Sunday Not Quite A Book Review: “The Cultural Revolution: a people’s history 1962-1976”

July 3, 2016

Book Cover Dikotter Cultural Revolution

Since I haven’t been posting much of late, I thought a good way to get back into the swing of things would be to revive the Sunday Book Review series. Great idea!

Trouble is, the book I read is one that I can’t get a handle on the right approach to reviewing it. smiley d'oh! smiley headbang wall

The topic is so large and so complex that I’m left with just one thing to say: if you are ever tempted by the idea that things would be better if we just gave government all the power it wanted, read Frank Dikotter’s “The Cultural Revolution: a people’s history, 1962-1976”. That should slap some sense into you.

The book tells the story of bloody turmoil China was thrown into for over a decade because of the paranoia and whims of one all-powerful man, Mao Zedong. Setting faction against faction, even against his own Communist Party, Mao threw China into such chaos that at times it seemed a second civil war might result — and in some locales, it did.

Fearing that his “comrades” would sideline or even depose him for his horrific errors in the 1950s, worried that a Khrushchev waited in the wings to bring ideological revisionism and a denunciation of Mao’s legacy as Khrushchev did to Stalin in his 1956 “Secret Speech,” Mao and his allies waged war against enemies often made up wholly in Mao’s mind.

The price, of course, was paid by the people. Whether looking for “capitalist roaders,” “revisionists,” members of various “anti-Party cliques” and agents of foreign powers lurking within the Party itself, or merely people of “bad class background” (for example, former landowners under the old regime and their relations), enemies weren’t just found among a few rivals to Mao. Dikotter’s book tells in appalling detail how ordinary Chinese had to suffer because of Mao’s whims: prison camps, “reeducation” centers, thousands of city residents exiled to the country with no relevant skills and yet expected to survive — and never return to the city. People humiliated, driven to suicide or beaten to death by teenaged “Red Guards.” Knowledge, learning, and arts declared worthless, even evil, if they didn’t conform to “Mao Zedong Thought” and serve the class struggle. The horror stories of Lovecraft and King are nothing compared to what really happened in China in the 1960s.

Over and over, we’re treated moments of madness, but also shown how people resisted, or at least tried to survive. When Mao’s insane economics made even basic goods almost impossible to get, many set up secret factories and trade routes, reestablishing an underground capitalism in Communism’s heartland. Secret book clubs meeting to share a copy of forbidden Western literature. Playing Classical music on old phonographs in a closet, hoping no one would hear and denounce you to the authorities.

It’s said that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” China in the Cultural Revolution is a glaring example of this, and Frank Dikotter’s “The Cultural Revolution: a people’s history, 1962-1976” should be part of any “scared straight” program for anyone tempted by statism.

Highly recommended.

PS: “The Cultural Revolution: a people’s history, 1962-1976” is available in hardcover and Kindle format. I’m happy to say the Kindle book was well-formatted and free of any errors as I recall. Fair disclosure, I get a few cents from purchases made through my links.

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Bookshelf update – The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History, 1962-1976

May 29, 2016

Renaissance scholar astrologer

I’ve updated the “What I’m reading” widget to the right to reflect the latest item on the Public Secrets lectern, Frank Dikötter’s  “The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History, 1962-1976”.

Book Cover Dikotter Cultural Revolution

 

I’m only a few chapters into it, so far, but it seems to be another proof of something I’ve long believed: that Human history produces far more horror than any story by King or Lovecraft. The Cultural  Revolution, like so many other Leftist attempts to remake humanity –the French Revolution during “the Terror,” Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy (2), the USSR, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Cuba, North Korea– shows how dangerous it is to let one person, one group, or government in general to have too much power.

The Cultural Revolution is available in both Kindle (1) and hardcover formats.

PS: Why, yes. This is a shameless bit of shilling on my part. I like getting the occasional gift certificate that comes from people buying stuff via my link. But I still think it’s a good book.

Footnote:
(1) I’m happy to say I’ve found no typos or formatting errors, so far. These are all too common in Kindle e-books.
(2) Yes, Fascism and Nazism, two variations on statism, are products of the Left.


Law Professor: International Court of Justice should silence global-warming skeptics

September 21, 2015
x

Climate science experts. The rest of you shut up.

I suppose I should be grateful; some climate thugs want people like me prosecuted under the RICO statutes for our skepticism, while others have likened us to Holocaust deniers or even called for our death.

In comparison, Professor Phillippe Sands QC, a professor of International Law at University College London and a multiply published author, merely wants the International Court of Justice to curb-stomp our right to free speech:

False claims from climate sceptics that humans are not responsible for global warming and that sea level is not rising should be scotched by an international court ruling, a leading lawyer has said.

Scientific bodies such as the UN’s climate science panel have concluded that climate change is underway and caused by humans, Prof Philippe Sands QC told an audience at the UK’s Supreme Court. But a ruling by a body such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would carry much more weight with public opinion and help pave the way for future legal cases on climate change, he said.

