‘Of course, bold socialists intent on destroying rather than reforming capitalism have brought about some rather unpleasant historical outcomes’ – Aug. 2, 2018 Atlantic Monthly article

Boat on which my father and grandfather and other refugees crossed the Baltic Sea from Estonia to Sweden in September 1944 during the Second World War

Boat on which my father and grandfather and other refugees crossed the Baltic Sea to Sweden from Estonia in September 1944 during the Second World War. Other family members travelled across the Baltic on other boats.

An Aug. 2, 2018 Atlantic Monthly article is entitled: “The Hunger for a Bold Socialism: The political preferences of two college professors, writing in a prominent leftist journal, are informed by the belief that ‘making people’s lives materially better isn’t enough.'”

An excerpt from the article reads:

“Of course, bold socialists intent on destroying rather than reforming capitalism have brought about some rather unpleasant historical outcomes.”

The point of the above-noted excerpt is aptly elaborated upon, in the article.

Some previous posts, dealing with the topics at hand, include:

Trump / Russia: A Definitive History (2018): An apt companion piece to Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin (2015)

An exemplary study in story management: Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin (2015)

Mr. Putin (2015) illustrates that story management is possible even in the absence of evidence-based biographical details

Bill Browder’s testimony; significance of Magnitsky Act; Mikhail Lesin’s death

Military history, irregular warfare, scams, and formative experiences

Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare (2017) provides a good overview of “irregular warfare” in the Second World War

Poor white Americans’ current crisis shouldn’t have caught the rest of the country as off guard as it has – September 2016 Atlantic Monthly article

Black Book of Communism (1999)

The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (1999)

Of particular interest, from my perspective, is the following material from the above-noted post:

The Transformation of the World (2014)

A Dec. 29, 2016 Guardian article is entitled: “Angela Merkel and the history book that helped inform her worldview: Jürgen Osterhammel’s The Transformation of the World left its mark on the German chancellor, judging by her recent decisions.”

The title of the book brings to mind a previously mentioned text, namely The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time, 2nd Beacon Paperback Ed. (2001; originally published 1944)

A key point in the latter study is that “laissez faire” is a “produced,” or “manufactured” state of affairs. It also underlines the fact that anti-Communism need not be invariably equated with a neoliberal worldview. A good study of the similarities, between a Soviet mindset and the mindset, by way of example, of Ayn Rand, is provided by Darryl Cunningham:

The Age of Selfishness (2015)

A graphic storytelling book, available at the Toronto Public Library, entitled: The Age of Selfishness: Ayn Rand, Morality, and the Financial Crisis (2015), warrants a close read.

A blurb for the book at the Toronto Public Library website notes:

“Tracing the emergence of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of objectivism in the 1940s to her present-day influence, Darryl Cunningham’s latest work of graphic-nonfiction investigation leads readers to the heart of the global financial crisis of 2008. Cunningham uses Rand’s biography to illuminate the policies that led to the economic crash in the U.S. and in Europe, and how her philosophy continues to affect today’s politics and policies, starting with her most noted disciple, economist Alan Greenspan (former chairman of the Federal Reserve). Cunningham also shows how right-wing conservatives, libertarians, and the Tea Party movement have co-opted Rand’s teachings (and inherent contradictions) to promote personal gain and profit at the expense of the middle class. Tackling the complexities of economics by distilling them down to a series of concepts accessible to all age groups, Cunningham ultimately delivers a devastating analysis of our current economic world.”

[End of text]

A previous post, touching upon related themes, is entitled:

Masters of the Universe (2012) focuses upon the analysis of neoliberalism, from the perspective of historical research

Of relevance regarding related themes is a post entitled:

We have a white extremism problem, Doug Saunders argues – Globe and Mail, Nov. 12, 2016

Life (to the extent it is possible) beyond labels and ‘true beliefs’

A Jan. 4, 2017 Guardian article is entitled: “The Canada experiment: is this the world’s first ‘postnational’ country?: When Justin Trudeau said ‘there is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada’, he was articulating a uniquely Canadian philosophy that some find bewildering, even reckless – but could represent a radical new model of nationhood.”

