The Mezunian

Die Positivität ist das Opium des Volkes, aber der Spott ist das Opium der Verrückten

Salon claims there is a good Lenin & a capable Democratic Party — but there are no such things

I haven’t been paying much attention to politics for the past… half decade or so. There used to be a joke ’bout comedians intentionally voting for incompetent presidents so they’d have great material, but we have since learned that this is wrong: truly incompetent presidents & the long shadow they cast ’cross politics e’en after their ignoble defeat are themselves jokes, leaving satirists useless. There’s nothing interesting in mocking republicans: they’re self-parodies. Also, I’m getting too ol’ to keep up with whate’er new redundant ingsoc pundits have garbled up without any hope o’ creating any coherent conversation.

Anyway, I have sometimes peeped in for a few seconds just to check to make sure the government hasn’t been o’erthrown while I valiantly fight back with my sword & shield flee to Canada sit round laughing @ how desperate Mario Party fans are for fantasizing o’er DLC GameCube boards for that half-assed remake Nintendo’s regurgitated back onto them like Roger Waters spitting on 1 o’ his unwanted pets. & in this time the “lamestream media”, as all the hip-hopping fly-dog boomers call it, has become, um… weird…

Marx provided a solution. He observed that the working class (the 99%) overwhelmingly outnumbered the rich at the top (the 1%), and thus the working class could transform its massive size into political power by uniting together in a cohesive political movement. Workers of the world, unite!

That is not from some 90s-era website run by a bunch o’ bearded disgruntled commies in their basement but Salon, a major newspaper I’m sure would’ve been stroking themselves o’er the latest milquetoast pontifications o’ Paul Krugman a decade ago.

So you might think I’d be all, “¡Hot shit! ¡I guess you guys are kinda cool all ’long!”. But you clearly don’t know how impossible to please I am. I am, after all, the one who wrote the Nobel-Prize-winning critical review o’ the positive review for Wario Land 3, despite that being my favorite game o’ all time. I don’t know ’bout you young whippersnappers, but I been taught by my school that done taught me good that any dumbass honkey can have the “right” conclusion — a true G has good arguments to back them up.

& the article we’re reviewing, “Republicans claim to fear left-wing authoritarianism — but there’s no such thing”, doesn’t.

1st, let’s appreciate this glorious caption with its glorious Photoshop filters:

Poor Hitler looks so camera shy & Kim Jong-Un looks bored out o’ his mind. Hairpiece, who does not belong with these people, not the least ’cause he’s not nearly as crafty as they were, looks like a turtle looking up @ dangling food offscreen.

Anyway, this article is notable in how poorly written it is. Not to be all “both sides, bro”, but it does kind o’ sound like Hairpiece in its simplistic, broad vocabulary & choppy sentences. After the previous snippet ( which was probably the best o’ that article, helped by being able to steal 1 o’ its sentences by a far better writer ), we have this gem:

This is a powerful idea. Extremely powerful. This idea filled the suffering working class with great hope and inspired them to attempt to join together in unity in order to seek greater fairness for workers.

The article starts by talking ’bout how right-wingers are all liars. This is true, but it’s also true that all politicians lie, &, most importantly, many o’ the greatest politicians, like Abraham Lincoln, were some o’ the biggest liars. ¿Remember when Lincoln tricked ’nough moderates into thinking he was a moderate on the issue o’ slavery when he was, in fact, rightfully, completely gainst slavery. The difference is that some rare few manage to, gainst all expectations, lie for the good o’ society ( which is definitely possible ).

In fact, lying is the only way the right wing can win elections. After all, its policies are profoundly unpopular with ordinary people because the right-wing favors the 1% rich over the 99% working and middle classes.

This is true; ¿but how many “left-wing” politicians truly support the majority? ¿Could it also be that none o’ the politicians offered by the US’s “democracy” truly serve the masses, leaving many o’ the masses, specially the lower class, to not bother voting? Also, this is nice o’ this writer to assert that the poor whites who joke-voted for Hairpiece would prefer improving their own station o’er screwing o’er minorities. ¿Could it not be that the US masses are just legitimate terrible people who prefer others’ failure o’er their own success?

