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A Swede in Germany

Posts Tagged ‘Communism

Democrats give Communism a pass / Dog bites man (Follow-up: Even Democrats condemn Socialism / Man bites dog)

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Recently, I noted that even the House Democrats had voted to condemn Socialism ([1])—a true man-bites-dog moment. While this resolution is still waiting for the Senate vote, I just saw a much more dog-bites-man action from the Democrats, as Virginia Senate Rejects Bill on Teaching the Dangers of Communism in Schools.

The motivation is ridiculous and seems like excuse making:*

*Here and elsewhere with reservation for changes to formatting, etc.

Legislation requiring all Virginia public schools to teach the history and dangers of communism was blocked by the state Senate’s Education and Health subcommittee after one of the largest school unions opposed the bill, saying it would discriminate against Asian people.

A representative from the Virginia Education Association (VEA) spoke in opposition to Del. John Avoli’s bill, HB 1816.

“Four out of the five current communist regimes are countries that are in Asia. We are concerned that this bill would subject Asian American students to anti-Asian sentiment and we think that we would oppose this bill,” said Emily Yen, a research coordinator for VEA.

Note in particular that the main reason seems to go back to a school union (!), and that school unions (in the U.S.) are notorious for having strong Leftist sympathies, including, disturbingly often, a Socialist, Communist, and/or (otherwise) Marxist streak. More thorough and more critical information about Communism (etc.) is needed in schools partially because of them.

In as far as the motivation is taken at face value, it shows at least three very dangerous issues: (a) The over-racialization pushed so hard by the U.S. Left. (b) How information is withheld from the masses through the fear that they will reach the wrong or, often, “wrong” conclusions. (c) How countermeasures against genuine issues can fail through a mere risk (and, often, a merely perceived risk) of a smaller damage. If this standard was applied consistently, it would not be allowed to e.g. seriously discuss the Nazis (might lead to negative consequences for German-Americans), Islamist violence (ditto for Muslims and/or Arabs), government failure (ditto for politicians), school failure (ditto for teachers), etc. Indeed, in some cases, including Black criminality (in general) and Black-on-Asian violence (topically relevant) such censorship/suppression of debate is already common.*

*Paralleled by criminality by immigrants in e.g. Sweden and Germany.

Moreover, the outcome makes me fear that the resolution discussed in [1] will suffer a similar fate, as even a clear House victory and (partially) bipartisan support gives no guarantee for a victory in the Senate:*

*Obviously, however, these are two different Houses resp. Senates. The victory margin for the federal resolution was also larger. Nevertheless…

While the Virginia House of Delegates passed the bill in a bipartisan vote of 64 to 34, Democrats in the state Senate prevented the bill from moving out of committee.

In contrast to the VEA and the Virgina Democrats, Avoli and other supporters has it right, as can be seen in the current world, including in the U.S. and in Germany, where even absurd Leftism is tolerated, evermore extreme Leftism is normalized, and even moderate non-Leftist positions are increasingly condemned as “extremist”:*

*See a great number of earlier texts, e.g. [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7].

Avoli said it’s important to codify the requirements that students learn about the dangers of communism so that history does not repeat itself.

Avoli clarified that the bill would require the teaching of communism in its entirety with no special focus on Asia.

Supporters of the bill say this measure is particularly needed because of the rise of socialist and Marxist ideologies in the education system, resulting in the fact that many young adults see communism as a superior system to capitalism, not realizing the true toll communism has taken on human life.

Hear, hear!

A particular treat (had the opportunity not been missed), especially in light of the many odd and often undeserved “Days” common in the U.S.:

The bill would also have required the governor to issue a proclamation to designate Nov. 7 as Victims of Communism Day and require public schools in the Commonwealth to honor the approximately 100 million victims of various communist regimes.

As a contrast, I note the behavior of Wuppertal, the birthplace of Engels and my own city of residence, for the 200th anniversary of his birth. A sane Wuppertal would have gone with e.g. “Wuppertal setzt sich kritisch mit dem Marxistischen Gedankengut auseinander!”* or “Wuppertal gedenkt der Opfer des Marxismus!”**. In reality? “Wuppertal feiert den 200. Geburtstag von Friedrich Engels!”*** (Cf. [8].)

*“Wuppertal critically examines Marxist thought!” (The German version is more idiomatically natural.)

**“Wuppertal commemorates the victims of Marxism!” (Ditto.)

***“Wuppertal celebrates the 200th birthday of Friedrich Engels!”


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February 22, 2023 at 5:30 pm

Nazis XVIIa: Opinions of others (Introduction)

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Every now and then, I see someone else making similar points to what I have done/will do in this text series.* Ditto, outside this text series, concerning the strong similarities in behavior, opinions, and general attitudes between the U.S. Democrats (and some other Leftist groups) and various Nazi/Fascist groups of the past. Under the heading “Nazis XVII”, I will occasionally mention some of them.

*Yes, there will be more material in due time. However, the remainder will likely only come by and by, as I (a) grew tired of the topic during the earlier, intense, busyness, (b) have many other things to do, including other texts to write.

This heading might or might not also include more extensive arguments from books, and might or might not address dissenting opinions.

Excursion on dissenting opinions:
For the sake of completeness, I really should go into dissenters, those who claim that the Nazis were Rightwing, to a higher degree than I have so far. However, almost every argument that I have seen in this direction has fallen into one of three pointless categories or a combination of these pointless categories:

  1. Argumentation solely by assertion, which is not true argumentation at all, and the addressing of which, beyond simple rejection, is likely to lead to more frustration and waste of time than any benefit.
  2. The automatic classification of anything nationalist, racist, whatnot as Rightwing, regardless of the totality of opinions and regardless of how often nationalism (etc.) has been present on the Left.

    This issue has been dealt with at length in earlier installments and additional effort seems unwarranted.

