Archive for the ‘Communism’ Category

I found online this interesting op-ed by a former pro-communist South Vietnamese activist, who became quite disillusioned after the triumph of the North Vietnamese Communist forces. I was struck by how these fashionable causes–anti-Vietnam or anti-Iraq activism–take root among leftists in the West, but there is no sense of responsibility among those who champion these foreign causes they barely understand:

Some American supporters of Hanoi have ignored or rationalized these deaths, as they have the countless other tragedies that have befallen Vietnam since 1975. It is more than likely that they will continue to maintain their silence in order to avoid the profound disillusionment that accepting the truth about Vietnam means for them. Yet if liberty and democracy are worth struggling for in the Philippines, in Chile, in South Korea or in South Africa, they are no less worth defending in Communist countries like Vietnam. Everyone remembers the numerous demonstrations protesting United States involvement in Vietnam and the war crimes of the Thieu regime. But some of those people who were then so passionately committed to democratic principles and human rights have developed a strange indifference now that these same principles are under assault in Communist Vietnam. For example, one antiwar activist, William Kunstler, refused to sign a May 1979 open letter to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in which many former antiwar activists, including Joan Baez, protested Hanoi’s violations of human rights. Kunstler said, “I don’t believe in criticizing socialist governments publicly, even if there are human-rights violations,” and, “The entire Baez campaign may be a C.I.A. plot.” This statement reminds me of the argument used by the Thieu regime to suppress opposition: “The peace movements and the opposition activists are all the Communists’ lackeys.”

Remember the Holocaust. Remember the Rwandan Genocide. Free Tibet. Indeed, all good causes. But for all these awareness campaigns, there are a great number of parallel anti-awareness campaigns. Who now remembers the decades long apologies for totalitarianism and genocide perpetrated by such “respectable” Americans as Angela Davis, Bill Ayers, and, other freaks of the radical left? Who remembers the honorable goal with which we fought the War in Vietnam, namely, to prevent the spread of the evil cancer of communism, a determined and capable conspiracy of nations that threatened civilization itself?

P.S. While I’m on the subject, William Kunstler is one of the most vile, mischievous, and disgusting people to ever be counted among my countrymen.

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The blog Your Lying Eyes had a quite brilliant and nuanced essay on the politics of restraint:

So by crediting Putin/Russia with restraint, I’m hardly slabbering them with praise. But it is an indication of self-interest at work, and this is a very important thing to know about a country. When you can be sure a country is merely acting in its self-interest, you’ve got something to work with and a basis for negotiation and diplomacy. One of the scary things about the old Soviet Union was that it appeared to have some very big goals in mind besides what was best for Mother Russia, such as International Socialism. It often over-reached internationally and in its devotion to socialism at home starved and enslaved its own people. We pretty much had to take it at its word that it sought world domination, and thus the Cold War.

But the Soviet Union is long gone. Russia no longer shows any interest in fomenting revolution abroad and imposing totalitarian rule on its neighbors. It does not threaten the United States or Western Europe or even the non-Soviet Iron-Curtain nations of Eastern Europe. It would clearly like to have less hostile countries on its immediate border. Imagine Chavez’s Venezuela bordering the U.S. – I don’t think we’d put up with that, quite frankly (as, for example, with Cuba). Yet both Ukraine and Georgia are openly hostile and pro-American, yet both remain independent. This is hardly the behavior of a reckless, dangerous, rogue state.

In its actions in Georgia, Russia is clearly making a statement about Western influence on its borders, and appears willing to back off provided this message is heard and respected. Thus the restraint. Putin doesn’t want trouble with Europe or America, but he’s not willing to be boxed in by an expansionist NATO, either. It is critical that the U.S. not escalate tensions with continued talk of NATO membership and anti-missile installations*. We have nothing to gain from an antagonistic relationship with Russia, and very little to gain from friendly relations with her neighbors. Self-interest and self-assessment suggest one thing is required on our part: restraint.

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The next time someone asks rhetorically, “How could things possibly get worse?” consider the unfortunate history of the Russians after their revolution, as recounted by a knowledgable commenter over at Takimag:

First, we should consider the possibility that responsibility for the crimes of Communism can be traced to a Russian penchant for oppression.  However, the tsarist regime of terror against which the Bolsheviks fought pales in comparison with the horrors committed by the Bolsheviks when they took power.  The tsar allowed political prisoners to face a meaningful justice system.  The counsel for the defendant could represent his client up to the time of indictment and even beyond, and he could also appeal to national and international public opinion, an option unavailable under Communist regimes.  Prisoners and convicts benefited from a set of rules governing the prisons, and the system of imprisonment and deportation was relatively lenient.  Those who were deported could take their families, read and write as they pleased, go hunting and fishing, and talk about their “misfortune” with their companions.  Lenin and Stalin had firsthand experience of this.  Even the events described by Fyodor Dostoevsky in Memoirs from the House of the Dead, which had a great impact when it was published, seem tame by comparison with the horrors of Communism.  True, riots and insurrections were brutally crushed by the ancien regime.  However, from 1825 to 1917 the total number of people sentenced to death in Russia for their political beliefs or activities was 6,360, of whom only 3,932 were executed.  This number can be subdivided chronologically into 191 for the years 1825-1905 and 3,741 for 1906-1910.  These figures were surpassed by the Bolsheviks in March 1918 after they had been in power for only four months.  It follows that tsarist repression was not in the same league as Communist dictatorship.

We should always ask how broadly does a regime define its enemies.  If it is specific plotters and agitators, then the class of people treated badly (and treated so badly as to constitute injustice) is modest.  Most people have neither the time nor the courage to resist the established powers.  If the enemy is Kulaks, property owners, capitalists, and “enemies of the people,” then millions are in the crosshairs of power, as we witnessed under the Bolsheviks.

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Notice how much more coherent, articulate, and balanced his rhetoric is compared to our current crop of “conservatives.” In particular, notice that he recognizes our country’s earlier failings without rejecting these failings as something that wipe away all moral legitimacy to our past, as Bush and Rice have done repeatedly, comparing the savage atrocities of Iraq’s savage insurgents with the brave soldiers on both sides of America’s War for Independence and Civil War. Finally, he is far more steeped in the traditions of Western Civilization, quoting Tocqueville, C.S. Lewis, Whittaker Chambers,  Isaiah, Tom Paine, and Jesus Himself.

How far the quality of our political life has declined in my own lifetime.  Transcript here.

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