No Minister

Posts Tagged ‘Marxism

The Revolution is Postponed – Chile episode

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“Whoever doesn’t jump is a communist!”

And thank fuck for that, for when Socialist revolutions succeed you can guarantee a butt load of misery for the people, toiling masses and all, sooner or later.

What I’m referring to was something that happened a couple of weeks ago in Chile and was overshadowed by the Ukraine war and global energy and economic problems – and also by the fact that the MSM didn’t want to talk about it very much:

On Sunday, voters in Chile rejected a new constitution that would have represented a major turn to the left in the South American country. The vote was almost a landslide, with 62% of Chileans voting against the proposed constitution and not one of the country’s 16 regions approving the measure.

The voters themselves responded in an overwhelming fashion. Turnout was a whopping 85%

That’s an amazing result given that just last year a very Left-Wing, almost communist politician, 35-year-old former student activist named Gabriel Boric was elected President. This naturally led to the Left-MSM having a giant global orgasm, including locally with Chris Trotter and a somewhat more sober view Paul Buchanan (aka Pablo) at Kiwipolitico (Paul having grown up in Latin America).

However, Boric and his comrades suffered the almost inevitable overreach of Lefties who win big. While not forgetting (I assume) that Boric’s win had not changed the finely balanced Congress they did seem to forget that it was achieved with a low turnout in which only 56 percent of eligible voters went to the polls as fears of Covid-19 pushed most older Chileans to stay home. As a result the proposed Constitution was a shocker:

The proposed constitution was 170 pages long and included 388 articles. It was a leftist’s dream, with over 100 new rights enshrined into it, many of them containing left-wing buzzwords.

Additionally, the constitution would have created autonomous governing zones for Chile’s indigenous populations, compelled the government to adopt a radical environmental stance, weakened property rights, and required elected assemblies to include at least 50% female representation.

It made the EU Constitution look positively Jeffersonian. Even Left-wing supporters were not impressed:

“How the hell do you vote on a constitution with 388 articles?” said Chilean political scientist Gabriel Negretto to the New York Times. “You are overwhelming voters.”

Heh. Not to mention all those buzzwords and buzzterms: “neurodiversity, culturally relevant food, safe and violence-free environments, free time”, plus the right for Chileans to develop their “personality, identity and life projects.”

Alrighty then.

Judging from these scenes of joyous dancing that 62% vote against it may be understated: “Whoever doesn’t jump is a communist!”

I wouldn’t celebrate that much if I were them. The Left, like rust, never sleep. They’ll be back with some watered-down bullshit for the constitution at some stage. If it was me I’d put in just a few, bland articles that won’t get anybody’s back up but which can form a framework inside which huge pieces of legislation can be implemented that achieve all their goals. Hell, just look at what the Commerce Clause has enabled for the Federal government in the USA, not to mention the 16th amendment (income tax).

Still, together with Brexit, Trump, the rapidly increasing costs of the Left’s energy, environmental and immigration policies, the resulting rise of populist Right-wing parties in Europe, including the recent political shock in Sweden, it does make you wonder if the Leftist ground beneath our feet is not just shifting in small ways but in terms of a process of societal Continental Drift that started after the GFC.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 20, 2022 at 3:00 pm

Takin’ It To The Streets

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I’m sure the Department of “Justice” and the FBI will get right on it, right Joe?

Episode 1,896,567 of the Democrat Party’s basic rule:

“Rules for thee, but not for me”.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 16, 2022 at 10:05 am

Aliens

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The Left and Right to each other that is.

I was struck by this thought in crafting a comment for Lucia’s latest post – Never-ending Emergency Powers – and it seemed to deserve a post rather than a comment.

And then there are people like those at The Standard, The right is weirdly gleeful about the end of the mask mandate. The writer of that post – the infamous “MickySavage” (named after Saint Micky Savage), who is almost as much of ban-hammerer (even according to other Lefties) as his mate iPrent – did what I’m doing here and referenced Kiwiblog’s post on the topic, Freedom, along with the usual cautionary warning:

I did something that I do not recommend.  I went to Kiwiblog and read David Farrar’s take on the issue, as well as that of the commentators.

The right have celebrated it happening which is quite weird.  Was it an existential attack on New Zealanders fundamental rights or was it something that was quite a good thing to do in the midst of a global pandemic and something that was strongly recommended by medical experts

Seriously? Only the Right? You mean people loved wearing those fucking things for two years? Well, yes, judging by some of their comments:

Masks are a reminder of the ideological nightmare of big government working, and working well, on behalf of the people. They want to see a return of the dominance and celebration of the hyper-individualised selfish arsehole,

Bearing in mind that mask wearing is/was for one’s own good and the good of society I have always had a great deal of difficulty understanding, let alone accepting as a valid view, the anti mask wearing brigade. I am sure that the same people would mostly always fasten their seat belts or drive on the correct side of the road, send their children to school etc. Such a simple, safe move.

Right Wingers fighting to the end for their rights to endanger other peoples lives.


Considering that mask-wearing to prevent the community spread of disease is a long-established practice in East Asia, one that, in Western society, was consistently derided as an illogical and unproven cleanliness fetishism until someone actually bothered to test it, I’m inclined to believe that many people’s resistance to it is rooted in the NIH sentiments of the unreconstructed, reflexively racist shithead.

But of course.

This is hardly new of course. Here’s the hideous NKVD agent, No Right Turn, bitching about being abandoned by Labour when the lockdown restrictions were lifted in late 2021

So, having saved us from Covid for 18 months, our government has just surrendered to the virus, announcing a “transition plan” to loosen restrictions while Covid is still spreading in the community. This is exactly the sort of insanity which has led to outbreaks and mass death in the UK and NSW, and there’s no reason to think it will end any differently here.