By the way, I still haven’t shown you the absolute worst o’ this article’s writing. I’m now ready to unleash it ’pon you:

The lies are not just little lies. They are whoppers. They are the complete opposite of the truth. They are 180 degrees from the truth. They are the polar opposite of the truth, like from the North Pole all the way to the South Pole. Hence the term Big Lie.

This legit reads like Lionel Fanthorpe trying to fill out 1 o’ his 5 daily Badger Books. I think if I were this dumb ’nough to need this many redundant clarifications I’d be legally dead.

Yet, shockingly, many of these egregious lies actually work. They take hold. They create a false impression in the mind of the public.

You know, I’m still not entirely sure what this “lie” thing is. ¿Could you please elaborate a bit mo’?

The writer finally gets round to describing the “big lie”: that Democrats are totalitarian commies & that Karl Marx is the devil & all socialism is satanic. Interestingly, despite the writer’s constant attempts to simplify, I still get confused on whether or not they’re trying to defend socialism, Democrats, or mock the very idea o’ “socialism” ( which they keep putting in quotation marks ) as a real specter @ all. For instance, when they say “Republicans allege that electing Democrats will turn America into a failed socialist state like Venezuela”, the 1 time they don’t put “socialist” in quotation marks, I don’t know if they’re, ironically, accidentally regurgitating the Republicans’ lie that Venezuela is full-on socialist ( it’s mo’ what most would call a mixed economy, with private property & copyright explicitly protected as rights in the Venezuelan Constitution ).

The most problematic part o’ this article is its, um, historical inaccuracies:

Along came the liberal Age of Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries, which celebrated liberty of the individual and emancipation from the strictures of monarchy. These new ideas led to the political revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries, including the American Revolution of 1776, in which the United States declared its independence from the King of England, thereby giving birth to modern liberal democracy. France soon followed with the French Revolution in 1789, overthrowing the French monarchy.

1st, the US was ne’er founded as a democracy ( & it still isn’t 1 ): many o’ the founding fathers, specially the 1s most instrumental in the creation o’ the Constitution, like James Madison & Alexander Hamilton, hated democracy ( literally every use o’ the term in The Federalist Papers is negatively comparing it to a republic, a concept originated by Plato as a distinctly technocratic, hierarchical system in opposition to democracy ) — & it certainly wasn’t a “modern” 1.

Anyway, the real issue is how this article is going to discuss the French Revolution, what with its controversial fall into chaotic mass murder & tyranny…

Unfortunately for the working class, however, even the elimination of monarchies did not improve their plight as they had hoped. From approximately 1850 to 1880, Karl Marx came along and explained the problem. Even though monarchies were receding, a new oppressive force was emerging: capitalism.

Um… I think we might’ve missed some important details regarding the French Revolution. Tho, to be fair, people who emphasize the brutality o’ the Reign o’ Terror noticeably don’t talk as much ’bout things like the violent suppression o’ the Paris Commune o’ 1848, which some historians say had mo’ casualties than the Reign o’ Terror, not to mention worse wars primarily gainst poor people thruout history — too many to count. ¿How many historians or journalists would get ’way with saying “Unfortunately for the US, howe’er, e’en the fall o’ the Taliban did not improve the plight o’ the middle east”? Probably none, since no journalist would allow their writers to write “o’” ’stead o’ “of”. But it is definitely true that while mass murder gainst the rich is a horror that is considered inexcusable in polite media, mass murder gainst the poor is merely an interesting debate to be held by rich people during their surfeit o’ laborless time ( we can call this “Socially-Unnecessary Idle Time”, or SUIT ). So they’re basically a less-bad reverse o’ the whitewashing o’ mass murder vs. poor people customary to the LAME-PEE Media™.

I’m also glad that Karl Marx came round & ’splained a problem that many socialists & nonsocialists who preceded him, like Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the Utopian Socialists, & e’en Plato had already described years before.

