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History

Articles pertaining to political and economic history.

Culture/History/Politics

Thoughts On Charlottesville

I’m not going to bother going over the gory details of the national disgrace that unfolded in Charlottesville, VA on Saturday. It’s been hashed out over and over again, and there’s nothing to be gained by putting it under a microscope here. But I do have some observations that I’d like to share. First, there are a lot of people out there who want to punch Nazis. Fair enough, I’ve wanted to do the same thing since I first watched Raiders of the Lost Ark. My zeal for crushing National Socialists only grew with my first play-through of Wolfenstein 3D and then after learning my maternal ancestry is virtually impossible to trace because of the Holocaust. But in a climate of escalating violence and hate, is more violence and hate really the answer? Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t think so, and I’m inclined to agree with him. You can punch a Nazi in the face as many times as you want, and it won’t persuade him to abandon his… Keep Reading

History

Joseph Goebbels: Hitler’s PHD

From its beginnings, academics abroad, and for a time within Germany, attacked the Nazi regime’s appeal to the uneducated, ignorant, and mindless as a reflection of those who peopled Hitler’s dictatorship in general and his inner circle in particular. This had a basis in reality, for among Heinrich Himmler, Martin Bormann, Herman Goering, it was only the former who had some type of post-secondary education. But Himmler’s was the equivalent of what is called today “a trade school,” as his chief focus was on agronomy, which he did not receive a degree for. Apart from Albert Speer, who attended graduate school to continue his architectural studies, the one PhD among the lot was Joseph Goebbels. As both an undergraduate and graduate school student, he attended four universities where he focused on history and literature. It was at the University of Heidelberg that Goebbels received his doctorate. There, he wrote his PhD thesis on a low-level 19th century romantic writer and playwright named Wilhelm von Schutz. Ironically, given his later… Keep Reading

History/Politics

The Anti-Federalists Were Right

On the eve of the federal convention, and following its adjournment in September of 1787, the Anti-Federalists made the case that the Constitution makers in Philadelphia had exceeded the mandate they were given to amend the Articles of Confederation, and nothing more. The Federal Constitution augured ill for freedom, argued the Anti-Federalists. These unsung heroes had warned early Americans of the “ropes and chains of consolidation,” in Patrick Henry’s magnificent words, inherent in the new dispensation. At the very least, and after 230 years of just such “consolidation,” it’s safe to say that the original Constitution is a dead letter. The natural- and common law traditions, once lodestars for lawmakers, have been buried under the rubble of legislation and statute. However much one shovels the muck of lawmaking aside, natural justice and the Founders’ original intent remain buried too deep to exhume. Keep Reading

History/World

Spain At The Brink

Time has not been kind to the Spanish Civil War, which, among the Left at least, ranks up there with World War II as “the good war.” Russian declassified documents show that Stalin was trying to import his horrific Purge Trials into Loyalist Spain by attempting to execute en masse his Spanish opposition in the form of non-Stalinist but authentically anti-fascist frontline military units on trumped-up charges of being “fascist spies.” On his orders, his plaything, the Stalinist-dominated Loyalist government used their secret police to hunt down and execute these “fascists.” Unfortunately for those who defended the necessity of these repressions (among them, the supposedly politically astute Ernest Hemingway), the sturdily honest George Orwell was fighting in Spain alongside those targeted by Stalin. He would set the records of event straight. The legendary writer knew his fellow soldiers as brave and authentic anti-fascists whose only “crime” was to belong to a non-Stalinist military unit (even those in the Communist-dominated one, members of the International Brigade “disappeared” when they mildly… Keep Reading

Culture/History

George Orwell: More Astute Than Edmund Wilson

Biographers of literary critic Edmund Wilson have asserted that the writer who bears the closest resemblance to Wilson, who reigned as America’s premier man of letters from the 1920s—1960s, is George Orwell. Writing of his subject, Lewis Dabney sought to validate this trans-Atlantic connection by stating that, like Wilson, Orwell was “a social critic who’d digested Marxism, a satirist and autobiographer until 1984 better known as a man of letters than for his fiction.” Dabney noted that both men, rarely praiseworthy of their contemporaries (although Orwell inexplicably lauded Henry Miller), were so toward each other. Orwell lauded Wilson’s essay on Charles Dickens, and Wilson praised Animal Farm even more, calling it “absolutely first-rate” and Orwell worthy to stand beside “Swift and Voltaire.” With this review, Wilson, stingy with praise, made Orwell’s reputation in America, and, according to Dabney “helped sell many thousands of [Animal Farm] copies in United States.” During a largely cordial meeting, Wilson, nevertheless, was angrily critical of the British author for blaming the damage done to… Keep Reading

