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:

Free Speech Requires Backbone-Michael Totten In Cuba: ‘The Lost World, Part II’

Full piece here.

Why do so many in the American media choose not focus on the immiseration of the Cuban people under Communism?

Well, I’ve often heard: ‘True communism was never tried’ as though that were some kind of deep wisdom.

Let’s just say old dreams die hard.

Totten visited Trinidad, in central Cuba, and found well-maintained Spanish colonial architecture:

‘The streets are made of stone, the roofs beautifully tiled. All the buildings and houses are colorfully painted. Every visible structure in every direction pre-dates the Industrial Revolution. The city is a living museum piece, not just of Cuba before communist rule, but of Latin America during the Conquistador era, of the world before industry and machines, before globalization and standardization and the mass society changed politics and culture for everybody forever.’

The Cuban people, like all others unfortunate enough to have undergone Communist revolution, live in a time-warp, frozen-in-place by a failed industrial-age theory of history, frozen further still to year-zero of their own revolution. Most Cubans live not only without basic modern conveniences like cars, cell-phones, and computers, but also without the health-care and education promised them but never delivered.  Many also live without much vision for the future, Cuban leaders strolling the deck of a rotten, totalitarian police-state above them, everyone listing to and fro on unforgiving Caribbean currents.

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

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

———————-

Some light humor:

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 true time-warp and bizzaro-land is likely still North Korea, however:

——————–

What about value pluralism…positive and negative liberty?: 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”

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

Which Way, Venezuela?-Michael Moynihan At The Daily Beast: ‘No Mas Democracia’

Full piece here.

‘A few days after Venezuelan caudillo Hugo Chavez expired, his body saturated with cancer he believed was implanted in him by the CIA, I sat on an MSNBC panel encircled by academics sympathetic to the dead autocrat. Vastly outnumbered by halfwits and fellow travellers, I reached for the most conciliatory point available. “Chavez was no democrat,” I muttered, after viewing clips of various silly pundits denouncing him as a dictator, “but words mean things.”‘

His successor and thuggish hanger-on, Nicolas Maduro, is no Chavez.  Can Leopoldo Lopez oversee a peaceful uprising from prison?

A timeline and a discussion of how soaring Venezuelan inflation was being caused by political factors.

Still far Left. Take it from a bright Venezuelan:

‘Chavez is actually not an orthodox Marxist in the sense that Marx would have recognized (which was why I linked to the sort of Marxist ‘prophecy’ of people like Chavez from the ‘Eighteenth Brumaire’). Chavez is more along the lines of what traditional Marxists referred to as ‘Bonapartist’ (borrowing from the figure of Napoleon Bonaparte). The whole theory on which Chavez based his political life was that the working class (or what passed for it, in a country like Venezuela) *could not* make a revolution on its own, and that someone else (the military and the Socialist Party, led by him) needed to make the revolution for them. ‘

Christopher Hitchens at Slate-Hugo Boss:

‘The boss loves to talk and has clocked up speeches of Castro-like length. Bolívar is the theme of which he never tires. His early uniformed movement of mutineers—which failed to bring off a military coup in 1992—was named for Bolívar.’

If we’re going to have a chattering class of middlebrow know-nothings, can we at least ask they know the right somethings?:

—————–

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.

Michael Totten In Cuba: ‘The Lost World, Part II’

Full piece here.

Totten visits Trinidad, in central Cuba, and finds well-maintained Spanish colonial architecture:

‘The streets are made of stone, the roofs beautifully tiled. All the buildings and houses are colorfully painted. Every visible structure in every direction pre-dates the Industrial Revolution. The city is a living museum piece, not just of Cuba before communist rule, but of Latin America during the Conquistador era, of the world before industry and machines, before globalization and standardization and the mass society changed politics and culture for everybody forever.’