  3. The automatic classification of anything totalitarian, authoritarian, “police-y”, whatnot as Rightwing, regardless of the totality of opinions and regardless of how often totalitarianism (etc.) has been present on the Left.

    I have probably* dealt with this to some degree in earlier installments. In case I have not, I note that the flaws are very similar to the previous item. Indeed, looking at reasonably modern ideologies and groupings (maybe post-WWI?), these aspects have been found decidedly more often on the Left than on the Right—including in the current U.S.**

    *It is hard to keep track by now.

    **Consider e.g. the extreme demands on conformance in opinion and compliance in behavior, the brain-washing of children and students into far-Left ideologies, the J6 travesty and other judicial abuses, the extreme hate-rhetoric of many Democrats, and the widespread use of violence against Republicans.

Written by michaeleriksson

September 26, 2022 at 1:48 pm

Turning the world upside down—or not / Follow-up: Trotsky

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Over the last two or three years, in the mixture of COVID-mania, various claims by or about the WEF, and my readings on various political topics, I have often been tempted by the idea of a remake of society in a drastic manner.* My recent watching of “Trotsky” (cf. [1]) brings this to mind again—and provides an excellent demonstration of why I have rejected such thoughts: Actual drastic remakes never seem to end well and always turn out differently than intended. Consider e.g. Cromwell, who was a space filler between Charles I and Charles II;** the French revolutionaries that proved that the revolution eats its children and saw a king replaced by an emperor; said emperor, who ended up exiled in the middle of the Atlantic; the Russian revolutionaries, who again were eaten, and saw decades of mediocrity before the Soviet Union collapsed; Hitler, who saw Germany destroyed and who committed suicide to avoid capture; or, on a lesser scale, the likes of Venezuela and Zimbabwe, where the remade societies descended into economic ruin. Then there are the costs that the changes incur, be it upon the changers or, more often, upon the rest of society. Going through the same set of examples, were the costs even remotely worth the result? Would they have been worth even the intended result?

*For obvious reasons, more on the level of theorizing on paper and propagandizing to followers than on the level of actual change, as getting into a sufficient position of power for a practical implementation would be easier said than done. Also obviously in the opposite direction of what someone like Klaus Schwab might suggest.

**It might be a bad omen for the British monarchy that they currently have Charles III…

More generally, paper constructs often land wide off the mark, and the wider the more complex the area is—and areas likes society, governance, and economics can be extremely complex.

Yes, I do want society to change in certain manners; no, I am not going to write a large tome detailing how my Utopia would look and how to create it, nor am I going to create and expound a Grand Unified Vision of history, society, or whatnot.

To work well (often: at all) deliberate societal change has to be sufficiently slow and controlled, moderating idealism with sufficient pragmatism, and adapting to reality as reality presents it self. Grand Unified Visions and large tomes are for the naive—or, on the outside, the power hungry who trust in the naivety of others. Then there are pesky issues like ethics and the consent of the governed—they might not matter much to the Left, but they do matter to me.

Excursion on “systems”:
Overlapping, I have the impression that whenever someone tries to force something into a system of thoughts or principles, the result is weaker than if the thing had been investigated more open-mindedly and more in it self. Note e.g. my criticisms of The Hero with a Thousand Faces and (with reservations for how much I left unread) Der Untergang des Abendlandes; how Marxism, Critical Theory, whatnot, are counterproductive dead-ends; and how fields like Gender Studies have delegitimized themselves and removed the possibility of any serious study of whatever might actually be worth studying around gender (or whatnot) by forcing preconceived ideas and perspectives onto observations.

Excursion on the American Revolution, etc.:
Does not the American Revolution, the later Constitution, and similar provide a counterexample? Well, they are the closest that I can think of, off the top of my head. However: (a) It was a rebellion, not a revolution; a smaller group breaking free from a larger group, not an overturning of the overall system. (b) The Constitution was based on the prior works and thoughts of many minds. It was preceded by the lesser Articles of Confederation, thereby being a second attempt. It still needed ten amendments to truly stand out; and it has seen a number of later amendments, some considered very valuable, e.g. 13/14, some less so, e.g. 18. (c) Even so, a great many problems were present in the young republic, culminating with the disastrous Civil War.* (d) There has been a continual drift away from the ideals of the early U.S. and the Constitution. The Constitution lost most of its teeth during the 20th century, and some Democrats have outright claimed that they want to get rid of it. Simultaneously, the U.S. has changed in a disastrous manner.

*Where the position of the North was radically different from the colonial position during the misnamed Revolution. Moreover, the existence of the Civil War might rhyme poorly with the argumentation of the “Federalist Papers”, which (a) strongly influenced the Constitution, (b) come closer to the “large tome” above than does the Constitution, be it in size or approach.

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September 13, 2022 at 3:55 pm


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There are many complaints (some by me) about the low quality of recent TV series, how infected with wokeness they are, whatnot. Well, maybe we should make that recent English-language* TV series: I have just finished watching an 8-part Russian Trotsky biopic, which is absolutely brilliant in terms of acting, cinematography, scripting, whatnot. There is some gratuitous sex, but nothing is perfect. There is no Leftist agenda pushing, no horrendous miscasting, no bullshit—except maybe the surprisingly strong Russian of various Mexicans and other non-Russians. Well, there was an epidemic and some minor mask-wearing, but as this, the Spanish Flu, was something real both in terms of historicity and of threat level, there is no reason to be critical.

*The Brits are even worse than the Yankees. I would not be the slightest bit surprised to see a biopic of the recently dead QE II have her portrayed by someone Black, transgender, or otherwise utterly inappropriate for the part. (Writing “inappropriate”, I suddenly see Sacha Baron Cohen as a drag-queen Queen flash before my eyes. The image is very disturbing.)

