Category Archive 'Soviet Union'
07 Jun 2022
Victor Davis Hanson marvels at just how Sovietized America and its elite commissariat class have become, and his diagnosis of what’s happened is perfectly right.
One day historians will look back at the period beginning with the COVID lockdowns of spring 2020 through the midterm elections of 2022 to understand how America for over two years lost its collective mind and turned into something unrecognizable and antithetical to its founding principles.
“Sovietization” is perhaps the best diagnosis of the pathology. It refers to the subordination of policy, expression, popular culture, and even thought to ideological mandates. Ultimately such regimentation destroys a state since dogma wars with and defeats meritocracy, creativity, and freedom.
Experts become sycophantic. They mortgage their experience and talent to ideology—to the point where society itself regresses.
The law is no longer blind and disinterested, but adjudicates indictment, prosecution, verdict, and punishment on the ideology of the accused. Eric Holder is held in contempt of Congress and smiles; Peter Navarro is held in contempt of Congress and is hauled off in cuffs and leg-irons. James Clapper and John Brennan lied under oath to Congress—and were rewarded with television contracts; Roger Stone did the same and a SWAT team showed up at his home. Andrew McCabe made false statements to federal investigators and was exempt. A set-up George Papadopoulos went to prison for a similar charge. So goes the new American commissariat.
Examine California and ask a series of simple questions.
Why does the state that formerly served as a model to the nation regarding transportation now suffer inferior freeways while its multibillion-dollar high-speed rail project remains an utter boondoggle and failure?
Why was its safe and critically needed last-remaining nuclear power plant scheduled for shutdown (and only recently reversed) as the state faced summer brownouts?
Why did its forests go up in smoke predictably each summer, as its timber industry and the century-old science of forest management all but disappeared from the state?
Why do the state’s criminals so often evade indictment, and if convicted are often not incarcerated—or are quickly paroled?
Why are its schools’ test scores dismal, its gasoline the nation’s highest-priced, and the streets of its major cities fetid and dangerous—in a fashion not true 50 years ago or elsewhere today?
In a word, the one-party state is Sovietized. Public policy is no longer empirical but subservient to green, diversity, equity, and inclusion dogmas—and detached from the reality of daily middle-class existence. Decline is ensured once ideology governs problem-solving rather than time-tested and successful policymaking.
Entire professions have now nearly been lost to radical progressive ideology. …
Do we remember those stellar economists who swore at a time of Biden’s vast government borrowing, increases in the monetary supply, incentivizing labor non-participation, and supply chain interruptions that there was no threat of inflation? Were they adherents of ideological “modern monetary theory”? Did they ignore their own training and experience in fealty to progressive creeds?
08 Sep 2021
Jean-Paul Sartre admired the Soviet Union, while Albert Camus despised it. In 1950, when North Korea, backed by the Soviet Union and China, invaded South Korea, Camus said to Sartre: “What will happen to you when the Russians invade France? Perhaps the hyena with a fountain pen would not be allowed to have the last laugh?” Stalin’s cultural commissar, Alexander Fadayev, had earlier called Sartre, “a jackal with a typewriter, a hyena with a fountain pen.”
HT: Anoop Verna.
18 Jul 2017
There is an entire genre of Finnish jokes at the expense of the Russians.
In 1939, Stalin grew tired of tolerating the existence of Finland on the Soviet Unionâ€™s western border, so he decided to crush it. In December, 120,000 soldiers, backed up by six hundred tanks and a thousand artillery pieces, readied themselves to invade Finland.
The Finns were unperturbed. Their generals were competent, their borders were fortified, and their people were ready to fight and die for their homeland.
As Russian bombs fell on Helsinki on the 30th of November, and Soviet divisions began crossing the border, a joke began to spread among the Finns:
â€œThey are so many and our country is so small, where shall we find room to bury them all?â€
03 Mar 2017
8 years sober next August.
Just not the one that the dems are pointing fingers at this week. J. Christian Adams identifies the Senator who really did commit treason.