“One of the most important things an international court could do – in my view it is probably the single most important thing it could do – is to settle the scientific dispute,” Sands said, on the eve of a three-day conference on climate change and international law in London.

“A finding of fact on one or more of these matters [such as whether climate change is man-made], or indeed on other pertinent matters, would be significant and authoritative and could well be dispositive on a range of future actions, including negotiations.” Scientifically-settled questions such as whether climate change is even happening are still being challenged by “scientifically qualified, knowledgeable and influential persons”, he said.

I have a two-word response to Prof. Sands that isn’t printable here, so I’ll settle for a sincere “Go to Hell, buddy.”

This is an example of “Lawfare,” using the law to silence or otherwise punish opponents. I originally came across it in cases wherein (usually Saudi, wealthy) Muslim sympathizers with jihad would use the UK’s ghastly libel laws to punish critics of Islam. It seems that climate alarmists, in their frustration, have learned the same lessons: if you can’t win the argument, use the law to harass your opponents into shutting up.

And Professor Sands’ arguments are just chock-full of what’s wrong with climate alarmism: not just involving the law where it doesn’t belong –deciding scientific questions– but failing to recognize the weaknesses and even corruption on one’s own side. The “UN’s climate science panel” (IPCC)? Report summaries are altered to push preferred alarmist conclusions, and the organization relies on computer models of at best questionable accuracy.

What is this garbage about “‘scientifically qualified, knowledgeable, and influential persons'” disagree with the ‘settled science’ of climate change, and we just can’t have that?” If these people are so qualified, shouldn’t we be listening to their criticisms and giving them serious consideration? No, instead we must silence the heretics via court order!

What’s next, an auto da fe?

And as if most Americans could give a tinker’s cuss what the ICJ has to say.

via WUWT


Pudgy, nuclear-armed dictator shoots another official. Because he can.

July 8, 2015
"You are too short! banished!"

“You let my turtles die? You die!”

You think this guy knew the game was up the moment he saw Kim Jong Un’s first frown?

The manager of a terrapin farm who incurred the wrath of Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, has been executed.

State-run media released pictures in mid-May of a clearly furious Mr Kim berating officials of the Taedonggang Terrapin Farm after the dictator arrived to provide “field guidance”.

KCNA reported that the farm for breeding terrapins had been set up on the orders of Kim Jong-il, the father of the present ruler of North Korea, but all the baby terrapins in the tanks died.

The officials tried to explain that a lack of electricity meant that water could not be pumped into the tanks, while there were also shortages of feed for the terrapins.

Mr Kim was additionally outraged that part of the farm had not been set aside to “educate employees in the revolutionary history” of Kim Jong-il, KCNA reported.

The dictator dismissed the officials’ explanations, saying that “only sighs of defeatists come from units” that fail to “uphold and glorify the leadership exploits of the great leaders and the party”.

He added that their excuses about problems with water, electrical supplies and equipment were “nonsensical complaints”, the Daily NK web site reported.

Sources in Pyongyang told NK News that the manager of the terrapin farm was shot dead shortly after Mr Kim’s visit.

Pour encourager les autres, dontcha know?

And, please. A lack of electricity to provide fresh water to creatures that live in water, and a lack of feed for them? Did he really expect that to be a sufficient reason to let them die from polluted water and starvation? He was obviously a traitor and a counterrevolutionary South Korean-American Imperialist stooge. It’s a good thing Dear Leader Tiny Psycho III was there to ferret out his anti-terrapin sabotage!

Per the Telegraph article, is it any wonder that North Korean officials are starting to defect in large numbers? I’m only surprised no one’s drawn a pistol and shot this loon in an act of preemptive self-defense.

Via Rick Moran, who goes on to compare this lunatic regime to that in Tehran. The one we’re about to help get nuclear weapons, too.

I’ll be in my bunker in the Sierras.


Sweet Cakes By Melissa Refuses to Comply With Gag Order

July 7, 2015

Good for the Kleins. Seriously. This bureaucrat’s decision was just appalling on so many levels.

Nice Deb

aaron+and+melissa2

As you might have heard, the state of Oregon has decreed that Sweet Cakes by Melissa  must pay $135,000 to the lesbian couple whom they (apparently) “mentally raped” by refusing to bake their wedding cake.

Via Rachel Lu at the Federalist:

The final judgment, which came last Thursday, came with another twist. Aaron and Melissa Klein have also been given a “cease and desist” order, which effectively decrees they must refrain from stating their continued intention to abide by their moral beliefs.

Let’s be clear on why this is so sinister. There are times when speech rights conflict with other legitimate social goods. The public’s right to know can conflict with individual privacy rights. Sometimes threats to public safety warrant keeping secrets. There can be interesting debates about intellectual property rights. These cases can get tricky, and we should all understand that speech rights necessarily do have certain pragmatic limits.

