The Left, as a whole, in the Western World, has become far more extreme in this century than it was in the last. The Socialist and “Conservative” parties of Europe, the Democratic Party of America, the universities everywhere, the media and the film industries, book publishers, song writers, judiciaries, and a slightly varying half of the voters in almost all Western countries, are predominantly of one opinion, consciously or semi-consciously, articulately or silently, that Marx and Lenin, and even (though their names may be spoken a shade more sotto voce) Stalin and Mao, were right.
This is from Front Page, by Vladimir Tismaneanu:
It has become fashionable among leftist circles to invoke a return to Lenin, to radicalism, to utopia. Among those who advocate such imperatives to “retest the communist hypothesis” one can count French philosopher Alain Badiou, a former admirer of the Khmer Rouge, and Slovene thinker, Slavoj Zizek, the new idol of Western university campuses, subject of documentary hagiographic movies, and prophet of a new phantasmagoric world revolution.
To know more about Slavoj Zizek, see our post Red alert, January 21, 2009. And to get the flavor of the man, watch the video at the foot of this post.
Did the partisans of such positions ever stop to think how it would sound a call for “retesting the Nazi hypothesis”? One must be totally oblivious to history, an incurable cynic, in order to ignore the fact that Leninism, just like National-Socialism, means political terrorism, the apotheosis of fanatical partisanship, the boundless cult of violence and nihilism, etc. In short, Leninism presupposes … the destruction of the inner man. Leninism is theoretical and practical anti-humanism.
‘The inner man” in this context means the individual for himself alone, not as a unit of “society”.
There have been conferences and symposia where Lenin is presented, in an academic context and without any trace of compassion for the millions of victims of “the great experiment”, as the philosopher of the break with an order putatively condemned by history.
The “order putatively condemned by history” is of course capitalism, or the free market. Those who condemn it and praise “the great [Communist] experiment” have not noticed that the free market has brought widespread prosperity wherever it has been allowed to, or that Lenin’s experiment, the miserable Soviet Union, failed and fell and lost the Cold War.
All in all, it is unsurprising that the prophets of violence worship Lenin. What is surprising is that intellectuals, who should have learnt from the catastrophes of the 20th century, are engaged in an endeavor driven by programmatic irresponsibility. It is simply shocking that in countries where the Leninist model was implemented, one can still read and hear hymns honoring the architect of a criminal system.
Should we be amazed by all this? What could one expect from the epigones of Georg Lukacs, the Marxist philosopher who declared … that he preferred the worst form of socialism to the best incarnation of capitalism. …
Georg Lukacs was the Hungarian Commissar, and philosopher of drama and art, on whom Jillian Becker’s character L is based in her novel L: A Novel History.
Real history does not matter for such sectarians. What does matter is the dogma to which they are faithful in total disregard of reality. … It is quite telltale that one of Hugo Chavez’s intellectual heroes was Istvan Meszaros, one of Lukacs’s former students who … has remained a flaming Marxist, faithful to the dialectical sophistries of his mentor.
An excellent example of such world-view is a recent memoir by a Romanian Marxist intellectual, Ion Ianosi, who happened to be deeply involved for long stretches of time in the ideologization of the country’s culture during communism. The volume’s title is My International. Some critics glorify the book as testimony of heartfelt sincerity. What is missing in those more than 800 pages is an honest analysis of Bolshevism as justification of social genocide. Ion Ianosi seemingly excels on topics such as “Marx and Art”, “Lenin and Art”, pretty much the same fields for which his expertise was called upon during his activity within the Romanian communist party’s Agitprop. But Ianosi shies away from trying his expert pen on topics such as the crimes against humanity inspired by the Marxist-Leninist ideology.
Even before the Bolsheviks’ coming into power, it was clear that Lenin was a fanatical propagandist, a utopian ideologue fixated on social purity and purification, an heir to Robespierre and St. Just, but no philosopher. Philosophy implies doubt and Lenin was the man without doubts. …
Lenin was the practitioner of a simplistic, partisan, and exclusivist philosophy. He rejected emphatically any possibility for a middle path, of a tertium datur between what he called “bourgeois ideology” and the “proletarian” one.
We at TAC are all for “bourgeois ideology”, if the bourgeoisie as such – the successful middle class – can be said to have such a dusty thing as an ideology. We value the middle class, anyway, above the others, because out of it has come almost every one of those men (and handful of women) who have advanced our civilization and augmented the glory of our culture in the last five hundred years. (Though also most of those who’ve done our civilization the worst harm, such as Marx, Lenin, Lukacs …)
Lenin’s Manichaeism [bourgeois bad, proletarian good] was inexorable. For Lenin and his followers, ideas were (are) always the manifestation of class interests. … This is the meaning of a notion essential for the Leninist conception about ideas, ideologies and philosophical consciousness: partiinost – partisanship, class position, militant commitment, total and abject subordination to the party line.
