Friday, April 25, 2008
In the 1976 article by Mr. Levi, the state of play of political movements of what was considered “the West” is outlined, and the potential outcome of political choices, in countries like Italy, France and Portugal, are referenced. National socialism was still nascent, but the rise of national socialist movements were being actively suppressed by Moscow, as well as Europeans who had heavy cringe factors whenever national socialism or fascism was mentioned. Moscow was heavily invested in painting these nationalist movements as “right-wing” and “reactionairy”. The Communist Party was a single-party party. The “true believer” could only assert their cred by their alignment with the international movement. Being a “true believer” meant you had a belief that you could trust. A communist could trust communism. The international movement. Not the national movements. You couldn’t trust the socialists in France, or Germany or Italy.
And more importantly, as the communists in Moscow were wondering if they could trust Italy, we, in the West were wondering whether or not we could trust Italy as an ally, as a member of the northern treaty group, as a member of the Free World? To whom would Italian communists show their allegiance. Would the communists succumb to pressure from Moscow to remain loyal to the International? Would the communists succumb to pressure from the West and become a national socialist movement? And, more frighteningly, would Western pressure help re-create the rise of a new fascist or national socialist state?
This proposed dichotomy, of national versus international legitimacy, was taught by socialist and communist teachers in our colleges and universities. How often have you heard of the Nazis of Germany or Fascists of Italy referred to as “right-wing extremists”? The rise of national socialist movements was one of the greatest fears of post-War communists. They weren't Right Wing in the sense of the American Right Wing...where investments, economic opportunity and ownership and individual freedom are values that are safe-guarded by our government.
The communists were fine with Naziism and the lack of freedom it guaranteed the individual, the loss of religious freedom, political speech, economic independence up until 1939. Until the Germans invaded Poland. The communists were now afraid of Nationalism--as Right Wing--as in Nazis and Fascists, and they weren’t going to play cards with that devil, again.
The collision between international man and national man was one of the major themes of the anti-war movement of the ‘60’s, as it had been in the competition between nations following the Second World War. The international community of man was praised by the communists, and the patriotic nationalism of Americans, or the English, or Canadiens was ridiculed. You’ll find the development of this anti-national there in the works of Ferlinghetti and Kerouac , and the society of beats. In colleges and universities the question was asked, “What do you trust? Your nation? Or the international Man?” It was like a Twelve Step Program for patriots. We all needed to find a Higher Power.
I was introduced to the beat movement by a television show, “Dobie Gillis”. For those of you who have enjoyed the mindlessness of Gilligan, Max Shulman’s Maynard G. Krebs was “our” introduction to the beatnik. In an earlier generation, such behaviour would be described as “bohemian”. As, the following-on generation would be known as “hippies”.
Shulman’s Krebs (complete with sound file) was funny, ill-dressed and lazy. And perhaps, endearingly, misguided and semi-literate. He was often the foil for the mis-adventures of Shulman’s hero, Dobie. When Dobie was trying to sort out a decision, Krebs would arrive. As a poet and a philosopher, Krebs would offer advice to poor Dobie. With expected comedic catastrophe resultant. And not really a man you would trust. As a friend? Yes. His advice? Ask Dobie.
The bohemians, the beat movement, and a shift from teaching about the value of national life to a higher value, the universal man and the goals of communism and socialism finally met up with a national war against communism, and greeted this war with drugs, sex and rock and roll. And a question of who are you going to trust?
“Don’t trust anyone over 30.” (Pat Boone.) Yeah, that Pat Boone. (Although some ascribe this comment to Mario Savio, others to Jack Weinberg. Others to Bob Dylan.)
My oldest sister introduced me to beat in 1966. I read A Coney Island of the Mind (New York:New Directions, 1958). In 1964 there were around 100,000 draftees inducted into US military forces. By 1966 that number had increased to around 400,000. And trust was a big issue. Trust was “getting kids killed.”
And, thanks to college and university professors around the country, thanks to the beat writers, a war that was touching America’s first generation of privileged youth, we were introduced to the Generation Gap. We weren’t to trust. We were separate. We didn’t know who to trust. We were told not to trust. Nations are all about “Might Makes Right”. And that’s wrong. “My country, right or wrong!” became one of the last gasps of pure, unadulterated nationalism in this country. We had a national identity. And it was being assaulted by professors, by poets, by musicians, by politicians. By 1965 there were 400,000 draftees in the military. Being sent “to die in Viet Nam”. We weren’t being told we needed to protect our nation. We were being told our nation was wrong to try to impose our values on another nation. (“Feel Like I’m Fixing To Die Rag (Next Stop Vietnam)) We were being told we were fighting a war to keep fat cat capitalists in power. To feed the military-industrial complex. And worse yet, our parents didn't understand us!
Not to protect the human rights of the Vietnamese. Against communist totalitarianism. For the communist, communism is liberation. Capitalism is oppression. To the communist, trusting the men and women who work and invest was and is wrong thinking. We need to take ownership away from the capitalists so that we can turn guns into butter. Who do you trust? The Man?
Now, having been told that I was to be separated from the Older Generation—since I was a member of the Younger Generation—was puzzling to me. I tried to embrace it. I wore my hair long. I re-read A Coney Island of the Mind (ibid). I tried doing all “those things” that I was supposed to do, including my fair share of Annie Green Springs. But the words of Coach McGee kept coming back to me.
