The Lost Tram

I walked an unfamiliar street
And suddenly heard a raven’s cry,
And the sound of a lute, and distant thunder,-
In front of me a tram was flying.

How I jumped onto its foot board,
Was a mystery to me,
Even in daylight it left behind
A fiery trail in the air.

It rushed like a dark, winged storm,
And was lost in the abyss of time…
Tram-driver, stop,
Stop the tram now.

Too late. We had already turned the corner,
We tore through a forest of palms,
Over the Neva, the Nile, the Seine
We thundered across three bridges.

And slipping by the window frame,
A poor old man threw us an inquisitive glance-
The very same old man, of course,
Who had died in Beirut a year ago.

Where am I? So languid and troubled
The beat of my heart responds:
‘Do you see the station where you can buy
A ticket to the India of the soul?’

A sign…Blood-filled letters
Announce: ‘Zelennaya,’-I know that here
Instead of cabbages and rutabagas
The heads of the dead are for sale.

In a red shirt, with a face like an udder,
The executioner cuts my head off, too,
It lies together with the others
Here, in a slippery box, at the very bottom.

And in a side street a board fence,
A house three windows wide, a gray lawn…
Tram-driver, stop,
Stop the tram now.

Mashenka, you lived here and sang,
You wove me, your betrothed, a carpet,
Where are your voice and body now,
Is it possible that you are dead?

How you groaned in your front chamber,
While I, in a powdered wig,
Went to introduce myself to the Empress
Never to see you again.

Now I understand: our freedom
Is only an indirect light from those times,
People and shadows stand at the entrance
To a zoological park of planets.

And a sudden, familiar, sweet wind blows,
A horseman’s hand in an iron glove
And two hooves of his horse
Fly at me over the bridge.

That faithful stronghold of Orthodoxy,
Isaac’s, is etched upon the sky,
There I will hold a service for Mashenka’s health
And a requiem mass for myself.

And my heart goes on forever in gloom,
It is hard to breathe and painful to live…
Mashenka, I never would have dreamed
That such love and longing were possible.

Nikolai Stepanovich Gumilev

I Wrung My Hands

I Wrung My Hands

By Anna Akhmatova, 1911

I wrung my hands under my dark veil. . .
“Why are you pale, what makes you reckless?”
— Because I have made my loved one drunk
with an astringent sadness.

I’ll never forget.  He went out, reeling;
his mouth was twisted, desolate. . .
I ran downstairs, not touching the banisters,
and followed him as far as the gate.

And shouted, choking: “I meant it all
in fun.  Don’t leave me, or I’ll die of pain.”
He smiled at me — oh so calmly, terribly —
and said: “Why don’t you get out of the rain?”

Putin On Wokeness

This, from the Daily Wire,

October, 22, 2021

Putin Warns Wokeness Is Destroying The West: It Happened In Russia, It’s Evil, It Destroys Values

Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed during a speech on Thursday the far-left woke ideology that he said is causing societal ills throughout the Western world, saying that it is no different than what happened in Russia during the 1917 revolution.

Putin made the remarks during a plenary session of the 18th annual meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi where the topic was “Global Shake-up in the 21st Century.” Putin’s remarks were translated by an interpreter and that video was uploaded to the Russian government’s website.

“We see with bemusement the paralysis unfolding in countries that have grown accustomed to viewing themselves as the flagships of progress,” Putin said during an event where he spoke for a few hours. “Of course, it’s none of our business or what is happening, the social and cultural shocks that are happening in some countries in the Western countries, some believe that aggressive blotting out of whole pages of your own history, the affirmative action in the interest of minorities, and the requirement to renounce the traditional interpretation of such basic values as mother, father, family, and the distinction between sexes are a milestone … a renewal of society.”

Putin said that Western nations had a right to do whatever they wanted to do but that “the overwhelming majority of Russian society” rejected these new ways of thinking.

“The preparedness of the so called social progress believe that the bringing a new conscience, a new consciousness to humanity, something that is more correct,” Putin said. “But there is one thing I would like to say: The recipes they come up with are nothing new. Paradoxical as it may seem, but this is something we saw in Russia. It happened in our country before after the 1917 revolution, the Bolsheviks followed the dogmas of Marx and Engels. And they also declared that they would go into change the traditional lifestyle, the political, the economic lifestyle, as well as the very notion of morality, the basic principles for a healthy society. They were trying to destroy age and century long values, revisiting the relationship between the people, they were encouraging informing on one’s own beloved, and families. It was hailed as the march of progress. And it was very popular across the world and it was supported by many, as we see, it is happening right now.”

“Incidentally, the Bolsheviks were absolutely intolerant of other opinions, different from their own,” Putin continued. “I think this should remind you of something that is happening. And we see what is happening in the Western countries, it is with puzzlement that we see the practices Russia used to have and that we left behind in distant path, the fight for equality and against discrimination turns into an aggressive dogmatism on the brink of absurdity, when great authors of the past such as Shakespeare are no longer taught in schools and universities because they announced as backward classics that did not understand the importance of gender or race.”

“In Hollywood there are leaflets reminding what you should do in the cinema, in the films, how many personalities and actors you’ve got, what kind of color, what sex, and sometimes it’s even even tighter and stricter than what the Department of Propaganda of the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee did,” he said. “And the fight against racism, which is a lofty goal, turns into a new culture, cancel culture, and into reverse discrimination, racism on the obverse. And it brings people apart, whereas the true fighters for civic rights, they were trying to eliminate those differences. I asked my colleagues to find this quote from Martin Luther King, and he said, ‘I have a dream, that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.’ That is a true value.”

