Archive for the ‘soviet union’ Category

I originally wrote this in 2009.  Seems timely again.

One worrisome aspect of greater government involvement in health care is the politicization of health care, which would allow the government indirectly to punish critics, oddballs, and any others that are deemed undesirable.  Obamacare is nothing short of giving the government the power to destroy the lives of individuals without any due process whatsoever through the hazy and easily manipulated realm of “psychological institutionalization.”

This might appear, at first, kind of paranoid.  This is America, after all.  But it’s not unprecedented.  The Soviet Union declared political dissidents as mentally ill rather than having formal charges pressed through the criminal justice system.  Even in that sorry regime, it was easy for state evil to fly more easily under the radar in the medical field rather than in traditional law enforcement. The Soviet Union’s doctors locked decent men up for many years in mental wards. The state-paid psychologists did the bidding of the Communist Party in the end.

In the Soviet Union, where the government was the sole employer, the notion of professional independence had disappeared.  The state swallowed up every group or institution that might provide some locus of resistance–the wealthy, private property, private industry, free speech, education, labor unions, professional guilds, and the Orthodox Church.  In these circumstances, lone individuals had very little power to stop the state’s destruction of private life and were often themselves deemed “difficult” individuals suffering from mental illness.  All in the name of creating a socialist utopia.  The same trend of increasing government power over our lives is underway in the United States today.

It may be objected that there is a strong culture of professional independence and concern for patient welfare in the American regime.  How viable is this alleged protection?  For starters, whatever ethic prevails today depends on the about-to-be-destroyed system of fee-for-service, which will be eroded to nothingness under the influence of Obama’s “government option.”  Obamacare will require government approval for payments to doctors for the majority of patients and further encourage conformity to government-dictated “best practices.” It may go something like this:  “Well, you doctors can do whatever you like doctor, but we’ll only pay for X, Y, and Z. Govern yourself accordingly.”

Even today, it’s not so clear that the purported ethic of physician responsibility provides effective protection for patients.  Drug companies, for instance, have created a serious financial incentive for doctors to prescribe particular drugs to patients, regardless of their effectiveness, their own lack of expertise in psychological illnesses, or the desirability of therapies that do not involve mind-altering drugs.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the field of mental health. Hitherto unknown diseases like “shyness” now are declared sicknesses that require expensive drug treatments.  Primary care physicians with no time for time-consuming counseling instead hand out Prozac and Paxil like candy canes.  According to Forbes, “We now spend more on mood-altering drugs for our children, including antidepressants, than we spend on antibiotics.” This is a scandal.

We have also witnessed psychiatrists in particular gladly assist the military, the police, and industrial organizations with an eye towards institutional goals like effective interrogation, screening of employees, and the creation of systems that promote worker productivity. Institutionalization of people was once the norm, as too is a habit of experimentation, including in the abuses of lobotomies in the middle 20th Century right here here in the United States.  Patient welfare is secondary in all of these well established practices, and the proximity of the abuses should give pause to those that call critics “paranoid.”

What historical or ethical limit would prevent careerist doctors from also engaging in punitive diagnoses of “authoritative personalities” and labeling conservative “sickos” under Obamacare?  What would prevent the creation of new diagnoses such as “homophobia” or pathological conservatism?  After all, such politicized definitions of mental health and long-term involuntary incarceration of political dissidents happened under the long-standing socialist medical regime in history, that of the former Soviet Union.

The world is more politically correct than ever.  To a great extent, we’ve become desensitized to the brainwashing and indoctrination of liberal group-think in corporate and academic settings.  Why wouldn’t medicine also be abused?  From diversity seminars to the scandalous sub rosa euthanasia that takes place in hospices to the anti-life practice of abortion, the potential oppressiveness of liberals knows no boundaries, because it’s not limited by the conscience:  it imagines itself to be good and promoting the good of all; therefore, dissent can be dismissed and classified as an expression of hate, racism, and, most sinisterly, “sickness.”

