The first post tells why. It may be too little, but hopefully not too late.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Obama's dusty helmet

"...And commissars in dusty helmets  
will lean in silence over me".  -Bulat Okudzhava, Sentimental March

The epigraph is from a Russian song from the late '50s, the brief period of the so-called "thaw", after Stalin's death and the official denouncement of his "personality cult" (it's hard for Communists and other totalitarians to keep from pharaonic deification of their chieftains - the bloodier he is, the likelier). 

The song's author was an immensely popular "bard", which was the vernacular and endearing term for an unofficial and officially unrecognized (at least, at first) poet who also composed and played tunes to his poetry, accompanying himself on an acoustic guitar. Official recognition was important because without it nobody in the USSR could publish, and any public activity like concerts would be extremely limited if not precluded. The genre was also called "author's song", uncommon in the Soviet Union where usually a special category of poets would write lyrics and a special category of composers would write tunes to be played by an orchestra - smaller or bigger, depending on the ideological value and pathos of the song. Okudzhava's poetry, when it was not naively grandiloquent, grave and full of sincere fervor (which eventually allowed him to reach official status), was also in the category of "city romance", where human feelings of love for familiar old Moscow streets, a girl next door, and the smell of freshly baked bread were themes in a pleasant contrast to the pompous hypocrisy or empty levity of the Soviet official art. The Commissars, however, were non-denominational, belonging to both official and unofficial mythology realms. The song, after all, was indeed a march, albeit a "sentimental" one. The Bolshevik commissars - the political minders attached to every Red Army commander in the Civil War, were believed to be stern but just idealists, keepers of the sacred flame and virtuous against all odds. The "dusty helmet" (aka будёновка, budyonovka), a Red Army uniform until late '30s, was shaped after medieval pointed metal headgear, but, made of felt, was much less useful. Borrowed from the imagery of Russian fairy-tales, it was part of communist myth-mongering. 

Another part of that during the thaw time was the opinion of many in the half-informed and semi-blind from propaganda poisoning intelligentsia circles  - enthusiastic young people intoxicated by the whiff of freedom - that Stalin had been bad, but Lenin on the right track. Never mind that Stalin's repressions and concentration camps were nothing new relative to the Red Terror and the camp system enacted by Lenin. The Red Army fighting the Whites in the Civil War was supposed to be good too, the war was a bloody but necessary part of the class struggle, and the millions that died were justifiable sacrifice on the altar of the communist idea - for the future generations to dwell in bliss.  It did not help that the Whites, many with a medieval mentality of serf-owning landed gentry, disdain for the plebs (literally, to the "blackness", чернь) and cruelty, were not an attractive alternative either, even though it was Bolsheviks who usurped power from a democratic government and caused the civil war.

So, in its basic messianic self-deceitful belief in the inevitability of communism for the whole humanity, the thaw generation was no different from those who had bought into the communist quasi-religion during Lenin's and Stalin's eras, the importance of some differing details notwithstanding. The thaw generation was, like the march, sentimental Bolsheviks. The path to paradise on earth, through mass graves and torture, was understandably beset with complications. Stalin, for instance, made an astonishing discovery that, of course, immediately became part of what was then the communist dogma. He stated that as the socialist (Soviet) society gets closer to its ideal of communism, the class struggle intensifies. It seemed to make no sense, as the supposed paradise on earth, the communist society, would presumably be classless. Sense and logic, however, have never had much currency among communists and the left in general. The enemy figure, on the other hand, had to be always maintained, to explain and justify the inevitable shortages and economic downfall after the commissars whom nobody elected had taken all they could from whoever had or could create anything. 

Similarly, today we are fed regurgitated Marxian slogans of the "fair share" that the nefarious "millionaires and billionaires" do not want to give back to the government - for it to redistribute to the anxiously waiting and suffering hungry masses. Those of Solyndras, Solar Trusts and other "stimulated" money pits, and of the corrupt "Palestinian Authority" that names its schools and squares after their "martyrs", otherwise known to the rest of humanity as mass murderers and child-killers. And to the new radical Muslim Egyptian government, to support its military needs - probably to defend itself from the "Zionist entity", as they call Israel, implicitly rejecting not only the peace treaty but even recognition.  It is class struggle all over again - complete with Enemies of the People, which you might have guessed who by now, the Republicans. The vitriol and hatred exuded by the progressives at the about half of the US population that still cling to their Bibles sends shivers down one's spine when that one has a history like mine. 

