An Interview with John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr





Following is an interview with John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, authors of In Denial: Historians, Communism, and Espionage (2003). The interview was conducted by historian Jamie Glazov, the managing editor of frontpagemag.com, where the interview was first published.

Glazov: I have to admit gentlemen, In Denial touched something very deeply personal for me. Forgive me for starting the interview with a little bit of a tangent, but perhaps it will serve as a good foundation for our discussion.

As an émigré from the Soviet Union, whose parents were dissidents and were persecuted by the KGB, I grew up in this society completely bewildered and baffled by the Left. From a very young age, I was shocked to observe leftists minimizing the evils of communism and painting their own society as not only just as evil, but even more evil than the Cold War enemy.

Throughout my life, I argued with myriad leftists about communism, trying to convince them of its perniciousness. During my doctoral years in the field of Cold War History, I spent an inordinate amount of time debating with my colleagues about who was responsible for the Cold War.

My colleagues, of course, always howled with one another about my views.

I remember how they reserved special mockery for Reagan’s reference to the Soviet system as an “Evil Empire.” As I continue to reflect on what happened to my own family under communism (i.e. both of my grandfathers were murdered by the Soviet secret police), and what it means that communism extinguished 100 million lives in the twentieth century, I remain befuddled by what exactly was so laughable about Reagan’s reference.

In any case, when the Soviet archives were opened after the fall of the Soviet tyranny in 1991, I hungrily devoured all the information inherent in the revelations in declassified documents, disclosures from former Soviet officials, etc. They all confirmed and substantiated what conservatives had been arguing for decades -- and what common sense had long ago instructed -- that the Soviets were totalitarian, power-hungry and expansionist brutes that started and prolonged the Cold War.

When I approached my colleagues with this new evidence, ranging from everything from the issues of the Korean war, Berlin, Soviet espionage, American communists’ links with the Soviet regime, etc., I showed how I had been correct on every issue that we had argued about for years.

And yet, instead of hearing a mea culpa, a stated regret or admission of some kind of lesson learned, all that I witnessed, in a manner that remains extremely eerie for me to remember, was a callous indifference and smug contempt for the issues at hand. Some of my colleagues articulated a few incomprehensible justifications of their positions; others just switched topics with remarkable speed and ominous neglect. All of them condescended to me for being interested in something so “old” and “ancient.” They patiently counselled me, with a disdain and arrogance that I will never forget, to stop chasing “old ghosts” and “engaging in necrophilia.”

And these were historians.

I have to say, I left the world of academia somewhat shell-shocked and angry. There was something very frightening that I had been exposed to, but I wasn’t completely sure what it was. I felt as if I had been poisoned and it took me awhile to get those people out of my system.

In having witnessed first-hand this mindset in academia for so many years, I ultimately came to believe that there was enough material here that could warrant an entire psychiatric conference. That conference never came, but your book did. Thank you.

Let’s pretend, for a moment, that you are my counsellors, and that I have come to you for therapy after having endured this experience. Give me some help. First off, what happened to me? What was I dealing with? Was I wasting my time arguing with these people? Who were these individuals and why didn’t they care about the truth behind the things we argued about for so many years?

Haynes: Jamie, many of those you speak of live in a different reality from that of the rest of us. Psychologically, they do not see what you see. They see the present and the past through a special lens. What is overwhelmingly clear to them is an imagined future collectivist utopia where antagonisms of class and race have been eliminated, the economic and social inequalities that have driven people to crime have been removed, poverty does not exist and social justice reigns, world brotherhood has replaced war and international strife, and an economy planned by people like them has produced economic abundance without pollution or waste. Coupled with this vision of the future is loathing of the real present which falls woefully short of these goals and hatred for anyone or anything that stands in the way of their illusion of the radiant future.

At Solovki, one of earliest Gulag camps, Soviet administrators put up a sign that expressed the Communist program: "With an Iron Fist, We Will Lead Humanity to Happiness." That slogan captures the murderous nature of the utopian vision of the hard left.

Jamie, you look at Soviet history and see the Gulag, the executions of the Terror, the pervasive oppression, and the economic failure. Psychologically, the leftists you speak of see little of that. They see a Communist state that articulated their vision of the future and which sought to destroy the societies and institutions they hated. They cannot see the horror that communism actually created. They look on that horror and see something else because they cannot admit to themselves that their vision is beyond human grasp. The German Communist playwright Bertolt Brecht, when challenged that thousands of innocents had been sent to the Gulag by Stalin, replied, "the more innocent they are, the more they deserve to die." To you or I this remark is disgusting, but to the hard left it reflects their eager willingness to kill any number of persons without concern for innocence or guilt if it might assist in bringing about the socialist future.

The idealized future that has not happened is more real and more important to them than the past that really did happen. Because the imagined future is more real and important to them, they seek to remold history (human understanding of the real past) to the service of the future. In his distopia 1984, George Orwell gives the Ministry of Truth of his totalitarian state the task of rewriting history. Orwell's point was that those who control the politics of the past (history) also control the politics of the present and thereby the future. The academic left, like the Orwell's Engsoc ideologists, believe that history is malleable and can assist in legitimating current politics and bringing about the utopian future.

You will get few mea culpas from hard left academics because they feel no guilt. You think they should regret getting the facts of history wrong. They care not at all about the facts of history, only about the politics of the future. They feel they got the politics right and so no mea culpa is due.

The facts of history that they got wrong can be, in their view, rationalized, redefined, minimized, or otherwise set aside in service to the idealized future they seek. Many have learned no lessons from the failure of communism; they will ardently pursue the same goals by the same means, albeit under new names.

You note the incongruity of hearing historians who are supposed to care about the past dismiss new information from Soviet archives as useless concern for "old ghosts" and "engaging in necrophilia." But those who say such thinks are not really historians, they are propagandists for the future left utopia who camouflage themselves as historians. They are interested in the past only when it can be put to the service of the future they seek. The flood of information out of Communist archives does not serve their goals, thus they define those matters as, as you noted, "ancient" and of no interest.

I would recommend to you Aileen S. Kraditor, "Jimmy Higgins": The Mental World of the American Rank-and-File Communist, 1930-1958 (1988) for a detailed discussion of the separate reality inhabited by Communists and other hard left partisans.

Klehr: Jamie, I think your colleagues need the therapy far more than you do. In the slice of the historical world that we have discussed in our book, something very strange has occurred in the past thirty years.

Among historians of the Soviet Union there was a small but influential group of revisionists who attempted to "normalize" the Soviet regime. This involved a number of different tacks- some of them minimized the number of victims of Stalinism and Leninism or denied that there was any mass terror. Others deflected responsibility for terror away from Stalin and onto a bureaucratic process that spun out of control. And others apologized for the mass murders by claiming that they were necessary accompaniments to a process of modernization.

While we discuss this trend in our book, our major focus is on historians of American communism who have attempted to rehabilitate the CPUSA as an admirable and heroic band of democrats unjustly persecuted by a reactionary American state and society. Lots of these historians are veterans of the New Left, people who were active in attempting to transform American society in a radical direction in the 1960s and 1970s. Their effort having failed, they have attempted to rehabilitate an earlier American radical movement. Some of them are themselves red-diaper babies- they are the children or grandchildren of people who were in the CPUSA, so in some way they are writing not only history but their family history as well.

Why does it all matter? Why should people care about arguments among historians about American communists or whether spies like the Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss and Lauchlin Currie and Harry White were innocent or guilty? Because this concerns the history that gets taught in the high schools and colleges and the view that American students have of their country's past. Take Joe McCarthy. He's the poster boy for the view that anticommunism led to horrible persecution in post WWII America. A few years ago the proposed National History Standards for High School mentioned him more times than any other American in that era. He was a demagogue. But how many students understand that hundreds of American communists did spy for the Soviet Union? That there was a serious problem of subversion?

And these issues are not "merely" historical. Many of the historians we discuss in our book make very clear that their goal is to indoctrinate a new generation of students in order to build a new radical movement.

Look at the denunciations of the war on terror as some kind of McCarthyite plot. Historical analogies can be weapons in a contemporary ideological battle.

All that being said, I think you are right, Jamie, when you bring up psychiatry. For some of the historians we discuss there is a disconnect with reality. They are unwilling to deal with evidence; they are unwilling to employ logic. Instead they retreat into a fantasy world.

The real world is too unpleasant- after all, the Soviet Union lost the Cold War, the political system they admired collapsed, documents proving some of their heroes were spies and so they pretend that the documents must be forgeries. It's like that old line about a defender of Alger Hiss being asked what evidence it would take to convince him that Hiss was guilty. He answered, "If Alger Hiss himself told me he was a spy, I wouldn't believe him."

Glazov: All of this is pretty depressing. I remember when the Soviet regime collapsed and some statues of Soviet murderers fell, there was a brief ecstasy in my family and among many of our Russian and dissident friends. We were momentarily naïve enough to dream of justice. We dared to hope.

For a brief moment in time, we fantasized of some kind of Nuremberg-style trials that would, at least, bring a face, a memory, to the millions of tortured souls who perished in Stalin’s gulags, who starved to death under his forced famine, who lost their loved ones for reasons that no sane person on earth could rationally understand.

It was personal for my family. We wanted to see our personal torturers, and the torturers of our people, publicly tried and brought to justice. But this never happened.

Hitler’s executioners got their day in court – and their much-deserved death certificates. But the monsters who engineered the Soviet killing machines never got theirs. Why? Is it, in part, because the Left in the West, which controls the cultures of its societies, was able to block the delegitimization of its ideas?

