Wednesday, 18 November 2015

“Bloodworthgrad”, “Lee Ackgrad”: not new ideas

A decade and a half ago, when I became obsessed with Socialist Alternative, Socialist Worker, Militant and Resistance – in the process imagining their membership as comprising a majority of Victoria’s student body rather than merely a tiny number of activists who put posters up everywhere – my brother said consistently that if these Trotskyists came to power they would do the same things that were done in what I then called (and still do as a joke) the ‘Empire of State Capitalist Dictatorship’ (ESCD), ‘State Capitalist Dictatorship of China’ (SCDC), ‘State Capitalist Dictatorship of Korea’ (SCDK) and ‘State Capitalist Satellite of Germany’ (SCSG; German ‘Staatskapitalistischer Satellit Deutschlands’ or ‘S.K.S.D.’). In particular, my brother once spoke of the “Democratic People’s Republic of Australia” and that all Australia’s major cities would be renamed as they were in the Russian empire after the leaders of the revolution like “Bloodworthgrad”, “Lee Ackgrad”, “Bloodworthsk” and so on. (He admitted though that such names would be tongue-twisting to pronounce).

The Trotskyist groups themselves deny this would happen and that with workers controlling the system through workers’ councils under genuine socialism this would not happen unless it was voted for. They believe that all Russia’s place name changes came after Stalin began his counterrevolution and are not a part of true socialism with workers owning the means of production. With age, I have become very sceptical of claims that the violent class struggle and workers’ militia advocated by groups like Socialist Alternative could produce the utopia of equality, abundance and sustainability they claim, but still their ideas are interesting.

A couple of days ago, in a marginally curious mood, I looked in the State Library and found a seemingly interesting book titled Women of the Far Right: the Mothers’ Movement and World War II by one Glen Jeansonne. I retrieved it immediately, although I did not read it until yesterday, but when I had a good look it seemed both interesting and repetitive. Repetitive because it showed these conservative women attacking not only FDR, but also his first Lady Eleanor Roosevelt for being too modern or masculine. Interesting because it showed up many new facts – for instance that Henry Ford was targeted by both the Democrats and Republicans for the 1924 Presidential election!

The most startling thing I have found in a partial read of Jeansonne’s book, however, was quite startling both as a fact and as a memory. It was that when right-wing “Mother’s Movement” activist Elizabeth Dilling went to Russia, she was not only horrified at the shortages of basic goods and the doctrinaire atheism, but also discovered maps where major cities in the US (which were not mentioned in the book) were renamed after Stalinist heroes – exactly like my brother joked would happen if Trotskyists took over in Australia.

It is surprising that no anti-Communist has ever widely publicised this – let alone reveal exactly what names Stalinists would have given major American cities had they become able to execute their plan. If they could have done this, it would be interesting to imagine the response of affected Americans. Would they have been much more appalled than my brother – who took the story as a joke although he still held dogmatically to the idea that a revolution in an advanced or especially in a resource-super-rich nation would have the same result as in more primitive Russia, China, Yugoslavia and Cuba.

Another fact untold by historians found in Women of the Far Right is that opposition to the Vietnam War through wanting the Vietcong to win had a precedent. Numerous anti-Communist and/or anti-Semitic parties during the 1930s and before Pearl Harbor opposed World War II because they wanted the Nazis to win – a story which neither the PIGs nor standard textbooks nor the Trotskyists tells today’s children. Most of the people in Jeansomme’s book fall into this category, and for this reason the book gives a lot of insight as to why the US, Canada and New Zealand did so little to accept Jewish refugees from Europe – only the marginal Trotskyists wanted to remove all restrictions on Jewish immigration and thus prevent the Holocaust, and FDR turned back many Jews to their death (Canada and New Zealand were vastly worse still).

These days, findings so unexpected as the story of Elizabeth Dilling are rare enough to be more shocking than when I first read Socialist Alternative and seemingly discovered that what I was taught about socialism and capitalism in schools was wrong, or the reverse finding from reading Hans Hoppe or Murray Rothbard.

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