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On Communist Nostalgia

The Drudge Report recently "linked" to a story detailing actress Cameron Diaz's foreign faux pas. Ms. Diaz, on a trip to Peru, sported a bag emblazoned with Maoist propaganda.

Unbeknownst to Ms. Diaz, apparently, Maoist rebels killed somewhere around 70,000 Peruvians during their brutal insurgencies of the 1980s and 1990s. Accordingly, modern Peruvians didn't take too kindly to Ms. Diaz's delving into Communist chic.

Now, on its own, this story isn't terribly noteworthy. Cameron Diaz, after all, is an actress, and actors and actresses are well known for their stupidity.

But Ms. Diaz's Maoist handbag does, we think, speak to a larger issue: Left-wing nostalgia for Communism. For some reason, despite the millions and millions of Communist victims in the 20th century, many of our lefty pals believe that Communist paraphernalia is nifty.

Hence one's typical perambulation in any given city allows one to behold college kids and other ne'er-do-wells bedecked in Che T-shirts. The guy helped Fidel Castro set up his evil police state--surely that's worth a sartorial statement or two?

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, just a stone's throw from Harvard University, there's even a bar positively dripping with Communist kitch called the People's Republik. Sure: Nothing beats Harvard graduate students enjoying a drink at a place offering a tip of the cap to the Communist megalomaniac who butchered Chinese intellectuals en masse.

It is a sign, we think, of a curious moral obtuseness that people happily drape themselves in the signs and slogans of disastrous Communist governments. After all, no one in his right mind would wear a T-shirt with a swastika emblazoned on it. Though Stalin killed more people than did Hitler, however, many of our lefty friends think the hammer and sickle are just grand.

This sort of intellectual perversity also haunts the world of books. A fellow named Robert Service recently wrote a book called Comrades, which presents a summation of Communism's various depredations. It earned a scabrous review from one Seumas Milne, a writer for London's left-wing Guardian.

Apparently, the book was a little too harsh on Communism for the Guardian's taste. Why not go a little easier on Communism, just as Uncle Joe went easy on the Cossacks?

In response to this sort of nonsense, Mr. Service wrote a thoughtful article in the British left-wing magazine The New Statesman. Why, asked Mr. Service, do liberals harbor such sympathy for murderous Communist regimes? Why must they label all criticism of Communism "neo-conservative"?

Mr. Milne, in a letter to The New Statesman, offered a bewildering retort. Amongst its obtuse claims are the following:

Insisting that communism was simply a horrific historical detour that overwhelmingly relied on repression, Service is unable to explain its mass appeal or success at a time when most of the rest of the world was under colonial rule or capitalist dictatorship....

Communism's crimes and failures are now so well rehearsed that they are in danger of obliterating any understanding of its achievements--both of which have lessons for the future of progressive politics and for the search for a social alternative to globalised capitalism.

Rather takes your breath away, doesn't it?

It's humorous that Mr. Milne argues in favor of Communism on the grounds that it had "mass appeal." Well, gee: Nazism had mass appeal too, but that doesn't mean it was any less evil.

And then there's the bit about Communism's grand successes. Sure, those must more than offset the mass murders, tortures, and starvations it unleashed on the world. Hey: At least Communism managed to transform Duke University's literature department into an academic powerhouse. No mean achievement, that.

(Note: The crack young staff normally "weblog" over at "The Hatemonger's Quarterly," where they are currently chuckling at a forthcoming collection of poetry from Guantanamo detainees.)


Comments (28)

i was thinking along the sa... (Below threshold)
Dave:

i was thinking along the same lines myself when i read that diaz story. I know the people who wear the communist garb are rather stupid, but this takes the cake!

I don't get how leftists can say they are "for the little guy" yet support such a way of government where the government rules all and mass murders it's population. Evidently those in high ranking offices of the democrat party see the potential power, and they have the useful idiots buying into their ideology to give them that power...