“You know, the Bolsheviks were speaking about nationalizing not just the property, but also women,” Putin continued. “The proponents of new approaches go so far as they want to eliminate the whole notions of men and women, and those who dare say that men and women exist and this is a biological fact, they are all but banished. Parent number one, parent number two, or the parent that has given birth, or instead of breast milk, you say human milk. And you say all of that, so the people who are not sure of their sexual agenda are not unhappy.”

“And I would like to say that this is not something new, and the 20s and the 1920s, the Soviet couture Tagore came up with the so called ‘Newspeak’, and they thought that thereby they were building a new consciousness and coming up with new values, and they went so far that we feel the consequences up until now,” he concluded on the matter.

“There are some monstrous things when from a very young age, you teach to children that the boy can easily become a girl and you impose on them this selection, this choice. You push the parents aside and make the child take this decisions that can destroy their lives. And if we call the spade a spade, this is nigh to crime against humanity and all of that under the banner of progress, while some people just want to do that.”

The Noble Savage

There are many scholars today that are working hard to refute the idea that Rousseau ever believed in, or coined the term, “noble savage.”

For me, this argument is irrelevant and superfluous.

It is clear, from his own writings that Rousseau believed that Man was better off living in a state of pure nature; unfettered by laws, courts, kings, governments, civilization, or flush toilets.

Did he really believe there was such a thing as a, noble savage?

It does not matter, because millions upon millions of woke, socialist, cultural Marxists both in the present and in the past believed it.

Their eternal war against social injustice, racism, class differences, sexism, is at it’s core, a war against civilization itself.

That war did not end with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. It continues today in America and Western Europe where the Woke religious faith of anti-racism and equity of Cultural Marxists has become the new state religion.

The various demonstrations, riots, uprisings, revolutions, terrorism, and armed conflicts in the name of “social justice” are in reality an expedient vehicle used to return society to a state of nature; without laws, social classes, racism, or capitalism.

In Boris Pasternak’s 1957 novel Doctor Zhivago, he sums up this destruction of civilization, in the name of social justice, for a return to a state of nature; a state without classes, races, or rules.

“Everything had changed suddenly–the tone, the moral climate; you didn’t know what to think, whom to listen to. As if all your life you had been led by the hand like a small child and suddenly you were on your own, you had to learn to walk by yourself. There was no one around, neither family nor people whose judgment you respected. At such a time you felt the need of committing yourself to something absolute–life or truth or beauty–of being ruled by it in place of the man-made rules that had been discarded. You needed to surrender to some such ultimate purpose more fully, more unreservedly than you had ever done in the old familiar, peaceful days, in the old life that was now abolished and gone for good.”
― Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago, 1957

The Noble Savage is Not Noble

Yes, those on the Left worship the Noble Savage.

They imagine him existing in a pure state of nature on the plains of North America, the ancient Russian Steppe, or in the jungles of Africa, living a life undefiled by civilization, capitalism, racism, or class divisions.

They fantasize about multicultural, multi-racial communal farms on the Russian Steppe, or the American Prairie, where the Noble Savage works hard toiling the soil with no thought of material reward for himself; only for the “community” which he joyfully shares the fruit of his labor.

With no rule of law, capitalism, or “White supremacy” to oppress him, the Noble Savage lives a life of peace, equality, and social justice, where everyone is equal, and racial and class differences do not exist.

President Putin on Gender

One of the things about Vladimir Putin that I love, is that in a world of lies and Woke propaganda, he is one of the few world leaders who speaks the truth about the complex issues that humanity faces.

This, from Russia Today….

October 21, 2021

‘Simply monstrous’:

Putin says teaching young children they can easily swap genders is a ‘borderline crime against humanity’

A growing campaign in the West to do away with gender-based language defies reason and is subverting human nature, Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed, arguing children should not be taught biological sex does not exist.

“The discussion about the rights of men and women has turned into a total phantasmagoria in a number of Western countries,” Putin said in a speech to dignitaries and reporters at the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi, Russia on Thursday. “Those who risk saying that men and women still exist, and that this is a biological fact, are virtually ostracized.”

He listed examples, such as banning words like “mother” and “father” in favor of terms like “parent one and parent two”, as well as “banning the phrase ‘breast milk’ and replacing it with ‘human milk’ so that people insecure about their own gender wouldn’t get upset.”

“And this is not new,” the Russian president went on. “In the 1920s, Soviet culture-warriors invented a so-called ‘newspeak,’ believing that in this way they would create a new sense of consciousness and redefine people’s values.”

“This is not to mention things that are simply monstrous,” he added, “like when children are taught from an early age that a boy can easily become a girl and vice versa. In fact, they are indoctrinating them into the alleged choices that are supposedly available to everyone – removing parents from the equation and forcing the child to make decisions that can ruin their lives.”

This is borderline crime against humanity – all under the guise of ‘progress.’

In 2019, Putin insisted that Russia maintains “a very relaxed attitude towards the LGBT community,” saying, “We aren’t biased against them.” However, he added, “let’s give children an opportunity to grow up and decide afterwards who they want to be. Leave them alone.”

The country introduced a law in 2013 banning the “promotion of non-traditional sexual values among minors” as part of a bill designed to safeguard family values. While it was criticized by a number of international human rights groups at the time, Putin said the measures were important for protecting children.

Russia has “very relaxed attitude towards the LGBT community, we aren’t biased against them,” but the minority must not aggressively disseminate its views among minors who may not be able to decide on their own, he told reporters.

“Let’s give children an opportunity to grow up and decide afterwards who they want to be. Leave them alone,” Putin urged.

[They] invented 6 or 5 genders. Transformers, trans… I have no idea what that even is.