And so does the new morality - so alike the new "proletarian" morality of the Bolsheviks, who declared moral everything that serves the interests of "the people". There is a rarely cited but very telling quote from Obama: 
So for me, at least, the lack of wealth or significant corporate support wasn't a barrier to victory. Still, I can't assume that the money chase didn't alter me in some ways. Certainly it eliminated any sense of shame I once had in asking strangers for large sums of money. - The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, p. 136. New York: Random House, Inc., First Vintage Book Edition, 2008.
One has to to admire the man’s honesty. On the other hand, one does not have to be a Freudian to see that by that statement Obama informs his fellow worshippers that he’s lost any sense of shame regarding other people’s money - in general. That would be a warning enough to heed, even without the hindsight of the money binge of his presidency. But then, it is easy to read much beyond the money verbiage in that statement. In fact, he informs his readers that he has no sense of shame at all and is “audacious” enough to say that in your face. Talmudic wisdom says that transgression in public is worse than in private, as it gives a bad example to others - definitely a powerful example when served by no less than a US President. Obama also implies that his means in getting support have been different from an average politician’s and he plays by a different set of rules that does not involve sense of shame: 
In many ways, I was luckier than most candidates in such circumstances. For whatever reason, at some point my campaign began to generate that mysterious, elusive quality of momentum, of buzz; it became fashionable [!] among wealthy donors to promote my cause, and small donors around the state began sending checks thought the Internet at a pace we had never anticipated. Ironically, my dark-horse status protected me…. 
Obama feels unbounded by conventional rules. As he poignantly observes, “the problems of ordinary people, the voices of the Rust Belt town or the dwindling heartland, become a distant echo rather than a palpable reality, abstractions to be managed rather than battles to be fought”. This is for a senator. The book that was first published in 2006. A memoir of a 45-year old man with less than 10 years of public service. The “buzz” continues, and his status remains "dark-horse" - now through the willing self-deceit of his admirers who are in deep denial of Obama's dictatorship, domestic and foreign. The latter is particularly revealing, with his bowing to and serving the enemies of America and betraying America's friends, - but remains unheeded by the enthusiastic believers in the power of the state and its divine leader, embodying everything the progressive America's quasi-thaw generation ever dreamt of: a "black", young, left, multicultural and America-bashing president. Doing his utmost to "redistribute wealth" as handouts to those abstract  ordinary people in order to manage them.

Today (April 3), he characterized the Republican budget proposal as "thinly veiled social Darwinism". Unnoticed by the media, this is not the first time he uses this accusatory term - in 2007 he called that also Bush's "strategy...  that basically says government has no role to play in making sure that America is prosperous for all people and not just some." The latter formula is absurd: nobody could deny government's role in a country's prosperity. A country's prosperity, however, cannot be translated into an individual's prosperity - with or without government's role. In fact, the need in anybody's help, let alone government's, is antithetical to the notion of individual prosperity (unless you are the government). Aside from that, however, accusation in "social Darwinism" was the Soviet propaganda's staple expletive for criticizing the capitalist society, synonymous with Nazi pseudo-science. According to the Soviet Encyclopedic Dictionary, the "most reactionary variants of social Darwinism served as the ideological justification of the class domination of bourgeoisie, and militarism and expansionism in foreign policies".  There is no doubt that Obama invokes the same connotations - surely not from the audience of Plumber-Joes who hardly heard of Darwinism, but from the sympathetic audience of the progressive intelligentsia who would take their cues from Marxist ideological opponents of any application of evolution to human social behavior like Rose, Gould and Lewontin.

Personal wealth, a direct connection to resources, particularly when applied to a notion of a class rather than of an individual, is a threat to those who seek power as a metaphor of resources. This is why Bolsheviks, who were to become the ruling class, sought to eliminate "bourgeoisie as a class". That is why Obama, riding on the same political horse of class antagonism, uses Bolshevik slogans of redistribution of wealth and the "rich getting richer and poor getting poorer". The left intelligentsia is happy to feed him these slogans as their chosen representative, through whom they would attain power and rule vicariously. He, in turn, is happy to consume them, imprinted by his unusual upbringing and the "spiritual" advice of Rev. Wright, a purveyor of racial antagonism, paranoid antisemitism, and hate for capitalist America.

Listening as a youth to Okudzhava's song, popular as it was, I used to joke that the words used in the epigraph were a perfect description of a nightmare: silent killers leaning over their victim.


  1. Apropos of commissars: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/312542/tolerance-enforcers-mark-steyn

  2. Interesting links, both logistics and historical. More discussions will be helpful.