I was ungapped at an early age…16. For those of you who went to Beaverton High School, you may remember Coach McGee. He was a good man. And, he was over 30.
But the gap was created and still exists. And is demonstrated on a daily basis. Those who don’t trust and those who do.
I’m a truster. Even though I’m not in charge of you on a moment by moment basis, I trust that you’ll do the right thing. Work, take care of you kids, pay your bills.
You’re not going to be Bill Gates. (Unless you are Bill Gates. In which case I’d like to ask you what you think you’re doing with this Vista thing?) And I'm not Bill Gates. I don't have billions of dollars. And, I think it's likely, that you don't have billions of dollars. (Unless you really are Bill Gates. If you are, think about that Vista thing, okay?)
No. You’ve prolly going to be a guy more like me. Work every day. Have good days and bad days. Go to the kid’s track meet. Pay the orthodontist’s bill. Back in the day, we used to sing the old Army work song, “you’ll never get rich, adiggin’ a ditch, you’re in the Army now!”
Not being rich was/is just as likely as being rich. Just as likely, you’d end up in a job, just like your dad, prolly doing what your dad did to get by. Humming "adiggin' a ditch" and getting through another day...to get home to your family and your friends. My only hope was that I’d find a thing to do that wouldn’t feel like work. I was lucky. I trusted myself.
So. Do you trust yourself?
The “gap” is a trust gap. I trust people, who left to their own devices, will provide for themselves and their families, and do the right thing by their neighbors. Of course, there are those neighbors who, if left to themselves, would take everything you have. It’s why we have law. To protect ourselves and our property. You don’t have to read Locke. If you choose, you can read Freud.
We have laws because among all of us are extremes. Extreme passions, extreme stupidity. Extreme intelligence, extreme diligence. And, we also have normal dumb. We also have laws because we need to be able to trust on our neighbors to come to our defence when we are under assault. In a complex society we can’t wait for the farmers to grab their rakes and scythes and come running at the call of “Wolf!” So, in complex societies we develop institutions that provide farmers with rakes on an around the clock basis. And patrol cars. Men to guard the walls at night. Men we trust.
In the ‘60’s, the trust we had in government was shaken to its core. By 1973, a split had occured in our nation. And it's a question of trust.
There’s a question as to whether or not we will ever have a government that we can trust, again.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
What people say matters.
Yet, how is it that people come to a place where America is a bad, or rogue, nation in an American’s thinking?
How do we get to a place where work, and the product of work, is a bad thing?
I have, for years, trained salesmen. I rely upon some fundamentals, like, your product has to have value for the customer, or you won’t make any sales. Politics is a sales game. What you want from the customer is their vote. What you offer are your promises. Hopefully, your promises have value.
When I posted Mr. Levi’s article, it was to point out where we were 32 years ago, when viewing the problems and promises of communism. Communism was a threat to us, as Americans, because it was a threat to our “way of life”. It was a bad sell in the US, but an attractive sell in Italy. So, the problem of communism was “how is it that too many Italians view the promises of communism as a good they would want to give their vote for”, in the face of the problems that such a vote would create?
The problem of politics as a marketplace is especially brutal, living here, in Oregon. The dominant themes of Democrat politics are communism and environmentalism. On the other hand, the marketplace of Republican politics has been defined as evangelical theories of creationism and forced-to-term pregnancies. That I am a Republican brands me as a religious whacko and anti-woman. The evangels are stone deaf to criticism. Attempts to update the brand are resisted. Too many low-level functionaries, precinct committeemen and women, are evangels directed to the mission of precinct committeeman at the behest of their religious leaders. And in most precincts, five votes get you in.
Vacancies are filled by appointment by the chair. Elected by his fellow evangels.
The upshot is, we’ve allowed the Republican party to be dominated by evangelicals whose only purpose in life is to enforce their religious views upon the party, thence, the body politic. And among evangels, whacky theories of science and behaviour are accepted as normal. Which makes the public statements of these people easy to ridicule. This is not mainstream Episcopalian dogma, nor of the Church, nor of the Methodist/Lutheran variety.
If you’ve never gone to a county central committee meeting, you don’t know what I’m talking about. These are people who view attempts to moderate approaches to abortion as heretics. They’re still fighting Madeline Murray O’Hair. And when I spoke about conspiracy theories in my last post, it was in order to distinguish my remarks from the remarks of many members of county central and the state central committees. I’ve been to meetings where proponents of John Birch and posse comitatus stood up to defend their views. And, they are frighteningly militant. Yes. They have made their displeasure known.
On the right side-bar of this page is a list of links. A while back I was asked if I wanted to join the COBRA links (Conservative Oregon Blog Roll Alliance.) I held off for a while, and pointed out to the gentleman inviting me to join that I wasn’t really like most of “them”. Clicking on these links, you’re going to find an array of what attempts to pass as conservative thought. But, in my view, some of these links are nothing more than the parroting of religious teachings cum politics and crazy reactionaries, a la devotees of Ron Paul. There is nothing conservative in the attempt to adopt a new, political Holy See in America, nor in the attempt to throw out economic reality to revive the gold standard.
And none of these “conservative” views accurately defines me as I am.