Another part of the problem is that “this part of the society” is advancing their views “by force” on the majority, Putin said, citing “so-called sexual education” as an example.

The Father of Soviet Music

They called him, “The father of the Soviet Symphony.”

Why the Communist authorities in Moscow chose Nikolai Myaskovsky (1881-1950) as one of their favorite composers, or bestowed upon him the title of “father” is anyone’s guess.

I suspect that it has a lot to do with the fact that unlike Prokofiev or Shostakovich, Myaskovsky’s music sounded less “modern” or atonal to the ears of Soviet authorities and his music was thus considered more accessible to the general public; i.e. “workers and peasants.”

That, and he steered clear of politics and controversy.

Actually, any Soviet composer who wanted to survive in Stalin’s Russia did exactly that. Shostakovich had two very close calls with death and imprisonment and was lucky to live. (Stalin hated and loathed the vast majority of his music.)

Most Russian composers, (including Myaskovsky), tried very hard to avoid offending Stalin and his ignorant lackeys and did their best (when composing music) to avoid ever seeing the inside of a KGB prison cell.

Nikolai Myaskovsky (1881-1950)

A Huge Body of Work

In his 69 years on this planet, Nikolai Myaskovsky wrote an amazing amount of compositions, far too many to list here. But just a small sample encompasses 27 symphonies, 13 string quartets, 9 piano sonatas, and dozens upon dozens of various other works for voice, strings, and orchestra. And the high quality of the individual works themselves are beyond compare.

I love his music.

I would say he is in the top 10 of the greatest Russian composers, and that is a very crowded field indeed, considering that Russia produced more outstanding composers than even Germany.

His Work Embodies Russia

I would stop short of calling him, “the father of the Soviet Symphony” but in my mind there is no doubt that he is one of the “most Russian” of all of Russia’s composers. His music is the embodiment of Russia; old and new.

What I mean by that is simply this: When you listen to a symphony by Nikolai Myaskovsky you are first struck by how romantic and even 19th-century it sounds. His music sounds like Russia because it is romantic and melodic. This is especially astonishing considering that he composed all of his music, including his symphonies, in the 20th century.

Are they “Soviet Symphonies?” I would argue no, but they are most certainly “Russian.” Nikolai Myaskovsky personally witnessed and lived through some of the most violent and terrifying periods of Russian history.

His 6th Symphony is a good example of this musical expression of his personal sorrow and hardship brought on by the conflicts he lived through.

Nikolai Myaskovsky’s Symphony 6

From Wikipedia:

Soviet commentators used to describe the work (Symphony No. 6) as an attempt to portray the development and early struggles of the Soviet state, but it is now known that its roots were more personal. The harsh, emphatically descending chordal theme with which the symphony begins apparently arose in the composer’s mind at a mass rally in which he heard the Soviet Procurator Nikolai Krylenko conclude his speech with the call “Death, death to the enemies of the revolution!” Myaskovsky had been affected by the deaths of his father, his close friend Alexander Revidzev and his aunt Yelikonida Konstantinovna Myaskovskaya,[2] and especially by seeing his aunt’s body in a bleak, empty Petrograd flat during the winter of 1920.

His Final Work: A Most Russian Symphony

His 27th and final symphony written in 1949, one year before his death in 1950, in many ways, sums up his life experience living under Soviet rule. The beauty of Russia, mixed with the sorrow of living in Soviet times, permeates this expansive, atmospheric work of unparalled beauty and humanity.

Hands down, this is my favorite Myaskovsky symphony.

One commentator said this….

It’s remarkable how Nikolai Miaskovsky’s final symphony, composed in 1949, sounds as if it had been written even earlier than his 1923 Symphony No. 6. Whereas the Sixth displays forward-looking harmonic techniques reminiscent of Scriabin, Symphony No. 27 steps backward into a comfortable Glazunov-style romantic idiom. That’s not to say it’s uninteresting. Miaskovsky’s melodic material is memorable, from the portentous recurring idea of the first movement to the profound Adagio with its gorgeous, finely-spun main theme. The orchestral writing is typical of this composer, which means it’s based solidly on Russian orchestral tradition with its muscular strings, piquant winds, and of course, prominent brass, all of which the Russian State Symphony conveys very well under Valeri Polyanski’s sympathetic direction.

And yet, another commentator said this about the 27th symphony…..

The 27th symphony is a beautiful work, full of heroic implications and some fantastic perorations that are particularly impressive in the final Presto which is boisterous without being too decadent. The composer managed to combine arch romantic elements into the Stalinist conceptions of his era; dying in 1950 he could not be called as a post-Stalinist, obviously his large output of symphonies created accusations of mass production. Polyansky’s version is quite unimpeachable and extremely well recorded and I would declare that this interpretation can now be a confident first choice all around.

Five Stalin Prizes

Myaskovsky won five Stalin prizes: more than any other Russian/Soviet composer.

1941 – first class for Symphony No. 21

1946 – first class for String Quartet No. 9

1946 – first class for Concerto for Cello and Orchestra

1950 – second class for Sonata No. 2 for cello and piano

1951 – first class for Symphony No. 27 and String Quartet No. 13.

Some concluding Thoughts

So who is the “father of Soviet Music?”

I would argue that the twin evils of war and revolution are the real “fathers” of music composed during the Soviet period in Russia from 1905 (the first bloody revolution) and 1917 until the fall of the Communist state in 1991.

It is in this horrifying crucible of war and revolution, of famine and terror, especially the terrible Stalinist times of 1930 to 1953 where the real anguish of the Russian soul pours out in symphonies, string quartets, and operas.

Mikhail Smirnov, tank driver. He ended the war with 21 years, 3 medals and 4 orders.

