This is Leszek Kolakowski. He is worth getting to know at this juncture in history; his essay, My Correct Views on Everything, is a classic rejoinder by an aging man who has seen the worst of the twentieth century and learned from it, addressed to somebody who has seen the worst of the twentieth century and is still making excuses for it.
That person is E.P. Thompson, seen here being admired by vast audiences for his views, roguish hair and faux-peasant sartorial choices. If you attend a fairly rigorous college, or any arts and sciences graduate school, you will likely be assigned Thompson but not Kolakowski. You are also likely to be attending a place where the school’s president earns far more annually than 99.9% of all those nasty “capitalist” businessmen being demonized by the faculty, who simultaneously do not think that it’s a bad thing for tenured professors and university presidents to get rich off the labor of others because their highly original thoughts on the horrors of capitalism merit six figures a year and a stable of adjuncts and grad students to do all the real teaching.
How much money do these gilded thinkers receive? Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz, 600K annual retirement; Ohio State’s Gordon Gee, a $5.8 million package, including funds to pay taxes on what the taxpayers are paying him.
But Joe the Plumber is the greedy capitalist.
It makes perfect sense that a Thompson would be worshipped in such idiot temples and a Kolakowski not so much cast out as utterly erased.
In the kingdom of the blind, blind people are probably going to gang up on you and poke your last good eye out.
There is a far too modest book reviewer on Amazon whose description of Howard Zinn is too scatological to repeat — do find it yourself — but he explicates Leszek Kolakowski beautifully:
Kolakowski’s writings about Marxism are incomparably better than anyone else’s. For one thing, he knows the subject inside and out, having apparently read everything that Marx and his disciples every wrote, having spent much of his life in a communist country, and having evolved from Party member, to revisionist, to outspoken opponent. Then there is his matchless talent for lucid exposition: Marx’s ideas, muddled and impenetrable in their original form, become perfectly clear when Kolakowski talks about them.
As a critic of Marx, Kolakowski is scrupulously fair and objective, while pulling no punches. His analyses are models of honest, careful, trenchant criticism. His essays are also quite entertaining, full of self-deprecating irony, and biting sarcasm.
No one excels K. in the dissection of Leftist argumentation. In a highly amusing rebuttal of E. P. Thompson’s “open letter”, Kolakowski slams Thompson’s use of double standards: Whatever goes wrong in capitalist countries is attributed, by definition, to “the capitalist system”. Whatever goes wrong in socialist countries is excused as a “transitional phase” and/or is attributed to the remnants of capitalism, or to “capitalist encirclement” or to some other non-communist influence. An even-handed, empirical comparison of the two systems would show, says K., “…that the only universal medicine (the Left) has for social evils (state ownership of the means of production) is not only perfectly compatible with all the disasters of the capitalist world – with exploitation, imperialism, pollution, misery, waste, national hatred, national oppression – but that it adds to them a series of disasters of its own: inefficiency, lack of economic incentives and, above all…a concentration of power never known before in human history.” — Kurt J. Acker, “bookmuncher”
Sort of sounds like Obamacare, doesn’t it?
Now to the lie of the week. It is expressed visually and verbally — amplified through the newspaper layout — and once you see it, it is impossible to un-see it, though I can’t show it to you because the page won’t upload. Suffice to say, on Thursday, the top, left-hand corner of the New York Times featured this article:
G.O.P. MAPS OUT WAVES OF ATTACKS
OVER HEALTH LAW
TELLING VOTERS’ STORIES
Focus on Oversight by House Panels Meets With Successes
By JONATHAN WEISMAN and SHERYL GAY STOLBERG
WASHINGTON — The memo distributed to House Republicans this week was concise and blunt, listing talking points and marching orders: “Because of Obamacare, I Lost My Insurance.” “Obamacare Increases Health Care Costs.” “The Exchanges May Not Be Secure, Putting Personal Information at Risk.” “Continue Collecting Constituent Stories.”
The document, the product of a series of closed-door strategy sessions that began in mid-October, is part of an increasingly organized Republican attack . . .
The article and headline insinuate that the public’s complaints about Obamacare are being manufactured by Republicans in shadowy back rooms. The fact that Democrats also meet in back rooms to create shadowy messaging accusing Republicans of manufacturing the public’s complaints about Obamacare is not mentioned, of course, because the Times reporters are participating in that messaging.
So, it’s OK.
When Democrats do something, it’s good; when Republicans do the same thing, it’s evil. Simple, once you get the hang of it. For example, Weisman and Stolberg breathlessly report that the Republicans are using a “playbook” on healthcare, as if every single legislator in both parties did not have a similar playbook on each issue of import. This is disgraceful stuff even for the Times, ugly bias and dishonesty disguised as reporting:
A 17-page “House Republican Playbook” walks members through “messaging tools” like talking points, social media tactics and “digital fliers”; details lines of attack; offers up a sample opinion article for local newspapers; and provides an extensive timeline on the health care law and an exhaustive list of legislative responses that have gone nowhere.
