Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
Quote of the Day: God and Communism
“One thing I knew: I was no longer a Communist. I had broken involuntarily with Communism at the moment when I first said to myself: ‘It is just as evil to kill the Tsar and his family and throw their bodies down a mine shaft as it is to starve two million peasants or slave laborers to death. More bodies are involved in one case than the other. But one is just as evil as the other, not more evil, not less evil.’
“I do not know at just what point I said this. I did not even know that with that thought I had rejected the right of the mind to justify evil in the name of history, reason or progress, because I had asserted that there is something greater than the mind, history or progress. I did not know that this Something is God.”
A few days ago, I finished reading the book, Witness, by Whittaker Chambers, and I am still reeling from his story. For a brief summary of the book (which doesn’t begin to do it justice), Chambers had joined and then eventually broke with the Communist party in the United States. (We could debate the morality and foolishness of his decision to join, but that’s another post.) When he quit the Party, his decision likely put his life at risk, and he also believed he had the obligation to call out Alger Hiss, who was not only a member of the Party, but who had also infiltrated several departments in the U.S. government as well as international organizations. Chambers determined that although Hiss’ ability to operate without ever being caught up to that point was nearly impossible to imagine, the fact remained that he had operated freely and had to be stopped. Chambers was well aware of many of Hiss’ actions over the years, since the two at times had worked closely together and, in a sense, became friends.
I was shocked by Chambers’ assertions in the quotation above for many reasons. In spite of his uneasiness that developed over time in working with the Communists, he felt through a kind of spiritual realization that he was compelled to leave the party. It was the specter of the massive evil that had been committed in the name of the Party, and he realized he had been complicit in that evil through his own choices and actions. By making that decision to quit, however, he knew that he would effectively be destroying his own life and that of his family.
Today, however, people are free to join the Communist Party; members of Black Lives Matter boast of their training and membership. But they have no idea about or interest in learning how depraved their participation is. They don’t care that millions of people died not so long ago in the name of Communism. They have dedicated their lives, not to a great cause, but to empty ideas, racism, a wicked religion that not only cares nothing about the people it is supposed to represent, but ridicules them for their foolishness. There are no guiding principles that unite the people who follow Communism in the United States, but only commitment to duplicity and betraying this country. BLM has spent millions of dollars on California and Canadian estates, ignored the payment of taxes on the properties, and claimed ignorance of tax law; the full scope of their illegal acts has yet to be determined.
In a state founded on Judeo-Christian principles, there is no room for an ideology that mocks the people it is supposed to serve and denigrates G-d and the religions on which this country is founded. If it is allowed to thrive, we will all suffer.
Only time will tell whether Americans like Whittaker Chambers have an awakening that brings them back to their Source and inspires them to follow that which is greater. May we all be prepared also to inspire each other and prepare to make sacrifices to save our great country.Published in Group Writing
To be fair there isn’t a consensus about that in America. I’ll just say that empire is as empire does – it is not about your feelings – or mine, though I’d say the conceit was that some of you don’t see yourself as an empire?
Unless you want to buy something from Iran or Venezuela or Russia or Cuba or….
Please bask in their sincere adoration.
Some of us see themselves as thetans. I know of one guy who thinks that he’s the reincarnation of one of Napoleon’s marshals. I suppose that makes him an imperialist, but a 19th century French one.
That’s the government telling me what I can do. That can be inconvenient, even onerous, but it isn’t by itself evidence of an empire.
@skyler — You haven’t thought this through. Without British colonialism, what would the United States be today? Answer: It wouldn’t exist.
Similarly, without British colonialism, what would India be today? Answer: Aside from a geographic designation, it wouldn’t exist. (Unless maybe if the Tsars forcibly unified it and made it a province of the Russian Empire.)
BTW, Canada did not become completely independent of Britain until the 20th century.
Perhaps your friend saw authoritarianism as hewing to millennial Indian traditions of princely rule. It was the British who brought in European ideas of democracy and republicanism. Inevitably, Indians began to ask why they couldn’t have those things, too!
We were both very opinionated in our political beliefs, so we did not go deep on the topic, keeping to an amicable and valued chess friendship. His father was on the Indian Prime Minister’s security detail. I was involved in very differently minded political organizations on the side. We shared an extreme contempt of the Communists, so I think he prefers a more traditional strongman.
Some of us see the US as not an empire.
Or as an empire.
Point is: why?
(I don’t know what thetans are.)
