When the hammer and sickle came down over the Kremlin in 1991, a seventy-four-year-old experiment collapsed in bankruptcy, political disintegration, and cheering. Trillions in treasure, many millions of lives, more than forty years of struggle, four decades of the Strategic Air Command being on alert, the underlying agreement between both parties on partisanship ending at the border – it all ended that night, preceded by the demolition of the Berlin Wall. Across Europe, east and west, millions danced in the streets. Small wonder.
Even in its late stages, the communist experiment guided from Moscow was a murderous, oppressive monstrosity. In its home country, it had murdered millions under Lenin, twenty million or more under Stalin, with periods of mass starvation as forced collectivization failed, and an endless succession of show trials, conspiracies, and military interventions to enforce the party’s grim rule. Life in Russia’s client states was only slightly better. Gorbachev’s loosening of this totalitarian state provided the excuse the general population needed to toss them all out, with hardly a shot fired. “Why waste bullets on a corpse?” was a popular saying in Moscow in 1990. Ammunition wasn’t needed elsewhere either, except in Rumania, where one of the nastiest Red thugs, actually a couple, were gleefully, horribly tortured, mutilated and murdered by crowds, rather like Mussolini had been during the Second World War. There were remarkable intellectual circles, such as those around Havel in Czechoslovakia, intellectuals devoted to the idea of free thinking, freedom of action, liberty of the individual, and capitalism, albeit a somewhat more restrained variety than you might find in a movie about America’s Wild West. It was shocking to Western intellectuals, many of them sympathizers with the Soviet Union, Communism, and socialism. The astonishing wave rising against the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe between 1978 and 1989 pushed aside all allegiances and standard explanations (much like the Arab Spring of now). Even old Lefties like the late, great Leonard Bernstein were delirious when the Berlin Wall came down, though it is hard to imagine Maestro Bernstein as easily inviting Vaclav Havel’s drinking friends to a party on Sutton Place as he had once done for the Black Panthers. The Left, we know all too well, picks its cocktail and dinner companions very carefully.
Just before, Soviet armor had already left Poland, most of eastern Europe. Trains rumbled east daily with tens of thousands of Red Army troops. In an extraordinarily astute gesture, Helmut Kohl, chancellor of the reuniting Germany, arranged to pay salaries for, and feed, the Red Army until they could be resettled in Russia. Good thing. Imagine a million or so guys in uniform, jobless, still armed, hungry, with no future? The collapse was a dangerous moment. As a Russian KGB chief from the bad old days remarked about Cuba in 1962, “some colonel could have started a shooting war without anybody finding out it until it was too late.” It didn’t happen. The world had the good fortune of having a brilliant team, led by George Bush, Sr., who used the impending collapse to negotiate settlements of Cold War disputes across the world, reducing tensions, clearing the Iraqis out of Kuwait. For a while, it looked as though we’d entered the end of history, as Francis Fukuyama addressed it in a famous, if someone dreamy, essay.
The old regime tried a comeback through a military coup, but after the standoff, with new hero Boris Yeltsin standing on a tank with a bullhorn, promising never to surrender to the old days, the Bolsheviks, like their fascist brothers from Franco’s era in Spain, acknowledged that their day was over. It was a moment of rare beauty in political affairs. But, as in the remarkable, 5-year television series Babylon 5, an unsubtle rendering of the story into science fiction, the dismissal of Bolshevik shadows marked the end of one war, and the beginning of another. Optimists who saw nothing but a rosy future for the newly-dominant democracies had forgotten an important lesson: the Left never gives up.
All during the 90s, the Left continued to subvert institutions in the United States in a process described by Wonker’s posts regarding the Gramsci strategy. In sum, it’s a method of undermining American political, social, religious and cultural institutions, employed in the U.S. by the Left (a strategy encouraged by Saul Alinsky and disciples) because our politics and culture are so strongly aligned against collectivist thinking and organization. While it’s true that almost all union leadership were socialist or communist before World War I, by the 1930s, with the bitter experience of the Soviet Union, it was a rare labor union that openly aligned itself with Communists, already notorious for forcing Russian unions into being tools for forced labor under Lenin and Stalin. By the 1950’s, most U.S. unions disavowed the worldwide Communist movement, and were as much targeted by KGB as were the State Department and the CIA. As notorious as the Red Scare eras were, especially in Leftist mythology, the McCarthyites in the late 40s and early 50s forced many Soviet agents out of government departments, unions, and colleges and universities. These Reds were not there as free agents of different ideas, the favored myth of tenured radicals, but to subvert, destabilize and attack a sworn enemy.
