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3 days ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Watch Trump on Iran · 1 reply · +1 points

ConservativeHome/IntenseDebate: where comments are chosen at random and despatched into limbo!

Tangentially: as someone more of the left than the right, it's more than embarrassing to have to admit that there have been a large number of (far) left parties and leaders who - in practice if not in theory - wrecked their country and large numbers of its citizens. It's also embarrassing that there still seem to be largeish numbers who still think Stalin or Mao etc were a "good thing". (I am, however, not embarrassed by those members of the alt-right who try to argue that because the Nazi Party had the word "Socialist" in its name, it must have been a socialist party, and so left wing, not right wing. I merely consider them naive or wicked. But I digress.)

Here is a recent BBC Radio 3 "Freethinking" programme which it perhap might be better for you not to listen to on health grounds: I started listening about five to ten minutes into the interview, and although I rapidly realised the person being interviewed by the excellent Rana Mitter was a long-time member of the non-Communist British left, it was maybe about 15 minutes later that I realised the interviewee was Tariq Ali, and before that I'd already several times shouted "Come off it" at the radio in response to what struck me as a particularly outrageous statement by the interviewee.

Item, from memory: at one point Tariq Ali was criticising Stalin's record, and seemed to be saying that if only Lenin had lived longer things might well have been different.

* First, Lenin might have been more flexible and better than Stalin, but that's not difficult, and in any case Lenin's actual track record on using terror in Government is hardly inspiring. (In fairness to Stalin, once he got past the opening phase of the Nazi invasion - in which he screwed up bigtime, and he had shot subordinates who had made much less serious errors - he was an asset to the Soviet war effort: in his diaries General Alan Brooke wrote that Stalin had an excellent grasp of strategy.)

* Second, given what actually happened after Lenin's death, neither he nor the Soviet Communist Party had any plan for a proper leadership succession (mind you, that seems to be the norm rather than the exception for political parties?), which makes them responsible for allowing someone like Stalin to become leader. Put another way, trying to argue that Stalin's rise to power was an unfortunate accident won't work, and in any case if the Soviet Communist Party was based on "scientific" principles, random events - like the "premature" death of a party leader - shouldn't have such dire outcomes.

I'm also annoyed by people who criticise serious faults in the market (or if you or they like, "capitalist") system (it does, in practice if not in theory, have faults) without also looking at the actual faults that have been seen almost everywhere in Communist or far or farish left systems. (Which is why I might best be described as a Social Democrat.)

That said, from reading the BBC website description of the programme I learn "... There's time too for a diversion into literature. Tariq shares his love of Kipling ...". I don't know whether I'm surprised by that or not. George Orwell admired, albeit critically, much of Kipling's writing, and wrote an excellent essay on Kipling, so it's definitely possible for someone on the left to appreciate Kipling.

5 days ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Martin Parsons: Casey'... · 1 reply · +1 points

The following may seem patronising, for which I apologise. There seem to be two Dorothea43's: the Dr making points which either I agree with or which I disagree with but are still worth reading; but regrettably also the Mr.

First, there are - alas - far too many left regimes which while possibly having admirable aims, have in practice proved so appalling (for example, the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and perhaps most bizarre of all North Korea which has apparently (mis-)used Marxism into justifying a hereditary regime: God knows what Marx would have thought of that - I suspect not much; I'm tempted to include Venezuala, but I think that however bad Chavez & Co were/are they're not in the league of these examples) that to attack the Left there's really no need to use what seems to be an alt-Right tactic of if necessary either redefine Left and Right (or deny that an appalling rightist regime was actually appalling).

So some counter-examples of regimes which were both Rightist and appalling (and despotic): Spain under Franco ("a conservative and a monarchist", so not a socialist), Chile under Pinochet, Argentina under the Generals, the Greek military regime (albeit nowhere near the previous two), Cuba under Battista (in terms of deaths I believe worse than Castro, who was no angel).

Addressing your "Though why nut jobs aping some half-baked Nazi idea is far right I don't know: the National Socialist German Workers Party, like pretty well all the despots we've had, including our home grown Oswald, was - socialist."

Was the German Nazi Party socialist?
On 5 January 1919, Drexler created a new political party and proposed it be named the "German Socialist Workers' Party", but Harrer objected to the term "socialist"; so the term was removed and the party was named the German Workers' Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, DAP). To ease concerns among potential middle-class supporters, Drexler made clear that unlike Marxists the party supported the middle-class and that its socialist policy was meant to give social welfare to German citizens deemed part of the Aryan race. They became one of many völkisch movements that existed in Germany. Like other völkisch groups, the DAP advocated the belief that through profit-sharing instead of socialisation Germany should become a unified "people's community" (Volksgemeinschaft) rather than a society divided along class and party lines. This ideology was explicitly antisemitic. As early as 1920, the party was raising money by selling a tobacco called Anti-Semit.
To increase its appeal to larger segments of the population, on the same day as Hitler's Hofbräuhaus speech on 24 February 1920, the DAP [German Worker's Party] changed its name to the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei ("National Socialist German Workers' Party", or Nazi Party). The word "Socialist" was added by the party's executive committee, over Hitler's objections [my emphasis], in order to help appeal to left-wing workers. ...

