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Before I start, this post explains how liberation theology spread widely in parts of the world.
This does not mean that there were never any Communist or Marxist influences in the Church before then. There were several:
SHOCK: Communist Catholic clergy and Vatican II – Agent AA-1025’s story
Communist infiltration of the Church – introduction — Protestant infiltration; social justice; Catholic Agent AA-1025
Insight into Communist infiltration of Catholic Church – Jesuit agents; destroying parishoners’ faith
The curious Vatican omerta on Communist infiltration – Pope Paul VI, Vatican agents, Vatican II
More on Communist infiltration of the Catholic Church – seminaries, parishes with sleeper agents
With that out of the way, let’s look at how the KGB masterminded propaganda to help spread liberation theology throughout Latin and South America.
On May 1, 2015, the CNA — Catholic News Agency — published an interview with Ion Mihai Pacepa, a Romanian dissident who defected to the United States in the 1970s. Pacepa was the highest-ranking defector that decade.
Pacepa spent his career up to then as general for Communist Romania’s secret police.
What follows are excerpts and a summary of what he said about liberation theology — a concept from the KGB which is now, as planned, a basic way of thinking for millions in Central and South America. Emphases mine below.
In the 1950s, Pacepa worked for Soviet General Aleksandr Sakharovsky, communist Romania’s chief razvedka (foreign intelligence) adviser. In 1956, Sakharovsky was promoted. He became the head of:
the Soviet espionage service, the PGU1, a position he held for an unprecedented record of 15 years.
On October 26, 1959, Sakharovsky was working for Nikita Khrushchev. Pacepa says that the two went to Romania which, in Soviet eyes, was a Latin country (linguistic reasons). It was notionally a six-day vacation for Khrushchev, his first of such a long duration, however, as Pacepa explains:
Khrushchev wanted to go down in history as the Soviet leader who had exported communism to Central and South America. Romania was the only Latin country in the Soviet bloc, and Khrushchev wanted to enroll her “Latin leaders” in his new “liberation” war.
It was difficult for the Catholic News Agency journalist to research Sakharovsky. Pacepa replied that he was one of many KGB agents during the height of the Cold War who went undetected by Western and Israeli intelligence. That said:
Sakharovsky played an extremely important role in shaping Cold War history. He authored the export of communism to Cuba (1958-1961); his nefarious handling of the Berlin crisis (1958-1961) generated the Berlin Wall; his Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.
As for liberation theology, Pacepa stated:
The movement was born in the KGB, and it had a KGB-invented name: Liberation Theology.
The KGB enjoyed creating ‘liberation’ movements, including these:
The National Liberation Army of Columbia (FARC), created by the KGB with help from Fidel Castro; the National Liberation Army of Bolivia, created by the KGB with help from “Che” Guevara; and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), created by the KGB with help from Yasser Arafat are just a few additional “liberation” movements born at the Lubyanka — the headquarters of the KGB.
Liberation theology started the year after Sakharovsky and Khrushchev visited Romania. They worked quickly, didn’t they? This part is very important:
The birth of Liberation Theology was the intent of a 1960 super-secret “Party-State Dezinformatsiya Program” … This program demanded that the KGB take secret control of the World Council of Churches (WCC), based in Geneva, Switzerland, and use it as cover for converting Liberation Theology into a South American revolutionary tool. The WCC was the largest international ecumenical organization after the Vatican, representing some 550 million Christians of various denominations throughout 120 countries.
It sounds like a somewhat impossible goal. However, Pacepa explains that, in order to accomplish it, the KGB created an intermediary organisation, the Christian Peace Conference (CPC), headquartered in Prague:
The new Christian Peace Conference was managed by the KGB and was subordinated to the venerable World Peace Council, another KGB creation, founded in 1949 and by then also headquartered in Prague.