While I am not well-read enough on Trotsky to judge the historical accuracy in detail, the series does provide a portrait of the disturbing evils of the Russian Communist/Bolshevik movement that is certainly accurate in the main. (Cf. e.g. “The Black Book of Communism”.) Here it poses a great learning opportunity for many modern Westerners, who fail to understand that Communism is as bad as or worse than Nazism was. Here we see the true face of Communism, maybe Leftism in general.

Trotsky, himself, is depicted as a monster—evil in a manner far more scary than, say, Darth Vader. More importantly, the series shows how evil wins when evil acts are done in the name of good, when the end is allowed to justify the means, and when individuals are denied any value in their own right, being reduced to tools for the Cause or, as so often today, to mere pawns for a chess-playing pseudo-elite—all problems that are ever recurring with the Left and all problems that I have written about in the past.*

*A particularly interesting example is the death penalty, used by the Tsars, abolished by the revolution (which was claimed as “a triumph of the revolution”, or similar, by one speaker), and then re-instated on the instigation of Trotsky in order, at least ostensibly, to protect the same revolution. (Notably, a death penalty intended less for true criminals and more for political enemies. Kangaroo courts and summary executions followed in the same episode.) The pigs do walk on two legs.

Then we have the issue that merely winning is not enough: The Bolsheviks might have won (over the Mensheviks, over the “Whites”, over the Tsar, over the whatnot), but they were unable to actually build the paradise that they had promised. From another point of view, Trotsky (at least as depicted here) might have temporarily won over Lenin and Stalin, but he was not able to hang on to his victory.

Particularly interesting are the strong signs of anti-Semitism* shown even by many Communists. As I have noted repeatedly in my texts on Nazis, e.g. in [1], there is nothing specifically Nazi, let alone Rightwing,** about anti-Semitism.

*Trotsky, originally Bronstein, was a Jew. Anti-Semitic sentiment is also displayed against his father (severely beaten) and children.

**But the Nazis, of course, were Leftwing.

However, the series is not limited to political aspects. Issues around family, how high or low family is prioritized, and how different opinions and whatnots within families are handled are particularly important. A symbolic scene shows Trotsky returning home in triumph after the successful revolution, which he prioritized above an early return to visit his son, who was severely ill with the Spanish Flu. He approaches a bedroom filled with family—and his other son closes the doors in his face, literally and metaphorically excluding him from the family union. Similar issues apply to friendships and other relationships within the series.

As an aside, I recently wrote:

Do not be fooled by the apparent “for children” nature of “Animal Farm”, however, as its main benefits come from allegory that few children can understand. Indeed, I remember being disappointed by the lack of a happy ending after my own first reading, as a child—why did not Snowball come back and right all wrongs? (As an adult, I see how a happy ending would have ruined the point of the book; and I realize that, while Napoleon was a proven bad guy, Snowball had never truly proven himself to be a good guy, implying that the effects of his hypothetical comeback were uncertain.)

Snowball corresponds to Trotsky, in the typical interpretation of “Animal Farm”, and if the real life Trotsky was anything like the screen version, then it might have been for the best that Snowball did not come back.

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September 13, 2022 at 2:46 pm

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Nazis X: The worst damage done by the Nazis / my motivations

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After the extensive discussion of the 25-point plan, I am understandably a little tired of the topic, and will likely not resume my (main) work until late next week.

In the meantime, a few words on my motivations and a shortened version of a text that I have long had in mind (independent of the current text series):

Over time, I have grown to suspect that the three (see below) worst effects of Nazi-Germany include neither WWII, per se, nor the Holocaust. Both were horrifying, no doubt, but they were, from a historical perspective, very limited in time. Negative side-effects are lasting far longer and are likely to either already have accumulated a greater damage to the world, or to do so in due time. A significant motivation behind this text series is to combat the second, with a chance of a positive side-effect on the third. (The first is mostly gone, but still lasted far longer than e.g. WWII.)

  1. The destruction of Nazi-Germany left the door open for the Soviets to conquer half of Europe—and to keep this empire for over four decades. This extended the destructive reign of Communism geographically and likely, within the Soviet Union, temporally. The greater importance of the Soviet Union then lead to problems like a higher military spending and a further popularity of Communism as a (perceived) alternative to Capitalism.* To boot, the related Japanese loss in the Pacific might well have increased the likelihood of the Communist takeover of China.**

    *To some degree reflected in my native Sweden, e.g. in that the Swedish Communists looked less like idiots, and in that the Social-Democrats could push that “Third Way” with some plausibility. However, the main effect was likely seen in poorer and less educated countries.

    **Which is not to trivialize the evils performed by the Japanese in China, or their possible extension with another war outcome or absent a war. I would still be surprised if the expectation value of “Japanese damage” vs. “Communist damage” was higher: the Japanese were merely building an empire, no matter how ruthlessly, not forcing a destructive ideology and a broken system onto the people by any means necessary; and a Japanese–Soviet conflict, like a (non-WWII; cf. below) German–Soviet conflict, could have been beneficial to the world.

    This is the more tragic, as Hitler was in part motivated by a wish to strengthen Germany to avoid a division of the world into the Anglo-American/Capitalist and Soviet/Communist camps.* Had he been successful, the West might have been able to relax while the two great evils, Nazism and Communism, slugged it out, or Germany might have proven a useful temporary ally in the defeat of the Soviets. (The latter scenario, to some approximation, reflects what did happen, but with the Soviets and Germany switched around.) In effect, Hitler managed to create the scenario that he wanted to prevent—a weak Germany squeezed between two foreign superpowers.

    *Going by my vague and 2010 (?) recollections of “Mein Kampf”.

    (As a counterpoint to the above, there is a strong possibility that the strength of the Soviet Union slowed the build-up of Communist and/or Marxist sympathies in e.g. the U.S.)

