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The Rise of Political Correctness

“Comrade, your statement is factually incorrect.”
“Yes, it is. But it is politically correct.”

Angelo M. Codevilla writes: The notion of political correctness came into use among Communists in the 1930s as a semi-humorous reminder that the Party’s interest is to be treated as a reality that ranks above reality itself. Because all progressives, Communists included, claim to be about creating new human realities, they are perpetually at war against nature’s laws and limits. But since reality does not yield, progressives end up pretending that they themselves embody those new realities. Hence, any progressive movement’s nominal goal eventually ends up being subordinated to the urgent, all-important question of the movement’s own power. Because that power is insecure as long as others are able to question the truth of what the progressives say about themselves and the world, progressive movements end up struggling not so much to create the promised new realities as to force people to speak and act as if these were real: as if what is correct politically—i.e., what thoughts serve the party’s interest—were correct factually.

Communist states furnish only the most prominent examples of such attempted groupthink. Progressive parties everywhere have sought to monopolize educational and cultural institutions in order to force those under their thumbs to sing their tunes or to shut up. But having brought about the opposite of the prosperity, health, wisdom, or happiness that their ideology advertised, they have been unable to force folks to ignore the gap between political correctness and reality.

Especially since the Soviet Empire’s implosion, leftists have argued that Communism failed to create utopia not because of any shortage of military or economic power but rather because it could not overcome this gap. Is the lesson for today’s progressives, therefore, to push P.C. even harder, to place even harsher penalties on dissenters? Many of today’s more discerning European and American progressives, in possession of government’s and society’s commanding heights, knowing that they cannot wield Soviet-style repression and yet intent on beating down increasing popular resistance to their projects, look for another approach to crushing cultural resistance. Increasingly they cite the name of Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937), a brilliant Communist theoretician for whom “cultural hegemony” is the very purpose of the struggle as well as its principal instrument. His writings envisage a totalitarianism that eliminates the very possibility of cultural resistance to progressivism. But owing more to Machiavelli than to Marx or Lenin, they are more than a little complex about the means and are far from identical with the raw sort of power over culture enforced by the Soviet Empire or, for that matter, that is rife among us today.

My purpose here is to explain how progressives have understood and conducted their cultural war from the days of Lenin, and how Gramsci’s own ambiguous writings illustrate the choices they face in conducting that war in our time and circumstances—especially with regard to political correctness in our present culture war.

Culture Wars

Every form of progressivism bases itself on the claim of a special, “scientific,” knowledge of what is wrong with humanity and how to fix it. The formula is straightforward: the world is not as it should be because society’s basic, “structural” feature is ordered badly. Everything else is “superstructural,” meaning that it merely reflects society’s fundamental feature. For Marx and his followers that feature is conflict over the means of production in “present-day society.” From the dawn of time, this class warfare has led to “contradictions”: between types of work, town and country, oppressors or oppressed, and so on. The proletariat’s victory in that conflict will establish a new reality by crushing all contradictions out of existence. Other branches of progressivism point to a different structural problem. For Freudians it’s sexual maladjustment, for followers of Rousseau it’s social constraint, for positivists it is the insufficient application of scientific method, for others it is oppression of one race by another. Once control of society passes exclusively into the hands of the proper set of progressives, each sect’s contradictions must disappear as the basic structural problem is straightened out.

But wherever progressives have gained power, all manner of contradictions have remained and new ones have arisen. Progressive movements have reacted to this failure by becoming their own reason for being. Theoretically, the Revolution is about the power and necessity to recreate mankind. In practice, for almost all progressive movements it is about gaining power for the revolutionaries and making war on those who stand in their way. For example, transcending private property, the division of labor, and political oppression was never Marxism-Leninism’s core motive any more than worker/peasant proletarians were ever its core protagonists. In fact, Communism is an ideology by, of, and for ideologues, that ends up empowering and celebrating those very ideologues. This is as true of progressivism’s other branches as it is of Marxism.

