Repost-A Few Links From Around The Time Fidel Castro Died

A few years ago now…

Many folks have explained why Communist revolutions begin in violence and end in such misery, and why so many followers cling to these doctrines with a sort of religious fervor, selectively blind hope, and continued loyalty.

Or at least some folks held their ground and documented the mess:

Robert Conquest At The Hoover Institution: ‘When Goodness Won’

A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”…Appeasement Won’t Do-Via A Reader, ‘Michael Ignatieff Interview With Isaiah Berlin’

Michael Moynihan takes a look at how some in the Western media and in positions of influence have handled the death of what [was] essentially, a brutal dictator:

Still Stuck On Castro:

‘The preceding days have demonstrated that information peddled by Castro’s legion of academic and celebrity apologists has deeply penetrated the mainstream media consciousness, with credulous reporting sundry revolutionary “successes” of the regime: not so good on free speech, but oh-so-enviable on health care and education.’

and:

‘And how does Reuters describe Castro? After 50 years of brutal one-party rule, to apply the appellation “dictator” seems a rather contentious issue: “Vilified by opponents as a totalitarian dictator, Castro is admired in many Third World nations for standing up to the United States and providing free education and health care.” And again, we return to education and health care.’

Democratic socialism, and social democracy, are often just the distance some folks have migrated from their previous ideological commitments (tolerating market reforms and ‘neo-liberal’ economic policy out of necessity, not necessarily a change of heart nor mind).

For others it may be the distance they’ve unconsciously drifted towards such ideas more recently.

For other brave souls, it may be the distance required to stick one’s fingers into the political breezes which blow over the floor of the EU, in order to ‘stay engaged’:

Remember, this [was] the non-elected President of the EU Commission.

Michael Totten relays an anecdote here:

‘He told me about what happened at his sister’s elementary school a few years after Castro took over.

“Do you want ice cream and dulces (sweets),” his sister’s teacher, a staunch Fidelista, asked the class.

“Yes!” the kids said.

“Okay, then,” she said. “Put your hands together, bow your heads, and pray to God that he brings you ice cream and dulces.”

Nothing happened, of course. God did not did not provide the children with ice cream or dulces.

“Now,” the teacher said. “Put your hands together and pray to Fidel that the Revolution gives you ice cream and sweets.”

The kids closed their eyes and bowed their heads. They prayed to Fidel Castro. And when the kids raised their heads and opened their eyes, ice cream and dulces had miraculously appeared on the teacher’s desk.’

Gloria Estefan offers a window into Cuban culture, music, honor, and immigration as it mixes with American culture.

As previously posted:

Michael Moynihan reviewed Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’ which praised the Cuban Health Care System.

Christopher Hitchens took a helicopter ride with Sean Penn, and that tracksuit-wearing strongman of the people, Hugo Chavez-Hugo Boss:

It’s a long way out of socialist and revolutionary solidarity, which continually occupies the South American mind. One more revolution: Adam Kirsch takes a look at Mario Vargas Llosa. The Dream Of The Peruvian.

——————

The End Of History? –Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Related On This Site: What Will De Blasio’s New York Look Like?-Some LinksSandinistas At The NY Times: ‘A Mayoral Hopeful Now, de Blasio Was Once a Young Leftist’Two Links On Diane Ravitch & School Reform

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Brace Yourself For A New Cold War’

Full piece here

Well, we’ll see about that, I suppose…:

‘There’s a lot more going on, though, than a cooling of the Trump euphoria in Moscow. The Russians have plenty of reasons to fear the emergence, if not sooner then at least later, of a sustained bipartisan American hostility to Russia and Putin, with Donald Trump himself as its champion, that dwarfs anything the world has seen since Ronald Reagan engaged with détente with the Soviet Union’s last premier Mikhail Gorbachev.’

Things I’ve noticed:  The activist model now ushered out of power in America has riled the liberal and Left-liberal base to all manner of anti-Russian, anti-Trump speculation and projection.  The world is ending!  The Russians are coming! Trump is Putin’s boyfriend! We lost the election, the ‘reset’ was mostly a failure, and our ideas are suddenly out of power!

Other things I’ve noticed: Further over on the reactionary right, a weirdly pro-Putin sentiment has emerged, partially in response to the Left, I’m guessing, but not entirely (yes, Putin’s running an authoritarian kleptocracy and often solidifying power around anti-American sentiment and propaganda).

