Friday, October 16, 2009

Not the first to forget history; let's remember 

True, much of Mao's brutality has already emerged over the years, but this biography supplies substantial new information and presents it all in a stylish way that will put it on bedside tables around the world. No wonder the Chinese government has banned not only this book but issues of magazines with reviews of it, for Mao emerges from these pages as another Hitler or Stalin.

In that regard, I have reservations about the book's judgments, for my own sense is that Mao, however monstrous, also brought useful changes to China. And at times the authors seem so eager to destroy him that I wonder if they exclude exculpatory evidence.

...Perhaps the best comparison is with Qinshihuang, the first Qin emperor, who 2,200 years ago unified China, built much of the Great Wall, standardized weights and measures and created a common currency and legal system - but burned books and buried scholars alive. The Qin emperor was as savage and at times as insane as Mao - but his success in integrating and strengthening China laid the groundwork for the next dynasty, the Han, one of the golden eras of Chinese civilization. In the same way, I think, Mao's ruthlessness was a catastrophe at the time, brilliantly captured in this extraordinary book - and yet there's more to the story...

Out of the tens of millions of alleged "counterrevolutionaries" and dissidents who spent long periods of their lives in Mao's system of prison-factories and corrective labor gulags, it's estimated that 20 million died during their "re-education" into collectivism, obedience and communal selflessness.

Additionally, the human cost of Mao's ill-planned and ill-named Great Leap Forward of 1959-1961 might well have reached 40 million deaths from starvation, the result of the largest and most deadly famine in world history.

In 1968, Wei Jingsheng, 18, a Red Guard member, provided a firsthand account of how the Great Leap Forward had driven parents mad with hunger:

"Before my eyes, among the weeds, rose up one of the scenes I had been told about, one of the banquets at which families had swapped children in order to eat them. I could see the worried faces of the families as they chewed the flesh of other people's children."

What's so unusual about Emperor Shih Huang of the Chin Dynasty? He had buried alive 460 scholars only, but we have buried alive 46,000 scholars. In the course of our repression of counter-revolutionary elements, haven't we put to death a number of the counter-revolutionary scholars? I had an argument with the democratic personages. They say we are behaving worse than Emperor Shih Huang of the Chin Dynasty. That's definitely not correct. We are 100 times ahead of Emperor Shih of the Chin Dynasty in repression of counter-revolutionary scholars.
When 900 million are left out of 2.9 billion, several five-year plans can be developed for the total elimination of capitalism and for permanent peace. It is not a bad thing.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Who Is John Galt? Atlas Shrugged 

A long time ago, I finally got through Atlas Shrugged, a masterpiece of writing by Ayn Rand. Basic story line: How America fell prey to the guilt and fear mongers, instituted government control under the guise of "social justice" and let the government take over everything. The book, as I recall, is about 1000 pages long. I had experienced a few false starts but I clearly remember getting past page 300 in my parents' kitchen, and did not put the book down until I finished it.

Turns out sales are soaring. 50+ years later, 200,000 copies were sold in 2008. Sales for the seven weeks of 2009 are up 300%. I'm guessing this increase will continue. If you don't have your copy, get it now.

Hat tip: The Jawa Report Best line:"if you don't think you're ready to dive into the world of Atlas Shrugged (whose portrayal of politicians and their various crimes committed in the name of "social concern" unfortunately reads more like nonfiction), it's time to stop putting it off."

If you visit this site, you can learn more about Ayn Rand and the center she founded. She was born in Russia, lived through the Bolshevik Revolution which she denounced. She watched the deterioration of freedom under the Communists, the stifling of creativity, the takeover of the university by Communist thugs. It was time for a creative writer to leave. At age 20 she managed to get a visa to visit relatives in the US with no intention of returning to Russia. Her masterpiece, Atlas Shrugged , published in 1957, is timeless since it addresses totalitarians of all stripes. Wonder why people are buying it today????????

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Monday, February 09, 2009

What does one say? What does one do? 

Click to enlarge. This was distributed this morning as an announcement to our campus. Your suggestions for how to respond are invited in comments. I support campus free speech. I also think the comparison drawn is outrageous and disgusting. Beyond saying so, what does one say or do?

