Nightcap

  1. India blasts off for the moon Jen Kirby, Vox
  2. South Korea’s first strongman Rob York, War on the Rocks
  3. The fourth state of water Marc Henry, Inference
  4. New left economics and the capitalist system Andy Beckett, Guardian

Tone deaf Leftists: A Chilean tale

Check out this beautiful block of text from the Poetry Foundation, an educational website ostensibly dedicated to the subject it has named itself after:

[Pablo] Neruda had gone into hiding in his native Chile more than a year before. After he helped elect Gabriel González Videla as president on a radical left platform, González Videla launched a campaign of repression that included roundups of leftists and labor leaders, and violent repression of workers’ strikes. As copper prices plummeted after World War II, the Truman administration convinced González Videla that he would need the United States’ economic help and that war between the US and Russia was looming. This convinced González Videla to ban communism in Chile.

There are two things to think about here. One is the fact that the poetry website is only superficially about poetry, even though it proudly claims the mantle of all things belonging to the realm of the poet. In reality, the Poetry Foundation is one of the many well-funded arms of the political left.

Here’s the thing, though. The folks at the Poetry Foundation don’t think they’re engaged in leftist political activism. They think they’re doing the work of a poetry foundation. To them, there is no distinction between poetry and left-wing politics. It’s like the partisan who claims to be a political moderate while calling for the wholesale nationalization of medical and financial markets. We’re not dealing with a vicious, concerted effort to uproot the liberal order. We’re dealing with obstinate people in cliques who believe they have more knowledge than everybody else. (By the way, the excerpt above was what the well-respected leftist website 3 Quarks Daily, which shows NOL some love from time to time, used to promote the article.)

The second thing I’d like to focus on is the narrative itself. A radical left-wing government was elected and, once in power, immediately began repressing other rivals factions. (Do you think labor groups and other leftist organizations were the only ones repressed by González Videla?) This is not a new phenomenon. This is what radicals, on both the left and the right, do. Just ask the Russians. Or the Venezuelans.

Yet look at how this well-documented repression – by a left-wing, democratically-elected Chilean government – is portrayed by the Poetry Foundation. Instead of owning up to the fact that radical governments, even democratically-elected ones, tend to resort to violence when their unfeasible ideas are finally put into place and inevitably, predictably fail, Harry Truman gets blamed.

So a radical leftist government gets elected and starts repressing its former allies (and, it is assumed, its enemies) because Harry Truman told this radical, democratically-elected leftist that the Soviet Union and the United States were going to fight in a war and the Americans were the side Chile should ally with? Obstinate ignorance!

Before I sign off, it’s worth noting that González Videla was elected in 1946. Allende was elected in 1973. In the nearly 40 years between them lots of people on both sides of the aisle died for political reasons. People didn’t stop dying until well into the 1980s. Yet, somehow, Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek (and Harry Truman) are to blame for all of Chile’s Cold War woes.

Nightcap

  1. Not In My Backyard and “Buy Local” hypocrites Farhad Manjoo, New York Times
  2. Why the American Left should not go socialist Joseph Stiglitz, Foreign Policy
  3. Who was Maxwell Taylor? (Cold War) Gregory Daddis, War on the Rocks
  4. The lure of Western Europe Anne Applebaum, New York Review of Books

Nightcap

  1. Who lost Czechoslovakia? Benn Steil, History Today
  2. How the Black Death changed Europe’s cities Jedwab, Johnson, and Koyama, Voxeu
  3. Victorian England and the Japanese Peter Gordon, Asian Review of Books
  4. Solzhenitsyn and the human spirit Daniel Mahoney, Modern Age

Nightcap

  1. James Buchanan calling the kettle black David Glasner, Uneasy Money
  2. The war that never ended Patrick Hagopian, History Today
  3. ‘The Mind of Pope Francis’ J Matthew Ashley, Commonweal
  4. Mueller’s done. What now? Samuelsohn & Gerstein, Politico

RCH: Cassius Clay as the “greatest American” of the 20th century

My latest at RealClearHistory:

It was also the heyday of the Cold War, a nearly 50-year struggle for power between the liberal-capitalist United States and the socialist Soviet Union. The struggle was real (as the kids say today). The United States and its allies were losing, too, at least in the realm of ideas. The Soviet Union was funding groups that would today be considered progressive — anti-racist and anti-capitalist — around the world. One of the sticks that Moscow used to beat the West with was racism in the United States, especially in the officially segregated South.

It is doubtful that most of the African-American groups who took part in the struggle for liberty were funded, or even indirectly influenced by Soviet propaganda. The clear, powerful contrast between black and white in the United States was enough for most African-Americans to take part in the Civil Rights revolution. Yet Soviet propaganda still pestered Washington, and Moscow wasn’t wrong.

Please, read the rest.

Nightcap

  1. A good intuitive argument for authority Michael Young, Policy of Truth
  2. The Cold War’s killing fields Daniel Immerwahr, the Nation
  3. In defence of Jeremy Corbyn Chris Dillow, Stumbling & Mumbling
  4. Deeds and ghosts (imperial twilight) Gavin Jacobson, Times Literary Supplement