catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

The left and the authoritarian right: Twins separated at birth

with 29 comments

The death of Pinochet will no doubt trigger an orgy of finger pointing and recriminations about who has got the dirtiest hands when it comes to supporting various sides in violence, terrorism and war (politics by other means).

This sermon takes its leading theme from an afterthought to another post, on David Williamson’s comment that the right appears to be more concerned with the soft left than the hard left these days. Very few people are prepared to own up to being hard left these days and if there is any mention of the disasters of communism the soft left is likely to shout “Cold Warrior”, as though that is all safely behind us. If only!

As it happens I am quite prepared to revisit the Cold War and Vietnam as well, for the lessons to be learned about the folly of the left and the authoritarian right as well (twins separated at birth), and to explain what was lost when classical liberalism went missing for most of the 20th century. In the absence of a “radical centre”, people of good will are confronted with impossible choices – Catholicism vs communism, Franco vs Stalin, Hitler vs Stalin, tariffs or central planning.

A tribute to the heroes of the Cold War

Some thoughts on Peter Coleman’s book on the Congress for Cultural Freedom.

How One Evil Leads to Another: The Great War of 1914-18 was a great evil but it spawned another that turned out to be far worse. This was the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Red takeover in the aftermath of the revolution. For the remainder of the century the Soviet empire spread devastation across the globe, not only in it’s own domain but in every other country where its agents and its ideology polluted both politics and the world of ideas. From that evil arose another, when the western democracies formed partnerships with unsavory regimes to resist the real or perceived threat of communism. As Lord Acton wrote of classical liberals, we may feel obliged to form alliances with others who have very different ends from our own, and this has often proved fatal to the credibility of our cause. None of this provides any excuse for the treason of communist and fellow travelling intellectuals.

Principles to justify violence

One of the requirements is a coherent set of principles to decide when it is ok to get violent in pursuit (or defence) of political objectives and what sort of outcome can make the violence worthwhile. Without claiming to have the answers, it is possible to demonstrate that Marxism did not do the job, which is a tragic situation in view of the amount of political and intellectual effort that has been expended over the last century or so by Marxists.

This is a two-part critique of the Marxist view on violence and revolution.

http://sabhlokcity.blogspot.com/2006/08/ose-chapter-19-social-revolution-part.html

That piece explores the question of whether the Marxist revolution has to be violent and compares the radical and moderate Marxist attitudes to revolutionary violence.

http://sabhlokcity.blogspot.com/2006/08/ose-chapter-19-social-revolution-part_25.html

This continues the critique of the ambivalent attitude towards violence that was fostered by both the radical and moderate wings of the Marxist movement.

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Written by Admin

December 11, 2006 at 3:33 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

29 Responses

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  1. Rafe

    Good post. I have always been sickened by the fact that a former leftist “Revolutionary” can be rehabilitated, past sins, murders, bombings etc be forgotten, with the commentariat looking back almost approvingly on these deeds (viz the euro communists and the 1970s terrorists.

    A former rightwinger who carried out the same deeds would (rightly) be labelled a facist thug or similar !

    jimmythespiv

    December 11, 2006 at 3:56 pm

  2. jimmythespiv, the lack of a sickening reaction by those on the soft left to ex-hard leftists might have something to do with the determined slandering by righties of soft lefties, by accusing them of complicity in crimes they had no part of and never approved. The history of McCarthyism – a transparent attempt to destroy the domestic soft left rather than foreign commos – does not give a great deal of confidence in the motives of those casting stones.

    Having said that, ex-commos should have their vierws discounted as being people of poor judgement – just like those who backed the aggression in Iraq.

    derrida derider

    December 11, 2006 at 4:19 pm

  3. I have been accused of slandering people by accusing them of crimes that they did not commit, but that is not the case. I have merely called on contemporary lefties to acknowledge that the anti-communists were correct about the menace of communism even when their methods were counter-productive.

    McCarthism turned out to be Gods gift to the left because it gave rise to “anti-anti-communism” which created a smokescreen that frustrated the efforts of decent and honourable anti-communists to tell the truth about the evils of communism. That spirit lives on among the left when they rubbish the original Quadrant group and their colleagues overseas.

    Poor judgement is a thin excuse for supporting communism after the1930s, at least on the part of intellectuals who had access to information from overseas.

    Rafe Champion

    December 11, 2006 at 4:30 pm

  4. The “menace” and “evils” of communism? I believe in the menace of Stalin et al, but an ism?

    fatfingers

    December 11, 2006 at 4:50 pm

  5. “The history of McCarthyism – a transparent attempt to destroy the domestic soft left rather than foreign commos – does not give a great deal of confidence in the motives of those casting stones.”

    The motives can be debated, but the underlying cause/pretext of McCarthyism, the concern that the western left-wing establishment was penetrated by Soviet agents, was later found to be quite well founded.

    This in my view does not jusitfy the methods of McCarthyism though.

