The author’s original title of this article was better than what we could come up with: ‘The October Revolution and You’
Orlov is one of our favorite essayists on Russia and all sorts of other things. He moved to the US as a child, and lives in the Boston area.
He is one of the better-known thinkers The New Yorker has dubbed ‘The Dystopians’ in an excellent 2009 profile, along with James Howard Kunstler, another regular contributor to RI (archive). These theorists believe that modern society is headed for a jarring and painful crack-up.
He is best known for his 2011 book comparing Soviet and American collapse (he thinks America’s will be worse). He is a prolific author on a wide array of subjects, and you can see his work by searching him on Amazon.
He has a large following on the web, and on Patreon, and we urge you to support him there, as Russia Insider does.
His current project is organizing the production of affordable house boats for living on. He lives on a boat himself.
Today is the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution of 1917. It caused a lot of death and destruction, which I won’t go into because you can read all about it elsewhere. It also caused a great outpouring of new art, literature, architecture and culture in general, putting the previously somewhat stodgy Russia securely in the world’s avant-garde.
It also resulted in a tremendous surge of industrialization, rapidly transforming a previously mostly agrarian, though gradually industrializing nation into a global industrial powerhouse (at great human cost). But perhaps most importantly, the revolution destroyed all of the previously dominant institutions of privilege based on heredity, class and wealth and replaced them with an egalitarian social model centered on the working class.
And it demonstrated (as much through propaganda as by actual example) how this new model was more competitive: while the West wallowed in the Great Depression, the USSR surged ahead both economically and socially.
For all of its many failings, the USSR did serve as a shining city on the hill to the downtrodden millions around the world, including in the USA, fermenting rebellion, so that even there the one-percent ownership class eventually had to stop and think.
Reluctantly, they decided to stop trying to destroy organized labor movements, introduced state old-age pensions (misnamed “Social Security”) and declared a euphemistic “war on poverty.” And with that a “middle class” was created—so called because it was literally in the middle, having risen out of poverty but still safely walled off from the one-percent ownership class. But as we shall see this effect was temporary.
Eventually the USSR evaporated, as artificial, synthetic political entities often do. The reasons for this disappearing act are too numerous to mention, but one of the main ones was that the Soviet political elite turned itself into a much-hated, privileged caste, and then failed to reproduce, turning into a moribund gerontocracy.
When the old cadres finally started dying out, the new generation that came in included plenty of traitors who did their best to destroy the system and grab a piece for themselves. This effect was plain to see, but was it the root cause? When a complex system collapses, every part of it is touched to one extent or another, and it becomes impossible to say which one played the key role in precipitating the collapse.
With the USSR gone, the owners of the USA had no one to compete against and were no longer under any sort of pressure to maintain the illusion of an equitable and egalitarian society. Instead, they concentrated on two projects, one ideological, the other economic.
The ideological project involved wrecking what was left of the USSR to the greatest extent possible in order to paint a convincing picture of the horrible consequences of communism or socialism and to herd everyone toward wholeheartedly embracing unfettered capitalism. The economic project involved eviscerating the American middle class—a process that by now has largely run its course.
Since the creation of the middle class was a multigenerational project, so is its destruction. But the effects of this process on society are already plain to see: there is an overhang of still relatively well-off retirees while their children and grandchildren have greatly diminished economic and social prospects.
Meanwhile, the hastily erected scaffolding that created the appearance of egalitarianism has been knocked out. Organized labor is all but finished. Borders have been thrown open to foreign labor and cheap imports.
Entry into the middle class has been blocked through a variety of measures including the relentless dumbing down of public education, the equally relentless overpricing of higher education, the health care extortion scheme, the rationing of justice based on wealth and privilege, wealth confiscation using a succession of artificial real estate market bubbles and so on.
Overall, the former middle class is being whittled down to nothing the same way that the Chinese “coolies” were dealt with once the railroads had been built: don’t feed them much but give them plenty of opium (now being grown in Afghanistan under the watchful eye of Western troops). To sum it up: if you aren’t happy with the way things are going in the US, you have a choice.
You can of course blame Russia—for getting rid of the USSR. Or you can blame your owners—your one percent—who have owned you ever since the King of England appointed the Lords Proprietors.
Within Russia itself the commemoration of the October Revolution is no longer a public holiday. But there was a sort of commemoration held on the vast Palace Square in St. Petersburg, which I attended with my five-year-old son on my shoulders. It was his first time in a crowd of 35,000, and he was duly impressed. It was a light-and-sound extravaganza consisting of two shows which played in alternation.
