So this post — Fish And Water — got echoed by a friend on FB.  This is a person whose books I’ve read, though I only know him on FB, and also a person who normally doesn’t echo blog posts.

Over the next day I watched people comment and wondered if I wanted to get involved.  There was the utter crazycakes “USSR’s Agit prop was a huge failure.”  Really, tovarish?  Did you live in an European country (A WESTERN EUROPEAN COUNTRY) and watch people take the glossy photos of “Soviet Life” seriously?  Did you have people tell you face to face that the USSR was only as evil as the US and that there was nothing to choose between them — despite the fact that the USSR was stuck at about the 1930s and had long lines for every normal staple, while the US had long lines for… black Friday.  Despite the fact that every country that fell in the Western sphere of influence was living pretty affluently while the ones gobbled up as a shield by the USSR were living miserably?  Despite the fact that you could see the difference between east and west Berlin from the AIR?  Despite all this people thought that a USSR win and a USA win were “about the same.”  AND THAT was a failure of Agit Prop?  May G-d send me many failures like that.

But then there was the “centrist.”  Oh, you know the centrist.  He shows up in every political discussion to show how mature and well informed he is.

He started by critiquing my blog post — A BLOG POST — by saying I’d provided no examples or citations and that my blog was “emotive writing” and what proof did I have that soviet agit prop had shaped western opinion.

Of course I had provided no examples or citations.  THIS IS A BLOG NOT A FUCKING ACADEMIC JOURNAL.  I didn’t spend six months researching for the post, so I could cite “just the right sources” to convince our “centrist” gentleman. For one because I need no sources.  No, really.  Look at the examples above.  Are any of you going to dispute that life in the sphere of USSR influence was worse than in the west?  Are you going to tell me that the US helping west Germany rebuild was the same as the USSR bleeding East Germany dry?  (And yet, in the US itself kids are taught that Communism is a great way of life and/or it’s never been tried, and that the “good guys lost the cold war.”)

Academics will try that.  Because what they don’t understand about the economy would fill several encyclopedias, they think buying and selling from a country is “economic oppression” on a part with sending your troops to loot it.  And that too is an example of the success of Soviet Agit Prop, albeit Soviet Agit Prop that slotted into a flaw in Western thinking that “smart people” should also be rich, which allows every man jack with a college degree to feel hard done by capitalism.  But the entire explanation of “economic imperialism?”  Well, that came from the USSR tovarish.  It was right there, in books, magazines and pamphlets they put out.

And then the centrist gentleman expounded on his thesis.  I was, he said, just like the SJWs.  When they claim that things are the result of patriarchy and white privilege.  That’s what I was doing claiming that things were the result of agitprop.  Yep.  He was centrist, well informed, the adult in the room, and look how he was hitting both sides.  Don’t you admire him?

I’ve been bizarrely busy.  No, seriously.  Beyond trying to finish a book, brainstorm a collaboration and getting another started, my duties for instapundit, my work here, my work as publisher for the entire family, I have been trying to get Robert’s basement apartment ready for class start on Monday.  This is because at that time he MUST be independent, able to cook/eat on his own, and having the living space fixed as it will be till his Christmas break.  Because he simply won’t have time to tinker with it while studying.

So I considered several times answering the “centrist” but I didn’t, mostly because I got called away.  I do have an answer, besides “you want citations?  Come to the comments, my commenters will provide plenty.”

The answer is: Sure the SJWs say there is “institutional” stuff we don’t even notice, just as I say there is institutional stuff distorting your thinking.  There are two differences: I’m not calling for silencing those repeating crazy Marxism.  Let them talk.  BY ALL MEANS, we WANT them to talk.  Because once things are out in the open, it becomes obvious how crazy cakes they are.  I’m simply calling for us to be aware of and expose the narrative.

The other thing is: Okay. So, where are the courses in “The benefits of Patriarchal Thinking” or “Exploring what White Supremacy can do for our nation” or…?  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.  Meanwhile, in every college, even in conservative parts of the country there is at least ONE course on Marxist analysis of this or that.   And courses on how Marxism can help you with everything from hair growth to the heart break of psoriasis.  Meanwhile for “cases of patriarchy” the left has now descended to hunting micro aggressions, on their way to pico aggressions.

If you think there is a parallel and both sides are the same, between trying to defend your country from the leftovers of USSR propaganda which have openly and BLATANTLY infected the entire educational/entertainment/news industrial-complex and hunting for the snipe of patriarchal and racial aggression in things people might not phrase very well, congratulations: You are a useful idiot.

The Agit prop of the USSR succeeded and continues to foster oikophobia and hate of the west in the west because it infected the minds of people like you.  Not that there was that much there to infect.

You’re the sort of people who thinks that “both sides are equally guilty/bad/etc” is ALWAYS the appropriate answer.  Virtue is always in the middle, right.  If someone wants to bayonet babies and someone wants to keep them alive, virtue must be in the middle: let’s shoot babies in the head.

Extreme?  Of course it’s extreme.  And seeing no different between SJWs wanting to silence people, and the non-Marxist side wanting to EXPRESS DIFFERENT OPINIONS UNMOLESTED while still letting the SJWs talk all they want to isn’t extreme?  Funny definition of extreme.

It is in fact “another easy trick to avoid thinking.”  So long as you can say “both sides are wrong” you don’t need to consider any facts, even blatant ones.  A certain number of people will assume you must be right because you’re not an “extremist” and you can peacock about as the adult in the room.

The fact that your nonsense leads by default to the most aggressive and totalitarian view point winning (the middle between “we just want to talk” and “we want to silence them” is not “both sides talk.”  It’s “We’ll restrict some talk” OR more likely “we’ll restrict the side that’s not calling for restrictions, because the OTHER side is really loud.”) and that you are fostering the destruction of western civilization in the name of a long-dead but strangely still stirring imperialism should cause you no qualms.

After all, you’re centrist and an adult.

You may wipe your hands to the wall.  Toilet paper isn’t going to take care of your magnificent works all by itself.


275 thoughts on “Centrists

  1. To borrow from William F Buckley, a “centrist” is a person who will criticize your shoving little old ladies out of the path of a bus as no better than the person who shoved her into the path of that bus because both of you were shoving a little old lady.

    1. I actually used to consider myself a “centrist” – and by that I meant someone who was fiscally conservative, believed in the free market system and was socially liberal and tolerant of non-mainstream groups. I did not (and do not) want the government anywhere near the bedroom of 2 consenting adults. Anyone else remember the old slogan on abortion: safe, legal and rare? That is still my preferred position, honestly. That being said, I also did not (and do not) view that as a topic where the Federal Government should be imposing a solution – I’d far rather the issue be delegated down to the State level (or lower). The “War on Drugs”, much like prohibition before it, has largely been a self-defeating futile exercise. Ditto much of the attempts to regulate guns (and then there is the entire 2nd amendment issue where I’ve been on the side of the “individual rights” analysis of that text). I was also pleased to see the Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 – making it harder for the government to impinge on private religious practices.

      From a foreign policy perspective, I have always tended to fall pretty close to the Jacksonian camp. The US must ensure its honor abroad by abiding by its commitments and standing with its allies (and yes, Israel is one of our historically dependable allies). The US must take action to defend its interests where necessary. The US must fight to win or not fight at all – and international “law” be damned if that is what is required to win.

      These positions all used to be “Centrist” type positions in my view. I admit, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve probably headed to the right on some issues and joined the liberterians on some others. I still believe in free speech – even if that speech is being given by a Muslim, a SJW, a progressive, a communist, etc. who would not (if they were in power) allow me to speak. On the other hand, I strongly believe the Democrats have also headed hard left from the positions they took when I was younger. To put it another way, the Overton window moved (generally to the left) while I wasn’t looking and so what I used to characterize as a “centralist” type position may well not be anymore.

      Just my 2 cents.

  2. what proof did I have that soviet agit prop had shaped western opinion

    What proof did your critic offer of actually being a centrist?

    1. honest odds are they they thought they were centrist because they weren’t a proper progressive

  3. Consider that a man who exposed agents in the pay of a foreign power is considered the villain. I mean, people who have been proven to have been working towards the destruction of the United States, working directly with a government that routinely starved large numbers of its own citizens to death–they are STILL seen as victims of a man who had sworn to protect the nation and was doing the job that the taxpayers paid him to do.

    But Soviet propaganda is a failure.

    1. Indeed, Centrist’s own argument was evidence of the effectiveness of Soviet propaganda at corrupting the moral understanding of the universe, as if adding a milliliter of feces to a liter of distilled water was irrelevant because the water remained 99% pure.

      Arguing with such people is as useful as explaining water to fish.

    2. Centrists usual freak out when you point out that McCarthy was correct.

      Also when you read Richard Rhodes’ “Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb” you realized that we literally gave USSR the bomb…

      1. …we literally gave USSR the bomb

        As we ought to have … our mistake was giving it to them in kit form. We should have delivered it assembled.

        Watch — some “centrist” will go ape over at Vile666 declaring one of Sarah’s Huns says we ought have nuked Russia. What utter nonsense … if only Carter hadn’t blocked development of the Neutron Bomb.

            1. There was some deployment of enhanced radiation warheads (the fancier term for “neutron bomb”) by the US, primarily in ABM (Anti Ballistic Missile) systems back in the 1960s or so, but they were withdrawn not too long afterwards.

          1. As I understand it, a neutron bomb is actually easier to make than a “proper” H-bomb. Just not as useful, except for certain specialized situations. Mostly when you’re trying to cut down on civilian casualties.

            A “proper” H-bomb uses a fission bomb to generate the heat and pressure to “light off” a deuterium -tritium reaction. Then it uses the neutrons from that to set off a second fission reaction. A “neutron bomb” leaves off that last step. So you get a smaller explosion and a lot of fast neutrons. Which are extremely deadly to someone hiding behind, say, tank armor–but less so if you’re hiding behind, say,water or dirt. So tank armies die while civilians in basements or shelters don’t–or not as often.

