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Canisius College, named after Counter-Reformation leader St Peter Canisius, is located in Buffalo, New York. It is a Jesuit institution of higher learning, founded in 1870.

One of their professors is Dr René De la Pedraja, who has been teaching there since 1989. His speciality is Latin America. He lived in the region for 20 years, mostly in Colombia and Cuba.

On Monday, November 28, 2016, Fox News’s Tucker Carlson interviewed De la Pedraja for his views on Fidel Castro’s death. This is a must-see interview in which, among other things, the professor claims that Cuba under Fidel symbolised freedom.

He says that Castro cracked down on dissidents because they were doctors educated for free who wanted to move overseas to earn more money. Other than that, there was no political oppression. When Carlson pressed him about refugees fleeing any way they could manage, the professor said those people were bored with their wives and families, nothing more. What he says is so absurd, it has to be heard to be believed.

Carlson is a great interviewer, far from the usual Big Media type. He is not afraid to disagree with crackpots. According to people who watch his show regularly, he seeks out leftists and asks them all the questions sensible people would ask. He gives no quarter, but does it conversationally.

At the end of the interview about Castro, he had this exchange with the professor:

Carlson: Well, Cuba is a hellhole. That’s why nobody moves there.

Professor: I’d have to disagree with you.

Carlson: Well, you’re still here, so I doubt that.

On a similar note, here’s a great graphic:


What a week and it’s only Tuesday! Lots of news to cover in the days ahead.

On Monday, November 28, 2016, Cardinal Joseph Zen, a former bishop of Hong Kong, warned that Pope Francis:

may not know the Communist persecutors who have killed hundreds of thousands.

The Guardian reported that the Pope is working on an agreement whereby Chinese officials could have a hand in approving Catholic bishops.

Zen criticised the move, pointing out that it would be:

a surrender


betraying Jesus Christ.

Zen made his remarks at the Salesian English School in Hong Kong, where, at age 84, he is still a teacher. He added:

Maybe the pope is a little naive, he doesn’t have the background to know the Communists in China. The pope used to know the persecuted Communists [in Latin America], but he may not know the Communist persecutors who have killed hundreds of thousands.

It’s amazing that anyone the Pope’s age would not know the statistics and nature of Chinese Communists, but perhaps the Cardinal was being charitable.

Currently, Chinese Catholics are free to worship at state-approved churches. The state-controlled China Catholic Patriotic Association appoints their bishops.

However, an underground network of Catholic churches also exists, thought to attract many more Catholics than the state churches.

Why does the Vatican seek this new agreement? Zen explained:

With “fake freedom” under a proposed deal, priests could more easily preach and more churches would open, Zen predicted, but “it’s only the impression of freedom, it’s not real freedom, the people sooner or later will see the bishops are puppets of the government and not really the shepherds of the flock.”

“The official bishops are not really preaching the gospel,” Zen added “They are preaching obedience to Communist authority.”

That brings to mind the warning from Jeremiah about leading one’s flock astray. The Pope and clergy agreeing with him on this subject might have a lot to answer for one day.

Oddly, some Chinese Catholics welcome the proposed Vatican agreement, still under negotiation for the foreseeable future:

“If they could really strike a deal, not only would us Catholics be happy, but all of the Chinese people should rejoice,” said Zhao, 36, who has been a Catholic for 20 years and works at the oldest Catholic church in China, close to Tiananmen Square in Beijing. He declined to give his full name because of the sensitivity of discussing religion.

“Chinese society needs faith right now,” he added, saying a warming of ties would increase the number of Catholics, “which is a benefit to all society”.

The Guardian says that China has an estimated 10m Catholics and 90m Protestants. The New York Times gives a more conservative estimate of 60m Christians.

Protestant churches are also required to be registered with the Chinese state and operate within government rules.

Unregistered Protestant churches are actively vandalised by the state:

a recent campaign by authorities in eastern China has seen more than 1,200 crosses removed from buildings and churches demolished.

The New York Times has more on vandalism and arrests concerning the Salvation Church and the Living Stone Church, both of which are unregistered and deemed to be dangerous to the state.

The upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi will have everyone abuzz with the ‘greatness’ of the Russian Federation and its post-Tsarist history beginning in 1917.

It is certain that television documentaries will be playing up Josef Stalin’s role during his near 30-year rule over the former Soviet Union — especially as he came from Soviet Georgia, near the Caucasus region where the games will be held in February 2014.

One is already airing in the United Kingdom. As I wrote the other day on the UK site, Orphans of Liberty the latest Radio Times featured the following (emphases mine):

BBC journalist Justin Rowlatt wrote an article (pp. 35, 37) about his latest Four Wheels programme, this one about Russia, which airs tonight, Monday, January 20 (BBC2 9:30 p.m.) and Wednesday, January 22 at that same time.

He describes touring Stalin’s holiday home near Sochi (emphases mine):

… I could poke my nose where I pleased. I even tried on the leather trench coat I found hanging in the corner of his perfectly preserved office

Seven hundred hard miles from Sochi I visited the scene of one of the bloodiest conflicts in human history: the battle of Stalingrad. The city is now named Volgograd, after its mighty river …

I had the privilege of meeting two veterans of Stalingrad, old men who had helped defeat the Nazis and turn the tide of the Second World War. But later that day I was surprised to meet younger Russians, a new generation, who were campaigning to change the city’s name back to Stalingrad. In the West we may remember Stalin as a tyrant, but many Russians regard him as a saviour.

If only Rowlatt knew the truth. However, perhaps his education — no doubt excellent — whitewashed Stalin to such an extent that it is difficult for him to see it.

There is nothing wonderful about Stalin or his regime which should cause us to be starstruck. As I mentioned last week, I’ve been reading award-winning historian Simon Sebag Montefiore’s Young Stalin, which I recommend to everyone — teenagers and adults. I’m nearly finished and will provide summaries of the tyrant’s life here in a week or two.

Stalin was no ordinary dictator or, if you prefer, autocrat. He was ruthless and cruel from childhood. Even his eventual successor, Nikita Khruschev:

gave what is known as his Secret Speech against Stalinism to the Communists in the Soviet Union … Khruschev severely criticised the late Stalin, his policies and his ‘cult of personality’.

This shocked Stalinists all over the world who misguidedly followed their idol as they would a prophet. This recent post of mine summarises the dismay of conservative David Horowitz’s Communist parents when they heard Khruschev’s speech. Upon Stalin’s death in 1953, Horowitz’s father told him:

You see what a genius Stalin was. It took five men to replace him.

However, after Khruschev spoke three years later:

Their illusions shattered, the Horowitzes broke with the party after that.

David Horowitz, however, continued believing in the Marxist dream of an internationalist utopia until he suffered disillusionment closer to home — the death of a friend and colleague of his which he says the Communist Party in the United States linked to the Black Panthers, a well-known radical group of Marxists from the late 1960s and early 1970s. The group has been resurrected since then, putting ‘New’ before their name.

Horowitz described the previous Panthers leader, Huey Newton — a household name 45 years ago — as:

equal parts gangster, terrorist, intellectual, and media celebrity.

And that’s the way Montefiore — with the exception of ‘media celebrity’ — described Josef Stalin when the autocrat was Newton’s age at the time.

The Winter Olympics in Sochi give Western media — including America’s — a great opportunity to make Stalin into a hero, just as Justin Rowlatt of the BBC is doing.

Horowitz — although not discussing the Winter Olympics — has a general warning for all of us concerned about freedom.

Sara Noble of the Independent Sentinel writes:

The torture and murder of Betty Van Patter was so traumatic that it took him ten years to come out of it. He came out as a conservative fighting a lonely and courageous battle.

He came to the conclusion that the ideology of the left must always end in totalitarianism and violence.

… he said that conservatives need to understand what progressivism is about and the Republican Party needs to speak out.

I asked him what the difference was between communism and progressivism and he said ‘they are the same thing.’

One of the things that has clouded peoples’ understanding of what is going on is the fact that we are being led to believe that the worst we are facing is European socialism. I asked Mr. Horowitz about that and he said, ‘it’s much worse than that, it’s communism.’ ‘Look, he [Obama] has already destroyed our standing in the world. He is destroying our economic system, our healthcare…’

Mr. Horowitz said ‘we are at war.’

What Horowitz says can be applied to whatever propaganda we shall be seeing on our airwaves over the next month.

Newer subscribers — or those who were unable to read it at the time — might wish to read these very brief summaries of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin.

Leftists dropping by might poke fun at conservatives about finding ‘reds under the bed’, but few people were as paranoid as Josef Stalin.

He feared that someone was out to get him. He had a food taster, a old friend of his, called The Rabbit who shared many a dinner with him and was in charge of the NKVD (secret police) catering department.

Stalin never forgave and never forgot. When I highlight Montefiore’s book, you’ll read more concrete examples. However, even his friends feared him. Wives or husbands of close Party associates sometimes mysteriously disappeared. Those Party associates dared not say anything for fear they could be next.

In the late 1930s, Stalin conducted the Great Purge, which Montefiore refers to as the Great Terror. A great number of Soviet citizens feared for their lives as they read of the disappearances, sentences to prison camps or death that the greater and lesser among them suffered.

He was responsible for at least 20 million deaths — possibly more, indirectly from famine or poor prison camp conditions.

Whilst some appealed to Stalin directly for clemency, Stalin remembered the ones who had initially refused him a favour, even if they later acceded to his wishes. Montefiore tells of a man whom, when Stalin was escaping from Tsarist exile (i.e. a criminal sentence), initially refused to take him in his sleigh part way out of the village where he was being held. Imprisoned years later during the Purge, the sleigh driver wrote to Stalin explaining who he was. Stalin wrote a brief note back saying he didn’t remember and needed more details. The prisoner wrote back, but nothing was ever done. Stalin had remembered the sleigh driver’s initial — and rightful — ‘no’ so many years before, even though the man did end up taking him some way out of the village enabling Stalin to pursue other means of unlawful escape back to the Bolsheviks.

Stalin also helped the Muslims pursue Marxism in Baku by organising them and giving them money which he obtained through extortion of owners and managers of local corporations. That was more than a century ago. Some years later, he also helped to finance an early radical Muslim insurrection in what was then Persia.

On the other hand, he was highly suspicious of Jews. Leon Trotsky (no angel himself), for example, ended up in exile in Mexico and lived with artists Diego Rivera and Frieda Kahlo for a time. Trotsky never could shake the notion that Stalin was going to arrange for the NKVD or another Soviet agent to kill him. He survived one assassination attempt at his home but died not long after the second attempt when he was attacked with an ice axe in 1940:

Stalin assigned the organisation and execution of a plan to assassinate Trotsky to Nahum Eitingon who recruited Ramón Mercader during the Spanish Civil War

The blow to Trotsky’s head was poorly delivered and failed to kill Trotsky instantly, as Mercader had intended …

Mercader later testified at his trial:

I laid my raincoat on the table in such a way as to be able to remove the ice axe which was in the pocket. I decided not to miss the wonderful opportunity that presented itself. The moment Trotsky began reading the article, he gave me my chance; I took out the ice axe from the raincoat, gripped it in my hand and, with my eyes closed, dealt him a terrible blow on the head.[109] 

According to James P. Cannon, the secretary of the Socialist Workers Party (USA), Trotsky’s last words were “I will not survive this attack. Stalin has finally accomplished the task he attempted unsuccessfully before.”[112]

This love of Muslims and dislike of Jews seems to permeate left-wing political thought up to the present day. It should leave us wondering about our own societies and governments today.

In closing, this is the type of torture Stalin advocated. This concerns the Great Purge (Great Terror):

Theatre director Vsevolod Meyerhold was arrested in 1939 and shot in February 1940 for “spying” for Japanese and British intelligence. His wife, the actress Zinaida Raikh, was murdered in her apartment.[38] In a letter to Vyacheslav Molotov dated January 13, 1940, Meyerhold wrote:

The investigators began to use force on me, a sick 65-year-old man. I was made to lie face down and beaten on the soles of my feet and my spine with a rubber strap … For the next few days, when those parts of my legs were covered with extensive internal hemorrhaging, they again beat the red-blue-and-yellow bruises with the strap and the pain was so intense that it felt as if boiling water was being poured on these sensitive areas. I howled and wept from the pain. I incriminated myself in the hope that by telling them lies I could end the ordeal. When I lay down on the cot and fell asleep, after 18 hours of interrogation, in order to go back in an hour’s time for more, I was woken up by my own groaning and because I was jerking about like a patient in the last stages of typhoid fever.[37]

This is what the Lutheran pastor — a later victim of long-term Communist imprisonment and severe torture — wrote of in Marx and Satan. He gives the Marxist rationale here. Incidentally, Pastor Wurmbrand was often beaten on the soles of his feet to such an extent that, once he was given refuge in the United States, he was able to finally have custom-made shoes to help relieve his constant pain. Even with these shoes, he could never walk very far or stand for extended periods again.

