Lenin’s The State and Revolution – An Introduction – by Amanda S. Green

lenin-1724576

Lenin’s The State and Revolution – An Introduction – by Amanda S. Green

Last night, I talked with Sarah about today’s post. Unlike last week’s post, or even the series on Clinton’s What Happened, this post simply wasn’t coming together. I finally had to put it aside and tell her I’d get her the post this morning. I needed to sleep on it and, hopefully, inspiration would strike. In the light of day, I’m not sure inspiration struck, but I realized what the problem was. Simply put, the 1933 edition I was reading was, while my preferred edition, like wading through molasses on a day when the temperatures were below freezing. It wasn’t the subject but the translation. It flowed like the original Russian text. The problem is English isn’t meant to flow that way, not any longer. Or maybe my brain just doesn’t flow that way, not for quick reading, any longer.

So, I went trolling the internet for a different version. As I did, I kept my 1933 edition at hand as well as my Russian text of the pamphlet (which I finally found this morning). Using the preview function on Amazon and even checking out some free PDFs of the text, I finally found one I like.

The State and Revolution (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics) will be the version I mainly use for the purposes of this new series of posts. Yes, the text is slightly different from the translation I prefer. But, checking it against the 1933 edition and the original Russian, it is (at least so far) accurate. The language has been updated slightly for easier readability but the meaning is still the same. Better yet, the introductory notes give not only information about the book (or pamphlet as it was originally called) but also the history of Russia and of Lenin’s life.

Many Westerners know little about Lenin the man. We think of him as the founder of the Soviet Union. We remember the images of him addressing the masses or on propaganda posters. We even remember the pictures of what was supposed to be his body lying in state inside Lenin’s Tomb in Moscow not just years but decades after his death. When I visited the tomb, more than one person did a riff on the old Memorex commercial’s tag line, changing it to, “Is he real or is he wax?”

But we know little about the man himself, much less about this particular work.

Lenin’s history as someone working against the Romanovs started when he was a young man. He joined anti-Romanov groups and by mid-1890’s “was a leading Marxist ‘underground’ revolutionary in Petrograd.” (TSAR, p vii) In 1896, he was arrested. 1897 saw him being exiled to Siberia. After serving his sentence there, he immigrated to the West in 1900. In 1903, he came to prominence during the Second Party Congress by becoming the leader of the Bolsheviks after their split with the Mensheviks. The Bolsheviks, also known as the Reds, would not only defeat the Mensheviks and others in the Russian Civil War (1917 -1922), they would also become the Communist Party of the USSR. Lenin led them throughout this time, both as their spiritual leader and as their figurative.

But, back in the summer of 1917, Russia was still in turmoil. World War I continued, draining Russia’s already strained resources. With Nicholas II overthrown in February of that year, Lenin and other “revolutionary figures” began returning to Russia. Lenin, who has been in Switzerland during the war, found himself facing a number of hurdles in his attempt to return to Russia, however. Russia’s allies, knowing of Lenin’s opposition to the Tsar, blacklisted him, preventing him from traveling to Petrograd via France and the North Sea. Because of that, Lenin had to travel through Germany, with approval from Berlin. That route, along with Berlin’s approval, led to the accusation of him being a German agent.

The Provisional Government leveled the charges against him, charges he denied. Very quickly, he became a leading figure in the opposition against the new government. He proclaimed “that the emergencies of war and economic disruption were resolvable only through the installation of a government of soviets.” (TSAR pg xiii). To do this, the Bolsheviks began their “campaign” to “convince the working class, the soldiers and the peasants that the party’s representatives should replace the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries in the soviets.” (TSAR pg xiv)

Long story short, Russia was a mess at this point. In May, a newer coalition government was formed. The Bolsheviks still didn’t hold the power they wanted and they used the upheaval to foment more dissent.  After the government banned a protest in late June 1917, the demonstration was met with force from the government. The government held Lenin responsible, even though he hadn’t been in contact with Petrograd at the time, and ordered his arrest on the charge of being a German agent.

For Lenin, this meant once again going on the run. During this time, he began writing The State and Revolution. What is interesting is realizing that it wasn’t written for those in Russia he was supposedly fighting for. It wasn’t even written for most of those in the Bolshevik Party. It was written for the well-educated, for those who could go out and debate and spread the intellectual aspect of Lenin’s beliefs.

Many don’t realize he never finished the pamphlet even though he lived 7 more years. It was supposed to have had one more chapter. Also, as noted in the preface to the second edition, written in 1918, Lenin added a new section to chapter 2.

Lenin believed The State and Revolution was his most important contribution to the political debate. He worried it wouldn’t be finished before his death and, while on the run from the government, asked a friend to make sure it was published should anything happen to him. Yet, do you know why he didn’t finish it? In a postscript to TSAR, he wrote, “It is more pleasant and useful to go through the ‘experience of revolution’ than to write about it.”

Preface to the First Edition

The opening paragraphs make clear Lenin understood the turmoil of World War I, following upon the problems Russia faced after the 1905 Revolution and the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) made a fertile ground for a new revolution. In language similar to what we heard from certain parties during the 2016 presidential race, he did his best to stir the pot of inequality.

The imperialist war has brought about an extraordinary acceleration and intensification of the process of transformation of monopoly capitalism into state-monopoly capitalism. The monstrous oppression of the laboring masses by the state, which is fusing itself more and more closely with the omnipotent associations of the capitalists, is becoming ever more monstrous. . . The unprecedented horrors and miseries of this protracted war are making the conditions of the masses intolerable and increasing their indignation.  (pg 3)

Translate that into Bernie-speak or even Hillary-speak and doesn’t that sound familiar. Capitalism bad. Money and power are in the wrong hands. The oppressed are tired of being second-class citizens. We must rise up and take control.

And the imperialist war is nothing other than a war for the division and redivision of this kind of booty [enslaving small and weak peoples, holding power for the state, etc –asg]. The struggle for the liberation of the laboring masses from the influence of the bourgeoisie in general and the imperialist bourgeoisie in particular is impossible without a struggle against opportunistic prejudices on the theme of the ‘the state’. (pg 3)

The “state” is all about the “state” and to hell with the individual. Sound familiar? As for the “laboring masses”, I can just picture Bernie making that speech. Even though this is only the preface to the work, I have to wonder what sort of world Lenin really imagined. Sure, he will write that, in a true socialist existence, the state will eventually cease to exist. But I have to wonder if he really believed that or if it was all a con. After all, he’d seen the best and the worst humanity had to offer. Was this all a big con? The irony of what he professed compared to what he wrote and what the great Soviet state turned into shouldn’t be lost on any of us.

TSAR is split into three sections. I’ll deal with each section in a single post (at least that’s the plan). Lenin’s description of the sections shows his disdain and contempt for those who didn’t view Marxism as he did. (pg 3)

  • First . . . we examine the doctrine of Marx and Engels on the state, pausing to give specially detailed attention to aspects of this doctrine that have been forgotten or have been subjected to opportunist distortion. (And I will try to point out how Lenin himself fell victim to this “opportunist distortion.”)
  • Then we deal with the main representative of these distortions, Karl Kautsky, the leader of the Second International which has suffered such a wretched bankruptcy in the present war. (A charge that most definitely could be leveled against the USSR, especially after Lenin’s death.)
  • Finally, we sum up the main results of the experience of the Russian Revolutions of 1905 and particularly of 1917. (The latter of which is an interesting comment, especially considering the “revolution” was ongoing at the time Lenin wrote this. Yes, the Romanovs had been deposed and later murdered by the “revolutionaries”, but the Provisional Government maintained power until the October Revolution. The preface was written in August 1917. So the revolution had yet to see the end of its first phase.)

