Category Archives: communism

How socialism works

The Left, writes Dalrymple,

is forward-looking and judges the present not by what has existed in an imperfect past, or by what is possible for human beings given their essential and abiding nature, let alone by any deontological precepts, but by a future state of perfection that will allegedly be called into existence.

Communism was supposed to

usher in an era of such material plenty, spread not equally but according to what each man needed (as judged by himself), that Man would be all but freed from labour, and the full beauty and potential of his personality would thereafter blossom. Government would wither away; and when it did, let a thousand Mozarts bloom!

What actually happened

was so preposterously different from this adolescent Marxian nonsense that the ideology could not long survive in the hearts and minds of millions its encounter with reality.

As time went on, with no utopia (or even adequate levels of material prosperity) in the offing, propaganda

was no longer an attempt to persuade the population, but became an attempt to humiliate and thus render it docile. Perpetual shortage was represented as unprecedented abundance, either present or to come. Constant intrusion and surveillance was represented as the highest form of freedom.

The error

was to be relatively specific about what utopia would look like. Whatever material abundance meant, it could not possibly mean queueing for five hours for a few measly potatoes.

Tyrants are their heroes

The list, writes Dalrymple,

of influential intellectuals who have given their blessing to the most obviously terrible régimes is impressive.

The dilapidated West

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-08-14-36Dalrymple points out that with the economic centre of gravity having shifted to Asia,

North America does not seem able to assure its population of an increasing standard of living, and Europe is sluggish.

Paris, for instance, is

tired. One feels it is in a time warp of the trente glorieuses, during which it modernised with the help of a concrete-based infrastructure that looks past its best. France has an almost communist air of dilapidation; this is a society that has to run very hard just to stay where it is.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-08-19-27screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-08-29-56screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-08-31-28

From strumming guitars to decapitation in three months

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 08.49.34Dalrymple notes that in the Dhaka cafe terror attack, the six Islamist killers

were not downtrodden, like so many of their countrymen. They were scions of the small, rich, and educated local élite. They were privileged as only the rich in poor countries can be privileged.

Vice

knows no class barriers and education is often more an aid than a hindrance to evil committed in the name of ideology.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 08.50.21The Soviets recruited their useful idiots in the West

not from the supposedly ignorant proletariat but from the ranks of the educated.

But even such pitiless people as the Soviets

did not expect their recruits personally to hack people to death if they could not recite the Communist Manifesto—and go straight to heaven as a result.

1Some of the Bangladeshi perpetrators

fanaticised themselves only recently. The parents found it difficult to believe that their sons—previously polite and without apparent problems, indeed with ‘humanitarian’ sentiments of the modern kind—should have suddenly turned so psychopathically brutal.

The killers

could not have expected anything but a smooth passage through life. Lack of prospects was certainly not what impelled them.

After the downfall of Communism, Islamism

is the only ideology that supposedly answers all life’s questions and can appeal to the adolescent search for certainty about what life is for. It appeals only to born Muslims and a small number of converts. It has none of the cross-cultural appeal that Communism did. But why person x rather than person y falls for it—that is a question that can never be fully answered.

This book does not disappoint

'I read it in two sessions, one at night and the other the following morning. I slept only four hours, half my usual ration, being subconsciously eager even in sleep to read the rest of it.'

‘I read it in two sessions, one at night and the other the following morning. I slept only four hours, half my usual ration, being subconsciously eager even in sleep to read the rest of it’

Hoxha dead? Wait, it could be a trap

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 08.09.00

First Secretary of the Party of Labour of Albania, 1985-91

Dalrymple says of his time in Albania during the days of Ramiz Alia that the Enver Hoxha personality cult

persisted, as if nobody could be sure that Hoxha was really dead and feared he might return, his purported death being a ruse to uncover those who worshipped him only through fear and not because they loved him in their hearts.

Dalrymple explains that in the Republika Popullore Socialiste e Shqipërisë,

  • the tops of the posts in the vineyards were provided with metal spikes to impale invading parachutists
  • there was one concrete gun emplacement for every four inhabitants
  • by night searchlights scoured the coast for traitors trying to flee compulsory happiness

The official policy of the country

was paranoia; it was its religion.

Gun emplacements in defence of prosperity

Pillboxes in defence of prosperity

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The only true Marxist-Leninist

Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 14.23.47(apart from Lenin)

That was how Enver Hoxha was described by a bookseller Dalrymple knew, who

hoped to foist copies of Hoxha’s memoirs onto a public whose unwillingness to buy them he ascribed to ideological underdevelopment.

Dipping in to Hoxha’s books, Dalrymple is struck by

the quality (and quantity) of his vituperation. Not even his strongest detractors could accuse him of having been mealymouthed towards those whom he deemed his enemies.

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Involuntary headscarf adoption

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 09.01.24In some giant Western housing projects, writes Dalrymple,

young Muslim women who dress in Western clothing are deemed to be fair game, inviting—indeed, asking for—rape by gangs of Muslim youths. In such circumstances, it is impossible to know whether the adoption of Islamic dress by women in Western society is ever truly voluntary, and so long as such behaviour persists, the presumption must be against its being so.