What a shame, because wouldn’t Nuremberg-style trials in post-Soviet Russia have powerfully discredited the socialist fairy tale that continues to have such a powerful hold on so much of the world’s imagination – despite the horrifying historical record? Wouldn’t it have done much damage to the efforts of the gulag deniers that you describe in your book? What do you make of all of this?

Klehr: I agree that there should have been some kind of legal reckoning. Many of the perpetrators are dead of course, but the old age of Nazi war criminals has not hindered the effort to find and prosecute them. One example; in our book we mention the Katyn Forest massacres; in the closing years of the Gorbachev regime, he instituted an effort to issue a report on it and several of the KGB executioners were interviewed and discussed how they murdered POWs in cold blood. Those were war crimes and it would have been both morally and politically proper for either Poland or the United Nations to demand the convening of a tribunal to punish those men responsible for the killings of more than 20,000 POWs.

Or, take a case that we discuss in our book--the murder of at least a thousand American Finns in Soviet Karelia in the late 1930s. These were American citizens, falsely accused of espionage and shot. We have the list of names--a list that includes men, women and children. Why has the American government never demanded that some effort be made to find out who was responsible for these crimes? Is this any different from the murder of American citizens by the government of Libya? Or Nazi war crimes?

Haynes: Jamie, all of the former Communist nations would have been well-served by a bringing to justice of those who committed criminal acts or, at a minimum, a "truth commission" that allowed amnesty only on a candid confession of crimes and an acceptance of responsibility. But, as you note, serious pursuit of criminals of the Communists regime has been limited: some in Germany and, I believe, a few cases in Poland but little elsewhere. A "lustration" process of excluding former Communist functionaries and collaborators with the Communist secret police from the upper reaches of the civil service, the police, and the military has worked with considerable success in Germany and the Czech Republic but with less success and some abuse elsewhere.

The major responsibility for the limited pursuit of justice or even truth telling about the Communist regimes rests in the old East Bloc itself where the realities of the collapse of the former regimes made pursuing such matters inexpedient in the short-run. But whatever the temporary advantages of closing the door on the past, in the long-run the social and political health of those societies requires them to squarely face what happened in the Communist era. There are those who are trying to do so: the Memorial organization in Russia, the Museum of Terror in Hungary, and others.

But, and here is where your question comes in, the West, particularly too many Western liberal and left opinion leaders, have been indifferent to bringing the criminals of the Communist regime to justice, and are adamant against any "lustration" process. I have read more than one article in academic journals denouncing excluding collaborators and even officers of the old Communist security services from positions of public trust as a "witch hunt" as if these persons were figments of imagination rather than all to real oppressors and wielders of state-sanctioned torture and cruelty.

The wealthy philanthropic liberal foundations of the West give only token grants or nothing at all to organizations such as Memorial and the Museum of Terror which seeks to documents the monstrous crimes of the Stalin era. The liberal foundations of the West prefer to give funds to those allied with the "reform Communists" who for obvious reasons want to draw a curtain at 1989 or 1991 and think too much has been said of what happened before. The indifference of Western opinion leaders to the need to ideologically de-Communize the old East Bloc as a condition to building healthy democratic societies has weakened domestic support for such action in the old East Bloc and embolden the recalcitrant former Communists.

But not all of the news is depressing. The Museum of Terror, targeted for extinction by the reform Communists who came to power in the last Hungarian election, shamed the government into retreat, albeit losing some public funding. And in Russia, despite all of the barriers, a younger cohort of historians are turning out book after book on the crimes, oppression, and failures of the Communist era. Most of these have not been translated into English and are little know in the West, but Russians, younger ones, read them. These younger Russian historians are treated with patronizing arrogance by American revisionist historians but this cannot last.

The new Russian historians command the language, understand the culture, and have far more access to documentation that the reigning revisionists of the West. The new Russian historians also have come to understand that a large segment of the Western academic world are fools or charlatans when it comes to the history of communism and go their own way. In time, the weight of their research and writing will overwhelm that of pro-Communist Western revisionists. The task we face in the West to make that "in time" as short as possible.

I am optimistic on these matters. I well remember that until the late 1980s I did not expect Soviet communism or the East Bloc satellites to collapse in my lifetime or that I would even sit in a Moscow archive reading the long-secret records of the Comintern and the CPUSA. The situation today is immeasurably better that it was twenty years ago. There is more to be done. But it is not a matter of seeing the glass as half-full: the glass is three-quarters full. The Cold War on the ground has been won. Only the Cold War in history remains.

Glazov: As the Cold War is being waged in history, In Denial will, hopefully, serve as one of the thundering bolts that will destroy the Berlin wall in this war. Has the reception to this book been what you expected? What did you hope to achieve? What future battles are you preparing? Will In Denial trigger a de-Stalinization and, maybe, a glasnost within the academic milieu in this Cold War?

Klehr: I think it's still too early to tell if In Denial will have an impact and exactly what kind. So far, I've been a little disappointed that such papers as the New York Times have avoided reviewing it, but perhaps that is still in the works. If the liberal gatekeepers in professional journals and the media ignore the book, that would be an unfortunate confirmation of its main thesis--that while they properly pay attention to the Nazi Holocaust and its horrors and castigate those frauds who try to minimize its historical importance, they avert their eyes from the equally offensive horrors of the Gulag and the Soviet regime and tolerate the faculty members who apologize for it and minimize its costs.

One of the scandals of American higher education is that there are more than a few academics who are the equivalent of Holocaust deniers--they defend Joseph Stalin, they defend mass murder and they ignore or distort clear historical evidence. And they teach at respected institutions of higher learning where their faculty colleagues politely ignore their views instead of treating them as the moral pariahs they should be. Just imagine the uproar if any American college or university harbored a historian who misused documentary evidence to support his thesis that the victims of Nazism had been vastly overcounted or that the wonderful achievements of Hitlerism should not be overlooked.

John Haynes and I want to call attention to the shoddy history that is being done by many- not all but many- of the revisionists who study American communism. They need to decide if they are historians or ideologues. If they are unwilling to face the new evidence that has emerged from American and Russian archives, they need to be exposed as incompetent historians and called to account by other academics. They are distorting the past and making appalling moral judgments. That is not a healthy situation.

As for our next project, John and I have discussed some ideas but we'll first have to see if we have to enter the witness protection program!

Haynes: Jamie: It is still early to judge what impact In Denial will have. Thus far the only reviews have been in conservatively-oriented journals of opinion. There have been none in liberal and left journals and no academic reviews.

Debate in the academic world on this issue is limited. Anyone whose knowledge of the historical literature was based on a reading of articles published in the Journal of American History and the American Historical Review, the two leading journals in the field, would believe that there was nothing to debate. Not a single article published in the Journal of American History and the American Historical Review in the last thirty years has taken a critical stance regarding the American Communist movement or a benign view of domestic anticommunism. In the same thirty-year period dozens of articles in these journals have taken a reverse stance: a benign view of the CPUSA or depicting domestic opposition to communism in highly negative terms. In these journals there has been no debate: only one side is heard from.

Only in less prestigious and more specialized journals can the interpretive stance that Klehr, or Theodore Draper, or I take (often called the traditionalist point of view) be expressed. Given the revisionists' influence on the leadership of the historical profession and their willingness to stifle other views, this condition may continue for some time.

What would be healthy would be engagement, but that requires a willingness to debate by the revisionists. Thus far, most are unwilling. And also thus far most historians outside the field have acquiesced to the revisionist veto over what may be discussed in the leading journals in regard to communism.

Revisionists use silence as a weapon. That is why we referred to the status in the historical profession regarding the historical treatment of domestic communism and anticommunism to constitute "an intellectually sick situation."

In the long run, however, I think there is reason for optimism. We are intellectually on the offensive, not them. Revisionists have strength in numbers and in institutional power in the academy but in their writings they are increasingly taking a defensive tone and abandoning some of the more outrageous of their claims. Younger historians are increasingly dissatisfied with the revisionist paradigm, less willing to accept silence as the appropriate response to intellectual challenge, and far more willing than their elders to consider alternatives and to take seriously the interpretations put forth by traditionalists.

I am confident that even if senior historians refuse to debate these matters and pretend that In Denial does not exist, many junior historians will read it and consider the points we raise. By the way, let me note that the situation in the fields of Soviet history and Cold War history was never as bad as that of the field of domestic American communism and anticommunism. I think one can already see faster progress in Soviet history and Cold War history than in the domestic field. It is just Klehr and my ill-fortune to be interested in the most benighted of these arenas.

Additionally, as time passes, more and more archival resources will open up. The weight of evidence will increase, ambiguity will decline, and the intellectual fatuousness and moral bankruptcy of a far too large section of the academic world in regard to communism will become overwhelmingly obvious. Good scholars, whether in their personal politics of the left or the right, need not worry about archival "revelations." History is not a science driven by theory. It is an empirical craft that rests on the accumulation of documentary evidence interrogated by refined common sense and reasoning (certain technical field excepted). As new evidence accumulates real historians adjusts their understanding and interpretation to accommodate the total body of evidence. Certainly new evidence has required me to shift my views on certain matters.

Real historians, not being slaves to a vision of the future, are free to understand the past. Historians as historians are not prophets and are not soldiers in a struggle to shape the future. Historians should be looking to the past and, to the extent they can, intellectually living in the past in order to understand it. Karl Marx once wrote, "philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it." Too many academics have adopted that stance, making their interpretation of the world subordinate to their vision of the future. In doing so, they have abandoned scholarship. Looking to the future and shaping it is an important task, but it is not the historian's task. Because they have made their scholarship a slave to a particular ideological vision of the future, some of the reigning figures of the current historical establishment are likely to be regarded as embarrassments or figures of ridicule within a generation.

