I just finished reading a fascinating book called, “The Allies” written by Winston Groom. He has written 11 other nonfiction books and eight books of fiction, including “Forest Gump” in 1986, which was made into a very successful movie starring Tom Hanks. A couple of his other successful nonfictional books include “The Aviators” and “The Generals.” “The Allies” has a subhead that reads “Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, and the Unlikely Alliance That Won World II.” In a nutshell, the book is about the careers of all three men and how they came to end up working together to destroy the evil loose in the world. Nazi Germany, Italy, and Japan. It you enjoy history, I highly recommend this book.
As I was reading it, however, something very strange caught my attention. There was a frightening parallel between the rise of socialism in Russia in the 1920s and 1930s and a lot of the things going on in this country right now! Is that hard for anyone to believe? Think, first, about what’s going in cities like Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Washington, and Chicago, Illinois. Can the violence and anarchy going on in all three of those very liberally run cities be classified as peaceful protests about the killing of George Floyd? What does looting, arson, vandalism, attempts to defund the police, and trying to set up a free state within the city of Seattle have to do with the right to peacefully protest the wrongful death of George Floyd? Nothing! Could it be that there’s more going on here than a protest against police violence? Could this reign of violence and destruction be an orchestrated attempt to ultimately start a revolution in this country? It’s very early in the process, but it’s possible.
When I hear people say they don’t like history or the study of history, I begin to wonder if they have a clue about how revolutions begin. Now, I’m going to take you back to the inter-war period when the socialists were on their way to creating the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics just after the end of WWI. Let’s set the stage: The Czar and his family had all been shot, ending a 300 year reign by the Romanov family. As usually happens when there’s a void in leadership, competing groups started attacking each other to see who would control Russia. In this case, it was the ultra-right against the ultra-left, conservatives verses liberals, in other words. In Russian they were called the Bolsheviks (liberals) verses Mensheviks (conservatives). Here’s what Groom has to say about what happened next: “Opposing socialist parties were allowed within the soviet,” [literally “council” which were political organizations and governmental bodies of the late Russian Empire, primarily associated with the Russian Revolution, which create the name to of the Soviet Russia and the Soviet Union]… “The Bolsheviks moved their headquarters to Moscow, where they formed a secret security force of thugs, drunks, sadists, and killers known as the Cheka to combat ‘counterrevolutionaries.’ It was nothing more than an execution squad of extraordinary size and power. The Socialists also changed the name of their group to the Communist Party…”
“At first the Cheka killed those thought to be enemies of the revolution; then they began killing people who simply might be, or might become, enemies, including aristocrats, business owners, bureaucrats, industrialists, army officers, professors: [Karl] Marx wretched bourgeoisie. Then they began killing people for no reason at all, except to show that they could do it: to prove that men had no rights whatsoever and that their lives were served only at the pleasure of the party.”
Joseph Stalin, one of the great butchers in history, rivaling even Adolph Hitler, was competing for sole power within the new Socialist movement and the emergence of a dictatorship in the Soviet Union. Groom writes, “Stalin underlined a passage in his copy of Marx that he kept in his library: ‘There is only one way to shorten and ease the convulsions of the old society and the bloody birth pangs of the new: revolutionary terror.’ Beside it, Stalin wrote “Terror is the quickest way to a new society.”’
Later, Groom writes, “The Communist Party USA was established in 1919, following the collapse of the old American Socialist Party. Immediately, it began to be identified with workers’ movements and unionization. Anarchists and radical leftists gravitated to it; at one point, it was said to contain two hundred thousand members. But over the next two decades interest seemed to sag, at least among the working classes. Adherence to the Soviet line was seen by most Americans as ‘foreign’ and ‘un-American,’ although some intellectuals, academics, writers, and theatrical people still subscribed to its ideology.”
Does any of the foregoing sound even vaguely familiar to anyone? While not as extreme, what seems to be going on in a handful of liberally run cities in this country is vaguely reminiscent to the early stages of a revolution. Where have the police been when rioting has broken out in Portland and elsewhere? They were told to stand-down by their mayors, all of whom are extreme liberals. What’s going on here sounds a lot like the days following the withdrawal of Russia from WWI in 1917. We’re not in a full scale revolution yet, and probably will never be, but the signs are there and we need to be careful because the young ultra-left in this country don’t know any better – they’ve never read their history. By the way, the socialist Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
That’s —30— for this week.