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A new understanding
Everyone, from the sages and prophets, especially the big one, Jesus, to the latest UFO “abductee,” spend half their time claiming that love is the answer. I’ve always dismissed that as somewhere between nonsense and only a part of the truth.
I suppose I saw love as either sexual or involving folk in tie-dyed clothes dancing barefoot through the flowers proclaiming love and tolerance while working up a fine hatred of anyone who didn’t agree exactly with whatever was their dogma of the month. All that has changed.
Strange thing is, it happened in a single moment. You see, I was meditating, that is, staring at the screen while a few vague, freeform thoughts floated through the back of my mind. I do a lot of that; it sure beats working.
Anyway, these thoughts mostly involved two issues. The first was the silliness of believing that love solved all problems and the second was the negligence of whoever wrote the otherwise brilliant set of rules for personal and civic behavior we call the Ten Commandments. It seemed obvious that a few more commandments dealing with things like the environment, tolerance and the duties of governments really should have been added.
Then, quite suddenly, an understanding seemed to come from nowhere, along with the realization that these two problems were related, just as Jesus pointed out so long ago (my interest in him is as a moral philosopher, not a religious figure). I understood just what the love the prophets were talking about was.
In short, it means genuinely wishing others well and arranging your life and the world as best you can so that both you and they can prosper and live lives that suit and please you both. Everything else “falls” out of this rule obviously and naturally.
Anyway, what follows is my perception (I won’t say thoughts because it just appeared, more or less instantly, at least in principle). Remembering that what counts is the principle, not the exact words, see what you think.
Unconditional love and the resulting commandments
Unconditional love is the key
The key really is unconditional love, that is, truly wishing others well.
If you love the universe, this world, other creatures, other people and importantly yourself, you will wish to live a full and worthwhile life while doing as little harm and as much good as possible. You will also understand that your life is a good thing in and of itself.
To live a good life is a dance, involving judgement, skill and balance. Only love provides the constant guidance and reference point against which all actions can be judged.
To merely live in the world causes harm to others, but a good life counterbalances that harm with the good of your own existence and the good you do. Only love provides the wisdom and taste to recognize a good life; to know that hiding from life and eating only brown rice may not be a good life; that participating fully in life, using the world properly to give comfort and power and knowledge, even hunting or felling trees, even in extreme circumstances killing other people, may be a good life.
All the commandments fall out of, are merely extensions of this principal.
What is unconditional love?
Unconditional love is truly wishing other people and other things well.
Unconditional love does not mean passivity. It is in fact quite muscular, especially when it comes to defending truth and helping and defending others.
Unconditional love means allowing others to live their own lives, in their own ways. In fact, wishing them well and helping them live the lives they choose.
Unconditional love of course means giving them the space to do so. In particular, this means each group not increasing their numbers until they intrude on the space of others.
Trying to force others to live the way you approve of is not love; it is aggression.
A world based on unconditional love would probably tend towards small, rather different nations or states, each respecting other’s right to live, wishing others well and being careful not to drift into interfering with them. On the whole, they would like their neighbors.
1. Be thankful that of all the things in the universe you have the wondrous good fortune to be conscious and aware and thus able to enjoy life and the beauty and complexity of the universe and other beings.
2. You have a duty to enjoy and live a good life for you have the astonishing good fortune of a life on this beautiful and fascinating and most rare world. Merely to live you must place your interests above those of other creatures and people and directly or indirectly cause them harm; therefore, your life must be joyful and worthwhile so that the good of your life outweighs the inevitable harm.
3. Keep one day in seven free of work and other intense activities so that all may share a common day to relax and meet and think and pray and have leisure as a community. You should also put aside private time for yourself for your body, mind and soul need time and space to relax, review and develop.
4. Do not harm anything without reason and that reason must be better the more aware and intelligent the being. Only a few reasons of the greatest seriousness justify killing or seriously harming a being as aware and complex as a person, the prime one being direct self-defense or defense of others.