Meanwhile, I guess Aotearoa’s days of being a “model Covid response” are over. The government has just decided to surrender to the virus, because they were sick of the whining from the Auckland business class. They’ve basicly become quislings for the virus, just like Boris Johnson and Gladys Berejiklian. And we’ll be paying the price for their cowardice in deaths and long Covid.

This unbending, fanatical desire for limitless control over people until “the problem” is reduced to zero, highlights something that looks like thinking but is not and was perhaps best described by an American writer in Minnesota while battling against the same bullshit (What’s Normal Again):

What really strikes me is how wedded many people are to having the epidemic and its restrictions last forever. What kind of mental illness is this? But I have made the point many times before that I have no intention of trying to change these people’s minds.

This is belief and religion on their part, not data or science or logical analysis. I don’t even want to engage with these people. And they are a serious impediment to trying to get our society back to some kind of rational policy on the epidemic.

I’m tempted to say the mirror-image of the implication of these claims – which is that we Righties are basically Aliens to the Left, and vice versa. We don’t actually “get” each other’s basic frame of reference (Right = individual, Left=collective):

The push by the political right to frame mask wearing as a signalling of leftie political persuasion (rather than protecting yourself and those around you) is both pathetic and dangerous.

Well, I think it more signals frightened, ignorant people who cannot or will not ask any questions or do any research themselves but just do whatever the “authorities” and “experts” tell them to do, but sure, there does seem to be an element of mask-wearing as self-identifying Lefties – especially when you read those comments.

What these people are gagging for – what they’re always gagging for – is an “emergency” so vast that only the Great Collective can deal with it and that Great Collective is not a Team Of Five Million or Seven Billion all cooperating together. No, it’s The State, that almighty and all powerful organism which, if it fails, only does so because it’s not powerful enough.

Such people scare the shit out of me far more than any unmasked, unvaccinated person who’s standing close to me – and to be fair, there were and are all too many on the Right who think the same way when push comes to shove, their definition of individual freedom seeming not exist beyond the boundaries of whatever you can trade and be taxed for.

Just define something as an “Emergency” or a “War” and the State can seemingly do anything it wants, and you can take your Constitutions (written and unwritten) and your Bill of Rights and shove them where the sun doesn’t shine.

And let’s watch some evil, selfish, Righties being weirdly gleeful about being freed from masks.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 15, 2022 at 1:33 pm

Communist gets to live under Real Communism

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I’d posted this when I realised that almost nobody had talked about the attempted coup that almost put an end to Gorbachev’s reforms – and perhaps him – and which was attempted in August 1991. It was overshadowed by what happened next, but was important in many ways, aside from contributing to the collapse of the USSR that happened just a few months later.

The communist in this case being the last leader of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, who died a few days ago at the age of 91.

I actually liked the guy for his basic decency and smarts, although that decency did not stop him sending in KGB agents to Eastern block countries to do their usual job of killing “agitators”, until he realised it would also take tanks and troops, as in East Germany in ’53, Hungary in ’56, and Czechoslovakia in ’68, and decided he couldn’t follow in the footsteps of Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev. So yes, I’ll give him credit for not doing the worst he could have – but that’s pretty weak sauce even if it does testify to some basic human decency.

That decency was also attested to here by John Hinderaker at Powerline, based on dealing with him at a US event in 2000:

I wound up spending a portion of the day with Gorbachev, and found him to be a genuinely nice guy… When he was finished he got a round of applause and returned to his seat. He sat down, leaned over to me, and asked, “Did I talk too long?”

In the end, he was not willing to order the violence that would have been needed to keep the Soviet regime in power. All I can say about the incidental time I spent with Gorbachev was that, in my opinion, the human face was real.

The Powerline guys have another example of that same humanity, and even warmth, showing through in transcripts of the conversations between Reagan and Gorbachev during the famous negotiations in Reykjavik in 1986. Ironically enough they’re the Soviet transcripts, translated and declassified in the 1990s, which apparently are much more complete than the US State Department stuff. As Steven Hayward says, it’s hard to imagine similar conversations between Eisenhower and Khrushchev, Nixon and Brezhnev, or Carter and Brezhnev.

They’re all gone now.

Still, here’s what the kindler and gentler Soviet tyranny actually looked like under Gorbachev. That’s a New York Times article, but from one A.M. Rosenthal in 1988, a different era when they still had liberal journalists willing to challenge leftist totalitarianism:

For all his time in power, Mikhail Gorbachev denied that the Soviet Union held political prisoners. But in the city of Perm, in a tiny hotel room with a large TV set, we watched Mr. Gorbachev as he told the United Nations that ”no longer are people kept in prison for their religious and political views.”

We knew that was not quite so. But it was a fine moment of history – Mr. Gorbachev acknowledging publicly the reality of the Gulag, and so of the existence of Perm 35.

We knew that before Mr. Gorbachev visited New York all the prisoners were freed from Perm 35 and other prisons who had been incarcerated solely under the infamous Article 70 of the Criminal Code. That sets the price for almost any kind of expression distasteful to the Soviet Government: 10 years of prison, plus five years of exile, usually in Siberia.

Gorbachev will be praised for his courage, but it those men and women in Perm 35 also courageous. He also tried using the old Soviet playbook when Chernobyl exploded, lying and covering it up for days until Western exposure left him no choice but to go public. Funnily enough Gorbachev himself would pinpoint that disaster as the real beginning of the end:

The nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl this month 20 years ago, even more than my launch of perestroika, was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union five years later. Indeed, the Chernobyl catastrophe was an historic turning point: there was the era before the disaster, and there is the very different era that has followed.

Yes, he agreed to nuclear weapon reductions – but only after being placed in a box by Reagan’s much derided “Star Wars” program. And of course the MSM gloried for a few years in contrasting the “young” (he was in his mid-50’s), “telegenic” figure to the “aged”, “senile” Reagan (the same people currently in full denial about Biden’s dementia). As I wrote for the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, “Das Volk Siegt”:

There’s a push-pull aspect to this; without a Reagan a Gorbachev might never have become General Secretary, with his arguments to the Politburo that they had to change in order to survive against an increasingly powerful USA.