What did communism actually... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

What did communism actually achieve, aside from economic malaise and a concentration of available resources to support a cadre of party officials in relative luxury, while the rest of the peons, I mean serfs, I mean peasants had to make do with what little didn't get scarfed up by the nobility, I mean party members? Seems to me it was feudalism writ large. Goods and resources flowed up the hill, while the shit flowed down.

("And fine shit it was, too! We were lucky to get it!")

There's a good number of ancedotal stories of people who managed to get out of those countries being overwhelmed by the luxuries in a normal grocery store, and not believing that such a wealth of goods was available for anyone to purchase. Damn those capitalist dictatorships! How can you expect people to make a decision when there's just so MUCH to choose from!

There's a good num... (Below threshold)
John in CA:
There's a good number of ancedotal stories of people who managed to get out of those countries being overwhelmed by the luxuries in a normal grocery store, and not believing that such a wealth of goods was available for anyone to purchase

Lt. Belenko of Mig Pilot reknown is one of those, In his book he related how when he was taken to his first American grocery store, he was certain it was a staged event. In his experience there was no way a single grocery store could have that much food.

A lefty acquaintance once told me that the only reason communism hasn't worked is because it hasn't been done right yet. She also told me that "Communism was never a threat to us. It was just a boogeyman that you right wing fascist made up to scare everyone." I was stunned. I absolutely didn't know how to reply.

"Why must they label all cr... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

"Why must they label all criticism of Communism "neo-conservative"?"

Nice try, Melvins! When the world thinks of communism's critics, "neo-conservative" is not the word that springs to mind. (I know! They're attemping to take credit for Reagan. Desperately!)

The Jewish Communists where expelled by Stalin and roosted in the USA (and Mexico with their leader, of course) where they morphed into neoliberals and then (with the ascent of Reaganism) neocons.

They are Trotsky's babies, and Trotsky was more Communist than Stalin so what are you talking about? Trotsky was the perpetual war theoretician and engineer of world democratic revolution in the name of the proletariat. Neocons are less able propagandists; Democratic shopping opportunities is no beard for geopolitical leveraging of natural resources for personal gain.

Neocons are congenital liars in service to the Marxist dialect: to not support the war one must hate the "troops"; to not invade Iraq, one must be a terror enabler; to not support Bushism, one must hate America.

If neocons were red-blooded men they would be more formidable, but since most are risk-averse wads of dough, the call of Chickenhawk will fluster them badly. Some turn into pee puddles. Regression to the mean.

HM, to be a successful neocon transmission belt, NEVER mention the word "neocon". Its like leaving your keys in the car door at a rap concert.

So good to know there are t... (Below threshold)
Robert the Original:

So good to know there are those who remember.

Shining Path, Che' and Mao all came from the same place of course. Mao's various organizations were always supported by Lenin and Stalin and his children were educated in Moscow.

No better example of the failure of communism can be had than the organization of Chinese farms into communes in the 50's. Failure? Hardly the word. So inefficient it was that 20 to 40 million starved, during which time much of the little foodstocks that were produced were shipped to the Soviet sphere in exchange for weapons.

Starving Chinese sending food to starving Russians. So much for giving it a chance.

But it was Mao's "continuous revolution" ideas that so inspired Shining Path and Pathet Lao, among others. And it is the brutality of this movement that the Peruvians most remember, and that too tracks back to Beria and the NKVD.

So staggering was the total of the dead from what our intelligencia terms: "The communist experiment" that it almost defies belief. So total the brutality, words alone cannot define it.

Yet, so easy it is for our celebs to cozy up to Castro and Chavez and to wear proudly the fashion of monsters.

"Though Stalin killed more ... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

"Though Stalin killed more people than did Hitler, however, many of our lefty friends think the hammer and sickle are just grand._HQ"

Oh, yeah. Check out Harley-Davidson merchandise, circa 1990. Hammer and Sickle sweaters I remember distinctly. Not on the chest; it was used as detailing in repeated patterns. Instead of flames or H-D crests, I suppose.

Might have been intended as irony, like C Diaz use of cachet.