  2. The Nazis, especially in combination with the erroneous classification of them as “Right-wing” and the Leftist tactic of guilt by association, have given the Left endless ammunition for unfair attacks against its opponents, and has often allowed it to occupy an entirely undeserved moral high-ground. Suggest X and you are a Nazi. Identify as Right-wing and you are a Nazi (or evil, because the Nazis were evil and Right-wing). Suggest something nationalistic and you are suspected of wanting to invade Poland. Etc. Etc. Etc. (As I have noted in the past, evil is never more dangerous than when it has the guise of good—and anti-Nazi propaganda has done much to distort the popular view of the Left.)

    This to a large part, because war propaganda demanded that everyone condemn and keep condemning the Nazis, and because the Nazis became ingrained as the enemy through countless WWII movies and whatnots.

    Moreover, and in contrast, Communism and, if to a lesser degree, other Leftist variations could benefit from the war propaganda and other consequences. For most of WWII, a message of “Uncle Joe is our friend and ally” was present, and even after the war it took time for a saner message to be established. Most Leftist groups in Germany and the occupied countries could draw on the claim that they had fought* against the Nazis—“we” must be the good guys, “we” won, you can thank “us”, “we” were more farsighted than “you”, etc.** Then there are all those Leftist martyrs, many or most of whom might have been no more worthy of admiration than Horst Wessel.

    *Sometimes, literally; sometimes, through protests in the open; sometimes, through protests among themselves. The difference is likely of little importance, once propaganda replaces memory.

    **Likely fallacies throughout. For instance, that some Communists or Social-Democrats fought the Nazis in the streets during the Weimar Republic does not automatically make them good guys. They also fought each other in the street. From another perspective, if members of the Russian mob attack a Colombian drug syndicate, neither of the two become police organizations.

  3. The Nazis gave everything relating to eugenics, evolutionary forces relating to humans, “human biodiversity”, whatnot a bad name. Indeed, even attempting to bring such to discussion can often lead to a blanket accusation of being a Nazi or a “Social-Darwinist” (a phrase almost as deplored today as “Nazi”)—unless the accusation is racism or, worse, “scientific racism” (even closer to “Nazi” than “Social-Darwinist” is).

    This is the worse as there are strong signs of a current and damaging dysgenic pressure which risks the long-term prosperity of humanity; as it favors race-based policies that are very costly and virtually doomed to fail;* and as it ignores the individual’s characteristics, talents, limitations, whatnot. The last e.g. through applying one-size-fits-all schooling and expecting everyone to come out equally bright and productive or through denying the possibility** that other aspects than social influences can lead to a criminal career. (No, the Nazis might not have been better in these regards. This does not alter the fact that they ruined public opinion for much more enlightened groups.)

    *Cf. the constant fiascos in the U.S. relating to e.g. affirmative action and inner-city schooling; and note “The Bell-Curve”. Of course, this issue could to some degree be seen as a special case of the following issue. Both overlap strongly with “blank-slateism”—which was scientifically outdated already in the 1970s and where we now have half-a-century of additional, too often ignored, evidence against it.

    **Note the importance of this denial: it would have been wrong, until very firm proof were present, even had social influences truly been the only major cause.

Excursion on the greater and lesser evil:
I do consider Nazi-Germany a lesser evil than the Soviets, respectively Nazis a lesser evil than Communists. This with an eye on at least three things: (a) The Nazis-at-peace were less harmful to their own population than the Communists under e.g. Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot. (b) The likelihood of a peaceful and/or early unseating of the Nazis seems more likely, especially once Hitler died or retired.* (c) Even the Holocaust was matched by similar atrocities by Communist regimes, notably, again, under Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot.

*Which would have happened before the fall of the Soviet Union (let alone the still-standing Communist China), and likely by a very considerable margin—he was born in 1889 and not overly healthy.

But what about WWII? Here it is important to remember that much of what happened was not according to Hitler’s plans. He is still, of course, to blame, but his plans were directed at easy success eastwards and/or in the colonial world. The immense scope of the war, the immense number of deaths, the immense destruction, whatnot were never intended. He only fought the Brits and the French (later, the Yanks), because they declared war on him—and he would very much have preferred not to fight that war. Occupying the Benelux and half of France? Not part of the pre-war plans. Occupying Denmark and Norway? Not part of the pre-war plans.* Bombing London? Not part of the pre-war plans. Attacking the Soviets? Very different story—but the length of the campaign (not to mention losing) was not according to pre-war plans. Superior German forces fighting on a single front were supposed to win (comparatively) easily.

*Indeed, I have heard claimed that Germany barely preempted an Allied invasion of these two countries…

Excursion on a pre-war stop:
When it comes to hypothetical scenarios, I find the constant “What if the Axis had won WWII?” boring. For something more interesting, consider e.g. “What if Hitler was murdered before invading Poland?” or “What if Hitler ignored Poland and the Soviets and went colony hunting?”. These are, of course, unknowables, but the 20th century might have looked very different, and there is a fair chance that Hitler, himself, would have been remembered more like a 20th century Bismarck or Friedrich der Große than as a counterpart to the likes of, again, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot.* (Also note an earlier text on The complication of the untested evil-doer, where we do have a failed test for Hitler, but might have had an untested Hitler in this alternate reality.)

*With some reservations for what degree of Holocaust would have taken place—another unknowable.

Excursion on the importance of the Normandy landing:
The Normandy landing (and the Allied invasion of Italy) was not that important in defeating the Nazis—chances are that their days were counted and/or that Germany could only have saved it self by withdrawing from France to concentrate on the Soviets. Its true importance lies in saving important portions of Europe from the Soviets.