On the vast semicircular facade of the General Staff building was broadcast a multimedia retrospective of the October Revolution that included the reading of historical documents (such as the abdication of Nicholas II) and works of poetry. It ended on an upbeat note—yes, many horrible events took place, but Russia is now reborn—with the General Staff’s façade painted in the Russian tricolor.
A different show was presented on the façade of the Winter Palace across the square. Here, multimedia artists from across Europe (including France, Italy, Spain and Poland) used projected light to decorate and transform the palace to music that sung praises to the beauty of St. Petersburg. The audience was invited to use their phones to vote for the best one.
A Russian TV News Report from the Palace Square light show
After the show, as we filtered out of the Palace Square and walked home along the Palace Embankment, my five-year-old son asked some good questions that he had formulated while watching the show. “Did a lot of people die?” (Yes.) “But Russia was then and is now?” (Yes, Russia has been around for a 1000 years and will probably be around for 1000 years more.) “Why do people have to die?” (Because otherwise we we would be full-up with useless old people and there wouldn’t be enough room for young people.) And then the obvious follow-up: “Why are we full-up with useless old people anyway?” (???) And finally: “Why do we bury dead people?” (Because they smell really bad.) “Ah…” A rather unsentimental youth, wouldn’t you say? But he was only one of the thousands of quite similar-minded ones who were in attendance that day, riding on their fathers’ shoulders or marching along. Welcome to Russia…
One of the reasons why the USSR failed was because the idiocy of the ideology of Soviet communism became too painful to tolerate. In a sense, this was inevitable. You see, ideology is a product of intellectuals, and intellectuals tend to be idiots, making “intellectual idiocy” something of an oxymoron. We are born equipped with MonkeyBrain 2.0 that can handle abstraction only too well but always fails when attempting to reconcile it with messy physical reality. And so it would be a grave error to think that, just because communist ideology is idiotic, capitalist ideology is any less so.
By now most thinking people realize that capitalism has failed just has communism had. We can only hope that one day the US will do with its capitalist legacy what Russia has done with its communist one: turn it into a festive art installation that both children and adults can enjoy.
Source: Club Orlov
International Institute of Social History: Why Amsterdam is home to a trove of archives on Spanish anarchism and the anti-Franco resistance | Culture
A significant part of historical memory regarding Spain’s anarchist movement and the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) can be found at the International Institute of Social History (IISH) in Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
Founded in 1935, the IISH is home to the historical archive of the National Confederation of Labor (CNT), an anarchist labor union, and the Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI) – documents known in Spain as the so-called “Amsterdam boxes” – along with an extensive collection on workers’ activism and social movements across the world.
Sneaked out of the country to preclude confiscation by the regime of dictator Francisco Franco, these 47 boxes take up a stretch of the institute’s 20 kilometers of shelves and include the CNT-FAI’s order to the León-born anarchist leader Buenaventura Durruti to travel to Madrid in 1936, where he would meet his end in uncertain circumstances. The IISH also houses the archives from the anti-Franco resistance and the Ruedo Ibérico publishing house founded in Paris in 1961 by five exiles from the Spanish Civil War with the aim of producing anti-fascist material to counter the dictatorship’s propaganda. Adding to the cache are archives relating to the libertarian trade unionists and feminists, original letters from writer Pío Baroja, a member of the Generation of ’98, and thousands of photos of the Civil War that were thought to have been lost, including images captured by Polish photographer, Margaret Michaelis and Hungarian photographer, Kati Horna. Altogether, it amounts to the legacy of a polarized period of history that is a mine of information for researchers.
The unsealed document containing the order to Durruti, signed by the regional committees of the CNT-FAI, was dated November 9, 1936, and stipulated that “comrade Durruti, without further delay, leave for Madrid […] to intervene decisively in the defense of the capital of Spain.” According to Almudena Rubio, responsible for recovering the document, it is proof that “the leadership of the National Confederation of Labor and the Iberian Anarchist Federation was behind that decision, while Durruti himself wanted to take Zaragoza.”
Rubio adds that it was not uncommon for orders from the CNT-FAI to be unsealed, and that, though there was a rift between the union and its rank and file, “it seems that Durruti was considered essential to the anti-fascist struggle in the capital.” By ordering a change of plans for the anarchist, “the communists, who were already taking positions in Madrid, benefitted as did [Russian leader Joseph] Stalin, who was against the social revolution pursued by Durruti,” she says.
