Dear Donna Zuckerberg: You Don’t Own the Classics

You don’t own Aeneas. You neither sent him down to Hell nor raised him up–

Hic aliud maius miseris multoque tremendum
obicitur magis atque improuida pectora turbat.

You incurred not Hera’s wrath nor threw love-cursed Dido on her pyre–

ecce autem gemini a Tenedo tranquilla per alta
(horresco referens) immensis orbibus angues

You did not bear Anchises upon your shoulders as you fled Troy’s burning walls–

fit sonitus spumante salo; iamque arua tenebant
ardentisque oculos suffecti sanguine et igni
sibila lambebant linguis uibrantibus ora.

You do not own the blind poet’s songs, Hektor of the shining helm, Diomedes of the great war cry–

τίς δὲ σύ ἐσσι φέριστε καταθνητῶν ἀνθρώπων;
οὐ μὲν γάρ ποτ’ ὄπωπα μάχῃ ἔνι κυδιανείρῃ

You cannot take Plutarch nor Socrates by PhD!

“I went to one who had the reputation of wisdom …
When I began to talk with him, I could not help thinking that he was not really wise,
although he was thought wise by many, and wiser still by himself …
So I left him, saying to myself, as I went away: Well, although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is – for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know.”

Even a critic as skeptical as Edward Said, having succumbed to the temptation of university, academic employment, could not tear down the master’s house with the master’s tools: what hope have you?

At pater infelix, nec iam pater, “Icare,” dixit,
“Icare,” dixit “ubi es? qua te regione requiram?”

You may focus on the parts of antiquity that weren’t white men–

And I shall read Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Plato, Herodotus, Sophocles, Plutarch and Horace
because they are spectacular

Because you think it despicable to inspire “the foundation of Western civilization and culture”–

τὸν δ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ὑπόδρα ἰδὼν προσέφη πολύμητις Ὀδυσσεύς:
‘ξεῖν᾽, οὐ καλὸν ἔειπες: ἀτασθάλῳ ἀνδρὶ ἔοικας.
οὕτως οὐ πάντεσσι θεοὶ χαρίεντα διδοῦσιν
ἀνδράσιν, οὔτε φυὴν οὔτ᾽ ἂρ φρένας οὔτ᾽ ἀγορητύν.
ἄλλος μὲν γάρ τ᾽ εἶδος ἀκιδνότερος πέλει ἀνήρ,
ἀλλὰ θεὸς μορφὴν ἔπεσι στέφει, οἱ δέ τ᾽ ἐς αὐτὸν
τερπόμενοι λεύσσουσιν: ὁ δ᾽ ἀσφαλέως ἀγορεύει
αἰδοῖ μειλιχίῃ, μετὰ δὲ πρέπει ἀγρομένοισιν,
ἐρχόμενον δ᾽ ἀνὰ ἄστυ θεὸν ὣς εἰσορόωσιν.
ἄλλος δ᾽ αὖ εἶδος μὲν ἀλίγκιος ἀθανάτοισιν,
ἀλλ᾽ οὔ οἱ χάρις ἀμφιπεριστέφεται ἐπέεσσιν,
ὡς καὶ σοὶ εἶδος μὲν ἀριπρεπές, οὐδέ κεν ἄλλως
οὐδὲ θεὸς τεύξειε, νόον δ᾽ ἀποφώλιός ἐσσι.

You reduce the Classics to something that inspires:
No civilization, no culture

No one.

Worthless.

Your PhD does not entitle you to dictate other people’s heritage.

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62 thoughts on “Dear Donna Zuckerberg: You Don’t Own the Classics

  1. Translations, for those who aren’t familiar with Greek and Latin:

    Aeneid, book II: Then something greater and more terrible befalls
    us miserable ones, and stirs our unsuspecting souls. …

    Behold, a pair of serpents with huge coils, snaking over the sea
    from Tenedos through the tranquil deep (I shudder to tell it) …

    There’s a roar from the foaming sea: now they reach the shore,
    and with burning eyes suffused with blood and fire,
    lick at their hissing jaws with flickering tongues.

    Homer, Iliad, book 6: Who are you, mighty one, among mortal men?
    For never have I seen you in battle where men win glory until this day

    The quote in English is from Plato’s Apology.

    Ovid, Metamorphosis, book 8: And Daedalus,
    Father no more, called “Icarus, where are you?
    Tell me where to find you!”

    Homer, Odyssey, book 8: Then with an angry glance from beneath his brows
    Odysseus of many wiles answered him:
    “Stranger, thou hast not spoken well; thou art as one blind with folly.
    So true is it that the gods do not give gracious gifts to all alike,
    not form nor mind nor eloquence. For one man is inferior in comeliness,
    but the god sets a crown of beauty upon his words, and men
    look upon him with delight, and he speaks on unfalteringly with
    sweet modesty, and is conspicuous among the gathered people,
    and as he goes through the city men gaze upon him as upon a god.
    Another again is in comeliness like the immortals,
    but no crown of grace is set about his words.
    So, in thy case, thy comeliness is preeminent,
    nor could a god himself mend it, but in mind thou art stunted.

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    • Yes, I read the poem. I thought that is was typical modernist nonsense which does not hold or stimulate my imagination.

