Media

The Most Vile Column of the Day: Berlin Wall Edition

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Was getting a Polish translator for Gen. Jaruzelski proving difficult? Did the emails to the long-dead Comrade Honecker keep bouncing? I mean, I expected this from The Guardian (and boy did they deliver), but I was rather surprised that The New York Times weighed in the Berlin Wall anniversary with this unbelievable nonsense from the Stalinist Slovenian academic Slajov Zizek, who inveighs bravely against the "rightists" in Eastern Europe, the "new anti-Communist scare," and supposedly resurgent "anti-Communist paranoia."

Nothing, alas, on those hideous dictatorships toppled twenty years ago today. No Stasi, no Securitate, no KGB. Not a peep about Lubyanka, Berlin-Hohenschönhausen, or Kolyma. Perhaps on the anniversary of Dachau's liberation, the Times can solicit a piece from that delightfully heterodox historian David Irving. A sample from Zizek:

Where does this resurrection of anti-Communism draw its strength from? Why were the old ghosts resuscitated in nations where many young people don't even remember the Communist times? The new anti-Communism provides a simple answer to the question: "If capitalism is really so much better than Socialism, why are our lives still miserable?"

Why bother with this piffle (well, I suppose because it is in the New York Times)? And why bother when Cato's Marion Tupy, who grew up in a communist country, has already cut his argument to ribbons?

And yes, Zizek is actually a Stalinist. Writing in The New Republic, critic Adam Kirsch observed that "Under the cover of comedy and hyperbole, in between allusions to movies and video games, [Zizek] is engaged in the rehabilitation of many of the most evil ideas of the last century." And he quotes the great "rock star" of European academia as confirmation: "Better the worst Stalinist terror than the most liberal capitalist democracy." Quite.

In a forthcoming piece to be published elsewhere, I mention Zizek's starry-eyed Stalinism: "If Stalinism was indeed a negative development, [Zizek writes], it was because it was too capitalistic: 'Stalinist 'totalitarianism' was the capitalist logic of self-propelling productivity liberated from its capitalist form, which is why it failed: Stalinism was the symptom of capitalism.'" Note the scare quotes around totalitarian, and the utter incoherence of the argument that follows.

Obviously Americans have no interest in hearing the tired bromides of fire-breathing neoliberals and anti-communists; those relics of the Cold War like Havel, Walesa, Laar, or Michnik, who shamefully traded woman's rights and full employment for Coca Cola and the occasional McRib. But it is shameful that, on this day when millions were liberated from the 20th century's most sinister political project, the New York Times thought it clever to hand its opinion page over to a man dedicated to resuscitating the very ideology responsible for their enslavement.

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  1. Nothing surprises me anymore.

  2. You know what? Some of us haven’t forgotten how awful communism was.

    One good thing about the shift to the left in U.S. government (though not, I think, in U.S. culture) is that a lot of the hidden socialists and out-and-out communists are popping out of their holes. Good. Hope they’re ready for the sledgehammer.

    1. I agree. These stupid leftists have now been noticed by the population at large. The 2010 elections are going to be fun to watch.

    2. It’s good to identify the Obama zombies.

  3. It’s the New York Times. It’s a shitty rag. This was someone’s shitty idea to be edgy.

    The times isn’t even that good for starting fires anymore.

    1. I prefer those little “logs” of compressed sawdust and accelerant stuff. One match and you’re golden.

    2. Well, its are still good for training puppies and lining bird cages.

    3. Agree. Since the Sunday Times has lost so much of its advertisers, it really doesn’t even make a good log anymore.

  4. Andrew Sullivan’s sole contribution for the day wasn’t too bad:

    “For me, the end of the Wall meant the beginning of a chance to live without ideological war or the fear of ideological war, a moment for the peace dividend to take hold and the idea of US global hegemony given a break in a more stable, less fraught and much less ideological world. How wrong I was.”

    1. When is Andrew Sullivan not wrong?

  5. Has the Times ever gotten around to repudiating Walter Durante’s Pulitzer Prize? Or do they still believe that the Ukrainian famine was merely Western propaganda?