Sunstroke

Of the two things that you can say about Russian films and Russian novels is that, one, they hit you in the gut and provoke an emotional, visceral reaction. And two, that they are unforgettable.

Once you read a Russian novel (I highly recommend Dostoevsky) or see a Russian film, you will always remember the experience due to it’s visceral, emotional intensity.

Such is the case with this 2014 Russian film Sunstroke, which is loosely based upon the writings of Ivan Bunin.

Sunstroke

I came across this film while perusing the various offerings of my streaming service. I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I began watching it, but I was soon riveted to the viewing screen.

The film is not easy to type and label.

It was mass-marketed to audiences as a “romance” film, and for certain, there is plenty of romance and love. (Albeit cast in a somewhat surreal manner, not unlike a surreal work of art.)

But it’s main theme is not so much romance, as one very deep, very profound question: “How did this happen?”

By “this” the film means The Russian Revolution and the death and destruction of Tsarism. The film’s protagonist asks this question over and over again in the film; “How did this all happen?”

The answer, which comes toward the end of the film is that everyone in Russia involved in the civil war between the Reds (Bolsheviks) and the Whites (old traditional Russia, including the Orthodox Church, aristocracy, and Tsarist military officers) are to blame for the destruction of traditional Russia and the victory of Soviet Communism.

The question, “How did this happen?” and it’s answer, “We’re all guilty of this man-made catastrophe” is pure Ivan Bunin.

Set in 1920, during the Red Terror and the Russian civil war, Sunstroke echoes the thoughts, musings, and reflections of Ivan Bunin in this memoir “Cursed Days” in which he honestly, and bluntly pours out his rage and despair at the destruction of his Russian homeland while he plans his evacuation and immigration to the safety of Paris.

Having read the book a few years ago, and remembering it well, I instantly recognized his literary voice through the main characters in the film.

The film will hit you like a sledgehammer, much like Ivan Bunin’s writings, which I highly recommend. My advice? Watch this film Sunstroke, and read the various books and short stories of Ivan Bunin. If you want to really understand Russia, you must do so through it’s writers, especially those who lived through and witnessed major historical events in Russia.

The Woke Revolution

I don’t agree with Bari Weiss on everything. In fact, on many topics we are polar opposites. Having said that, she has in this past year become a fierce voice against this revolutionary madness that is griping the US. For me, as a student of Russian history, the parallels between the Russian Bolshevik Marxist Revolution of 1917 and the US “Woke Revolution” of 2020 to present is ominous.

This is an exclent artice by Ms. Weiss on our current madness.

We Got Here Because of Cowardice. We Get Out With Courage

Say no to the Woke Revolution

by Bari Weiss

A lot of people want to convince you that you need a Ph.D. or a law degree or dozens of hours of free time to read dense texts about critical theory to understand the woke movement and its worldview. You do not. You simply need to believe your own eyes and ears. 

Let me offer the briefest overview of the core beliefs of the Woke Revolution, which are abundantly clear to anyone willing to look past the hashtags and the jargon.

It begins by stipulating that the forces of justice and progress are in a war against backwardness and tyranny. And in a war, the normal rules of the game must be suspended. Indeed, this ideology would argue that those rules are not just obstacles to justice, but tools of oppression. They are the master’s tools.  And the master’s tools cannot dismantle the master’s house.

So the tools themselves are not just replaced but repudiated. And in so doing, persuasion—the purpose of argument—is replaced with public shaming. Moral complexity is replaced with moral certainty. Facts are replaced with feelings.

Ideas are replaced with identity. Forgiveness is replaced with punishment. Debate is replaced with de-platforming. Diversity is replaced with homogeneity of thought. Inclusion, with exclusion.

In this ideology, speech is violence. But violence, when carried out by the right people in pursuit of a just cause, is not violence at all. In this ideology, bullying is wrong, unless you are bullying the right people, in which case it’s very, very good. In this ideology, education is not about teaching people how to think, it’s about reeducating them in what to think. In this ideology, the need to feel safe trumps the need to speak truthfully. 

In this ideology, if you do not tweet the right tweet or share the right slogan, your whole life can be ruined. Just ask Tiffany Riley, a Vermont school principal who was fired—fired—because she said she supports black lives but not the organization Black Lives Matter.

In this ideology, the past cannot be understood on its own terms, but must be judged through the morals and mores of the present. It is why statues of Grant and Washington are being torn down. And it is why William Peris, a UCLA lecturer and an Air Force veteran, was investigated for reading Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” out loud in class.

In this ideology, intentions don’t matter. That is why Emmanuel Cafferty, a Hispanic utility worker at San Diego Gas and Electric, was fired for making what someone said he thought was a white-supremacist hand gesture—when in fact he was cracking his knuckles out of his car window.

In this ideology, the equality of opportunity is replaced with equality of outcome as a measure of fairness. If everyone doesn’t finish the race at the same time, the course must have been defective. Thus, the argument to get rid of the SAT. Or the admissions tests for public schools like Stuyvesant in New York or Lowell in San Francisco. 

In this ideology, you are guilty for the sins of your fathers. In other words: You are not you. You are only a mere avatar of your race or your religion or your class. That is why third-graders in Cupertino, California, were asked to rate themselves in terms of their power and privilege. In third grade. 

In this system, we are all placed neatly on a spectrum of “privileged” to “oppressed.” We are ranked somewhere on this spectrum in different categories: race, gender, sexual orientation, and class. Then we are given an overall score, based on the sum of these rankings. Having privilege means that your character and your ideas are tainted. This is why, one high-schooler in New York tells me, students in his school are told, “If you are white and male, you are second in line to speak.” This is considered a normal and necessary redistribution of power.