Islamic extremists

use secularism to impose theocracy: a tactic that calls to mind that of the communists of old, who appealed to freedom of speech with the long-term aim of extinguishing it. As Moscow financed the communists, the Saudis finance many of the Muslim extremists.

Muslim women can be seen on the streets of Western cities

so completely covered that even their eyes are hardly visible through the slit in their headdress.

The women who appear in such costume

are often subject to forced marriage, and no one can tell whether they wear Islamic costume from choice or through brute intimidation.

Moreover,

they are members of a religion with a strong aggressive, proselytising, and imperialistic streak—a religion that ultimately recognises nothing but itself, not even the secular state, as a source of authority.

A chilling epigraph

Screen Shot 2015-12-25 at 07.58.21It is contained, Dalrymple writes, in Jürgen Thorwald’s The Dismissal: The Last Days of Ferdinand Sauerbruch (1960). It is by Josef Naas, director of the Akademie der Wissenschaften der DDR, and reads:

In the coming struggle of the proletariat, in the clash between socialism and capitalism, millions will lose their lives. In the face of this fact it is a trivial matter whether Sauerbruch kills a few dozen people on his operating table. We need the name of Sauerbruch.

Sauerbruch, Dalrymple explains, was

a brilliant but arrogant surgeon who began to dement and did not realise his powers were declining. He persisted in operating, though he started to kill patients. He did this with the complaisance of the authorities because, after the war, the East Germans were pleased, for reasons of propaganda, that he continued to work in Berlin.

Islam has nothing to say to the modern world

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 14.25.23For the second time in living memory, writes Dalrymple,

we find ourselves obliged by historical circumstances to examine doctrinal philosophies that, from the abstract intellectual point of view, are not worth examining. They belong, rather, to the history of human folly and credulity: which is itself, of course, an inexhaustibly interesting and important subject.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 14.43.06The first was Marxism; the second Islamism. Which of us, Dalrymple asks,

would have guessed thirty years ago that an inflamed and inflammatory Islamic doctrine would soon replace Marxism as the greatest challenger to liberal democracy? The vacuum left by the collapse of one totalitarian doctrine is soon filled by another.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 14.44.55Dalrymple hopes that Islamism

will pass from the world stage as quickly as it arrived on it. In the meantime, however, it can cause a great deal of havoc, and will not disappear spontaneously, without opposition, much of which must be conducted on the intellectual plane.

Yet

Western intellectuals have failed to examine Islam and its founder in the same light as they would examine any other religious doctrine of comparable importance.

Dalrymple believes that all forms of Islam are

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 14.47.53very vulnerable in the modern world to rational criticism, which is why the Islamists are so ferocious in trying to suppress such criticism. They have instinctively understood that Islam itself, while strong, is exceedingly brittle, as communism once was. They understand that, at the present time in human history, it is all or nothing. They are thus more clear-sighted than moderate Moslems.

The problem with Islam may be rooted

Image (latterly effaced) of Mohammed on frieze, Birch Memorial Clocktower (1917), Ipoh, Perak

Image (latterly effaced) of Mohammed on frieze, Birch Memorial Clocktower (1917), Ipoh, Perak

in its doctrines, its history and its founder.

Mohammed

connived at armed robbery, mass murder and the abduction of women. Of course, autres temps, autres mœurs, and it may be that, on the whole, he sometimes behaved better than his peers.

He was

a political genius: he understood what motivated men, and he developed a system of belief and practice, of social pressure and ideological terror, that meant that Islamisation once established was irreversible, at least until the present day. Leonid Brezhnev’s doctrine was that a country, once communist, could not become non-communist; how puny, historically, was the communist achievement beside that of Islam!

Part of private quarters (1578) of Sultan Murad III

Part of private quarters (1578) of Sultan Murad III

Islamic civilisation has many attractive qualities . At least at its summit, the Ottoman civilisation was

exquisite, and in the decorative arts was Western Europe’s superior for centuries.

But the quality of a civilisation

does not establish the truth of the doctrines current in it, nor the suitability of those doctrines for living in the modern world.

Judged by the abysmal standards of fifteenth century Europe, Islam

looks quite tolerant; but judged from the modern, post-Enlightenment perspective, it looks primitive.

Its attitude towards polytheists and atheists is

doctrinally abominable.

Islam

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 14.46.00has nothing whatever to say to the modern world, and as yet has no doctrinal means of dealing constructively with the inevitable diversity of human religion and philosophy, beyond the violent imposition of uniformity or second-class citizenship.

Can Moslems of moderate temperament find some way of reconciling their faith with the exigencies of the modern world?

The problem is that this reconciliation cannot be a mere modus vivendi; it has to be intellectually coherent and satisfying to last. Personally, I am not optimistic. Islamism is a last gasp, not a renaissance, of the religion. But last gasps can last a surprisingly long time.