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Monday, August 09, 2021

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My 2 cents (I spent first 17 years of my life in the USSR and I am still amazed by the "communist experiments" in the 20th century and by western neo-Marxists who dream of emulating these failures without having a clue about what really went on there):

The article by West is both creepy and funny and he is certainly right in pointing out the peculiar features of Soviet regime such as ethnic issues inherited from the Russian empire and further exacerbated and, of course, the legendary heavy drinking. But he does not mention key differences between the two nuclear super-powers.

Firstly, in the US the pursuit of happiness by the individual is still constitutionally and popularly sacred -- wokiness advocates to the contrary notwithstanding. In the Soviet Union -- in legal code, theory and rhetoric (but not in practice where nomenclature feasted at the expense of the masses) -- the well being of an individual meant absolutely nothing whereas equal distribution of social goods meant everything.

Secondly, as everyone knows, central and inflexible planning was a major factor in the economic collapse. Incompetence and ideology ruled over the entire economy, not over a single corporation or a conglomerate like it sometimes happens in capitalism.

Another miss in the article is the lack of any reference to the so called "Overton window" which was heavily utilized by the intellectuals in Russia who supported the Bolshevik revolution. This process is definitely ongoing in the mainstream "intellectual" media like the NYT.

For those, like myself, who are utterly depressed and enraged by the destruction of the nation, I recommend yesterday's post by Malcolm Pollack, "So, Here We Are" (http://malcolmpollack.com/). Posting on his blog Motus Mentis after a long hiatus, Pollack, who is a skillful prose stylist, eloquently decries the political and cultural abyss to which the vile propagators of our present misery have brought us. There is little comfort or hope to be found in the post, but his succinct expositions of the Left's oppressive political and cultural hegemony is true and, hence, salutary: "Il n'y a pas de vérités moyennes" (Bernanos).

For an interesting take on US, EU and SU I'd recommend listening to Emmanuel Todd, the French academic intellectual who was educated at Cambridge (and it, thankfully, shows) and predicted the demise of Soviet Union in 1976. He continues the tradition of de Tocqueville and holds, from the perspective of left leaning academia, very unpopular but plausible views. This lecture is slightly over an hour long; his oral skills are not envious, but the main points he is making are well worth it (in the last 10 minutes he gives a simple answer about the prevailing disregard of democratic values in academia and the vital role border controls play for maintaining democracy in sovereign nations). Here is a link to his lecture at St Andrews U from 2019: https://vimeo.com/334665520

Dmitri,

Great comments. People who have actually lived and suffered under communism say the same thing. But they are like voices crying in the wilderness as the US goes commie with the assault on individual liberty and the central planning you mention.

Those who are for the latter typically imagine that they will be among the central planners and not the centrally planned.

Forgive my pedantry, but the word you want is Nomenklatura, not 'nomenclature.' As far as I know, the latter is never used to mean the former.

Good point about the Overton window which, as you suggest has become a strategy of activists as opposed to a conceptual tool of political theorists.

Vito,

So Malcolm's back! That's great. He is, as you have noticed, a superb writer. I love his "ovine submission," which I had never seen used before. A beautiful phrase that looks like a typo but is not. I shall appropriate it. I don't need to explain its meaning to a man of your erudition whose wife was a Latinist.

I am reading James Salter's Light Years as per your recommendation, and also Gordon's outstanding bio of T. S. Eliot, which has me in its grip. Thanks again for those recommendations, and the others too.

Did you ever read Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano? I never finished it. Comments?

Dmitri,

Thanks for the Emmanuel Todd link.

I'd like to meet you if you are ever in Phoenix for business.

Bill,

I am happy to see that you are engrossed in Gordon’s biography of T. S. Eliot.

No, I have not read Lowry's Under the Volcano, to which I was never drawn.

Bill

Thanks and I'll definitely let you know if I am around! You are more than welcome to do the same if you happen to travel North.

Re "Nomenklatura" - you are of course right about this. Unfortunately (I have to know better) I used Google translate to find the proper English word for this highly loaded concept. Google gave me "nomenclature"...

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