Hegel the philosopher demonstrated that all partial truths are falsehoods. For partial truths are all the infinite half-truths that, stated without context and without qualifying their limits, become outright manipulations.
Wherefrom it follows that great historical movements and events share, at their root, dynamics quite similar to those involved in the birth of great religions.
For example, at the onset of the Christian era, the primitive Christians were possessed with an unconquerable repugnance to the use and abuse of images. This aversion, as Gibbon pointed out (in his “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”), may be ascribed to the primitive Christians’ descent from the Jews, and possibly to a certain inherited racial-religious enmity toward the Greeks. Enmity celebrated, or at least involved, for example, in the current pseudo-religious Jewish festival and display of the Menorahs.
Nevertheless things that move sooner catch the eye than what not stirs. (1) Or, lacking movement, it is universally acknowledged that a picture is worth a thousand words.
In the instance, the first notice of the use of pictures in the Christian religion is in their censure, during the little known Council of Illiberis, (today’s Granada, Spain) in 300 years AD.
But under the successors of Constantine, in the peace and luxury of the triumphant Church, the more prudent bishops condescended to overlook and allow what was still considered (at the time) a visible superstition for the benefit of the multitude. And after the ruin of Paganism, the new generations of Christians knew not of the older customs. Therefore they were no longer restrained by the apprehension of an odious parallel.
Painting and sculpture became then integral to the beauty and artistic wealth of Western Christian civilization. This should not prevent us from realizing that visual representations, originally forbidden, became inseparable instruments of belief in the centuries to come. And that the history of religions is not as linear or consistent as some may believe it is.
This apparently irrelevant introduction aims at preventing or at least assuaging the ire or hatred of any among my 25 readers if, here, I will not speak of Hitler and of Stalin with the all-but-expected ritual hatred and ritual indignation.
Beginning with Hitler, readers are no doubt acquainted with the uncalled-for, deadly and devastating humiliation of Germany and her people, following the end of WWI and the imposed decay of German economy and civilization, associated with the Weimar republic.
Nazism was collective insanity; yet the German masses followed Hitler for profound psychological reasons. The young German of the day saw all about him the decay and chaos of the Weimar Republic, the degradation of millions of unemployed, the disgusting aberration of the cultured elite, the prostitution of his sisters, and the fight of man against man for money. When the hope of socialism vanished, he accepted the other philosophy of history that was offered him, a philosophy that was a parody of the socialist doctrine.
None of us were eyewitnesses of the era but ample documentation shows sufficient and uncanny similarities between Weimar Germany and some aspects of current life in the USA. For sure, the overprinting of currency has not reached Weimar-type effects, due to known reasons that need not to be repeated. But in terms of culture we can draw parallels.
‘Cancel Culture, for one.’ It is universally acknowledged, that ‘Cancel Culture’ originated in universities and think-tanks generously nurtured by financial elites, many of whom directly belonging or linked to an unmentionable sect.
Where I live, Antifa and BLM have made a crusade of the destruction of monuments. Most of the downtown stores have permanently boarded up their windows. And many have supplemented the boarding of windows with metal fences to prevent or reduce the damage by determined ‘cancel culturists.’ Doubly reinforced metal and barbed wire fences protect government buildings. And as a further ornament to the city center, thousands of homeless people are sleeping in tents along the streets, a few in cars, some in trailers.
Schools teach students that races are a ‘construct’. So is sex, and children are openly invited to doubt their own sexuality. Whereupon they can be preventively subjected to suitable hormone therapies to acquire their preferred or ‘natural’ sexuality.
An initiative is current to remove the term ‘pedophile’ as offensive, and substitute it with ‘minor attracted person.’ It may be disgusting but not surprising. After all the now departed Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg proposed to lower to 12 the age of consent.
I recently visited the largest book-store in Portland and could not find one ‘Merry Christmas’, but an abundance of Menorah cards.