An unstated argument was that after decades of doddering old fools the Politburo also needed someone who could take on Reagan with a charm offensive.

The last certainly worked for a while. The Western MSM went gaga over this new Soviet leader: young, energetic, articulate, smart – and his glamorous wife Raisa, who was pulled into the media glare as a direct contrast to the Soviet past where leader’s wives were hidden Babushkas. All this was contrasted endlessly by the MSM with Reagan’s age and “stupidity”. The scoffing comparisons were long and loud.

Comparisons that included sneering about Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech. Many of Reagan’s advisors – especially the wallahs in the State Department, the “experts” – fought tooth and nail against including that phrase, fearing it would just “heighten tensions”, and for no good reason since it was such obvious nonsense. But Reagan himself insisted it be included. Once spoken, outside critics were harsher still, with more scoffing: typical political theatre they sniffed.

The same was said of Reagan’s objective re the USSR when that was finally revealed years after he had said it to an advisor in 1981:

“I’d like to tell you of my theory of the Cold War. Some people think that I am simplistic, but there is a fundamental difference between being simplistic and having simple answers to complex questions. So here’s my strategy on the Cold War:

We win, they lose.

More simplistic, dangerous nonsense sneered the critics once more. As a result it is not surprising that Gorbachev’s death would have produced these sorts of headlines: they’re still at it.

No. The Cold War ended because of the collapse of the USSR, which was definitely not by any design, let alone that of Gorbachev. He was a Communist who believed in the system to such an extent that he thought a bit of “opening” would save it. He was a Marxist who could not see all the lies on which the system was built and that opening up would reveal those lies and begin the process of destruction, Chernobyl being front and centre as an example of the whole, rotten system, and with the coup against Gorbachev earlier in 1991 as the fitting capstone to the USSR:

It was a Keystone coup. Right after the organizing meeting of the plotters’ Emergency Committee, Zubok explains, “some members went home and succumbed to various illnesses. Boldin was already suffering from high blood pressure; he went to a hospital. Pavlov . . . tried to control his emotions and stress with a disastrous mixture of sedatives and alcohol. At daybreak, his bodyguard summoned medical help, as Pavlov was incapable of functioning.” Pavlov later took some more medicine to control his nerves and “had a second breakdown that incapacitated him for days.”

So incompetent were they that they did not bother to turn off Yeltsin’s phone or prevent him from organizing opposition. One of Yeltsin’s supporters was able to fly to Paris, denounce the coup, and prepare, if necessary, to set up a government in exile. Opposition news sources, who knew what was happening better than the coup leaders themselves, continued their broadcasts to the West. “The situation was unbelievable,” one KGB general recalled. KGB analysts were learning about a crisis “in the capital of our Motherland from American sources.” When Margaret Thatcher accepted advice to telephone Yeltsin, she recalled, “to my astonishment I was put through.”

There are also takes like this:

His fate was not dissimilar to that of his contemporary Margaret Thatcher – widely reviled at home, but highly respected internationally, each of them for saving their country from going down the gurgler.

Gorbachev has been long reviled in his homeland precisely because so many Russians think that he did let their nation go down the gurgler. They don’t think he saved it at all but destroyed it. It’s why he got just 1% in the 1996 Russian Presidential race. But there certainly was and is that international acclaim, and it exists to this day, with those sick-making headlines above about how he “ended the Cold War peacefully”.

He ended the Cold War about the same way Robert E Lee ended the American Civil War, and this was his legacy.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 9, 2022 at 7:00 am

Posted in History, Ideologues, Russia

Tagged with , ,

Do you need an NKVD for this?

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Based on history I would have said yes. Certainly the collectivisation of Russian farms in the USSR and Mao’s Great Leap Forward could not have been achieved without having a State police force pointing their firearms at unarmed civilians.

On the other hand, the last two years of General Tso’s Sickness has persuaded me that there are rather large chunks of our society who will willingly bend to the wishes of the State if they are both terrified enough and sense that opposition to the State’s plans is small and weak, plus another chunk that think they’ll be the ones in charge of all of this.

But what will happen to the land? Mr Kotsko already has that planned out too:

Because that has worked so well in the past. But aside from Communist failures the fact is that this ties in well with environmental groups, from the Very Far Left Sea Shepard, to the hideously wealthy capitalist sociopaths of the World Economic Forum – if the intention is to greatly reduce the size of the planet’s human population, which would solve all manner of problems.

I had no idea who this clown was, but he’s more than just another Toxic Twitter Leftist: he has his own Wikipedia page:

Adam Kotsko (born 1980) is an American theologian, religious scholar, culture critic, and translator, working in the field of political theology.

“Political Theology”? Ewwwwww. Sounds scary, even if it is a good description of what passes for politics nowadays. He’s also written a number of books, including Why We Love Sociopaths (2012): no word on whether he meant it as a warning or an instruction manual, possibly for the WEF. He certainly has not applied its analytics to himself.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail to meet the test!?– 2 Corinthians 13:5

Written by Tom Hunter

August 23, 2022 at 5:07 pm

The Samizdat remains the same

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The failure of new generations of Leftists to actually build anything that could be described as Left-wing has started to be noticed by at least some Leftists.

Here in New Zealand the likes of “Bomber” Bradbury have been railing about the uselessness of Ardern’s Labour government to actually solve homelessness, and poverty, despite almost five years in power, the last two with an overwhelming majority in Parliament. Moreover “neo-liberal” capitalism is still here, smashing house prices through the roof and killing young people’s chances of home ownership – with all that implies for starting families.