Leninism is a revolutionary doctrine that sanctifies political violence and condemns entire social categories to state-engineered extinction. It is … rooted in the visceral contempt for the rule of law, legality, and the universality of human rights. “Back to Lenin” means a return to barbarism, blindness, and murder.
We are not enamored of the phrase “human rights”. We prefer to speak of human freedom, which we suppose is what Professor Tismaneanu, who has lived under Communism in Romania, probably means.
Now here’s Slavoj Zizek. He starts at about the 2 minute mark. Don’t expect to be rewarded for over 15 minutes of paying attention with any impressive ideas. He says nothing much, but with strong emphasis, and what he does say is notably wrong. For instance, that Norway is intolerant of immigrants! (Go here to test this notion, and to any other of Bruce Bawer’s numerous articles on the same subject.) He thinks the major political groupings in Europe are now the “capitalist anti-immigrants” on one side and the [Islamic] immigrants on the other. (Would it were so! ) He calls himself a Leftist, though oddly declaring that in America there is “an excess of anti-capitalism”; calls Fox News “the enemy”; and implies that the worst problem facing mankind is … you guessed it … global-warming.
The death of Venezuela’s despot Hugo Chavez was announced yesterday, but rumor has it that he died a week ago on the morning of Wednesday February 27, 2013.
This is from Front Page, by Matthew Vadum. He makes a comparison between Chavez and Obama, to the advantage of neither:
Barack Obama’s less media-savvy comrade Hugo Chavez is finally dead.
Venezuela’s Vice President, Nicolas Maduro, announced that the communist tyrant died yesterday after seeking medical treatment from the quacks and bunglers laughingly referred to as the Cuban health care system. Hidden away from the public for months, Chavez, whose election in 1999 sparked a leftist revival throughout Latin America, may have actually died some time ago.
Chavez will be remembered not only for his fanaticism and brutality but also for his effective use of the same Saul Alinsky-inspired community organizing techniques now relied on by President Barack Obama.
Both men hate capitalism. Chavez called capitalism “savagery,” while the smoother Obama tries to be more upbeat, speaking of the need to spread wealth.
Both men are champions of gun control, social engineering, and unlimited governmental power.
Both hate America (to varying degrees) and both utilize mobs to harass and intimidate their enemies.
Obama has used union goons, ACORN members, and his personal tax-exempt Alinskyite army, Organizing for Action (formerly Organizing for America), against his adversaries.
Chavez, who habitually used the rhetoric of class warfare, funded a network of violent, government-armed “Bolivarian Circles,” similar to Cuba’s Committees for the Defense of the Revolution. In order to identify citizens worthy of governmental persecution, the neighborhood-based militias reported on Venezuelans deemed to lack the requisite enthusiasm for Marxism. Like Hitler’s Sturmabteilung (SA), these groups broke up opposition meetings by force.
Chavez intimidated the private media by openly threatening and harassing independent media outlets. He also introduced a requirement that journalists be licensed. Obama doesn’t need to keep the media in line because they already worship him.
While Obama has been busy installing senior government officials such as Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel who lack the ability to understand the Islamofascist threat, Chavez allowed America’s terrorist enemies to set up shop in his country.
A big supporter of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Chavez permitted Iran-funded Hezbollah and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas to open offices in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas.
Vadum might have added the shared antisemitism of the two men. Obama works against the survival of the Jewish state. Chavez openly encouraged persecution of Venezuelan Jews.
This is from the National Review, by John Fund:
One of the “hero” myths being created around Chávez is that he was elected democratically four times. …
But Chávez was a democrat the way that Mafia enforcers were policemen in neighborhoods they controlled. If you didn’t cooperate and pay tribute to them, you would regret it. He ruled through fear, intimidation, and subversion of the country’s institutions.
Merely allowing people to line up at polling stations every six years did not make Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela democratic. Nor will the snap election that must be called within 30 days to choose Chávez’s successor necessarily be free or fair. If Nicholas Maduro, the man Chávez hand-picked to take over after his death, wants to demonstrate Venezuela is running a legitimate election, let him first invite back the international election observers of whom Hugo Chávez was so frightened.
And this is from the Miami Herald:
Hugo Chávez’s folksy charm and forceful personality made him an extraordinary politician. His enviable ability to win a mass following allowed him to build a powerful political machine that kept him in office from February of 1999 until his death on Tuesday. But as a national leader, he was an abject failure who plunged Venezuela into a political and economic abyss.