            The original idea, as pointed out below, was for ABM’s–specifically for the last ditch defense. If the only way to stop a nuke was to hit it with another nuke–right on top of your city–it behooved you to use a nuke that people could hide from. Later, it occurred to someone that the same logic applied to tank armies.

            The idea of tactical nukes that *might* not kill *everyone*–and therefore might be viable in an invasion scenario–put the propaganda machine into full overload. Thus the myth of the evil neutron bomb–a weapon of conquest, killing all the helpless civilians while leaving the cities intact for the vile capitalists to move their wage slaves into.

            But Soviet propaganda never worked…

            1. …leaving the cities intact for the vile capitalists to move their wage slaves into.

              Soviet cities being such marvels of architectural grandeur and enlightened design efficiency, who wouldn’t want to occupy them?

      2. The thing is, everything I’ve read (including one remarkable attempt at rehabilitation, the name of which I have forgotten) leads me to believe that any damage McCarthy did to Internatinal Communism was probably accidental. He appears (to me) to have been a complete sonofabitch who jumped on a bandwagon.

        That he was anti-communist does not make anti-communism wrong any more than the fact that Stalin ended up opposing the Nazis discredits the Allied war effort. But he was such a swine that if he had not existed the Progressive Left would have had to invent him.

        If nothing else, the cult of McCarthy (or anti-McCarthy) distracts people from the previous government jackass who went totally and unfairly nuts on hunting “subversives”, A Mitchell Palmer.

        Who was Attourney General to Wilson.

      3. McCarthy’s biggest “crime” was being an Asshole. But. being such does not also mean you are wrong.
        Also never mentioned, the Leftoids maintained and enforced the Black List, shunning those who were “listed” to maintain separation and cover of their own activities.

        1. the Leftoids maintained and enforced the Black List

          The March Of History only goes one direction …

          Except when they back up to make sure you’re crushed.

  4. Because what they don’t understand about the economy would fill several encyclopedias.

    Reminds me of a line from a Wheeler and Woolsey movie (I forget which one), “What you don’t know about driving could fill a hospital!” But what some refuse to recognize about socialism could fill mass graves – and has.

    1. I took a macro economics course in college because I thought it would be international economics, not “the head of the Federal Reserve drops $100,000 from a helicopter” monetary policy class. And yes, the whole “free market economy” thing seems to escape academics. Especially once you get past “pay for it with tax money.”

      1. Of course “the whole ‘free market economy’ thing seems to escape academics” — they do their damnedest to remain outside one.

      2. I got very lucky. Had an economics prof. who left to follow the private sector money after the course I was in. I once asked about his watch. Rather fancy looking. Diamond studded, gold. A genuine Rolex.. that he said “Some friends gave me. They liked my advice.” Yeah, paid some attention.

        1. I got lucky with econ 101 in a different way. It was team-taught by three profs: a Marxist, a Keynesian, and a Chicago-school guy. The lucky part was that this made it easy to compare the analysis that the various profs (and schools of thought) brought to the subject. It became clear _very_ quickly that I listed them from most- to least-nutty.

          The “lucky” part was that for both homework and test questions, we had to figure out which prof wrote the question. The “correct” answer depended utterly on which one wrote it. If you worked problems according to prof A, profs B & C would mark your answers wrong! Thank goodness they had quirks of wording that helped us guess…

        2. As an engineering student the best econ course I ever took was a little something called “The Time Value of Money”. Teacher taught us two things, how to fold the Wall Street Journal for commuter travel, and that the true value of a dollar was entirely dependent on the time frame you picked.

          1. I notice that the New York Sun reports that Trump & Pence seem to understand the failure of our current “Floating” dollar scheme:

            Trump’s Next Move
            The best column yet on Donald Trump is by the economist Judy Shelton in tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal. The heroine of honest money acknowledges the stigma that attaches among conservatives today to “any kind of global economic initiative.” Yet by insisting that America label China a currency manipulator, she argues, Mr. Trump may be “laying the groundwork for a significant breakthrough in international monetary relations” — one that could eventually “restore free trade as a vital component of economic growth.”

            What is so shrewd about Ms. Shelton’s observation is how deftly it dovetails with the potential political alliance between Mr. Trump and a just-vindicated Paul Ryan, who handily trounced his opponent in the Republican primary in Wisconsin. We now have at least the prospect of a leadership team comprising three figures — Messrs. Trump, Ryan, and Pence — who comprehend that the current system of fiat money, detached not only from specie but from even a monetary rule, has proven to be a failure.

            The way Ms. Shelton puts it is that “Mr. Trump’s emphasis on currency manipulation brings into focus the shortcomings of our present international monetary system — volatility, persistent imbalances, currency mismatches — which testify to its dysfunction.” She notes that “today’s hodgepodge of exchange-rate mechanisms is routinely described as a ‘non-system.’” She quotes the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Jacques de Larosière, as terming it an “anti-system.”

            Of course, a centrist would argue that the value of a dollar is somewhere about midway between one and one hundred cents.

            1. The single best thing we could do to cripple China’s currency manipulations would be to balance the federal budget.

          2. and that the true value of a dollar was entirely dependent on the time frame you picked

            If you poke at this a bit, it’s an aspect of a universal law– the answer to a question depends on the question.

            A lot of problems boil down to folks using the answer for one question when they were looking for the answer to another.

            How old is Captain America?
            The answer is different depending on if you mean how many years has he lived, how long has it been since he was born, or how long has it been since the character was created.

                1. He was not upper class so he never learned what it was. When he could’ve he was either too busy or asleep.

                    1. absolutely! This agitprop is sponsored by Statists R US. You are supposed to believe in the benevolent power of the state but the malevolence of nationalism. Also to cut you off from history by maligning a character that originated in the 1940s.

        3. Reminds me of the story about the Greek philosopher who had his weather records insulted with the old question about “If you’ve so smart, why aren’t you rich?”

          So he used his records to predict the next year’s weather and cornered the market on some crop. And people saw the good of being a philosopher.

      3. I got a leftist free marketeer professor (minimal business regulation, but significant government social spending) for my microeconomics course, and an old-school liberal for my macroeconomics class. Alas, macroeconomics was taught from Krugman’s text by departmental fiat. I was taking the course in summer 2009, though, and the professor knew (and explained to the class) why I broke out laughing at least once a day as some point or another from of Krugman’s theory came up – and had been demonstrated problematic by events over the few preceding years.

          1. 2nd the reccy. Worth every penny. And every minute.

            If you’re chary, you can ILL them. FOR FREE*. If unfamiliar with the ILL process, drop me a line & I’ll walk you through it.

            *TANSTAAFL applies, but you won’t be out of pocket any extra.

            1. Or for the enormous sum of $3 out here (postage because of budget cuts.) Still beats traveling to a library on the other side of the country or buying a $$$ research book.

    2. Wheeler and Woolsey- I keep meaning to look up that duo after reading a review of two of their movies in an old “Psychotronic.”

      1. Back in the 1980’s when TV stations still had an “end of the broadcast day” WLUK (channel 11) in Green Bay had a late night movie (a good antenna and late night propagation made this possible to get where I was) on weeknights. Often there would be some common theme. One week was Wheeler and Woolsey movies. Fridays were special, as that was “T.J. and the A.N.T.” with the A.N.T. being All Night Theater – the time WLUK did not sign off. T.J. being the host – and very clearly the only person at the station after the 10 o’clock local news.

        1. Late 70’s to early 80’s,we could get 11 with an UHF antenna (forget what channel they were there). Late night playing with the rotator I occasionally saw parts of those movies. Usually though I would end up on PBS out of Marquette, Mi. watching Benny Hill.
          By later ’82 we had cable and no fiddling needed.
          Our lineup for “locals” was 3(eskanaba repeater for ch5 in greenbay) 6 out of Marquette (Finland Calling Finally stopped after 53 years of Finnish only tv. 6 also is both Fox and NBC. it has most of its life been a dual affiliate station. Odd), 11 LUK from GB, and 13 PBS WNMU with Channel 50 out of Detroit (independent) and WGN.
          But I members when all we gots was 3,6, and 13 with 11 and 2 as rare UHF acquisitions when the weather was right and usually at night (got Rhinelander once!)

          1. We could pick up CBS, NBC, and PBS. There was some question of one affiliate who may have run some ABC and NBC programming in the 1960s. UHF? That was an extra tuner that didn’t work out there. There was once just these three, but then for whatever reason one of the CBS stations started to be come difficult to pick up and we started to be able to receive two different CBS stations. And we’d occasionally watch Buenos Aires, Argentina.

            Yep, every now and then we’d pick up a station out of Buenos Aires, Argentina, courtesy of a phenomenon where layers of atmosphere makes a sort of conduit and VHF travels through it a long way. We couldn’t understand the language, but the picture was good as the best CBS station we could pick up and it was different. Why it was always from South America and not places in the US I haven’t a clue.

            In my late teens there was an event we wanted to watch and according to TV Guide there should have been a UHF station we could pick up, so I rigged up an antenna out of wire and a piece of paneling and it managed to pull in a signal. Later, after I’d moved out, my parents got a UHF antenna, and watched VHF and UHF until they got a dish.

            1. Locally (was in Merrill, WI) the stations were ch.7 (CBS) and ch.9 (ABC) in Wausau, and ch.12 (NBC) from Rhinelander, and ch.13 (NBC again) from Eau Claire. Later, ch.20 (PBS) in Wausau as well. Late nights or good propagation meant ch2. ch.5 and ch.11 from Green Bay. Rarely, something more. Never managed to get an Independent station, alas, that way.

              And I am impressed by that bit of tropospheric ducting you experienced! I think we saw something from Virginia for a few minutes once, but it was that very rare. I do wonder how much TVDX happens or can be noticed with the switch to digital – which is very all-or-nothing. Then, considering what’s been on, I’ve not really missed TV. Gave up cable and didn’t bother with satellite in 2009 and… well, the cable is back, but only for a net connection. Free-air? Even on a bit of a hill, I’m in a hole as far as TV signals. Transmitters a few different directions, all distant enough to serve the area “equally poorly.”