5. Love, preserve and share truth and always seek it by experiment and observation and through others’ observations. Do not hold to beliefs after new information makes it obvious that they are not the truth.
6. Seek knowledge and the ability to care for the world and make yours and others’ lives better and richer in all ways. In conjunction with others, build upon the knowledge and abilities built up by those who have gone before and hand them on, improved, to those who will follow after.
7. Know, accept and love yourself, your group and your species. Do not deny your nature but rather work with it, use its strengths and accept and work around its weaknesses.
8. Love and honour the generations who went before you and do not lightly discard their wisdom or their works. You have a special responsibility to love and honour and care for your parents.
9. Love and honour all others now living and wish them well and be tolerant of their ways and desires. Avoid doing them harm where possible and do them good where practical. You have a special responsibility to love and honour and care for those of your own community.
10. Love and honour the generations who will follow you and avoid harming them or the future. You have a special responsibility to love and honour and care for your children.
11. Love and honour the world and all its kinds of life and do not use it in ways that cause permanent harm.
12. Do not increase your numbers to the point where life is made less pleasant or poorer, or where room is not left for others who wish to live differently, or for other kinds of life. Too few is always safer than too many.
13. Do not harm others’ relationships, especially when there are children involved, or where the relationship is important to those involved and especially not for your own momentary gratification.
14. Do not steal and especially do not wrongly take from individuals and those who cannot afford the loss. Do not mercilessly press even a just debt against those in need.
15. Do not corrupt the law or wrongly use it against others or for your own advantage. The law must be just and tolerant and must be easy, affordable, available and fair for everyone. Do not stand between the people and the law for your own advantage, or for any other purpose.
16. Do not envy another’s good fortune as that is destructive of yourself and leads to a lack of love for, and crimes against others. Likewise, share your own good fortunes.
17. Do all things in moderation and do not have unreasonable expectations of yourself or others.
18. Look into the heart of your mind and soul and you will know what is right and what is wrong. Be guided by that. However, you must be careful for it is easy to lie to yourself and pretend that what you would wish, or what is convenient, is right.
by Stephen Heyer (c)1999
Isn’t it time we stopped letting our enemies set the agenda and choose the grounds for battle?
After all, the gun and hunting prohibitionists include the media and the governing and intellectual elites, so are far too powerful and devious to resist with mere facts and truth. As well, we need to adopt the techniques developed and proven by this century’s successful dissident and protest movements.
Two of these techniques are especially powerful, yet we make little use of them. The first is to develop a simple, coherent and attractive story that bundles your claims in populist form so that they can be marketed as being both Truth and essential to the welfare of society. The second of course is to seize control of the terms of debate and this is what I will mostly be discussing.
For example, our opponents are allowed to claim all sorts of imagined social and ethical advantages for banning guns, hunting and much of our culture while manoeuvring us into only being allowed to argue our case on grounds of strict utility. In other words, we have allowed ourselves to be restricted to the single argument that a law will cause no reduction at all in the rate of death by firearm.
Even then we are denied a fair hearing and the argument that it is pointless to stop death by one means if it then simply occurs by another is dismissed as irrelevant.
Yet there is so much more that should be considered. For a beginning, I suggest we force recognition of three facts.
1. Restrictive and discriminative laws have harmful side effects.
They harm both society and individuals and they are harming us. As there are many of us a lot of harm is being caused.
That restrictive and discriminative laws are harmful and wrong is now so well acknowledged that it needs no further argument. Only the most willful and selective blindness allows our persecutors to pretend that somehow this doesn’t count in our case.
2. Firearms and hunting are an ancient part of the Western European Dreaming and indeed of many cultures.
Weapons, hunting and the like are, after all, deep and ancient parts of human nature, though of course how this is expressed, in fact, if it is expressed, varies widely between individuals, the sexes and ethnic groups. Firearms and hunting with firearms in particular are an especially characteristic and ancient part of the Western European Dreaming and part of that group’s multicultural rights.