And, this final episode describes Stalin’s last great plan for imprisonment, death and deportation. The Doctors’ Plot targeted Jews:

The “Doctors’ plot” was a plot outlined by Stalin and Soviet officials in 1952 and 1953 whereby several doctors (over half of whom were Jewish) allegedly attempted to kill Soviet officials.[286] The prevailing opinion of many scholars outside the Soviet Union is that Stalin intended to use the resulting doctors’ trial to launch a massive party purge.[287] Some historians have argued that Stalin was also planning to send millions of Jews to four large newly built labor camps in Western Russia[293][302] using a “Deportation Commission”[303][304][305] that would purportedly act to save Soviet Jews from an enraged Soviet population after the Doctors Plot trials.[303][306][307] Others argue that any charge of an alleged mass deportation lacks specific documentary evidence.[292]

Regardless of whether a plot to deport Jews was planned, in his “Secret Speech” in 1956, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev stated that the Doctors Plot was “fabricated … set up by Stalin”, that Stalin told the judge to beat confessions from the defendants[308] and had told Politburo members “You are blind like young kittens. What will happen without me? The country will perish because you do not know how to recognize enemies.”[308]The plot is also viewed by many historians as an antisemitic provocation.[286]

So, whatever fluff you read or see about the wonders of Marxism and Stalinism (what Montefiore believes was the full realisation of Leninism), please keep the contents of this post in mind.  Thank you.

And, if I were a parent, I’d be asking my children what sort of special History Week they might be having on this subject at school

Remind them that for nearly 30 years the entire Soviet Union was too afraid to put an end to this man’s life or his rule. (He finally died of a stroke. That post of mine, incidentally, also has more details about his life.) We need to know more — much more — about Stalin.

And don’t think it couldn’t happen again — in England, one Labour hopeful for the general election in 2015 thinks Stalin was the greatest.

CommunistParty justsaynotooOne of my readers — Damo — recently sent in a link to a Front Page review of historian and political commentator David Horowitz’s latest book, The Black Book of the American Left, Vol. 1: My Life and Times.

Theodore Dalrymple — known nearly 20 years ago as Dr Dalrymple in The Spectator (UK) but whose real name is Anthony (A.M.) Daniels — wrote the review.

I’ll get into more about both author’s lives later on in this post, but first on to the review. Dalrymple says that this is hardly the first of books about the far left with the title ‘Black Book’. However, Horowitz’s is the first in-depth one about American leftism, as seen from his own experience. Horowitz, Dalrymple says (emphases mine) accuses leftists in the United States:

– with a great deal of cumulative evidence – of equivocation towards, support for and outright complicity with the Soviet Union. Ignorance of the horrors of Soviet rule was not an excuse, because the horrors were known and documented from the very first, and for decades the left preferred to ignore the facts than abandon its fantasies. And although the American left was not responsible for much violence in America itself, there was hardly any revolutionary violence that to which it did not provide aid and comfort, repeating its original sin ad nauseam. In the process it rewrote its own history as assiduously and dishonestly as Stalin wrote his.

He has focused his powerful guns on the American left for two reasons, the first personal and the second sociological, though in fact in his case the two reasons are inextricably linked. First[,] he himself was a member of the left for much of his youth and early adulthood, and[,] second[,] leftist ideas of various stripes were and remain predominant in academia and among the intelligentsia …

Unfortunately, the internal logic of its socialist beliefs led it to support or make excuses for totalitarian regimes such as Castro’s, just as the previous generation of orthodox communists had done. It also indulged in what would have been comic operetta revolutionism had it not been for the extreme criminal nastiness of the acts which it excused, condoned, concealed or perpetrated.

Dalrymple tells us how, in the book, leftists minimise their allegiances and can’t seem to shake their perspectives:

this leftism was not an ‘infantile disorder,’ to quote Lenin, or a mild and mostly harmless childhood illness like mumps, but more usually like a chronic condition with lingering after-effects and flare-ups. Those who suffered it only very rarely got over it fully, the late Christopher Hitchens being a good example of one who did not. He, Hitchens, could never bring himself to admit that he had for all his life admired and extolled a man who was at least as bad as Stalin, namely Trotsky …

Except that some would say, ‘Well, Trotsky was more of an intellectual, disliked by those favouring the cut-and-thrust.’ There is always an excuse: ‘Don’t pay attention to Lenin; his wasn’t true Marxism.’ Yes and no. His brand of Marxism was just as violent and horrible as what Karl had advocated. Even in the early days of the 20th century, Lenin relied on Stalin’s well-engineered violence — bank robbery ‘spectaculars’ — to bring in astounding amounts of cash to the Bolsheviks.

Back to the present day. Dalrymple notes the passages in the book which describe the Left losing interest in parts of the world where they’d previously advocated violent revolution:

Just as American leftist intellectuals ceased to be interested in Indochina the moment American troops left, so the fate of Central America ceased to interest them once there was no possibility that utopian leftist regimes would be established in them. Their interest in far-flung places was only as a screen upon which they could project their own psychodrama.

Horowitz’s Wikipedia entry gives us an indication of what we will probably read more of in his book. He was born to secular Jews in the upmarket Queens neighbourhood of Forest Hills (tennis, anyone?); it’s interesting that, given where they lived, they were long-time members of the Communist Party and Stalinists. One wonders if they knew Bella Dodd, also a Party member at the same time, who also lived in New York.

Also interesting is that both Horowitz’s parents were teachers; Dodd says teachers unions were the fertile ground for new Party members. She spent a lot of time in that sector of Party activism.

Horowitz said that as a child, his parents did not allow him or his sister to watch television or movies, unless they were Soviet propaganda films. When Stalin died in 1953, Mr Horowitz told his son:

You see what a genius Stalin was. It took five men to replace him.

David Horowitz wrote of his parents:

Underneath the ordinary surfaces of their lives, my parents and their friends thought of themselves as secret agents. The mission they had undertaken, and about which they could not speak freely except with each other, was not just an idea to them. It was more important to their sense of themselves than anything else they did. Nor were its tasks of a kind they could attend or ignore, depending on their moods. They were more like the obligations of a religious faith

In 1956, when Soviet Leader Nikita Khruschev gave what is known as his Secret Speech against Stalinism to the Communists in the Soviet Union, Horowitz’s parents were shocked. Khruschev severely criticised the late Stalin, his policies and his ‘cult of personality’. To many, it looked like an effort to bring the party back to Leninism. However, Khruschev was trying to consolidate his own power base. Their illusions shattered, the Horowitzes broke with the party after that.

At that time, young David was in college. He attended two well known leftist universities — Columbia and University of California, Berkeley. He read English, earning his BA from the former in 1959 and a subsequent Masters degree on the West Coast.

After finishing his studies, the young Horowitz worked in London at the Fabian Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation and got to know many of the principal Marxist personalities of the day. In 1968, upon his return to the US, he became editor of the left wing magazine, Ramparts.

During this time of student protests and riots in the US and other Western countries, Horowitz got to know a number of black activists, among them Huey Newton of the Black Panthers.

Horowitz introduced Newton to a Rampart employee who was looking for extra work.  Newton hired the woman, Betty Van Patter. A few years later, in 1974, Van Patter’s corpse showed up floating in San Francisco Bay. Horowitz became suspicious; the Communist Party seemed to confirm Panther involvement.

Later, Horowitz would describe Newton similar to the way historian Simon Sebag Montefiore describes Stalin as a young man:

equal parts gangster, terrorist, intellectual, and media celebrity.

It’s fascinating and alarming how these personality traits are consistent from the early days of Marxism to the present.

It was Ms Van Patter’s murder which caused Horowitz to re-evaluate left-wing politics.

Another review of Horowitz’s latest book states that this was a life-changing time for him. Sara Noble of the Independent Sentinel writes:

The torture and murder of Betty Van Patter was so traumatic that it took him ten years to come out of it. He came out as a conservative fighting a lonely and courageous battle.


Horowitz’ departure from the communist party also led to his alienation, at age 35, from lifelong friends and a complete shunning by some in the media who were once his most ardent supporters, before his change of heart.

He came to the conclusion that the ideology of the left must always end in totalitarianism and violence.

He decried the hypocrisy of leftists who would claim they are fighting for peace in Vietnam but ignored the massacres that followed.

Noble asked Horowitz about the state of America today:

he said that conservatives need to understand what progressivism is about and the Republican Party needs to speak out.

I asked him what the difference was between communism and progressivism and he said ‘they are the same thing.’

One of the things that has clouded peoples’ understanding of what is going on is the fact that we are being led to believe that the worst we are facing is European socialism. I asked Mr. Horowitz about that and he said, ‘it’s much worse than that, it’s communism.’ ‘Look, he [Obama] has already destroyed our standing in the world. He is destroying our economic system, our healthcare…’

Mr. Horowitz said ‘we are at war.’ Obama is ‘taking down our country’. People must understand that and they must be ready to fight …

Obama is a communist,’ he affirmed.

My readers who have wondered about Catholic curriculum will be interested in this:

Horowitz sees education as the place where leftism gained its foothold into society, beginning with the Catholic colleges and universities. He spoke out against the unions during our interview and said that K-12 schools should be on a voucher system with parents getting the money, not the schools.

He briefly addressed common core which he has not studied. He is against any centralized education – it’s more statism. All of this is about the same thing he told me.

However, this is the quote that almost had me applauding:

‘conservatives are classical liberals’ because they want two sides of the story told. Leftists only want one side of the story and they are ‘not liberal.’ There is nothing liberal about them. People … need to stop calling them liberals and playing into the deception.

I read that elsewhere two years ago, which is why I will continue to edit any comment from a leftist referring to himself or other leftists as liberals — similarly from someone who isn’t a leftist and refers to them as ‘liberals’. Not here, thank you.

In closing, I wanted to tell you a bit more about Theodore Dalrymple, real name Anthony N Daniels.

Mr Daniels’s father was a businessman, although a Communist of Russian ancestry. His mother, born in Germany, was Jewish and arrived in England, escaping the Nazis. Daniels was born in London in 1949.

Daniels is a retired physician and psychiatrist who has written much about the state of England today. Not surprisingly, he looks more at social problems; he has worked in the NHS and in a prison.  He also has written about Africa, where he worked during the early part of his career.

He was raised as a secular Jew with no formal religious upbringing. He says that whatever belief he had in the existence of God vanished when he was nine during school assembly when a teacher instructed the students not to open their eyes whilst praying. If they did, God would leave the assembly hall. Daniels opened his eye enough to see that the teacher had one eye shut and the other open. From that point forward, he concluded:

I quickly concluded that Mr. Clinton did not believe what he said about the need to keep our eyes shut. And if he did not believe that, why should I believe in his God? In such illogical leaps do our beliefs often originate, to be disciplined later in life (if we receive enough education) by elaborate rationalization.

Sadly, instead of deciding that the teacher was misguided or overemphasising obedience, Daniels pushed forward with empiricism and rationalism in his life.

That said, he takes exception to militant atheism and claims to appreciate the value of older religious writing.

However, his books on society are well worth reading. I have read three and given them as gifts.

These are but a few of Daniels’s themes:

– One of the things that makes Islam attractive to young westernised Muslim men is the opportunity it gives them to dominate women.[16]

– Criminality is much more often the cause of drug addiction than its consequence.

High culture and refined aesthetic tastes are worth defending, and despite the protestations of non-judgmentalists who say all expression is equal, they are superior to popular culture.[20][21][22]

– The ideology of the Welfare State is used to diminish personal responsibility. Erosion of personal responsibility makes people dependent on institutions and favours the existence of a threatening and vulnerable underclass.

Moral relativism can easily be a trick of an egotistical mind to silence the voice of conscience.[23]

By chance a few days ago, I ran across an article from The Independent‘s archives.

The article is called ‘Hitler and the socialist dream’ by George Watson, who summarised his latest book for the paper. The book is called The Lost Literature of Socialism (Lutterworth); the article appeared on Sunday, November 22, 1998.

I wrote about this recently for Orphans of Liberty. My post below will organise Watson’s information in a slightly different format, with additional information on the Fabians. You might wish to read both or read Watson’s article in full. Emphases and sub-heads are mine.