He closes the preface with the following:

Thus the question of the relation of the proletarian socialist revolution to the state acquires not only a practical political importance but also the importance of a most urgent current problem: how to explain to the masses what they will have to do in the very near future to liberate themselves from the yoke of capitalism. (pg 4)

As we go forward with this series, I’d like each of us to keep this last quote in mind. TSAR was written as a road map for the leaders of the Bolsheviks, to help them manipulate the masses to their side. Remember it when you listen to any politician, but especially those who talk about redistribution of wealth, of taking from one group or class in order to give to another. Look for the similarities and, when you see them, be prepared to counter with factual evidence of not only how this plan worked in the Soviet Union but also how it would impact our country.

Marx started us down this road during the “modern age” with his “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” bullshit. Lenin took that and ran with it. The reality, ignored by all too many, is that the producers of the world would become the slaves to the takers. We aren’t talking about reasonable welfare programs here. We are talking about a state of existence where the State tells you what to do, takes the results of your work and distributes it to everyone. Most humans don’t work well in that sort of existence. After a while, resistance and resentment build. If revolution doesn’t occur then resignation does. The desire to work hard and to innovate slowly atrophies and dies. Is that the kind of life you want for your children or grandchildren?

I don’t.

The best way to fight the Bernie-bots of the world or the more subtle Clintons and Obamas of the world are to recognize and understand not only what their goals are but the basis for them. Am I an expert on this topic? Hell no. But I continue to work hard to become one because it is only by understanding the historical implications and applications of their beliefs that I can help fight the current day attempts to send us down the path to socialism or worse.

[For raising the tone of this blog — ATH is culture! — and helping me with the exposing of the roots of the current mess — in her case with more facts! — if you decide to  send the woman a drink–  And her Amazon author page is here -SAH]

 

258 responses to “Lenin’s The State and Revolution – An Introduction – by Amanda S. Green

  1. He proclaimed `that the emergencies of war and economic disruption were resolvable only through the installation of a government of soviets.`

    Amazing how many emergencies are “resolvable only through the installation of a government of soviets.”

  2. Better yet, the introductory notes give not only information about the book (or pamphlet as it was originally called) but also the history of Russia and of Lenin’s life.

    Oh the happy memories, for a short time we had a local book store that stocked the entire Penguin Classics line.  I came to particularly appreciate the introductory notes and footnotes.  They can be most helpful in understanding the setting of and references in the text.

    • Which is one of the several reasons I chose that particular edition. Yes, the translation is better than most but the historical and introductory notes are especially helpful.

    • At the local Costco, they’re stocking books in the classics, lovely ‘leather’ bound things that are made to be both read and displayed.

      • When I moved to my present area back in ‘98, I was delighted to discover a used bookstore that carried a number of books from lines of ‘classics’ sold by mail with handsome leather bindings. I picked up a volume of Thurber first (I think it was THURBER COUNTRY) and then, with great delight, a Mencken CHRESTOMATHY. Much of the rest was of little interest to me, and the bookstore has since gone bust.

    • The big exception to this in my experience is their edition of Clausewitz’s “On War.” It’s an ancient and horribly inaccurate translation (and inaccurate in the “translator changed the meaning of statements and made unnoted insertions” sense, not the “translator made honest mistakes” sense), abridged to just sections of Book 1, and has an introduction that makes up a good chunk of the the whole volume and is made up of the screeching of an irrationally anti-war nutter who (it is painfully obvious) never read the book.

      If you want to study Carl von Clausewitz, spring for the Howard-Paret translation.

      • This source gives some pros and cons of the different translations. I was always intrigued by the fact that it was published posthumously, and edited by his wife.
        Wonder what he would have added or revised after some more reflection, or if he had witnessed the American Civil War with the many changes that made in warfare.
        He died in 1831 at age 51.

        http://www.clausewitz.com/mobile/whichtrans.htm

        • Clausewitz considered the book far from finished as of his untimely departure from mortality. The first several chapters of Book 1 were apparently the only section he was vaguely happy with. They’d gotten the most recent editing pass, and of course they’re the part that is most generally recognized as having tremendous and largely timeless importance. Who knows what the rest of it might have turned into had he had 20 more years to fiddle and bring the other books up to that standard.

  3. how to explain to the masses what they will have to do in the very near future to liberate themselves from the yoke of capitalism.

    The yoke of socialism is evah so much more stylish!

  4. I may have to acquire this for my reading and research. Knowing history and way things happened should be important.

    • It is important, if for no other reason than to see when the patterns start repeating and knowing how to stop it from happening.

      • DING!!! ^^THIS^^

      • A pattern that I’ve noticed is that it’s mainly middle class people who are socialists and they use rhetoric of helping downtrodden but they really want power and cushy jobs for themselves.

        • Well, let’s not forget about the Bernies of the world or, worse, the Hillarys and Obamas who want to spread the same cancer. They just fancy it up a bit more and don’t call it socialism.

          • I am not forgetting them, they are good examples of what I am thinking of. Obama Clinton Sanders all from middle class backgrounds and have used government to enrich themselves and their friends while doing sweet fa for unfortunates of society, which is what happens in all socialist countries.

            • Obama was hardly middle class.

              • He was, though. That’s why he had to pretend so hard that he wasn’t.

                • More upper middle. Expensive private school, etc.

                  • True – but did he pay for it? He reportedly received Affirmative Action scholarships for Punahou School (college prep) and for Occidental (Freshman–Sophomore year), Columbia (Junior–Senior year) and Harvard Law.

                    Possibly not true – his tracks have been well obscured so one can only wonder.

        • It’s people who see themselves as a superior class. May be poor hourly worker but if they think they should be in the mindworker class regardless of talents they are more than willing to take from the physical class.

        • Isn’t it interesting how, when the revolution comes to liberate the downtrodden, the downtrodden still end up trod upon? How beheading or shooting or sending those previously in power to mental hospitals for “treatment” never actually changes the lot of the “masses”?

          Why, it’s almost like the revolution is actually intended to do something other than what they say it is!

          • “Isn’t it interesting how, when the revolution comes to liberate the downtrodden, the downtrodden still end up trod upon? ”
            https://fee.org/articles/where-are-the-omelets/
            On ne saurait faire une omelette sans casser des oeufs.

            Translation: “One can’t expect to make an omelet without breaking eggs.”

            With those words in 1790, Maximilian Robespierre welcomed the horrific French Revolution that had begun the year before. A consummate statist who worked tirelessly to plan the lives of others, he would become the architect of the Revolution’s bloodiest phase—the Reign of Terror of 1793–94. Robespierre and his guillotine broke eggs by the thousands in a vain effort to impose a utopian society based on the seductive slogan “liberté, égalité, fraternité.”

            But, alas, Robespierre never made a single omelet. Nor did any of the other thugs who held power in the decade after 1789. They left France in moral, political, and economic ruin, and ripe for the dictatorship of Napoleon Bonaparte.

            As with Robespierre, no omelets came from the egg-breaking efforts of Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot, Adolf Hitler, and Benito Mussolini either.

            The French experience is one example in a disturbingly familiar pattern. Call them what you will—leftists, utopian socialists, radical interventionists, collectivists, or statists—history is littered with their presumptuous plans for rearranging society to fit their vision of “the common good,” plans that always fail as they kill or impoverish other people in the process. If socialism ever earns a final epitaph, it will be this: “Here lies a contrivance engineered by know-it-alls and busybodies who broke eggs with abandon but never, ever created an omelet.”

        • Yeah. It’s charity if you want to give. It’s stealing if you force me to give too. Doesn’t matter if you hide it behind a “majority” vote, or worse, a vote by Congress against the desires of the majority of the voters.

