That Hideous Strength (CS Lewis)

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Very few novels can claim to be perfect at every level.  This is one of them.

Grammar Stage Inquiry: The What

On the surface level, a Deep State governmental agency takes control of England and they are resisted by a small group of classical scholars. This book must be read on multiple levels. The first one is the Deep State takeover.  The second level is the reduction of man to a material machine. The third level, the most important one, takes place on cosmic plane: the macrobes (fallen beney ha-elohim) vs. the eldils.

What is the most important event in the book, in which the character(s) change?

Mark has several “changes.”  The first for evil, when he agrees to write a false news report.  While that’s evil, and Lewis plays the evil quite seriously, it’s basically Journalism 101 today.  His second change is when he realized that his secular materialism won’t save him in the end. Jane changes when she gives up her radical egalitarianism and accepts the reality of hierarchy.

  1. Logic Stage Inquiry [The Why and How]

Is this novel fable or chronicle? It is a fairy-tale for grown ups, or at least it was Lewis first wrote it.  It’s probably more like a fulfilled prophecy today. If anything, Lewis understated the danger. The villains in this story engage in occult channeling, astral projection, and the like.  This stuff really didn’t get going in the West until about a decade after Lewis wrote. There is even a scene of what was later to be “MK-ULTRA.” Lewis was decades ahead of secularists on seeing this, which means he was at least a half-century ahead of Evangelical do-gooders.

What does the central character(s) want? Mark wants to be “accepted” by the “inner circle.”  Mark is stupid. Jane is more complex. She wants the romance that hierarchy and monarchy bring, but she refuses to surrender her radical feminism.

What strategies does the character(s) use to overcome their difficulties? Jane needs to “giver herself over” to a reality that is hierarchical.  That language is deliberate, for she chafes at any attack on her autonomy.  Mark had to realize that his secular education and upbringing failed him. Even classical paganism would have been superior, for at least it hadn’t cut out man’s heart.  The social sciences, falsely so-called, did. Lewis illustrates the problem in one golden passage:

“It must be remembered that in Mark’s mind hardly one rag of noble thought, either Christian or Pagan, had a secure lodging. His education had been neither scientific nor classical — merely “Modern.” The severities both of abstraction and of high human tradition had passed him by: and he had neither peasant shrewdness nor aristocratic honour to help him” (Lewis 168).

 What is the logical exhaustion, which demonstrates a philosophy about human nature? This is the narrative version of The Abolition of Man.  In the nonfiction, Lewis decried the reducing of man to a functional machine.  In this version, Lewis shows what man would be like as a machine.

III.  Rhetorical Stage of Inquiry [The So What?]

Do you sympathize with the characters?  Which one(s), and why? Jane is more likable than Mark.  Mark is a complete idiot. Even on evil principles, he doesn’t understand the game enough to just shut up and work the system. He is, quite simply, stupid.

Lewis’s description of Mark’s cowardice, and the fact that cowardice stems from his worldview, is nothing less than perfect.  The phrase “and Mark found that his change was complete” recurs throughout the novel, leading the reader to suspect that Mark changes an awful lot, which suggests a shallow character.

Dimble’s complete dismantling of Mark is one of the high points of Western literature.  This is the essence of “manly dialogue,” of which I must quote in full:

“Suddenly the immobility of Dimble’s face changed, and he spoke in a new voice. “Have you the means to bring her to book?” he said. “Are you already as near the centre of Belbury as that? If so, then you have consented to the murder of Hingest, the murder of Compton. If so, it was by your orders that Mary Prescott was raped and battered to death in the sheds behind the station. It is with your approval that criminals — honest criminals whose hands you are unfit to touch — are being taken from the jails to which British judges sent them on the conviction of British juries and packed off to Belbury to undergo for an indefinite period, out of reach of the law, whatever tortures and assaults on personal identity you call Remedial Treatment. It is you who have driven two thousand families from their homes to die of exposure in every ditch from here to Birmingham or Worcester. It is you who can tell us why Place and Rowley and Cunningham (at eighty years of age) have been arrested, and where they are. And if you are as deeply in it as that, not only will I not deliver Jane into your hands, but I would not deliver my dog” (Lewis 202).

I’ll give Mark this much credit (or at least, Lewis’s skill in describing him), he is willing to work through his worldview by the end of the book.