              1. Not Tropospheric Ducting. What Mr. Cheek describes is ionospheric propagation, specifically transequatorial E. It’s a common enough phenomenon, especially in the summer, which allows 6m amateur communications (the amateur 6m band used to be television channel 1) between stations at roughly the same distance from the equator, along a more-or-less north-south line.

                It’s a much better path than you might get from some local stations, where even nearby transmitters have to rely on fresnel effects to get the signal to the receiving antenna.

                Trophospheric ducting is why you can (or could) see Tampa TV stations all over the Gulf Coast and why I can’t listen to ESPN radio some foggy mornings.

            2. That was pretty much what I grew up with. ABC was channel 11 and we didn’t get that until Dad got a tall telescoping pole and guy wires with an electric rotator, even then the picture was quite often snow filled.
              For TV we were in a hole for getting the “skip” receptions. For Radio I’d often get WOWO out of Ft. Wayne IN. back when they still played music. That was how I could listen to the “King Biscuit Flower Hour”.
              Dad made a multi-band radio from a Heath-kit and I sometimes listened to short wave but it seemed none of the music stations came in, just the foreign language news or propaganda and Numbers stations.

              1. For years, we had to have a 40′ mast to pick up anything. When we replaced it with one with a rotor, we thought we were uptown because we didn’t have to go outside and twist the antenna. FM radio was known, but we considered it night-time radio since that was the only time we could pick it up. Then I discovered I could connect a radio to the TV antenna, and enjoyed FM that way.

                We used to indulge in informal DXing when driving at night. AM was still the only radio we had in vehicles, and local stations went off the air at sundown. Then we’d tune to more powerful stations, and as it got later, picked up Spanish language broadcasts from maybe Mexico and the Caribbean.

  5. It’s not quite the same thing, but the bit about the centrist pretending to see no difference between good and evil made me think of the leftist definition of “compromise”. It’s nicely illustrated here: http://hsgca.net/2013/10/21/illustrated-guide-to-gun-control/

    As for looking for people who take patriarchism seriously, or ethnic supremacy, that’s easy enough, if you look in the right places. Not in the west. But you can find it in third world dictatorships. The Middle East in particular is a fertile hunting ground for both. Red China and Russia will also offer up illustrative examples.

    1. Whenever I hear people say there’s always a compromise position, my hackles go up. So I ask, “You want to stay alive, Your neighbor wants to kill you. Do you compromise and let him beat you half to death every few weeks?”

      The conversation usually ends at that point.

      1. Of course that ends the conversation — you are so obviously unreasonable there’s just no point talking at you.

  6. To go back to the absolute rock-bottom basics: Soviet Communism was not freely selected by the people of Russia or the later USSR. It was imposed from above. The US was not imposed on people – the Founders had to get a majority of the state legislatures (and the citizens) to agree to “buy in.” No one has to stay here (unlike the USSR and North Korea and PRC and DPRCongo and . . .) – you are free to leave and go elsewhere (please!)

    1. I wish this was still true. Unfortunately, if you are trying to give up your US citizenship, Uncle Sam now has a tax bill for you on the way out. Failure to give up your US citizenship means Uncle Sam asserts a right to your income no matter where in the world you run. Some of the joys of having our tax system be citizenship based instead of more residence based. 😦

      1. Given current trends it will no longer be necessary to relinquish one’s citizenship. The way it is being watered down there will be no citizenship to be given up.

        It would be an interesting legal case, claiming you have not relinquished your US citizenship but rather your US citizenship has relinquished you.

        Unfortunately, Posner is still a moron.

  7. Just seeing what happened in Portugal after several unelected governments of 25 April revolutionaries should be enough. Perhaps your centrist never ventured out of the US except perhaps a guided tour, or thinks Portugal is an island in the Caribbean, eh?

    1. Portugal is an island in the Caribbean, eh?

      Well, of course it has to be a patriarchally misogynistically named Amazon paradise. The very name says so, Port (of) u gal(s)! With time, the name has been compressed a bit is all.

    2. Your comment about people not knowing where Portugal is really struck home to me. The number of people I encounter online and in real life who don’t get geography or politics of places other than their own heads frightens me.

  8. Agitprop? How about Howard Zinn’s crapulous history of the US being a required textbook in colleges. Agitprop enough for ya, Mr. Bleeding-Brain Centrist?

    1. It’s pretty bad when the self-described Progressive (1900s style) Democrat professors I talked to at a conference “had some concerns” about Zinn’s content and approach.

    2. That’s just to balance all the right-wing propaganda they get in college, like . . . uh . . . you know . . . ummm . . .

      1. Like sometime back before the mid-1960’s? OK, I exaggerate, but not by that much. I think I heard maybe 25 points of disagreement with points of Progressive orthodoxy in the college classes I took – and the vast majority came from professors over age 70 or Eastern Bloc expats.

    3. The name didn’t ring a bell, A quick check turned up a title with “The People’s” in it, and I went no further. “The People’s” was a favorite phase of communists and socialists back in the day, and sticking that in a title pretty much telegraphs where it’s going.

      1. The classic comment is that the more of “People’s”, “Democratic” and “Republic” a nation’s name contains, the less it contains any of those elements.

        The Norks (excuse my ethnic slur, Mary Mary…) have a trifecta.

        1. “The Independent Free People’s Liberal Democratic Republic” is the best version of this I’ve been able to come up with, but I don’t know whether there was ever a tyranny so absolute as to justify this name.

          1. North Korea or maybe Albania are the closest. Even the guys in Africa stopped with the People’s Democratic Republic (of the Congo).

  9. A “centrist” is a person whose views and beliefs are formed based on what other people are doing, specifically the “left” and the “right”. A Centrist believes in nothing, supports nothing and does nothing, except stake out ground between those two “extremes”.

    Such a person is at best a moral vacuum, not to be accepted in polite company lest their suckage damage the furniture.

    1. I disagree. I’m a centrist. You see, my stances on most political issues agree with either the extreme libertarians or with the old-school Republicans, and so are on average midway between the two, and therefore in the center, and hence centrist. 😛

    1. One American politician once said “if you’re in the middle of the road, you’ll get run over”. 👿

    2. Skunks, squirrels, raccoons, the occasional deer. Real smorgasbord for the “Roadside Cafe”. ((you kill it, we grill it))

          1. Apropos of nothing currently relevant: bull or cow?

            Who, me? I believe by now it should be no secret that whatever else I might be, female I am not.

  10. That’s not a centrist. It’s a statist moron trying to APPEAR centrist in order to gain some credibility. Also someone who has never actually experienced that hell.

    “To go back to the absolute rock-bottom basics: Soviet Communism was not freely selected by the people of Russia or the later USSR. It was imposed from above.” – this is exactly correct. My parents were expected to vote in their “elections.” Of course, there was only one candidate, and if you didn’t participate in the “voting” process, you were denied housing, jobs, etc., because there was always some jackass who needed extra special favors in exchange for ratting you out.

    1. The thing is the “center” that “centrists” seem to aim for isn’t anywhere near the center. They keep arbitrarily moving the endpoints (generally in one direction) and redefining the center as being between these two arbitrary points.

      Take, for instance, the idea of economic freedom. In an objective sense, one end would be no constraints on ones economic freedom. At the other, you would have a completely command economy dictated by central authority with absolute economic power. The center would be some level of regulation of the economy while still retaining a great deal of flexibility. As it stands neither of the “to major parties” is anywhere close to the “freedom” end of that spectrum and the “freest” is probably closer to the “command” side than to the “complete freedom” side. So the “center” defined between them, is actually pretty restrictive.

      Or take, for instance, the term “neocon” which referred to people who were pretty far left but who were somewhat hawkish and talked a bit about faith. (Oversimplification, so stipulated, but generally the idea.) Then I started seeing people using it–for the same individuals and policies–as meaning some kind of uber/arch conservative. This kind of “leftish-right” (or maybe rightish-left) was now simply declared the “ultra right”. And so the center moved dramatically left.

      1. The center is ever assumed, never defined. I suspect that any expression of the ideas which animated this nation’s Founders would these days be deemed pretty far right.

        To navigate you must have a fixed position, a pole star, else you drift into the abyss.

        The problem with being centrist, of straddling the line, splitting the difference is that assures you of being wrong whichever side is right.

        1. The center is just an arbitrary, nebulous idea that allows them to claim credibility. “See? Look how reasonable I am!”

          It’s like people who spew some Marxist nonsense and when called on it, claim they’ve been lifelong Republicans.

            1. Yeah, I generally tend to not pay attention to what drooling ignorami with The IQ of a colander decide is “cultural Marxism.” Heh.

                1. for instance, you can use them to deal with centaurs who try to count the holes and since they can’t count that high, get wholly caught up in it while you sneak off.

        2. “To navigate you must have a fixed position, a pole star, else you drift into the abyss.”

          It is utterly impossible to find such a pole star relatively, which is why both conformity and non-conformity are silly rules.

    2. That’s not a centrist. It’s a statist moron trying to APPEAR centrist in order to gain some credibility. Also someone who has never actually experienced that hell.

      Yeah. I still have fond memories of my socialist professor in college being very upset that I, who had the ‘great fortune’ to have lived in East Berlin, didn’t paint pictures crusted with gold and diamonds about living there, and instead used the verbal version of candid photographs. My classmates couldn’t imagine what it was like to have bread that turned hard as rock, and that kind of bread being the only thing available; or erzatzkaffe. Or abandoning the older people into altheims and being resentful of taking care of your parents in their old age. (Multigenerational families are not uncommon in the Philippines; it’s considered a good thing that your parents are around to help look after and raise the grandkids while the parents are working. Cheaper than daycare, and the grandparents enjoy grandparenthood.)