Political misconceptions about Hitler

Watson says that after Hitler committed suicide (by cyanide), the world was so pleased to be rid of him that they no longer cared much about his political outlook.

Only a few years earlier in the mid-1930s, he writes:

By the outbreak of civil war in Spain, in 1936, sides had been taken, and by then most western intellectuals were certain that Stalin was left and Hitler was right. That sudden shift of view has not been explained, and perhaps cannot be explained, except on grounds of argumentative convenience. Single binary oppositions – cops-and-robbers or cowboys-and-indians – are always satisfying ...


By the outbreak of world war in 1939 the idea that Hitler was any sort of socialist was almost wholly dead. One may salute here an odd but eminent exception. Writing as a committed socialist just after the fall of France in 1940, in The Lion and the Unicorn, Orwell saw the disaster as a “physical debunking of capitalism”, it showed once and for all that “a planned economy is stronger than a planless one” … “Internally, Germany has a good deal in common with a socialist state.” These words were written just before Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union …

Furthermore, the West found both Hitler’s and Mussolini’s politics puzzling:

The first reactions to National Socialism outside Germany are now largely forgotten. They were highly confused, for the rise of fascism had caught the European left by surprise. There was nothing in Marxist scripture to predict it and must have seemed entirely natural to feel baffled. Where had it all come from? Harold Nicolson, a democratic socialist, and after 1935 a Member of the House of Commons, conscientiously studied a pile of pamphlets in his hotel room in Rome in January 1932 and decided judiciously that fascism (Italian-style) was a kind of militarised socialism

Bella Dodd, the late member (expelled after many years) of the Communist Party in the United States, says that her party controlled the political memes during the 1930s, which persist today. When I excerpted her book, School of Darkness in 2011 — also recommended for home schoolers and family reading discussions — she explained how this worked (Chapter 7):

Beginning in 1936 a prodigious effort was made by the Party in support of the Spanish Civil War, and this continued until 1939.  Perhaps no other activity aroused greater devotion among American intellectuals …

Since 1932 the Communist Party had publicized itself as the leading opponent of fascism … Its propaganda machine ground out an endless stream of words, pictures, and cartoons.  It played on intellectual, humanitarian, racial, and religious sensibilities until it succeeded to an amazing degree in conditioning America to recoil at the word fascist even when people did not know its meaning.

Today I marvel that the world communist movement was able to beat the drums against Germany and never once betray what the inner group knew well: that some of the same forces which gave Hitler his start had also started Lenin and his staff of revolutionists from Switzerland to St. Petersburg to begin the revolution which was to result in the Soviet totalitarian state.

There was not a hint that despite the propaganda of hate unleashed against Germany and Italy, communist representatives were meeting behind the scenes to do business with Italian and German fascists to whom they sold materiel and oil.  There was not a hint that Soviet brass was meeting with German brass to redraw the map of Europe.  There was no betrayal of these facts until one day they met openly to sign a contract for a new map of Europe — a treaty made by Molotov and Von Ribbentrop ...

The communist publicists carefully took for their own the pleasant word of Loyalist and called all who opposed them “Franco-Fascists.” This was a literary coup which confused many men and womenViolent communist literature repeatedly lumped all of the Church hierarchy on the side of the “Fascists,” and, using this technique, they sought to destroy the Church by attacking its priests.  This was not a new tactic.  I had seen it used in our own country over and over again … 

It became obvious, as the extensive campaign went on, that some of the funds were coming from sources other than the collections.  It is now well known that the Soviet Union was doing everything in its power to bring the foreign policy of the United States into conformity with its own devious plans and that it did not hesitate to use trickery to do so.  It wanted the United States to support Soviet policy on Spain.  I did not understand this at the time ...

As one example of the puzzle that finally became a picture there is the story of the Erica Reed, which will serve as an example of hundreds of others.  It was supposed to be a mercy ship taking food, milk, and medicines to hard-pressed Barcelona.  It was chartered ostensibly by the North American Committee for Loyalist Spain.  In reality it was financed by Soviet agents

The “relief ship” with its supplies reached Barcelona where she was immediately ordered to Odessa.  And so the Erica Reed, ostensibly chartered by the North American Committee for Loyalist Spain, was sent to Odessa by her real charterer, the Soviet Union.  The Spanish people were expendable.

Private memoirs about Hitler’s Marxism appeared too late

Back now to George Watson’s article. As we know, books and television programmes about Hitler are ten a penny.

The better memoirs and biographies, such as those of insider Albert Speer, have been read by millions around the world.

However, others — equally useful — did not appear until the 1970s or 1980s, by which time, our minds were made up that Hitler was ‘right wing’.

Another reason why we continue to accept this point of view is that Hitler was careful not to mention Marxism publicly. As we shall see, private mentions were quite another matter.

Yet, the later memoirs from those who worked closely with him, some preserved from the postwar years, describe the Fuhrer’s political philosophy:

Shortly before they fell out in the summer of 1933, Hitler uttered sentiments in front of Otto Wagener, which were published after his death in 1971 as a biography by an unrepentant Nazi. Wagener’s Hitler: Memoirs of a Confidant, composed in a British prisoner-of-war camp, did not appear until 1978 in the original German, and arrived in English, without much acclaim, as recently as 1985.

Watson also cites Hermann Rauschning, who knew Hitler well — before and after his accession to power.

Hitler’s admitted debt to Marxism

Watson writes:

It is now clear beyond all reasonable doubt that Hitler and his associates believed they were socialists, and that others, including democratic socialists, thought so too. The title of National Socialism was not hypocritical. The evidence before 1945 was more private than public, which is perhaps significant in itself. In public Hitler was always anti-Marxist, and in an age in which the Soviet Union was the only socialist state on earth, and with anti-Bolshevism a large part of his popular appeal, he may have been understandably reluctant to speak openly of his sources. His megalomania, in any case, would have prevented him from calling himself anyone’s disciple.


His private conversations, however, though they do not overturn his reputation as an anti-Communist, qualify it heavily. Hermann Rauschning, for example, a Danzig Nazi who knew Hitler before and after his accession to power in 1933, tells how in private Hitler acknowledged his profound debt to the Marxian tradition. “I have learned a great deal from Marxism” he once remarked, “as I do not hesitate to admit” … The trouble with Weimar Republic politicians, he told Otto Wagener at much the same time, was that “they had never even read Marx” … His differences with the communists, he explained, were less ideological than tactical. German communists he had known before he took power, he told Rauschning, thought politics meant talking and writing. They were mere pamphleteers, whereas “I have put into practice what these peddlers and pen pushers have timidly begun”, adding revealingly that “the whole of National Socialism” was based on Marx

Socialism relies on eugenics and death — Fabians

During the same time frame — at the turn of the 20th century through the 1930s — the Fabians in England supported similar socialist ideals of a pure race. They were also big fans of the Soviet project.

Creating a pure race of intelligent, healthy, acceptable people could mean only that selective breeding — eugenics — would need to be established. This was also popular in Sweden and elsewhere in the West, including the United States (e.g. Margaret Sanger, a friend of the Fabians).

Watson explains:

… the socialist intelligentsia of the western world entered the First World War publicly committed to racial purity and white domination and no less committed to violence. Socialism offered them a blank cheque, and its licence to kill included genocide. In 1933, in a preface to On the Rocks, for example, Bernard Shaw publicly welcomed the exterminatory principle which the Soviet Union had already adopted. Socialists could now take pride in a state that had at last found the courage to act, though some still felt that such action should be kept a secret. In 1932 Beatrice Webb remarked at a tea-party what “very bad stage management” it had been to allow a party of British visitors to the Ukraine to see cattle-trucks full of starving “enemies of the state” at a local station. “Ridiculous to let you see them”, said Webb, already an eminent admirer of the Soviet system. “The English are always so sentimental” adding, with assurance: “You cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs.” A few years later, in 1935, a Social Democratic government in Sweden began a eugenic programme for the compulsory sterilisation of gypsies, the backward and the unfit, and continued it until after the war.

Hitler: socialism demands anti-Semitism

Therefore, it is not surprising that being unfit comprised racial or cultural differences. In the previous paragraph, the Swedes targeted gypsies or those lacking physical and intellectual vigour. Similar experiments occurred in the southern United States with poor blacks, those afflicted with Downs Syndrome or people whom authorities viewed as undesirable.

And where did all these ideas originate? With none other than Karl Marx. I recapped the mindset of famous Marxists the other day. Even though they are long dead, the ideology continues. That post is meant as a warning for the future, something to always keep in mind. Marxism isn’t dead, nor is communism. Socialism is alive and well, even in so-called ‘conservative’ circles and political parties.

Marx mixed it up with regard to the Jews, the late Richard Wurmbrand — a Lutheran pastor tortured in communist prison — wrote. In some instances, Marx railed against the Jews. In others, he said the contrary. With all the anti-Semitism (pogroms) rife in Eastern Europe during that time, however, it is not surprising that Marxist apologists picked up on it.

Marx, Wurmbrand’s book Marx and Satan tells us, was born into a Jewish family. His mother was Jewish but his father converted to Lutheranism before his son was born. Marx was raised in the Christian faith. As my post stated the other day, Marx turned against religion altogether and wanted it stamped out. What follows is but one example of this, an excerpt from an article he wrote for the New York Tribune in 1856:

We know that behind every tyrant stands a Jew, as a Jesuit stands behind every Pope. As the army of the Jesuits kills every free thought, so the desire of the oppressed would have chances of success, the usefulness of wars incited by capitalists would cease, if it were not for the Jews who steal the treasures of mankind. It is no wonder that 1856 years ago Jesus chased the usurers from the Jerusalem temple …

We still see similar thoughts on today’s conspiracy theory sites — left or right wing.

Anti-Semitism is a dangerous sentiment.

And most of the anti-Semites I have known have allied themselves with … the left wing.

Hitler wasted no time in pointing out the similarity between socialism and anti-Semitism. Watson writes:

The claim that Hitler cannot really have been a socialist because he advocated and practised genocide suggests a monumental failure, then, in the historical memory. Only socialists in that age advocated or practised genocide, at least in Europe, and from the first years of his political career Hitler was proudly aware of the fact. Addressing his own party, the NSDAP, in Munich in August 1920, he pledged his faith in socialist-racialism: “If we are socialists, then we must definitely be anti-semites – and the opposite, in that case, is Materialism and Mammonism, which we seek to oppose.” There was loud applause. Hitler went on: “How, as a socialist, can you not be an anti-semite?” The point was widely understood, and it is notable that no German socialist in the 1930s or earlier ever sought to deny Hitler’s right to call himself a socialist on grounds of racial policy. In an age when the socialist tradition of genocide was familiar, that would have sounded merely absurd. The tradition, what is more, was unique. In the European century that began in the 1840s from Engels’s article of 1849 down to the death of Hitler, everyone who advocated genocide called himself a socialist, and no exception has been found.

Socialism and ‘moral laws’

Another important point about Marxism, socialism and communism is their rhetoric appeals to the setting right of imperfection, according to ‘moral law’.

Along with this comes the labelling of one’s enemies, whether individuals or nations. The skewed morality they use to justify anti-Semitism also becomes a similar hate with regard to many others. Wurmbrand cites Marx:

Marx hated not only the Jews, but also the Germans: “Beating is the only means of resurrecting the Germans.” He spoke about “the stupid German people … the disgusting national narrowness of the Germans” and said that “Germans, Chinese, and Jews have to be compared with peddlers and small merchants.” He called the Russians “cabbage-eaters.” The Slavic peoples were “ethnic trash.” He expressed his hatred of many nations, but never his love.

Marx wrote in his new year’s roundup of 1848 about “the Slavic riffraff,” which included Russians, Czechs, and Croats. These “retrograde” races had nothing left for them by fate except “the immediate task of perishing in the revolutionary world storm.” “The coming world war will cause not only reactionary classes and dynasties, but entire reactionary peoples, to disappear from the face of the earth. And that will be progress.” “Their very name will vanish.”

Of course, in the Marxist-socialist-communist mind, once one’s perceived enemies are vanquished, the result will be utopia.

