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The Difference Between Censorship in the US and Russia

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We hear a lot of kvetching in the Western press about censorship in Russia. The ever-amusing Josh Keating over at Slate tells us that Russian bookstores have been pulling Maus from their shelves because the graphic novel features a swastika – that dastardly Putin at it again, banning Nazi propaganda:

“Before we scoff too much, it’s worth remembering that Maus has been challenged by skittish school libraries in the United States as well, but the case does illustrate something about how censorship works in contemporary Russia.”

(Before we scoff too much, American retailer JC Penny came under fire in 2013 due to a Michael Graves teapot because said teapot bore an uncanny resemblance to Adolf Hitler.)

In light of this, a recent round of ginned up “outrage” has me so puzzled and wondering if maybe we should be wondering ourselves if we are living in a censorship-free society. Pop singer Ariana Grande was filmed — without her knowledge — in a doughnut shop, licking a doughnut and then daring to disparage a tray of what I can only assume were bacon grease-filled deep-fried butter bombs with bacon-butter icing. The singer, viewing the tray, said the following: “What the f*** is that? That’s disgusting. I hate America. That’s disgusting.”

So, naturally, Americans got offended and Grande was shamed into issuing an extensive public apology and canceling scheduled appearances. Actor Rob Lowe weighed in, calling her apology “lame.” TMZ called her comments “fat-shaming.” Here I was thinking that part of being American means you get to say “I hate America.” I thought we were Je Suis Charlie. I guess not so much.

Sergei Dorenko calls this horizontal censorship. In “The Geometry of Censorship,” Mark Ames analyzes Dorenko’s “vertical” censorship, of which he accuses the Kremlin of employing, and compares it to the “horizontal” censorship of the West:

“This was contrasted to our “horizontal” censorship in the West: rather than coming from a tyrannical top-down force, our censorship is carried out horizontally, between colleagues and peers and “society”; through public pressure and peer pressure; through morality-policing; and from within oneself, one’s fears for one’s career, and fears one can’t necessarily articulate, fears that feel natural rather than imposed upon.

“Under vertical censorship, you know exactly who you fear, and therefore, who and what to avoid or sneak around and oppose. 

But horizontal censorship feels like it comes from everyone and anyone, depriving the censored of martyrdom status.

Which makes our “horizontal” censorship in many ways more effective and powerful than the cruder Kremlin “vertical” approach to censorship—according to Dorenko’s theory.”

I do not intend to take a pro-doughnut licking stance, but I do think that this incident is indicative of a distinct problem in American society. Celebrities and other public figures must issue heartfelt and repeated apologies after their remarks are made public, and are still socially and professionally shamed into retracting their comments. Unless they are Donald Trump and say things Americans secretly agree with and/or find hilarious, many times they are unable to recover their professional standing.

It may be easy to dismiss the pastry-related peccadilloes of a 22-year-old pop singer, but horizontal censorship gets carried over from the entertainment sector into political and foreign policy debates.

In Western society, horizontal censorship is tied to the offender’s self-worth. One misplaced comment or one poorly-worded Tweet, and suddenly that person’s value as a human being goes off the cliff.

Examples of social and cultural censorship in the United States are legion – from the Dixie Chicks criticizing George Bush and radio stations voluntarily pulling their music, to Seth Rogen having to apologize because he didn’t like American Sniper. The example that is particularly heinous is the personal and professional attacks endured by Dr. Stephen F. Cohen over his stance on Russia and Ukraine.

Cohen, a professor emeritus at Princeton University and New York University, a former adviser to CBS news on U.S./USSR relations, and my spirit animal, has consistently dissented from the party line on Russia and Ukraine and has been rewarded for his pains with character assassination in the American media. Even the virtuous Slate got in on the action – running an article about Cohen, entitled, “Putin’s Pal.”:

“As Cohen made Russia’s case and lamented the American media’s meanness to Vladimir Putin  in print  and  airwaves, he was mocked as a “patsy” and a “dupe” everywhere from the conservative to the liberal.

Now, as the hostilities in eastern Ukraine have turned to the tragedy of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, Cohen is at it again—this time, with a  long article  in the current issue of The Nation indicting Kiev’s atrocities in eastern Ukraine and America’s collusion therein.

The timing is rather unfortunate for Cohen and The Nation, since the piece is also unabashedly sympathetic to the Russian-backed militants who appear responsible for the murder of 298 innocent civilians.”

Never mind that Cohen has been consistently proven right. Never mind that there still is no conclusive evidence that the Eastern Ukrainian rebels are responsible for MH-17.

The shameful treatment of Dr. Cohen is particularly pernicious because, like during the lead-up to the Iraq War, it ignores a voice of peace among those clamoring for war. Only recently has the “liberal” Huffington Post seen fit to include Cohen’s viewpoint on the Ukraine crisis. Considering that U.S.-Russia relations deteriorated to their lowest point since the end of the Cold War while HuffPo jumped enthusiastically on the anti-Russian bandwagon from Sochi onward, their recent about-face appears as a weak attempt to appear unbiased.

In fact, this type of opinion-shaming isn’t limited to Western media sources. Earlier this year, I received a private message on a social network from a Ukrainian in response to post I had written in a news article’s comment section. I kept it so I can quote it here:

“i hope you get ill and die in pain, you dirty russian c**t troll” (Asterisks mine.)

Censorship in the United States comes from all corners, in deleted Tweets, extensive groveling apologies, and condescending lectures on what not to say to vegetarians. In authoritarian vertically censored societies, the devil you know has told the citizenry what speech is and is not acceptable. In horizontally censored societies, the devil you don’t know can appear at any time, to police your words, actions, and where applicable, deem you, your apology, and your value as a human being worthy of acceptance and you of forgiveness.

It sounds a lot like what Keating refers to in Slate:

“We may associate censorship in authoritarian countries with jackbooted police marching into libraries to confiscate banned literature, but more often, in Russia at least, it’s self-censoring for fear of violating intentionally vague laws.

As the Times wrote recently, ascribing the reaction of Moscow theaters to a new law banning obscenity in public performances, Cultural figures in Russia today describe a climate of confusion and anxiety. One publisher was quoted as saying that in Soviet times, at least we knew the rules.”

If Keating’s fear-mongering has any basis in reality, then it must be a brave new world to those who remember living in the Soviet Union to finally experience Western-style horizontal censorship first-hand.

Which is worse — overzealous compliance with laws that, while admittedly vague, give citizens a guideline about what might fall under their purview – or a society that claims to be free and open but has consistently shown that it hasn’t evolved much beyond its infamous witch trials?

I think we can all agree that censorship in all forms is wrong, but I do think that we would all have one less problem without America’s puritanical exceptionalism.

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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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Spanish historian Almudena Rubio, one of the researchers at the International Institute of Social History, working last May on documents from the Spanish Civil War.
Spanish historian Almudena Rubio, one of the researchers at the International Institute of Social History, working last May on documents from the Spanish Civil War.Marc Driessen

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.”

Letters from writer Pío Baroja to Ada Martí Vall.
Letters from writer Pío Baroja to Ada Martí Vall.Marc Driessen

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.”

The document from the CNT-FAI ordering Durruti to depart for Madrid.
The document from the CNT-FAI ordering Durruti to depart for Madrid.Marc Driessen

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.

Baroja’s letters

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.

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US Anti-Immigration Website Vdare.com Raises $40K in 1 Day in Year-End Fund Drive

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“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 youTHANK 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.

Help us reach our final goal – let’s keep up this incredible momentum. Please, give your most generous donation now!

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Domestic air routes to be restored by mid July, says Minister

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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”.

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