Racism has been redefined. It is no longer about discrimination based on the color of someone’s skin. Racism is any system that allows for disparate outcomes between racial groups. If disparity is present, as the high priest of this ideology, Ibram X. Kendi, has explained, racism is present. According to this totalizing new view, we are all either racist or anti-racist. To be a Good Person and not a Bad Person, you must be an “anti-racist.” There is no neutrality. There is no such thing as “not racist.” 

Most important: In this revolution, skeptics of any part of this radical ideology are recast as heretics. Those who do not abide by every single aspect of its creed are tarnished as bigots, subjected to boycotts and their work to political litmus tests. The Enlightenment, as the critic Edward Rothstein has put it, has been replaced by the exorcism. 

What we call “cancel culture” is really the justice system of this revolution. And the goal of the cancellations is not merely to punish the person being cancelled. The goal is to send a message to everyone else: Step out of line and you are next. 

It has worked. A recent CATO study found that 62 percent of Americans are afraid to voice their true views. Nearly a quarter of American academics endorse ousting a colleague for having a wrong opinion about hot-button issues such as immigration or gender differences. And nearly 70 percent of students favor reporting professors if the professor says something that students find offensive, according to a Challey Institute for Global Innovation survey.

Why are so many, especially so many young people, drawn to this ideology? It’s not because they are dumb. Or because they are snowflakes, or whatever Fox talking points would have you believe. All of this has taken place against the backdrop of major changes in American life—the tearing apart of our social fabric; the loss of religion and the decline of civic organizations; the opioid crisis; the collapse of American industries; the rise of big tech; successive financial crises; a toxic public discourse; crushing student debt. An epidemic of loneliness. A crisis of meaning. A pandemic of distrust. It has taken place against the backdrop of the American dream’s decline into what feels like a punchline, the inequalities of our supposedly fair, liberal meritocracy clearly rigged in favor of some people and against others. And so on.

“I became converted because I was ripe for it and lived in a disintegrating society thrusting for faith.” That was Arthur Koestler writing in 1949 about his love affair with Communism. The same might be said of this new revolutionary faith. And like other religions at their inception, this one has lit on fire the souls of true believers, eager to burn down anything or anyone that stands in its way. 

If you have ever tried to build something, even something small, you know how hard it is. It takes time. It takes tremendous effort. But tearing things down? That’s quick work. 

The Woke Revolution has been exceptionally effective. It has successfully captured the most important sense-making institutions of American life: our newspapers. Our magazines. Our Hollywood studios. Our publishing houses. Many of our tech companies. And, increasingly, corporate America. 

Just as in China under Chairman Mao, the seeds of our own cultural revolution can be traced to the academy, the first of our institutions to be overtaken by it. And our schools—public, private, parochial—are increasingly the recruiting grounds for this ideological army. 

A few stories are worth recounting:

David Peterson is an art professor at Skidmore College in upstate New York. He stood accused in the fevered summer of 2020 of “engaging in hateful conduct that threatens Black Skidmore students.”

What was that hateful conduct? David and his wife, Andrea, went to watch a rally for police officers. “Given the painful events that continue to unfold across this nation, I guess we just felt compelled to see first-hand how all of this was playing out in our own community,” he told the Skidmore student newspaper. David and his wife stayed for 20 minutes on the edge of the event. They held no signs, participated in no chants. They just watched. Then they left for dinner.

For the crime of listening, David Peterson’s class was boycotted. A sign appeared on his classroom door: “STOP. By entering this class you are crossing a campus-wide picket line and breaking the boycott against Professor David Peterson. This is not a safe environment for marginalized students.” Then the university opened an investigation into accusations of bias in the classroom.

Across the country from Skidmore, at the University of Southern California, a man named Greg Patton is a professor of business communication. In 2020, Patton was teaching a class on “filler words”—such as “um” and “like” and so forth for his master’s-level course on communication for management. It turns out that the Chinese word for “like” sounds like the n-word. Students wrote the school’s staff and administration accusing their professor of “negligence and disregard.” They added: “We are burdened to fight with our existence in society, in the workplace, and in America. We should not be made to fight for our sense of peace and mental well-being” at school.

In a normal, reality-based world, there is only one response to such a claim: You misheard. But that was not the response. This was: “It is simply unacceptable for faculty to use words in class that can marginalize, hurt and harm the psychological safety of our students,” the dean, Geoffrey Garrett wrote. “Understandably, this caused great pain and upset among students, and for that I am deeply sorry.” 

This rot hasn’t been contained to higher education. At a mandatory training earlier this year in the San Diego Unified School District, Bettina Love, an education professor who believes that children learn better from teachers of the same race, accused white teachers of “spirit murdering black and brown children” and urged them to undergo “antiracist therapy for White educators.” 

San Francisco’s public schools didn’t manage to open their schools during the pandemic, but the board decided to rename 44 schools—including those named for George Washington and John Muir—before suspending the plan. Meantime, one of the board members declared merit “racist” and “Trumpian.” 

A recent educational program for sixth to eighth grade teachers called “a pathway to equitable math instruction”—funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—was recently sent to Oregon teachers by the state’s Department of Education. The program’s literature informs teachers that white supremacy shows up in math instruction when “rigor is expressed only in difficulty,” and “contrived word problems are valued over the math in students’ lived experiences.” 

Serious education is the antidote to such ignorance. Frederick Douglass said, “Education means emancipation. It means light and liberty. It means the uplifting of the soul of man into the glorious light of truth, the light only by which men can be free.” Soaring words that feel as if they are a report from a distant galaxy. Education is increasingly where debate, dissent, and discovery go to die.

