Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Leftists aren't Liberals

Some who fancy they are on the opposite side from me really aren’t. They want better medical care, better dental care, better social security. So do I. Wanting those things doesn’t put anyone on the opposite side of me. When Francis Fukuyama looked about the world to determine the extent of Liberal Democracy, he didn’t differentiate between the Welfare States of western Europe and the more Liberal Democracy of the U.S. They all met his definition of “Liberal Democracy.” And while I might quibble with the wisdom of too many entitlements in France, for example, I won’t because of that, shove them off into a totalitarian alternative. No, we are all Liberal Democracies. We may have Conservative and Liberal Wings within our Liberal Democracies, but the Liberal Wing of Liberal Democracy is not what I am criticizing when I refer to “Leftism.”

Leftists want to do away with Liberal Democracy. They want to replace Liberal Democracy with Socialism. They oppose Americanism, aka Liberal Democracy, because its freedoms allow some people and corporations to become rich and powerful. Richness and power, according to them, should belong to totalitarian state leaders and not to ordinary individuals or corporations. This wouldn’t be the way they would explain it I hasten to add. They wouldn’t use the word “totalitarian.” They prefer such terms as “dictatorship of the proletariat,” “the Workers Party, or “the People’s Party.” If a dictator claims to be ruling for workers or the people then those who admire Socialism don’t think of him as a totalitarian dictator, but that is what he is. Does anyone rule besides him? Can he be removed from office by means of a term limit or a democratic vote? If the answer is “no,” then he is a dictator. Now to determine whether his system is totalitarian, ask whether it rules almost every aspect of life in a given nation.

Here is a good definition of “Totalitarianism” from Wikipedia: Totalitarianism (or totalitarian rule) is a concept used to describe political systems where a state regulates nearly every aspect of public and private life. Totalitarian regimes or movements maintain themselves in political power by means of an official all-embracing ideology and propaganda disseminated through the state-controlled mass media, a single party that controls the state, personality cults, control over the economy, regulation and restriction of free discussion and criticism, the use of mass surveillance, and widespread use of terror tactics. The term has been applied to many states, including: the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Socialist Republic of Romania, People's Socialist Republic of Albania, Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, People's Republic of China, Democratic Kampuchea, Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea).

So if I criticize an individual or groups of individuals for being Leftists, I don’t mean that they favor better medical insurance. I mean that they favor the abolition of Liberal Democracy and the substitution of the form of Totalitarianism popularized by Marx, Lenin, and Stalin. Fukuyama was overly optimistic to believe that Liberal Democracy had defeated Communism because the USSR collapsed. Perhaps Leftists suffered a period of depression, but they are busily back at work today. They are busy cleaning up Stalin’s image, for example. They are busy focusing people’s attention on American ant-hills of guilt; so they won’t have time to look at Stalinism’s totalitarian mountains.

In my opinion, we in our Liberal Democracies need to get a grip. We should pay attention and recognize when we are being lied to. Stalinism wasn’t a worker’s paradise. The abuses under Stalin were comparable to those under Hitler. They have much in common. Their systems of government have much in common. Neither system has much in common with Liberal Democracy.

Also, we should notice, we who don’t want to give up our Liberal Democracies, that critics like Chomsky and Ward Churchill are voicing a “party line” owing much, if not everything, to the party line inherited from the propaganda of their Communist forebears. We should recognize that they want to do away with Liberal Democracy. We should understand that they have “faith” in a Socialistic utopia that has thus far not come into existence. We should understand that they believe that their Socialism will cause a change in human nature such that people who live in their Socialistic utopia will be better people than presently exist anywhere on earth. And hey, if you want to accept their belief, that is up to you. This is still a free country. We have no Stalin able to ship us off to an Alaskan gulag. You can believe whatever you like. But don’t deceive yourself. Find a knife and cut through the Gordian knot of their obfuscations:

“Today, they claim that “it [Stalinism’s crimes] never happened” – crucial to the success of the radical reclamation project – is far more difficult to sustain, but in some ways it is almost as effective as in the days of Stalin himself. Even when it doesn’t work, it works. By the time the truth trickles out, no longer deniable genocides have become admissible ‘errors’; previously hidden atrocities are grudgingly acknowledged as ‘mistakes.’ By the time the facts of the socialists’ experiments are generally acknowledged, they have been nibbled to death by partial explanations and incomplete admissions, until they have become emotionally, morally, and politically distanced – mere curiosities of the historical past. Did Stalin kill twenty or thirty or sixty million of his own countrymen to create the social future in the U.S.S.R.? Did Mao kill twenty or thirty or fifty million during his Great Leaps and Cultural Revolutions? How many millions of dead people can dance on the head of the socialist pin?” [Collier and Horowitz, op. cit., page 251]

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

RE: on Lillian Hellman and Stalinism.

Ludwik Kowalski wrote,

I did not know who Lillian Hellman was. On the basis of information given above, I suppose she was one of many who believed in Soviet propaganda. In the late 1930s, the scale of Stalinist brutality and violence against Soviet people was not widely known to Western intellectuals, even to those who visited the USSR.

The present situation is very different; documented information about horrors of proletarian dictatorship is widely available. Marxism is said to be a theory based on experimental data (historical facts). Those who defend Marxism today must confront such data. What mistakes were made by Lenin and Stalin? How should the old ideas be changed to prevent repetitions? That should be their main preoccupation. Calling Soviet experimental data, such as horrors of collectivization, as "greatly exaggerated" and "cold war propaganda" is not acceptable. Soviet history, and the history of other communist countries must be studied, not ignored.

Lawrence responds,

Lillian Hellman was a committed Leftist her entire life and she died in 1984. She wasn't just about the 30s. I encountered her most recently in regard to her book, Scoundrel Time, written in 1976. It was written about her experiences with HUAC and the "McCarthy era." Collier and Horowitz wonder why Hellman discuss her reasons for writing her book so long after the events. "The exhumation of McCarthy's ghost was, for people like Hellman, not an aspect of writing history but a strategy for changing attitudes toward the past and therefore posthumously triumphing over it. It was also a way of rendering the political culture unable to criticize the renaissance of 'progressive' politics looming on the horizon, unable to challenge the crucial involvement of the Communists and elements of the hard-core Left in the nuclear freeze movement and in the effort to protect Communist gains in El Salvador and Nicaragua. Joe McCarthy, as it turned out was a man for all seasons."

"The 'lessons' of Vietnam and Watergate that the Left promoted held that America had no real enemies in the outside world or at home. It was threatened only by the phantoms of its cold war paranoia . . . ." [Collier & Horowitz, op. cit., pp 206-7]


Concern about Hellman is not antiquarian. The Left still uses the concept "McCarthyism" to silence critics, and Hellman is an integral part of the Left's argument in this regard in America. What people not on the left are very slow to do is to point out that McCarthy was never what the Left said he was. There really were communists doing the things he said they were doing. The information of the Venona and KGB files is available. There is no longer any excuse for Conservatives to be complicit in Leftist arguments about "McCarthyism." McCarthy attempted to combat Communism. We now need to combat the "sons of Communism" in its various forms. And to allow ourselves to be silenced by an accusation of "McCarthyism" is spineless.

Lillian Hellman and Stalinism

Modern revisionists and those influenced by them, like Professor 1 in Ludwik Kowalski’s Hell on Earth, don’t seem to know that Stalin was guilty of mass murder and a variety of other crimes – crimes of the sort that German leaders on trial at Nuremberg were hanged for, crimes of the sort that the Iraqis executed Saddam Hussein for.