Hunting is one of the primary ways we have always bound ourselves to nature, both a practical resource gathering activity and a sacrament that allows humans to enter into the great web of life. Likewise, being able to trust ordinary citizens with weapons is a good marker of a healthy and fairy free society. This is also of necessity generally a society in which the rulers have agreed to forgo the grosser excesses of power.
It is useful to remember that over much of the world, especially Europe and those areas that came under European control, wildlife survived largely because influential classes and individuals liked to hunt. And yes, they also liked having the non-game species and non-timber trees around as well, but they were able to justify setting aside and managing large, near natural areas because of the hunting and timber they provided.
Doubt this, then check areas of the world where the influential classes weren’t so universally keen on hunting, shooting and fishing. Horizon to horizon peasants, or sterile, commercial farms on the good lands and the marginal lands that should more properly have been left to forestry and hunting flogged back to bare rocky hillside or desert.
The mistake even hunters and shooters make is to think of what they are doing as a sport; it isn’t, it’s more of the nature of a cultural tradition or a religious sacrament. In fact, I’ve always thought that describing hunting as a sport was rather inappropriate, demeaning of nature and the animals we take. Target shooting maybe, hunting no.
So when you see a bunch of guys heading out to the range or a duck hunt, some with sons (and yes, even daughters) in tow, just think of a bunch of blokes in funny leather shorts off to folk dancing, or a crowd of Catholics off to Sunday Mass and you’ll get the right idea.
We too have rights to our own culture and we too are part of the Multicultural. To seek to destroy our culture is no different from attempting to destroy any other minority culture. Worse in fact for ours is no mere cultural tradition or minor religion, ours is more ancient than humanity itself, was one of the very forces that molded us into what we are.
3. We have been hurt and our health, wellbeing and connections with society damaged by being attacked and having hatred incited against us.
When we are persecuted, lied about and attacked in terms that would be unacceptable if we were a more fashionable minority group it does real damage, both to us and to society. When a hostile, unified government and media ignores our views and needs and worse, whips up public hysteria against us, they subject us to real discrimination and cause us the kind of harm that other persecuted minorities suffer.
We too are victims.
Notice how even partial public acceptance of these points would totally change the terms of argument. The whole debate would be moved to ground much more favorable to us.
In fact, while they were still in the process of gaining power sections of the current elites spent a great deal of time and effort conditioning the public to accept arguments couched in just these terms. It would be a shame not to put all their hard work to good use.
Ok, so it hurts to have to use the tactics of enemies we despise, but in a world run by media barons and their sycophants, failed suburban lawyers and money market spivs become politicians, it’s a case of adapt or die. Besides, all three points are only too true.
We should be grateful, I suppose, that we have an excellent, recent example of the harm that discriminative and unfair attacks do to us and to society, all without achieving any countervailing good. I am referring of course to the whole process that flowed from Port Arthur.
When the Australian political and media elites took the once in a decade opportunity of the massacre at Port Arthur in April 1996 to force through their wish list of anti-gun laws, the justification was that the good would far outweigh the harm. In other words, the new laws would prevent so many deaths, injuries and crimes that their inevitable social and financial costs would be fully justified.
Of course, the argument was never presented outside academic circles in quite this form, as it would have raised difficult questions about the nature and extent of these social costs and the number of deaths that were realistically likely to be prevented. Instead, the public was subjected to saturation propaganda that gave the impression that there would be no social costs and that most deaths and crimes that were in any way associated with firearms would be totally prevented.
The propaganda went on to make claims that all sorts of social benefits would result from restrictions on firearms and hunting. Benefits that historical and international experience showed to be mere fantasy.
I believe that our most urgent task is to force public recognition of the full extent of the new law’s social costs in the light of actual experience. That way, some idea can be gained of how much good this law and others like it would have to do before they could even reach the break-even point.
Ok, so just what are these social costs? Remembering that this analysis is specific to this law and this country, at this time, the following costs are pretty obvious.