  11. which allows every man jack with a college degree to feel hard done by capitalism.

    I believe Milton Friedmann demolishes that idea pretty thoroughly here (and other places):

    I’m not calling for silencing those repeating crazy Marxism. Let them talk. BY ALL MEANS, we WANT them to talk.

    [Yul Brynner voice]Let him speak, that men may know him mad.[/Yul Brynner voice]

    Virtue is always in the middle, right. If someone wants to bayonet babies and someone wants to keep them alive, virtue must be in the middle: let’s shoot babies in the head.

    “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!” Barry Goldwater, 1964 Presidential Nomination acceptance speech.

    1. Thank you. It was amusing to once again watch Donahue assert his worldview with the assumption that it is unquestionable, only to have Friedman question.

      A link to the full segment, as the conversation that leads up to it is fascinating:

      Donahue: ‘Can Sears buy K-Mart too…?

      Friedman: ‘… As a matter of fact, you say, ‘Can Sears buy Kmart,’ the way Kmart has been growing the question is going to be, ‘Can Kmart buy Sears?”

      Note: Kmart went into Chapter 11 in 2002. In 2004 Sears did buy K-Mart. Oh my, yes. Things are not going well for the company, in the last four years Sears Holdings Corporation has lost $7 billion. Last April is was announced that 68 more Kmart locations would be closed. How times have changed.

      1. There was a K-Mart in my town for a while. It finally closed. Nobody much cared.

        Its problems were:

        They put up a brand-new building. And then they never swept it. Ever. And they took out half the light bulbs, probably to “save energy.” And they would leave pallets full of stock blocking aisles for days, or maybe weeks.

        They insisted on stopping the line for five to ten minutes so “a manager” could eventually come over and authorize every.single.check. That was back in the 1990s when credit card purchases were still uncommon.

        Their inventory looked like it came from an out-of-business dollar store. At least half the entire store inventory was weird made-in-Cambodia gangbanger style clothes, usually in Small or Extra-Small. Any other inventory was random and often looked “distressed” or shopworn, like they’d bought it from some bankruptcy auction.

        They hung on for years, until one day the sign came down. It wasn’t “the internet” or “Amazon” or “Wal-Mart” that killed them; it was Soviet-level ineptitude at running a store.

        1. I have taken to filling out online user surveys for those places I shop, not expecting to win “$$$ Shopping Spree” (although I wouldn’t refuse one) but because I find it an interesting way of looking at what the retailers seek to know about their customers.

          Walmart is very big about clean stores, well-lighted with uncluttered aisles and friendly helpful employees, in about that order (maybe employees are first, I haven’t kept notes on the questionnaires) and then on availability of items and pricing.

          That seems to matter at Target as well, although I haven’t done as many of their surveys.

          There are also questions about promotions, value perceived in comparison to competitors and willingness to use pre-shopping type programs or other things, such as apps.

          There are a few things where answers are difficult, such as “Did sales staff make you feel important?” Frankly, I don’t want or need sales staff to do that, although it is likely that I am suffering from overly literal interpretation. Certainly they do not make me feel unimportant or like an interruption to their conversations, and during the period when Beloved Spouse was not accompanying me on the shopping trips due to chemo treatments, their repeated inquiries made BS feel important (when notes of inquiry were relayed) … me, I mostly felt a trifle awkward and slightly embarrassed. But we live in the South where people are expected to converse for no particular reason, something to which I have never gotten accustomed. i would rather read.

          1. The local Wal-Mart’s staff won’t make eye contact. Their eyes slide all around where I’m standing. Maybe it’s a generational thing, but DAMMIT LOOK AT ME WHEN I’M TALKING TO YOU.

      2. I miss the sensible voice of Milton Friedman on these issues. He had learned the trick of presenting economic ideas in a common sense way that everyone could understand. Because of his stature, he could call out idiocy and people would listen.

        “I think [Nader] is wrong. I don’t have any doubt about his sincerity but I think sincerity is a much over rated virtue. What troubles me about [Nader] is he wants to run my life for me instead of letting me run my life. … The problem with claims like that is that they don’t stand up to the facts.”

        1. It can be awfully difficult to avoid transgressions of Godwin’s Law if sincerity is to be considered the ultimate determinant of factual questions.

          I do not doubt the sincerity of Adolph Hitler’s belief that Jews were at the root of his nation’s problems.

          I do not doubt the sincerity of the views expressed by Southern-Americans in calling Negroes subhuman, nor the sincerity of their beliefs that commingling of the races would result in disaster.

          Nor do I doubt the sincerity of Winston Smith when he declares that the sum of 2 + 2 equals whatever the state requires it to be.

          Sincerity is a very weak measure of validity.

  12. ‘Centrists’ and ‘Moderates’, there are no deadlier people out there, because they are always so quick to sell you out and shoot you in the back, in the name of their ‘non-belief’.
    I think Vox’s definition is one of the best.

  13. I would never, ever get in a discussion with you. I am not worthy. Your replies are so good. I love your work and I love that you do not suffer fools. I suspect, in fact I know, more that one put that post on Facebook. I didn’t, but my daughter did. We look to you for clarity. And we figure your house looks a lot like ours.

  14. I have a few simple questions for Mr. Centrist.
    The Berlin Wall with its machine gun nests, who was manning them and which way were they aimed?
    The fence that divided the two Germanys, similar border fence dividing east from west, all with mine fields. Which side were the mine fields on?
    All that effort, infrastructure, and manpower, all to prevent crossings. Who were they trying to stop, and which direction were they headed?
    Ultimately, when you let them, people vote with their feet.

    1. Add to it:
      America allowed Soviet propagandists, such as Vladimir Posner regular access to our media, frequently appearing on such shows as Donahue. How many American spokespersons were granted such access to the Soviet people?

      Which reminds me of an anecdote told by Ronald Reagan:

      (Second joke)
      An American and a Russian are talking about their countries. The American starts to brag; “In my country, I can walk into the Oval Office, slam my fist on the president’s desk, and say “Mr. President, I don’t like the way you’re running this country!”

      The Russian appears unimpressed and says “We can do that in my country.” The American says “Really?” Mhm.” says the Russian. “I can walk right into the Kremlin, slam my fist on Gorbachev’s desk and say “I don’t like the way President Reagan is running his country.”

    2. There’s a lesson from Cold War Germany, and most on the Left ignore it.
      We had one nation, with one culture split right down the middle, and put under two forms of government. One under Capitalism, and one under Marxism.
      One of those countries produced Porsche, Mercedes Benz, and BMW. The other Trabbants.

      1. I think that’s a very valid.

        Alas, many (most?) leftists are likely to respond with an irrelevant environmentalist rant about how all those masses of West German cars were contributing global warming (while ignoring how bad emissions from the Trabants were), blame it on the USA for “forcing the East Germans to spend money opposing American imperialism,” or just plain ignore your point, as they often do with any evidence that disagrees with their worldview. If it is the last of those options, a retreat to a safe space and cries of “racist” or “sexist” may also be included.

          1. Likely – many leftists always have an excuse for why socialism is better.
            I was trying to figure out when they stopped making the Trabant (1991), and stumbled across the comments section of some website wherein I encountered a number of additional stupid leftist remarks, and some lamentations on the fall of the Soviet Union specifically and the outright socialist states generally. Among them was this “argument” (paraphrased):

            The East Germans couldn’t afford to produce better cars because they were too busy providing efficient, free health care and housing for all, unlike evil capitalist America where socialized medicine like Medicare is woefully inadequate and people have to provide for their own housing, and can’t afford to live on their own until their 30’s due to the crushing student debt acquired while earning a college education, which should clearly be free.

            I think everyone here could point out the many problems with this so-called argument, so I shall leave that as an exercise for any who feel the need. My head hurts too much from (metaphorically) pounding it on the desk after I read that.

          2. Re the moron managers who blew up Chernobyl – of course it’s the West’s fault: The USSR was forced to run that idiotically designed graphite moderated power plant, and the local managers were forced to perform unapproved idiotic “extra power” “tests” on a live in-service reactor, because the Russians were not able to burn restitution West Virgina coal from the penal mines in the North American Soviet Peoples Republics conquered territories.

            1. It wasn’t an idiotic design. Well the aluminum leaders on the control rods for a reactor with a positive void coefficient wasn’t the brightest idea, but the basic idea was quite clever. As long as nothing went wrong.

              1. OK, fair enough (I always listen to the Nuke), but when what “goes wrong” is the management and operators running the reactor, on purpose, and the design is vulnerable to the specific set of stupid that they tried, that’s a confluence of design and stupid that would have been nice if the design avoided.

                1. A primary principle of good design is to design for the intended user. If you know the end user is not prone to performing routine maintenance, for example, your design needs to be sufficiently robust to survive erratic (or even nonexistent) maintenance. If you know the likely user is indifferent to procedural safeguards the operation should be designed to require such safeguards in order to operate.

                  1. I think the kind of reactor you need under such assumptions is one with fuel rods made of iron.

                2. We in the West try to avoid designs that must be operated perfectly – SL-1 can never happend in the US again. We also try to avoid poking our reactors with a stick.

    3. To quibble – having not read the Centarist’s post – debating the existence and effectiveness of Soviet destabilization attempts and propaganda is a bit different than claiming that everything was hunky dory behind the Iron Curtain (and tomorrow marks the anniversary of that morning in 1961 when Berliners woke to find the border of East Berlin closed by troops and a wall going up. Soviet propaganda is hard to deny, and hindsight is always 20/20, and some of the young whipper snappers and the ill informed may not realize that it had successes.

      Destabilization efforts here in the US are a bit harder to finger because we have a large collection of willing idiots, and effective propaganda, like a con job, plays up to what the mark already believes or contains a smidgen of truth or both, For example, Britain practiced Economic Imperialism against the colonies that would become the US, and there are other examples, so yes, it’s a thing and it’s existence is the smidgen of truth. What’s disinformation is to omit that every instance of Economic Imperialism was applied by force because people don’t like being bilked, just as it’s disinformation to call all foreign trade Economic Imperialism. And if the people of a country already have fears of being culturally overwhelmed or colonized, then the Economic Imperialism claim is an easy swindle.

