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Thursday, May 09, 2013

Where the Well-Regulated Economy Ends

What would happen if you had a well-regulated economy and nobody came?

Several excerpts from a recent New Yorker article by James Surowiecki give an indication.  First, there's "Greece, where tax evasion is a national sport and the shadow economy accounts for twenty-seven per cent of G.D.P."  In other words, Greece is more than one-quarter of the way to operating outside the well-regulated economy.

Surowiecki notes that the U.S. is headed in the direction as well:

"When we all finished filing our tax returns last week, there was a little something missing: two trillion dollars. That’s how much money Americans may have made in the past year that didn’t get reported to the I.R.S., according to a recent study by the economist Edgar Feige, who’s been investigating the so-called underground, or gray, economy for thirty-five years. It’s a huge number: if the government managed to collect taxes on all that income, the deficit would be trivial. This unreported income is being earned, for the most part, not by drug dealers or Mob bosses but by tens of millions of people with run-of-the-mill jobs—nannies, barbers, Web-site designers, and construction workers—who are getting paid off the books. Ordinary Americans have gone underground, and, as the recovery continues to limp along, they seem to be doing it more and more."
There are many factors pushing in that direction.
But the forces pushing people to work off the books are powerful. Feige points to the growing distrust of government as one important factor. The desire to avoid licensing regulations, which force people to jump through elaborate hoops just to get a job, is another. Most important, perhaps, are changes in the way we work. As Baumohl put it, “For businesses, the calculus of hiring has fundamentally changed.” Companies have got used to bringing people on as needed and then dropping them when the job is over, and they save on benefits and payroll taxes by treating even full-time employees as independent contractors. Casual employment often becomes under-the-table work; the arrangement has become a way of life in the construction industry. In a recent California survey of three hundred thousand contractors, two-thirds said they had no direct employees, meaning that they did not need to pay workers’-compensation insurance or payroll taxes. In other words, for lots of people off-the-books work is the only job available.
Most, if not all of those factors, are strongly related to the desire to avoid being well-regulated.

Increasingly onerous regulations can be followed by either draconian enforcement which strongly discourages private business formation leading to requiring massive government intervention in the economy ultimately leading to the situation where people pretend to work and the government pretends to pay them (per the old saying about the Soviet Union), or continuing lax enforcement, where the regulations are ignored and are therefore pointless and counterproductive (like in Greece).

A well-regulated economy is a shrinking and/or non-existent economy that exists mostly in the minds of collectivists.

201 comments:

1 – 200 of 201   Newer›   Newest»
Annoying Old Guy said...

Depends on what your real goals are. As mentioned, if you want to set up a neo-Feudal "Aristocracy of Pull" then lax enforcement is fine. If you are one of the nomenklatura and some peasant upsets you, you can apply strict enforcement to him knowing he will be guilty of something. I honestly don't think our wanna be nomenklatura, I mean, supports of a well regulated economy, really care about material progress or economic growth. What is really important is making people do the right thing. What the regulators really want is IngSoc.

Bret said...

Yes, that's a possible outcome of the lax enforcement path. It's still counterproductive at best.

Annoying Old Guy said...

erp;

Sometimes they come right out and say it.

Bret said...

From aog's link: "...the importance of autonomy is based on a belief that we are much more rational than we actually are..."

And all this time I thought the importance was based on wanting to live my own life (however poorly I do it) rather than having somebody else live it for me!

Silly me!

erp said...

Thanks aog. I'm not surprised that it was said, it's the commonly held opinion, only that anyone thought it notable enough to comment on it.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Let's not forget that a well regulated economy is only in the private sector. The government just whatever it wants without regard to the rules. Yet the proponents never seem to consider this a problem.

Peter said...

"I am a left-wing thinker and thus smarter than the crowd,
I lead the charge for justice in a voice angry and loud,
I deconstruct the ways of duller minds in patterns set,
In order to improve the lives of folks I've never met."

"I dwell on heights ethereal and breath in rarified air,
I argue pomo in my sleep with deftness, verve and flair,
Though history does unfold by way of sweeping laws perforce,
A nudge from one as bright as I helps keep it on its course."

"I tell all who will listen that they live a hollow sham
That keeps the land in ill repair and lion fighting lamb,
But the yahoo mind so quickly from Arcadian dreams diverts
To who will win the playoffs and the Walmart sale on shirts."

"Yet though I'm so much smarter than the stupid con hayseeds,
And though I have solutions to most everybody's needs,
I confess to being flummoxed by a riddle I can't beat:
Why are they in charge of government and I am on the street?"


That last line works a little better up here these days.

Hey Skipper said...

When we all finished filing our tax returns last week, there was a little something missing: two trillion dollars. ... It’s a huge number: if the government managed to collect taxes on all that income, the deficit would be trivial.

Who is to say the government doesn't? After all, most of that money gets spent, which ends up as income somewhere else, most of which will itself get taxed.

(I wonder how much of that 2 trillion is in tips.)

From aog's link: "...the importance of autonomy is based on a belief that we are much more rational than we actually are..."

Wow. That quote manages complete self-refutation in less than 20 words.

Bret said...

Peter,

I didn't realize you're a poet too!

Harry Eagar said...

'The government just whatever it wants without regard to the rules. Yet the proponents never seem to consider this a problem.'

Really? You think so?

Funny,seems to me the trend has been in the other direction. I hope, for example, that unlike in the Eisenhower years, our government is not trying to provoke war with nuclear-armed opponents by constantly inserting armed terrorists onto their territory.

If indeed this has stopped, we can thank the liberals who have tried for years to gain control over the spooks.

Annoying Old Guy said...

"Really? You think so?"

Yes.

"Funny,seems to me the trend has been in the other direction."

I have no doubt it does seem so to you, despite the IRS illegally targeting organizations for political reasons. If this has started again, we can thank the liberals for being will to abandon any restraint to achieve political success.

erp said...

Harry can't differentiate between administrations spying for our security as a nation and doing it and worse to stay in power.

Harry Eagar said...

erp, can you read English? I said the Eisenhower administration dropped armed terrorists into nuclear-armed states.

That's not spying. That's war.

Luckily, the commies were not interested in war.

And before y'all go all Fox on us, it turns out the IRS was investigating whether political organizations were entitled to tax breaks. An entirely reasonble thing to do, since in most cases they are not.

erp said...

Remember no spy satellites in the good old days. They had to do it the old fashioned way.

Of course, the Soviets weren't interested in war, they couldn't even feed themselves nevermind wage war, but then nobody knew that because the media kept the myth alive that they were equal to or ahead of us in every measurable way.

Even way back when there were defectors from the USSR one of whom was a good friend (we met while I was getting my GED) and we learned first hand how the glorious revolution had made the lives of ordinary victims of the great experiment hell on earth.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Mr. Eagar;

But dropping missiles from arms drones is completely different? Or bombing their embassies?

As for the IRS, it's very hard to make sense of your claim given the IRS officials apologizing for "inappropriate" scrutiny.

Quote - "We would like to apologize for that," said Lois Lerner, director of the IRS tax-exempt office at an American Bar Association conference. She said the practice "was absolutely incorrect and it was inappropriate."

Perhaps you should read some newspapers, instead of just watching Fox News to find out which events to ignore.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Even White House spokesman Jay Carney wont'd defend the IRS and calls the IRS actions "inappropriate". But not our Mr. Eagar - it's just the proper regulation of the economy.

Harry Eagar said...

erp, are you dense? I did not say spies. I said armed terrorists whose mission was to start a war.

Yes, the administration should not have apologized. The applications (and others, and there were others) needed review.

You could argue which keywords should have set off additional inquiry. 'American' was probably too common to be useful. 'Tea party' and 'socialist' or some such were about right.

As for drones, there seems to be agreement that the states involved are in concert, and the targets are not state actors but rebels. Exactly the opposite of trying to raise a Ukrainian revolt.

erp said...

One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist.

Harry Eagar said...

True, but the point is, the intended victims would have counted them as terrorists (and did, they were all shot), and the intended victims were also a nuclear-armed that the same people sending in the terrorists said were intending worldwide war and aggression.

So now the question becomes, just how stupid were American anticommunists? Were they, in a political sense, the stupidest people of all time? I think so.

Now, of course, they tell us the USSR was no threat, but that was not what they said then, and then was when they were trying to start World War III.

erp said...

"They" being ??? Do you mean Ike wanted to start WWIII?

The Soviets we're never a threat. You only found out when it could no longer be covered up. Some of us knew it all along because our sight wasn't clouded by wishful thinking.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Mr. Eagar;

With regard to the IRS scandal, perhaps it's time to crack open a daily newspaper and become informed.

erp said...

aog, in Harry's world, The Herald isn't credible as it doesn't print the party line.

PS: Sorry about the typo above. Typing on the iPad is a real nuisance. Obviously, the line should read, ... the Soviet were never a threat ...

Harry Eagar said...

Been informed, thanks. Read the WSJ.

The fact is, the IRS reviewed dubious applications for tax exemptions. The rightwing must be getting desperate if that's the worst outrage du jour.

Really? You don't want the IRS to review suspect applications?

Silly me. Mention IRS and rightwingers foam at the mouth.

erp, instead of just makin' stuff up, you should do some, you know, study. There's a nifty website that consolidates all the anticommunist nuttery that I grew up with, conelrad.com. It's a laff riot.

Preacher Goff is especially recommended.

Harry Eagar said...

Been informed, thanks. Read the WSJ.

The fact is, the IRS reviewed dubious applications for tax exemptions. The rightwing must be getting desperate if that's the worst outrage du jour.

Really? You don't want the IRS to review suspect applications?

Silly me. Mention IRS and rightwingers foam at the mouth.

erp, instead of just makin' stuff up, you should do some, you know, study. There's a nifty website that consolidates all the anticommunist nuttery that I grew up with, conelrad.com. It's a laff riot.

Preacher Goff is especially recommended.

erp said...

Harry, now I'm intrigued. What did I make up?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Mr. Eagar;

You don't seem very informed if you think U.S. Rep. Michael E. Capuano (D-Somerville) and U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-South Boston) are rightwingers foaming at the mouth. Nor have noted that the IRS wasn't reviewing applications for being dubious, but for being politically incorrect. The IRS itself has admitted that, along with an Inspector General's report.

I cannot argue with you on that. You're too crazy to argue with.

erp said...

aog, don't forget this all started with Hill & Bill. Wait for the law suits. Might be worthwhile to live a little longer to watch the fun.

Harry Eagar said...

You invented the idea that only fellow travelers thought the USSR was a potent military force.

It was the rightwing crazies who peddled that idea most forcefully.

(And it doesn't matter what I thought, although the fact is, at the age of 8, when all this dangerous warmongering was going on, I wasn't thinking about the commies.)

I read the guidelines, Guy. Doesn't say anything about conservatives. It does target political action groups that might be trying for exemptions they were not qualified for.

The withdrawal of some of the applictions suggests the IRS was on the right track. What congressmen say cannot alter the document, which speaks, as the lawyers like to say, for itself.

erp said...

Harry, I said nothing about fellow travelers, but if they were high enough in the apparatchikhood, they were in the know.

It was/is the left wing cabal of media, entertainment, academe, etc. who kept/keep the general public terrified of Soviet military power although now it's switched over to China, North Korea ... .

Not all lefties were/are in on the scam, but all the real players obviously were/are.

What you call righwing crazies were downplaying Soviet power???? If that's not a typo, you are seriously not on the same planet as the rest of us.

Bret said...

Harry wrote: "The fact is, the IRS reviewed dubious applications for tax exemptions. The rightwing must be getting desperate if that's the worst outrage du jour."

I mostly agree with Harry on this one.

The problem is not how the IRS chose to filter down what they decided to audit (they can't audit everybody). The problem is the fact that the tax code is so damn complicated that the vast majority of us are in non-compliance and for the most part, don't even know it.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Bret;

Why were those applications consider dubious other than political orientation? Do you think that it would just as reasonable for a GOP government to investigate voter fraud only in heavily Democratic voting districts, and that to object that would be to support no enforcement against voter fraud?

If your guidelines include using the words "Tea Party", that's ideological bias. The IRS itself admits it was an ideological bias.

P.S. What guidelines have you read? Those were frequently changed. For instance, do you consider this ideological based enforcement or not -

The Director of EO in Washington, DC, Lois Lerner, is briefed that the criteria being used by employees includes “Tea Party,” “Patriots,” “9/12 Project,” “Government Spending,” “Government Debt,” “Taxes,” “make America a better place to live,” and cases with statements that criticize how the country is being run.

Bret said...

aog,

What I'm saying is that whenever the need for subjective filtering occurs, it's going to be inherently unfair. This is easily foreseen. This time it was biased against conservative groups.

You might retort that the entities being audited should've been picked at random. But that's probably not particularly efficient - it probably actually makes sense to target certain groups so that a higher percentage of the audits are fruitful. Much like racial profiling at airport security probably would also make sense, but we've foolishly decided not to do it - making us less safe and costing more money.

The goal of the IRS is to collect as much money as possible. We can predict due to human nature, a goal of individuals at the IRS is to maintain and extend powerr. The actions accomplished both goals - auditing groups that probably do have a higher than average likelihood of being rejected for non-profit status and at the same time harassing groups that might limit their power and scope individually.

I'm not saying it's fair and it might possibly be illegal.

But, it seems to me, if this case of humans being humans is the worst outrage, things must not be so bad.

erp said...

Bret, read Drudge before you make up your mind whether it's deliberate targeting of conservatives and/or others who criticize Obama et al. or just general incompetence.

What he says is pretty convincing that it's deliberate and it started with the Clintons.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:]Funny,seems to me the trend has been in the other direction. I hope, for example, that unlike in the Eisenhower years, our government is not trying to provoke war with nuclear-armed opponents by constantly inserting armed terrorists onto their territory.

How about a link?

Luckily, the commies were not interested in war.

No, just domination. Perhaps you have forgotten the Berlin Blockade, among other things. Or the number of troops the USSR maintained in Europe after the end of WWII. Or what Kruschev said the USSRs intentions were.

So now the question becomes, just how stupid were American anticommunists? Were they, in a political sense, the stupidest people of all time? I think so.

The history is clear: the stupidest people of all time are communists, who could not take on board the most obvious lesson of all — there is no such thing as a good theory that doesn't work in practice.

[AOG:] Why were those applications consider dubious other than political orientation?

The criteria were both subjective and open to abuse. There is absolutely no reason to expect, and no fact to suggest otherwise, not even for professional demonologists such as Harry, that individualistic organizations were more than collectivists' to stretch the rules.

Despite that, and this where the crime lies, the IRS explicitly targeted one group solely due to motivation, while leaving the other alone, solely due to motivation. What the IRS was doing amounted to thought policing — wrong thoughts, and your gonna get policed.

Thankfully, we still have a free, if frequently biased, press. They, at least, see the genesis of government tyranny in the IRS actions.

Although, given the net set out for the AP, who knows how for long.

Hey Skipper said...

And now back to the point of this post:

A well-regulated economy is a shrinking and/or non-existent economy that exists mostly in the minds of collectivists.

I disagree. I think it is easily enough done to identify those parts of the economy that it makes sense to regulate — where there are free rider problems (clean air rules), or there are established best practices (building codes — until the mid-70s Alaska's building codes were minimal, and it showed.)

