The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

How to Hate Commies

Posted on | February 13, 2014 | 36 Comments

If American conservatism has a future, that future is going to look a lot like Gabby Hoffman. What is striking about Gabby is that, unlike some other young conservatives I have met, she shows a deep appreciation of conservatism’s history, especially its development in the context of the Cold War. While it is true that American conservatism has a long and respectable intellectual pedigree — as Russell Kirk demonstrated in The Conservative Mind — it was only in the post-World War II environment that this philosophy emerged as a fighting creed to challenge the liberal hegemony that had dominated our culture since the Progressive Era of the early 20th century. While it took many hands to build the movement that eventually elected Ronald Reagan president, three books are generally credited with inspiring the movement and providing it with a sense of philosophical coherence:

Weaver’s book remains a classic, but it is perhaps impossible for anyone who was not alive at the time to imagine what a publishing sensation Hayek and Buckley’s books created. The Road to Serfdom was republished in a condensed version by the Reader’s Digest and went through multiple editions. It gained immediate attention as an important work, and the same was true of God and Man at Yale. Young conservatives who think of Buckley as an imminently respectable intellectual have no idea what kind of hateful denunciations were heaped upon him after he boldly exposed the leftward drift in elite academia. Some two decades after FDR’s triumphal election, liberals simply were not used to being addressed in such a tone of confident disagreement, and Buckley was personally demonized for it.

All of three of these books were published at a time when armed confrontation with totalitarian power was the great crisis facing the American political order, creating a sensibility of existential threat that is absent in much conservative discourse today.

In the quarter-century since the fall of the Berlin Wall, it seems, many young conservatives have forgotten — or perhaps it is more accurate to say they never learned — what it was that originally inspired the modern conservative movement. The dread of dictatorship and the menace of totalitarian ideology was easier to understand for those of us who grew up under the shadow the Evil Empire, with the threat of thermonuclear annihilation constantly in our minds. Because her parents grew up inside the nightmare of Stalin’s conquests, immigrating from Soviet Lithuania to the United States, Gabby Hoffman gets it in a way that many other young people don’t really get it anymore:

Millions tuned to NBC last Friday night to watch the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Despite subpar construction, dingy hotel conditions, and athletes trapped in bathrooms, the Sochi spectacle was masterfully executed — except for the Olympic ring that didn’t budge and the glorification of Soviet symbols.
To anyone with family members that escaped the Soviet Union — including yours truly — the opening ceremony brought back terrible memories of the Old Country.
The opening montage began with, “Russia overwhelms. Russia mystifies. Russia transcends. Through every stage of its story, it’s resisted any notion of limitation. Through every re-invention, only redoubling its desire to cast a towering presence.”
The narrator — Game of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage — continued by saying, “The empire that ascended to affirm a colossal footprint; the revolution that birthed one of modern history’s pivotal experiments. But if politics has long shaped our sense of who they are, it’s passion that endures…”
What’s so “pivotal” about centrally-planned government, food rationing, prison labor camps, a secret police, and millions of deaths? . . . .

Read the whole thing at Townhall.com.

 

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Comments

  • pabarge
  • robertstacymccain

    That’s her!

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    Gaby takes it personally because her family has personally suffered under Communist rule. Just like persons in countries like the Ukraine and Georgia take it personally (both from the Communist side of things and the historical Russian side of things). Kids now a days don’t even know who Hitler is, let alone the horrors committed by Marxist-Leninists.

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    I suspect Wombat is…disappointed in Peter Dinklage’s commentary (I know he is a fan of Mr. Dinklage’s work).

    Mr. Dinklage’s view of history in regards to the Soviet years is dwarfed, he should be listening to
    John Rhys-Davies, who understands values matter.

  • PatDissent

    When do we get to the ‘shoot the goddamned commies’ part? Remember? Like we did in the olden days.

  • RS

    . . . many young conservatives have forgotten — or perhaps it is more accurate to say they never learned — what it was that originally inspired the modern conservative movement.

    That’s because our public educational system has reduced the Cold War and Communist Imperialism to a few days of hand-wringing about Vietnam.

  • scarymatt

    My wife made me watch the opening ceremony. I yelled at the TV the whole time. She did her share, too. We paused the TV occasionally to explain our rants to the kids.

  • Delaney Coffer

    A Communist is worse than a Nazi.

    Pass it on.

  • DaveO

    I suspect Mr. Dinklage was paid to narrate the English version. A paid actor following script to a payday.

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    In that a Nazi is like a deadly brain tumor, you have to cut it out and kill it before it kills you. But an ideology so nationalistic is harder to spread.

    Communism is like metastasized cancer. It is an insidious idea that can spring up anywhere, even after is has been (seemingly) eradicated.

  • DaveO

    Considering today’s youth have parents who themselves don’t know and don’t care to know America’s history; and given the control of the communist NEA on schools and libraries and the near monopoly on the writing of textbooks; and considering the so-called scholarship of Howard Zinn and Ward Churchill and others like them who created history out of whole cloth to suit their self-aggrandizement, I am only amazed we haven’t had a shooting civil war in the last 10 years. It’s gotten so bad that even members of the Left are starting to listen to Jonathon Turley and nod their heads.

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    Sort of like Leni Riefenstahl? Okay she was a director. More like Jane Fonda?

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    That latter point you are making is the one that gives me some hope. The pendulum will swing back.

  • DaveO

    More like Jennifer Rubin and Megan McArdle: paid employees of Progressive organizations. Jane Fonda could have been the narrator, but that would’ve been obvious.

  • DaveO

    The concern being the pendulum has to swing into an actual right-wing tyranny before it returns to sanity.