With regard to the “true believer,” I think in particular of a book by Eric Hoffer originally published in 1951:

The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (1951, 1989)

We can add that stereotypes have a powerful effect in organizing our thinking and behaviour, as I’ve noted in a series of posts including one that is entitled:

Perceptions of warmth and competence drive our stereotypes: Cuddy et al. (2008)

Labels are a matter of life and death.

Also of relevance:

A Jan. 14, 2017 Guardian article is entitled: “Nobel prize winner Svetlana Alexievich quits ‘shameful’ Russian PEN: Author of acclaimed reportage joins 30 other writers leaving after expulsion of jailed journalist Sergey Parkhomenko in ‘craven violation of PEN’s founding ideals’ “.

[The above-noted material is from the above-noted post about The Black Book of Communism (1999)]


Erving Goffman’s ‘total institution’ concept

Of related interest is the following post:

Erving Goffman’s “total institutions” warrant inclusion in a comprehensive theory of management

Abstract concepts including ‘egalitarianism’ associated with the French Revolution

A previous post is entitled:

After his defeat in Russia (1812), Napoleon Bonaparte lost for a final time at the Battle of Waterloo (1815)

The narratives associated with Napoleon, the French Revolution, and the Napoleonic wars underline that the devastation that Napoleon visited upon Europe was driven, among other things, by the belief that military prowess, in service of abstract concepts such as “egalitarianism” and other terms associated with the French Revolution, was a suitable project dedicated to the creation, of a better world.

History of Nazi Germany as outlined by Richard J. Evans among other first-rate historians

Equally of relevance is the history of the rise and fall of Nazi Germany, which I have also addressed in a series of posts including:

Richard J. Evans’s trilogy and related 2015 text offers a first-rate historical overview of Nazi Germany

History of neoliberalism

I have addressed this topic at a post entitled:

Masters of the Universe (2012) focuses upon the analysis of neoliberalism, from the perspective of historical research

Making sense of communism, neoliberalism, populism, and Nazi Germany

My own sense making project, with regard to the topics at hand, includes an adherence to evidence-based practice, accuracy and balance in reporting, and working with verifiable sources that can be corroborated from multiple other sources. It also includes an understanding of the dramaturgical perspective, regarding how situations are defined, that underlies the work of the student of Erving Goffman.

When I first began to consider writing posts about Erving Goffman, some years ago, I initially thought that, given that his work dates from a half-century ago, there would be no point in writing about it. However, as I began reading about other topics including military history, I came across many citations of his work. That’s what prompted me to start writing about Erving Goffman. Over the years, the following post has, as it turns out, been among the most frequently visited posts at this website:

Erving Goffman began his graduate work in Chicago in 1945

Mark Johnson: theory of embodied mind

I am also indebted, in my own efforts to make sense of things, to the work, referred to at the following posts, of the philosopher Mark Johnson:

Embodied Mind, Meaning, and Reason (2017) addresses how the body shapes the mind

Conceptual metaphor theory seeks to explain how abstract conceptualization works

Hex bar. Jaan Pill photo

Hex bar. Jaan Pill photo

Hex bar deadlift

All of these topics matter to me, just as the mastering the basics of the hex bar deadlift is a central project for me:

Deadlift – with barbell and with hex bar – requires close attention to proper form

I mention the deadlift because the theory of the embodied mind posits a close connection between the body, and the mind. This is a concept that can be experienced on many levels – including at the abstract level of the mind, and at the less abstract level of mobilization that occurs when it’s time to perform the hex-bar lift, or any other act, of strenuous physical exertion. Making the lift – that is, performing the action, an action that can be viewed from a metaphorical as well as physical vantage point – is always a special moment, in a person’s life.

My parents and a number of other members of our extended family left Estonia on separate boats as refugees in 1944. I was born in Sweden in 1946. Our family arrived in Halifax by boat in 1951. I remember the voyage well.

When I was growing up in Montreal in the 1950s and 1960s, I marvelled at the fact that people knew so little, and for that reason cared so little, about the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states and other formerly independent countries incorporated by the force of arms into the Soviet Union.

From that, I concluded that if people (or their families) haven’t actually lived through some experiences – on a direct, physical level – then their understanding of such experiences is bound to be extremely limited.


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