Friday, April 20, 2018

Tal Tsfany, Sophie Anwar and The Ayn Rand Institute's Continuing Deconstruction of the USA

The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) recently announced that Tal Tsfany will be replacing Jim Brown as CEO on June 29, 2018. Apparently, Brown was just an "interim" CEO, although that was news to everyone. Tsfany is being advertised as a "long-term" leader. As an retired US Air Force officer with a WASPy sounding name, Brown was an odd duck for ARI leadership. 

Tsfany immigrated to the United States from Israel in 2006. He has spent most of his professional life as an executive in the high tech industry. He is the co-founder of the Ayn Rand Center Israel. Despite this resume, there is little of his writing available online. His background is very similar to that of previous CEO and Chairman of the Board Yaron Brook. One could hope that Tsfany will take ARI in a different direction from that established by the globalist and materialist Brook. However, there is good reason to believe that Tsfany is nothing but a Brook clone who will continue ARI's downward spiral. 

Sophie and Tal: Better Americans than the Real Thing

The evidence that Tsfany is just another shallow globalist is a children's book he just published titled Sophie. The Obleftivist running The Objective Standard (TOS) is orgasmic in his praise for this work. That alone should send up red flags for discerning readers. Parenthetically, in the aftermath of l'affaire McCaskey, TOS and ARI's principals were not on speaking terms. Now it's a lovefest between the two organizations. How, why and when this came about is a complete mystery. Apparently, both the principals and principles on this issue have changed. But, it's not for "students of Obleftivism" to reason why. It's for them to follow the ever changing alliances and feuds of the Obleftivist Establishment (OE). And, to keep writing checks. Especially, to keep writing checks. 

Anyways, Sophie is destined to become a classic, but not in the way the author intends. The style is not bad. The first half of the book moves along well. The second half drags and contains too much description. The characters, plot and theme are all introduce in the book's first chapters. There isn't any reason to keep illustrating the same points for nearly one-hundred pages. 

The book's theme is about as subtle as a train wreck. The narrative is told through the perspective of thirteen-year-old Leo. During the summer he meets a new, mysterious girl in town. They hit it off and become friends. The central thematic point is that Sophia is an illegal alien "refugee" from Syria. She and her mother live in poverty. Except for the odd jobs Sophia works, they have no visible means of support. Sophia is a combination of John Galt, David Copperfield and Nicholas Nickleby. The melodrama is so thick that I was surprised that Sophie didn't have a little brother named Tiny Jawaid. How shamelessly Dickensian is this work? Well, there's this,
Sophie, on the other hand, didn't buy anything for herself--she just saved as much as she could for the immigration lawyer. She was buying groceries every other day after school and also passed through the pharmacy to buy medicine. Her mother's coughing got worse and worse, and Sophie spent most of what she earned on her mother's bills. Whenever we came back from work to put our tools in the little tin shed, I could hear Mrs. Anwar's hacking cough getting louder and more frequent. (p. 79)
Yes, immigration lawyer. The main plot driver is Sophie's need for $5,000 to pay a lawyer to take their case and get them a visa. Apparently, the story takes place sometime in the early 1990s. In this dark, intolerant period of American history the entire legal industry of pro bono immigration attorneys supported by various foundations didn't exist. 

The characters are shallow and two-dimensional. As with Charles Dickens, Tsfany's characters are mouth pieces for a particular viewpoint or social stereotype. Fully formed and believable human beings, they are not. Sophie should have a "Supergrrl" logo on her shirt. She is, of course, better than the Americans the author, no doubt, hopes will soon be replaced by their immigrant betters. For example, "You scored the highest in the entire state, Sophie. You should be proud of yourself" (p. 126). Needless to say, Sophie knows more about the meaning of America than anyone in town. She was taught the essence of America by her grandfather in Syria, who was a university professor. Leo is a great representative of future American manhood in his role as foil and beta orbiter to Sophie. 

The book's villain is equally a cartoon character. Ingrid Sanders is a composite of Jerry Falwell and Hillary Clinton. Sanders is running for mayor and takes a rather bizarre interest in some poor immigrant girl. She attempts to use Sophie for her political campaign. When Sanders' plan blows up due to Sophie not playing along, she rats out the Anwars to the INS. Sanders is a professional power luster who uses altruism to mask her true intentions. And, but of course, she's active in her church. Nevermind that many Christian churches are tirelessly working to bring in all the Sophies they can find. Again, with the subtlety of a Moslem suicide bomber, all Christians in the story are odious people.  

