Archives For Socialism

American celebrity and UNHCR Special Envoy, Angelina Jolie, who had recently visited Venezuelan refugees in Peru, has been accused of being a tool of “Right Wing Propaganda”.

Venezuelan Socialist Party boss, Diosdado Cabello, as reported by The Washington Post labelled Jolie’s visit, as “right wing media”, distracting from a caravan of thousands of Central American migrants heading to the United States.”

 

 

 

Cabello’s tweet:

 

Angelina Jolie was in Peru on behalf of the United Nations special envoy.

In an UNHCR press release yesterday, Jolie gave her assessment on the Venezuelan refugee crisis, saying that it was ‘all the more shocking for being predictable and preventable.’

 “Every Venezuelan I met described the situation in their country as desperate. I heard stories of people dying because of a lack of medical care and medicine: cancer patients whose chemotherapy was abruptly stopped, diabetes sufferers without access to insulin, children without basic antibiotics, people starving, and tragic accounts of violence and persecution. None of the Venezuelans I met want charity. They want an opportunity to help themselves.” source

Jolie’s statement is in direct contrast to, Jim Carrey, who in September gave a bizarre affirmation of socialism when he said,

“We have to say yes to socialism, to the word and everything. We have to stop apologizing.”

Carrey was reprimanded by Venezuelan columnist Laureano Márquez, who, in an open letter (on Runrun.es, which now appears to have been deleted) said,

“I read that…you said: ‘We have to say yes to socialism, to the word ‘socialism’ and to everything.’ Perhaps for you, as for all humanity, the word ‘socialism’ sounds beautiful [….] [In] Venezuela, what we find is just that our regime is not – for God’s sake – the antithesis of selfishness,” […] “In Venezuela, dear Jim, from what I have just told you, there is no equitable distribution of wealth; wealth is concentrated, as rarely before in our history, in very few hands. In Venezuela, we’ve seized hatred for the word ‘socialism,’ it represents oppression against a people, the destruction of a flourishing nation, and the despair of its citizens”. source

A special report for World Magazine, headlined, ‘The Undeniable Venezuelan Migrant Crisis’, World reported that Venezuela is seeing 5000 people leaving the country every day, as the country’s economic decline under socialism’ continues. The growing migration crisis is yet to be acknowledged by the Venezuelan socialist government.’

Props to Angelina for giving a voice to those who genuinely don’t have one because their Socialist government continues to deny there is even a problem.

She’s giving a voice to the suffering and oppression of those living under the crushing weight of socialism, in opposition to Socialists, who continue to claim there’s nothing wrong with it.


References & Sources linked.

©Rod Lampard, 2018

Thomas Doherty’s 2013 book, ‘Hollywood and Hitler: 1933-1939’, is a 373 page look into the past ideological make-up of Hollywood.

The book is well referenced, including both footnotes and a lengthy bibliography. The text flows chronologically and stands as essential reading for anyone studying, or wanting to know more about, both Hollywood’s reaction, and involvement, in Europe and America during the 1930’s.

Doherty paints a picture of the Hollywood scene, beginning with a basic introduction to the context and zeitgeist. What emerges is an insight into the things which divided and unified Hollywood. Avoiding a dreary run down of politics and economics, Doherty writes about a vibrant and diverse group of people, who, though continents apart and ideologically separated, forged an ardent opposition to Nazism and Fascism.

One of the main pillars of his book is Doherty’s exposition of the pro-active steps taken in order to counter the rise of anti-Semitism and Fascism. Opposition to Nazism from within the American film industry was an up-and-coming movement, which matured quickly after Hitler’s 1933 election to the Chancellery.

The movement wasn’t free of factionalism and fickle alliances. According to Doherty, shifting loyalties were brought about because of concerns raised with regards to the reach of Nazi propaganda and communism’s covert takeover of the Hollywood entertainment complex. Communists were involved in the Hollywood anti-Nazi League (HANL) movement. Consequently, some individuals within the movement became as much about quietly promoting Communism, as they did resisting Nazism. This narrowed diversity, as new factions split off and other groups, such as traditional Christians, were slowly purged from their place in the HANL movement. As Doherty shows, the biggest challenge for Communists was in maintaining a push towards Communist influence whilst keeping up the movement’s anti-Nazi; anti-Fascist agenda.