      I think I might have two sources here in the form of books written by defectors that tells of some destabilization work in the West, and may have a third in an account from someone who was at one of these meetings. Since it was a con job, there wasn’t anything really overt except a willingness on the part of those from the West to overlook things like the Purges and the starvation of the Ukraine and, yes, a certain wall in Berlin.

      As an example of harder to pin down meddling, in my Junior High years we had a geography book called The Ways of Man, and the section on the Soviet Union was pure propaganda. Fortunately, our disgusted teacher did a short course on the history of Communism. And that’s where I learned of a book called Tortured for Christ. But was that section written as propaganda, or was it written by a True Believer who swallowed the Worker’s Paradise line hook and sinker? And while the True Believer may have been influenced by Soviet meddling, they could have just as easily swallowed standard propaganda because they wanted to believe it.

      I guess I’m drawing a distinction here between out and out meddling and general propaganda. There was both, but the out and out meddling is a bit more difficult to nail down.

      1. ” To quibble – having not read the Centarist’s post – debating the existence and effectiveness of Soviet destabilization attempts and propaganda is a bit different than claiming that everything was hunky dory behind the Iron Curtain ”

        False to facts, here I’m afraid, since Potempkin Village success (general acceptance of hunkydoryness of USSR states) IS de facto proof of successful agitprop.

        You get a pass on Mrs Hoyt’s / Hun-ish disapprobation* because you’re innocently discussing question of interest, not a troll (paid? ideological TruBeliever?) passing himself as a voice of reasons

        * It is a testament to the complete break down of our educational system that my damn-fool spellcheck/AutoCorrect , doesn’t recognise most of my vocabulary.

        1. This topic has had me thinking about my shortwave listening years. Radio Moscow, like a good many Soviet propaganda efforts, seemed to practice a throw-it-against-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks approach. Some of the propaganda was laughable, but they were shoveling so much of it that it worked. And you could always tell when their party leader died because they played funeral music for about 24 hours before a formal announcement. Radio Havana always made me more uneasy than Radio Moscow because their propaganda was slicker.

          But that’s chasing rabbits. The issue is active propaganda vs the work of willing idiots. Thing about willing idiots is they don’t need handlers or funding; they’re quite happy to do it all on their own. And that makes it difficult to separate active destabilization efforts from amateur hour.

          1. They did indeed, Kevin. When I was stationed in Scotland, as a tech in Submarine Special Communications, on mid-watches we liked to monitor Radio Moscow (they played some really good classical music).
            One night, they had “breaking news”: According to them, Three Mile Island had just “erupted”, killing hundreds, maybe thousands. Pennsylvania was being evacuated…
            One of our Radiomen had family right near there, and this nearly gave him a heart attack.
            We had a full-time, dedicated duplex Teletype link with an office in DC, so I jumped on it and asked the people there WTF was going on – it was a great relief to find out what bullshit RM was putting out.

              1. I’ve read that the movie _The China Syndrome_ primed people to panic, despite Pres. Carter’s rather rational response to the thing. Everyone (that being the popular press, popular memory, and anti-nuke activists) ignored the fact that the safety systems worked and nothing got out. It was not Chernobyl. *snort* Heck, the coal-fired power plant north of Omaha gave out more radiation than the Ft. Calhoun nuke plant (also north of Omaha) did.

                1. Dixie Lee Ray, former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, wrote a book called ‘Trashing the Planet” about some of the myths and propaganda surrounding nuclear power. She had all her ducks in a row, but the media already had their Narrative…

                2. Yeah Pres. Carter got that one right. Most likely because he was a nuclear engineer on subs in his stint in the navy. He knew what the issues were.

                    1. It is a sad fact about American Culture, especially when the MSM are involved, that myths of Democrat competence are never effectively rebuked.

                      Nor are truths about their corruption ever effectively accepted. There are still people thinking Alger Hiss was framed, or forced to take his actions because of evil Right-Wing Conservative Republican Extremists, for [REASONS].

                      I swear, they make Christopher Lee’s Dracula seem a quitter.

                3. I maintain that Three Mile Island was sabotaged by the studio to boost the film. It’s at least as accurate as the idea that nuclear power is especially dangerous.

  15. I’ve read — no joke — a couple of writers on World War II who argued that the Allies were as much at fault as the Third Reich for causing the war. From that they “reasoned” that it was unjust of the Allies to occupy Germany and force her to disarm. It took quite a long while after reading that before my mind came un-boggled.

    As Orwell has said, there are some propositions so insane that it takes an intellectual to believe them. But as someone else has said — I forget who; I know only that it wasn’t your humble commenter — there is no proposition so insane that there’s no one anywhere who’ll believe it…perhaps even make it into a central tenet of his existence.

    1. There actually is some merit to that argument, in the form of “the Versailles Treaty was excessively harsh and guaranteed the rise of someone like Hitler.”

      The rest was all in the laps of Hitler and his cronies.

      1. “the Versailles Treaty was excessively harsh and guaranteed the rise of someone like Hitler.”

        There are conflicting views on that. Alistair Horne and A. J. P. Taylor argue that the Treaty and the prescribed reparations were a sincere attempt to gauge the value of the lives the French and English had lost to the war. Barbara Tuchman believes otherwise. But it’s one of those questions on which opinions will never converge…especially if some of those opinions are coming from persons of German descent.

        (I should mention that WWI is “my” war; I spent nearly twenty years studying it. Hey, everybody needs a hobby!)

        1. Given that we’re STILL feeling echoes of everything which the Versailles Treaty got wrong, I’m not willing to cut the Allies much slack on this.

          1. Well, if I were in an argumentative mood, I’d challenge you to enumerate “the things the Versailles Treaty got wrong,” then ask you to explain why they were wrong and according to what standard. But as I’m not in that sort of mood, I’ll content myself with noting that Germany invaded Belgium and France, shelled both military installations and civilian towns, and destroyed a Belgian city — Louvain — on the flimsiest pretext imaginable. Frankly, after all that, the Germans were lucky the Treaty didn’t completely dismember their country…in my humble opinion, of course.

            1. I was specifically speaking of the partition of the Ottoman territories between the French and British sphere’s of influence. While not specifically part of the Treaty negotiations how about the snubbing Ho Chi Mihn received from the French and American delegations which caused him to scurry off to Moscow? Last, and certainly not least, how about that the German concessions in China were turned over to the Japanese rather than being returned to China?

              The damned Versailles Treaty set up nearly a century of followup bloodletting.

              1. The partitioning of the Ottoman Empire between the French and British wouldn’t have been so bad if the French and British had bothered to take the political realities on the ground into account.

                On the other hand, if the breakup of the Ottoman Empire had resulted in a Greater Iran and a Sunnistan, we would probably have seen the same level of violence in the region but during the height of the Cold War, which would almost inevitably have drawn in both the US and USSR.

            2. IMO there plenty of “blame” for the start of WWI to go around and plenty falls on the “Allied Side”.

              On the other hand, there’s a good argument that Germany should have stayed on the defense in the West (allowing France to bleed itself on German defenses) while going after Russia with its main forces.

          2. I think it fair to say confused policy of the US towards Russia post-armistice contributed to the messy situation that helped bring about the rise of Nazism as an anti-Bolshevik force. The policy can be summarized as trying to (mostly*) support the territorial integrity of Russia while also (weakly) opposing Bolshevism. It wasn’t alone responsible, though. Combine it with the attitudes and objectives of most of the White Russian leaders, which was for restoration of Imperial Russia. Add in depradations suffered at the hands of foreign and domestic internationalist Communists by the people of the “disarmed” nations of Germany, Austria, and Hungary. All of this together led to a fear of internationalist Communists and their Russian Bolshevik would-be allies.

            * e.g. Poland was considered to have a right to territory as far east as the Curzon line, and IIRC there may have been some support for an independent Ukraine.

        2. There’s also Churchill’s opinion – he called it a “twenty year truce”, and he wasn’t without merit in such matters.

          The point being that yes, one can argue that the Versailles Treaty contributed, but it takes a special kind of madness to claim it was the entire cause of the second world war.

          1. Regardless of whether the Treaty actually was overly harsh, can any one imagine a treaty acceptable to the Allies which the Germans would not have complained was too harsh?

            I somewhat suspect that payment of reparations to the Germans would have been, eventually, deemed inadequate.

            When people are determined to argue, any cause will suffice.

            1. Germany went to war with the conscious decision to go into debt and then pay it off by forcing the countries they attacked to pay reparations.

              1. I had a conversation about this very subject with my daughter . I explained about the danger of over- punishing someone for a crime they had committed against you. It is human nature that if the punishment far exceeds , or significantly exceeds, what could reasonably be perceived to have been to be deserved; it fosters a sense of ill-usage. A justified sense of ill-usage.

                Hatfields vs. McCoy ensue.

                This is why wise judgement, and self restraint are so critical to civilised society, and yes, peace.

                Two guesses which characteristics are most deplored by your average progressive.

                That is right: progressives are actually warmongers.

                They care more about looking like the thing , then having the thing they claim to want actually happeN.

              2. For a view into what people a lot closer to the Versailles Treaty than we are took as their lessons from how that worked, look at how the victorious WWII Allies “did it right” when they beat Germany – instead of mandating the Nazis go into exile and imposing heavy reparations on the German government from the outside, they militarily occupied German soil for an indeterminate amount of time, and scrubbed German society root and branch.

                If the WWI Allies had done that, it would have been the Brits and French occupation troops fighting the communists and Nazis in the streets in the 1920s, but they also would have had no problem standing Herr Hitler up in front of a firing squad instead of slapping his wrists with a short stay in a prison spa, with stenographer included so he could dictate his magnum opus.