History/Politics

Helen Gahagan Douglas: The Hillary Clinton Of The 1940s

As Hillary Clinton continues her “excuse” tour regarding her decisive loss to Trump, ranging from the now well-worn Russian collusion thesis to weak support from Obama during the campaign to an ineffective and shattered DNC, many Democrats have sought to acquaint her with the painful reality that she was simply a bad candidate. Such frankness, however, has not attached itself to a cherished liberal history lesson regarding an eerily similar 1950 California Senate race between Republican Congressman Richard Nixon and Democratic Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas. For liberals then and now, Nixon’s victory was achieved by his métier of red-baiting and character assassination, with a heavy dose of misogyny thrown into the mix. To encapsulate all of Nixon’s admittedly thuggish attacks on Gahagan, liberals have cited his infamous mixture of anti-feminism with anti-communism, when he bellowed about Gahagan’s politics, that “she is pink right down to her underwear” (a statement the Nixon campaign borrowed verbatim from Gahagan’s Democratic primary opponent, Sheldon Boddy). Although Nixon’s dodgy at best character, ruthlessly dishonest… Keep Reading

History

Robert Merriman Was Brave, But Apologized For Soviet Tyranny

It is said, cold-bloodedly, that JFK died in the most romantic and, based on what was to come for the remainder of the 1960s, fortunate way possible. For his death bathed his image in golden lights that did not cling to him while he lived, and allowed him to miss the consequences of many of his actions, particularly with regard to his hawkish stance on Vietnam. Had Oswald missed or Kennedy dodged the fatal head shot, it could have been JFK who was the subject of the New Left chant directed toward his successor–“Hey, Hey, LBJ, How Many Kids Did You Kill Today?” The same fortunate circumstances applied to Bob Merriman, an American Communist killed while serving as a brigade commander on the Loyalist side during the Spanish Civil War in 1938. Fortunately for his martyred reputation, the pro-Stalinist Merriman died a year before the embarrassment and betrayal inflicted on his comrades by Josef Stalin in 1939 the when the dictator signed a military partnership with the leader of… Keep Reading

Culture/History/Politics

The Rise Of Trump From An “Elite” Perspective

As we are well into the first year of the Trump administration, and leftists are still walking around in a dim haze of incredulity, I’d like to reflect a little on why the man was elected. As some of you have probably inferred from the title, I am (on paper) a “coastal elitist.” I was born and raised in New Jersey, I am college educated (holding both two undergraduate degrees and a graduate degree), and being that I read, exercise, and listen to classical music, I suppose my tastes run to the fairly “highbrow.” In practice, some of my other tastes and especially my finances, place me far outside the world of the elite. Perhaps it is my “being outside the box,” which is a polite way of saying “not having many people willing to associate with me” (because I’m a philosopher king, of course), that enables me to objectively view the out-of-nowhere political rise of Donald Trump. I myself was never 100 percent enamored by Trump, but I… Keep Reading

Culture/History/Politics

Male Taxpayers Are Literally Rape Survivors

As always, we should begin by defining our terms: What is rape, and why is it bad? There is nothing inherently traumatic about a foreign object being inserted in the vagina. Women insert tampons in there several times a month. Moreover, a large majority of rapes are not forceful, so the concept of rape is not related to physical pain or mere penetration. Rapes can even occur without the victim being aware of it. Yet, rape is punished as severely as aggravated assault, such as breaking someone’s legs. Why is that? We punish rape for psychological reasons. Women who experience rape experience a loss of perceived autonomy over their reproductive outcomes. Our instincts have changed little since our hunter/gatherer times, so we often experience vestigial feelings originating from our past as tribesmen and tribeswomen. A woman inseminated by a man she did not choose prevents her from passing on the best quality genes. That is unless the man is more attractive than her, of course. Keep Reading

History/Politics/Religion

Graham Greene: Catholic Communist

One of the more transparently manipulative and hypocritical slogans used by Western Communist Parties in the mid 1930s to recruit allies for Stalin was specifically designed for Catholics: “You can still take Communion and love the Soviet Union.” Graham Greene, novelist, pundit, and above all, Catholic, embodied this slogan. Indeed, Greene’s attempts to link Catholicism with a Soviet Union that persecuted priests from the get-go predated this slogan. Since the 1920s, Greene had sought to merge his Catholic faith with his Communist one, which prompted George Orwell, a foe of both organized religion and communism, to label Green the first “Catholic fellow traveler.” But even today, an argument is made that Greene was hostile to Communism in whatever form it took until his death in 1991. This school of thought relies on criticisms Greene made toward the ideology throughout his life. Keep Reading

History/Politics

Claud Cockburn: Pioneer Of The Mainstream Media

Conservatives today locate the origins of the “mainstream media” in the Watergate and Vietnam era; when every reporter since has wanted to have the presidency-toppling effect of a Woodward and Bernstein. But from Watergate on, the presidencies that reporters have wanted toppled have been exclusively Republican ones. Much of this partisanship had to do with the inclusion of New Leftist ideologues, ironically once anti-establishment toward the press, burrowing into the profession and the academia that trains future journalists. Conservatives are certainly correct that the profession today is dominated by leftists who never left the late sixties, where objectivity was an obstacle to their political goals and thus jettisoned; and these propaganda techniques continue today by the journalists who leftist academics indoctrinate as college students. Keep Reading

Culture/History

Mother’s Little Helper?

