Tail Gunner Joe is back

The other day I suggested that, when political opposites attract, they aren’t really opposites. Even if there’s something that separates them, what unites them is much weightier.

For example, back in the 1930s the Left were taken aback by the ease with which German ex-communists were joining the SA and SS. Since communism was to them commendably left-wing, Nazism had to be right-wing by default. So how come?

They didn’t realise that there exists kinship that transcends political tags. Hence communism and Nazism can converge with each other much more naturally than either could converge with conservatism, which is also misleadingly called right-wing.

(On this subject, I’d suggest the book Diary of a Man in Despair by Friedrich Reck-Malleczewen, the aristocratic German conservative murdered by the Nazis in the last days of the war. I find it the most moving and incisive account of that time in Germany.)

Mussolini, who had a vast experience of both national and international socialism, understood this perfectly. He wrote at some time in the ‘30s that Russian communism had developed into “a kind of Slavic fascism” – and he was right.

Communist slogans had been downgraded to the level of meaningless mantras, and during the war Stalin largely abandoned them.

Coming to the fore instead were patriotic slogans borrowed from the Russian Empire. Generalissimo Suvorov, who until then had been described in Soviet encyclopaedias as “a lackey to imperialism” and in general evil incarnate, was suddenly hailed as a great Russian hero and had a medal named after him.

Millions of Russian soldiers, few of them untouched by murderous purges and famines, had refused to fight for communism in the first months of the war. But they were successfully rallied under the banners of Holy Russia and motherland.

Even the church (ROC) was invited on the bandwagon – this though at least 40,000 priests had been brutally murdered by the Bolsheviks. It was at that time, incidentally, that the ROC hierarchy became in effect an NKVD department, remaining in that role through multiple changes in that organisation’s name, all the way to today’s FSB.

If you compare Soviet and Nazi propaganda of that time, you’ll see the difference in language but not in substance. And even if you understand neither language, a quick look at the two sides’ posters, sculptures, paintings, films and architecture will tell you everything there’s to know.

Had Stalin lived another year, the world would even have been treated to another Final Solution to the Jewish problem, putting to bed forever any notions of irreconcilable differences between ‘right-wing’ and ‘left-wing’.

Whatever positive goals red and brown extremists inscribe on their banners, their negative animus is identical: visceral hatred (as opposed to constructive criticism) of the West, the urge to reshape it in their own image. The sides may be different, but the coin is the same.

Hence it’s instructive to see how British extremists at both ends converge in their affection for Putin’s Russia.

Discounting transparent trolls of the kind who inundate my e-mail with their cretinous messages, both extremes are driven not so much by rational arguments in favour of Putin’s kleptofascism as by visceral sympathy for a hard man putting his foot down – whomever he puts it down on.

If I were a Freudian, I’d probably go off on a tangent trying to ascribe this sympathy to homoerotic attraction. But I’m not, so I won’t.

Yet it’s clear that adoration (latent or otherwise) of Putin reaches the depths simple statements of political affiliation can’t reach. And the KGB colonel knows how to cultivate such deep feelings, even if he knows little of anything else.

(For all his bogus degrees, Putin is staggeringly ignorant. For example, the other day he misquoted Count von Münnich, General-Field Marshal in the eighteenth-century Russian army. Münnich quipped that “The Russian state has an advantage over others in that it is run directly by God. Otherwise it is impossible to explain how it exists.”

This Putin twisted to dismiss the sarcasm and claim that Russia is God’s own country. In the process, he ignorantly referred to Münnich as ‘Marshal’, a rank that didn’t exist in the Russian Empire.)

All this explains why Jeremy Corbyn, who isn’t a communist only in the most technical of senses, joins forces with our fascisoid hard Right in his adulation of Putin.

In this my friend Jeremy displays a greater understanding of Putin’s Russia than they do. They justify their love for the evil KGB thug by claiming Putin’s Russia isn’t at all like the Soviet Union. Jeremy loves Putin because he senses it is.

In that spirit he accuses those who object to Putin’s use of WMD to murder British subjects on British soil of “McCarthyite intolerance of dissent”.

It sounded like a spiritualist séance: suddenly the spirit of Tail Gunner Joe came wafting into the room enveloped in the usual fog of lies.

McCarthy, for all his well-documented flaws, wasn’t intolerant of dissent. He was intolerant of communists in high places, where they could both spy and shape public opinion. Specifically, he went after known communists in the State Department, show business and later the army.

That earned him the eternally undying hatred of the Jeremy Corbyns of this world, except, with all that time elapsing, they’ve changed their tack. They used to scream that good people were accused of being communists. Now they scream that good communists were accused of being communists.