Let us consider, for the purpose of reference, Lillian Hellman. She lived from 1905 to 1984 and has a certain cachet as an American playwright. If you read the Wikipedia article ( ) you will see her described as being “linked throughout her life with many left-wing causes.

“Hellman appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1952. At the time, HUAC was well aware that Hellman’s longtime lover Dashiell Hammett had been a Communist Party member. Asked to name names of acquaintances with communist affiliations, Hellman instead delivered a prepared statement, which read in part: ‘To hurt innocent people whom I knew many years ago in order to save myself is, to me, inhuman and indecent and dishonorable. I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions, even though I long ago came to the conclusion that I was not a political person and could have no comfortable place in any political group.”

Collier & Horowitz on pages 205-6 of Destructive Generation, Second Thoughts about the ‘60s, write, “the [last sentence above] was much quoted by admiring reviewers, who either ignored or were ignorant of the fact that for many years Hellman had willingly cut her conscience to fit the brutal style of Stalin’s fashions. She postured in retrospect as an innocent and a naïf, someone who might have been in Moscow during the worst moments of the purge trials but knew nothing about them. But she was not so ill-informed that she couldn’t sign an ad in the Communist Party’s New Masses defending Stalin’s atrocities shortly after her return from the U.S.S.R. The ad appeared a few days after the Hitler-Stalin pact and denounced the Congress of Cultural Freedom for spreading the ‘fantastic falsehood’ that the U.S.S.R. was no different from other totalitarian states.

“The problem with this revisionism is that it ignores the central fact about Hellman and other self-styled ‘progressives’ – that if they had not earlier served Stalinism or maintained a disgraceful silence about its homicidal and subversive nature, there would not have been a field on which a McCarthy could have played. In the current effusion of Leftist nostalgia and propaganda, this is never acknowledged. The realities of the Fifties are not only ignored but purposely mislaid, chief among them the fact that practically all those called before the McCarthy committees were Communists – and hence members of a fifth column directed by Moscow – and that, as Partisan Review founder William Phillips has noted, ‘what one was being asked to do was to defend their right to lie about it.’”

Interestingly, not everyone has been as kind to Revisionists as modern scholars. Referring back to the Wikipedia article, Mary McCarthy “famously said of Hellman on The Dick Cavett Show that ‘every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the’.”

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Russians still love Stalin -- Sharansky believes in a myth

Some time ago I confronted the belief that the Chinese couldn’t possibly be contented with their lot. The presupposition for that belief was the Sharansky idea that everyone wanted freedom. To carry that out to its logical conclusion, everyone wants to live like Americans do. Now in the case of the Chinese, a rather staid, traditional, respectful people by and large, the “freedom” of America was seen by them as license. They see us, by and large, as a debauched nation interested in drugs, sex and crime. Pollsters went over there and discovered that, by and large, they were contented with what was going on in China. Yes, there was the Tiananmen Square incident, but weren’t those students influenced by Western ways? And they were merely a tiny percentage of the population. The bulk of the Chinese are happy with what is going on over there.

I hadn’t seen any polls on the opinions of the Russians, but I didn’t gather that they were too unhappy with Putin’s totalitarian desires, and then this morning a reader sent me the results of a six-month-long Russian-poll. 50 million Russians voted on who was the most popular Russian in Russian history. They were given 50 famous Russians to chose from. Stalin came in third and Lenin sixth. In Qatar they though this required 8 years of brainwashing ( )

Reuters quotes a Communist who thinks Russians are tired of their capitalistic experiment and are ready to return to something more authoritarian: )


It may be the conservative thing to believe that everyone in the world wants to be like us, but I don’t believe it. I don’t even believe that we want to be like us. We, like the Russians, are yearning for an . . . perhaps not an “iron fist” but a velvet one. Think of the song that includes the refrain, “oh how I need, someone to watch over me.”

In Christian theology, and we need to remember that the “West” grew out of Christian theology and Christian traditions, the greatest of sins is to desire to be like God. For that sin Satan was cast down from heaven and Nebuchadnezzar was turned into a bovine creature that moved about on all fours. Frank Sinatra singing “I did it my way” is an aberration, or an abomination, depending upon how seriously one considers his point of view. There is plenty of room to be industrious, innovative, and creative. After all, the American Puritans were considered preeminent in those regards and yet they held to a strict belief in the Sovereignty of God. The two are not mutually exclusive despite what Marx said. Christianity is not the opiate of the people, autocracy is. Christianity demands that people be responsible for their own actions. Hitler and Stalin assured their people that they would be responsible for them. It is autocracy that is the opiate. Most people don’t want to be responsible. If something goes wrong they want to blame someone else. All our national troubles, the Russians are now being told by those who oppose the Christian opiate, are caused by external systems and outside agencies. We are not to blame; so trust in your leaders, oh Russians, and they will care for you. They will watch over you.

Some may recall my note describing my misanthropic temptation ( ). If a people, be they Russian or American want to abandon their freedoms and select someone to rule over them, this won’t be anything new in history. God told Samuel to give the people what they wanted. They want a king; so give them one. The king will treat them brutally, but they have rejected me and now want someone to rule over them; so give them what they want. We know that God has been misanthropic from time to time, and I can understand his point of view. Unfortunately for those of us who do understand what’s at stake, we shall be subject to the judgment just as Habakkuk was. A watchtower is not a good place to hide from a whirlwind.

What am I talking about? Are we not free here in the U.S.? Are we not the antithesis of the autocracies that content the Chinese and Russians? Not quite the antithesis. Or if we are, we are terribly messy about it. What are we using our freedoms for. The Chinese have some legitimate complaints. We are no longer Puritans who work from dusk to dawn and spend our evenings in prayer or studying the word of the Lord. We engage in other things during our evenings, and few of us are interested in study, being creative, or self-sacrificing. Oh yes there are some, but is their percentage proportionately any greater than those who protested at Tiananmen Square? Probably not.

Perhaps the Russians are a bit more amenable to totalitarian ruler-ship than we are. After all, they called Ivan IV Vasilyevich, known also as “The Terrible” to come back and rule over them after he had abdicated. If I come back, he warned them, you must give me a free hand to punish whomever I like in whatever way I like. Yes, yes, they told him. Come back and do whatever you like. Just so long as you rule over us. Well, we all know what happened when he came back – or if we don’t, we should:

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Weather Underground

I’ve been reading Destructive Generation, Second Thoughts about the ‘60s, by Peter Collier & David Horowitz. I haven’t quite figured out the format yet. It begins as though it might be a collection of essays, but the description on the back describes it as part memoir and part political analysis.

The first story is about Fay Stender. She got her law degree and chose to defend black prisoners. She was especially involved in the defense of George Jackson, but they had a falling out. She published a book supposedly written by him, but it describes him as a victim; whereas in reality he was one of the most powerful people in the prison where he was serving time. She felt she could get him off with the defense approach she was using, but he resented it. When he proposed a more violent solution, she abandoned him. He was subsequently killed in a prison shootout. Her legal replacement was accused of slipping him a gun. And then sometime later a hit was put out on her for turning against Jackson, but she wasn’t quite killed. She was crippled and in severe pain and eventually committed suicide. Her disillusionment is described. She believed the people she defended were victims of society, but came to understand that they were violent criminals – truly scary people that terrified her. The world wasn’t quite what she imagined it to be when she graduated from college.