Did the writer’s times affect him? Yes.  This is when the Deep State and New World Order were suddenly blooming.

Do you agree?  Is this work true about the human experience? This book is a mirror of human nature.  It needs to be studied as a textbook.

And some passages in this book demonstrate Lewis’s near-perfect command of the English language:

“All day the wind had been rising and they found themselves looking out on a sky swept almost clear. The air was intensely cold, the stars severe and bright High above the last rags of scurrying clouds hung the Moon in all her wildness — not the voluptuous Moon of a thousand southern love-songs, but the huntress, the untameable virgin, the spear-head of madness. If that cold satellite had just then joined our planet for the first time, it could hardly have looked more like an omen. The wildness crept into Jane’s blood.”

and great syllables of words that sounded like castles came out of his mouth. Jane felt her heart leap and quiver at them. Everything else in the room seemed to have been intensely quiet; even the bird, and the bear, and the cat, were still, staring at the speaker. The voice did not sound like Dimble’s own: it was as if the words spoke themselves through him from some strong place at a distance — or as if they were not words at all but present operations of God, the planets, and the Pendragon. For this was the language spoken before the Fall and beyond the Moon and the meanings were not given to the syllables by chance, or skill, or long tradition, but truly inherent in them as the shape of the great Sun is inherent in the little waterdrop. This was Language herself” (2019).

****

“ It seemed to each that the room was filled with kings and queens, that the wildness of their dance expressed heroic energy and its quieter movements had seized the very spirit behind all noble ceremonies…. Before the other angels a man might sink: before this he might die, but if he lived at all, he would laugh. If you had caught one breath of the air that came from him, you would have felt yourself taller than before. Though you were a cripple, your walk would have became stately: though a beggar, you would have worn your rags magnanimously. Kingship and power and festal pomp and courtesy shot from him as sparks fly from an anvil. The pealing of bells, the blowing of trumpets, the spreading out of banners, are means used on earth to make a faint symbol of his quality” (302).

Conclusion

This is my favorite novel of all time.  I have read it five or six times. The characters are perfectly developed.  Even the bad guys are remarkably well-done. It is the mark of a good writer that can create a likable bad guy without sacrificing anything.  Lewis does this in Feverstone, who is almost funny at times.

 

 

Review: The Balkan Wars

One reviewer described this book as “Not sufficiently anti-Serb for the Ministry of Truth.” That’s more profound than he realized. Gerolymatos argues that the Kosovo myth functions as a prism through which Serbia would forever understand its struggles with outsiders (Gerolymatos 8). He makes the neat argument that even after the Battle of Kosovo and the death of Holy Prince Lazar, Serbs and Greeks had numerous opportunities to annihilate the Ottomans. Not simply win battles, but to eradicate them from the planet. When Timur the Lane destroyed most of the Ottoman empire, the creme of officials and army were trapped at the Straits. Greeks and Serbs rallied them across. Even Timurlane couldn’t imagine why they let that chance slip by. That wouldn’t be true if Kosovo were indeed the final point of medieval Serbian independence.

lazar

Ottoman Era: Creating a Mythology

The sack of Constantinople ended a “universal Hellenism” and began to create a specifically Greek consciousness (69-70).

He argues that the Ottoman rule actually made the Greek Church (better called the Phanariot Church) more powerful. Other Orthodox jurisdictions temporarily disappeared, leaving the Phanariot Patriarch as Patriarch over all the East (Russia excluded). Indeed, the Patriarch assumed the role of a vizier. Of course, it also made the Patriarchate dependent on the Sultan for its survival (sort of throws a new light on the “Caesaropapism” charge).

Most importantly, no matter how brutal the Ottomans were (and he doesn’t pull punches), there was always collusion between between Muslim and Christian (81). This is best illustrated in the person of Ali Pasha, the Ottoman strongman who was by far the most interesting persona in the book. Pasha’s life represents the problem of the Balkans: he exploited divisions and weaknesses to make himself more powerful. This meant, ironically, defending and strengthening some Christian communities (if only to weaken his Ottoman rivals).

Modern Failures

Among the many reasons modern Western politicians fail to understand the Balkan crisis is the critical role of “land” (167). Men die and identify themselves for what they believe in, who they are, and where they are–and not for pious platitudes chanted on CNN.

