Wednesday, 17 August 2016

You're Only Young Once

On this blistering summer's evening, some of you are waiting for your A-level results tomorrow, 20 years after mine.

To those of you on here, I say this: have a word with yourselves.

Beer doesn't drink itself, you know.


  1. Did you ever finish school?

    You just told me Hungary and Czechoslovakia were not in the Soviet Union.

    Hungary was under Soviet occupation for 45 years and the invasion of Czecoslovakia was praised by Joe Slobo and your old friends the ANC.

    1. You just told me Hungary and Czechoslovakia were not in the Soviet Union.

      There is a perfectly good reason why I told you that.

      You really do need to stop now.

    2. According to a report by the Pew Research Center, 72% of Hungarians say that most people in their country are actually worse off today economically than they were under communism.

      In Romania, 63% said their life was better during communism, while only 23% attested that their life was worse then. Some 68% declared that communism was a good idea, just one that had been poorly applied.

      57% of eastern Germans defend the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Of those polled, 49% said “The GDR had more good sides than bad sides. There were some problems, but life was good there.”

      More than half of Russians (64%) would vote to maintain the Soviet Union if a referendum were held today. This figure increases from 47% among those 18-24 to 76% among respondents age 60 and more. Only 20% of Russian citizens would vote negatively for preserving the Soviet Union, according to the poll results.

      During the same period (March 2016), a similar survey by the Levada Center Survey in Russia showed that:

      - More than half (51%) of the Russians said that the collapse of the Soviet Union could have been avoided.

      - More than half (56%) of the Russians regred the collapse of the USSR.

      - The majority of the participants in the survey (58%) said that they would welcome the revival of the Soviet Union and the socialist system.

      Polls conducted in the previous years have produced similar results. A survey by the Russia's Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) back in 2013, showed that 60% of Russians think that the life in the Soviet Union had more positive than negative aspects. Furthermore, in the same poll, 43% of the respondents would welcome the re-adoption of communist ideology, while 38% were not happy about such a perspective.

    3. On topic, please. Although Ostalgie is an important topic, of which more another time.

  2. The stupid boy can't possibly think Hungary was in the USSR.

  3. How did Hungary vote in the March 17 1991 referendum on "the preservation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as a renewed federation of equal sovereign republics in which the rights and freedom of an individual of any nationality will be fully guaranteed?"

    Russia 73.00% Yes, Azerbaijan 94.12%, Byelorussia 83.72%, Kazakhstan 95.00%, Kirghizia 95.98%, Tajikistan 96.85%, Turkmenistan 98.26%, Ukraine 71.48%, Uzbekistan 94.73%.

    Armenia, Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Moldova did not participate. But Hungary is not even listed among those. Was it not in the USSR at all then? Is our young friend an ignorant little pillock?

    1. All right, I'll allow that one, since so much effort has gone into it.

      We shall return at a future time to the fact that the dissolution of what had until then been the Soviet Union was not only, like that of Yugoslavia, catastrophic, but also massively unpopular.

      Later, though.

    2. I look forward to it. It doesn't get any more paleocon than that. Very John Laughland and Mark Almond.

    3. In many ways, it was that, and especially the way in which it played out in Yugoslavia, which created a distinctively paleoconservative movement in Britain. In alliance with the Corbynite Left from the start. No wonder that there is still a certain affection on both sides.

    4. People like Peter Oborne and Peter Hitchens display a certain familial pride that one of the few MPs to vote against the war in Kosovo, a veteran of the Morning Star when it was the only national newspaper opposed to that war, is now the Leader of the Labour Party. They go back a long way.

      What with the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, nobody at all would now deny that declaring and recognising the independence of 15 republics with arbitrary borders drawn for internal use only by Stalin and Khrushchev has been a complete disaster. We can't do anything about it but it should never have happened in the first place.