The world was shocked as it watched Marx’s theoretical idea come into actual fruition in the Russian Revolution of 1917 when the working class united in the Bolshevik party led by Vladimir Lenin and overthrew Czar Nicholas II and the Romanov dynasty, ending the Russian Empire and creating the Soviet Union.

I, too, am shocked, but mainly @ the sheer magnitude o’ inaccuracies found in this li’l paragraph. Anyone actually familiar with Marx’s “theoretical idea” — which is that a fully-developed capitalistic society would lead to a “bourgeois revolution”, setting up a parliamentary democracy/republic, which the working class would exploit to gain control o’er the government — would know that the Russian Revolution — wherein an underdeveloped pseudofeudalistic tsardom ’ventually became a totalitarian statist regime ( so it merely became a li’l mo’ developed ) — is hardly “fruition” for the former. & anyone who has e’er read a history book that wasn’t written by Stalin himself would know how obviously wrong the rest o’ this paragraph is. 1st, Lenin had nothing to do with the February Revolution that deposed the Czar — he was still hiding out in Switzerland. In fact, no single party was responsible for that revolution: ’twas a spontaneous uprising.

2nd, apparently the person who wrote this was somehow completely oblivious to the existence o’ the Mensheviks, despite their rivalry being a famous part o’ Russian Revolution history. Either that or they’re ignorant that the Mensheviks were Marxists, too — nor that the founding divergence ’tween them came from the fact that the Mensheviks were less elitist, opposing Lenin’s authoritarian scam that was his small party o’ “professional revolutionaries” ( also known as an “oligarchy” & obviously contrary to any conception o’ democracy ), which was completely contrary to the Marxist idea that socialism would come from the rational self-interest o’ the masses in a democratic system that, by definition, serves the masses’ desires, not from the idealistic ideology o’ a “good” tiny minority totally different from that other tiny minority who were a “bad” tiny minority.

Moreo’er, they were ignorant o’ the existence o’ the Socialist-Revolutionaries ( they certainly couldn’t have missed that they were a socialist party by their name ), who actually won the election after the October Revolution, only for the Bolsheviks to lead a coup gainst them with bullshit claims o’ electoral collusion with the rich elites like US Republicans ( only Lenin, to his credit, was actually competent ’nough to carry it out ). Later, Lenin would have SRs destroyed with show trials gainst 12 prominent SR leaders that ended in their execution, which was heavily criticized by socialists all thruout the west, such as Karl Kautsky:

The Bolsheviki were first to use violence against other Socialists. They dissolved the Constituent Assembly not by way of resistance against any violence on the part of the Socialists-Revolutionists and Mensheviki but because of their realization of their own inability to obtain the support of the majority of the peasants and workers by means of free propaganda. This was the fundamental cause of the Bolshevist coup d’etat against the representatives of the revolutionary workers and peasants. Hence, the abolition of all rights of all other Socialists who refused to submit to the crack of the Bolshevist whip.

This isn’t e’en taking into consideration the many anarchists who, as per their name, had no involvement with “official” politics, but were heavily involved in the Soviets ( labor unions ) that held a lot o’ power in the weird 2-tiered system Russia had ’tween the February & October Revolutions, who were also backstabbed by the man who declared “¡Power to the Soviets!” by taking power ’way from them & keeping it within the government once the Bolsheviks managed to finally get their filthy paws all o’er it. For instance, Kropotkin, a famous anarcho-communist who actually knew the OG Marx ( tho didn’t like him ), who supported the February Revolution, said o’ the October Revolution, “This is the burial of the Russian Revolution”, as well as the following:

They have deluded simple souls. The peace they offer will be paid for with Russia’s heart. The land they have been given will go untilled. This is a country of children – ignorant, impulsive, without discipline. It has become the prey of teachers who could have led it along the slow, safe way. . . . There was hope during the summer. The war is bad – I am the enemy of war – but this surrender is no way to end it. The Constituent Assembly was to have met. It could have built the framework of enduring government.