Maybe this means I agree with the underlying logic of Totten’s piece:  There sure are a lot of incentives now leading to the potential for heightened tensions and confrontation.

As previously posted.  Some links on Russia with love:

Masha Gessen at The New Yorker: ‘Putin’s Russia: Don’t Walk, Don’t Eat, Don’t Drink

‘Indeed, the larger message of the Nemtsov assassination and the apparent attempted assassination of Kara-Murza is that no one is safe. Both men are sufficiently well-known to attract the attention of Russia’s dwindling oppositional minority, but neither has the superstar status that would preclude identifying with him.’

More on the Nemtsov killing: Don’t speak out.

A reader passed along a video of Bill Browder, who made a billion, lost much of it, and got a look at Russian politics, money, and power up close. The way he describes it: Corruption all the way to the top.

————–

What goes around, comes around-An oldie but a goodie-George Kennan: ‘The Sources Of Soviet Conduct

60 Minutes had an interview with ‘Jack Barsky,‘ an East-German Soviet spy who ended up living in America. To hell with it!

From The National Interest: ‘Inside The Mind Of George F. Kennan’,,,Eric Postner back in 2008: The Bear Is Back

I wonder if any American operatives went under deep cover to Dschingis Khan concerts to better understand the German soul and its sentimental ties to Moscow:

——————–

Here’s Putin, back in the 80’s, meeting Reagan. Ho hum, just a tourist, snapping some photos and meeting, how do you say, your premier.

From The Atlantic Photo: Vladimir Putin-Action Man

‘Russia needs a strong state power and must have it. But I am not calling for totalitarianism.’

Vladimir Putin

Gary Saul Morson At The New Criterion: ‘The House Is On Fire!’

Full piece here.

‘Ninety-nine years ago, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated, and, after a few months of weak parliamentary rule, the Bolsheviks seized power. We call that seizure the Russian (or October) Revolution, but it might better be designated the Bolshevik coup d’état. A party of 10,000 people gained control of an empire occupying one-sixth of the earth’s land area.’


As previously posted:

The level of intellectual vanity, pride and willful self-deception of many intellectuals when it came to Stalin’s deeds are worth revisiting.  C-SPAN had Robert Conquest and Ken Jowitt in discussion of Conquest’s ‘The Dragons Of Expectation: Reality And Delusion In The Course Of History

A man who habitually cut through a lot of bullshit.

Conquest On Andrei Sakharov:

‘The events of the long struggle in the Soviet Union between the despots and the “dissidents,” in which Andrei Sakharov played such a great role, were well described in his Memoirs, which appeared in English in 1990, and in the accounts of his valiant wife, Elena Bonner. But here we have the other side of the story: the long secret records kept by the KGB and submitted to the state and party leadership. And these documents are skillfully put into the larger context by an extensive and useful introduction by Joshua Rubenstein.’

and:

‘Another large misapprehension about the nature of the Soviet and similar regimes was that the “planned economy” meant something real. There was also, among progressives in the West, the idea that the “bourgeoisie” were a natural enemy of the forward-looking, adolescent intelligentsia, and that the “capitalists” were the natural enemies. There is a historical context for these sinister myths. British ambassadors to Russia in the late eighteenth century had noted that entrepreneurs had to seek the quick ruble because at any moment the state might confiscate their investments. And at the opposite pole of Russian society, the peasantry was fixed on the need to deceive the authorities to whom they were subservient—up to, and provoking, violent rural risings.’

As previously posted:

Ha!  More Conquest:

“Those teach who can’t do” runs the dictum,

But for some even that’s out of reach:

They can’t even teach—so they’ve picked ’em

To teach other people to teach.

Then alas for the next generation,

For the pots fairly crackle with thorn.

Where psychology meets education

A terrible bullshit is born.’

Many people still can’t handle how bad Communism was on the ground, and fewer these days are looking to keep the ideology up in the air, partly thanks to Conquest and his labors:

Some Foreign Policy Links & Michael Totten At World Affairs Journal-‘Moscow On The Tigris: Russia Joins The Terror Nexus’

Full piece here.