Hitler played with this in his unique National Socialism, evoking a certain nostalgia of a Germanic people that probably never existed. Watson tells us:

Hitler’s remembered talk offers a vision of a future that draws together many of the strands that once made utopian socialism irresistibly appealing to an age bred out of economic depression and cataclysmic wars; it mingles, as Victorian socialism had done before it, an intense economic radicalism with a romantic enthusiasm for a vanished age before capitalism had degraded heroism into sordid greed and threatened the traditional institutions of the family and the tribe …

The Jew, Hitler told Wagener, was not a socialist, and the Jesus they crucified was the true creator of socialist redemption. As for communists, he opposed them because they created mere herds, Soviet-style, without individual life, and his own ideal was “the socialism of nations” rather than the international socialism of Marx and Lenin.

What Marxism, Leninism and Stalinism failed to accomplish,” he told Wagener, “we shall be in a position to achieve.”

That was the National Socialist vision. It was seductive, at once traditional and new. Like all socialist views it was ultimately moral, and its economic and racial policies were seen as founded on universal moral laws. By the time such conversations saw the light of print, regrettably, the world had put such matters far behind it, and it was less than ever ready to listen to the sayings of a crank or a clown …


We would do well to think of this political ‘philosophy’ (for lack of a better word) when we read of the state encroaching on our freedom, proposing communitarianism.

We would also do well to consider the anti-Israel sentiments coming from mainstream Protestant pulpits.

Furthermore, the current Pope has a few questions to answer when he proposes that we all give more to the poor to create a more moral and just society. Odd that he never calls for a bit of tax relief for the middle classes which would enrich the Church’s coffers. He, too, sees a utopia created from environmentalism, moral law and wealth redistribution.

Left-wing dogma assumes many forms. We need to see it and call it out for what it is.

The lure of Marxism — in whatever form — persists today.

I pity clergymen, especially in the United States, who say that Western Christians are not persecuted. The UK has a whole litany of news items going back nearly a decade of employers refusing to allow employees to wear small crosses or keep them in their work vehicles.

Even in the United States, it is becoming more commonplace for Christianity to be restricted in the workplace. I read some months ago on a comments board that one man was threatened with the loss of his job in IT if he ever brought his faith up again in casual conversation.

I have been reading the award-winning historian Simon Sebag Montefiore’s Young Stalin, which I recommend to everyone — teenagers and adults. (US link is here.) This is an excellent book for home schooling and family reading, where parents and children can discuss the work together.

Sebag Montefiore spent several years researching this work, which involved accessing previously hidden archives in Russia and (Soviet) Georgia, Stalin’s homeland.

It is an eyeopener, to say the least. Let it never be said that Stalin was a simple bureaucrat or a bore. He was clearly capable of verbal and physical cruelty from his boyhood.

I’ll write more about this book — objectively written and eminently readable — once I finish it. It is a page-turner and you won’t want to miss a detail.

In the meantime, may I remind you of the late Richard Wurmbrand’s Marx and Satan, which will supply the necessary background to understanding Stalin and his contemporaries. The aforementioned link — excerpted below (consider all of the following highlighted!) — has separate links to each brief chapter of his book, also highly appropriate for homeschoolers of teens and family reading discussions.

It is particularly apposite to call attention to Wurmbrand’s summary of Marx as an adolescent and young adult. These years, incidentally, were also turning points for Stalin.

As I wrote of Marxism, in summarising Wurmbrand:

Marx — who scored highly in religious studies classes at school — turned from Christ as a young man.  He came to hate Christianity, God and his fellow man.  He wrote that people were ‘human trash’.  He often used the word ‘destroy’, which became his nickname in early adulthood …

None of what he wrote was about making mankind equal around the world.  Nor did he write about improving fairness or the human condition.  He merely wanted to destroy the world and preside over it.

It’s interesting that both Marx and Stalin — atheists — were informally referred to by Christian titles by their followers. Stalin, as we’ll see, was often called ‘the priest’. As for Marx, his:

wife referred to him as a high priest and bishop. 

… Marx called himself the ‘Pope of Communism’.

This twisted atheism — far removed from humanism — turned into satanism:

After finishing school, [Marx] began writing plays and poems.  These featured verses to Satan and used a number of verbal inversions, often used in satanic speech. He called his own writings ‘sh-t’ and ‘swinish’.  In one of his plays, he condemns humanity to destruction …

When he found he could not make a living from his writing, he abandoned the creative side of it, as did Hitler as a young man.  Both turned to political or philosophical subject matter with a dose of satanism. Even then, for Marx, ridding the world of religion was his principal goal …

Engels made Moses Hess’s acquaintance … and parted from his company a communist.  Hess was delighted to have made another convert. Engels then wrote of a ‘devilish spirit’ which had been permeating the world since the French Revolution at the end of the 18th century …

Leon Trotsky related that, at the age of 16, Vladimir Lenin tore a cross from around his neck, spat on it and stamped on it.  This is common in satanic circles …

As a child, Bukharin, who was one of the 20th century’s main Marxist doctrinaires, dreamt of being the Antichrist and tried to co-opt his mother into his ambition.  He later wrote that Joseph Stalin was ‘a devil’.

Stalin’s brother-in-law wrote that the iconic Soviet leader was devoid of humanity.  Many of Stalin’s state colleagues termed him demonic.

Stalin believed that believing parents, even those only under suspicion of religious convictions, should be separated from their children. He said that he derived the greatest pleasure from drawing people close to him in perceived friendship, only to plant a dagger in their backs. He considered love and forgiveness to be the greatest of crimes.

A Soviet official, whom Stalin had shot, had a picture of Satan in his room, where, normally, an Orthodox icon would have stood …

Che Guevara, he of the t-shirts, wrote that a revolutionary must be a ‘cool, calculated and cold killing machine’ …

Marx advocated a ‘permanent revolution’.  There would be no goal other than ongoing bloodshed.  Lenin opined that atheism is part and parcel of communism. Fighting against religion was the main goal.  Furthermore, he hoped that the United States would fall into communist hands ‘like overripe fruit’ …

Various interpretations of Marxism around the world led to active and fatal persecution of Christians, particularly clergy and religious:

[In the Soviet Union] priests and pastors were crucified in prison, just as Jesus was.  Some were disemboweled.  One had an unborn baby from a female prisoner placed in his stomach. Life is cheap to communists.  They do not care about humanity, only themselves and their cult of death …

In prisons, guards used various techniques to humiliate and weaken prisoners in an attempt to get them to blaspheme.  They knocked a priest’s teeth out with an iron rod. They raped nuns and Christian laywomen, including girls, sometimes anally.  Others they forced to perform fellatio.

Marx approved of torture, saying it led to ‘ingenious inventions’.  Let it not be said that this man was a humanitarian …

Elsewhere in the world, similar atrocities occurred.  During the Spanish Civil War, the communists killed 4,000 Catholic priests.  In Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, tribe members — trained by the North Koreans — were ordered to kill their own sons.  Those who refused were killed alongside their sons.

The last thing the communists wanted were martyrs for Christ.  So, they brutally tortured their prisoners in order to get them to blaspheme and to renounce Jesus.  They fully intend for Christians to go to Hell and will do everything they can to inflict horrific acts of physical and psychological pain to ensure it happens. Granted, their methods do not always work, but they have the will and many of the ways.  They want their prisoners to praise Satan.

There were ‘show churches’ in the USSR in Stalin’s time. Some of these aberrant priests were at seminary the same time as Stalin was in the early part of the 20th century. Outside of public services:

A branch of the Russian Orthodox Church was given over to Satanist priests.  Human blood was used instead of consecrated wine during the blasphemous communion services.

Also, relating to the Church:

As people who are interested in Satan, communists reword prayers and distort Holy Scripture in order to prey on people’s greed and a false sense of ‘oppression’.  These are ways in which they can ‘re-educate’ people.  Sometimes they use mass-media broadcasts for this purpose.  Sometimes they use school curriculum.


despite this, a number of American seminary professors saw no dichotomy between a seminarian professing both Marxism and Christianity.  Sixty-eight per cent of Episcopalian professors and 53% of Lutherans felt that this was acceptable.

In conclusion, in the 1960s:

Khruschev said that those who believed the philosophy of Marx, Engels and Lenin was dead were deceiving themselves.

As Wurmbrand writes in the book, one can be a Christian or a Marxist, but not both. Make sure that you and your children know the reasons why.

In researching the Vietnam War, I ran across an article that British-American journalist Robert Elegant, born in 1928, wrote for the magazine Encounter.

Elegant — what a marvellous name — was born in New York City and spent most of his journalistic career in Asia. He covered the Korean and Vietnam Wars and has a keen knowledge of China and its culture, supplemented earlier by a Masters in Far Eastern Studies from Columbia University. He has won several awards during his career. He currently divides his time between London and Italy and still travels to the Far East.

Elegant’s article is entitled ‘How to Lose A War: The Press and Viet Nam’ (Encounter (London), vol. LVII, No. 2, August 1981, pp. 73-90). Below are excerpts; reading the article in full is highly recommended for his insight into the media spin, borne of ignorance, on this war.

If you read only one post in my Vietnam series, this is it. This is especially important for parents and guardians to pass along to children. I also recommend it to teachers and lecturers, provided they can position it such that they do not incur the wrath of their notional superiors.

Emphases mine below.

The Vietnam War was unique:

For the first time in modern history, the outcome of a war was determined not on the battlefield but on the printed page and, above all, on the television screen.

Who won?

Looking back coolly, I believe it can be said (surprising as it may still sound) that South Vietnamese and American forces actually won the limited military struggle. They virtually crushed the Viet Cong in the South, the “native” guerrillas who were directed, reinforced, and equipped from Hanoi; and thereafter they threw back the invasion by regular North Vietnamese divisions. Nonetheless, the war was finally lost to the invaders after the U.S. disengagement because the political pressures built up by the media had made it quite impossible for Washington to maintain even the minimal material and moral support that would have enabled the Saigon regime to continue effective resistance.

As for knock-on effects to the 1981 — when Elegant wrote the article — we can probably safely add on later conflicts to the present day:

It is, however, interesting to wonder whether Angola, Afghanistan, and Iran would have occurred if Saigon had not fallen amid nearly universal odium—that is to say, if the “Viet Nam Syndrome,” for which the press (in my view) was largely responsible, had not afflicted the Carter Administration and paralyzed American will. On the credit side, largely despite the press, the People’s Republic of China would almost certainly not have purged itself of the Maoist doctrine of “worldwide liberation through people’s war” and, later, would not have come to blows with Hanoi if the defense of South Viet Nam had not been maintained for so long.

The media reporting on Vietnam were a ‘brotherhood’ which had already chosen which side they were on. Their reporting was also for their fellow journalists:

In my own personal experience most correspondents wanted to talk chiefly to other correspondents to confirm their own mythical vision of the war. Even newcomers were precommitted, as the American jargon has it, to the collective position most of their colleagues had already taken. What I can only call surrealistic reporting constantly fed on itself, and did not diminish thereby, but swelled into ever more grotesque shapes. I found the process equally reprehensible for being in no small part unwitting.

In part, this was because:

Most correspondents were isolated from the Vietnamese by ignorance of their language and culture, as well as by a measure of race estrangement. Most were isolated from the quixotic American Army establishment, itself often as confused as they themselves were, by their moralistic attitudes and their political prejudices.

However, the journalists also wanted to protect their jobs and wrote accordingly:

After each other, correspondents wrote to win the approbation of their editors, who controlled their professional lives and who were closely linked with the intellectual community at home. The consensus of that third circle, the domestic intelligentsia, derived largely from correspondents’ reports and in turn served to determine the nature of those reports. If dispatches did not accord with that consensus, approbation was withheld. Only in the last instance did correspondents address themselves to the general public, the mass of lay readers and viewers.

Ironically, given this state of affairs, journalists, Elegant contends, could be compared to the soldiers whom they were criticising:

A tour in Viet Nam was almost essential to promotion for a U.S. Regular Army officer, and a combat command was the best road to rapid advancement. Covering the biggest continuing story in the world was not absolutely essential to a correspondent’s rise, but it was an invaluable cachet. Quick careers were made by spectacular reporting of the obvious fact that men, women, and children were being killed; fame or at least notoriety rewarded the correspondent who became part of the action—rather than a mere observer—by influencing events directly.

Journalists, particularly those serving in television, were therefore, like soldiers, “rotated” to Viet Nam. Few were given time to develop the knowledge, and indeed the intellectual instincts, necessary to report the war in the round. Only a few remained “in country” for years, though the experienced Far Eastern correspondents visited regularly from Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo. Not surprisingly, one found that most reporting veered farther and farther from the fundamental political, economic, and military realities of the war, for these were usually not spectacular. Reporting Viet Nam became a closed, self-generating system sustained largely by the acclaim the participants lavished on each other in almost equal measure to the opprobrium they heaped on “the Establishment,” a fashionable and very vulnerable target.

