Things Big Left Can Still Learn

As a history geek, I can still be amazed by historical patterns.

As someone who treasures Western Civilization, those same patterns can be pretty terrifying.

Reading through the list of “terrifying facts” about the East German Staatssicherheitsdienst, “State Security Service” ( the “Stasi”), it’s fascinating how many of them describe, or are rapidly starting to describe, the modern .left.

My pool entry for “first reference to January 6 or Trump ‘colluding’ with Russia” is seven minutes.

Any action on that bet?

12 thoughts on “Things Big Left Can Still Learn

  1. This is why everyone should be encouraged – not mandated – to watch the movie “The Lives of Others”. My review of the movie, years ago:

    Gray country. Gray sky. Gray little man, in a gray suit. With a gray little soul, perhaps just coming alive.

    The film is “The Lives of Others.”

    It’s East Germany, 1984. Stasi intelligence officer Capt. Gerd Weisler is assigned secret surveillance of acclaimed playwright Georg Dreyman and his girlfriend Christa-Maria Seiland. Weisler does so; the sole satisfaction in his life is exposing enemies of the state, squelching their treason, their careless talk, their poor jokes at the Chancellor’s expense. It’s a land where questions are as serious as a heart attack. “Name?” can be a prelude to a disappearance. Of course, they already know your name.

    The Stasi’s motto is “Know Everything.” Every detail, every fact of life is painstakingly collected and leveraged over a populace in fear, too afraid to speak or make eye contact because they never know who’s watching, taking notes. Weisler is good at finding out things; he soon discovers that Georg is idealistic about socialism and loyal; almost deliberately refusing to see the reality around him. Weisler also learns that he was given his mission in the hopes that he would find something that could be used; a Party boss desires Christa-Marie, wants Georg out of the picture.

    There is love and affection between Georg and Christa-Marie. The flat they share is an oasis of warm colors and feelings. Weisler weakens, begins to feel affection for them, even protective, their unseen gray angel. In his own life, he is so tightly wrapped he can barely breathe. Sex is bought from a “Party” girl prostitute who doesn’t even give him time to undress or share a moment’s imitation of tenderness. Why can’t he have friends, feelings like Georg and Christa-Marie?

    A dangerous game is played in a dangerous land. The suspense for the viewer is as heavy as the oppression that covers the land. You know, the Germans know, this can’t end well. How can you escape the tentacles that are everywhere: coercion, deceit, betrayal, sacrifice. Can you stay a half-step ahead of the authorities and your own doubts?

    Heartbreak. An ending. A wall cracks and then falls. Then another ending. And another. And the gray light looks a little lighter, a seed of redemption gives forth a tiny shoot. Perhaps, a beginning.

    A Sonata for a Good Man. A powerful film.

  2. So listened to the Spectator’s “Holy Smokes” podcast today. The guest was Paul Coleman, from ADF International, a Europe-based civil liberties organization focused on freedom of speech in a religious context.
    Coleman says that the problem is that current international human rights regimes were forged back in the 1970s, with a lot of influence from the USSR and its satellites, and that these legal frameworks took on the flavor of continental Europe rather than the anglosphere. In Europe, what is not permitted by the state is forbidden, while in the anglosphere, what is not forbidden is permitted.
    An interesting discussion about the origins of the legal basis for forbidding “hate speech.” It was interesting to hear the European perspective on what is happening in the US — apparently the anti-free-speech advocates here are much more radical than in Europe, but in both Europe and the anglosphere, the desire to quash free expression is a feature of the elite, not the common people.

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  4. It’s funny that you accuse the left of being Marxists defending workers stupidly over profits on one hand and of being in bed with corporate leaders, enabling the oppression of workers on the other hand. In one breath they are both fascists and in the other they are communists. You want to claim to be an historical expert and then you ignore the fascists executed unionists, teachers, and social democrats, while seeking to maximize the profits of corporatists, where Marxists executed corporate leaders, stripped the aristocrats and bourgeoisie of their property and (on paper) implemented an equal system of paying “each according to need from each according to ability.” One was seeking the power of the landed gentry to enable/endorse their totalitarian rule, while the other tore that down to enact their own equally awful totalitarian rule, where those in the party held sway, lived far better than most, were on paper no more wealthy than the rest but in truth lived vastly better (e.g. Kim Jong Un’s North Korea). The point is, these aren’t the same things, they have similar effects, but they aren’t the same – one strips the currently powerful of power, the other seeks to coopt it. So, damned glad you are such a history expert, oh wait, that’s right, you claim WW2 was about the 2nd Amendment. Yep, expert.