Lenin’s seminal contribution was explicitly to recognize the revolutionary party’s paramount primacy, and to turn the party’s power and prestige from a means to revolution into the Revolution’s candid end. Lenin’s writings, like Marx’s, contain no positive description of future economic arrangements. The Soviet economy, for all its inefficiencies, functioned with Swiss precision as an engine of privilege for some and of murderous deprivation for others. The Communist Party had transcended communism. The key to understanding what progressive parties in power do is the insight, emphasized by “elite theorists” like Vilfredo Pareto and Gaetano Mosca, that any organization’s practical objectives turn out to be what serves the interests and proclivities of its leaders.

[Read the full story here, at claremont.org]

What serves progressive revolutionaries’ interests is not in doubt. Although each of progressivism’s branches differs in how it defines society’s “structural” fault, in its own name for the human reality that it seeks to overcome, and in the means by which to achieve its ends, progressives from the 19th century to our time are well nigh identical in their personal predilections—in what and whom they hate even more than in what they love. They see the culture of what Marxists call “bourgeois morality” as the negation of their identity and authority. That identity, their identity, is to be promoted, endlessly, by endless warfare against that culture. That is why the cultural campaigns of otherwise dissimilar progressives have been so similar. Leninist Russia no less than various Western democrats have tried to eradicate religion, to make it difficult for men, women, and children to exist as families, and to demand that their subjects join them in celebrating the new order that reflects their identity. Note well: cultural warfare’s substantive goal is less important than the affirmation of the warriors’ own identity. This is what explains the animus with which progressives have waged their culture wars.

Yet, notwithstanding progressivism’s premise that individual minds merely reflect society’s basic structure and hence are incapable of reasoning independently about true and false, better and worse, reality forces progressives to admit that individuals often choose how they think or act despite lacking the “structural” basis for doing so, or that they act contrary to the economic, social, or racial “classes” into which progressive theories divide mankind. They call this freedom of the human mind “false consciousness.”

Fighting against false consciousness is one reason why Communists and other progressives end up treating cultural matters supposedly “superstructural” as if they were structural and basic. They do so by pressuring people constantly to validate progressivism’s theories, to concelebrate victories over those on the “wrong” side of history by exerting control over who says what to whom. Read the rest of this entry »

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Who Would Win in a Fight? Vladimir Putin Vs. Theodore Roosevelt?


‘I Am Perhaps The Most Soviet Progressive Member Of The United States Senate’

COLUMBIA, SC - APRIL 25:  Potential Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (R) (I-VT) delivers remarks at the South Carolina Democratic Party state convention April 25, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. Sanders joined former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and former Sen. Lincoln Chafee in speaking to the convention.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Sanders reiterating that voters should review his consistent record as a self-described “Democratic socialist.”

WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., says he can defeat Hillary Stalin-redClinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, and although he says he respects the former secretary of state, Sanders said it’s time a candidate took on the “corporate establishment.”

“If elected president, I will have a litmus test in terms of my nominee to be a Supreme Court justice. And that nominee will say that we are all going to overturn this disastrous Supreme Court decision on Citizens United…”

Speaking with CBS’ “Face The Nation” on Sunday, the Vermont independent said he is likely “the most progressive member of the United States Senate” and reiterated his stance against income inequality, Wall Street greed and billionaires controlling the political process in the U.S.

“In terms of the fact that climate change is threatening the very foundations of our planet, that we need strong and bold leadership… In terms of climate change, I have helped lead the effort against the Keystone Pipeline…”

When asked if Clinton is vulnerable on issues and can be beaten for the Democratic nomination, Sanders said she is, and linked her to the “billionaires” dominating U.S. politics in the wake of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling – which he vowed a push to overturn if elected.

“The answer is, yes. And the answer is, because there is, in my view, massive dissatisfaction in this country today with corporate establishment and the greed of stalincorporate America and an incredibly unequal distribution of wealth and income which currently exists,” said Sanders.

Sanders spelled out the ways in which he and Clinton differ, although Sanders said he has known the former secretary of state for 25 years and “I respect her and I admire her.” Sanders criticized her support of the Iraq War as a senator in 2003, her embrace of massive super PAC campaign funding and her refusal to take a serious stance against climate change.