How about Oswald Mosley? He started as a Tory MP, then an independent, then Labour (and probably a socialist), and eventually the British Union of Fascists which, Wikipedia informs us, was supported by the Daily Mail until June 1934, which suggests to me that the Daily Mail did not consider the BUF to be socialists [my emphasis].

The name of a political party is not always an accurate guide to its politics.

5 days ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Watch Trump on Iran · 1 reply · +1 points

Are you really saying the interests of South Koreans - not to mention ordinary North Koreans (as opposed to their corrupt and wicked leaders) - are as nothing compared with the interests of the USA and the UK?

5 days ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Watch Trump on Iran · 3 replies · +1 points

Stalin seems to be the most likely candidate. But was Beria ever a head of state?

Answering my own question, Wikipedia says:
... Upon Stalin's death in March 1953, Beria was promoted to First Deputy Premier. He was briefly a part of the ruling "troika" with Georgy Malenkov and Vyacheslav Molotov. During the coup d'état led by Nikita Khrushchev and assisted by the military forces of Marshal Georgy Zhukov, Beria was arrested on charges of treason. Zhukov's troops ensured NKVD compliance, and on 23 December 1953, he was executed by Pavel Batitsky. ...

So - I admit to my surprise - you're correct that Beria was briefly a (joint) Head of State, but I suspect he wasn't in joint power long enough to fire a large number of subordinates?

He was, however, perhaps the last in an established Soviet tradition of successive heads of the security service (Cheka, then OGPU, then NKVD) being arrested, found guilty on trumped-up charges, then executed, a richly deserved fate given what they had each presided over as heads of the security service at the time.

5 days ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Watch Trump on Iran · 0 replies · +1 points

I fear you underestimate Trump's capacity/ingenuity for finding subordinates to dismiss! :=) (I believe the catch-phrase for his TV reality business show was "You're fired!")

6 days ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Why the Americans make... · 1 reply · +1 points

I highly recommend Amy Chua's book "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother", not least for the large number of people who seem to have completely misinterpreted it. (But, I think, not by me, because I heard it read excellently on BBC Radio 4 by the part British Chinese actor Liz Sutherland.)
An article published under the headline "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior" in The Wall Street Journal on January 8, 2011, contained excerpts from her book, in which Chua describes her efforts to give her children what she describes as a traditional, strict "Chinese" upbringing. This piece was controversial. Many readers missed the supposed irony and self-deprecating humor in the title and the piece itself and instead believed that Chua was advocating the "superiority" of a particular, very strict, ethnically defined approach to parenting. In fact, Chua has stated that the book was not a "how-to" manual but a self-mocking memoir. In any case, Chua defines "Chinese mother" loosely to include parents of other ethnicities who practice traditional, strict child-rearing, while also acknowledging that "Western parents come in all varieties", and not all ethnically Chinese parents practice strict child-rearing.

For the wide range of (mis-)interpretations of the book I recommend reading the whole Wikipedia article and - even more so - the book, in which (from memory) literally the last passage is in part a joke by Amy Chua against herself.

1 week ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Henry Hill: Davidson w... · 0 replies · +1 points

That is interesting.

1 week ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Andrew Gimson's PMQs s... · 0 replies · +1 points

Or, indeed, his attitude to running between the wickets? :-)

1 week ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Profile: Esther McVey,... · 0 replies · +1 points

I can't speak for others, but my "sort of leftie" view is that if a woman (or anyone else for that matter) is happy to receive what are intended to be compliments about her appearance from people unknown to her, then that's fine; but if she isn't - in general or in particular circumstances - then it isn't fine: you might call it political corrctness, I call it being polite.

3 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - What should Tories tax... · 0 replies · +1 points

As a non (to the left) Conservative (and non (to the right) Corbynite), your first paragraph seems correct (and also applicable to Labour Party supporters who consider they will win by having policies which are more to the left).

I disagree with much of what you say in the middle of your comment, at least without seeing persuasive evidence for what you said, but my main reason for replying is this:

"And I, for one, wouldn't object to an increase in higher tax rates, as nothing would give a greater indication to voters that we are in it for the nation as a whole, and not just for people with telephone-number salaries."

On fairness (or "We're all in it together" - or not?), and similar concepts, are you aware of research by Frans de Waal, a primatologist? I first read him many years ago, a book "Peacemaking Among Primates" which is still fascinating reading. More recently he has researched concepts of fairness in primates. If you haven't seen it, this short (under 3 minutes) video clearly demonstrates his findings, and has some comments where he says the results are not limited to primates.
This is a short article on the research: