Politics, Philosophy, Polemics

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The Genocidal Left: The Case of an Italian Red Brigades Militant

In Far Left, Terrorism on May 31, 2013 at 12:30 PM

This is a cross post. It was originally published on Harry’s Place, May 30th 2013, 11:32 am

Leninists of all stripes are taught to hate and to dehumanise those that they consider enemies. On numerous demonstrations the repetitive chant of “We hate Tories and we hate Tories,” can be heard. This hatred is not new. In 192o Lenin’s pamphlet, Left-Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder, was published. In it, Lenin argued that “working-class hatred for the bourgeois ‘class politicians’” is “noble” and “the basis of any socialist and communist movement and of its success.”

Alessandro Orsini (Anatomy of the Red Brigades: The Religious Mind Set of Modern Terrorists [Cornell University Press]. pp.2-5) explains how far this hatred extended:

For the Red Brigade terrorist who has finished his or her educational pathway, the enemy is a “pig” who arouses “absolute loathing.” When the enemy becomes a “filthy pig,” his life no longer has any value.

Enemies are  “parasites” that “infest” the world. Given a vision of society of an “absolutely perfect world,”  murder, such as that of Marco Biagi, becomes “a historic necessity.”

One should not be surprised by the statement of one Italian Red Brigades militant [emphasis added by Orsini]:

If I win, I don’t want any positions or honors. I just want the job of getting rid of our enemies, all those who have to be got rid of. It’ll be a difficult task because there will be millions of people who have to be eliminated. That’s what I want to do after [the revolution].

Hat Tip: Paul Bogdanor.


A reformed conspiracy theorist speaks

In Apologists for terror, Conspiracies, Terrorism on May 31, 2013 at 12:25 PM

This is a cross post. It was originally published on Harry’s Place, May 29th 2013, 9:47 am

The Daily Telegraph carries a  fascinating interview by Will Storr with former 9/11 conspiracy theorist Charlie Veitch, a self declared believer and propagator of views that the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York was “a controlled  demolition” by the government in cahoots with Mossad.

Veitch now states that when he was uploading his conspiracy videos to YouTube he was “the new Stalin. The poster boy for a mad movement.” But in reality, and back on planet earth, as the article mentions, “He’s currently an unemployed father-of-one who lives in a semi, in Salford, Greater Manchester, with his fiancée, Stacey.” During his time with conspiracies he became an insider and friends with other conspiracy theorists such as David Icke and Alex Jones.

I quote from the article:

In essence, the modern conspiracy narrative is the same as the one that has existed since at least the 19th century: that the few (often termed the “Illuminati”) control the many. This, of course, is the nucleus of the dangerous anti-Jewish myth. When he was an insider, did he experience anti-Semitism? His eyes open wide: “Loads. Loads. I was once accused of being a Jew because of my olive skin and my nose. They said, ‘We can’t trust him’.” And when they say the ‘Illuminati’ or ‘Reptiles’, do they actually mean Jews? “It’s slightly complicated but, mostly, yes,” he says.

His mind was finally changed from 9/11 conspiracy theories when he was invited to appear on a BBC documentary to mark the 1oth anniversary of 9/11. He was taken to meet a number of experts and his mind was changed. After telling his girlfriend, “I don’t think 9/11 was an inside job,” he posted a video on You Tube with his new views:

“It was relentless,” he says. “A guy in Manchester set up a YouTube channel called ‘Kill Charlie Veitch’. It said, ‘Charlie, I hope you know I’m going to come and kill you. Enjoy your last few days. Goodbye.’ So many hate videos were posted – my face superimposed on a pig and someone’s killing the pig.” Another message featured images of his sister’s young children incorporated within a video of child pornography.

David Icke posted a message saying that Veitch would come to “deeply regret what he has done”, and emailed saying, “Don’t write to me. I don’t know you, mate.” Alex Jones posted a film in which he claimed he’d known “all along”, and that Veitch had “psychopath, sociopath eyes”. His mother called, devastated, believing the paedophilia “confession” which she’d been emailed, along with 15,000 others, was real.

