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A Hundred Years of Communism

Ben Sixsmith writes: We must give the Bolsheviks their due. Their success in gaining power was astonishing. A ragtag gang of activists and intellectuals, they seized control of Russia in October, 1917, and defended their rule in a vicious, bloody civil war. No one can deny the force of their conviction, or the scale of their courage, or the keenness of their talents.

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Bolshevik forces marching on the Red Square, 1917

But wielding power was a different matter. Revolutionaries dream that crops will grow out of their fire but in most cases it leaves scarred and arid earth instead. Collectivisation, with its monstrous violence and inefficiency, left millions dead in Russia, Ukraine and the Caucasus. Paranoia and persecution, all too evident in Lenin’s “cleansing” of “harmful insects” — landowners, dissidents and priests the Bolsheviks interned, starved, tortured and killed — reached its absurd apotheosis in Stalin’s purges.

Stalin killed so many people in the Great Purge that it is remarkable that anyone was left to do the killing. Former comrades, artists and intellectuals, military officers, clergymen, dissidents, outcasts and normal Russian men and women were slaughtered in a tidal wave of blood. What is striking is not just who Stalin killed but who he spared. While hundreds of thousands of innocents were massacred, Lavrentiy Beria, who was not just a bloody killer but a known rapist, received generous promotion.

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Partial view of a plaque with photos of victims of the Great Purge who were shot in the Butovo firing range near Moscow. The photos were taken after the arrest of each victim.

Having carved up Eastern Europe with Adolf Hitler, and oppressed its beleaguered inhabitants with such atrocities as the Katyn massacre, where 22,000 men from the Polish officer corps and intelligensia were shot in cold blood, Stalin was himself subjected to invasion. The Red Army fought with startling courage and conviction to prevail, but as the West looked on they became embarrassed. A storm of rape and murder followed the Soviets, carried out by callous and vengeful soldiers. The Nazis in Eastern Europe were replaced with cruel and subservient Stalinist officials. Bierut in Poland, Hoxha in Albania, Rákosi in Hungary and Gottwald in Czechoslovakia kept their people mired in poverty and persecution.

[Read the full story here, at Quillette]

The Soviets inspired others. Mao took power in China and launched a sweeping campaign of modernisation that left millions of expendable victims starved or killed. Juche arose in North Korea, wrapping itself around the country in a chokehold that has persisted to the present day. Pol Pot butchered almost a quarter of Cambodians. Mariam mass-murdered in Ethiopia. Perhaps the most successful of the communist states was Cuba, where, at least, there was not large-scale killing or famine.

As the years dragged on, and Marxists alternately identified with and then disassociated themselves from regimes which took power and promptly used that power to wicked and foolish ends, their search for an impressive Marxist state became a kind of force. The great red hope of the 21st Century was Venezuela, where Hugo Chavez gained popular support and some economic success. Any achievements were undone as the economy shrank, inflation sky-rocketed and violent crime left tens of thousands of people dead. Now, a statue of Chavez has been pulled to the ground as Venezualans, sick of queuing for hours to pay thousands of bolívares for bread and toilet paper, have marched in the streets.

It would be simplistic to blame all of these events on ideology. We live in an imperfect world and those imperfections have been unequally distributed. No conceivable government of Russia, or China, or Venezuela would have left no citizens impoverished or oppressed. Nonetheless, a hundred years of communism has presented us with an intimidating record of catastrophe, in a moral, political, and economic sense. Time and again, ambition has exceeded potential. Time and again, coercion has encouraged conflict. Time and again, violence has perpetuated itself. Time and again, absolute power has hardened into tyranny. Read the rest of this entry »

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EXCLUSIVE: Fidel Castro Health Update

File photo of then Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro attending manoeuvres during the 19th anniversary of his and his fellow revolutionaries arrival on the yacht Granma, in Havana


[VIDEO] Cruz: A Dictator is Dead, But His Repressive Legacy Will Not Follow Him to the Grave

“Cuba’s longtime oppressive dictator Fidel Castro is dead. Let me be absolutely clear: We are not mourning the death of some revolutionary romantic, or a distinguished statesman.”

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“We’re not grieving for the protector of peace or a judicious steward of his people. Today we are thankful. We are thankful that a man who has imprisoned, and tortured, and degraded the lives of so many is no longer with us. He has departed for warmer climes.”

See more here.

 


Justin Trudeau Backtracks, Explains

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Cuba’s Fidel Castro Dies

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Fidel Castro, Cuba’s former Dictator and leader of the Communist revolution, has died aged 90.