                Would there still have been a WWII? Probably, though it would have likely been Stalin rolling in to Europe and the Allies desperately rearming Germany to help fight the Russians. Mussolini was very fence-sitting until pretty late, so he probably would have ended up on the Allied side. And the Spanish Civil War could very well have turned out the other way without German support, so Stalin could have had an ally on the French border. And who knows what the French would have turned out like – they might have played the Italy part, dropping out of the alliance when they got tired of more war, or they might have taken on the German part in the drama – or maybe gone full dictatorial after DeGaul staged a coup.

                And if the Red Army had made a side jaunt to grab Iran, and then used that oil as a carrot to get an alliance with Japan, the Japanese may have never attacked the US, concentrating instead on using the troops freed up from the Manchurian frontier to subjugate China. WIth no Pearl Harbor and Roosevelts Soviet-controlled aides all telling him to stay neutral, would the US have entered the war at all?

                1. I don’t think Japan had subjugating China at the top of their priority list. First and foremost they were after the resources necessary to be an independent industrial country. That means iron, coal, and oil. Manchuria provided the first two and Japan was driving to the oil fields in Java. With the US territory of the Philippine Islands between those oil fields and the home islands, I don’t see Japan deciding against attacking the US.

                  1. Yeah, though as I understand it the Japanese Army was more interested in pursuing goals on the mainland, but finally agreed the the IJN plan as a way to get them the oil they needed. It’s pretty unlikely taht they would have left their flank open like that by bypassing the PI, but they would have been smart to try.

                    If the IJN had just waved at the USN Asiatic Fleet as they passed by the PI on the way to invade the Dutch East Indies, and the US decided to sortie and attack, that would have changed the story back home in the US quite a bit – I’m just not sure the overwhelming public response after Pearl Harbor would have happened after an unprovoked attack by the decrepit Asiatic Fleet ships on the IJN was regrettably met with sinking all of them in self defence.

                    The USAAC PI-based B-17s could have caused some problems against land targets, mostly in Formosa, but no fighters in theater could have escorted them that far, so they would have been attrited pretty quickly. And once things kicked off the Japanese air raids would have had no problem knocking them out just like they did in real life.

                    WIth only limited local air, no sea transport, and no reinforcements I really doubt that the US Army and Phillipine forces in the PI would have mattered much, and with an IJN distant-blockade on the PI, the Japanese could have let MacArthur just sit there being irrelevant. And if the USN tried to follw the prewar plans and pushe dthrough to relieve the PI, the Japanse woudl have got their long sought “Decisive Battle,” and the USN would have just ended up getting all their BBs sunk in deep water instead of in Pearl Harbor, and maybe lose the CVs too.

                    And with no huge US home support, and no Pacific fleet left, maybe the US would open negotiations.

                    All really unlikely, but I really can’t think of another way the Japanese could possibly not lose.

              3. That was standard procedure; that’s why Germany invaded France in 1870. Most of Europe operated on the same system.

                Back then, wars were generally fought in expectation of profit, not for ideology.

          2. Military Historian John Keegan was of the opinion that the Treaty of Versailles made a second great war inevitable, and so much of what he’s written passes the “head-slap” test (*head slap* “Of COURSE!”) that I’m greatly inclined to accept his arguments.

              1. I have nothing to offer regarding the land war – I learned enough in history class to know it was too depressing to read about in depth. For events leading up to the outbreak, Dreadnought by Robert Massie covers the tensions arising from the English-German naval race, up through the literal minute England entered the war. Barbara Tuchman’s Guns of August covers the outbreak and first month. There’s perhaps a bit of bias to it, but Winston Churchill’s The World Crisis covers things in great detail, from the events a few years before the outbreak to the aftermath; there is an abridged one-volume version I read and enjoyed.

                Massie’s Castles of Steel covers much of the Anglo-German portion of the naval war, though provides little detail on the fascinating tale of the cruiser SMS Emden, about which others have written books. Richard Hough’s The Great War at Sea and Louis and Victoria: the First Mountbattens also cover aspects of the naval war. Admiral Miklos Horthy’s autobiography covers the latter stages of the naval war in the Adriatic, which he commanded on the Austro-Hungarian side; the exploits of Baron Georg von Trapp’s (of “The Sound of Music” fame) are briefly mentioned therein.

                There’s quite a good bit on the air war, but I can’t remember titles off the top of my head, other than a couple books on airships. Those are Douglas H. Robinson’s The Zeppelin in Combat: A History of the German Naval Airship Division and Ces Mowthorpe’s Battlebags: British Airships of the First World War : An Illustrated History.

              2. If you want the eastern front, I highly recommend Neiberg and Jordan’s _The Eastern Front: 1914-1920_ either electronic or print. It is clear, has good illustrations, and is written for people interested in general knowledge without getting bogged down in the politics and administration more than is necessary. It is part of a series that looks at the different sub-sections of the war. I know the overall editor and I’d recommend any of the books in the set. Norman Stone’s _The Eastern Front_ is good BUT the Kindle edition has some major problems with the maps and formatting. It is also more of a strict military history for people who are interested in following the various campaigns and units, and may not be that helpful for a generalist. Prit Buttar’s _Collision of Empires_ is great for the outset of the war but ends in late 1914. I don’t recommend Goeffry Wawro’s book unless you are very interested in the machinations and background of the Austrian military and political side leading up to WWI. _Battles East_ by G. Irving Root is a mixed bag with a lot of neat bits but weak on the Big Picture in some places.

                I tend to avoid the Western Front – too depressing.

                1. I tend to avoid the Western Front – too depressing.

                  Quite some time ago, before we last moved, having seen the movie, I acquired and read with great interest a book on Gallipoli. Interest, but not joy. Snafu would have been an improvement.

                  (The book? I am not sure which, the title was simply Gallipoli — probably Alan Moorehead’s.)

                    1. One day I will watch Black Hawk Down again. If it is all like the first time, afterwards I shall be suffering pain in every joint from the tension.

                  1. I think his history of the Holocaust was the last one I read, and that would have been in the early 1990s. For some reason his work doesn’t pop up on my radar, so to speak.

              3. For those into the gun geekery (Here? Inconceivable!) C&Rsenal on YouTube has neat videos of the firearms used in WWI. You get a bit of the history involved with the lead in to each, and some other tid-bits about the times. And I’ll add a short vid of the T-Gewehr being fired next.

          3. My recollection is that Churchill’s opinion, as expressed in his history of the Second World War is that either the treaty’s terms should have been less harsh or they should have been enforced. Is that your understanding?

          4. As Chesterton pointed out, no one talked of the Peace. They talked of the Armistice. Everyone knew it was only a temporary truce.

        3. Since you’ve studied it, here’s a question: The economy of Germany leading up to the Third Reich has been done to death, but what of the carving up of Germany, leaving Germans as residence of another country and in one instance still part of Germany but separated by Poland? Reunification can be a powerful motivator, particularly for those who remembered the old days.

          1. Wait, wasn’t the reason that their awesome ship in WWII was named Bismark because that was the general who did the unifying?

            1. The battleship Bismarck was named for Otto von Bismarck, who did have much to do with formation of the German Empire in the mid-late 19th Century in the wake of the Austro-Prussian and Franco-Prussian Wars. He spent decades first as Minister-President of Prussia to King Wilhelm I and then as Chancellor of the German Empire under all three of its Kaisers, though he was effectively dismissed by Wilhelm II in 1890.

              1. Alright, doesn’t that kinda screw up the “but of course they’d demand reunification” thing, when the prior unification was so relatively recent?

                1. Somewhat, but not entirely. What was the different was that except for Alsace and Lorraine, the vast majority of those culturally German people had been living under Germanic rulers for centuries, be it an aristocrat, a king, or an emperor. After the Treaty of Versailles, there were Germans living in countries ruled by non-German leaders (democratic or autocratic). What also changed in some cases was that some of those Germans (or their ancestors) had been granted special privileges as a result of agreeing to resettle areas of the Holy Roman Empire devastated by Islamic depradations or such. Even when those privileges were no longer in effect, there was often resentment of local Germans who were in better socioeconomic circumstances as a result of those past privileges. So whatever remaining privileges there were disappeared, and here and there a few local non-Germans were not afraid to act on long-held resentment. A bit of violence here, a bit of confiscation there, but nothing on the scale of say the Holocaust, or the Stalin-imposed post-WW2 ethnic cleansings.

                  1. That does sound like it would be nasty, but it’s hardly “so of course they’d cause WWII over it, and it’s not their fault” level– especially when WWI was at least partly “let’s make all of these German ruled places be under ONE German!”

                    1. Germans, French, Belgians, Dutch… pretty much all the same people, and with very similar languages, all branching off the same Frankish tree.

                      Not the same cultures.

                      The “unification” of Germany smooshed together very different cultures, brands of Christianity, and historical interpretations. The Kulturkampf (culture war) was waged by Bismarck in an attempt to kill off all the minority cultural and religious markers. For example, German Catholics were persecuted within an inch of their lives, which is why we had so much German Catholic immigration in the late 19th century. The same thing was true of various Anabaptist groups, and anything else except majority Lutherans. And frankly, any Lutherans who didn’t love the whole kaiser idea also got persecuted.

                    2. What Banshee said. “Deutschland Deutschland über Alles” is not about taking over the world. It is about no longer being Bavarian, Saxon, or a Rhinelander and instead being a good (Prussian) German and putting Deutschland over your own Land. (There’s a scene in Triumph of the Will that specifically pushes the same idea [the bit with the forestry corps]). Culturally, for example, Bavaria and the Austrians have a lot more in common than does Bavaria and Hamburg or Berlin or The Ruhr.

                    3. For the Germans who were arguing that all German peoples should come under one German government it meant that anywhere a substantial number of Germans had settled should become part of Germany. Then you go on to consider that the largest single population group in the US was and is German, and this takes on a different spin.

