17 thoughts on “100th Anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution”

  1. Bah! The revolution was months earlier. The Bolsheviks simply staged a coup d’état. At least it was a proper one, with dead bodies and everything, not a sneaky slow-motion effort like the one aimed at Trump.

  2. “…asks why there are so many liberal and ‘progressive’ thinkers, up in arms at the least whiff of fascism or Nazism, who are perfectly insouciant when it comes to Communism?”

    And who get very indignant when the crimes of Communism are reported.

  3. A couple of odd things I discovered when going to Russia in the early 90s (after Communism fell). How they restored the palaces around Leningrad that the Nazis put to the torch – they were proud of their heritage despite the official propaganda – and the Hermitage in Leningrad -(St Petersburg) – was as if nothing had happened in the intervening 90 years

  4. My childhood was rather schizophrenic with regard to the Cold War. On the one hand, I heard plenty of the anti-anti-Communism talk of the “enlightened” liberals. “We’re just as bad as the Russians, doncha’ know.” The HUAC- creation of the Democrats- was the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse. And so on. Frank Donner’s The Un-Americans was on my father’s bedside table, along with Homage to Catalonia.

    There was more than a little irony about the family friend who was most vehement in saying we were as bad as the Russians. He found out in later years that during WW2, back in the home country of Yugoslavia, someone who had married a cousin on his father’s side of the family executed cousins from his mother’s side of the family. The executioner became a high-level apparatchik. The family friend later mediated a reconciliation of sorts in the 1980s. (His parents came to the US before WW1, before there was a Yugoslavia.)

    On the other hand, my hometown had a disproportionate number of Iron Curtain refugees. Of the 25 or so classmates from my hometown that graduated with me from the regional high school, two had parents who had fled the Reds. I worked as an aide in a small hospital whose kitchen manager- and his wife- had experienced the Holodomor in Ukraine. There were more. I found out most didn’t want to talk about what they had fled.

    Decades later, I found out that two kids my age from the Liberal Religious Youth (Unitarian) group I attended were red diaper babies. Their relatives weren’t just card-carrying members, but rather active operatives. I found out about the relatives in Wikipedia and the archives of the NY Times. I knew nothing about this when I was a kid. They were probably right to keep quiet about the red past, as they would have been just as liable to experience contempt as sympathy.

    My freshman year in college, I attended some SDS meetings. What did SDS in for me was listening in on a conversation on the quad with an SDS honcho. She was gushing about how Lenin should be a focal part of the university curriculum- on a level with Plato or Shakespeare. Her focus wasn’t “know your enemy,” but “Lenin is the greatest thing since sliced bread.” After hearing that, I threw SDS in the dustbin. I had taken a Politics class in 9th grade that inoculated me against the Soviets. We read A Day in the Life of Ivan Denesovitch. Lesson: Communism was evil. I wrote a term paper on Soviet agriculture. Lesson: when it comes to managing an economy, Communism is woefully incompetent. The SDS honcho didn’t go the Weatherperson route, but became a tax and spend Democrat state legislator.

    What finally ended the anti-anti Communism for me was a conversation I had in a coffee house in Bogota about a year before the invasion of Afghanistan. I was talking with someone who was openly a communist. He informed me that the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 was done “gently.” That taught me that there was no such thing as a “national Communist,” one who was concerned only with his country. On the contrary, Communism was international. By virtue of being a Colombian Communist, he was also a supporter of Soviet imperialism. Unsurprisingly, that’s how the Sandinistas turned out- well before Reagan was elected.

    When I worked in Latin America, I knew three refugees from Hungary- two of whom I worked with. Each had distinctive stories. The first was the son of a diplomat who got stranded in Japan after the Communist takeover, and decided to move to Argentina. At the time, it seemed a good choice. The second was an aerospace engineer whom the Russians wanted to employ in the Soviet Union- just like we had Operation Paperclip. He refused to go to the Soviet Union. The Soviets jailed him, in an attempt to get him to change his mind. After a year and a half in prison, they gave up and released him. He fled Hungary ASAP. Obviously, this occurred before the Communist takeover in 1948. The third fled as a child with his family after the failed 1956 Revolution. All ended up in Argentina, though the two still living are now in the US.

  5. Gringo: Thank you for your story. There is nothing like personal details to convey the realities of history.

    “Decades later, I found out that two kids my age from the Liberal Religious Youth (Unitarian) group I attended were red diaper babies. Their relatives weren’t just card-carrying members, but rather active operatives.”