He has this to say about conspiracy theorists:

Conspiracy theorists, he says, are often “bullied people. People who maybe didn’t get the girls at school….They will side with the devil, as long as the devil is against the West.”….

“I’ve gone full circle in my Right-wing thinking,” he says. “There’s a professional victimhood in conspiracy theorists. There’s a hatred of high achievers.”…. As for his own involvement in the conspiracy movement, Veitch has a simpler theory. When asked what it was in his psychology that made him susceptible, he answers emphatically.

“Ego,” he says. “Ego made me vulnerable.”

Hat TipJohn Rentoul via Twitter.

Kolakowski on progress: capitalism trumps Marxism

In Anarchism, From the Vaults, Marxism on May 27, 2013 at 12:11 PM

The late Leszek Kolakowski is missed. In 1985 he wrote a review of David Miller’s book, Anarchism for the TLS. Not only is it worthwhile reading for his views on anarchism: “a puerile utopia,”  it is also instructive for what he had to say  on Marxism: “Anarchists… are strongest when they criticize Marxism as an infallible prescription for despotism.”  However what struck me as particularly insightful were his comments on the market economy. I copy them below.

One cannot perhaps suppress the market entirely, it persists even in a concentration camp – which probably comes closest to what an ideal non-market economy would be in modem society. One can suppress it, however, to such an extent as to destroy all the sources of information which only the market can provide, to stifle the possibilities of innovation, to make the entire production system highly inefficient .and to organize a police state which is the sole owner of all wealth, of people, of the information and communication instruments and of human souls as well. It is remarkable that all economic reforms in communist countries, to the extent that they yield any results at all, go invariably in the same direction: towards a partial restoration of the market, that is of “capitalism.” Meanwhile, in the countries with mixed economies, if something goes wrong in nationalized industries or services, it is caused, according to.the standard Marxist explanation, by the fact that not everything is yet nationalized. If the education system is not satisfactory, this is because there are still private schools in existence; if the public health-service does not work properly, this is because private medical practice is still permissible, etc. And so the only way to. progress consists in forbidding people to engage in any socially useful activity unless they are ordered to do so by the state; the universal medicine for all social ills is more police, more bureaucracy, more control, more soles, more interdictions.

Source: Leszek Kolakowski, “For Brotherhood Or For Destruction,” Times Literary Supplement,  January 4, 1985.
Hat Tip: Paul Bogdanor.

From the Vaults – Spare Rib, August 1982

In Anti-Zionism, Feminism, From the Vaults on May 15, 2013 at 8:30 AM

This is a cross post. It was originally published on Harry’s Place on May 11th 2013, 5:55 pm

Spare Rib was a prominent feminist magazine that ran from 1972 through to 1993. After a twenty year absence it is to be relaunched this month. This presents an ideal opportunity to reproduce highlights of an article written by Roisín Boyd and based on conversations with Nidal, a Lebanese woman, Randa, a Palestinian woman, and Aliza Khan, an Israeli woman.  The article was published in Spare Rib, issue 121, August 1982, pp.22-23.

Women Speak Out Against Zionism


‘If a woman calls herself feminist she should consciously call herself anti-Zionist’


Nidal: There is an enormous difference between being Jewish and being Zionist, The main idea behind Zionism is that all the Jews should gather together and form a nation, because they are in danger from the ‘non-Jews’, what they call Gentiles. Which is so similar to the Nazi ideology that the Jews should not be with the Gentiles…..

Aliza: Zionism….was created by European Jews who used anti-semitism for their own interests. Its aim was never to fight anti-semitism, moreover it saw anti-semitism as its best ally…..After the second World War, Zionist leaders used to say that Jewish people should thank Hitler because without him, the state of Israel would never have been created. If we are concerned about anti-semitism we must fight Zionism. To be anti-Zionist is to be anti-imperialist, and to be against the fact that Zionism (and the founding of the state of Israel) caused Palestinians to be refugees…..

