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Remember, some are still mourning the Soviet Empire

Every so often, when I hear people tell me that the Cold War is a long-lost issue and that we need to “move on”, to use that cant expression, I remember that there are, unbelievably, people out there who still think that the Soviet Union and its empire was a benevolent force and no worse than that of the NATO alliance that successfully helped to bring it down, and who therefore regard people who helped thwart the Soviet regime, like Vaclav Havel, as bad men. Case in point is this creature by the name of Neil Clark, writing in the Guardian newspaper:

“No one questions that Havel, who went to prison twice, was a brave man who had the courage to stand up for his views. Yet the question which needs to be asked is whether his political campaigning made his country, and the world, a better place. Havel’s anti-communist critique contained little if any acknowledgement of the positive achievements of the regimes of eastern Europe in the fields of employment, welfare provision, education and women’s rights. Or the fact that communism, for all its faults, was still a system which put the economic needs of the majority first.”

Absolutely. Presumably, that explains why there were millions of downtrodden, poor people attempting to enter the Soviet Empire from such hellholes as West Germany. That explains why East Berlin erected the Wall, to contain the flood of people trying to enter it. Yes, that must have been the reason. (Sarcasm alert).

I guess the fact that the Soviet System created a two-tier society: the Party and Everyone Else, must have escaped Mr Clark’s gimlet-eye attention. Perhaps the Gulag, the shootings of political opponents, the construction of the White Sea Canal (with slave labour), etc, were in fact all features of ensuring that the “needs of the majority” came “first”.

For what it is worth, on a more theoretical level, the horrors of collectivism can be summed up in Marx’s dictum: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”. For if you believe that the needs of the majority trump such pesky issues as rights or liberties, then so much the worse for such liberal principles. But in practice, of course, the history of the Communist world was littered with stories of shortages, famines and shabby, crappily produced goods and services.

I had actually forgotten about Neil Clark’s existence. Alas, his ghastly prose now comes back to haunt me. I remember reading about this character about five or six years ago, when writers such as Oliver Kamm and Stephen Pollard tore this man’s sophistries to pieces.

Thanks to Michael Blackburn for the pointer. Christina Odone also rubbishes Clark.

And here is a useful roundup of links for deniers of socialist brutality. Clark makes the list, unsurprisingly.

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28 comments to Remember, some are still mourning the Soviet Empire

  • Jerry

    “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”

    Or, for a more contemporary version right out of
    Star Trek ( the most socialistic society ever
    dreamed up !! )

    “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one”

    Between this post and the one following on Gordon Kerr, you guys are scaring me to death !!
    I’m serious

  • Well said.

    Another posting here, that I’ve been meaning to write for ages and ages, would itemise all the good things done to the world by the destruction of Soviet Communism. Things like the end of Apartheid (which would have gone on longer without the Soviet collapse), and the transformation for the better of Eastern Europe.

    I remember when the anti-anti-Soviet tendency prophesied catastrophe for Eastern Europe as a result of the dastardly neo-liberal reforms that were done there in the 1990s. That kind of talk has now gone away like it had never been.

  • Laird

    “little if any acknowledgement of the positive achievements of the regimes of eastern Europe in the fields of employment, welfare provision, education and women’s rights.”

    Um, perhaps that could be because there were none?

  • Anyone who was around during the “good old days” of “warblogging” (say, 2003-2005) will remember Neil Clark very well. Oliver Kamm in particular was quite sharp at taking down this vile assembly of cells (I hesitate to grant him the exalted status of human being).

    Don’t feed the trolls.

  • Sam Duncan

    “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one”

    Star Trek, eh? Bloke called Rupert Jung said much the same thing. It’s in his 1922 book, “National Socialism”.

    The trouble with “From each… etc.” which those who think it sounds reasonable fail to appreciate is that it isn’t voluntary. Everything you are able to give is forcibly taken from you, and you are given only what you are deemed to need. No options. And they call it freedom.

  • amspirnational

    Havel’s approval of the Iraq invasion is the biggest stain on his record, but Iran gives him honorary mention by way of thanks.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    If Havel did support the removal of Saddams Baathist regime, that is hardly inconsistent given his loathing of tyrants. It is no “stain” to support the removal of brutes, although it always pays to consider the costs and risks.

  • manuel II paleologos

    “put the economic needs of the majority first”, eh?
    Only if you assume that the majority had economic needs for queues, waste and hunger.

    As they say, “not even wrong”.

  • Kim du Toit

    Nobody ever put it better than John Darbyshire, when he wrote: “Wherever there is a jackboot stomping on a human face there will be a well-heeled Western liberal to explain that the face does, after all, enjoy free health care and 100 percent literacy.”

