Intellectuals and their Romance with Political Barbarism

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“] Martin Heidegger, Eric Hobsbawm and Ezra Pound A  meandering post inspired by Reason Magazine and Charles Cameron. Reason.com is best known for giving a scrappy libertarian take on current events, crime, technology and pop culture, but recently, an article by Charles Paul Freund touched a deeper, darker vein of twentieth century history […] Read more »

Rofer on The Fall of Beria and Putin’s Vanishing Act

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“] Lavrenty Beria (center)  Russian President and brazen strongman Vladimir Putin reappeared Monday, looking wan and a little uncomfortable for the cameras, but jesting at the mad swirl of internet rumors sparked by his extended absence from public view. One of the rumors, which may have been true, was that Putin […] Read more »

Early Endorsement

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a “zen“] Stalin: Volume I. Paradoxes of Power 1878-1928 by Stephen Kotkin I’ve read quite a bit about old Uncle Joe. Most of the major biographies of Stalin sit on my shelf, including those from Adam Ulam, Roy Medvedev, Robert Tucker, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Dimitri Volkogonov and other historians more obscure. I’ve […] Read more »

On Dealing with the Hermit Kingdom

Does North Korea’s leadership belong in the madhouse or Alcatraz as so many of our right wing politicians, militarists and some journalists seem to suggest? Or are they behaving as sanely – at least from their perspective - as their accusers? Is there something important going on in Pyongyang that is overlooked here that should be considered? Read more »

Sixty Years after Stalin

Sixty years ago one of the greatest monsters in history, a mass-murderer of tens of millions many times over, the yellow-eyed, “Kremlin mountaineer”  breathed his last. We live, deaf to the land beneath us, Ten steps away no one hears our speeches, All we hear is the Kremlin mountaineer, The murderer and peasant-slayer. His fingers [...] Read more »

The Road Not Taken: Is Another Path for Israel Still Possible?

Instead of defining Jewish persecution as sui generis, unique, incomparable, never to be atoned for, Israel might have taken another path. Why did it never occur to Israeli ideologues to reach out to the Poles (not all of them vicious anti-Semites) who had also died in the millions at the hands of the Nazis and the Soviets. Or to the Ukrainians? Or the Belorusians? Why have Jews fought to hard to prevent the Turkish slaughter of Armenians from being called genocide? Why, for that matter, have they not reached out to native Americans whose total eradication was strenuously attempted by 19th century American settlers? Why have they not reached out to the Tutsis in Rwanda who were murdered by the tens of thousands for the crime of being Tutsi? And so on. A Chosen People needn’t build a wall around itself. The better decision? Well, here’s a hint. Israel’s one and only national capital would have been Tel Aviv. Jerusalem would have become the shared Holy City of Jews, Christians and Muslims, all of whom have legitimate claims. This new Jerusalem would have been a true beacon to the world, a pilgrimage site bringing people together, not tearing them apart. Does anyone else remember that dream? Had it been realized, isn’t it more than possible that Iran’s or Hamas’s attitude toward Israel might be different today? Read more »

On Eric Hobsbawm

I was going to comment on the death of the famed historian who was the Soviet Union’s most venerable and shameless apologist, but I was beaten to it in a brilliant piece by British blogger and fellow Chicago Boyz member, Helen Szamuely: A great Communist crime denier dies On my way to and from Manchester [...] Read more »

Children of the Greek Civil War: Book Review Essay

Loring Danforth and Riki Van Boeschoten’s controversial study of the long term effects of that war on children of both the Greek partisans and government loyalists who had been taken from their families and placed in boarding schools for safety away from the war zones is, unfortunately, far more than a carefully conducted academically rigorous objective survey of participant attitudes and recollections. Read more »