The Cuban people, like all others unfortunate enough to have undergone Communist revolution, live in a time-warp, frozen-in-place by a failed industrial-age theory of history, frozen further still to year-zero of their own revolution. Most Cubans live not only without basic modern conveniences like cars, cell-phones, and computers, but also without the health-care and education promised them but never delivered.  Many also live without much vision for the future, Cuban leaders strolling the deck of a rotten, totalitarian police-state above them, everyone listing to and fro on unforgiving Caribbean currents.

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

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

———————-

Some light humor:

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.

How’s that Russian reset going?:

——————

What about value pluralism…positive and negative liberty?: 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”

Classical Liberalism Via Friesian.Com-’Exchange with Tomaz Castello Branco on John Gray’

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

Ross Douthat At The NY Times: ‘Burke in America’

Full post here.

 ‘But I think the underlying point is sound: You can’t found an American conservatism on Burke alone, for the solid Burkean reason that he wasn’t an American, and thus wasn’t in the business of defending our particular particularities. But Burke read through/alongside Tocqueville is a different matter, and seen in that light I think the father of British conservatism’s place in the intellectual canon of the modern American right is deserved and secure.’

Related On This SiteSome Quotations From Leo Strauss On Edmund Burke In ‘Natural Right And History’ Carl Bogus At The American Conservative: ‘Burke Not Buckley’

From George Will on Stephen Colbert:  “What conservatives say is that we will protect you against idealism.” Originalism vs. The living constitution: George Will Via The Jewish World Review: ‘True Self-Government

Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution

The NY Times op-ed writer and a practicing Catholic? William Saletan and Ross Douthat At Slate: ‘Liberalism Is Stuck Halfway Between Heaven And Earth’…Douthat’s The Grand New PartyRoss Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’

Repost-From The Spiked Review Of Books Via The A & L Daily: ‘Rescuing The Enlightenment From Its Exploiters’… Behavioral economics and libertarian paternalism and below all that some liberal totalitarianism (the personal is political crowd)…Ross Douthat Responds To Paul Krugman At The NY Times: ‘Can We Be Sweden?’

On Mario Vargas Llosa-Adam Kirsch At The City Journal: ‘The Dream Of The Peruvian’

Full piece here.

“A disciple of Isaiah Berlin, whom he called in a moving essay “a hero of our time,” Vargas Llosa is a strong defender of “negative liberty,” the individual’s freedom from all forms of coercion, to the point of libertarianism.”

It’s a long way out of socialist and revolutionary solidarity, which continually occupies the South American mind.  One more revolution: Continue reading

From Via Media: ‘Morsi Calls Referendum, Egypt’s Liberals Helplessly Protest ‘

Full post here.

‘It’s always hard to understand the fast changing politics of a revolution in progress, but in Egypt the Islamists and the military seem to have reached an accommodation: The Islamists will leave the military alone and let the soldiers shape high politics while the military will stand back as the Islamists lead a conservative social revolution in the country.

Left out of this are the liberals, the Christians, secular Egyptians, and some of the business leaders and officials who were powerful under the old regime.’

There is still a bit of hope for other Egyptians, but the SCAF and the elected Islamists are still mostly calling the shots.

Morsi flees palace.

————————————-

So what’s the larger strategy to deal with the rise in Islamism?

————————-

Possibly related, a quote from Hill’s forward to Ajami’s new book on Syria, not Egypt, as discussed in the video:

[The] greatest strategic challenge of the twenty-first century is involves “reversing Islamic radicalism”‘

Related On This SiteNancy Okail At Freedom House: “‘Muslim Rage’ and the Politics of Distraction in Egypt’From Al Jazeera English: ‘Morsi Wins Egypt’s Presidential Election’Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest on Egypt: ‘Still More of the Same—and Something New’…are we still on a liberalizing, Westernizing trajectory?, however slow the pace? Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’

James Kirchik At The American Interest: ‘Egyptian Liberals Against the Revolution’

Full essay here.