Pacepa said he managed the Romanian operations of the World Peace Council:
It was as purely KGB as it gets. Most of the WPC’s employees were undercover Soviet bloc intelligence officers … Even the money for the WPC budget came from Moscow, delivered by the KGB in the form of laundered cash dollars to hide their Soviet origin. In 1989, when the Soviet Union was on the verge of collapse, the WPC publicly admitted that 90% of its money came from the KGB3.
By 1968, the Christian Peace Conference was bearing fruit and:
was able to maneuver a group of leftist South American bishops into holding a Conference of Latin American Bishops at Medellin, Colombia. The Conference’s official task was to ameliorate poverty. Its undeclared goal was to recognize a new religious movement encouraging the poor to rebel against the “institutionalized violence of poverty,” and to recommend the new movement to the World Council of Churches for official approval.
The Medellin Conference achieved both goals. It also bought the KGB-born name “Liberation Theology.”
Pacepa thinks there was probably some active connection between the KGB and the most prolific authors of liberation theology books, but he has no concrete evidence. Yet:
I recently glanced through [Gustavo] Gutierrez’s book A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, Salvation (1971), and I had the feeling that it was written at the Lubyanka. No wonder he is now credited with being the founder of Liberation Theology. From feelings to facts, however, is a long way.
Moral of the story: stick to the Gospel message as related in Scripture.
There are a lot of useful idiots, to borrow a Soviet expression, who have been drawn in by liberation theology, including prominent clergy. As a layperson, don’t be duped into feeling guilty for being a struggling member of the middle class who, in their eyes, has too much but, in reality, is just trying to have enough to live on.
The call for service is another aspect of this. Note that it’s not service to poor or otherwise needy members of your congregation but service to ‘the poor’, a general term encompassing much. Take care of your own congregation’s needs first, then exercise outreach to others.
In closing, after I wrote this post I read the comments to the CNA article. They were incredible. Many commenters did not believe what Pacepa said.
More fools they.
It is now understandable how Obama could have won two terms.
It is worse how none of these Catholics knows church history, especially from 120 years ago.
Please pray for these people.
May God grant them the grace and the Holy Spirit the discernment to recognise their error, through Jesus Christ our Lord, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.
Yesterday’s post discussed the increasing influence of Communist thought among Catholic clergy.
Today’s post continues the theme with an introduction to the proliferation of liberation theology. Tomorrow’s post looks at its Communist origins.
What follows below are excerpts and a summary of an article on Bear Witness, ‘Pope Francis, Barack Obama, Raúl Castro, and the Liberation Theology’. It’s an excellent exploration of the subject from 2015. Emphases mine below.
The Revd Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann:
was minister of Foreign Relations in the communist Sandinista regime of Nicaragua and also president of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
At the time, Pope John Paul II requested that he leave politics and return full time to the priesthood. D’Escoto refused to do so. Consequently:
In 1984, his Holiness Pope John Paul II punished Miguel D’Escoto for refusing to get out of politics and did not allow him to officiate masses or offer sacraments.
D’Escoto is a big supporter of liberation theology. He is also a Maryknoll priest.
The Maryknoll order is based in New York State. During my childhood, their priests and nuns did marvellous missionary work all over the world. I learned to read partly from perusing their monthly magazine at my mother’s suggestion. By the time I was at university in the late 1970s, my mother and I noticed the tone of the magazine was changing. The order was becoming steeped in liberation theology. My mother stopped donating to them in the 1980s. She couldn’t stand reading the magazine any more. She missed the real mission stories about schools, child care, hospitals and, most importantly, new Christians happy in the Gospel message. Maryknoll had become too political and somewhat anti-American. In fact, Bear Witness tells us:
Some Maryknoll nuns have supported and fought with communist guerrillas.
Returning to D’Escoto, in 2014, Pope Francis lifted John Paul II’s sanctions, allowing him to say Mass and perform other sacerdotal duties. The Bear Witness article says (emphases mine):
By taking this unwise action Pope Francis sent the wrong message of tolerance and acceptance to all the communists within the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, many now believe that Pope Francis sympathizes with the Marxist liberation theology of the Church.