After all, all those Rosenbergs, Hammetts and Hisses were ‘idealists’, and idealism expiates all sins – including doing the bidding of the most carnivorous state in history.

“The Salisbury attack is appalling,” allowed Jeremy. “But we must avoid a drift to conflict.” Allow me to translate: we should invite Putin to murder with impunity whomever he likes. My Putin trolls doubtless feel the same way.

14 thoughts on “Tail Gunner Joe is back”

  1. “back in the 1930s the Left were taken aback by the ease with which German ex-communists were joining the SA and SS. ”

    The appeal is the totalitarian nature of the regime and the use of the “big broom” approach to solve all problems.

    1. Simple minds tend to look for simple solutions to complicated problems. In the process they often cut their intellectual throats with Occam’s razor. This explains the mass appeal of such mountebanks as Marx, Darwin and Freud.

  2. “McCarthy, for all his well-documented flaws, wasn’t intolerant of dissent. He was intolerant of communists in high places, where they could both spy and shape public opinion”

    Some have speculated what Joe would have thought if had been privy to the Venona cryptographic decrypts. Showed that indeed there was massive infiltration of the U.S. government agencies across the board.

    1. Joe made the mistake of going after the army after being misled by an adviser called Cohn who had his own nefarious reasons. Hitler and Stalin never gave their generals time to organise – predawn door knocks , shooting them on their own doorsteps or perhaps a little later.

    2. Venona indeed proved McCarthy was right all along. But that whole affair wasn’t about facts. It was about iconoclasm, with the broad ‘liberal’ consensus among the elites being the icon.

  3. I definitely think there is something darkly sexual about admiring tyrants. But it’s the sort of sexuality that ultimately seeks to destroy sex. Didn’t Orwell’s Oceania have an ‘Anti-Sex League’ or some such thing?

  4. The defining characteristic of ‘the left’ has always been a hatred of the established societal order and its attempts to mobilise collectives (social class, in the case of the communists, nation state, in the case of the fascists and today’s rather fragmented identity politics) in order to effect ‘change’. This opposes ‘the right’ who wish to conserve societal norms and institutions which serve most people well.

    The left like Putin because he’s a Soviet throwback and the right like him because he is seen to safeguard the interests of Mother Russia. His intervention in Syria was seen as conserving the secular and pluralist tyranny of Al-Assad, set against the limp lunacy of Western foreign policy which tentatively advanced creating another Iraq, or Libya, with support for ‘allies on the ground’ who all turn out to be rabid islamists. The EU’s expansionist intervention in Ukraine also has a lot to do with awakening the Russian bear.

    The irony is that Putin is neither left nor right. He is a strong arm gangster who runs a gangster state.

    1. “The EU’s expansionist intervention in the Ukraine”? Really. I detest the EU, but in this instance it’s blameless. Did it send troops to the Ukraine? Military advisers? Arms? No. All it did was welcome the Ukraine’s movement towards the West and away from the imperial power that had committed unimaginable crimes against the Ukrainians. That the EU persued its own interests is beyond doubt. But in this case the EU’s interest coincide with those of anyone who is opposed to tyranny, loves liberty – and is capable of telling one from the other. Let’s leave your argument to Putin’s propagandists who insist on depicting the Ukraine as the battleground on which poor Russia resists the aggression by the US, the EU and the West in general.

      1. Yes I have a lot of sympathy with this view. However it cannot be denied that the EU played a large part in orchestrating a gentle revolution against a democratically elected government who, starved of capital after decades of corruption, had decided (rightly or wrongly) that Putin was offering more favourable terms.

        One shouldn’t try to play dirty with a Capo di Tutti Capi.

        1. Your faith in the redemptive power of democratic elections is touching. I thank you on behalf of the democratically elected Messrs Hitler, Perón, Mugabe, Putin, Lukashenko, Ahmadinejad, Yanukovych and Macîas Nguema (who gratefully murdered a third of the population of Equatorial Guinea that had voted him in). Yet even assuming that the Ukrainians committed an affront against one-man-one-vote, surely that’s their business? The Ukraine is now an independent country, isn’t she? Surely she can sort out her own affairs, provided it neither commits genocide not pounces on her neighbours? And I love this ‘it cannot be denied’ business. It’s that moral equivalence again. The EU welcomed the Ukraine into the Western fold; Putin grabbed a chunk of her territory. Equivalence all around. But then I’ve noticed that people with a warm spot for Putin in their hearts are impervious to rational arguments. As Pascal commented on the Western adulation of Putin, “Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point”. Putin’s isn’t just a gangster state. It’s a fascist state, the deadliest enemy the West – and the world – has.

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