Cap­i­tal­ism’s bad rep­u­ta­tion ridicu­lous

The Prince George Citizen - - Money - MARK RYAN

By 1933, western­ers’ fas­ci­na­tion with the Soviet dream was mag­ni­fied by the Great De­pres­sion in the free world. Pro­pa­ganda from Moscow showed crisp young com­mu­nists eat­ing scrump­tious meals or work­ing in busy fac­to­ries, in­flat­ing the progress of the Bol­she­vik ma­chine. Over 100,000 schol­ars, artists and in­tel­lec­tu­als trav­elled east to fawn over the Soviet ex­per­i­ment.

As the truth leaked out, western thinkers par­roted Stalin’s heart­less quip: “If you want to make an omelette, you have to break a few eggs.”


May 2, 1933, New York: Pearl S. Buck won the Pulitzer Prize for The Good Earth, and an­other Pulitzer was awarded to a one-legged Amer­i­can news­pa­per man named Wal­ter Du­ranty for his years of for­eign cor­re­spon­dence from Moscow. A dar­ling of Amer­i­can in­tel­lec­tu­als and jour­nal­ists, Du­ranty had the ear of Joseph Stalin him­self. When he coined the term Stal­in­ism, it was a com­pli­ment – the firm hand of in­evitable change at work. Most people agreed.

Flashback. 1930, Moscow: A 24 year-old Jewish woman from Toronto, Rhea Cly­man, hav­ing lost part of her leg to a Toronto street car as a six-year-old, had a hand­i­cap in com­mon with Du­ranty and he em­ployed her in his Moscow of­fice. Ini­tially sym­pa­thetic to the com­mu­nist ideal, by 1933 she had been booted out of Rus­sia for crit­i­ciz­ing the Gu­lag sys­tem, which had snatched her Rus­sian boyfriend out of her lov­ing arms. (She

never mar­ried.) Un­like her for­mer em­ployer, she told the truth.

May 7, 1933, Wash­ing­ton: U.S. Pres­i­dent Franklin Roo­sevelt gave the first “fire­side chat.” The New Deal in­tro­duced sev­eral so­cial pro­grams to soften eco­nomic hard­ship. Gen­uinely vexed by the fi­nan­cial mess, Roo­sevelt was in­flu­enced by Du­ranty’s Moscow mus­ings.

Ber­lin: That same day the Ger­man gov­ern­ment fired all Jewish work­ers from its armed forces service.

May 8, New York: Artist Diego Rivera was forced to stop work on Man at the Cross­roads, com­mis­sioned for the Rock­e­feller Cen­ter in New York. His fu­tur­is­tic piece drew from Com­mu­nist sym­bol­ism and the very like­ness of Vladimir Lenin. Oops.

Ex­iled: That same day, Rhea Cly­man, con­tra­dicted her for­mer boss by pub­lish­ing her eye-wit­ness account of the bru­tal star­va­tion of some 5,000,000 Ukraini­ans un­der Stalin. In the “Bread­bas­ket of Europe,” chil­dren were on their hands and knees eat­ing grass like goats. Peas­ant farm­ers, with their en­tire har­vests re­moved, an­i­mals seized, land stripped from them, were dy­ing at a rate of 25,000 per day. They were shot for steal­ing an ear of corn. Bor­ders were sealed. All un­der Stalin’s de­lib­er­ate hand.

Moscow: Wal­ter Du­ranty uses his Pulitzer pres­tige to brush off Cly­man’s sto­ries in open mock­ery. His bla­tant lies, em­braced by most thought lead­ers, prob­a­bly cost many more thou­sands of lives.

Flashback, Novem­ber 1932: Stalin’s wife, Nadezhda Alliluyeva, com­mits sui­cide on learn­ing that her hus­band or­ches­trated the star­va­tion of mil­lions of Ukraini­ans.

May 15, 1933, Ber­lin: Adolf Hitler stripped power from Kaiser Wil­helm II, dis­plac­ing the monar­chy with him­self. Also, No­bel Prize-win­ning physi­cist Max Planck asked Hitler to in­ter­vene for his Jewish col­leagues. Hitler re­torted: “Jews are all Com­mu­nists… the en­emy I am fight­ing against.”

May 26, Ber­lin: Ger­many in­vokes hu­man sterilizat­ion, to fur­ther the Nazi plans to build a “master race.”

We could go on. Both Nazi and Soviet bru­tal­i­ties were wo­ven unimag­in­ably through these years, but in terms of longevity and volume of corpses, Stalin and friends would take the gold medal, even with­out a Rus­sian judge. Despite this, the feel­ings en­gen­dered by Nazism are for some rea­son more re­pul­sive than those stirred up by com­mu­nism. Why?

Maybe the con­ser­va­tive side was forced to em­brace hu­mil­i­a­tion when they found them­selves (even re­motely) as­so­ci­ated with the wrong end of the right. One day they could boast of cap­i­tal­ist re­forms in post-war Ger­many, the next day... Auschwitz. When they watched the Fuhrer and his ilk work this spe­cial brand of home im­prove­ment on the world, in a high-kick­ing self-serv­ing re­ac­tion to com­mu­nism, it made them sick. And they drew a line. And yes, they are aware that the line is un­der at­tack to­day.

The world has seen a dra­matic reduction in poverty over the past 30 years, as com­mu­nist regimes fall one af­ter an­other, yet words like cap­i­tal­ism, spec­u­la­tion and profit still spill out of young mouths with venom. His dis­ci­ples haven’t ex­am­ined Karl Marx’s doc­tri­nal core closely enough to ac­tu­ally own the hor­rors of its out­comes. Each bru­tal regime con­cen­trated power in ex­cess of those they re­placed. Com­mu­nism didn’t so much love the poor as hate the rich. The poor were its pawns. Marx him­self was a Bour­geois spend­thrift, who blew his moth­erin-law’s in­her­i­tance and never held a real job. His wife pawned house­hold items for gro­ceries. Pro­le­tariat? He couldn’t find his way to the fac­tory floor lunch­room.

No fear. What’s a partly-hand­i­capped Toronto woman to do once ex­iled from Moscow? Later in 1933, just as the Holo­caust was getting warmed up, Cly­man, a known Jew, headed straight for Nazi Ger­many look­ing for an in­ter­view with Hitler.

More next week.

Mark Ryan is an in­vest­ment ad­vi­sor with RBC Do­min­ion Se­cu­ri­ties Inc. (Mem­ber–Cana­dian In­vestor Protection Fund), and these are his

views, and not those of RBC Do­min­ion Se­cu­ri­ties. This ar­ti­cle is for in­for­ma­tion pur­poses only. Please con­sult with a pro­fes­sional ad­vi­sor be­fore tak­ing any ac­tion based on in­for­ma­tion in this ar­ti­cle. See his web­site at: http://dir.rbcin­vest­

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