How much more the Soviets would have taken, if left to their own devices, is unclear, and might depend on issues like remaining motivation and length of supply lines. However, they would almost certainly have gobbled up all of “West-Germany” (possibly, excepting some token areas for the French); and it is very conceivable that they would have taken Austria and Italy, too. Some further countries, including Finland, might well have been at risk.*

*I am a uncertain why they did not take Finland even as is. Maybe, Finland had proven to expensive; maybe, too many troops had to be left on the continent to balance the other Allied powers; maybe, a renewed war would have looked bad; …

In a next step, after a few years of rest, it is not impossible that the Soviets would have tried to sweep the rest of continental Europe + (Finland/)Sweden/Norway, maybe helped by portions of the strong French Left and revenge-hungry Spanish Leftists. A highly weakened Britain, without U.S. help, could hardly have stopped them.

Written by michaeleriksson

May 25, 2022 at 11:13 pm

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Nazis III: Various takes on “Law and Order”

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In many cases, Left vs. non-Left positions can be clouded by semantics (note how most parties agree that justice, fairness, equality, whatnot are good, but disagree on what the corresponding words imply).

A particularly interesting case, with an eye on the Nazis/Fascists* is “law and order” and similar ideas and formulations,** as calls for “law and order” are sometimes equated with a call for a Nazi/Fascist society.

*The explicit inclusion of “Fascist” here is warranted by this, in my impression, being the more common accusation, while carrying the same intent and implications as the “Nazi” accusation. Otherwise, cf. part I, I leave the related topic of Fascism out.

**For brevity, I will stick with just “law and order” in the continuation. This should not be seen as a restriction of my intent.

Now, law and order can, when taken too far, degenerate into something akin to a “Polizeistaat” instead of a “Rechtsstaat”.* More easily, the balance between civic rights and e.g. crime suppression can tip the wrong way. (Consider e.g. Feminist-driven reductions in due process when rape is concerned or the many calls for fewer restriction on surveillance by the police. Note that such calls quite often come from the Left.) However, we need to be clear on what the respective speaker actually intends by e.g. “law and order”.

*German expressions for, respectively, “police state” and something somewhat approximately implying “rule of law”. (The implications are, in my eyes, not identical, but there is no established exact translation of “Rechtsstaat” into English. The recurring reader will have noted my repeated uses of the German expression in the past.)

For instance, a Conservative might have his eyes on “I and my family are protected from crime”, while someone who has been robbed thrice in the last year, as can happen in a sufficiently bad neighborhood, might simply want to walk the streets without fearing for his life and limb.* These might call for more police on the street or harsher punishments for criminals, but are usually far away from a police state in their intentions (and in the likely results).

*Generally, note that the political priorities of various groups are often strongly influenced by their own experiences and the problems that they are exposed to more often. It can really pay to understand the actual motivations of a particular priority.

In contrast, many politicians* seem to mean “I and my fellow politicians are protected from disgruntled voters” or “law and order ensures that the people does what we tell them to do”.** Here we have an actual danger to the Rechtsstaat and an actual risk of achieving a police state.

*Not necessarily Leftist; although, the Left seems to be worse than the non-Left in e.g. the U.S. and Germany.

**Note e.g. the extremely disproportionate, anti-democratic, and anti-rechtsstaatliche clampdown on “January 6” protesters, while Antifa terrorists and BLM rioters, hitting mere citizens, have received slaps on the wrist. The main explanation for this might well be a matter of anti-Republican abuse of governmental power and/or an attempt to give the Democrats their “Reichstagsbrand”; however, chances are that the reaction is partially driven by how “close to home” the protests were—and this could explain why the outrage against the clampdown has not been larger among the leading Republicans.

A good example of this is the repeated claims by (then-Chancellor) Merkel and some other German politicians that the Internet must not be a “rechtsfreier Raum”*, by which a naive German citizen might happily think that he will be protected from fraudsters and be able to use the services of police and courts even on the Internet. In this, he would be doubly naive, because (a) even in the real world his ability to do so is extremely limited,** (b) what the politicians actually appear to mean, based on suggested and actual law changes, is that anonymity must be removed from the Internet, so that the government can keep tabs on him, and that the Internet must not become an escape from the too far going German restrictions on free speech.***

*Approximately, “area/space/room without law and order”.

**One of the reasons why I reject the notion that Germany would be a Rechtsstaat in the first place.

***Another reason. I note e.g. that there was a set of raids against citizens about a month ago, which included searched apartments and confiscated computers—because the targets were suspected of having insulted politicians. Note: Germany 2022—not the DDR in 1982, not the Nazi-Germany of 1942, but the “regular” Germany of 2022.

The police and other law-enforcement organizations often put their own interests first—catch the criminal and all is good. This is somewhat understandable, but ultimately too dangerous. (As it always is, when a single concern is given priority over everything else, even should it be with good intentions.) We also need to consider the effects on other parts of society, the risk of abuse, the often implied violation of the presumption of innocence, how a rise in convictions almost invariably implies more innocents being convicted (not just more guilty), etc. If things go wrong here, we can truly and rapidly land in a police state.

What then might a Leftist voter intend? Well, firstly, he is unlikely to speak of specifically “law and order”, as it has more Conservative or other non-Leftist connotations; however, per the above, “similar ideas” apply. Going by various actions, articles, forum comments, whatnot by members of the U.S. Left, I strongly suspect that it often amounts to “the law protects the Left from the non-Left (but not vice versa)”, “all those evil White supremacists are prevented from lynching* poor Black people (but poor Black criminals must not go to jail—they are victims of society)”, “we can put Trump in jail for being Trump”, etc. More internationally, gross abuse has been quite common in various Communist dictatorships,** while even more moderate versions of the Left seem to have a strong tendency both towards hypocrisy (different rules for the Left and the non-Left) and use of governmental power for their own purposes—if rarely to the degree displayed in the current U.S. Note e.g. an (older text) on a German law that is explicitly directed towards Right-wing extremism, instead of e.g. political or ideological extremism. (The odder, as Germany has a much greater problem with Left-wing extremism than with Right-wing.) Or note that many Nazi** symbols/greetings/whatnot are illegal in Germany, while corresponding Communist ones are perfectly legal. Or note that the German Verfassungschutz is attacking the considered-Right*** AfD, while leaving Die Linke, a far Left direct descendant of the SED, alone—respectively, that they are publicly criticized when they are not hard enough on AfD and when they are not soft enough on Die Linke.