1. Misery and insecurity caused to innocent people: The new laws, and worse, media and government efforts to whip up public emotion and hatred caused a very large number (probably a million of more) people to feel attacked, unwanted and unjustly persecuted.
Worse, these people, as a group, tended to be unusually law abiding pillars-of-the-community types, just the types that nations need to form a stable, loyal backbone. Just the types that four decades of amateur social engineering and violent economic, social, cultural and ethnic change has made less common.
2. Alienation: A percentage of these people went on to became alienated. Going by people who became alienated over Australia’s Vietnam commitment, once this happens people remain alienated for forty years or more. This alienation causes hidden social damage for decades into the future.
3. Increased death rate: When you make people unhappy and insecure you increase their rate of death from all causes. You also increase the death rate among innocent bystanders due to factors such as the original group’s increased accident rate. When the group is large the number of deaths and injuries you have caused can be substantial.
4. Setting dangerous political precedents: The technique of government and media manipulation of public opinion against minority groups has now been “normalized” in Australia, as demonstrated by the rapidity, skill and ruthlessness with which it was later used against One Nation. Any sensible person must realize what a disaster this is.
5. Public alienation from the political system: Hundreds of thousands of disgruntled citizens bad-mouthing the system at every opportunity, in every pub and workplace, plus some suspicion by the general public that they were manipulated by the elites (even if they agree with banning guns) has eroded already weak public commitment to the political system.
6. Intolerance of cultural activities: Firearms and hunting with firearms is an ancient and integral part of some cultures. It is part of those groups’ multicultural rights and attacking that aspect of their culture is just as bad as attacking, say, their language, religion, or other customs.
7. Direct loss of freedom: The fact that freedoms many people grew up with have been eroded or removed must be a source of regret.
8. Indirect loss of freedom: Changes to the laws that will be “found” to be necessary for “effective enforcement” of the new gun law will probably cause a more general and serious loss of traditional freedoms than gun law itself. This is part of a long and dangerous process where the progressive loss of ancient freedoms and rights has been justified at every stage as necessary to fight the “evil of the month”, starting with drugs and flowing through domestic violence, child abuse, pedophilia, pornography and now guns.
Totalitarianism by stealth, while all the time claiming to be the champion of freedom is quite an ancient tactic for gaining class or personal power. Nevertheless, it is one that has lost none of its effectiveness.
9. Economic cost: The immediate cost, about 500 million dollars, and the fact that this vast sum could have been put to much better use, is in retrospect the least of the new law’s costs. Of course, there is also the small matter of the considerable ongoing costs involved in setting up and operating whole new systems of registration and record keeping, and the diversion of public resources this entails.
And now a personal note. I have two physically disabled friends and I can see several quite simple technologies that, if developed, would greatly increase their quality of life. Interestingly, this even meets economic rationalist criteria as it would reduce these peoples’ cost to society and be the foundation of an export industry.
Give me 500 million dollars and I WILL transform the lives of thousands of people, I WILL do great good, I WILL change the world for the better, guaranteed. In the long run I’ll probably even turn a profit. Now wouldn’t that have been a better use than flushing it down the toilet of a gun confiscation program that did no good and only caused good people pain?
Get the idea? Once these costs are recognized it becomes obvious that the new law would have to do a lot of good just to offset the harm it caused.
This is the message we have to push, again and again and again. Howard’s law and process of lies persecution and incitement to hatred used to ensure its passage caused immense and long-term harm to a large number of people and to society itself. It would have to save a great many lives to balance that harm before it could even start to achieve net good.
Not that there is any sign this is likely to happen any time soon. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures for the period 1996 – 1997 show that far from there being a major improvement, serious crime increased considerably. To make matters worse, recent figures for suicide are just as unpromising. The law’s failure is profound.
And remember, this was at a time during and immediately after the removal of over 640,000 of what were supposed to be the most dangerous types of weapons from the community and before there had been significant time for restocking or adaptations such as the development of black markets. Surely, if there was ever going to be a noticeable benefit it should have shown up then.