Well, the Harley USSR conne... (Below threshold)
John in CA:

Well, the Harley USSR connection got me curious. Though I'm not a ardent fan of HD, I don't recall seeing any of that type of HD branded apparel during that time frame. Some googling found this: Soviet Award to Harley Davidson with this description: The front of the T-shirt displays a DIPLOMA from the Soviet Government to "Harley Davidson" for Harley WLA-42. The Soviet Union was supplied with this particular model - on lend-lease basis from the USA - during the years of the Great Patriotic War. The bike was known for its power and reliability. The back print has a large "Harley" emblem with "Moscow, Russia" printed under it. Great gift for a true Harley lover!

Someone with better eyesight then mine can try to figure out what's actually on the t-shirt.

Neocons are the descendents... (Below threshold)
Robert the Original:

Neocons are the descendents of Trotsky?

This may be true of Chris Hitchens, but no other.

In reality, intellectuals of the period of Stalin's purges had their passing fancy with socialism and this included many Jews here in the USA. It is part of the reason the media; Hollywood and our schools are so liberal. Miss Diaz probably does not know that there actually was a communist cell operating in Hollywood. But this is only part of it.

Intellectuals like John Dewey, "father of American Education" to the libs, chaired the commission to clear Trotsky and wrote a little travelogue about his trip to Soviet Russia. This lib of libs, not a Jew or neocon, gushed about the wonderful things happening there and even lied about confiscation of churches and the brutality of the purges.

Yes, this was the Marx lover who first adopted the term "progressive" and was so central to the formation of the teacher's unions. He also is the basis of much of the twisted thinking still common in our schools. A succession would naturally flow from him to Chomsky, to Kozol and Giraux... Marxists all.

Where Dewey once saluted Lenin, so now do Chomsky and Kozol buddy up with Castro. And this is the source of much of what now infests our schools.

And yes, Reagan fought the communists in South America in the 70's and 80's and with him some Republicans who would become neocons. I'm not sure what the point of your comment is other than to bash Bush and the neocons as usual.

However, if you're looking for a hookup with communists, I suggest you try Kerry or Fonda, not the neocons. The lovers of Che', the Sandinistas, Shining Path, Mao, Castro, Chavez and the other revolutionaries are all on your side, sorry to say.

Or maybe you wish to admonish the Peruvians for their position on Hollywood communist sympathizers - how McCarthy of them.

...gushed about th... (Below threshold)
John in CA:
...gushed about the wonderful things happening there and even lied about confiscation of churches and the brutality of the purges.

As did this guy, Walter Duranty, NY Times reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the Soviet Union, which were later revealed to be nothing but lies and another whitewash of brutality occurring there.

Just another reason not to give two craps about Pulitzer Prizes, along with the discredited Nobel Peace Prizes.

My reading of history is th... (Below threshold)

My reading of history is that Communism never had "mass appeal." Wherever it lodged, it was the result of a revolutionary minority exploiting chaotic conditions -- a power vacuum. That was certainly the case in Russia, where for several years after the "October Revolution" the Bolsheviks only controlled two cities, Moscow and Leningrad. Even Mao Tse-tung's supposed "peasant uprising" against Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists was a minority movement; it simply happened to be larger than the faction behind Chiang, who'd made some incredible blunders to undermine his own position as well (e.g. the massive inflation of 1947).

However, the situation is made obscure by a nasty fact: the news and views that emanate from a nation taken over by Communists are never trustworthy. After all, Communist revolutionaries do make taking control of the organs of communication their first priority, don't they?

Why would anyone pay any at... (Below threshold)
sanssoucy:

Why would anyone pay any attention to anything this retarded swamp donkey did?

SS

It's easy for hollywood's l... (Below threshold)
steak111111:

It's easy for hollywood's lefties (who are dumb as bricks) to be hoodwinked by liberals (who are dumb as bricks). What else is new?

Many Hollywood types get breast implants when what they really need are brain implants.

Ah yes, Cameron Diaz. That... (Below threshold)

Ah yes, Cameron Diaz. That shining example of intellect who tells us, "If You Think Rape Should Be Legal, Then Don't Vote!" is now sporting accessories that ...