*Here and elsewhere, note that the image of both White and Black behavior (and e.g. male and female behavior) is often highly distorted in the minds of Leftists. Consider e.g. the absurd claims of “racist murderer” against Chauvin and many others—even if we follow Chauvin’s jury and call it murder (which, frankly, still seems unreasonable to me), there is not one shred of evidence of anything racist. In many other cases, the alleged racist murderer has been acquitted even of murder, as with e.g. Zimmerman, and, again, not one shred of evidence for racism has been provided.

**In conjuncture with the misguided claim that the Nazis were Right-wing.

***Unlike with the Nazis and some other parties, I do not necessarily disagree, if we allow the use of the flawed and simplistic Left–Right spectrum (but we should not). However, based on how other parties are treated, I suspect that the typical establishment/mainstream-media/whatnot estimate has not arisen from a holistic view of their overall opinions. Instead, it stems from their take on issues like immigration.

Now, as an exercise for the reader, please compare and contrast the above takes on law and order with a reasonable description of the Nazi take.

Written by michaeleriksson

April 17, 2022 at 9:07 pm

Nazis II: Preliminary remarks on comparisons over time, importance of baselines

with 4 comments

Looking back at the Nazis (and, m.m., a great many other groupings) from a modern point of view, there is always a danger of mistaking a more general characteristic of the day for a Nazi characteristic.

As an analogy, Hitler’s toothbrush moustache was not his invention, or historically rare/specific to him, or a Nazi symbol—it was a fashion that Hitler (and Chaplin, and Oliver Hardy, and …) adopted. That it has fallen out of popularity might be mostly a matter of the association with Hitler,* but chances are that it would have disappeared from the scene anyway, just like the 1970s’ horseshoe moustache did. Barring the current association with Hitler, it might even have made a comeback at some point in time—like fashions often do.

*Another possibility is that it is today associated with Hitler, because it fell out of fashion and he might be the most famous carrier from a modern perspective.

Similarly, popular worldviews, opinion corridors, societal standards, whatnot, all change over time and in a fashion-like way; and we cannot say, in a blanket manner, that “the 1932 Nazis thought X and the 2022 Left thinks Y’; ergo, they are incompatible”. Instead, we must consider both historical Leftist opinions and the general baseline of the respective day. In particular, if either of the 1932 and 2022 Lefts though X, it would be sufficient proof of compatibility; however, the opposite would not be proof of incompatibility. Whether Leftist support in 1932 or 2022 would be the stronger argument might be up for discussion, however: If both, say, Nazis and Communists held opinion X in 1932, it would make for a fairer and more direct comparison, but it is also conceivable that both were “fashion victims” of the 1932 baseline (as if Stalin, too, had picked a toothbrush moustache), which would make the comparison less relevant. Of course, to make matters more complicated, if both were fashion victims, it might be unfair to associate either with X.

(However, we must not overstretch the reasoning: An argument like “belief X can be Leftist, after all—witness 1932” weakens the “Nazis are Right-wing” claim further, but it does not automatically imply “the Nazis did not truly think X” or “if the Nazis had survived until today, they would long have abandoned X”. The latter two claims might or might not be true, or they might be true for one issue and not another, but there is no guarantee—and it is irrelevant for my point. What matters is what implications belief in X had at what time and who shared or rejected that belief.)

To detail exactly which opinions/methods/whatnot should be seen as more “historical” than “Nazi”, and/or where they were Nazi but must be partially seen in the light of the baseline, would involve speculation and might require considerable research, but I note that hatred of/prejudice against e.g. Jews and homosexuals was quite common (including on the Left),* that nationalism was much more common than today, and that warfare for the purpose of territorial expansion has been historically unremarkable (no matter how frowned upon it is today)—certainly, the Soviets, too, occupied large areas of land before WWII broke out respectively before the German–Soviet part of the war (including the remains of Poland, parts of Finland, and the Baltic states).** By the end of the war, they had gobbled up half of Europe. Also note that the Nazis learned a lot from the Soviets, including how to perform large scale incarcerations and exterminations.** (Read e.g. “The Black Book of Communism” and see what went on in the Soviet Union before Hitler was even in power.)

*To boot, I have always been a little uncertain to what degree the Nazis’ anti-Semitism was a true core issue, a personal fixation of Hitler’s, respectively, a way to gain popular support and/or have a convenient scape-goat or enemy in propaganda.

**And note how differently both cases have been treated with regard to Nazis and Communists by both the “West”, in general, and the Western Left in particular.

A particularly important case is eugenics: It is true that proponents of eugenics are much more likely to be found among the non-Left than the Left today. However, this has not historically been the case, and the current Leftist aversion is almost certainly caused by the Nazis, be it as an irrational overreaction or as a deliberate attempt to build distance to the Nazis. Eugenic ideas were, in fact, very popular (throughout society and the political spectrum) before the Nazis—including in educated and “progressive” circles. Active users included my native Sweden under Social-Democrat governments. And, no, eugenics and genocide are very, very different things. It just happened that the Nazis chose genocide to achieve a (likely misperceived-as-)eugenic goal. The problem with the Nazis was certainly not the idea of eugenics—but the methods used and the naive target.