    You then want to also shift the focus to something else, such as the horrible conduct of the East German Stassi, something which no one defends, as a way to deflect/distract from your cabal’s utter misconduct/unconstitutional attempt to thwart the transition of power by (again incorrectly and falsely) claiming that the left in the US is the same as the Stasi because the left, inappropriately, is starting mirror the American Right – meaning they now have litmus tests (such as embracing a rather unlimited sense of reparations) – a point with which I and most liberals I know disagree, but you fail to then realize you have had litmus tests, and intolerance of outside views, and alternate fact-based issues for decades- even something as simple as calling it the Democratic Party, is unacceptable, your dog-whistle mentality prevents you from doing anything other than hewing to the orthodoxy of your political religion, which has transmorgrified into a personality-cult parading as a political movement.

    You embrace race-baiting xenophobia, you deny that your movement failed to prove its case in court and so has no material grounds to claim tRump lost, and to deflect from your seditious conduct, you haul out old tropes about how “communists” are about to take over.

    I suggest instead you read what you’ve been doing – by YOU I mean your movement, embracing the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene, a member of YOUR party, not some obscure reference to Joseph Mengele or Joseph Stalin, and the UGLY awful conduct she evidenced just last year.. to wit (from CNN)..

    “…The video is from February 22, 2019 — the same day that Greene visited the Capitol and brought to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office a petition to impeach the California Democrat for treason, and suggested she should be executed or imprisoned for her “crimes.” On social media in 2018 and 2019, Greene repeatedly indicated support for executing other Democratic politicians, including former President Barack Obama, former Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, and FBI agents.
    Greene also visited Rep. Maxine Waters’ office that day, where she said the California Democrat was “just as guilty” of treason as Pelosi. She also went on to visit the offices of then-freshman Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, during which she falsely claimed the first two Muslim women elected to Congress weren’t “official” because they had been sworn in on the Quran. Greene stopped by the offices of Reps. Dan Crenshaw, a Texas Republican, and Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, and suggested visiting then-Sen. Kamala Harris that day.
    With Greene at the Capitol that day was her close ally Anthony Aguero, a former El Paso congressional candidate and conservative livestreamer who was captured on camera inside the Capitol during the January 6 insurrection.
    As they leave Ocasio-Cortez’s office, Greene says, “Bye. Bye. Bye, AOC. Ocasio-Cortez. Bye, bye, baby. Bye-bye, baby. Bye-bye, little baby girl. Ocasio-Cortez– she went and hid. She couldn’t take it,” said Greene, mispronouncing Ocasio-Cortez’s name again.
    She and her companions then rearranged the sticky notes placed on Ocasio-Cortez’s office wall and signed the guest book outside the office by drawing a picture of a border wall before leaving to go to another member’s office.”

    Now, you can say I’m focusing on the worst of your party, which is fair, but do you do less when you constantly point to AOC’s (or Ilhan Omar) as reflecting the Democratic Party? Further and more importantly, while AOC and Omar DO represent a wing of the party which has some sway, it is hardly the mainstream (despite your fatuous allegations of the Stasi), while MTG IS reflecting of far too much of not just the party, but certainly it’s leadership, since she is for all intents and purposes, simply channeling Trump.

    I’ll avoid the hypocrisy of likening your party’s conduct to that of Hitler or of the Gestapo, as that sort of reference is both too easy (and cheap) and furthers nothing, just like calling the left as somehow moving (relentlessly by implication) to be like the Stasi. But please, stop this type of comment, it’s beneath you and beneath contempt. Do you seriously defend MTG’s conduct toward Ocasio-Cortez? Do you seriously think it’s ok to destroy the faith the US populace HAD in our elections with baseless claims of wide-spread fraud? If you are concerned about democracy, why aren’t you concerned about creating a landscape where people don’t believe democracy exists? You don’t need to dredge up the Stasi to make a point that people go too far or their tent is too small, but you DO need to acknowledge (if you want to be successful in making things better rather than just stoking hate, like MGT) that there are good people on both sides who want a better outcome for ALL, and tolerate very little those who seek to exclude and divide. My issue is, you don’t seem to be one of them.