The second story is entitled “The Rise and Fall of the Weather Underground.” In the middle of this story I stopped and watched the documentary (they have it on Netflix) “The Weather Underground”. The main players in the Weather Underground came out of American Universities with a well-developed hatred of America. How they acquired this hatred isn’t discussed in the documentary, but they all had it and they all wanted to be involved in the revolution, that is, since America was as evil as they believed it to be, surely enough people would be willing to join them such that they could change America into what they wanted it to be. In the Collier and Horowitz book, one of the Weather Underground revolutionaries, J.J. is described as believing that “people shouldn’t expect the revolution to achieve a Kingdom of Freedom; more likely, it would produce a Dark Ages.” [p. 77]

The documentary describes a point in time when the leaders such as Ayers and Dohrn realized that their revolution wasn’t going any place. They considered themselves the Marxist-Leninist-type vanguard that would move into the hinterland and gather up the workers as the next step in their revolution. So they advertised a huge meeting in the land of the workers but hardly anyone showed up. They expected thousands and got 150. They went ahead and smashed some windows and caused some destruction, but they knew the American workers weren’t ready for their sort of revolution.

Some, like Ayers and Dohrn gave up and rejoined society, but others continued on with individual acts of violence and ended in jail. At the end of the documentary most said they would do it again, only do it better if they could do it all over again. One fellow said he felt guilty for what they had done, but none of them had given up their presuppositions. That is, the anti-Americanism that they came out of college with was still part of their belief system. America was an evil place and its wars were unjustified and evil.

Some of us can read about their symptoms and diagnose their disease. We have heard the arguments. We have read the teachings and we know how they got that way. They were indoctrinated with the propaganda of America’s enemy, the Soviet Union, such that they favored Communist causes and opposed American causes. The American strategy was developed by George Kennan during the Truman administration and, in short, advocated opposing Communist military aggression wherever it occurred. We did that in Korea. The North Koreans got approval from Moscow and Peking and invaded South Korea. We came to their defense. When that happened in Vietnam we applied our strategy once again. We now know it worked because the Soviet Union eventually collapsed; so looking back, the strategy can’t be faulted. Why did we fight in Vietnam? To oppose Communist aggression. Did we need to oppose Communist aggression there? Yes; that was our strategy and it worked.

In retrospect, who is it that can today look back and say that we shouldn’t have opposed Communist aggression? People like Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn and most of the rest of the Weather Underground survivors who still long for a revolution that will destroy America.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Americans who fled to Stalin's Russia during great depression

A reader sent me a review that bears upon the idealism and love so many Americans have had for Stalin and Stalinism: . This review was written by Adam Hochschild, author of The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalin. The book being reviewed is The Forsaken, From the Great Depression to the Gulags, Hope and betrayal in Stalin’s Russia. It was written by Tim Tzouliadis, and published in July 2008:

What harm could intellectuals have done who wrote about the Worker’s paradise in Stalinist Russia? Tzouliadis describes some of the harm. Many during the “Great Depression” took what they read at face value and gave up the difficult times in America and traveled to the Workers’ Paradise in Stalinist Russia.

Hochschild writes, “No one knows exactly how many Soviet citizens met unnatural deaths during the quarter-century that Stalin wielded absolute power, but adding together those who were sentenced to death and shot, died in manmade famines, or were worked to death in gulag camps like these, authoritative estimates put the total at approximately 20 million. Like the other great horror show unfolding in German-occupied Europe in the same period, the Soviet story was one of mass deaths on an almost unimaginable scale. But unlike the Nazis, the Soviets, in their first two decades in power, were partly sustained by great idealism on the part of people all over the world who were fervently hoping for a more just society. The Forsaken by Tim Tzouliadis is a poignant reminder of this. For his account of the Stalin years and their aftermath is seen through an unusual prism: the experience of tens of thousands of Americans who emigrated to the Soviet Union in the 1930s. Many of them, like the Russians they lived among, fell victim. Bits and pieces of this story have been told before, mainly in survivors’ memoirs. But to my knowledge this is the first comprehensive history, and a sad and fascinating one it is.”


I haven’t read the book yet, but I have little doubt that it is another appalling horror-story about Stalinism. Coming forward to modern times in America, it is also appalling that so many “true believers” hang onto the Communist dream and have difficulty listening to anything of a critical nature said about their hero Stalin. As was described in other notes, revisionist historians are busy cleaning up Stalin’s image. American historians are doing their part by writing hagiographies about American communists. And once someone has been thus sanctified, as Julius Rosenberg was, no amount of evidence describing his culpability is going to deter true believers from honoring his memory.

On Wednesday ( ) I quoted Haynes and Klehr to say, “Western revisionism overall developed within what was basically a Soviet, or at least a Marxist, perspective. Putting matters this bluntly, however, was until recently impossible in academic discourse, especially in America.” Perhaps the reader who sent me this review had this in mind. The Forsaken was written by a British writer but one can buy the book here in America. Also, although the review was published by the British “Times Online,” it was written by Hochschild who teachers at Berkeley. I’ll take this as a positive sign.

Communism and Fascism morally equivalent

The above is a review by Adam Kirsch of Sean McMeekin’s History’s Greatest Heist: The Looting of Russian by the Bolsheviks. McMeekin describes the “incalculable quantity of . . . art objects, religious icons, jewels, silver plate, bonds and cash stolen by the Bolsheviks between 1917 and 1922. The fact that the Bolsheviks confiscated Russia’s treasures has never been a secret. It should be no surprise to learn the details from McMeekin’s book. “The surprise consists in McMeekin’s relentless insistence of a historical truth still not automatically accepted: the moral equivalence of the Nazi Party and the Soviet Communist Party. Yes, in the abstract, most thoughtful people would acknowledge that Lenin’s and Stalin’s crimes rivaled Hitler’s, that the Gulag was as evil as the concentration camp. But while Nazism is treated as a crime whose effects ought to be reversed, Communism is granted the grudging respect we give a historical fait accompli.”


McMeekin makes a very good point. The common use of the term “Left Wing” to describe the Communists and “Right Wing” to describe the Nazis, obfuscates the facts. They were both Totalitarian Socialistic systems that worked pretty much the same way. They should be on the same wing, the totalitarian wing. The opposite of that wing would be the Liberal-Democratic (non-totalitarian, or freedom) wing.

People who have thought this through realize that the Communists and Nazis were morally equivalent. We read the other day of the 103 year old Polish veteran and victim of a Gulag who hoped he would live long enough to see Communists tried in the way the Nazis were tried at Nuremberg. ( ) And then we read about revisionist historians who accept Communist ideals and hope for a future Communist success. These historians are treated with respect in our universities as we learned from Haynes and Klehr ( ) , but since Communism is morally equivalent, our universities should give the same consideration to Nazi revisionists. There are some. They think Hitler had some really good qualities and that things were a lot better in Germany than is usually conceded.

