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Red or Dead: How Stalin Re-Defined American Liberalism

The battle over Uncle Joe took the liberal out of American liberalism.

by
Susan L.M. Goldberg

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November 13, 2013 - 3:00 pm
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StalinAmerica2

In his book Disinformation, Ion Mihai Pacepa recounts the story of the Ukranian folk singers known as lirniki and banduristy. In the mid-1930s Stalin’s government announced the First All-Ukranian Congress of Lirniki and Banduristy. These folk singers, mostly blind men who wandered the countryside,

“…came to the Congress from all over the Ukraine, from tiny, forgotten villages.  There were several hundred of them at the Congress, they say.  It was a living museum, the country’s living history. All its songs, all its music and poetry. And they were almost all shot, almost all those pathetic blind men killed.”

Americans fail to grasp socialism because, to Americans, the political is simply one aspect of culture. To the socialist, however, the political defines culture. Everything is political. And that is why pro-Stalinist liberal American intellectuals justified rewriting history to defend Stalin, the ruthless murderer of millions including blind music men, as a revered left wing icon.

The American Liberal love affair with Marxism is rooted in the social justice movement of the late Victorian era. Turning to government to solve social and economic issues paved the way for welcoming socialism into the intellectual fold. According to early 20th century liberal intellectual Diana Trilling:

“If we can say, as I think we can, that before this century the source of all political idealism was (however remotely) religion, I think we can also say that in our own century the source of all political idealism has been socialism, and, since the Russian Revolution, specifically the socialism of the Soviet Union.”

Yet, even liberal progressives championing socialism from the safety of American shores could not fully weather the storm caused by Stalin’s Moscow Trials. One ice-axed Leon Trotsky later and the American socialist movement was up in arms, divided over Lenin versus Stalin, arguing that the Georgian dictator was perverting Marx’s perfect plan.

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Thank you for the article. Time does not permit a real comment. Just a biographical note. I first learnt Joeseph Stalin's name as "Uncle Joe". Yes, that was during WW II as a child. Posters with Uncle Sam and those with Uncle Joe. What is in a name? In my case a propagandistic lie, one told for the really good cause of defeating Hitler. Later as a college student I had the unpleasant experience of really hearing "Better red than dead!". A clarion call of all too many liberals. There seems to be something in 20th -> 21th Century liberalism that simply finds an "Uncle Joe" under bloody stained collectivist rock. The social justice-ism is still about and infects Obamaism. But there is more to it, but what the "it" is I leave to mystify any reader of this anecdotal comment.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
There is a forgotten journalist, Gareth Jones: http://www.garethjones.org/

He told the truth of what Duranty hid. He wrote also of Mussolini, Hitler and Roosevelt: "This new system was introduced in 1933, and its continuance was indicated this week by President Roosevelt in his speech to Congress. This crippled leader who by his smile can capture the hearts of his opponents, as Mr. Lloyd George could during the War, is determined to build up a new United States, just as Hitler aims at building up a new Germany: " http://www.garethjones.org/american_articles/president_roosevelt.htm
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
I recall learning about Gareth Jones when researching the Holodomor. Fascinating man and fascinating story. Thank you for sharing!
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Pretty good article, especially considering how people like that Grover guy are Stalinists and running things.

BTW, a favor. Can you do the following in the series:

A. cite the College students chanting "Karl Marx" after Obama's win in the 2012 election cycle (see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CIk1pY7Yg8U)

B. Also do an entry citing Jean-Jacques Rousseau's involvement in the rise of Marxism today and long beforehand.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
I love requests for further research and insight that include links. Bully to you :) Those college kids will definitely make it into the mix. As for Rousseau...I'd like to revisit my copy of Paul Johnson's "Intellectuals" -- let's see if we can't get him in there as well.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
" It was a living museum, the country’s living history. All its songs, all its music and poetry. And they were almost all shot, almost all those pathetic blind men killed.”

And have you noticed, on PBS, almost all of their music "specials" are a paen to the 1960s generation? Everything following doesn't exist, never seen, never heard.

Gee.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Like those endless Peter, Paul and Mary specials? Puke. To be fair, they do haul out the doo-wop acts when they need to fundraise...ironic, isn't it?
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Does that include that Virgin Mary/Mary Magdaline special on PBS? I remember watching that around the Christmas season around I think 2001-2002. When they got to the part where the hosts speculated that they would have embraced the Virgin Mary with open arms, Mom, who is a Catholic, basically coldly stated while watching "No, they would have stoned her, you idiot!"

And I wonder why, outside of narcissm, everyone focuses on the 1960s a lot?
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
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