Bring back welfare

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at
Mon Apr 9 19:59:08 MDT 2001

Now, not to make light of repression but just to make light in general, a Trot told
me this one a couple of years ago:

    An American reporter gets a pass to visit Moscow. It's 1956, just after the buzz
on the street becomes of Kruschev's secret speech, and what kind of changes in the
way people are from day to day will result. The reporter finds a small tavern, goes
in sits down and quietly asks the local workers around him:
"psst! Hey you! Can I ask you a question?" He is ignored, and in a hostile fashion
several times, until finally one person responds:
"What do you want to know?" Cautiously, the American asks "What did you think of
Stalin?"  "Ahh! so you want to know about that....quiet! Come with me... follow me."
Says the young Russian. He quickly is leading the American down the street, around
the corner and through an alleyway- stops, looks around and heads into what seems a
quiet, desolate corner of the Capitol city.
"So you want to know about Stalin. Well, to tell you the truth, I kind of like him."

----- Original Message -----
From: <ermadog at>
> This to me is the most alarming aspect. Totalitarian regimes function in
> part because they place mechanisms of ad hominum attack in the hands of
> ordinary citizens. All-purpose charges such as "hooliganism"(the former
> Soviet Union), being "un-Aryan" (Nazi Germany), "withcraft" (all of
> Christiandom under the Inquisition), "un-Americanism" (McCarthy-era
> America), allow for populist policing as a subjunct to official policing.
> I'm sure everyone on this list understands better than I the difference
> between a totalitarian state and an ordinary police state.

While not downplaying any of the above mentioned "crimes", the Hanah Arendt thesis is
a deliberate attempt to do two things: Equate Nazism= Stalinism, as well as make
"democracy" seem like it is a different beast all-together, that has risen above
these "others" in that it is a negative-freedom lover. All of which is implied- and
goes a very long way to explaining why "Totalitarianism" has been heavily promoted as
an ideological construct in at least North American Universities, if not European as
well. Authoritarian is the best phrase to use- when one is trying to convey that
civil liberties are being eroded in the name of a stronger state, and for the sake of
official ideology. All of these catch-all phrases are suspect- they have no class
base- but at least the former isn't a judgement on levels of extremity. All the
extremity analysis (is Cuba totalitarian or authoritarian?- I've heard students ask
teachers this at least three times in my post secondary advancement thus far) is like
taking a system and asking someone to point out psychological charachter flaws within


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