That’s de facto the government telling people in other countries, or other countries’ governments, what they can or cannot do. So it’s (im)plausible deniability, but that kind of control is what empire is about.
That most former British colonies, including India, chose to join the British Commonwealth may be a giveaway.
It’s absurd to claim that all empires are equally bad (or equally good). Countries are better and worse; so are empires.
“All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?” — Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979).
India is like Europe in that it’s a civilisation, it is not just a state.
It’s uncontroversial that the British essentially created the borders of the present Indian state, but India (as numerous states) has been around for a while.
The music is a bit irritating, but:
I didn’t know we were having a competition for colonial power that was least damaging to the colonies and colonised. Why?
It’s a Scientology thing. It’s best to let one of them explain … funnier that way.
If any controls are imperialism in your estimation then you are some kind of libertarian/anarchist. I get along with them just fine as long as they keep their mitts off of my stuff.
@zafar — I was not able to find a source for your assertion that Indian railways cost five times as much per mile to build as North American railways.
Of course, if the North American railways were built by private enterprise, and the Indian railways by the government, the assertion is not wholly implausible.
However, I did find a very interesting book excerpt, which appreciates shades of gray without reducing them to a black and white cartoon:
There are endless paradoxes about the Indian railways. They were the greatest gift left by the colonial power, and yet they were not built to serve the needs of local people. The fact that they did so, and continue to do so, was almost incidental. The British companies that laid down the tracks had not envisaged that people would pour en masse onto the iron road to take advantage of the immeasurably improved experience of traveling across the vast sub-continent offered by train services. …
Railways and India are a good fit, an enduring one since not only are the Indians still building new lines, but virtually none have ever been closed. The railways … bound the country together. They allowed fast travel between one end of the country and the other and cemented relationships between the various provinces. They enabled goods to be carried around the country far more cheaply than ever before. They allowed the development of markets in foodstuffs and other agricultural produce that increased their availability and, eventually, did make famines less likely. They created an infrastructure that in India was unprecedented in its sophistication and extent. They gave the opportunity of secure jobs to millions of Indians and enabled many of them to acquire new skills. They helped the development of the trade union movement. They laid the foundations of the large Indian middle class. They brought sophisticated technology to the sub-continent. …
[But] the railways could have done so much more for India had they not been first and foremost a colonial project. — Christian Wolmar, “How Britain’s Colonial Railways Transformed India” https://reconasia.csis.org/how-britians-colonial-railways-transformed-india/
Or….the US controlling other countries’ actions for its own benefit and to their detriment is an expression of American Empire. Maybe?
That’s the heart of it.
Taras – you could read Inglorious Empire by Shashi Tharoor.
Till then, from your favourite source:
I started with an overview. It was difficult to keep hold of a point of reference and keep it all in context. Like AP World History on triple time Maybe if there were a biography or two I could start from, to develop some grounding. Islam is not very interesting, I met a Muslim assassin in college. The imams by his account were operating like crime lords, though he approached the life with an incongruous zeal. He gave me a copy of the Protocols of Zion and emphasized that the US Founding Fathers were Masons, though it was only later that I appreciated the full implications of his argument. I keep the protocols on my enemies shelf, with Das Kapital, Mein Kampf, Howard Zinn, et. al..
Instead of a plain history, try Arrow of the Blue Skinned God – which will give you an entry into the heart of India. We do trend mythological over historical anyway – though perhaps everybody does? Anyway, it’s an excellent, not very long, book and I think you’ll enjoy it.
I looked at this before. It’s pretty much like a brochure from the Indian railways system, with nothing controversial.
“The ‘guarantee system’, providing free land and a guaranteed five-percent rate of return to private British companies willing to build railways, was finalized on 17 August 1849.” Which seems reasonable enough, and there’s no attack on it in the article.
The number of countries that went along with the long-time American boycott of Cuba was, as I recall, zero. So I guess that’s the number of tributary states the American “empire” actually had!
Until Putin invaded Ukraine, the US couldn’t even get most NATO governments to fulfill their obligations to the organization.
Moral: Don’t confuse a metaphorical empire with a real empire.
When the French tried to imitate the British and set up a commonwealth of their own former colonies, nearly all of them gave France the cold shoulder. “Which may be a giveaway”! (Do I have to spell it out any further?)
Of course, if the attempt to debunk unfair or dishonest attacks on the British Empire really had something to do with its “Judaeochristian values”, that would apply to all the European empires, not just Britain.
