May 15, 2010


  Putin's Empire + Remarks on Modern Journalism


"If we believe absurdities,    
    we shall commit     atrocities."    

Note on the links:
Bold underlined English
Underlined Dutch, all
to articles on this site.

I am still not at all well, though a tiny bit less unwell than the last days, and will today write "a normal Nederlog", albeit in English. It continues the Nederlog of May 9, or rather the second part of that, which was about Putin's Empire, which seems to me a fair description of modern Russia. And I earlier wrote about that subject because I know a fair bit about it, and rather a lot about communism, Marxism, socialism etc., having had an upbringing by revolutionairy Dutch communists (and my parents were quite unlike Soviet apparatchiks and also quite unlike my own generation of false, phony, posturing Dutch "revolutionairies", who were almost all just making a capitalist career the then fashionable way while indulging in hypocrisy and/or wishful thinking).

Also, most of the background I assume - that is far less known than it should be - is here:

although good doses of Orwell, Machiavelli, Mosca, Goffman and De la Boétie will help, as will Swift.

There is an interesting piece in The City Journal (wholly unknown to me otherwise) by one Claire Berlinski (idem) withe following title + subtitle:

  • A Hidden History of Evil  (Link to article in The City Journal - MM)
    Why doesn’t anyone care about the unread Soviet archives?

As I said, I don't know the publisher or writer and it would seem - also in view of the information that "She is the author of There Is No Alternative: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters" - thoroughly (neo-)conservative, which I am not, but that is no setback when considering the former Soviet Union or present Russia.

Berlinski is mostly concerned with what her subtitle says, and opens her article thus:

In the world’s collective consciousness, the word “Nazi” is synonymous with evil. It is widely understood that the Nazis’ ideology—nationalism, anti-Semitism, the autarkic ethnic state, the Führer principle—led directly to the furnaces of Auschwitz. It is not nearly as well understood that Communism led just as inexorably, everywhere on the globe where it was applied, to starvation, torture, and slave-labor camps. Nor is it widely acknowledged that Communism was responsible for the deaths of some 150 million human beings during the twentieth century. The world remains inexplicably indifferent and uncurious about the deadliest ideology in history.

Indeed - that seems true, and suggests the question of her subtitle, that her second paragraph addresses:

For evidence of this indifference, consider the unread Soviet archives. Pavel Stroilov, a Russian exile in London, has on his computer 50,000 unpublished, untranslated, top-secret Kremlin documents, mostly dating from the close of the Cold War. He stole them in 2003 and fled Russia. Within living memory, they would have been worth millions to the CIA; they surely tell a story about Communism and its collapse that the world needs to know. Yet he can’t get anyone to house them in a reputable library, publish them, or fund their translation. In fact, he can’t get anyone to take much interest in them at all.

This is quite odd in principle, because such documents - if real, as they seem to be - provide excellent evidence of one of the major totalitarian tyrannies mankind has known, at least sofar (and history tends to repeat itself, especially by those not interested in learning from it).

Now you might say Pavel Stroilov is not a known man, and may well be a single case, possibly with some grievance. Not so, at least in the following sense, as Berlinksi's third paragraph says:

Then there’s Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, who once spent 12 years in the USSR’s prisons, labor camps, and psikhushkas—political psychiatric hospitals—after being convicted of copying anti-Soviet literature. He, too, possesses a massive collection of stolen and smuggled papers from the archives of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, which, as he writes, “contain the beginnings and the ends of all the tragedies of our bloodstained century.” These documents are available online at bukovsky-archives.net, but most are not translated. They are unorganized; there are no summaries; there is no search or index function. “I offer them free of charge to the most influential newspapers and journals in the world, but nobody wants to print them,” Bukovsky writes. “Editors shrug indifferently: So what? Who cares?”

Bukovski was worldfamous, and Bukovski was the man to see and say first that the Soviet Union was tottering and would soon be falling, years before it dit. And as the short summary of part of his life indicates, he was no ordinary man, but a very intelligent and brave one.

As Berlinkski proceeds to detail, both Stroilov and Bukovski basically stole the matter, in a sense, namely by secretly scanning and copying documents as and when they could, mostly in the Yeltsin years it seems. The sense in which "stole" is tenuous is that the material should have been made public long ago, and that as Berlinski says

The Russian state cannot sue Stroilov or Bukovsky for breach of copyright, since the material was created by the Communist Party and the Soviet Union, neither of which now exists.

Now Bukovsky is dead, but Stroilov is alife and, as Berlinski continues the above, has little positive reason to return to Russia:

Had he remained in Russia, however, Stroilov believes that he could have been prosecuted for disclosure of state secrets or treason. The military historian Igor Sutyagin is now serving 15 years in a hard-labor camp for the crime of collecting newspaper clippings and other open-source materials and sending them to a British consulting firm. The danger that Stroilov and Bukovsky faced was real and grave; they both assumed, one imagines, that the world would take notice of what they had risked so much to acquire.

