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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Asymmetrical apologia: Why do ex-Communists get a pass? 


Lefty historian Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present, turns out to have been a card-carrying Communist, notwithstanding his long denials. There's a shocker.

My question: Why do former Communists like Zinn and Princeton Paul Robeson get a pass from the chattering classes, but former fascists do not? It seems to me that the only difference is that most intellectuals believe, deep down, that Communism is a noble system, even if it does not "work" because of human shortcomings. Otherwise, it is hard to understand the asymmetry.

Me, I think it takes a lot to redeem a former Communist. The superficial transition to squishy Euro-socialism does not do the job.


22 Comments:

By Blogger Bomber Girl, at Sat Jul 31, 06:04:00 PM:

That makes my blood boil.  

By Anonymous tyree, at Sat Jul 31, 06:50:00 PM:

We've known for a long time that a significant number of leftists were on the other side. It is important that we not let them sweep the truth under the rug again.

As to why the communists get a pass from the left, well, I guess that is because so many of them are communists.  

By Blogger setnaffa, at Sat Jul 31, 08:21:00 PM:

At least Robeson was entertaining... Zinn was just a boor...  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Jul 31, 08:58:00 PM:

Joe McCarthy was right  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Jul 31, 09:03:00 PM:

as proof that Joe Mac was right did you know that the CCCP on Soviet athlete's uniforms at the Olympics stood for Crummy Communist Country Person?  

By Blogger joseph, at Sat Jul 31, 09:34:00 PM:

Zinn says he wasn't a member of the Communist Party. The evidence that he was consists of statements of unnamed informants. There is an allegation of a picture, but there is not picture for us to see. The unnamed informants are, at least, suspicious. To conclude that, based on unnamed informants, that Zinn is a liar is jumping to conclusions.

Joe5348  

By Anonymous Boludo Tejano, at Sat Jul 31, 10:43:00 PM:

Zinn says he wasn't a member of the Communist Party. The evidence that he was consists of statements of unnamed informants.
Zinn was not a commie. Alger Hiss was innocent. The Rosenbergs were innocent. Repeat after me.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Jul 31, 10:44:00 PM:

Joseph,
He was also on the CPUSA mailing list and joined most if not all its front organizations. Plus, there are an awful lot of those redacted informants, who were themselves involved in the party and had delivered accurate information in the past. They are not named to protect them, not because the FBI didn't know who they were.

That isn't the same as anonymous accusations.
-Grey Fox  

By Blogger Eric, at Sat Jul 31, 10:50:00 PM:

For the record, Paul Robeson was born in Princeton but went to my alma mater, Rutgers.  

By Blogger joseph, at Sat Jul 31, 10:56:00 PM:

I didn't say the informants were anonymous, I said they were unnamed. The problem is that we have no way to judge their credibility. Credibility is the reason that we have a right to confront our accusers. Again, we have no way to judge their credibility and I just am not ready to take the FBI's word that they are credible. Being on a mailing list meaningless and being in a front organizations is not the same as being a member of the Communist Party.

Joe5348  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Jul 31, 11:12:00 PM:

Joe,
This is not a court of law, it is now history, and you use what sources are available. We don't have a complete record of everyone in the CPUSA. What we do have are numerous people - about 15 by my rough count - who mentioned seeing him in CPUSA contexts. The file mentions some of the other information they provided, so you can get a glimpse of why the FBI considered them relaible. Are you arguing that all of them had some sort of vendetta against Zinn? The FBI didn't even think he was that important for a good long time, so you can't accuse them of trying to frame him.
You are being obtuse.
-Grey Fox  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Jul 31, 11:43:00 PM:

My friend Stuart Taylor (along the lines of your onetime comment that fascism will come from the left if it comes in this country) has said that, while he is a centrist, he tends to like folks on the right more than the left because the left seems less tolerant (he's talking America, 21st Century).

I think I would agree. I could elaborate, but I think I would. For one, college faculties are highly discriminatory when it comes to political views.  

By Blogger SR, at Sat Jul 31, 11:45:00 PM:

Funny thing. Former CPUSA association could not make Howard Zinn any less credible.  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Sun Aug 01, 08:31:00 AM:

We now have evidence that Zinn may have lied about being a card-carrying member of the Party.

But in any case, from the accounts in the FBI file, he had to have been a true believer even if not card-carrying -- he did more than just go to Church on Easter Sunday. Writers in the Soviet Union went to party meetings because they had to.