  5. It’s funny that you accuse the left of being Marxists defending workers stupidly over profits on one hand and of being in bed with corporate leaders

    Where did I say any such thing?

    You’ve got this pattern, Paddy – you project a lot of narrative onto those you argue with. Meaning you jam lots (and lots and lots and lots) of words into peoples mouths.


  6. OMG Mitch, 1000 times you’ve called the left fascists. 1000 times you and your followers have said that really fascism and communism are effectively the same..

    Whooo boy..

    But let’s focus on this point, you don’t need to malign the left by likening them to the Stasi. There’s plenty to address with their own absurd purity requirements.

    If you want progress, you want substance, though, you also then have to acknowledge MTG and by alignment, Trump, are likewise a big problem.

    I have no love and do not support the idea of reparations, I also have no patience for those who care nothing about sexual abuse perpetrated on men and are only concerned with that perpetrated on women. That’s a purity test i cannot support.

    So, if you want dialogue, start with understanding and acknowledgement. Acknowledge tRump failed to prove his case and Biden won, and from that, the actions on 1/6 were utterly wrong – do that, and I’ll take you seriously and not just someone preaching hate using dog-whistles those on the right love to hear.

  7. As for jamming words, Mitch, that’s entirely what you just did with the left and the Stasi.

  8. So, to move this forward, let’s focus on the forest, rather than the trees. You have asserted the left is embracing the tactics of the Stasi, a deeply insulting and entirely untactful/unhelpful sort of allusion.

    You seem to have done so to then deflect from the horrible conduct of tRump. I think that’s a terrible dodge.

    The conduct of MGT (and so tRump) is inexcusable, and you should say so. I know, though, that doing so in intolerable to your party faithful, so I won’t ask for that.

    Instead, let’s agree litmus tests and purity requirements are stupid, and intolerant screed (like that of Trump or MGT or at times AOC) is entirely counter-productive to finding working solutions.

    If that’s your point, I agree – and I live it, how about you agree to the same and stop with the inflammatory rhetoric?

  9. Question, Mitch. Was p-boy ever able to formulate a coherent argument? I mean, even in, or perhaps especially in “meat space”?

  10. To wit..

    The right has a LONG history of trying to create this revisionist fiction that liberalism=fascism. I’ve seen things written here that made the point. Do you have one of your story tags as “left wing fascism”? If not, then frankly you’re an outlier on the right. I don’t think I put any words in your mouth, and certainly at least, not in the mouths of VERY many on the right, including Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. Are you saying they were wrong to assert Liberalism=Fascism? If not, then what words again are being put in your mouth.

    Regardless, that counter is arguing about the tree in the forest rather than addressing the forest, if we want to talk about something you do, and spend a lot of words doing, you focus on these myopia, and write voluminously about it. That I reply, when I reply, with a more expansive missive, is simply trying to help you avoid suffering that myopia by addressing the tendency to narrow the focus and instead ask you to think more globally since the issue is larger than the myopia. In this case, it is the same thing it has been forever when we converse, which is namely that you seem to desire to focus on the negative of the left, often in ways which are nothing less than inflammatory screed, rather than engaging in discourse. After 15 years of reading your blog, I am aware you have little/no interest in discourse, which this blog posting shows – because you’d rather suggest something really ugly, like that the left is moving toward becoming the brutal, murderous secret police of East Germany, than discuss whether litmus tests are the right approach in a free thinking society.

    And you’d rather do that because it allows you to give air cover (in your mind) to Trump’s seditious conduct. I understand that but then don’t expect anyone to accept that confronting Trump’s sedition is hypocrisy because you feel the left is “behaving like the Stasi” – they aren’t but two wrongs don’t make a right regardless. You expect the left to (or think the left should) admit to being wrong by use of insulting hyperbolic reference to monstrous regimes, but refuse utterly to hold Trump (and his followers) accountable for their OWN conduct, not something SIMILAR to something you claim it resembles. Those of us who see that aren’t putting words in your mouth, you DID liken it to the Stasi, and you DID try to say “what hypocrisy” as a means to try to forestall comparisons to Trump’s behavior.

    Get it?

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