Anti-Socialist Tendencies

Monday, January 19, 2004

Speaking of the Pipes family, FrontPage has an interview with Richard Pipes by Jamie Glazov. Richard Pipes was the contrarian Russia scholar whose claim that the Soviet system was on the verge of collapse informed Reagan's hard-line stance against the USSR.

Pipes is also the author of Communism: A History, which is the best short history of communism I've read and heartily recommend.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Daniel Pipes has a great little article sketching the world of conspiracy theories and its new synthesis. Conspiracy thinking has now expanded beyond its traditional claims of nefarious and shadowy but thoroughly worldly groups (such as the International Jewish Conspiracy and Masons) being in secret control of events into incorporating the realm of occultism. The result is a conspiracy theory community that combines a political agenda with a larger, more popular following (and more hilariously bizarre claims!).

This article perfectly describes the mindset of my previously-mentioned weirdo roommate, who is enamored of both worldly conspiracy theories and the occult, and demonstrates the exact same manner of thinking in both areas. This passage in particular expresses his reasoning precisely:

First, "any widely accepted belief must necessarily be false." Second, rejected knowledge -- what the establishment spurns -- must be true.

By the way, if my schedule permits I will be posting more entries in the Weirdo Roommate Conspiracy Theory series in the future.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Various communism-related items from around the Web:

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Since I've gotten into yet another argument over the nature of Fascism on another blog, I'm thinking of this topic again and remembered wanting to post the following passage, which is rather illuminating:

Harold Nicolson, a democratic socialist and after 1935 a Member of the House of Commons, conscientiously studied a pile of pamphlets in his hotel room in Rome in January 1932 and decided judiciously that fascism (Italian-style) was a kind of militarised socialism; though it destroyed liberty, he concluded in his diary, "it is certainly a socialist experiment in that it destroys individuality". The Moscow view that fascism was the last phase of capitalism, though already proposed, was not yet widely heard.

Shortly afterwards, in 1933, another British socialist, Julian Huxley -- Aldous Huxley's brother and, after 1946, the first director-general of UNESCO -- issued a signed statement that unwittingly echoed Harold Nicolson's point. An eminent biologist who admired the Soviet system, he saw Fascism as an unwelcome distraction; "a short cut towards the unified Socialised State which should be our goal" and hence dangerously oversimplified: "its methods are so crude that it is likely to land us in war and social disaster, while delaying real progress." No attempt here to deny that Fascism was part of the wider family of socialist ideas, though plenty of embarrassment about its details. It was the black sheep of the socialist family. Next year Julian Huxley returned to the point in If I Were a Dictator, writing now with Hitler firmly in the saddle in Germany. "A crude system," he called it, and "a despairing attempt to find a short cut to the promised land...." None of these comments are imperceptive; is is clear that National Socialism was not yet seen as conservative or right-wing, and Huxley makes no attempt at that early stage to deny that Hitler's name for his movement was a broadly accurate one. He saw in Hitler a sort of violent caricature of what socialists believed, and his deeper concern was that the the dictator might give Socialism a bad name. That seems to have been the provisional view of Richard Crossman, too, who in a 1934 BBC talk remarked that many students in Nazi Germany believed they were "digging the foundations of a new German socialism".

--- George Watson, The Lost Literature of Socialism, pp 80-81.

Huxley's portrayal of Fascism as a "short cut" to socialist utopia is a bit startling, since I think it can be argued more persuasively that it is Soviet communism (i.e. Leninism) rather than Fascism that is the true shortcut. According to Marx, the "dictatorship of the proletariat" could only come into existence (and in fact would more or less automatically) after a society had reached a certain level of industrial development and advanced capitalism. That is why he expected communism to come into existence in Western Europe rather than in underdeveloped nations such as Russia. Based on this principle, the Mensheviks among the 1917 Russian revolutionaries argued that Russia must go through a long period of democratic reforms and capitalistic development before socialism could become a possibility. Similarly, the Fascists held that their nations must undergo further development before full socialism could start to be implemented. In contrast, Lenin and the Bolsheviks believed that communism could be forced into existence immediately despite Russia's backward economy and political system. Clearly, of the two views it is Soviet communism and not Fascism that can be rightly accused of being a "shortcut" mentality.