A major part of the progressive mindset is the notion of a linear path of history (one might call it a “progression”). This is essentially the belief that all things today are better than all things in the past, and all things in the future will be better than all things today. Since things today are supposed to be good, this belief engenders a demonization of the past when problems inevitably arise in the present, as they tend to do in all ages. It’s not very difficult to find examples of this phenomenon in the cultures of various far-left regimes that profess to be leading the way into a glorious future (in contrast, far right regimes tend to be more about reviving an idealized past, but that’s a different issue)–The Chinese Cultural Revolution and the various intellectual purges of the Soviet Union are good examples of the nation’s history and culture being destroyed, in many cases literally. Keep Reading

History/Politics

The Napoleonic Touch

Some observers have smugly claimed that it is impossible to have a reactionary movement. They say it would be like piecing a ruined cobweb back together or trying to set Humpty Dumpty back on his wall. For them, it is one item on a long list of impossibilities. If one supposes that reactionaries want to return to some glittering past in every particular and detail, then the critics are right; it cannot be done. Fortunately, we are not focused on bringing back the poke bonnet or illuminated manuscripts; that is to say, nobody is trying to revive the little irrelevancies of bygone eras. The reactionary goal is to return to the spirit of an age, not its particulars. We only need to extract what worked from the past and juxtapose it onto the present. It is a process of adapting the present to the past, rather than trying to impose the past onto the future. Perhaps the most compelling point against critics is that history provides examples of reactionary… Keep Reading

History

The Duchess Of Atholl: Nobility For Stalin

In the film version of George Orwell’s book Keep The Aspidistra Flying, the main character, a struggling writer, assumes correctly that because a benefactor of writers is wealthy, said benefactor is therefore a communist. This assumption was very much a reality in the upper class intellectual world of 1930s Britain. For it was not only the expensively educated like Stephen Spender and W.H. Auden–and on a more sinister level, Kim Philby–who were pro-Stalin, but also Nancy Cunard, the daughter of a shipping magnate. This zeitgeist was so pervasive, that this pampered faction had a titled conservative in their ranks; who, ironically, defended Stalinism out of British imperialist motives. This figure was the Duchess of Atholl aka Katherine Marjory Stewart-Murray, who despite representing the Conservative Party member in Parliament clashed with her fellow conservatives because of their support for appeasing Hitler. Very much a “premature anti-fascist,” she expressed her disgust at the government’s deal-cutting with and outright support of fascist dictators by frequently resigning; first as Conservative Whip in 1937… Keep Reading

History/Politics/World

Letter From England 1: Setting The Scene

I have been asked to write a weekly column on British politics. Since I am writing for a largely American readership, and since Americans mostly know little of what happens outside their own country, I think it would be best if I were to begin with a brief overview not only of what is happening here, but also of what has been happening for quite some time. David Cameron became Prime Minister in 2010 at the head of a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition. The Conservatives had won more seats than any other party in the House of Commons, but fallen short of an overall majority. Whether he governed the country well during the next five years is beside the point. What matters is that he governed effectively within the assumptions of British politics. He went into the 2015 General Election with the aim of getting an overall majority for the Conservative Party. His main difficulty was not in beating the Labour Party, which was in no position to beat him,… Keep Reading

Culture/History

The Struggle To Publish Animal Farm

George Orwell’s devastating satire on Stalinism, Animal Farm remains even 72 years later, along with Nineteen Eighty-Four, the gold standard for totalitarian literature. But Orwell’s classic novel which established the phrase “Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others” nearly didn’t secure a publisher, who based their rejections not on the quality of the book, but because of its unwelcome politics. Written and submitted during the height of Soviet popularity in 1943-1945, who, as a war-time ally pushed Hitler all the way back to Berlin, the fable was rejected not only by pro-Stalinists and at least one KGB agent, but by conservatives as well. Copies were even burned at one point in protest. Keep Reading

History/Politics

“The Necessary Murder”

Omitted from leftist narratives as to why those of their own defected to the anti-Communist side is how a single murder provoked the defection. Instead pro-Communists and “anti-anti-Communists” assign base motives to these supposedly mentally unstable drunks such as a desire for the latter to line their pockets and for a new appreciation of fascism. Ernest Hemingway, who sought a relationship with the Soviet secret police, used the greed argument against his one-time friend John Dos Passos for publicly accusing Communists during the Spanish Civil War of murdering Dos Passos’ friend, Jose Robles. Hemingway with help from the Soviet-directed loyalist government justified the murder because Robles was “a fascist spy” for Franco. Disgusted, Dos Passos became a fervent anti-Communist who later voted for Barry Goldwater. Keep Reading