Kirchik homes in on a problem:

“…a media narrative developed about the political state of play in Egypt that persists to this day. It presents a story that is as simplistic as it is erroneous. There exist, according to this analysis, roughly three groups in Egyptian politics: the “liberal” protestors, the Islamists and the military. The last of the three has been the easiest to define: The military is the strongest and most respected institution in Egypt, and its agenda—preserving its economic power and privilege in society—is evident in every action it takes.”

There are, apparently, are some Egyptian liberals actually against the recent revolution (a la Burke):

‘But Rezkalla—along with a small band of other young Egyptian liberals whom I’ve met—has no time for the discredited ideologies of the past like Arab nationalism. Grouped around a relatively new non-governmental organization, the Egyptian Union of Liberal Youth (EULY), they look to the classical liberal thinkers of Europe and America—to John Locke, not Gamal Abdel Nasser…’

and on the poverty, need, and want of a majority of Egyptians:

‘This is why, Badr says dismissively, the secular protestors who initiated the revolution were mostly middle class. The vast majority of the country, which remains poor, did not have serious problems with the Mubarak regime as it was steadily enjoying a higher quality of life under it. But the aspirational class, which has access to the Internet and some means of foreign travel, whose social advancement is more visibly thwarted by the corruption and nepotism of a dictatorial regime, and which is not living hand-to-mouth, places a higher value on political rights than do residents of Cairo’s vast slums.’

This reminds me of Niall Freguson’s observations (halfway through the video) on China:

Now that China has enacted economic reforms (by the old Communist structure) and is developing capital markets rapidly, it’s developing a broader “middle-class” of 200 million or more.  This is the group with a longer time-horizon that will force a diversification of institutions, challenge the old authoritarian structures as they demand more freedoms and opportunity.  This is the next wave (if it appears) that can go about creating longer-term political stability.

Would Egypt have similar options?

Addition:  Via Instapundit, more not promising reports.

Related On This Site:  It seems like one point of discussion is what kind of Western ideas lead the debate:  Some Quotations From Leo Strauss On Edmund Burke In ‘Natural Right And History’Paul Berman At The New Republic: ‘From September 11 to the Arab Spring: Do Ideas Matter?’…french Liberte?: Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

Yes, Edmund Burke opposed the French Revolution: Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution..

From The National Interest Via The A & L Daily: ‘Rawls Visits the Pyramids’Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest Online: ‘Political Order in Egypt’From Abu Muqawama: ‘Mubarak And Me’From Michael Totten: ‘The New Egyptian Underground’

Add to Technorati Favorites

Michael Totten At PJ Media: ‘The Christians Of Egypt, Part I’

Full interview here.

Totten interviews one Ramez Ataliah about events as they unfold in Egypt, and the potential fate of Egypt’s Christians if a less tolerant Islam comes to power.

‘Sadat brought in a regime change. The world was mesmerized by his peace with Israel, but he led such a sophisticated and high-class life that he didn’t care for the poor and the destitute. The capital he brought in was helpful on the one hand, but it didn’t help the poor people. Mubarak continued with Sadat’s philosophy, but not enough of the common people shared the wealth. Mubarak lost touch and forgot that he needed the approval of the masses to rule. He found himself way out of sync with the street. Nasser wasn’t.’

Related On This Site:…From Michael Totten: ‘An Interview With Christopher Hitchens’From Abu Muqawama: ‘Mubarak And Me’From Michael Totten: ‘The New Egyptian Underground’Lawrence Wright At The New Yorker: ‘The Man Behind Bin Laden’

Add to Technorati Favorites

From Michael Totten: ‘The New Egyptian Underground’

Full piece here.

An interview at the link with Egyptian Asem Tageldin, publisher of Awesome.  Some insight into Egyptian culture from his point of view.

I’ve still got my hand on my wallet.

Related On This Site:   From CSIS: ‘Turmoil In The Middle-East’……Lawrence Wright At The New Yorker: ‘The Man Behind Bin Laden’From The National Interest Via The A & L Daily: ‘Rawls Visits the Pyramids’Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest Online: ‘Political Order in Egypt’

From Abu Muqawama: ‘Mubarak And Me’

Add to Technorati Favorites