Fidel Castro ruled Cuba as a one-party state for almost 50 years before Raul took over in 2008.

Fidel Castro, Cuba’s former president and leader of the Communist revolution, has died aged 90, his brother Raul has announced.

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The Washington Examiner‘s Daniel Chaitin writes:

…The U.S. was among the first to formally recognize his government, cautiously trusting Castro’s early assurances he merely wanted to restore democracy, not install socialism.

Within months, Castro was imposing radical economic reforms. Members of the old government went before summary courts, and at least 582 were shot by firing squads over two years. Independent newspapers were closed and in the early years, homosexuals were herded into camps for “re-education.”

In 1964, Castro acknowledged holding 15,000 political prisoners. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans fled, including Castro’s daughter Alina Fernandez Revuelta and his younger sister Juana.

Still, the revolution thrilled millions in Cuba and across Latin America who saw it as an example of how the seemingly arrogant Yankees could be defied. And many on the island were happy to see the seizure of property of the landed class, the expulsion of American gangsters and the closure of their casinos.

Castro’s speeches, lasting up to six hours, became the soundtrack of Cuban life and his 269-minute speech to the U.N. General Assembly in 1960 set the world body’s record for length that still stood more than five decades later.

As Castro moved into the Soviet bloc, Washington began working to oust him, cutting U.S. purchases of sugar, the island’s economic mainstay. Castro, in turn, confiscated $1 billion in U.S. assets…(read more)

“The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 hours this evening,” President Raul Castro said.

Read the rest of this entry »


Socialists Enjoying Exercise: Venezuelan President Chased by Angry Protesters 

The confrontation occurred at a routine political event just days after thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets to call for Nicolás Maduro’s ouster.

President Nicolás Maduro was chased at a routine political event by angry protesters banging on pots and yelling that they were hungry.

[Watch in Times Video »]

CARACAS, Venezuela — Nicholas Casey reports: President Nicolás Maduro was chased at a routine political event by a crowd of angry protesters banging on pots and yelling that they were hungry, just days after thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets to call for his ouster, local news media reported on Saturday.

[Read the full story here, at The New York Times]

Scenes from the confrontation late Friday, which also appeared in videos uploaded to social media, captured the attention of Venezuelans, many of whom blame the unpopular president for the country’s food shortages.

In one video, Mr. Maduro tries to calm the pot-bangers by walking among them, only to be surrounded as the furious crowd yells obscenities.

“What is this?” an astounded voice behind the camera asks in one of the video clips.

Mr. Maduro had traveled from the capital, Caracas, to Margarita Island off Venezuela’s northern coast to inaugurate a number of new public housing units and give a televised address.

During the speech, he denounced his opponents’ calls for his removal from office, calling them “vampires” and saying they were preparing for violence.

Foro Penal, a Venezuelan human rights group, said 20 people had been arrested after the protest in the island town of Villa Rosa. Mr. Maduro’s office made no statement about the episode.

Venezuelan politicians wasted little time on Saturday in using the confrontation to advance their agendas. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] ‘Silence Is Death: The Demise of Free Speech’ – Mark Hemingway at Hillsdale 

Mark Hemingway is a senior writer for the Weekly Standard as well as this semester’s Eugene C. Pulliam Distinguished Fellow in Journalism, along with his wife, Mollie Hemingway.

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Learn more about Hillsdale College‘s Dow Journalism Program here.

 


Bonfire of the Academy

University of Missouri system President Tim Wolfe at the board of curators meeting shortly before he announced he would resign his post on Nov. 9. Photo: Allison Long/Zuma Press

As liberal adults abdicate, the kids take charge on campus.

By bonfire of the academy we mean a conflict of values about the idea of a university that now threatens to undermine or destroy universities as a place of learning. Exhibit A is the ruin called the University of Missouri.

In the 1960s—at Cornell, Columbia, Berkeley and elsewhere—the self-described Student Left occupied buildings with what they often called “non-negotiable” demands. In the decades since, the academy—its leaders and faculties—by and large has accommodated many of those demands regarding appropriate academic subjects, admissions policies and what has become the aggressive and non-tolerant politics of identity and grievance.

This political trajectory arrived at its logical end this week at Missouri with the abrupt resignation of the school’s president, quickly followed by its number two official. The kids deposed them, as their liberal elders applauded either out of solidarity or cowardice.