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

From your church to Bill Ayers and Saul Alinsky 

It's time to follow a network. �My goal is to make more local this debate about the connections between Barack Obama and Bill Ayers, and that connection runs through Saul Alinsky. �I find the local angle interesting; my guess is in many other cities, you could also make this connection; the result will impress upon you the vast network that the Obama campaign has built to get out the vote next month.

About twenty churches in the St. Cloud area help fund a group called Great River Interfaith Partnership or GRIP. �We've talked about them before here as creators of, among other things, an affordable housing ordinance in the St. Cloud area that, by supporting the creation of new houses, may have helped create the bubble in real estate. �They are meeting on October 14th as a follow-on to an event their parent organization is creating. �More on that event in a minute.

Their parent organization is ISAIAH, also a church-based coalition. �And in this we find:

ISAIAH is one of 60 similar organizations around the country affiliated with the Gamaliel Foundation in Chicago. Our national network provides training and resources for organizing far beyond what we would have available doing this work by ourselves. It also gives us a national powerbase to influence federal legislation on immigration, transportation, and housing.
I had not made that connection until fairly recently, when in reading about Barack Obama's ties in Chicago I ran across Gamaliel. In Stanley Kurtz' story from last month, we find that the Chicago Annenberg Center, self-described as a "founder-led foundation" whose founder was Bill Ayers but whose board chair was Obama, was a funder of Gamaliel institutions.
Ayers and Obama guided CAC money to community organizers, like ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) and the Developing Communities Project (Part of the Gamaliel Foundation network), groups self-consciously working in the radical tradition of Saul Alinsky.

Kurtz notes elsewhere that though Ayers was not on the board -- to avoid the conflict of interest that would have come from Ayers receiving money from CAC -- he was as much in control as Obama.

Gamaliel is modeled on Alinsky principles. �Melanie Phillips works through the pathway that takes Obama from law school to Gamaliel and becoming a community organizer. �Part of that job involves spawning yourself and training other organizers.

One day at a church I was attending (it has since closed), I was invited to come to the formation of a church reading club that would look at secular works. I love to read and went. The woman who had invited me, who worked with GRIP, had a suggestion for a book: Alinsky's Rules for Radicals. (I never went back to that group.) �I'm sure this would have pleased Senator Obama, who many years ago had looked at churches as his way to power:

What if a politician were to see his job as that of an organizer, as part teacher and part advocate, one who does not sell voters short but who educates them about the real choices before them? As an elected public official, for instance, I could bring church and community leaders together easier than I could as a community organizer or lawyer. We would come together to form concrete economic development strategies, take advantage of existing laws and structures, and create bridges and bonds within all sectors of the community. We must form grass-root structures that would hold me and other elected officials more accountable for their actions.

Anyone who has seen GRIP or ISAIAH in action, with its altar calls for political candidates to come forward and take a pledge, will no doubt recognize that scene in this paragraph. �I have already reported on the events they are organizing for next week.

Their agenda will include the altar call again:

We will:
  • Rejoice in our unity across denomination, faith, race and culture
  • Tell the truth about the challenges that face us as a society and as a community
  • Proclaim a path to a transformative and specific issue agenda
  • Challenge our public officials to walk with us and to face our common challenges with courage and imagination (this is the altar call)
  • Walk the Path through engaging with one another and our public officials around our Issue Agenda, aiming toward real change.

More accountable to what, though? It is reported that on a radio show Kurtz noted the book used by Gamaliel for its community organizers, Doing Justice: Congregations and Community Organizing. �One does well to review this book, whose back cover tells that it "weaves the theological and biblical warrants for community organizing into concrete strategies for achieving justice in the public arena," suggests "agitation" as a "fundamental organizing principle" and that its author was head of the Gamaliel National Clergy Caucus. �His first sentence in the book (after a couple quotes of Scripture, one of which is the fall of Babylon from Revelations 18): �"The world, as it is, is the enemy of God." �

Their view is totalitarian and apocalyptic. �And it extends from Chicago to Minnesota and wants to reach all the world, to do battle with the enemy of God. �If you're not with them...

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