Moreover, Bradbury notes that even as these failures pile up the fighting over woke politics grows ever more vicious:

I see a woke activist base who act more like a cult protecting dogma than agents of progressive change. I see a Green Party that is next to fucking hopeless on anything other than the delivery of woke empty gestures welded to their own middle class pretensions.

The material issues that truly matter have been dumped in favour of middle class identity politic virtue signals that are parroted by the Twitter mob and anyone who breathes differently gets cancelled.

But it’s a global phenomena. Environmentalist Michael Shellenberger, in his article, What happened to ‘Yes we can’?, bemoans what has happened to the dream of progressives on issue after issue:

For all of my adult life I have identified as a progressive. To me, being a progressive meant that I believed in empowerment…But now, on all the major issues of the day, the message from progressives is “No, you can’t.”

From climate change to drugs to homelessness and racism, Shellenberger sees what Bradbury sees, an ideological and political movement that has gone off the rails:

The reason progressives believe that “No one is safe,” when it comes to climate change, and that the drug-death “homelessness” crisis is unsolvable, is because they are in the grip of a victim ideology characterized by safetyism, learned helplessness, and disempowerment.

This isn’t really that new. Since the 1960s, the New Left has argued that we can’t solve any of our major problems until we overthrow our racist, sexist, and capitalistic system. But for most of my life, up through the election of Obama, there was still a New Deal, “Yes we can!” and “We can do it!” optimism that sat side-by-side with the New Left’s fundamentally disempowering critique of the ­system.

That’s all gone. On climate change, drug deaths, and cultural issues like racism, the message from progressives is that we are doomed unless we dismantle the institutions responsible for our oppressive, racist system. Those of us in Generation X who were raised to believe that racism was something we could overcome have been told in no uncertain terms that we were wrong. Racism is baked into our cultural DNA.

So too does the more hardline Leftist, Matt Taibbi in this article, The Vanishing Legacy of Barack Obama, which starts off in typical Taibbi fashion:

On the road from stirring symbol of hope and change to the Fat Elvis of neoliberalism, birthday-partying Barack Obama sold us all out

Ouch! It only gets nastier from there as he starts with Barack’s fabulous 60th birthday bash in his “Who’s Afraid of Climate Change” $12 million mansion in Martha’s Vineyard:

… advisers prevailed upon the 44th president to reconsider the bacchanal. But characteristically, hilariously, Obama didn’t cancel his party, he merely uninvited those he considered less important, who happened to be almost entirely his most trusted former aides.

There’s a glorious moment in the life of a certain kind of politician, when either because their careers are over, or because they’re so untouchable politically that it doesn’t matter anymore, that they finally get to remove the public mask, no pun intended. This Covid bash was Barack Obama’s “Fuck it!” moment.

I must admit that I laughed out loud at that last bit. Closer observers of Obama had already noticed that aspect of his personality years ago:

Obama was set up to be the greatest of American heroes, but proved to be a common swindler and one of the great political liars of all time — he fooled us all. Moreover, his remarkably vacuous post-presidency is proving true everything Trump said in 2016 about the grasping Washington politicians whose only motives are personal enrichment, and who’d do anything, even attend his wedding, for a buck.

Heh. Trump spoke a great many truths about The Establishment in D.C.

How do these Leftist betrayals keep happening? The thing that Taibbi, and the German Critical Theorists and Gramsci and all the rest of these fabulous Marxist theorists continue to miss is that no matter how you dress up the pig, it’s still a swine, as Tom Wolfe waspishly noted years ago in The Intelligent Co-Ed’s Guide to America, writing about Solzhenitsyn’s coming to America:

With the Hungarian uprising of 1956 and the invasion of Czechoslo­vakia in 1968 it had become clear to Mannerist Marxists such as Sartre that the Soviet Union was now an embarrassment. The fault, however, as tout le monde knew, was not with socialism but with Stalinism. Stalin was a madman and had taken socialism on a wrong turn. (Mis­takes happen.) Solzhenitsyn began speaking out as a dissident inside the Soviet Union in 1967. His complaints, his revelations, his struggles with Soviet authorities—they merely underscored just how wrong the Stalinist turn had been.

The publication of The Gulag Archipelago in 1973, however, was a wholly unexpected blow. No one was ready for the obscene horror and grotesque scale of what Solzhenitsyn called “Our Sewage Disposal System”—in which tens of millions were shipped in boxcars to con­centration camps all over the country, in which tens of millions died, in which entire races and national groups were liquidated, insofar as they had existed in the Soviet Union. Moreover, said Solzhenitsyn, the system had not begun with Stalin but with Lenin, who had im­mediately exterminated non-Bolshevik opponents of the old regime and especially the student factions. It was impossible any longer to distinguish the Communist liquidation apparatus from the Nazi.

I always have to laugh at the trajectory that Leftists follow in this descent. People like Gorbachev and Dmitry Volkogonov at least had the excuse of having grown up in a brainwashed system, but not their Western counterparts:

Yet Solzhenitsyn went still further. He said that not only Stalinism, not only Leninism, not only Communism — but socialism itself led to the concentration camps; and not only socialism, but Marxism; and not only Marxism but any ideology that sought to reorganize morality on an a priori basis. Sadder still, it was impossible to say that Soviet socialism was not “real socialism.” On the contrary — it was socialism done by experts!

Intellectuals in Europe and America were willing to forgive Solzhe­nitsyn a great deal. After all, he had been born and raised in the Soviet Union as a Marxist, he had fought in combat for his country, he was a great novelist, he had been in the camps for eight years, he had suf­fered. But for his insistence that the isms themselves led to the death camps — for this he was not likely to be forgiven soon. And in fact the campaign of antisepsis began soon after he was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1974. (“He suffered too much — he’s crazy.” “He’s a Christian zealot with a Christ complex.” “He’s an agrarian reaction­ary.” “He’s an egotist and a publicity junkie.”)

I vividly recall that this was still the standard take on the man when I was at varsity in the 1980’s.