McMeekin’s concern isn’t quite mine. He is appalled that British and American Capitalists wouldn’t act on principle and refuse to buy the thieving Bolshevik’s booty. Kirsch writes that the “West lived up to Lenin’s cynical prophecy: ‘The capitalists will sell us the rope with which to hang them.” Well, it isn’t quite that bad Lenin and Kirsch. Yes, the “freedom” wing will buy from and sell to the “totalitarian” wing. I would agree that they shouldn’t, but I wouldn’t go beyond moral suasion in that regard. The “totalitarian” wing can enforce any sort of law they like, but the “freedom” wing must let the immoral and irresponsible have as much freedom as permissible under our democratic laws, even if it means buying Russian’s national treasures from 1917 to 1922 – that is, unless we can come to our moral senses in academia and elsewhere and actually learn to treat Communism and Nazism as morally equivalent.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Stalinist Revisionist historians are like holocaust deniers

In the final section of their book (In Denial, Historians, Communism & Espionage), Haynes and Klehr make an interesting comparison of modern revisionist histories about Communism to earlier revisionist histories of the Old South. “The Southern Lost Cause helped to maintain segregation until it gave way to legal and social assault during the civil rights campaigns of the 1950s and 1960s.” The analogy seems apt. They mention Benet’s John Brown’s Body and quote Wingate who says firmly “It wasn’t slavery, That stale red-herring of Yankee knavery.” They comment “(One can almost hear an echo in which revisionists denounce bringing up Stalin as the ‘stale red-baiting of anticommunist knavery.’)” [page 230]

To carry on the analogy with the Southern revisionist histories, Communist history hasn’t had its “civil rights campaigns of the 1950s and 1960s” yet. On page 231 Haynes and Klehr write, “Like Holocaust deniers, some historians of American communism have evaded and avoided facing preeminent evil – in this case the evil of Stalinism. Too many revisionists present a view of history in which the wrong side won the Cold war and in which American Communists and the CPUSA represent the forces of good and right in American history. Most new dissertations written in the field still reflect a benign view of communism, a loathing for anticommunism, and hostility toward America’s actions in the Cold war. Many American historians hold America to a moral standard from which they exempt the Soviet Union and practice a crude form of moral equivalence.

“Like Holocaust deniers, too many revisionists deny the plain meaning of documents, invent fanciful benign explanations for damning evidence, and ignore witnesses and testimony that is inconvenient. In the face of clear and compelling evidence of Soviet espionage, they see nothing. When the bodies of more than a hundred former American Communists murdered by Stalin’s police are discovered in a mass grave in Karelia, they will not look. Confronted with documents and trails of evidence leading where they do not wish to go, they mutter darkly about conspiracies and forgeries and invent incidents for which there is no documentation. Some brazenly offer confident exegesis of documents they admit they have not seen or condemn books they admit they have not read. They confidently propose chronological impossibilities as probabilities and brazenly situate people in places they could not have been at times they could not have been there. It is not entirely clear how to classify such intellectual activity. But it is certainly not history.”

Is this a minor problem? Are there just a few Leftist historians engaged in this pernicious business? Not according to Haynes and Klehr. According to them, what they describe represents the predominate view of those historians who write about American Communism: “Despite all the new archival evidence of Soviet espionage and American spies, revisionism still dominates the academy and historical establishment. The leading journals of the historical profession do not print essays that are critical of the CPUSA or cast a favorable light on domestic anticommunism.”

Haynes and Klehr continue: “In these journals there is no debate about American communism and Soviet espionage; revisionism reigns without challenge. Revisionist history continues to be exempt from the standards of scholarly accuracy applied to other fields. Scholarly reference books that contain distortions and lies about Soviet espionage go unchallenged and the conventional wisdom of the academic world continues to accept pro-communist disinformation ploys as authentic. Elementary standards of proof and logic are ignored and political commitment is allowed to trump factual accuracy.”


In Denial was written in 2003. Five years have passed. They quote the historian Martin Malia to say “Western revisionism overall developed within what was basically a Soviet, or at least a Marxist, perspective. Putting matters this bluntly, however, was until recently impossible in academic discourse, especially in America.” Since it is now possible for historians such as Malia, Haynes and Klehr to put “matters this bluntly,” perhaps the situation is improving slightly. I discovered that Malia died in 2004. I found a Haynes web page listing his “Historical writings,” many of which are accessible from his site, but I could see nothing recent.

The Alger Hiss Chair at Bard College

Academia’s love affair with the Radical Left is a great puzzle to some of us, even those of us who once subscribed to that position. After all, if we came to a point where the evidence against the benevolence of Communism and Communists overwhelmed us, why didn’t everyone else? What causes these die-hards, these Leftist intellectuals, to hang in there and support what to those of us who diligently examined the evidence is a malevolent system?

Reading Haynes and Klehr’s In Denial, Historians, Communism & Espionage, is a bit tedious in that they document details I’ve long since taken for granted. But I understand their reasoning. The great cause célèbre of the American Left is the defense of Alger Hiss. Conspiracy theories galore were created by the Left to “prove” that the FBI concocted evidence against him, witnesses were unqualified or else were enticed to perjure themselves, etc., etc. The Rosenberg’s son devoted his life to clearing their name, but eventually all the defensive explanations collapsed in the face of KGB documentation and Venona files that demonstrated to those with even a modicum of objectivity and suspension of disbelief, that Julius Rosenberg was guilty of what he was executed for. Ethyl Rosenberg was less guilty perhaps, but there is also ample evidence against her.

Who cares after all this time? If you haven’t been following the defensive machinations of the American intellectual Left, you might be surprised. On page 210 of the Haynes-Klehr book, they write, “In the academic world, the movement to honor Soviet spies and Stalinist acolytes had long been under way. Bard College, an elite liberal arts school in New York, created the ‘Alger Hiss Professor of Social Studies’ in honor of the most highly placed Soviet spies ever to betray the American people. The longtime holder of the Alger Hiss professorship is Joel Kovel, who has fittingly written that the United States is the ‘enemy of humanity.’ Kovel dedicated his book Red Hunting in the Promised Land not merely to one Soviet spy, Hiss, but also to a second, Harry Magdoff.”

Here is a comment about the Bard College Alger Hiss Chair by Robert Fulford, the Canadian Journalist: The article was written in 2004, shortly after Haynes and Klehr wrote their book. Fulford wrote, “American leftists insisted for decades that Hiss was falsely condemned. When a mountain of evidence proved the case against him (and many others), the defenders began suggesting that maybe spying actually didn't matter. In the pages of The Nation, the innocence of Hiss was proclaimed obsessively for four decades. When that position finally became untenable, Victor Navasky, long-time editor of The Nation and now also a Columbia journalism professor, asked: 'Espionage, is it really so wrong?' (If he'd thought of that 25 years earlier, his writers could have been saved the trouble of producing all those Hiss-exonerating articles.)”


In Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man, Fukuyama assumed there wasn’t anything out there on the political horizon that could compete with Liberal Democracy. He was arguing from the point of view of the Russian-French philosopher Kojeve that Hegel was right after all and Marx wrong. Marx disagreed with Hegel and thought the “end of history” would be Communism. But after the fall of the USSR, Fukuyama could invoke Kojeve and disagree with Marx. No, Communism is not the “end of history.” Hegel was right after all. Capitalism, aka Liberal Democracy, is the “end of history.” By “end of history” they meant the final social and economic system. Liberal Democracy defeated the only two contenders in existence in the 20th century, Fascism and Communism. Oh yes, some are now saying Islamism is a threat, but Fukuyama doesn’t consider that a serious one (and I won’t revisit that here). As for Communism? It is dead. It is a thing of the past. Some would urge the die-hard Leftists to get over it and reap the benefits of the “end of history.”