We must consider all the possibilities of evil under the Obamacare regime.  The potential abuses of Obamacare will not be spelled out in the plan.  Instead, the plan must be reviewed critically in light of the times, the dilapidated state of medical ethics, and the sorry history “repressive psychology” in the world’s longest-running experiment of government-run healthcare.

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One of the worst aspects of conservative “activism” is (a) the dominance of beltway pundits and their utter disconnect from the “tea party” crowd, and in particular the beltway’s contempt for the latter’s untutored and more tribal and culture-focused conservatism and (b) the right’s divisions and internal enmity, which prevents practical coalition building against a common enemy:  liberalism, its welfare state, and its numerous toxic cultural organs.

Conservatism is a simple and widely held view, which need not be philosophical, strictly speaking.  It takes nothing more than a recognition that life used to be more orderly and civilized, where such awareness comes from living memory and things easily discovered in books and conversation, coupled with contempt and hostility to those who seek more, similar changes.

Our forbears who opposed Soviet Communism had a similar problem, which is at once encouraging and sobering, when we take account of the longevity of the Soviet regime.  Consider this passage from the Age of Delirium, which chronicled the later years of the Soviet Union:

[T]here was moral political unity in the Soviet Union but not behind Marxism-Leninism.  The unity existed behind the desire to live according to an idea and to force all others to do likewise.  It was the drive towards unanimity that explained some of the negative characteristics of the dissident milieu, which was permeated with rumor-mongering and intrigues and divided by intolerance and sectarianism. . . .

The ideological atmosphere of Soviet society was reflected in relations between people who concerned themselves in any way with politics.  Among such people–and this category included the majority of the unofficial intelligentsia–friendship almost always had connotations of comradeship and its demands for uncritical idealization.  The intensity fo these friendships was evident among dissents who formed an extended family on political grounds, virtually living at each other’s houses, exhibiting photographs of each other, and interesting themselves deeply in each other’s personal affairs.  It went without saying that this type of friendship became insupportable if there was the slightest change in the political outlook of the parties.  Under those circumstances, a disagreement between friends was understood as a betrayal, and the closest friendship could turn into the most unforgiving enmity, with people suddenly waking up to and expatiating at length about the repulsive and despicable personality traits they had overlooked for years when the object of such an attacks was a close and valued friend.

What can we learn from this?  First, we should not indulge in foolish and petty infighting, particularly with those such as libertarians who have no constituency, natural or otherwise.  Yes, we should disassociate from those who would raise a false flag, such as neoconservatives, who have to some extent undermined real conservatism from within and diverted it to unnatural ends like endless Mideast Wars or conflict with Russia or open borders.  But we should spend more of our time and energy where the utterly disreputable politics of the far left is ascendent and also unpopular, such as immigration and health care.

Let’s learn from the relative success of our ideological adversaries at home.  How did they proceed?  Most notably, the Left advanced for many years on many fronts, slowly chipping away at the status quo with the lever of common American principles, such as equality and due process.  But they always have upped the ante upon success.  Consider the dramatic change in sexual mores and the rules regarding the same.  First, they argued for a constitutional right for birth control for the married.  Then the unmarried.  Then abortion.  And now we are seriously debating gay “marriage.”  This is a slow motion cultural revolution.

Under the successful leftist campaign, the newspapers, media, universities, political fundraising, and public schools all have been put to work to discredit our past, expose (and distort) its alleged flaws, replace our former authorities, destroy our economic independence, take away our guns, distract us with sensation and materialism and a lack of tribal unity, and generally move step by step towards their goals. (By contrast, the right has won back the right to bear arms through a similar strategy in reverse, focusing activism and money state-by-state.)

In other words, the left’s biggest triumphs have not been through symbolic violence by extremists far in front of the cultural mainstream–like the work of the Wobblies or Haymarket Square bombers–but rather the drumbeat of Gloria Steinem, Boasian anthropology, Freudian psychology, Keynesian economics, the haggiography of MLK, and the leaderless ideology of diversity and multiculturalism.  And the culmination:  a culture defined by the values of Hollywood, the crony capitalism of Wall Street, and the Manchurian presidency of Barack Hussein Obama.