Yes, a United States senator really did collude with the Russians to influence the outcome of a presidential election. His name was Ted Kennedy.
While Sen. Al Franken (D-Ringling Bros.) and other Democrats have the vapors over a truthful, complete, and correct answer Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave in his confirmation hearing, it’s worth remembering the reprehensible behavior of Senator Ted Kennedy in 1984.
This reprehensible behavior didn’t involve launching an Oldsmobile Delmont 88 into a tidal channel while drunk. This reprehensible behavior was collusion with America’s most deadly enemy in an effort to defeat Ronald Reagan’s reelection.
You won’t hear much about that from CNN and the clown from Minnesota.
To recap, from Forbes:
Picking his way through the Soviet archives that Boris Yeltsin had just thrown open, in 1991 Tim Sebastian, a reporter for the London Times, came across an arresting memorandum. Composed in 1983 by Victor Chebrikov, the top man at the KGB, the memorandum was addressed to Yuri Andropov, the top man in the entire USSR. The subject: Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Kennedyâ€™s message was simple. He proposed an unabashed quid pro quo. Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. â€œThe only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations,â€ the memorandum stated. â€œThese issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign.â€
Kennedy made Andropov a couple of specific offers.
Among the promises Kennedy made the Soviets was he that would ensure that the television networks gave the Soviet leader primetime slots to speak directly to the American people, thus undermining Reagan’s framing of the sinister nature of the USSR. Event then, the Democrats had the power to collude with the legacy media. Kennedy also promised to help Andropov penetrate the American message with his Soviet agitprop.
That’s right, folks. Even 30 years ago, Democrat senators were colluding with America’s enemies to bring down Republicans.
And no, Jeff Sessions didn’t perjure himself. It’s not even a close call.
14 Aug 2013
Soviet consumers used to dread receiving a car or appliance produced by a Russian factory in the waning days of the month, when the workers, who had idled away their time day after day, suddenly sprang into action to meet the monthly production quota by “storm producing” everything. Production speed went up stratospherically and quality control went down precipitously.
I never knew the Russian word for “storm production,” but M.H. Forsyth supplies it.
[T]oday I discovered a word that is so useful that it describes most, if not all, of my futile life. The word is shturmovshchina, and it may even be worth learning how to spell it.
Shturmovshchina is the practice of working frantically just before a deadline, having not done anything for the last month. The first element means storm or assault, the second is a derogatory suffix.
Shturmovschina originated in the Soviet Union. Factories would be given targets and quotas and other such rot by the state. However, they often weren’t given any tools or raw materials. So they would sit around with their feet up and their tools down waiting until the necessaries arrived, and it was only when the deadline was knocking at the door and the gulag beckoned that they would panic, grab whatever was to hand, and do a really shoddy, half-arsed heap of work.
This too is my policy.
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.
23 Aug 2010
On today’s date in 1989, the 50th Anniversary of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, a human chain of protestors 400-miles-long stretched across the Baltic States demanding freedom and independence from the Soviet Union.
Hat tip to Publius via Karen L. Myers.
14 May 2010
Claire Berlinski, in City Journal, marvels that 50,000 records from the Soviet archives smuggled out of Russia by dissidents remain unpublished and untranslated.
Their neglect by an academic and journalistic establishment dominated by the left should not be surprising. They obviously contain a great many things members of the left would prefer not to know. Berlinski quotes several interesting examples.
In the worldâ€™s collective consciousness, the word â€œNaziâ€ is synonymous with evil. It is widely understood that the Nazisâ€™ ideologyâ€”nationalism, anti-Semitism, the autarkic ethnic state, the FÃ¼hrer principleâ€”led directly to the furnaces of Auschwitz. It is not nearly as well understood that Communism led just as inexorably, everywhere on the globe where it was applied, to starvation, torture, and slave-labor camps. Nor is it widely acknowledged that Communism was responsible for the deaths of some 150 million human beings during the twentieth century. The world remains inexplicably indifferent and uncurious about the deadliest ideology in history.
