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 greed, as it 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. Free to give out of the abundance of what they are free to own and earn.

Socialism, on the other hand, has no checks and balances against greed. The assumption is that it doesn’t need it. Socialism is viewed as the highest form of equality. Therefore it doesn’t need to encourage people to be compassionate. It doesn’t allow room for compassionate giving because, by definition, under a socialist system, there shouldn’t be any need for anyone to give compassionately.

Socialism blames capitalism through the presumption that the poor worker will never get rich, or rise above, his or her poverty. The socialist never sees that he or she has to keep people poor in order to justify its hatred of capitalism and in order to give meaning to its own existence. There can be no proletariat, no cause for perpetual 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 from. Anything given outside what the absolute rule of the socialist regime takes is suspect. In this way the socialist stands opposed to any form of compassion that they cannot take credit for.

It’s fair to conclude then that the individual who practices compassionate giving is viewed as having committed a crime against the socialist. To give freely is treasonous because, in theory, someone has something others don’t, from which they can give.

For the socialist there is no need for individuals to be compassionate. According to the propaganda, the socialist state provides for the equal needs of everyone.

Every want and need is fulfilled by the powers of the all-powerful central government. Efforts to achieve the collectivist dream, reflects that of Sisyphus. Those under socialism are condemned to the repetition of pushing a boulder up a hill, only to see it roll back down, time and time again. The socialist may see this likeness, nevertheless he or she will hold fast to their faith in Karl Marx’s paradoxical dream of a workless society, and they’ll force others to do the same, regardless of the cost.

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 the socialist takes for the collective; often brutally; often without compassion; always under a superimposed ethos of equality, oppression, justice and “compassion”.

People are to believe in the strict equality of socialist goals, but not in equity. By controversial concessions, such as the Lenin’s Bolshevik return to capitalism under the N.E.P, the individual may have the freedom to earn and choose how they earn, 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. The disallowance of private property, and a profit margin, means that there is no abundance from which individuals can choose to give compassionately. Therefore, in their giving towards one another, the individual isn’t free to be compassionate.

The compassionate giver is a threat to the power of the socialist, therefore the socialist in his or her outlawing of the free market, also outlaws the freedom to be compassionate. By default the state becomes total provider. It becomes god, employer, mother and father. Under these conditions a Führer or Supreme Leader can be raised up as savior, because it is believed that he, and only he, can lead the socialist system to its utopian goal. He knows what’s best for the people, and what’s best for the fatherland. For the socialist, salvation is only found in living out the ideals of the Socialist State. Redemption is attained by allegiance to its leader.

Contrary to popular sentiment, the Bible doesn’t preach or foster socialism as an absolute economic law or ethos. Jesus wasn’t a socialist. He wasn’t a khaki wearing Marxist hiding in Latin American jungles, or a communist waiting for revolution in the deserts of Afghanistan.

As French theologian and philosopher remarked in his book, ‘Jesus & Marx: From Gospel to Ideology’:

‘Jesus questions all economic activity, including what is exercised in a socialist world.’ (p.115)

What the Bible teaches is that greed is a sin, that God loves a fair weight; fair trade.

The words of Jesus remind us to:

“Take care, and be on our guard against all greed, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15)

What the Bible testifies to is the God who is a compassionate judge, who wills to govern for His people, but does not govern at the whim and will of His people. God cannot be manipulated.

The biblical witness, as a whole, holds fast to fairness and justice within the bounds of a life lived in freedom, under grace, in Jesus Christ. (Galatians 5:1, 2 Corinthians 3:17, Romans 8:1-4 etc.)

It is Father God, not führer-as-father who should rule out hearts and guide our minds.

As Paul noted to the Church in 2 Corinthians 8:8-24, let your love be genuine. Give earnestly. Give from abundance.

“For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness  your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.” (2 Corinthians 8:13-15, ESV)

In other words: give what you can, when you can, where you can. Trade in fairness, do acts of grace, and do so freely. 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. Compassion keeps the capitalist system from gorging itself to death with greed and 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, and upholds a fanatical and religious opposition. Socialism is seen as true compassion and therefore the only compassion anyone truly needs. Since socialism is conflated with compassion by its advocates, all who disagree or refuse to fall in line with socialism are labeled, without compassion, as an enemy of compassion.

It’s true that the socialist and capitalist can both operate under an “I will take from you to benefit me” rule. However, the necessary function of compassion that capitalism not only allows, but empowers, means that capitalism is set apart from socialism. From his or her empowerment under capitalism, the individual can and is empowered to say, “What can I give to you, in order to benefit you”, as opposed to “what can I take from you to benefit me”.

This is what the Bible teaches.

Jacques Ellul also noted:

‘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)

Compassionate capitalism empowers compassion because it generally provides an abundance from which people can to choose to give. Socialism doesn’t allow this kind of freedom because it ultimately denies individuals the freedom to give.

This kind of compassionate capitalism is what led Margaret Thatcher to assert:

“Any set of social and economic arrangements which is not founded on the acceptance of individual responsibility will do nothing but harm.”[ii]

Greed is the enemy of capitalism. Even for its own sake, if capitalism is to succeed it must eventually give a firm “no” to it. If not the free market falls victim to the same kind of totalitarian rule, as that advocated by the socialist. The difference being that it’s a corporation, not a government left sitting on the throne, wielding an unchecked, undemocratic power, without opposition.


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 parenthesis mine)

[ii] Thatcher, M. 1988. Speech to General Assembly of the Church of Scotland,

 

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

©Rod Lampard, 2018