 


comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:


Jonathan Dresner - 12/15/2003

Mr. Heuisler,

As I said, I wasn't really entirely serious with that characterization, but I do note the speed with which you refuted it.

I would point out, though that most of your examples come from times and places where white male christians were the ONLY acceptable political actors, so of course they dominated progressive movements: they dominated all movements. It's more interesting to look at the 20th century, and the late 19th, and see who is active when everybody CAN be active.

I don't think socialism is the only acceptable form of social justice, nor do I think its adherents should necessarily be tarred with the Stalinist brush. That's why I'm not interested in following up this question on a larger scale, to be honest: the discussion degenerates so quickly from historical to ideological.


Bill Heuisler - 12/15/2003

Professor,
Instead of economic INjustice in the second para, I meant economic justice.
Bill Heuisler


Bill Heuisler - 12/15/2003

Professor Dresner,
This discussion should've begun last week; not enough time.
You wrote about the dearth of Caucasian Christians in progressive and radical movements. Have you forgotten 1776? The French Revolution? The Scottish Enlightenment?
One might say CCs own the term, progressive.

And, by the way, social and economic injustice are timeless assets not necessarily embodied in Socialism. In fact, I believe the opposite has been proven true in the Twentieth Century.

Thanks for your time.
Bill Heuisler


Jonathan Dresner - 12/15/2003

Mr. Heuisler,

No, I'm not going to write an op-ed on this subject anytime soon. As far as I'm concerned the most interesting thing is not the Jewish-communist connection, but the failure of anti-communists to accept a simple socio-cultural explanation and move on. I'm not really qualified to write that article (ok, that's never stopped me before) nor am I particularly interested in making a bigger splash in this area.

I'm not going to argue with your point about Anglo-American society being more welcoming for Jews than most alternatives; my ancestors escaped in this direction for a good reason. But "better" doesn't mean "perfect": there was and is plenty of anti-semitism in England, Australia and the US, some of it perpetuated by officialdom, some of it by elite institutions, lots of it transmitted and festering through folk processes like religion and popular culture. More than "a few hiccups" from where I sit. That is a significant contributor, I suppose, to your original question: the failure of some Jews to fully identify with US society because US identity did not include them. Go back over some of the discussions of the US as a "Christian Nation" and ask yourself how a Jew should understand the problem.

Sorry if I was a little obscure when I commented on the nature of the question. I wasn't accusing you of anti-semitism, as much as I was asking you to consider what the question really is. Given the diversity of Jewish experience and Jewish community in the modern age, is the question "Why the Jews?" meaningful? The question needs to be refined. For example, my off-the-cuff highly impressionistic analysis suggests that the vast majority of the Jews who participated in these radical movements were secularized before they were radicalized, so a good question would include a discussion of the forces of secularism and why Western secularism (since it was invented by Voltaire, et al.) is particularly hostile to Judaism?

But, by focusing back on "Jews" instead of on secularized Westerners, it suggests some flaw in Judaic culture or character, and we're right back to an essential, indivisible, eternal "nation" which is either ok or flawed, and the question presupposes flawed.

Conversely, what if we asked the question this way: Caucasian Christians are underrepresented in progressive and radical movements. What is it about them that they are more willing than others to allow social and economic injustice to persist? For the record, I'm not arguing that is a valid question, but it does seem to be the converse of the invalid question being discussed.


Bill Heuisler - 12/15/2003

Professor Dresner,
Thank you for responding, I had hoped you would. This subject has always been touchy and , although I've been very interested, it's never been something worth risking friendships for.

I'm not sure what you mean by, "The question is posed as a form of pathology, possibly inherent." Hope that's not a warning, but be assured, my interest and many of my conclusions are innocent of both bigotry and malice. Notice I said many; nobody's perfect and the Soros eruption has awakened a few raw misgivings.

That said, your statement, "few western governments have ever been particularly Jewish-friendly, centralized or no." is simply not true. The US, Britain, Australia among Western Republics have been - with a few hiccups - very Jewish Friendly since the Tudors. Modern Socialist countries, on the other hand, seem to define themselves by their anti- Semitism. Restating an obvious fact, Nazi means National Socialist.

Asking you for work is not my place, but I'll bet an HNN article by you addressing this subject would be immensely productive.
Please?
Bill Heuisler


Jonathan Dresner - 12/14/2003

Interesting. I thought the relationship between Judaism and progressivism, even in its radical marxist form, was no mystery. There is in Judaism the principle of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, and the requirement that we be instruments of justice on earth. The promise of redemption in communism is a powerful secular version of the peace which we are enjoined to try to create in service to God.

Add to that the relative overrepresentation of Jews among the most educated classes in every Western society and the overrepresentation of educated elites in progressive movements and it is clear that Jews will be drastically overrepresented in the most progressive groups.

And your suggestion that Jews suffered most from "highly centralized" governments and thus should fear them is a bit anachronistic, as few western governments have ever been particularly Jewish-friendly, centralized or no. The dangers of totalitarianism to Jews in particular wasn't obvious until the mid-20th century, and the Jews participating in the most radical activities were secular enough not to care that much by that point.

I'm not uncomfortable with the subject -- the explanation is pretty simple in my opinion -- as much as I am the backwards nature of the discussion. The question is posed as a form of pathology, possibly inherent.


Bill Heuisler - 12/14/2003

Mr. Wozniak,
In my opinion, this subject has been avoided due to potential charges of anti-Semitism. When asked, my Jewish friends and colleagues usually say Jews have always been Progressives and shrug it off, obviously uncomfortable with the subject.

Ernest Van Den Haag wrote a book in the Sixties called "The Jewish Mystique" and was widely excoriated for insensitivity. Many academics and historians have since evidently judged the subject not worth the political and personal trouble. Marx, Trotsky, Kamenev, Radek and literally hundreds of the inner circle in Revolutionary Russia were Jewish. The proportion of Jewish spies for the USSR in the US was alarmingly high. I can attest from anecdotal and personal experience that much anti-Semitism (from the Right particularly) stems from this fact. Oddly enough, the subject is often discussed in Israel in Ben Yehuda coffee houses and Disingoff restaurants among Sabras and veterans - more directed at critics of Israel by American Jews obviously - who don't worry about charges of anti-Semitism from a home-town version of B'nai Brith.

My curiosity - and theirs - pinpoints the obvious: Since Jews have historically been private-sector entrepeneurs and have suffered so much from highly centralized governments, why would such support for the Left come from Jews in Europe and the US?

There are many highly respected Jewish academics - some of the best write and post here on HNN. Would any care to post their theories? It's probably an imposition, and not my place to ask, but their input would be fascinating and invaluable on a subject most people are afraid to even mention in public discourse.
Bill Heuisler


albin wozniak - 12/14/2003

I read In Denial and the earlier books by Klehr and Haynes. No place do any of the researchers posit a theory as to why so many Jews became Communists. Were they communists who just happened to be Jews? We have plenty of books as to why so many Germans became Nazis and as to why so many Russians became Communists. Are the Jews In Denial? Perhaps the title of the book should be Jews In Denial.


F.H. Thomas - 12/10/2003


Real engagement taking place here, of the sort which actually has the potential for convincing someone of something important.

I very much enjoyed it.


Freddie - 12/10/2003

Au contraire, you have a good deal to apologize for.
As to whether or not a "perfect" socialist state can exist (and I don't think it can, since any collectivist state minimizes the importance of the individual, while capitalism celebrates it) I have this question: How many millions of people must die in your misguided attempts to create the perfect socialist state? How does it feel to have so much blood on your hands?


roxman - 12/10/2003

Your assertion that "Stalin could not have caused the terror himself" is ludicrous. He is exactly the one responsible for the terror. For supporting data, read some of the memoirs by former officials of the Soviet Union (Pavel Sudoplatov's Special Tasks is a good place to start).


roxman - 12/10/2003

I don't see any signs of paranoia in Mr. Glazov's contribution to the interview.
I doubt that you would call somone who lost relatives in the Holocaust a paranoid because they called to account the government responsible for the killings. Yet you do so with Mr Glazov, when the USSR was responsible for far more innocent lives lost that was Nazi Germany. Sure looks like a double standard to me (not unexpected from folks like you).


Irfan Khawaja - 12/9/2003

The history of communism may well have had "shades of gray to explore." The problem is, every shade deserved contempt.


John Brown - 12/8/2003

A partial list of Latin American countries that have had military dictatorships since 1959, all capitalist and US allies:
Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil.

"How can you defend a Vision that - in all its many grotesque variations throughout the last Century - has produced so much misery, death and tyranny throughout the world? Not merely a Vision. The word, nightmare, only trivializes the horror."

FIN


Bill Heuisler - 12/8/2003

Professor Brown,
Let's say Cuba has 20 million people. Although the Red Cross and other Human Rights Agencies are prohibited from Cuba, a cautious estimate has been 30,000 executions in three decades. Those are judicial executions and do not include death in prisons and in concentration camps. Those do not include deaths in mental asylums or in military detention camps. Those do not include deaths in small boats sunk by Castro's Navy and Coast Guard. Minimize all you like. But do the numbers.
Sounds like a holocaust to me.

Doubt sources? Well check yours again. No offense intended, but the Namibean news out of Windhoek leaves a lot to be desired. No? Check that source against the other source you mentioned.
Let's check the Cuban Commission against Amnesty International.

The Cuban Commission claimed (in your 2002 source) "The death penalty (in Cuba) has not been applied in the last two years." Read it again. You printed the web address, didn't you?

Now go to the Amnesty International Report 2003. Click on Cuba
"Although the unofficial moratorium on executions declared in 2001 apparently remained in place, at least three prisoners were sentenced to death in 2002: Ramón González, Iván Rodríguez and Gabriel Lindón. Prosecutors argued for the death penalty to be imposed on at least three other individuals. At the end of 2002, more than 50 people remained on death row."