        • It’s not so much that they are middle class. By the traditional definition, most of the population is middle class. What they are is self-styled intellectuals with no real talent for scholarship, and no real taste for hard thinking. They want to be out of the ordinary, and so they latch on to ideas that run counter to those of the common folk. They patronise Modern Art, which could not exist without the snob factor of Being In the Know about why it isn’t rubbish. They accept Causes that won’t bear the slightest scrutiny, because actually doing the math is bourgeois. They desperately, desperately want to be Important and tell other what to do. That is really why they gravitate to Socialism; it promises an all powerful State run by comittees of bureaucratic mediocrities…and deep in their hearts they know that is what they are.

          Peevish, whining, uninspired little busybodies, morally no different from the censorious Christian buttinskis of the Victorian era….except that the Victorian Christians were at least pushing a moral standard with some weight of history and trial behind it. These fools are making it up as they go along.

      • How do you stop the filthy commies, short of killing them?

  5. Pingback: On history, politics and current day - Nocturnal Lives

  6. William O. B'Livion

    > First . . . we examine the doctrine of Marx and Engels on the state,

    I tried to tell her about Marx and Engels, God and Angels
    I don’t really know what for
    But she looked good in ribbons…

    BTW, given the context (Russia/USSR) it took me a few go-rounds beofre I realized that TSAR was The State And Revolution and not a reference to the previous leader.

    • ” it took me a few go-rounds beofre I realized that TSAR was The State And Revolution and not a reference to the previous leader.”
      Ditto – but the confusion was not too far off the mark, given that Lenin and then Stalin were just as much Tsars as the man they destroyed.

  7. So Lenin wasn’t appealing to the actual oppressed so much as he was recruiting the young, the well-educated, idealistic, and discontented, with promises that if THEY were in power (actually that is, if they would put HIM in power) things would be better for everyone.

    A pattern copied by would-be revolutionaries ever since, and probably long before. To the young who have little experience with con artists, this can certainly look appealing.

  8. Lenin might not have been a German agent officially but he and the Bolsheviks did receive financial and logistics help from them.

    A man named Alexander Parvus, a Russian Marxist who left for Europe, became wealthy arms dealer and worked for German intelligence, Parvus Lenin Trotsky were all acquainted. Parvus was supplying funds to Bolsheviks and Mensheviks by 1915 I think but he has been erased from history.

    German socialists were suspicious of Parvus because he worked for Imperial Germany while the German reds were trying to overthrow the state and Lenin was keen to downplay any German involvement in USSR domestic affairs.

    • Absolutely. But, at that point, Lenin was there on his own agenda. Of course, being an opportunist himself, he never flinched from doing what he felt necessary to advance his own objectives and goals.

      • Of course if someone is doing what an enemy country wants him to do with funding and aid from the enemy’s government, saying that he’s only doing so because it happens to fit his own agenda is unlikely to be much of a defense. Pretty hard to blame the Provisional Government for considering him a German agent.

        • The issue is timing, in this case.

          • McMeekin (see my reply to Joseph below) really hits the point about how much the Germans were funding Lenin and the other Bolsheviks. Apparently there are now German as well as Russian sources pointing out the tens of thousands of rubles the Germans provided for the Bolsheviks to hand out as freebies to supporters, among other things. Which doesn’t change that the Germans and Lenin may well have had different ideas about, ahem, What Is To Be Done, but they contributed a lot more to his efforts than he’d want anyone to know.

  9. (TSAR, p vii)
    So, the book about the anti-tsar revolution abbreviates to TSAR? o.O

  10. doesn’t that sound familiar. … The oppressed are tired of being second-class citizens.
    Actually, that sounds practically Trumpian, doesn’t it?

  11. One thing I know about Lenin, which I keep firmly in mind at all times in view of the narrative that his benign revolution was hijacked by Stalin, is that Lenin signed more death warrants in six months than the Tsar had signed in the last six years of his reign.

    So Lenin was a murderous swine like Stalin, he just wasn’t as long lasting.

    A Socialist is a Communist is a Fascist is a Nazi. They all worship the State. Push come to shove, they will all murder vast numbers of people to achieve and keep power. Those that are unwilling to kill will be elbowed aside (and probably murdered) by those are consider mass murder a tool of statecraft.

    • You’re absolutely right about Lenin. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn he signed even more death warrants than that. Then there were all those who died as a consequence of his actions and the Bolsheviks’ policies. Those deaths aren’t nearly as well documented. But the “enlightened” don’t want to think about any of that.

      You’re also right about the worship of the state, no matter how hard and loud the socialists object.

    • Their primary difference is “Who/Whom” — Who is wearing the boot and Whom is getting their face stomped.

    • Similarly, the Ayatollah killed more Iranians in the first year he was in power than the Shah had managed during his entire reign.

      You could paraphrase Tolstoy’s line about families “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”, and not be too far off the mark. Every revolution winds up killing more people and making more misery than whatever regime preceded it, with the possible exception of the American Revolution. Although, any Loyalists who got to live through that period might have a difference of opinion on the matter…

      • Except the Loyalists *did* live through it. There were no purges. There were no pogroms.

        One of the oddest revolutions of all time.

        • Yeah… You might want to review your history of that period. There were purges, and there were pogroms. Some of my ancestors made out like bandits on the confiscated properties of the Loyalists who were thrown bodily out of the US, and that did not happen peacefully. There weren’t death camps, but the circumstances of what happened weren’t that far off from a good old Tsarist pogrom, either.

          Likewise, there were Revolutionaries who had the same thing done to them, when the shoe was on the other foot… Entire communities of Loyalists were driven out of the US and resettled elsewhere, including Canada and the Caribbean islands owned by the UK. Some even wound up back in merry old England… And, then re-emigrated to the US, and wound up marrying descendants of those who persecuted their ancestors a few generations back. Sort of like how former Confederates moved West, and had their kids wind up marrying kids of former rabid abolitionists who’d lost their shirts in the Civil War, and who’d wound up heading West themselves.

          History has a habit of rhyming, when it repeats itself. And, usually without the slightest amount of self-conscious shame or irony…

          • One set of direct ancestors of mine were in NY in 1740, then back in Canada from whence they came in 1780, and migrated back into the United States after 1800.

            But the only direct ancestors actually serving then were all on the side of the Revolution.

        • Well…. you might want to look up one Judge Charles Lynch. Still, many orders of magnitude less then all previous or later successful revolutions.

        • The American Revolution produced more refugees than the French.

          • Citation?
            Although I don’t really doubt that is true.
            Seems to me the French killed anyone that might have tried to leave before they got the chance, then they started killing their own side (which the Americans did not).

      • This is one of the reasons that I say the ‘American Revolution’ wasn’t a revolution. Revolutions do not take place to prevent an outside force from changing the status quo.

        George III wanted to change the deficit policy of benign neglect that the Colonies had enjoyed for something like a century. The War For Independence was the Colonials telling him to go piss up a rope.

        That our ‘Revolution’ wasn’t really a revolution mucks up our thinking about other revolutions (and the Progressive Lefties are happy to help this).

      • I had an Iranian lab partner for one my my chemistry classes. He said they had killed his father and his brother, and he was applying for political asylum. Don’t know if he ever got it.

        • The number of bodies attached to Jimmah Cahtah’s sanctimonious “human rights” bullshit is truly staggering. Never mind that he destabilized the Middle East and Central Asia for a couple of generations, with all that implied, there’s the number of dead Iranians you can lay directly on his decision to oust the Shah, for whatever motivated his silly ass.

          And, then you can add in his equally sanctimonious certification of the elections in Venezuela, when members of his own team were telling the observation organization that they had witnessed widespread fraud and coercion out in the countryside.

          That bastard really ought to go down in history as one of the greatest monsters ever produced, as well as one of the most hypocritical.