(I should add that Lenin, after 1 letter too many from Grampa Kropotkin, apparently became enraged & grumbled, “I am sick of this old fogey. He doesn’t understand a thing about politics and intrudes with his advice, most of which is very stupid”).

Emma Goldman, ’nother famous anarcho-communist, who had been deported back to Russia from the US during the US’s 1st red scare, had this to say ’bout Lenin’s treatment o’ anarchists & his treatment o’ free speech:

I broached the subject of the Anarchists in Russia. I showed him a letter I had received from Martens, the Soviet representative in America, shortly before my deportation. Martens asserted that the Anarchists in Russia enjoyed full freedom of speech and Press. Since my arrival I found scores of Anarchists in prison and their Press suppressed. I explained that I could not think of working with the Soviet Government so long as my comrades were in prison for opinion’s sake. I also told him of the resolutions of the Moscow Anarchist Conference. He listened patiently and promised to bring the matter to the attention of his party. “But as to free speech,” he remarked, “that is, of course, a bourgeois notion. There can be no free speech in a revolutionary period. We have the peasantry against us because we can give them nothing in return for their bread. We will have them on our side when we have something to exchange. Then you can have all the free speech you want — but not now.

He goes on to ramble like an ol’ man ’bout how they recently needed to trade salt for the peasants’ wood & how @ 1st they couldn’t find salt, ¡but then they could! What relevance this had to the issue o’ freedom o’ speech, I have no idea, other than that they apparently needed to find mo’ salt before they had time to not spend time locking up pesky anarchists.

Emma Goldman had good reason to emphasize freedom o’ speech: she had been deported from the US for her political views during World War I. Not e’en the typical US-military-industrial-complex-apologetic moderate “liberal” defends the kind o’ flagrant 1st-Amendment violations the US government enacted during this time. But here we have “leftist” Lenin declaring it OK to throw free speech to the wind when inconvenient. I should add that, despite what many who base Marx’s views on this stranger’s actions think, Marx himself was an ardent supporter for freedom o’ speech, & in fact, 1 o’ his most popular tracts during his time was “On Freedom of the Press”.

Emma Goldman continues…

Why did Zorin resort to lies? Surely he must have known that I would not remain in the dark very long. And then, was not Lenin also guilty of the same methods? “Anarchists of ideas [ideyni] are not in our prisons,” he had assured me. Yet at that very moment numerous Anarchists filled the jails of Moscow and Petrograd and of many other cities in Russia. In May, 1920, scores of them had been arrested in Petrograd, among them two girls of seventeen and nineteen years of age. None of the prisoners were charged with counter-revolutionary activities: they were “Anarchists of ideas,” to use Lenin’s expression. Several of them had issued a manifesto for the First of May, calling attention to the appalling conditions in the factories of the Socialist Republic. The two young girls who had circulated a handbill against the “labour book,” which had then just gone into effect, were also arrested.

But, yeah, other than all those li’l squabbles, socialists were all 1 big, happy family.

Anyway, please continue, Salon article:

But Lenin fell ill not much later, became weak and disabled, and died in 1924. Within a few years, Joseph Stalin seized control, consolidated his power, and ruled the Soviet Union with an iron fist for three decades, until his death in 1953. Stalin is now justly regarded as among the worst dictators of the modern era. Stalin created a deplorable totalitarian state, waged a campaign of murder and imprisonment against millions of political dissidents (as well as imaginary enemies) and repressed human rights, free speech and any version of democracy.

We’re gonna need mo’ paint, Jake, ¡’cause it’s white-washing time! The idea that Stalin came in & turned Lenin’s nice li’l democracy into totalitarianism is a blatant lie: Lenin had already banned all other political parties & had called for the Red Terror, as well as many other onslaughts, such as the mass murder o’ kulaks after a peasant revolt.