Excursion on catastrophic one-off, few-off events on public opinion:
The Nazi impact on eugenics parallels the unfair deterioration of the reputation of nuclear power: The Chernobyl accident* was a once in decades event even at the time it happened. Since then, we have seen close to another four decades come and go without a similar accident. Nevertheless, it has given nuclear power an entirely undeserved reputation and hampered the development of nuclear power ever since. Attitudes seemed to be turning as time passed—and then came the Fukushima** incident. While much smaller, this set attitudes back to the prejudiced scratch. Never mind that Chernobyl and Fukushima together did far less damage and caused far fewer deaths than fossil fuels do every single year.

*Caused by a mixture of (already then) outdated technology, human errors, deliberate non-adherence to security protocols, and a lot of bad luck.

**Caused by an enormous natural disaster, which did far more damage than the nuclear incident. (Use of “incident” is deliberate. The connotations of“accident” are all wrong here.)

In both cases, eugenics and nuclear power, something highly beneficial when used correctly, has been condemned as irredeemably evil, must-be-abolished sins in large swaths of the unthinking or irrational population. On a more individual level, there are, e.g., many who have an irrational fear of flying, stemming from well-publicized major crashes, while the relative probability of death per passenger mile (or a similar metric) between different modes of transport is not considered.

I note a parallel with “not perfect; ergo, useless”, maybe as “went wrong once; ergo, too dangerous”.

Written by michaeleriksson

April 16, 2022 at 6:30 pm

Nazis I: Non-Marxist does not imply Right-wing, some preliminaries

with 4 comments

Pre-amble: An intended single text dealing with the Nazis and the (misguided) classification of Nazis as “Right-wing” or “far Right” is getting out of hand; notably, with regard to preliminaries. I have decided to break it up into several smaller parts (of which this is the first). Note that I still consider the result one text with regard to my “publish at most one text per week” policy. (As to the premature timing—yes, the fucking construction noise is here again.)

A core problem is that variations of Marxism and quasi-Marxism* has for many decades, maybe more than a century, dominated what is considered Left** so thoroughly that the possibility of a non-Marxist Left is not sufficiently considered and that the non-Marxist are incorrectly considered non-Left merely by dint of being non-Marxist. Note that Marxism includes Social-Democrats, many other Democratic Socialists, and the New Left—not just Communists and (non-Democratic) Socialists.***

*In the remainder, I will rarely bother with the differentiation between “true” or “classical” Marxism and the quasi-Marxism that colors e.g. much of the current U.S. Left, where a class conflict has been replaced with e.g. a race, sex, sexual preference, or “gender identity” conflict.

**Possibly, outside the “Center-Left” and earlier not-yet-so-extreme versions of Pseudo- and Social “Liberalism”, say, the earlier U.S. Democrats.

***To make matters more complicated, there have also historically been non-Marxist versions even of Communism and Socialism. Indeed, the Nazi party/the NSDAP was formally die Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei—the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. (Using a translation from Wikipedia. I might have used “Labour Party” over “Worker’s Party”.)

More sensibly, the Left should be divided into axes like democratic vs dictatorial/totalitarian/whatnot, nationalist vs internationalist, Marxist vs. non-Marxist, and maybe more, with an additional potential division, especially among Marxists, into what enemy groups are demonized, used as scarecrows, oppressor* images, or similar.** In this more sensible framework, there is no need to artificially ship of the Nazis to the wrong end of the Left–Right spectrum. Instead, they are Left, with additional sub-categorizations like dictatorial/totalitarian, nationalist, non-Marxist, with Jews, Marxists, and Capitalists as enemy groups (or, maybe, as a subset of the enemy groups). As a comparison, your typical Communist dictatorship might be/have been Left with sub-categorizations like dictatorial/totalitarian, internationalist, Marxist, with Capitalists, the U.S., and non-Marxists as commonly occurring enemy groups. (With some variations. I suspect that the “internationalist” part often did not apply or was sometimes for show.) A modern day Gender-Feminist might be considered Left with sub-categorizations like internationalist, quasi-Marxist, with men, the Patriarchy, or Western Civilization as common enemies. Said Gender-Feminist would likely be nominally pro-democracy, but show a tendency towards the dictatorial or totalitarian in practice (witness much of what goes on in e.g. the U.S. or Sweden).

*And what groups are considered the oppressed.

**Note that the last part likely takes care of the Old Left vs. New Left division.

Important: My own use of “Left” (and variations) will usually either gloss over this division or refer to “Left” in a mostly Marxist sense. This is a little sloppy, but saves me constant formulations like “the (quasi-)Marxist Left” and “the-Left-except-for-the-Nazis”. The alternative would be to use ad-hoc terms to overcome the semantic issues, which would likely (a) lead to a harder-to-understand text, (b) result in inconsistent use by me.

I will probably leave the topic of Fascism out of this text series.* This for several reasons, including that “Fascism”/“Fascist” is usually used in a manner entirely disconnected from the original ideology and that the Left has a long history of referring to even other parts of the Left as Fascists, as with e.g. Communists vs. “Social-Fascists” (i.e. Social-Democrats) and Stalinists vs. Trotskyists. At the same time, almost any opponent that the Left has disliked has been in danger of being called “Fascist”, based on that dislike and not ideological analysis—note e.g. the “Antifaschistischer Schutzwall” (i.e. the Berlin Wall) and the recurring condemnation of Capitalism as Fascism. Indeed, we would have to differ between at least three wildly separate and largely incompatible meanings, namely the original ideology, the general and often hyperbolic slur (especially as applied to governments, police forces, and authority figures—including “mean” teachers), and the slur for things that the Left does not like.

*Except as far as Nazism is considered a special case of Fascism, which is dubious, large similarities notwithstanding. (Social-Democracy is not a special case of Communism either, nor vice versa.)