                    4. Oft paraphrased:

                      Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

                      George Santana, The Life of Reason (1905-1906), Vol. 1, Reason in Common Sense

                      Conjecture: If we give in to the people who wish to deny us our history in order to manipulate us it will render us perpetual children — and I do not doubt that they will be quite happy to offer their services as the caretakers. Sadly, they themselves have not learned the full lesson of history and eventually everything they have acquired will become dust.

                    5. You may not be interested in History, but History is interested in you.

                      Just make sure you stay on History’s Right Side.

                    6. What worries me is what will happen if Trump loses the election, especially if there’s a belief (true or not) that Hillary won due to voter fraud.

                      The people who support Trump might turn to somebody as bad as the News Media thinks Trump is (or worse).

                      Of course, if Trump wins and he doesn’t “follow thru”, then it would be the same as if he loses. 😦

                    7. Everything I’ve read thus far (English and German language, using Russian archival materials) says that the Imperial Russian govt encouraged “Pan-Slavism” less out of a noble desire to defend the rights of Slavs than as an excuse to reach for more land and people. Putin seems to be doing something similar, while carefully not mentioning WHY there are Great Russians in places that were Finnish, Turkic, German, Estonian, Ruthenian, or Polish until 1925-1952.

                    8. …while carefully not mentioning WHY there are Great Russians in places that were Finnish, Turkic, German, Estonian, Ruthenian, or Polish until 1925-1952.

                      If confronted I am suspect the answer would be, “Well they are there now. How they came to be there — At this point in time what difference does it make?.”

                    9. If confronted I am suspect the answer would be, “Well they are there now. How they came to be there — At this point in time what difference does it make?.”

                      Can we apply that same approach the next time Palestinians or their proxies complain about Israel, Israeli-occupied territory, and Israeli settlements?

        4. I’ve spent much more time reading about WWII, but I subscribe to Manchester’s view that it was all one 1914-1945 conflict with a lengthy intermission.

          Either way, we started with the Age of Empires and ended up with the Age of Ideologies.

      2. Nod, breaking the treaty in terms of rearming and/or discontinuing “reparations” would be somewhat reasonable.

        Even retaking the territory lost to France could be defended.

        Things like taking Chechslovakian territory was Germany’s “fault” (although we could give partial blame to the British government that allowed it).

          1. For that to really work I think you’d have to add David Lloyd George and Georges Clemenceau to that hit list.

            1. Without Soviet Union’s combination of fishing in troubled waters and letting the Germans know what would happen to them under Soviet rule (they knew how the Ukrainians where treated in the Holodomor the way we know what the cartels are up to north and south of the border), Hitler doesn’t get into power, and WWII doesn’t happen.

              Woodrow Wilson brought us into WWI on the side of the British. If we had instead came in on the side of the Germans, the USSR might not have formed. Maybe we could have partitioned Russia with Germany or something.

              1. Remember two things: the Lusitania and Germany’s appeal to Mexico to wage war on the US, with the promise of help in regaining their lost territory. Both practically guaranteed we weren’t going to be allied with the Huns.

                1. Presumably the thought is that without Wilson agitating on the side of Great Britian, Germany would never have sent the Zimmerman Telegram. Speculation to be taken with a grain of salt I think, especially since I’ve never researched the other presumptive Presidents stand on the war prior to 1917.

                  1. Well, I might just be nuts. It is also always possible that I’m simply contrarian.

                    I think that detail is a stretch founded on sheer speculation myself.

                    That said, Wilson put a lot of effort into the suppression of German Americans. How much of that was racial meanness and how much politically useful I could not say.

                  2. The Republicans in general were supporters of the Preparedness Movement and their presidential candidate in 1916, Chief Justice Charles Hughes, was the Republican candidate, downplayed the World War issue though advocating preparedness; he did criticize Wilson’s military intervention in Mexico, however.

                    The Progressives and Socialists were largely non-factors. That might not have been the case if Theodore Roosevelt had again accepted the Progressive nomination, but he refused (as did the other progressive or liberal Republicans who were considered) as he realized all that had done in 1912 was throw the election to the Democrats. The Progressives reluctantly backed Hughes, though a faction supported Wilson while running their own VP candidate.

                2. Oddly, I just re-read “The Zimmerman Telegram” a few weeks ago…

                  This time around, the striking thing was how badly the Germans misread America and its culture. And Mexico, for that matter. They could only see nations and their motivations through European blinders.

                  Likewise, Adolf expected Britain would side with Germany as some kind of lesser imperial partner, and felt betrayed when Britain declared war. And went through the Betrayal Dance again when America declared war.

                  Of course, both a lot of British royalty and Parliament were *very* vocally pro-German up to that point. America… the failure of the various Reich intelligence services is hard to figure. America was modestly pro-German (judging by my stack of 1920s-1930s “Popular Mechanics” and “Popular Science”), but I never figured out where AH got the idea America would side with Germany against Britain.

                  1. Well, another problem with “The Zimmerman Telegram” is that Mexico was having big problems of their own at the time.

                    Mexico (and the US knew it) wasn’t in any shape to start a war with the US.

                    Germany showed a complete lack of knowledge about what was happening in Mexico. 😦

                    1. Also, Germany could not ship weapons through the blockade. Money? The only large scale armaments industry in the Americas was in the US.

                      Since the Germans prevented Belgium from getting artillery they ordered from German companies, there was really no excuse for that.

                  2. Any conversations they had with America’s ambassador to the Court of Saint James would have encouraged their delusion that America would support the Nazi cause.

                    There was considerable empathy between the Americans and the German people, but rather less between us and the German People and almost none for the Aryan People.

                  3. TRX, I think it may have to do with the vocal support of a lot of first and second generation Americans of Irish descent for Irish independence and their hatred of Britain. That plus the number of Americans of German descent, and some noise about the British Empire not being a good thing, may have nudged AH into the wrong logic chain.

                    1. We should keep in mind that, at that point, the United States had fought only two wars against European power — in 1776 and in 1812.

                      Neither the Mexican-American War nor the Spanish-American war can be fully deemed as against a European power.

                  4. We had a lot of scientists and mechanics, and they tended to learn in Germany, didn’t they?

                    So ofCOURSE we’d be pulled along in the wake of the awesome scientific goodness that was Germany. We already believed a bunch of their Scientific stuff.

                    He just didn’t realize that we also actually believed our religion… even now, after about a century of wearing down, the idea of killing people for their own good is not something you can win on in a fair fight.

      3. I actually don’t disagree with that to a degree. When you kick a people in the nuts so many times, the national psyche becomes ripe to embrace someone like Hitler.

            1. Some Muslims will have “earned it” by their actions. They probably won’t be the ones who get killed. Same thing with those who “earned it” by their inaction or passive approval. Nope, the people who get massacred are usually the schlubs who are trying to fit in and get along.

              Little-known fact: After the Great Kanto Earthquake in the 1920’s, some Japanese mobs formed in cities. They killed foreigners, Korean workers, and any dissident Japanese they happened to run into, on the grounds that behavior displeasing to the gods must have caused the earthquake.

              1. I think it was Catholic: Under the Hood history podcast that mentioned part of the Roman persecution of Christians was likewise because we were pissing off their gods.

                Which, if their gods were, indeed, spirits/kami/demons/non-human powers… might be true.

                1. Roman religion was sort of contract based, in that the official understanding was that all citizens of Rome sacrificed to the gods (even a token bit of incense) and the gods protected Rome. So to NOT make even a token gesture was to actively threaten the integrity of that contract and endangered the Empire. You could worship your personal deity as well(Isis, Mithras, Magna Mater, Teutates Herakles), but as a Citizen of Rome you had to do your part for the Roman gods.

                    1. Yeah – even after Rome offered to add YHVH to their pantheon, right behind Jupiter! Stupid intolerant stiff-necked monotheists, they’ll never learn to get along with anybody

                    2. IIRC Jews were an exception to the “you must make a token sacrifice to the gods of Rome” mainly because the Romans viewed the Jewish Faith as an “old religion” unlike those “newbie Christians”.

                      IIRC the problem between Romans and Jews was more because Jews were “too stubborn” to accept Roman Rule.

                      Of course, the fact that Jews “set themselves apart” from non-Jews has caused problems when the non-Jews believe Jews should be like them instead of being different.

                    3. Jews were exempt. Though when they definitely threw the Jewish Christians out, that meant they didn’t get the exemption.

    2. One of the contributing factors to the rise of the NAZI party was its opposition to the rise of the German political party allied with the international communists.

  16. I believe in Centrism, for certain subjects. Over/under on the toilet paper roll? Either works for me, with the caveat that under is better when you have cats.

    But saying that the US is just as bad as murderous regimes that practice genocide and/or democide as a matter of public policy? Eff that. EFF THAT.

    Oh hell, FUCK THAT. Centrism is simply not possible when you are comparing apples to “Nazi Oranges”, to paraphrase _Archer_.

    Retarded “opinions” such as you describe can only come from people who have never actually had to live under the regimes they defend. Every Lefty, and for this subject, self-described “Centrists” ARE Lefties, always imagine themselves to be the Proletarian “cream of the crop” that will inexorably be allowed to rise to the top in any new social order. They can’t possibly imagine that the VAST MAJORITY of them will also be shoved down into the same muck as the rest of us.

  17. *headache* While blogs are lovely for being able to easily give citations/links for specific claims, demanding them for general claims is kinda silly.

    I’m going to take a wild guess that he didn’t offer any evidence going the other way– say, disputing the general statements with specific examples?

    You wrote with the assumption that the people reading have a basic familiarity with the situation and assumptions; sometimes a lot more than basic, for folks like Shadowdancer who lived in Bad Germany for a while, and the, what, four other folks that post here simi-regular who are refugees from Soviet areas?

  18. “Of course I had provided no examples or citations. THIS IS A BLOG NOT A FUCKING ACADEMIC JOURNAL.”