Freedom of speech is essentially abolished with the convenient excuse that social media companies are private. But a local and very private cake-maker, who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay-couple, incurred the vigor and vengeance of the law, and ended up closing his store for not being able to sustain the legal costs of his defense.
In California store thefts up to $1000.00 will no longer be prosecuted. Looters have actually organized themselves into assault gangs capable of withstanding the restraining efforts of the police.
Where I live, many policemen have resigned or took early retirement fearing prosecution for doing their job. And in a current statement, the local Portland police declared that it can ‘only prosecute the most egregious crimes,’ due to staffing shortages.
There is a pervasive media-induced hatred against ethnic whites. Typical is the following emblematic declaration by a Harvard academic, recently departed,
“The goal of abolishing the white race is on its face so desirable that some may find it hard to believe that it could incur any opposition other than from committed white supremacists… Keep bashing the dead white males, and the live ones, and the females too, until the social construct known as ‘the white race’ is destroyed – not ‘deconstructed’ but destroyed.
If you are a white male, you don’t deserve to live. You are a cancer, you’re a disease, white males have never contributed anything positive to the world!
The key to solving the social problems of our age is to abolish the white race. Until that task is accomplished, even partial reform will prove elusive, because white influence permeates every issue in U.S. society, whether domestic or foreign.
Treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.
The key to solving the social problems of our age is to abolish the white race.
Whiteness is not a culture . . . Whiteness has nothing to do with culture and everything to do with social position . . . . Without the privileges attached to it, the white race would not exist, and the white skin would have no more social significance than big feet.”
That such a tract did not raise any eyebrows among the so called ‘fact checkers’ who censor hate speech should not surprise. I condensed the following statement of intent from a tract on ‘Radical Egalitarianism’, “Radical egalitarianism means making the ‘oppressor’ the oppressed. Thierefore blacks can never be racists, third world migrants should be welcome, regardless of our ability to cope with them, affirmative action is the moral thing to do, Islam is a religion of peace, regardless of how many autochthone inhabitants have been raped or murdered by Muslims, deliberately infecting someone with HIV should no longer be a felony, national borders are inherently racist, being a stay-at-home mum is to be a failure as a woman, it is OK for children to decide whether they are male or female and white men are the last social group that can justifiably and openly be targeted. All this is the key to the liberation of humanity.”
In line with this remarkable action plan even president Joe Biden, contrary to an established habit of presidents not interfering with the law, declared a recently absolved young white man from Wisconsin, Kyle Rittenhouse, a ‘white supremacist’. Rittenhouse had travelled to Wisconsin to help in stemming the wave of destruction now almost endemic in the country during demonstrations. He was armed and when confronted and assaulted by three equally armed rioters he used his own gun and two assaulters died.
On another front – cultural and sociological – and quoting from an article in the Los Angeles Times, that aptly summarizes the current social situation at large, “I don’t care if Americans think we’re running the news media, Hollywood, Wall Street or the government. I just care that we get to keep running them.” Where by ‘we’ the author refers to an ethnic group that needs not to be named.
But returning to one who cannot equally be named without being cursed, it was consonant to the spirit of the Weimar republic the longing for a Julius Caesar, a Peter the Great or a new-age Napoleon who would “put an end to all this.”
That it happened to be Hitler is one of the tricks of destiny, which “bars us the right of voluntary choosing.” (2)
Unbeknown or disregarded by most, the first years of the regime were not ostensively hostile to the Jews. For example, a medal was even coined in 1934 with on one side the Swastika and on the other the star of Israel. It had to do with the promotion and celebration of the emigration of German Jews to Palestine.
Which in turn, it should not be forgotten, had to do with the price paid by the Jews to England for issuing the Balfour Declaration. The British obtaining in return America’s intervention of in WW1 on the side of the British. In conditions, it should be always remembered, where there wasn’t even a Pearl-Harbor event or similar to justify America going to war.