Individualists could make a case for a well regulated (transparent, evenly applied, and justified by specific criteria) dynamic economy.

Unfortunately, because collectivists, by definition, are convinced that their preferences are correct, then they must collectively impose those preferences through increasingly pervasive regulation that is self-reinforcing — the more regulations you have, the more you need. Collectivists will never recognize that the original sin is collectivizing things that are not collective in the first place. So the result is always the same: sclerotic economies such as France, Spain, Italy and Japan.

Or closer to home. Food trucks are becoming increasingly popular in many cities, but not New York:

… despite the inherent attractiveness of cute trucks and clever food options, the business stinks. There are numerous (and sometimes conflicting) regulations required by the departments of Health, Sanitation, Transportation and Consumer Affairs. These rules are enforced, with varying consistency, by the New York Police Department. As a result, according to City Councilman Dan Garodnick, it’s nearly impossible (even if you fill out the right paperwork) to operate a truck without breaking some law. Trucks can’t sell food if they’re parked in a metered space . . . or if they’re within 200 feet of a school . . . or within 500 feet of a public market . . . and so on.



The food-truck business, I realized, is a classic case of bureaucratic inertia. The city has a right to weigh the interests of food-market owners (who don’t want food trucks blocking their windows) and diners (who deserve to know that their street meat is edible, and harmless). But many of the rules governing location were written decades ago. In the ’80s, the city capped the number of carts and trucks at 3,000 (plus 1,000 more from April to October). Technically, a permit for a food cart or truck is not transferable, but Andrew Rigie, executive director of the N.Y.C. Hospitality Alliance, said that vendors regularly pay permit holders something like $15,000 to $20,000 to lease their certificates for two years. Legally, the permit holder becomes a junior partner in the new business.

As Rigie spoke, I was reminded of corrupt countries that I’ve visited, like Iraq and Haiti, where illogical and arbitrarily enforced rules create the wrong set of incentives. Perhaps the biggest winner in our current system is an obscure type of business known as an authorized commissary. By city law, every food cart and truck must visit a licensed commissary each day, where a set of mandated cleaning services can be performed. These commissaries also sell and rent carts and sell vendors food, soda, ice cream and propane. Rigie told me that many commissary owners make a bit extra by acting as informal brokers, facilitating the not-quite-legal trade of permits, which, by some estimates, is a $15 million-a-year business. Given their city-mandated stream of business, these commissaries have essentially formed an oligopoly. As a result, they have little incentive to compete aggressively by offering different kinds of food. No wonder we have an oversupply of hot dogs and knishes and nowhere near enough waffles and falafels.


This where collectivist notions of "well regulated" always end up.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Bret;

"You might retort that the entities being audited should've been picked at random"

Not at all. I understand that judgements will be subjective but I do expect those subject criteria to be related to the purpose of the regulation. Your example of profiling is not at all a counter example because those profiles are based on the greater probability of the profiled class violating the law. That is, an observed and factual statistical correlation. There was no such thing here.

You write "auditing groups that probably do have a higher than average likelihood of being rejected for non-profit status" for which there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever. Nobody with any knowledge has made that claim, not even the IRS. On what basis do you do so?

Would it change your mind if this was done solely and only with the purpose of punishing politically incorrect views?

Annoying Old Guy said...

P.S. Bret, what about releasing confidential records to political organizations?

I have to say I am stunned that you can take this so lightly, as I think it's a scandal that strikes at the heart of our civil society and republic. If this is really going on, it's fair to say the situation is grave.

Hey Skipper said...

Taranto summarizes what we know of this whole schlamozzle. Pretty much the sort of thing you expect, and fear, from those who think they know better.

AOG: fun with rockets.

erp said...

Skipper, both links go to the same video.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Interesting reading if you scroll down to where "Article 2" shows up, as how seriously this kind of thing has been considered in the past.

But if we want to keep this on track, I've got a post up on the IRS subject.

Thanks for the rocket video - they have some of those in the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

Hey Skipper said...

Now, I hope, properly linked:

Taranto summarizes what we know of this whole schlamozzle. Pretty much the sort of thing you expect, and fear, from those who think they know better.

Bret said...

aog wrote: "Would it change your mind if this was done solely and only with the purpose of punishing politically incorrect views?"

I understand that was a purpose, very possibly the primary or only purpose.

I'm saying it's an inherent emergent behavior of the system in place.

At this point, I want to see it settle, find out which parts were specifically illegal, who violated which statute, etc., see if penalties are reasonably instituted, etc. before I call this an outrage.

To the extent agents and associated management subjectively targeted groups they didn't like within the boundaries of what is plausibly the law, I readily admit that in their shoes, I would do the same thing. Why wouldn't I? Obviously, I wouldn't target conservative groups, I would target left wing groups and I would target them good and hard.

So, of course, I expect them to do the same thing and I can't imagine why we think that is unexpected, much less an outrage, unless we think human nature itself is outrageous.

If we want to fix it, we have to go to the root of the problem - too much government, too much regulation of which too much is subjective, too many taxes, too many loopholes, too many agencies, too much power concentrated in one place, etc.

Where we're at is truly "where the well-regulated economy ends" and I find the surprise and outrage mostly amusing. Only the blind couldn't foresee these sorts of things. They will continue and get steadily worse unless the whole weed is plucked out by the root.

Bret said...

aog wrote: "I have to say I am stunned that you can take this so lightly, as I think it's a scandal that strikes at the heart of our civil society and republic."

See my immediately preceding comment.

I see it exactly the other way. For many, many decades we have eaten away "at the heart of our civil society and republic" and the obvious outcome are things like this that should not be vaguely unexpected.

Fortunately, I think the final bit of the road to serfdom is still pretty long, so I think our lives will still be pretty comfortable and enjoyable, especially if we don't take the degradation of civil society to seriously. That's why I take this so lightly.

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "I think it is easily enough done to identify those parts of the economy that it makes sense to regulate..."

Many think that is indeed easily enough done to identify those parts of the economy that makes sense to regulate and that is every last bit of it. That's the "Well-Regulated Economy" to which I'm referring (i.e. the collectivist notion of it as given by your food truck example).

That a handful of us disagree about the overwhelming extent of regulation is immaterial. Complete regulation to the point where every action is illegal and we're only allowed to operate at all by bribe and by fiat is clearly where we've being heading for a very long time and is clearly where we will continue to head.

Annoying Old Guy said...

"To the extent agents and associated management subjectively targeted groups they didn't like within the boundaries of what is plausibly the law" - targeting groups for purely or even primarily political reasons is flat out illegal. As noted, doing that was one of the article of impeachment for President Nixon. So I don't see how you can admit "I understand that was a purpose, very possibly the primary or only purpose" and still be undecided about the legality of it.

I certainly agree that we've been headed this way for a long time, but I think it my duty as a citizen to stand athwart and yell "halt!" even if it is completely ineffective. It's a slippery slope so I intended to generate as much friction as possible during the descent, especially at inflection points such as this.

erp said...

Bret: I would target left wing groups and I would target them good and hard.

Totally agree, but not illegally. Everyone is protected under the law even those with whom we disagree totally and whose policies we believe are destroying our country.

Even though you are also right that we are gaining speed going down the slippery slope, I stand with aog and intend to make it as hard as I can for them to succeed.

Bret said...

erp wrote: "Everyone is protected under the law..."

That might've been the idea.

That's no longer the case and hasn't been for a while.

Instapundit wrote a paper about "when everything's a crime". Then nobody's protected and we've reverted to quasi-rule by fiat.

Do you always drive under the speed limit too?

erp said...

No, but if I get a ticket, I hope it's because I was speeding and not because I don't support Obama et al.

It saddens me that you seem to accept that we are no longer a nation of law.

Harry Eagar said...

It passeth understanding that you guys are so worried about overregulating and regulating everything.

I can think of some things that ought to be regulated, and even were once regulated, that are not regulated now.

Bamks, for example. While there are areas of banking that are regulated, the problematic areas are not.

And I can think of areas, important areas that are totally unregulated and that government shows no sign of wanting to regulate: the ASTA province, for example.

As for this: 'No, just domination. Perhaps you have forgotten the Berlin Blockade, among other things. Or the number of troops the USSR maintained in Europe after the end of WWII. Or what Kruschev said the USSRs intentions were.'

I agree that the Bolsheviks were interested in domination but only by subversion. When force was required, they always stopped. Funny you should mention Berlin in that respect.

I do think of the number of troops the USSR maintained in Europe and think they were prudent to do so. But I can tell you how many the USSR maintained in Finland, Austria, Iran and Manchuria. A grand total of 0, zip, nil, nada, not any.

Yet the Red Army had occupied all or parts of those places n 1945.

Contrast that to the places the US withdrew from (and much later). I count only 3, France, the Philippines and Panama. Some leftists would throw in Santo Domingo or Grenada, I suppose.




Susan's Husband said...

"When force was required, they [Bolsheviks] always stopped"

Tell that to the White Russians, the Ukrainian kulaks, the Gulag inmates, the Czechoslovakians, Lithuanians, Estonians, Latvians, or South Vietnamese.

P.S. The parts of Finland seized in the Winter War are still part of the USSR / Russia - so that's a "continued occupation", not a withdrawal. If only you knew some history.

erp said...

Harry, yes I remember the Berlin blockade. I said the Ruskies were weak, not weak-minded. When Krushchev realized that Kennedy was a playboy moron, he correctly deduced he could get away with murder without expending much treasure and made his move. I remember reading somewhere a long time ago when there were news organizations extant in the land that he was astounded that we sat on our hands and he got away with it.

Moving along, we see that the two latest moron playboys, Clinton and Obama are doing much the same thing allowing the big bad boys to make fools of us, kill a lot of people mostly innocents and make the world a much more dangerous place ... and that includes the previously unthinkable, the land of the free and home of the brave.

Must make you so happy.

erp said...

SH, I guess we should celebrate that communism is such a bankrupt system or your list would be much longer. A friend of mine who was able to defect from Yugoslavia, but spent most of his life in Moscow, would keep us in stitches with his description of the glorious revolution and its aftermath.

If only anybody on the left knew actual facts about the past because apparently what they call history is really wishful thinking.

Harry Eagar said...

STOP PRESS This just in!

Russia misgoverned.

With the exception of Cuba (one training brigade, later withdrawn), and Moldova and, during civil war, Mongolia, the Red Army never set foot outside the borders of tsarist Russia except when pursuing rightwing invaders.

Contrast this with the tsarist army, which was seen as far afield as France and Italy.

Unlike the US Army, the Red Army did not continue to occupy distant lands, except a protective belt from which it had been attacked 5 times in the preceding 130 years.

(I did think of a few other places from which the US did withdraw its military occupation: Iceland, Portugal and West Africa; although it seems to be having second thoughts about West Africa.)

But if it is true that, contrary to historical record, the USSR was attempting international aggression, why was the United States encouraging it?
The Red Army

erp said...

Misgoverned?

So Harry, you belong to the school which says the USSR didn't fail because communism is an unworkable sham, but because the people in charge couldn't or wouldn't make it work.

How charmingly vintage.

I haven't heard that actually being proffered as an explanation of communism's utter failure in every corner of world where it was implemented for a couple of decades at least.

BTW - which Alinsky rule number is it again which suggests answering a question not asked. Did anyone on this string or any other I've read ever suggest that the Czars were benevolent rulers in their own stead and/or in contrast with Lenin/Stalin/...

Ruskie aggression didn't go far afield because, as stated above, they didn't have the bucks aka didn't have rubles to field armies, navies, air forces, not because they were humanitarians. I must say you have mastered every loony lefty lesson I've ever heard over the last 78 years.

Also if you recall, the whole space shuttle, space station was set up so they could save face as being a partner in the space program. Carter spent our money in a vain effort to make the Soviet space program seem viable.

Not that it matters because to quote our former SoS and probably next president, "what difference does all that make now."

Events of the past week clearly show, it's game over for us.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Wow, Eagar making apologetics for Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe. The "tsarist Russia border" thing is interesting, but necessary to justify the invasion of Poland and Finland in the 1930s.

erp;

It's the other way around - it is Eagar who is exalting tsarist Russia, by implying that if that state conquered territory, that's all the justification needed for a successor state to do so as well. For Eagar, tsarist Russia is apparently the gold standard of a state, even though he's previously dismissed it as a free market (and therefore evil).

erp said...

aog, my bad!

Hey Skipper said...

Apologies for delayed responses, but I have spent the last couple days as a guest of a well regulated economy.

[Harry:] I agree that the Bolsheviks were interested in domination but only by subversion. When force was required, they always stopped. Funny you should mention Berlin in that respect.

Those are some epic, truly epic, ideological blinders you have on there.

The Soviets used a blockade — which requires force, in case you haven't heard — in order to starve West Berlin into submission. Just to repeat, in case you missed the connection, that is an attempt at domination through starvation. Only in leftworld is starvation just another way of doing subversion.

SH: to your list, add the Korean War, Hungary and the Prague Spring. Oh, and also the Iron Curtain. There were some people who might remember that, except that they unfortunately succumbed to being dominated in the back.

I do think of the number of troops the USSR maintained in Europe and think they were prudent to do so.

Except that history has conclusively proven you, and the USSR, wrong. When the Warsaw Pact collapsed in 1989, the Soviet Union was completely helpless against NATO's military threat. Seeing this opportunity, NATO promptly invaded … umm, no, that would be a particularly silly alternative history … NATO promptly and substantially reduced their forces, thereby failing to pose any military threat whatsoever against the Soviet Union or Russia.

Unlike the US Army, the Red Army did not continue to occupy distant lands, except a protective belt from which it had been attacked 5 times in the preceding 130 years.

Unlike the Red Army, the US military always leaves when asked. Oh, and how many Czechoslovakias and Hungarys are on the US's side of the ledger?

South Korea, Japan, Europe, at al, could direct the US to leave any time. That they don't should suggest something to you.

STOP PRESS This just in!

Collectivism fails.


There, fixed it for you.

And I can think of areas, important areas that are totally unregulated and that government shows no sign of wanting to regulate: the ASTA province, for example.

Help me out here. ASTA as in the American Society of Travel Agents? American String Teachers Association? Asta (aka Skippy) the dog actor? American Seed Trade Association? American Sail Training Association?

erp said...

Without you guys, I wouldn't have any fun.

Skipper, I think it means, (h)asta la vista, baby!

Glad you escaped safely.

Harry Eagar said...

'Unlike the Red Army, the US military always leaves when asked.'

Incorrect. I can think of a number of examples, starting with Hawaii.

And if you were to specify the wishes of the vast majority of the people, instead of relying on our puppet states, the list would be loooong, starting with Okinawa, Cuba and South Dakota.

erp said...

Harry, in your opinion would the world be a better place if neither Columbus or anyone else sailed the ocean blue and indigenous people around the world were left to live as one with nature leaving only Europe to move into the modern age?

Hey Skipper said...

Incorrect. I can think of a number of examples, starting with Hawaii.

And if you were to specify the wishes of the vast majority of the people, instead of relying on our puppet states, the list would be loooong, starting with Okinawa, Cuba and South Dakota.


I must admit, that list gave me pause. Until, that is, I thought about it.

Your examples of the Red Army were with respect to countries. And, after all, that makes sense. It is the constituted government of a nation state that matters in this regard.

Which makes your list tendentious.

