The Pope and Stalin

Jogo, our resident voice of reason, writes:
Question for Marxists (please post and distribute):

Do you think you would you be able to look Lech Walensa in the face and tell him that Marxism is humanity's best hope? Here, from an AP story, are a few of the millions of words that are currently being written and published about Karol Wojtyla.

Lech Walesa, founder of the Solidarity movement that toppled communism in Poland in 1989-90, recalled the power of John Paul's visit to Warsaw in 1979. It was the first to his homeland after becoming pope a year earlier, and he ended Mass with a prayer for the Holy Spirit to "renew the face of the Earth," words that became a rallying cry.

"We know what the pope has achieved. Fifty percent of the collapse of communism is his doing," Walesa told The Associated Press on Friday. "More than one year after he spoke these words, we were able to organize 10 million people for strikes, protests and negotiations.

"Earlier we tried, I tried, and we couldn't do it. These are facts. Of course, communism would have fallen, but much later and in a bloody way. He was a gift from the heavens to us."

Bob replies:

I want to write against Jogo's manichean presentation of the world into those who were on Stalin's side and those who were on the side of Reagan and Wojtyla. I also want to write against the simple equasion of the Stalinist bloc with Marxism. In particular, I want to remember all of those on the left including the Marxist left, who helped keep alive the flame of freedom in Eastern Europe. I'm thinking of people like CLR James, Raya Dunayevskaya, Martin Glaberman, Susan Sontag and others at The Nation, Christopher Hitchens, Dissent magazine, Telos magazine, many of the New Left Review editors, Alan Wald...

You don't read obituaries of Solidarity rank and file activists in FrontPage (see these links: Alina Pienkowska and Jacek Kuron).

Keywords: Pope Benedict, Pope John Paul, Cardinal Ratzinger
Web links:
Christopher Hitchens | John Paul II's other legacy
GreenLeft | Pope John Paul II, a reactionary in shepherd's clothing.
OpenDemocracy | Pope John Paul II and democracy
The Pavelic Papers | The Patron Saint of Genocide
spiked-liberties | The Pope's 'anti-fascist' Christmas tree | The Pope and the Fascist
Timothy Garton Ash and Christopher Hitchens

Previous posts:
Stalinism: Angela Davis' children, Che and Fidel
Anti-Stalinism: Karl Marx as anti-Stalinist, Voline and Rocker


Anonymous said…
My Mannichean presentation? MYYYYYY Mannichean presentation? Like I, personally, have rescued Mannicheanism from the trash-heap in order to use it as ammo for Reagan?

Ho ho, this guy (probably an elitist-privileged Marxist, no doubt earning a good living in a state-supported institution in a socialist European country, and enjoying excellent state-subsidized health benefits) needs to come back to the real world if he thinks Mannicheanism is not the heresy du jour, or even the heresy du ciècle. Let him come to America and simply walk around in the street in any Blue-State cappucino-town: Aspen, Taos, Berkeley, Eugene, Cambridge, Austin, or a few thousand others, wearing a George Bush or Israel-flag T-shirt. Or, he could try pulling this stunt on any college campus.

Then he can tell me about Mannicheanism. Fucking smarty-pants street-dumb pretentious/privileged soft-palm commie asshole. He must think his free-speech/travel/assembly etc. rights come from God. Does he wonder why no communist country confers those rights on its citizens? Or is that an impertinent, shallow question asked only by American Fox-News-dupes like me who don't know theory? Doesn't he realize NOBODY believes his commie-shit anymore, outside his little group that meets Thursday nights in the cafe -- you know, the one in the dodgy neighborhood that serves free food to bums, the one with the Kim Il Jong and Robert Williams books and pamphlets on the racks?

My German friend tell me about driving through the East Berlin checkpoint, the guards checking under her car with mirrors on long sticks. So you know, that's what communism REALLY is. When you get past all the theory, all the bullshit, that's what it is.

Orwell knew this. Why doesn't everyone else know it? It is so complicated? So nuanced?


As for Reagan. Well, 20-year perspective is one thing. And 150-year perspective is another. Let's wait and see.


As for Dissent magazine, it is roundly despised in hard-left, insurgent-lover circles (and isn't that sort of whole point of Dissent, going way back?). Michael Waltzer's wonderful "Decent Left" piece was laughter-fodder for the Chomskyites.

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