However, if we do look at the original ideology and/or Italy under Mussolini, large parts of this text series will apply and a similar argument is likely* to hold—either the Fascists were on the Left (and a non-Marxist Socialism) or the Left–Right scale is so useless that the classification of non-Left parties as Right or Center is grossly misleading. As an aside, the Fascist movement was an offspring of the syndicalist movement, which is usually considered far Left even by large parts of the Left.

*I have not done the leg-work to say for certain.

Written by michaeleriksson

April 15, 2022 at 5:55 am

The justification of the Left now and then

with 2 comments

I have more sympathy for the Socialists, Communists, etc. of older eras than I do for even the more moderate parts of the modern Left—even a partial refocus on new issues* aside.

*E.g. Identity Politics in the U.S. and Feminism in Sweden.

There are two reasons for this:

Firstly, we now live in a very, very different world* than, say, a hundred or two hundreds years ago. Not only is the affluence of society so much larger, making a reasonable living possible even for most of the less well-off**—but our success in life is now mostly determined by ourselves: Today, anyone with a great brain (and many utterly without…) can get a higher education, almost*** any occupation is open to everyone with the right capabilities, almost**** anyone can run for public office, etc. Sure, having rich parents, parents with the right contacts, whatnot, can be a great advantage, but such advantages are usually considerably behind e.g. own intelligence, industriousness, and (regrettably) likability.

*I will silently imply “Western”, in a broad sense, in most of the discussion. Some of it can, however, apply to non-Western societies, e.g. Japan. Certainly, some of the negatives of the Western past can be current reality elsewhere, e.g. in North-Korea.

**While actual poor do exist, they are quite rare. Most of the alleged “poor” of modern Leftist rhetoric are only poor by a highly misleading change of definition, leading far better lives than their peers of a hundred years ago—and having advantages in many areas over even the kings of medieval times. (Consider, for the latter comparison, quality of healthcare, life-expectancy, books to enjoy, scientific knowledge available, quality and selection of music costing next to nothing—let alone the existence of computers, movies, the Internet, …)

***An obvious exception is joining the clergy of some Church as an atheist.

****Some restrictions are often present, notably involving citizenship and age, but these are usually reasonable—unlike e.g. “must be a nobleman”.

Go back in time and it becomes increasingly more likely that someone with the wrong background did not even learn how to read, had to work so hard for sustenance that personal or career development was impossible, had barriers set by social rank, etc. Even as little as a hundred years ago, the world was radically different from today—e.g. in that universal suffrage was mostly absent or newfangled, that an eight-hour working day was a fantasy to most people, and that malnurishment was still abundant. Russia, prior to the 1917 revolutions, was actually, not just nominally, ruled by a monarch and saw peasant conditions verging on serfdom.* Indeed, actual serfdom existed into the 19th century in some countries, including Russia and parts of Germany**.*** The 19th century conditions even in parts of Britain were partially horrible, often worse than in the pre-industrial era; and even the 20th****, even war-time aside, sometimes contained working conditions beyond the comprehension of many members of the modern, mostly historically ignorant, Left.

*Not that the revolutions led to much improvement…

**Germany back then had more in common with Russia than e.g. the U.K. and the U.S. did, and it is hardly a coincidence that Marxism arose in the one and found ample ground in the other.

***To which can be added e.g. the U.S slavery. However, no matter how unfortunate it was, it was also limited to a small minority of the population, while serfdom could be far more wide-spread.

****I recommend Orwell’s “The Road to Wigan Pier”.

Secondly, the state of knowledge around relevant issues was not as developed back then, and opinions that today are naive to any informed and rational thinker need not have been so at the time.* Most notably, the understanding of economics was much weaker than today and there was no opportunity to retrospectively compare the performance of e.g. “free markets” and “command economies”. Today, we can compare e.g. East- and West-Germany and note how the differences vastly exceeded what could have been expected from pre-existing issues and external factors; we can note how the gap between the Soviet Union and the U.S. grew over time; we can compare the likes of Taiwan and South-Korea with the likes of Cuba and North-Korea; we can currently observe how Socialism is running Venezuela** into the ground.*** However, we can also now, unlike before a Communist/Socialist regime existed, see how Communism/Socialism fails through its naive understanding of human nature, e.g. in how it is only a matter of time before the pigs wear clothes and walk on two legs, and how principles like “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” give unproductive incentives and beg for abuse****.

*Some leeway might be given to the high-school drop-outs of today—but not to professors, leading politicians, professional authors, …

**Venezuela also shows that this is not merely a matter of e.g. dictatorship vs. democracy, which might otherwise have been a convenient excuse…

***As a partial counter-point, we could also point to the economic success of Social-Democrat Sweden over a long stretch of the 20th century. However, Sweden fell well short of the other mentioned Leftist countries in terms of suppression of market forces (even speaking of a “third road” as a compromise between Capitalism and Socialism), did incur structural issues that could have proven problematic over time (had the Social-Democrat dominance not started to break in the 1970s), and benefited from some factors not or only indirectly relating to Social-Democracy (including early investments in literacy/education, an improvement relative other countries through not being a combatant in WWI and WWII, and the ability to profit from the needs of the former combatants in the post-WWII era), leaving the question of whether Sweden was successful because of or despite the Social-Democrats.

****Contrast this with an insightful and only semi-joking German definition of “team”—“Toll, Ein Anderer Macht’s”. (Roughly, “Great, Someone Else Does It”.)

Overall, the main single issue might be that the fights for equality of opportunity and for equality of outcome once largely coincided—today, it is abundantly clear that the two were merely fellow travelers. (Except to those who stubbornly and in face of massive evidence to the contrary cling to an outdated “tabula rasa”/“nurture only” world-view—which is what makes this world-view so very, very dangerous.)

Written by michaeleriksson

September 16, 2018 at 11:07 pm