    Boris

    December 11, 2006 at 5:07 pm

  6. The commies may have been there boris, but was there any real threat of them taking over?

    John Humphreys

    December 11, 2006 at 6:10 pm

  7. “That piece explores the question of whether the Marxist revolution has to be violent and compares the radical and moderate Marxist attitudes to revolutionary violence.”

    How can a communist revolution be anything but violent. The jackboot will always have to show up oherwise you can’t keep people in line.

    JC.

    December 11, 2006 at 6:52 pm

  8. “The commies may have been there boris, but was there any real threat of them taking over? ”

    john, it’s always easy to look back in hindsight. These actions took place because people in high places were selling US secrets to the Sovs.

    The Sovs got the bomb earlier than possible because if this sell out.

    JC.

    December 11, 2006 at 6:56 pm

  9. I agree that hindsight makes us judge people harshly sometimes… but I think foresight also can teach us that we should be skeptical of big scare stories that result in increased government power.

    John Humphreys

    December 11, 2006 at 7:20 pm

  10. John

    The US government had a right to be scared of commies under the bed. They were already there. Alger Hiss was a great example of what was happening.

    Don’t ever underestimate your enemy. The US almost did and we almost paid a heavy price.

    In any event there were two investigations by the into Soviet penetration activities inside the US government .

    One was the Senate investigation led by joe. however the more important and fruitful one was the House investigations that netted a great of information and creeps selling out to the Sovs.

    JC.

    December 11, 2006 at 7:27 pm

  11. “This in my view does not jusitfy the methods of McCarthyism though.”

    That was my point, the problem was real but the attempted solution was misconceived and ended up doing more harm than good.

    In the same way the use of conscription for Vietnam destroyed the moral and intellectual credibility of the Coalition Government at the time.

    Anyway, I would like to pay tribute to the principled worldwide resistance to the communist movement.
    http://www.the-rathouse.com/PeterColeman.html

    Rafe Champion

    December 11, 2006 at 7:28 pm

  12. Rafe the Senate hearing led by Joe was not totally a wash out althopugh it ws portayed as such.

    The one the leftoids never want to speak about was the House inquiry. That’s the big one.

    JC.

    December 11, 2006 at 7:34 pm

  13. “ex-commos should have their vierws discounted as being people of poor judgement ”

    So that it, eh. It was just poor judgement! You go around for decades in the face of all the evidence apparent at the time, fully supporting regimes in the USSR and Mao’s China which killed tens of millions of people and all you are guilty of is poor judgement!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    whyisitso

    December 11, 2006 at 7:35 pm

  14. John, there was a huge threat of ‘them’ taking over. Just look at the damage the commies have done via their IMF and World Bank proxies. McCarthy should have done more.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Dexter_White

    Sinclair Davidson

    December 11, 2006 at 7:57 pm

  15. “That was my point, the problem was real but the attempted solution was misconceived and ended up doing more harm than good!”

    Exactly.

    Same with Pinochet, by the way. The threat was real, but the way the US and their Chilean friends dealt with it did more harm than good. Although Pinochet is really a mixed bag. More clear cases of support of truly oppressive governments are Marcos and Suharto.

    Boris

    December 12, 2006 at 7:47 pm

  16. “McCarthy should have done more.”

    I hope this is ironic. There is nothing wrong with careful monitoring of government officials and civil servants. But what justification can you attach to investigation of artists, writers or, say, Charlie Chaplin?

    Boris

    December 12, 2006 at 7:50 pm

  17. Boris

    decent people can be tormented aboput thinking what is and wrong in terms of supporting bad guy regimes on the right.

    Decent guys like ABL, who offer very good reasons not to support them and hold up a flag to freedom.

    However I discount anything leftists have to say because it is mostly mendacious and totally devoid of honesty.

    How could anyone continue to be a leftist after the abbatoirs of the 20 th century is beyond my comprehension.

    JC.

    December 12, 2006 at 7:57 pm

  18. I posted this comment over at Club Troppo to clear up the view about Chile.

    I guess I can only expect abuse from Ken seeing it doesn’t conform to his vitual reality of what actually happened.

    It is correct to say that Allende was the elected president of Chile in the 1970 election albeit with just around 36% of the vote. However his government lost its democratic flavor by continually violating the constitution.

    This is what the Economist said at the time:

    The death of democracy in Chile is regrettable, however the blame lies with Dr. Allende and those followers who continually overrode the constitution”
    Sept 15. 1973

    In reality, Allende began to practice tyrannical rule when he broke his oatt of office to respect Chilean law and its constitution. There is ample evidence to show this if people are willing to spend a little time and understand this period of Chilean politics.

    There was a clear reference from the Chilean Supreme Court that spoke about Allende’s disrespect of the constitution. The major one, however, was the statement that came out of the Chilean lower house. The statement clearly listed the numerous violations of the Allende administration, which clearly, without reservation requested the assistance of the armed forces. This is what the statement said:

    “…..make representations to them that, by virtue of their function, of their oath to remain faithful to the Constitution and the law, … it is up to them to put immediate end to all the situations referred to above, which infringe the Constitution and the law”.

