Historians in denial

Tomorrow I shall go to London Library and collect my reserved copy of “The Forsaken” by Tim Tzouliadis, the tragic story of American workers who went to the “new paradise”, that is the Soviet Union in the early thirties and what happened to them. (Hint: it is not very pleasant.) After that, I shall have to read “Spies”, the latest in the revelations about the far-reaching Communist network in the United States of the thirties and forties. I have already read with great glee the revelations about I. F. Stone.

It would be awfully nice if at some point we could have a few revelations of that kind here and not have to rely on the Americans to give us the information. But what with our libel laws and paranoid secrecy, which makes it impossible to get hold of important documents, I cannot see that happening any time soon.

Meanwhile, I have re-read “In Denial” by John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr about historians trying to wish away documents and evidence about Communism and its agents. Not only re-read but wrote about it on the Conservative History Journal blog. I’ll be glad to hear American reactions.

8 thoughts on “Historians in denial”

  1. We don’t have your libel laws, but we have media and educational sectors that are variously lazy, ignorant, partisan and corrupt. Consequently all Americans know about the evils of Apartheid but shockingly few know about the comparatively vastly greater evils of communism. The story of Americans in the 1930s Soviet Union would make an exciting movie, but it will never be made in the current cultural climate. Thank God for the Internet as otherwise things would be even worse.

  2. Then you might enjoy reading Victor Herman’s “Coming out of the ice” and John Noble’s “I was a slave in Russia.”

  3. The “revelations” about Stone have been shown to be largely unfounded.
    Well, good reading for the 50s…why not now move up to ….2009?

    Let us next explore the Bush era and the loss of privacy, the torture, the wiretapping of our citizens, the enlargement of govt. …the huge deficit and so on.

  4. Prof David Cooke: Let us next explore the Bush era…

    Why? Does it have any connection with the topic, i.e. – spread of communist networks/intelligence operatives+fellow travelers+useful idiots?

    or you just want to introduce a red herring?

  5. The revelations about Stone were not around in the ’50’s. They have been the product of a much later and relative “transparency.” (Relativity is, of course, relative.)

    David Cook – what do you profess? Is this the way you handle classroom discussions; do people sign up for a class on the fifties and suddenly find the topic the evils of Bush/Hitler?

  6. Leftist are largely amnesic as to the history of their own ideology. When they do remember history, it is only within the narrative of brave and bold leftists always being right at each juncture of history. They fabricate this narrative by cherry picking the tiny handful of successful ideas and remembering the vast number of leftist ideas that failed.

    Modern leftists like to point to the “success” of the New Deal but they forget that FDR’s original idea was the National Recovery Administration which was radical and with 80 years hindsight, destined to fail catastrophically. Only the Supreme Court saved us from a economically and politically devastating centralization of the American economy that would have made second only to the Soviet Union in terms of political control of the economy. FDR failed. It was American institutions that succeeded by blunting FDR’s excesses.

    The history of Communism is the same. Leftist have this narrative in which very,very few people were communist and those that were communist were just harmless gadflies. People who never accept a former American member of the Nazi party rationalize someone’s past as a dues paying member of the Joseph Stalin fan club as a mere youthful indiscretion. A big part of this process is ignoring new evidence that demonstrates just how prevase and secretive communist were in 30’s-50’s.

    Prof David Cooke isn’t trying to change the subject. He’s activating and ideology defense mechanism to prevent himself from examining the history of the origins of his political beliefs. He can’t really think to hard about where his ideas come from because he probably is a good person and might be jolted out his ideological rut if he really understood where contemporary ideas come from. To prevent this, leftists have inoculated people to laugh at American communism and to dismiss interest in such history as comically inconsequential. With this emotive programming in place, people like Prof David Cooke are immune from questioning their own ideology.

  7. I think about Shannon´s words: “immune to questioning their own ideology”, it happens not only to individuals, I think entire communist nations like the Soviet union, China, Poland, Cuba and many others immuned themselves by violent and repressive means from questioning their ideology and way of life, if any.
    These and other totalitarian nations annihilated rich literature traditions in their own countries in the process of silencing free voices. Quite the opposite of what happened in America, where literature has always flourished abundantly, as in all free, liberal democracies and which lives almost solely to question and to challenge every failure and aspect of their country´s democracy.

    No wonder Cuba, Russia and many other countries saw their greatests writers when there was still some freedom in those countries and long before their failed communist experiment.

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