And, for the sake of historical accuracy the first undeniable evidence of a ‘racial’ war in Germany is actually in the head title of the English “Daily Express” of March 24, 1933, “Judea declares war on Germany”
From all we know from his writings and speeches, Hitler associated Russia primarily with communism, and – by inference – communism with those who were equally predominant actors and contributors to the culture of the Weimar Republic.
It is possible or likely that Hitler ignored that the desire for a more egalitarian spirit among mankind, irrespective of the system of government, was deeply rooted in the Russian spirit, including intellectuals and even members of the nobility. Meaning that Bolshevism was the aberrant mutation of an existing desire to improve the lot of mankind.
That egalitarian spirit shows itself in the writings of the XIX Russian classics, as well as in the life of those nobles who gave up their comfortable life in Russia to pursue, from the West, the humanitarian and political reforms they thought they could not carry out at home. The wealthy noblemen Herzen and Bakunin are representative of this school or mode of thought.
And if we let our imagination speculate, it is possible or even likely that Hitler only associated Russia with the Bolsheviks, who, as openly and recently admitted by Putin, “were all Jews,” notably in the first Politburo, and continuing up to the time of WW2.
Alexander Soljenitsin gives ample documented evidence of all this in his two-volume study titled “Deux Siecles Ensemble.” (Two Centuries Together).
Incidentally the book, mysteriously, has not been translated or printed in English and is unavailable in all American libraries, as of now.
In Soljenitsin’s book and in many other records, the era of death, terror, gulags and famine, following the 1917 revolution in Russia, and notably in Ukraine, is too well documented not to be admitted.
Furthermore, we all individually know how difficult it is for pride to abandon prejudice – and to subject prejudice to reason, even among heads of state.
Irrespective of Hitler’s aim at Eastern expansion, these factors may have played a role in shaping his mindset, at least from reading the large volume of information, diaries, observations by his associates, subordinates, ambassadors, and by unbiased historians. But, as we know, the popular mind has long been reconciled to relevant omissions and to the inconsistency of historical narratives.
To recall, England declared war on Germany because of Poland, but not on the USSR that had divided Poland with Germany, had occupied the Baltic states and declared war on Finland.
Instances that contradict the accepted narrative can fill a large volume. And it may help not to forget the purposeful wholesale slaughter of German civilians with the ‘apotheosis’ perhaps, reached in Dresden, a non-strategic town, where 3 air-raid killed 135,000 civilians, while the Russians were but 60 km away, and many others instances for which there is no time here.
Paradoxically, Churchill in his memoir about WW2 only refers to the Dresden’s veritable genocide as “an air raid on Dresden, with many casualties.”
There is no absurd fantasy here about changing the course of history. Only the somber consideration that a people resigned to the thoughts imbued and absorbed from one source only (and we know those who owns the sources) is impermeable to the gradual influx of new opinions.
Some historians say that if the world is divided between fascism and communism, fascism must lose since it is the last, desperate, refuge of the bourgeoisie. And they add that whenever there is a crisis, the ruling classes take refuge in fascism as a safeguard against the revolution of the proletariat.
On the other hand, we also know that two men observing the same object will describe it diversely, according to the point of view from which either beholds it. In the eyes of one it shall be a fair prospect, in the other’s a barren waste, and neither may see it right. Wherefore, truth being the legitimate object of history, it is better that she should be sought for by many than by few, lest, for want of seekers, among the mists of prejudice and the false lights of interest, she be lost altogether.
Even Stuart Mill, in his essay “On Liberty” wrote as follows, “… the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race, posterity as well as the existing generation. Robbing those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. For if the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose what is almost as great a benefit, that is, a clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”
But to end this tale of woe and brief excursus on a dead and historically unpopular dictator, the German people loved him and to deny it would be an insult to history. For, in their loud and loyal acclamations they celebrated the merits of their temporal redeemer. And to say it again, historical truth does not equate to endorsement.