In light of Fukuyama’s argument, what are we to make of the Alger Hiss Chair in Social Studies at Bard College and those who still love Communism and hate Liberal Democracy? A few considerations come to mind, but I’ll mention just two:

First. Hatred of an enemy doesn’t necessarily dissipate once a war is over. I knew a Russian émigré engineer named Eugene Orloff who hated the Japanese and would never forgive them. What was his complaint? When his family escaped from Russia they ended up in China during the Japanese occupation. They were very badly treated by the Japanese. Communist sympathizers seem to hate the U.S. with the same intensity that Gene Orloff hates the Japanese. Perhaps it can be assumed that such hatred will die off as the haters die off.

Second. There is good evidence that we are a religious species. If we grow up to reject the religion we were raised with, that doesn’t mean we will do without. Most of us will take something else up and believe in it with religious intensity. It has long been observed that belief in Fascism and Communism can take on religious intensity. Eric Hoffer in The True Believer wrote about Fascist and Communist fanatics, and while Joel Kovel, the holder of the Alger Hiss Chair at Bard College probably isn’t that sort of fanatic, he seems to believe so fervently in something that has no evidence to support it (the Communist paradise) that it requires a level of faith we usually associate with religion. Not only has the Marxist-Leninist Communist paradise never become a success, the greatest example has been an abysmal and tragic failure. But if someone advances an argument that our religious hopes are false, that there is no God, no heaven and no salvation, do we believe him? Christian believers have never seen the risen Jesus Christ, and yet they have faith in him. By the same token Kovel and the other Radical Leftists have faith in the Communist paradise. It doesn’t need to have succeeded in the USSR. They have faith that it will one day succeed some place. Theirs is a sort of intellectual religion and whether it will last any longer than Gene Orloff’s hatred of the Japanese remains to be seen. In the meantime the rest of us shake our heads at the Alger Hiss chair and the fellow who sits there.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Stalinist massacre of Finnish Americans at Karelia

People longing for a “better Socialism,” who believe their ideal paradisiacal state is more important than any individual in it, have much history to ponder. The idealist Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, with the able assistance of Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili strove mightily to create such an earthly paradise.

From page 115-118 of In Denial, Historians, Communism & Espionage by John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr:

“In the 1920s and early 1930s the USSR sought to strengthen its Karelian republic, which bordered on Finland . . . The USSR was . . . anxious to exploit Karelia’s extensive timber resources.” The USSR promoted the emigration of American and Canadian Finnish radicals to Karelia. . . Eager for the opportunity to build a Finnish Communist society, thousands of radical North American Finns volunteered for the venture.”

How did these American and Canadian Finnish radicals fare in their Socialist paradise? Not as well as they hoped. Through no fault of their own they were raised in bourgeois societies in America and Canada. So how could the KGB not be suspicious of them?

“In 1997 a Russian organization dedicated to exposing Stalin-era crimes, Memorial, located a KGB burial site near Sandarmokh, one of four it has found in Karelia. The site contains more than nine thousand bodies in approximately three hundred separate burial trenches. The position of the skeletons and other remains suggested that the prisoners had been stripped to their underwear, lined up next to a trench with hands and feet tied, and shot in the back of the head with a pistol. Documents in a regional KGB archive identify about four thousand of the victims as Gulag prison laborers used to build the Belomar canal connecting the Baltic to the White sea, one thousand of the prisoners from the Gulag camp at Solovetskiye, and about three thousand as victims of the Karelian purge. More than six thousand of the dead are listed by name.

“Among the victims named are 141 Finnish Americans and 127 Finnish Canadians. They include the two chief organizers of the emigration, Oscar Corgan and Matti Tenhunen. But the list also includes ordinary American works such as Eino Bjorn, born in Minnesota and shot on February 10, 1938, at age twenty-six; Walter Maki, another Minnesota native who was shot on May 15, 1928; John Siren, born in Duluth, Minnesota, shot on February 11, 1938; Mathew Kaartinen, born in Ironwood, Michigan . . . .” The list goes on and on. Quite a lot is known about who died there.

The authors write, “This saga is depressing, but not surprising to anyone familiar with the history of Stalin’s reign.” They then go on to describe how Michael Karni, a Revisionist Historian who must have known about this event, left it out of his essay on Finnish American radicalism in the Encyclopedia of the American Left?” The authors admit they cannot know what was in Karni’s mind or why he made no mention of the American Finnish emigration to Karelia, but if one seeks a thorough understanding of the earthly paradise the USSR was attempting to construct, one would do well to avoid revisionist historians, who perhaps inadvertently, “slant” their information to favor the Soviet efforts and ignore whatever reprehensible acts (acts no longer politically correct) the Soviets felt they needed to do to purify the ongoing building of the Soviet paradise.

On page 119 Haynes and Klehr are rather harsh with Karni. They think his “The Encyclopedia of the American Left” is “Rather, like The Great Soviet Encyclopedia that similarly misled students . . . it presents a fake history where unpleasant facts are airbrushed away, crimes against humanity ignored, and smiling workers and peasants marched forward to a radiant future in the lockstep of Soviet ‘Socialist realism’ art.”

Monday, December 22, 2008

Omon troops beat up journalists in Vladovostak

Paul Goble, quoted frequently in the Georgian Daily, has his own web site, entitled “Window On Eurasia.” He has an interesting background which you can read on the above. Since he worked for the U.S. State Department and the CIA, he would, of course, be discredited if he were referenced in any debate with a Leftist – personal attacks being their forte, but he seems to be expert in the things he writes about.

Goble has written several articles describing tough times ahead for Putin and his administration. Perhaps the Vladivostok crackdown described in the above article can be kept quiet, at least Goble seems to think it can – except for the internet; although how that would be possible in light if the injuries to several journalists seems surprising.

Treason Bill Fuels Stalinist fears (2)

That actual title of the above article is “Putin Government Taking Russia Back to Totalitarianism, Rights Activists Say,” and was written by Paul Goble. This article was posted on the “Georgian Daily, Independent Voice,” a very interesting web site referred to me by Professor Kowalski. I don’t see any background on the site so I’m guessing it is located in both New York and Tbilisi. At the bottom of this article one can scroll to “Next” or “Prev” for other articles. They seem uniformly interesting at the present time.

The above particular article is interesting because it presents the Russian Treason Bill in a slightly different light from the article I referred to on the 18th: . Consider the following statement from “some of that country’s [Russia’s] leading human rights activists”:

“‘The Establishment of contemporary democratic norms of law has taken place precisely when the authorities make a sharp distinction between conscious service to an armed enemy of the state and statements against the government and the existing system,’ A distinction the proposed legislation obliterates.”

What a vast difference between this proposed law and laws we have in the U.S. – if any are still in effect. The Russian Human Rights activists acknowledge that it would be legitimate to prosecute for treason anyone who provided “conscious service to an armed enemy of the state.” But American citizens do that all the time with impunity. Jane Fonda wasn’t the only one to provide “conscious service” to an armed Vietnamese enemy. And what of the Islamists? They are armed enemies of our nation and yet apologists for them exist in Academia and elsewhere. They oppose America and do conscious service to our Islamist enemy. Perhaps we need to create some Treason laws.

And yet it is hard to know how effective these Pro-Islamists are. In our democracy I’m sure we can tolerate a great number of them. As long as they are a small minority (if that is what they are) then there will be other voices that can be listened to – or am I being overly optimistic?