Solzhenitsyn’s tour of the United States in 1975 was like an enormous funeral procession that no one wanted to see. The White House wanted no part of him. The New York Times sought to bury his two major’ speeches, and only the moral pressure of a lone Times writer, Hilton Kramer, brought them any appreciable coverage at all. The major tele­vision networks declined to run the Solzhenitsyn interview that created such a stir in England earlier this year (it ran on some of the educa­tional channels).

And the literary world in general ignored him completely. In the huge unseen coffin that Solzhenitsyn towed behind him were not only the souls of the zeks who died in the Archipelago. No, the heartless bastard had also chucked in one of the last great visions: the intellec­tual as the Stainless Steel Socialist glistening against the bone heap of capitalism in its final, brutal, fascist phase. There was a bone heap, all right, and it was grisly beyond belief, but socialism had created it.

But the betrayals of Obama and Clinton and Blair and Brown and Ardern (“Wonder Woman”) and Clark and Lange and all the rest, don’t matter. The next leader of the Centre-Left parties will be hailed as the new saviour, and the entire hideous personality-cult-plus-central-control process will start all over again. These are the same people who will tell you earnestly to your face that there’s no way a modern Lenin, Stalin or Mao could arise because the Left would never make that mistake again.

The Zombie Returns

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While the USSR collapsed in 1991 – fittingly on Christmas Day as if in a final tip-of-the-hat to the Christianity against which it had so long fought – and while this followed on from the collapse of all its little Mini-Me’s in Eastern Europe a couple of years earlier, there were still plenty of Marxists around, even if they seemed a little “off” from a traditional Marxist perspective:

Nominal communist regimes still exist, but they are knock-offs, systems determined to survive by being different. There is little Marx in China. Cuba also has gone to market to try to save itself. North Korea has enshrined Asian monarchy rather than European philosophy. But no one has attempted to remake Soviet communism.

Aside from those examples True Marxists (self-proclaimed) have soldiered on in the West, even gaining some traction with movements like Antifa and Burn Loot Murder, discontent with “neo-liberal capitalism” and certainly engaging in struggle sessions in many areas.

As this article, Zombie Marxism, makes clear, there’s a lot going on to once more modernise ancient Marxist ideas. That article looks at the two basic pathways to yet another socialist revolution: practical grassroots organising; and destroying a society’s ideas about itself. That last is mainly about Italian communist Antonio Gramsci:

Writing in the 1920s and ‘30s, after the failure by Italy’s workers to set up a communist state in 1918, Gramsci said the proletariat was consenting to his own enslavement. How so? He buys into the cultural trappings of his bourgeois oppressor—the church, the family, the nation-state, etc.

The communists at the turn of the 20th century had struck similar problems as the industrialised nations of Europe failed to undergo “natural” communist revolutions. Lenin’s answer was a Vanguard Party to lead the clueless workers. But Gramsci saw that outside of Russia that wasn’t working either. Something else was needed, and his key insight was that:

popular beliefs and similar ideas are themselves material forces.’ Gramsci upheld the assertion that a successful revolution would ultimately require the overthrow of the bourgeois state…However, because the capitalist hegemony does not function through state violence alone but that it also mobilizes civil society in order to promote oppressed peoples consent to and participation in the system, a successful revolutionary movement would first have to engage in a long-term effort to undermine that consent.

Screw economics in other words, the focus of Marx and Engels. Gramsci proposed that the things a civil society believes about itself, its culture, buttressed by its institutions, all the things that the oppressed foolishly believed in, would need to be torn down and rebuilt embedded with Marxist theory.

Which is where the German Critical Theorists come into the picture. They had the tools to enable the destruction, starting with the harmless, innocuous world of academic Western literature and then spreading beyond that to other parts of academia and from that into society, even into the ranks of the professional/managerial classes – with the NYT’s “educational 1619 Project, designed to tear down the myth of 1776 and replace it, being the most prominent example. As one modern Marxist, Harmony Goldberg, admiringly said:

Revolutionaries would themselves have to engage in the long-term battle of ideas in order to clarify the need for revolutionary transformation.” All-out ideological war is needed. A crisis can be used to overthrow a society, but the long-term subversion of a culture must come first.

Remember that when you strike idiot Right-Wing politicians who insist that “they don’t do culture wars”.

Aside from the ideas needed to destroy all those things there’s also the practical organising – which is where the likes of Burn Loot Murder come into the picture (and here you were thinking they were about Blacks being brutalised by the Police). The creators of BLM are people like Alicia Garza and Patrice Cullors:

 In 1996 Harmony Goldberg founded the School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL). This is the same place where, seven years later, Black Lives Matter founder Alicia Garza, then 22, began her Marxist training [in “community organising”].

In Cullors’s case, the ideological mentor was Eric Mann. He is a former member of the Weather Underground who founded the Labor-Community Strategy Center in LA (which Mann jokingly calls “the University of Caracas Revolutionary Graduate School”).

These bastard organisations may die off, as the murderous Weather Underground did after the early 70’s, but their poison lives on to create new horrors like BLM. Mann had already developed the key insight that in America Gramsci’s cultural attack would work best if it was boiled down to racism, the great fault line in America. The training of Cullors, Garza and others like them would also focus on a group of people not necessarily “working class”:

Early on, Mann settled on Los Angeles bus riders as more easily organizable and indoctrinated than factory workers. They were more destitute, more black, Latino, and Asian, and more female, than the average worker. “At a time when many workplaces have 25 to 50 employees, an overcrowded bus has 43 people sitting and from 25 to 43 people standing,” he wrote. “Ten organizers on ten different buses can reach 1,000 or more people in a single afternoon,” That’s why his Center pioneered the creation of a Bus Riders Union.

