Anti-Socialist Tendencies

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

A small cabal of Jewish neoconservatives scheme behind the scenes of the White House, manipulating the dimwitted President and his weak Cabinet into foreign relations policies that serve the whims of Israel. The plot of the latest potboiler to air on Egyptian TV? No, it's actually a current pet conspiracy theory of people such as Michael Lind, Eric Alterman, and Edward Said. And it's not cropping up only among these usual suspects: I also have heard it from figures like former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who endorsed this theory in the presentation I blogged about previously (although I didn't mention this aspect there).

Just in case you need formal negation of this silliness, Robert J. Lieber provides it in a Chronicle of Higher Education article showing this conspiracy theory is unfounded. Lieber points out how the theory misrepresents the composition and views of Bush Administration officials, and actually echoes traditional anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Adding to the voices pointed out before, Rachel Belton also warns not to put the United Nations in charge of reconstructing Iraq, suggesting instead that it should be the U.S. military:

The military has led the only two successful attempts at postwar democratization. In Japan and Germany, defense officials took full responsibility. Used to thinking stra- tegically, they focused on overarching values and critical missions. The centralized defense structure allowed America's core values to remain consistent and penetrate every aspect of the mission. Yet, after setting and enforcing broad guidelines, they gave the Germans and Japanese great leeway in setting up their own governments. Perhaps most important, the military authorities did not want to remain. Unlike international organizations, whose entire job is to "help" other countries, the Pentagon has other work to do. It has every incentive to create a viable local government and then allow it the autonomy to function on its own.

But countering this anti-U.N. consensus is David Plotz of Slate, who argues that the U.N. should be in charge of political rebuilding:

An Iraqi democratic leader who’s perceived as an American tool will be challenged, delegitimized, emasculated, and probably assassinated. A political process under U.N. auspices would possess a legitimacy that a U.S. process would not, says Stephen Stedman, acting co-director of Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. The United States can (and should) manipulate the process behind the scenes, but it needs the United Nations’ stamp to make the result authoritative. Afghan President Hamid Karzai “has escaped the label of being an American puppet” because the United Nations ran the process that selected him, says Stedman. “Whatever problems Karzai may have, he is still seen as being legitimate internally.”

I wonder, though, whether the U.N. versus U.S. distinction will be a meaningful one for those inclined to consider the leader a foreign puppet. Regardless, I encourage you to read Plotz' article since it has some excellent thoughts on nurturing democracy in post-war Iraq.


Here's a great spoof of Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn discussing the Fellowship of the Ring movie: Part 1 and Part 2. Some good lines:

Zinn: Well, you know, it would be manifestly difficult to believe in magic rings unless everyone was high on pipe-weed. So it is in Gandalf's interest to keep Middle Earth hooked.
Chomsky: "Let's leave the most powerful object in all of Middle Earth with a weak little Hobbit, a race known for its chattering and intoxication, and tell him to keep it a secret."
Chomsky: Think of it from the Black Riders' perspective. No doubt they arrived at Weathertop thinking, "Can we ask a few questions? We'd like to talk to you."

And some amazingly appropriate statements for these Lefty hucksters:

Zinn: Right. And here we receive our first glimpse of the supposedly dreadful Mordor, which actually looks like a fairly functioning place.
Chomsky: This type of city is most likely the best the Orcs can do if all they have are cliffs to grow on. It's very impressive, in that sense.
Zinn: Especially considering the economic sanctions no doubt faced by Mordor. They must be dreadful.
Chomsky: There is something very funny lingering around the edges of the whole Moria episode. Could it be that the Dwarves living there were starting to get different ideas about the Orcs? Were starting to talk to the Orcs, and establish some means of cross-cultural communication? Perhaps Gandalf and some of his Rohan friends went there only to find a bunch of Dwarves and Orcs talking, maybe forming an alliance or pact. And then Gandalf massacred all of them, and pretended as though there was some huge battle. This would explain why Gandalf can't lead them back there. Genocide's been committed. He hasn't yet weaved a good enough story to explain away the evidence. He has to pretend that Moria is this scary place.
Zinn: And now we come to Galadriel's wood, Lothlorien. The film -- inexcusably, in my view -- leaves out a lot of the things that happen to Gimli in this sequence.
Chomsky: He's forced to wear a blindfold. He is not allowed to see the Elves. This is the apartheid system the Fellowship serves.
Zinn: And even here the Elves hold, you know, arrows to his head. He's completely brutalized. But of course Gimli falls in love with Galadriel, thus perpetuating the Dwarves' self-hatred.

Friday, April 25, 2003

Now, for the Hal Lindseys and Jack van Impes on your gift-giving list, it's The Amazing Apocalypse Watch! This fine timepiece gives you the thoroughly Biblically-based lowdown on the day and hour of the Second Coming. Never needs winding or batteries, and is accurate in every time zone on the planet. Don't be Left Behind, get yours today!