Ignorance and spin were not germane only to American journalists:

For some journalists, perhaps most, a moment of truth through self-examination was never to come. The farther they were from the real conflict, the more smugly self-approving they now remain as commentators who led the public to expect a brave new world when the North Vietnamese finally “liberated” South Viet Nam. Even those correspondents who today gingerly confess to some errors or distortions usually insist that the true fault was not theirs at all, but Washington’s. The enormity of having helped in one way or another to bring tens of millions under grinding totalitarian rule—and having tilted the global balance of power—appears too great to acknowledge. It is easier to absolve one’s self by blaming exclusively Johnson, Nixon, and Kissinger.

I found few American correspondents to be as tough-minded as one Briton I knew who was very close to the action for many years in the employ of an American wire-news service. “I’m ashamed of most of what I wrote in Viet Nam,” he told me recently. “But I was a new boy, and I took my lead from the Americans, who were afire with the crusading spirit of ’60s journalism—the involvement, man, in the good fight. When I look at what’s happened now, I’m ashamed of my ignorance—and what I helped to do to the Vietnamese….”

Only journalists who knew recent history of Southeast Asia could see through Hanoi’s (North Vietnam’s capital) propaganda:

We knew that, in 1956, close to 50,000 peasants were executed in North Viet Nam. We knew that after the division of the country nearly one million North Vietnamese had fled to the South. Many of us have seen the tortured and carved-up bodies of men, women, and children executed by the Viet Cong in the early phases of the war. And many of us saw, in 1968, the mass graves of Hue, saw the corpses of thousands of civilians still festively dressed for Tet, the Vietnamese New Year.


Why, for heaven’s sake, did we not report about these expressions of deliberate North Vietnamese strategy at least as extensively as of the My Lai massacre and other such isolated incidents that were definitely not part of the U.S. policy in Viet Nam?


I think at least a little humility would be in order for us old Viet Nam hands. . . .

And let us not confuse coyness on their part with humility:

the media have been rather coy; they have not declared that they played a key role in the conflict. They have not proudly trumpeted Hanoi’s repeated expressions of gratitude to the mass media of the non-Communist world, although Hanoi has indeed affirmed that it could not have won “without the Western press.” The Western press appears either unaware of the direct connection between cause (its reporting) and effect (the Western defeat in Viet Nam), or strangely reluctant to proclaim that the pen and the camera proved decisively mightier than the bayonet and ultra-modern weapons …

Any searching analysis of fundamental premises has remained as unthinkable to “the critics” as it was during the fighting. They have remained committed to the proposition that the American role in Indochina was totally reprehensible and inexcusable, while the North Vietnamese role—and, by extension, the roles of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the Pathet Lao in Laos—was righteous, magnanimous, and just. Even the growing number who finally deplored the repressive consequences of the totalitarian victory could not bring themselves to re-examine the premises that led them to contribute so decisively to those victories.

Television reinforced the media’s perspective:

At any given moment, a million images were available to the camera’s lens in Saigon alone—and hundreds of million throughout Indochina. But TV crews naturally preferred the most dramatic. That, after all, was their business—show business. It was not news to film farmers peacefully tilling their rice fields, though it might have been argued that nothing happening was news when the American public had been led to believe that almost every Vietnamese farmer was regularly threatened by the Viet Cong, constantly imperiled by battle, and rarely safe from indiscriminate U.S. bombing.

If I might interject here, this is exactly what I thought as a child. My parents tried to explain otherwise, but there it was on the news every night. Television couldn’t lie. Could it?

But television could “prove” either a negative or a positive proposition—depending on where the camera pointed and upon the correspondent’s inclination.

The military was unhappy with the nature of the reporting. It seemed as if Vietnam were two wars — one which the armed forces were fighting and the second on which the journalists reported:

Sgt. John Ashe (brother of the world-famous tennis player) was a Marine assigned to public relations duties. He delivered a biting indictment of the young wire-service correspondents and the “war freaks” who frequented Da Nang (which was a remote outpost to the media, though not to the military). They would, he recalled, rarely go into the field and never spend the night when they did; would deport themselves as if they had never heard a shot fired with intent to kill before that moment—to their own and the Marines’ peril; and then file stories that “bore little or no relation” to what he—and they—had seen. They didn’t want to know, Ashe added, what was really happening in the First Corps Area, where the Marines had winkled out the Viet Cong by stationing squads in villages.

The media’s opposition to the Establishment — government, principally — was so strong that anything the administration or military said was thought to be a lie. Only the Communists were seen to be honest:

A faulty syllogism was unconsciously accepted: Washington was lying consistently; Hanoi contradicted Washington; therefore Hanoi was telling the truth.

Communists, not surprisingly, had set up this faulty syllogism:

The initial inclination to look upon Hanoi as a fount of pure truth was intelligently fostered by the Communists, who selectively rewarded “critics of the American war” with visas to North Viet Nam.

These famous ‘critics’ included celebrities, among them Jane Fonda:

A number of influential journalists and public figures (ranging from former cabinet officers to film actresses) were feted in North Viet Nam. They were flattered not only by the attention and the presumed inside information proffered by the North Vietnamese but by their access to a land closed to most Americans.

Running like lemmings, they were — and what Elegant writes in the next paragraph is especially true; you can still read it from readers of left-wing sites such as the Daily Kos:

The favored few—and the aspiring many—helped establish a climate in which it was not only fashionable but, somehow, an act of courage to follow the critical crowd in Saigon and Washington while praising Hanoi. The skeptical correspondent risked ostracism by his peers and conflicts with his editors if he did not run with “the herd of independent minds,” if he did not support the consensus.

Historically — and even among the left-wing peace proponents, there was a respect for war, especially the Great War and the Second World War. The Korean War was seen as just about acceptable, including from a media perspective.

Just not the Vietnam War. This is why I say that the Communist and Marxist propaganda machine worked very well during that time:

World War II was generally considered a crusade against evil …

The Korean War was not a universal crusade …  Moved neither by basic antagonism towards official aims nor by unthinking commitment to those aims, a surprisingly youthful press corps offered surprisingly objective reports. Aside from a marked weakness in covering internal politics in both the South and the North—a weakness that presaged a disastrous disability in Indochina—Korea was, in my view, the best-covered American war of modern times. Besides, the conflict was, by and large, straightforward and simple to understand.

Elegant states that, as far as the Vietnam War was concerned, this part of the world, its history and its place in the Cold War were difficult to understand, ‘arcane’ at times, especially for the general public. However, he observes that the media did not help lift that cloud of ignorance for them.

Getting back to journalistic ignorance, the glaring lack of knowledge about the nature of war  (somehow — didn’t any of these people learn world history at school?) manifested itself in coverage of Vietnam:

Most, as I have noted, knew little about war in general from either experience or study—and less about the theory or practice of guerrilla war.

And, let’s not forget Marxist theory:

Since so many were also untroubled by acquaintance with Marxist theory or practice and were hazy about the international balance of power, they were incapable of covering effectively a conflict involving all those elements.


As long as the “Viet Nam Syndrome” afflicts the media, it seems to me that it will be virtually impossible for the West to conduct an effective foreign policy.

And this, I believe, is what James Higham was saying recently at Orphans of Liberty in his post on Vietnam (which I cited yesterday), which alluded to the United Nations and the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

Unfortunately, and I believe Elegant is correct:

It is possible that the “Viet Nam Syndrome” will recur; it is not unlikely that Western foreign policy, with the United States as its faltering—or even resurgent—leader, will again be forced to operate in an environment dominated by a hostile press.

This is yet another reason why it is so important to understand history, even — perhaps especially — ‘difficult’ conflicts such as the Vietnam War.

Whilst researching the post on the Browder family, I ran across an issue of Solanka, the publication of the old United Communist Party (UCP) in the US.

In fact, this issue would have appeared around the same time the late, one-time party chief Earl Browder received his membership.

Out of curiosity, I read through it and was struck by its aggressiveness, which Bella Dodd explored in detail in her memoir School of Darkness.

If anyone thinks Communism is a ‘nice’ and ‘compassionate’ way of thinking or governing, ask them how they would like to receive the following, typical of the rest of Solanka.

The following excerpted meeting minutes are dated August 14, 1920 (pp. 5 and 6). Note the focus on money, organisation and seeming disregard for Party members as people.

Also observe how much it sounds like a hostile office memo one might receive today. It could have been subtitled ‘Pull a finger out, idiots’.

Did we get our love of corporate acronyms (see last line of memo) from the Commies? I wonder.

In any case, I found this so absolutely frightful I couldn’t resist sharing it with you.

Emphases mine below except for words in caps and italics:



Your CEC has just had a meeting. Here’s an account of its decisions and actions.

Information of this character will no longer be published in the Official Organ [The Communist], but will be sent you in Bulletins like this. After reading to the group members, destroy the Bulletin.

VERY special information will not even be published in Bulletins, but conveyed verbally through organizers. Unless you attend EVERY group meeting you may miss something important. Moral: BE THERE.

Still more important is it for your organizers and committeemen to attend all committee meetings. If any refuse to do this, fire them, and put comrades on the job who’ll attend to business.

Here are several specific matters for your action:—

Soviet Russia Resolution. The last page of this Bulletin contains a resolution for support of Soviet Russia. Bring it before your unions.

Raise Defense Funds.The Party has accepted proposition from the National Defense Committee. Dispose of as many Defense stamps as you can to outsiders. Push collection of Defense Fund among non-members in every way you can think of, so that regular receipts can be used for organization work. Forward all funds collected BY MEMBERS through the regular Party channels, whether from stamps or lists.

$50,000 Organization Fund.The tremendous campaign mapped out by your CEC is based on expectation that you will raise the $50,000 Fund necessary to carry it through. Remember that EVERY group should raise $50, or $5 per member, by September 1st [1920].

Intensive Propaganda. There are in this country at least 100,00 Left Wing Socialists and IWWs whom it is perfectly safe for you to approach with Communist message.Your CEC can not do this. Neither can your organizers. This is a task that You Yourselves must do. For this purpose every member is requested to take 5 copies of each issue of the Official Organ in English or some other language. If possible pay for them in advance. Then sell or give them away. The Party can not afford to distribute this free, except 1 copy to every member. But by this plan you can start a vast propaganda campaign at once. Surely there is not a single member who can not do this: Pick out 5 people to whom it is safe for you to talk. Keep after them with each issue until they are ready for membership in the UCP.

Reports and Orders.Your group organizer must make financial reports at least twice a month. Ours can be “a party of action” only if YOU act. See to it that he has something to report from you each time. Tell him exactly how many copies of each language organ to order for you on the requisition blank that he has for this purpose. Only if your group does this systematically can your District Organizer make proper orders and reports to the National Office.

Kicks. If papers you order do not reach you, please KICK to the higher party units until they come through. If we do not hear you holler we take it for granted that all papers and literature reach you OK.

Remember, Comrades: Our Communist Movement is just what YOU make it. Up and AT IT.

Yours in Revolt,

The CEC of the UCP.

Readers who followed my series on Bella Dodd‘s School of Darkness — the eye-opening memoir of her years in the Communist Party in New York — will recall the name Earl Browder.

Browder was the head — General Secretary — of the Communist Party in the United States in the 1930s and first half of the 1940s. Chapter Thirteen of Dodd’s book tells the story of his expulsion from the Party — as she witnessed it.

Communist Party pamphlet Wikipedia 406px-37-howard-this4thofjulyBrowder’s Wikipedia entry also includes insights into the CPUSA, among them the penny propaganda pamphlets which used American history and patriots to Communism’s own warped ends. I received a comment at the time I blogged on Dodd’s book from someone who said it sounded like ‘conspiracy theory’. Well, here it is in black and white. Click the picture to enlarge. It even includes one of the slogans about which Dodd wrote:

Communism is the Americanism of the 20th century.

The pamphlet pictured at right was printed in 1938, when Browder was General Secretary.

Earl Browder — early history

Browder was born in Wichita, Kansas in 1891. Mark Kansas in your mind for now — more on it and Communist connections in a moment.

Browder’s father was a populist. According to a University of St Andrews site, he was also an unemployed schoolteacher. One wonders if he had unconventional ideas which did not go down well with school boards and parents. The St Andrews biography tells us that it was he who homeschooled young Earl and taught him about socialism. Earl ended up joining the Socialist Party in Wichita when was 16.

As a young man, he moved to Kansas City and joined the AF of L union of his trade, the Bookkeepers, Stenographers and Accountants union — in line with his employment at the time.