Remember this also the next time you read the likes of old time Leftist Chris Trotter sneering about the mindless, lower-class of the “lumpenproletariat“, as he did about the Wellington protestors. By contrast Mann and company see such people as equally valuable for their revolution, perhaps more so than the Working Class that buys into the capitalist dream.

So far it’s been quite successful: Critical Theory has laid waste to academic fields, and the most prominent outcome of BLM has been the Defund the Police movement. The article also points out the MSM has been brought into the picture in just the last few years, with a tenfold increase in the use of CRT terms such as “White Privilege”, “Systemic Racism”, “Racial Privilege and so forth. How helpful!

The thing is that the likes of Lenin, while they may not have been as focused on this stuff as a primary driver of revolution, effectively ended up doing the same thing after the revolution, as a rather surprising modern political figure confirms:

Cambodia’s Year Zero was not new or unique.

As much of a concern as these efforts are in their trashing of our Western civilisation, they’ve also turned out to be almost as much of a disappointment as their forebears in building the new Heaven On Earth, luckily without as much blood being split. For example the Defund The Police movement is rapidly collapsing as frightened Democrats back away from the massive surges in crime that have resulted in cities stupid enough to follow the advice of BLM, and US university enrolments are in long-term decline in areas such as English, Sociology, and History where Critical Theory has dominated.

But like old Communism, even as they fail they can be incredibly damaging. In the article Confessions of a student Marxist, we get some insight into this wasteland, as described a man who spent his teenage years “immersed in Marxist and anarchist circles and literature”, before getting to Cambridge University where he’s thrilled to discover others like himself and it all gets very exciting – for a while:

The college was a bucket of crabs and happiness itself suspect, a mark of privilege, as with the rugby lads who had the audacity to actually enjoy themselves. When there was laughter it was heavy and jarring, filled with irony and bitterness, never light or free. …Though we were aware of our enormous privilege we contrived to see our time at Cambridge as some grim fate foisted upon us.

Unhappiness brings with it power over others. Where compassion is the highest virtue, this power is almost limitless. Misery also provides the motive to wield this power, and mental blindness to one’s own culpability in its exercise. 

Eternally oppressed victims. There can be no uglier oppressors. He writes about seeing clips of people expressing their mental distress of oppression – “They are there in the voice, constantly on the point of breaking, in the incredulous, widening eyes, and in the earnestly furrowed brow” – and that when he sees BLM using the same “therapeutic language”, it makes his skin crawl.

Social theorist Mark Fisher described from first-hand experience the manipulation of this scene as a Vampire Castle which “feeds on the energy and anxieties and vulnerabilities of young students, but most of all it lives by converting the suffering of particular groups — the more marginal, the better — into academic capital. The most lauded figures in the Vampire Castle are those who have spotted a new market in suffering — those who can find a group more oppressed and subjugated than any previously exploited will find themselves promoted through the ranks very quickly.” The Vampire Castle recruits on the promise of community and self-healing. The reality is an ouroboros of emotional manipulation…

Emotional manipulation has become the primary, in some ways the only, driver of our politics: Jacinda Ardern is a leading example, including the fact that she is a wealthy, Middle-Class person:

The emotional manipulation developed in elite institutions has developed a motte-and-bailey style of argument (superbly analysed by Jacob Siegel) which is impossible to push back against without seeming callous. And every institution, public or private, has simply buckled.

the embrace of this movement by the rich, and the profound philosophical break it represents with the old order, suggests it has a logic and a momentum of its own and its potential is without limit. It is a politics of negation and renunciation and there is no end-point. There is always more work to be done.

That part about the rich jumping onboard with the bullshit shows both its danger to Western society as well as it weakness. Critical Theory and all the Gramscian stuff is doing a great job of tearing things down, but when it comes time for building they’re still stuck with Marxism, which only builds vast systems of centralised command and control that degenerate and then collapse.

But in this case, the approach has also produced, not a generation of hardened revolutionaries but a bunch of privileged cry-bullies: emotionally fragile people who, like their theories, can tear down but not build.

Seemingly on the cusp of victory (Defund the Police) they crap out in the face of reality (increased crime), and in the case of even the trained Marxists, it turns out that they love money and owning houses, having bought into the cultural trappings of their bourgeois oppressors.


Written by Tom Hunter

March 17, 2022 at 6:00 am

Bureaucracy vs. Robber Barrons

with 2 comments

“When propaganda is the goal, accuracy is the victim.”

I recently came across two articles from past years that I’ve had bookmarked and which I’ve enjoyed reading again over this summer.

First up is some humour that author J K Rowling may be treating more seriously in her ongoing fight with the Trans community, especially after getting her name removed from the Harry Potter movie franchise by Warner Brothers as they launch a 20th anniversary celebration of the first HP movie.

The humour comes from an essay written in 2006 for the Michigan Law Review, which analyses what Rowling is effectively saying in her HP books about bureaucracy, government and the media, Harry Potter and the Half-Crazed Bureaucracy:

The critique is even more devastating because the governmental actors and actions in the book look and feel so authentic and familiar. Cornelius Fudge, the original Minister of Magic, perfectly fits our notion of a bumbling politician just trying to hang onto his job. Delores Umbridge is the classic small-minded bureaucrat who only cares about rules, discipline, and her own power… The Ministry itself is made up of various sub-ministries with goofy names (e.g., The Goblin Liaison Office or the Ludicrous Patents Office) enforcing silly sounding regulations (e.g., The Decree for the Treatment of Non-Wizard Part-Humans or The Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery).

Rowling even eliminates the free press as a check on government power. The wizarding newspaper, The Daily Prophet, is depicted as a puppet to the whims of Ministry of Magic.

Sounds appropriate for our times. I don’t know how many of you have read the series, likely to your kids or even grandkids, or perhaps a guilty pleasure for yourself, but you may recognise some of this from the abstract.