It’s also very bad for kids.  For those deemed “privileged,” it creates a hostile environment where kids are too intimidated to participate. For those deemed “oppressed,” it inculcates an extraordinarily pessimistic view of the world, where students are trained to perceive malice and bigotry in everything they see. They are denied the dignity of equal standards and expectations. They are denied the belief in their own agency and ability to succeed. As Zaid Jilani had put it: “You cannot have power without responsibility. Denying minorities responsibility for their own actions, both good and bad, will only deny us the power we rightly deserve.”

How did we get here? There are a lot of factors that are relevant to the answer: institutional decay; the tech revolution and the monopolies it created; the arrogance of our elites; poverty; the death of trust. And all of these must be examined, because without them we would have neither the far right nor the cultural revolutionaries now clamoring at America’s gates. 

But there is one word we should linger on, because every moment of radical victory turned on it. The word is cowardice.

The revolution has been met with almost no resistance by those who have the title CEO or leader or president or principal in front of their names. The refusal of the adults in the room to speak the truth, their refusal to say no to efforts to undermine the mission of their institutions, their fear of being called a bad name and that fear trumping their responsibility—that is how we got here.

Allan Bloom had the radicals of the 1960s in mind when he wrote that “a few students discovered that pompous teachers who catechized them about academic freedom could, with a little shove, be made into dancing bears.” Now, a half-century later, those dancing bears hold named chairs at every important elite, sense-making institution in the country. 

As Douglas Murray has put it: “The problem is not that the sacrificial victim is selected. The problem is that the people who destroy his reputation are permitted to do so by the complicity, silence and slinking away of everybody else.”

Each surely thought: These protestors have some merit! This institution, this university, this school, hasn’t lived up to all of its principles at all times! We have been racist! We have been sexist! We haven’t always been enlightened! I’ll give a bit and we’ll find a way to compromise. This turned out to be as naive as Robespierre thinking that he could avoid the guillotine. 

Think about each of the anecdotes I’ve shared here and all the rest you already know. All that had to change for the entire story to turn out differently was for the person in charge, the person tasked with being a steward for the newspaper or the magazine or the college or the school district or the private high school or the kindergarten, to say: No.

If cowardice is the thing that has allowed for all of this, the force that stops this cultural revolution can also be summed up by one word: courage. And courage often comes from people you would not expect.

Consider Maud Maron. Maron is a lifelong liberal who has always walked the walk. She was an escort for Planned Parenthood; a law-school research assistant to Kathleen Cleaver, the former Black Panther; and a poll watcher for John Kerry in Pennsylvania during the 2004 presidential election. In 2016, she was a regular contributor to Bernie Sanders’s campaign.

Maron dedicated her career to Legal Aid: “For me, being a public defender is more than a job,” she told me. “It’s who I am.”

But things took a turn when, this past year, Maron spoke out passionately and publicly about the illiberalism that has gripped the New York City public schools attended by her four children. 

“I am very open about what I stand for,” she told me. “I am pro-integration. I am pro-diversity. And also I reject the narrative that white parents are to blame for the failures of our school system. I object to the mayor’s proposal to get rid of specialized admissions tests to schools like Stuyvesant. And I believe that racial essentialism is racist and should not be taught in school.”

What followed this apparent thought crime was a 21st-century witch hunt. Maron was smeared publicly by her colleagues. They called her “racist, and openly so.” They said, “We’re ashamed that she works for the Legal Aid Society.” 

Most people would have walked away and quietly found a new job. Not Maud Maron. This summer, she filed suit against the organization, claiming that she was forced out of Legal Aid because of her political views and her race, a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. 

“The reason they went after me is that I have a different point of view,” she said. “These ideologues have tried to ruin my name and my career, and they are going after other good people. Not enough people stand up and say: It is totally wrong to do this to a person. And this is not going to stop unless people stand up to it.”

That’s courage.

Courage also looks like Paul Rossi, the math teacher at Grace Church High School in New York who raised questions about this ideology at a mandatory, whites-only student and faculty Zoom meeting. A few days later, all the school’s advisers were required to read a public reprimand of his conduct out loud to every student in the school. Unwilling to disavow his beliefs, Rossi blew the whistle: “I know that by attaching my name to this I’m risking not only my current job but my career as an educator, since most schools, both public and private, are now captive to this backward ideology. But witnessing the harmful impact it has on children, I can’t stay silent.” That’s courage. 

Courage is Xi Van Fleet, a Virginia mom who endured Mao’s Cultural Revolution as a child and spoke up to the Loudoun County School Board at a public meeting in June. “You are training our children to loathe our country and our history,” she said in front of the school board. “Growing up in Mao’s China, all of this feels very familiar…. The only difference is that they used class instead of race.”

Gordon Klein, a professor at UCLA, recently filed suit against his own university. Why? A student asked him to grade black students with “greater leniency.” He refused, given that such a racial preference would violate UCLA’s anti-discrimination policies (and maybe even the law). But the people in charge of UCLA’s Anderson School launched a racial-discrimination complaint into him. They denounced him, banned him from campus, appointed a monitor to look at his emails, and suspended him. He eventually was reinstated—because he had done absolutely nothing wrong—but not before his reputation and career were severely damaged. “I don’t want to see anyone else’s life destroyed as they attempted to do to me,” Klein told me. “Few have the intestinal fortitude to fight cancel culture. I do. This is about sending a message to every petty tyrant out there.”