One key failure, perhaps earlier than the “Modern” period, was the Great Powers’ ignoring of Macedonia. According to the author, “Macedonia was a microcosm of the Balkans” and a strategic pathway for all cardinal directions (207). The Powers gave it back to the Ottoman Empire without regard for future upheavals.

He sees economic success as the only way to combat the fatigue of war (245). Time will tell.

Conclusions

I enjoyed the endnotes almost as much as anything else in the book. They were a veritable bibliographic feast. If you read this book you will know infinitely more political science than the news anchors on CNN.

Criticisms:

Some of these criticisms might seem overly nitpicky, but that’s only because this book is so good and well-written.
*He notes that the Koran said a city that did not surrender would be subject to three days of pillaging (253 n2). I don’t dispute that, but where is that referenced?
*He is more or less fair in his handling of Kosovo. He acknowledges Milosevic engaged in cruelties but points out America’s own role in intervening: a) establishing an anti-Russian, anti-Serb state in the heart of the Balkans, b) conveniently allowing transit to Western and Central Asia. Serbia had to be destroyed for the Neo-Con/Neo-Lib world order to flourish.

Surveying the Conspiracy Blogs

Not all of them are kooky tin foil hats, and after the Wikileaks revelations in 2016, it’s hard to see where they were wrong in the main.  Still, while they are almost always more accurate than CNN, not all conspiracy websites are equal.  I’ve been going through this since 2008, so here is my take.  I am not saying I agree with all of them.

Also the funniest scene in the whole movie

Joseph Farrell.  People laugh at Farrell, but I always tell them (a) he is a D.Phil from Oxford and (b) his conclusions are always judicious and balanced.  And while he does play the Nazi card heavily, he doesn’t see Nazis as the root (and explanation) of every evil event in the world.  His writing style combines analytic precision with profound depth.

Jim Marrs.  I never bought into the Annuki or Reptilians creating us, but Marrs’s stuff on more recent events is pretty good. I definitely recommend his Rise of the Fourth Reich. And he is one of the most natural speakers I’ve ever listened to.

Henry Makow. I came across his blog in 2008.  He does a pretty good job in connecting the dots, though he tends to see the Jews behind everything. He has a brilliant expose of Jeff Rense. I don’t agree with his claim that Putin is working with the New World Order.

Cathy O’Brien.  I’m not sure about her specific claims, but her narrative of CIA mind-control is accurate.

Jay’s Analysis.  Jay is a friend of mine.  I’ve been impressed with how he has come along recently.

Vigilant Citizen.  Some of the early stuff was pretty good, but they have a tendency to see MK-Ultra behind everything.  I also suspect they plagiarized from Jay Dyer.

Hollywood Subliminals. Mostly good.  I think they stretch a lot of images to show the Eye of Horus, but their other stuff is often informative.

Review: Trance-formation

Cathy O’Brien has the unfortunate (though not the most unfortunate thing to ever happen to her) of not being believed by even the conspiracy theory community.  I’m more sympathetic to her story than most, but I will push back on some facts.

Here is the “tl;dr” version.  She was sexually abused by her father from the earliest age and then prostituted out to various high-ranking officials.  During that time the CIA used their MK-Ultra tactics on her.  The mind-control programmed her brain to deliver messages, etc in the guise of sexual favors to diplomats, presidents, and the like.

While the above is evil and satanic, there is nothing of disbelief.  Of course the CIA does stuff like that.  I think what gets most people is when she starts naming names.  Here are the villains, and after each name I will say how believable it is:

  • Ronald Reagan.  I’m not sure on this one.  On one hand, his wife consorted with witches, and O’Brien admits Reagan never personally harmed her and that Reagan himself was outranked by Deep State agents Cheney and George H.W. Bush.
  • Cheney and Bush Sr.  Easily believable.  Only the most Boomercon Neocon thinks Cheney is a good guy.
  • Country Music stars. Undecided.  According to her Merle Haggard was a CIA informant.  Perhaps, but I don’t think he was sober enough to be reliable.  While I have doubts about the actual singers, the country music industry does provide a pipeline of CIA/cocaine activity.   Nashville is a powerful hub.

A Caution

This book is only for the most mature reader, and even then one needs to guard himself with prayer and probably fasting.  I knew going in how evil the CIA is, and I knew what MK-ULTRA involved, but even then I wasn’t prepared.

Now for some basic notes on the book:

Mind-control practices within the occult groups (according to survivors adjudged credible and law enforcement officials) have been accredited with bridging the gap between applied science and Shamanism” (Philips and O’Brien 4).