Culture/History

Advice On Learning Latin

Aside from my various books–more of which will come out this month and next–I get most of my living nowadays from teaching Greek and Latin. I do this as a private tutor, and sometimes as an informal staff member at various places of education. Because demand for my services in any one place is limited, there is no point in my becoming a formal member of staff. Instead, I go out to see students in their homes or in classrooms, or in university libraries, or sometimes I even hold court in the kitchen of my own house. I do the teaching and then get on with other business. I might like a formal university or school position. However, due to my location, I have no present wish to move and am content with present arrangements–even if I am always looking for more students. The arrangements suit me for three reasons. Keep Reading

History

On Our Soil: The Liquidation Of Juliet Poyntz

To this day, anti-anti-communists from the Cold War period and their tenured academic counterparts scoff at the idea that Soviet communists liquidated their American agents on US soil. While grudgingly admitting that Stalin did carry out wet work against those who dared to oppose him (I’ve heard professors actually defend it), they argue that such actions were exclusively conducted overseas–i.e, Leon Trotsky pickaxed in Mexico or the death-by-torture of loyalist soldier Bob Simile in Spain. But on at least one instance, Stalin used a Soviet assassination squad to undoubtedly kidnap and murder an American agent in New York City for the “crime” of defecting from the spy ring. The victim was Juliet Stuart Poyntz, who spied for the Soviets, but later defected because of Stalin’s Purge Trials. While in Russia, she witnessed firsthand the frame-up and subsequent murder of those she knew to be innocent, and refused to engage in any more espionage work for the Soviets after returning to the United States. On June 3, 1937, a year… Keep Reading

History/Politics/World

An Evening With Enoch Powell, 22nd November 1986

Note: This is an exact transcript from one of the handwritten volumes of my Diary. I have kept this, with occasional lapses, since I was fifteen. It currently runs to about five million words. Most entries are of no interest to anyone else. Many are a waste of paper and ink. Some are too shocking or embarrassing ever to be published. Here and there, nevertheless, are entries of actual value. This is one of them. SIG Saturday 22nd November 1986 No concert after all last night. Instead to Newham North East Conservative Club, to see Simon Pearce – and, much more than that, to see ENOCH POWELL. Keep Reading

Culture/History

Eastern European Jews And The Case Of The Marginalized Elite

The story of Eastern European Jews who immigrated to America in the beginning of the twentieth century is a story of “self-marginalization.” The more dramatically Eastern European Jews progress socio-economically, the more strenuously they identify with “marginalized groups” and seek to undermine the white Christian majority population. And though he takes care to guard against charges of being Politically Incorrect, David R. Verbeeten’s The Politics of Non-Assimilation: Three Generations of Eastern European Jews in the United States in the Twentieth Century is a goldmine of sociological evidence revealing this critically important phenomenon which so many scholars are happy to ignore. The Dissident Right may find Verbeeten controversial as well. Though Kevin MacDonald argues his theory about Jewish group behavior ably, I believe it is unwarranted to generalize about the social behavior of all Jews simply because of the behavior of Eastern European Jews. Other Jewish immigrants in other times and places have behaved very differently, including backing causes which today would be called reactionary or even “racist.” Keep Reading

History/Politics

The Puerto Rican Compromise

On Jun. 11, Puerto Ricans voted for the second time to become a state of the union. Could this Caribbean island actually become the 51st state of America? Other authors have written at length about the political struggles within Puerto Rico as well as the island’s serious financial sickness. I will not repeat their capable analysis of those problems. Rather, I will consider the less talked about issue of the congressional balance of power. Puerto Rico has long been a progressive region featuring a population of twice as many Democrats as Republicans. Accordingly, it is reasonable to expect the 3.5 million residents of Puerto Rico to vote overwhelmingly for the progressive party. This likely means that there will be more votes for the Democratic presidential candidate and two more Democratic Senators to shift the balance of power further leftward. For decades, control of the U.S. Senate has swayed back and forth between Democrats and Republicans, which has created a balance of power between the liberal and conservative parties. If… Keep Reading

History/Politics/Religion

We Must Defeat Radical Islam

When radical Islamist 22-year-old Salman Abedi blew himself up at a pop music concert in Manchester, England, killing 22 and wounding 59, he did more than commit a terrorist attack – he once again demonstrated the insidious nature of violent, radical Islam manifested as jihad. The suicide bomber detonated himself at Manchester Arena late Monday as concertgoers streamed out following the end of Ariana Grande’s concert. While ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack – at least in terms of inspiration, if not direct operational support – what is important is the fact that someone who was born in Britain not only had the desire to carry out an attack that would kill and injure scores of people but would also be willing to give his life in the process. Keep Reading

