Anti-Socialist Tendencies

Monday, October 27, 2003

Commiewatch picked up a hint that Leftist pop icons and convicted murderers Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal might be the presidential ticket for the Peace & Freedom Party in 2004. Yardley goes on to speculate what this move might mean for the Liliputian parties of the extreme Left. Hey, why not run these guys? It's a natural fit -- murderous ideologies and murderous candidates!

While you are at Commiewatch, be sure to check out Yardley's photos of the recent anti-war protest in San Francisco too.

Friday, October 24, 2003

It looks as if Walter Duranty may soon be losing his Pulitzer Prize over his mendacious reporting of the Soviet Union during the 1930s:

A Columbia University history professor hired by The New York Times to make an independent assessment of the coverage of one of its correspondents in the Soviet Union during the 1930's said yesterday that the Pulitzer Prize the reporter received should be rescinded because of his "lack of balance" in covering Stalin's government.

The Times had asked the professor, Mark von Hagen, to examine the coverage of the correspondent, Walter Duranty, after receiving a letter in early July from the Pulitzer Prize Board seeking its comment. In its letter to The Times, the board said it was responding to "a new round of demands" that the prize awarded to Mr. Duranty in 1932 be revoked. The most vocal demands came from Ukrainian-Americans who contended that Mr. Duranty should be punished for failing to report on a famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in 1932 and 1933.

In his report to The Times, Professor von Hagen described the coverage for which Mr. Duranty won the Pulitzer -- his writing in 1931, a year before the onset of the famine -- as a "dull and largely uncritical recitation of Soviet sources."

"That lack of balance and uncritical acceptance of the Soviet self-justification for its cruel and wasteful regime," the professor wrote, "was a disservice to the American readers of The New York Times and the liberal values they subscribe to and to the historical experience of the peoples of the Russian and Soviet empires and their struggle for a better life."

....Craig R. Whitney, who reported for The Times from Moscow from 1977 to 1980, wrote that Mr. Duranty "denied the existence of the famine in his dispatches until it was almost over, despite much evidence to the contrary that was published in his own paper at the time."

The Pulitzer Board is still in the process of rendering its judgment, but this report might give it the push it needs. It's about damned time Duranty loses it, I say. Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of The Times, seems to see it differently, fretting that

...such an action might evoke the "Stalinist practice to airbrush purged figures out of official records and histories."

Oh, bullshit. The fact that he was awarded the Prize at one time will still be in the history books -- that's hardly Stalinist airbrushing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

The CounterRevolutionary has discovered an intriguing possible explanation for the Niger yellowcake papers of Wilson/Plame infamy: Were they forged by disgruntled retired CIA agents?

Just be sure to evaluate this cautiously -- turning into this guy is easier than you might think!

Monday, October 20, 2003

A short time ago Mrs. Besant, in an interesting essay, announced that there was only one religion in the world... [which] is simply the universal self. It is the doctrine that we are really all one person; that there are no real walls of individuality between man and man. If I may put it so, she does not tell us to love our neighbours; she tells us to be our neighbours. That is Mrs. Besant's thoughtful and suggestive description of the religion in which all men must find themselves in agreement. And I never heard of any suggestion in my life with which I more violently disagree. I want to love my neighbour not because he is I, but precisely because he is not I. I want to adore the world, not as one likes a looking-glass, because it is one's self, but as one loves a woman, because she is entirely different. If souls are separate love is possible. If souls are united love is obviously impossible. A man may be said loosely to love himself, but he can hardly fall in love with himself, or, if he does, it must be a monotonous courtship. If the world is full of real selves, they can be really unselfish selves. But upon Mrs. Besant's principle the whole cosmos is only one enormously selfish person.

It is just here that Buddhism is on the side of modern pantheism and immanence. And it is just here that Christianity is on the side of humanity and liberty and love. Love desires personality; therefore love desires division. It is the instinct of Christianity to be glad that God has broken the universe into little pieces, because they are living pieces. It is her instinct to say "little children love one another" rather than to tell one large person to love himself. This is the intellectual abyss between Buddhism and Christianity; that for the Buddhist or Theosophist personality is the fall of man, for the Christian it is the purpose of God, the whole point of his cosmic idea. The world-soul of the Theosophists asks man to love it only in order that man may throw himself into it. But the divine centre of Christianity actually threw man out of it in order that he might love it. The oriental deity is like a giant who should have lost his leg or hand and be always seeking to find it; but the Christian power is like some giant who in a strange generosity should cut off his right hand, so that it might of its own accord shake hands with him.... No other philosophy makes God actually rejoice in the separation of the universe into living souls. But according to orthodox Christianity this separation between God and man is sacred, because this is eternal. That a man may love God it is necessary that there should be not only a God to be loved, but a man to love him.

--- G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Friday, October 17, 2003

Writing in Opinion Journal, Daniel Henninger discovers that the Democratic Party is increasingly home for the irreligious:

...religiosity alone almost entirely explains why the "religious right" remains a phrase of political division.