Doherty writes:

‘The Hollywood Anti-Nazi League’s rise, dominion and fall offer a case study in the merging of media and politics, celebrity status and social activism, and the ultimately irreconcilable marriage between starry-eyed liberalism and hard-nosed communism in the 1930s’ (p.100)

Hollywood & Hitler’ unpacks this subtle Communist overthrow of the Hollywood Anti-Nazi league. The primary factor for the ousting of Catholics and non-communists was the Spanish Civil war. As Doherty explains, the Spanish Civil had a complex political context. By proxy, Nazi Germany, Italy, and the Soviets were warring against each other.

The Spanish Civil war is a key feature under Doherty’s microscope. This is because it was the first conflict to be filmed, and shown to the public, close enough to real-time. Images flowed from the battlefront and were spilled out onto audiences through cinemas. The skills, process, procedure and art developed during these times, pioneered the way for film makers during World War Two.

Two compromises appear. First was the compromise of neutrality. Hollywood had a strong economic reason for working with the Germans and therefore a majority was against any boycotts of German goods[1]. Hollywood had to maintain neutrality wherever possible, in order to keep from directly enraging the Germans. Subsequently, Hollywood practiced a selective self-censorship of anything which displayed blatant opposition to the Nazis or Nazi ideology.

Second was a compromise of values and unity. One radical splinter of HANL, The Hollywood Popular Front, considered ‘neutrality the moral equivalent of lending aid and comfort to the enemy’ (p.161), such an extreme view alienated balanced reporters and compromised integrity. This was fueled further by a war between propaganda and ‘cinematic neutrality’ (p.171) over how the Spanish Civil war should be reported and retold[2].

Hollywood’s neutrality and its selective self-censorship[3] came under attack. Censorship and propaganda became the battlegrounds. Countering Nazi propaganda in films was an opportunity for the Popular Front to slip in Pro-Communist agitprop.  Simplifying the great length Doherty goes to in order to unpack this: there was an obvious tension between those who desired to push back against the evils of Nazism and those who wanted to do so by pushing the “virtues” of Communism. Not every member of NAHL was as starry-eyed about Communism as the Communists would have liked.

Doherty suggests that the ‘best explanation for the affinity of motion picture artists-actors and screenwriters [“Champaign communists”] especially-to an ideology counter to their economic self-interest [capitalism] was the respectful hearing according to them by the Communist Party of the USA. In Leninist doctrine[4], the artist stood among the vanguard elite, a cadre whose shining example would lead the benighted proletariat into the dawn of revolutionary enlightenment…the artist was the antenna of the revolutionary race-so much the better if he or she was a magnet for publicity and a donor with deep pockets.’ (p.114)

Doherty also points out the inconsistency of Hollywood’s Communists and their anti-Nazism. For example, the Soviet Molotov-Ribbentrop-pact with the Nazis caused the Communists in Hollywood to double-down on their anti-Nazi rhetoric. This dilemma didn’t just reveal the façade that hid Communism, but how (with a few exceptions) self-serving their loyalty to the anti-Nazi cause was.

For better or worse, the Hollywood anti-Nazi movement, birthed (the now common) political celebrity[5]. The success of pushing support for ideas and consumer products through well-known and trusted, voices and faces, became common practice. Even if the celebrity didn’t know much about what they were selling, the opportunity to do so was as risky as it was potentially lucrative[6].

In Doherty’s words, HANL resorted to reaching the masses using ‘the same “hypodermic needle” theory of mass communications propounded by Joseph Goebbels: Inject the message into a mass consciousness through repetition, simplicity, and raw emotion.’ (2013, p.106)

The process this followed was to ‘first, gain the individual’s sympathy for what he is about to learn and second, present the material in a way which reaches his or her personal interest and at the same time supplies the necessary facts to sustain the first emotional reaction.’ (ibid)

It wasn’t until later on that Hollywood gained enough room to move on to directly producing films that had an anti-Nazi theme. Worth noting is Doherty’s point on how far Hollywood has shifted since the 1930s. The industry reluctant to criticize Nazism, has built a thriving business[7] on Nazis as the arch-nemesis of all that is good, (and for good reason!).