    In my experience Unitarians are mostly reds and pinks.

  6. From the Scruton piece:

    The term ‘bourgeoisie’ is a technicality of the Marxist theory. But it has a real human reference, and that reference is you and me. We who own property, deal in markets, collect salaries, have spouses and children, and live by the ordinary day-to-day morality of neighbourliness, are the people whom Lenin set out to destroy. We are the targets of resentment, and Marxism is the theory of that resentment.

  7. Remember that Marx’s whole project was to try to understand why the French Revolution had been such a colossal failure, not even having the slightest appeal outside of France, and very little even in France. And for all the silly jargon about false consciousness, bourgeoisie, vanguards, etc., the answer Marxists come up with every time is that their opponents should be taken out and shot.

    I recall very clearly in the mid 1980s reading in a school social studies textbook that communist countries were generally poorer than capitalist countries, but that was a choice the people there made in exchange for no unemployment and all sorts of generous benefits provided by the government. Even as an elementary schooler that use of the word “choice” stuck out as contemptible lie.

  8. Also:

    One thing we should surely learn from the Russian revolution is that resentment is always on the lookout for the theories that will justify it. And the lesson that bore in on me in vivid and unforgettable ways during my own journeys behind the Iron Curtain, is that resentment, when it finally takes power, spells the death of politics. The real purpose of politics is not to express resentment but to contain and conciliate it. When, in the wake of the Grenfell fire, leading political figures began calling for a ‘day of rage’, and for the requisitioning of bourgeois property, I heard again the voice of that old resentment. And I asked myself how could it be that the lesson has not been learned?

    “The death of politics” may not be the best phrasing but the point is vital. Politics exists because it’s a better alternative to autocratic or anarchic decisionmaking by violence for important questions that affect everyone, such as whom to elect to public office. “Taking it to the streets” and other attempts to end-run political processes are usurpations of the authority of the individual citizens in whose name the direct-action types claim to act.

    The central problems are public ignorance of history, and widespread inability to think critically about the assertions of political and media figures. Both of these problems are mostly consequences of our poor educational system.

  9. The ironic part of the Grenfell fire was that the building wasn’t run by some private sector owner but by a quasi-government non-profit management group. Those poor souls were really killed by communism. A reckless, unaccountable bureaucracy was appointed to lord over them, but in the finest Orwellian fashion it was billed as tenant managed.

  10. Pictured: Stalin comes out to inspect the progress on the Moscow Canal, which was built by imprisoned workers, Moscow, in 1937

    The guy to Stalin’s left was his chief of secret police, Nikolai Yezhov, responsible for perhaps millions of deaths. One of main innovations was to install sloping floors in the basements of police stations in order to allow easier cleaning of the blood.

    Later on he ended up on the wrong end of a firing squad himself and as a bonus received the airbrush treatment in that photo.

  11. “A reckless, unaccountable bureaucracy was appointed to lord over them, but in the finest Orwellian fashion it was billed as tenant managed.” The majority of members of the Board were elected by the tenants. In that respect it was most uncommunist. Syndicalist, perhaps?

  12. Those are some sad, sad photos. I remember reading, or attempting to read, the Black Book of Communism several years ago. I made it halfway through but had to quit. So much death.

  13. “The central problems are public ignorance of history, ”

    It is frightening that history is being lost for a whole generation.

    The uproar about General Kelly saying that Robert E Lee was an honorable man is one small example. There is just no understanding of life 150 years ago.

    The Civil War ended the Republic, Federal nature of the country as it had been since the Constitution was adopted. Before that, citizens were citizens of states first. Senators were elected by legislatures. The 10th Amendment meant something.

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    It is meaningless since the Civil War. They don’t know anything about that.

    Had Lincoln not been assassinated, it might have survived with a milder Reconstruction, as he intended. Instead, the rage at the South by the radicals in Congress created a cold Civil War that has persisted until almost the present and it is being revived by the political left.

  14. Dearie, the board is a sham. They are there to give the appearance that the management group cares about residents. KCTMO is actually run by a few highly paid directors who control 10,000 public housing units across the entire borough. They aren’t accountable at all. After the fire, the chief executive stepped down, but the most recent news reports say he is still being paid his six-figure salary.

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