So there it is, that is the message we must push again and again, at every opportunity. Our survival depends on public acceptance of these facts.
Even more, it depends on public acceptance that we too are a minority group with every right to expect tolerance of and even special consideration and protection for our beliefs and culture, that we too have multicultural rights.
No one will give us this acceptance, we have to fight for it as other groups have. After all, some very unlikely groups have moved themselves all the way from being almost universally detested to positions of special protection and privilege.
We are starting from nowhere nearly as far behind, our numbers are greater, properly marketed we have a more romantic and virtuous image and we have the weight of tradition behind us. Oh yes! And for what it’s worth these days – Truth. Surely we can do at least as well.
Finally, many readers will be uncomfortable with my use of multiculturalism as a defense, in fact the main defense, of their and my culture. I suppose, therefore, I had better explain what I mean by multiculturalism and my views on it.
First, there are both benign and malignant forms. In its benign form it is only a modern term for freedom of religion, political belief and cultural practice, freedoms Australians have always believed in. Of course, by that definition Australia has been a multicultural nation for a long time.
In that form, I support it as moral and necessary within a given community or nation.
It is also, now, unavoidable in one form or another for Australia so we have to make sure we get the form we want. What follows is a brief exploration of the form I support and of what I mean when I use the word multiculturalism. My preferred form is, I suspect, the only form that will allow us to survive as a humane, free and coherent community.
The first thing to understand is that a person can belong to a culture without it consuming his or her whole life. For example, people will often be part of one culture centered on their religion, another on their political beliefs, another on their ethnic origins, another on some other important part of their life such as hunting, or art, or even their sexual preference. In short, a well-rounded individual will usually belong to several cultures.
The important thing is to assemble this diversity into a larger community that is effective, free and humane. Luckily, history has given us some useful rules of thumb.
In brief, for multiculturalism to work a community must make every effort to accommodate existing cultures, but this must always be a two way street. While majority cultures must make provision for minority cultures, the minority cultures must also make an effort to fit in and be good and loyal members of the community.
A community may, however, prefer not to import additional cultures, especially those that may be difficult to accommodate within the existing community. It may particularly wish to avoid importing cultures it suspects would be excessively disruptive. It has every right to do so.
A very much more difficult problem arises in the case of already existing local cultures, or those that are in the process of arising locally, that the existing mainstream cultures regard (sometimes correctly) as harmful. I have yet to find a good or even workable solution to either the ethical or practical dimensions of that problem. All I can suggest is that in the end tolerance seems the least harmful over the long term.
Remember, in the long term, in a free and open society, the stupidities of one generation tend to be corrected by the next, or the one after that. As an immediate example, anyone who has been keeping their finger on the nation’s intellectual pulse must have noticed that much of the trash politics, philosophy, ethics and economics that flowed out of the sixties and seventies is now being questioned by a new generation of young writers, thinkers and leaders.
This has not escaped the notice of the aging left-liberal elite who are desperately trying to stamp their names onto history and lock the new generation into the future they decided it should have. A prime example is of course the Republic. Here, they are trying to rush things through instead of waiting a little while until the generation who will live most of their lives in the twenty first century can choose the details and form of government they wish to live under for themselves.
Another important rule is that it is both polite and wise for a cultural group that is particularly successful not to seize too much power or too much of the community’s wealth or impose its views on others. Likewise, it should not flaunt its wealth or power and has a positive social and moral duty to help those less fortunate in a constructive way, as do individuals.
In short, the secret of a successful multicultural community is tolerance, good will and commitment to the larger community and the nation. It is also necessary that all agree on a base set of core ethical beliefs, if only tolerance, good will and commitment. It is also very helpful if the cultural mix is neither excessively complex, nor stiflingly simple.
What is currently giving multiculturalism a bad name is the way certain groups now in the ascendancy are using it not to promote freedom and diversity and strengthen the community, but to gain power and privilege for themselves, suppress other groups and weaken the community. This is the malignant form.