He also ridiculed the President Barack Obama-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, saying that it would be “disastrous” in losing the U.S. millions of jobs overseas. Read the rest of this entry »


Kennedy Announces Blockade of Cuba During the Missile Crisis: October 22, 1962

NYTimes-Cuba-Kennedy

In a dramatic televised address to the American public, President John F. Kennedy announces that the Soviet Union has placed nuclear weapons in Cuba and, in response, the United States will establish a blockade around the island to prevent any other offensive weapons from entering Castro’s state. Kennedy also warned the Soviets that any nuclear attack from Cuba would be construed as an act of war, and that the United States would retaliate in kind.

Castro-kruschev

Kennedy charged the Soviet Union with subterfuge and outright deception in what he referred to as a “clandestine, reckless, and provocative threat to world peace.” He dismissed Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko‘s claim that the weapons in Cuba were of a purely defensive nature as “false.” Harking back to efforts to contain German, Italian, and Japanese aggression in the 1930s, Kennedy argued that war-like behavior, “if allowed to grow unchecked and unchallenged, ultimately leads to war. Read the rest of this entry »


By Proxy: Ukrainians Pull Down Putin’s Pants


Russia Wants Bulgarians to Stop Vandalizing Soviet Monuments to look like Superheroes

Bulgaria-soviet-monument-painted

The Moscow Times reports: Russia is demanding that Bulgaria try harder to prevent vandalism of Soviet monuments, after yet another monument to Soviet troops in Sofia was spray-painted, ITAR-Tass reported.

The Russian Embassy in Bulgaria has issued a note demanding that its former Soviet-era ally clean up the monument in Sofia’s Lozenets district, identify and punish those responsible, and take “exhaustive measures” to prevent similar attacks in the future, the news agency reported Monday.

[See also: Bulgarian Red Army Monument Painted Pink in ‘Prague Spring’ Apology]

The monument was spray-painted on the eve of the Bulgarian Socialist Party‘s celebration of its 123rd anniversary, the Sofia-based Novinite news agency reported.

The vandalism was the latest in a series of similar recent incidents in Bulgaria — each drawing angry criticism from Moscow. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Leadership Contrast: President Reagan’s 1983 Address to the Nation on the Soviet Attack on a Korean Airliner KAL 007

“Where human life is valued, extraordinary efforts are extended to preserve and protect it. And it’s essential that as civilized societies we ask searching questions about the nature of regimes where such standards do not apply.”

Following is a transcript of a statement by President Reagan at Point Mugu, Calif., yesterday, as recorded by The New York Times:

“First let me just say that Nancy and I were deeply saddened last night to learn of the death of Senator Henry Jackson. He was a friend, a colleague, a true patriot and a devoted servant of the people. He will be sorely missed and we both extend our deepest sympathy to his family.

What can be the scope of legitimate mutual discourse with a state whose values permit such atrocities? And what are we to make of a regime which establishes one set of standards for itself, and another for the rest of humankind?

And now, in the wake of the barbaric act committed yesterday by the Soviet regime against a commercial jetliner, the United States and many other countries of the world made clear and compelling statements that expressed not only our outrage, but also our demand for a truthful accounting of the facts.

Our first emotions are anger, disbelief and profound sadness.

While events in Afghanistan and elsewhere have left few illusions about the willingness of the Soviet Union to advance its interests through violence and intimidation, all of us had hoped that certain irreducible standards of civilized behavior nonetheless obtained. 

But this event shocks the sensibilities of people everywhere. A tradition in the civilized world has always been to offer help to mariners and pilots who are lost or in distress on the sea or in the air. Where human life is valued, extraordinary efforts are extended to preserve and protect it. And it’s essential that as civilized societies we ask searching questions about the nature of regimes where such standards do not apply. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Barack Carter’: Obama is Leaving America Weaker on the World Stage than Carter Did

plastic-camera-carter-obama

For NY Daily News writes: It’s now official: On foreign policy, Barack Obama is worse than Jimmy Carter.

For decades, Carter’s presidency was synonymous with weakness on the world stage. The late 1970’s was the era of double-digit inflation, a worldwide oil crisis, Iranian hostages and Soviet military advances from Latin America to Afghanistan. So pathetic was America’s predicament at the time that the late Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy mounted a primary challenge to Carter from the left.

“It is barely remembered today, but, for all the derision heaped upon Carter as a weak and feckless President, he eventually responded to foreign aggression in tough and concrete ways.”