Courage is Peter Boghossian. He recently resigned his post at Portland State University, writing in a letter to his provost: “The university transformed a bastion of free inquiry into a social justice factory whose only inputs were race, gender and victimhood and whose only output was grievance and division…. I feel morally obligated to make this choice. For ten years, I have taught my students the importance of living by your principles. One of mine is to defend our system of liberal education from those who seek to destroy it. Who would I be if I didn’t?”

Who would I be if I didn’t?

George Orwell said that “the further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.” In an age of lies, telling the truth is high risk. It comes with a cost. But it is our moral obligation.

It is our duty to resist the crowd in this age of mob thinking. It is our duty to think freely in an age of conformity. It is our duty to speak truth in an age of lies. 

This bravery isn’t the last or only step in opposing this revolution—it’s just the first. After that must come honest assessments of why America was vulnerable to start with, and an aggressive commitment to rebuilding the economy and society in ways that once again offer life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to the greatest number of Americans.

But let’s start with a little courage.

Courage means, first off, the unqualified rejection of lies. Do not speak untruths, either about yourself or anyone else, no matter the comfort offered by the mob. And do not genially accept the lies told to you. If possible, be vocal in rejecting claims you know to be false. Courage can be contagious, and your example may serve as a means of transmission.

When you’re told that traits such as industriousness and punctuality are the legacy of white supremacy, don’t hesitate to reject it. When you’re told that statues of figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass are offensive, explain that they are national heroes. When you’re told that “nothing has changed” in this country for minorities, don’t dishonor the memory of civil-rights pioneers by agreeing. And when you’re told that America was founded in order to perpetuate slavery, don’t take part in rewriting the country’s history.

America is imperfect. I always knew it, as we all do—and the past few years have rocked my faith like no others in my lifetime. But America and we Americans are far from irredeemable. 

The motto of Frederick Douglass’s anti-slavery paper, the North Star—“The Right is of no Sex—Truth is of no Color—God is the Father of us all, and all we are brethren”—must remain all of ours.

We can still feel the pull of that electric cord Lincoln talked about 163 years ago—the one “in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world.”

Every day I hear from people who are living in fear in the freest society humankind has ever known. Dissidents in a democracy, practicing doublespeak. That is what is happening right now. What happens five, 10, 20 years from now if we don’t speak up and defend the ideas that have made all of our lives possible?

Liberty. Equality. Freedom. Dignity. These are ideas worth fighting for.

Anna Akhmatova’s Return to Leningrad

by Sabine Holzman

Leningrad, mother-city, I return to you in the dark with lungs swollen,
breaths incapable, your streets no longer skin immaculate as ice.

I remember your cold northern nights like the back of my left hand,
how I chronicled your alleyways in days I spent waiting for my son

in snow that wanted to smother me. Mother-city, I name you
my own & my husband’s, who is as dead as you are now, slaughtered

like an animal, bullet in his brain: his last religion. I remember
his blood: black-blue in the moonlight. And I see it now, in children

with the faces of ghouls, hollowed, hungered. What God is here,
in Leningrad, in Russia—a man in the cold, looking down at you,

a rifle in his hand, the word gulag in his mouth: his voice harsher
than terror, promising a waiting, freezing doom. Yes, the war is cruel,

but you, Leningrad, are even crueller. Mother-city where mothers murder
other mothers for rations. Mother-city where we eat the dead to stay alive.

Mother-city where men starve & fall in the streets. Mother-city, in my
      absence
you have become a ghost in the house, a fist clenched and cold. I am no
      
Tsar,

pledges the man in the grey-blue cloak, & yet we bleed anyway. But still
I must remember: the beauty. The fairytales. The light on the windowsill.

My son pulled from the womb like gold wheat from the fields of peasants,
my husband’s laughter in the face of the Cheka, the blue-lipped

woman who told me write this down. You, mother-city, a Tsarina cloaked
in ice, half between black forest and black sea, a woman beautiful as she is
      sharp & gutting.

I must remember to be godless as a man fumbling for a light in the dark.
I must remember each woman has a quiet that aches like wolves.
I must remember that you, mother-city, are an elegy too.

About this poem

This poem is the 2nd prize winner in the Timothy Corsellis Prize 2017 on Young Poets Network (YPN), judged by Wendy Cope, Fran Brearton, Llewela Selfridge, and Judith Palmer.

Sabina reflects on her poem:
“Anna Akhmatova was raised in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) – a city that is “loveliest of all hallucinations” in the words of Angela Carter. She was raised there: it was like a mother to her. During the Siege of Leningrad, the city became brutal: unbeautiful. She was evacuated during the siege, and upon her return, she called it “a terrible ghost that pretended to be my city.” Part of this poem deals with her trauma from the city– her dead husband, the time spent queuing in lines for her son, the general brutality of the Stalin regime: but it also deals with her love for it, and the fact that it is her city.”

Sabine Holzman

Sabine is the 2nd prize winner in the Timothy Corsellis Prize 2017 on Young Poets Network.

The List

Funny thing about lists; they reveal a good deal of information about the person or group of people who wrote them.  What they put on the list, and what they leave out of the list, tells you their secret, innermost thoughts, convictions, morality, philosophy, and political views.  

What, or who exactly is on the list, and what or who exactly is not on the list, say’s what they would never say out loud for fear of revealing their true feelings, thoughts and motivations.  

A list is a way for a person or group to state their political and moral philosophy without actually stating it. 

The other day, a Facebook insider (whistleblower) took a screenshot of Facebook’s guide to censorship and strangling ideas and people it doesn’t like.

It is Facebook’s official list of, “dangerous persons, groups and organizations.” 

The list is long and impressive; a lot of time, effort, and thought went into compiling this list of people and groups that Facebook and it’s employees consider to be a mortal threat to the U.S. and “democracy” in general.