    Oftentimes, even when you provide exhaustive citations, your interlocutor will simply accuse you of quote mining if your citations disagree with their poorly conceived/informed opinions. I once provided numerous Engels quotes on nationalism that could have easily been mistaken for Hitler’s strategic plan, only to receive that unthinking/uninformed response. Of course the most common substitution here is to whine about context and then mic drop.

    And then when you decide to follow up on the citation carpet bombing in some nonsensical submission in a social science or psychology journal, you’ll find they link to equally questionable papers peppered with citations. When you finally find any actual “research”, it’s spurious conclusions based on dubious research and unreliable data.

    So until academic journals can clear out their deep rot, I say don’t sweat it. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway.

    1. Exactly. Arguing online is a no-win situation, which is why I simply state my position and ignore the nitpickers and squallers.

      I don’t *care* if they go off and declare “victory.” I’ve been online for thirty years, and I did my time in alt.flame on usenet; my give-a-fuck-o-meter doesn’t even register the efforts of baby trolls.

    2. Of course the most common substitution here is to whine about context and then mic drop.

      Drives me nuts– yeah, context DOES matter. A lot.

      But if that was really the problem, bring in the context! Is it what the stuff meant THEN that’s different than a subtext now? Different definitions? Is it a quote, an allusion? Does the full statement change the conclusion?

      1. Don’t ever make the mistake of imagining they debate in good faith. Some of them will, but more often they’re engaged in virtue signalling. They are looking to count coup and then boast to “friends” that “I sure put her in her place.”

        Consider the vast quantity of click bait which invites you to “see [BLANK] ABSOLUTELY CRUSH a [BLANK].”

  19. Did you have people tell you face to face that the USSR was only as evil as the US and that there was nothing to choose between them — despite the fact that the USSR was stuck at about the 1930s and had long lines for every normal staple, while the US had long lines for… black Friday.

    Oh we have had long lines for all sorts of things. A couple of times it was for toy releases: Cabbage Patch Dolls and Tickle Me Elmo (I bet someone regretted that name later ….). For a while it was common for people to wait in lines for concert tickets for the hot tour, but that is dying out. Now it is for the opening of the latest anticipated block buster spectacular sequel opening at the cineplex near you. And there are lines to get into hot panels at conventions, such as Comic Con.

    Then there are lines at the entrance to the corridors leading to boarding gates at airports… but that is another story.

    With the exception of the last, these lines are all symptoms of a ridiculous amount of discretionary spending ability that we have, even when our economy is not at its best.

      1. On the gas lines? I would recommend the full segment of the Donahue/Friedman conversation from 1979 referenced above.

  20. This is why, when I find myself feeling that both sides of a question are idiots, I don’t call myself a centrist. I call myself a Crank.

    Example: I think abortion should be legal, and no tax money should pay for it, ever.,I also firmly believe that it will,eventually be outlaws and that the likely cause of that will have been the intractible arrogance of the Pro-Choice partisans.

    This isn’t “centrist”, it’s the views of a Crank.

    1. I believe abortion should be illegal and LIGHTLY persecuted. Why? I grew up with it like that. It’s the only way to guarantee it’s not a growth industry and also safe and rare. (Because if the doctor gets caught he loses license.) BUT persecutions are so rare you really have to fuck up for them to go after you.

      1. But it will punish people like Kermit Gosnell. I think people remember the strong link between sex and pregnancy. Birth Control doesn’t work as well as it is claimed to.

        1. I’d say that birth control works about as well as is claimed, in perfect conditions. The other problem is that people in general don’t understand odds. “It works 98% of the time so we can have sex 90 times and not get pregnant” is not as uncommon a thought as we would hope.

          1. I remember public school sex ed. I remember thinking about the number of trials for zero events, except I didn’t have the statistical language to put it in those terms.

          2. It’s funny– they’ve done all sorts of studies on steroid use that proves that the boys hear “it makes you huge” and ignore the side-effects, but those same boys at the same age are supposed to be able and willing to pay attention to the “it makes it LESS LIKELY that you’ll get her pregnant” part.

            1. About the only thing dumber than a teenaged boy thinking about sex is your average Democrat.

              1. *shrug* Teens wanting to be admired– guys are more obvious because it’s sex. Gals are….whatever way you want to phrase “being admired.”

                There’s a REASON they believe teen boys saying “I’ll love you forever,” after all.

      2. The problem with something being illegal and lightly prosecuted is some idiot comes along and doesn’t understand the reasoning, and suddenly you have a Crusade on your hands.

        I think legal and no tax funding (which would also mean no tax funds for organizations that pay for it) is the best probable solution.

        I also think we are going to lose it in my lifetime. That the Pro-Choice partisans could not absorb that the Gosnell case was a disaster, and they needed to pull in thier horns is a big symptom. They can’t or won’t understand the other side, they won’t do what is politically smart if it offends their sense of moral superiority, they are going to f*ck it up.

        Then somebody will come up with the unterine replicator and render the whole thing moot.

        1. If it were illegal the providers of the service could not would have a much harder time trafficking in fetal remains. You wouldn’t want to destroy that burgeoning market, would you? Good lord, next thing you’ll be talking about barring traffic in sexual workers! Where will such madness stop?

      3. I’m not sure that’s a tenable position once you examine it closely. If a fetus is a human being with human rights, then abortion is murder — in which case, why should it carry a lighter penalty to kill a baby than to kill an adult? If a fetus ISN’T a human being with human rights, then abortion isn’t murder — in which case, why should it be illegal?

        1. Because it’s impossible to police precisely — given the … ah… size and condition.
          Also, you know,t here’s something to be said for not having laws against murder… 😉

  21. To expand a little on The Other Sean, Foxfier, Banshee et al’s discussion of causes of WWII (since the thread has gotten sooooo long), after WWI, one of the major lingering resentment points was the problem of pockets of minorities. You had populations of “Saxons” who had settled in Russia, Transylvania, Moravia, Hungary, Croatia, and Serbia as far back as the 1300s who had been invited in to develop the area, mine, and resettle areas depopulated by the Mongols, Turks, and plague. When the various post WWI treaties came out, despite Woodrow Wilson’s “self determination” bit, no attention was paid to the desires and rights of long-settled ethnic minorities. (As a note, Russia had begun cleaning out Galicia as early as October 1914, hauling off Poles, “Germans”, Ruthenes, and members of the Uniate Church as forced labor inside Russia, as well as stripping crops, livestock, machinery and other stuff.) Transylvania, for example, was 30/30/30 Hungarian, Saxon, and Romanian. The fighting over who was where and trying to get/keep the Russians out of Eastern Europe lasted until 1922. Hungary almost ended up being no more than the strip from the Danube River west to the Austrian border if the Romanians had not seriously overstepped matters in 1919.

    Add in Communist uprisings in Germany and Hungary that threatened to rip both apart, Social Democratic government in Austria that doubled the size of the government to put everyone in the payroll while no longer having a tax base (so they printed more money, even before they got caught up in the German hyperinflation of the 1920s [as did Hungary]), and you’ve got a seething cauldron of resentment aimed at France and Britain and Communists.

    1. “Transylvania, for example, was 30/30/30 Hungarian, Saxon, and Romanian.”

      The remaining 10% were vampires. 🙂

      More seriously, though, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head when you bring up Wilson and the “self-determination” bit. Among his myriad faults, I think he totally lacked any real understanding of just how intermixed various groups were throughout the empires that disintegrated in WWI. That severely complicated things after the war. Just about every European nation created out of the aftermath of WWI faced an internal or external communist military threat (uprising, invasion, etc.), and still had one or more minority groups belonging to a neighboring nation. The aftermath of WWI almost immediately bred more war, leaving aside the question of WWII.

      And the communist issue aside, most of that applied to the Turks as well. They were nearly as bad as the Russian Empire or the Soviet Union with wartime and postwar ethnic cleansing. Greek attempts to conquer Turkey in the early 1920’s certainly didn’t improve Turkish treatment of the remaining Greek populations living in the new Turkish Republic, either.

      Even after things began to settle down in the mid 1920’s, many of the remaining potential points of conflict remained unresolved. In many cases, the end of hostilities came because the populations grew weary of the fighting, or due to resource shortages. In the case of the Ukraine it was a matter of being fully conquered by the brutal Soviet regime.

      1. I think [Wilson] totally lacked any real understanding of just how intermixed various groups were …

        ??? But Wilson was a college professor!! how could we go wrong electing somebody so wise, insightful, and informed as a college professor to the presidency???????

          1. That just demonstrates what an advanced thinker he was. My understanding is that these days nearly all Constitutional scholars think that it is necessary to reinterpret the Constitution according to modern ideas and concepts of self-identity, self-fulfillment, self-indulgence, and self-abuse. It is only ignorant yokels who have lacked the benefits of a Yale or Harvard Law education who don’t appreciate the convenience of this practice, along with a few Far-Right Extremists who nobody likes anyway. There are such tremendous benefits to making up the Constitution as we go along that it proves what hide-bound reactionary poopy-heads the Founders were to not have made it that way in the beginning.

            And yet, Posner is still a moron.

            1. Reintarnation – when the same d-mn foolishness shows up again, and again, and again. Or as I heard someone mutter under her breath about a wet-behind-the-ears, I-have-this-great-plan administration type “He’s too smart for our own good.”

      2. A fellow was repairing some minor damage to a wall. He bragged about being a baseball official to the kids watching him. He was lying, of course, as everyone knows: real umpires don’t spackle.

  22. He started by critiquing my blog post — A BLOG POST — by saying I’d provided no examples or citations and that my blog was “emotive writing” and what proof did I have that soviet agit prop had shaped western opinion.

    This very much irritates me when I run across it (and you, apparently ;)). If I make an assertion about Ghengis Khan, say, or some academic research, it’s perfectly reasonable for people to expect me to provide sources. I never met the Great Khan, and I’m not a renowned historian.

    But if I say “I know this because I was there,” then I’ve already provided a source. The reader may not trust me, but in that case it’s incumbent on him to research the issue.

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