If multiculturalism dies and tolerance dies with it, it is they who will bear the sin and a very great sin it will be.
by Stephen Heyer 25/2/1999
It will be at least thirty and more probably fifty years before a coherent, agreed upon picture of the twentieth century emerges among historians. Nevertheless, enough of a hint of some broad pattern is already apparent (surprisingly) to encourage attempts to discern, or rather guess at, some of the features of that picture.
The one thing that I think is already apparent is that when that “coherent, agreed upon picture” does arise, it will be very different from the one we would have expected as recently as the beginning of the nineties.
Anyway, I’ve lived through a bit more than half of it and fully intend to live through at least as much of the next century (I’m a time tourist you see). I’ve even participated in a number of the popular causes, only to see most of them go sour. Therefore, I reckon I have as much right as anyone to try a few early guesses.
I can see at least six obvious phenomena that typify the twentieth century:
1. Brilliant, paradigm-breaking advances in the physical sciences early in the century such as relativity and quantum theory that changed the way humans saw the universe and offered tantalizing glimpses of an overall design, but then largely stalled.
2. Steady, solid, incremental technological and industrial developments that drove huge increases in wealth and human welfare. These technological advances to some extent derived from advances in pure science, but the better technology then allowed better instruments that in turn allowed more scientific advances, thus forming a virtuous circle.
3. A spread of representative democracy to an astonishing number and diversity of countries, combined with an unfortunate inability for that democracy to advance much beyond a fairly crude level, or resist capture by whatever local elites existed or arose (1).
At their worst, these delivered death to tens of millions and social and personal ruin to hundreds of millions of people, corrupted societies and threw away centuries of painfully acquired social experience. At their best, they delivered some pockets of real good, but at the cost of long term social disruption and damage.
5. The failure of the elites. The new progressive, intellectual, governing and media elites that rose to power on claims of moral and intellectual superiority proved to be easily influenced, or even seduced, by the vilest or stupidest cults, fads and fashions such as Communism, Nazism and Culturalism (4). In the end, they mostly used their power and influence to advantage themselves at the cost of the ordinary people.
6. A gradually emerging, bitterly resisted realization towards the end of the century that any group that gained any power within any society would exploit that power for personal and group advantage and that the exploitation would increase with time. That if trust was placed in princes, or saviors, or elites, it would be betrayed. As the old mystery-schools taught: Real gains are seldom made without thoughtful, personal decision and effort. Neither are they achieved by surrendering authority to any other being
In short, the twentieth century was the century of applied technology as much as of science, where huge advances in human welfare happened despite, not because of, the efforts of the elites and intellectuals. In fact, its most noticeable feature was an utter failure until almost its end to apply good science to the understanding and betterment of societies and individual human lives.
You will note that I haven’t even mentioned war. Although much is usually made of the frequency and scale of war and genocide in the twentieth century this was in truth only an incidental byproduct of these and other factors and of very large populations. From the point of view of risk to an average citizen of the developed world, the twentieth century was not unusually unsafe when compared to other periods in history.
Which of course begs the question – what of the future? Well, to begin with, I find an eerie resonance between the closing years of the twentieth century the closing years of the nineteenth century.
Incidentally, this resonance is being noticed in a surprisingly diverse range of human endeavors by many people from all parts of the political spectrum. Most don’t possess the historical knowledge to really understand what they are seeing, due to the failure of historical education, but they are vaguely aware that something big is going down and that it is somehow hauntingly familiar.
It’s hard to put exactly what this resonance is into words, but I notice our leaders and elites developing the same kind of inflexible, imperial and often (in retrospect) stupid behavior that typified the European ruling elite in the late nineteenth century. Behavior that seems more driven by internal group conflicts and competition for power than by any reference to the real, external world.
Likewise, technological and social developments are moving against large sections of the current elites as developments such as computers and the Internet start to gradually erode the monopoly they hold on important areas such as information, law, media and marketing. This is generating enormous tensions as those in positions of high responsibility, sensing the change to come, abuse their position to seize vast wealth for themselves and their children while they still retain power.