There's no telling for how long Tsfany's elevation to CEO of ARI has been in the works. Sophie was published on 9 January 2018. I doubt that these two events are completely unrelated. Sophie seems little more than a calculated "F you" to real American Objectivists who don't want their nation's culture and borders erased - and, who don't hold their fellow Americans in contempt. 

It's fair to say that Sophie will never be confused with Ayn Rand's favorite novel Calumet "K" by Samuel Merwin. As she explains, 
Calumet "K" is a good example of the fact that when fiction, even light fiction, contains some element of truth about human existence, it carries philosophical implications wider than its specific theme. This novel is a remarkable historical-social-psychological document. Today, its sub-title ought to be: This was America. (The Objectivist, October 1967)
Or, this was the America murdered by cultural Marxists. It's truly sad that the organization that bears her name is making common cause with the nation's destroyers. Sophie is the sort of junk trumpeted by the Obleftivist Establishment. Meanwhile, these people completely ignore Edward Cline's magnificent Sparrowhawk series on America's founding. This is just one example of their bad judgment and pettiness. 

Tal Tsfany's tenure as ARI's CEO guarantees its continued irrelevance.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Review: Walter R. Borneman, Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America, 2008

James K. Polk was one of America's best, most successful presidents. Walter Borneman has published an excellent, well-written and honest biography of this pivotal leader. Polk is given high marks by many historians for defining his agenda prior to his election for president, then carrying out that agenda as promised. He did so in one-term. As the election of 1848 loomed, there was much speculation on whether Polk would keep his promise of not running for reelection. He did. 

James K. Polk Eleventh President of the United States
His four years in the White House was severely detrimental to his health. He died, possibly of cholera, only a few months after leaving office on 15 June 1849. But, he knew his administration would have a long lasting positive impact on the country he loved. Polk's longtime supporter A.O.P. Nicholson wrote the epitaph for the deceased president: 
By his public policy he defined, established, and extended the boundaries of his country. He planted the laws of the American union on the shores of the Pacific. His influence and his counsels tended to organize the national treasury on the principles of the Constitution, and to apply the rule of freedom to navigation, trade, and industry. (p. 344)
Nicholson neatly summarizes the four policy initiatives that Polk carried out during his administration. These four polices were: annexation of a substantial portion of the Oregon Territory, acquisition of California, treasury reform, a tariff for mostly revenue purposes. 

Polk was a Jacksonian Democrat. His four policy goals were largely those of Andrew Jackson. Borneman does an admirable job narrating how Polk was able to advance the Jacksonian agenda to a greater extent than the Great Man himself. While explaining how Polk carried out his domestic agenda, the author focuses on the Mexican-American War and territorial expansion. He deftly recounts how Polk was able to acquire Oregon by extending the 49th parallel line to the Pacific. The British were demanding that the Columbia River should be the border between the USA and Canada. Polk knew how far to push John Bull and forced them to a reasonable compromise while avoiding war. 

At the Halls of Montezuma

When Polk entered the White House, Texas had already been annexed to the Unites States and would become a state in December 1845. Polk ordered troops to the Rio Grande on the Gulf Coast under General Zachary Taylor. Borneman does well by fairly describing Polk's contentious relations with his Whiggish generals. As he notes, the long delays in communications between Washington D.C. Texas and California added much confusion to an already tricky political issues. 

Borneman bases his work on Polk's presidential diary and other primary documents. His book can be appreciated for its lack of psychologizing of his subject. He sticks to the record while building a fascinating history of President Polk's political career and era. The author uses telling examples to illustrate Polk's intelligence and good judgment. A rare lapse of the latter is Polk's misguided loyalty to the incompetent political opportunist Gideon Pillow. A positive example of Polk's wisdom is his concern over Congress creating the Interior Department during his administration: 
Although Polk was preoccupied with the California debate, among other last minute bills presented to him was one to create the Department of the Interior. Polk was skeptical. He found the bill long and complicated and had little time to examine it in detail. He feared "its consolidating tendency" and thought that it would centralize power over public lands in the federal government to the detriment of the states, where he thought it belonged. (p. 334)
Of course, he should have followed his better judgment and vetoed the bill. Needless to say, the Interior Department is now a Deep State land grapping empire with contempt for the American people and their fundamental rights. It should be eliminated.