Something like this in reverse is the answer, and, like the Left’s successes, will depend on some luck, circumstances, public relations and intellectual efforts nationally, and a certain degree of organizing locally.  The stated goals of the left must be exposed, as must their bad faith.  While there are many obstacles, there is much to work with for conservatives seeking national renewal, not least the dissatisfaction with Obama’s fiscal profligacy, his (and the neoconservatives’) open borders extremism, the Democrats’ excessive concern for America’s black minority, their contempt for our economic independence and historical freedoms, their lack of patriotism and their lack of hatred for our enemies, their hostility to Christians and rural Americans, their dominance  by unrepresentative and hostile minority factions, and much else. In other words, we need to hack away at the Left on those fronts where there is a majority, or at least strong plurality of support, rather than indulging in silly fantasies of revolutionary violence, the creation of a new pagan or quasi-scientific right wing that is anti-Christian (i.e., against 80% of the country), or the Rockefeller Republican strategy of compromise with our enemies, who will only respond by asking for more next time around.

That all said, arguing with crazies or getting caught up in distractions like the cult of Charles Johnson (the erstwhile militant neocon at LGF) or crackpots on the neo-nazi movement is a big waste of time.  Let’s instead speak to normal people on those areas where we agree and cooperate today, even if we must part ways and have smaller, more manageable disagreements about finer points of policy and strategy, tomorrow.

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German Troops Dismantling a Polish Border Post on September 1, 1939

How did World War II begin?  It didn’t begin on D-Day or at Auschwitz or on December 7, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked.  It began 70 years ago today with the German invasion of a newly independent Poland.

The Poles fought valiantly against the Germans and waited for promised aid from the French.  The French and British instead sat by as the Polish Army was crushed.   Less than a year later the French themselves were overrun by the German Wehrmacht in a campaign more swift than the Polish campaign.

The Poles continued to fight for many years underground against both the Nazis and their erstwhile Soviet allies.  It is an inconvenient historical fact that the Soviets invaded Eastern Poland nearly simultaneously with the Germans.  The Soviets were not attacked by Germany until 1941, but were instead attacking Finland, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia in 1940 in the same fashion as they attacked Poland in 1939.  After all that, FDR got many Americans to whitewash the very recent past and call Stalin “Uncle Joe.”

The German invasion, like so many wars, was a war of territorial conquest based on the supposed “natural frontiers” of Germany and alleged offenses against German ethnic minorities in Jozef Pilsudski’s nationalist Poland.  The Soviet attack was a bit of opportunism and score-settling going back to the Miracle on the Vistula. After World War I, the Poles saved their newly reborn country from the Bolsheviks and annexed parts of Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine from the former Russian Empire during the brief window of opportunity during the early days of the Soviet regime.

After the Nazi invasion, Poland would not form a collaborationist regime, unlike most of Western and parts of Central Europe.  Instead, it was subject to government by German rule, in some cases annexed directly into Germany, and in all cases subject to mass privation, ethnic cleansing, and forced labor.  Far from being mere “bystanders” to the Holocaust, the Poles suffered mightily from the Nazis’s campaign of anti-Slavism.  Some 3 million Polish Christians died at the hands of the Nazis in addition to the more well known mass murder of some 3 million Polish Jews.  The Polish people would resist until the very end, when its exile government was secretly sold out to the Soviets at Yalta by the British and Americans.

For those westerners who think of World War II as the “good war,” it’s worth remembering that the story is a bit more complicated.  While the Nazis were clearly very evil and a threat to European peace, it’s to their shame that the Allies so frequently subordinated their strategic aims and moral authority to the Soviet Union.  The war that began in defense of Polish sovereignty ended with a Soviet land-grab in the East.  The Soviet-controlled communist government of Poland soon undertook the liquidation of the Polish leadership and intelligentsia that had been begun by the Soviets during the 1939-1941 interregnum at Katyn.  The  mass murder and ethnic cleansing undertaken by the Soviets in Eastern Europe was very predicable.  The Soviets’ bad faith should have been self-evident 70 years ago when they invaded Eastern Poland in a preplanned destruction of the Polish state undertaken in concert with their Nazi allies.

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