History/Politics

Sanctuary City Mayor Trashes An American Hero

Mayor Mike Signer—who had declared his intention to make Charlottesville, Virginia, the “capital of the resistance” to President Trump and a sanctuary city “to protect immigrants and refugees”—is refusing to protect a symbol saluting one of America’s greatest men. Yes, Robert E. Lee was a great American. If Signer knew the first thing about human valor, he’d know that there was no man more valorous and courageous than Robert E. Lee, whose “two uncles signed the Declaration of Independence and [whose] father was a notable cavalry officer in the War for Independence.” Keep Reading

History/Philosophy/Politics

The Battle For Ideas Is Never Won

The battle for ideas is never won. Just because you win an election, it does not mean you get to rest on your laurels. Over the last couple of weeks, I have heard many conservatives complain that they think Congress has let them down. In the minds of conservatives, Republicans control the House, the Senate, and the White House. This makes it time for Republicans to actually fulfill their campaign promises and repeal the un-affordable Health Care Act (ObamaCare), build the wall, and reduce the size of government. Conservatives are making the same mistake that the United States military made in Operation Anaconda. Operation Anaconda took place shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the mountains of Afghanistan. In Not a Good Day to Die, author Sean Naylor explains that things had been going so well in Afghanistan that U.S. military leaders created a strategy based upon the Taliban insurgents laying down their weapons and running for their lives. The Taliban eventually lost the battle, but not before… Keep Reading

Tripolitan War
History/Politics

A Lesson From The Tripolitan War

In the west, people tend to have short memories. Typically this isn’t a problem because most lapses in memory tend to be centered around the mundane: Where you left your car keys, picking up the dry-cleaning, the date of your third cousin’s wedding to the Shriner who resembles Dwight Yoakam, only uglier – if you can imagine that. With any luck you’ll find your keys, get to the dry-cleaner, and, hopefully, you chose something more becoming to wear to the nuptial ceremony than a leisure suit. These things are easily understood and forgiven, if not completely relatable. The leisure suit… Not so much. It’s the bigger things we forget that are less understandable. Entire wars are said to have been lost to the sands of time. Less notable than the Korean War is the Tripolitan War which was declared against the United States some two hundred and sixteen years ago. Angered by President Thomas Jefferson’s refusal to pay ransom in exchange for captured merchant vessels, Yusuf Pasha declared war… Keep Reading

civil war
History/Politics

The Civil War, Then And Now

One hundred and fifty-four years ago this week, nearly at the peak of the Civil War, General Robert E. Lee cemented his legacy in American history with his triumph over Union forces at the battle of Chancellorsville, a victory often referred to as a perfect battle. It is an example of how sangfroid and strategy and chutzpah and cunning have together the potential to overcome overwhelming odds. It was a disgraceful performance by the north’s General Joseph Hooker and it cost Lee his “right arm” in General Stonewall Jackson, who was killed by friendly fire on the second of May. It’s an episode in our history we should be reminded of often. They say history is written by the winners. General Lee may or may not be a hero and, in spite of his martial brilliance in Spotsylvania, Virginia, he was and will always be a loser. The Confederacy didn’t get to write the history books. Two months after his perfect battle, without his best general, and emboldened beyond… Keep Reading

oliver stone
History/Politics

Oliver Stone Educates And Misleads

I recently had the opportunity to watch The Untold History of the United States by Oliver Stone and, as I’m sure was intended, it was a thought-provoking experience. It is for many reasons a masterpiece of documentary filmmaking. The research behind it left no stone unturned and the archival footage included in the ten-part series is awe-inspiring. It is well written and well narrated by Stone. It is thorough and informative and enlightens the viewer to the many unseemly aspects of governance in the greatest nation in the history of mankind. Less thorough and more friendly than Stone’s treatment of the USA is his examination of the Soviet Union which he depicts as a victim, one who heroically struck back with righteous fury against the evil forces of Hitler’s Germany and later against the oppression of western capitalism. Hitler and his Third Reich were indeed evil and crossed every line of decency developed over the centuries to protect the rights of man. The Nazis needed to be destroyed and… Keep Reading

doctrine
History/Politics

The Trump Doctrine Takes Shape

The concept of Presidential Doctrine dates back to when James Monroe adopted a posture of anti-European colonialism in the western hemisphere. Since that time many presidents have come and gone without leaving a signature stamp on the attitude and behavior of our nation vis a vis foreign policy though many have at most sought to merely modify pre-existing positions. Theodore Roosevelt took Monroe’s doctrine and mutated it into the Roosevelt Corollary which would later be reversed by his fifth cousin, Franklin Roosevelt who adopted a Good Neighbor policy toward those nations in the Central and South America. In relatively short time, the neocon wing of the Republican Party hijacked our government and set about reinvigorating the interventionist ambitions of Teddy Roosevelt’s Big Stick Diplomacy. Under Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, America ceased speaking softly and carrying a big stick; it raised its voice and started actively using the stick in places like Grenada and Panama and various other Latin countries that failed to fall in line with… Keep Reading