I did not have to re-read the books to see all this, as it had jumped out at me when I read them originally, even if it went over the heads of my kids. I was hardly the only parent who speculated on what Rowling’s experience with government and bureaucrats had been in real life as she wrote her novels in poverty. Having said that it seems that Gen Z kids themselves continue to re-read the books now as they age into their twenties and thirties, where they likely also draw similar parallels:

it seems likely that we will see a continuing uptick in distrust of government and libertarianism as the Harry Potter generation reaches adulthood.

One can only hope. Which brings me to the next article, about a world almost completely at odds with the first, the Gilded Age of America, otherwise known as the time of The Robber Barrons.

More accurately The Myth of the ‘Robber Barons’. It turns out that it was created less at the time (despite cartoons such as the one above) than in the 1930’s, just when it was needed by the US Left, as described by historian Burton W. Folsom in his book about the subject.

It will surprise nobody to find that Far Lefters were behind it and that they were very ignorant about economics – and many other things. The main culprit was one Matthew Josephson, who quite literally wrote the best-selling book, The Robber Barons, after being inspired by Charles Beard, America’s foremost progressive historian, first at varsity and then years later during the Great Depression:

Josephson, the son of a Jewish banker, grew up in New York and graduated from Columbia University, where he was inspired in the classroom by Charles Beard, America’s foremost progressive historian—and a man sympathetic to socialism…“Oh! those respectable ones,” Beard said of America’s capitalists, “oh! their temples of respectability—how I detest them, how I would love to pull them all down!” Happily for Beard, Josephson was handy to do the job for him. Josephson dedicated The Robber Barons to Beard, the historian most responsible for the book’s contents.

Writing in the inspiring times of 1932 Josephson reached back fifty years in time to explain it all, but the following comments provide a clear idea of the quality of “analysis” he brought to the subject:

In a written interview for Pravda, the Soviet newspaper, Josephson said he enjoyed watching “the breakdown of our cult of business success and optimism.” He added, “The freedom of the U.S.S.R. from our cycles of insanity is the strongest argument in the world for the reconstruction of our society in a new form that is as highly centralized as Russia’s. . . .”

One is tempted to snigger but today we live with Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Occasional-Cortex, who believe the same shite about socialism and its Siamese Twin, giant centralised government.

He did little research and mainly used secondary sources that supported his Marxist viewpoint. As he had written in the New Republic, “Far from shunning propaganda, we must use it more nobly, more skillfully than our predecessors, and speak through it in the local language and slogans.” Thus he wrote The Robber Barons with dramatic stories, anecdotes, and innuendos that demeaned corporate America and made the case for massive government intervention.

Ah yes. As with today’s “journalists” the Narrative is everything and is best supported by dramatic stories. As Folsom points out in the article, that means there are lots of mistakes: “On page 14 alone, Josephson makes at least a dozen errors in his account of Vanderbilt and the steamships.” As Folsom says, “When propaganda is the goal, accuracy is the victim.”

But the main error – actually showing up on that page – is that Josephson never differentiated between market entrepreneurs like Vanderbilt, Hill, and Rockefeller and political entrepreneurs (i.e. government subsidy harvesters) like Collins, Villard, and Gould, even as he was honest enough to praise aspects of the former and lash the latter:

He quotes “one authority” on the railroads as saying, “The Federal government seems . . . to have assumed the major portion of the risk and the Associates seem to have derived the profits”—but Josephson never pursues the implication of that passage.

While the book hit the best-seller lists for six months Josephson was running around Russia praising bloody Stalin and his system. He missed the gulags, the farm collectivisations and all their horrors, especially in the Ukraine, and saw only the factories and other “glamorous” things:

He attended official dinners and even talked with select Russian writers and artists. He was ecstatic. The Soviet Union, Josephson said, “seemed like the hope of the world—the only large nation run by men of reason.” … Josephson also never realized that the Soviet factories he saw were often directly copied from Western capitalist factories—and were funded by Stalin’s confiscatory taxation. Instead, Josephson thought he had stumbled into a workers’ paradise, the logical result of central planning and superior leaders.

This book would go on to be more than just a best-seller: it had huge influence in the worlds of high schools, academia and journalism for decades:

Historian Thomas Brewer, who in 1970 edited The Robber Barons: Saints or Sinners? observed that the majority of writers “still adhere to the ‘robber baron’ interpretation.” Historian David Shi agrees: “For well over a generation, The Robber Barons remained the standard work in its field.” For many textbook writers, it still is. In the main study guide for the Advanced Placement U.S. history exam for 2015, the writers say:

America [1877-1900] looked to have entered a period of prosperity with a handful of families having amassed unprecedented wealth, but the affluence of the few was built on the poverty of many.

2015 FFS? It’s a wonder that Silicon Valley exists at all with this sort of high school education, though perhaps it wasn’t as bad when the likes of Zuckerburg, Gates, Bezos and Steve Jobs were passing through it, and of course Musk was educated in South Africa.

Folsom explains that this success, despite all the sloppy errors in the book, comes down to two reasons.

First, it was tailor-made for the Progressives of the 1930’s eager to blame the new generation of robber barons for the Great Depression. I always laugh at those Lefties who claim that Righties pined for President Herbert Hoover: it’s even in the opening song for All In The Family because of course it is. See how this cultural shit works? In fact:

Those harmful federal policies include the Federal Reserve’s untimely raising of interest rates, making it harder to borrow money; President Hoover’s blundering Farm Board; his signing of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, the highest in U.S. history; and his disastrous Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which dispensed massive corporate bailouts to political entrepreneurs. Finally, Hoover muzzled investment by repealing the Mellon tax cuts and promoting a huge tax hike.

Including income tax rates that went up to 70%, which FDR criticised, but which he cunningly kept after getting elected. Oh yeah, we Righties love that Herbert Hoover. Actually the admiration is for “Silent Cal” Coolidge, his predecessor, who could have run for office again in 1928 and would have handled all of the above very differently (of Hoover he said, “That man has offered me unsolicited advice for six years, all of it bad.”)