For evidence of this indifference, consider the unread Soviet archives. Pavel Stroilov, a Russian exile in London, has on his computer 50,000 unpublished, untranslated, top-secret Kremlin documents, mostly dating from the close of the Cold War. He stole them in 2003 and fled Russia. Within living memory, they would have been worth millions to the CIA; they surely tell a story about Communism and its collapse that the world needs to know. Yet he canâ€™t get anyone to house them in a reputable library, publish them, or fund their translation. In fact, he canâ€™t get anyone to take much interest in them at all. …
the documents cast Gorbachev in a far darker light than the one in which he is generally regarded. In one document, he laughs with the Politburo about the USSRâ€™s downing of Korean Airlines flight 007 in 1983â€”a crime that was not only monstrous but brought the world very near to nuclear Armageddon. These minutes from a Politburo meeting on October 4, 1989, are similarly disturbing:
Lukyanov reports that the real number of casualties on Tiananmen Square was 3,000.
Gorbachev: We must be realists. They, like us, have to defend themselves. Three thousands . . . So what?
And a transcript of Gorbachevâ€™s conversation with Hans-Jochen Vogel, the leader of West Germanyâ€™s Social Democratic Party, shows Gorbachev defending Soviet troopsâ€™ April 9, 1989, massacre of peaceful protesters in Tbilisi. …
There are other ways in which the story that Stroilovâ€™s and Bukovskyâ€™s papers tell isnâ€™t over. They suggest, for example, that the architects of the European integration project, as well as many of todayâ€™s senior leaders in the European Union, were far too close to the USSR for comfort. This raises important questions about the nature of contemporary Europeâ€”questions that might be asked when Americans consider Europe as a model for social policy, or when they seek European diplomatic cooperation on key issues of national security.
According to Zagladinâ€™s reports, for example, Kenneth Coates, who from 1989 to 1998 was a British member of the European Parliament, approached Zagladin on January 9, 1990, to discuss what amounted to a gradual merger of the European Parliament and the Supreme Soviet. Coates, says Zagladin, explained that â€œcreating an infrastructure of cooperation between the two parliament[s] would help . . . to isolate the rightists in the European Parliament (and in Europe), those who are interested in the USSRâ€™s collapse.â€ Coates served as chair of the European Parliamentâ€™s Subcommittee on Human Rights from 1992 to 1994. How did it come to pass that Europe was taking advice about human rights from a man who had apparently wished to â€œisolateâ€ those interested in the USSRâ€™s collapse and sought to extend Soviet influence in Europe?
Or consider a report on Francisco FernÃ¡ndez OrdÃ³Ã±ez, who led Spainâ€™s integration into the European Community as its foreign minister. On March 3, 1989, according to these documents, he explained to Gorbachev that â€œthe success of perestroika means only one thingâ€”the success of the socialist revolution in contemporary conditions. And that is exactly what the reactionaries donâ€™t accept.â€ Eighteen months later, OrdÃ³Ã±ez told Gorbachev: â€œI feel intellectual disgust when I have to read, for example, passages in the documents of â€˜G7â€™ where the problems of democracy, freedom of human personality and ideology of market economy are set on the same level. As a socialist, I cannot accept such an equation.â€ Perhaps most shockingly, the Eastern European press has reported that Stroilovâ€™s documents suggest that FranÃ§ois Mitterrand was maneuvering with Gorbachev to ensure that Germany would unite as a neutral, socialist entity under a Franco-Soviet condominium.
Zagladinâ€™s records also note that the former leader of the British Labour Party, Neil Kinnock, approached Gorbachevâ€”unauthorized, while Kinnock was leader of the oppositionâ€”through a secret envoy to discuss the possibility of halting the United Kingdomâ€™s Trident nuclear-missile program.
The Kinnock anecdote certainly sounds familiar. Remember Ted Kennedy’s 1983 overtures to Gorbachev to work together against President Reagan military build-up?
09 Nov 2009
Twenty years ago, the Soviet Empire was beginning to collapse.
In the Telegraph, Charles S. Maier recalls the suddenness of the end.