History

The Selective Pacifism Of Dalton Trumbo

Probably the most mocked of anti-Communist claims by anti-anti-Communists was that the American Communist Party of the 1930s and 40s was dedicated to the violent overthrow of the American government. Former Communist and blacklisted screenwriter Ring Lardner Jr. said that even though Communism had “taken a violent form in the Soviet Union” it did not mean the American Communist Party wanted to use the same Leninist methods of seizing the government. Rather, he asserted, the CPUSA sought to bring socialism about through democratic gradualism. But a generation later, in the 1960s, the New Left was committed to that very goal the Old Left was accused of. They didn’t want the U.S. to withdraw from Vietnam; they wanted the Vietcong to defeat “fascist America.” They didn’t want to make the U.S live up to its democratic principles; they wanted it overthrown a la the methods of Castro, Mao, and Ho Chi Minh, who many modeled their units after (New Leftist Tom Hayden called his violent Weathermen faction an “American Vietcong”). Keep Reading

History

HSCA At 40: Validating The Warren Commission

As the credits to his wildly-conspiratorial JFK (1991) rolled, Oliver Stone, to buttress his argument that Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy and not Lee Harvey Oswald, listed the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations’ conclusion that the president was indeed the victim of some group. But in reality, this Congressional investigation did not exonerate Oswald; indeed, the Committee validated the Warren Commission’s conclusion but with one caveat: that, in addition to Oswald’s shots from the School Book Depository, someone might have fired from the Grassy Knoll. But this addition was last-minute, and today, the evidence for a fourth shot is rejected. Keep Reading

History/Politics

Orwell: Not So Private With Ukrainians

By and large, British author George Orwell addressed his essays and novels to the English-speaking world. During the war, he wrote a “London Letter,” about the political situation in England, to the readers of the anti-Stalinist American journal, Partisan Review. Even his stint as a BBC broadcaster with programs designed for Indian consumption were to audiences who spoke English. But there was one instance in which Orwell wrote to a non-English-speaking audience, the Ukrainian readers of Animal Farm. Orwell wrote a preface to the Ukrainian edition that is remarkable in what he revealed about himself. Something about writing for a foreign audience, particularly one with Stalin’s boot on their throat, liberated Orwell, a notoriously private man, and the essay is invaluable because it contradicts what biographers would later write about him. Keep Reading

History/Politics

The Old Left And The “Warmonger” Roosevelt

In the Vietnam era, when the “New Hollywood,” shorthand for sixties’ leftists taking charge of the movies, lionized the Old Left in films like The Way We Were and The Front, they did so with the script used by American Stalinists during the early days of the Cold War; that those blacklisted were merely innocent New Dealers in “a hurry,” who were unfortunately caught in a crunch when the political climate shifted from FDR liberalism to anti-New Deal rightism. An example of this was The Way We Were, a moist treatment of Hollywood Stalinists, and the vicious treatment afforded them by American “fascists.” In a genius of casting, Barbara Streisand played a hyperactive Communist who was more New Deal than Marxist. By turns, those who attacked her were Roosevelt haters (in one scene she is shell-shocked when Roosevelt dies, while a blue-blood for making crude jokes about him). Keep Reading

History

Did JFK Admire Hitler?

During his presidency, John F. Kennedy was accused by the far right of being a communist appeaser at best, a secret sympathizer at worst. Now, thanks to the release of his diaries from the 1930s, it may be more valid to accuse JFK of admiration of fascism, however youthful the passion. In a series of diary entries, the future president recorded complimentary references to Nazis during a 1937 visit to Nazi Germany. He found that fascism to be “the right thing for Germany,” and regarding its brutish features, he rhetorically stated, “what are the evils of fascism compared to communism?” Keep Reading

History/Politics

John E Rankin: Equal Opportunity Racist

When his activist wife criticized FDR for not addressing the plight of blacks, the president always stated that to do so would lose him crucial Southern Congressional support for his New Deal measures. A perfect case in point for Roosevelt’s dilemma was personified by Congressman John E. Rankin of Mississippi. Rankin, who served for sixteen terms, from 1920-1952, was proof one could be both economically liberal and virulently racist; and his “Yellow Dog Democrat” constituency, who swore never to vote for Republicans because of Reconstruction, reflected both of Rankin’s political tendencies. Keep Reading

History/Politics

Gary Cooper: Fairminded Conservative

When Lucille Ball was accused of being a Communist at the height of her fame in the 1950s, she pleaded contextual circumstances. She cited her pressure by her Party-line uncle, but also noted that “in those days it was considered shameful to be a Republican.” And indeed it was, even in Hollywood, which was presided over by rock-ribbed studio heads. To subscribe to any type of anti-New Deal conservatism in Hollywood was to invite charges of fascism from Hollywood reds, who were at the high tide of their influence in the 1930s, and especially during World War II. Keep Reading

Culture/History

Hoover And Homosexuals: A Form Of Overcompensation?