After the punishment was lifted by Pope Francis, the communist priest Miguel d’Escoto immediately attacked the late Saint Pope John Paul II for “an abuse of authority.”
D’Escoto also said that Cuba’s then-líder máximo was divinely inspired:
Fidel Castro is a messenger of the Holy Spirit in “the necessity of struggle” to establish “the reign of God on this earth that is the alternative to the empire.”
Never mind that:
Totalitarian dictators Fidel and his brother Raúl Castro were responsible for assassinating 14,000 Cuban patriots, jailing over 300,000, and forcing tens of thousands to leave Cuba in rafts and small boats with an estimated 80,000 perish at sea trying to reach Florida. The serial assassin Fidel Castro is the messenger of the devil!
D’Escoto is now 82 years old. Surprisingly, perhaps, he was born in the United States. He was ordained in New York in 1961. Some years later:
He became one of the strongest proponents of the Marxist liberation theology. He collaborated with the National Sandinista Liberation Front (Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional).
After the coming to power of the Sandinista dictator Daniel Ortega, the communist priest was named Minister of Foreign Relations. When Miguel d’Escoto became President of the United Nations General Assembly, he chose a communist, Howard Zinn, as his personal assistant. Zinn is the author of a communist textbook, A People’s History of the United States, which is used in many universities across the United States by socialist professors.
Howard Zinn as his personal assistant. Hmm.
Ortega is a great ally of Cuba. He also supports a network of Latin and South American countries that are members of:
the communist association ALBA, which was founded by the late Venezuelan communist dictator Hugo Chávez. The extreme radical political parties from these nations as well as those from Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina joined the Foro de São Paulo (FSP; English: São Paulo Forum) with the intent of working with Cuba, China, and Russia to bring communism to Latin America. It was launched by the extreme radical Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores – PT) of Brazil in 1990 in the city of São Paulo.
The São Paulo Forum continues today and has held its conferences in the capitals of most Latin and South American countries with a wide participation from:
more than 100 parties and political organizations … Their political positions vary across a wide spectrum. These political groups include communist parties, armed guerrilla forces, social–democratic parties, extreme radical labor and social movements inspired by the theology of liberation of the Catholic Church, and anti-imperialist and nationalist organizations. For many years, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC as is known in Spanish) met with the other radical leftist parties. Since 2005, the FARC had been not been allowed to participate.
But who among us has heard of the São Paulo Forum? Should we be concerned?
Ever since FSP’s first meeting (1990), the approved Declaration expressed the participants’ “willingness to renew leftist and socialist thought…” Hardly any Americans are aware of the danger to our national security present … by the Forum of São Paulo. Obama certainly is not going to tell the nation as he most likely sympathizes with the Marxist[s] and socialist[s] who belong to this anti-American anti-western organization.
There is no convincing leftist Christians (an oxymoron) that liberation theology goes against the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament.
In Jesus’s time, there were Zealots — a fringe Jewish group — willing to take up arms against Rome. In fact, Barabbas was thought to be a Zealot. Who did the crowd cry out in favour of on Good Friday? The mob thought that the Zealots could deliver Israel from oppression. That is not what Jesus came for. He came to deliver us from the oppression of sin and bring us to life everlasting.
Like the Zealots, the liberation theology supporters have forgotten that essential message of truth and light. Let’s make sure we don’t fall into their trap.
Tomorrow: the origin of liberation theology
Something is very wrong with the Catholic Church.
Something has been very wrong with it for decades, but only with the current pope is the rot becoming clear.
The spotlight is shining not only on him but also on renegade clergy. Yes, the Catholics have always had renegade clergy. (So have many Protestant denominations.) However, more and more are coming out of the woodwork, perhaps feeling ‘liberated’ in some sense by Pope Francis.