As late as the summer of 1989, the protesting groups seemed small and fragmented, but then, encouraged by the sense of change that their own activity helped to generate, many more joined the prayer meetings in the large urban churches of Leipzig and Berlin, marched with their candles for a relaxation of press restrictions and, emboldened by those who were heading West, shouted, “We are staying here,” and by September, “We are the people!”
Repeated Monday-night demonstrations in Leipzig swelled to 70,000 by mid-October, a week after the GDR celebrated its 40th anniversary.
The regime could no longer control its frontiers, and chose not to contest the streets. A divided politburo ousted its old-guard members, including party chief Erich Honecker, and after massive demonstrations in Berlin, it decided to relax travel restrictions, leading to the joyous confusion of November 9.
Was such a peaceful revolution inevitable? Three months earlier, Chinese authorities had opted to use force and crushed the pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing. Could the East Germans have wagered on a Chinese solution?
Politburo elders, including Honecker and minister of state security Erich Mielke, who were out of touch with the profound dissent growing across their little republic, might have believed that they could.
But we know from transcribed conversations that younger heirs to the state were despairing. Revolutions usually begin when a ruling group fragments, and the GDR leadership was deeply divided by late summer.
For all the loyalty it might muster, the GDR’s existence, moreover, depended on the presence of several hundred thousand Soviet troops garrisoned originally as occupation forces and, since 1955, as Warsaw Pact allies.
Their tanks had suppressed the protests of striking East Berlin workers in June 1953, when local Soviet commanders understood that their fragile satellite might dissolve into the West.
Until 1989, the Red Army’s presence remained a deterrent, deployed against Hungary’s impetuous revolutionaries in 1956 and Czechoslovak reformers in August 1968. If there were violent clashes in the autumn of 1989, might Soviet troops be used again?
In public, Gorbachev helped Honecker, whom he found tiresome and didactic, to celebrate the GDR’s 40th anniversary in early October.
In private, he was reported to have said that history punishes those who come too late. Discreetly, and through his embassy, he signalled that his Berlin wards were on their own. Russian troops would stay in their barracks.
Local East German officials understood that a crackdown could lead to violence beyond their capacity to control it.
The demonstrators enforced their own discipline and called mostly for dialogue. Their radicalism was limited: no one knew how much would change as the Wall was opened on November 9. Few leaders of the ruling Socialist Unity Party (the SED) and few of the demonstrators’ ad hoc “civic movements” expected their republic to be swept away within a few months.
However, Chancellor Kohl soon concluded that he must outbid the East German reformers’ vision of existing side by side with the West German state by manipulating economic and national longings.
Simultaneously, he persuaded Western leaders (Mrs Thatcher excepted) that the Germans would remain good Europeans and Gorbachev that German self-determination was no threat to Moscow.
The Russian leader, himself intoxicated by the momentum of change, did not expect that his own Soviet Communist Party and the Soviet federation would dissolve within two years, either. But he earned his Nobel for not resisting the dissolution by force.
Germany is celebrating the anniversary, as the New York Times reports. But Barack Obama is not attending the observances of so unhappy an occasion from his perspective. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is standing in for him representing the United States.
It’s only too obvious why Barack Obama, who dashed off to Copenhagen at the drop of a hat to lobby for Chicago’s Olympic bid, is unwilling to attend. But Reuters is asking out loud “Should Obama Be in Berlin?” and is even conducting a poll on the subject. I vote No. I think he ought to be in Havana or Caracas or Pyongyang, crying over a beer with other leaders reduced to despondence by such a defeat for their side.
The BBC took a poll intended to demonstrate that Barack Obama is far from alone in lacking enthusiasm. Only 11% of responders thought capitalism was working well at the present time, and in many countries there was significant doubt that the fall of Communism was actually a good thing.
31 Aug 2009
JosÃ© Guardia quotes (and translates) a story about Ted Kennedy from recalled by former Spanish Ambassador to the US Javier RupÃ©rez, adding his own puzzlement about the late Senator Kennedy’s behavior.