The closeted Roy Cohn called him less a homosexual and more a “voyeur,” getting his jollies by listening the sex tapes of political leaders he acquired through FBI wiretaps. Oliver Stone disagreed, having him in his laughable Nixon (1995) practically french-kissing the help. The wife of a mobster provided information of him in drag in a hotel room with Cohn present: “[He was] wearing a fluffy black dress, very fluffy, with flounces, and lace stockings and high heels, and a black curly wig. He had make-up on and false eyelashes. It was a very short skirt, and he was sitting there in the living room of the suite with his legs crossed. Roy introduced him to me as ‘Mary'”. Why, in our age of gay tolerance, does it matter whether the above-mentioned FBI director J.Edgar Hoover was gay? After all, shouldn’t right-wingers be allowed the same orientation? The easy answer lies in Hoover’s behavior to those he might have shared an orientation with. A lifelong bachelor who lived with… Keep Reading

North Korea
History/Politics/World

North Korea, A Desperate Foe With The Courage Of Despair

One of the most insightful observations made by Sun Tzu in his seminal masterwork, The Art of War, is the following: “When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.” Tu Mu was more specific in his elaboration on the point; the ancient Chinese poet said the enemy must be made to think “that there is a road to safety, and thus prevent his fighting with the courage of despair.” The beauty of Sun Tzu’s tome is in its timelessness; the succinct profundity of his proverbs is as relevant today as it was in the 5th century BCE. In today’s world, there is no place where Sun Tzu’s wisdom is needed more than the Korean Peninsula, specifically the territory to the north of the 38th Parallel, the tiny nation-state of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. We in the west know it by a much shorter epithet, simply, North Korea. In 1950, North Korea’s Soviet-backed founder, Kim Il Sung, launched a… Keep Reading

History

Africa BC/AC (Before And After Colonialism)

From their plush apartments, over groaning dinner tables, pseudo-intellectuals have the luxury of depicting squalor and sickness as idyllic, primordially peaceful and harmonious. After all, when the affluent relinquish their earthly possessions to return to the simple life, it is always with aid of sophisticated technology and the option to be air-lifted to a hospital if the need arises. Is there any wonder, then, that “the stereotype of colonial history” has been perpetuated by the relatively well-to-do intellectual elite? Theories of exploitation, Marxism for one, originated with Western intellectuals, not with African peasants. It is this clique alone that could afford to pile myth upon myth about a system that had benefited ordinary people. What is meant by “benefited”? Naturally, the premise here is that development, so long as it’s not coerced, is desirable and material progress good. British colonists in Africa reduced the state of squalor, disease, and death associated with lack of development. To the extent that this is condemned, the Rousseauist myth of the noble, happy… Keep Reading

History

Edwin Walker: Ruined By Oswald

In one of those ironies history throws at us, Lee Harvey Oswald’s failed attempt on the life of the ultra-Rightist General Edwin Walker eight months before the Kennedy assassination ended Walker’s importance. Don Delillo caught Walker’s descent into mediocrity best in his JFK assassination novel, Libra. In the novel, one of the most bizarre suspects in the Kennedy assassination, the body-hairless, ultra-Rightist David Ferrie tells Oswald to forget about continuing his assassination attempts on Walker: “No one listens to Walker anymore. Your missed bullet finished him more surely than a clean hit. It left him hanging in the twilight. He is an embarrassment. He carries the stigma of having been shot at and missed.” But for a while, Walker was listened to intently by enraged deep Southerners who swooned and howled at his message that the internal Communist Conspiracy was operating out of the White House, and by the Kennedys themselves. Keep Reading

History

Otto Skorzeny: Nazi To The End

In the film Lawrence of Arabia (1962), a firm believer in the British Empire grudgingly compliments the decidedly anti-Colonial Lawrence on his military performance in capturing a previously impregnable Turkish port; it “doesn’t matter what his motives were; it was a brilliant bit of soldiering.” This phrase perfectly encapsulates the soldierly view of SS Special Forces leader Otto Skorzeny, although his motives were much more detestable than Lawrence’s – the former wanting to help the Arabs build their own government free of British control. By contrast, Skorzeny never gave up the Nazi dream, aiding in the escape of several SS men from Germany into Spain, and attempting to establish a “Fourth Reich” in Latin America. Keep Reading

Culture/History/Politics

Orson Welles: Frustrating The Left

In The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987), Tom Wolfe’s British journalist uses his accent and his British sense of humor to cadge meals from his spellbound American colleagues. By the 1960s to 1980s, being a spellbinding conversationalist was all actor/director Orson Welles had left. Because of his excesses (relying on style rather than substance in his films; an almost self-destructive refusal to tailor his films for mass audiences not leaning to the avant-garde; self-destructively taking on studio heads) no studio would touch him. Keep Reading