Nidal: If you dare call yourself a Palestinian in Israel you would get five years in jail….

Aliza: …. The kibbutzim are male dominated and many produce military equipment. Woman work mainly in the kitchens and do the ‘normal’ jobs that woman always do. If a woman calls herself a feminist she should consciously call herself anti-Zionist….

Aliza: What Israel is doing now in the Lebanon is nothing new but an extreme part of its nature. Killing people, barbarically, children, women, with poisoned gas and cluster bombs. It’s hard to imagine how human beings can do this. My mother, who emigrated to Israel from Germany, rang me two weeks ago and said that she is broken hearted because what Israel is doing now is what the Nazis did to her….Women must come together against [Zionism] because our sisters are being murdered….. I am calling you sisters, to come together against the holocaust of the Palestinian and Lebanese people. There is no way we can sit quietly and do nothing about it.

In the months that followed, Spare Rib went on to publish an article “Woman Against Zionism” that suggested Jews were answerable for what Israel was doing in Lebanon. The magazine received more than forty letters from women opposed to the expressed views. The editorial collective refused to publish them.

“I am going to annihilate you”: Five Books on Marx and Marxists

In Cambodia, China, Marxism, Stalin, Trotskyism on May 7, 2013 at 7:13 AM

Phil at A Very Public Sociologist reminds us that Sunday would have been Karl Marx’s 195th birthday. This, he believes, is something well worthwhile commemorating. The way he has done so is to list his five favourite books on Marx and Marxism.  He challenges us to also list books that have had an impact. What better way for me to do that in “honour” of this birthday than to also list five book on Marx and Marxism. For the sectarians I should clarify that: five books on Marx and people who claimed to be Marxist.

  1. Leopold  Schwarzchild, The Red Prussian: The Life and Legend of Karl Marx, (Pickwick Books, 1986)

In this book, originally published in Britain in 1948, one can get a true sense of the type of man Marx was. The following few sentences are extracted from pages 68-69 and are based on an account provided by Marx’s assistant, Carl Heinzen:

[Marx’s] most pleasing trait was his appreciation of good wine. Every evening they repaired to the inn to drink; and then, as they emptied one bottle after another, Marx became gay, jovial, and natural. When he was in a good mood, he amused himself time and time again with the same joke. He would say suddenly to someone at the table: “I am going to annihilate you,” and say it over and over again, enjoying himself tremendously.

  1. Richard Pipes, The Russian Revolution, (Vintage, 1990)

In this ground-breaking monumental study, Richard Pipes provides a convincing argument why the Russian Revolution was not a class uprising as Leninists would have people believe, but a coup d’état where a small minority with the use of terror and mass murder took control of government. The following short extract is from page 833:

On August 8 [1918, Trotsky] ordered that, for the protection of the railroad line from Moscow to Kazan, concentration camps be constructed at several nearby localities to isolate such “sinister agitators, counterrevolutionary officers, saboteurs, parasites and speculators” as were  not executed “on the spot” or given other penalties…. [On August 9, 1918, Lenin] ordered that mutinous “kulaks” be subjected to “merciless mass terror”- that is executions – but “dubious ones incarcerated in concentration camps outside the cities.”

  1. Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, (Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2007)

Strictly speaking this is three books, as this magisterial work comprises three volumes. For the purpose of this list I count it as one entry. This report of life and death in the Soviet prison system that began under Lenin and substantially expanded under Stalin is chilling. Millions died under Stalin of which a substantial number of people were killed via the judicial system. The short extract below is from page 564 of that first volume:

General-assignment work – that is the main and basic work performed in any given camp. Eighty percent of the prisoners work at it, and they all die off. All. And then they bring new ones in to take their places and they again are sent to general-assignment work. Doing this work, you expend the last of your strength. And you are always hungry. And always wet. And shoeless. And you are given short rations and short everything else. And put in the worst barracks. And they won’t give you any treatment when you’re ill.