    1. They’ve asked that the Pulitzer people revoke it, but the Pulitzer people have declined to do so.

  6. I took a shit in Slovenia once, and it functioned as air freshener.

  7. Perhaps on the anniversary of Dachau’s liberation, the Times can solicit a piece from that delightfully heterodox historian David Irving.

    Maybe on the anniversary of the Israeli attacks on Gaza, Reason will publish a piece by Moynihan.

    Oh wait, they already did…

    1. Maybe on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, MGN would shut the fuck up.

  8. At the age of fifteen the future course of your life was determined by the GDR; one of the fundamental freedoms the GDR lacked was the freedom to choose one’s way of living.

    1. Do you mean the DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik)? Also, this is basically still the case in Germany. In middle school, they decide whether you go to the real high school (Gymnasium) or to a trade school. College is free, but the gov’t decides who is allowed to go.

      I don’t mean to trivialize the evil of the Soviets and the East German government, but I don’t see a big difference on that particular point.

      1. There are plenty of opportunities to change one’s course later on. Not saying it’s a perfect system, but it’s better than America’s “college is for everyone!” nonsense–and it IS a trivialization to compare this to the evils of Communism.

      2. College isn’t free in most states in Germany anymore and also the universities not the government decide who can go to them based on our equivalent of SAT scores. You’re a troll.

  9. Zizek’s a philosophical shock jock, the Howard Stern of Lacanian postmodernism. Don’t get too worked up about anything he writes.

    1. Noted, and agreed. But the larger point of the the NYT publishing it when they did is just the crowning turd in the waterpipe.

  10. If only Stalin would have tried harder.

  11. +1. I don’t think he even takes his own ideas seriously. Or at least I hope not.

  12. I was talking about Zizek, not Stalin.

  13. I hope everyone here is smart enough to realize that, Art.

  14. How many people snuck out of Key West in the dead of night and paddled ninety miles on a fucking innertube to find a better life in Cuba?

    How many people scaled that wall from the Western Zone because they thought their lives would be better in the warm, coddling hands of Eric Honecker?

    1. Well, remember that there are the Lee Harvey Oswalds of the world – who promptly “refect” (for lack of a better term) after the harsh reality of their collectivist ideals becomes apparent to them.

    2. I’d give a boat to fuckers like Tony and MNG.

      Get the fuck out and move to one of your socialist paradises.

      1. So libertarians should leave the US as well and go to capitalist paradises like Hong Kong, Singapore and Switzerland?

        1. Singapore is hardly a paragon of liberty, and Switzerland is pretty strict with who they allow in, from what I understand. I won’t even dignify the HK suggestion with a comment, except to note that it is run by communist appointees.

  15. I hope everyone here is smart enough to realize that, Art.

    Yeah, you’re right.

  16. To the guardian’s credit the posts at the bottom of the artiucle rip her up…

  17. At the age of fifteen the future course of your life was determined by the GDR; one of the fundamental freedoms the GDR lacked was the freedom to choose one’s way of living.

    I’ve heard of North Korean escapees who wanted to go back to North Korea. While they loved the fact that they had enough to eat now, they were confused and frustrated by all the choices they had to make.

    (This, of course, is not all of them)

    1. And if we all just work together, America can be the same way!

    2. That such a story might be true, is one saddest ideas I’ve encountered today. The N Korean government could instill in its people a preference for limited choices is too horrible, they stole a large chunk of those people’s humanity.

      1. South Korea has started to do a lot more with the escapees than just drop them off in a apartment that’s prepaid for a few months. They’re starting to get lessons on how things work in South Korea, and the government has invited NGO’s in to assist the new arrivals.

    3. My GF once told me about a friend of hers from Europe (France, I think) who would always complain that American restaurants gave people too many choices.

      “Three kinds of syrup at IHOP? Why can’t they just tell us which one is best? Lettuce and/or tomato and/or mayo? That’s eight permutations right there! How can a simple socialism-nurtured sheep like me possibly be expected to choose from such a huge array of options?”

      It made me proud to be an American. Really.

  18. Pro, I hate to respond to you so far down the line, but your bright side point is awesome. Viva la non-threaded comments.