          Carter is one of the reasons I’m so damn cynical about the true nature of “do-gooders”, wherever they are to be found. I don’t know if he did what he did out of genuine belief, or if he was paid off by the Arabs, but no matter what, his decisions and involving himself in international affairs killed millions, directly and indirectly.

          • And Obama’s butcher bill will be the same, if not worse.

            • He pretty much made Carter a piker in comparison.

              • I think a good case could be made that without Carter, there is no Clinton or Obama administration.

                Although, given what they had as a field, maybe what we would have gotten instead of Carter would have been worse, hard though that may be to imagine.

                In any event, the four years of the Carter administration created the modern Middle East and Central Asia. No Carter, the Shah would probably have remained in power to pass things on to his son, who has impressed me as being a very steady sort, a man likely to have played a role much like the King of Spain did. No fall of the Shah, and the Soviets would likely have stayed the hell out of Afghanistan, with a stable Iran on that flank. No Iran-Iraq War, no support of the terrorists in Lebanon, and things would have gone much differently than they did there. The Saudis would likely have been a bit more cautious, as well, with their support for the radical version of Islam.

                Remove Carter from history, and there’s a damn good chance that things might have gone quite differently than they did. Certainly, all those kids who died fighting the Iraqis with little plywood keys to Paradise wouldn’t have wound up filling mass graves out in the desert…

                Frankly, the amount of damage that man did, single-handedly? Good God… He blew up the Middle East, destroyed the sanctions regime against North Korea, and certified the election of Chavez in Venezuela. Makes you wonder what the hell he’s gonna do as an encore?

                If there’s any justice in the afterlife, good ol’ Jimmah is going to be in for quite a surprise. I don’t think he’s going to be going where he likely thinks he is…

                • Speaking of Iraq…

                  IIRC, Desert Storm came about because the Kuwaitis had been cheating on the amount of oil that they were withdrawing from the oil field they shared with Iraq. If Saddam Hussein hadn’t been focused on his war with Iran, would Kuwait have started pumping more oil than it should have? If Kuwait doesn’t start stealing oil, then Iraq doesn’t invade, which means no Desert Storm, which means no UN sanctions and inspection regime, which means no second Iraq War, which means that the War on Terror gets resolved in a different fashion.

                  Mind you, Hussein was a pretty bad man internationally, and his fall led to some very good things. And Desert Storm does appear to have put a stop to his nuclear aspirations. So who knows.

                  • You recall incorrectly. The oilfields were pretty much a pretext. The real cause was that the Iran-Iraq War had ended, the Iranians were still a threat, and the Kuwaitis were calling in their debts from Iraq. Saddam didn’t want to pay, sooooo… He invaded.

                    You have to really dig into it, but the fact was that the Iraqis were being used, per tradition, as the Gulf Arab proxies for dealing with the Iranians. That little dance goes back to the time before Islam, when the Romans were using the same tribes as borderers against the Persian Empire. The Kuwaitis and other Gulf Arabs were funding the Iraqis against the Iranians with malice aforethought, and when Saddam had to end the war, there was an awful lot of angst on both sides. The Iraqi Arabs (Sunni) were pissed off that they’d been used, yet again, and the Iraqi Shia Arabs were pissed that they’d been pitted against their co-religionists. The whole history of the affair began, I’m convinced, when Carter was sponsored into the presidency by the Arabs, who were scared spitless of the Iranians under the Shah. Carter got in, the Shah was taken out, only to be replaced by something even worse–The Ayatollah. And, of course, in a spate of further hubris, the Arabs decided to “encourage” Saddam to take the Iranians down a notch or two. Which didn’t quite work out…

                    You have to look at the whole thing as a continuation of the ethnic and religious rivalries in the region going back to the time of the Romans and Sassanids. The Arabs that moved north into Iraq and took over from the former occupants were the same saps who got used by the Romans and Persians, and later on by the rich Arabs from further down the peninsula. The history is quite fascinating.

                    But, the lie that the Kuwaitis were taking oil from the Iraqis? Nope; that didn’t happen, although the Iraqis used that as a pretext to invade. I suppose you could make a case for the Kuwaitis taking oil out of the same formation, but they had their drilling rigs on their side of the border, and were simply doing what Saddam’s enervated nationalized oil company couldn’t–Extracting the oil economically.

                    One of the other reasons for the invasion was because the Iraqis did the exact same thing to their inherited oil industry that the Iranians and Venezuelans did–Looted it, and failed to re-invest in it to keep it functioning. The amount of backlogged work we had to do after 2003, just to keep things running…? Lord love a duck. Quite a few of the Iraqi oil industry facilities hadn’t been updated, or even maintained since the days of British Petroleum building the damn things. Of course the Kuwaitis were taking more oil out of those fields than the Iraqis were–They were running modern oil extraction equipment, while the Iraqis were working the same fields with stuff dating back to the 1940s and 1950s…

                • Absent Carter I doubt we get President Reagan, although without Carter I doubt we need President Reagan.

                  We likely do not get the fall of the USSR, either, without Afghanistan to expose their military weakness.

                  • Oh, the Democrats had appeasement down pat long before Carter. That’s why our Civil Defense was in shambles and there were bad things going on in our military (or so I heard).

                • “Remove Carter from history, and there’s a damn good chance that things might have gone quite differently than they did. ”
                  The small man theory of history in operation.

                • Carter had 4 years, 0bama 8 and was “helped” by the evil Clinton, and the ignorant Kerry, and when we get this far down from 0bama’s terms, we get to find (unless they get “fixed” by others) the effects of Libya, Isis/Isil, ignoring Iran, then giving Iran pallets of money, NK, (again, but the Clintons take a ton of that, and Trump seems to scare Kim silly), Europe (as a big part of the blame for the “refugee” problem is 0bama caused), etc. Luckily, much of 0bama policy was easily reversible as he had his pen and his phone, and forgot to run it past the required forms of gov’t to make them actual laws. Though now you have judges who think whether they like or don’t like something, not actual legality is a basis for them to act.

                • Naw. You can’t blame Clinton and Obama on Carter. If voter’s memories were that long, they wouldn’t have elected Clinton or Obama because of Carter.

                  Reagan was like a reboot election-wise. Then came Bush. Then came party fatigue. Then came Clinton. Two terms of Clinton. Then came the other Bush, two terms, and then came Obama.

                  Frankly, Obama is a stand-alone event. Were it not for Nixon and Watergate, we never would have had Carter; where it not for Carter, we probably wouldn’t have had Reagan.

                  Heh. Carter as the reason Reagan was president. A bit ironic there and it may make some heads go explody, but there it is.

          • Given how much the Arabs donated to set up the Carter Center for International Peace… They might not have bought him outright, but the lease was pretty expensive.

          • I think Carter went full neurotic when he discovered that as President he had no allies in his own frigging Party. I believe from what I’ve read that the Democrat establishment nominated him because they couldn’t agree on which faction got the Presidency, and that his attempts to BE President were looked on by the Party establishment as presumptuous in a man they considered a place-holder.

            They thought that in the aftermath of Nixon, they would have it their own way permanently, and even ran Teddy ‘Chappaquiddick’ Kennedy against Carter in ‘80, an almost unheard of insult to a sitting President. And it got them Reagan.

            This is why I say they peaked with Watergate. They’ve had some gains since, but it seems to cost them more in political capital than they get back.

            Which leads us to the trainwreck of 2016, and the present idiocy.

            • Kennedy had no bearing in Reagan’s election. With Iran holding our people with impunity, the only way Carter would have been re-elected would have been to face someone who appeared even weaker. That was a tall order. When Reagan referred to the hostages as POWs, that was exactly what most Americans wanted to hear.