Your sources say Castro "tolerates" the Cuban Commission for Human Rights. Of course. They lie for him to the world. Amnesty International not only outs the lie, but names the executed.

Forget about the dissidents executed this year (and the fact two were women). Forget about the AIDS UMAP Camps because they're considered part of the vaunted Cuban Health System. Forget about the fact there's really no press reporting coming out of Cuba. Just remember people are dying because they oppose Socialism; and men and women die every year just because they want to leave.

Again, I don't mean to be offensive, but how can you mince words?How can you defend a Vision that - in all its many grotesque variations throughout the last Century - has produced so much misery, death and tyranny throughout the world? Not merely a Vision. The word, nightmare, only trivializes the horror.
Bill Heuisler



John Brown - 12/8/2003

Just a couple of quick comments; I doubt either of us have much more time to spend on this.

I have no allegiance to Castro or any other Stalinist bureaucrats (oh, yes!) who repress the working class, but I certainly acknowledge the advances the Cuban people have made since the Revolution and believe the Revolution must be defended at all costs, regardless of whether Castro stays or goes.

"Communist Party version" of the 1912 massacre means the version presented in histories written by the Communist Party of Cuba. As I said, Louis Perez's interpretation, which you favor, is nearly identical. If you feel the need, consult
Dirección Política de las F.A.R. [Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias]. Historia de Cuba. Havana: Ed. Ciencias Sociales, 1985 (1967).

This talk of "Holocaust" and "Killing Fields" is truly grotesque. It renders those words completely meaningless. It's a disgraceful insult to the millions who perished in those murderous enterprises.

According to the DISSIDENT human rights group, "Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation," there were 230 political prisoners in Cuba as of 4 July 2002. This was a dramatic increase from the 20 political prisoners held in January of that year.
http://www.namibian.com.na/2002/july/world/026EA17546.html

So much for your "hundreds of thousands." Castro admitted that up to 20,000 people were arrested in the 1960s; anticommunists multiplied that number to 60,000. Still no "hundreds of thousands." The vast majority of those people were released after short periods of time, and even the hardest cases were paroled if they accepted re-socialization and renounced counterrevolutionary activity.

Conditions in Cuban prisons are bad. According to Amnesty International, malnutrition is common, and inmates are vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse by guards and inmates. As far as torture, AI considers that long periods of solitary confinement qualify (I agree). Any of this sound familiar? Physician, heal thyself!

Check Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International rather than making up numbers out of thin air and referring people to atrocious movies.

As far as your strident objections to my derision of Stalinists, they are a corrupt bureaucratic stratum occupying a contradictory role in their rule of the workers' state. The workers need to throw them out in a political revolution, maintaining and extending the gains made possible by centralized planning and collective labor.

The Russian Revolution of October 1917 made _possible_ a society in which society's resources were equally available to all, where men and women worked on the basis of cooperation rather than the profit motive. Despite civil war and invasion, the Revolution brought an enormous expansion of rights and opportunities to the peoples of the Soviet Union. So yes, socialism was working. With the rise of Stalin, however, a corrupt political bureaucracy seized and consolidated political power, maintaining its position largely through terror. This happened for many reasons, none of which were inevitable or inherent in the socialist "experiment."


Michael Meo - 12/8/2003

Mr Brown, Mr Heuisler,

Speaking as a non-specialist, I would like to express my thanks for the stimulating exchange I just read here.

It seems to demonstrate the infinitely variable nature of the historical enterprise: while you disagreed, you had a considerable amount of evidence on which to draw.

While personally it seemed to me that Mr Heusler tended to stress the Good Old Days and Mr Brown saw more good in the 1959 Revolution, both of you contributed to my understanding of the subject at hand.

Thanks again.


Bill Heuisler - 12/7/2003

Professor Brown,
The term, "Communist Party version" in reference to 1912 Cuba is meaningless in a historical sense. CP version changes innocence for innocence depending on the people involved and their agenda. Communism meant one thing to Commissars in Barcelona and another to the untrained cannon-fodder at Teruel; the Anti-War CPUSA quickly became the War Party after Hitler unleashed Barbarossa. My impression? Communism has always been completely subjective and a Worker's Paradise is only in the eyes of dreamers.

Also, your disdain for Castro seems rather sudden.
"...a political bureaucracy whose concern is with self-preservation, not with workers' democracy." Rather bland considering the hideous realities of Cuban Communism.

For instance, there's an ongoing Cuban holocaust that rivals the gulag and the Killing Fields that's lasted in Cuba since 1963.
Did you know Raul Castro was the organizer of UMAP, or Military Units to help Production? These "Units" are Concentration Camps whose gates display a sign, "El Trabajo Libera". Sound familiar? Like "Arbeit Mach Frei" at Auschwitz. Hundreds of thousands of "undesirables" imprisoned, dying. Look up a Dr. Jorge Perez interview with ABC, a Madrid Newspaper 7/3/97, or a recent film called "Bitter Sugar", an arrest in September 1997 of Jean Paul Gautier, Pedro Almodovar and Bibi Anderson at El Periquiton disco in Havana. Try the book, "Arturo, la estrella mas brilliante" by Reinaldo Arenas (Barcelona: montesinos,1984).

Communism does have uncommon baggage, doesn't it?
But the press doesn't care, and it's all about Stalinists. Right?

Each instance you dislike becomes Stalinist; your Vision is never the past or present - always the Future. Our discussion must therefore boil down to your description of a "Worker's Democracy" and to where we can study one in the real world. If none occurs, our discussion must then ask how much death and degradation a dreamer will stomach and defend for his Vision.

This exchange has been pleasurable and informative. Neither of us will change our opinions, but you've given me a rare glimpse (unsettling I'll admit) into the mind of a true Socialist.
Thank you, Professor,
Bill Heuisler


John Brown - 12/7/2003

Mr. Heuisler,

I think it's your interpretation that's being driven by ideology and a hardheaded insistence on explaining away empirical evidence.

It's ironic that you cite Louis Perez because his interpretation of Cuban history is much the closest of Western Cubanists to the official Communist Party version. His interpretation of the 1912 massacre is a revisionist, mechanistic version that downplays racial aspects of the massacre -- of members of the first black political party in the Americas to organize as blacks! -- in favor of reducing it to a socioeconomic conflict, just as the Communist Party of Cuba does. His -- and your -- insistence that it was "really" a socioeconomic conflict "contructed" as racial merely explains away what everyone on the ground knew at the time. It's that argument that Helg takes on, and her work is largely responsible for reintroducing the racial problem to the historiography of Cuba. Furthermore, your reading of her book supports my interpretation, not yours: in a society where race doesn't matter, there's no need to "racialize" the political opposition by emphasizing its "savage" blackness, portraying its members as cannibals, rapists of white women, etc. "Race War" is not a historian's nickname, it's what the massacre was called at the time.

As for the Indian or African ancestry of Zayas and Gomez, who knows? The absence of the "one-drop rule" doesn't mean there's no racism. It's social rather than "biological" whiteness that matters, and none of these men was ever considered anything but white. You will not find one single reference or innuendo in the literature of the time to suggest anything else. Needless to say, their universal acceptance as white has nothing to do with the oppression of blacks.

You'll never hear me call "Fidel's" Cuba a "paradise," but my criticism comes from the left, not the right. I agree that a working-class revolution can't be made by an alien class. For that reason, the best the Cuban Revolution has been able to offer is a deformed workers' state (in which control of the means of production have been socialized but remain administered by a political bureaucracy whose concern is with self-preservation, not with workers' democracy). I never claimed racism ended with the Revolution, only pointed out that discrimination was legally abolished, as it has been in the United States. There are some who would argue that paper legal protections have ended racism, but I'm not one of them. Nevertheless, blacks made enormous gains after the Revolution.

Hell yes, I'm familiar with the despicable treatment of AIDS patients in Cuba. I'm opposed to the criminalization of medical conditions anywhere. The fact that black women are overrepresented among prostitutes is a result of the "dollarization" of the economy to which I referred above. I'm sickened by the Cuban government's all-but-explicit promotion of sex tourism to male European consumers. Another of the Stalinists' betrayals. Prostitution remains one of the few jobs open to black women that provides access to hard currency. Or maybe you prefer Castro's explanation for the rise of prostitution, which is that Cuban women just love sex. The unfortunate truth is that as Cuba continues on its present course toward counterrevolution, it more and more resembles its neighbors such as the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Jamaica, which have so thrived under capitalism and US patronage.

I am well aware that the Cuban CP supported Batista in 1940, just as the CPUSA supported LBJ in 1964 when he was bombing the hell out of Vietnam. The betrayals of the Stalinists are no news to me. But even under their incompetent rule the working people of Cuba -- especially women and blacks -- benefited immeasurably. The deterioration of those gains after counterrevolution in the USSR just illustrates the futility of "socialism in one island," not the failure of socialism.

Your implication that Batista was preferable to Castro is so discredited that even most Cuban exiles are ashamed to make it. One of the reasons for the massive support to Castro after the Revolution was his promise to implement the 1940 Constitution enacted under Batista, not one word of which was ever applied under his presidencies.

I say when you take away a man's "freedom" to exploit his fellow man, you take away his "freedom" to exploit his fellow man. The rest of us have nothing to lose but our chains.


Bill Heuisler - 12/7/2003

Professor Dresner,
There are other frequent posters on HNN who exhibit exceptional knowledge about Japan. Deferring to them first, I will only say the numbers used are a deliberate mix of geographic and racial groups (as opposed to Nordic) in order to isolate the economic determinant in Socialism's historic failure.