The second reason is that a bunch of Marxist historians who influenced a lot of the post-WWII historical profession, loved the book and made sure it was embedded in the curriculums of their students, starting with Richard Hofstadter:

“My fundamental reason for joining [the Communist Party],” Hofstadter said, “is that I don’t like capitalism and want to get rid of it.”

He still desired that after quitting the Party. He’s also the guy who wrote the nasty little polemic about the US Right-Wing, The Paranoid Style in American Politics. Great guys communists, whatever profession they are they’re still communists, with all the toxic nastiness and fanaticism involved.

Folsum’s book, The Myth of The Robber Barrons
Also, The Forgotten Man

Written by Tom Hunter

January 4, 2022 at 6:00 am

Karl Marx’s Christmas Present

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Thirty years have passed since this wonderful moment, fittingly occurring on Christmas Day. I recall sitting in Chicago watching this on TV in amazement.

The Cold War was over.

The following two articles that seem appropriate to the fall of the USSR.

First up is Peter Hitchens amusing anecdote, The last Noël in the USSR. It captures the bleakness of the time:

But when she came to rip open her gifts, the parcels did not contain the things she had hoped for. Instead, they were full of pale, oddly coloured and sometimes faintly dangerous Soviet products, breathing the last enchantments of the 1930s. Mrs Hitchens had queued fiercely to buy these delights in the colossal ‘Children’s World’ department store which stood just across the road from KGB headquarters.

But also the little joys, as well as the knowledge that having tried so hard, the atheistic determination to wipe out Christianity had failed:

Young Pioneers no longer patrolled the wintry streets searching for subversive Christmas trees, as they had done in the early years of the Leninist state. The air no longer trembled with the sound of cathedrals being dynamited, or of great bells being torn from their towers and spitefully smashed, as it had done in Stalin’s day… The League of the Militant Godless, once a huge semi-official organisation dedicated to mockery and hatred of God, of priests and believers, had quietly vanished during the war against Hitler. God had, during that odd period, proved a useful Comrade, at least as long as the war went on.

Looking for a Christmas turkey his wife finds an old woman selling a goose in a side-street. A nervous peasant dressed all in black, fearful of the Russian Mafia that even then was appearing as the KGB faded. The old woman gets more roubles than she can imagine.

I have never in my life eaten a more delicious goose, like a giant wild duck, not greasy as western geese are, tasting as if it had been reared in a snowy forest — because it had been.

The dark afternoon and evening still glitter in my memory. Outside, the brown slush and dirt of Soviet modernity, and the yelling, fist-pounding politics of an evil state (and it truly was) flailing in its death agony. Inside, a distillation of all that was good in our culture and theirs, and crowned with a small and defiant remembrance of the greatest enemy tyranny ever had, Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

December 25, 1991: USSR down at 7:32pm – Russia up at 7:45pm!

The second is an article that shows that, Things could have ended a lot, lot worse:

On December 8, 1991, two communist apparatchiks, Russia’s Boris Yeltsin and Ukraine’s Leonid Kravchuk, and relative political neophyte Byelorussian Stanislav Shushkevich, met at a hunting lodge near the Polish border on December 8. They signed the Belavezha Accords, named after the enveloping forest, dissolving the Soviet Union…Eight more signatures were added to the agreement in the following two weeks. On December 26, 1991, the Soviet flag was lowered for the last time. 

Although the U.S.S.R.’s collapse looks inevitable today, the dissident leaders feared arrest as traitors. Indeed, years later, local KGB head Eduard Shirkovsky said he wished he had done so. Shushkevich dismissed the idea: “I don’t think there was such a threat, given Gorbachev’s cowardice; at least I didn’t feel it.”

I think that’s a very harsh and unfair judgement on Gorbachev, though I understand how detested he is nowadays by his own people for having allowed an empire to be destroyed. He knew that he could have unleashed a still potent KGB and Red Army, invoking vast amounts of bloodshed as his predecessors had, not just in the USSR but in the Warsaw Pact nations. Certainly some of their scumbag leaders had been demanding such for three years, even as they went into the ash heap of history (in the case of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu into the cold soil, courtesy of Christmas Day bullets). But in the end he decided that, Marxist to the core though he was, it just was not worth it.

Nominal communist regimes still exist, but they are knock-offs, systems determined to survive by being different. There is little Marx in China. Cuba also has gone to market to try to save itself. North Korea has enshrined Asian monarchy rather than European philosophy. But no one has attempted to remake Soviet communism. For this, we should thank Mikhail Gorbachev, inadvertently or not one of freedom’s best friends

Zombie Marxism still exists in other places too, most notably in the heart of American academics and Left-wing activism, but that’s a story for the New Year.

Written by Tom Hunter

December 31, 2021 at 2:00 pm

K… K… K… Karl Marx and his never-ending story

with 4 comments

Way back on October 8 I wrote a post about Biden’s nominee for the position of Office of Comptroller of the Currency, Saule Omarova:

The OCC charters, regulates, and supervises all national banks and federal savings associations as well as federal branches and agencies of foreign banks. The OCC is an independent bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

I titled that post, Karl Marx’s Economic Analysis and the Theory of Revolution in The Capital, since that was the title of her Masters Thesis at Moscow State University in the late 1980’s. I left it at that. The comments section closes automatically after two weeks to avoid spam.

Probably a good thing, because since then the bloody post has shown up every single day in the stats. I can only assume that around the world people are tapping the title of her thesis into their search engines in the hope of finding the original document, and ending up here at No Minister.

Sorry folks. I looked for it too at the MSU archives but no luck, and Ms Omarova is keeping her copy under lock and key. I don’t know why though as it couldn’t be any more damaging than what is already known about the Commie fanatic.

Written by Tom Hunter

November 19, 2021 at 11:02 am