As for Stalin, two unrelated contributions affect my views. For one, in recent years, after having read ample related material and books, I produced a series of 5 videos of his life – available online. The other contributor is or are reflections on my visits to the USSR, the first when I was 20, and later when employed by an American corporation and sent to Moscow to demonstrate (and sell) equipment at various international fairs.
During my first visits (Odessa, Yalta and Sochi), I vividly remember the friendliness of the people and an (admittedly perceived or imagined) lack of the obsession of competition that I associated with life in the West. I don’t even know if I was right. But when to the session of sweet, silent thought, I summon up remembrance of things past, (3) I think I saw Russia in the same light as the English poet Wordsworth saw France, when he visited the country at the onset of the French Revolution. Admittedly, there were no revolutions in the Crimea and Ukraine I visited, actually the contrary. But I think I detected a similarity of spirit as found in these lines,
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!—Oh! times,
In which the meager, stale, forbidding ways
Of custom, law, and statute, took at once
The attraction of a country in romance! (4)
Meaning that the local ways, custom and (probably) laws seemed so different to me as to create the air and attraction of a country in romance.
In different settings and circumstances my subsequent visits to Moscow did not substantially changed my first impressions.
It should also be added that, in some ways, Bolshevism, as most of us agree a tragic history of horror, was much reduced and eventually mostly extinguished by the Great Patriotic War. It is also meaningful, though completely overlooked by official history, that sometimes in 1942, Stalin’s attitude towards religion changed, or at least shifted. He met with the hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church and allowed the clergy to perform religious services, and to celebrate Easter and Christmas. Recognizing perhaps that people at large, need or perhaps must have an ideal goal in sight that transcends the limits of materialism, notwithstanding that materialism is (was) the cornerstone of Marxist doctrine.
As for Stalin’s life and character, I found particularly interesting his relatively rare exchanges with his mother, who continued to live modestly in Georgia even when he was the undisputed dictator of the USSR. Every year, she sent him the jams she made, along with Georgian home-made cookies and specialties.
Perhaps unknown by many, Stalin was an avid reader, a trait that usually broadens the view of the world and peoples. When he died, his library amounted to about 20 thousand volumes. He read incessantly and had a habit of making notations and comments on the margins of the books he read. About 5000 books have his own handwritten notations and comments.
Among the university reforms and development that the Soviet Union undertook, linguistics acquired notable importance. And linguistics was a Stalin’s special interest, with special emphasis on the Georgian language. In his youth at the Tbilisi seminary he had even composed poems in Georgian and some had been published.
At the time of this anecdote, the Soviet guru in that field of linguistics was an expert specialist named Nikolai Marr, half Scottish and half Georgian. He was more an archeologist than a linguist, but for reasons irrelevant to the anecdote, Marr was the undisputed and unquestionable authority in that field.
He proposed theories that other diligent and qualified scholars could not accept. However, in the climate of the times, objections to an approved ideological line put the objector in the camp of the heretics, with unhappy consequences. Incidentally, the current climate in American Universities at large is not dramatically different. Teachers lukewarm to the ‘cancel culture’, the ‘woke’, ‘Antifa’ and BLM ideologies, run the positive risk of expulsion. And vocal opponents are actually dismissed.
In Georgia one leading expert of Georgian and Caucasian languages was a certain Prof. Chikobava. He had been dismissed from his post as a lecturer by the Secretary of the Central Committee of the region (Georgia), for being an “anti-Marrian”, Marr being, as I said, the current linguistic standard-setter. Prof. Chikobava was declared a “Trotskyist in linguistics” and other similar negative attributes.
Other professors in Russia, dismissed for similar reasons, wrote to Stalin, but their letters never reached him. This is/was hardly a Russian habit. Today, he who writes just to a local US representative may, at best and rarely, receive a formal pre-printed acknowledgment letter signed by a staff employee.
However, Prof. Chicobawa found a friend sufficiently introduced in the right circles, who could ensure that his letter would reach Stalin.