Earl Browder-earl-prison1917_WikipediaBefore he was 20, he had served two prison terms. One was between 1917 and 1918 for subverting the draft law and nonregistration. Browder vocally and actively opposed the Great War. He later served another year in prison between 1919 and 1920 — this time in Leavenworth, Kansas — for co-founding and editing a radical newspaper, The Workers World.

After his release, Browder joined the United Communist Party (UCP). He later met up with a former associate William Z ‘Bill’ Foster — also a friend of Bella Dodd’s — and found work as managing editor of the Trade Union Educational League newspaper, The Labor Herald.

In 1921, he was part of an American delegation to Moscow as part of a Russian effort to form a confederation of international labour unions. Browder was representing Kansas miners.

A fellow traveler, also a member of the American delegation — Agnes Smedley — wrote a friend about Browder (see Primary Source 1 at the link, emphases mine):

In Moscow, amid great poverty, Ella Reeve Bloor wore lace dresses over silk coloured slips; also long strings of coloured beads, rings, etc. And she lived with an idiot. Earl Browder, a young, dainty man of some 25 or 26 who bought (and wore) baby-blue silk Russian smocks in the market; and long black silk ribbons which he wore as belts. And then he, with his baby white skin and fair toothbrush moustache, posed in Moscow as the delegate from the Kansas miners. So help me gawd!! It was awful! I was so disgusted I couldn’t even protest. I hate female men above all. And then to have them say they represent miners when I know they haven’t been within a thousand miles of a mine. And Mother Bloor posed as the representative of five or six organizations, from the far West to Massachusetts!

Later, in 1928, he and another activist, Kitty Harris, lived briefly in Shanghai as part of a Comintern effort, the Pan Pacific Trade Union Secretariat, to engage in clandestine labour organising.

Dodd’s book gives a good insight into Browder’s leadership of the Communist Party during the 1930s and the early 1940s.

Between 1941 and 1942, Browder served another prison term for use of a passport fraudulently obtained. During his months in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, the Party executed a vociferous campaign for his release. Not surprisingly, it worked.

In June 1945, his fellow comrades stripped him of party leadership and membership. It was at that time that they formed the current Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA).

In 1950, Browder appeared before Senator Joseph McCarthy’s committee investigating un-American activities.  He pleaded the Fifth in order not to incriminate his former comrades; he also denied being involved in espionage. Although he was charged with contempt of Congress for his testimony, Judge F Dickinson Letts ordered Browder’s acquittal, ruling that the committee had not acted legally. In other words, Browder was let go on a technicality. This is not dissimilar to Bill Ayers being let go in the 1970s because of a procedural fault on the part of the authorities which outweighed his probable guilt.

Browder died in 1973 in Princeton, New Jersey. Although he was no longer a member of CPUSA, he never renounced his socialist sympathies. He and his one-time Russian law professor wife Raissa Berkmann raised three sons — all of whom became leading mathematicians — William, Felix and Andrew. More about them in a moment.

Communism, Hawaii and the Kansas connection

To many of us, Kansas appears to be a homespun, prairie state of farms and small towns.

Therefore, it might come as news to some that it had — and has — active Communists. The same is true of Hawaii before it became the 50th state in 1959. In 2008, I read that after Franklin Roosevelt’s death during the Second World War life became hot for Communists on the mainland. This intensified in the 1950s with McCarthy’s investigations.

Among those moving to Hawaii in subsequent years were a number of fellow travellers from Kansas and other parts of the Midwest. President Obama’s grandparents, the Dunhams, and Frank Marshall Davis made that journey. Other Communists found Hawaii a fertile ground for organising sugar cane plantation workers. Their communitarian traditions were natural companions to an international class and racial struggle.

CPUSA historian Gerald Horne gave a speech in 2007 at New York University. He said:

When these sources are explored, I think scholars of the future will be struck by, for example, the response in Honolulu when tens of thousands of workers went on strike when labor and CP leaders were convicted of Smith Act violations in 1953 – a response totally unlike the response on the mainland. Of course 98% of these workers were of Asian-Pacific ancestry, which suggests that scholars have also been derelict in analyzing why these workers were less anti-communist than their Euro-American counterparts.
In any case, deploring these convictions in Hawaii was an African-American poet and journalist by the name of Frank Marshall Davis, who was certainly in the orbit of the CP – if not a member – and who was born in Kansas and spent a good deal of his adult life in Chicago, before decamping to Honolulu in 1948 at the suggestion of his good friend Paul Robeson.
Eventually, he befriended another family – a Euro-American family – that had migrated to Honolulu from Kansas and a young woman from this family eventually had a child with a young student from Kenya East Africa who goes by the name of Barack Obama, who retracing the steps of Davis eventually decamped to Chicago.

In Hawaii, Davis gained a reputation for anti-American positions. These are no different from left-wing positions today. Try not to be too taken in by Occupy and Obamacare, because:

CPUSA assigned Frank Marshall Davis to Honolulu where he began writing for the Communist Newspaper, the Honolulu Record in 1948. In his columns, Davis flawlessly mirrored official Soviet propaganda – he blamed American capitalism for starting World War II, denounced the Marshall Plan, preached wealth redistribution, nationalization of industry and government healthcare, while bashing Wall Street. Davis also helped organize the Communist controlled ILWU (union) in a failed effort to take over the Hawaiian government in 1949. The Hawaii NAACP chapter complained to its national office, “Comrade Frank Marshall Davis suddenly appeared on the scene to propagandize the membership with the purpose of converting it into a front for the Stalinist line.” In 1956, Davis was subpoenaed by the Senate Subcommittee on Un-American Activities and pleaded the fifth.

As for the Dunhams:

Stanley Armour Dunham was born March 23, 1918, came from the oil-town of El Dorado, Kansas, the “other side of the railroad tracks.”  He attended El Dorado High School and worked on oil rigs during the Depression.

In 1926, eight year old Stanley Dunham discovered his mother’s body after she has committed suicide. Stanley’s father then abandoned the traumatized boy, leaving Stanley in the care of his maternal grandparents in El Dorado, Kansas.

The emotionally damaged boy grew into a rebellious teenager. Stanley punched his High School principal and becomes a drifter, hopping rail cars to Chicago, then California, then back again. At age 20, he married Madelyn Payne on the night of her Senior Prom.

The newlyweds didn’t tell her parents of the marriage until after she had her high school diploma in hand ...

Madelyn Lee Payne was born in October 26, 1922, in the tiny Kansas town of Peru.  When she was 3, Rolla Payne moved his young family to the nearby boomtown of Augusta, population about 5,000.

Rolla and his wife, Leona, a teacher, lived in a “company house” at the edge town.  The one-story frame house had three bedrooms, an indoor bathroom, a front porch that went the full width of the house and another enclosed one out back where Leona Payne did the family laundry.

Behind the house were the racks where the oil company stored its pipe and about 100 feet away was the office where Rolla Payne worked.  Next door was the empty lot where the Paynes and other neighborhood kids played baseball.

In Hawaii, Madelyn began working at Bank of Hawaii in 1960 and became one of their first female vice presidents in 1970.

Other well-known Communists from Kansas include James P Cannon (1890-1974 — a contemporary of Earl Browder, 1891-1973), who was a founding leader of the Socialist Workers Party and a founding member of the Communist Labor Party of America (CLP), forerunner of the Communist Party of America (CPA).

But I digress. Back to the Browder family.

The Browder sons

Earl Browder’s sons — William, Felix and Andrew — had a keen interest in science and mathematics. We know more about William and Felix than we do Andrew, although all distinguished themselves as research mathematicians.


William — born in 1934 — honed his interest as a child with toys:

I progressed through architect (based on Lincoln Logs and Tinkertoys), mechanical engineer (Erector sets), chemist, and finally physicist, after the excitement of the atomic bomb. It was in the pages of the ‘New York Times’ in August 1945 that I first read the description of the atom and nuclear fission and learned the atomic number and weight of the isotopes of uranium. I had read some wild science fiction before that, but this was a wilder reality.

He preferred science to mathematics and entered MIT with an intention to major in physics. During his first two years, he discovered that his physical dexterity — necessary for performing lab experiments — was not as good as those of his fellow students. He also discovered a love of mathematics once he began studying mathematical physics.

William graduated from MIT with a BSc in Mathematics in 1954 and earned a PhD from Princeton a few years later. In 1957, he began a teaching career, moving from mathematics instructor at the University of Rochester (New York) and Cornell. He served as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Chicago and Oxford University. He was a professor of mathematics at both Cornell and Princeton. He also spoke at international mathematics conferences.

The St Andrews biography tells us that his speciality is something most mathematicians are unlikely to study in depth:

Browder was one of the inventors of surgery theory, which unifies methods and techniques from several branches of topology and applies them to the classification of high-dimensional manifolds. Peter Kahn writes:-

This procedure has wide-ranging, deep applications in every area of the topology of smooth manifolds, including transformation groups, classification of manifolds, and imbedding and immersion theory. Analogous techniques and applications hold for PL and topological manifolds.

He has been an active and contributing member of the American Mathematical Society as well as a past president.


Felix is Earl Browder’s eldest son. He was born in Moscow in 1928 and Andrew was born there in 1932. William was born in New York in 1934.

Thanks to his influence at home, Felix was an insatiable reader by age four and was considered a child prodigy.

Earl Browder was close to all his three sons and encouraged intellectual activity as a family. William recalls that they often played chess and read newspapers as children.

Felix is said to have read a book a day from the time he was five years old. He attended Yonkers High School (New York) and won a Regents scholarship to MIT at the age of 16. It took him only two years to earn his Bachelors degree in 1946.

He then pursued graduate study in mathematics at Princeton, where he earned his PhD at the age of 20. His thesis concerned

nonlinear functional analysis and its applications. This area and partial differential equations have been my focus in the sixty years since, in particular nonlinear monotone operators from a Banach space to its dual.

That same year — 1948 — he began teaching at MIT then became an instructor at Boston University in 1951.

He was drafted in 1953 to serve the US Army in the Korean War. Before he could serve, however, he required the endorsement and testimony of mathematician Norman Levinson before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Levinson assured the Committee that Felix shared none of his father’s Communist leanings.

Upon leaving the Army in 1955, Felix became Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Brandeis. He moved to Yale in 1956 and remained there as Professor until 1963. He then became Professor of Mathematics at the University of Chicago, where he remained until 1986. His final teaching position was at Rutgers, where he also served as Vice-President for Research from 1986 to 1991.

Like William, Felix was also an active and valued member of the American Mathematical Society.  He also served as president (1999-2000).

President Clinton presented Felix with the National Medal of Science for his eponymous mathematics theory (Tatler, April 2013: ‘Gonzo Justice’, Keith Dovkants, p. 146).

Years on, Felix remains a voracious reader. His library contains, in his words:

thirty-five thousand books. The library has a number of different categories. There is mathematics, physics and science as well as philosophy, literature and history, with a certain number of volumes of contemporary political science and economics. It is a polymath library. I am interested in everything and my library reflects all my interests.

Bill Browder — the next generation

Felix’s son William, 48, is every bit as brilliant as his father and uncles.

His career trajectory is somewhat different, although with a nod towards Russia.

Bill, as he is known, graduated summa cum laude with a degree in economics at the University of Chicago and earned his MBA at Stanford Business School.

Bill Browder Wikipedia 800px-William_F._Browder_-_World_Economic_Forum_Annual_Meeting_2011He worked for Boston Consulting Group’s Eastern European practice, a post based in London. From there, he moved to Salomon Brothers, where he managed the Russian proprietary investments desk.

Bill has since given up his American citizenship, adopting British nationality.

In 1996, with the liberalisation of the Russian economic and political situation, he teamed up with billionaire Edmond Safra (now deceased) to create Hermitage Capital Management. At the time, Safra was chairman of Republic National Bank of New York. Together they put $25m of seed capital into Russia in an attempt to profit from the new privatisations and to increase their investor base.

In 2004, David Walker wrote an article on Hermitage for Hedge Funds Review. Walker explains:

Many equity hedge fund managers use post-tax or post-expense profits as a metric. In Russia, Browder says, it makes more sense for him and his team of 16, including forensic accountants, to analyse a company’s ‘post-stealing’ profits. So Hermitage uses publicly available corporate data – surprisingly plentiful in bureacratic Russia, Browder says – to work out what they think a company is stealing, embezzling, losing through poor management and paying in back-handers. Interviews with present and former employees, customers and suppliers – “most of it spurious, some of it true” – supplement this data. From this comes a ‘profit-before-stealing’ concept.