In last fall's Public Interest quarterly, political scientists Louis Bolce and Gerald De Maio of Baruch College at the City University of New York argued in "Our Secularist Democratic Party" that the clearest indicator of party affiliation and voting patterns now is whether one is churched or unchurched, believer or agnostic....

Democratic secularists are defined as agnostics, atheists or people who rarely attend church, if ever. According to the national convention delegate surveys, write Messrs. Bolce and De Maio, "60% of first-time white delegates at the [1992] Democratic convention in New York City either claimed no attachment to religion or displayed the minimal attachment by attending worship services 'a few times a year' or less. About 5% of first-time delegates at the Republican convention in Houston identified themselves as secularists."

In the 1992 election, Bill Clinton got 75% of the secularist vote, while the current President's father received support from traditionalists (churchgoers) by 2 to 1. That pattern held in the 2000 election. "In terms of their size and party loyalty," Messrs. Bolce and De Maio argue, "secularists today are as important to the Democratic party as another key constituency, organized labor."

In turn this single self-definition tracks political belief across the entire battlefield of the culture wars--abortion, sexuality, prayer in the schools, judicial nominations....

All this calls to mind the severe criticism George Bush received early in his presidency when he proposed "faith-based initiatives." The hyper-heated reaction seemed startling at the time, but in retrospect one has to wonder if it didn't indeed reflect that for increasing numbers of the Democratic faithful, the one faith-based initiative they believe in above all today is that they don't believe.

The hard numbers are new, of course, but nothing here should surprise anyone. Knowing the intellectual currents of the last 200 years helps in expecting this, but that is far more than needed to catch on to it -- simply looking around and listening is enough. In the people I encounter and the media I come across, I find irreligiousity correlating overwhelmingly with a Leftist political slant (and vice versa) and no reason to suspect this is not true in general.


The Atlantic Monthly has an interesting interview with Stephen Schwartz on his book The Two Faces of Islam: The House of Sa'ud from Tradition to Terror. The focus is mainly on the role of Wahhabism in Islamic extremism, but along the way Schwartz touches on the topic of reforming Islam with some points that mesh nicely with my past comments on the issue. Schwartz makes the unusual claim that the type of reform Islam needs is not that of the Reformation, but rather the Counter-Reformation:

A Protestant-style Islam would be stripped down, with no spirituality, no sense of Islam as a civilization or a culture, no love of poetry, of mysticism, of religious philosophy, no beautiful mosques. When you look at Protestantism versus Catholicism, or Wahhabism versus traditional Islam, these are the striking parallels. It's a big cliché in the West: "Islam needs a Reformation." No, Islam does not need a [R]eformation. If Islam needs anything comparable to developments in Christian history, it needs a Counter-Reformation. That is, what the Catholics did. You reaffirm faith, you reaffirm tradition, but you adjust the day-to-day functioning of the Church to the realities of a modern society.

Schwartz clearly agrees that there are traditions nurturing of civilization in Islam, and that the key to its future is a return to and a revival of those traditions.

(Via Godspy)


Seen newly written underneath the anti-Columbus graffiti I mentioned previously:

But Columbus discovered YO' MAMA!

Not a bad comeback, but not exactly raising the level of discourse either. :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Kunstbar (German for "art bar") is a bizarre little animated romp through art history that's the most creative Web cartoon I've seen in a long time. Don't miss it!

(Via The Leibman Theory)

Monday, October 13, 2003

Some Columbus Vilification Day graffiti spotted on campus today:

Columbus didn't discover SHIT!

Absolutely correct, O Brilliant One! Columbus didn't discover shit, he discovered America!


OK, OK, just one more Joseph Wilson post from me: So one of Mark Steyn's latest is his take on the significance of the Plame/Wilson affair. Steyn sees it as an indictment of the CIA's poor human intel abilities -- a worthy point, but I want to focus instead on this minor passage from the column:

On his own, Wilson comes over like a total flake -- not a sober striped-pants diplomat but a shaggy-maned ideologically driven kook whose hippie-lyric quotes make a lot more sense than his neocon-bashing diatribes for leftie dronefests like the Nation.
[Emph. mine]

That's overdoing it a bit, of course, but Steyn's description fueled something that's been on my mind recently: the significance of Joseph Wilson's college years. Wilson is a 1972 graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Assuming that he spent the standard 4 years at our fine institution, the timespan was 1968-1972, the high point of student radicalism. Though today most think of UC Berkeley almost exclusively when considering that phenomenon in California, UCSB gave the Cal campus some stiff competition and became notorious in the minds of other Californians (such as my parents) as perhaps even a worse hotbed for troublemakers. The primary reason occurred right smack in the middle of Wilson's college career: The 1970 Isla Vista Student Riots.

Isla Vista is a sleazy, high-density student slum immediately adjacent to campus. Inhabited by such wryly amusing specimens as these and these, the town boasts all the beer joints and crappy food places one could ever want. Just don't go looking for a bank -- there isn't one, thanks to the Assholes of 1970.