The cause of President Tim Wolfe’s resignation is said to be his failure to address several racially charged incidents on campus and the threat by its Division One football team to boycott this weekend’s game unless he stepped down.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

The university’s campus, in Columbia, is not far from Ferguson, Mo. Among the charges against President Wolfe was that his response to the shooting of Michael Brown was inadequate, which is to say, he did not sufficiently take the side of the protesters or rioters. Since Ferguson, the left-wing Black Lives Matter group has come to prominence and intimidated even presidential candidates. This has been accompanied by successive claims of racial grievance against public and private institutions.

In the United States, by now the instinct of the overwhelming majority of people is to address such complaints in good faith, investigate them and remediate where necessary. Only the tiniest minority would wish to see racial grievances bleed indefinitely. Yet the kids assert that America is irredeemably racist. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Delicate Snowflakes: Yale University Students Protest Halloween Costume Email


Senate Democrats Scheme How to Spectacularly Fail At Gun Control

Rallying around three theatrical ‘principles of action,’ the group proposed laws to close imaginary ‘loopholes’, try to expand invasive background databases to create additional burdens for understaffed law enforcement agencies, ignore meaningful mental health legislation reform, and try to think up new ways to harass law-abiding citizens with pointless regulatory efforts that they admit has no hope of saving lives, or surviving challenges in the courts, but is aimed at pacifying their base of control-craving, gun-hating, feeble-minded, anti-democratic, highly-emotional low-information voters.

Philip Wegmann reports: In the week after the mass shooting in Roseburg, Ore., Senate Democrats gathered on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to demand stricter gun control and unveil their comprehensive policy package to achieve it.

“If Obama and gun control advocates were serious, they would address the underlying issue of America’s broken mental health system,” Cox said in a statement. “Instead, they push gun control initiatives that would not have prevented any of the tragedies they seek to exploit.”

Frustrated by the inaction of Republicans and hamstrung by a lack of votes, the group of more than two dozen Senate Democrats sought to spark debate by appealing directly to the public.

“The roll call of American gun tragedies is already far too long,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. “The victims and their families deserve better than a Congress that shrugs its shoulder and waits for the next tragedy.”

Rallying around three “principles of action,” the group proposed laws to close background check loopholes, expand background databases, and crack down on illegal gun sales.

Numerically virtually impossible to pass in the Republican-controlled House, gun control legislation also faces an uphill battle in the Senate. Read the rest of this entry »


Dr. Ben Carson: ‘When Tyranny Occurs Traditionally Around the World, They Try to Disarm the People First’

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Political Oppression: Dissidents Arrested as Pope Francis Conducts his First Mass in Cuba

Political opponents of President Raul Castro’s Communist regime are regularly subjected to harassment and intimidation.

 reports: Cuban authorities prevented leading dissidents from meeting Pope Francis in Havana on Sunday, in a sign of the Communist regime’s rigid intolerance of political opposition.

“The head of an opposition group called the Ladies in White said that 22 of the 24 members of the group who had hoped to attend a Mass celebrated by the Pope were prevented from doing so by Cuban security officials.”

Two well-known dissidents, Marta Beatriz Roque and Miriam Leiva, had been invited by the Vatican to attend a vespers service led by the Pope’s in Havana’s historic baroque cathedral.

But they said they were detained by security agents and barred from attending the event.

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“They told me that I didn’t have a credential and that I couldn’t go to the Pope’s event that was taking place there in the plaza of the Cathedral,” Ms Roque said.

The head of an opposition group called the Ladies in White said that 22 of the 24 members of the group who had hoped to attend a Mass celebrated by the Pope were prevented from doing so by Cuban security officials.

There had been intense speculation about whether the Pope would risk incurring the displeasure of his host, President Raul Castro, by meeting political opponents of the Communist regime.

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The fact that the Vatican invited the women to Sunday’s cathedral service showed Francis’ determination to try to engage with the dissident movement, which has endured years of persecution by the Castro regime.

Earlier in the day, the Pope celebrated Mass in Havana’s Revolution Square in front of tens of thousands of people.

He was driven through the crowds in a white pope-mobile, pausing to kiss children who were held up to him.

As the ceremony got underway, Cuban security officers detained at least three people who appeared to be trying to distribute leaflets in the capital’s Revolution Square, a large open area dominated by a massive likeness of revolutionary hero Che Guevara.

The three people were tackled and dragged away by the officers.

