How to lose a republic
As luck would have it, I happened to be rereading, during the final days of last week's Presidential election, the autobiography of novelist Marcia Davenport, Too Strong for Fantasy. I have really enjoyed her novels (she seems to have been forgotten by most of the literati today), and her vivid portrait-biography of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Beyond that, she led an extremely interesting life during the turbulent times of the 20th century and knew some of its most unique and prominent people, making her well-written autobiography absorbing reading for me.
In Too Strong for Fantasy Davenport discusses at length her mysterious and obsessive love affair with the city of Prague and the people of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, engendered when she first visited there in the 1930's to begin her research on Mozart. She describes her later harrowing visit there just before the Nazis invaded, and her subsequent visits just after the war was over, when she bought a home in Prague and watched first-hand as the country tried to pull itself back together following its liberation from the Nazis by the Soviet Russians.
Her proximity, as well as her close association with Czech Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk, son of the Czech Republic's first president, gives an intimate view of the tragedy of a democratic republic falling into the despotic control of the Communists. The Czech Republic, excepting the years of Nazi control, lasted from 1918 to 1948. In the post-WWII years the Communists, with direct control from Russia, and in collaboration with a collection of Czech socialist political parties (The National Front), sought to seize control of the country by exploiting all means, both overt and covert, both illegal and through the open democratic channels.
There were supposedly free elections and there was unfettered free political speech in the Czech republic following the war. But in the 1946 elections the Communists gained 38% of the votes and became the largest party in the Czechoslovak parliament. According to Wikipedia, "The Communists formed a coalition government with other parties of the National Front, and moved quickly to consolidate power."
According to Wikipedia, in 1945-1948:
The Front controlled all political activity, and its role was expanded to control of all organized activity of any kind, excluding only religion. Thus the Front was extended to include mass organizations that were not political parties. All large organizations of any kind were included, except churches. Among the organizations brought into the Front were:
- Revolutionary Trade Union Movement (to which all unions belonged)
- Socialist Union of Youth (1.5 million members)
- Union for Czechoslovak-Soviet Friendship
- Czechoslovak Union of Women (1 million members)
- Czechoslovak Red Cross
- Union for Czechoslovak-Soviet Friendship
- Union of Agricultural Cooperatives
- Union of Anti-Fascist Fighters
- Svazarm (Union for Cooperation with the Army)
- Peace Committee
- Physical Culture Association
- Union of Philatelists
All these groups were given the standard Communist organization, and Party members held all controlling posts. These groups permeated workplaces, schools, and neighborhoods. ...
Philatelists are stamp collectors. No group was immune from politicization, along with the usual suspects and tools--the unions, the military, the youth groups, the women's groups, the peaceniks, etc. This list is a brief illustration of the Communist way, which is to infiltrate and politicize every minute corner of human life by devious and/or thuggish means to subvert all power against any individual as an individual, and to focus ultimate power over life and death into the hands of the authorities of the collective. By any means possible.
A month after the 1948 Coup when the Communists took over the Czech government, Jan Masaryk was found dead, an apparent suicide, though evidence has since indicated he was assassinated on orders from the Kremlin. There were no more free elections or any free speech in Czechoslovakia after that, as we all know, until the Velvet Revolution of 1989.
Part of the reason why some of us are so glum in watching Senator Obama assume the Presidency of the United States stems from our knowledge of the despotic and bloody history of Communism (as illustrated in the mass murders, failed policies, and blighted lives and resources of the Soviet Union and its satellites, East Germany, China, Cambodia, North Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, etc.). We have noted the oft-demonstrated failures of socialism--as demonstrated by the no-brainer welfare-state economic stagnation of the countries of Europe who have tried it and now seem to be backing away from it--and, sadly, as also demonstrated by our own experiments with a welfare state: LBJ's Great Society, Nixon's wage and price controls, FDR's New Deal and other policies that extended and deepened the Great Depression. Some of us have even studied history, philosophy, economics, or the literature of Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Thomas Sowell, Henry Hazlett, Friedrich Hayek, Ronald Reagan, William Buckley, Barry Goldwater, our nation's Founders, or the many other proponents of free minds, free markets, and limited government--and we have understood how what they said comports with reality.
We are glum because we see that much of what President-Elect Obama says does not comport with reality. Nor do we think that the policies he proposes will achieve their stated aims, nor do we think they will actually help the people he claims to want to help. In fact, we think the policies he proposes, if he can enact them, may bring grave harm to our country.
We are glum about the unsettling parallels between Communist means and methods and the means and methods of Senator Obama and his fellow now-unleashed Democrats, such as the nationalizing of heavy industry, the confiscation of private wealth, the abolition of the secret ballot, the strange disappearance of the Obama website's mention of his proposed youth volunteer draft), and using the tools of government to target individuals and crush dissent. We see unsettling and unprecedented parallels between his promised "fundamentally transforming" "changes" and the time-tested creep of subversive Marxism.
We are glum, in short, because we worry about Obama's ties to Communism and socialism. We see that his father was a breed of socialist and his mother was a "fellow traveler" and socialist sympathizer. The father-figure and mentor he calls "Frank" in his autobiography was Frank Marshall Davis, a Stalinist. We are glum because we know about Obama's many ties to socialists and anti-American radicals, and his Saul Alinsky-inspired community organizing. We have seen the Obama supporters openly displaying Che flags and the Soviet hammer and sickle.
We are glum because we wonder if this is true--
"Obama's victory was more than a progressive move; it was a dialectical leap ushering in a qualitatively new era of struggle," Chapman wrote. "Marx once compared revolutionary struggle with the work of the mole, who sometimes burrows so far beneath the ground that he leaves no trace of his movement on the surface.
Kincaid and Romerstein wrote, "The clear implication of Chapman's letter is that Obama himself, or some of his Marxist supporters, are acting like moles in the political process. The suggestion is that something is being hidden from the public."
We wonder if Obama is a useful idiot or an actual mole. And man, we are glum because we hate the fact that we as Americans have to wonder that about our incoming President.
We are glum because we wonder: is this the way we, as Czechoslovakia once did, lose our republic?
Finally, our glumness is compounded to grief by the realization that a majority of Americans voted for this most "liberal," most radical, and most unknown Presidential candidate in our history for what amounted to the most shallow of reasons, aided and abetted by our nation's free press that deliberately refused to do its job to fully or honestly vet this candidate for the sake of our nation. It is a sad day to learn how ignorant some U.S. voters are, even those who consider themselves to be extremely well-informed.
Forty years after we started wondering (idly, as it turns out) why Johnny Can't Read, we now see how We Blew It, big-time.
As President Obama takes the oath of office next January, I will be experiencing hope and wishing for change. Hope he will prove to be a man equal to the Presidency who can learn some dire lessons on the job about his own country that he needs to learn (and evidently weren't ever covered at Harvard). I'll be wishing and hoping for a change in Barack Obama, that with the weight of the Presidency upon him he will move away from his earlier radical and ignorant positions to a better understanding of our country and of all the Americans he claims to represent and respect.
UPDATE: At least the rest of the world sees Obama for what he is. As the world goes, soon so shall Obama voters follow? (via Ace) And "It's almost like they don't understand economics or something." Or something.
UPDATE: I'm not the only one wondering at the parallels.