Capitalism’s bad reputation ridiculous
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.rbcinvestments.com/mark.ryan