  • Joshua

    I wonder if Clark noticed that the countries of Western Europe during the postwar period also made achievements in employment, welfare provision, education, and women’s rights, but without banning opposition parties, suppressing free speech, and imprisoning dissidents.

  • MajikMonkee

    @Kim classic!

  • Simon Jester

    Echo, I notice EG has returned to form in the comments on that article. (Last time I mentioned his name, he turned up here again.)

  • Rob H

    Once again the obsession with economics being the cause of an oppressive class system.

    I’m currently reading “Suprised by Joy” by C.S. Lewis. In it he writes about his pretty horrific time at Malvern College and describes an internal class system (not based on social position or money but on social power or the ability to get on.

    I think we saw with communism that oppressive types don’t need economic drivers to oppress if there is another source of power. Advancement by favour or loyalty or deceipt overtook advancement by ability or results.

    This shatters many of the socialists first assumptions.

    I always found it interesting that the word “meritocracy” was created by a socialist as something to beware of (ie a bad thing), because in most people it is inately thought as the obvious ideal. If we are ever in need of a way of “selling” a libertarian world then I think a “meritocracy” is the perfect way to do it.

  • ragingnick

    One of the criticisms levelled against capitalism is that it rewards the most ruthless and narcissistic: to which the only response is “what? and politics doesnt?”

  • I remember when the anti-anti-Soviet tendency prophesied catastrophe for Eastern Europe as a result of the dastardly neo-liberal reforms that were done there in the 1990s. That kind of talk has now gone away like it had never been.

    Alas, not in Russia. Russians and the pro-Kremlin stooges outside blame the west for all of Russia’s ills since the collapse of the USSR. Apparently, people from Chicago advised Russians to fuck each other over during a decade of theft, murder, and extortion in whicht the rule of law played no part whatsoever. The Russians had no choice but to follow this advice, apparently. This is why they have to act like such arseholes now, they were treated in such a beastly fashion before.

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Neil Clark should be warmly congratulated.

    After all leftists (Barack Obama and so on) normally denounce (or rather – have denounced, by their cronies in the media) anyone who suggests they favour Marxist regimes.

    Mr Clark comes right out and admits it.

    The vile Marxist regimes of Eastern Europe “put the needs of the majority first”.

    The downfall of socialism in Eastern Europe was a-bad-thing-for-them-and-for-the-world.

    He shows the world his cloven hoof – he is proud of it.

    And the Guardian newspaoper (and so on) employ this piece of shit. Not in spite of his position – but BECAUSE of it.

    As I say – what a good thing Mr Neil Clark is. He shows the left for what they truly are.

    Evil to the very core of their being.

  • Gordon Hanson

    Re: (Sarcasm alert)

    You might want to look up the definition of “irony”. Or of “sarcasm”, for that matter.

  • MarkJ

    Neil Clark pitching a West End musical “Springtime for Stalin” in 3…2….1…

  • Larry Patty

    Let’s see who lost out. The brutal murdering tyrants. Stalin murdered far more people than Hitler. The secret policemen, who arrested, tortured and murdered anyone nominated to be an enemy of the people or the party. The apparatchiks, who lived like kings while everyone else labored in misery. perhaps Al-Guardian can send Mr. Clark to North Korea to experience Communism first hand. After all, he thinks it was so great!

  • Foobarista

    Whenever this cute Marxist quote comes up, I always ask “Who decides”? This always kicks off a good discussion and exploration of the intensely oppressive assumptions behind this simple statement.

  • Dave

    Notice also the Mr. Clark did not bother to mention the Tens of millions of people killed by the Soviet empire, the chinese communists or Pol Pot in Cambodia. A distraction.
    “The needs of the many out weigh the need of the few…or the one.”, was Spock’s personal choice of sacrifice to save everyone else. Kirk’s and the rest of the crew responded by risking their lives and careers to save Spock. “The needs of the one outweighed the needs of the many”.

  • Fen

    The only “good” thing the Soviet Union did was to keep the Stans in check.

    And to create Ronald Reagan.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    You might want to look up the definition of “irony”. Or of “sarcasm”, for that matter.

    Huh?

  • bandit

    The other day I was listening to NPR and they had some story about the demise of the Soviet Union and they were blabbing about how even though it wasn’t a workers paradise it became a modern industrial giant and world power, defeated the /germans and was a scientific leader, Sputnik and the first man in orbit – no mention of the millions starved to death or who died in the gulags.

  • Paul Marks

    I lack humour, but Mr Neil Clark was not being “ironic” or “sarcastic”.

    He is just a scumbag – a Soviet apologist.

    The difference between him and many others on the left is that (in this case) he has been open about his scumbagness.