Some of these were close to home for me.

O’Brien: “Cox demanded I become a Mormon in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This was to “prove” that Satan was everywhere-particularly in the Monroe, Louisiana Mormon church where he led occult ritual” (104)

That’s about 8 minutes from my house.  Another one was where he serial-killer/Satanist Handler lived in Chatham, LA, where a lot of witchcraft activity happens in those swamps (that’s about 25 minutes from my house; that claim is more or less accurate, though the occult activity moved about 60 miles northeast from Chatham since then).

O’Brien mentions that she was forced to participate in the Bohemian Grove.  She doesn’t make as much of it as Alex Jones does.  It happened.  Happens.

Factual Inaccuracies

The only factual problem I had was her claim that La. Senator Bennett Johnson told her he was their on the “Philadelphia Experiment” in 1943.  While I certainly believe the Philadelphia Experiment is real, I don’t think Johnson was there.  Johnson was born in 1932.  This would have made him 11 years old. Unlikely he would be privy to a top-secret project.

Unless he actually went back in time in the experiment, but that raises time-travel paradoxes I don’t want to get into.

Responding to the critics

Critics of the book list several counter-factual problems with O’Brien’s account.  We’ll see which ones hold water:

  1. Why didn’t the government sue them for libel?  My guess is that the Govt probably didn’t need to.  The real evidence was destroyed.  Further, you don’t want this to go to court.  While the govt would win (because the system is rigged), people will start asking questions.
  2. Why didn’t the CIA kill them?  This is a good objection.  As documented the CIA certainly tried.  I suppose by the mid-1990s with Libya, Serbia, and Iraq happening, the CIA had bigger fish to fry.  We had to transport cocaine and jihadis to Bosnia.
  3. Do you have any proof about Reagan et al?  This is the kicker.  The charges against Bush and Cheney are believable, if not common sense.  Reagan is a bit different. I’m undecided.

Yet I wonder….

Numerous children go missing every year in Washington DC.  Some of this is simply human evil.  Yet why is it higher in the Washington DC area?

Everyone wants to quote Ephesians 6 about the nature of our spiritual warfare.  And then they get nervous when I point out the dark patterns in American politicsAnd then they get nervous when I point out the dark patterns in American politics.

Further Research:

Origins and techniques of Monarch Mind Control.

The first famous Mind Control Slave.

 

Trump, Clinton, and the NWO

Thesis:  Both Trump and Clinton are part of the NWO.

Proposition 1: Yet, the NWO is fragmented and undergoing a “civil war” of sorts.

P2: Clinton represents the Atlanticist Rockefeller elites; Trump the mafia-Russian front.

P3: That is why the neo-Nazis in Kiev are so desperate for a Clinton victory, for she will deliver on a war.

The Nazi International (Review)

What to make of this book? On one level Farrell’s argument is quite simple: financial elites prior to WWII financed key German industries which gave the Nazi party its military and financial strength a few years down the road. This has been verified by other scholars and cannot be questioned (Matt Johnson, Marrs, Kuepfner, Hoagland). Farrell is unique in that he places this concept within the context of it leading towards “alternative weapons.”
Before I begin my posts on Donbass, I need to set the stage for post-war Nazis.

Farrell shows us documents that illustrate the German Army surrendered at the end of WWII, but the Nazi party never did. Farrell, following Marrs’ argument, illustrates how key Nazi leaders such as Martin Bormann–the leader of the Nazi Party and the brains behind Hitler– escaped to South America. While it is true that the British and the Russians claim Bormann died in Berlin, Farrell shows that the arguments given are contradictory or just plain wishful thinking.

Farrell then documents how Bormann likely made it to Argentina through the British blockade. Contrary to the “Allied Legend of the Atomic Project” (e.g., America easily created many atomic bombs without outside help in the space of a few years, defying the laws of physics and time, something we can’t do even today), he makes the argument that Bormann supplied the Allies with key materiel for their atomic project in exchange for letting him pass.

(Farrell then suggests the possibilities in which Hitler, too, could have escaped, but that’s not necessary to his argument and he doesn’t pursue it).