Neither Hawaii, Okinawa, or South Dakota are nation-states. (And I'll anticipate your objection now: assessing the actions of 150 years ago as somehow dispositive of post WWII is intellectually empty.)

Perhaps the majority of Okinawans want the US military out. I don't know. But it is certain that the Japanese government does not agree, just as it is certain that the moment the Japanese, or Korean gov't decided it was time for the US to go, it would.

(Just as it did in the Philippines, France, and Iraq.)

Reviewing history shows Guantanamo doesn't make your point, either.

I'm still waiting for an example of a country asking the US military leave, yet it stayed anyway.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Someone should ask the Germans, as they've been invaded by both.

Harry Eagar said...

But Hawaii was a country until its government was overthrown by a small group of kleptocrats with backing of the US Navy.

President Cleveland sent an investigator who concluded that the US should reverse its action. But he (Cleveland) was replaced by a rightwing imperialist, so nothing doing.

Meanwhile, virtually all the citizens of the former country signed a petition (you can read it in the Library of Congress) asking to have their country back and the Navy out.

Lot of good that did them.

As for S. Dakota, it was also a sovereign state, sovereign enough to have a solemn treaty with the USG that promised to keep the US Army out. But then gold was found, so forget that.

The Ryukuans were displeased, to say the least of it, to be conquered by the Japanese and have their king thrown out. They have asked both Japan and the US to beat it, but no dice.

It's true that Stockton evacuated California (which was at the time either part of Mexico or an independent country all by itself, depending on who you asked but for sure was not part of the United States) once, but that didn't stick either.

The United States has hardly ever found a sleazy rightwing thug dictator it didn't like, and your tax dollars have been the only thing between many of them and being chopped up and the pieces carried around town on long poles (as the Haitians used to do with their former presidents), so worship of nation-stateness is morally ambiguous, if not downright scandalous.

Dunno about intellectually empty. The United States used to say it stood for the right of other peoples to choose their own government, the way we did for ourselves, but, as you say, that was 150 years ago and who wants to be old-fashioned that way?

(It might be an intellectually filling exercise to go through all those nation-states one by one and check to see how fast -- unseemly fast in some cases -- the US decided that the old state was kaput and the new one an admirable step toward democracy, or something. And now a minute of silence for the nation of the Kurds. 20 million people willing to die for independence, but living in subjection to some of the evilest murderers of the 21st century -- but, erp can thank goodness, not leftists -- thanks to the US Army.)

erp said...

Evilest murderers of the 21st C. and he wasn't a lefty? Who could that have been I wonder?

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] Dunno about [assessing actions of 150 years ago v. 20th century being] intellectually empty.

[Previous Harry: ] Unlike the US Army, the Red Army did not continue to occupy distant lands ...

I guess I am going to have to read more history. Until just now, I wasn't aware that the Red Army existed 150 years ago.

Harry Eagar said...

No but the Russian army did, and it is my reading of history that the differences between them are negligible, with the glaring exception that the tsarist version was devoted to international aggression and the red version (following its humiliation before Warsaw) was not.

Or exactly the opposite of the narrative I was taught in the '50s.

Not been, erp, is, and if you read newspapers you'd know who. But if all you do is read disinformation sites like Drudge, then of course you wouldn't know.

erp said...

Harry okay, so I'll break my own rule and state unequivocally that you are playing with one or two cards short of a full deck.

There was no difference between the tsars and the reds?

Why then did the Boshies bother to make all that noise and kill people and all if it wasn't to make-the-world-a-better-place like it is now.

Let me see devilish tyrant who is alive right now and is suppressing and killing Kurds? Hmmmmmm.

That's a poser all right, but given your reasoning capacity, I'll choose George W. Bush as your candidate.

Hey Skipper said...

No but the Russian army did, and it is my reading of history that the differences between them are negligible ...

Harry, that is pure double dealing.

If you want to compare US v. USSR foreign policy, then, by definition, you must exclude US foreign policy before the USSR existed.

Never mind the folly of implicitly extending foreign policy during colonialism to the post-colonial era when condemning the US v. the USSR.

Besides, the underlying fact remains. The USSR maintained vast numbers of troops outside the USSR. The Red Army did, in fact, several times used quite a bit of violence to suppress opposition within the Warsaw Pact, and the threat of force all the time to keep the subject populations in line.

As history since the fall of the wall has clearly demonstrated, every bit of that was a complete, horrible waste.

Harry Eagar said...

Not a waste from the point of view from the Kremlin, which had a well-justified fear of being invaded a third time from Germany.

erp, does the name Erdoan ring a bell with you? Ever see pictures of Turkish generals? They wear lots and lots of medals. Since Turkey has not engaged in any war with another state since 1922, you might wonder what they got those medals for.

On the eastern side of Kurdistan, its the ayatollahs.

Skipper, as for since the revolution, I have been reading about US support for Vidal. While he did not murder as many people as Stalin, no one can say he didn't devise tortures that even Ivan the Terrible would have admired.

He was best buds with Reagan, Kissinger and Kirkpatrick.

When the men in the Kremlin worried about a renewed fascism, they were not delusional.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Mr. Eagar;

Ah, you have moved from "they didn't do it" to "they did it but it wasn't a waste from their point of view". That's the kind of consistency and careful thought for your positions I have come to expect.

Further, as Skipper pointed out earlier, history shows Soviet concerns about another German invasion were, in fact, not justified at all.

erp said...

Harry, how would "renewed" fascism be different from what Soviets were already pushing -- except for the people in charge, I mean? What you probably mean is they didn't want any other thugs moving in on their territory. Now that's understandable.

Harry Eagar said...

Maybe he thinks he showed they were not justified from some position outside the Kremlin.

From inside the view was different. The strongest power, which was very aggressive, was actively supporting fascist regimes wherever it could; and was waging covert war by sending saboteurs into the USSR.

We saw the US government in a security panic over actions far less threatening.

And, of course, I did not change my narrative. I described the situation as it was, including the one time (between 1922 and 1979) that the Red Army stepped outside the tsarist borders.

And how it withdrew several times.

The US also withdrew from some places (like Takoradi) but it looks like we're going back.

Annoying Old Guy said...

"With the exception of Cuba (one training brigade, later withdrawn), and Moldova and, during civil war, Mongolia, the Red Army never set foot outside the borders of tsarist Russia"

"I described the situation as it was, including the one time (between 1922 and 1979) that the Red Army stepped outside the tsarist borders"

So, is it one, or is it three?

We also have this - "I agree that the Bolsheviks were interested in domination but only by subversion. When force was required, they always stopped" - which is the Narrative you've changed. I.e, from "they didn't use force" to "it was justified force".

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] Skipper, as for since the revolution, I have been reading about US support for Vidal. While he did not murder as many people as Stalin, no one can say he didn't devise tortures that even Ivan the Terrible would have admired.

Huh? Wot? For the love of God, when you start trotting out assertions such as this, by all means yield to your inner linkster. I have no earthly idea who this Vidal is, and, therefore, no way to wonder whether your unique interpretation of facts is leading you — a la capitalism's responsibility for famine — to very disputable conclusions.

Maybe [Hey Skipper] thinks he showed they were not justified from some position outside the Kremlin.

If by that position you mean history, then that case is proven beyond any possibility of contradiction: Western Europe and the US were never even remotely a threat to the USSR. Indeed, the USSR — with over a million Red Army troops camped on the inner German border following WWII was so threatening it forced a reaction by the West.

Similarly, in your selectively divorcing cause from effect, you completely neglect to mention that the US support of "fascist" regimes was in reaction to Soviet subversions. Just as European history following the collapse of the Wall and the USSR utterly demolishes any appeal to "rational justification", world history over the same period demonstrates just how much trouble the Soviets were actively fomenting. Since the need to counter USSR subverted, supported, and satellite regimes has vanished, our countering support of "fascist" regimes has similarly disappeared.

You continually mention the US sending saboteurs into the USSR. Perhaps you can give a similar accounting of the USSR's support for "wars of liberation", or aid to groups like the Red Army Faction.

I suspect that the balance would be very one sided. Particularly in view of the fact that when I was trying to find instances of US backed sabotage in the Soviet Union, the Home of the Revolutionary Left came up with goose eggs. (Okay, not exactly. Apparently the US sabotaged a Siberian oil pipeline in the early 80s. By planting some logic bombs in control software that the KGB was stealing from a Canadian company. Oh, there is also the TU-144. MI6 doctored plans for Concorde that the KGB was stealing as part of a widespread program of industrial espionage. Which was no doubt rationally justifiable.)

While we are on the topic of how the USSR was rationally justified in keeping huge forward based forces to defend against the perfidious West, perhaps you can inform us how it is that the Iron Curtain was similarly justified?

It is my reading of history that the USSR had created the world's largest prison.

Oh, and while you are at it, what is the difference between communism and fascism?

erp said...

Skipper, Soviets sent subversives here long before WW2 to wit union thugs sabotaging the coal mines, strong arming workers into joining unions and actively committing acts of terrorism like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911 which was pivotal in turning public opinion in favor of the union movement.

Reds who were the darlings of the media and intellectuals then as now infiltrated every avenue of public life in the U.S. Wilson and FDR's administrations were taken over completely.

Khrushchev knew what he was talking about when he said "we will defeat you from within."

As we know, they play the long game. It’s been over a hundred years and only now can they see that victory really is at hand.

Harry Eagar said...

erp, you have tapped into some really disgusting fantasies, but the Triangle one is especially so. Where did you get it?

Skipper, not all information is on the Internet. If you want an insider account of saboteurs in the USSR, see William Sloane Coffin Jr.'s autobiography.

Vidal was dictator of Argentina. See Christopher Hitchens' autobiography for details. (Warning: not for weak stomachs.)

erp said...

Not fantasy.

It's your side that has rewritten history.

Coffin's bio an insider's look -- talk about fairy tales.

Harry Eagar said...

erp, I follow rightwing fantasists, but somehow missed the one about how the Triangle fire was a provocation. Where did you get that?

See my comment about Coffin elsewhere. He was a rightwing spook before he turned left. (The part of his autobiography which covers this happens to intersect with the story of my best childhood friends. Coffin's description is accurate.)

erp said...

You missed the part about union thug communist infiltrators and sabateurs because you and your friends only know the party line and the fact Coffin agrees with your friends' hullucinations hardly means anything more than they all hit the LSD hard.

Prior to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory disaster, the union movement, even with Soviet money and operatives was having a hard time making inroads in the U.S.

To quote a popular saying of the time, "You need to break a few eggs if you want to make an omelet."

Harry Eagar said...

erp, Triangle was 1911. There weren't any soviets then.

Since you don't know what evidence Coffin proffers (or what other evidence there is, you are just name-calling.

In fact, Triangle is the classic case of a market finding people worth more dead than alive and killing them. The "Shirtwaist Kings" got about a thousand dollars a head (1911 dollars) for the dead girls.

erp said...

The labor movement started well before the turn of the 20th C. and agitators were already at work by 1911. In fact, as you may know, Marx and Lenin wanted to go global. CPUSA incorporated in 1919, but there were communist cells many years before that.

Who gave these kings a thousand dollars for each girl? That's preposterous. Do you know how much a thousand dollars was in 1911?

Name calling? LSD was the drug of choice and a lot of people including Coffin partook of a lot of it. Does he deny it his memoirs?

Harry Eagar said...

LSD wasn't anybody's drug of choice n 1950. Which is when Coffin was waging war against the USSR.

By your question, I see that you know nothing about Triangle Shirtwaist, just a ball of free-floating prejudices. So you don't know that the Shirtwaist Kings hired thugs to beat up 15-year-old girls on the street.

erp said...

A bit of projection there Harry. The thugs were on the other side.

Coffin was waging war against the U.S. when he and your pals were into the LSD.

You haven't answered my question: Who paid the Shirtwaist Kings $1000 per girl.

Hey Skipper said...

[erp:] You haven't answered my question: Who paid the Shirtwaist Kings $1000 per girl.

Harry, as is his wont, is exaggerating one fact, and abusing another.

The SKs had insurance on the factory. The payout for the fire damage to the factory was $60,000. If averaged over the number of dead workers, that comes out to a out $400 (not $1,000) per girl.

Simple math. And also grotesque conceptual abuse. Besides the obvious — the insurance policy was solely to cover the factory — here was no exchange where the "Shirtwaist Kings got about a thousand dollars a head (1911 dollars) for the dead girls."

That assertion is utter bollocks. Which goes some way to undermining "Triangle is the classic case of a market finding people worth more dead than alive and killing them." Harry keeps trotting that old nag out, yet every time fails to explain in what way the "market" benefitted from whatever straw man he has on parade.

Just so here. Was the insurance company better off as a consequence of the fire? The factory owners? Anyone? Would the SKs have gotten more money if more workers had died? Would it be a better example of the market killing people if only one person had been killed, because that one person would have been "worth" so much more? Harry, you really need to think your shibboleths through just a little bit more.

[Harry:] Skipper, not all information is on the Internet. If you want an insider account of saboteurs in the USSR, see William Sloane Coffin Jr.'s autobiography.

Sometimes the absence of evidence is, indeed, evidence of absence. Sure, there were some American attempts at sabotage, but very few and (probably thanks Kim Philby) not successful. It is also worth noting that what I have been able to find talks of efforts NOT in the USSR, but rather in the subject countries behind the Iron Curtain.

Since you are so historically knowledgable, perhaps you can provide some context. By that, I mean compare and contrast the duration, extent, and damage of Soviet espionage and sabotage efforts against that of the US. It might come as a surprise to you, but things rarely happen in a vacuum.

Speaking of things not happening in a vacuum:

Vidal (sic) was dictator of Argentina. See Christopher Hitchens' autobiography for details. (Warning: not for weak stomachs.)

Videla was dictator of Argentina, and the story is easily appalling enough. I am curious, though, how it is you manage to focus so exclusively on him, while being completely silent about the milieu. Might there have been some murderous Marxist groups operating at the time? Hmmm. I wonder where they might have gotten some of their support ...

erp said...

Skipper, one need to no farther than rent control in New York City for an example of how the "fairness" system works. It was touted as a temporary measure during WW2 which ended 60 years ago and is responsible for turning much of the Big Apple into a huge slum including some of the best real estate in the city.

I was priveleged a couple of weeks ago to listen to a perfect example of hypocrisy when a native New Yorker of about fifty (he was born after rent control was enacted) some how finagled (bribed a government official) to add his name to the lease for his parents' rent controlled apartment in Manhattan, so after they died, he "inherited" (his word) a life-time sinecure on a fabulous apartment and can probably pull off the same deal for his partner.

Goes without saying that he's a professor of (wait for it) law at one of our top rated universities.

These are the people who want to tell the rest of us how to live, what to eat ...

Sickening.

Harry Eagar said...

Skipper, if the USSR was parachuting armed saboteurs into New Jersey, I'm sure erp would have let us know about it.

you're right about Philby. All the saboteurs (at least of the ones Coffin managed) were shot on delivery.

The point, you may have forgotten, was what the actioms looked llke from the Kremlin. From there, it sure looked like the continuation of capitalist-fascist aggression.

When I wrote about capitalist imperialist-fascist armies, I expected a demurral, and of course I got it.

