Category Archives: fellow travellers

Imbecility of Isaac Deutscher

A learned, intelligent and gifted fool

Dalrymple writes that

it is curious, but significant, that a moral imbecile such as Isaac Deutscher should ever have commanded such respect and rapt attention (though not from George Orwell, who included him on his list of communist sympathisers, or from Isaiah Berlin, who did everything he could to stand in the way of any academic appointment for Deutscher).

Deutscher’s prose

is that of the romantic revolutionary bureaucratic mass-murderer,

and when one reads it,

one can only wonder whether the words correspond to any actual thoughts running through the head of the man who wrote them, and if so how terrible it must have been to be such a man.

Deutscher’s judgments

might have been laughable if they had not been so horribly detached from any vestige of human feeling.

He also

had the gift of unfailing negative foresight, possible only for someone as learned as he in the dialectic. To be always wrong implied knowledge of a kind.

Deutscher demonstrates, Dalrymple observes, that

it is possible to study something all one’s life and understand nothing whatever about it, despite an immense accumulation of learning.

It would have been difficult

not to convict Deutscher of outright lying had his mind not been so warped by the dialectic: the denial of the principle of non-contradiction rendering truth-telling impossible for him, and therefore also lying.

Dalrymple points out that it is easier to perceive moral imbecility in retrospect than contemporaneously, and asks:

Who is the Isaac Deutscher de nos jours? There must be one—or many.

The Cheshire cat

The psychiatrist and communist fellow-traveller Reg Ellery, writes Dalrymple,

was of a type by no means uncommon, the intellectual who changes his mind but whose certainty is like the grin of the Cheshire cat, being what remains when everything else has disappeared.

Dalrymple adds:

I, of course, am not at all like that; at least, I don’t think that I am. No, no, I am quite certain that I am not.

Sincere, modest Stalin versus the Nazi sodomites

Dalrymple leafs through Eyes Left! (1943) by Reg Ellery, the Australian psychiatrist and fellow traveller, and is amused by this sort of stuff:

The Soviet Union must be the pattern for our reconstructional efforts. We should remember that it succeeded in spite of overwhelming obstacles because the socialist ideology appealed to men and women with courage and enthusiasm, willing to risk personal pleasure and private satisfaction for the splendid purpose in the task that lay ahead of them. We, likewise, can succeed if we can enlist the pliant sympathies of youth to a doctrine which aims at the abolition of the exploitation of man by man.

As for Stalin, Ellery found him to be

a man whose modesty is as disarming as his determination is inflexible—a man of great vision, a sincere student, a warm friend.

Dalrymple explains also that Ellery felt that he had discovered the secret source of German fascism, which he identified as homosexuality. He appeared to blame the whole of Nazism on homosexuality, latent or otherwise. Ellery wrote:

Nazism is a homosexual culture. The Nazi ideal is masculinity. The typical Nazi has the homosexual’s fear of the female. Hitler and his satellites, under the strong pressure of their own latent homosexuality, have foisted this masculinity on the German nation once again, knowing, perhaps, that militarism flourishes best in the atmosphere of repressed homosexuality.

Western intellectuals’ grisly infatuation with tyrants

Dalrymple explains that Paul Hollander has had

a long interest in political deception and self-deception — not surprising in someone with first-hand experience of both the Nazis and the Communists in his native Hungary.

In 1981 Hollander published

his classic study of Western intellectuals who travelled, mainly on severely guided tours, to communist countries, principally Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, and Castro’s Cuba.

The intellectuals had returned

with glowing accounts of the new (and better) worlds under construction there. The contrast between their accounts and reality would have been funny had reality itself not been so terrible.

The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 07.47.53Can Africa survive Davidson?

Dalrymple explains that after Basil Davidson, the upper-class British communist fellow-traveller, wrote a book extolling Tito,

the dictator killed half a million people at least.

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 07.50.26Davidson then switched his attention to the East, writing a book extolling Mao called Daybreak in China. A more appropriate title might have been Nightfall in China, for within a short time,

the Great Leap Forward caused about 30m deaths.

Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 09.31.26Most unfortunately for an already suffering continent, Davidson then turned Africanist, finding in Guinea-Bissau

the hope of the world.

In that country some of the most horrendous mass killings in the history of West Africa followed.

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 07.54.22Casting about, Davidson wrote The Fortunate Isles about Cape Verde under its enlightened communist government. But the isles, Dalrymple points out, had in truth emerged after independence as actually deeply unfortunate, and shortly after publication of Davidson’s book,

half the population emigrated.

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 07.57.08Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 09.18.50Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 09.17.48

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 07.31.58

Lucky is the country about which Davidson has written nothing

Can Africa survive Basil Davidson?

Hirsi Ali versus Islamism’s fellow travellers

Screen Shot 2015-07-04 at 22.41.33Proselytiser for the European Enlightenment view of the world

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, says Dalrymple, is right to insist

that a profound change in the relations between the sexes is the key to Muslim integration into Western society.

For many young Muslim men in the West, Dalrymple points out,

a powerful appeal of Islam is the sanction that it gives to their domination of women. This domination provides them an ex officio source of self-satisfaction that discourages further effort, and simultaneously deprives their society of the talents of women. The natural result is material and intellectual failure by comparison with other religious groups; and disappointment leads to morbid hypersensitivity to criticism, insensate rage and the blaming of others.

Many in the West,

from a combination of fear and self-hatred, are unwilling to make the distinction between a respect for the right of people to practise a religion within the law, and an exaggerated respect for the religion itself. Hirsi Ali rightfully pours scorn on the fellow travellers of obscurantism.

Who becomes a communist?

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 23.07.53What sort of American or Western European is drawn to such depravity and horror?

By about 1936, writes Dalrymple, communism in Russia had brought

  • two massive famines causing the deaths of millions
  • routinely more executions in a day than Tsarism performed in a century (and this from the very first moment of Bolshevik power)
  • the establishment of vast forced labour camps in which hundreds of thousands had already died
  • the utter decimation of intellectual life
Alger Hiss Alger Hiss

It is, he points out,

a myth that none of this was known or knowable at the time: on the contrary, it was all perfectly well known, if widely ignored.

What sort of moral idiot embraced communist dogmas? It is intrinsically unlikely, Dalrymple points out,

that a man espouses a totalitarian doctrine of proved and indisputable viciousness and violence from a love of peace and a dislike of poverty.

Kim Philby and George Blake Kim Philby and George Blake

Attention is often drawn to the economic and political context in which Western European and American communists and fellow travellers operated, suggesting that in the context,

any generous-minded and generous-hearted man concerned about the fate of the world might have made the same decision.

J. Robert Oppenheimer J. Robert Oppenheimer

This, says Dalrymple, is false. Communists in the West swallowed many things without any of them impinging on them in the slightest, such as, to name but a few:

  • the famines
  • the show trials
  • the Gulag
  • the Great Terror
  • the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact
  • the ludicrous cult of Stalin’s personality
  • the removal of entire populations
  • the Doctor’s Plot
  • the show trials in Czechoslovakia, Romania and elsewhere in Eastern Europe
  • the Berlin and Hungarian uprisings

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 23.22.24The fact is, says Dalrymple, that those who became communists were attracted by precisely those aspects of communism that would repel most decent people, namely,

  • its violence and ruthlessness
  • its suppression of all views inimical to it
  • its cruel wholesale restructuring of society according to the crude and gimcrack ideas of arrogant, ambitious but profoundly mediocre intellectuals

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 23.33.05What many communist utopians dreamed of was

  • mass murder
  • deportations
  • suppression of people who differed from them
  • complete control over the lives of everyone