    5. Just as the paleocons said at the time, both about that and about Yugoslavia.

      They were also absolutely scathing about the neocon infatuation with Soviet dissidents, no matter who or what they were, and often without even bothering to ask.

      The neocons have stayed that way ever since, thereby visiting all manner of havoc on every country in which they have presumed to interfere.

    6. Oborne and Hitchens are also big fans of George Galloway, who has used his radio show and Twitter to call them the last serious commentators in the British press. A few weeks ago they were both on his show on the same night. There has been talk of a tour.

    7. And we'd all go to see that, all right.

      Hitchens, by the way, is a huge fan of the Soviet education system, which never became New Left, remaining Old Left to the last. Thus, it was always about the transmission of knowledge to an orderly class by a teacher who simply knew better.

      After all, if you have to write a Marxist critique of Anna Karenina, then you have to have read Anna Karenina.

      As a result, says Hitchens, products of the Soviet system were significantly better educated than their Western peers.

      I have met some of them, and I was largely taught by the last of the Old Left in Britain, so I can see what he means.

  4. The best chapters in Peter Hitchens the Rage Against God are the ones about the Soviet Union's persecution and crushing of Christianity.

    1. It's a good book (and, to be fair, it claims very much to be personal), but it lets the churches off the hook a bit there.

      They weren't all persecuted, and they weren't all remotely anti-Soviet. Much of the Russian Orthodox Church still isn't. That assumption about it derives from émigrés, often with very definite agenda of their own.

      The Byzantine Rite Catholics in Romania were strong opponents of the British and French-backed Ceauşescu regime, a stand for which they paid a terrible price while Ceauşescu was being created a Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath.

      But from 1962 onwards, although there were individual heroes and martyrs, the Romanian Orthodox Church, as a body, was certainly not of that mind, instead devising an entire ecclesiology of "Social Apostolate" in support of Ceauşescu's admittedly anti-Soviet foreign policy and in order to refrain from criticising his domestic policies even while numerous churches were being demolished. Two Metropolitans (Archbishops) were members of the Great National Assembly, Ceauşescu's puppet legislative body.

      In Soviet-backed Bulgaria, meanwhile, the Orthodox Church and the Communist Party were practically symbiotic, with the regime even using the Church's historic jurisdiction over Macedonia, which was then in anti-Soviet Yugoslavia, over Western Thrace, which is in modern Greece, and over Eastern Thrace, which is the European part of modern Turkey, in order to press its own claims to those territories.

      People are often vaguely aware of the Russian Orthodox Church's complicity in the crimes of the Soviet regime, although it is amazing how frequently one encounters perfect ignorance of that fact.

      But the collusion and worse of churches throughout the old Eastern Bloc cries out for a television documentary, perhaps even a series, with attendant newspaper articles and so on.

      The Polish priests and the East German pastors are still fairly well-remembered, although they could do with being revisited, not least because they must and do often wonder why they bothered. But the whole story needs to be told.

      The same is true of the striking similarity to the Romanian "Social Apostolate" in the formal and informal theology of the English-speaking and sometimes even the African-initiated churches in apartheid South Africa.

      People know about the theological justification provided by the Afrikaans churches. People know about the valiant stand made officially by most of the rest.

      A few people, although nowhere near enough, know about the immense self-sacrifice of those who opposed apartheid within Afrikanerdom, including within its churches until they were very often driven out of them.

      But taboo continues to surround the role of the English-speaking whites. And of those blacks who were persuaded that the ANC was purely, since no one doubts that it was in no small part, a viper's nest of Stalinism.

      As well as those whose tribal backgrounds, often at once defining and defined by ecclesiastical affiliation, placed them in opposition to the ANC.

      And as well as those who were simply bought off, sometimes with the best of intentions such as the desire to save a desperately needed pastoral ministry, but even so.

      The churches are not the only way into examining all of that. But they are the most obvious one. From Bucharest to Bloemfontein, and on into the present day from Nolbert Kunonga to the Chinese Patriotic Association, it is time.