    In other words the lower house of the Chilean Congress requested the armed forces to intervene by its oath to ensure the removal of the Allende government.

    There was no feasible mechanism in the Chilean constitution that could remove the president by legal means like there is in the US through impeachment proceedings. The house of deputies voted in a 2/3 majority to make a representation to the armed forces to put an immediate end to the violations to the constitution. This of course was a clear message to the forces to remove Allende from office.

    Pinochet was head of the armed forces and accepted the instruction from the lower house to remove Allende but was beaten to the punch by Allende’s suicide.

    The beginning stage of the Pinochet government is quite clear in that it was started during a civil war. Force was used to remove a tyrant and his supporters. During his time Allende had begun to set up an armed militia.

    It is inevitable that a state of civil war will commence and the Chilean civil war was no different to any other in that respect except that the number of casualties was quite low by hisstorical civil war standards. The French revolution was very bloody. The American civil war produced 700,000 dead. There was over 1 million in the Spanish revolution.

    President Alywn’s inquiry, the president who came after Pinochet (and no friend of Pinochet by all accounts) concluded that the number of dead totaled around 2,000 people.

    So to sum up:
    Pinochet was asked by the lower house of Congress to stop violations of Chilean law and its constitution. He managed to conduct a civil war with low casualties and helped introduce free market economics to Chile. Pinochet led what was a legitimately sanctioned offensive against a tyrant. The responsibility for the dead as a result these actions lie with Allende and Marxist socialist party.

    JC.

    December 12, 2006 at 9:32 pm

  19. Rafe

    They are not he same. At least with rightists you sometimes have a shot at reform and redemption …….and the numbers they kill are not in industrial sized lots like the left has clearly shown over the past 100 years… even going back to the French revolution.

    JC.

    December 12, 2006 at 9:44 pm

  20. JC:

    1. I dares you to post that at Quigger’s.

    2. Did he *need* to kill 2000 people?

    Where is the link to the article?

    Mark Hill

    December 12, 2006 at 10:50 pm

  21. Thanks for finding this again Rafe. I was wondering where you’d hidden it.

    skepticlawyer

    December 13, 2006 at 12:51 am

  22. JC: “How could anyone continue to be a leftist after the abbatoirs of the 20 th century is beyond my comprehension.”

    Hold on, didn’t you tell us you were a leftist before? Presumably this was after the main autrocities of the 20th century? If so, you can easily comprehend it by recalling your thoughts at the time.

    Boris

    December 13, 2006 at 1:00 am

  23. Sl

    Stop putting me on the dock. I’m not up on a murder rap -:)

    I was young foolish and gullible.

    JC.

    December 13, 2006 at 1:12 am

  24. Sorry meant Boris.

    JC.

    December 13, 2006 at 1:21 am

  25. “McCarthism turned out to be Gods gift to the left because it gave rise to “anti-anti-communism” which created a smokescreen that frustrated the efforts of decent and honourable anti-communists to tell the truth about the evils of communism. ”

    You cannot pin that on McCarthy Rafe.

    McCarthy did the right thing. The rest of his contemporaries compromised in a seamless set of compromises until they had backed their way into never calling a spade a spade ever again.

    McCarthy himself didn’t do anything wrong.

    It was the way that groups of puny humans can be slowly manipulated by relentless repitition that is at fault here.

    GMB

    December 13, 2006 at 1:48 am

  26. “The history of McCarthyism – a transparent attempt to destroy the domestic soft left rather than foreign commos – does not give a great deal of confidence in the motives of those casting stones.”

    No thats just crap derida.

    There is not even a scintilla of truth to that.

    And the hateful thing is that the elitist soft-left at least was pretty much always soft on communism.

    Not your average union bloke no way.

    GMB

    December 13, 2006 at 1:52 am

  27. ““McCarthy should have done more.”
    I hope this is ironic. There is nothing wrong with careful monitoring of government officials and civil servants. But what justification can you attach to investigation of artists, writers or, say, Charlie Chaplin?”

    Did McCarthy have anything to do with messing with Chaplin?

    I don’t THINKSO!!!

    But nonetheless Chaplin was a Stalinist and his name would come up in any enquiry involving Hollywood.

    GMB

    December 13, 2006 at 1:55 am

  28. “The “menace” and “evils” of communism? I believe in the menace of Stalin et al, but an ism?”

    You idiot.

    People like you have such fucking-flat learning-curves.

    GMB

    December 13, 2006 at 1:56 am

  29. “This in my view does not jusitfy the methods of McCarthyism though.”

    Boris.

    Though you may think you are on the side of angels on this thread you here are full of shit.

    This is no place to try and be the reasonable man in the middle and thereby add to the defamation of the GREAT MAN.

    There was fucking nothing wrong with HIS methods and his goals were good, worthy necessary and critical.

    Good goals and moral methods.

    And don’t fucking compromise because you are just spitting on him.

    GMB

    December 13, 2006 at 2:00 am


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