Monday, April 21, 2003

The new issue of City Journal is online, and you know what that means: Hours of distraction for Varenius! But enough welcome complaining. One of the more noteworthy articles this quarter is "Up from Liberalism" by Janet Daley. Daley was a '60s Berkeley liberal until mugged by reality in the form of living under socialism in Britain of the day. In addition to democratic socialism being unable to deliver the promised goods, she also saw that it reinforced and exacerbated the worst aspects of the British class system:

What decisively transformed my views was my growing understanding of the consequences of the welfare state that Britain had constructed out of a wartime command economy: it both reinforced the fatal passivity of the lower classes and provided a moral justification for the paternalism of the upper classes. The realization was slow but inexorable. It came through concrete example and abstract argument. By the end, it was so blindingly obvious that I wondered how anyone could ever not have seen that the socialist solution -- the great, generous dream of perfect fairness -- was inevitably destructive of the human spirit.

Go read the whole thing for the full story. I found Daley's essay especially interesting because just recently I finished reading Joshua Muravchik's Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism, which has a chapter on Clement Atlee's Labour Party and post-war British socialism that provides the broader context of her story. If Daley's article grabs your interest, definitely check out Muravchik's book. (I'm planning to review it here, as soon as I manage to write some other entries I've been wanting to post.)

Daley and McCarthyism

I was particularly fascinated by Daley's telling of the influence of McCarthyist sentiment on her high-school education:

The doctrinal orthodoxy of the day was McCarthyism in its final, decaying phase. Accordingly, my senior civics class regularly showed us propaganda films, whose crudeness constituted a provocation to (not to say an insult to the intelligence of) any potentially rebellious 16-year-old. I can remember watching lurid graphics, in which red triangles pierced through defenseless red, white, and blue balloons, and then the slogan "Socialism and communism are the same thing" flashed onto the screen -- all accompanied by a triumphal musical score whose climaxes underlined the most unsubtle messages of the narration....

....But the real damage was done for me by the hugely influential film Operation Abolition. This was the faux documentary made by the House Un-American Activities Committee to celebrate its own procedures. With a patronizing didacticism that would now seem risible, the movie recorded the HUAC hearings in San Francisco, which hauled in "known subversives" to be hectored and pilloried by some of the most unattractive legislators in U.S. history. But the clash between the "known subversives" and the congressmen -- who would not allow them to finish a sentence of their "prepared propaganda statements" -- was not what affected me so deeply. It was the sight of the protesters against HUAC, who had gathered outside the chamber, being attacked with fire hoses by the police. The film described the demonstrators as "dupes" of a communist plot to abolish the heroic congressional committee (hence the movie's title).

This is remarkable to me because it seems so alien to my experience in the classroom 25 years later -- I can't imagine anything like this going on (and I don't mean merely on this subject).

But it also reminds me that I'm growing a bit impatient with criticism of the "McCarthyite '50s." Don't get me wrong -- McCarthy was a demagogue, and I am against propaganda of whatever stripe in the classroom. What I have a problem with is the portrayal of 1950s anti-Communism as resulting from hysteria and paranoia that often underlies this criticism (though this doesn't seem to be the case with Daley, I must add). As archives such as the recently released Venona decryptions prove, the claims of the anti-Communists were largely true. Soviet agents really were embedded in every major government agency. The Rosenbergs were thoroughly guilty. Alger Hiss was a spy. The majority of Communist Party members in the U.S. were engaged in espionage. To look back from our post-Cold War safety and sneer at the supposedly simple-minded Philistines is inexcusable ignorance at best and willful ideological blindness at worst.

* "Ingsoc" is George Orwell's abbreviation for "English Socialism" in his novel 1984.

Friday, April 18, 2003

As I previously reported here, one of Saddam Hussein's many crimes has been the intentional destruction of the Mesopotamian Marshlands. Now that his regime has been overthrown, plans for their restoration are being drawn up. This new article lists some of the key figures pushing for restoration and details what the process will involve.


Echoing the thoughts pointed out here, George Kerevan agrees that U.N. control of Iraq's recovery would be a disaster. In addition to the problems in Kosovo pointed out by Schwartz, Kerevan adds Haiti and Rwanda to the dirty laundry list of U.N. oversight fiascoes, prompting him to conclude:

All of which suggests that turning the administration of Iraq over to the UN is a bad idea. Better to create municipal democracy as fast as possible and give locals some personal interest in reform through land distribution and privatising the economy to Iraqis. Rather than corrupt UN aid, America and Britain should set up local banks and lend cheaply to local businesses. Next, get a constituent assembly elected and tell them power will be handed over when they have written a constitution and had it accepted by popular referendum.