Japanese women inhabit a world we can only imagine and Japanese men consider suicide a much more viable option than Westerners seem to. The Japanese economy has tanked in the '90s and, along with such problems as scandal, oil dependency and protectionism, some economists blame Socialist "solutions" by a moderate/left Government as opposed to the more laissez faire past.

Under 45 males usually predicate business ownership, white-collar and labor membership and wage earners in general. So, if Japan ranks so low (given the social acceptability of suicide) the numbers would be even more startling to an effete egghead.
Which, of course you are not and never have been.
Bill Heuisler


Bill Heuisler - 12/7/2003

Professor Brown,
Our journey from H & K attenuates only to the degree it focuses on "implications" rather than raw history. So we do not digress, but zero in on the H & K thesis of how the unravelling of long-nurtured perceptions (of CPUSA and Stalin for instance) become important to history.

Cherished "realities", as an old Polish Astronomer can attest, can lead man far astray. Trotsky thought he was right, so did Jacques Mornard, but they were both wrong - both perceiving a false universe. And now, current perceptions are being revised by Venona: Duranty is questioned; Hiss loses advocates and the Rosenberg defenders fall back on Ethel. All historians should see this rennaisance of data as enlightenment, not threat.

The Cuban race premise falls apart on examination and becomes interpretation rather than history.
Two authors illustrate:
Louis Perez wrote that the 1912 (Afro-Cuban) uprising was a social rather than a racial war - small landholders being supplanted in Oriente by larger sugar interests. Also, had you not mentioned Aline Helg, I would've. A major premise of her work on 1912 was that the so-called Race War was a political war constructed as racial by the press. She found it significant that the "War" could've been timed (by Gomez?) to affect the 1912 elections. They didn't; Gomez lost to a conservative.

As stated, the germ that infects collectivism raises the few to rule the many. In an earlier post you implied racism in Cuba ended with Fidel, but passed off mixed-blood Presidents and politicians as oddities and used terms such as "white" to describe men like Gomez and Zayas. As with Perez and Helg, perceptions can differ depending on agendas.

Fidel Castro, Raul Castro and Earnesto Guevara Lynch de La Serna were European (white?). Zayas and Gomez were products of long series of intermarriages with Indio and Afro Cubans. The fact this wasn't considered important at the time argues eloquently against your position. Perceptions are important to history.
Dermatologist Che's grandmother was born in Galway, Ireland. Some celebrate how two doctors of European ancestry overthrew the son of cane cutters, a sergeant of African/Indian/Chinese ancestry named Fulgencio Batista. Who, by the way, was elected President of Cuba in 1940 with over 60% of the vote and was backed at the time by the Cuban Communist Party.

He degenerated over the years, but so has Fidel from the perceptions of some of his people. You're surely aware how jiniteras and jiniteros from Havana and other cities - as well as sick Cuban vets from Africa - are in concentration camps due to the vicissitudes of a peculiar disease. Are you also aware of the overwhelming skin color of these prisoners? Racism must be judged by its fruits or the term becomes meaningless.

Using Fidel's Paradise as example goes directly to the H & K argument of implications. Our contrasting viewpoints support my argument that history is matrix, and perceptions of the past shape the future. Che Guevara said, "Marx was preoccupied with economic factors and with their reprecussions on the spirit." Bill Heuisler says when you take away a man's economic choices, you take away that man's freedom...and his spirit.
Bill Heuisler




Jonathan Dresner - 12/7/2003

Mr. Heuisler,

If we're going to talk about suicide as a social indicator, I think it would be worth broadening the discussion a bit. The young male suicide rate is only part of the story. The rate of young female suicide in Japan, though not as high as the male rate, is still half again the rate of the US, and ranks very high among the industrialized world. Moreover, the rate of suicide for older males (esp. 40+) has been rising dramatically over the 1990s. Add to that some creative cyber-connections (internet-arranged mutual suicide pacts), and Japan is a very poor example of social health. This is particularly bad for your argument, I think, because Japan is experiencing this rise just as its economy becomes more "purely" capitalist (it never was socialist, exactly, though it does have a strong welfare state component since the 1970s).

The US, too, if you break down suicide statistics by race, gives a much more complex picture. But that's a discussion for another time.


John Brown - 12/7/2003

"For most of my life I've traded insults and one-line cliches with Marxists without really understanding their core assumptions"

If you mean this, I am delighted that I could help.

"Economic equality doesn't happen naturally - has never occurred within historical human social interaction - but must be imposed from a position of authority. There's the rub. There's the germ that infects collectivism and raises the few to rule the many"

Yes, this is the usual argument against socialism. It will be a long one, but one I hope to get into at some later time.

I'm happy to say that I know Cuba and Cubans (here are there) well myself.

"Racism? You're wrong."
The myth that there is no racism in Cuba is cherished in Cuba as well as elsewhere in Latin America, especially Brazil.
Recommended:
Fuente, Alejandro de la. "Myths of Racial Democracy: Cuba, 1900-1912." Latin American Research Review 34, no. 3 (1999): 39-73.
Twine, France Winddance. Racism in a Racial Democracy: The Maintenance of White Supremacy in Brazil. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1998.

Racism takes different forms in Cuba and the rest of Latin America than in the US. There is a great deal of literature on this. Segregation in public accomodations or housing was not generally the norm (although the smart spots of Havana were definitely segregated) and racially motivated violence was relatively rare (with some very significant exceptions, such as the "Race War" of 1912).
Recommended:
Helg, Aline. "Black Men, Racial Stereotyping, and Violence in the U.S. South and Cuba at the Turn of the Century." Comparative Studies in Society and History 42, no. 3 (July 2000): 576-604. and
Helg, Aline. Our Rightful Share: The Afro-Cuban Struggle for Equality, 1886-1912. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.

Latin American racism has often been called "subtle," but it is common to see stereotypically racist cartoons, advertisements, etc. in Latin America (excluding Cuba) that have not been seen in this country for almost 50 years. Assumptions that blacks are stupid or ugly are often heard in conversation, sometimes illustrated as the exception: "He's black, but very well educated"; "She's black, but pretty." If you haven't heard white Cubans say this sort of thing, you haven't been listening very hard. Some would dismiss all this as inconsequential, only blacks are overwhelmingly concentrated in menial jobs and in poverty throughout Latin America. Revolutionary Cuba has advanced furthest in this regard.

"The farm-worker/color imbalance"
I'm not sure what the "farm-worker/color imbalance" refers to exactly. If you mean the overrepresentation of blacks at the
lowest rungs of society, this was not just a rural but an urban phenomenon as well.

"pre-Spanish slavery and importation of African workers"? You mean massive importation of enslaved Africans to cut sugar cane from ca. 1520-1850, peaking between 1790 and 1810. In 1958, most rural blacks (and many whites, to be sure) lived in conditions little improved from what they had been in 1858.

"In fact, the rate of intermarriage in Cuba was always higher than the US until many of the whiter middle-class fled Castro. These middle class families were slowly becoming brown since the Spanish defeat;"
Racial intermarriage was always higher in the US, correct. It has dramatically increased since the Revolution.
Recommended:
Fernández, Nadine T. "The Color of Love: Young Interracial Couples in Cuba." Latin American Perspectives 23 (winter 1996): 99-117.

The flight of white middle-class Cubans had little effect on intermarriage, which took place mostly among the lower classes. Cuban immigrants to the US were overwhelmingly white until Mariel in 1980.

"any so-called racism was more social than racial because some families were conscious of (proud of) their Spanish blood."
An insistence on "Spanish blood" is used throughout Latin America ONLY to distinguish from Indian or African blood. You will rarely hear a white Cuban going out of his way to prove he is of Spanish ancestry rather than French, for example -- he will be proud of these white forebears whatever their nationality.

"Are you aware many higher income Cuban families considered Mulato women very desirable as wives?"
Cuban men have long idealized the mulata as ideal sexual partners, but NOT as a wives. Baldly stated, having sex with black (or mulata) women has little to do with whether you're racist or not. Just consider Thomas Jefferson after a re-reading of Notes from Virginia or brush up on James Henry Hammond's diaries. This is a crucial distinction. Interracial marriages certainly occurred more frequently than in the US South, most often between a relatively affluent woman of color and a white but poor bridegroom, allowing social mobility to one and economic mobility to the other.
Recommended:
Martínez-Alier, Verena. Marriage, Class and Colour in Nineteenth-Century Cuba: A Study of Racial Attitudes and Sexual Values in a Slave Society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974.

"One of the most powerful Senators in pre-Castro Cuba, Rolando Mas-Ferrer, married a lovely, highly educated Mulato woman and proudly declared the fact at every opportunity."
No doubt because it was so unusual. Interracial marriages at such high levels were all but unheard-of.

Incidentally, mulatos were considered superior to blacks because "whiter," not all lumped together as in the US. Thus the vast majority of the few people of African descent who achieved any social or economic success were mulatos, not blacks. Famously described as the "mulatto escape hatch" in a flawed but landmark book:
Degler, Carl N. Neither Black Nor White: Slavery and Race Relations in Brazil and the United States. New York: Macmillan, 1971.

"Are you aware of the mixed blood of many - if not most - of the Cuban Presidents from Batista to Prio to Gomez to Machado?"
Absolutely incorrect. All but one of them were universally recognized as white. Batista, yes, was identified by others (never by himself) as a mulato and as I'm sure you've heard, he was famously snubbed when he was barred from Havana clubs because of his ancestry.

"Did you know Fulgencio Batista's father was a cane cutter?"
Batista was a general who seized power by force once and rigged an election the second time. Under these conditions, his tenure as president says little if anything about Cuban racial attitudes. His rise to power had nothing to do with the will of the people.