Because of the impaired state – often unrealised – of so many listed firms in Russia, Browder calls what Hermitage does “distressed equity or equity work-outs” rather than the traditional long/short.

This type of business carries serious political risk. It requires a degree of corporate infiltration and incurring government opposition — even as Browder supports Vladimir Putin:

Following the Russian financial crisis of 1998 Browder continued the business of Hermitage investing in Russia, despite significant outflows from the fund. His fund became a prominent activist shareholder in the Russian gas giant Gazprom, the large oil company Surgutneftegaz, RAO UES, Sberbank, Sidanco, Avisma and Volzhanka.[4] Browder exposed management corruption and corporate malfeasance in these partly state-owned companies.[5] He has been quoted as saying: “You had to become a shareholder activist if you didn’t want everything stolen from you”.[1]

In 1995-2006 Hermitage Capital Management was one of the biggest foreign investors in Russia[6] and Browder has amassed a significant fortune through his management of the Fund. In 2006 he earned an estimated £125-150 million.[7] In 2007 he earned a further £125-£150 million.[8]

In March 2013, the bank HSBC which is the trustee and manager of the Hermital Capital Management, announced that it would be ceasing the fund’s operations in Russia. The decision was taken amid a libel court case in London and a trial in absentia for tax evasion in Moscow, both against Browder.[9]

This is what the aforementioned Tatler article is about. Investigative journalist Keith Dovkants — who wrote for the London Evening Standard for many years — did an exceptional job in revealing the intrigue that surrounds Bill Browder’s company’s work and those out to stop it. It’s far too complicated for me to understand, but Russophiles might be able to get a copy of the magazine at their library. The article, ‘Gonzo Justice’, is in the April 2013 issue, pp. 144 – 147 and finishes on page 187.

There are wheels within wheels at work, and Bill has been uncovering them over the years. People involved with the Hermitage investigations have had strange things happen. One was imprisoned and has since died.  This particular man,  Dovkants reveals, was Sergei Magnitsky, 36, a lawyer on Hermitage’s legal team in 2007 (p. 146). He discovered that a theft of Hermitage documents led to a reregistration of the fund’s companies under a new owner, Victor Markelov, convicted of manslaughter. Fictitious debts were then created — a cooking of the books — after which Markelov applied for a £145m tax rebate from the Russian tax office.

Magnitsky uncovered the scam and the names of those involved, including several police officers. The same officers arrested and jailed him without due process — no trial. During that time, he became very ill with a variety of ailments, among them pancreatitis. The police refused him medical care and he was transferred to the dungeon-like Butyrka prison, where Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was once held. He spent nearly a year in custody with no medical treatment.

Suddenly, in November 2009, the authorities transferred Magnitsky to a prison hospital. Dovkants tells us that eight members of the police riot squad beat him with rubber batons. Civilian doctors were called. The Moscow Public Oversight Commission, which has details of the episode, says that those doctors had to wait one hour and 18 minutes before being admitted. By then, Magnitsky had died. He was only seven days away from his release. He had been incarcerated for 358 days.

Browder runs Hermitage from London. As to Magnitsky’s death and posthumous trial:

Opalesque.TV released a video on February 8, 2010 where Browder spoke about Sergey Magnitsky’s ordeal during his eleven months in detention.[13]

In February 2013, Russian officials announced that Browder and Magnitsky would both be put on trial for evading $16.8 million in taxes. Both men will be tried in absentia.[14] Furthermore, as announced in March 2013, Russian authorities will be investigating Browder illegally obtaining Gazprom shares worth $70 million by his company Hermitage Capital. The investigation will be focusing on whether he violated any Russian laws when his fund, Hermitage Capital, used Russian companies registered in the region of Kalmykia which employed disabled veterans from the Soviet War in Afghanistan for tax break purposes[15] to purchase shares in the gas monopoly between 2001 and 2004, gain a seat on the board, and to exercise influence over its decisions. At the time, according to the Russian law, foreigners were barred from directly owning Gazprom shares. Browder has also been charged with trying to gain access to Gazprom‘s financial reports.[16]

Browder admitted seeking influence in Gazprom but denied any wrongdoing.[17] In his view, purchasing Gazprom shares was an investment in the Russian economy, while the desire to influence the Gazprom management was driven by the need to expose a “huge fraud going on at the company”. In the meantime, the scheme with Russian-registered subsidiaries entitled to tax advantages was practiced by other foreign investors at the time and was not illegal, according to him.[18]

Browder also said that he believes the trial is in response to the United States passing the Magnitsky Act, which blacklists Russian officials involved in Magnitsky’s death from entering the U.S. As claimed by The Financial Times, this trial is deemed to be the first in Russian history over a dead defendant.[19]

Amnesty International described the trial as “a whole new chapter in Russia’s worsening human rights record” and a “sinister attempt to deflect attention from those who committed the crimes he Magnitsky exposed.”[20]

It’s interesting that Earl Browder ran afoul of Moscow via the French Communist Jacques Duclos decades before. Now grandson Bill is experiencing similar difficulties with Mother Russia.

Like his grandfather, he has not given up on his own convictions, different though they are. Dovkants tells us that Bill is touring various countries, lecturing on corruption in Russia. He knows the risks are highly serious, however, he senses that if something unusual happened to him, it would cause a diplomatic incident.

Bill explains (p. 187):

‘Oh,’ he says, breezily, ‘they would kill me tomorrow — if they thought they could get away with it!’

Let’s hope he, his family and associates stay safe.  His revelations need to be exposed to the wider world.

Some of my newer or occasional readers might not recognise the name Bella Dodd.

Dodd was a member of the Communist Party in New York City during the middle of the 20th century, before they expelled her. She later returned to the Roman Catholic Church of her youth in the 1950s and became a conservative before her death in 1969.

Soon after returning to the Catholic Church, she wrote a book called School of Darkness, which I excerpted in 2011. You can find links to both the excerpts and Dodd’s full text on my Marxism/Communism page.

At the time I ran my posts on School of Darkness, someone said to me, ‘Gosh, this seems to be going down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theory’.

Yet, as Dodd details in her autobiographical book, she was an active part of weaving Communist ideology and propaganda into the fabric of America. The same techniques continue to this day in education, politics and social reform. It’s no conspiracy theoryit was and is a conspiracy to subvert liberty at all levels of the United States.

If you find yourself at a loose end during the Christmas holidays, spending a few hours reading School of Darkness will enlighten you on many aspects of Communist ideology and practice.

I’ve thought a lot about the book since I read it last year and revisited it this year — 2012 — as various world events unfolded.

Dodd’s activity took place during the 1930s and 1940s. How familiar are the tactics today? Think of Occupy, education reforms, Agenda 21, political hate, the French and US elections — and more.

Here are a few excerpts which I’ve divided by topic. Much more can be found at the links provided below (emphases mine).

Education and creating a new society (1): [1939] The Communists, who are unerring in attaching themselves to an explosive situation, had their answers for … troubled young teachers. Their chief answer was that we had reached the “breakdown of the capitalist system.” To those who were self-conscious on race or religion they said that “religious or racial discrimination” was the cause. When individual instances of bigotry and discrimination arose, the Communists were quick to note them and to exaggerate them. So a cleavage was established between the older teachers, who were largely Protestants, Catholics, and conservative Jews, and the new teachers who were increasingly freethinkers, atheists, or agnostics, and sometimes called themselves “humanists.”

I now began consciously to build new Party leadership in the Union. I surrounded myself with younger Party members who were more alert to new situations and did not think in rigid Marxist patterns …

The Communist Party had been quick to … avert the attack on the communist teachers, a thing which might lead to the heart of the Party … we organized a committee called “Friends of the Free Public Schools.” Under its aegis we collected funds, more than $150,000 the first year. We published attractive booklets which we sent to teacher organizations, to trade unions, to women’s clubs, to public officials.

We organized “Save Our Schools” community clubs, made up of teachers, parents, trade unionists, students, and young people. We were a well-trained army …

Education and creating a new society (2): [Early 1940s, New York City] I had now become an elder statesman of the Teachers Union. I retained my membership as an honorary member and at the direction of the Party I remained on the top communist committee

I continued to move in a world of men who were determined to create new types of human beings who would conform to the blueprint of the world they confidently expected to control ...

I was amazed at the lack of files of material on social questions such as housing and welfare. When I complained about this, Gil said: “Bella, we are a revolutionary party, not a reform group. We aren’t trying to patch up this bourgeois structure.”

Education and creating a new society (3): In June 1944 I was assigned to speak at a meeting of more than five hundred communist teachers and their friends at the Jefferson School [a Marxist training school for adults] on the new communist perspectives as applied to education. I held out the prospect of a new approach to education soon to be disclosed by American leaders who controlled the purse strings of the nation. I urged the communist teachers to exercise their influence for unity on all teachers’ and citizens’ groups.

I pointed out that the NAM had established a tie with the NEA and had pledged itself to help build education and to support a nationwide school-building program; that this would grow into a program of continued co-operation on all educational subjects. To those who questioned this perspective I said that the progressive businessmen were playing a revolutionary role ...

Creating a new society: This is the peculiar paradox of modern totalitarianism. This is the key to the mental enslavement of mankind: that the individual is made into nothing, that he operates as the physical part of what is considered a higher group intelligence and acts at the will of that higher intelligence, that he has no awareness of the plans the higher intelligence has for utilizing him. When a person conditioned by a totalitarian group talks about the right not to incriminate himself, he really means the right not to incriminate the communist group of which he is only a nerve end. When he talks of freedom of speech, he means freedom for the communist group to speak as a group through the mouth of the individual who has been selected by the higher intelligence.

The Bill of Rights of the American Constitution was written to protect individuals against centralized power. The Communists pervert this safeguard by first enslaving the individual so that he becomes the marionette of the centralized power.

This kind of conditioning had something to do with my decision to become a card-carrying Communist.

Getting out the vote: I found plenty of work to do in East Harlem, but I soon learned that the Labor Party and its activees, the Communists, were concerned mainly about getting out the vote. Certainly they were not concerned about the welfare of the people. This was a new type of political machine, attracting not only the voters but the actual precinct workers by vague promises of future social betterment.

Infiltrating the Democrats: [1944 – F D Roosevelt’s re-election campaign] In that campaign the Communists were everywhere. We did not trust the district leaders of the Democratic Party to deliver the votes, so we sent bright young left-wingers into the Democratic clubhouses to jog the old fellows into action, and it was amusing to see them in that rough-and tumble atmosphere.

To gather in the votes which the Labor Party could not win and which the Democratic organizations might fail to reach, we set up a National Citizens Political Action Committee. This loose organization held local rallies and collected funds. Its executive committee had many glittering names. The real work was done by the same dedicated little people, the ones who were looking for no personal reward save the right of participation in the building of a new world.

It was fascinating to see how easily the Party personnel acclimated itself to its new role of pulling all forces together. They rubbed elbows with district leaders, with underworld characters, and with old-line political bosses whom they really regarded as caretakers of a disintegrating political apparatus.

Attacking Republicans: [1939, when conflict arose in New York City over substitute teachers and a special committee was appointed to investigate]

By fall of 1939 the Rapp-Coudert Committee had settled down to work with a score of investigators. On the committee were men I could not dislike …

Assemblyman Rapp was an up-stater concerned chiefly with educational finance and administration. So he played a negligible role in the investigation.

That left one person on whom to turn our combined fury. Senator Coudert was a Republican, cold and patrician in appearance. Because of his international law firm with an office in Paris and the fact that it acted for many White Russians, we looked on him as an agent of imperialism. From the Communist Party and from the men who represented the Soviet interests in this country we got the go-ahead signal to make him our target …

Sometimes the campaign is on the offensive. Some angle is found to explain the evil motives of those who are conducting the investigation, perhaps to show that the investigation is itself a blind for some ulterior motive and that the result will deprive people of certain rights. In the teacher fight we steadfastly kept before the public the idea that the investigation was intended to rob the public schools of financial support and to promote religious and racial bigotry.

Little by little we won the campaign, at least in the opinion of many people; and we distracted the attention of the public from the specific work of the Committee. Support for the teachers, which at first had come only from the Communist Party, increased and included liberals, left trade unions, national group organizations, religious organizations, then political parties of the left, then leftwing Democrats, then so-called Progressive Republicans. All the support, however, was for tangential issues and not the basic issue. It did not matter to us …

Infiltrating the Republicans: [mid-1940s] Party economic researchers, accountants, and lawyers got jobs with various conservative planning groups in Republican and Democratic Party setups and in nonpartisan organizations.