It’s ironic that they’re praising Lenin when talking ’bout honesty, since it’s well known the many “Big Lies” Lenin spread, such as the aforementioned lies he gave Emma Goldman or his aforementioned unfulfilled promise to give power to the soviets or spreading the name “Mensheviks” based on their purported “minority” status, when, in fact, on most votes they received the majority & had many mo’ members ( Mensheviks, as stated before, allowed people who were not full-time revolutionaries into their party — i.e. real workers ) — which is precisely why Lenin used nondemocratic means to suppress them.

In Lenin’s defense, the Soviet Union did do some ahead-o’-their-time things under Lenin that distinguished him from Stalin, such as setting up free education, implementing greater tolerance for gay people & greater equality for women, legalizing abortion, granting self-determination for countries like Finland ( tho they violently suppressed the independence movement in Ukraine ), ending involvement in World War I ( not doing so being the 1 major mistake the provisional government made — other than putting any trust in Bolsheviks & giving them weapons & access to military ). & ’course he also smashed that capitalism like a like button, which is always fun, but then replaced it with just a shittier Grand Dad bootleg, which isn’t fun.

I don’t know if any o’ this makes up for the mass murder, rampant violation o’ human rights, & tyrannical rule, e’en with civil war going on. Despite Leninists always calling the Mensheviks, the Socialist-Revolutionaries, & anarchists “right-wing”, I see no evidence that they were a threat to the Bolsheviks beyond their opposition to the Bolsheviks’ tyrannical behavior after the Bolsheviks were already doing so, which was before the civil war began. It’s not as if the provisional government they unseated were a major threat — ¡they practically just gave up during the October Revolution! All evidence to me points to Lenin having been an obstacle to democracy & socialism, not a beleaguered leader forced to do ugly things to prevent worse tyranny or disaster. It would be no exaggeration @ all to call him an enemy o’ socialists — he literally spent mo’ time fighting other socialists than monarchists or capitalists.

So what is the assessment here? Was the Soviet Union left-wing? Was Stalin left-wing? Are dictatorships left-wing? Is totalitarianism left-wing?

A bigger question is: ¿who cares? ¿Would this early-20th-century left-wing have any relevance to the average hippie leftist in the US today?

This transformation of the Soviet Union by Stalin from a beneficial left-wing movement into a hideous right-wing dictatorship was masterfully described by George Orwell in his famous novel from 1945, “Animal Farm.” That book, summarized here, tells an allegorical tale about animals on a farm who rise up in revolt, banish the humans from the farm, and seek to govern themselves on the farm under a free and democratic animal society.

Let’s hear Orwell’s actual opinion o’ Lenin:

The article is entitled ‘Lenin’s Heir’, and it sets out to show that Stalin is the true and legitimate guardian of the Russian Revolution, which he has not in any sense ‘betrayed’ but has merely carried forward on lines that were implicit in it from the start. In itself, this is an easier opinion to swallow than the usual Trotskyist claim that Stalin is a mere crook who has perverted the Revolution to his own ends, and that things would somehow have been different if Lenin had lived or Trotsky had remained in power. Actually there is no strong reason for thinking that the main lines of development would have been very different. Well before 1923 the seeds of a totalitarian society were quite plainly there. Lenin, indeed, is one of those politicians who win an undeserved reputation by dying prematurely. Had he lived, it is probable that he would either have been thrown out, like Trotsky, or would have kept himself in power by methods as barbarous, or nearly as barbarous, as those of Stalin.

The Salon article tries to ’splain the mystery ’hind this charade:

Clearly, tyrants should pretend to be someone who can offer what the people desire. Many tyrants falsely proclaim to be Marxists, socialists and left-wingers because the ideas of the left are broadly popular among the oppressed classes in many countries around the world. And for good reason: Left-wing policies would indeed improve the quality of life in most societies.

If we acknowledge that not everyone who calls themselves “left-wing” is honest or good, ¿what people who call themselves “left-wing” can we trust? ¿This Salon writer? ¿Me? Perhaps it’d be mo’ useful to talk less o’ “left-wing” or “right-wing”, which are meaningless when we acknowledge that the words that come out o’ politicians’ mouths are meaningless, but ’stead focus on the composition o’ the government that makes & enforces law — the who, not the what. US leftists elect rich man after rich man into government & are surprise Pikachu face that they serve their fellow rich man — after serving themselves, ’course. If only we could elect a godly perfect human that only thinks o’ everyone else that doesn’t exist. Or if only we didn’t follow a system that actually gave the majority choices that they actually want, rather than a 2-party state.