              • That the Democrats were seriously considering a different candidate certainly didn’t do Carter any good. But the significance to me is that it was merely a symptom of the lack of backup Carter got from his own team. Maybe he’d have has a complete balls-up Presidency anyway, but without the backing of his own Party he was screwed from the outset, and I think it’s why he’s run around ever since for the approval he didn’t get in office.

                Two incidents in his career that I find instructive; the rabbit and the Panama Canal.

                The rabbit was behaving oddly. Carter was a farmer. Farmers kniw that a wild animal behaving strangely may well have rabies. Now, I’m told,rabbits,don’t get the disease, but I’ll bet no farmer is willing to take the chance. Carter attacked the rabbit, not because he was scaared of it for himself, but because a rabid animal can infect valuable livestock. If the Democrat establishment had been backing him, that aspect of the story would have been emphasised.

                The Canal issue was simple; the original treaty called for the Canal’s return to Panama, and the canal was no longer militarily critical simply because aircraft carriers can’t get through it. That, too, could have been made part of the narrative….if the Democrat establishment had backed their President.

                Carter got treated like a Republican President. Everything he had to get through Congress he had to spend serious political capital to achieve, inspitr of Democrat control of the legislature.

                I think it broke him.

                • He was broken before he ever entered office. Take a look at the man’s finances, and where the loans came from that saved the family farm and put his ass into the Governor’s office.

                  Carter was corrupt from day one, and it’s only because the media was willfully blind to what was going on that he made it into the Presidency.

                  The dots are there. You just need to connect them–The decision to oust the Shah was made in the Oval Office, and was implemented just as soon as he got his ass in that chair. Nobody in the State Department or the CIA saw what was coming, and the whole thing was top-down driven from the White House. The main reason the CIA never saw the Islamic Revolution coming is that the entire situation only came about because Carter made it happen–The Iranian generals were ready to crush the whole thing, but the Carter Administration made sure to let them know that they would have zero support from the US if they did. And, since the Iranians in the Shah’s government were scared shitless that if they lost US support, the Iranian Communists would be inviting the Soviets in tout suite

                  There’s an awful lot of the narrative about what happened in Iran that’s totally false and fraudulent. The indicators are that the Arabs bought and sold the US presidency, and then used their patsy Carter to get rid of the Shah, which promptly blew up in their faces. There is stuff that never made the mainstream media about what actually went on in Iran during that period, and you will only hear it from Iranians. The Carter Administration basically threw the country to the wolves, with no clue what was going to happen. The likely outcome of what Carter did was either a takeover by the Iranian Communists, or the Ayatollah. Either way, it was supposed to take out a staunch US ally, and get rid of what the Arabs saw as a threat. Carter sold us out, along with the Iranian people.

                  When you look at his finances, nothing else makes any sense. He owed too much to the Arab-backed banks, and received the lion’s share of his libraries financing from them–And, the Arabs got good value for their money, when you look at the Carter Center’s operations with regards to Israel and the Palestinians.

                  • Thanks for all the behind-the-scenes info.
                    I suspect that in the hereafter’s movie theater, we’ll all be looking at the documentaries about what really happened and shaking our heads.

                  • I guess I can disclose this now. I had an aunt who knew and worked with Roseyln’s mother, This aunt, who passed away last year, didn’t bear tales, but the incidental information was both illuminating and doesn’t quite square with some of the sentiment I’ve seen in places.

                    I’ve mentioned before that I worked with an extended member, by marriage, to Carter’s family. Don’t think I’ve mentioned the cousin who hit it off with one of the Carters at a dance (didn’t go further than the dance). And, of course, the South can be incredibly small and a good many knew both Jimmy and Billy.

                    I disagreed with Carter’s policies, and I was openly critical of them. That’s why I voted for Reagan. There were a number of things that he did that are cringe-worthy. But neither is he evil incarnate, as some would like to believe.

                  • You know, the funny thing is that I’ve recently become convinced Obama was Iran’s man.

                    • I think that’s a fairly safe bet, given what his administration did for them. My question is, how far back does it go, and precisely what went on with Valerie Jarrett? Was she suborned as far back as her childhood in Iran, along with her parents?

                      If you do as we were trained in the intelligence world to do, and start making charts of connections and associations, as well as looking at the timelines…? An awful lot of very interesting “coincidences” start lining up. And, as they say–Once is mere misfortune, twice is perhaps coincidental, but three times…? Yeah. Way too many examples of puzzle pieces lining up just so for my taste.

                      I’m still highly suspicious of a lot of things that happened under the Clintons that have been ascribed to “misfortune and misadventure”. Let us not forget that the Clinton Administration set the stage for 9/11 with their oh-so-sanctimonious walls between intelligence and criminal investigation, which crippled the FBI’s ability to track known al Qaeda operatives here in the US. Take Jamie Gorelick, who is acknowledged as the architect of that policy, for example: She was there at the FBI during the Clinton Administration, move to Defense, where she promulgated the same policies, and then somehow wound up on the 911 Commission, when she should have been one of the subjects of investigation. Add in her later involvement with Fannie Mae at the critical time when it was heating up the housing market (something Bush tried and failed to rein in…), and you really start to wonder. I can buy being a bureaucrat that happens to be in one place at one time that leads to later significant problems, but three times…? That’s either the unluckiest woman in the history of the US government, or there’s something else going on.

                • “Carter got treated like a Republican President. ”
                  and
                  “Carter was corrupt from day one, and it’s only because the media was willfully blind to what was going on that he made it into the Presidency.”
                  i.e., “Carter got treated like a Democrat President.”

                  Has this ever been true of another president?

                • Important public service announcement: Rabbits can and do get rabies. They also tend to be nocturnal. Wild rabbit out in the daytime and swimming toward humans means something’s not right and that something in the South is usually rabies.

                  Of course the media was against Carter. He wasn’t one of their cronies. Kennedy was. The media screwed by playing Carter as a hick John Boy when a John Boy was exactly what the country wanted. They screwed up again by playing Reagan as a movie cowboy right when that was exactly what the country wanted.

                  We noted that when Carter wore jeans and plaid shirt the media called him a hick, but when Reagan did, they said nary a word, and we all know the media wasn’t pro-Reagan. Ah, but when a Southerner wears jeans and plaid shirt, that fits right in with anti-Southern bigotry, doesn’t it?

                  Yeah, I have a chip on my shoulder. We all do. They issue it at birth.

  12. The are all, at base, totalitarian.

  13. Thanks. Haven’t read TSAR yet (and still have a depressing pile of Gramsci to go through) but now must.

    Lately, I’ve been thinking about the fundamental Hegelian roots of all this: Hegel teaches that the world is becoming, not being – in the philosophical senses of the terms. This means that simple statements of fact, of being, are always fundamentally nonsensical, as nothing really *is* but rather is *becoming*. Therefore, logic doesn’t apply, because a fundamental claim of logic is that a subject can *be* something and *not be* something else (law of non-contradiction). Things, for Hegel, are always becoming something else, so they’re not really being anything!

    So, what’s really going on for Hegel (a practicing Lutheran) is that the Spirit is ‘unfolding’ in History – that some few enlightened people (specifically, people who agree with Hegel) gradually come to see the new state of becoming coming, as it were, into the next stage of transient being (that whole synthesis schtick). The people who more or less consciously get on board are on the right side of History. Everyone else is consigned to the dustbin thereof.

    Marx tosses almost all the sophistical subtlety of Hegel, but latches on to the whole History and becoming nonsense. This is why arguing that no real people will go along with money-free socialism (“The reality, ignored by all too many, is that the producers of the world would become the slaves to the takers.”) is pointless – 1st, because argument with Marxists is by their own definitions pointless, but also because ‘human nature’ as a claim of being is irrelevant – “human nature does not exist” – because what those who survive the purges, those on the Right Side of History, will *become* New Soviet Men.