Oh, nevermind.

The left in this country ha... (Below threshold)
nikkolai:

The left in this country has always sided with our enemies. Back in the 50's, 60's 70's and 80's it was, of course, the communists. Now, will it be the Islamo-nazis? Sure looks that way....

This is being overthought. ... (Below threshold)
jpe:

This is being overthought. There's no nostalgia - commie art and design is just really, really good aesthetically. It's the same resign commie architecture is still relevant in architecture classes.

Ain't it interesting, thoug... (Below threshold)
Lysander:

Ain't it interesting, though, how Bryan lets the mask slip and displays the leftist antisemitism?

The mass appeal is simple, ... (Below threshold)
kim:

The mass appeal is simple, it pretends that all men are created equal; to label that effort a success is morbidly true.
====================================

It all makes a little bette... (Below threshold)
kim:

It all makes a little better sense, THQ, when you understand that the sense of 'globalized capitalism' is the fascism of Mussolini's Italy, at least according to the fossilized Marxists still entrenched in the Poly Sci, History, and Philosophy Departments of our foundering intellectual institutions.
===============================

Someone left the gate open ... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

Someone left the gate open again. That thing from Area 51 is out again. (Be careful if you run into him as he is still trying to figure out how to melt steel and might be "hot") snicker snort

Communism is Fascism. The g... (Below threshold)
jdavenport:

Communism is Fascism. The government structure is exactly the same. Not similar. Identical.

The "two" ideologies are just sold to the population differently. Fascism makes the corporation the state. Communism makes the state a corporation.

Same thing.

I agree, jd, sic semper tyr... (Below threshold)
kim:

I agree, jd, sic semper tyrannis, but the fossilized brutes in fair academe distinguish the two, sophistically, to be sure.
===============================

McDonalds and Walmart have ... (Below threshold)
jb:

McDonalds and Walmart have mass appeal too, but lefties think they're evil. Will these people ever make sense?

Wanna win liberal hearts? D... (Below threshold)

Wanna win liberal hearts? Develop a catchy "for the people" slogan. After that, property confiscation and mass murder are merely mistakes.

"Seeking justice through the enforcement of equitable distribution" sounds much nicer than "breaking and entering"

Hard to tell what was going... (Below threshold)
LAB:

Hard to tell what was going on with her. Whether she was working for a publicity stunt (sporting an obviously offensive accessory that was sure to push a few buttons with the natives), or if she really is that friggin' stupid remains to be seen.

I don't care for McDonald's, myself, because they're hooked up with Disney, and they charge children over 10 as adults to get into the park. That's a little over the top to assume that all left-wing think they are evil, even though it may be true with some.

1. Celebrities like Diaz ar... (Below threshold)
Mitchell:

1. Celebrities like Diaz are not educated people.

2. Some educated people like the "Guevara Chic," but they're supporting the team that lost the last 80 years of history.

Whenever anyone uses the te... (Below threshold)
John F Not Kerry:

Whenever anyone uses the term "neocon" anymore, I instantly discredit their opinion. Why? Because they are using it as shorthand for "Jews who are Republicans". Bryan trots out the term to smear people who support the Iraq War as followers of Trotsky? Was Trotsky for tax cuts?

Cameron Diaz is a Communi... (Below threshold)
B2B:

Cameron Diaz is a Communist piece of shit...just like all of her sell-out buddies like Clooney,Pitt,Danny Glover...etc. Joe McCarthy should have kept going...he was right.

I'll bet she's dumb enough ... (Below threshold)
kim:

I'll bet she's dumb enough to think Che is a hero in Peru. Well, he is, to some.

I believe this is a true story. When the economy of Cuba was in a shambles after Castro deposed Batista he called his close advisers together and asked who among them was an economist, and Che Guevara stepped up and was appointed Finance Minister, in charge of the economy. Guevara, a physician, was naive economically and fouled things up even further. Months later, Castro chided his claim to have been an economist and Che replied, "Oh, I thought you said who among you is a Communist".
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