The same signs of an impending paradigm shift are appearing in the physical sciences. By the end of the nineteenth century it was obvious to any intelligent observer that unsustainable cracks had opened in the then universal scientific paradigm, the Newtonian Universe and that sooner or later it would be replaced. The same kind of cracks are now apparent in cosmology and quantum theory and even relativity may not be safe.
In other words, I suspect we are due for another big change. That the timing may more or less duplicate what happened last century is more a matter of the waves of economic, scientific and social change just happening to coincide with the end of the century than anything to do with the millenium.
Incidentally, I suspect that things will come to a head somewhere around 2014, same as last time. I just hope we can arrange an outcome that is more fun.
NOTE: If I seem to be harping on about the elites’ mistakes in uncritically aligning themselves with self-obviously stupid or evil cults and ideas, I can only say that this utter failure of those who claimed to be the most intelligent and moral sectors of the population cannot be emphasized too much. It is important to remember this as these same groups, often even the same individuals, still claim to be the natural leaders of Western Civilization and indeed the world.
Perhaps, when large numbers of self-declared intelligent, morally superior and reasonable people all agree on something, it is best to fix it in a very cold and skeptical gaze.
(1) Of particular note is democracy’s capture in English Law countries by the legal profession. It is not that lawyers are especially bad people, but in English Law countries they form a very self-consciously privileged and rather narrow elite. This is understandable as their education and career is so demanding and interesting that it tends to restrict their social interactions and development. In other words, they are not one of the groups you would want dominating government. Back to Text.
The medical profession is of course another such group, but rather less politically active.
(2) The fairly extreme forms of Humanism based on the error or Culturalism that claim that a person is entirely formed by his or her culture and denies him any innate nature. Not only is this totally inaccurate, it leads to bad parenting, bad social design and dangerous attempts at utopian social engineering. Back to Text.
(3) The sixties revolution, or rather its justifying theories, were based on a mixture of wishful thinking and junk science, the prime example being Margaret Mead’s “Coming of Age in Samoa”. Worse, some areas such as the peace, anti-nuclear anti-gun and anti-Christianity movements turn out to have been, at least to start with, little more than KGB scams designed to confuse and damage the West, or offshoots of Communist religious dogma ( Encounter: Communism, 14/2/1999 discusses some of this).
The opening of the KGB records to scholars and testimony by many aging, ex-communists, shows that from the thirties financial and organizational help from the NKVD and its successor, the KBG, was far more important to some of the groups who shaped the sixties revolution than even the Right supposed. It must be emphasized, however, that the great mass of the people involved in these movements were unaware of this.
Note that I’m not saying that these movements would not have eventually arisen without outside help, just that they grew so large, so fast and took the rather extreme, in fact religious, form they did because of it. For example, greater responsibility would have been demanded from governments once people realized the insanity of having thousands of nuclear weapons, enough to damage the planet’s ecology, mounted on missiles all ready to go and of building huge, inherently unsafe nuclear reactors for power stations (small reactors can be made safe but not big ones). Back to Text.
(4) The degree to which many Western intellectuals, especially in academia, admired and were influenced by Communist ideas at a time when Stalin was murdering millions of people is now notorious. Even worse, was that a group who claimed to be the champions of tolerance ostracized and destroyed the academic career of anyone who dared to point out what was really happening in Russia.
Of course, few were Communists or even fellow travelers, most considered themselves merely left or liberal. (Liberal seems to have come to mean (a) progressive-moderate-left, (b) supporting fashionable groups and causes rather than being truly tolerant and (c) with strong centralist, verging on authoritarian, tendencies.) Nevertheless, the left wound up saddled with many policies and beliefs that were sourced from Communism, or as I mention above, from KGB and fellow traveler activities.
With many honorable exceptions, the German elites proved to be just as eager to support the Nazis, once they saw which way the wind was blowing. Back to Text.