To his great credit, the author does not evade the elephant in the room in his book's conclusion. He forthrightly comments that Polk's work - and that of the American people who built the American southwest into a civilized country - is being rapidly, and intentionally, deconstructed. 
The irony, of course, is that in the early years of the twenty-first century, a tidal war of Hispanic immigration continues to sweep northward from Mexico, not only into the provinces that James K. Polk  wrested from Mexico one hundred sixty years ago, but throughout the United States. It is a tidal wave of population and culture as inexorable as that which rolled into Texas in the 1830s. Whatever else history is, it is not static. (p. 337)
And whatever Mexifornia becomes, it will be far worse that the Golden State it is replacing. It is understandable that the Mexican people and their government seek to undo the decision of 1846. However, its treason for the American Deep State - among other putative "Americans" - to have the same agenda. History is indeed not static.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Yaron Brook Denies Potential Genocide - Virtue Signals

Yaron Brook is the Ayn Rand Institute's chairman of the board. Although no longer ARI's CEO, he is still very much its public face. He seems to be putting most of his effort into his "radio" show. He uploads these shows several times a week onto his YouTube channel. Regrettably, most of these shows are over one and a half hours long. 

A few days ago, Brook had a lengthy show on several different topics, see above. One of these topics was about events in South Africa. Happily, only the first thirty minutes of this show concerns this issue. The rest of the show is on Brook's ongoing snit with Ben Shapiro that doesn't concern the more weighty topic of the potential (or perhaps ongoing) ethnic cleansing in South Africa. Brook's guest for this segment is Christo Hattingh, who is a white South African libertarian/Objectivist. Both deny that genocide is occurring in South Africa or that there is much of a threat of it happening in the near future. 

I've never been to South Africa and have to rely on news reports on current events in, and books for the history on, the country. My main interest here are Brook's reasons for minimizing the ongoing horrors in South Africa. He begins with the "liberal" smear du jour. According to Brook, the ethnic cleansing of whites in South Africa (ethnic cleansing seems to be many Africans favorite past time, e.g. Nigerian Civil War) is an issue made up by the "alt-right." The only examples he cites are Breitbart News (!) and Lauren Southern. Southern has produced a documentary on the oppression of whites in South Africa based on her extensive travels in the country. She's a Canadian libertarian and is not part of the "alt-right." 

Instead, both Brook and Hattingh argue that the motives for confiscating white own farms is mainly socialist/Marxist economic doctrine. We can leave aside here that the tens-of-millions murdered by socialists in the last century are just as dead as people murdered for racist reasons. They then claim that the ruling ANC is running away from the confiscation plan. Both of these claims are false. In late February, the South African parliament, by an overwhelming margin of 241 to 83, passed a measure to confiscate white owned farms. According to the Daily Mail, "the policy was a key factor in new president Cyril Ramaphosa's platform after he took over from Jacob Zuma in February." Key factor. Key. This key factor of the new government is explicitly racist. Note how whites are being demonized for all of South Africa's problems. 

We have a small racial minority being scapegoated for the problems created by a corrupt authoritarian government. This government will now confiscate the scapegoats' property for proper looting. Where have we seen this before? If the minority in question was not white, there would be no doubt about what's going on in South Africa. But, not to worry. Brook notes that Ramaphosa was in business! He's a businessman, and, therefore deserves the benefit of the doubt - unlike Donald Trump who's the cancer of our time, according to Brook. 

Ironically, several days before Brook's show on this topic, Lauren Southern was on Australian television answering her critics. (It didn't take long for Youtube to remove Southern's thoughtcrime. Two words: common carrier.) She says that genocide is not now occurring in South Africa; but, that there is a strong possibility of it happening. She argues that the completely corrupt South African government, and its media lackeys, are covering up the horrendous crimes being committed against white farmers. She also states that these crimes are largely racially motivated. Brook states that there is also very high crime black on black crime in South African cities. It's weird to hear someone minimize nasty murders and rapes the purpose for which is ethnic cleansing by citing street crime rates. 

