promised. There would be no single editor to replace Scheer. Instead, a board of equals would rule collectively.... [We also] announced that everybody's salary would be equal at $500 a month. We had instituted socialism in one magazine.... At the same time, we were mindful of the flaws in the equality we had created. Most of those who received the $500 wage had no family, while others -- Collier and myself in particular -- had several children. We told ourselves that eventually we would make an allowance for "need," but we were never able to figure a way to do it. Meanwhile, Collier and I took pride in bearing our special burden, failing to acknowledge to ourselves that this was an important inequality, too.

Why were we ready to carry an extra weight, unless we felt there was something superior in our position? And there was. It was Collier and I who effectively made the decisions that were crucial to the magazine's operations.... Collier and I had engineered the change of power, and carried it through.... Everybody recognized this fact, and acted out of that recognition -- just as everyone recognized that Ramparts' success or failure depended on its editorial product, and that its editors had to be the governing body of the magazine, which ipso facto made them a part more equal than the rest.

And within the editorial board we were more equal than the others. This was because Collier and I were the only editors... who could write the articles and generate the story ideas that made the magazine work.... The net effect of the formal equality we created, therefore, was not to share the power but to increase the workload on the two of us, and -- when challenged -- to force us to expose the underlying reality that established our position....

Of course, without a formal hierarchy, every issue that came up had to be debated. The need to justify decisions was not only time-consuming for us, but at times cruel to others. This was impressed on me when we attempted to reduce the mailroom budget and were confronted by a political revolt. The mail room was staffed them by members of Newsreel, a radical collective that had made promotional films for the Black Panthers and the Vietcong....

Originally, we had hired just one Newsreeler to do the mail room work, but he had taken on more and more part-time help, featherbedding for his revolutionary comrades.... They saw Ramparts as their gravy train rather than their cause, and refused any cuts at all....

Because every decision had to be justified collectively, we assembled the entire staff, and in an all-day session hammered at the recalcitrants' deficiencies and derelictions, summoning other staff members to testify against them. The session went on for eight hours, escalating as the embattled mailroom crew resisted.... What had begun as a move to institute economies that would save all our jobs turned into a prosecution.... [T]hey were made to feel so bad about what they had done that firing them was almost a mercy. It was a collectively supported, brutal exercise, necessary for us to prevail. Privately, this experience made me recognize the utility and compassion inherent in the principle of hierarchy we had overthrown.