The Nazis make it to South America, but it is important to mention what they did in the world of European finance before they made it. Given the octopus-like nature of corporations, Bormann made sure that Nazi industry and banking was deeply entwined in the Anglo-American world before the start of the war and after. Take the case of I.G. Farben industries. It was run by slave labor during the war and had “Nazi bad guys” written all over it after the war, yet it wasn’t shut down until 2001! Why not? Because you cannot simply shut down a corporation. You have to remove it at every level. And that’s just one example among hundreds (Citibank, Chase, anything remotely connected to the Rockefellers).

In any case, they get to South America, rich and connected, and begin working on science projects. At this time we need to move the narrative ahead 30 years and back to eastern Germany. One of Farrell’s arguments, and of this one I am not so sure, is that the Nazi underground within post-war Europe was busy sowing the seeds of conflict in the Middle East and Europe. For example he points to the efficiency of the German BND making out of country raids with their fabled effiency, demonstrating the Germans can strike anywhere with precision. Another is the “annexation” of East Germany after 1989. His final example is the German-orchestrated break-up of Yugoslavia, allowing Germany to place Croatia back in its sphere of influence and humble Serbia.

Edit in review: When I first wrote this review, I scoffed at the idea that Nazis were in control of Germany today via Merkel and the EU.  Now, I am not so sure.  In fact, I am about 95% sure that a Nazi-like shadow govt runs America at one level.
Farrell ends  his book reviewing Hoagland’s thesis on NASA. This is the most interesting section. Hoagland argues that NASA is run by Masons, Magicians, and Nazis, and believe it or not, the arguments add up. Hoagland analyzes the symbolism behind NASA’s Greek references and shows them to be…Egyptian in origin. It’s really kind of neat.

Conclusion:

The book wasn’t focused and could have been one hundred pages shorter. I agree with a lot of what he said, but it would have been better if the narrative were tight

An Intro to Neo-Eurasianism

In this work Alexander Dugin analyzes the development of earlier Eurasianism to its current manifestations on the political scene. According to Dugin, “Eurasianism is a type of structuralism with the accent placed on multiplicity and synchronicity of structures” (Dugin loc. Cited 68). This means there are a plurality of human societies, each with its own “mode of growing” that must be respected.

Dugin sees Russia’s role as defending the possibility of each civilization’s unique flourishing. This means Russia creates the political space as opposed to the Atlanticist desire to impose globalization. In terms of method Dugin largely applies Heidegger’s philosophy, though not universally. He draws upon suggestions made by both “Left” (dialectical) and “Right” (traditionalist) thinkers as they both oppose neo-liberalist/globalism (loc. 434).

How would a Neo-Eurasianist Policy Look?

Dugin isn’t blind to the advances that globalism has made. Whether we like it or not, it happened and we can’t go back to 19th century nation-states. Please note this: We are not nationalists in the strict sense of the word. Therefore, he suggests “several global zones (poles). The Eurasian Idea is an alternative or multipolar version of globalization” (loc. 641). Similar to his claims in The Last War of the World-Island, we no longer see a battle between East/West or North/South, but of Center/Periphery with the Atlanticist Civilization (New York/London/Brussels) at the center.

And within these zones there are poles and “Great Spaces,” or democratic empires that are organically constituted. Some examples

(I) Iran-Syria-Armenia
(2) Germano-Nordic/Frankish
(3) Anglo-American
(4) Mediterranean Europe
(5) Eurasian Europe
Etc. (see this article for more discussion on Meridian Zones; http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/11/the-eurasian-idea/)

Dugin argues for regions to have autonomy, not sovereignty and boundaries, not borders. Boundaries arise from an organic wholeness. Borders are used to divide, boundaries to bind. For countries with large amounts of land, major cities should be depopulated and there should be a network of townships. Townships are ecological settlements separated from the cities by clean forests (page 85).

Dugin ends his philosophical analysis with remarkable insights into social atomism. Lockean/empiricism/libertarianism is false because it rests upon a false physics, a false ontology. Atomism is false because we now about sub-atomic structures. Empirical social philosophies are false because within the individual are underlying currents that resist reductionism.

This book isn’t perfect, though. There was a coherent argument throughout, but some chapters seemed like blog articles tacked on.

Other thoughts on Trump and globalism

Let’s leave personal failures aside and whether he is simply pimping the working class.  Trump’s rhetoric against globalism really stirs me.  And of course, his utter annihiliation of the GOP is something to consider.  But still.  One thing bothers me:  if there is a global cabal that controls politics, as I think there is, will Trump really change anything?