What I am is egalitarian and a believer in laissez faire. And since the Democrat party has evolved into being what it is, I have much greater hopes for the Republican party being able to regain its center than I do the Democrats. If it can get past its own brand. And that, I believe, is going to require Republicans who are conservative, who are educated and those Republicans that we’ve lost to Independent status, to return to the party and work towards regaining control of central committees on the county level, with the goal of regaining control of the state central committee.
Is conservatism dead? Is the Republican party dead? No, but it is on loan to some folks who would rather beat a dead horse than lead. Because the principles of egalitarianism and laissez faire still attract voters.
It is more fair to say communism is dead.
At least it is in Italy. And the movement is gaining ground throughout Europe. Witness the recent elections just past, on the 14th. Here’s the take by U.S. News & World Report:
"But in that relatively tight circle of friends, Berlusconi, a billionaire and onetime cruise-ship crooner, has just accomplished a political comeback unlikely to be repeated by anyone else. With the parties of both the far right and far left falling off badly, Berlusconi and his allies took nearly 47 percent of the vote, to the center-left grouping's 38 percent. (“Bush's Italian 'Good Friend' Berlusconi Returns to Power”, U.S. News and World Report, April 15, 2008.)
What you don’t see in this article is amazing. You read things like, “one of President Bush's closest foreign friends” and “Italian voters reacted to corruption allegations and unfulfilled reform promises”. But what you don’t read is the annihilation of the Communist Party in the past election. Thirty years ago, Mr. Levi wrote “In the elections of last June, the Communists got 34 percent of the vote, a spectacular increase of about 6 points”.
“One of the most important results of the 2008 parliamentary election is the fact that the Communist Party of Fausto Bertinotto is no longer presented in parliament. The former ally of the ousted prime minister Romano Prodi, Fausto Bertinotti, presented himself with the Rainbow Coalition (La Sinistra l'Arcobaleno), composed of his Rifondazione Communista, another Communist party as well as two Green parties. In the House, they won 3.08% but no seats, in the Senate 3.21%, but also no seats.” (“Berlusconi wins the 2008 Italian parliamentary election”, Cosmopolis, April 16, 2008.)
How is it that a country poised to become communist at the end of the last century has repeatedly shown its preference for a center/right coalition, as presented by Berlusconi’s Popolo della Libertà party?
“The Left?” asks Silvio Berlusconi. “The Left says it loves the poor”. He pauses: the banner-waving supporters braving the rain in Piazza del Plebiscito, Naple’s main square, wait for the punch line. “So it does. The Left loves the poor so much it creates more of them every time it gets into power”. (“Walter Veltroni is the butt of Silvio Berlusconi's campaign jokes”, TimesOnline, April 7, 2008.)
“The Right’s promises - lower taxes, a crackdown on crime and illegal immigration - look set to win the day next Sunday and Monday.” (ibid.)
How has the Right so effectively demolished the Left in that most Leftist of all European countries?
Amazingly, news reports in this country have failed to ask that question. In Italy, it was a question of branding. To whom did the Italian people look to for jobs and a higher standard of living?
To the Right.
Unless we on the right do a better job of branding, we are not going to be leading. The principles of egalitarianism and laissez faire are the values that we, as Americans, value most. The Left offers increasing nanny-statism, mandates and controls. The evangels are better suited to supply soldiers to the Left. Letting us know how to live, what moral and economic choices we ought to take, and imposing those choices upon us is more consistent with the Left than the Right.
That I oppose Roe v. Wade is not a statement of agreement with the evanelical position on abortion. It is a statement about the highly irregular method chosen by the Supreme Court to arrive at this flawed interpretation of constitutional law. This decision was a set-back to egalitarianism. And my personal view of the correctness or incorrectness of abortion should be none of your business.
Removing religious litmus tests from the Republican party should be the first task we set for ourselves following the election of John McCain. I believe he will win, in spite of the Republican party. Time and tide are working against the Left. In Germany, France, and now decisively, in Italy.
But your choice is backed up by your vote. What will determine your vote? How would you brand the Republican party?
(“Berlusconi deserves to win”, Telegraph, April 11, 2008)
Thanks to Jim Miller.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Note: The owner and editor of the Saturday Review was Norman Cousins. For those who never knew him, or of him or his work, you’ve missed one of the better minds of the 20th century. The demise of Saturday Review has been felt for decades by people who wanted nothing more than a man’s unvarnished view of right and wrong. Mr. Cousins’ unfailing strength was in his finding writers who weren’t afraid of their ideas.
The author of this piece is another gentleman who has since left this mortal coil. I ask you to read this article mindful of the historical context within which it was written. Commissioned before the fall elections of 1976, the writer didn’t know for which president he was writing. He did know that he was writing, in the main, to the American people.
(Click to enlarge.)
Eurocommunism: A Foot in the Door or a Seat at the Table?
By Arrigo Levi
Is Eurocommunism going to be more of a problem for the President of the United States or for the Secretary-General of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union? Clearly, the progress of Eurocommunism has so far raised much greater worries in the West than in the East; but both superpowers have shown misgivings as to the possible destabilizing effects of Eurocommunism on the “domestic” policies of the area for the world more directly controlled or influenced by each of them, as well as on the global balance of power.
What displeases Brezhnev ought to please the American President, and vice-versa. But things may not be that simple: Eurocommunism might be a challenge and a danger to both superpowers. In any case, it remains to be established whose fears may in the end be more justified and what policies ought to be followed to minimize the damage of Eurocommunism to one’s own side or to help it in damaging the other.