"A very convincing argument can be made that Fidel Castro, scion of an aristocratic family,"
Castro's father was rich, but he was no aristocrat. He was a "self-made" Spanish immigrant. If you mean to imply that Castro's some type of elitist because of his background, he has a phenomenal rapport with the working people of his country as even his greatest enemies agree.

"actually halted the racial mixing through his draconian economic experiments that unraveled the social mix of towns and neighborhoods."

Empirically incorrect and I don't understand the premise behind the statement.


Bill Heuisler - 12/7/2003

Professor,
Sometimes the fingers outpace the mind.
Don't ask what pre-Spanish slavery means. Haven't the foggiest.
Although Arawaks and Caribs probably kept slaves, what was intended was obviously Spanish slavery.
Bill Heuisler


Bill Heuisler - 12/6/2003

Professor Brown,
Thank you for the time you've spent. For most of my life I've traded insults and one-line cliches with Marxists without really understanding their core assumptions.

As to your Cuba analogy, I have deep and lasting associations with the country and with many of its citizens. Racism? You're wrong. The farm-worker/color imbalance stemmed from pre-Spanish slavery and importation of African workers. In fact, the rate of intermarriage in Cuba was always higher than the US until many of the whiter middle-class fled Castro. These middle class families were slowly becoming brown since the Spanish defeat; any so-called racism was more social than racial because some families were conscious of (proud of) their Spanish blood. The happy interminglings continue in Republics like Brazil. Are you aware many higher income Cuban families considered Mulato women very desirable as wives? One of the most powerful Senators in pre-Castro Cuba, Rolando Mas-Ferrer, married a lovely, highly educated Mulato woman and proudly declared the fact at every opportunity. Are you aware of the mixed blood of many - if not most - of the Cuban Presidents from Batista to Prio to Gomez to Machado? One of the detriments to Mario Menocal's frequent lunges to power was that he thought himself (and was considered) an aristocrat. Did you know Fulgencio Batista's father was a cane cutter? A very convincing argument can be made that Fidel Castro, scion of an aristocratic family, actually halted the racial mixing through his draconian economic experiments that unraveled the social mix of towns and neighborhoods.

Economic equality doesn't happen naturally - has never occurred within historical human social interaction - but must be imposed from a position of authority. There's the rub. There's the germ that infects collectivism and raises the few to rule the many.

The connection here with H & K becomes clear only if you admit how closely economic and social relationships have been intertwined throughout world history - and were intertwined during the more destructively subversive phases of the CPUSA.
Bill Heuisler


John Brown - 12/6/2003

I like to think the opposite of racism is friendship.

Obviously we have gone very far afield indeed from Haynes and Klehr.

Can hunger, racism, war, be abolished through socialism? First, a theoretical answer: Nationalism, racism, war, hunger all derive (immediately or ultimately) from material inequality. The elimination of inequality creates, for the first time, the possibility for these ills to be abolished. The expropriation of the ruling class and the redistribution of the social surplus is prerequisite; obviously, this cannot occur under capitalism, whose very premise is material inequality. Can socialism abolish these animosities and conflicts overnight? No. Hunger will be more easily solved than the rest. These animosities took centuries to develop on the basis of unequal social relations; it may take centuries of cooperative social relations before they can be completely eradicated; but without the basis of material inequality, they cannot reproduce themselves. Conversely, as long as inequality exists, it will continue to reproduce these dangerous prejudices.

Is there any evidence to support this theory? There is. Most social scientists agree that the incidence of interracial marriage is a pretty good barometer of racism in a given locale. After the Revolution, with the abolition of racial discrimination in Cuba, the stigma of interracial marriages faded rapidly. There was no longer any material disadvantage associated with marrying blacks, and interracial marriage rose dramatically. Did racist attitudes die a sudden death? No. But they were severely weakened in a matter of a few decades because they could not feed on themselves. Some whites still held racist beliefs, but without any material superiority to make their racial "superiority" appear plausible, more and more people saw their prejudices for the absurd fictions they were. Since the "dollarization" of the Cuban economy and the relaxation on remittances from abroad, however, interracial marriages have sharply declined. White Cubans -- who were economically privileged before 1959 -- are more likely to have affluent relatives abroad, and thus access to dollars. Most blacks remained in Cuba, work only for worthless pesos, and are again considered unattractive marriage partners.


Bill Heuisler - 12/6/2003

Professor Brown,
Your last message is greatly appreciated. Although we disagree, your thoughts are of great value to me and I will take them, and your vision, as sincere and well intentioned. Your professed dislike for Capitalism and US Imperialism cannot be argued until we understand the value system you believe they replace.

Trying to understand you is like shouting across an abyss in a different language, so please excuse my rather tedious attempt to meld philosophy, economics and history. Here goes.

Your examples and wishes address Space Travel, Slavery, Hunger, Racism and War. Space Travel is a desirable goal; the rest are conditions we must try to change or avoid. So the primary focuses of our discussion should be whether Socialism can effectively produce the desired changes in the Human Condition we both agree are positive.
Can Socialism produce Peace, Plenty and Piety?
If so, where has this been manifest in the real world?
In fact, haven't all Socialist experiments failed?

Visions are philosophy, ideas, dreams. This conservative doesn't wish to kill your dream, but according to all the evidence, your dream is fatally flawed. Acton said we can't make history the proof of our theories; I say we can't do the reverse.
Bill Heuisler

By the way, Piety is the only word I could think of that comes even close to the opposite of Racism. Any ideas?


John Brown - 12/6/2003

I'm absolutely a Marxist historian, Mr. Heuisler, and that's nothing to apologize for.

For the sake of argument, let's say you're right, and that a healthy socialist state has never existed. Does that mean it can never exist? It does not. If the fact that something had never happened before proved it could never happen, we'd never have seen a man on the moon. For centuries slavemasters argued that slavery had always existed and would always exist. They were wrong, too. Hunger, racism, and war can be abolished too, but not as long as we believe it's impossible to do so.

Sneer all you like. You can't hope to match that vision, which is why you never stop trying to kill it.


Bill Heuisler - 12/6/2003

Professor Luker,
In terms of long term growth our relatively free economy has no reasonable competition in the world. Accident? Wealth breeding wealth? Maybe, but recent numbers tell another convincing tale.

Since per capita GNP doesn't measure productivity after taxes, we should look at Investment Productivity Growth of the economies of the United States and Sweden.
In the United States the average annual growth of Gross Domestic Investment from 1990 to 1995 grew 4.1%
In Sweden GDI from 1990 to 1995 shrunk -7.2
Investments shrink, businesses and jobs shrink or disappear.
Proof? Swedish Industrial Imports have tripled since 2000

Personal freedom = Happiness? Who knows. But there is a direct ratio with Socialism and suicide in industrial nations.

Among industrial nations, Japan and Western Europe have relatively low suicide rates among young males (15 a year for 100,000). Scandinavian countries like Finland, Denmark and Sweden rank near the top in suicides of young males (under 45). New Zealand also ranks near double the Western European rate. As you know, New Zealand has a Socialist Government and economy.

Losing investment, businesses, jobs and young men is not a description of a successful economy.
Bill Heuisler


Ralph E. Luker - 12/5/2003

Bill, Hasn't "the Great Socialist" experiment worked reasonably well in the Scandinavian countries or do you only want to talk about totalitarian socialism?


Bill Heuisler - 12/5/2003

Mr. Brown,
Finally, answers to my questions. And from two of you.

Comintern jargon, familiar pejoratives, tattered banners, Burke and Hare glancing disdainfully at the hospital, sharing talking points about the graveyard and dreaming about silencing people.
Marvelously informative.

Harken back to the good old days, boys, but remember there are a few historians in the audience. Could either you or Mr. Sherman be historians - maybe even Marxist Historians? If so, you ignore a real historical fact: The "inevitable outcome of Socialism" has been mass starvation, economic slavery, loss of individual freedom and millions of dead workers and dead Blacks. You'd think - after all those hoary words - you could come up with one country where the Great Socialist Experiment worked.

But you'd rather dig up corpses and try to sell them.
Bill Heuisler


John Brown - 12/5/2003

Exactly correct.

The CPUSA makes a perfect hero for the gutless liberal intelligentsia which trips over itself trying to prove it's as "patriotic" as any rightwing extremist. What with the CPUSA's renunciation of violent revolution in the "exceptional" USA, its support of the Smith Act to jail Trotskyists, its celebration of the Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, its slavish support of every Democrat candidate from FDR to Al Gore right through Korea and Vietnam -- we could go on all day -- the CPUSA leadership proved again and again that the ruling class had nothing to fear from it. That's why liberal historians find it such an easy "road not taken" to champion, and why they exert so much effort trying to prove its members weren't "traitors." Anything progressive the CPUSA accomplished is explained as a continuation of the "American" tradition, and anything bad it was involved in can be passed off to its "un-American" servility to Moscow. Not exactly the great threat to "American values" we're reading about here.

And you're exactly right about why it's so essential to try to silence the progressive role even of the class-collaborators of the CPUSA. As the capitalist state steps up its attacks on the few remaining rights of workers in this country to further gorge the rich, sacrifices more lives to their endless imperialist wars, murders more blacks in the streets and the death chambers, etc., etc., it's more important than ever to insist that a world without hunger, war, and racism is impossible. Thus the incessant harping on the crimes of Stalinism in the insistence that socialism equals Stalinism. Stalinism is no more the inevitable outcome of socialism than democracy is the inevitable outcome of capitalism.