The IV Riots were an extended affair, the full breadth of which you can read about here and see in photos here. The most infamous incident, however, and the reason for the missing bank was what occurred on February 25:

More than 1,000 kids seized a three-block business district in a student neighborhood near the University of California at Santa Barbara [W]ednesday night, Feb. 25, held it from police for six hours, smashed windows, set fire to a police car, and burned a plush Bank of America office to the ground doing more than a quarter of a million dollars damage to the bank alone....

The most spectacular destruction occurred Wednesday night. One thousand demonstrators began pelting sheriff's cars with rocks. At 9:45 p.m. they captured one car, forcing two deputies to flee and then setting the car afire. The flames were 30 feet high. Windows were smashed; the plywood used to board up the Bank of America's windows, smashed the day before, was torn down and set afire; demonstrators then surged into the bank.

An observer said that the group inside "hurled chairs into windows, overturned desks, created snowfalls of envelopes from an upstairs office and tore up anything they could reach." Then some people got a big trashcan, set it on fire, and ran it through the front doors and pushed it against the drappery [sic].

The police were informed that a manager was inside the burning bank. Seventy sheriff's deputies, in full riot gear, were sent to free the manager, but when they arrived they found they had fallen into a trap. There was no manager inside but there were hundreds of students surrounding the cops, throwing rocks.

The police fought their way out and withdrew completely, surrendering the area to the students until 2:15 a.m., when a force of 240 cops returned to clear the streets.

After the police withdrawal, firemen were unable to reach the bank. Some fraternity members tried to put out the fire, but it was ignited again and the whole place was gone in 45 minutes. A few charred beams were all that remained the next morning, bank officials said $275,000 damage was done.

Given this incident and a later attempt to burn down the bank's temporary office, the Bank of America ultimately relocated several miles away. No other bank has ever dared to replace it.

Those who were involved seem rather pleased today with their past mayhem. An example:


Langfelder: The B of A was the most convenient symbol of authority. Plus, it was a central building in I.V., yet isolated enough from the rest of town that a fire there wouldn't spread.

de la Rocha: Plus, the Gaucho had been running stories about the role of the Bank in farming industry in California and the tie to pesticides which where harmful to farmworkers, plus the Bank's role in financing the Vietnam War. At the time, A.S. was debating taking their money out of the Bank, too.

Langfelder: There had been several days of throwing rocks at the Bank, but there had been no planning of sabotage; the actual burning of the Bank was a completely spontaneous act. It was after Kunstler's speech in Harder Stadium that day that the crowd's mood changed a lot--they were much more willing to take risks in their challenge.

de la Rocha: It's important to understand that only the Bank and the real estate companies were trashed during that time; the targets were very selective.

See, we weren't just common vandals, but revolutionaries with ideals and strategic planning! Note to any and all who were involved in this: Your actions utterly disgust and sicken me, and show what spoiled, pretentious, narcissistic little brats you were and probably still are.

But I digress.

Back to Wilson. I submit that the events of his college years help to explain why, amid otherwise reasonable statements, he exhibits an anti-conservative animus of a kneejerk variety, and provide another reason for caution when evaluating his claims. Based on my personal experience of him, I doubt that Wilson was in the leadership of the student radicals, or outstandingly extreme during these years for that matter. Given his current-day Leftist views, however, it's unlikely he wasn't significantly shaped by the time. That mentality certainly peeks out of his statements now and then, such as with the hostility expressed in his now-infamous quote:

Neoconservatives and religious conservatives have hijacked this administration, and I consider myself on a personal mission to destroy both.

Hey Joe, I'll let you in on something: It isn't 1970 any more.

Friday, October 10, 2003

So you, my last few straggling readers, have no doubt been thinking, "What's up with that Varenius dude? All he's been posting has been, like, one line entries 'n stuff. Where are the way-cool essay thingies he used to do once in a while, man?" Well I'm glad you asked, my hip little surfer buddy. It turns out I'm knee-deep in my dissertation work (as in Piling it high and Deep) this term and thus not very available for dispensing lengthier bits of blogospheric wisdom. So while I still intend to post several times a week, it will be some time before I can do more than brief entries during my breaks.

Coming soon, though: My socialism reading list.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

The Buggy Professor brings together several sources to explore the true significance of David Kay's Iraqi WMD report.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Hate your job? Lighten up, it could be much worse! Popular Science brings you a little perspective with its list of The Worst Jobs in Science.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

It seems we now have some truly concrete evidence to back up the assertions of Joseph Wilson's political bias: Priorities & Frivolities has researched Wison's political contribution history, and, not surprisingly, the majority of his support has gone to Democrats. (And what Democrats!! Teddy Kennedy and Charlie Rangel?! Wilson, I expected better from you than that!)

Neither this nor what I stated in the previous post provides a justification for shrugging off the charges being made, however. No matter how much of a partisan Wilson may be, the facts of the case will stand apart from this. His bias is significant, though, when it comes to evaluating the trustworthiness of his own statements about the issue.