Political opponents of President Raul Castro’s Communist regime are regularly subjected to harassment and intimidation. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: ‘Ghostbusters’ Message Finally Connects with Progressive Latecomers

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– Salon.com.


[VIDEO] John Kerry: Iran Deal Not A Treaty Because Getting Senate Consent Has ‘Become Physically Impossible’


The White House did not pursue the nuclear agreement with Iran as an international treaty, because getting U.S. Senate advise and consent for a treaty has “become physically impossible,” Secretary of State John Kerry told lawmakers on Tuesday.

 

 


Peter Moruzzi: Havana Before Castro, When Cuba was a Tropical Playground

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[PHOTO] Berlin, 1962

Berlin, 1962 - Photo by Floris Neusüss


[REWIND] 90s Nostalgia: When Criminal IRS Abuses were a Harmless Seinfeld Punch Line

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Modern Villain, Modern Hero

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h/t 

Rumors About Fidel Castro’s Death Again Circulate on the Internet

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MEXICO CITY — Rumors about the death of Fidel Castro — an age-old ritual for Cuba-watchers — once again began circulating on and off the island this week.

It’s true that Castro hasn’t been seen in public in about a year, and it’s been a few months since one of his last columns were published. Castro, 88, has not said one public word about the historic announcement by President Obama last month about his goal of moving toward normal relations with Cuba after a half-century Cold War stand-off.

Twitter went wild Thursday night with speculation about his demise. Why? There are rumors about that, too. One of them is that another Fidel Castro, this one the son of a prominent Kenyan politician, died a few days ago (Fidel Castro Odinga of Nairobi), and maybe this was all a social media mash-up of mistaken identity. Read the rest of this entry »


Socialist Panic: Falling Oil Prices Risks Driving Venezuela’s Economy Off the Edge


[VIDEO] SNL Cold Open: Obama Shoves The Schoolhouse Rock Bill Down The Capitol Steps

November 22, 2014 – Finally, the first biting political spoof from Saturday Night Live in a while: the Bill from Schoolhouse Rock explains to a student how he becomes a law, only to be violently beat up by Barack Obama and his new best friend, “Executive Order.” Even then, the poor Executive Order still thinks he’s used for simple things, like declaring holidays and creating national parks, until Obama informs him that he’s going to be used to grant amnesty to 5 million undocumented immigrants. His only reaction: “Whoa.”


Help Wanted: Cuckoo Bananas Seattle Socialist Group Pushing $20 an Hour Minimum Wage Wants to Hire Web Developer for $13 an Hour

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Killer item from Pundit Press:

It’s sometimes said that if some people didn’t have double standards, they’d have no standards at all. That applies to the Freedom Socialist Party.

In 2012, their official website was pushing for a drastic increase in the minimum wage. In fact, they pushed for a full $20 per hour minimum wage, even for the most basic jobs:

From the dustbin of history: The socialist zombies of Seattle

From the ash heap of history: The Seattle SOCIALIST ZOMBIES

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Well, if you are a socialist, I have good news: the Freedom Socialist Party is hiring! They must have competitive wages for a web developer, right? Not exactly.

The people who want people who flip hamburgers for a living to earn $20 an hour to do that are willing to pay an experienced web developer… $13 an hour.

Their ad, posted on both indeed.com and craigslist.org, can be seen here:

Web-Design-Job-Socialists

Read the rest of this entry »


D’Souzaism of the Day: ‘Progress’

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[CHART] Keeping Score: Which Dictator Killed the Most People?

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Source: Gawker

 


Purity From the Far Left: Chinese Children’s Guide for Politically Correct Behavior

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I can’t verify the authenticity of this, the translation is either a spoof, mischievous liberties were taken, or it really is based on the original text, but it looks like characteristic Mao-era cultural training. One thinks of North Korea, San Francisco, Think Progress, MSNBC, DNC Headquarters, even classrooms in New Jersey as recently as 2009…


Protest Photo of the Day

Protester, Egypt

Protester, Egypt

This isn’t new, but it’s worth remembering.


You Can Check Out Any Time You Like but You Can Never Leave

You Can Check Out Any Time You Like but You Can Never Leave


New York Post Honors Iranian Dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

…in its own special New York way…

New York Post


Free Speech in the Age of YouTube

Free Speech in the Age of YouTube - NYTimes.com

Companies are usually accountable to no one but their shareholders.Internet companies are a different breed. Because they traffic in speech — rather than, say, corn syrup or warplanes — they make decisions every day about what kind of expression is allowed where. And occasionally they come under pressure to explain how they decide, on whose laws and values they rely, and how they distinguish between toxic speech that must be taken down and that which can remain.

