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stalin

Politics/World

Christopher Hitchens: Premature Anti-Castroite

Nearing the end of his life, Christopher Hitchens no longer considered himself a Trotskyite, or even a socialist. But he never repudiated his Vietnam-era politics, and to his dying day praised the “heroic” Vietcong, despite Ho Chi Minh’s obvious Stalinist-style politics and how said politics were murderously applied after Saigon fell (Hitchens, like others in the New Left, blamed Minh and Pol Pot’s savagery on America’s relentless bombing campaign). But Hitchens departed from the New Left from the very beginning by criticizing one of their sacred cows: Fidel Castro. Like Lee Harvey Oswald (who, as a gun-brandishing Marxist-spouting deadbeat, would have fit easily into the Weathermen), the New Left lauded the Cuban dictator for his scrappy opposition against “fascist” American imperialism and for his “purer” form of Marxism over the Soviet syetem. For them, Castro was worthy to stand beside their other idols, Ho Chi Minh (many of the violence-practicing New Left proclaimed themselves “America’s Vietcong”) and Mao. But Hitchens kept his head about Castro. Like many of his… 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

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

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

World

The Ukrainian Crisis: Rebels With a Cause

In Defense of Self-Determination The toppling of the government of Ukraine caused a wide-array of reactions in the United States.  Like most Americans, my first reaction was that of elation when pro-European Union forces overthrew what seemed like an Eastern European dictatorship.  But, that doesn’t tell the whole story of the initial coup d’état in Ukraine. Western Ukraine is wholly different from the East.  It has longed for European contact for the last century.  The West has a built in dislike of Russia.  During Joseph Stalin’s reign in the Soviet Union the Ukraine became the target of Holodomor.  Holodomor was the purposeful starvation of the Ukraine’s populace (Then known as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic). Naturally, many Ukrainians took umbrage at their targeted famine due to the actions of the Soviet government.  This led many Ukrainians to welcome German soldiers as liberators during World War Two.  In fact, a part of Hitler’s elite private army called the Waffen SS (Schutzstaffel) was made up of Ukrainians (SS Galicia).  Eastern Ukrainians,… Keep Reading

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