Wm. Sherman - 12/5/2003

The frothing right-wing anti-communists accuse the soft-core liberal apologists for U.S. imperialism of downplaying or 'denying' the 'evils of communism' they brand the American C.P. as a nest of spies loyal only to the totalitarian Soviet empire. (What particularly enrages them, since the destruction of the U.S.S.R., is not the wholly imaginary 'left wing dominance' in the history departments of U.S. universities, but the existence of any space for leftist ideas in academia at all.)

The liberals respond by protesting that the U.S. communists were "innocent" of any serious effort to destroy the capitalist state, rightly pointing to the CPUSAs long history of red-white-and-blue patriotism and loyal class collaboration in building social movements (for 'peace,' civil rights, etc.) that were politically subordinate the Democratic wing of U.S. imperialism.

Both these trends in bourgeois academia start from and conclude with the same premise: that the very notion of Marxism, i.e. the struggle by the working class to overthrow the capitalist state, is a crime against nature.

Sharing this underlying premise, both trends are forced to deny the contradictory nature of the American CP, which, particularly since the adoption of the Popular Front policy in 1933 consisted exactly of the disconnect between the party's stated purpose (socialism, advocacy of Black rights, and the prestige of the October Revolution which attracted honest opponents of capitalism to its ranks), and its cringing loyalty in practice to the U.S. ruling class.

The sterile debate between the foam-flecked anti-communists and the liberal 'capitalists with a human face' on the nature of the CPUSA recalls the competition between two peddlers in the same marketplace (or Democrats vs. Republicans), they're essentially hawking the same goods, leaving only the question of which faction best represents the true interests of U.S. imperialism.


Paul - 12/5/2003


Not 832, 1344. But only approximately. My mistake, I learned math by studying the speeches of former owner of the Texas Rangers.


John Brown - 12/4/2003

Have a good time building straw men and ridiculing your own ideas. Ever heard the expression, "half-smart"?


Bill Heuisler - 12/4/2003

Mr. Brown,
Do you have anything but opinions? Let me try to help you along.
Do the Aristotle thing: Imagine the Holocaust without Hitler's OK; visualize the Kulak-starvation and the purges with Stalin's opposition. Stalin brooked no opposition, real or imagined. Read Svetlana's book and try to see the absurdity of Getty's premise.

Venona was mentioned because you apparently cannot fathom that, from a historian's point of view, the implications of a GRU message to Alger Hiss during the Yalta Conference are far more engaging than the fact it occurred. You seem to feel the seventy years of the USSR were a sterile experiment that had no effect on the United States. You evidently believe the CPUSA was a debating society and you probably think the Rosenbergs innocent.
But you refuse to counter me with facts. Do you have any facts?

Nice try on Coulter. Your, "don't take my word", is redundant and your citation of Schwartz as Rightist is senseless bombast about a confused, self described ex-Trotskyite. If you can't provide an example of Coulter's exaggeration and you can't bother to read the subject of the article, you're only wasting everyone's time here on HNN with smug, but hollow, opinions.
Bill Heuisler


John Brown - 12/4/2003

Mr. Markell,

Mr. Rees clearly says "all historians have some kind of axe to grind." So he does NOT say left-liberal historians have no axe to grind, as you charge through carelessness or willful misrepresentation.

Apparently his sin is failing to condemn Communism in strong enough terms, the same thing that has Haynes and Klehr so up in arms.

Apart from that lone and, as it turns out, illegitimate point, you do nothing but heap insults. You contribute not one single new idea. A waste of everyone's time.


John Brown - 12/4/2003

Mr. Heuisler,

You may find mischaracterization of my arguments essential or entertaining, but it's a waste of my time.

1) Stalin could no more have caused the Terror himself than Hitler could have caused the Holocaust himself. That is not "unhooking" Stalin from anything.

2) As I'm sure you remember perfectly well, I made a special point of praising the importance of H and K's work on Venona.

3) I look forward to reading H and K's new book when I can spare the time, maybe the next time I'm at the beach, in between re-reading Masters of Deceit and None Dare Call It Treason. That should allow me to judge the novelty of the "implications" they present.

As far as Ann Coulter goes, don't take my word for it that she's a worthless crank. Search the logs at H-HOAC and frontpage.com and read what impeccable rightists like Haynes, Stephen Schwartz, and David Horowitz have to say about her.


Bill Heuisler - 12/4/2003

Mr. Brown,
My apologies for the jagged edge. This subject holds immense importance to me because history is matrix. And if sheathing my words allows questions, perhaps new ideas are worth restraint.

Disagreements on H & K don't really matter unless your distaste for their unread book is somehow personal as your "those two" reference hints. Too bad, but informative if you're a historian.

The questions:
1)Why is unhooking Stalin from The Terror and from the CPUSA so important to American academics of the Left?
2)Since the Venona Papers only publicly surfaced a decade ago, shouldn't we information-manques welcome their research?
3)Shouldn't we also discuss their implications - which is what the book you won't read examines quite extensively?

Gutter-level? Name one person in Treason who is falsely accused.
No offense, but it's not your opinions that interest me, only facts that reinforce apparently unconscious reflexive reactions.
Bill Heuisler


Van L. Hayhow - 12/4/2003

I don't know, Mr. Rees. I have read one of H & K's books (it was being discarded by a local library - great price). It is the Secret World book. I thought the writing and orginizaiton was a little choppy but the research and the conclusions seemed undeniable. The conclusions included that the American Communist Party was dominated and directed by the Soviet Union, that the Party served the interests of Moscow even to its own detriment (the several incidents which caused wholesale defections from the party)and that party members were regularly recruited to engage in espionage against the United States. Again, all of these conclusions appear to be based on a solid foundation. This leads to the final conclusion that the leadership (as opposed to all of the membership) of the American Communist Party was in the service of a totalitarian regime. Do you disagree with this? Based on interviews and reviews of their latest book, I understand that H & K expected professors to change how they approached the subject since some professors, it appears, were taking the position that none of the above was true. It was H & K's perception that this not happening with some professors which prompted this new book. Is there something wrong with that? If a professor of American History or American Studies truly believed at one time the the American Communist Party was independant of Moscow and that members were never recruited for espionage, shouldn't they change their teaching now?


Elia Markell - 12/4/2003


This is an incredibly arrogant statement. It reveals your ignorance, not that of Haynes and Klehr. Anyone the least bit familiar with their work will understand how obtuse it is to suggest that they are issuing "blanket condemnations" of people engaged in "enlightening scholarly debates." In fact, Haynes and Klehr belong to the small minority of scholars who are regularly subjected to diatribes and attacks as right-wing zealots and yet whose work is based more soundly on archival investigations of communism than just about anyone else in this field.

The notion that Haynes and Klehr have "axes to grind," but that the revisionists who depict the CPUSA as homegrown progressivism do not is laughable. Many of these "scholars" wear their own progressive partisanship openly on their sleeves. Since they make no bones about it, I can't help but wonder how you can rise to defend them as if they do not.

The idea of using "sentence first, verdict afterwards" for Haynes and Kelhr has to have Lewis Carroll rolling in his grave. No line of his could be more apt for the working program of the very Stalinists of the CPUSA that Haynes and Klehr have done so much to help us understand.


Jonathan Rees - 12/4/2003

What we have here are three historians who have already made up their mind about what they're studying, discussing why everybody else doesn't believe exactly what they do. They can talk the talk about open-mindedness and adjusting their views on the basis of new evidence, but it's painfully obvious that everyone involved in this piece has a great big axe to grind.

Of course, all historians have some kind of axe to grind, even if they don't recognize it. Communism was a horrible tragedy for the people of the former Soviet Union and believing this should not stop you from studying it. However, not adequately condemning it is no reason that studies which treat the Soviet Union or the American Communist Party less than contemptuously should be immediately dismissed. Even the history of communism has shades of gray worth exploring.

When confronted with a hostile reading public, the best historians relish the chance to persuade their peers with the power of their arguments. Others issue blanket condemnations of thirty years of scholarship in order to score political points. Leftist scholars are not engaged in a constant struggle to prove who's a better Stalinist. John Earl Haynes could find plenty of enlightening scholarly debates in the literature if he just took off his ideological blinders.

Jonathan Rees


Jonathan Rees - 12/4/2003

What we have here are three historians who have already made up their mind about what they're studying, discussing why everybody else doesn't believe exactly what they do. They can talk the talk about open-mindedness and adjusting their views on the basis of new evidence, but it's painfully obvious that everyone involved in this piece has a great big axe to grind.

Of course, all historians have some kind of axe to grind, even if they don't recognize it. Communism was a horrible tragedy for the people of the former Soviet Union and believing this should not stop you from studying it. However, not adequately condemning it is no reason that studies which treat the Soviet Union or the American Communist Party less than contemptuously should be immediately dismissed. Even the history of communism has shades of gray worth exploring.

When confronted with a hostile reading public, the best historians relish the chance to persuade their peers with the power of their arguments. Others issue blanket condemnations of thirty years of scholarship in order to score political points. Leftist scholars are not engaged in a constant struggle to prove who's a better Stalinist. John Earl Haynes could find plenty of enlightening scholarly debates in the literature if he just took off his ideological blinders.

Jonathan Rees


Elia Markell - 12/4/2003

Is it "approximately" 832, Paul? Or exactly 832? And is it more bizarre to post that often or to count up the posts of those who post that often? Since this is the only "factoid" in your diatribe against those who post diatribes, it's really all I have to go on in responding to you. I mean, we ARE meant to respond to posts here, aren't we? Or is Mr. Lewis expecting to tally up his own 832 unchallenged simply because he chooses to offer so little of substance that could be challenged.

Just asking.


Paul N. Lewis - 12/4/2003

TRUTH IN ADVERTISING NOTICE re HNN'S Lead Commenter

Bill Heuisler, in case you are unaware, has written approximately 832 comments on HNN. He is a grumpy retiree whose hobbies are snappy one line insults, misattributions and irrelevant tangents. He knows just enough history to occasionally bait real historians. Rarely, to cover his backside, he will venture away from his anti-intellectual website haunts to gather a few new factoids with which to undergird his hot air.