The piece closes with a brief consideration of alternatives to the U.N. and a rejection of them in favor of a radical reform of the organization.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Do we have Sun Tzu's The Art of War to thank for Operation Iraqi Freedom having gone so well? Mark McNeilly thinks so, outlining how prominent features of our strategy correspond with the master's principles.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003
Gulags, and the Death of Stalin

As interested as I am in the history of Communism, going through Solzhenitsyn's hefty masterwork on the Soviet prison system, The Gulag Archipelago, was sheer torture. I don't mean the writing is bad -- hardly! -- but the unending barrage of one story of brutal depravity after another and then yet another, through hundreds and hundreds of pages, left me constantly sickened and then finally numbed. When I finished what I assumed was the entire book only to find it was merely the first volume, I admitted defeat and gave up on completing it.

With this in mind, I'm glad to see the publication of a more accessible history of the Soviet Gulag prison system, Anne Applebaum's Gulag: A History. An excellent review by David Remnick of it appears in The New Yorker. The review in and of itself is a remarkably rich overview of the subject, and includes Remnick's retelling of the experiences of Dmitri Likhachev, one of the first to be sent to the notorious Solovetsky Islands labor camps, birthplace of the Gulag system under Lenin. The article quotes a slogan posted at the main camp there, which speaks volumes:

With an Iron Fist, We Will Lead Humanity to Happiness

The Iron Fist part, at least, was refined to perfection.

Stalin and Saddam

The 50th anniversary of Joseph Stalin's death last March 5 inspired the writing of many reflections upon this notorious Soviet dictator. One of the more worthwhile has been this Front Page Symposium on Stalin and Saddam. I should actually write ostensibly on Stalin and Saddam, because although Saddam does get some mention due to his well-known admiration for the communist leader, the focus of discussion is overwhelmingly on Stalin. But I mention this quibble merely as a matter of truthful advertising to you, dear reader, because the Symposium offers so much good material that petty complaints such as this have no place. As an example, here's part of a contribution byYuri Yarim-Agaev:

Although we are talking about... the specific individual [Stalin], we should not personify too much the political period associated with him. Stalinism is an integral stage of development for any communist system, which follows its first stage - Leninism. This is the stage of consolidation of totalitarianism, which requires excessive terror to ensure the elimination of any degree of freedom and any potential disloyalty to the system. Stalinism is absolutely necessary and inevitable stage for communism and you find it with no exception in any communist country: USSR, China, Cuba etc. That is why you cannot single out Stalinism and repudiate it separately without repudiating communism in its entirety. [emph. added]

Separating Stalinism from communism in general like this is exactly what those wishing to rehabilitate communism have been trying to do ever since Khrushchev broke the news of Stalin's misdeeds to the faithful.

Friday, April 11, 2003

In a fairly melodramatic piece in Front Page, Christopher Archangelli warns conservatives of the growing menace of the Green Party in the US. Archangelli states that we must begin to pay attention to the Greens due to their rapidly growing power:

Having captured nearly 3 percent of the national vote in the 2000 presidential elections under the banner of Ralph Nader, and having recently captured 170 offices in state and local election in the November 2002 cycle, the Greens have become by far the largest independent or third-party in the United States.

As anyone can guess from the title of this blog, I naturally agree with Archangelli's criticism of the Greens' socialist agenda. The case for their alarming growth, however, is being heavily overstated by him. His statement that they are now "by far the largest independent or third-party" sounded a little fishy to me, since it's difficult for me to imagine that they have surpassed the Libertarian Party in size and governmental presence. I did a little research, and at least in terms of total number of registered members, he may be correct: The Greens claim to have about 250,000 registered members as of August 2002, whereas the Libertarians had only 205,000 registered members as of March 2000. Even if there has been Libertarian growth in the 3 years since their tally, it's unlikely that they are more than neck-and-neck with the Greens now. A very different picture confronts us, though, when looking at the number of candidates elected to office: the Libertarians have 589 members in public office, while the Greens have a mere 177 members in public office. This is arguably a far better barometer of political clout than party membership, since officials must be elected if a party ever hopes to actually implement its policies.

Here in California, there has been an additional factor which might have served to boost Green Party growth more than expected. For many years before the Greens came on the scene, the Peace & Freedom Party was the state-recognized party of choice for socialist '60s relics and wannabes. In 1999, the party's registered membership dropped below the required minimum, disqualifying it from ballot recognition. This left the Greens as the only socialistic party on the ballot, and thus the only option for registering voters looking for a party further to the Left than the Democrats. How much of an effect this might have had is impossible to know, but now that Peace & Freedom is back on the ballot a general measurement could be gained by comparing the relative growth rates of the two parties henceforth. I suspect that the Greens will continue to be the stronger of the two since I get the impression that among younger voters the Greens carry a certain cachet that the little-known P&Fniks lack.