After reading the letter, Stalin summoned Prof. Chicobawa to his dacha at Kuntsevo, a district of Moscow, along with three other Georgian dismissed linguistic academics.
Skipping the details, that dinner session at Kuntsevo lasted until 7 o’clock in the morning, with Stalin discussing one of the present academics’ massive “Dictionary of the Georgian Language” and various other related issues of linguistics.
Very late, in the first hours of the morning, Stalin called up the Commissar in Tbilisi, named Arutinov, who had dismissed the “non-orthodox” linguistics teachers in Armenia and Georgia.
Stalin asked the Commissar about the dismissed professors – did he know them? The Commissar acknowledged that he did, but said that they were “no longer at their posts.”
“Who are they?” – asked Stalin
“Scholars, academicians…” said the Commissar.
At this Stalin said, “By what you tell me I thought they were accountants, who can simply lose their job in one place and be placed in another. You were much in a hurry, Comrade Arutinov, too much in a hurry.” And Stalin put down the phone.
At that moment of the night, the terrified Commissar summoned his aids. He went immediately to the house of Professor Chicobawa and told his terrified wife that her husband had just been appointed director of the Republic’s Institute of Languages.
Eventually, Stalin himself wrote an article for the Pravda, titled “On Marxism and Linguistics” which was broadcast through the land and read by a famous announcer, the same who also read all the orders of the Supreme Commander in Chief during the war.
And, naturally, the course of linguistic ceased to be based on the silly notion that language, reflecting the class struggle, is an instrument of Bolshevik redemption. (which was the position of the guru in the field).
The easy deduction is that, through a coalition of circumstances impossible to examine in detail, a climate had developed whereby an approved “line of thought” became indisputable – even in cases when Stalin did not know or hardly knew anything about it.
This culture, for lack of a better world, is hardly unique to the Stalin era. But what makes it noticeable or noteworthy is a certain ironic, sarcastic and amusing undertone. And similar situations and characters are found among the writings of the Russian classics.
A Russian novel whose title that just now I cannot remember, begins with a tirade against the bureaucratic mind of some government employees, who caused food to be spoiled due to the length of time needed to comply with the filling up of all forms – before it could be loaded on trains and transported to its final destination.
On a personal note, on my arrival and departure from the Moscow airport I found it consistently amusing a certain expression of satisfaction in the custom officers as they raised their hand and, with force and a loud thump, applied the needed stamp to my passport.
What is less amusing is the remarkable analogy (affecting the Western world) that can be drawn between the Marxist theory of language and the current theory of vaccines and viruses.
The position of Russia on vaccines is, as I write this, consistent. From what the inexperienced can understand, Russian vaccines, unlike the Western counterparts, can be correctly so named, as they do not contain elements that can be considered ‘live’ and therefore potentially dangerous.
On the other hand, the same collective adherence to the prevailing pandemic thought officially applies. Nevertheless, I read recently that at some levels of Russian Orthodox Church, there has been some skepticism on issues such as lockdown measures and vaccination. Of the importance or depth of the dissent I know not.
However, looking at things from a hypothetical outside, the attitude of the so-called European Union towards the Russian vaccines mimics its attitude towards the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Let the people freeze rather than surrendering to common sense. In a contemporary setting Marie Antoinette, instead of suggesting brioches may say to the people without heat, “The people freeze? Let them have ideology.”
Yet there is nothing new here. Men who think of themselves as important resign themselves to voluntary subservience, especially when they believe they are riding the tide of pomp that beats upon the high shores of the world (5)
In turn they suffer their lives to be modeled by officious ignorance, and their choice to be regulated by presumptuous stupidity.
And all for the sake of gold and (maybe) power. Which is why St. Basil Magnus (330-370 AD) said something still quoted today, “Money is the excrement of the devil.”
*** (1) Merchant of Venice
*** (2) Troilus and Cressida
*** (3) Sonnet 30
*** (4) W. Wordsworth – The French Revolution as It Appeared to Enthusiasts at Its Commencement
*** (5) Henry V