But Russia was invaded by the armies of the empires of Japan, Germany, Britain, Spain and Italy (pretty much all the empires there were), so what else would you call it?

erp, no doubt, considers they were all socialist empires, which would have been a surprise to Franco or Churchill.

if your plan is to excuse our actions by drawing moral equivalences with Stalin, I don't think that is going to result in an upgrading of Stalin. More like a downgrading of us.

As for erp's fantasies, erp the ratio of violence in employer/employee disputes runs about a thousand to 1 toward employer violence.

Skipper, you continue to fail to understand markets. The Shirtwaist Kings thought it a good investment to insure their business. They thought it not worth their while to assure the safety of their workers, who could be replaced at no cost to them.

As the Randians are always at such pains to inform us, no market-motivated person will spend money unless he expects a profit. Adam Smith said the same.

Everyone who admires markets accepts this, but when the inevitable outcome thrusts itself forward they deny that markets work.

You cannot have it both ways.

erp said...

Harry, employee violence? Union thugs were outside agitators, not employees.

Imperialists were fascists? Maybe in a sense, but what does that have to do with anything? They certainly weren't free marketeers.

I can't imagine anyone who could care how things looked from inside the Kremlin.

I give you credit. Your perspective is certainly creative.

A good entrepreneur knows the value of things and good employees are valuable, so even if human life isn't enough of a reason not to off your employees, simple economics is -- it costs money to have a constantly changing inexperienced workforce.

Of course everyone who admires ... accepts no such thing.

Annoying Old Guy said...

"Russia was invaded by the armies of the empires of Japan, Germany, Britain, Spain and Italy (pretty much all the empires there were), so what else would you call it?"

Living in Eurasia. Your whole premise depends on Russia's experience being unique or different, when it wasn't. It also depends on the sacredness of Tsarist expansion, where if Russia invaded someone else, that was perfectly fine and made the land Russian forever, but if Russia was invaded, that was horrible and to be resisted at all costs. Your analysis starts with that massive pro-Russian (or more accurate, anti-Western) bias and "unexpectedly" it turns out to favor Russia (dis-favor the West).

In my view, what all of this would look like to the Kremlin was what they called "the Great Game" which Russia and the Soviets played with great enthusiasm. Certainly neither group tried playing a different game.

erp said...

aog, I don't get your reference to Eurasia? Are you referring to Harry. I thought the Georgia of his youth was in the U.S.?

:-)

Of course, you're right about the Russians. They can't do without a strongman at the helm, even a diminutive one like Putin will do if nothing better is available.

Annoying Old Guy said...

erp;

My point is that getting invaded by various empires is the standard experience of nations in Eurasia. Eagar asked "what else would you call it" and my response was "living in Eurasia". That's just the way it has been there for millenia.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] The strongest power, which was very aggressive, was actively supporting fascist regimes wherever it could; and was waging covert war by sending saboteurs into the USSR.

In reviewing the thread, I couldn't help but notice this, in that it reminds me why I never trust your assertions. Far too frequently, they are either tendentious, exaggerated, or just plain wrong.

First, the parachuting was not done into the USSR, but rather into Soviet occupied Eastern Europe. Second, the goal was to organize resistance to the Soviet occupation. In your monocular view of history, you completely neglect how that brutal occupation looked from Western Europe and the US. Moreover, you somehow forget, even when prompted, all manner of far more harmful support for various terrorist and subversive groups outside the USSR, support that went on for essentially as long the USSR plagued the planet.

Instead, you keep bringing up a tiny, one-off operation that didn't occur where you said it did, and didn't have the goals you say it did, and which could only be condemned if it was possible to conclude that the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe was a good thing.

Is that where you are going with this?

(Fun fact: while I was unable to find any examples of US examples of sabotage or murder in the USSR, the search phrase "soviet support for international terrorist and revolutionary violence" had over 9,600,00 results.)

Hey Skipper said...

In fact, Triangle is the classic case of a market finding people worth more dead than alive and killing them.

The worst part of collectivist cant is its grand, sweeping meaninglessness.

There happens to be a company that engaged in thrill rides. Despite some very specific warnings over some years, a half-dozen people died on one of its rides. Subsequently, the company made some superficial changes, and a mere seven years later, killed another half dozen people.

Clearly, then, this is a perfect example of the market finding people worth more dead than alive, right?

Wrong. The company is NASA, and the thrill ride was the space shuttle. No market involvement whatsoever. Your hackneyed statement amounts to circular logic that, by the very nature of circular logic, includes what you choose, and excludes what you don't. That isn't analysis, it is religion.

The second worst part is that collectivists are unique in their sheer plethora of conclusions unsupported by argument. In order for a market to find people worth more dead than alive, some party in that market had to profit more money from dead people than live people.

Let's take as read that the SK's didn't think it worth their while to assure the safety of their workers. Did the SK's profit more from that fire than if the factory had continued operating?

A simple yes or no, which you will not provide because you will be too busy shifting goal posts, will do.

So I will. Of course, the answer is "no". Since you can't provide any party that profited more from the fire than its absence, then your SK example completely contradicts your collectivist incantation. And that is before wondering where the plethora of examples are of collectivist economies assuring the safety of their workers.

As the Randians are always at such pains to inform us, no market-motivated person will spend money unless he expects a profit. Adam Smith said the same.

This is where you, like all collectivist, continually fail to understand how markets, and the profit motive work.

Markets allocate scarcity. At any instant, a free market is the best possible n-dimensional solution to that allocation, where n is the number of exchanges of all marketable products in that economy.

That n is a very large number, and since each allocation of scarcity effects all of them, at any instant calculating the result isn't just n, is n factorial.

N factorial is where collectivism fails, because collectivist presume to have knowledge they can't possibly possess. It is that undeniable fact alone that means, as a general proposition, collectivist economies are always inferior to market economies.

That doesn't mean a free market is ever perfect, or is immune to inadequate risk assessment (which is the real common denominator between NASA and the SKs). What it does mean is that the hubris of collectivists makes them blind to the fundamental failure of collectivism.

Of course, there are problems that markets either can't handle, or even make worse. Where there is the possibility of free-riding, defectors, or where assigning property rights are either difficult or impossible, some regulation is required.

But those problems aren't particularly hard to identify, and are the source of a small subset of the regulatory burden the US economy is laboring under.

Never mind every instance of collectivism ever.

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "Since you can't provide any party that profited more from the fire than its absence..."

Harry's point is that every builder EXCEPT this one profited from the fire by not incurring the expense of extra safety measures. So it could be said that the market generated more profit by allowing a fire to occur and people to die.

I personally wouldn't say that because what Harry chooses to ignore is that without the market, there wouldn't be as much food, clothing, shelter, etc. (as shown by Soviet Russia, Mao's China, North Korea, etc.) and people die to starvation, malnutrition, depression, etc. so it looks to me like the market supports, sustains, and keeps alive far, far, far, far, far, far, far more people than it "kills" and so is a net positive.

To which Harry would respond that the places I've mentioned above were incompetent at governance before socialism took hold.

To which I say the point is that they never had very free markets.

Thus, on net, the free market saves far more than it kills and that's why every "well" regulated economy has a thriving black market, without which, the people live far more poorly.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Bret;

I think the bigger thing that Mr. Eagar misses (to which you allude but do not state outright) is that the workers every except this factory benefited from the reduced safety measures, which made the businesses more profitable and therefore longer lasting with more people employed. Eagar never mentions nor seems to consider that workers might well be autonomous agents capable of making decisions just as much as the business owner, and therefore just as much a part of the free market. That this is outside the context he can envision is IMHO the primary reason he can never understand how we guys define a free market.

Hey Skipper said...

[Bret:] Harry's point is that every builder EXCEPT this one profited from the fire by not incurring the expense of extra safety measures.

Hmmm. I have to admit I missed that. Which is a little odd, since I mentioned above that there are certain problem spaces that market economies don't deal with well. Where free-riders or defectors (which are probably the same thing) can gain, then pretty much by definition, a free market won't help.

The thesis then is that without, say, effective workplace safety regulation, a defector will profit by being able to charge the same price as all other producers, but have lower costs, and therefore higher profits. The first defector will then drive all other producers to scrimp on workplace safety, with the end result being, oddly enough, no workplace safety, and no benefit to producers.

That's fine as far as it goes, and IMHO justifies transparent and neutrally applied regulation in areas prone to defector problems: air & water quality, workplace safety, building codes are the examples that come to mind.

But Harry's problem is a monomaniacal and hyperbolic focus on the end point of the defector problem — the market wants you dead — without considering that a market is an n-dimensional solution to scarcity allocation. Allocating more resources to workplace safety inevitably means fewer resources to everything else. If all you are thinking about is the SK fire, or the recent tragedy in Bangladesh, then there is no consideration of any tradeoffs. Moreover, since n! is so large, it is impossible in principle, never mind reality, to know what those tradeoffs are.

We can toss out some hypotheticals, though. Since workplace safety is paramount, let's impose US standards upon Bangladesh. That is doable — the US can pass a law to that effect tomorrow: no more imports until Bangladesh measures up. However, the consequences are likely to be no workplaces to be made safe, a huge increase in poverty, and a forced return to a rural existence far worse than that at the unsafe workplaces.

In other words, that n! dimensional resource allocation solution is the best one possible. Absent magical thinking, of which socialism is one variant, Bangladeshi workplace safety standards are as good as they can realistically be. Collectivists (and protectionists) would love to make them equal to ours. Unfortunately, they would never see, nor have to be held accountable for, the insidious consequences.

The fundamental accusation collectivists level at free markets is that they commodify everything. Hard to argue that. However, what they miss is that commodification leads to value, which is an incentive for efficiency. Which, over time, leads to greater resources than collectivism can ever manage.

And it is those greater resources that expand the scarcity allocation envelope.

Which is why those same markets that want you dead end up being far better at keeping you alive.

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "Where free-riders or defectors (which are probably the same thing) can gain, then pretty much by definition, a free market won't help.

When you make this statement, you're a bit in league with Harry. According to government bureaucrats, EVERYTHING in the free market is free riding, and without their meticulous oversight, EVERYONE would "defect" to unsafe conditions in all aspects of life. So therefore, the government should control everything. Harry is a bit more nuanced than that, but it's more or less what I perceive to be one of his main points in his favorite "markets want you dead" saying.

My opinion is that the only time the free-rider problem needs government attention is in the case of large systemic risks. For example, within the area of building codes, requiring fire safety to the point that an entire city doesn't burn down, killing thousands, displacing millions, and possibly causing societal collapse, is a legitimate concern for government. On the other hand, the height (or even existence) of safety railings or the steepness of stairs is not a legitimate concern for government.

Bret said...

aog wrote: ...workers [in] every [factory] except this factory benefited from the reduced safety measures..."

Exactly (except for the typos). The unseen cost of safety and regulation are the lost opportunities due to the reduced resources for other activities. Regulation kills us by bits until we get to the point of "everyone dies - some never live" becoming all of us never really have the opportunity to live fully.

Hey Skipper said...

[Bret:] When you make this statement, you're a bit in league with Harry. According to government bureaucrats, EVERYTHING in the free market is free riding, and without their meticulous oversight, EVERYONE would "defect" to unsafe conditions in all aspects of life.

I'm not sure it is possible to say anything that can't be taken to an extreme.

Unlike Harry and bureaucrats, I think it is possible to, with a decent amount of rigor, define problem spaces that are good candidates for transparent, neutral, regulation.

Building codes are a good example. Generally speaking, they do a pretty good job of making mandatory what would be best practices in any event. When they are neutrally applied, they benefit the real estate market by significantly enhancing transactional efficiency. If I know a structure was built to code, then there are a whole lot of things I don't have to worry about when purchasing it, and a lot of those things would be very difficult to otherwise verify.

Building codes in Anchorage were almost non-existent before the mid-1970s.

No one, if they have a choice, wants something built before then, because you have no idea what the heck you are getting. Additionally, the existence of building codes removes the problem of having sufficient information for risk assessment. If I'm at a party at someone's house, I don't have to research the deck structure to ascertain whether it is strong enough for the load, or if I can lean on the railing without worrying whether it will hold my weight.

Similarly, markets don't deal with commons problems very well. No one owns blue fin tuna. As they get overfished, the price people are willing to pay increases, which creates a self-reinforcing cycle to further overfish tuna.

The difference between Harry and me is that if you took my argument as read, then there would remain acres of meddling, nannying, log-rolling, toadying, and rent-seeking regulations to be set on fire.

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "Building codes are a good example."

I think they're a good example of a bad thing for governments to regulate. Granted, it's a sore spot with me because corrupt city building inspectors cost me thousands of dollars. He said, "Sure, it's to code, but I'm not going to pass it until you do X, Y, & Z, and sure, you can appeal, but your permit will expire before the appeal process is complete." X, Y, & Z costs thousands and if I had lost the appeal process that would've cost more thousands. I don't think he was looking for a bribe, but maybe, and I have a hunch that's where the process will go in the long run.

First, note that building codes are NOT centralized. I'm certain a federally mandated set of codes would be a disaster.

Hey Skipper wrote: "No one, if they have a choice, wants something built before then, because you have no idea what the heck you are getting."

Since everyone can choose not to live in a pre-70's built home, you're saying that all those buildings are empty?

I doubt that. You're probably saying that they are less expensive. In other words, you're really saying that plenty of people are perfectly willing to absorb the risk of living in a potentially problematic home in order to avoid the cost of the more expensive buildings.

That's how it should be. People should have a choice.

Hey Skipper wrote: "No one owns blue fin tuna."

And that's the problem. Private firms ought to own rights to fish chunks of ocean.

Hey Skipper wrote: "The difference between Harry and me is that..."

Once it gets in the hands of bureaucrats, that's a distinction without a difference.

erp said...

You guys are dancing around the real problem -- unions and union mentality -- the end result of any government endeavor.

You may not or can not believe that union thugery was at the head of the union movement, but in my day, it was conventional wisdom among the non-fellow traveler community (there was one then) that mine disasters and fires, like the Triangle Shirtwaist disaster were the work of commie agitators. Later anyone who thought that way were trashed as Birchers, McCarthyites ...

Builders, not the building trade unions colluding with government, should develop codes and then those builders who want to abide by them can join the association/guild and advertise that their buildings are superior and why.

My first encounter with a union man was when one came to my first house to install my brand new W/D, but when he got there, he told me couldn't do it because the old one was still there. I explained that the appliance store owner (no Home Depot in those days) said he'd take the old ones away. He then explained that the old ones were still plugged in, so he would have to send an electrician around in a day or two to unplug them and then he'd come back to install them.

I pulled out the plug and he finished the installation -- not a happy man.

A very minor incident, but like Bret's story about building codes, is very telling multiplied a gazilion times in a gazillion different ways.

Bret said...

erp wrote: "...unions and union mentality...

And that's a subset of general looter mentality which includes governments in general, unions, special interest groups, lobbyists, terrorists, and all sorts of destructive humans.

Hey Skipper said...

[Bret:] I think they're a good example of a bad thing for governments to regulate. Granted, it's a sore spot with me because corrupt city building inspectors cost me thousands of dollars. … I don't think he was looking for a bribe, but maybe, and I have a hunch that's where the process will go in the long run.

I don't think you can generalize from your experience. Building codes have been around for a long time, and aren't, so far as I know, notorious for corruption. After all, every structure you can see is built to code, yet the process is so innocuous (generally) that hardly anyone gives it a thought.

IMHO, there are many reasons why building codes are a good idea — they address the defector problem, and institutionalize best practices and lessons from painful experience.