The storm over an incendiary anti-Islamic video posted on YouTube has stirred fresh debate on these issues..

More >> via Free Speech in the Age of YouTube – NYTimes.com


Hitchens as Orwell’s Successor

When looking back on the life of the late Christopher Hitchens, one sees that his persona is oddly like that of Oscar Wilde’s character Lord Henry Wotton from The Picture of Dorian Gray: loved by an assortment of people for assorted reasons, often when they cannot square with him on something else. Like Wotton, Hitchens was popular with individuals, not because they agreed with him, but because they disagreed with him. When faced with the cultivated erudition, wit, conviction, and eloquence such that “Hitch” displayed, peacocking before a podium or a writer’s desk, one couldn’t help but fall like those in Dorian Gray who despised the hedonist Wotton, and yet couldn’t stay away from his conversation.

It’s hard to say where Hitchens’ greatest popularity lies, but much Hitch-love comes from his status as the successor to George Orwell. Orwell’s manner, if anything, was the opposite of Hitchens’ strut. But the two are compared because they both criticized the Left from within on matters of international policy, albeit in independent ways. Hitchens broke from the Left over the so-called war on terror, quitting his literary homestead, The Nation, and making particularly derisive comments about his comrades. These actions were viewed as the strongest individual leftist dissent by a writer since Orwell’s infamous break over the Spanish Communists and the Soviet Union. To boot, Hitchens offered strong, vocal admiration for the elder English author and polemicist, and invoked Orwell on matters of principle and ethics regarding his own conservative turn. Indeed, the two are similarly noteworthy for their incorporation of morals into their politics.

Nevertheless, does all or any of this suffice to anoint Hitchens the inheritor, not of Orwell’s work, but of Orwell’s pen? The idea certainly has its critics. In his obituary on Hitchens, the New Statesman’s editor Jason Cowley argued that many of the comparisons made between the two are false. And although it’s popular to identify Hitchens with Orwell, the only serious, fleshed-out argument for exactly how the younger furthered the elder’s work that I’ve seen is from the Orwell scholar John Rodden, whose excellent essay on the topic appeared in The Kenyon Review in 2004. Rodden considers the idea thoroughly and concludes that there was “an intellectual passing of the torch between the two men,” and that Hitchens viewed his break with the Left as what Orwell would have done, although Rodden writes that the comparisons were too simplistic and he had reservations about such phrasings of inheritance.

However, the connection is a very useful way, if not the best way, to understand Hitchens’ importance—one that hasn’t been properly discerned. Because Hitch didn’t just follow Orwell in similarities over leftish dissent. What he did was to further Orwellian work on the totalitarian, namely by showing the importance of overcoming tyrannies held over the individual through a lack of robust criticism. This, along with his exceptional personality, is why Hitchens will be remembered and studied, because it takes the idea of the totalitarian to the next level, treating the concept as more sublime than is often believed. “The totalitarian, to me, is the enemy,” Hitchens said in his final interview…

More >>  via>>   The Humanist.


Collapse of the Cairo Doctrine

It’s now three years since the Cairo speech. Look around. The Islamic world is convulsed with an explosion of anti-Americanism. From Tunisia to Lebanon, American schools, businesses, and diplomatic facilities set ablaze. A U.S. ambassador and three others murdered in Benghazi. The black flag of Salafism, of which al-Qaeda is a prominent element, raised over our embassies in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and Sudan.

The administration, staggered and confused, blames it all on a 14-minute trailer for a film no one has seen and which may not even exist. What else can it say? Admit that its doctrinal premises were supremely naïve and its policies deeply corrosive to American influence?

Religious provocations are endless. (Ask Salman Rushdie.) Resentment about the five-century decline of the Islamic world is a constant. What’s new — the crucial variable — is the unmistakable sound of a superpower in retreat…

More via >>  Charles Krauthammer


Re-branding Guevara: Che the Butcher

The stern photo of revolutionary Che Guevara taken by Alberto Korda in 1960 is one of the most reproduced images on the planet, appearing on posters, flags, postcards, T-shirts, and even bikinis. Sadly, the ubiquitous appearances of Che — hailed today usually by his first name only — demonstrate the near-total failure to educate people about the blood-soaked cruelty he really represented…

Che the Butcher – John Fund – National Review Online.