19 January 2007

Another mass murderer in the Guardian's pantheon

Re-writing of history was done in different ways during different times. The good old way of razing whole cities (or city-states) with all the inhabitants is rarely used anymore. Probably today it is considered not economically wise and not enough environment-friendly.

There was a less drastic way of doing things in the ancient history: first of all you do away with that VIP you want to erase from the annals (and, of course, his/her family with all, even the most distant, relatives - just in case). Then you destroy his statues, pictures and any mention of his name in official correspondence. Then you can always ask "Jim who?" if the name is mentioned by a hapless somebody. Of course, you must make sure that this somebody goes through the steps described above.

After the advent of Gutenberg a new issue appeared - that of printed matter. The printed matter was widely disseminated and difficult to keep track of. But during the Hitler and Stalin era that issue was taken care of as well. In Germany the books were simply burned. In the blessed USSR, with its economic issues this method was found too expensive, and a replacement pages with erased names, texts and even faces were distributed to the libraries.

But today the whole re-writing business is flourishing on the wave of information and population overflow. Just because of the sheer quantity of printed material, TV and radio information streams and, of course, the great garbage bin of the humanity - the Internet - there is no need to destroy the older material. You just continue changing the data, more or less subtly, and the time will do its dirty work. Who out of 7 billion people will care enough to go to the archives and breath the dust, I ask you? And out of the very few who will - whose voice is strong enough to overcome the background noise of the countless scribes who are busy with their re-writing duties? And, after a few years, the accepted history of this planet will look different. Just as you like it.

A few years ago I have stumbled upon a nauseating article by a Guardian scribe, Seumas Milne. In this article Milne (an indoctrinated and nauseating character if I ever seen one, and yes, it is an ad hominem) probes the waters by trying to re-paint one of the last century monsters - one Joseph Stalin (or Koba the Dread or Uncle Joe) in a new shades of pink. The main motif of this exercise is "Yes, Stalin was cruel, but...". A sampler:

Despite the cruelties of the Stalin terror, there was no Soviet Treblinka, no extermination camps built to murder people in their millions. ... Part of the Soviet tragedy was that that victory was probably only possible because the country had undergone a forced industrial revolution in little more than a decade, in the very process of which the greatest crimes were committed.
Yeah. But knowing what kind of creature we deal with in case of Mr Milne, it is hardly surprising. One can always discount this garbage as a revolting, but natural, effluvium of a diseased mind.

But today the Guardian produced another opus in the same genre. Stalin being already established in the Guardian's pantheon of "great, but slightly sullied" leaders, somebody there decided that the time is ripe to add another murderer of a similar caliber. And now we have to deal with another, no less nauseous, exercise of embellishing Mao. Predictably, it is titled "Mao was cruel - but also laid the ground for today's China". With a subtitle "The crimes of communist China's founder shouldn't blind us to achievements which paved the way for its current modernisation".

I really don't want to go into analysis of this garbage. Suffice to say, that unlike the Milne's apologetics for Stalin, this time even the numbers of victims murdered by Mao and his henchmen are not mentioned. And to add the following attempt that stinks to high heaven:
The German sociologist Max Weber, in a famous essay, argued that statesmen facing these kinds of challenges - of winning a war or of master-minding economic development - have to be judged by different moral criteria.
Sure. Different moral criteria. Max Weber, Seumas Milne, Will Hutton... The trend is clear. Who is next in that row of apologists for the unspeakable? Because the titles are easy, we could work them out in advance:
  • "Genghis Khan was a cruel dictator, but he has improved his nation's mobility"
  • "Mussolini was a fascist, but the trains were on schedule"
  • "Hitler was a mass murderer, but the German economy flourished, not to forget the Beetle!"
  • "Pol Pot was cruel, but very environment friendly, fertilizing the fields by organic bodies"

Etc. Just make sure to distribute the work fairly between the queueing Guardian scribes. And to buy some deodorant for Guardian's offices.