A message of the week is presented to the Republican members at the beginning of each week, Ms. McMorris Rodgers said. A “Call to Action” email chain distributes relevant breaking news. A new website, gop.gov/yourstory, is collecting anecdotes from each member.
Oh, no: a website collecting anecdotes? Here is the White House website for collecting anecdotes by immigrants:
Unless you are one of the first Americans, unless you are a Native American, you came from someplace else. That’s why we’ve always defined ourselves as a nation of immigrants. And we’ve always been better off for it.”
Here is the Democratic website for collecting anecdotes about how the ACA has helped people:
Are you a young adult who has been able to stay on your parents’ plan? A small business owner who has received tax credits for providing insurance to your workers? Maybe you no longer have a lifetime limit on your insurance policy—ensuring that you’re able to continue receiving treatment for an illness without getting hit with astronomical medical bills. Or perhaps you’re a senior who now has access to free preventive care that you have put off for too long.
I could go on and on . . . and on. But you take the point: the New York Times is falsely asserting that the Republicans are doing something other than the ordinary political activities practiced by both parties.
Jonathan Weisman and Sheryl Gay Stolberg are lying about this. Technically, the lie is a lie of omission — they do not admit that Democrats use identical message tactics, and they do not mention the playbook the other side is using in this specific debate. But it’s a sleazy, highly orchestrated lie nonetheless.
It’s also not the only bold untruth on the Times’ front page yesterday. The editors didn’t stop at a single act of sophistry above the fold. They didn’t merely accuse their enemies, the Republicans, of astroturfing a real citizen movement; they also shamelessly pretended, in the next article, that messaging that actually is crafted by professional activists (and Times journalists) was merely an example of people speaking their minds:
Illegal Immigrants Are Divided Over Importance of Citizenship
By JULIA PRESTON
Glendy Martínez is waiting anxiously to see if Congress will ever pass legislation to allow immigrants like her, without papers, to stay in the country legally. But frankly, she says, she does not care if it will include any promise of citizenship.
With the earnings from her job in a Houston hair salon, Ms. Martínez, 30, is supporting one child born in Texas and three others she left behind in her home country, Nicaragua.
“So many people back there depend on those of us who are here,” she said. “It would be such a help if we could work in peace …”
And so on. Apparently the Times just spontaneously found all these people saying the same thing about not wanting citizenship — by sheer coincidence. No astro-turfing there. No mention of messaging research by CASA de Maryland or La Raza or any of the dozens of well-heeled George Soros-funded groups agitating for open borders. No mention of the paid trainers teaching people what to say to the media. No mention of rooms with whiteboards and bunches of computers where the elected officials from NALEO analyze which messages work or don’t work with the public as they plot to slip immigration amnesty through during the holidays, while we’re busy and don’t particularly want to be screamed at for being racist for a few festive weeks.
No “multilayered, sequenced assault,” which is the exaggerated militaristic argot Weisman and Stolberg sneeringly used to smear the opponents of Obamacare.
Incidentally, the Times is also being deceptive about the desire of illegal immigrants to become citizens — note that in the article they carefully avoid citing any of the recent and well-publicized statistics on the subject, substituting personal stories or alleged personal stories (told by people who are already lying by being here) for facts they apparently would rather not address.
Fact: 87% of illegal immigrants recently polled by NBC want nothing less than full citizenship:
Janet Murguia, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, an immigrant advocacy organization, said that practically everyone her organization works with hopes for citizenship rather than merely a green card.
“A lot has changed between 1986 and today,” she said. “There used to be a view that the line was blurred . . . but I think the line has become brighter about whether you’re a citizen or not and how you’re viewed.”
Many feel that only naturalization will allow them to feel fully engaged and accepted in their new country. “They don’t want to be a second-class citizen,” said Gustavo Torres, executive director at CASA de Maryland, an advocacy group.
The Times article uses old numbers, the very numbers that have been recently discredited. Weirdly, they do so by attributing those numbers to Republicans, as if they were worried about being caught in a lie and decided to insinuate that it was Republicans, not them, who believed the wrong data. Do they sit up in the Times newsroom all night, straining to create even more disinformation? The article itself was probably crafted specifically to help run cover for the recent polls, which were not received well by those who don’t want to see blanket amnesty — in other words, most Americans. Thus, the Times is committing its own “multilayered, sequenced assault” on both inconvenient truths and on the people who express beliefs they wish to silence or discredit.
Funny work for a newspaper. In America, that is. This sort of raw propaganda would be right at home in several of the places from which Leszek Kolakowski fled.