First, what does the democratic world mean by “Eurocommunism”? We may define “Eurocommunism” as a new ideology and a new political movement of worldwide relevance and impact; it is, as well, a new version of communism, which maintains some of its original aims but accepts pluralistic democracy and the parliamentary system as essential for true socialism, in strategic and not just in tactical terms. Or we may define “Eurocommunism” as the policy followed by come communist parties of Western Europe, Japan, etc., at this time. I believe it is safer, for now, to adopt the latter definition and use the term in its narrower sense.
Eurocommunism may stretch from Portugal across the southern underbelly of Europe, but as a force it starts with the Italian Communist Party. The PCI is the strongest communist party in the West. In the elections of last June, the Communists got 34 percent of the vote, a spectacular increase of about 6 points; 38 percent went to the Christian Democrats. The PCI is now supporting the Christian Democratic government, led by Giulio Andreotti, which depends for a majority on communist votes and abstentions.
Most of the biggest cities in Italy (including Rome, Naples, Turin, Bologna) have communist mayors and are ruled by communist-led majorities. The same is true of some of the most important and advanced regions. A communist (Pietro Ingrao) is president of the Chamber of Deputies; since the last election some of the most vital parliamentary commissions have communist chairmen. The communists dominate the most important workers’ unions and are strong in cultural institutions; they are no longer excluded from the independent press or from state-run television. On the other hand, one must point out that beyond the central government, the majority of Italian cities and regions, the presidency of the Republic, the bank, state industry—nearly the whole of the administrations (including the police and, of course, the carabinieri)—remain mostly under Christian Democratic control. Still, the communist share of power has become definitely larger. Italy could even have communist ministers in the present legislature.
The problem of Eurocommunism--its challenge to the Western democratic traditions, as well as to the solidity of western international institutions—coincides today, to a large extent, with the problem of Italy and the possibility of communist participation in government in Italy. It is true that in France the Left, including the socialist and communist parties, just failed to get its candidate (François Mitterrand) elected as President, and it may gain a majority in the next French parliamentary elections. French Eurocommunism, in that case, could become an equally serious cause for worry in the West. It isn’t yet, for various reasons, principal among them the political fact that in France the socialists are stronger than the communists; the French communists
(Click to enlarge.)
never got much beyond 20 percent of the vote.
Somehow it doesn’t seem possible that Georges Marchais’ party may gain control over French politics. On the other hand, it must be pointed out that the French communist Party is a much newer and visibly “tactical” follower of Eurocommunism: its conversion to the democratic ideals is not at all convincing.
Therefore, it is not safe to narrow down the problem of Eurocommunism to Italy alone. Difficulties might become greater, and the threat of instability for the western alliance stronger, if “the Left” were to progress much further in France; the reciprocal influence between the two “Latin sisters” will be strong, and it will also be felt on the Iberian peninsula. For now, Eurocommunism means Italy.
Ever since the PCI’s access to governmental power became a possibility, Italy’s allies
(Click to enlarge.)
have been faced with difficult choices. They were aware that the PCI became stronger thanks to the weaknesses of Italian democratic parties and also as a result of the many failures of the Western democratic world as a whole. Italy’s allies were unable to help (either directly or by a better management of Western economic affairs) Italy’s democratic parties of force on them the necessary reforms. They could only repeatedly declare their alarm at the state of Italy and the progress of communism; but they realized that their warnings were considered by most Italians as “interferences” and threat to Italy’s independence, and would produce, if repeated too often, negative effects. They also realized that should Italy’s democratic process lead to some form of coalition government including communists, any former commitment by Italy’s allies to cut aid or to take economic reprisals against such a government might set in motion a fatal chain of consequences, leading inexorably to the very result that they would want to avoid—namely, the separation of Italy from European and Atlantic alliances and institutions. There was a danger that the prophecies of doom repeatedly advance by Western statesmen as to the future of Italy under communist influence might become self-fulfilling prophecies. Therefore, in order to maintain a certain flexibility of choices for the future, warnings and threats against a future “communist government” (meaning a coalition government including PCI ministers) had to be moderated. A difficult balance had to be struck between opposing needs. Giving the impression that Italy’s allies had resigned themselves to the inevitability of a communist victory would have been equally fatal, for it would have damaged Christian Democrats and other democratic parties.
The result was that some Western governments (particularly the United States and Germany) declared their alarm much more forcefully than others (Britain and France) whose policy was “noninterference.” At present the Andreotti government, although supported by the PCI, receives the usual amount of cooperation from its allies. It must be added that in spite of former warnings against communist participation in government, in Italy it is generally believed (rightly or wrongly) that should this happen, no drastic countermeasures would be taken by Italy’s allies. But even communists understand consequences could be serious. It is felt that such a coalition government would meet with immediate and perhaps extreme economic difficulties stemming from the natural reaction of Italian and foreign economic forces, including flight of capital and withdrawal of multinational companies. This would certainly happen even if a communist Minister of the Treasury were to prove better able to control union demands than his Christian Democratic predecessors ever were. According to such a scenario, the first problem for Italy’s allies would be to decide whether they should maintain or stop their support of a (by definition) shaky Italian economy if faced with a “communist” government or communist ministers. Should they avoid taking political steps that might increase the general panic and tension? (All this assumes that no Italian withdrawal from NATO or from the EEC would be expected. The communist commitment on this point is clear. Withdrawal would not be in their interest, and they would have difficulty forming a coalition whose purposes would include withdrawal.)