At the end of Brook's segment on South Africa he indulges in virtue signalling. He praises Communist Nelson Mandela, no mention of Winnie's necklaces, and goes on about how horrible Apartheid was (although, less horrible than most of the contemporaneous horrors in Africa - e.g. two words: Idi Amin). Brook praises Mandela "for transitioning South Africa to democracy [!] without violence, which I would have expected the country to explode. Apartheid was so disgusting I would have expected the country to explode" (28:00 minute mark). But now that the South Africa government is working to foment racial hatred and light the fuse of a powder-keg, Brook sees no evil. As with any "good" liberal-leftist, Brook denies that anti-white racism is a problem worth considering. For his ilk, only white racism exists and the USA is still controlled by Bull Connor.

I hope that the white farmers retain their firearms and aren't shy about using them in self-defense. As for Brook, a friend just sent me a link to another video of Brook in a panel discussion with Dave Rubin. 

Brook's views on the right to keep and bear arms start at around the 1:23:30 mark. He's responding to a question about school shootings. He's certainly right that the government school system is an abomination whose only purpose is to indoctrinate defenseless children with the leftist liturgy. He should have stopped there. Needless to say, government schools aren't going anywhere in the near or mid term. But, rationalist that he is, Brook denigrates the means for practical action (and the individual right that makes action possible) while spinning webs of reform that won't happen for decades, if ever: 

I don't think guns matter. If they took if they took all our guns it doesn't matter and if we kept all the guns it doesn't matter that much. What matters a thousand times more is what's happening in our schools.

There you have it. Having the means for self-defense "doesn't matter."  A woman having a gun to shoot her rapist "doesn't matter." Having a gun to stop a maniacal spree killer "doesn't matter." Anti-white racism doesn't exist. The elite's plan to "fundamental transform" white majority countries into white minority countries is not itself a form of vicious racism. For some people, only abstractions count - well, and their bank account.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Review: James D. Hornfischer, Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, 2004

"This will be a fight against overwhelming odds from which survival cannot be expected. We will do what damage we can." Lt. Cdr. Robert W. Copeland, CO USS Samuel B. Roberts 

James Hornfischer's book on the Battle of Leyte Gulf is a modern classic of military history. Leyte Gulf was the largest naval battle in history, transpiring October 23-26 1944. It involved most of the Imperial Japanese battle fleet attacking the American invasion forces landing on the island of Leyte in the central Philippines. The result was a decisive American victory. After this battle, the Japanese surface navy was no longer a factor in the war. 

The battle was actually comprised of four separate actions (see map above). Hornfischer does an admirable job describing the strategic background to the battle. General MacArthur would land four divisions on the island of Leyte. His own 7th Fleet would provide firepower support, close air support and amphibious transport of the troops. The far more powerful 3rd Fleet was composed of the Pacific Fleet's new large aircraft carriers and battleships. It as under the command of Admiral Bill Halsey who reported to Admiral Nimitz in Honolulu. This divided command structure led to near disaster off the island of Samar. 

USS Hoel DD-533

Admiral Halsey's mission was to "cover and support" MacArthur's landings. However, Nimitz added a confusing provision to the orders, "In case opportunity for destruction of major portion of the enemy fleet is offered or can be created, such destruction becomes the primary task" (pg. 97, emphasis added). This order was a major blunder on Nimitz's part. When the Japanese carriers (being used as bait) materialized, Halsey moved north to the attack. He left the path clear for the Japanese surface fleet of four battleships and six heavy cruisers to Leyte Gulf and MacArthur's exposed transports. 

Thus the "battle of Bull's Run" was set-up between that most powerful naval surface force the Japanese had ever sent to sea (including the massive Yamato) and something called "Taffy 3." It is the "tin can" sailors (and flyers) of Taffy 3 that are the focus of Hornfischer's narrative. Taffy 3 was a small American task force made up of six "baby flat top" escort carriers with a screen of three destroyers and four destroyer escorts. The escort carriers were not designed for fleet actions. They were small vessels built from merchant hulls. Each carried around twenty-four aircraft divided between Wildcat fighters and Avenger bombers. Their mission was to provide the ground troops with air support and anti-submarine patrols for the invasion fleet. 

USS Gambier Bay CVE 73
"Tin can" is a nickname for destroyers. World War II destroyers packed a lot of punch with the torpedoes they carried. But, they didn't have much in the way of armor protection, hence "tin can." A solid hit from an enemy cruiser or battleship was usual sufficient to seriously damage or sink a destroyer. 