Obama’s rise to power mirrored his Democratic predecessor’s in many ways. Both men came to office in the wake of widespread public disenchantment with the political establishment, and promoted themselves as outsiders and breaths of fresh air. Both men spoke of surmounting what they portrayed as Americans’ exaggerated anxieties about the dangers hyped by fear-mongering conservatives.

carter-obama-6-panels

“The correlations between the world situation in the twilight of the Carter administration and in the second Obama term are hard to ignore.”

For Carter, in a 1977 commencement speech, it was “our inordinate fear of communism” that Americans needed to overcome. For Obama, in his 2009 Cairo address, it was the “fear” and “mistrust” that had grown between the West and Muslim world in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Both men came into office emphasizing the promotion of human rights as a crucial dimension of American foreign policy. And both men gave the impression that their good intentions would be enough to accomplish these Herculean tasks.

Unfortunately, as is often the case, the reality of the world came crashing down. Read the rest of this entry »


Запрещено! Не считайте это: Inside The Soviet Union’s Massive, Secret Porno Stash

vintage-soviet-porn-tall

For The Daily CallerEmma Colton writes: Locked up in the belly of Russia’s main library is a massive collection of porn and erotica collected by the Soviet Union, and it was allegedly visited often by Stalinist henchmen.

“We chose to preserve it intact, as a relic of the era when it was created.”

During the Soviet’s reign, the Communist Union collected pornographic material from aristocrats that was deemed “ideologically harmful,” and threw it into a padlocked room in the Russian State Libraryaccording to The Moscow Times.

Russian-porn-sq

Today, over 12,000 articles of titillating books, paintings, pictures and pornos are locked away from the public in the building across from the Kremlin.

But not everything is explicitly sexual in the collection. In addition to copies of the 1970s memoir “The Happy Hooker,” and anti-homosexuality writing called “Gay is Not Good,” a coffee table book of Picasso paintings and even an album of Beatles photos can be found. Read the rest of this entry »


The Rise of The Soviet Empire: Putin’s Zombie Propaganda Reanimates Russian Nationalism

putin-propaganda-russia

Putin’s use of Soviet-era symbolism has alarmed those already fearful for the country’s democratic institutions

Kathrin Hille writes: Igor Dolutsky finds nothing unusual in disagreeing with everyone around him. In the 35 years he has been teaching history in Moscow schools, his habit of questioning official narratives and challenging political taboos has cost him his job more than once.

“I would argue that for years we have been seeing what you could call the Nazification of the elite.”

— Igor Yakovenko, former head of the Russian Journalists’ Association

But when the mild-mannered 60-year-old tried to discuss Russia’s annexation of Crimea in class, things almost got out of hand. “My students swore at me and said I wasn’t telling the truth,” he says. “Then they said I didn’t love Russia or the Russian people, and told me to leave the country.”

Mr Dolutsky has long been a thorn in the side of Vladimir Putin’s government. Ten years ago the government pulled his history textbook from the curriculum for its critical description of President Putin and its inclusion of unpalatable facts about Soviet history. Today he teaches in a private school, headed by a friend from his university days, which allows Mr Dolutsky to continue to talk about the Soviet Union’s occupation of the Baltic states, discuss whether Russia committed genocide in Chechnya and label Mr Putin’s changes to the political system a coup d’état.

But Moscow’s annexation of Crimea has set off rapid and drastic changes that threaten to submerge such outposts of dissent. In a speech marking the consummation of Russia’s union with the Black Sea peninsula on March 18, Mr Putin lashed out against a “fifth column” of “national traitors” enlisted by the west to subvert Russia. He vowed to respond forcefully. Read the rest of this entry »


The New Normal: Russia, China Annex Other Countries Territories with Impunity

russian-machine-gunner-reuters

Breitbart.com‘s  brings us this morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com:

  • The ‘New Normal’: Russia and China annex other countries’ territories with impunity
  • Russia protests Estonia‘s treatment of its Russian minority
  • Xi Jinping redirects China’s ideology from Marxism to Nationalism

Russia and China annex other countries’ territories with impunity

With Russia’s annexation of Crimea now a fait accompli, it’s well to remember that this isn’t the first recent annexation of other countries’ territories. China has already seized islands in the South China Sea that have historically belonged to the Philippines and Vietnam and is operating on the belief that any “short, sharp attack” on any one island won’t bring an American response. China intends to continue annexing islands in this fashion. [“16-Jan-14 World View — China threatens military seizure of South China Sea island from Philippines”]