    How do we know this? Just asking the question puts you on the Wrong Side of History and marks you for culling.

    That’s why there’s no arguing with convinced Marxists.

    • Now you have me wanting to go back and reread Hegel. But that’s going to have to wait. Like your TBR pile, mine is larger than I want to admit. However, from what i remember, you’re pretty spot on, especially about how Marx and those coming after him utilized it all.

      • You’ve read Hillary and Lenin. I think you’ve taken your share of bullets for the team. Rereading Hegel would just be cruel at this point.

        • Which is why it is very far down the list of books to read. I’m terrified Sarah’s going to ask me to read “Fire and Fury” after learning it’s going to be made into a TV show. Shudder. Of course, that does sort of confirm my initial impression that it’s more fiction than fact. VBEG

    • I’ve been re-reading Marx (German Ideology and a few other choice bits) and that struck me as well. I missed it the first time I read Marx (was fighting the German and was trying to put him in political context more than intellectual). You really need Hegel to make sense of early Marx’s use of terms, and yes, the idea of the process of becoming really shows up in his theory of history.

    • “That’s why there’s no arguing with convinced Marxists.”

      I disagree, though particularly solid arguments are needed.

      I like a tire iron, though I know people who swear by gold clubs.

      • That would be the progressive method of argumentation (though some of them prefer bike locks).

        I prefer kinetic energy argumentation with a bit more reach to it, personally. (At least when it comes to those “get away from me and leave me and my wallet alone” arguments.)

      • Gold clubs would have some *authority* behind them.

      • There’s something very capitalist about using gold clubs against Marxists.

    • “This means that simple statements of fact, of being, are always fundamentally nonsensical, as nothing really *is* but rather is *becoming*.”

  14. Pingback: The State and Revolution – Yard Sale of the Mind

  15. ‘The monstrous oppression of the laboring masses by the state.’ … “The struggle for the liberation of the laboring masses from the influence of the bourgeoisie in general and the imperialist bourgeoisie in particular is impossible without a struggle against opportunistic prejudices on the theme of the ‘the state’.’

    I know I’m not the brightest light on the Christmas tree, but the more I read this, the more it sounds as if he was not only advocating class envy, but also advocating an abolition of The State. So did he want to go back to no government higher than say a Clan or Tribe? That’s kinda going backwards, at least in my mind.

    • Progress is inevitable, Comrade! We all become New Soviet Men, not at all like these sinners here! Government and State pass away as we all live in perfect harmony in the Worker’s Paradise!

      Failure of Marxist countries is merely proof that they weren’t *real* Marxists. *Real* Marxists never fails!

      Your problem is your bourgeois need for things to make sense.

      • So logic is to be banned too? 😉

        • No, logic IS banned. Hegel even wrote a whole book, called, of course, Logic, in which he says that while classical logic might be useful to little people like scientists and mathematicians, it is of no use and is in fact a hindrance to *real* philosophers. *Real* philosophers, which are defined as ‘people who agree with Hegel’ don’t need the crutch of making sense – they’re just, as the kids say. woke to the TRVTH.

          Marx, not being nearly as smart as Hegel but recognizing a useful wrecking ball when he sees it, gloms onto this post-logical world, except he substitutes ‘people who agree with Marx’ as the one and only right-thinking folks.

          The simple act of trying to reason with Marxists proves – proves, I say! – that you are unenlightened and a tool of oppression.

          No, really. It’s that bad.

        • Logic is a Western patriarchical construct, after all. Probably cismale only…

    • Communist doctrine is that no government is needed under such a system. Communist governments, by good Commie doctrine, are temporary things, existing to transform society into a workers’ paradise. Odd that communist governments never get around to that, and use much hand waving to explain this point.

      OTOH, the Soviet Union didn’t even last seventy years, so we could say it was most definitely temporary.

      • So is the fact that it lasted longer than most a mark of success, or of failure??

        • I’m tempted to call the persistent bugs in Communism a feature because it helps them die out, but it costs too many lives in the process.

          BTW, you have to wonder about China. Can it still be called Communist, or is it now Fascist, in the original political sense of the word?

          • Post-revolution China’s shift in governmental form from International Socialist to National Socialist occured in stages from the break with the USSR when Mao was still in charges, through to today.

            The state religion remains, of course, Communist, so like the Holy Roman Empire, their name for themselves reflects their religious fictions.

          • I have been saying for many years that it has been fascist since about 1990. The record for a Fascist state so far is 21 years (I do not count Spain as Fascist). Admittedly that was cut short by war, but the record for a communist state is 71 years. Communist/Fascist China has been going now for 70 years. It will be interesting to see whether it can set a new record (seems likely), more to see by how much it exceeds the old record (not much, I am guessing) and most interesting of all (definitely in the Chinese sense) to see what the failure mode will be.

            • China is neither Communist nor Fascist. It is merely doing to those Western ideologies precisely what China does to ever invader–Absorb them, make them Chinese, and then turn them into the latest dynasty to run the country. Outwardly, the Manchu were Mongols; by the time the Chinese culture and bureaucracy got done with them, they were more Chinese than the Chinese… The same process is going on with Communism, as the Party warps into the latest Imperial Family.

              You cannot analyze China without taking into account their long cultural tradition of absorbing invaders, co-opting them, and then turning them into Chinese. Were you to go back and interview the first generation of Mongols who made up the antecedents to the Manchu Dynasty, and ask of them where they thought they were going, as a group? No doubt, they’d say they’d taken over China; the reality was that China had taken over them.

              Same-same with Communism. It’s simply taking a less traditional form, but the same process is taking place, and in a few generations or so, we’re going to see the whole cycle repeat itself. Question is, when will the collapse of the central government come, along with the warring states and the warlords…?

            • It’s already failing in several ways. I think when it crashes, they go back to emperors.

              • First a few decades of warloards and chaos, then the winner gets to be emperor.
                It’s traditional.

                • My money’s on the McSweenys this time.

                • If the central government collapses, then Hong Kong and the Republic of China are going to be in very interesting positions. Hong Kong has a lot of power, and the locals have been getting very restless with Beijing’s attempts to gradually eat away at the residents’ freedoms. And of course, the Republic of China is the Republic of China, which is effectively independent (aside from the fact that the island isn’t allowed to actually declare itself fully independent).

                  And both islands are ridiculously rich and well-off compared to the rest of China.

                  • Hong Kong might go full Singapore, a true city-state with the resources to hire mercenaries to fend off the mainlanders long enough to get international recognition.

                    • And the “Republic of China” is arguably already in that position.

                      (plus, of course, the US backing just on the odd chance that Beijing decides it wants to force the issue despite the cost)

                    • Only if those mercs are equipped with something that can shoot down incoming missiles.

                      There’s this outfit called the Slammers that advertises they can do it…. / only partly joking. I’d say the odds the PLA wouldn’t respond with a nuke are 50/50 at best.

              • I have seen in several places over the years that the central government has no control over the central agrarian regions at all; they’re already under warlord control, but the warlords don’t openly fight the central government- sort of peaceful coexistence for now. And the coastal regions where the factories are that trade with West are becoming more and more autonomous. The central government controls the nukes, which gives them legitimacy in the eyes of the world. But means squat internally, because they can’t be used there.

                As early as 1989 in Tiananmen they had to use peasant units from outside the area to open fire on the students. Couldn’t trust the local militia to do so. 10 years earlier, there would have been no problem…

                • The problem with the local militia refusing to fire on the protestors is a well-known one. The local military people live in and among the people protesting. They’d rather not shoot their friends. I’ve heard that the same logic basically ruled when the Soviets brought in outside troops to put down the Hungarian uprising.