Maybe.  Critics of people who posit a New World Order say, “The govt is too incompetent to run something like this.”  Yes, the US govt is incompetent.  But this isn’t a US govt thing.  But let’s still go with the idea of an extra-territorial elite who has a sophisticated system of finance and technology.

(Here I am closely following the analysis of Joseph Farrell). We are seeing infighting in the New World Order.  How on earth can Donald Trump make “Truther” accusations against Jeb Bush and not be shut down immediately?  Rather, Bush’s campaign collapses.  Trump accuses Cruz’s father of complicity with Lee Harvey Oswald.  Cruz shuts his own campaign down.

Of course, Hillary is part of the NWO, too.  She represents the more Rockefeller branch while Trump is probably closer to the Mafia.

So what does this mean for us?

Rejoinder to Goldberg/National Review

I normally despise anything National Review writes, but every now and then they can be very helpful even if very wrong.  In “Denationalizing Politics” Jonah Goldberg notes,

Donald Trump almost never uses the language of traditional American conservatism, with its emphasis on classically liberal notions of limited government, constitutionalism, individualism, and free trade.

Well, yes. Though given National Review’s support for neocon wars, one wonders how committed to constitutionalism they are.

Still, these visions leave millions of traditional conservatives and committed libertarians without a natural home in either major political party

Welcome to my world for the past two decades. Not fun, is it?  

No one simply lives in the United States of America. We live in Peoria, Harlem, and Seattle. The virtues built close to home, Levin argues, are those that make us good citizens and ultimately draw us together.

This is almost true.  I like the “go local” part of it.  The problem is that the United States as a singular entity was never supposed to exist.  We are supposed to be a collection of federal republics.

What would be so terrible about letting diverse communities decide how they want to live and spend their tax dollars?

Didn’t you guys call for the mass suicide of white communities?

As a whole much of Goldberg’s post sounds like something I would write.  The problem is the neocon agenda.  How can we empower local communities (“not cede power to Washington”) when the federal government expanded under his hero George W. Bush?

But isn’t “nationalism” dangerous?  Depends on what you mean by that term.  I think “nationalism” as used today is an empty term that serves only to link the enemy with Hitler. Of course, those who studied philosophical romanticism and the development of cultural cohesion know that no proponent uses the term like that.  

So what is nationalism?  Goldberg doesn’t actually define it but I think he means something like state centralization of power at the expense of local and international communities.  In doing so he makes a classic error in defining the state in modern, post-Enlightenment terms as some sort of bureaucratic apparatus. Goldberg sees the state as synonymous with the nation. Earlier Romantics (and the middle ages) did not use such a definition.  “Nation” for them was the cohesion of a number of unifying factors: culture, religion, language. Oh yeah, see Augustine’s City of God 19.24-26, “common bonds of love.”  State as a modern bureaucratic invention did not happen until much later.

Thus, we can define nationalism–no doubt as Herder defined it–as promoting the cultural cohesion of different groups who are defined and bound together by their shared objects of love.  Far from being “xenophobic” or “wacist,” this is the most loving and culturally enriching thing one can do.

Tell me what is better:  Ethiopian Orthodox art or some watered down white-boy band pop music?  Tell me what is better: the mosque at Timbuktu or Bauhaus architecture?  Tell me what is better: the Tao te Ching or 50 Shades of Grey?

I wonder if the loss of a culture is the reason for much of the mental illness in America today.

But moving on:  without nationalism and a strong identity, we are simply Lockean atoms bouncing in the Void.  Uprooted communities who live in fear and angst will not be able to stop the Internal Bankster Regime.

 

Russia and the Arabs

(I read this in 2010, but given Russia’s heroic defense of Syria against the New World Order, it seemed appropriate to publish it here).

Primakov, Yevgeny.  Russia and the Arabs:  Behind the Scenes in the Middle East from the Cold War to the Present.  New York: Basic Books, 2009.

Yevgeny Primakov, formerly head of Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, and former Prime Minister of Russia, has written his own memoirs.  The book reflects 30 years of diplomatic service from one of the world’s most respected statesman.  Always serene and mature in his analysis, Primakov has correctly diagnosed the problems in Middle Eastern and American diplomatic policies..