I also recall the accusations of “fascism” leveled against Bush. This treason bill is fascistic in nature. Where are the anti-Americans and anti-Bushites on this issue? To make it treason to criticize Putin or the Kremlin is far different from anything that prevailed during the Bush administration. I’m waiting to hear these anti-Fascists criticize this bill.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Stalin recommends massacre to Churchill

One of the books I’m reading is Henry Kissinger’s Diplomacy. I got to page 411 and was reminded of something “Professor 1” is quoted as writing on page 106 of Kowalski’s Hell On Earth. Professor 1 wrote, “The ‘Cold War’ versions are simply lies, “disinformation.’ I would not be surprised if this turned out to be the case with the Katyn massacres as well.”

Kissinger is describing the Tehran and Yalta conferences in the section I’m reading. He writes “On one occasion, when Stalin urged the execution of 50,000 German officers, Churchill walked out and returned only after Stalin had followed him to give his assurances that he had been jesting – which, in light of what we now know of the Katyn massacre of Polish officers, was probably not true.”

Kissinger’s reference for that anecdote is Alan Bullock, Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives (New York: Alfred A. Knoph, 1992), p. 821.

That is a remarkable occurrence even if Stalin was jesting, for if Stalin said that as a joke, what could have been his motivation? If as the Revisionist Historians allege, Stalin was the unwitting dupe of violent underlings who are to blame for the earlier massacres, did Stalin make that joke in ignorance of what his evil underlings had done?

The explanation that I suspect Occam would approve is that Stalin was serious about the massacre and lying about jesting. An alternate explanation that Occam might not hate is that Stalin was sounding Churchill out to see what he would think of Stalin’s method of nipping opposition in the bud? Stalin’s fear of Germany building itself up and trying it again in a few years must have been on everyone’s mind.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Polish Veteran survived Gulag, turns 103,4670,EUBelarusWWIIVeteran,00.html

The above is an interesting article commemorating the life Aleksander Szekal, the last living veteran of a Polish Unit that fought against the German Army in Italy in WWII. Szekal was sent off to a Gulag to die, but when the German’s invaded Russia, Stalin decided to put such people as Szekal to better use. The gulags were apparently gleaned of Poles able to fight and Szekal’s life was saved. Rather than return to Poland after the ware, and back to prison, he became a British citizen.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Szekal moved to Ivyanets, Belarus to be with his wife. The article concludes: “Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko speaks warmly of the Soviet era and calls the national security agency the KGB. Lukashenko’s authoritarian government has granted Szekal residency, but no accolades.

“The trial of Nazism took place at Nuremburg, and I am ready to be a witness in the trial of communism, which I hope to live to see,’ Szekal said.”

I doubt that you will, Szekal. I doubt it.

[I read the above article in my local newspaper. The only internet news agency that picked up the story, that I could find, was Fox News. ]

Yuras Kamanau, writing for the Chicago Tribune, would agree with Szekal rather than Lukashenko:,0,2772612.story That’s encouraging.

Stalin in Russian Ideology and Public Opinion

Professor Kowalski sent me a very interesting article by Professor Vladimir Shlapentokh of Michigan State University. Professor Shlapentokh’s curriculum vitae can be seen in the following: . Professor Shlapentokh’s “latest works” can be seen at

The subject article can be found at

The article is useful in providing the several views on Stalin and his “repression” that are current in Russia. As I approached the end I was almost annoyed that Shlapentokh hadn’t given any “weight” to the various views, but on page 14 he provides some statistics. “The Russian public is much more resolute in its recognition of the mass repressions than the Kremlin and its ideologues. According to the Levada-Tsentr, 89 percent of those who responded to the question (19 did not respond) in August 2007 characterized the repression as ‘a political crime which cannot be justified,’ while 11 percent believed that ‘the repressions were politically necessary and justified by history.’”

Despite believing this, “50 percent gave a positive assessment [of Stalin] and 49 percent a negative one. In another poll, 62 percent of the respondents said that Stalin’s role in Russian history was positive (38 percent, negative) and the number of people who think that Stalin’s personality and his actions are purposefully ‘painted black’ in today’s media is three times greater than those who think that Stalin’s actions are ‘sugarcoated.’”


Russia seems split down the middle much as we in the U.S. are, but not along the same lines. Apparently, many in Russia are pessimistic about their ability to become a viable democracy. Many long for someone to take charge and given them what they had under authoritarian rule. Many argue that Russia’s history militates against their ever becoming a democracy and this in large part justifies Stalin’s crimes. Yes, they were crimes, they seem to agree, but it was necessary for Stalin to commit them to avoid even greater crimes by others.

Professor Shlapentokh seems to imply at the end of his article that truth eventually will out: “By all accounts, the ambivalence toward Stalin will persist for a long time until the imperial complex stops playing such an important role in the public mind.” After reading this article, I am tempted to feel misanthropic about Russia’s future. Fukuyama’s “Liberal Democracy” seems to be making insuficient headway there; which leaves Huntington’s clashes as ongoing possibilities. Perhaps Russia doesn’t have the means to become the great empire that half of Russia longs for, but it does have the means to engage in clashes along the “fault lines” with bordering countries. It also seems, at least for now, to be willing to engage in such clashes.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Treason Bill fuels Stalinist Fears

David Nowak has written an article for the Associated Press which has been quoted widely, albeit with different titles. The subject title was the one selected by my local paper. But here is the article as quoted by Yahoo News:

I haven’t studied the Stalinist period for many years because it is like reading Kafka. Yeah, it is good to study once, but to do it too often is depressing. And in regard to Stalinism, surely it is a thing of the past. Surely it is no longer possible to revive that terroristic ideology – no more so than for Germany to once again embrace the Nazi Party. And yet there is Arch Getty and some others saying Stalin wasn’t at all as bad as his critics have argued. The poor fellow lived in a confused period in Russian history and needs to be viewed with more sympathy than he has in the past.

Could it be that the revisionist historians have an agenda? It is easy to imagine an agenda, but maybe it is a coincidence that Getty and others argue as they do, and any support for the Leftist agenda is inadvertent. To consider what this agenda might be, back off and look at the Communist ideology itself. Leftist intellectuals around the world embraced it. Unfortunately for them, the individual who epitomized Communism, was indeed Communism in the flesh, was Joseph Stalin. Whether that was intellectually a good thing for Communist supporters is beside the point. Stalin was viewed as the most prominent leader of Communism in the world. After his death he was demonized by the Soviet leaders who followed him, but what if he could be exonerated? What if Yezhof and others could share or take the blame (see ). Surely this would make it more respectable to admire Stalin. Communism could be given a new birth, and dedicated leftists who hoped for a “better Socialism” could be closer to their desire. Would that not be an agenda worthy of their pursuit?

Unfortunately for such revisionists and hopeful Leftists, there is a whole messy nation full of people who lived through what Stalin actually did. And some of them have a different attitude toward any revitalization of Stalinism. Nowak quotes Russian Civil Rights activists to say the new Treason Legislation is “in the spirit of Stalin and Hitler.” Ah, that is the sort of thing Professor Ludwik was criticized for saying in his book Hell on Earth. And he was fairly easy to criticize being merely a retired professor from Montclair University in New Jersey, but the Russian Civil Rights activists are not so easy. They are over there in Russia on the front lines, and they believe this new Treason Legislation “returns the Russian justice to the times of the 1920-1950s.”