Totten:

‘Look at a map again. Iran is a powerful state in the middle of the same Eurasia where Putin is building his union. An alliance of some sort with Iran isn’t strictly required, but it’s certainly helpful. At the very least, Putin wants good relations with the Iranians. And he wants America and American-friendly regimes away from his underbelly for the same reason he wants them off his western flank in Europe, where he fears the West and its economic and military alliances might encroach.

There’s no better way to win favor in Tehran than by co-sponsoring Iran’s own Middle Eastern proxies, Assad and Hezbollah. And there’s no better way to keep the West from breathing up his pant legs in the Middle East than by making himself the new power broker in a region long influenced by the United States, which he clearly sees as his biggest geopolitical foe.’

Without American involvement in stabilizing competing interests in many parts of the world, those interests which have their own reasons for defending and extending their own spheres of influence…will generally do so (from Russia in Syria, Ukraine & The Baltics…to China in the South and East China Seas).

Robert Kaplan doesn’t assert that geography explains everything, but rather that it can provide deeper contextual understanding as to what’s going on in the world today.

Look for increased nationalism and potential for conflict over shipping lanes and naval power in East Asia, for which America can provide much in the way of stability and the promotion of our interests, as well as that of a global liberal order (which can and will be challenged):

 

Short and long-term consequences to the Iran deal?  Podcast from the at the American Interest here.

A nuclear-armed Iran with the deal in place seems quite likely. It’s certainly risky business.

ISIS thrives in the lawless places:

———————–

Some Russian links…as previously posted:

More on the Nemtsov killing: Don’t speak out.

Julia Ioffe at her site: ‘The Bizarre End To Vladimir Putin’s Bizarre Marriage:

‘An odd moment in the announcement came when Putin mentioned his confirmed children, two adult daughters whom we’ve never really seen, though there were reports in 2010 that one of them was marrying the son of a South Korean admiral.’

A reader passed along a video of Bill Browder, who made a billion, lost much of it, and got a look at Russian politics, money, and power up close.  The way he describes it:  Corruption all the way to the top.

————–

What goes around, comes around-An oldie but a goodie-George Kennan: ‘The Sources Of Soviet Conduct

60 Minutes had an interview with ‘Jack Barsky,‘ an East-German Soviet spy who ended up living in America.  To hell with it!

From The National Interest: ‘Inside The Mind Of George F. Kennan’,,,Eric Postner back in 2008: The Bear Is Back

Some Monday Links: The Left, Money & The New Republic-Garry Kasparov & Christopher Walken As ‘Max Zorin’

I think the only man who can save us from Silicon Valley as it currently stands, is the strange Nazi/Soviet funded superfreak, Max Zorin:

—————–

Now that’s a plan, but we probably don’t need to be saved.

Megan McArdle discusses the reality of trying to monetize not only writers and journalists, but intellectuals.

Chris Hughes, a founder of Facebook bought the New Republic:

‘Every new owner looks at media and thinks, “This is insane and inefficient. Obviously, this is a dinosaur industry ripe for rationalization by someone who actually knows how to run a business.” When you get inside, however, it turns out that the industry is not actually staffed, as previously assumed, by archaic snobs who wear suspenders and spats when they sit down with a glass of sherry to read the latest Dos Passos epic. Instead, most of the seemingly inexplicable inefficiencies are driven by the peculiar nature of this business.’

Tech-industry business models producing deliverables out of high-end, labor-intensive coding and programming work in ‘the Valley’ don’t necessarily translate successfully for East-coast, establishment ‘bookstore’ intellectuals, apparently.

Writers and academic refugees, political theorists and idea people tend to think differently than engineering types, especially when those writers are coated with the dust of the marketplace, harbor the skepticism and suspicion of journalists on the beat, and are busy just being the lone-wolf, creative, artistic and introspective types they often are (software engineers can be highly creative, but in a generally different way).

Of course, the New Republic was a space where the progressive Left, and some genuine radicals and true Leftist ideologues gravitated, and where they were often pushed against by and for practical purposes by more moderate, establishment liberals and other thinkers.  They will continue to have a lot of influence.

We’ll see what happens, but nowadays the New Republic appears to my eyes more like Upworthy, Salon, the Huffington Post and other Left-leaning sites in the marketplace.