But, as we watched the hammer & sickle come down, there came a natural urge to celebrate, to swear off strategic military expenditures, to demilitarize society, to spend the peace bonus (as we had after World War Two). For those too young to remember, we had emerged from an often grim, two-generation struggle. How dangerous this bipolar world was, how close the confrontation between Red and Free could get to an outbreak of war likely to destroy the planet, popped up in Red scares, television, international crises, and the movies, as it did in Stanley Kramer’s drama, Fail Safe, and Stanley Kubrick’s black comedy, Dr. Strangelove… in 1964. Fail Safe presumed something slightly fantastic (as did strategic planners in the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations), that a reasoned negotiation could end in an acceptable trade, at however terrible a cost, could stop all-out war in case of an accidental attack (an all-too-likely possibility -- for all its safeguards, nuclear war is automated war). As a cultural artifact, Kramer's film is a remarkable reminder of the inhuman chess game being played, which created an environment of terror described by Elie Wiesel as “the universal concentration camp.” Dr. Strangelove…, on the other hand, presumed something quite a lot less fantastic, that human frailties, which planners believed could be checked with orders of battle and structuring of confrontation, would win out regardless. “Some colonel” would start the ball rolling. In the film, the commander of an air force base launches a nuclear attack on the Russians without orders from Washington. The subsequent efforts to fix this “mistake” are shown as the futile efforts of clowns masquerading as general officers, timid leaders, and a lunatic ex-Nazi unsubtly based on Henry Kissinger. It is deliriously funny, even now, even as the song “We’ll meet again…” is belted out over the end of the world (actual footage of hydrogen bomb tests in Russia and in the Pacific). Strangelove… is the most horrifying film about this period conceivable, largely because its director, Kubrick, and its writer, Terry Sothern, felt that we weren’t smart enough to play with our own toys.
A later generation got the very frightening “Day After”. In 1991, it seemed, all was well. The East, like the West, comprised just folks, eager to get on with uncomplicated things: making businesses work, raising families, settling international disputes with talk instead of terror, getting along. The notion of a worldwide conspiracy began to achieve the status of either an old and discredited scare story, like the boogie man, or as a sign of a political commentator trying to go back to the old days to get back some of his friends' old power.
In the decade since 9/11/2001, however, it has become devastatingly clear that our celebrations were fine for the dismissal of one worldwide conspiracy, but had ignored the rapid development of another, what Jamie Glazov has described in United In Terror: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror, the bizarre support and assistance by the Left for radical Islam’s world-embracing vision of destroying the secular world and replacing it with one unified under sharia law, a vision almost indistinguishable from that of the Comintern (or the Nazis) in 1935.
It is truly strange. If the Left is about Progressivism, and Progressivism includes such things as equal rights for all people, regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, etc., why would it ally itself with a theological movement that has demonstrated violent opposition to all of those changes? ‘Why did Stalin ally himself with Hitler?’ would be the historical analogy. Answers are not hard to find. Glazov, like many others before him, including Hannah Arendt, puts it in plain view: It’s not about Progressivism. It’s not about anybody’s status. It’s about power, the power of those who claim to be working on our behalf to totally dominate our lives.
And as you look out there at the various uprisings, terrorist acts, and the peculiar unity of purpose in all of them, don’t be as fooled as a number of unions apparently have been. The people burning Oakland, Rome and Athens, like those in the Arab Spring, are the unconscious partisans of a new generation of tyrants.
The fingerprints of the preeminent funder of the activist Left today, George Soros, are all over the anti-American “Occupy Wall Street” movement. The seventh-wealthiest person in America (net worth: $22 billion), Soros has publicly embraced Occupy Wall Street and financially supports a left-wing group that is funneling money to the movement…This Communist sympathizer co-founded the ultra-secretive Democracy Alliance, a billionaires’ club that wants to radically transform America. He has said that European-style socialism “is exactly what we need now” and favors American decline…The nonprofit organization that has taken Soros’s money is the Alliance for Global Justice…As of Nov. 2, the Alliance reported $206,000 in donations earmarked for Occupy Wall Street. Occupy Wall Street and George Soro’s Footprints, Matthew Vadum, Frontpage Magazine, 11/4/11
Countries and groups in the chaotic transition between one stable period and the possibility of a better one always have to be on guard for people like Soros and his colleagues. Far from being entrepreneurs, or real advocates of progress, they are parasites who use political rhetoric and artfully placed gifts to make themselves look like patrons of the a New Way. However, what they intend is to instigate chaos in a particular market, as Soros has time and again, whether his undercutting of the British pound, his illusory support for democracy in the Ukraine (ask someone who actually lived there what happened), or for his ongoing play in the United States, including a major role in elevating the current resident of the White House into office. In these campaigns, Soros has exploited local chaos not for social and political improvement, but for personal financial gain. The Left itself arises during similar periods of chaos and change, offering the same old bad medicine every time. Since its tactics are similar to Soros’s (and a number of similarly motivated wealthy men), especially in its employment of subterfuge, they are an oddly natural match, as are radical Islamists and the Left. Where the Left becomes even more useful is when it decides that the time for backroom conspiracy is over, that the day has come for mass demonstrations and violence. Chaos rises. A currency is destabilized. A compromising deal is made with a frightened, elected political leadership. The smoke clears, the ruins are examined, and, funny thing, the parasite has left town with his money and ours.