Besides property rights, one of the most important characteristics of a functioning free market is informational symmetry — buyers need to have at least an adequate amount of knowledge about the product.

This is the primary function of building codes. They assure buyers that structures are constructed in accordance with accepted best practices. The biggest payoff from this, which swamps any overhead costs associated with code inspections, is transactional efficiency.

Once a structure is built, it is extremely difficult to tell how well it is constructed. Sheet rock can hide all manner of sins. Without codes, every time someone bought a structure, they would have to conduct an extremely extensive and intrusive inspection to determine if it was built well enough. And that is why no one wants the pre-code buildings up here: it is very difficult to know what you are getting. The inevitable consequence is that well built houses — and there are some — are worth much less than they would be had there been codes. Because there is no realistic way to detect defectors, the inevitable consequence is penalizing those who build properly. Which means that without building codes, you don't have really have a choice. You can't meaningfully choose to buy a quality building, and you will be financially penalized if you build one. (Alaska is a pretty libertarian place, but despite that, absolutely no one wants to go back to the 70's with respect to building codes.)

But there is more to transactional efficiency than just that. Most buildings are too expensive for people to self-insure. How could insurance companies possibly provide insurance if they had no idea of what risk the building itself presented?

Then there is the aspect of risk. If I buy a crappy bike, it will get rusty, the wheels wobbly, it will be a maintenance hog, and generally annoying to use. Then I'll learn to buy from a different manufacturer, or spend more.

When it comes to buildings, though, the downside risk is death, Perhaps lots of deaths. That horror show in Bangladesh wasn't due to capitalism, it was due to ignorance and endemic corruption. Building codes primarily exist to ensure a safe structure, and along the way prevent re-inventing the wheel. After all, live loads and resonance aren't intuitively obvious. Besides, the risk of death isn't limited to just the purchaser. You go to a party, and there are a lot of people on a deck that is 20' off the ground. Do you want to have to research the deck construction yourself before wondering whether you should go on it?

Similarly, I'll bet you would rather get on an airplane certified as built to code than one that isn't.

First, note that building codes are NOT centralized. I'm certain a federally mandated set of codes would be a disaster.

Of course they aren't, and it would be transparently silly to do so. Localities have different challenges. Michigan has to worry about the frost line and radon. California, earthquakes. Oklahoma, tornados. East and gulf coasts, hurricanes.

Hey Skipper said...

[erp:] You guys are dancing around the real problem -- unions and union mentality -- the end result of any government endeavor.

Back in the 60s and 70s, that was the real problem. Pre-Thatcher Britain was, thanks to unions, circling the drain. And absent Reagan's backbone with regard to PATCO, we could have gone that way, too.

Few people then would have forecast how free of union mentality and corruption the US has become in succeeding 40 years. Except for public service unions, which should be banned everywhere and forever, unions no longer afflict the economy the way they once did.

So long as a union is not a monopoly provider of labor (which public service unions are, and the UAW was) in a sector, a union can be beneficial.

Take my job for example. The work environment is so complex and dynamic that there has to be an expert counter party to management in order to arrive at functional work rules.

If ALPA was a monopoly provider of labor to all airlines, then ALPA would be a disaster. But it isn't. The union at my company is affiliated with ALPA, but when negotiating the contract, they have to keep their eye on the ball, because my company is in competition with all the other freight companies.

Since that is true of all private sector unions now, the kind of union buffoonery that used to be so common is a thing of the past.

Save, of course, for public sector unions, which remain a pox on society.

Harry Eagar said...

Bret at least gets part of my argument, which I have tried to explain as the "Fireproof Hotel" conundrum.

The man who paints 'Fireproof Hotel' on the side of his firetrap makes more profit than the man who spends money to actually fireproof his hotel. If he happens not to have a fire, he wins all ways.

If he does have a fire, he may still come out whole. And what is entrepreneurship if not taking risk?

So long as customers are replaceable at zero cost, what is to prevent him? Not market theories.

The Shirtwaist Kings won both ways. They had the most profitable shirtwaist business and they collected insurance and continued on in business.

Their dead employees had their autonomy severely curbed.

Skipper, dunno what sources you are using bu Coffin was dropping his saboteurs in Ukraine. There is also the matter of the repeated attacks on Red China.

Guy sez: 'Certainly neither group tried playing a different game.'

My point, or one of them.

So what if being invaded was a fact of living in Eurasia? The point is that the Russians thought themselves at risk. And they were.

I can easily find examples of countries that thought of themselves at risk that were not (Japan).

If you are going to have a foreign policy, it helps to try to see the world as your opposite numbers see it. I am about to post something at RtO about why Russia is allied with Syria along that line.

erp said...

Skipper, the unions all but destroyed the private sector and the public sector unions which were illegal until the sainted martyr unionized many public sector workers with the stroke of his EO pen are destroying what's left of our economy.

They certainly destroyed the greatest public school system in the world.

One of Bush's few mistakes was letting DHS unionize workers.

Bret said...

Hey Skipper,

Your comment above lauds the value of building codes but seems to ignore the very first (and to me important) part of my statement, that they are a "bad thing for governments to regulate".

I don't have a problem with building code definitions.

No reason it can't be completely and better handled in the private sector. For example, it would become a function of insurance companies or insurance company qualified subcontractors.

There are all kinds of private (non government enforced) engineering standards, material standards, etc.

The only role government needs to place is to enforce fraud statutes to help ensure that if people say something is built to a particular standard, it really is.

Annoying Old Guy said...

"My point, or one of them."

If your points are all points on the compass, then it's not really a point anymore. As far as I can tell, your point is that if you're afraid, it's OK to oppress and kill innocent people to protect yourself, including previous victims of your own aggression (e.g., Poland), and therefore the USSR was morally superior to the USA in its foreign policy, because all the USSR brutalized far more people in far more brutal ways, the USA wasn't afraid.

Harry Eagar said...

Guy, where did I say the USSR was morally superior? I never did.

I said it was understandable that it would want a cordon sanitaire against further invasions by fascist states.

Understandable not merely from the standpoint of an historical paranoia but from facts on the ground.

It is/was true what the Kremlin always said, that the US was allied with fascists.

Some of the loudest voices coming from some of the most respected elements (Patton, Catholic bishops) were advocating alliance with fascists to invade Russia again.

As I said above, it was a lucky thing for all that the people actually conducting government affairs were not quite that crazy/evil (although ask the Hungarian patriots whether they don't think the US government was pretty evil when it got down to cases), but how were the bolsheviki to know that the genuine crazies wouldn't take control in the next election?

And, of course, even the relatively restrained men actually running the government either approved of could mot control state elements that were really waging violent war against the Soviet Union.

Why should the USSR show more sense when it came to national security than the US did? Although, for reasons I already gave, the USSR was in fact more restrained.

The state has its reasons, and morality is never one of them.

It is certainly uncharacteristic for you to be arguing that the US government was restrained in its use of power.

Annoying Old Guy said...

In my view your entire argument here is to demonstrate the moral superiority of USSR foreign policy, for instance how it was "more restrained", "justified", and not as aggressive (e.g. "staying inside Tsarist boundaries" vs. the USA never withdrawing). To say the USSR behaved better than the USA in this sphere is to make a moral judgement. But if that's not your point, I utterly to fail to see what is, except maybe fear justifies any action, even the brutal oppression of tens (hundreds?) of millions of innocent foreigners. You seem remarkably untroubled by that, yet seriously bothered by far more minor actions by the USA and its allies.

Of course, one might wonder what those "fascist" states were - West Germany? France? The UK? Belgium? Denmark? Ireland? Sweden? Finland? The USA under the New Deal? Nazi Germany, ally of the USSR? That last seems to leave your longer term historical thesis rather tattered on the shoals of some ugly facts.

Harry Eagar said...

Were you paying attention during the Cold War? The one where we were assured that Communism was out to conquer the world? I was.

The points are several, but two big ones are:

1. the USSR was not an international aggressor, not as compared with tsarist Russia, nor with any of the great powers near it.

2. (this is one I have not made explicit, although anyone who knows history could figure it out on their own) the oppressed states of eastern Europe were no prize winners in the freedom derby. Every one was fascist before being occupied by the Red Army, and the so-called liberationists we were asked to back were, without any meaningful exceptions, fascist, too.

At least Russia could object that it really had been invaded by Italian, Spanish, Hungarian and Romanian armies. The US could hardly say the same about its occupation of, say, the Dominican Republic.

If you want to make a case that defending oneself against actual fascists is immoral, be my guest.

erp said...

Harry, during the cold war we were assured that communism was a panacea to all the world's ills -- the "Noble Experiment." That went on for 75+ years and only when Reagan pulled away the curtain and exposed the farce did it crumble into dust.

The oppressed states of eastern Europe were fascist because they were occupied by Nazis and then became communist because they were occupied by communists and now they're capitalist because no longer being occupied, they can decide for themselves and not surprisingly, they opted out of socialism in any of its forms.

Annoying Old Guy said...

1) Yes it was, you've just justified it by fear of invasion. You admitted yourself earlier in this thread its use of subversion for conquest. If you aren't aware of this, you weren't paying attention during the Cold War. You might try reading some history of SouthEast Asia, just for one example.

2) And they continued to be, under the USSR. Yet those under Western domination ceased to be. Your view is that the proper response to that prior fascism was to perpetuate it? And in particular, was Poland a fascist country pre-WWII? Was Finland? The Baltic countries?

"If you want to make a case that defending oneself against actual fascists is immoral, be my guest."

See, that's your point I mentioned previously. You are the one making the case, as far as I can tell, that "defending oneself against actual fascists" makes anything moral, including the brutal suppression of tens of millions of people and subverting government across the globe. My claim is that such defense is not a blank check of morality and I am happy to make that claim.

P.S. How many of those nations you listed were fascist at the time they invaded Russia? Are you claiming all of those invasions happened post 1920 or so?

Harry Eagar said...

Yes, all those invasions happened after 1920. Yes, all those states were fascist. Yes, all the national movements after 1945 were outright fsascist or heavily fascist-inflected.

(You are welcome to argue that most of the democrats had been murdered, which is true, although there were never enough of them to form governments anywhere.)

'those under western domination ceased to be' Are you serious? Portugal, Greece, Spain.

It might be helpful on this respect to consider Turkey, which was no threat to Russia but rightly considered that Russia was a threat to it. Not because of Communism but because of Russian expansionism.

Subversion cuts two ways. More democratic governments were successfully subverted by the US than by USSR (by my count, at least 5 to 0.

I don't see where morality comes into it. You are under attack. You defend yourself, or you don't. It really doesn't matter the motives of the attackers, but it is a fact that Russia said it was under attack by fascists, and it was.

How moral was it for the US government to encourage the Hungsarians patriots in '56 and then leave them to be crushed?


erp said...

Not only wasn't it moral to let the Soviets roll their tanks into Hungary, it was despicable and that goes double ditto for that great war hero Kennedy'a craveness at the Bay of Pigs.

That being said, I doubt we'd agree with your definition of a democratic government. The ones to which you are referring were socialist dictatorships and it's too bad we weren't better at subverting them.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Mr. Eagar;

You still can't keep your political line straight. You oscillate between "the USSR was not an international aggressor" to "You are under attack. You defend yourself, or you don't." to justify the USSR's aggression. That's why no one can grasp your point, you keep changing it.

"I don't see where morality comes into it". No, I don't suppose you would. But consider this - I go to New York City and get mugged. So I detonate a nuclear device there and wipe it out. That would seem to be a fine response based on your comments here, because morality doesn't enter in to it, and when you're under attack you defend yourself.

I would also like to see some documenation for these invasions of the USSR after 1920 by states such as Spain and Hungary that are not part of the German invasion. Perhaps they were defending themselves after the example of the attack on Finland by the USSR. YOu still haven't answered whether Poland was one of those fascist countries.

"How moral was it for the US government to encourage the Hungarians patriots in '56 and then leave them to be crushed?" Well, were they fascists? Then by your lights very moral, exemplary even. And crushed by who? The non-international aggressor USSR?

Harry Eagar said...

erp can be counted on to parrot the ridiculous line of the Cold Warriors. Iran under Mossadegh was not any kind of dictatorship. It was the first democracy in a Muslim state.

Guy, you keep missing the point. I tried to be explicit -- to the victim, it does not matter what the motives of the aggressor are.

I thought this was perfectly expressed in the film "Doctor Zhivago' The doctor stops a woman fleeing from soldiers we see in the distance. 'Red or white?' he asks.

'Soldiers' she replies.

Although the Russians found it convenient to emphasize that their enemies were fascists, it did not really matter. They would have had to defend themselves if they had been libertarians.

It did, however, matter to the US, which was under no compulsion to defend itself from the Hungarians. It chose to ally itself with fascists freely.

Were the nationalist patriots of '56 fascists? We never got to find out. The Hungarians we chose to sponsor in the '50s were.

erp said...

Harry, you are missing (I'm starting to believe you really can't see it) a very large point.

Fascists and communists are one in the same, so if you want us to know what you're talking about, please stop being coy and start naming names.

Who exactly are the '56 fascists we "chose to sponsor"?

Annoying Old Guy said...

"to the victim, it does not matter what the motives of the aggressor are"

I consider this wrong in many ways.

First, if the motives are based on errors in facts, it is better to correct those errors than to escalate. So motives can matter to the victim.

Second, the point you keep missing, is that being a victim is not a moral blank check. It certain does not cover making other uninvolved people victims, which is certainly what the USSR did.

Third, as I have pointed out, the USSR engaged, on a world wide scale, exactly the behaviors that you claim make it a victim. Why could not the USA point out that pre-WWII, the USSR had been expansionistic and making other nations victims and the USA simply defending its allies (such as Poland)? Why is it excusable for the USSR to ally with fascists, but not those it attacked? In every case, you give the USSR a pass but hold the USA responsible. Why is that? You make wild claims (such as the USSR being invaded by fascist Spanish armies post 1920) to denigrate the USA and when called pretend you didn't, but you don't do that to the USSR. Why? In the Dr. Zhivago piece you quote, you would excuse the Red soldiers for doing whatever they wanted to the woman because they had "fear" or were "responding to facsist attacks" but not excuse the White soldiers. It may not have mattered to that woman, but it certainly seems to matter to you.

Does not your entire argument with regard to the Cold War apply just as well to the USA, Nazi Germany, and the European theater of WWII? Why not argue that Nazi Germany was just responding, out of fear of the invasions it suffered and very particularly the abuse after WWI? What is the historical cut off limit for that?

P.S If it doesn't matter if the attackers were fascists, if that was just a agitprop decision by the USSR, why is it so important to you? Why do you emphasize it at every opportunity? Because motives matter? Why did the USSR claim it was leading a world wide revolution (see Comintern) if it wasn't? Does the USSR bear no blame for creating fear in other nations that way?

erp said...

WAY OFF TOPIC

For Bret, Howard, Skipper, aog

How can I subscribe to new posts when Google Reader goes off line on July 1st?

Is there a way to get posts by email the way I get comments?

Harry Eagar said...

You don't know about the Spanish invasion of Russia in 1941? Wild as it may seem to you, it happened.

The fascists we supported in Hungary are represented by Mindzenty, cardinal to the old landholding class, erp. We used to offer prayers for him every week at Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

While I don't draw moral equivalences, I see erp does. OK for us to subvert countries that are no threat to us as long as they elect leaders we disapprove of.