              • An e-mail list that I used to frequent had a guy who was Chinese. He was either from Hong Kong or Taiwan (I think the former). He claimed that there’s a well-known (to the Chinese, at least) cycle in Chinese history that allows you to mark the fall of any Chinese dynasty. If you know when the dynasty rose, then you can predict when the dynasty fell down to within just a few decades of the actual fall.

                According to him, the ruling party in China is very much aware that they’re rapidly approaching these critical decades, and wondering how they’re going to keep the cycle from knocking their kids out of power.

                • wondering how they’re going to keep the cycle from knocking their kids out of power.

                  Easy-peasey! Loot the nation, stash the cash in Caymans or Switzerland, and set up safe residences for the kids elsewhere. Just like Maria Gabriela Chávez.

                  • Key word there is “power”.

                    Yeah, the money’s nice. But the political power is what they really want. Looting the nation and moving to France will get the kids a lot of money. But they won’t be running China anymore.

                • Well, if you use truly traditional signs, they are losing the Mandate of Heaven, and possibly lost it completely when they botched the school collapse incident. (“No worries, we’ll just lift the two-child limit for you!”)

                  If the Three Gorges Dam were to go, to me that would be the “OK, we have the right to overthrow them” signal writ large. But I’ve been immersed [pun intended] in Chinese imperial history recently, so my views are a little odd.

                  • In Szechuan province there’s a city that’s now abandoned due to the ’08 earthquake. The government built a new city for all the inhabitants. A couple buildings in the new city collapsed due to shoddy construction killing more people. Don’t know if anything was published over here about it. Heard it from my brother that was there at the time the whole mess happened. There’s a lot of dissatisfaction with the government just simmering below the surface.

                    • I don’t know whether I’ve heard about that specific building collapse. But news about collapses, government kickbacks that allowed the shoddy construction to take place, and frustrated locals who are upset at their powerlessness against the corrupt officials, breaks through to US news every few years.

          • China is China. It has been run by cliques of mostly unaccountable bureaucrats for a long, long time.

            • Methinks that “…cliques of mostly unaccountable bureaucrats…” may well be the end-state of most civilizations, sad to say.

              One of my old bosses used to tell the tale of being one of the administrative gofers for his unit during a military exercise in Turkey. One of the things he had to do was go to Istanbul, find a tiny little Customs office somewhere in the vicinity of the Topkapi Palace, and get some paperwork stamped properly, before the unit could leave Turkey. While he was there, he got to talking with the clerks, and was informed that that particular office had been in continuous operation since Constantinople fell at the end of the Byzantine Empire… And, that it probably pre-dated that, as well.

  16. Seems the place to ask:

    Best books on the Russian Revolution? My ignorance of the history of that period is frankly appalling.

    Thanks.

    • McMeekin’s new one is great – “The Russian Revolution.” Also Orlando Figes “The People’s Revolution.” Richard Pipes “The Russian Revolution” is a classic for good reason. McMeekin’s is a revision based on newly available archival sources, so you might start with Pipes and Figes, then try later accounts. Lieven’s “The End of Tsarist Russia” is in inside look at the government leading up to 1918, but it is really inside, and you need a score card of who is doing what to whom and why. “Ten Days that shook the World” by Reed is an starry-eyed American’s account of events as they happened. Reed was in favor and Lenin contributed to the book.

      Anything by Pipes is great, IMHO. His “Russia Under the Old Regime” was a life-saver in college. And reads well.

      • Thanks so much. Seems I need to start a 3rd tottering pile of ‘books to be read’ or suddenly become independently wealthy….

        • Just invent a time machine and clone yourself (with the ability to re-integrate everything). Then your TBR pile will be a lot more manageable!

        • I’ve never read much of Russia’s history (the same is true of China); what little I HAVE read convinced me that Communism in Russia wasn’t the problem, but just a symptom (true of China also). Russia has NEVER been well governed. It has ALWAYS been an oppressive bog full of nasty bureaucrats and backstabbing swine.

          I don’t think it’s an accident that of all the ‘civilized’ nations in the world, Communism took root in Russia and China. Both empires had long histories of treating vast groups of people like farm animals. Both empires had long histories of Grand Guignol misrule. Communism really wasn’t much of a change.

          • Communism seems to have added an evangelical fervor to the tradition of local misgovernment.

            • Communism lends a patina of justification to the kleptocracy, just as bullying for SJW purpose justifies being a bully, and engaging in fascist tactics is okay when you label the targets as fascist.

            • I don’t know about Russia, but what little I’ve read about China (plus some cultural cues gleaned from fiction) leads me to believe that the Middle kingdom has been swept with enthusiasm for energetic forms of misgovernment (all in the name of virtue!) several times in its history. Which would make Mao just one more in a long line of bloody-minded ‘reformers’.

            • >evangelical

              Note that Nicholas II and most of his immediate family were canonized as saints by the (expatriate) Russian Orthodox Church.

            • Pretty much.

              South Vietnam was a corrupt mess. North Vietnam was a corrupt mess that was convinced that it was on a Holy Crusade to save the Vietnamese peninsula.

              South Korea was a corrupt mess (it’s easy to forget these days that it was a corrupt mess right up until the ’80s). North Korea is still a corrupt mess that is convinced it’s on a Holy Crusade to save the Korean Peninsula.

              If you’re on a Holy Crusade, then everything that you do to further the Crusade is justifiable, because it’s for an holy cause.

          • I wonder to what degree that derived from the sheer size of both countries, back before fast transportation. When it’ll take you a month to get a pacifying force to the provinces, there’s more tendency to leave a despot in charge of those distant provinces (so you don’t have to march troops to the provinces so often), and that seems typically to lead to corruption. As well as to eventual revolution.

            • Keep in mind that, historically, by the time news reports of the despots actions reached the capital it was generally past time for anybody to get very upset over things.

      • Something that fascinates me are the US troops sent to Russia, and who helped the White Russians. That tends to be ignored.

        • That’s something I point out in class, and that comes up in the Powers trilogy – that fighting in WWI in the east didn’t end until 1922-23.

          • There’s an interesting tidbit from that period, the story of the Kościuszko Squadron, with American pilots who were flying in a squadron of the Polish military during the Polish-Soviet War. The American who helped put it together, Merian Caldwell Cooper, is better known as the creator and director of King Kong.

        • The story of the Czech Legion is also quite interesting, and mostly unknown in the US: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolt_of_the_Czechoslovak_Legion

          • Agreed – I sometimes find that the most fantastical bit from that time, but there’s all sorts of interesting odds and ends: Japanese intervention in Far Eastern Russia, Carl von Mannerheim and the founding of the Republic of Finland, some of the last great cavalry battles. Entire columns of troops scattering or even turning back under attack by a single primitive fighter.

            Then there’s the depressing-to-horrific-but-can’t-look-away bits, like the internecine conflicts between the White Russian factions, or the Russian atrocities.

          • And another excuse to post a link to The Great War channel:

            Their bit on the Czechoslovak Legion

        • The Russian currency I have from that time period is from White Russia. My grandfather’s merchant ship travelled there more than once.

    • Richard Massey’s “Nicholas and Alexandria” is a good book on the period as well.

  17. Christopher M. Chupik

    I’m sure someone’s going to see these posts and get all excited that you’re a communist and then be very, very disappointed.

    • “Oh, you know that stuff, you must be a Communist!”

      I don’t know how many times someone has tried that on me when I pointed out their stance was straight out of the Manifesto…

      When I was much younger a union tried to organize the machine shop I was working in. When I brough my copy of the Manifesto to work and pointed at the various passages identical to what they were saying, they vandalized my car.