Visit the Upworthy generator if that’s your thing.

Libertarian editor of Reason Matt Welch took a look at the change of ownership at the New Republic under Hughes, and the move further Leftward:

‘The great irony is that The New Republic is repudiating contrarian neoliberalism precisely when we need it most. Obama proposes in his State of the Union address to jack up the minimum wage to $9 an hour, and instead of surveying the vast skeptical academic literature, or asking (pace Charles Peters) whether such liberal gestures are “more about preserving their own gains than about helping those in need,” TNR columnist Timothy Noah declares, “Raise the Minimum Wage! And make it higher than what Obama just proposed.”

Adam Kirsch, Simon Blackburn, Martha Nussbaum, John Gray.  Here are a few links on this site to the New Republic:  Leon Wieseltier At The New Republic: ‘A Darwinist Mob Goes After a Serious Philosopher’Adam Kirsch At The New Republic: ‘Art Over Biology’

****Tech money and technology are affecting not only old media.  Kids starting out now have touch screens all around them, staring at their smart phones, games etc. for hours on end.  They aren’t necessarily idle.

The NY Times, the Ivy League, lawyers and law schools and various, assorted guilds in our society…take note.

This is probably more important than just debates about politics, ideas, and political theory.

*********

On that note (yeah, I don’t think the New Republic is full of totalitarians):

From a Thomas Sowell piece, the Legacy Of Eric Hoffer:

‘Hoffer said: “The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.”

People who are fulfilled in their own lives and careers are not the ones attracted to mass movements: “A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding,” Hoffer said. “When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business.”

What Hoffer was describing was the political busybody, the zealot for a cause — the “true believer,” who filled the ranks of ideological movements that created the totalitarian tyrannies of the 20th century.’

————————————————

As sent in by a reader for Reason magazine:

Chess-great Garry Kasparov grew up as part of the Soviet empire, in its waning days, and is now a human-rights activist in addition to his chess-work.  He is calling for many in the West to have the courage of their convictions, which also challenges many on the Left, liberal-Left, as well as the libertarian anti-war crowd and activists of all stripes.

This is the stuff out of which neo-conservatives can be born.

Yes, the Soviet days are over, but don’t just fold and walk away from the table (poker, not chess, as Kasparov points out).  Putin is bluffing, but still playing a dangerous, destabilizing game, from Ukraine to China, from the Baltics to his influence in Tehran, and this requires strategy and leadership.

(And, can you trust an activist?: What are his interests aside from his ideals, what truths may be be telling and why might they appeal?)

Not necessarily breaking things, just strategy and leadership:

———————

That’s more of what Kasparov was likely driving at in this tweet from a while back:

———————

I suppose we’ll also see what happens.

Stay tuned, and if you’re interested in supporting this blog, just read it, because it’s probably never going to make any money.  It’s a labor of love.

Related On This Site:  Are we still having the same debate…is it manifest destiny?: A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”Repost-Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘The Sidewalks Of San Francisco

The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and trendy leftist solidarity to liberalism, but wasn’t exactly classically liberal:  Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

So, No Reset Then?-A Saturday Link

Putin announced the re-opening of an old base in Cuba, where the rotten Communist regime keeps chugging along, its people still immiserated.

Of course, Putin is an old KGB guy, who learned a lot of tricks on how to keep power in the waning days of the Soviet empire.  More recently, he’s been aggressively carving-up old satellites when it suits Moscow’s interests, as in Georgia and Ukraine, playing off of Russian ethno-nationalist sentiment and the fear and pride of lost empire as much as he can.

Here’s Putin, back in the 80′s, meeting Reagan.  Ho hum, just a tourist, snapping some photos and meeting, how do you say, your premier.

From The Atlantic Photo: Vladimir Putin-Action Man

‘Russia needs a strong state power and must have it. But I am not calling for totalitarianism.’

Vladimir Putin

No, there may not be a brilliant long-game at work, and yes, there’s always a ‘seed of aggression’ when you’re dealing with Moscow, especially Putin. I’d say many Americans (too many in the media) are choosing to see the world through current rose-colored glasses of vague, one-world liberalization and democracy for all (Guantanamo, for all its faults, is probably a more pressing issue for the current administration when it comes to Cuba, which says a lot).