The following example comes from a former (?) Catholic, Daren Jonescu, who writes for The American Thinker. I commend his ‘Catholics and Communists’ article to everyone. He cites a Catholic priest from South Korea (emphases mine):
South Korea recently observed the third anniversary of the North Korean artillery attack against Yeonpyeong, an inhabited island which was the staging ground for a South Korean military exercise. The attack killed four South Koreans, including two civilians, and wounded many others. The Sunday before this anniversary, a senior Catholic priest, Park Chang-shin, gave a sermon in which he went all-out Jeremiah Wright [in damning his homeland, Wright being Obama’s former pastor]:
What should North Korea do if South Korea-U.S. military exercises are being carried out near the problematic NLL [Northern Limit Line, a UN-drawn maritime border]? North Korea needs to open fire. That was the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island.
“North Korea needs to open fire”? This statement was part of a general campaign by the Catholic Priests’ Association for Justice (which comprises roughly half of Korea’s priesthood) against President Park Geun-hye’s ruling Saenuri Party. The CPAJ, active since South Korea’s pro-democracy movement picked up steam in the 1970s, is essentially a leftist anti-war group promoting Korean reunification through appeasement of the communists, as evidenced by its two main platform items: opposition to sanctions against the North, and opposition to the South’s “National Security Law,” which in theory outlaws communism and Marxist activism, and is therefore vehemently opposed by all organizations sympathetic to the North.
In response, a member of the Saenuri Party enjoined the Catholic Church to discipline its pro-North Korean priests. Needless to say, the Church will do no such thing.
Jonescu says that the Catholic Church is wrapped up in social justice aspects of Marxism and Communism. While the Church must reject the atheism of both, they have latched on not only to social justice but also to economic redistribution and the condemnation of financial security on moral grounds. Those dubious moral grounds are quickly becoming part of Catholic theology.
The Catholic Church is turning ever leftwards and this is overshadowing the Gospel message. Jonescu says most of the hierarchy — wherever they are in the world — are socialist and some clearly Marxist.
The pope has railed about:
The “new tyranny,” that of the pursuit of wealth, is “invisible and virtual”; and its only remedy is “state control,” i.e., visible and real tyranny. Pope Francis promotes the standard false dichotomy that has propelled progressivism forward for more than a century: the “uncontrolled free market” (a Marxist straw man if ever there was one) allegedly consolidates wealth among the few, while state controls (which are supposedly lacking) would allow the disadvantaged majority to rise. This dichotomy is, and always has been, a ruse to hide the truth: progressives regulate and distort the economy to protect their power, wealth, and privilege and to limit opportunity for potential challengers, and then they seize on the stagnation they have caused to launch populist appeals for even more restrictive and redistributive economic regulations, to further entrench their untouchable pre-eminence. (Take a good look at who supported, funded, and led the fight for the creation of compulsory schools, central banks, progressive taxation, socialized healthcare, and all the rest of the mechanisms of benevolent “control” throughout the prosperous West. Hint: it wasn’t the poor.)
Any decent Catholic clergy who disagree with the Left are marginalised, Jonescu says. He concludes:
The Catholic Church is no more defensible than any other institution that continues, against all historical evidence, reason, and decency, to embrace and defend — whether tacitly or openly — the politics of mass envy, of collectivist authoritarianism, of coercive redistribution of the fruits of men’s labor, and of the practical denial of the basic right of self-determination that ought to be at the core of a Catholic teaching that upholds the dignity of every living soul.
As the pope’s Year of Mercy draws to a close, notice that he spoke a lot about welcoming uninvited and illegal migrants. Europe is paying a deadly price for the tidal wave of millions coming in over the past few years.
It is unfortunate that his Year of Mercy did not extend to persecuted Christians. Maybe they were not on message enough with Marxism.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.”
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. 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.
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. 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. Some historians have argued that Stalin was also planning to send millions of Jews to four large newly built labor camps in Western Russia using a “Deportation Commission” that would purportedly act to save Soviet Jews from an enraged Soviet population after the Doctors Plot trials. Others argue that any charge of an alleged mass deportation lacks specific documentary evidence.
… 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 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.”The plot is also viewed by many historians as an antisemitic provocation.
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.
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.
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.