      Odd, that’s the sort of response the Left always has when someone spits out their hook.

      • With some of the recent “protesters”, I keep expecting to see copies of Mao’s Little Red Book.

      • “Oh, you know that stuff, you must be a Communist!”

        “How do you tell a Communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.” — R. Reagan

  18. Tangent;

    I’m running into posts asserting that a liberal professor member of Antifa is claiming he was chasing (with a rifle) the Charlottesville ‘rioter’ who drove into an Antifa crowd and killed somebody.

    I’m not including links here because A) my web-fu is rudimentary and B) the sources I’ve seen quoted run to the rightwing/questionable end of the internet spectrum. Anyone know anything?

  19. And Today’s Great War update deals with our [least]favorite founder of the USSR (I do hope the history nuts herebouts been watching that great youtube channel)

  20. According to the official Soviet history, Lenin turned to revolution after the execution of his older brother Alexander in 1887 (Lenin was 17) for an attempt to assassinate the czar.
    He is then supposed to have said that “we shall go a different route.” Meaning that individual terror is not a winning strategy, as opposed to an organized mass revolution. The phrase became a sarcastic aphorism (not officially, of course).

    And yes, he was a bloody monster. Maybe even bloodier than Stalin. Not in terms of the number of people murdered under his rule, but the number of times he has personally ordered murders, mass “retributions,” forced hunger, taking and killing of hostages, etc. He was pretty hands-on. Of course, Stalin has inherited a mostly pacified (rather, terrorized into submission) country with an established enforcement apparatus, so he didn’t have to be as close to the action.

    • My two ‘favorite’ (🤬) ideological mass murderers of the 20th Century:

      Pol Pot;he didn’t have the sheer numbers of a Stalin or a Mao, but he managed to have between a quarter and a third of his country’s population murdered.

      And

      Rachel Carson; whose SILENT SPRING was the primary impetus for the DDT bans that have spread worldwide. Although some use is ‘permitted’ to control disease vectors it is estimated that the bans cause between .5 and 2.0 million excess malaria deaths per year…

      • They’re upping Pol Pot’s numbers to as many as 50% now. Stalin’s numbers are also going up, to where he might tie Mao. *shudder*

        • I wouldn’t mind seeing Mao stay at the time for one reason only – that guy gets a pass from too much of the world.

  21. Finland has had bit of a love affair with Lenin due to the fact that he was the first to acknowledge Finland as an independent country. Who knows why, although part may be that he was too busy with other things to consider fighting on yet another front at the time and he knew people here, especially the local leaders of the socialist movement having spend quite a lot of time in Finland – some with Stalin – when he had been on the run. Perhaps he had bit of a too rosy idea of how popular that movement was here at that time, and assumed they’d take power easily and then join the Soviet Union.

    https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2017/0108/In-Finland-a-one-time-shrine-to-Lenin-adopts-an-uncensored-view

    • That was part and parcel of his strategy to take over Russia, actually. In order to keep the various national independence movements from siding with the Whites, he declared his support for national self-determination, something the Whites never did.
      The results were as could be anticipated–the nationalists stayed out of the RCW, and then Lenin suppressed the independence movements wherever he could.

  22. The eggs_and_omelets guy I quoted above has a blog full of articles about socialism.
    Here’s one on Hayek’s prophecies about dictators:
    https://fee.org/articles/hayek-was-right-the-worst-do-get-to-the-top/

    When Hayek wrote his best-known book in 1944, the world was captivated by the notion of socialist central planning. While almost everyone in Europe and America decried the brutality of nazism, fascism, and communism, public opinion was being shaped and molded by an intelligentsia which held that these “excesses” of socialism were avoidable exceptions. If only we make sure the right people are in charge, said the statist intellectuals, the iron fist will dissolve into a velvet glove.

    Those who, in Hayek’s words, “think that it is not the system which we need fear, but the danger that it might be run by bad men,” are naïve utopians who will forever be disappointed by the socialist outcome. Indeed, this is the history of twentieth-century statism—the endless search for a place where the dream might actually be made to work, settling on a spot until disaster is embarrassingly apparent to all, then blaming persons rather than the system and flitting off to the next inevitable disappointment. Perhaps someday, the dictionary definition of “statist” may read, “Someone who learns nothing from human nature, economics, or experience, and repeats the same mistakes over and over again without a care for the rights and lives of people he crushes with his good intentions.”

    Even the worst features of the statist reality, Hayek showed, “are not accidental byproducts” but phenomena that are part and parcel of statism itself. He argued with great insightfulness that “the unscrupulous and uninhibited are likely to be more successful” in any society in which government is seen as the answer to most problems. They are precisely the kind of people who elevate power over persuasion, force over cooperation. Government, possessing by definition a legal and political monopoly of the use of force, attracts them just as surely as dung draws flies. Ultimately, it is the apparatus of government that allows them to wreak their havoc on the rest of us.

    • It certainly doesn’t help that the ideology of statism is itself toxic.
      First, like begets like. One does not get human benevolence out of class conflict. When the oppressed gain power, typically, the first thing they do is to seek revenge on those they have considered their oppressors (whether those are guilty or innocent).
      Second, governments are not composed of angels; they are made of human beings with all their jealousies and shortsighted lusts, and act accordingly.
      Third, when religion gets in the way of the state and the state shoves it aside; the state then becomes religion. A religion based on sheer political power and expedient lies is the most oppressive, murderous, and hopeless of all.

  23. Remember, Lenin, Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot were all progressives.

  24. And Teddy Roosevelt. Bully!

    The thing is why is someone a progressive. You can make bad decisions for good reasons just as easily as bad decisions for bad reasons. But good intentions pave the road to perdition, so …

  25. One possible correction: Obama’s, Clinton’s, and the Democrat’s goal is to skip the war communism, Leninism, and Stalinism phases and move directly to the corrupt nomenklatura phase of Brezhnev.

  26. This blog post helped me crystalize a problem I’ve always had with one of the defenses of Communism: “But True Communism has never been tried!”

    Why yes, that’s technically true, but that’s mostly because Marx has never made it clear just what True Communism really is. He merely set up the “inevitable progress” that would lead to True Communism:

    (1) Watch Capitalism grow up in its corruption, until
    (2) The masses tire of this, and Revolution!
    (3) They set up the Dictatorship of the Proletariat
    (4) …
    (5) Profit! Er, I mean, the State withers away and is replaced with True Communism.

    Yes, it is true: so-called Communist leaders have never gotten to step (5) (or 4, for that matter). But it’s also clear that *every* Communist leader, and more than a few Socialist ones, have used “capitalist” corruption to rile up the Masses, to set up a Dictatorship of the Proletariat. If they have never achieved True Communism, it isn’t for lack of trying!

    But the funny thing is, there’s only two ways that humans have for interacting with each other: Force, and Persuasion. By definition, the Dictatorship of the Proletariat *is* force…so what’s supposed to be left behind, when the State withers away? Wouldn’t it be something based on Persuasion?

    If this is the case, I would propose, then, that this undefined “Communism” is what we Americans think of, when we think of “Capitalism”, namely: a system set up to protect individual rights, like life, liberty, and property, and prosperity is achieved when individuals, on their own accord, make voluntary arrangements with each other to provide for each other’s wants and needs.

    Hence, True Communism is “Individualism”, which the United States has had, to one degree or another, for about 400 years…and the only political party that actually actively tries to pursue (or re-establish, or even just establish) True Communism is the Libertarian Party.

    And no, we don’t need a Dictatorship of the Proletariat to get there! (Although I find it ironic that all these Communist States have either collapsed and become some vague form of Capitalist society, for loose values of “Capitalism”, or they have survived by embracing Capitalism to one degree or another anyway…)