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    Hey, the WaPo has Eugene Volokh there now and that is a welcome change. Did you see his commentary on the new 9th Circuit decision? http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/2014/02/ninth-circuit-court-of-appeals-finds.html http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-IlNok2h50Hc/Uv09KvM4aVI/AAAAAAAAflc/n27miy1G4-w/s1600/kitty_genovese-kitty-outside-l.jpg

    Kitty Genovese wished she had a right to bear arms.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    Stacy wrote:

    In the quarter-century since the fall of the Berlin Wall, it seems, many young conservatives have forgotten — or perhaps it is more accurate to say they never learned — what it was that originally inspired the modern conservative movement. The dread of dictatorship and the menace of totalitarian ideology was easier to understand for those of us who grew up under the shadow the Evil Empire, with the threat of thermonuclear annihilation constantly in our minds….

    While it was easier for our generation to understand the Menace, it was only because of people like WFB, Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater, Whittaker Chambers, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn that we came to see the inherent Evil that underlies Totalitarian Ideology.

  • richard mcenroe

    according to students videotaped at UCLA, Hitler was the ruler of Amsterdam who fought the second world war around 1800 and killed several thousand Jews,

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    Russia Under The Bolshevik Regime is a good and relatively short introduction, but if one wishes to pursue a deeper study of the Leftist Mind in thought and action, I would highly recommend his magisterial The Russian Revolution.

    One quote from it, If I may:

    In view of the tens of thousands of lives which the Cheka would claim in the years that followed the Ekaterinburg tragedy, and the millions killed by its successors, the death at its hands of eleven prisoners hardly qualifies as an event of extraordinary magnitude. And yet, there is a deep symbolic meaning to the massacre of the ex-Tsar, his family, and staff. Just as liberty has its great historic days —the battles of Lexington and Concord, the storming of the Bastille—so does totalitarianism. The manner in which the massacre was prepared and carried out, at first denied and then justified, has something uniquely odious about it, something that radically distinguishes it from previous acts of regicide and brands it as a prelude to twentieth-century mass murder.

    When a government arrogates to itself the power to kill people, not because of what they had done or even might do, but because their death is “needed,” we are entering an entirely new moral realm. Here lies the symbolic significance of the events that occurred in Ekaterinburg in the night of July 16–17. The massacre, by secret order of the government, of a family that for all its Imperial background was remarkably commonplace, guilty of nothing, desiring only to be allowed to live in peace, carried mankind for the first time across the threshold of deliberate genocide. The same reasoning that had led the Bolsheviks to condemn them to death would later be applied in Russia and elsewhere to millions of nameless beings who happened to stand in the way of one or another design for a new world order.

  • richard mcenroe

    People who would never let their kids smoke tobacco will let them be taught Communist propaganda in a public “education.”

  • Zohydro

    Until he surrendered his storied Tenth Legion to Ghengis Khan at Appomattox Court House in 1066?

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    Herman Goering, Where Are My Eagles!!!

  • bridget

    Neither young conservatives nor liberals have much understanding of the Cold War.

    I’ve found this out when thirty-something progressive liberals describe Ayn Rand’s works as “propaganda” with no basis in reality. Whatever you might think of her as a writer, she was clearly influenced by the horrors she saw in Russia before she escaped and was attempting to sound the alarm to prevent America from going down that path.

  • http://boogieforward.us/ K-Bob

    *Steps in, looks around, realizes he doesn’t have any idea what’s going on. Looks like another homework assignment.*

    You guys.

  • Delaney Coffer

    Communist and Nazi are morally synonymous. They should live together in rhetorical infamy.

  • Kirby McCain

    To hell with all of this. I’m going to the nearest strip club and enjoy the rewards of the hetronormative patriarchy.

  • http://boogieforward.us/ K-Bob

    In addition to the fact that the “winter” Olympics are being held in the Russian equivalent of Sacramento, climate-wise; they are trying to blame the lack of snow on manmade Global Warming.

    I mean, the place looks like this in the summer:
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/17/Sochi_Skyscrapers.jpeg

    So we have the US and UN making this a social experiment for homosexual athletes, a promotional tour for socialism and the “pivotal” experiment of soul-crushing, murderous Communism, and now crocodile tears over the poor location.

    Yeah, I’d like to watch these Olympics, but I think I have to go inventory my gravel, and make sure I have the correct number of stones in the driveway.

  • http://wizbangblog.com/ Adjoran

    Having been personally close friends with emigrees who fled both Ukraine in 1931 and Cuba in 1959, I have heard the tales first hand. My Ukrainian friend got out before the “Harvest of Shame” famine intentionally perpetrated by Stalin, under which millions starved to death, but he lost many friends and family members.

    But the truth of communist “revolutions” are not taught to our public school students today. They spend more time on Sacajawea and Harriet Tubman than on Thomas Jefferson, and their study of the Cold War is almost neutral in tone.

  • http://wizbangblog.com/ Adjoran

    I always liked that Drifters’ song, “Save the Lap Dance for Me.”

  • RS

    Just saw this. Thanks for posting that quote. Dead, solid perfect.

  • Quartermaster

    Alas, WFB and Goldwater lost it when they became dotards.

  • Quartermaster

    On the right lies anarchy, not tyranny.

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  • pabarge

    I don’t agree with this. From the very beginning, there were large numbers of people who realized that commies suck. The Nazi party in Germany used this hatred of the commies to leverage the Nazi rise to power.

    History did not have to wait around for WFB to realize how much commies suck. Lots of folks knew from the beginning.

    Why? Well, because it’s just flat obvious that commies suck.

    That is all.

  • pabarge

    What old and senile and weak person doesn’t?

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