At around 0645 hours on 25 October the look outs of Taffy 3 observed the Japanese battle fleet bearing down upon them at a distance of twenty-five miles. Taffy 3's commanding officer Admiral Clifton Sprague had little recourse except to run to the south. He ordered all aircraft on his six carriers to immediately launch with whatever weapons were already loaded and to attack the Japanese fleet. He then ordered his destroyer screen to make a torpedo attack upon the fast approaching battleships and heavy cruisers. The "tin cans" responded with alacrity. They made several hits on the enemy fleet. More importantly, they gained time for the CVEs to move south and their aircraft to begin their attacks. 

There were many heroes that day on the American destroyers and baby flat tops. The escorts USS Hoel, USS Johnston and USS Samuel B. Roberts were all sunk with large loss of life. The escort carrier USS Gambier Bay was sunk by Japanese naval gunfire. Escort carrier USS St. Lo had the distinction of being the first American ship sunk by kamikazes. 

The determination and courage of the American sailors and airmen that day are exemplified by Gunner's Mate Paul H. Carr. He was captain of the Robert's aft 5 inch gun. As Hornfischer relates, 

Most of the men inside [of the gun mount] had been obliterated by the blast. They had gotten off 324 rounds of the 325 the ship carried in its after magazine, firing the last seven or eight shells without a working gas ejection line to clear the breech, until one of the final rounds got them. 

Looking around [Chalmer] Goheen discovered where the magazine's last round was. It was right there before him, cradled in the arms of Paul Carr himself. The man was alive - though barely, torn from his neck to his groin. Carr was struggling to hold the shell. He begged Goheen to help him load it into the wrecked breech tray. Goheen took the shell from Carr's arms and laid the gunner's mate on the floor of his mount. 

Paul Henry Carr of Checotah, Oklahoma, proud member of the Future Farmers of America, football and baseball letterman, brother of eight sisters, only son of Thomas and Minnie Mai Carr, died there on the deck of his battered, broken warship. (pp. 331-332)

The book is filled with such vivid, moving writing based on many interviews with the battle's survivors. Read it to learn of the price of freedom and independence. Read it to observe the mighty efforts of men. We'll not see their like again. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Review: "Are We There Yet?" Roger Chickering and Stig Forster, 2004. An Example of Bad Historical Revisionism

In the first chapter “Are We There Yet” from A World atTotal War, Roger Chickering and Stig Forster analyze the meaning and development of the concept of “Total War.”  Because of a failure to make certain, vital distinctions in their analysis, the writers do not succeed in their main purpose in defining what “total war” is. The worst part of this essay is the author's egregious moral equivalence between Nazi Germany and the Western Allies. Considering Auschwitz and Hiroshima to be on a moral par is a confession of one's own moral imbecility. 

Not an Agent of Genocide
The authors note that the “hallmark” of total war is the use of military violence against civilians (pp. 11).  One reason for this, the authors recognize, is the full mobilization of a nation’s economy in the pursuit military victory.  This led to the blurring, or ending, of the distinction between combatant and non-combatant during World War II.  The reason for this is generally viewed to be the other defining factor of total war: total economic mobilization.  As the authors state total war requires “the thoroughgoing mobilization of industrial economies in the war effort, and hence the disciplined organization of civilians no less than warriors” (pp. 2)  The authors relate how this led theorist such as Guilio Douhet to conclude that civilians (or at least factory workers) were legitimate targets of opposing military forces.  In the context of World War I trench warfare anything that could break the deadlock and bring the war to a conclusion was considered justified.  Although, it wasn’t until World War II that technology, particularly the long range bomber, made this strategy possible.

The “unpacking” this essay deserves would require a considerably longer paper than space allows; therefore I will only mention a few of the methodological problems and factual omissions of serious consequence.  There are four distinct concepts the authors include in their definition of “total war” that I believe should remain distinct.  These are, 1: The degree of a nation’s economic mobilization, 2: Civilians as primary or secondary targets or as collateral damage, 3: The treatment of POWs or war of No Quarter, 4: Genocide.
As the authors note the original definition of total war referred to economic mobilization.  The French coined the terms “guerre totale” and “guerre integrale” for their nation’s total mobilization in the last two years of World War I.  There is obviously no clear line that can be drawn between limited and total war regarding mobilization.  The authors engage in some tedious hairsplitting on whether the United States fully mobilized during World War II and therefore engaged in total war.