OAKLAND -- A majority of Occupy Oakland protesters sought Thursday to distance themselves from masked vandals who they said had undercut the movement by hijacking the tail end of a mostly peaceful protest, damaging downtown buildings and clashing with police…"They are smearing our movement," Raleigh Latham…said to applause at a morning meeting…at the movement's City Hall camp. "People who want to destroy our community are not welcome here." They may not be welcomed by all of Occupy's committed sympathizers. But the hundreds of black-clad activists who coalesced downtown late Wednesday to take over a vacant building, barricade a street and then battle with police and vandalize stores are proving to be a complicated problem for the leaderless movement…Many protesters, while saying they favor nonviolence, believe in provocative actions like marching on businesses and forcefully shutting them down - which happened at several bank branches during the comparatively peaceful daytime hours of Wednesday's general strike….Occupy Oakland Struggles With a Provocative Fringe, by Berton, Bulwa, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/4/2011
Oh, isn’t that the way it always is? A gentle movement, disavowing leaders as too macho, or inhuman, or undemocratic (where do these sleepy children come up with such clichés?), is suddenly confronted by the arrival of fringe actors throwing Molotov cocktails and assaulting the police. Get with it, kids. This is what the Left has always done! And, to make things worse, such provocateurs are a principal tool used by governments for generations, instigating violence to disgrace opponents of its policies, or to encourage support of its own, stalled legislation or ignored decrees! Wake up, America. Get the point. They’re back and they’re serious and they’re just as out of touch with reality now as they were in 1917.
ROME -- Italian police are firing tear gas and water cannons at protesters after some smashed shop and bank windows, torched cars and hurled bottles…as…a small group of violent protesters broke away from the main demonstration in the Italian capital, part of worldwide protests against corporate greed and austerity measures…Some protesters trashed offices of the Defense Ministry and of a labor agency, smashing windows with clubs, throwing paper bombs and firecrackers and setting cars on fire…The "Occupy Wall Street" protests that began in Canada and spread to cities across the U.S. moved Saturday to Asia and Europe, linking up with anti-austerity demonstrations that have raged across the debt-ridden continent for months…Black smoke billowed into the air in downtown Rome as a small group of violent protesters broke away from the main demonstration. They smashed car windows, set vehicles on fire and assaulted two news crews of Sky Italia, the TV reported. Others burned Italian and EU flags… “People of Europe: Rise Up!” read banners in Rome. Some peaceful demonstrators turned against the violent group and tried to stop them, hurling bottles at them, Sky and the ANSA news agency reported. Others fled, scared by the violence…Rome protest against corporate greed turns violent, The Post and Courier, October 15, 2011
Worldwide revolution! Get your picket signs and Molotov cocktails here! Worldwide revolution! Get your gas masks here! Oh, boy, this just never ends. You’re out there in your demonstration best, singing about corporate greed, and about the evil, inhuman one percent, tears in your eyes in being somebody, and doing something , holding hands with the stranger you made love to last night, and all of a sudden the very smart guy in the leather jacket, who was so engaging last night at the organization meeting for the protest at the bank, is running, and, oh, my god, he’s got something burning in his hand. Oh, no, he’s throwing it through the bank’s window. You never intended this. But, now as the tear gas rises, and the riot batons start banging and bloodying, and crowd begins to scream, the blood lust of political violence begins to explode and, as terrifying as it is, you know that nobody is the target of the police but you. And before long – yes, it’s you picking up the bottle rolling back from the burning bank, the one that’s still lit, the one that didn’t explode, and, as your new sweetheart gasps, you raise your arm….
That’s right, kids. You’ve just become a murderous tool of the Left, and of all the parasites that use such irrational politics as a means to ends unrelated to progress, corporate greed, or world peace. You have, despite your best plans, become the enemy of all that you believe in.
That’s what the Left does, has done, and always will do, forever and amen.