“Estonia has a centuries-old bitter history with Russia. People today vividly remember that Josef Stalin’s Red Army reoccupied Estonia in June 1940 and made it part of the Soviet Union…”

The news on Friday is that Russia is massing over 20,000 troops on the border with eastern Ukraine, evidently with the intention of invading, in order to annex some or all of that territory. It’s really not logical for Russia’s president Vladimir Putin to stop with Crimea, since there are plenty of ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine—and because Crimea can’t survive without the fresh water, electricity, gas, and food that it imports from Ukraine. NBC News

Read the rest of this entry »


Vintage Soviet Sci-Fi Movie Poster ‘First Spaceship on Venus’

soviet-movie-poster

First Spaceship on Venus (Silent Star) (VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, 1959). Soviet movie poster

In the far distant future of 1985, a multi-national crew rockets out to the planet Venus, only to find its population was long ago wiped out by the misuse of nuclear power. A co-production from East Germany and Poland, this science fiction film was released in the Soviet Union and Soviet bloc First Spaceship on Venuscountries under the translated title Silent Star. It was re-edited and released in the US as First Spaceship on Venus in 1962 by Crown International.

[The DVD – First Spaceship On Venus – at Amazon]

And Internet Movie Database has a photo gallery of other posters and related material.

via Heritage Auctions

spaceexp –  scanzen
Read the rest of this entry »

Russia Is Doomed

Don’t be fooled by Putin’s façade; the pillars of Russian power are steadily declining.

Vlad-the-PutinZachary Keck writes:  Everywhere one looks today, signs of a resurgent Russia are omnipresent. Although Vladimir Putin has undoubtedly worked hard to craft this image, it is a mirage. Russia is doomed over the long-term, and its short-term maneuvers aren’t enough to compensate for this fact.

Traditionally, Russian power has rested on four pillars: population, energy, weaponry and geography. Three of these are diminishing.

The backbone of modern Russian power has been its massive population. Nowhere was this better demonstrated than in WWII. Russia no doubt played a leading role in orchestrating Hitler’s demise, starting with its legendary stands in Leningrad and Stalingrad. However, Stalin sapped the military might of Nazi Germany less because of the strategic or tactical genius he possessed, and almost entirely through his willingness to expend the lives of his citizenry.

According to some estimates, the Soviet Union lost somewhere between 22 and 28 million people during WWII. To put this in perspective, the United States and Great Britain each lost less than half a million people and even Germany only lost between 7 and 9 million lives during the war. Nonetheless, for nearly half a century after the war the Soviet Union could credibly threaten the much richer West solely because of the sheer number of men it could put under arms.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Kiev Spirals Out of Control

kiev-protests

John O’Sullivan  reports:  At least nine people have been killed today in renewed clashes between the police and protesters in Kiev. That number will probably increase over the course of the night since the police are currently overturning barriers and clearing demonstrators from Kiev’s central square, the Maidan, where they have been encamped for the last three months.

GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)

GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)

The battle, broadcast live on numerous television and Internet outlets, is like a scene from the apocalypse, with fires spreading, laser beams searching the landscape, fireworks thrown, smoke from grenades, and a constant deafening sound from loudspeakers.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Left Still Harbors a Soft Spot For Communism

the_romance_that_began_in_the_throes_of_history

For all the brutal revelations, the romanticized view of communism as a failed but noble venture has yet to get a stake through the heart.

CCCP-HandMy headline would be “The Left Still Has a Boner for Communism“, but the editors at Reason don’t have the benefit of punditfromanotherplant’s talent for hyperbole. 

  writes:  In the mid-1980s, in my student days at New Jersey’s Rutgers University, I once got into an argument at the campus pub with a student activist who thought communism was unfairly maligned. (Back then, I had a reputation as a right-wing extremist because I didn’t think it was crazy to call the USSR—from which my family and I had emigrated a few years earlier—an evil empire.) When I mentioned the tendency of communist regimes to rack up a rather high body count, the young man parried, “Well, what about all the people capitalism kills? Like the people who die from smoking so that tobacco companies can make money?”

