September 04, 2007

Politics > Owning Up to the Horrors of Communism

"Pete Seeger Speaks — and Sings — Against Stalin":

Pete Seeger, America's best-known and most influential folksinger, wrote me a letter a few days ago. I did not expect to hear from him. Last June, I wrote in these pages about the new documentary on his life. The article ran under the headline "Time for Pete Seeger To Repent."

My complaint was that the film, good as it is, did not give a completely honest account of Mr. Seeger's politics. The filmmaker, Jim Brown, interviewed me on camera, but he did not include any of my critical remarks in the final version. In my interview, I pointed out that Mr. Seeger had been a lifelong follower of the Communist Party, changing his songs and his positions to be in accord with the ever-changing party line. He attacked the blacklist of the 1950s, which kept him off the air, but never seems to have said anything about Stalin's death list. As Martin Edlund has written in The New York Sun, Mr. Seeger has always been inseparable from his social mission. Much of it deserves praise - he was at the forefront of the struggle for civil rights - but much of it must be condemned and not hidden from sight.

Hat tip to Jim Rose.

People seem to be coming around to the realities of what the communists were doing to their own countrymen. From Salon's review of two books on the subject:

But the left's bamboozling rhetoric, Courtois maintains, is but the least of Marxism's sins. The radical tradition as a whole, he argues, has utterly failed to resolve the paradox of its own terrorism and mass violence, leaving it wide open to its current loss of credibility. Academic Marxism hardly even bothers to ask the question, except to play the usual good-cop, bad-cop routine: humane Lenin, evil Stalin, etc. But the failure of Marxism-Leninism goes deeper than its accidental betrayals. It is the ideology itself, claims the darker of the present volumes, that contributed to the stupefying tally of 100 million violent deaths under the hammer and sickle -- the largest ideology-driven genocide in history. Mass murder, they point out with numbing archival thoroughness, was made the center of the revolutionary state in 1918, not 1931, and by 1920 Lenin had killed more people than 90 years of czarism combined. He was, of course, spectacularly outdone by subsequent "Marxist" dictators who thought history was on their side.


How could all these well-meaning people continue to harbor utopian delusions about their academic faith? To some extent, it's a matter of geographic accident. Unlike the crimes of the Nazis, communist atrocities mostly took place far from the Western heartland. Nor were they ever filmed or exposed by conquering armies. The Soviet Union ended World War II both as a victor and as a Western ally, and was able to profitably ride the wave of "anti-fascism." To those in the West, in the wake of a devastating world war in which the forces of humanism ultimately triumphed, it was simply beyond imagining that one mode of totalitarian genocide had largely been defeated by another. The likelihood of Steven Spielberg ever making a film about the Cheka killing Cossack girls with sledgehammers is remote indeed. Marxism will never have a Holocaust chained to its ankles because those 65 million corpses in China never made it to the screen. The iconic is indeed, alas, more powerful than the ironic.

Posted by lesjones | TrackBack


Russians already made pretty gruesome movies about Bolshevik mass murder sprees. "Chekist" would be a good example.

Posted by: Oleg Volk at September 04, 2007

When I found your weblog, earlier this evening, via a search for info on Maurice's BBQ, it was through this entry. From that post, my immediate assumption was that you were a liberal blogger. however, upon coming to your home page, and seeing your blogroll, I am thinking that you may be a neoconservative.

Then again, I am one who links neoconservatism to liberalism - though others have disagreed with me, over the years.

Regarding the topic of this entry, I remember seeing this news in the Blogosphere, the other day, and these were my thoughts. (I may have been thinking of what I had recently learned about Elia Kazan.) But if you are of the neoconservative political persuasion, you might have a different view of "Tailgunner Joe" than myself.

Senator McCarthy aside, it is great when people turn against communism... and realize that those idealistic concepts do not work.

I also wanted to say - I think that your blog color scheme (light blue on black) is unique and interesting... I think that it does the trick, for a Movable Type weblog. I also think that your Adsense units are well-placed as well; I have been wondering about those issues lately.

I may be starting a new blog, relating to the Clinton Calendar (connecting those past scandals to current issues, especially since Hillary is now running for President). Do you find that Movable Type works well for you? In the past, I was wondering about whether to switch from Blogger to MT, as that's what many were doing. I could not find a solid reason to do so, however. I also heard that Movable Type is very hard to install. Then, the company that makes MT started TypePad, which I didn't get either, especially since people have to pay for it (MT was free, but you needed your own web space). Now, it seems many people are using WordPress. How has your experience with MT been?

Thanks, and keep up the good work, with your site.

Posted by: Aakash at September 05, 2007

Screw Pete Seeger, he's a ripoff artist and thief - google Solomon Linda - the man who wrote Mbube otherswise known as "Wimoweh"...

Besides that there was Stalin's brilliant 1920's idea of crossbreeding humans and apes, lead by his "geneticist" Ilya Ivanov (who had established the world's first center for the artificial insemination of racehorses) to produce a new breed, "insensitive to pain, resistant and indifferent about the quality of food they eat."
Yeh, it's all about the chow...

Posted by: DirtCrashr at September 06, 2007

Movable Type was great three years ago. If I was starting a blog today I'd use WordPress. Better platform, free, open source, and with more momentum in terms of plug-ins and themese. I plan on converting to WordPress as soon as I get some migration issues worked out.

Posted by: Les Jones at September 08, 2007
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