The authors cite Maurice Matloff “The Ninety Division Gamble” from Kent Roberts Greenfield volume of the Green Series Command Decisions.  The authors, however, do not provide quotes or statistics to support their position that it’s hyperbole to claim the US totally mobilized for World War II (pp. 7).  I don’t have a copy of Command Decisions handy, however in Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare: 1943-1944 Maurice Matloff explicitly states that the “ninety division gamble” was the direct result of manpower shortages: “By 1943 the ‘arsenal of democracy,’ as the United States had come to be called, was just beginning to hit its full productive stride…Although increased use of women and Negroes, establishment of longer working hours, and improved efficiency in war plants eventually served to augment production, the manpower situation by early 1943 appeared grave” (Maurice Matloff (1959) Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare, 1943-1944. Washington D.C.: Office of the Chief of Military History. pp. 113, 116).  The concern was that drafting skilled workers would affect production, which could not be allowed.  And not just for factory workers, in November 1942 Congress gave a blanket draft deferment to all agricultural workers (pp. 116).

Regarding Nazi Germany and total war it should not be forgotten that Blitzkrieg was as much an economic concept as a military one.  Hitler’s purpose was to avoid full mobilization with quick decisive wars and to not get engage in a total war of exhaustion that the German economy could not hope to win. In fact, Nazi Germany did not begin full economic mobilization until after Stalingrad when it was too late.

Chickering’s and Forster’s evaluation of how civilians became targets in total war beginning in World War I and culminating in the Second World War has problems of special pleading.  In their analysis they apparently think it’s irrelevant who were the aggressors in these wars and who initiated this aspect of total war.  They note that nearly 740 German civilians were killed in allied bombing raids during World War I; however they fail to note how many British civilians were killed during the preceding Zeppelin raids (pp. 12).  While discussing the bombing raids of World War II the names Guernica, Warsaw, Rotterdam and London are not mentioned.  This is no small matter in evaluating later allied bombing campaigns.  On July 8, 1940 Winston Churchill wrote a memo to the Minister of Aircraft Production, Lord Beaverbrook, “I look round to see how we can win the war, I see that there is only own sure path,” and that was “an absolutely devastating, exterminating attack by very heavy bombers from this country…” (Their Finest Hour. New York: Bantam Books, 1977, pp. 548).  That both the British people and leaders where willing to go to extremes was motivated and justified by previous German attacks.  As an interesting side issue it should be noted that making a large, powerful democracy desperate and fearful for its continued existence can result in very bad things for the fascist aggressors.  The process of “taking off the gloves” in warfare doesn’t happen overnight and the beginning of it should not be ignored.  

Dresden 1945. Not Auschwitz, Not Even Close
Wars of No Quarter have been fought throughout history.  One example is the Texas Revolution of 1835-6.  General Santa Ana apparently thought of the Texans as rebels and therefore not worthy of the rules of warfare.  At the Alamo he put the defenders to the sword.  At Goliad he had 400 captured Texan soldiers executed.  At San Jacinto the Texans responded by killing hundreds of Mexican soldiers as they tried to surrender yelling “me no Alamo;” they understood.  The Texas Revolution was a “small war” regarding the number involved, however it was a brutal one by early nineteenth century standards.  While both the United States and England participated in Second World War’s total nature, both country’s treated Axis prisoners according to the Geneva Convention.

Lastly, the most troubling aspect of this essay, its “revisionist” view of the Holocaust.  The authors state, “Genocide was the other face of total war…The history of total war was driven by material and ideological forces that culminated respectively in Hiroshima and Auschwitz – in weapons that did not discriminate and policies that did so with a vengeance” (pp. 12-13).  This is an example of the old tactic to “normalize” the Holocaust and the continuing of the “Historikerstreit” or Historians Conflict that began in Germany in the 1980s.  As stated above, Hitler’s purpose was to avoid total war, not begin one.  Hitler’s purpose was not total war but social engineering.  Social engineering doesn’t necessarily require total or limited war.  As the cases of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot demonstrate.  In fact both Hitler’s and Stalin’s example demonstrate that mass murder as social engineering seriously degrades any war effort through vast wasted resources including, in Stalin’s case, a better part of his officer corps.  As Benjamin B. Weber, in his essay “Shades of Revisionism: Holocaust Denial and the Conservative Call to Reinterpret German History,” details some of the tactics used to “normalize” the Holocaust, including “the intentional denigration of the Holocaust and the Third Reich” (Benjamin B. Weber. (December 1996) “Shades of Revisionism” University of Vermont: History Review Vol 6.