The role of hate: In everything except name I was a Communist …

Even more significant was the fact that I had made their hates my hates. This was what established me as a full-fledged Communist. In the long ago I had been unable to hate anyone; I suffered desperately when someone was mistreated; I was regarded as a peacemaker. Now, little by little, I had acquired a whole mass of people to hate: the groups and individuals who fought the Party. How it came about I cannot tell. All I know as I look back to that time is that my mind had responded to Marxist conditioning. For it is a fact, true and terrible, that the Party establishes such authority over its members that it can swing their emotions now for and now against the same person or issue. It claims such sovereignty even over conscience as to dictate when it shall hate.

Women and minorities: Late in 1945 word had come … that it was important that American women be organized into an international movement, ostensibly for peace. An international federation was to be established with Russian and French Party women as leaders. So during the next months I helped organize the United States branch. A combination of wealthy women and Party members established and maintained what was called the Congress of American Women.

Since it was supposedly a movement for peace, it attracted many women. But it was really only a renewed offensive to control American women, a matter of deep importance to the communist movement, for American women do 80 per cent of the family spending. In the upper brackets they own a preponderance of capital stock and bonds. They are important in the making of political decisions. Like youth and minority groups, they are regarded as a reserve force of the revolution because they are more easily moved by emotional appeals. So the Soviet campaign for peace was especially geared to gain support of the women.

American blacks: The sessions of the December National Committee [mid-1940s] were notable for their long-winded, long-spun-out, and fantastic justification of the line of “self-determination of the Negro in the black belt.” Only the intelligence and patience of Negro leaders in America have made possible resistance to this mischievous theory which was contrived by Stalin and was now unleashed by Foster. Briefly told, it is the theory that the Negroes in the South form a nation, a subjugated nation with the desire to become a free one, and that the Communists are to give them all assistance. The Party proposed to develop the national aspirations of the Negro people so they would rise up and establish themselves as a nation with the right to secede from the United States. It was a theory not for the benefit of the Negroes but to spur strife, and to use the American Negro in the world communist propaganda campaign to win over the colored people of the world. Ultimately, the Communists proposed to use them as instruments in the revolution to come in the United States …

Other disaffected groups: [1947] When the Progressive Party was finally launched it represented not the farmers and workers of America but the same kind of synthetic coalition which had become a pattern of communist participation in national politics. There were large numbers of disillusioned middle-class professionals in it; there were women of wealth, moved by humanitarian motives; and there were Communists and fellow travelers. All these elements were welded together by flashy professional publicity agents, glib of tongue and facile of pen …

A limited and controlled Progressive Party would be a cover organization and a substitute for the Communist Party if the latter were outlawed.

Co-opting wealthy businessmen (1): In 1945 several corporations were established for trade with China in one of which was Frederick V. Field … such corporations hired and maintained a different type of communist, better-dressed, better-fed, more sophisticated, and much more venomous.

… today the communist agent engaged in international trade is far more effective than the old-type political agitator ...

I realized more than ever how many major financial operations were touched by the Party. In one office we visited a Party concern that bought pig iron in Minnesota and shipped it to northern Italy where, with the help of Italian Communist Party leaders, it was allocated to communist-led plants and there processed into steel and shipped to Argentina.

After I had introduced my young Italian associate to a number of people who professed themselves willing to help, he decided to establish a permanent committee in the United States for cultural ties with Italy. Thus was born the American Committee for Cultural Relations with Italy. John Crane, whose family fortune was made in bathroom fixtures, was made chairman.

Co-opting wealthy businessmen (2): I had regarded the Communist Party as a poor man’s party, and thought the presence of certain men of wealth within it accidental. I now saw this was no accident … Now I saw this was only a facade placed there by the movement to create the illusion of the poor man’s party; it was in reality a device to control the “common man” they so raucously championed.

Rewriting history: I thought of the systematic rewriting of Soviet history, the revaluation, and in some cases the blotting out of any mention of such persons as Trotsky. I thought of the successive purges.

The Army and Communists (1): [1944] The campaign for universal military training, the nostrike postwar pledge which the Communists were ballyhooing, and the labor-management charter were all straws in the wind and pointed to one thing: ultimate state control of the people.

The Army and Communists (2): Well, if we keep our members from the Army, then where will our boys learn to use weapons with which to seize power?”

I realized how the Soviets had utilized Spain[‘s Civil War] as a preview of the revolution to come.

What now became clear to me was the collusion of these two forces: the Communists with their timetable for world control, and certain mercenary forces in the free world bent on making profit from blood.

The UN: When the Yalta conference had ended, the Communists prepared to support the United Nations Charter which was to be adopted at the San Francisco conference to be held in May and June, 1945. For this I organized a corps of speakers and we took to the street corners and held open-air meetings in the millinery and clothing sections of New York where thousands of people congregate at the lunch hour. We spoke of the need for world unity and in support of the Yalta decisions. Yet at the same time the youth division of the Communists was circulating petitions for universal military training.

The two seemed contradictory. But Communists do not cross wires in careless fashion. The truth was that the two campaigns were geared to different purposes: the need to control the people in the postwar period, and the need to build a world-wide machine to preserve peace …

Propagandistic attack (1): They must add something really unforgivable to make me an outcast in the eyes of the simple people of the Party. They did this by spreading the story that in my court appearances I had made remarks against the Puerto Rican tenants, that I had slandered them, and showed myself a racist, almost a fascist. And last of all, a charge of anti-Negro, anti-Semitism, and anti-working class was thrown in for good measure ...

I found myself with only a few shabby men and women, inconsequential Party functionaries, drained of all mercy, with no humanity in their eyes, with no good will of the kind that works justice. Had they been armed I know they would have pulled the trigger against me

On June 17, 1949, my telephone rang. “This is the Associated Press,” said a voice. “We have received a statement from the Communist Party announcing your expulsion from membership. It says here that you are anti-Negro, anti-Puerto Rican, anti-Semitic, anti-labor, and the defender of a landlord. Have you any statement to make?”

Propagandistic attack (2): All the canards against the Catholic Church which I had heard and tolerated, which even by my silence I had approved, were threatening the tiny flame of longing for faith within me. I thought of many things on that ride, of the word “fascist,” used over and over by the communist press in describing the role of the Church in the Spanish Civil War. I also thought of the word “Inquisition” so skillfully used on all occasions. Other terms came to mereactionary, totalitarian, dogmatic, old-fashioned. For years they had been used to engender fear and hatred in people like me …

Communism morphs as necessary (1): [1944] Earl Browder’s speech calling for the dissolution of the Communist Party was … the most surprising event ...

But the Party machine worked with planned precision. The American Communist Party dissolved itself and then by another resolution the delegates re-established it under the name of the Communist Political Association, with the same leaders, same organization, same friends …

The new change of name puzzled many both in and out of the Party. I had listened closely during the convention and it was not at all clear to me. I knew, of course, that one immediate reason was to lay the basis for leadership of the Communists for the re-election of Roosevelt, since Earl Browder was the first to call publicly for his re-election to a fourth term

the current line in world communism was now based on the Roosevelt pledge to the Soviet Union of mutual co-existence and continued postwar Soviet-American unity. If that pledge were kept and if the march to world communist control could be achieved by a diplomatic unity arising out of official Soviet-American relations, then there would be no need of a militant class-struggle party. In that case the Communist Political Association would become a sort of Fabian Society, doing research and engaging in promoting social, economic, and political ideas to direct America’s development into a full-fledged socialist nation.

Communism morphs as necessary (2): Earl Browder and the national leadership were busy striving to give the Communist Party the appearance of a native American party to prepare it for its new role in the war and in the postwar period when it was expected to play an even greater role …

His slogan, “Communism Is Twentieth Century Americanism,” had irked both the foreign-minded Communists and the native Americans who had felt it was an attempt to sell a bogus article. But with the war Browder could work with impunity to convert the Party into an acceptable American social and political organization.

Marxism trumps all: [Party official] Foster put an end to dissent by saying flatly, “A communist leader does not need newspaper experience to be an editor. It is more important that he be a sound Marxist.”

Total Party control: The next day Bill Norman, the state secretary, who served as a balance wheel to the explosive and unpredictable Thompson, called me to his office. He talked to me in his quiet and reasonable way and I told him frankly that I wanted to get out of the Party. His expression changed. He fixed his eyes on me and said, almost harshly, “Dodd, no one gets out of the Party. You die or you are thrown out. But no one gets out.” Then he became his mild self again.

Communists can be from any walk of life: That spring I worked at my law practice and tried to build a private life for myself. I outwitted a number of well-laid plans to injure me. I learned during those months that some of the agents of the International Communist movement look and talk like your next-door neighbor.

Conditioning and confusion: I had joined as an idealist. Now I was beginning to stay because of the sense of power it gave me, and the chance of participation in significant events …

I became sharp and critical of those who did not pour themselves as completely into the Party. I still based activity on my own standards of goodness, of honesty, and of loyalty. I failed to understand that the Party in making alliances had nothing whatever to do with these qualities, that it was not out to reform the world, but was bent on making a revolution to control the world. I did not know then that to do so it was ready to use cutthroats, liars, and thieves as well as saints and ascetics.

Meaninglessness without God and faith (1): “Red,” as his friends called him, proved a fine addition to the party for he talked well and had many stories to tell. He came from Minnesota …

We talked late into the night … Dubiously, he asked, “Are you sure that is what you want?” and as I looked surprised, he continued:

“You see, I don’t think they have the answer. I simply can’t make myself believe that we are only clods of earth and that when we die, we die and that’s all. I’ve seen bad conditions in lots of places, on ships, in jails, and in foreign ports in China and India and Africa and South America. I’ve fought against these conditions. There’s no doubt that out of it all revolution may come — the way the Communists want it to — but what will come after that? What will this crowd do when they’ve got their revolution? I hate to think about it. But I’m pretty sure they haven’t got the answer.”

Meaninglessness without God and faith (2): Meaningless and empty I learned are such phrases as “the brotherhood of man” unless they have the solid foundation of belief in God’s Fatherhood …

This, then, is the story of emotional people who do not feel they fit into society — even professionals and teachers. The Communist Party leadership turns them into dupes and useful idiots to carry out their bidding. Think of the Democratic National Convention’s (unsuccessful) attempt this year to eradicate God and Jerusalem from their platform.

Think of the way young leftists — paid or unpaid Democrat shills — are still flooding conservative American sites with all sorts of lies. Some are couched under rhetoric such as ‘I am retired military and used to be conservative — now I support President Obama’. Do not believe a word of it. I’ve read this dozens of times over the past few months.

The same happened in France last Spring, but relied more on denouncing the demographics of conservative UMP voters. ‘We’re so much more intelligent than you,’ leftists wrote. ‘We live in cities and have university degrees. We’ll make the countryside extinct.’ Shades of the Kulaks there.

Then there were the smears on Sarkozy and Romney. From the time of Sarkozy’s election in May 2007, the French Left continuously harrassed him for his celebratory dinner at Fouquet’s in Paris that evening. That harrassment lasted in print and on the air for five years. We still don’t even know who paid for it — only partially by the taxpayer, most certainly. In the United States, in addition to the abortion ‘rights’ messaging, the Left warned women that Romney would ban tampons and that women should ‘vote as if their lady parts depended on it’. (It’s hard to imagine a more absurd lie, yet some female Obama supporters were ready to start stockpiling feminine hygiene supplies.) Romney, because he was a self-made, successful venture capitalist — and rather white — was automatically a racist and misogynist. How could he be otherwise?

Of course, as we know, millions of students in Western countries are learning revisionism, whether it concerns society, history or — paradoxically — the future. All whites are, by definition, racist, as were America’s Founding Fathers for the same reason. Whites cannot help but be racist; it’s what they do. Any minority who joins the Republican Party, therefore, must also be racist and a race traitor. (Sarcasm alert!)

But, hey, above all, let’s not allow our youngsters to finish secondary school or university with marketable skills. Do you ever wonder why so many skills ‘must’ come to our nations from immigrants in developing countries? Any chance that they probably receive a superior — traditional — education compared to Westerners?

I realise that many readers will find this hard to believe. So many people since the end of the Second World War have been brought up to believe that the Left loves them and has their interests at heart. We’ve never heard or seen a greater pile of rubbish before or since, yet we still continue to believe it.

Why, exactly?

Tomorrow: Notes from the 1940s on the source of education reform

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