[Cathy Young’s book: Growing Up in Moscow: Memories of a Soviet Girlhood at Amazon]

Having recovered from shock at the sheer idiocy of this argument, I ventured to point out that cigarettes weren’t exactly unknown behind the Iron Curtain. I don’t recall where things went from there; but I was reminded of that conversation the other day, after reading an honest-to-goodness apologia for Communism on Salon.com, a once-interesting magazine that’s rapidly becoming too embarrassing to list on my résumé.

Bitches_0ad0f1_1276309The author, Occupy activist and writer Jesse Myerson, already caused some controversy last month with a Rolling Stone article that outlined a five-step plan toward eliminating inequality and collectivizing wealth. But at least in that piece, Myerson limited himself to extolling a visionary American brand of kumbaya communism rather than defend any of its actual, real-world versions. Here, in an article that purports to correct Americans’ “misconceptions” about communism, he takes the further step of arguing that the real thing wasn’t as bad as we think. Read the rest of this entry »


Vintage Soviet Space Propaganda

soviet-space

Tumblr

Soviet Space Dog Laika Cigarette Pack 
Russia 
1950s

Soviet Space Dog Laika Cigarette Pack 
Russia 
1950s

Fortune Cookie

 

 


Fidel Castro Finally Appears in Public

  reports:  87 year old Fidel Castro appeared in public last week for the first time in six months and the mainstream media can hardly contain themselves.  This appearance coincides with the 55 anniversary of Castro’s “revolution.”

To read the media you’d think some effete and benevolent European monarch (from, say, Monaco or Liechtenstein) had made a brief cameo. Across the board the media refers to Fidel Castro as the “President” who “led” Cuba for almost fifty years. No hint of anything else happening in Cuba during that period.

You’d never guess Castro  killed more Cubans in the process of  “liberating” them than the Nazis killed French civilians  in the process of conquering and enslaving them, that he brought the world closest to Nuclear war of any “leader” on earth and that he sunk a nation with a standard of living higher than half of Europe’s and swamped with immigrants into a pesthole that repels Haitians.

Read the rest of this entry »


Exposed: The Soviet Union Spent $1 Billion on Mind-Control Program

Dr. Bill van Bise, electrical engineer, conducting a demonstration of Soviet scientific data and schematics for beaming a magnetic field into the brain to cause visual hallucinations. Source: CNN Source: Supplied

Dr. Bill van Bise, electrical engineer, conducting a demonstration of Soviet scientific data and schematics for beaming a magnetic field into the brain to cause visual hallucinations. Source: CNN Source: Supplied

The race to put man on the Moon wasn’t enough of a battle for the global super powers during the Cold War.

At the time, the Soviet Union and the United States were in an arms race of a bizarre, unconventional kind – that has been exposed in a new report.

Beginning in 1917 and continuing until 2003, the Soviets poured up to $1 billion into developing mind-controlling weaponry to compete with similar programs undertaken in the US.

While much still remains classified, we can now confirm the Soviets used methods to manipulate test subjects’ brains.

The paper, by Serge Kernbach, at the Research Centre of Advanced Robotics and Environmental Science in Stuttgart, Germany, details the Soviet Union’s extensive experiments, called “psychotronics”. The paper is based on Russian technical journals and recently declassified documents.

Still from Secret Russia: Moscow The Zombies of the Red Czar, a German TV documentary, 1998. Source: Supplied

Still from Secret Russia: Moscow The Zombies of the Red Czar, a German TV documentary, 1998. Source: Supplied

The paper outlines how the Soviets developed “cerpan”, a device to generate and store high-frequency electromagnetic radiation and the use of this energy to affect other objects.

“If the generator is designed properly, it is able to accumulate bioenergy from all living things – animals, plants, humans – and then release it outside,” the paper said.

The psychotronics program, known in the US as “parapsychology”, involves unconventional research into mind control and remote influence – and was funded by the government.

With only limited knowledge of each other’s mind-bending programs, the Soviets and Americans were both participating in similar secret operations, with areas of interest often mirroring the other country’s study.