Reducing the Holocaust to another aspect of total war is just what the authors are doing by using Auschwitz and Hiroshima in the same sentence.  Whether one agrees with the dropping of the A-bombs on Japan, and the earlier firebombings, these actions had an identifiable war related purpose, to force the Japanese to surrender.  Auschwitz had no purpose to which even a partially sane person can fathom.  It is not an aspect of total war but as the Nuremburg Tribunal the Holocaust was a Crime Against Humanity. 

Gunter Bischof is the head of Center Austria at Tulane University.  He has also tried to make a connection between the Pacific Theater and the crimes of the SS.  On May 31, 2004 he posted an article at the History NewsNetwork, “The American ‘Good War’ vs. the German ‘Bad War’: World War II Memory Cultures.” Towards the end of the article after discussing the Enola Gay exhibit Bischof states: “While in Germany the veterans’ organization had failed to salvage their selective memories of the killing fields on the Eastern front, in the United States the veterans succeeded in enforcing their one-sided memory of heroic marines and valiant sailors.  Their killing frenzies in the island campaign and trophy taking of Japanese body parts was purged from the public memory.”  The comparison of American combat soldiers in the Pacific with Einsatzgruppen is now apparently acceptable for scholarly discourse.  It should be remembered however, that if “Hap” Arnold and “Bomber” Harris are as bad as Adolf Eichmann and Reinhardt Heydrich: then Eichmann and Heydrich are no worse than Arnold and Harris.  

Friday, March 9, 2018

Review: Hugh D. R. Baker. Chinese Family and Kinship. London: MacMillan Press, 1979.

In this study, Baker focuses on two Chinese concepts that define their view on proper family relationships. Wu-fu means the “five mourning grades,” and wu-lun describes the “five human relationships.”  These concepts identify the social hierarchy of Chinese society. Wu-lun is the more fundamental concept and is based on Confucian precepts. The five relationships are ruler/minister, father/son, elder brother/younger brother, husband/wife, and friend/friend (11). Except for the last, all of these relationships are about status with the latter person as the inferior half. Wu-fu is more complex than wu-lun. Wu-fu was a state sanctioned code of five mourning grades that were based on one’s relationship to the deceased. Wu-fu defined a person’s place within the hierarchy of their lineage. It was directly related to ritual and those who did not demonstrate the correct mourning garb were subject to severe punishment. This was one method by which the state enforced adherence to ritual. Wu-fu codified the web of association in which all Chinese lived, and was so vividly described by Fei Xiaotang

Baker does not have a thesis for this work. His book is a description of the Chinese family and its place in Chinese society within the framework of the associated rituals. He states that all relationships in the family are based on a “pecking-order” (15). The “pecking order” that ordains superiority and inferiority in all family relationships is generation, age, and sex. For example, while a husband is superior to his wife because of sex, he is expected to defer to his mother due to her superior generational position. This “pecking order,” along with wu-fu and wu-lun, “makes clear to whom each owes respect and obedience” for every individual in the family or lineage group (16).

Baker applies the above concepts to two traditions within that Chinese family that most illustrate the central important of the carefully defined hierarchies. These traditions are ancestor worship and lineages. Baker quotes a proverb that expresses that function of ancestor worship which places every individual in a “Continuum of Descent”: “he exists by virtue of his ancestors, and his descendants exist only through him” (71). As he explains, death does not end the mutual responsibilities between parent and child. In order to be secure in the afterlife, the dead require the appropriate sacrifices from their descendants, just as the living require blessings from the departed. Descent was patriarchal; hence the Chinese obsession with having a son to carry on the line. Women became appendages to the male line of their family.  

Baker’s chapter on lineages ties in well with Fei’s concept of differential mode of association. Lineages were extended families that held some property in common via trusts. The purpose of these trusts was to finance worship of significant ancestors. All males descended from this ancestor were part of the lineage (49). As Fei had written, these lineages could become states within the Chinese state, especially during the rule of a weak or declining dynasty. They enforced de facto legal codes. According to Baker, lineages were much more common in the south than in the north. While he provides several reasons for this, the impression is given that there is no consensus on this by scholars. This book dovetails nicely with that of Fei.