History/Politics

Vera Caspary: Leaving The Communist Fold

In the genre of film noir, the movie Laura (1944) looms large. In 1999, the Library of Congress chose the film for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant. The American Film Institute ranked Laura 73 on their 100 years…100 Thrills. As a film noir, it is ranked no. 4 on the best mysteries of all time. Despite the political orientation of its main stars, Dana Andrews (who was the lead in the radio series, I was a Communist for the FBI), and Gene Tierney (a Republican who campaigned for Nixon in 1960), the author who wrote the book the movie was based on, was a card-carrying Communist. Keep Reading

History/Politics

The Nixon Tapes: No Smoking Guns

As with the Kennedy assassination documents still “classified” under “national security,” pundits have long believed that the sealed Nixon Watergate tapes contain the answers to historical mysteries; chief among them the true motive for the Watergate burglaries; whether Nixon ordered executive actions against foreign leaders (Camelot pundits have long blamed Nixon, and not JFK, for constructing a Mafia/CIA nexus to kill Castro). But they’ve also sought ammunition to confirm their worst impressions of Nixon as a paranoid, insecure totalitarian. On what’s available they zeroed in on the potty mouth (the biggest surprise for my Republican parents), the anti-Semitism, the enemies list (the work of a “fascist,” according to William F. Buckley), the payoffs, the disturbing plots against political enemies (for example, slipping LSD to hostile reporter Jack Anderson). Keep Reading

Culture/History/Politics

Mr. Smth: The Ultimate Libertarian

With its patriotism and lone-man-against-the-system theme, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939) is a popular favorite among conservatives. But, although directed by conservative populist Frank Capra, the script was in actuality penned by a then-member of the Communist Party named Sidney Buchman. It is difficult to believe in our era of flag-burning and bomb-throwing leftism that once upon a time American Communists promoted patriotism, which depending upon your point of view, was either authentic or a pose to meet the needs of Moscow. But Buchman may have been the real deal, as evidenced by his clashes with director Frank Capra and his later abandonment of Communism because it wouldn’t fit the democratic conditions of his country. Keep Reading

Culture/History/Politics

Groucho Marx And Duck Soup: No Sacred Cows

Eighty-four years ago, the Marx Brother’s film, Duck Soup (1933), premiered and despite being considered their masterpiece today, flopped. Its anti-war, anti-establishment, anti-politician message (if there can be a message in a Marx Brothers’ film), flew against the zeitgeist. Leader-worship was in vogue in 33, from Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany (both countries banned the film) to even FDR’s America. Satire and criticism, rampant in the 20s, which was really the Marx Brothers’ decade, was considered politically incorrect in “let’s pull together” ethos of New Deal America. Literally in Duck Soup, the Marx Brothers, un-plugged, un-policed, refuse to close ranks. There is no loyalty to any country. Chico only joins Groucho’s side because “the food is better over here.” Harpo switches sides constantly from spying on Groucho to recruiting soldiers for him. Groucho himself switches uniforms from scene to scene (Napoleonic one minute, Confederate General the next—there was no feverish debate of banning the Confederate flag in those days) as if to say it doesn’t matter who he represents.… Keep Reading

Culture/History

Kurt Vonnegut: Eternal Optimist

One of the oldest sayings is that there are “no atheists in foxholes.” But for those soldiers either wounded or hit with the body parts of their exploding friends, the more apt expressions were caught by Paul Fussell, forty-percent disabled World War II vet and the most articulate historian of war. Before combat, Fussell catches the mindset of the virgin soldier: “It can’t happen to me. I’m too clever/agile/well-trained/good-looking/beloved/tightly laced etc.” Then after combat, the realization hits: “It is going to happen to me, and only my not being there is going to prevent it.” Kurt Vonnegut, definitely “there,” amazingly, emerged from the war more optimistic and, although not believing in God, saw such faith as necessary. Keep Reading

History/Politics

Orwell And Trotsky: At Odds

During his lifetime, British writer George Orwell was characterized as a follower of exiled Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky. H.G Welles dismissed Orwell as “a Trotskyite with big feet.” On a more lethal note, the Spanish secret police, on orders from Moscow, hunted Orwell during the Spanish Civil War for the crime of”Trotskyism” because he fought in a Marxist military unit at odds with Stalin. His “Trotskyism” even affected his livelihood; Orwell’s submission of Animal Farm to the publisher Faber and Faber was rejected by poet and employee T.S. Eliot for expressing “Trotskyite” views. At first glance, the literary evidence seems to bear this out. In both novels, Animal Farm, and Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Trotsky figure is the victim of the Stalin one. In Animal Farm, Trotsky appears as the pig “Snowball,” who initially rules the animal republic with the Stalin pig, aptly named “Napoleon” (in real life, Trotsky, exiled by Stalin, labeled the Soviet dictator and his military-style methods as the “Napoleon” of the Bolshevik Revolution); but “Napoleon,” craving power,… Keep Reading

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