Churchill, among many others, thought there was a meaningful difference between German aggression, which sent armies across national borders; and Russian, which didn't, until the threat of fascist invasion was imminent.

I think that attitude remains strong. The US government does not, usually, react strongly to even the most hideous state behavior as long as they keep it home. Once armies cross borders, things change.

My point is that the narrative offered by the Cold Warriors was false. Sure, the USSR was out to subvert democracy, but so was the United States.

The US was far more successful.

There's not much daylight between their methods. Nothing the bolsheviks did in eastern Europe was worse than what we did in Cambodia -- with the difference that Russia was threatened by the eastern European states, while the US policy of cold-blooded murder in Cambodia was pure terror.






erp said...

Harry,
I thank you for the opportunity to spend the final morning of the month of June in such an amusing way and as an early celebration of our country’s birthday, I’ll provide a translation to your comment below:

Spanish invasion of Russia: In exchange for not being invaded by Hitler, Franco sent a division (Blue) to support Hitler’s aka Fascist invasion aka termination of the Hitler/Stalin Pact of Russia aka the Soviet Union.

The mental picture of Spaniards attacking the frozen wastes of a Russian winter ala Dr. Zhivago was rejected as “File not Found.”

BTW – you should be proud of Franco. He followed your theory that when one’s country is in danger, real or imagined, any and all tactics are permitted. Franco saved Spain from both Hitler and Stalin and did what you say no fascist dictator ever does, he peacefully and voluntarily passed power over to the legal Spanish head of state, King Juan Carlos.

Cardinal Mindszenty: Per the Encyclopedia Britannica, … Roman Catholic clergyman who personified uncompromising opposition to fascism and communism in Hungary for more than five decades of the 20th century.

I have no love for the Catholic church and do not intend to justify their actions before, during or after WWII, but this one is a no brainer and your suggestions otherwise also comes up “File Not Found.”

U.S. Atrocities in Cambodia: Only exist in Noam Chomsky’s nightmarish fantasies.

Your repeated assertions that Russia (BTW – you vacillate, do you mean pre- or post-Soviet Union?) felt threatened by Eastern Europe are ridiculous.

As for Churchill, unfortunately he was at the mercy of a commie/symp in the White House and had to wait until Uncle Joe said it was okay before we sent him the help he needed to save England.

Annoying Old Guy said...

"Russian, which didn't [send armies across international borders], until the threat of fascist invasion was imminent."

Utter false. Do you really not know that the invasion of Poland in 1939 was a joint invasion by Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia? Oh, I see what you mean -- the USSR didn't invade until there was the threat of an imminent fascist invasion the USSR could help.

Let us be clear - as a matter of explicit policy and treaty, the USSR supported and participated in fascist invasions across internationally recognized borders. The USSR only became upset about that sort of thing when they were on the receiving end. Somehow, this fails to engender any sympathy from me, although you apparently see it quite a reasonable policy. So why can't the USA be reasonable for adopting (in your view) the same policy?

P.S. You are seriously blaming the crimes of the Khmer Rouge on the USA? The people who were ideological apprentices of the USSR and ChiComs?

P.P.S. As I noted, counting small units of other nations involved in Operation Babarossa is a rhetorical cheap trick.

Harry Eagar said...

We can wonder what Stalin would have done had he been able to make a military assistance pact with Britain and France in favor of deterring Germany from invading Poland. What we know was that he acted as if he really wanted it, and only turned to the pact with Hitler after it became clear that he would not get any help from the west.

The exchange makes complete sense on his part: at the cost of not getting eastern Galicia, he avoids having to fight all-out war on his territory. (Although the Poles resisted being helped on the theory that they were going to be swallowed whole either way.)

I take it you are not aware of the report (in Shawcross, "Sideshow" and never rebutted) that the USAF knew that the "box" of bombs laid down by a B52 (about 800 yards long) could not be placed anywhere in thickly populated eastern Cambodia without hitting a village?

That atrocity was an atrocity all on its own, and we own it, regardless of what happened later. Although anyone reviewing all the instances in which the US subverted popular regimes can only notice that the successor to a subverted popular regime is never a more popular and more democratic one, and very often some hideous version of civil war.

Small units? The Spanish force eventually totaled 40,000 the Free French fighting in France in 1944 were larger but not enormously larger). The Romanian and Hungarian and Italian armies were large on any scale.

Do you care to apply your reasoning to Bush I's coalition in 1991? Or to Bush II's in 2003? Poland then contributed 300 or less than 1% of the size of the Blue Division.

erp is, as usual, hilarious. The Committee to Help England was mostly leftish (with sponsors like Hemingway), while the brake on American assistance to England was America First (sponsored by the Jew-hating Lindbergh) and overwhelmingly rightish, including out-and-out Nazis.

Mindzenty was a Hungarian fascist. Opposition to German fascist interference does not make him an antifascist, just a national fascist. If you read Catholic Culture's hagiography of him, you will find that he got along with Hitlerism as long as Hungary was an ally of Hitler. Only after Hungary attempted to change sides did the Nazis find any reason to arrest him.

erp said...

Thanks Harry, I am hilarious, but not in this instance. Of course leftist groups were against the U.S. assisting England when Stalin and Hitler were pals. As for Lindbergh and his Hitler loving crowd, they aren't RIGHTISTS. In both cases, the numbers were few, but the majority of us didn't want England to be conquered by Hitler or Stalin (except maybe some Irish nationalists who actually did sign up with Hitler and after the war helped train Moslem terrorists, but that's a story for another day).

Are you now claiming that Spanish forces were fighting in France? I'm finding it very difficult to follow you.

The Catholic Church could be considered fascistic within its own confines, but in the modern world it lacks the ability to conscript an army, so the point is moot.

I look so forward to the day you stick to one subject, a subject I think I can speak for all of us here on this string, when you explain the difference between fascism and socialism in all its forms including communism, maoism, marxism ...

Poles only sent 300 to Iran? What in all tarnation does that have to do with anything pertinent to the discussion here. My homies in Albania only sent 50, but they were proud to be able to get on board with a cause they believed in because they're living with Moslem terrorism on a daily basis.

Only a mind unable to reason could equate Bush with the Khmer Rouge.

Annoying Old Guy said...

"We can wonder what Stalin would have done had he been able to make a military assistance pact with Britain and France in favor of deterring Germany from invading Poland"

Perhaps, make a pact with Poland and count on transitivity? And armed and modernized Polish army might well have slowed Germany down and provided a place for France and the UK to intervene, even it no explicitly allied with the USSR. Perhaps Stalin might not have committed all of those atrocities, especially in the Ukraine, so as to be more acceptable an ally to France and the UK. But I'm sure you consider all those starving Kulaks a quite acceptable cost in the fight against fascism. Or not invade a neutral country like Finland. But it's never the USSR's fault, is it?

Further, given the utter and complete surprise that Babarossa was to Stalin I find claims of reluctance on his part implausible. See more on this below.

In the scope of the Eastern Front, 40,000 troops is indeed "small units". Try reading some history on that.

With regard to Cambodia, as usual you were so vague I had no idea what you were talking about and could only presume you meant the Khmer Rouge. My mistake, I must always remember to ask you for detailed confirmation about your subjects before replying.

"Do you care to apply your reasoning to Bush I's coalition in 1991? Or to Bush II's in 2003?" - and here is another classic example. Explain what you mean by "apply my reasoning" to those situations.

"the brake on American assistance to England" was strongly supported and funded by Stalin's front groups in the USA. Or did you miss that as well? Stalin saw nothing wrong with fascist aggression until it showed up in his front yard.

Harry Eagar said...

40K was not small compared to the Free French.

The Romanian invasion force (2 armies) was larger than the whole US army at that time, so I would not call it 'small.'

I doubt the Ukrainian slaughter had any effect on the Poles, who were accustomed to oppressing the Ukrainians themselves, and who already had sufficient reason (1863 anybody?) to distrust Russians.

A Poland with a modern army should have been welcome to Stalin, as it would have put a meaningful buffer between Russia and Germany. When you say Barbarossa came as a surprise to Stalin, that is tactics. He obviously expected German aggression (see Low's famous cartoon on the occasion; everybody at the time thought so, left, right and center).

Yes, of course you jumped to the Khmer Rouge. Talk about giving some people a pass! I was alive in 1970 and recall how America destroyed a small, helpless nation. There were even people at the time -- I was one of them -- who protested.

The Cambodian communists can take full responsibility for what they did, but if the US had not taken down a fragile but fairly stable regime, the KR would likely have continued to be what they had been before: a troublesome minor faction with no political position.

erp said...

aog, .... with a lot of help from the most vile president in our history, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Obama isn't finished yet, so maybe when everything is tallied, he may still get the top billing he so craves.

Harry Eagar said...

So, erp and Skipper want to know how to distinguish fascism from various forms of marxism.

Easy.

Fascism was in origin monarchical and Catholic. Almost all fascist regimes followed this pattern, while no marxist regimes ever did.

Fascism proved easy to export, sometimes losing one or other principle along the way, but almost always keeping the other.

Annoying Old Guy said...

"I doubt the Ukrainian slaughter had any effect on the Poles"

Do you ever read what other people actually write? Let me quote myself for you, with emphasis on the part you missed -

"Stalin might not have committed all of those atrocities, especially in the Ukraine, so as to be more acceptable an ally to France and the UK".

Annoying Old Guy said...

"I doubt the Ukrainian slaughter had any effect on the Poles"

Do you ever actually read what other people write? Let me quote myself from just the previous comment, emphasizing the part you missed.

"Stalin might not have committed all of those atrocities, especially in the Ukraine, so as to be more acceptable an ally to France and the UK".

Please point out to me where in that I imply anything about the Poles' opinions on Ukrainians.

erp said...

Harry, I didn't think anything could ever again make my jaw literally drop, but your last statement about the Khmer Rouge did just that.

erp said...

Finally, the truth is revealed.

Fascism is a code word for everything Harry despises, to wit, the Catholic Church and monarchies. Any regime that doesn't fit into those two categories is A Okay with Harry no matter how oppressive and blood thirsty.

That explains his seemingly unrelated feverish hatreds, but still doesn't explain how fascism, unconnected to the Catholic Church or a monarch, differs from other forms of socialism like communism, Maoism, Marxism, etc.

erp said...

Harry, since Bush is neither a Catholic nor a monarch, can we cease and desist from calling him a fascist -- ditto other conservatives and also please stop referring to real fascists as right-wingers. :-)

Annoying Old Guy said...

"Fascism was in origin monarchical and Catholic. Almost all fascist regimes followed this pattern"

I dare to ask for any source on that. Fascism grew out of socialism, which was secular viewpoint. The only Fascist regime I can think of that was Catholic was Spanish, and it wasn't the first. Italian fascism, from which the name comes, was explicitly Roman its historical trappings, pre-dating Catholicism. Nazi Germany wasn't Catholic based either.

Hey Skipper said...

Harry:

I said it was understandable that it would want a cordon sanitaire against further invasions by fascist states.

Which makes sense at some level, but only granting a specific entering argument: fascist states. How many of those were there in Western Europe following WWII? Even given the inertia of history, at some point it would have become glaringly apparent to any even scarcely sentient observer that NATO never posed any military threat against the Warsaw Pact or the USSR. History has proven that point beyond hope of contradiction.

That means the cordon sanitair is, in fact, not understandable. Rather, in contrast — presuming that rationale holds any water at all — it was a complete mistake, an epic waste, a hideous, soul and country crushing exercise in utter futility.

This is where your argument collapses, because that explanation ignores the real cause: communism as a universalist utopian religion. Because you ignore the USSR's (as well as the PRC's, PRK's, Cuba's et al) raison d'être, you fail to address the true cause underlying the USSR's domination of Eastern Europe. Similarly, you ignore its role in the Korean, Vietnam wars, and Cuba. Communism explains them all; your cordon is gasping for breath with the latter three.

Some of the loudest voices coming from some of the most respected elements (Patton, Catholic bishops) were advocating alliance with fascists to invade Russia again.

Not without evidence, they didn't.

Hey Skipper said...

[AOG, were] you paying attention during the Cold War? The one where we were assured that Communism was out to conquer the world?

Yep, you are right, there is no reason to think something so transparently silly. Similarly, the Czech Maj Gen Jan Šejna didn't have a clue in his book "We Will Bury You":

Sejna gave an insight into Soviet Cold War strategies, quoting Konstantin Katushev, secretary of the Soviet Central Committee: "If we can impose on the U.S.A. the external restraints proposed in our Plan, and seriously disrupt the American economy, the working and the lower middle classes will suffer the consequences and they will turn on the society that has failed them. They will be ready for revolution".

This is where you miss the boat. Had the USSR not been the USSR, but rather Russia (i.e., a secular country instead of being in the vanguard of messianic communism), all of post-war history is different. There is no need to make a case that defending oneself against fascists is immoral, for two inescapable reasons: after WWII, there were none (at least none of any importance to Russian territorial sovereignty); moreover, in moral terms, there hasn't been a fascist regime, not even Hitler's, that was as evil as the Soviet Union.

You don't know about the Spanish invasion of Russia in 1941? Wild as it may seem to you, it happened. … The Spanish force eventually totaled 40,000.

I'm calling shenanigans. 40,000 troops is smaller than the rounding error for the total number of forces on the eastern front. And I do care to apply that reasoning to 1991 and 2003, because I would never have the temerity to say Poland invaded Iraq, because doing so would to run the certainty of being laughed off the reservation.

We can wonder what Stalin would have done had he been able to make a military assistance pact with Britain and France in favor of deterring Germany from invading Poland.

It would be far more productive to wonder what would have happened had Stalin done what was entirely within his power: not murder the professional officer corps, not cripple military units with politicos, not ignore the clear warnings from Britain, and prepare an effective defense in depth. It is practically impossible to overestimate the damage that communism in general, and Stalin in particular, did to the 20th century.

So, erp and Skipper want to know how to distinguish fascism from various forms of marxism.

Fascism was in origin monarchical and Catholic. Almost all fascist regimes followed this pattern, while no marxist regimes ever did.


If I ever want an example of distinction without difference, that is certainly a leading candidate. Even taken as true, the reason that there is no difference between fascism and communism is that they are both collectivist, and collectivism is always a savage failure, no matter its genesis.

Harry Eagar said...

Ernst Nolte, 'Three Faces of Fascism.'

Italian fascism gave its name to the movement, but it was not the origin. That was in France, where Action Francaise was Catholic and monarchist.

The idea that fascism grew out of socialism is the kind of nonsense that rightwingers who don't bother to study parrot because they went to Beck U.

Charles Maurras, the inventor of fascism, was the furthest thing from a socialist.

Other fascist states that were monarchical and Catholic include Portugal, Romania and Hungary (Mindzenty again). Fascist states that the Vatican signed concordats with, after refusing to deal with the preceding social governments, include Italy (duh!) and Germany.

Are you telling me the pope doesn't know socialism when he sees it?

Non-Catholic but monarchical fascist states lead off with Japan and include Nationalist China and Syria and Iraq.




Harry Eagar said...

I notice, btw, that all you redhot patriots are not bothering to deny that the US was genocidal in Cambodia.

erp said...

Neither are we denying that the moon is blue.

erp said...

Who ever said that fascism grew out of socialism? We are saying that fascism and socialism, whatever name it goes by, are the same thing.