Dead at 58, Hugo Chávez leaves behind a country in far worse condition than it was when he became president, its future clouded by rivals for succession in a constitutional crisis of his Bolivarian party’s making and an economy in chaos. …
Mr. Chávez had a radical vision for “21st Century Socialism” … His skillful rhetoric, which filled supporters with utopian dreams, was used to justify the methodical destruction of Venezuela’s democratic institutions and the free market. …
[He] aggressively set out to rig elections and stifle adversaries in the legislative branch and the courts. Unable to brook criticism, he turned his fire on the independent news media, eventually silencing most voices of opposition by bully tactics and economic intimidation.
His Bolivarian regime rewarded supporters and punished opponents, giving rise to enormous corruption and the creation of a new class of greedy oligarchs with political connections. …
Whatever happens now in Venezuela, his demise will have some good effects in the wider world:
On the international front, Mr. Chávez eagerly accepted Fidel Castro as his mentor, providing Cuba with cut-rate oil and making common cause with Iran and other rogue regimes. His departure leaves the anti-American front leaderless on a hemispheric level and could eventually threaten the subsidy that Cuba relies on to keep its economy barely functioning.
Ed Driscoll at PJ Media has collected opinions on the dead dictator. He includes a Statement From Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on the Death of Hugo Chavez, from which we quote:
“Rosalynn and I … came to know a man who expressed a vision to bring profound changes to his country to benefit especially those people who had felt neglected and marginalized. Although we have not agreed with all of the methods followed by his government, we have never doubted Hugo Chávez’s commitment to improving the lives of millions of his fellow countrymen.”
He may have been “committed” to improving the lives of those who felt neglected and “marginalized” (a Leftist buzzword that, by the way), but he did not improve the lives of most Venezuelans. Quite the contrary. His economic policy so devalued the currency that the poor were made poorer. But that seems not to be recognized by his numerous and passionate fans, including the poor of Venezuela.
Driscoll goes on to quote other opinions on the Left -
Such as the Nation, which really beclowns itself:
“Chávez was a strongman. He packed the courts, hounded the corporate media, legislated by decree and pretty much did away with any effective system of institutional checks or balances. But I’ll be perverse and argue that the biggest problem Venezuela faced during his rule was not that Chávez was authoritarian but that he wasn’t authoritarian enough. It wasn’t too much control that was the problem but too little.”
“I’m what they call a useful idiot when it comes to Hugo Chávez,” the writer actually adds. And how.
But hey, that’s the far left Nation. The neutral, objective, totally without bias Washington Post wouldn’t fall for such radical chic nonsense, would they?
Yes, of course they would: “Wash Post’s Eugene Robinson Appears on MSNBC to Praise ‘Quick,’ ‘Popular,’ Funny Hugo Chavez.”
And to think I was being ironic a couple of years ago when I titled a post “Studying the Washington Post Kremlinologist-Style.” …
Sean Penn has a sad:
“Today the people of the United States lost a friend it never knew it had. And poor people around the world lost a champion,” says Penn in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter…
Meanwhile, “NBCNews.com Mourns Chavez: Who Will Become Region’s ‘Voice of Socialism and Anti-Americanism?’”
Which prompts Driscoll to ask -
Isn’t that NBC’s job, or don’t they get that network on the cable feed down there?
Should America intervene in other countries when, for instance, a tyrant is mowing down thousands of his own people? Is it in America’s interest to transform despotisms and anarchic states into democracies – as the neoconservatives believe? Or should America ignore what is happening in the world at large unless it is directly threatened – as the isolationists believe?
Caroline Glick writes at Townhall:
In truth, the dominant foreign policy in the Republican Party, and to a degree, in American society as a whole is neither neoconservativism nor isolationism.
It is, she argues, what may be called Jacksonianism, after Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the US.
What are the essential ideas of Jacksonian foreign policy?
The US is different from the rest of the world and therefore the US should not try to remake the world in its own image by claiming that everyone is basically the same.
The US must ensure its honor abroad by abiding by its commitments and standing with its allies.
The US must take action to defend its interests.
The US must fight to win or not fight at all. The US should only respect those foes that fight by the same rules as the US does.
President Ronald Reagan, she says, “hewed closest to these basic guidelines in recent times”.
Reagan fought Soviet influence in Central America everywhere he could and with whomever he could find … exploited every opportunity to weaken the Soviet Union in Europe … deployed Pershing short-range nuclear warheads in Western Europe … called the Soviet Union an evil empire … began developing the Strategic Defense Initiative. And he walked away from an arms control agreement when he decided it was a bad deal for the US.
