Rust never sleeps, Neil Young warned in an album of the same title back in 1979. And so it is with revisionism from the left, especially when it comes their failed utopia of yore, the Soviet Union.
For nearly 20 years after the unforgettable night in 1989 when a long-divided Berlin was finally reunited, American leftists bit their tongues about the Soviet Union, embarrassed by its abrupt collapse, revelations of its appalling monstrosities, and confirmation via the decoded Venona cables of a vast communist spy network in the US government as alleged by Senator Joseph McCarthy. (Audio after the jump)
But since the financial collapse in 2008, Soviet sympathizers have become emboldened, repeatedly blaming free-market capitalism for the stagnant US economy. These apologists have also taken to revisiting the start of the Cold War as a period of American aggression while they downplay Soviet-era brutality.
An example of this was heard on Mike Malloy's radio show March 7 when he talked about Russia's latest example of aggression toward a neighboring country, its efforts to seize the Crimean peninsula off Ukraine (audio) --
Back to Robert Parry (of Consortiumnews.com), he points out that Robert Gates described the approach of these neo-cons in his new memoir titled "Duty." He, Gates, writes that the view of George Herbert Walker Bush's defense secretary Dick Cheney, and then of course he ran the government for eight years, this is how Cheney looked at things -- quote, 'When the Soviet Union was collapsing in late 1991, Dick wanted to see the dismantlement not only of the Soviet Union and the Russian empire, but of Russia itself so it could never again be a threat to the rest of the world,' end quote.
(Laughs) So that Russia could never be a threat?! Uh, Russia was a threat? The Russians who defeated the Nazis in World War II? The Russians who suffered 20 million dead? The Russians who, oh that's right, excuse me, I'm sorry, I forgot. They were communist.
But if wasn't post-World War II Russia that was a threat, that leaves the United States as responsible for fomenting the Cold War, a view also espoused by filmmaker Oliver Stone in his "Untold History of the United States" from two years ago.
Whenever I hear this suggested, I ask the person making the claim to answer a simple question -- if it was America and not the Soviet Union that was the aggressor in the post-war years, why didn't the United States exploit its four-year long nuclear monopoly to firmly establish global hegemony? Would Stalin, after witnessing so many Russian deaths during the Great Patriotic War, have displayed such hesitancy had he possessed the nuclear monopoly? Anyone who believes this is delusional.
Malloy's claim was a common assertion from the left during the Cold War and firmly established the person saying it as someone who saw economic collectivism and the brutal police state necessary to keep it functioning as preferable to free-market capitalism and democracy.
How odd indeed was that so few Americans enamored of the Soviet system could bring themselves to actually become part of it. There was the seldom-seen chronic malcontent such as Lee Harvey Oswald who did make the leap, only to later realize the folly of his decision, return to much-maligned America and become an embittered assassin in waiting.
So many people attempted to flee in the other direction that the communists were forced to construct the Iron Curtain to imprison their own people. A genuinely benevolent ideology doesn't do this. Maybe that had something to do with the hesitancy of American leftists to become Soviet citizens, a decision that might not be easily reversed if necessary.
What makes Malloy's blithe dismissal of opposition to communism so disturbing is that he's the type of leftist who never misses a chance to compare conservatives to Nazis. But Malloy has a glaring blind spot when it comes to Soviet-era criminality, and he's hardly alone.
In a December 2003 essay in The Atlantic Monthly titled "The Forgotten Millions," Jonathan Rauch quoted a lecture from University of Pennsylvania professor Alan Charles Kors on whether there can be "an after socialism." Kors said this --
The West accepts an epochal, monstrous, unforgivable double standard. We rehearse the crimes of Nazism almost daily; we teach them to our children as ultimate historical and moral lessons; and we bear witness to every victim. We are, with so few exceptions, almost silent on the crimes of communism. So the bodies lie among us, unnoticed, everywhere.
An attempt was made to remedy this in 1993 when Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed a bill authorizing construction on public land through private funding for a national memorial to honor the victims of communism.
The legislation cited "the deaths of over 100,000,000 victims in an unprecedented imperial communist holocaust" and sought to create an edifice that would "permanently memorialize" those who perished at the hands of communists "so that never again will nations and peoples allow so evil a tyranny to terrorize the world."
Originally slated to cost $100 million, the project was scaled down to $450,000 by 2003. In June 2007, the Victims of Communism Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C., based on the Goddess of Democracy statue erected by Chinese protesters in Tiananmen Square.
The contrast between the easily-overlooked statue and long lines at the stately Holocaust Memorial Museum nearby is telling, especially when one considers the far worse carnage inflicted by the communists.
"Well, the Holocaust museum was not dedicated until almost fifty years after the Holocaust," Rauch wrote in 2003, as organizers struggled to raise money for the Victims of Communism Memorial. "Perhaps these things take time. Perhaps communism is still too close to be seen in perspective. Perhaps this and perhaps that. The fact remains: communism, not Nazism or racism or whatever other ism you please, is the deadliest fantasy in human history, and even Americans, for all our struggles against it, have not yet looked it full in the face."
Left wingers like Malloy surely never will, preferring instead to shrug away those forgotten millions.