As for the 3% of the presidential election vote garnered by the Green Party in 2000, that number is actually not much to brag about. Compared to the 19% Ross Perot was able to get as a third-party candidate in the 1992 presidential election, this amount is minuscule, a mere election sideshow... and even with that achievement of 19% under its belt, Perot's Reform Party soon crashed into oblivion. In more immediate terms, the Green Party failed to reach the magical 5% minimum making it eligible for general election funding from public coffers, which represents the loss of a quantum leap in its campaigning power for the 2004 election.

But to simply sift through the numbers is to miss the real story: it's all about Ralph Nader. I submit that the majority of that 3% should be seen as votes for Nader specifically and not as support for the Green Party in general. Nader is a nationally known figure and has been for decades, with his career and notoriety having nothing at all to do with his very recent affiliation with the Green Party. The popular perception is that Nader is an advocate for the "little guy" and an inherently trustworthy political outsider, and based on my own experience it is overwhelmingly this fact and this fact alone that led many to vote for him as a "protest vote." Which specific nationwide third party he ran under was far less important than the fact that Nader was the candidate. Imagine that the Green presidential candidate had been Cynthia "It's the J-E-W-S" McKinney, as may be the case next time -- could she possibly have gotten as many votes? To put it another way, excepting someone with the public image of a Nader being in the forefront, how many votes can a party advocating a full spread of socialist programs, radical military spending cuts, slavery reparations, switching to a parliamentary form of government and now surrender in the War on Terror possibly get in today's America?

The Green Party will continue to have some significance in that, as with other sizable third parties, the votes diverted to it from the major parties can help to decide close races (in the case of the Greens, to the detriment of the Democratic Party). But but beyond this, the Party represents little more than an outlet for the overly earnest far Left.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Should the UN oversee the rebuilding of post-war Iraq? Not unless you want it to be a repeat of the mess that is today's Kosovo, says Stephen Schwartz. The UN management of Kosovo has been largely a corrupt farce, which gives anyone familiar with it reason to dread what may be in store for the Iraqis:

Kosovar journalist Beqe Cufaj, German correspondent for Koha Ditore, summed up the situation eloquently on March 23: "This morning when Berlin announced that the U.N. secretary general and the Security Council have tasked Germany and its government with compiling an urgent plan for humanitarian aid to postwar Iraq, a Kosovar could not help but shudder. . . .Let us hope this really involves humanitarian aid and nothing else. . . . Because if the Iraqi people have to undergo anything like what we have in Kosovo, God help them. . . . That should be the message to the Iraqis from the Kosovars, a people experienced with the U.N. and exhausted by life in UNMIKistan!"

Schwartz recommends that the reconstruction of Iraq be led by America rather than being a UN project, and that it should be modeled on the approach for post-war South Korea and Taiwan, "countries where the United States extended an umbrella of security that permitted local entrepreneurial and creative energies to be liberated, transforming each country from within, on its own cultural terms.... [and] that have attained stability, prosperity, and freedom without sacrificing their non-Western cultural traditions. "

It's advice we would be wise to heed, both for the sake of the Iraqi people and our desire for post-war Iraq to be a catalyst for positive change in the region.


Writing in Canada's National Post, Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis explains that Hussein's regime is a European import. He is referring, of course, to the fact that Hussein's Ba'ath Party ideology (which also reigns in neighboring Syria) is derived from European fascism. Lewis explains that, thanks to Vichy French control of the region, the Nazis were able to disseminate the ideas of National Socialism in the Middle East, leading to the formation of the Ba'ath Party. After the defeat of the Nazis, the Ba'athists looked instead to the Soviet Union for inspiration and support (a switch more natural than it might at first seem, since fascism is a form of socialism).

Lewis goes on to explain that this is a reason for optimism regarding the political future of the Middle East. Totalitarian despotisms such as that of the Ba'ath Party is not the historical norm for the Arab World. Much more typical is a long tradition of limited government that, although not democratic, is marked by limitations on the sovereign by holy law, intermediate powers, and civil society. Absolute rule such as that of Hussein's regime is actually the exception. Lewis sees this tradition as providing a good basis for the development of democratic institutions, which bodes well for postwar Iraqi.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

The radical environmentalist group Earth Liberation Front announced that an ELF cell in Montgomery, Alabama vandalized a Navy Recruiting Center, spraypainting anti-war slogans on vehicles and setting a truck on fire. Apparently their anti-American hatred is more powerful than their concern for nature, since as I reported here Saddam Hussein is guilty of massive and malicious environmental destruction, and there is no particular reason to believe that he will stop using it as a political tool. Surely a group that endorses violent actions to further its goals wouldn't have a problem with a little warfare to save Mother Earth…