Many neo-conservatives and American patriots think that the Soviet Union simply desired to export (and force down) its own version of socialist revolution upon unwilling countries.  While this was true in Eastern and Central Europe, nothing of the sort happened in the Middle East, at least not for the long term.   The United States and the Soviet Union found the post-World War II Middle East rife with young nationalist movements.  At first the Middle Eastern governments were committed to a form of Arab socialism.  However, this form of Arab socialism had little in common with the socialism of the USSR, and while some Communist parties in the Middle East held tenaciously to power, the Arab mindset was not given to international socialism.   Therefore, and this is a key point Primakov makes, the USSR did not force Communism onto the Middle East.  Primakov writes, “The Soviet Union understood that it was impossible to bring about sociopolitical change in another country via an imported revolution.  It had to happen from within, when the time was ripe” (92).

The United States’ original objective was to draw the Arab nations into an anti-Moscow alliance.  This meant allying itself with radical Arab groups (the fateful foreshadowing should not be missed).   In any case, neither the Soviet Union nor Soviet America was able to accomplish its primary goal.

It would be simplistic to say that the USSR threw all of its support behind Arab states and America supported Israel.   True, the USSR had good relations with most Arab states and Tel Aviv called the shots on American foreign policy.  But Moscow let Arab states know they could not act with impunity and keep expecting Russian military expertise and arms shipments (Sadaam Hussein never learned this lesson).

Nevertheless, both the USA and the USSR  did act accordingly to one objective:  prevent the Middle East from flaring up, with the larger geographic instability ensuing.   Moscow (and less often America) would take a hard line with her allies if they threatened Middle Eastern peace.   This is political realism.

Many will fault Primakov’s narrative at this point.  Primakov tells the story that the USSR did all that it could to foster Middle Eastern peace  while Israel did all it could to hinder it.   Perhaps he is myopic on this point, but Israel’s actions have been coming under more scrutiny.   Primakov has a very revealing chapter documenting Israel’s illegal nuclear arms ambitions.

There are also moving chapters giving insight into the lives of Yasser Arafat and others.

 

 

Criticisms of the Book

Many will probably fault Primakov of stacking the deck.   The Soviet Union’s Middle Eastern policy can do no wrong while the US keeps bungling it.   While the latter is certainly true, many in the West will blanche at this rosy picture of the USSR.   While perhaps flawed on some points, Primakov does highlight an important issue:  for twenty years Americans have been cheering themselves as the sacred guardians of the free world and anyone who questions that narrative is a liberal, communist, hates the troops, or an Islamomeanie.    The dialectical irony is Americans have done the same thing with ideology that the Soviets did.  In fact, it’s worse.  Trotsky was rejected on this point.   The D.C. Establishment has surpassed even Stalin on this point!  There is a reason that neo-conservatives are said to be the heirs of Trotksy:   Trotksy wanted to import revolution to all countries, whether they were ready for it or not (with the subsequent goal of destroying national boundaries and traditional cultures); neo-conservatives want to spread neocon ideology to all countries (e.g., globalism, the dominance of Western corporations and markets, “democracy,” relativising  traditional society). The dialectic has come full-circle.   The D.C. Regime is the new Soviet Union.

Primakov has a provocative, if at times flawed chapter on Islam.   Careful thinking is required here, and I think Primakov rushed his thinking.   Primakov identifies Samuel Huntingdon’s thesis (to which the current reviewer subscribes) positing an ultimate clash between Western civilization and Islamic civilization. At this point, instead of engaging Huntingdon’s thesis, Primakov ridicules those provincial people who think all Arabs are Muslims are terrorists.   Presumably, these people think that the coming clash should be an armed clash and the sooner the better.   But is this what Huntingdon really believes?  Even more, is Primakov’s own views of Islam that different?

Perhaps Huntingdon can be faulted with an ambiguous use of the term “clash.”  More importantly, why did Huntingdon posit there would be a clash?  He said this because Islam’s values are inherently at odds with the post-Christian West’s secular values.   Ironically, Primakov, too, identifies democracy as incompatible with Islam (or consistent Judaism or Christianity).   Indeed, this is the key to Primakov’s critique of the US importing Western democracy on Iraq!

Conclusion

The book is an interesting glimpse inside the life of a key player for peace in a troubled area.  The book is written in a memoir-like style and occasionally suffers from those defects.   But that also makes it the readable and interesting book that it is.  Primakov tells a story that is different from the Official Narrative of the Ministry of Truth.