Will our Left side with the Civil Rights activists in Russia? They certainly believe in having their Civil Rights protected over here in the West, but will they side with the Russian Civil Rights activists? Aren’t all Civil Rights activists equal? One would think they ought to be but I am cynical. We might think in advance that all women were equal in the eyes of the Women’s Rights movement, but Women’s Rights activists did not rally to Sarah Palin’s defense during the recent election. It would seem that one needs to be more than merely a woman to have the Women’s Rights activists worry about your rights. And I wonder if one also needs to be more than a Civil Rights activist to have ones Civil Rights supported by American Civil Rights Activists. I look forward with interest to see if the American Media continues to follow Nowak’s and the Russian Civil Rights Activists’ Lead in referring to this new Treason Legislation as a return to Stalinism. How can revisionist historians make any progress with people saying things like that?

To be more specific, I expect the media to play down this story, or if they do need to mention it, criticize the Treason legislation itself without mentioning that it smacks of a return to Stalinism.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

An autobiographical response (re Ludwik's book)

From: Susan Hussein
Sent: Sunday, December 14, 2008 1:40 PM

To: Lawrence Helm
Subject: Re: Am I a Right Winger? [Re Ludwik's book about Stalinism]

I don't give a hoot who you are, and saying that I do smacks of jumping to conclusions. As I happens, I'm not even particularly interested in dialectic materialism. You quite clearly have no idea of the original context of all this, what I actually wrote to Ludwik, and why. And I don't have time to go through the whole long history with you. Sorry.

In a certain sense, you are an innocent bystander.

--Susan H

Well Susan Hussein doesn’t seem to want to have a discussion with me , and I probably don’t want to have one with her. Nevertheless I’m not done analyzing certain matters; so I shall continue without her.

In her above note, she says writes, “I don’t give a hoot who you are, and saying that I do smacks of jumping to conclusions.” The following contradict her statement: 1) Susan H tried to find me on the internet, mistaking me for the fellow who wrote a book on Science and Religion. 2) She determined that I was an opinionated fellow who wanted to celebrate his own personal opinions. 3) She determined that I was a hard-line rightist. 4) She determined that I was not objective about Communism. 5) She determined that I was not a professional scholar. I offer this merely to show that I was not “jumping to conclusions” to imagine an interest in who I am.

She is here exhibiting another of the Leftist characteristics I’ve grown to find so annoying: Writing an overly brief abusive note and then when I try to make sense of it faulting me for not figuring it out quite the way she intended in her own mind. Possible she only gave “a hoot” who I was to the extent of abusing poor Ludwik. Poor fellow thought he was getting a peer review when all he got was mere opinionated Lawrence. As to that, Professor Kowalski isn’t writing in his field so could hardly be expecting a peer review. He read one of my blog articles and concluded I had some knowledge of Stalinism and asked that I review his book based on that. I do have some knowledge on that subject, more, I expect than Susan Hussein, but I shall never know.

I do tend to go overboard on study. At one time I was studying medieval history and was using a couple of Norman Cantor bibliographies to accumulate a library to study . . . everything. I was in the midst of that when 9/11 occurred. At that point I switched over to Islam, Islamism, Arabic and Persian history, etc. I recall one fellow joining a discussion group I was in. He followed his name with “PhD.” He had launched a study of the same thing I had, started his own discussion group on the subject, and wanted to recruit me as one of his followers. His degree was in something like economics and he hadn’t studied Islamic subjects as much as I had. I mentioned this to him and he responded by referring me to his degree. Also, we had several debates and he came off second best because he hadn’t studied this subject as much as I had. Was Susan Hussein doing something like that. I thought at first she might be, but as she said, she wasn’t trying to trash me. I suspect she was attempting to trash Professor Kowalaski through me.

So now that she has abandoned this discussion and can’t use my academic qualifications to launch off on another patented Leftist tangent, I will say a little about them. I was interested in Literature, History and Philosophy, but narrowed it down to Literature believing I could study History and Philosophy as subsets. I was from a working blue-collar family, always working while I was going to school; so even though I got my B.A. using the G.I. Bill (I was in the USMC during Korean War), I was in graduate school on my own. I was most interested in literary research. But two things occurred relatively close together to spoil that for me. 1) my study habits put me rather ahead of what I was encountering in school. The professor of the last seminar I attended apologized for not challenging me. 2) My favorite professor went into a rage when I told him that I didn’t consider Alexander Pope one of the top 5 poets in the English Language. Since he had been the example of what I thought I was striving to be, I decided to give that up.

The part time job I had taken while continuing my education was as a Technical Writer in the Engineering Department of Douglas Aircraft Company. I can’t explain why study is easy for me, but that held true with Engineering as well. I became a self-educated engineer. When I retired from Boeing (which had absorbed McDonnell Douglas by that time) I held the highest non-management classification in Engineering. My job at the time was to represent engineering at a C-17 board set up to evaluate all proposed design changes. Others on the board represented other departments. I made the engineers proposing changes 1) provide adequate evidence that the changes were required and 2) provide an analysis of the implications for the fleet. It wouldn’t be incorrect to say that I was curmudgeonly in fulfilling those tasks. Engineers rather quickly learned that they needed to be well prepared. Should I now treat the ill-prepared sloppy notes of Leftists any less seriously? I would find it difficult to do so.

During my 39 years in aerospace I worked on many programs and in many capacities, but it was never forgotten that I was a writer who understood engineering and could make sense of technical matters. I analyzed and explained RFP’s and government regulations. I rewrote proposals written by our own engineers. I’d like to think I went about these tasks in a scholarly fashion. Was I a “professional scholar”? Susan Hussein probably meant “professional academic.” No I wasn’t that.

While Susan Hussein triggered this in me, I’m sure she would deny that she wanted to do any more than discredit me in order to discredit Ludwik, but let’s consider another scholar. Let’s take a look at Noam Chomsky. His PhD is in Linguistics. Is he “scholarly” when he writes on politics or foreign affairs. I don’t believe he is, but it isn’t because his degree doesn’t qualify him for it. His arguments aren’t based upon solid evidence, in my opinion. I marvel that so many Leftists uncritically accept what he writes, Why aren’t they more scholarly in considering his arguments? Don’t they realize that he is being illogical? Haven’t they studied Logic?

Okay, there we have it, Susan Hussein might say if she were interested in this discussion; which she isn’t. He has some skills in literary research. He understands engineering and technical matters. He has studied Communism. He has studied Medieval History and Islamic issues. Is that it?

No, no, no. I once engaged in a serious study of theology. That went on for several years. Then after an acrimonious debate with a Lutheran who called himself a Pastor/Theologian and a Baptist, an auditor of that discussion, a professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary contacted me privately and asked me what I was up to. He said he was expert at evaluating his students and I was at a point where he would advise me, if I were his student, to teach, but since I didn’t have a seminary degree and wasn’t going to be a pastor, he advised me to write.

Well, yes. Susan Hussein might think that I am following that suggestion on my blog, but not so. I only began that in August 2008 because some angry lady on a Ridgeback discussion group turned me in to the Anti-Terrorist task force for carrying a gun while walking my dogs in a coyote and feral-dog-invested river bottom. Since I retired I have written 7 novels. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending upon how you look at it, my success in Engineering resulted in such a nice retirement package that I don’t need any additional income. In other words I don’t have to sell any of my novels. Novelists who started out starving describe sending their novels out 50 or 60 times before getting them accepted. A modern novelist Vince Flynn sent his off that many times and never got accepted; so he published his first novel himself. But I don’t have that incentive. I’ve sent most of my novels off a couple and then lost interest.