As a matter of common sense, almost all empires will have both positive and negative aspects. For example, a very common positive aspect of European colonialism was the introduction of Western scientific medicine. In Africa, British colonialists like Gen. Gordon and Dr. Livingstone and Sir Samuel Baker fought the slave trade (while Africans, especially Muslims, went to war to keep it going).
In Europe, the imperialism of the Soviet Union actually damaged countries that were already advanced: wiping out vast numbers of artists and intellectuals in Ukraine, the Baltic States, and to a lesser extent Russia itself; and exterminating Ukraine’s best farmers while trying to implement Marx’s crackpot ideas. On the other hand, in Muslim areas of Central Asia, the Soviet Union probably improved the status of women.
Do you understand how secondary sanctions work?
This brings up yet another achievement of the British Empire in India, which I only noticed when I looked at a Wikipedia list of Indian wars.
As the British extended their rule, they put a stop to the constant wars between rival dynasties and empires that had wracked the subcontinent for millennia. An astonishing achievement!
Evidently they didn’t.
Have you heard of the CFA Franc?
Sure Taras. Ukraine was an advanced country and then the Soviet Union happened. Where’s their Samarkand?
Exactly. No one wants to argue that the British were philosopher-Kings or Saints. The pro-British argument says that they would have been better than the alternative.
The abortive efforts by France to set up some kind of a commonwealth of its former colonies is well known:
French Community, French La Communauté, association of states created in 1958 … to replace the French Union (itself the successor of the former French colonial empire) … By the late 1970s the association was defunct.
I think this was the last attempt:
“French-Speaking Nations Decide Against Commonwealth-Style Ties”,https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1986-02-20-mn-9818-story.html
Which is not to say that France does not occasionally intervene in former colonies, in a paternalistic way.
Restoring the context of the other extract:
In Europe, the imperialism of the Soviet Union actually damaged countries that were already advanced: wiping out vast numbers of artists and intellectuals in Ukraine, the Baltic States, and to a lesser extent Russia itself …
What part of this is controversial? You’ve heard of Stalin and his purges, I take it!
In the documentary, National Museum (2021), one of the stories told is how Ukrainian modern artists — who weren’t even opponents of the Soviet regime — were put to death in the 1930s. Their work was collected to be destroyed; but in a bit of Soviet humor the people who were supposed to do that were themselves purged and executed. So the works instead sat in storage for decades with no one left alive who knew what they were. Now they are finally being exhibited.
France runs these countries’ currency based on their depositing their hard currency in France. Is that control or not? And does it remind you of another colonial empire consolidating bullion in its capital? It should, it’s a similar move for similar reasons.
Here’s a sympathetic article on France and Africa:
Re the Commonwealth – can you tell me what, apart from playing cricket and throwing the occasional gabfest, it actually does? Until 1971 there was freedom of movement between countries of the Commonwealth – hence all those Caribbeans and South Asians filling the labour gaps created by the war in Britain, and that was a Good Thing – but today?
I don’t think Ukraine was that advanced. To the extent that Russian, and then Soviet, domination benefited Central Asia I think that it benefited Ukraine as well. (Say use the rough proxy of literacy, though that really only grew towards universal under the Soviets).
And harmed these places (and Russia itself) in similar ways.
Before the war started there were almost 20,000 Indian medical students in Ukraine. The country, like a lot of post Soviet Eastern Europe and the Russian Federation itself, had a reputation for offering inexpensive, good education. They inherited their educational system (and industry) from the Soviets. It wasn’t something they had preserved from “before”.
Education and literacy was something that, imho, the Soviets had done well in Ukraine. Doesn’t mean people liked being dominated and controlled, but for context.
The R-360 Neptun anti-ship missiles that did for the Moskva were based on the Soviet-era Kh-35 Kayak missile. But Kh-35s couldn’t hit a target 80 nautical miles off of Odessa. Neptuns could, and did.
It is interesting though that you are claiming the Ukrainians owe fealty to their former colonizers. That’s not the take I would have expected from you, Zafar.
It’s actually funnier than that, Kiev was the first real capital of the Rus, who were subject to pressure from the east by the Huns. As they slowly pressed back and expanded eastward, Moscow evolved from their frontier town to a major bulwark and, finally, the capital. So Moscow is the now surly colony of Kiev.
I’d hoped for better reading comprehension.
Edited to add:
The Soviets developed Ukraine. That’s what I said.