Shortly after the Iraq war started I saw Senator Kennedy in a public session of the U.S. Supreme Court. As we were taking our seats he briefly took my arm and told me he greatly appreciated the attitude of the Spanish government regarding the decision taken by the White House because, he said, “although you know my position ” — he was one of the few senators to oppose the authorization for the war — “I appreciate the solidarity with my country in times like this.” “I would appreciate if you relay this to President Aznar,” he added.
Interesting. Let me see if I get this straight: if it’s good to show solidarity with the US “in times like this”, why did this only apply to foreigners? Why didn’t he start with himself? I understand the “politics ends at the water edge” principle, but it’s one thing not to criticize, and another to send a clear, precise message like this. Of course it may be he was acting as a politician, telling his interlocutor what he wanted to hear. But still, the opposition to the war in Iraq was a topic in which Ted Kennedy was very vocal, and it’s certainly odd he said this, if he did.
How much solidarity with his own country did the late Senator show?
Paul Kengor, at American Thinker, reminds of us of the 1983 KGB memo describing the late Senator Kennedy making a confidential offer to General Secretary Andropov to join him in opposing the Reagan Administration defense build-up which ultimately persuaded the Soviet leadership it could not win the Cold War and brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union.
There’s solidarity for you. Too bad the solidarity of the late Senator Edward Moore Kennedy was with his country’s enemies. And they buried him with honors in Arlington National Cemetery! That noise you hear in the distance must be the real Americans buried there revolving in their graves.
The subject head, carried under the words, “Special Importance,” read: “Regarding Senator Kennedy’s request to the General Secretary of the Communist Party Y. V. Andropov.” According to the memo, Senator Kennedy was “very troubled” by U.S.-Soviet relations, which Kennedy attributed not to the murderous tyrant running the USSR but to President Reagan. The problem was Reagan’s “belligerence.”
This was allegedly made worse by Reagan’s stubbornness. “According to Kennedy,” reported Chebrikov, “the current threat is due to the President’s refusal to engage any modification to his politics.” That refusal, said the memo, was exacerbated by Reagan’s political success, which made the president surer of his course, and more obstinate — and, worst of all, re-electable.
On that, the fourth and fifth paragraphs of Chebrikov’s memo got to the thrust of Kennedy’s offer: The senator was apparently clinging to hope that President Reagan’s 1984 reelection bid could be thwarted. Of course, this seemed unlikely, given Reagan’s undeniable popularity. So, where was the president vulnerable?
Alas, Kennedy had an answer, and suggestion, for his Soviet friends: In Chebrikov’s words, “The only real threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations. These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign.”
Therein, Chebrikov got to the heart of the U.S. senator’s offer to the USSR’s general secretary: “Kennedy believes that, given the state of current affairs, and in the interest of peace, it would be prudent and timely to undertake the following steps to counter the militaristic politics of Reagan.”
Of these, step one would be for Andropov to invite the senator to Moscow for a personal meeting. Said Chebrikov: “The main purpose of the meeting, according to the senator, would be to arm Soviet officials with explanations regarding problems of nuclear disarmament so they would be better prepared and more convincing during appearances in the USA.”
The second step, the KGB head informed Andropov, was a Kennedy strategy to help the Soviets “influence Americans.” Chebrikov explained: “Kennedy believes that in order to influence Americans it would be important to organize in August-September of this year , televised interviews with Y. V. Andropov in the USA.” The media savvy Massachusetts senator recommended to the Soviet dictator that he seek a “direct appeal” to the American people. And, on that, “Kennedy and his friends,” explained Chebrikov, were willing to help, listing Walter Cronkite and Barbara Walters (both listed by name in the memo) as good candidates for sit-down interviews with the dictator.
Kennedy concluded that the Soviets needed, in effect, some PR help, given that Reagan was good at “propaganda” (the word used in the memo). The senator wanted them to know he was more than eager to lend a hand.
Kennedy wanted the Soviets to saturate the American media during such a visit. Chebrikov said Kennedy could arrange interviews not only for the dictator but for “lower level Soviet officials, particularly from the military,” who “would also have an opportunity to appeal directly to the American people about the peaceful intentions of the USSR.”