(Click to enlarge.)
It is reasonable to expect that opinions would then be divided. Some would say, stop the rot, at the cost of expelling Italy from the Western alliances, legally or otherwise. Others would claim that, Italy not being comparable to Portugal, and the fate of Italy still being undecided, all efforts should be made to keep it inside the Western institutions—why throw Italy “into the arms of Russia”?
It is possible that this second set of reasons would prevail, at least for a period of “trial,” as the less obviously costly strategy; but Western mistrust of Italy could not be hidden, and some effects would be immediately felt, both on the economy and on NATO. The PCI has repeatedly stated that it doesn’t want Italy to leave NATO, in order to avoid upsetting the global balance of power; Enrico Berlinguer has also said, on the eve of the last elections, that he deems it safe to build “democratic socialism” on this rather than on that side of Europe. But the deep psychological links that still exist between Italy’s communists and Soviet Russia would leave great uncertainties as to the future “loyalty” of a “communist” Italy, in case of future crises. Recently, toward such problems as Lebanon or Rhodesia, the PCI has somewhat automatically taken the usual pro-Soviet attitude.
It is not sensible, at this stage, to go any further in the attempt to make forecasts. A warning is necessary against the widely held assumption that, “Eurocommunism” being a Latin affair, all of Latin Europe—indeed, all of southern Mediterranean Europe—is going to follow Italy’s example and fate. Communists remain far weaker in France than in Italy, and even weaker in Spain, Portugal, Greece, or Turkey than in France. Democracy is a fairly rare form of government on the face of the earth. But in the Western area of the world, which is also by far the most advanced, communism remains a “local” movement. In the new European Parliament, communists will form a clearly regional, minority grouping: an anomaly of the Left, a “socialist heresy.” Also, the cause of democracy has lately been strengthened, rather unexpectedly, in Spain, Portugal, and Greece. On the whole, the southern flank of democratic Europe is not necessarily weaker today than it was a couple of years ago. Let me add that most communist supporters in Italy are sincerely (though confusedly) democratic. Many anticommunist Italians (including this writer) believe that Italy would preserve a strong chance of “staying West” and remaining a democracy even if the communists acquired a larger share of government power than they already have.
Eurocommunism cannot be considered a purely “tactical” device for the conquest of power (quite a few people believe that this is what it is). The majority of Italian democratic leaders feel today that there is more to it than pure tactics and make-believe. Eurocommunism might be a maladie de croissance for a country of “delayed development” like Italy—an anomalous, hybrid political movement for an anomalous, hybrid Western democratic country. One cannot forget that Italy was the birthplace of what is today the most widespread ideology and form of government in developing countries: fascism. In this old land, history is following untrodden paths: there a re few certainties; Italy’s future cannot be forecast by judging from past events elsewhere.
We are facing unusual challenges and dangers, and can also meet unusual opportunities. Why should we lose faith in the value of democratic ideals when we see how clearly they are maintaining all their original revolutionary potential, not just in the West but even more in the communist half of the world? Democracy, not communism, is the ghost haunting today’s world. However imperfect and dubious, the “conversion” of Italian and other Western communists to “democratic pluralism” is also a result of the influence of democratic ideas on them and on communism in general.
At this point, attention must be paid to that alternative interpretation of the term “Eurocommunism”: a new ideology, a heretical movement capable of influencing communist parties and regimes all over the world—which, in a sense, it is. This writer’s view is that it is safe today to assume that “communism is dead, but many communisms are alive.”
(Click to enlarge.)
There seems to be a natural tendency for communist parties to split, if only they can, from the main body of Soviet-led communism, in order to develop better their own national and ideological identity once they are in power. Of course, the Soviet Union is not in the least resigned to such a state of affairs. Wherever it can, it will continue using force against all potential Dubčeks; even now it is trying once more to take advantage of economic difficulties in Eastern Europe to strengthen its hold on the whole region (including Rumania and, perhaps tomorrow, even Yugoslavia itself).
But this is not necessarily a proof of Soviet strength and confidence in the solidity of communist regimens. It may show exactly the opposite, an awareness of not-so-hidden weakness. Soviet leaders are aware of the many contradictions existing in the world they control: between economic progress and political backwardness; between national interests; between Russian domination and the historic “westward tendency” of most East European nations. The men in the Kremlin have shown that they fear the influence of détente, nor have they hidden their dislike of the “Eurocommunists” of Italy, Spain and France, whose influence o the “satellites” might be bad. They are trying to contain the spread of such influence, but the rules of this game are still unclear. Eurocommunism, in a sense, is an accident of détente, the product of a new “strategy of movement” that has taken the place of the traditional “trench warfare” of the Cold War period. As such, Eurocommunism surely offers a challenge—that is, both dangers and opportunities—to both sides.