Those signing the document mention “the enormous possibilities of success [of our comrades] if our help reaches them,” and “the pleas of the people of Madrid, who are calling on us.” The reality, however, was quite different. Durruti was shot dead days after arriving with no conclusive explanation for his death. His driver, Clemente Cuyás, said in 1993 that he had been the victim of an accidental shot from his own rifle and that the CNT-FAI demanded any witnesses remain silent. Other versions speak of his death in combat or from a traitor’s bullet.
The arrival in the Netherlands of the CNT-FAI archive was not without its share of drama. “When it became clear in 1939 that the Republican side would not win the Civil War, union representatives took it to the Paris branch of the IISH,” says Leo Lucassen, IISH research director. “They did it as private individuals, to avoid the new fascist state being able to claim it later as belonging to a Spanish organization.”
Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, the archive was transferred from Paris to the United Kingdom and was taken to Amsterdam in 1947. Closed for three decades, until Franco’s death, an inventory wasn’t taken until the 1980s. Lucassen stresses that the Spanish Civil War generated ideas on an international scale that had an indisputable impact. “Proof of this is that among the International Brigades there were hundreds of Dutch people committed to what was presented as the ultimate struggle: the fight between good and evil,” he says, adding that it was, however, difficult for them to return to the Netherlands. “Their passports were taken from them as they had fought with a foreign army. They were seen as traitors to their homeland, but also as liberating icons.” The nationality of Dutch members of the International Brigades was reinstated in 1970, and Amsterdam dedicated a monument to them in 1986 in a square called Spanje (Spain) 1936-1939.
Among the Spanish correspondence preserved in the Archive of the Spanish Resistance, which collected documents up to 1974, are three original letters by the writer Pío Baroja. They are addressed to Concepción Martí Vall or Ada Martí, an anarchist writer and journalist who was an admirer of Baroja though she later distanced herself from him, feeling he had betrayed the social nature of his early works. Dated 1936, when Martí was 21 and Baroja 64, the letters’ tone suggests an exchange between an idealized professor and his pupil. For example, Baroja confesses his passion to “live to write, write to live;” while also telling Martí things such as, “I no longer need a compass because I am anchored in the harbor. You are the one who should be attentive to the marking needle.” The cultural center Ateneu Enciclopèdic de Barcelona has a photocopy of these missives and was unaware of the presence of the originals in Amsterdam until now.
Meanwhile, the archive of the Ruedo Ibérico publishing house contains the manuscript of Viaje al Sur (or, The Trip South) – a book the publishers commissioned Juan Marsé to write but which was assumed to have gone missing until it was realized that it has been renamed Andalucía, perdido amor (or, Andalusia, lost love) with Marsé writing under the pseudonym Manolo Reyes; it was published after the writer’s death, in 2020, by Lumen publishing house.
An archive of archives
Founded in 1935 by Dutch professor of social and economic history, Nicolaas Posthumus (1880-1960), the IISH has become an archive of archives. Its treasures include papers by Karl Marx, Freidrich Engels, Mikhail Bakunin and the anarchist Emma Goldman, which are among one million books and publications, 5,400 collections and 1.5 million audiovisuals. “Posthumus was interested in the intellectual roots of ideas from anarchists, socialists, liberals and Christian democrats,” says Lucassen. “Around 1930, when left-wing movements were threatened by fascism and National Socialism in Europe, he began to receive documents from social organizations, often taken under the radar from their countries of origin which enabled him to maintain the independence of the new center. Entire collections of left-wing publications from Latin American countries such as Argentina and Bolivia have been entrusted to us. It is a heritage that continues to be sent to the center from areas where similar conflicts persist.”
Rubio hopes to present an exhibition in 2022 with the Civil War images taken by Kati Horna, and her colleague, Margaret Michaelis, recovered from 2015. They were commissioned by the CNT-FAI to provide a graphic testimony of the social revolution it intended; the photos were in the photographic archive of the CNT-FAI’s foreign propaganda offices, included in the Amsterdam boxes.
English version by Heather Galloway.
US Anti-Immigration Website Vdare.com Raises $40K in 1 Day in Year-End Fund Drive
“Tuesday’s kickoff of VDARE.com’s year end fundraiser started with what I thought was a challenging goal: to bring in $5,000 in one day to meet a matching donation pledged by one of our standout donors. Little did I know what an enormous groundswell of support we would receive, ultimately breaking VDARE.com’s 20 year record for donations in 24 hours.