A harsher, more realist turn could serve us well right now. We need strategy: to be fluid and clever, while building alliances and recognizing interests and promoting them to contain these kinds of shenanigans.

More here:

‘After Putin visited Cuba on Friday, the Kremlin press service said the president had forgiven 90% of Cuba’s unpaid Soviet-era debts, which totalled $32bn (£18.6bn) – a concession that now appears to be tied to the agreement to reopen the base’

————–

Maybe we could bring-in Rocky for some consultation, you know, just to have him around:

————–

Some related links on this site:

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘The Once Great Havana’

Michael Moynihan reviewed Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’ which praised the Cuban Health Care System.

Vladimir just wants to be friends, America: Remember that appeal in NY Times?

***Bonus-Putin and Bush’s love affair in a GAZ M-21 Volga caught on tape.  Putin sends Medvedev out to keep the flame alive with Obama on missile defense.

Are we headed toward 19th century geo-politics? I get a sorely needed refresher on the Cold War:  Obama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams’

James Baker At The NY Times: ‘3 Presidents and a Riddle Named Putin’

Full piece here.

“He’s not delusional, but he’s inhabiting a Russia of the past — a version of the past that he has created,” said Fiona Hill, the top intelligence officer on Russia during Mr. Bush’s presidency and co-author of “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin.” “His present is defined by it and there is no coherent vision of the future. Where exactly does he go from here beyond reasserting and regaining influence over territories and people? Then what?”

Maybe he’s got his own future, and doesn’t need ours. Maybe he hasn’t thought that far ahead. Maybe some people in China’s military see outside interests reflexively as threats and calculate accordingly.  Maybe Al Qaeda’s Islamist radicalism is messianic and delusional, as are a lot of people in the Muslim Brotherhood, as are some people out there who would hijack nuclear material and kill millions of innocent people if they could.

Do we take Somali pirates aside and give them a good talking-to?

But as to Russia and Putin, I suppose the country’s too big and its leader too important to ignore for many strategic reasons.

I suppose we’ll keep looking inside those nesting dolls for a man we can do business with.

A Cold Dose Of Realism-‘Americans Play Monopoly, Russians Chess’

Full piece here.

Neo-cons, humanists, human-rights advocates…religious and secular idealists, missionaries of all stripes who want to see more freedom and democracy cast in our image…it’s good to get other points of view:

David Goldman wrote the following back in 2008, a few years after Ukraine’s Orange Revolutionjust as Georgia was flaring up, and when Putin stepped-in (to Georgia) to maximize his advantage:

‘The place to avert tragedy is in Ukraine. Russia will not permit Ukraine to drift to the West. Whether a country that never had an independent national existence prior to the collapse of communism should become the poster-child for national self-determination is a different question. The West has two choices: draw a line in the sand around Ukraine, or trade it to the Russians for something more important.

My proposal is simple: Russia’s help in containing nuclear proliferation and terrorism in the Middle East is of infinitely greater import to the West than the dubious self-determination of Ukraine. The West should do its best to pretend that the “Orange” revolution of 2004 and 2005 never happened, and secure Russia’s assistance in the Iranian nuclear issue as well as energy security in return for an understanding of Russia’s existential requirements in the near abroad. Anyone who thinks this sounds cynical should spend a week in Kiev.’

The argument is pretty clear:  Putin is looking at demographic decline, and he’s an ex-KGB ethno-nationalist looking to keep the empire together:

‘Russia is not an ethnicity but an empire, the outcome of hundreds of years of Russification. That Russification has been brutal is an understatement, but it is what created Russia out of the ethnic morass around the Volga river basin. One of the best accounts of Russia’s character comes from Eugene Rosenstock-Huessey (Franz Rosenzweig’s cousin and sometime collaborator) in his 1938 book Out of Revolution. Russia’s territory tripled between the 16th and 18th centuries, he observes, and the agency of its expansion was a unique Russian type.’

Worth a read.

Related On This SiteRobert Merry At The National Interest: ‘Spengler’s Ominous Prophecy’“Spengler” At PJ Media: ‘Lessons From Europe’s Winners And Losers’

Is Barack Obama A Realist?From The National Interest: ‘Inside The Mind Of George F. Kennan’

Kasparov, Kerry, Putin & Obama?-Some Links On Ukraine