It's Totalitarians Who Love a Man In a Uniform
James Payne's "Marxists: They Love a Man in a Uniform" (Oct.) does a service by developing an association that many in the peace movement should be more aware of. Many analysts, including myself, have noted the relation in passing, but as far as I know the point has not previously been developed as fully (although one might look at the work of Prof. Rudolph Rummel at the University of Hawaii). A difficulty with any analysis of this kind is in the definition of variables. I would question, for example, considering Iraq and Syria "Marxist," as Payne does, certainly when he excludes Libya from the Marxist group.
Payne establishes the case that Marxist states have many more people under arms than non-Marxist states. In his terms, Marxist regimes have a much higher force ration than non-Marxist regimes. The author then compares force ratios with degrees of freedom or dictatorship as defined by the civil liberties rating in the annual Comparative Survey of Freedom that I do for Freedom House. Again he finds a direct relationship between degrees of dictatorship and force levels. But he also finds that non-Marxist dictatorships have much lower force ratios than Marxist regimes. From this "anomaly" Payne concludes that the noncommunist states to which I give low civil liberties ratings are actually "freer" than communist states given similar ratings. He believes that I must be misled because in their international reporting the media tend to ignore denials of "quiet freedoms."
Let me suggest that the "anomaly" he finds is due to rather different definitions of "dictatorship." The Survey ratings for civil liberties are based on a variety of "freedoms," but explicitly emphasize those freedoms that are most closely related to the political process. There are some ways in which many Marxist regimes are less free than other dictatorships, and conscription is one of them; there are also ways in which many non-Marxist regimes are less free than Marxist ones (consider the situation of women in Saudi Arabia, for example). In spite of many freedoms in Guatemala not enjoyed in most Marxist states, it would be much safer to be a suspected member of the opposition in Poland or Hungary or several other Marxist states in the last few years than in Guatemala—or a few years ago in Argentina and Uruguay.
The Survey of Freedom is not a survey of levels of totalitarianism, although we have pointed out that such a survey would be useful. By relating force ratios to levels of totalitarianism rather than Marxism, Payne could certainly include Libya and Iran along with the Marxist states, and perhaps Iraq and Syria. Since he would find that the less totalitarian Marxist states would tend to have lower force ratios, he should discover a much stronger correlation than he now finds with Marxism.
Raymond D. Gastil
New York, NY
Math and Militarism
James L. Payne's analysis is mathematically fuzzy for two reasons. First, Payne failed to adjust force ratios where countries have invited troops to assist in their defense. Take the case of West Germany, for example. Payne calculates its force ratio (the number of full-time, active-duty military personnel per 1,000 population) as 7.8. But if adjustment is made for the presence of about 120,000 US troops in that country of 60 million, then its force ratio increases to 9.8. Payne has therefore underestimated the force ratio of all countries in Europe and Southeast Asia with US troops present.
Further, considering that US troops in Europe and Southeast Asia are accompanied by additional US dollars spent in those host countries, the adjusted force ratio (and Payne's error) will increase even more. Of course Payne's errors in calculating the force ratios of US allies are also present in his calculations of Soviet allies' force ratios.
Second, Payne failed to weight countries for size. He gives the force ratio of mainland China (4.3) and Nicaragua (27.8) equal weight in calculating the mean force ratio (13.3) for all Marxist countries. If Marxist countries' force ratio were weighted according to population, the mean would drop from 13.3 because of China's relative large size.
Losing Our Composers
Kyle Rothweiler has written a thought-provoking essay about Igor Stravinsky, "Fabulist of Evil" (November). Rothweiler quite rightly, in my opinion, focuses upon Rite of Spring as the quintessential comment by the late émigré Russian composer upon the emergent bestiality of the 20th century.
Perhaps another way of putting it would be to say that the breakdown of the "Victorian Synthesis" was already well under way by the time of Rite's composition (1913, or one year before the start of the Great War). Already, too, those sensitive lumières of France—poets, painters, musicians—had hit upon the same essence of the new modernist spirit. One group of artists even called themselves The Wild Ones (Les Fauves).
It is, in fact, difficult, when we look at intellectual currents at the end of the 19th century, to determine whether Stravinsky was expressing a fin de siècle trend of the 1890s or anticipating emergent violence, as typified by Bolshevism, seated in the new 20th century.