Wasn't Rousseau the first modern socialist?

Bret said...

I agree with Harry that fascism and socialism aren't quite identical. Fascism focuses more on the primacy of the state while Socialism focuses more on the distribution of wealth.

However, I agree with erp and others that in the end, regardless of the initial primary focus, they both often seem to end up in more or less the same place: totalitarian, oppressive, controlling all aspects of the citizens lives, and generally miserable.

Spain under Franco was nominally fascist and not particularly socialist as a sort of counter-example.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry: ] The idea that fascism grew out of socialism is the kind of nonsense that rightwingers who don't bother to study parrot because they went to Beck U.

I'm not sure where you got the idea that the idea is fascism grew out of socialism. The point is that the distinction between the two has hardly any practical difference.

The distinction is that socialism is a universalist ideology, while fascism is bound to a nationalistic fervor. As Bret noted, though, ultimately there is no difference worth talking about in practice.

Well, not quite. There is no difference in kind, but there is in degree. Fascism is inherently self limiting; socialism is not. That is why, while between the two, the kind of predations are the same, but the degree is far greater for socialism.

I notice, btw, that all you redhot patriots are not bothering to deny that the US was genocidal in Cambodia.

For someone who is as literate as you, why do you have so little respect for words? Surely you know the meaning of "genocide", and must know that whatever the US did it simply wasn't genocide.

And, as ever on this thread, I continue to be amazed at your relentless invocation of effects while simultaneously devoid of any curiosity about causes.

Let's take as read that the US bombed the cr*p out of Cambodia. Why?

erp said...

Spain was indeed nominally fascist because the left said so and it gave them a rationale to fight against Franco because he wouldn't play with Stalin.

erp said...

Skipper, your definition of fascism is the generally accepted one, but I don't subscribe to it because the premiere fascist state of our time was bent on conquest and wasn't content to keep within its borders.

Lefties are masters of semantics as we know and in their world, fascism is evil because it's not under the Soviet yolk. Hence Nixon, the socialist, is dubbed a fascist because unlike earlier socialist presidents like Wilson, FDR, Bubba, he didn't serve Moscow.

The situation is far worse than people who have values may think. No holds barred is what we're fighting using the Earl of Queensberry rules and we're losing badly.

Harry Eagar said...

Who said fascism grew out of socialism?

Guy, for one.

Harry Eagar said...

Skipper, it took me less than 10 seconds to find this Patton quotation:

Patterson replied, "Oh, George, you have been so close to this thing so long, you have lost sight of the big picture."

Patton rejoined:

"I understand the situation. Their (the Soviet) supply system is inadequate to maintain them in a serious action such as I could put to them. They have chickens in the coop and cattle on the hoof -- that's their supply system. They could probably maintain themselves in the type of fighting I could give them for five days. After that it would make no difference how many million men they have, and if you wanted Moscow I could give it to you. They lived on the land coming down. There is insufficient left for them to maintain themselves going back. Let's not give them time to build up their supplies. If we do, then . . . we have had a victory over the Germans and disarmed them, but we have failed in the liberation of Europe; we have lost the war!"

* * *

Ever hear of Joe McCarthy? An invention of the Catholic bishops, who were desperate to reclaim souls and (more importantly) property in eastern Europe.

I'm sure I could find relevant quotes in another 10 seconds or so, but in this case I am relying on my memory of a Catholic boyhood.

erp said...

Patton was right on the mark in every way. McCarthy ditto.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry: ] Some of the loudest voices coming from some of the most respected elements (Patton, Catholic bishops) were advocating alliance with fascists to invade Russia again.

[HS:] Not without evidence, they didn't.

Harry's evidence:

I understand the situation. Their (the Soviet) supply system is inadequate to maintain them in a serious action … Let's not give them time to build up their supplies. If we do, then . . . we have had a victory over the Germans and disarmed them, but we have failed in the liberation of Europe; we have lost the war!

Looking hard. Re-reading once, twice, several times. Each time slower to make sure I didn't miss anything. Still can't find where Patton is advocating alliance with fascists. Perhaps you could point it out to us unenlightened? And, while you are at it, point out which "fascists" Patton was urging us to ally with.

Interestingly, you failed to note Gen Patton's prescience: "… we have failed in the liberation of Europe …" All things considered, I doubt liberation of Eastern Europe was there for the having regardless of Patton's desires; nonetheless, on that score Patton was absolutely correct. The consequence of the USSR's "liberation" of Eastern Europe was constructing the largest prison ever.

[Harry:] Who said fascism grew out of socialism?

Guy, for one.


Wikipedia, for two: Fascism borrowed theories and terminology from socialism but applied them to what it saw as the more significant conflict between nations and races rather than to class conflict, and focused on ending the divisions between classes within the nation.

So I stand corrected.

From further down the article, Chinese and Soviet communists referred to each other as fascists, apparently without twigging the irony.

Also, there is this, perhaps pertinent here: Richard Griffiths argued in 2005 that "fascism" is the "most misused, and over-used word, of our times".

In a nutshell: Communism and Fascism: The Reason They Are So Similar.

erp — yes, the premier fascist state was bent on conquest, but Nazism's aims, unlike Communism and Islamism, weren't universalist. Therefore, like any other example of fascism, it was self-limiting in scope. Unfortunately for the world, Hitlerian fascism's scope was sufficiently large to require its ultimate defeat. Unlike, say, Chavez's version, which isn't going anywhere (in all senses of the term).

BTW, Harry, our bombing of Cambodia: Why did we do it? Was it genocide?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Yes. I have read extensively on the historical background of Fascism and it's clear to me that the true genesis is that first group to actually form a Fascist government, which was Italy. That group grew out of the socialism / leftists / collectivist / communist ferment that was sweeping Europe at the time. Like the world wide web, there's not single person or place where it starts, you have to go with major milestones instead. Eagar simply picks ones that suit his Narrative, rather than historically significant ones. He probably thinks Da Vinci built the first flying machine, since there are pictures of them in his notebooks.

erp said...

Skipper per your link: I'm tired of hearing how fascism comes from the right or the the opposite end of the (left/right) spectrum to quote the professor. That's harry's line. Do you agree with that?

How about the statement that fascism "focused on ending the divisions between classes within the nation"? Of course, you might say that the nazi's focused on that by attempting to annihalate all non-Aryans.

Classic liberalism, the philosophy of our founding fathers now known conservatism, is on the opposite end of the left/right spectrum.

Wikipedia is a grea convenience when it comes to looking up factual facts, not so much in providing insight on what they mean.

aog, I don't know how I missed your statement about fascism. If I had seen it, I would have asked for clarification.

Harry Eagar said...

'That group grew out of the socialism / leftists / collectivist / communist ferment that was sweeping Europe at the time.'

Really? So that explains why Mussolini, Italy's leading socialist, repudiated the Socialists to join the Fascist movement?

Gotta watch those socialists, they're so tricky, when they repudiate socialism, they are really advancing the movement.

Skipper, yes, genocide. Every bomb load was intended to kill Cambodian civilians.

erp said...

Harry, are you dissembling or don't you really get it?

Mussolini repudiated Soviet socialism aka Communism, he didn't repudiate socialism itself.

You keep making our point for us.

Hey Skipper said...

[erp:] Skipper per your link: I'm tired of hearing how fascism comes from the right or the the opposite end of the (left/right) spectrum to quote the professor. That's harry's line. Do you agree with that?

To a limited extent. The problem is that the terms "left" and "right" are near as dammit to worthless. Defining "left" to be those for whom class is the primary focus, and dictatorship of the proletariat the ultimate goal, and "right" as those for whom religion/ethnicity/nation/culture is the primary focus, then those words have some faint utility.

However, the left is impossible to envision without its fascination with groups such as race, ethnicity, and gender. Well, at that point, the left becomes indistinguishable from the right.

If I was the HDWIC, I would junk those terms. Not only are they completely devoid of meaning, they — "right", "fascist" in particular — are subject to relentless abuse. Harry has proven that many times over in this thread.

Instead, I would place political philosophies along the spectrum of collectivist to individualist, since, IMHO, that is the single meaningful dimension.

Looked at that way, the fact that allegedly diametrically opposed philosophies — left & right, communism & fascism — always yield the same godawful results is no mystery, because they are both collectivist to the core.

In contrast, the Anglophone countries, which have been much more individualist than collectivist for quite some time, have never tended towards totalitarian cults of personality. Unfortunately, progressives, enamored as they are with their own brilliance, never twig that the collectivism that is the necessary handmaiden of progressivism is the enemy of us all.

How about the statement that fascism "focused on ending the divisions between classes within the nation"? Of course, you might say that the nazi's focused on that by attempting to annihalate all non-Aryans.

I think it makes sense, and highlights how fascism is inherently limited by its appeal to a specific ethnicity/religion/etc, where communism was inherently universalist and messianic. Even though there is no supernatural component, Communism (and, for the same reasons, progressivism) was just as much a religion as Islam and Christianity.

Classic liberalism, the philosophy of our founding fathers now known conservatism, is on the opposite end of the left/right spectrum.

Alluding to what I said above, Liberalism does not exist on the left/right plane. Liberalism has nothing to do with class theoretics or appeals to ethnicity, except in so far as it is inherently individualist, it implicitly rejects treating individuals as collectively subsumed in some larger group. Consequently, Liberalism is incompatible with both the left and right, which serves as a QED for the assertion that the most important and descriptive dimension is collectivism — individualism.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] 'That group grew out of the socialism / leftists / collectivist / communist ferment that was sweeping Europe at the time.'

Really? So that explains why Mussolini, Italy's leading socialist, repudiated the Socialists to join the Fascist movement?


I'm surprised that the concept of religious heresy is a surprise to you. The fascism grew from the collectivist basis of socialism, but used a different schema (nation instead of class).

So long as you refuse to take that on board, then you are unable to explain why seemingly opposite — to progressive/collectivists — motivations always lead to the same authoritarian/totalitarian end.

Skipper, yes, genocide. Every bomb load was intended to kill Cambodian civilians.

I'm calling bollocks. You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.

Leaving aside for the moment whether bombing Cambodia was militarily effective, the reason for the bombing was that North Vietnam (supported by the USSR, btw) was using Cambodia as a sanctuary in which to rest and resupply, and from which to launch attacks into South Vietnam. (Interestingly, eliding this undeniable fact relieves you of the burden of explaining, or justifying, why the North Vietnamese were there in the first place, or the effect their presence had in Cambodia, or the spread of collectivist insanity to that poor country.)

Asserting otherwise is to descend into the kind of hysterical anti-Americanism that is reliant on ignoring every bit of history that fails to support your chosen narrative. In this regard, you are every bit as reliable as Noam Chomsky.

erp said...

Skipper, I'm all for truth in labeling and would gladly accept individualist as my party, but that won't happen. It's way to simply descriptive.

China, Cuba ... are all fascist states by your description and the Soviets the only purely socialist?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Skipper;

What you wrote about Mussolini and heresy was almost exactly what I intended to write. Also anyone who has spent time in academia would recognize the hysteria of small differences that drive that sort of thing.

But you missed the bigger part of Eagar's claim about genocide -- that it is any action intended to kill civilians. That makes much of the Modern American Left genocidal, doesn't it? Every group and every supporter of a group that conducted domestic bombings (e.g. Bill Ayers) is, according to Eagar, genocidal. That's heavy, man.

Harry Eagar said...

'Leaving aside for the moment whether bombing Cambodia was militarily effective'

That's leaving aside the whole point, isn't it? By 1970, it was obvious to everyone that unaimed bombs were not a way to deal with guerrillas. They were terror raids, end of atory.

You can, indeed, leave aside military effectiveness because there was no military point. There was no military point to most of what we did in SE Asia, which is one reason we lost.

So, in addition to being monarchical and Catholic, fascism is nationalistic. Differences between that and socialism keep piling up, which makes it hard to figure why you say they are the same.

Here's the word you are searching for: objectively. You are saying they are objectively the same (in leftspeak), which somehow magically makes deadly enemies indistinguishable.

On the ground, people were not so mystical. The only opposition to the fascist Henleinists in the Sudetenland,for example, came from the Social Democrats. Exactly similar examples can be multiplied endlessly.

However, finding examples of rightists who opposed fascism, while not absolutely impossible, requires some digging.

erp said...

Intended to kill civilians? I don't think so. Civilian deaths are considered, at least by our side (pre-Obama), as collateral damage.

Genocide like so much else on the left, is in the eye of the beholder. Ayers is cultural hero. He gets a tenured professorship, a hefty pension and guest pass at the White House.

Ya really can't make up this stuff.

Harry Eagar said...

'In contrast, the Anglophone countries, which have been much more individualist than collectivist for quite some time, have never tended towards totalitarian cults of personality.'

True, they have been more interested in labeling demons. An interesting difference which deserves careful thought.

They have not, however, been known for their adherence to individualism or democracy, especially when brown people were involved.

Instead of counting sheep last night I ran down the list of antidemocratic regimes the US has supported: South Korea, China, Vietnam, Philippines, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt,Iraq, Libya, Spain, Greece, South Africa, Rhodesia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala.

There are more but it's an impressive list.

If you want an example of finding demons, Ayers is a good place to start. He was an actual murderer, but unlike most political murderers, of the left, so a demon, unlike Pinochet or Franco, who killed far more but are heroes of the right.


Do you want a definition of genocide? Unlimited killing of the innocent. That's why the bombing of Cambodia was not mere mass murder.


erp said...

Harry, instead of counting anti-democratic countries, why not count how many democratic countries we don't support, especially the non-anglophone non-brown one -- oh wait a minute, there aren't any. Get a goodnight's sleep then.

Hey Skipper said...

I'm calling bollocks. You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.

Why was the US bombing Cambodia? What were the targets?

Without links, your answer gets an F-

Harry Eagar said...

Skipper, you were in the Air Force. You know the B52s weren't aiming.

Because the countryside was thickly settled, they always hit a village. Because they did not aim, they hit a guerrilla concentration only by accident, if ever.

The apparent answer is, never, since the infantry went in later anyway.

I gave you the source. Shawcross, "Sideshow." It has all the references.

Harry Eagar said...

Skipper, you know better than I do that B52s didn't aim.

The countryside was so thickly settled that they hit a village on every sortie. But since they did not aim, they hit guerrilla stands, if ever, only by happenstance.

It was probably never, since the infantry was sent in to do what bombing did not.

I gave you the source, Shawcross, "Sideshow," fully referenced.

Annoying Old Guy said...

"If you want an example of finding demons, Ayers is a good place to start".

Really? That's why he got a $150 million dollar Annenberg grant? That's why he is the keynote speaker for a national teacher conference? Sounds like a hero to the Modern American Left to me. Or at least a hero to the people who teach in public schools.

Harry Eagar said...

Those were not rewards for having been a murderer.

Something that disproves Fitzgerald's claim that there are no second acts in American politics.

I do not know of anyone lionizing Ayers for his murder phase. Compare and contrast with, for example, the right's lionization of Pinochet for his murders.

Harry Eagar said...

It's possible that you can find an example of a large national newspaper advocating a move toward Ayers-style terrorism, but I doubt it. You might prove me wrong.

But just this week the biggest paper in the country opined about Pinochet:

'Egyptians would be lucky if their new ruling generals turn out to be in the mold of Chile's Augusto Pinochet, who took power amid chaos but hired free-market reformers and midwifed a transition to democracy.'