Simon Says - 12/4/2003


There is a world of difference between studying the history of communism and acting out one's paranoia in public ala Glazov, or shooting irrelevant insults in all directions ala Heuisler.
Not that people with closed minds will necessarily appreciate the difference between discussing history and witch-hunting historians.


John Brown - 12/4/2003

Well, I guess I could have lied about reading it, or revelled in my blissful ignorance as do most of the professional left-bashers on this list. The book happens to be checked out of my library at the moment, and I'll be damned if I give those two my money, so there you are.

I don't know anything about any reading class or salad days. You can continue to wonder about my imaginary friends or shibboleths if you like, but what is it you seek to accomplish with your silly digs?

Congratulations on reading Getty's books. I know reading isn't very popular with most contributors. Contrary to your expectation, I wish more people would read them. You and I disagree on Getty's argument. I think we can do that with a civil tongue.

I think Getty et al. have raised far more interesting and fruitful questions than have Haynes and Klehr. You're free to disagree. I think Haynes and Klehr have devoted their entire careers to investigating issues that are ultimately of marginal importance to the phenomenon of American Communism, but that have a ready-made popular audience of people who prefer the good guy/bad guy Cold War history they grew up with. The books on Venona and _Secret World_ presented their research. This latest just panders to the knee-jerk, red-baiting anti-intellectual demagoguery so fashionable at the moment. They're a short step from calling left-liberal historians a bunch of traitors, like their gutter-level counterpart Ann Coulter. That's as intellectually dishonest as it is shameful.


Bill Heuisler - 12/4/2003

Mr. Brown,
Why bother? What conceit seizes a member of the reading class to reach out and slap a work he hasn't even bothered to read?
You say H & K "...merely continue the shrill Cold War tradition of mutual demonization." Wrong, Mr. Brown. Read the title of the book (even if you can't be bothered with the text. The title is:
"In Denial: Historians, Communism and Espionage"

So, the premise of the book is the subject you deny relevance.
Maybe you'd rather H & K hadn't written anything. Have they insulted some friends? Stepped on a cherished shibboleth?

Face it, H & K have a distinct historical point: demonization thus far has been Left on Right - the Left has muzzled, or sought to muzzle, accusers of Hiss, the Rosenbergs, Oppenheimer, etc.. The Left uses a Senator's name to mean false accusations even thought most of the accused were unmasked as security risks. The Left denies or minimalizes the Venona Papers. The Left believes Lavasky, but scorns Solzhenitsyn. The only publisher on the Right for thirty damn years was Regnery (speaking of controlling cultures).

More specifically, you wrote J. Arch Getty, "sought to expand understanding of the significant support that the Stalin regime enjoyed, not "pass off the guilt" to the bureaucracy, as Haynes and Klehr claim..."

Wrong again. You probably thought nobody else read his books. Passing off guilt for "The Terror" from Stalin to the confused bureaucracy is exactly what one of Getty's books attempts to do. In fact, reviewers assessed how Getty puts the lie to Conquest. Kind of depends on whose dead horse is being gored, doesn't it?

Zinn, Markowitz and Chomsky's Big Lie should be a dead horse, but isn't, because smug geniuses can't bother to read books that clash with comfortable preconceptions from their salad days.
Bill Heuisler


John Brown - 12/3/2003

Haynes and Klehr have made valuable contributions to the study of the USSR and CPUSA with the hard work they have done in Soviet archives. Their work contributes to a stronger empirical base from which more balanced interpretations will result, and all historians of these subjects should welcome that. The book they are pitching here, however, unfortunately has no such intrinsic worth. Instead of urging historians to take advantage of the new findings they present, i.e. fostering dialogue, they merely continue the shrill Cold War tradition of mutual demonization. To hear them tell it, their research has limited application beyond proving that previous anticommunist historiography was "right" factually and morally. And those "revisionists" who sought to revisit the questions were wrong, factually but especially morally.

Haynes and Klehr dismiss "revisionist" historians of the USSR wholesale as a pack of Stalinophilic apologists for mass murder. I have not read their book and as they don't say in this interview, I can't be sure who they intend, but I assume they are referring to the generation of scholars of the 1980s and '90s such as J. Arch Getty, Robert Thurston, Sheila Fitzpatrick, Lynne Viola, et al. Haynes's and Klehr's dismissal of their research is undeserved. This was the first generation of U.S.-based scholars who attempted to understand Stalinism on its own terms. They sought to expand understanding of the significant support that the Stalin regime enjoyed, not "pass off the guilt" to the bureaucracy, as Haynes and Klehr claim, but to question the god-like omnipotence attributed to Stalin by CPSU party hacks and anticommunist ideologues alike. Neither Stalin himself nor the original sin of Marxism-Leninism provided sufficient explanation for the purges, forced collectivization, or gulags. In exploring the social, cultural, and yes, even moral factors that led many Soviet citizens to support Stalin, their work should be regarded as an advance of knowledge -- based on new research, it contributed a substantial strengthening of the empirical base which I referred to above. It brought new evidence to the table which was debated and enriched the field. Contrary to H and K's allegations, these studies were not guided by foregone conclusions or theories as were the works of the anticommunist historians to whom they responded. But for many including H and K, that in itself was enough to condemn their work.

I think their contention that anticommunist historians have been marginalized is somewhat disingenuous. The totalitarian model can hardly be said to have been marginalized in Soviet studies. If nothing else, it provides fundamental context to present revisionist arguments. And although the arguments and data of anticommunist writers such as Robert Conquest and Richard Pipes have been hotly disputed, they have never been ignored.

Similarly, much of the work on the CPUSA attempts to understand the motives of ordinary Americans in joining the Party. Again, innate treachery or "evil" don't seem sufficient explanation. The Communists' involvement in anti-fascism, civil rights, and of course labor movements are emphasized. Like it or not, Communists were prominently involved and often in the very forefront of those movements. Deal with it. Admittedly, espionage occupies small place in such works, just as it probably occupied small place in the consciousness of the vast majority of American Communists. For those who were spies, or high-ranking Stalinists, I actually find Haynes's discourse of the "different reality" inhabited by Communists quite compelling. I don't think most Communist Party members in either the USSR or the USA understood their convictions in quite that way, and I am completely unconvinced that Left-liberal history professors understand their vocation in such terms.

Before anyone accuses me of apologizing for Stalinist mass murder or espionage, let me say outright I'm not trying to minimize or justify either of those things. But I will insist that the "revisionists" have given us a more complete understanding of the people who perpetrated those activities than we gained from the likes of Conquest or Pipes.

As for Glazov's outlandish contention that "the Left in the West . . . controls the cultures of its societies," it's hard to see any evidence of that control. Most historians of these topics are not the unrepentant Reds that this article implies, and even if they were, I see no impact of their revisionist views in the media or in the street. Even if they intended to, which they don't, Left-liberal historians fail to exercise any semblance of thought control on the public, which seems to be the allegation. The most they seem to do is serve as whipping boys for the much better-publicized and -represented Right.

Haynes and Klehr seem to want to limit the significance of their findings to an attack on Left-liberal professors. If that's all they seek to accomplish, they needn't have set foot in a Soviet archive to do that.


Elia Markell - 12/3/2003

This is the standard fall-back position of those who might in the past have indignantly denied what scholars like Klehr, Haynes, Radosh, Conquest et. al. have claimed. Now those who once did that just pretend a bored and amused indifference and say, "ho-hum, the Cold War is over. Get over it and move on."

There are, however, some glaring flaws in this rhetorical ploy. For one, we are now approaching about two decades of work by the enormous industry of Holocaust education for both K-12 educators and post-secondary school educators. Its output does not appear to be abating. No historians I know of say this attention is not merited. (I don't, certainly, although I think the focus is often askew, but that's another issue.) Yet the Holocaust ended in 1945, and Nazism has been thoroughly discredited (except in places like Iraq, Iran, or the Palestinian Authority, I suppose).

Communism, however, is still the organizing principle of life for a billion Chinese, several million (minus a few from famine) in North Korea, others in Cuba, and a few other backwaters, such as the humanities and history departments of several elite academic insitutions. In other words, the Cold War may be over, but communism as a political force is definitely not spent, nor is the obscene, self-hating romanticism of those in West who still apologize for this horrendous detour in human history.


Simon Santa Cruz - 12/2/2003


The Cold War is over. We won. It is now safe to exit your bomb shelter and check into the local psychiatric clinic for some long overdue treatment.


Kurt - 12/2/2003

For Mr. Clark-
Can you explain why this "interview", or "laundry list", is off the mark? You think some items are "justified", but you are very negative. Why?


Bill Heuisler - 12/2/2003

Mr. Clarke,
Laundry list? Don't your cerebral horizons approach seventy years of history, one hundred million dead and appalling human misery on a scale hardly dreamt by Temujin? Fine. Don't bother discussing history's application, revision and misapplication.

What is vastly more amusing than the smug disdain is your banal ignorance and unconscious self-parody. Mr. Glazov said certain academics exhibit, "a callous indifference and smug contempt for the issues at hand." Perfect.

Do you consider yourself an academic? You become Example and don't even realize how foolish you appear. Are there no mirrors, no bold, discerning sycophants, in your pathetic little world?
Bill Heuisler


Peter K. Clarke - 12/1/2003


As justified as some items within this interminable laundry list of accusations against the "historical establishment" are, a laundry list is not an interview. But, at least we are thereby alerted to the history-distoring agenda of "frontpage.com".

History News Network