 None of…

View original post 508 more words


(Video) Police State of Wisconsin: ‘I Thought It Was a Home Invasion’

April 22, 2015

Following up on my earlier post about the Left’s fascist abuse of the law to intimidate and terrorize political opponents, here’s an interview Dana Loesch of The Blaze TV conducted with David French, the author of the National Review exposé, and the head of the Wisconsin Club for Growth, one of the victims in this:

Someone needs to be fired over this, at the least.


Wisconsin: where the Left brings out its inner-Fascist

April 20, 2015
Himmler

Likes “John Doe” investigations

 

Yeah, I went there. Try telling me your reaction was any different after reading this:

“IT’S A MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH.”

That was the first thought of “Anne” (not her real name). Someone was pounding at her front door. It was early in the morning — very early — and it was the kind of heavy pounding that meant someone was either fleeing from — or bringing — trouble.

“It was so hard. I’d never heard anything like it. I thought someone was dying outside.”

She ran to the door, opened it, and then chaos. “People came pouring in. For a second I thought it was a home invasion. It was terrifying. They were yelling and running, into every room in the house. One of the men was in my face, yelling at me over and over and over.”

It was indeed a home invasion, but the people who were pouring in were Wisconsin law-enforcement officers. Armed, uniformed police swarmed into the house. Plainclothes investigators cornered her and her newly awakened family. Soon, state officials were seizing the family’s personal property, including each person’s computer and smartphone, filled with the most intimate family information.

Why were the police at Anne’s home? She had no answers. The police were treating them the way they’d seen police treat drug dealers on television.

In fact, TV or movies were their only points of reference, because they weren’t criminals. They were law-abiding. They didn’t buy or sell drugs. They weren’t violent. They weren’t a danger to anyone. Yet there were cops — surrounding their house on the outside, swarming the house on the inside. They even taunted the family as if they were mere “perps.”

As if the home invasion, the appropriation of private property, and the verbal abuse weren’t enough, next came ominous warnings.

Don’t call your lawyer.

Don’t tell anyone about this raid. Not even your mother, your father, or your closest friends.

The entire neighborhood could see the police around their house, but they had to remain silent. This was not the “right to remain silent” as uttered by every cop on every legal drama on television — the right against self-incrimination. They couldn’t mount a public defense if they wanted — or even offer an explanation to family and friends.

If you didn’t know this happened in Wisconsin, you’d be excused for thinking this was something out of the 1930s, a raid by the German Gestapo or the Soviet NKVD against political opponents. You would be half-right: this and other atrocities against the Rule of Law were perpetrated against political opponents of a bunch of rogue prosecutors in Wisconsin. Recently. In the United States.

How the Hell could this happen here?

David French’s article goes into the details, but here’s a quick summary: Starting in 2009, the Milwaukee County prosecutor initiated what are called “John Doe” investigations (1) against newly-elected Governor Scott Walker and his political allies, who were working to reform Wisconsin’s collective bargaining rules for public employees. Under the “John Doe” rules, the entire investigation was secret: warrants were kept under wraps, no one could talk to the press, and those under investigation couldn’t even seek help from a lawyer. (Hello? Right to counsel? Sixth Amendment?) The prosecutor, enabled by a potted plant masquerading as a judge, went on a years-long fishing expedition looking for anything he could find, but always centered around supporters of Act 10, the reform bill in question. (And, what a coincidence, his wife was an official of the teachers union that was desperately opposed to this bill.) And not just individuals were persecuted: the Wisconsin Club for Growth, a free-market, low tax advocacy group, was for all intents and purposes put out of business just as crucial elections were approaching, a hammer-blow to its members’ First Amendment rights.

In the end, Act 10 was passed and the Left lost all those elections, and the John Doe investigations have been halted while state and federal courts get involved, but the harm done to its victims is real and isn’t over. These people live in fear now, insecure in their own homes, parents and children traumatized, humiliated, and tarred as suspect before their neighbors, never knowing if the power of the State will kick in their doors again for daring to participate in politics…

In America.

This is an absolute outrage. This prosecutor and his buddies abused their power in ways that Kim Jong Un would approve of.  Each one of them should –at a minimum– face disbarment and, if applicable, criminal charges. We entrust prosecutors with immense power and discretion; when they abuse it, they should have the book thrown at them.

So, what are you waiting for? Go read the article and get angry.

Afterthought: I think it’s a fair question to ask Scott Walker why he hasn’t gone after this guy hammer and tongs, now that the investigation against him has fallen apart. And why on Earth hasn’t the legislature (as far as I know) hauled in everyone in question under subpoena and under oath for a very public –indeed, televised– grilling? The prosecutors, police, and judge at the heart of this trampled the federal and state constitutions under foot and terrorized innocent people. They should be held accountable.

Footnote:
(1) As I understand it, these were created to protect the identities of those under investigation. The irony is overwhelming.