Again: Indeed - and I'll address the topic "that the world would take notice of what they had risked so much to acquire" further on below.

It is a pity that Berlinksi doesn't read Russian, and that the material of Stroilov and Bukovsky is mostly untranslated, uncategorized and unsorted. However... it is quite interesting, e.g. on the subject of the jovial Gorby, lately a model for Vutton's awfully ugly snob stuff:

For instance, the documents cast Gorbachev in a far darker light than the one in which he is generally regarded. In one document, he laughs with the Politburo about the USSR’s downing of Korean Airlines flight 007 in 1983—a crime that was not only monstrous but brought the world very near to nuclear Armageddon. These minutes from a Politburo meeting on October 4, 1989, are similarly disturbing:

Lukyanov reports that the real number of casualties on Tiananmen Square was 3,000.

Gorbachev: We must be realists. They, like us, have to defend themselves. Three thousands . . . So what?

At which point the reader may remember that Gorbachev, like Putin, was educated as a KGB-agent, and that Stalin used to sentimentalize on the topic that "one cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs" and instructed to "Beat, beat, beat again" his former friends and comrades into signed confessions before ordering their shooting.

Another interesting topic, for those who remember the West's involvement with Russia in the 1990ies, when a new Russian Utopia was supposed to start real soon:

There are other ways in which the story that Stroilov’s and Bukovsky’s papers tell isn’t over. They suggest, for example, that the architects of the European integration project, as well as many of today’s senior leaders in the European Union, were far too close to the USSR for comfort.

Here we have the outlines of a really frightful nightmare:

According to Zagladin’s reports, for example, Kenneth Coates, who from 1989 to 1998 was a British member of the European Parliament, approached Zagladin on January 9, 1990, to discuss what amounted to a gradual merger of the European Parliament and the Supreme Soviet. Coates, says Zagladin, explained that “creating an infrastructure of cooperation between the two parliament[s] would help . . . to isolate the rightists in the European Parliament (and in Europe), those who are interested in the USSR’s collapse.”

Whether that is true is an interesting question, especially in view of the fact with which Berlinski continues the above:

Coates served as chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights from 1992 to 1994. How did it come to pass that Europe was taking advice about human rights from a man who had apparently wished to “isolate” those interested in the USSR’s collapse and sought to extend Soviet influence in Europe?

Here is another Westeuropean political worthy in Berlinski's words:

Or consider a report on Francisco Fernández Ordóñez, who led Spain’s integration into the European Community as its foreign minister. On March 3, 1989, according to these documents, he explained to Gorbachev that “the success of perestroika means only one thing—the success of the socialist revolution in contemporary conditions. And that is exactly what the reactionaries don’t accept.” Eighteen months later, Ordóñez told Gorbachev: “I feel intellectual disgust when I have to read, for example, passages in the documents of ‘G7’ where the problems of democracy, freedom of human personality and ideology of market economy are set on the same level. As a socialist, I cannot accept such an equation.”

If this is true, Ordóñez must be or have been a leftist loonie of major proportions.

And there is more, about another European alpha male, as they like to conceive of themselves, in the best tradition of human hordes:

Perhaps most shockingly, the Eastern European press has reported that Stroilov’s documents suggest that François Mitterrand was maneuvering with Gorbachev to ensure that Germany would unite as a neutral, socialist entity under a Franco-Soviet condominium.

And yet more, namely what is prima facie, at least, State Treason in England:

Zagladin’s records also note that the former leader of the British Labour Party, Neil Kinnock, approached Gorbachev—unauthorized, while Kinnock was leader of the opposition—through a secret envoy to discuss the possibility of halting the United Kingdom’s Trident nuclear-missile program. The minutes of the meeting between Gorbachev and the envoy, MP Stuart Holland, read as follows:

In [Holland’s] opinion, Soviet Union should be very interested in liquidation of “Tridents” because, apart from other things, the West—meaning the US, Britain and France—would have a serious advantage over the Soviet Union after the completion of START treaty. That advantage will need to be eliminated. . . . At the same time Holland noted that, of course, we can seriously think about realisation of that idea only if the Labour comes to power. He said Thatcher . . . would never agree to any reduction of nuclear armaments.

Kinnock was vice president of the European Commission from 1999 to 2004, and his wife, Glenys, is now Britain’s minister for Europe.

To similar if weaker effect:

Similarly, Baroness Catherine Ashton, who is now the European Union’s foreign minister, was treasurer of Britain’s Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament from 1980 to 1982. The papers offer evidence that this organization received “unidentified income” from the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

And here is nice evidence - if such it is - on the excellent humanity of the current US VP:

And what of Zagladin’s description of his dealings with our own current vice president in 1979?