The Nazis, in the moral universe of Hollywood are the equivalent of pure evil, ‘the Nazi-centric documentary and narrative feature film is cultural currency –rarely dropping in value, always a good investment’ (2013, p.371).

It’s curious, however, that Nazism’s not so distant cousin, Communism, moving freely behind the anti-Nazi platform[8], has largely been given a free ride.

Perhaps this is why Doherty concludes that,

‘The American Communists had never thought of the movie capital as a party mint, but Otto Katz (a communist agent) corrected the oversight. Theodore Draper, the historian of American communism who observed Katz work his magic, described him as “the international Communist huckster par excellence”…Katz sold communism to the wealthy Hollywood magnates by working on their bad social consciences until they were cringing with contrition. The complete religious and metaphysical desert in the mind of many in the motion picture colony made Katz’s game easier’ (pp.103-104).

Hollywood & Hitler’ is balanced and tactful. Doherty draws from a depth of well researched information, and has taken pains to avoid any statements that would lead to the charge of McCarthyism. While Doherty addresses the positive points surrounding the anti-Nazi/anti-fascist movement in Hollywood, he doesn’t gloss over the negatives. ‘Hollywood & Hitler’ is well written, surprising in its relevance and enjoyable to read.

With the increasing visibility of celebrity activists, voicing opinion after opinion against things that Hollywood dislikes and distances itself from, the facts presented by Doherty, prompt the reader to question whether Hollywood has become what it once took a firm stand against. Jim Carry’s recent supportive statements in favour of Socialism, and every Hollywood award ceremony since 2016 being saturated in irrational, venomous hatred for one of their own, American President, Donald Trump, (et.al) force the question: has the institution, which once valiantly fought the dragon, become one?


Notes & References

[1] This was because, ‘American Jews in the motion picture business warned that any boycott of German imports would only rebound to the grief of their kinsmen overseas.’ (p.179)

[2] ‘Like the rest of the Spanish Civil war documentaries, it was less a recruiting device for new converts than a ritual; exhibition for true believers’ (p.171) #greatquote

[3] From both Catholic and Jewish sections of the Entertainment community, see footnote #2 and Doherty’s discussion on the National League of Decency, pp.154 & 155: ‘the watchful eye of the Legion fell increasingly on any glimmer of communist influence in Hollywood Cinema.’

[4] The same is with Nazism. Doherty: ‘Unlike  the American government, whose policy toward creative expression was mainly benign neglect, the Nazis honored intellectuals and artists as avatars of Aryan culture…Talented filmmakers of good stock and reliable opinion were pampered; the rest were persecuted.’ (p.197)

[5] ‘In casting actors as activists, HANL was a farsighted pioneer.’ (p.113)

[6] This may be backfiring on Hollywood, where people, in a technological age start to see through the veneers and question why, who is selling what to whom.

[7] ‘In the digital age, the collection and repackaging of images of the Nazis remains a growth industry, sustaining documentary features, action films, and cable channels.’ (p.371)

[8] The Communist beachhead in Hollywood caused a split it, which created the far-left’s Popular Front, and the Catholic, National League of Decency (formed in 1934).

Doherty, T. 2013 Hollywood & Hitler: 1933-1939 Columbia University Press

Image credit: Columbia University Press

©Rod Lampard, 2018

Disclaimer: I received no remuneration of any kind for providing this review.

Capitalism may be plagued by the sin of greed, a greed that hinders the free market through hoarding and monopolies, but ultimately capitalism creates room for compassion. Laws exist to fortify the free market, so as to protect the free market from the death blows of a greed-is-good culture. Through the referee of small government the free market is nurtured. Through capitalism doors are opened for freedom; for people to be free to be compassionate; free to give out of the abundance of what they have earned; out of the abundance of what they are free to own.

Socialism on the other hand has no checks and balances against greed. Socialism therefore cannot produce a people who are free to be compassionate. Although socialism is viewed as compassion, it doesn’t allow room for compassionate giving because by definition, under a socialist system, there shouldn’t be any need for anyone to have to give compassionately. However, the theory that all needs should be met, does not meet with the reality.