Some Western experts believe that even if Eurocommunism were to prove a “time bomb” under the old structures of the Soviet power, it would not help potential “liberal” reformers in Eastern Europe. On the contrary, by weakening at the same time both American and Soviet power, the Eurocommunists would only manage to endanger the very foundations of peace and détente, that is, the “status quo” and the global balance of force. The result, as a reaction, would be an even more authoritarian turn in the history of Soviet power. It maybe so, but all such detailed forecasts are much to clever; in the end, history always turns out to be simpler, as well as richer in fantasy and invention, than the imagination of any political scientist. And we can’t forecast the influence of “personal” factors. At present, President Tito’s great age is the most widely discussed factor of this sort, but nobody can answer with safety the obvious questions: will post-Tito Yugoslavia stay independent of the Soviets? And if it doesn’t, will this attract Italy’s Eurocommunists once more toward their Muscovite mecca, or will it instead precipitate, in self-defense, their Western choices and make them final and irreversible?
If faced with such questions, we must admit that certainties are scarce. For instance, we know that there are today no acknowledged “Moscow men” in the leadership of the Italian Communist Party; but Berlinguer’s “moderation” meets with misgivings and even open criticism inside the PCI. His “general line” is not unchangeable.
So we are left with purely negative assurances: above all, we know that the rise of Eurocommunism is going to be a factor of instability, not just n Italy, not just in the West, and not just in Europe, for quite some time. To face this challenge, to take advantage of possible opportunities and avoid the obvious dangers, a new strategy will have to be invented, day by day. It is not safe to start with too many certainties. Automatic reactions, in accordance with the set of rules long established under the chapter “How to Deal with Communism,” might be just as wrong as denying all validity to past experience. Our motto (a sober one) might be: keep an open mind, and be wary.
The many communisms of today might prove to be even more dangerous to democracy than the monolithic communism of Stalin’s time. Therefore, instead of spending too much time wondering about Eurocommunists (they may be a mystery even to themselves), the democratic West ought to concentrate its attention on the hasty construction and completion of Western and worldwide institutions, in order to strengthen our economies and our societies and to contain within a more stable framework the great risks of Euro-communism.
A well-managed international economy, an imaginative approach in the West to the problem of democratic government in advanced nations, would reassure us about the future of countries affected by Eurocommunism. The present state of international affairs, to be honest, is not at all encouraging. This may be an “interdependent” world; but it is also a world of discontinuity, where illnesses spread at electronic speeds throughout the world, whereas cures are still, more often than not, provided separately and in great confusion by national governments. An “institutional” approach to the problem of organizing a better management of world problems has not received much attention (especially, but not only, by America) during the last few years. A lot of time has been wasted, and in the atomic age, the supply of time is not unlimited. (Arrigo Levi, “Eurocommunism: A Foot in the Door or a Seat at the Table?”, Saturday Review, December 11, 1976.)
A great writer writes to his audience, neither taking the low road, nor pandering to their tastes. Great writers write to their audience simply because they know their audience is looking for something called “authenticity”. You are always free to disagree with the writer, whether it’s me, or the author of the following article. What I hope to convey is a true, authentic statement of what has happened to us as a nation historically, and the lessons learned, that can help us shape our view of the future.
I’m not claiming to be a “great” writer. But what I attempt is to write authentically. A lot of the topics I write on require a certain amount of formal education to fully understand. The nice thing about writing on the internet is that links can be embedded when I think it can be useful to the reader, to further your understanding of the topic at hand. If you find your curiosity being aroused, follow the links. Then ask your own questions. I do not recommend the internet as a primary source. That is, if you want to learn about the economy, find a book about the economy. And, always take with more than a single grain of salt anything you find on Wikipedia. In fact, contrariness in the face of a Wiki entry is often a good place to begin ones’ own investigation of theories, facts and histories of the world.
The author, Arrigo Levi, is an interesting man. If your town has a library, and don’t forget your local community college, you will probably be able to get a better sense of who was Mr. Levi. For the purposes of the next few posts I’ve considered, one thing about his past I’d like to bring to your attention is his role in the Trilateral Commission.
A quick disclaimer: I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I don’t believe in them. I don’t think they’re possible. People just aren’t smart enough to pull it off. So my references to the Trilateral Commission aren’t to raise the heart rate of the easy to incite. There’s no John Birch position being held. I’m not going to talk about anything more than the normal effect that being a part of a limited entry group has on its members. Whether you’re a season ticket holder to the Blazers or belong to a country club, rather than playing the public links.
I believe that the Trilateral Commission started honestly enough. If you have a ton of money, you run with a different set than if you don’t. Living in a small town you have a chance to meet the folks from above and below average means. Being rich means different things when you live in a small town. As does being poor. Just because you don’t have a million or more in the bank doesn’t mean your value, your worth as a human is greater or lesser than anyone else. And for those of us in the middle, we’re better equipped to handle having a beer with a poverty case or a millionaire than most.
But membership means exclusion. There are a lot of people I know or meet who, when finding out I belong to a country club, immediately assume a lot of things about me. Like, I’m a snob, too. For the snobs, I find that driving a nice car and dressing well is important. I’m sensitive to the requirements—however voluntarily—of belonging to this group or that. When I hit the local beer joint I’m immediately immersed in “the crowd”. And in a small town, that crowd is just the people you live with and work with every day. If you choose to be a dick, you can be one. But why would you choose to be a dick?