Unofficially, [Senator Joseph] Biden and [Senator Richard] Lugar said that, in the end of the day, they were not so much concerned with having a problem of this or that citizen solved as with showing to the American public that they do care for “human rights.” . . . In other words, the collocutors directly admitted that what is happening is a kind of a show, that they absolutely do not care for the fate of most so-called dissidents.

And as Berlinski continues the above:

Remarkably, the world has shown little interest in the unread Soviet archives. That paragraph about Biden is a good example. Stroilov and Bukovsky coauthored a piece about it for the online magazine FrontPage on October 10, 2008; it passed without remark. Americans considered the episode so uninteresting that even Biden’s political opponents didn’t try to turn it into political capital. Imagine, if you can, what it must feel like to have spent the prime of your life in a Soviet psychiatric hospital, to know that Joe Biden is now vice president of the United States, and to know that no one gives a damn.

One can cynically note the "vice", but the problem is interesting and genuine: Why does no one give a damn, among journalists and/or their editors?!

I asked the question above, and here is my answer:

Essentially, because over the last 20 years or so, indeed more or less simultaneously from the fall of the Soviet Union, old journalism has died (or is senescent if not demented at present), meaning by "old journalism" the search for the real facts and real personalities behind the scams, shows, deceptions and trickery that are the everyday surface of economics, politics, religion and most other human things, and the reporting of them without bias, falsehood or misleading twists and phrases, and has been replaced by a new journalism, meaning by that essentially the oppposite: A caste of willing propagandists for - essentially, it seems - persons with a lot of power or fame, with the purpose of getting better by that themselves and of perpetuating the the scams, shows, deceptions and trickery that are the everyday surface of economics, politics, religion and most other human things, and the reporting of them with personal slant, known falsehoods that make The Celeb even more Larger Than Life And Nobler Of Heart and with much spindoctoring, astroturfing, photoshopping, recoloring and twisting to get a story that attracts the stupid masses, that form the silent majority of the electorate and of the consumers.

In brief, almost all journalists and editors of papers and TV seem to have been bought or sold themselves to Leading Politicians and Media Celebs, for the purpose of pay and protections for manufaturing and serving their lies, ploys, tricks, schemes and falsifications.

Also, it is essentially my babyboom-generation, once more, that while pretending to be revolutionaries, in fact sold out all in order to find fame, money and protections by the very kind of people they publicly pretended to despise most ('capitalists', 'tycoons', 'imperialists', 'authorities', and 'media celebrities').

And this happened, at least, all through the Western world, with clear signs for this non-TV-watching Dutchman that it also was completely succesful in Holland, wheren the same corrupt journalistic and 'academic' servants serve out the praise and tittle-tattle of the same boring political and media shits over and again for decades, in ever repeated stories of praise. (*)

It is not a hopeful tale, for those humane ends shat upon above by Sr. Ordóñez viz. "democracy [and] freedom of human personality".

Even so, Berlinski is quite right in her last paragraph:

We rightly insisted upon total denazification; we rightly excoriate those who now attempt to revive the Nazis’ ideology. But the world exhibits a perilous failure to acknowledge the monstrous history of Communism. These documents should be translated. They should be housed in a reputable library, properly cataloged, and carefully assessed by scholars. Above all, they should be well-known to a public that seems to have forgotten what the Soviet Union was really about. If they contain what Stroilov and Bukovsky say—and all the evidence I’ve seen suggests that they do—this is the obligation of anyone who gives a damn about history, foreign policy, and the scores of millions dead.

Good article, whatever the provenance and motives! (**)

P.S. So... this was a "normal" albeit English Nederlog, for the first time in a fairly long time... and what tomorrow will bring, tomorrow will show.

As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME), that was not mentioned so far, but that I suffer from - Multatuli - since decades:

1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf)
5. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

6. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
7. Paul Lutus

Is Psychology a Science?

8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)

Short descriptions:

1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understands ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:
   "it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon
     insufficient evidence
7. A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.

"Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!

No change, no pause, no hope! Yet I endure.
I ask the Earth, have not the mountains felt?
I ask yon Heaven, the all-beholding Sun,
Has it not seen? The Sea, in storm or calm,
Heaven's ever-changing Shadow, spread below,
Have its deaf waves not heard my agony?
Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!
     - (Shelley, "Prometheus Unbound") 

    "It was from this time that I developed my way of judging the Chinese by dividing them into two kinds: one humane and one not. "
     - (Jung Chang)

Supplements on ME

(*) This is again why someone like me, with my kind of story, cannot find a hearing with Holland's journalists, especially if they met me and know how I can talk and write, or have read me: FAR too displeasing for the authorities, FAR too dangerous for their own future careers and incomes!

(**) Which I don't know, while there also is no certainty that the material quoted is correct - but it certainly is a fact that Bukovski was a very intelligent and brave man while the quotations at least sound plausible, and may be researched if anyone cared and had some funding to do so.

Maarten Maartensz

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