Whichever, Stravinsky did not stand alone in his summation or his prediction. In fact, fully as much as West Europeans, pre-war and pre-Revolution(s) Russian intellectuals and artistes caught the spirit of both "events": the collapse of Victorian presuppositions and standards, and the onset of amoral and immoral totalitarian bestiality.
Albert L. Weeks
New York, NY
Music to My Ears
I look forward to reading Kyle Rothweiler's book on modern music, if it is anything of the caliber of his Life & Liberty essay on Stravinsky (Nov.). His seminal analysis of The Rite of Spring has the kind of serious, three-dimensional perspective missing from today's newspaper music columns and journals, which as a rule leave one wondering what is being discussed—performances, or music. Rothweiler does appropriate violence to a work that assaults the ear and mind with senseless brutality.
However, I have one good word for Stravinsky, whose body of work I otherwise have no use for. I recommend The Pastoral, which he wrote in 1908 at the age of 26, and stress that the only worthwhile recording of it (that I know of) is that of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Leopold Stokowski. It has a relaxing melody, and at times it can be the perfect nightcap to a long hard day.
Palo Alto, CA
Disney Debauchery? You Got to Be Kidding
I hope Calvin Levy doesn't bite his tongue-in-cheek on his next ride at Disneyland ("The Shocking Truth about Walt Disney," Oct.). You'd have to be on a witch hunt—correction—devil hunt to see what he sees in Walt's world.
Anaheim Hills, CA
Wait a Minute—This Is Serious!
Re "The Shocking Truth about Walt Disney" (Oct.): I just returned from a four-day "vacation" at Disneyworld and EPCOT Center (DEC) in Florida. What I saw and experienced there was, to say the least, appalling.
Most of us associate the name Disney with visions of wholesome and innocent cartoons and movies. How wrong we have been! After seeing the Florida charade of plastic, polished aluminum and advanced robotics, my wife and I feel we have been duped by a bunch of almost subversive con men (and women). Please allow me to elaborate somewhat.
Within a few hours of our arrival at DEC, we were discussing the fact that the grotesque images and the values being projected almost everywhere at DEC were contrary to what we desire to expose ourselves or our children to. Over and over the exhibits and displays glorify the materialistic, the scientific, and the humanistic-secular approaches to life. Not once did we hear the words divine or God or the fact there is more to life and the future than science. Any divine ideals or ideas were missing. The underlying message seemed to be that man is in control or can control everything—even death and his destiny and that we should enjoy today all we can with as little work as possible—the hedonistic philosophy.
We had been told by others who preceded us to DEC that we must see the China Pavilion. What I saw was pure propaganda designed to make China look like a paradise. It was geologically interesting but was without substance. It was deceptive and designed to evoke emotions of empathy with the communist approach to life. Taiwan, of course, was not mentioned since it has some freedoms and no communist revolution.
I am thinking seriously about producing and distributing a bumperstrip that says Boycott Epcot.
Herald E. Thomas
With all of the recent articles in REASON on rock stars who seem to be turning to individualistic lyrics (Bruce Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt, and Prince), it is time to set the record straight, so to speak.
While all of these artists have recently turned to lyrics of this nature, one band has been around for eleven years doing far more libertarian-individualist stuff than this. In addition they have a much more intellectual approach than the lower-middle class style of The Boss and Little Steven and Prince's mindless hedonism. The band in question is Rush, and REASON readers may wish to familiarize themselves with the band.
Their musical style is hard rock, not heavy metal. It is also in the neo-Romantic style of many of the progressive bands of the '70s (Genesis, Yes, and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, for example). The band has written songs entitled Anthem (after Ayn Rand's novella of the same name), (You Can't Get) Something for Nothing, Free Will, Witch Hunt, and A Farewell to Kings. Lyricist-drummer Neil Peart's subject matter covers economics, philosophy, ethics, aesthetics, and social commentary in an adult and classy style. Foremost among their music is their 20-minute suite 2112, the story of an individual's revolt against an oppressive society, which is based on and dedicated to Rand's Anthem.
For eleven years they have fought for critical recognition and radio play in a music industry that thinks that…any band without make-up, violent videos, and sexist lyrics isn't worth playing. Rush have maintained their artistic integrity despite the ever-present pressure to stick to what works. They have also avoided the destructive lifestyle of many rock stars and they all have (gasp!) families, which come first, even before their music. Rush is a living example of what a group of people can do if they continually apply and uphold the principles that they believe in.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Letters".