This was apparently deemed crucial because of the dangerous threat posed not by Andropov’s regime but — in Kennedy’s view — by Ronald Reagan and his administration. It was up to the Kremlin folks to “root out the threat of nuclear war,” “improve Soviet-American relations,” and “define the safety for the world.”
Quite contrary to the ludicrous assertions now being made about Ted Kennedy working jovially with Ronald Reagan, Kennedy, in truth, thought Reagan was a trigger-happy buffoon, and said so constantly, with vicious words of caricature and ridicule. The senator felt very differently about Yuri Andropov. As Chebrikov noted in his memo, “Kennedy is very impressed with the activities of Y. V. Andropov and other Soviet leaders.”
Alas, the memo concluded with a discussion of Kennedy’s own presidential prospects in 1984, and a note that Kennedy “underscored that he eagerly awaits a reply to his appeal.”
What happened next? We will never know.
20 Oct 2006
Paul Kengor, a political science professor at (right-wing, Christian) Grove City College in a new book, titled, The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism
In his book, which came out this week, Kengor focuses on a KGB letter written at the height of the Cold War that shows that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) offered to assist Soviet leaders in formulating a public relations strategy to counter President Reagan’s foreign policy and to complicate his re-election efforts.
The letter, dated May 14, 1983, was sent from the head of the KGB to Yuri Andropov, who was then General Secretary of the Soviet Union’s Communist Party.
In his letter, KGB head Viktor Chebrikov offered Andropov his interpretation of Kennedy’s offer. Former U.S. Sen. John Tunney (D-Calif.) had traveled to Moscow on behalf of Kennedy to seek out a partnership with Andropov and other Soviet officials, Kengor claims in his book.
At one point after President Reagan left office, Tunney acknowledged that he had played the role of intermediary, not only for Kennedy but for other U.S. senators, Kengor said. Moreover, Tunney told the London Times that he had made 15 separate trips to Moscow.
“There’s a lot more to be found here,” Kengor told Cybercast News Service. “This was a shocking revelation.”
It is not evident with whom Tunney actually met in Moscow. But the letter does say that Sen. Kennedy directed Tunney to reach out to “confidential contacts” so Andropov could be alerted to the senator’s proposals.
Specifically, Kennedy proposed that Andropov make a direct appeal to the American people in a series of television interviews that would be organized in August and September of 1983, according to the letter.
“Tunney told his contacts that Kennedy was very troubled about the decline in U.S -Soviet relations under Reagan,” Kengor said. “But Kennedy attributed this decline to Reagan, not to the Soviets. In one of the most striking parts of this letter, Kennedy is said to be very impressed with Andropov and other Soviet leaders.”
In Kennedy’s view, the main reason for the antagonism between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1980s was Reagan’s unwillingness to yield on plans to deploy middle-range nuclear missiles in Western Europe, the KGB chief wrote in his letter.
“Kennedy was afraid that Reagan was leading the world into a nuclear war,” Kengor said. “He hoped to counter Reagan’s polices, and by extension hurt his re-election prospects.”
As a prelude to the public relations strategy Kennedy hoped to facilitate on behalf of the Soviets, Kengor said, the Massachusetts senator had also proposed meeting with Andropov in Moscow — to discuss the challenges associated with disarmament.
In his appeal, Kennedy indicated he would like to have Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-Ore.) accompany him on such a trip. The two senators had worked together on nuclear freeze proposals.
But Kennedy’s attempt to partner with high-level Soviet officials never materialized. Andropov died after a brief time in office and was succeeded by Mikhail Gorbachev.
In his attempt to reach out the Soviets, Kennedy settled on a flawed receptacle for peace, Kengor said. Andropov was a much more belligerent and confrontational leader than the man who followed him, in Kengor’s estimation.
“If Andropov had lived and Gorbachev never came to power, I can’t imagine the Cold War ending peacefully like it did,” Kengor told Cybercast News Service. “Things could have gotten ugly.”
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