But implementing a few left-wing policies does not magically convert a right-wing dictatorship into a left-wing democracy. The societies ruled by Castro and Chávez were never left-wing democracies, and cannot truly be considered “socialist.” They were overwhelmingly defined by right-wing attributes, including strongman rule, a one-party monopoly on power, suppression of free speech, false propaganda glorifying the regime, persecution of political dissidents, the restriction or elimination of democracy and so on.

See, I find it funny that this writer goes to such lengths to defend Lenin, but slams on Chàvez, who is generally agreed, e’en by the US, to have been legitimately democratically elected — moreso than US politicians, specially the president we elected @ the time, who didn’t win the popular vote, not to mention all the scuzziness surrounding his victory, such as the Brooks Brothers riot, which succeeded in stopping the vote that may have put Al Gore in the oval office ’stead o’ the man who created decades-long wars & the worst US economic crash since the Great Depression. Maybe this Salon writer should acknowledge that it’s not just Trump — Republicans have always been antidemocracy. It’s not till after Chàvez’s death & Maduro takes o’er that elections get questionable, tho Chàvez did seem to engage in some media intimidation near the end o’ his administration, specially with his shutdown o’ Globovision o’er their support for the attempted 2002 coup & Chàvez certainly said a lot o’ stupid, strongman things. Also, Venezuela has ne’er been a 1-party state, a’least till maybe very recently with the other major party’s boycott o’ the 2020 election. Lenin was certainly worse. In fact, Venezuela broke down the weird power-sharing 2-party state system it had ( basically a reflection o’ the Republican & Democratic Parties in the US ) &, a’least for a while, opened up a plurality o’ parties.

Does anyone really believe that China is a “People’s Republic”?

Considering “republic” is just a vague word that means “people thing” ( making “People’s People Thing” as ridiculously redundant as “The Los Angeles Angels” ) & historically referred to any kind o’ government, not just democratic ones, yes, I do believe China has some sort o’ government.

But Trump intentionally sought the support of blue-collar, working-class voters by promising left-wing policies. He promised a new health care system with universal coverage for everyone at a mere fraction of the cost. He promised he would stop U.S. corporations from shipping jobs overseas, and would bring jobs back to America. He promised he would never cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. He promised to get tough on Big Pharma and cut the high cost of drug prices. He promised a massive investment in America’s infrastructure, like roads and bridges. He promised to tax the rich, including himself, and to provide a massive tax cut for the middle class.

But once Trump was elected, of course, he abandoned all these promises of policies that would benefit the working class, instead implementing right-wing policies that benefited large corporations and the rich at the top, including granting a massive tax cut to himself and the rich, slashing regulations for big business, seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act and seeking to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

But then the article seems to end with a commercial for the Democratic Party, which is not accurate:

The Democratic Party is not authoritarian, and does not seek to create an authoritarian regime such as those in China or Cuba. In truth, the Democratic Party favors robust democracy in direct opposition to authoritarianism.

Perhaps the Democratic Party doesn’t support full on dictatorship, but since it supports the current nondemocratic US electoral system, with its laughable electoral college ( which gave Clinton the majority o’ actual, real, people votes, but, as per the US system as set by the founding fathers, gave the victory to Trump for having the most magical “electoral votes” ), its skewed senate, its unelected judges for life, its legalized bribery in the form o’ lobbying, & its 2-party monopoly, saying it supports a “robust democracy” is a joke, as is the idea that these clowns sitting round in the white house & capital doing nothing while Republicans are standing round putting together their nooses in public sight as “direct opposition to authoritarianism”. That’s a weird way to talk ’bout the Neville Chamberlains o’ the 21st century US.

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