Throughout his presidency, Reagan never shied away from trumpeting American values. To the contrary, he did so regularly. However, unlike the neoconservatives, Reagan recognized that … the very notion that values trumped all represented a fundamental misunderstanding of US interests and the nature and limits of US power.
What would be the foreign policy of a Jacksonian president now? She takes one example, the revolutionary upheavals in the Arab lands:
He or she would understand that supporting elections that are likely to bring a terror group like Hamas or Hezbollah into power is not an American interest … that toppling a pro-American dictator like Mubarak in favor of a mob is not sound policy if the move is likely to bring an anti-American authoritarian successor regime to power … that using US power to overthrow a largely neutered US foe like Gaddafi in favor of a suspect opposition movement is not a judicious use of US power. Indeed, a Jacksonian president would recognize that it would be far better to expend the US’s power to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad — an open and active foe of the US and so influence the identity of a post-Assad government.
In her view, neoconservative policy was fine in theory, but in practice it brought unwanted consequences:
Broadly speaking, neoconservatives argue that the US should always side with populist forces against dictatorships. While these ideas may be correct in theory, in practice the consequence of Bush’s adoption of the neoconservative worldview was the empowerment of populist and popular jihadists and Iranian allies throughout the Middle East at the expense of US allies.
Hamas won the Palestinian Authority elections in 2006. Its electoral victory paved the way for its military takeover of Gaza in 2007.
Hezbollah’s participation in Lebanon’s 2005 elections enabled the Iranian proxy army to hijack the Lebanese government in 2006, and violently takeover the Lebanese government in 2009.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s successful parliamentary run in Egypt in 2005 strengthened the radical, anti-American, jihadist group and weakened Mubarak.
And the election of Iranian-influenced Iraqi political leaders in Iraq in 2005 exacerbated the trend of Iranian predominance in post-Saddam Iraq. …
Still, the neoconservatives’ “muscular” policy, intended to “advance the cause of democracy and freedom worldwide”, was preferable to isolationism, and far preferable to [what passes for] Obama’s foreign policy.
For all the deficiencies of the neoconservative worldview, at least the neoconservatives act out of a deep-seated belief that the US as a force for good in the world and out of concern for maintaining America’s role as the leader of the free world. In stark contrast, Obama’s foreign policy is based on a fundamental anti-American view of the US and a desire to end the US’s role as the leading world power. And the impact of Obama’s foreign policy on US and global security has been devastating.
From Europe to Asia to Russia to Latin America to the Middle East and Africa, Obama has weakened the US and turned on its allies. He has purposely strengthened US adversaries worldwide as part of an overall strategy of divesting an unworthy America from its role as world leader. He has empowered the anti-American UN to replace the US as the arbiter of US foreign policy. And so, absent the American sheriff, US adversaries from the Taliban to Vladimir Putin to Hugo Chavez to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are empowered to attack America and its allies.
A worse position with regard to US foreign relations could hardly be devised.
Is the damage repairable by a Republican president adopting Reagan-like – or “Jacksonian” - ideas?
The ideas seem to us to be sensible enough. But much of what is happening in the world – partly as a result of the disastrous Obama presidency – has no precedent, and new threats will require new thinking.
Huge changes are looming up. The age of the nation-state seems to be passing. There’s a global trend back to tribalism. Will America alone be immune to it? Much of the world – perhaps a third of its population – is likely to be Muslim before the middle of the century.
In his new book After America: Get Ready for Armageddon, Mark Steyn visualizes “the world after America” will be “more dangerous, more violent, more genocidal” – in a chapter ominously titled The Somalification of the World. But he does hold out some hope:
Americans face a choice: you can rediscover the animating principles of the American idea – of limited government, a self-reliant citizenry, and the opportunity to exploit your talents to the fullest – or you can join most of the rest of the western world in terminal decline.
And he warns:
To rekindle the spark of liberty once it dies is very difficult.
But to do that must be the first task of a new president. Only a free, strong, prosperous America can be an effective power in the world, however it may decide to exert that power.
To which countries does the US, even when enduring economic hardship, give aid?
These are some of the recipients:
Russia, still inimical enough to the US to make disarmament treaties seem necessary.
China, to which the US is vastly in debt.
Zimbabwe, under the bloody rule of a mass-murderer.
Somalia, a savage anarchy.
Cuba, a communist prison.
Venezuela, in league with America’s most threatening enemy, Iran.
North Korea, a communist and would-be nuclear-armed hell.
Libya, where Colonel Gaddafi is still dictator.
The amounts are not important. To give any amount to any of them is indefensible. But the figures can be found here, along with more infuriating information about who gets foreign aid.