But before that I wrote poetry. I’ve posted a few poems on the blog. A knowledgeable friend took it upon herself to get some of my poetry published and failed. I expected failure. Left-wing college professors definitely have the inside track in getting their Left-wing poetry published in Left-Wing poetry journals. My friend, however, is Left Wing herself and didn’t see the problem.

RE: Am I a Right Winger? [Re Ludwik's book about Stalinism]

Susan H:

Why do you want to know who I am? That smacks of an ad hominem presupposition. I have my own presupposition based on countless debates with Leftists and have encountered the view: Tell me who you are and I’ll tell you what you think. There are some exceptions, but most try to make things personal. They have no arguments and don’t seem to know how to debate. They don’t know the rules of logic nor the requirements of a formal argument. They like to curse and insult me, but the don’t like to debate.

I have studied so much during my long life I would object to any particular pigeon hole you might try to put me into. I was a little amused that while wanting to know who I was, you were upset with Ludwik for telling me who you were.

Ah, this time you use the word “objective.” Last time you used the word “impartial.” Impartiality implies the treating of two combatants as equals. It neglects the concept of the “enemy.” When one fights a war, one must not, if one is to be effective, treat one’s enemy the same as one’s comrades. That’s merely common sense. I’m sure even people in hunter-gatherer societies knew that.

As to “objectivity,” perhaps here we enter the realm of hermeneutics. R. G. Collingwood in his The Idea of History sought, among other things, to determine how closely an historian should be able to approach absolute objectivity. One must recognize that it is impossible for anyone to achieve absolute objectivity about anything. One always brings something to the table, usually lots of things. He referred to them as “constellations of presuppositions.” We all have them. What he ended up with was that the historian should own up to his presuppositions and then as far as possible attempt to ignore them. He should attempt to write his history as though he were living in the time or place of his subject.

Now as to the matter of being “objective” about Communism, that is as subject I have studied at length, not recently I must admit. Back in the 50s a classmate attempted to recruit me to that point of view. I was working my way through college out of the Teamster’s Union and he worked for the Longshoreman in the Los Angeles Harbor. He couldn’t debate me or analyze the subjects all that well so he brought me book after book. He had a Communist guru whom I never met, an old timer in the Longshoreman’s Union whom my friend admired. He wanted to get us together to debate the various issues; which I was amenable to, but his guru declined. Back in those days I was a Leftist. I read Das Kapital. I read other writings of Marx and Engels and all the writings of Lenin I could get my hands on. I recall a rather thick volume simply entitled Dialectical Materialism which my friend described as the scholarly synthesis of Communism. I read a 2 volume history of the Cold War by a Communist Scholar. I read histories of the Chinese Civil War and the Cuban invasion, and books I can’t bring to mind at this time. At some point I encountered a former Communist who said he no longer held to those beliefs. He wanted me to have his library. It was heavy into writings by and about American Communists. I read about Big Bill Haywood and the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies), for example.

At that time, in the 50s and the early 60s, I was probably not objective about Communism. I never joined the party but I was in sympathy with its ideas. I was studying a lot of other subjects, but at some point I began approaching “objectivity” about Leftism and Communism. I expanded my reading in a number of different ways. Also there was the rather conclusive evidence of the Soviet atrocities that caused many in Europe, especially intellectuals in France to turn away from Communism. I could identify with the writings of Luc Ferry and Alain Renaut about French Philosophy of the Sixties, for example, and Judt’s writing about the embrace of Communism in France after WWII and then their subsequent disillusionment. I was also interested in the work of French intellectuals who were seeking alternatives to Communism. My approach toward “objectivity” moved me away from Leftism. Like the French I examined my nations history and found what was good in it.

It is interesting that Francis Fukuyama in his The End of History and the Last Man could assume that Liberal Democracy had conclusively defeated the only rivals to its existence, namely Communism and Fascism. Since the writing of his book in 1992, Islamism has been viewed by many as a serious threat to Liberal Democracy, but not by Fukuyama.

Okay, back to the matter of “objectivity.” Since I studied Communism, Leftist writings, etc over many years, to argue that I am no longer “objective,” as though I was a tyro about the matter, would be misleading. I passed through many phases and believe my view of Leftism and Communism is more informed now that at any time in the past. Typically, modern Leftists and Marxians haven’t studied these matters as much as I have. I have drawn conclusions about Leftism and Communism based upon evidence. What I have encountered in debates with Leftists is that they do not base arguments upon evidence. They have an “agenda” and ignore evidence and logical argumentation. If you accept their partisan views then you are right. If you do not accept them you are wrong. Evidence and logical argumentation don’t enter into the matter.

Lawrence Helm

-----Original Message-----
From: Susan Hussein
Sent: Sunday, December 14, 2008 11:33 AM
To: ludwik kowalski
Cc: MSU Discussion List; Lawrence Helm
Subject: Re: [discuss] Fwd: Re: Ludwik's book about Stalinism


If your response to my comments is to quote me selectively and misleadingly to some blog, I see no point in continuing to interact with you. As for your actions in revealing my identity and email address to the blogger without my consent, as you have done, that only confirms my resolution to ignore your posts from now on.

What do I mean by selective? That you failed to point out that my reason for characterizing the views of Helm was your glib and most likely false assumption that he was a professional scholar - and the obvious implication that his review would have the authority of a scholarly review. Because he does not identify himself on the blog, his views are the only way one can evaluate his credentials and outlook.

Saying a person is a scholar implies some effort on the part of that person, however small, to be objective. The point was not to trash Helm, but give you some guidance on evaluating web sites and the authority of their creators, as I pointed out. And Helm's response to my comment that he did not seem to be an impartial reviewer? He asks why I would want him to be impartial about Communism.

'Nuff said.

--Susan H

On Dec 14, 2008, at 2:15 PM, ludwik kowalski wrote:

OOPS, I forgot to post this on the list.

On Dec 12, 2008, at 5:38 PM, Susan Hussein wrote:

On Dec 12, 2008, at 10:33 AM, Susan Hussein wrote:

Hardly an impartial or scholarly reviewer. You might like his book 'though.

Dear Susan,

1) It turns out that the author of this book is a different

Lawrence Helm. Is it possible that other things you wrote also referred to a different person?

No. They were all taken from his blog.

Anyway, the topic I wanted to discuss was not Helm's opinions, or your book, which has had plenty of notice on this list. I picked up on your 'guessing' he was a scholar, and wanted to comment on the topic of drawing conclusions about things like the credibility we give to online comments.

Since Helm does not reveal on the blog who he is, for all anyone knows he could be Ludwik Kowalski - or Susan Hussein - masquerading as a gun-toting Rhodesian Ridgeback fanatic.

This does not matter to me. I am more interested in what he wrote about my book.

See above. I thought we were ready for a new topic.

Did you see anything wrong in it?

I saw plenty wrong with it:

• It comes from a blog that is being used by an opinionated person to celebrate his own personal views;

• No matter who he is, he seems to have some hardline rightist

anti-communist political views, and makes no attempt to be impartial. He is promoting an agenda.

--Susan H

Dear S..........,

Inspired by your message I made a short comment at

I believed this to be the end of the story. But, to my surprise, L. K. Helm just posted another message. I guess it is appropriate for me to make the list aware of this. He is addressing the interesting issue of being a right-winger. He would probably like to discuss this issue at the above website.

Those who want to see my short note should scroll down; his last article is at the very top.