So, take a while and read Mr. Levi’s missive. The Saturday Review was one of our nation’s most influential and important periodicals. Reading the Saturday Review is one of the best ways I know of, of understanding the demise of The New York Times. The Review was quick to point out iconoclasts on the Left and the Right, and hold up for derision idiots of any bent. When you wrote for the Review, you were a serious writer. Sure, it embodied a liberal bent. But when you were constantly 15-minutes away from total nuclear annihilation, being liberal meant using government to help others. It still does, I suppose, but today’s liberal wants to supplant individual responsibility and economic freedom to attain self-sufficiency, with mandated programs for the care and feeding of each and every one of us.
Back in the day, this theory of “to each according to his need, from each according to his ability” was called Communism. Thirty years ago, a Communist as President of the United States of America was unthinkable. Given the pandering of the United States Democratic Party and its candidates for President, it is a fair assessment to assert that either candidate, whether it be Senator Barrack Obama or Senator Hillary Clinton, are communists in their thinking and in their policy solutions.
In each speech, in each debate, they propose government provided health care, government control of economic activity, and the denial of property rights of individuals. How is this possible? How do we find ourselves at this moment?
Because, like Christ, we care.
Theories about whether or not Christ would be a Communist have been around since the end of the Second World War. I wasn’t required to read Ignazio Silone’s Bread and Wine because of its religious overtones. It was the division that existed between Communists—of the Internationale variety—and local, homegrown communists, who were in Italy known as Fascists…in Germany, Nazis, that was the modus vivendi behind that requirement. Do I imagine that Christ would have been a Communist? No. He threw the money changers out of the Temple. He told the man to pay his taxes. Christ wasn’t about parties, he was about souls.
Likewise, I don’t care about parties. That our senator, Senator Smith is more a communist than an individualist is a matter of record. He represents the worst of the political breed that labels itself one thing and does another. If, as a Republican, I believed in half the things Senator Smith says he believes in and supports, I’d quit the party. And, when I say that I don’t care about parties, that is the truth. I would support Edith Greene over any other congressman from this state, with the exception of Greg Walden. Al Ulman, another Baker Boy, was Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, from 1975 to 1981. He was a real guy. The fact that he was followed by a thief is too soon forgotten. Al got beat in an election. Rosty? Hadda quit, din’t he?
Will communism succeed in America? Its adherents are quite open about their views. What do you think the goal of Sicko was, if not to tell us that the dream of health care a la Cuba would be better for us that our system of private health care? Why is it that the Left continues to identify groups of victims in this country? Women as victims, Blacks as victims, transgendered-lesbian whatever as victims? Drug use? Victim. Alcohol use? Victim. It’s a disease and you’re a victim.
Even the criticism of the Right by the Left is in terms of our own victimness. We are repeatedly told we are too stupid, or too selfish or too corrupt. I am a victim of my stupidity, selfishness and corruption. And the Left is there to help me. Me. All I need to do is accept their help and my life will be better. Unless I do, I remain a bitter revanchist.
My son had his meeting with the Scholarship Committee yesterday. In his application, the question was asked, “Write a paragraph describing yourself as a good citizen. Please include specific examples.”
To which he responded:
I am registered to vote as a member of the Democratic Party and am looking forward to voting in the upcoming Democratic primary and, after that, the general election.
I have taken courses in high school (20th Century Conflicts, U.S. Government, Honors U.S. History) that have given me knowledge about our country’s history, laws, social systems, and government.
I have a clean police record and have had no interactions with law enforcement. I have had a driver’s license for two years and have had no tickets or accidents.
I do not smoke, drink alcohol, or use other drugs.
As I read this, I looked up at him and said, “You’re a De…”, and stopped. He was looking in my eyes. He said, “Do you think they want to hear that?”
Smart kid. Tell them what they want to hear. Take the loot and scoot. What does the Left want to hear? What they expect to hear, that they are smarter, brighter, better and more caring of the victims of this world. Is this a conspiracy? Nope. They will think what they want to think. We will move on. (dot org)
So, read the article by Mr. Levi. Think about what kind of nice man, wealthy, educated, erudite, would join a group like the Trilateral Commission, for what purpose and toward what end. And then, ask yourself, if he knew what would come to pass as a result of this group, if he would, today, still join?
Again, it’s not a conspiracy. But its membership excludes those who either choose not to belong, or aren’t asked. When you live in a small town, you can belong to every exclusive group. As silly as that is! Here I can be Rotary, Eagle, Elk, Chamber, Country Club and even Lutheran. In New York, or Washington, D.C., getting a pass into the club is a little more competitive. And don’t forget the motto of American Express: “Membership has its Rewards.”
Monday, April 21, 2008
(I thought I'd post this while it's snowing. I live at the beach. You know, Sea Level. So, when you think about it, having snow, at the beach, at Sea Level in the last full week of April, it's...well, it's not ordinary. It should be warmer. Mebbe not 75 degrees. But, not snowing.
(Here's a reason why I won't buy the Oregonian. In an April 11 article, headlined Soaring temps, sunshine will last the weekend, we learn that a weather system will "push highs Saturday in Portland to near 75 degrees, and to 65 degrees on Sunday, a full five degrees above the average high of 60 degrees."
(Global Warming, right? Well, not really. Here's the meat of the article, way down at the bottom:
("Since March 1, Portland has seen a normal or above normal high temperature on just ten days out of 41."
("'The February numbers showed that the water temperatures in the Central Pacific were the coldest since 1950, which is the coldest on record,' said George Taylor of the Oregon Climate Service. 'It's clearly an extreme La Nina. But the forecast models are pretty bad at recognizing transitions.'"