Both Howard Zinn and Joe McCarthy flew on bombing missions in WWII. Go figure.

Peoples's History is provocative, but so selective in its account as to almost be a fairy tale.  

By Blogger Progressively Defensive, at Sun Aug 01, 12:03:00 PM:

Ignoramus: I responded to your e-mail of a couple of days back at that post's comments.  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Sun Aug 01, 12:25:00 PM:

While we're on the subject of left-wing conspiracies, please take this trip upriver into the Heart of Darkness.

What follows is Matthew Yglesias -- the one with glasses and beard -- of the Center for American Progress talking with Ross Douthat, Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times.

The topic is "Is Congress Broken" on the premise that, because of the Republican filibuster, complete leftie legislative dominance has been frustrated.

New York Times Bloggingheads: Is Congress Broken?

Wait past the initial commercial. It'll sound like two annoying graduate students talking.

But Yglesias wields more influence right now than most Congress-critters. He's Obama's real base. He's a key member of JournoList -- but I suspect a lot more like this went on in phone calls and over cocktails than went on the listserv.

This video is confirmatory. These folks have a long-term agenda. They're tied to MSM organs. They co-ordinate with folks in the administration all the time. Note Yglesias at 2:57: "you should talk to the people I do in the White House"

Yglesias is part of the Center for American Progress (CAP), as is JournoList founder Ezra Klein. CAP was founded by George Soros and Herb and Marion Sandler. You can't make this up.

I wish I could find it again, but I saw a recent WaPo Op-Ed where another CAP member was clear that they were affirmatively aiming to get federal spending up to 30% of GDP.

In fairness, CAP has analogues on the right. Lobbyists for hire abound.

This is an example of how we're being governed by the political class. Congress is almost a rubber stamp, and would be if Yglesias had his way.  

By Blogger Assistant Village Idiot, at Sun Aug 01, 02:36:00 PM:

I echo Grey Fox. In nearly everything we believe, we do not have proof, but what we consider reasonable evidence. In law, there are different standards: Beyond a reasonable doubt; clear and convincing; or preponderance of the evidence. On this one, the latter two standards are easily met, and even the first and highest standard is in view.  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Sun Aug 01, 03:49:00 PM:

"My friend Stuart Taylor ... has said that, while he is a centrist, he tends to like folks on the right more than the left because the left seems less tolerant ..."

One of my favorite quotes is the following:

"I like dealing with rightists. They tell you what they really think, unlike the leftists who say one thing and mean another."

The source? That notorious member of the VRWC - Mao Tse-Tung!!  

By Blogger Joshua, at Sun Aug 01, 05:29:00 PM:

To answer TH's original question: It all goes back to the Nazis' supposed betrayal of the left by breaking the nonaggression pact with Stalin's USSR. Until that fateful act, fascists and communists were basically fellow travelers. Alas, had Hitler not done this and allowed the Soviets to stay out of the war, chances are that today the chattering classes would be giving them both a pass.  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Mon Aug 02, 09:41:00 AM:

My comic book explanation, based on the 20th Century:

Fascism co-opts or intimidates existing institutions to totalitarian ends. It doesn't start out emphasizing how revolutionary it is. It's often expressly nationalistic from the outset. It cultivates elements of the Establishment from the outset. It operates in the open, mostly.

Communism wants to subvert and eradicate existing institutions. It professes to be revolutionary and internationalist and anti-Establishment, from the outset. Hence it's conspiratorial to its roots, which is part of the attraction for many.

They more or less end up in the same place.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Aug 03, 10:06:00 AM:

Easy answer! Because the academics and media types who make those decisions KNOW that the communist who disavows his communism is probably not telling the truth. This belief make be based on the fact that the academic or media type SAW the disavower at the Regular Monthly Party meeting in the last month or two.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Tue Aug 03, 04:56:00 PM:

Joseph: To paraphrase... If it has feathers, swims, flies, and quacks, it's a fucking duck. If I belonged to a racist mailing list, joined racist front groups, wrote and published pro-racist tracts and books, agitated on behalf of racists in politics, and gave speeches about how misunderstood racists are and how wrong their opponents are, any reasonable person could clearly see that I am a racist. Exchange 'racist' for 'communist' and 'me' to 'he' and you've got it.

Splitting hairs over what constitutes 'proof' is cute and all, but ignoring the obvious to quibble about a detail is foolish.  

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