  1. Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, Mao: The Unknown Story, (Jonathan Cape, 2005)

This highly acclaimed biography of the Chinese leader is superbly researched. The death and destruction wrought by Mao brought Communist killings to a new high. Chang and Halliday document the evidence against this Communist monster. The extract below is from pages 456-458:

Close to 38 million people died of starvation and overwork in the Great Leap Forward and the famine which lasted four years….Mao knowingly starved and worked these tens of millions to death…. Death, said Mao, “is indeed to be rejoiced over… We believe in dialectics, and so we can’t not be in favour of death.”…. “Deaths have benefits,” he told the top echelon on 9 December 1958. “They can fertilise the ground.”….When he was in Moscow in 1957, he had said: “We are prepared to sacrifice 300 million Chinese for the victory of the world revolution.”

  1. John Barron and Anthony Paul, Peace with Horror: The Untold Story of Communist Genocide in Cambodia, (Hodder and Stoughton, 1977)

This was the first book that came out detailing the horrors of the Khmer Rouge. It is largely based on eye-witness accounts. The killings started as soon as the Khmer Rouge got to power with the forced exodus of the population from the cities to the countryside. The extract below is from page 116:

The killing during the great exodus was all the more terrifying because so much of it was unpredictable and pointless. A former truck driver, Thiounn Kamel, was swept up in the throngs pushed out of Phnom Penh on National Highway 1. “When I couldn’t move because of the crowd, I stopped on the side of the road. That time there was a truck loaded with armed Khmer Rouge. When their truck also couldn’t move, they just shot at the people to clear the way and killed some of them. It was savage.”

Why there should be no such thing as society

In Anarchism, Libertarianism, Rothbard on May 5, 2013 at 4:57 PM

Murray Rothbard explains:

The individualist view of “society” has been summed up in the phrase: “Society” is everyone but yourself. Put thus bluntly, this analysis can be used to consider those cases where “society” is treated, not only as a superhero with superrights, but as a supervillain on whose shoulders massive blame is placed. Consider the typical view that not the individual criminal, but “society,” is responsible for his crime. Take, for example, the case where Smith robs or murders Jones. The “old-fashioned” view is that Smith is responsible for his act. The modern liberal counters that “society” is responsible. This sounds both sophisticated and humanitarian, until we apply the individualist perspective. Then we see that what liberals are really saying is that everyone but Smith, including of course the victim Jones, is responsible for the crime. Put this baldly, almost everyone would recognize the absurdity of this position. But conjuring up the fictive entity “society” obfuscates this process. As the sociologist Arnold W. Green puts it: “It would follow, then, that if society is responsible for crime, and criminals are not responsible for crime, only those members of society who do not commit crime can be held responsible for crime. Nonsense this obvious can be circumvented only by conjuring up society as devil, as evil being apart from people and what they do.”

Murray N. Rothbard, For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto, (Second Edition, Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2006) pp.46-47. Available  free on line.

Philosophers and bizarre thought experiments, No. 2

In Philosophy, Thought Experiments on May 5, 2013 at 7:13 AM

In article published in 2000*, the Harvard philosopher Frances Kamm considered the question of whether distance matters in a duty to rescue. The following two cases were reasonably mentioned:

Pond: I am walking past a shallow pond and see a child drowning in it. If I wade in and pull the child out, my $500 suit will be ruined. Intuitively, I ought to wade in to save him.

Overseas: I know there is a child starving to death overseas. To save him, I must send $500. Intuitively, I am not obligated to do so.

There is nothing too bizarre in either of those cases. However it was not to last. Reality went out of the window with this comment:

Suppose I stand in a part of France, but I have very long arms that reach all the way to the other end of France, allowing me to reach a child drowning in a pond at a distance….

*F.M. Kamm, “Does Distance Matter Morally to the Duty to Rescue?” Law and Philosophy, Volume 19, 2000, pp.655-681.