(So, weather is colder than normal. It's in the article. So, back to our regularly scheduled posting.)
A funny thing happened on the way to Saturday's presentation of Al Gore's " An Inconvenient Truth."
To get there, I would have had to drive through snow, and then head through Timber to get there. This is not a trip you take in the snow, unless you have need. As much as I wanted to hear Secretary of State--One of Fifty--Bradley give his presentation on the AlGoreManBearPig Hypothesis, and associated remarks by Jim Cathcart, he of specious wool-gathering and thinking.
If you haven't read Dr. Cathcart's opus "Carbon Accounting: Determining Carbon Offsets from Forest Projects", you can read it here. ("Carbon Report", Chapter Nine, pdf.) While a supposedly original work, Dr. Cathcart's efforts seem to be largely derivative from an earlier work by the fella pictured above. For a paper so dependent upon someone else's work, one would hope that the previous work and author would be cited by the current author. This is not the case here, but you can look at the original work here. ("Getting It Right: Emerging Markets For Storing Carbon In Forests", Michael Totten, World Resources Institute, 1999.)
Now, I assert that carbon cap and trade is a sham and a shakedown. For the moment, I can't get you any closer to this ineluctable conclusion than Cathcart and Totten. Which is why I've included two pictures of the same man. Seemingly, the same pic. Until you click on the pic. Then you get two entirely different pictures of the man.
The pic on the Left is of Michael Totten, Senior Director, Water & Climate, with The Center For Environmental Leadership In Business. At this link, we find out that Mr. Totten is a flim-flam man, the shakedown artiste, boasting of no more credentials than that of a degree in English from Yale (with Honors). Oh, and he has a teaching certificate.
The pic on the Right is of Michael Totten, Senior Director Climate, Water and Ecosystem Services, with the The Center for Environmental Leadership in Business at Conservation International. At this link, the fact that the man has no credentials is totally avoided. But we do find out that this man, with no training in the sciences, no training in meteorology and no training in climatology has written a "12-title, 250-page Global Warming Prevention Act, which was co-sponsored by one-third of the House of Representatives". Remember, the guy's an English teacher. I'm sure his spelling was spot on.
Interestingly, his work has far reaching effects for Oregonians, statewide and locally.
For citizens of the North Oregon coast, it was Totten's plan for carbon offsets, through carbon sequestration effected by a process the experts call "aforestation" that created demand for LNG to be delivered to its area ports.
The scam was simple. Propose a power plant. Full of evil demons, like pollution. What to do? Offer to plant trees to offset the negative impact of the evil power plant. Simple? Simple-minded. But the grist for Cathcart's restatement of Totten.
Known as the Klamath Cogeneration Project, the city was able to get around pernicious state siting requirements, to build a 484-megawatt power plant in Klamath Falls. Of course this project hasn't been without problems.
"Fitch Downgrades Klamath Cogeneration Project to 'B-'; Removes from Watch Negative.
"NEW YORK -- Fitch Ratings has downgraded the rating on the City of Klamath Falls, OR (the city) senior secured revenue bonds due 2025 to 'B-' from 'BB+' and removed the Rating Watch Negative. The bonds are secured solely by the revenues of the 484-megawatt (MW) natural gas-fired Klamath Cogeneration Project (KCP) and other KCP assets.
"The rating action incorporates the expectation of continued depressed financial performance due to on-going reduced plant utilization, attributed to high natural gas prices. Specifically, high natural gas prices have led KCP's primary off-takers to reduce their dispatch of the facility, as allowed under their respective purchase power ... " (Highbeam Research, January 12, 2006.)
Which is why, I'm fairly sure, that K-Falls decided to get out of the energy business, transferring the cogeneration unit to PPM. Cities should stick to what they do best. English teachers should stick to what they do best. And state foresters should not take whole cloth from an English teacher, turn around and present the work as original.
There are some other interesting tidbits that can be picked up in other chapters of the Carbon Report. Here's one of the more interesting statements, that at the time didn't anticipate the cringe that must occur to the report's authors, as it does today:
"Another key question for the IPCC analyses is:are globally observed 20th-century warming trends the result of natural processes or human influences via greenhouse gas emissions? This question is now answered with high confidence: the trends in global climate since about 1975 can only be explained by non-natural forces." (Climate Change at Multiple Scales, Millar, Nielson, Bachelet, Drapek and Lenihan, "Carbon Report", Chapter Three.)
Sadly, as temperatures drop, Man Made Global Warming has morphed into Man Made Climate Change. Or, anthropomorphic climate change. Pseudo-science loves long, greeky words. And English teachers are known for their various pomposities.
Don't overlook Chapter 4. If you haven't heard of George Taylor, you haven't been following this issue very well. Take a look at what he says.
We have a lot to be thankful for. And Mr. Totten, Yale University: B.A., Literary Analysis (with Honors) is one of them.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
How to wrap your head around Lefty thinking.
How dumb is this? "W".
Get it? "W". It's like...a punchline. "W" is dumb! See? Funny.
From Daniel Kurtzman. A Lefty intellectual. "W" funny.
INSTRUCTIONS: Click on "Do you own a Prius?" above. This is a link that will take you to a "test" to "see what kind of Liberal you are." Can you figure out how I got "Do you own a Prius?"