A leftwinger comments:

'Presumably, the WSJ thinks the Egyptians now have 17 years in which to think themselves lucky when any who dissent are tortured with electricity, raped, thrown from planes or - if they’re really lucky - just shot. That’s what happened in Chile after 1973, causing the deaths of between 1,000 and 3,000 people. Around 30,000 were tortured.'

erp said...

What newspapers print is irrelevant.

Harry Eagar said...

You disagree with the WSJ sentimnt? I am amazed. I thought you loved Pinochet, scourge of the democrats, oh, sorry, I mean socialists.

I don't think what newspapers print is irrelevant. In this case, the mask is off -- American rightwingers love fascist murderers.

Bret said...

I think it was Orrin Judd that loved Pinochet.

As is often the case though, one has to ask - compared to what?

erp said...

Thank you Bret. I'm getting tired of fielding this nonsense. Compared to other South American leaders or for that matter, other world leaders in general, Pinochet was George Washington.

When all this shakes out in the Middle East everybody will remember Mubarek with great fondness.

Annoying Old Guy said...

"As is often the case though, one has to ask - compared to what?"

Heh. That's the one question Eagar never answers. As I have noted multiple times in the past, the very idea of comparing bad and worse is not a concept he can grasp. That an MB government might well kill millions through starvation and abuse is of no consequence. One need only compare modern Chile to modern Cuba to see what the WSJ was pondering, but Eagar simply can't do that.

Annoying Old Guy said...

"Those were not rewards for having been a murderer."

Neither are the words in the WSJ about Pinochet. But that's different, eh?

In fact, though, I think those were in fact rewards for doing the things that lead Ayers to murder. Certainly Ayers has no regrets about it, nor done any penance.

And let's remember, it was Eagar who wrote

"If you want an example of finding demons, Ayers is a good place to start. He was an actual murderer, but unlike most political murderers, of the left, so a demon"

Is that statement no longer operative? Oh, right, no statement of your can be counted on longer than your next comment. It's a blank slate, every time. Sorry for forgetting that.

Bret said...

aog,

I was rather thinking that Allende wasn't exactly a picnic either and the country was in a disastrous downward spiral. Pinochet was more ruthless and brutal for sure, but given that Chile has been the star economic performer of South America since the coup, I wonder if Pinochet was bad for Chile overall.

Annoying Old Guy said...

I think if you look at the corresponding history of nations in Latin America (e.g., Cuba) you can make a very strong argument that the Pinochet regime resulted in less death and torture of citizens than the Allende government would have, and certainly that the economic status of the nation is much better. In that sense, yes, I agree.

But as with free markets, this "less worse" concept seems incomprehensible to the modern American left. So any comment like yours is read by people like Eagar as "lionization of Pinochet for his murders".

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:]

The Cambodian communists can take full responsibility for what they did, but if the US had not taken down a fragile but fairly stable regime, the KR would likely have continued to be what they had been before: a troublesome minor faction with no political position.



Skipper, yes, genocide. Every bomb load was intended to kill Cambodian civilians.



Do you want a definition of genocide? Unlimited killing of the innocent. That's why the bombing of Cambodia was not mere mass murder.

...

Because the countryside was thickly settled, they always hit a village. Because they did not aim, they hit a guerrilla concentration only by accident, if ever.



Those three comments encapsulate your strange conviction that there are uncaused effects, reinforced by your rigidly selective recall of history. Following is a refresher, pulling liberally from Wikipedia:

The "guerilla concentrations" you misleadingly refer to were actually full up units of the NVA. Sihanouk had made an agreement with the PRC to establish base NVA base areas in Cambodia, and use the port of Sihanoukville for delivery of military material. This violated Cambodia's neutrality.

Additionally, the North Vietnamese were also backing the Khmer Rouge, which had formed as an offshoot of the NVA. Even before Operation Menu, the KR launched a national insurgency across Cambodia, which North Vietnam materially supported.

There is considerable disagreement as to how much, or whether, the US bombing contributed to the KR seizing power in Cambodia. Shawcross thinks it did, others do not agree. That you happen to agree with Shawcross does not, so far as I know, settle that argument.

That US B52s were area bombing doesn't mean they couldn't hit the area they were aiming at, which were known NVA base areas.

Asserting that amounts to genocide is all the proof I need that you shaky respect for historical facts or even the simple meaning of words. The reason for the bombing was the long standing occupation of Cambodia by the NVA — not "guerillas" — in order to provide a base of operations for attacks on South Vietnam.

How is it you can fail to mention this? It isn't like the facts are in any dispute, or hard to find. I would think, although clearly your thinkage varies, that occupying, and conducting offensive operations from, a supposedly neutral country might, just might, be worth considering. Certainly, for someone who is sees US perfidy at every turn, you might think that it was worth at least a little ink to justify North Vietnam's invasion of the South, and its occupation of Cambodia. I'm sure there must be one, since the South, in your view, was somehow not entitled to resist that invasion. In my view, the real cause you need to be addressing is totalitarian communism, without which any of this happens.

Instead, for you, everything the US did was uncaused. Somehow, the target (as opposed to unavoidable collateral damage) was Cambodian villagers. That is a Chomskyian slander, good for nothing except filling echo chambers, which this isn't.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] [$150M Annenberg grant and keynote speaking engagement] were not rewards for having been a murderer?

Then what the heck were those rewards for? Certainly, one hopes, not this.

[Bret:] As is often the case though, one has to ask - compared to what?

That has been asked, many times, and never answered, except by silence. Above, in excoriating some Argentine dictators human rights record, Harry facilely neglected to mention the ongoing truly murderous marxist insurgency. Just as he rather neglected the North Vietnamese infestation of Cambodia.

Similarly here. What was going at the time? Allende appeared headed towards a marxist government; certainly, given the track record of such things, that can't hardly be viewed as a particularly benign development. Nor, equally certainly, should one suspect that there were no violent marxist guerrilla movements in Chile.

Which, re:Egypt, puts 'Egyptians would be lucky if their new ruling generals turn out to be in the mold of Chile's Augusto Pinochet, who took power amid chaos but hired free-market reformers and midwifed a transition to democracy.' in context. The charge that "American rightwingers love fascist murders" is nothing more than more reflexive slander.

Given the situation in Egypt, what are the options in the face of a murderous totalitarian ideology? Just as there is no explaining the 20th century without totalitarian communism, there is no explaining nearly every military conflict today without including totalitarian islamism. Yet, in your laundry list of "antidemocratic" regimes which the US has supported, the reason for doing so either never occurs to you, or it does, and you are simply OK with totalitarianism, so long as it worships Marx instead of some god.

(BTW, it is an interesting exercise in moral relativism to consider it somehow blameworthy that the US supported South Korea. Really? You'd rather the entire peninsula be like North Korea? Almost as disturbing is your inclusion of Vietnam, which is on its way to proving that every bit of the communist victory there to be an exercise in epic, murderous, futility.)

erp said...

Speaking of mass murderers, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Harry had one of thesein his office.

erp said...

Skipper, I read the entire "City Journal" article and still found no definition of social justice, so I surmise it's just another semantic construct designed to obscure the real intent which is complete "fairness of outcome."

Students should be forced to read Vonnegut's, http://www.nexuslearning.net/books/holt_elementsoflit-3/Collection%204/Collection%202/Harrison%20Bergeron%20p1.htm, Harrison Bergeron before they sign on to Ayers vision.

BTW Ayers comes from. 1% er background, but his Internet persona is strangely silent on this.

Harry Eagar said...

Hmmm. Can I take it, given this vigorous defense of Pinochet, that the defenders of (whatever the hell Pinochet is admired for) cannot think of an equivalent who was not also a perverted sadist murderer?

Pinochet is the top, and every other possibility is even worse?

As for South Korea (and just about every other country on my list), where were the democrats? Why weren't we supporting them? When it comes to US meddling in the affairs of other countries, why is our default choice always a fascist murderer?

(I know the answer. But I wonder what you guys will propose.)

Skipper, we bombed Laos, too. Fat lot of good that did anybody.

Our policy in Indochina overall was genocidal. Free fire zones. There was an admirable concept.

erp said...

Compare and contrast Cuba and Chile and you'll get your answer. BTW -- do you still admire Che as the poster boy of non-fascism?

Annoying Old Guy said...

"Can I take it, given this vigorous defense of Pinochet"

No, because there hasn't been a vigorous defense of Pinochet. That's like saying "the doctor made vigorous defense of amputation when I got gangrene". We have pointed out, in theory, predictions, and very relevant parallels, what the alternatives were and how they were clearly worse. You refuse to discuss them because, I suspect, you realize how devastating they are to whatever case you think you're making.

"where were the democrats?"

Same place they've been in Egypt and Syria?

Harry Eagar said...

In reality, erp, as I have said more than once, I reprehend all forms of tyranny.

Not only do I reprehend it, I can recognize it.

But be my guest. Is there no other example of a capitalist leader that you can think of who was less of a monster than Pinochet? Even a tiny bit less? Pinochet is the best we can hope for?

Sad.

erp said...

I have no idea what your definition of tyranny is, Harry. Why not name a socialist leader who isn't a tyrant and who hasn't murdered anyone? That way we'll get an idea what you're talking about.

Annoying Old Guy said...

"Is there no other example of a capitalist leader that you can think of who was less of a monster than Pinochet?"

US President Calvin Coolidge.

Bret said...

Harry Eagar asked: "Is there no other example of a capitalist leader that you can think of who was less of a monster than Pinochet?"

I'm lost as to the context in which you're asking this question. I'm every president of the U.S., every PM of England, every PM of Japan since WWII, etc. But that can't be the answer you're looking for.

Harry Eagar said...

I thought we were talking about capitalist leaders who followed dictators -- you know, Pinochet/Allende or Somebody/Morsi/Mubarek.

I hardly think the WSJ was thinking about who succeeded Herbert Hoover.

Come now, all I want -- and it should be easy as pie -- is a capitalist successor of a foul tyrant who was not a sadistic murderer himself.

I know of some. Do you? Does the Journal? Why do all eyes turn to Pinochet?

Bret said...

Harry Eagar asks for : "a capitalist successor of a foul tyrant who was not a sadistic murderer himself."

I could put forward someone like Heuss (1st Pres. of West Germany after WWII), but I don't get the point you're trying to make.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Bret;

Eagar's in his own little world. The only eyes that turned to Pinochet here were his. Eagar brings up Pinochet and then when we respond, accuses us of doing so. He asks a question, gets huffy when we don't answer, then gets huffy when we do because we answered what he wrote, not what he meant.

erp said...

Hey guys, I think we did teach an old dog a new trick. Harry has learned not to use the word, fascist, to describe socialists he doesn't like (Nixon) or any capitalist.

Yeah us!

aog, we sure could a guy like old Cal right now.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] Skipper, we bombed Laos, too. Fat lot of good that did anybody.

That's as may be. I'm still trying to get the history of Cambodia straight.

A few guerillas, or infestation by the NVA?

Of course, it might also be said that the triumph of North Vietnam didn't do anybody a fat lot of good, either.

But then there are apparently certain tyrannies you are perfectly happy with.

Harry Eagar said...

Who said anything about a few guerrillas? I didn't say anything about guerrillas at all.

I mentioned villages.

Villages are the point.

That and target acquisition.

Hey Skipper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hey Skipper said...

Who said anything about a few guerrillas? I didn't say anything about guerrillas at all.

Bollocks.

[Harry 2:04 PM:] Because they did not aim, they hit a guerrilla concentration only by accident, if ever.

(Why, oh why, does blogger measure time to the minute, but cares not about the date?)

Once we get that straight, then we can discuss what point the villages are, and whether there is any limit to your torturing of clear meaning of words.

Harry Eagar said...

I didn't say anything about guerrillas, because the point is, they could not bomb without hitting a village.

It is not clear the bombs ever hit any guerrillas, while it is certain they always hit villages.

Hey Skipper said...

The problem here is not only that, in fact, you did mention what you mentioned you didn't mention.

It goes beyond that to what you didn't mention you didn't mention.

If you are going to make a factually based argument, then you have to use them all, not just the ones that are convenient to you, while ignoring the rest.

Until you discuss the presence of NVA units in Cambodia, then you very much give the impression of someone blinded by religion.

Harry Eagar said...

So, what about the NVA in Cambodia?

Bombing did not disrupt their activities, nor, once bombing failed, did a ground invasion.

Remember?

Lawfare was not so entrenched then as it is today, but even then there were international obligations about cross-border aggression.

Apart from the law, which the US never paid much attention to, there were the questions of moral justification and practical utility.

Bombing villages required a whole lot of moral justification, and practical utility is the sort of thing that really can only be judged after the attempt, although by 1970 we had the experience of free fire zones and how well they did not work.

Incidentally, we used free fire zones again in Iraq in 2003 -- but were not honest enough to call them that -- and the results were all bad, no surprise there.

If you are trying to make an argument that the US policy was even worse than the communists', you are on the way.

Hey Skipper said...

You still don't get it.

Above, you accused the US of engaging in Cambodian genocide. As with every other accusation you have made in this thread, it amounted to an uncaused effect.

The reason is obvious: you have either failed to take on board, or refuse to accommodate the fact that North Vietnam had invaded a neutral country in order to stage attacks on another country.

Since you have excluded that little detail, you relieved yourself of the burden of explaining how that just might sit so well with international law or the UN charter.

And while you are relieving yourself of explanatory burdens, you have also sidestepped a far more central issue: North Vietnam's goal, eventually achieved, was to eliminate a member of the United Nations.

Since I can't accuse you of ignorance, how is it you justify that?

I already know the answer to that question. There is no justification.

However, there is a pattern. Leftists have a soft spot for predators.

Harry Eagar said...

The US is responsible for its actions, not for North Vietnam's actions.

I gather you contend that since NV did X, then any and every Y response was justified.

Including the deliberate genocide of Cambodians.

Annoying Old Guy said...

No, we think if it's wrong the the USA to do X, it's also wrong for the NV to do it, and which ever country does it first bears the far greater moral burden of the action. As far as I can tell from your writing, you believe that only the USA has moral agency and therefore only the USA can bear a moral stain from its actions. It's a very dehumanizing point of view to deny foreigners moral agency, to refust to hold them responsible for their own actions.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] Including the deliberate genocide of Cambodians.

This is where you leave all reason behind.

The only reason the US bombed Cambodia was because the NVA was grossly violating Cambodian neutrality, using the country as a sanctuary (NB -- North Vietnam was counting on the US to conform with the same international law that NV was trampling upon) from which to rest, resupply, and launch attacks on South Vietnam.

Getting you even close to this inescapable point has been the intellectual equivalent of pulling teeth without the benefit of adequate anesthesia.

Now, it is possible to discuss whether the US response was the best possible. But ignoring the cause, which you have assiduously done (for at least the fourth time in this thread) is courting intellectual vacuity. Beyond that, as with the terms racism and delusional, you have proven yourself incapable of using words with any fidelity towards their actual meaning.

Similarly, collectivists are perfectly happy with North Vietnam's eventually successful drive to eliminate a member of the United Nations, yet excoriate the US's attempts to defend that country.

Here, as elsewhere, collectivists reflexive alliance with predators is on display.

As for the rest of us, cause and effect are easily discerned.

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