The original scheme of transmitting and receiving bio-circuitry of the human nervous system. Picture: B. B. Kazhinskiy Source: Supplied

The original scheme of transmitting and receiving bio-circuitry of the human nervous system. Picture: B. B. Kazhinskiy 

The psychotronics project draws similarities to part of the controversial program MKUltra in the US. The CIA program ran for 20 years, has been highly documented since being investigated in the 1970s and was recently dramatised in the movie The Men Who Stare at Goats.

Read the rest of this entry »


JFK’s Signal Accomplishment: (Almost Blowing up the World, then) ‘Saving’ the World

(Photo By Douglas Graham/Roll Call via Getty Images)

(Photo By Douglas Graham/Roll Call via Getty Images)

Morton Kondracke displays some funny logic. My commentary is in italics.

I didn’t read or watch every observation of the anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination (who could?)  but the ones I did gave short shrift to his signal accomplishment — saving the world from a nuclear holocaust.

Could it be because JFK played a provocative role in the nuclear confrontation in the first place? And other observers are more informed and realistic about this? The fact that JFK managed to back out of a nuclear crisis that he helped start is a “Signal Accomplishment”? Just a thought, Morton. Credit is due, Kennedy did act honorably, and skillfully, this is true. History records that. It’s been explored by scholars ever since. But let’s not pretend Kennedy swept in and saved the world.

The other view is that Kennedy brought the USA to the brink of a global nuclear war, then successfully avoided it. That might be the reason others haven’t touted it as a signal accomplishment. 

His cool restraint during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis — resisting many advisers who were calling for bombing Soviet missile sites in Cuba — ought to earn him the top-of-the-heap public approval ratings he enjoys (90 percent in a CNN poll).

I doubt the ratings are based on that, though. His celebrated grace, glamour, wit, eloquence, inspiration of a generation to public service, his (belated) support for civil rights, the Camelot myth created by his widow — and, above all, his martyrdom — most likely are the major factors.

Grace, glamour, wit, eloquence…morbidly brazen womanizing, medical dependence on steroids and regular injections of powerful amphetamines to mask grave health problems….and recklessly bringing the USA to the brink of nuclear war. Okay, got it. Glamorous. 

Historians rate him lower than the public does. If you look at the excellent Wikipedia site, Historical Rankings of Presidents of the United States, he rates in the middle-upper tier in a dozen surveys of historians — 14th in a 2002 Sienna College survey.

Read the rest of this entry »


Johnny Raincloud: Americans think John F. Kennedy was one of our greatest presidents. He wasn’t.

John F. Kennedy was many things, but a great president was not among them. (Associated Press)

John F. Kennedy was many things, but a great president was not among them. (Associated Press)

I meant to wrap up our multi-volume series on Kennedy yesterday, but a this one caught my eye. It fits in with the contrarian view–a reality check on Kennedy myth–to counter the Kennedy inflation that characterized much of the coverage of the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination this month. If you’re a Kennedy skeptic, this is for you. If you’re a Kennedy admirer, the Washington Posts’s WonkBlog‘s Dylan Matthews is here to rain on your parade. 

Dylan Matthews writes:  Fifty years ago Friday, Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy. The assassination was a tragedy — and it turned the target into something of a secular political saint. There are few modern presidents about whom The Post’s own George Will and E.J. Dionne can agree, but JFK appears to be one.

“It tells us a great deal about the meaning of John F. Kennedy in our history that liberals and conservatives alike are eager to pronounce him as one of their own,” Dionne notes. A Gallup poll last week found that Americans rate him more highly than any of the other 11 presidents since Eisenhower. A 2011 Gallup poll found that he came in fourth when Americans were asked to name the greatest president of all time, behind Ronald Reagan, Abraham Lincoln, and Bill Clinton, but ahead of George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson.

Some of that reputation is hard to argue with. Kennedy was a brilliant rhetorician who inspired a generation of young Americans, and his death left a lingering scar on the American psyche. But it’s important that his presidency be evaluated on its actual merits. And on the merits, John F. Kennedy was not a good president. Here are six reasons why.

1. The Cuban Missile Crisis was his fault

Soviet strategic missile sites under construction in Cuba in 1962. (National Security Agency)

Historians disagree on what exactly lead to the October 1962 crisis that almost ended in a nuclear exchange. But basically every interpretation suggests that, had the Eastern Seaboard been wiped out that month, it would have been the result of Kennedy’s fecklessness.