There are hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands and thousands of names on this list. 

Believe it or not, a good many of the names of this list are deceased German Nazis who have been rotting in the Earth for almost a century.  Facebook considers them and their ideas to be lethal threats to “democracy and human rights.”   

Of course one would assume that any persons, parties, groups, and ideas who are NOT on the list, would therefore be non-violent, non-criminal, and not a threat to the U.S. and our cherished tradition of “human rights.” 

However, you would be wrong in that assumption. 

So which people, organizations, parties, and ideas are NOT dangerous, (according to Facebook) and not on it’s list of dangerous persons and ideas?

Communists Are NOT On The List

Vladimir Lenin

He unleashed a rein of terror of Russia not seen before in history. Not even “Ivan The Terrible” was as bloodthirsty as Lenin. Not only did Lenin personally sign thousands upon thousands of death warrants, sentencing anyone he considered to be an “enemy of the state” to death, but he personally created a state of terror that ruled Russia well into the 1950s until Stalin died in 1953.

Once, in a bitter argument with his good friend and fellow socialist the writer Maxim Gorky, (who was a bit squeamish about all of the rivers of blood that were flowing over Russia), Lenin said to him,

“How can you have a revolution without firing squads? What other alternative is there? Prisons? Who puts any validity into that in a civil war? No, we must exterminate all of our class enemies until they are all dead.”

Stalin in Moscow. June 1930.

Joseph Stalin

His name “Stalin” in Russian means “Man of Steel” and indeed when it came to butchering and exterminating Russians, Christians, Kulaks (“rich” peasants) and other class enemies and enemies of the state, Stalin didn’t flinch from exterminating millions of people.

Over 20 Million Dead

Stalin murdered more people than Hitler: the evidence is clear.

They were shot, drowned, strangled, and millions upon millions were starved to death in history’s first man-made famine. Some 5 to 7 million died of Stalin’s policy to deliberately starve the peasants of the Ukraine into submission to him, so the Soviet state could take their land.

Stalin personally signed over 44,000 death warrants.

He was history’s most bloodthirsty, most prolific mass murderer, exterminating far more innocents than Hitler and the Nazis ever did. (The 5 to 7 million dead, murdered by starvation on the direct orders of Stalin, far exceeds the number of 6 million murdered in the Holocaust by the Nazis.)

Stacks of death warrants with Stalin’s signature from 1937

Leon Trotsky

Trotsky was a very “hands on” guy. He didn’t just sign death warrants, he personally executed hundreds and hundreds of men with a small pistol. When he was the leader of the Red Army (People’s Commissar of Army and Navy Affairs) he came up with an old idea borrowed from ancient Rome.

Whenever a military unit was not obeying orders to his satisfaction, he would shoot every 10th man. The men would stand at attention, Trotsky would walk behind them, counting, 1, 2, 3…. 10. He would then place his pistol to the back of the head of the 10th man he had counted and then pull the trigger blowing their brains out in front of the other men.

He murdered hundreds of officers and enlisted men this way. Trotsky said it “improved discipline” by terrorizing them. Many witnesses wrote accounts testifying that Trotsky seemed to enjoy killing his subordinates and was often in a good mood after slaughtering dozens of innocent men at a time. Men, I might add, who were innocent, who had committed no crime except to make the unfortunate choice to be in the Red Army. (However, many Red Army soldiers were conscripted, so they truly were innocent in every way.)

Erich Honecker

Being a life-long Communist and committed Marxist fanatic, Erich Honecker had no reservations about signing death warrants and staffing the firing squads to exterminate East German dissidents. As the head of state and lead architect of the repressive, totalitarian East German police state deceptively known as the, “German Democratic Republic” Erich Honecker’s hands are soaked in blood.

The Berlin Wall was Honecker’s Wall

From 1961 to 1989, over 140 people were shot when they tried to escape the worker’s paradise on Honecker’s direct orders which were “shoot to kill” anyone who tried to vote with their feet in favor of freedom in the West.

However, this count does not even reflect the death warrants he signed for “subversives” and “enemies of the state” who were arrested for writing books, poems, plays, and thinking “wrong thoughts.”

Like most mass murders, Erich Honecker showed absolutely no remorse for the people he sentenced to death and enslaved within a Marxist police state obsessed with “social justice” and “equality.” He went to his grave saying that “communist morality,” social justice, and Karl Marx justified his use of mass murder as a tool of state repression.

Why Are They Not On The List?

Honestly, I could list hundreds more of examples of mass murders, totalitarian groups who taken part in mass murder, and various ideas and philosophies that make mass-murder posable, who did not get listed on Facebook’s list of dangerous people and ideas. Rational, clear-thinking people must ask; why? Why are the people and ideas that have been responsible for millions of murders not on Facebook’s list?

So who is on the list, besides deceased German Nazis? One is a writer who holds a Ph.d and studies IQ differences among the races. Another is Protestant Christian minister who has written that homosexuality is a disorder and degenerate behavior.

Questions and Speculations

Of course we can only speculate and question why the biggest mass murderers in history and their ideas are not on the list; but German Nazis, American writers and bloggers are on the list.

As I said at the beginning, I believe that this deliberate omission is telling.

I would even suggest that the owners and employees of Facebook have a certain fondness, admiration, and or philosophical kinship with Communist/Marxist mass murderers like Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, and Honecker.

This is just my own speculation of course, but I suspect from reading the writings of others who share my political philosophy, that I am not alone in detecting more than a slight whiff of Marxist sympathy and solidarity from platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Do these people who own and maintain social media platforms, secretly believe that mass murder, is not really mass murder, if it is carried out in the name of social justice, equality, and or equity? I wonder.