Socialism presupposes that the poor worker will never get rich or rise above his or her poverty. Socialism has to keep people poor in order to justify its own existence. This is because there can be no proletariat, no cause for class war, without keeping the working poor where they are.[i]

Socialism strips the individual of their right to own private property. The individual is left with no amount of abundance to give. Anything given outside the absolute rule of the socialist regime is frowned upon as suspiciously capitalist imperialism. In an exaggerated form, compassionate giving, at least without the state taking its cut, is a crime against the state. To give freely is treasonous because, in theory, under socialism there is no need for people to be compassionate. Every want and need is fulfilled even if the collective has to work for the time being in order to eradicate work entirely. The socialist holds fast to the paradoxical dream of a work-less society.

Unlike compassionate capitalism, compassionate socialism cannot exist. It’s an oxymoron because socialism as absolute economic law only has what it’s taken from the people; it has no capital outside what socialism has taken without compassion; creating no real margin of abundance for individuals to give compassionately from. Therefore the people themselves aren’t free to be compassionate in their giving towards one another.

People are to believe in strict equality, but not fairness. By concessions, the individual under socialism may have the freedom to earn or how they earn it, but they don’t have the freedom to be compassionate with what they earn. They couldn’t, even if they wanted to, because there is no abundance in socialism unless it is awarded to them by the state. The people have what the socialist government gives and nothing more. By default the socialist ruler becomes god, employer, mother and father; in essence the Führer is raised up as savior, because it is believed that he, through the socialist system he controls, knows what’s best for the people of the fatherland.

The Bible does not preach or foster socialism as an absolute economic law or morality. What the Bible does preach is that greed is a sin, that God loves a fair weight; fair trade; that He is a compassionate judge who wills to govern for His people, not govern at the whim and will of His people. The biblical witness as a whole holds fast to fairness and justice within the bounds of a life lived in freedom, under grace, in His Word; Jesus Christ. It is Father God, not führer-as-father who should rule out hearts and guide our minds.

As Paul noted to the Church in Corinth, in 2 Corinthians 8:8-24: give earnestly; give from abundance; give from that which is left over to those in need. Give what you can, when you can, where you can. Trade in fairness, do acts of grace, and do so freely [complete the work you started]. Do so with joy, for this will encourage reciprocal giving. Provide out of abundance in order to bring relief for those experiencing affliction.

Without compassion, capitalism fails. That is why checks and balances exist in order to keep the capitalist system from gorging itself to death with gluttony. Socialism, however, has no room and sees no need for compassion once it holds power. The socialist only sees the capitalist as his or her enemy, upholding socialism religiously, without opposition. Socialism is seen as true compassion and therefore the only compassion anyone truly needs. All who disagree or refuse to fall in line with this are labelled, without compassion, an enemy of it.

Socialism as a paragon of virtue lost its shine a long time ago.The socialist and capitalist can both operate under a “I will take from you to benefit me” rule.

It is, however, the necessary function of compassion that capitalism not only allows, but empowers, that sets capitalism apart from socialism. From this empowerment the individual under capitalism can and is empowered to say, “what can I give you in order to benefit you” as opposed to “what can I take from you to benefit me”.

Compassionate capitalism empowers compassion because it provides enough for people to choose to be compassionate. Socialism doesn’t allow this kind of freedom because it ultimately denies individuals the freedom to give. Whilst allowing the potential for greed, capitalism must eventually give a firm “no” to it, for its own sake. If not, the free market falls victim to the similar kind of totalitarian rule as that of socialism, only in this case, it’s a corporation, not a government left holding the throne without opposition.

‘No constitution or ethic can prevent power from becoming totalitarian. It must discover outside itself, a radical negation. [such as grace; the Divine compassion exhibited in, through and by Jesus Christ].’ (Jacques Ellul, Jesus & Marx. 1988 p.174)

References:

[i] ‘In Marxist dialectic, the oppressed must become the oppressor – the poor person becomes the absolute, a kind of priest – only through him can we meet Jesus and God; through serving him we are sanctified – this horizontal theology [or version of natural theology] returns quite simply to the project of excluding God’ (Jacques Ellul. Jesus & Marx, 1988. pp.42 & 48 parenthesise mine)

Margaret Thatcher: “any set of social and economic arrangements which is not founded on the acceptance of individual responsibility will do nothing but harm.”

(Speech to General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, 21st May, 1988).

Photo credit: Milada Vigerova  ‘Hand, closeup, prayer’ on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2018