We promoted the initial challenge in the usual ways across all social media platforms and via email. But I’m always on pins and needles in anticipation of a fundraiser. On Tuesday morning the donations started coming in early and generous – what was encouraging quickly became astonishing, and by noon eastern time we were mere dollars from meeting our $5,000 goal. It was still mid-morning on the west coast! So I started calling around to some of our most generous friends.
My first call was to South Carolina, to the donor who gave us the initial $5k, to see if he, like me, was high on the turnout and inspired to increase his gift. He was, indeed, delighted by the money coming in but was tapped out. Too many obligations to the tax man and a nagging lawsuit.
Next call was to Washington state, to a donor who first donated last December after finding us on Twitter. He’s frequently in the wilderness, so I wasn’t surprised to have to leave a voicemail.
Then I rang Oklahoma, to one of our most engaged donors, a man who has been funding VDARE.com – and other dissident right organizations — for more than twelve years. But he’s already doubled his giving to VDARE.com this year and cheered me on to call upon someone else.
Finally, I called another Washington state donor (we have a very generous pocket of readers in the Pacific Northwest) who has been generously supporting VDARE.com for close to fifteen years. I hit voicemail with him, too.
Meanwhile the tally kept rising. As did the mood in the office, I can assure you! Noah on video support began putting together the intro and graphics for the evening’s livestream while my assistant and I called out each time a new donation came in. It was wild, and at times wacky.
“$55 from Pennsylvania!”
“OH! $200 from Idaho!”
Suddenly the phone rang. Our friend had emerged from the wilderness. “This matching grant has really inspired people today, and I think a stretch goal would keep the momentum up,” I told him, “we might even set a record for giving. What do you think about pledging $2,000?”
Without missing a beat, he said “I was thinking about $10,000.”
And just like that, we had a stretch goal twice the size of our original. Even more amazing: it was met by individual small donations within two hours.
I ordered Chinese takeout for the team – John Derbyshire, Noah the video tech, my assistant, Peter and myself – as we switched gears heading into the livestream slated for my living room. My kids were all excited to have so many guests for dinner, and it turns out John never has Chinese takeout, presumably because he has a Chinese wife, so I like to think it was exciting for him too! As we negotiated with the children about their appearance on camera to say “Merry Christmas,” the phone rang again.
As soon as I picked up the phone, almost without saying hello, my fifteen-years-loyal donor announced, “I’m pledging $5,000, how much do you have in so far?”
At this point, we had only barely met the first stretch goal and the night was closing in on the east coast. Sure, we had the livestream coming up, but I worried that maybe we had captured everything there was to capture. But why not give it a try? We’d already broken the record for one day of mass giving – but we may as well SHATTER IT! As Buzz Lightyear said, to infinite and beyond!
I shouldn’t have doubted. This community always comes through when we need you.
Two hours later, as we closed out the livestream, we were only $387 short of the super stretch goal. That amount – and more – came in within minutes of turning off the mics. By midnight we surpassed the super stretch matching by over $1,000, bringing our 24 hour total, including the fully matched pledges, to $42, 574!
That’s almost a quarter of the way to our final goal of $200,000 that we need to reach by January 1.
In one day.
Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU!
We have a lot more in store for you during this Year End Appeal, and I’m so looking forward to amplifying different voices from our staff and supporters as they ruminate on VDARE.com’s 20 years of patriotic immigration reform. But ultimately, this is about you, our readers, America’s patriots.
VDARE.com may be the voice of the historic American nation, but we are only the voice. The community is the body. And we’re getting stronger every day.
Domestic air routes to be restored by mid July, says Minister
Regional flights to Donegal and Kerry should resume by the middle of July, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has said.
The Green Party leader said the Government has been in contact with a number of different airlines about restoring routes linking the counties with Dublin after the collapse of Stobart Air.
Both routes are subsidised by the State under Public Service Obligation (PSO) contracts.
Under EU rules, the Government is allowed to make arrangements to continue axed services for seven months before renegotiating a four year PSO contract, Mr Ryan told RTÉ radio.
Airlines interested in taking over the two routes are to be approached next week before a “judgment call” is made on the most suitable operators.
Mr Ryan said he expects them to be in place by “mid-July”.
Minister has ‘no idea’ how many funds will escape 10% stamp duty, says Doherty
UN put Rohingya ‘at risk’ by sharing data without consent, says rights group | Rohingya
International Institute of Social History: Why Amsterdam is home to a trove of archives on Spanish anarchism and the anti-Franco resistance | Culture
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