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Genocide: Stalin’s Great Famine Still Haunts Ukraine

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Starving children in the Ukraine during the Holodomor, 1932-33

Eighty years later, there’s no denying the Soviet atrocity.

 “We went to a field. We had nothing to eat. Everything was taken from us. So my mother decided we would go to the field, find some half-frozen potatoes, some kind of vegetables, to make a soup. At that time the Soviet Union was teaching people to report on each other, to spy on each other. Somebody saw that we came with some vegetables, half-frozen, and they arrested my mother. That was the last time I saw her.”

Alec Torres writes:  So Eugenia Dallas, originally Eugenia Sakevych, began her story to me. Born in Ukraine around 1925 (she does not know her exact age), Eugenia lived through the Holodomor — genocide by famine — as a young girl. Shortly before her mother was taken, her father was sent to Siberia, deemed a criminal because he owned a few acres of land.

In 1932–33, Ukraine was brought to its knees. After years of mass arrests and deportations had failed to bring the Ukrainians into line, Stalin decided to crush this proud nation with a new weapon: food. Ukraine, once the breadbasket of Europe, was stripped of its grain. With its borders sealed and its citizens imprisoned, an estimated 4 to 14 million people starved to death as food rotted in silos or was sold abroad. Stalin wanted purity, and Ukraine’s nationalism threatened his perverse utopia.

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10 Cold War Weapons That Terrified U.S. Military Intelligence

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When US-Soviet relationships were at their frostiest in the 1980s, there was no telling what sort of exotic threat was about to come roaring through Russia’s Iron Curtain. That’s where the Defense Intelligence Agency came in.

This low-profile intelligence agency—the DoD’s answer the the CIA—worked around the clock to discover emerging Soviet military menaces and report them to Washington. Because of the Top Secret nature of these subjects, the agency employed a team of artists to create highly accurate renderings of each threat, for use in policy briefings and DIA publications like Soviet Military Power. These subjects were so top secret that the renderings themselves were considered classified material.

Between 1965 and 1989, DIA’s artists created more than 1000 paintings and drawings of Soviet threats—now known as the DIA Military Art Collection. Here are ten of the most intimidating weapons we thought the Soviets were developing.

10 Cold War Weapons That Terrified U.S. Military Intelligence

Soviet Space-Based Strategic Defenses by Ronald C. Wittmann, 1987

Just because the Soviets were publicly opposed to President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, aka “Star Wars,” doesn’t mean they weren’t feverishly working on their own version. The Soviet Space-Based Strategic Defenses were part of a unified land, air, and space-based shield against Moscow-bound ballistic missiles

10 Cold War Weapons That Terrified U.S. Military Intelligence

Space Particle Beam by Ronald C. Wittmann, 1987

Rather than try to hit a tiny satellite zooming thousands of miles an hour miles overhead with a ground-based laser, why not just send up another satellite to shoot it out of the sky? The Soviets explored the idea of hunter-killer satellites armed with particle-beam, kinetic, and laser-based weaponry throughout the 1980s. None of the technologies were ever launched, though.

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Stalin’s Deadly Blue Pencil

He started out as an editor and went on to excise people–indeed, whole peoples–from history.

Stalin's talents as an editor harmonized with his genius as a mass-murdering tyrant Holly Case writes: Joseph Djugashvili was a student in a theological seminary when he came across the writings of Vladimir Lenin and decided to become a Bolshevik revolutionary. Thereafter, in addition to blowing things up, robbing banks, and organizing strikes, he became an editor, working at two papers in Baku and then as editor of the first Bolshevik daily, Pravda. Lenin admired Djugashvili’s editing; Djugashvili admired Lenin, and rejected 47 articles he submitted to Pravda.

Djugashvili (later Stalin) was a ruthless person, and a serious editor. The Soviet historian Mikhail Gefter has written about coming across a manuscript on the German statesman Otto von Bismarck edited by Stalin’s own hand. The marked-up copy dated from 1940, when the Soviet Union was allied with Nazi Germany. Knowing that Stalin had been responsible for so much death and suffering, Gefter searched “for traces of those horrible things in the book.” He found none. What he saw instead was “reasonable editing, pointing to quite a good taste and an understanding of history.” Read the rest of this entry »