  19. “Stalinism was the symptom of capitalism.”

    WAR IS PEACE
    FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
    IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

  20. That Guardian article was terrible on so many levels. Like spur said, though, the readers responded dismissively of the writer’s claims.

  21. Man, how many nails does the NYT’s coffin have in it now? I’ve lost count…

    I work at a university that has the NYT, for free, next to the student newspaper. (The student government participates in a collegiate readership program — aka “newspapers desperately need new customers, stat.”) I always find it humorous that, when I walk by the news racks, my gut instinct is to get the national headlines from the student newspaper, which carries AP stories.

    1. Well, at least they had gay marriage and abortion rights under Stalin.

      Oh wait.

      1. They banned gay marriages not because they were communist…it was b-cause they were conservatives.

  22. Even a decade after unification you could tell where the border had been – you’d drive through a postcard-perfect Hanoverian village, and a couple of miles down the road you’d hit a concrete hell-hole out of Siberia and you’d know you were in Brandenburg.

  23. How many people snuck out of Key West in the dead of night and paddled ninety miles on a fucking innertube to find a better life in Cuba?

    But that’s the only place they’ll find a better life in Cuba.

    Oh. Innertube. I thought you said Intertoobz.

    1. Ha. Me too.

  24. I just read both articles (Guardian’s and NYT’s).

    I have a simple one word review for both of them:

    Shit.

  25. ” Perhaps on the anniversary of Dachau’s liberation, the Times can solicit a piece from that delightfully heterodox historian David Irving”

    That would be a good idea actually. Especially since the Nazis killed far more Communists than the West ever did.

    1. I’ve been to Dachau…nasty place…even with the townhomes across the street.

      hope that NEVER happens again.

  26. Free markets with some regulations is the way to go.

    Not NO REGULATIONS
    and NOT “NO REGULATIONS” as puritain libertarians would like.

    Some things shouls be socialist…healthcare is one of them.

    1. I think your vagina should be socialist. People need pussy just like they need health care.

      Why should you be able to hoard it? You hate the poor.

      1. Oh god, the horrors of a pussy-rationing board!

        1. Not only that, it’s an evil monopoly. 100% of the world’s supply of pussy is controlled by women.

          1. At least I can contract with individual women to provide me with their product.

            Who knows how long I’d have to wait if the government board were doling it out, keeping track of “fairness”?

            After all, price controls lead to shortages!

  27. Just goes to show how debased the NYT is.

    I knew there was a reason I stopped reading that rag!

  28. The NYT are nothing but apologists for communists and the mass slaughter of civilians at their hands.

    If someone tomorrow took a chainsaw to every employee at the NYT, I would cheer.

  29. I believe that Adam Michnik is a dedicated social democrat who holds the market fundamentalism of American-style “libertarianism” in as much contempt as he hold the communism of yore. You guys are the commies of the right, but unlike the real commies, you’ve never had to see your stupid little economic theories put to the test anywhere except in your Libertopia wet dreams. Good luck on keeping those donations coming in.

  30. Zizek, who inveighs bravely against the “rightists” in Eastern Europe, the “new anti-Communist scare,” and supposedly resurgent “anti-Communist paranoia.”

    It’s not paranoia when you’re against a political system of semi-slavery for all citizens.

  31. “You guys are the commies of the right, but unlike the real commies, you’ve never had to see your stupid little economic theories put to the test anywhere except in your Libertopia wet dreams”

    The difference between liberty and State communism is the difference between sex and rape. If you do not understand the difference between consent and force, voluntary interaction and coercion, then you will continue to equate libertarianism to totalitarian regimes.

  32. But those who criticize without creating, those who are content to defend the vanished concept without being able to give it the forces it needs to return to life, are the plague of philosophy. All these debaters and commentators are inspired by ressentiment. They speak only of themselves when they set empty generalizations against one another. Philosophy has a horror of discussions. It always has something else to do. Debate is unbearable to it, but not because it is too sure of itself. On the contrary, it is its uncertainties that take it down other, more solitary paths. (Gilles Deleuze)

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