      Did you read the piece that I found on Albert Kahn’s architecture contracts with the Soviets in 1929 and 1930? I wish to leave the question of the extent and decisiveness of American involvement in early Soviet industrialization aside. You are an academic and I am a lay person who reads history books. (This morning I started what looks like will be a great read by Pieter Judson on the Habsburg Empire.) So for the time being, and until such time that I am better informed, I will hold in abeyance a conclusion on the accuracy of your assertion that such American economic involvement was critical to the Soviets.

      “you dont undertake an attack on conservatives pretending to attack Neo-Nazis while implicidly ascosiating the two groups”

      I would if engaged in a political battle. I wish “my side” had people like Zuckerberg. Once the sides have been chosen the time for debate and discussion is over.

      If you are a German, your vote on what constitutes Russia’s heritage is no more valid than mine. If you are a Russian in Germany, I can let you slide.

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      • I was born in Russia and while I have German citezenship I still have a bond to the country (even though I migrated when I was 10).

        I am an aspirant though, I dont have a PhD so I dont know if I count as an academic.

        as I said I could write a lot about US involvment in Stalins industrialisation but it would take time and would be a bother. You yourself said you didnt want that.

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      • “I would if engaged in a political battle. I wish “my side” had people like Zuckerberg. Once the sides have been chosen the time for debate and discussion is over.”

        Now thats interesting to imagine….A right wing equivalent of her argument would be: “We should refrain from studying anything that might instill the idea of human equality into people, we should even forbid the word equality altogather since entertaining the idea of equality itself leads to a slippery slope to communism and thus to mass murder and totalitarianism!”

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    • E, the idea that has not been explicated is that love and respect for our Western Civilization does not necessitate support for white supremacy. Zuckerberg’s contention is that some white supremacists “improperly” use the classics to buttress white supremacist ideology. This is undeniable in some instances. What does not follow is the supposition that rejection of what can be called SJW ideology and partisanship on behalf of Western Civilization does not equate to white supremacy. It is my belief that most partisans of Western Civilization reject white supremacist ideology and are not guilty of the crimes and misdemeanors imputed to them by Zuckerberg. Her accusations are valid only where the “accused” are white supremacists. If one is not a white supremacist and you rush in to defend against her accusations, you play into her hand by facilitating her smearing by association.

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      • What does “white supremacy” even mean?

        If it means the biological superiority of some defined “white race” then yes most of western civilization in its history either didn’t have such a concept or rejected it (even in the second half of the 19th century when such ideas were most popular a large portion of society rejected them for cultural explanations).

        But I doubt she means that…..”White supremacy” as much as “racist” is far too good a smear to not enlarge its meaning to hurl it at people you don’t like.

        Originally in the 19th century the racists feuded with the culturalists, the racists claimed that biology dictates culture and behavior thus making some races less suitable to civilization and human achievement and thus inferior. The culturalists claimed it was mostly culture that made them inferior and that changing the culture would make them equal to Westerners. Now one of the leading proponents of culturalism Richard Henry Pratt invented the word “racist” to smear his biologist opponents in the debate what to do with the native Americans, kill/let them live out their ways of life in reservations/assimilate.

        Now the modern left believes that all cultures are while “diverse” equal when it comes to morality and productivity (except the western one which is parasitic and evil, spreading its evil all across the world). During the war with the Nazis the western allies and their leaders had an ideology that was a mix between old racism and culturalism but still were more inclined towards culturalism. The Nazis on the other hand were far more into racism, making the allies use this as a propaganda tool against them. Making racism associated with Nazim and thus a great evil in the eyes of many average westerners. Now the left saw culturalism as another evil, all differences in morality and development must have been due to white oppression. Thus they appropriated the word “racism” and extended it to culturalism (the view who’s proponents originally invented the word). Suddenly believing in the superiority of a culture over another was racist, with the only acceptable explanation for differences being oppression. With this remarkable act of Orwellian newspeak the Left managed to reduce the Overton window to a position in which only the leftist explanation on group differences and civilization was acceptable (I admit though that Jared diamonds climatic explanation is kind of outside of what the left would see as optimal but this goes to the borders of acceptable thought).

        With culturalism reduced to “racism” being proud of being “western” automatically is being proud of being “white” since western becomes a code word for white (after all if cultural assimilation is racist then nonwhites who have assimilated into white culture and identified with its past and heritage are victims of racism and self-hating). Everyone who studies western civilization can come to the conclusion that the Greek-Romans were culturally superior to hunter gathering Pygmy’s and feeling pride in their accomplishments is also feeling personal superiority as part of a civilization that did have such great achievements over thus who’s civilization (or lack thereof) didn’t. This is western supremacy and since culturalism = racism this becomes white supremacy. Even if most Westerners still believe in some sort of culturalism (damn even the majority of blacks thinks Black underpreformance is more due to culture then to discrimination)!
        It is clear that she dislikes ALL conservative impulses and principles and her use of “alt right” just hides the fact that she would like to see all conservatism crushed and replaced by her progressive dreams. She states that classics shouldn’t serve “regressive politics” but she clearly indicates they should serve “progressive” once, thus her beef isn’t with the alt right alone. Terms like “white supremacy” mean anyone who opposes her desire to radically alter the world into a pansexual, multiracial utopia where there is neither beauty (since it discriminates) nor gender nor hierarchy. Her “fight against racism” translates into a fight against much of what most Westerners see as good and normal.

        THIS IS WHAT SHE WANTS: https://twitter.com/DouthatNYT/status/810482413155524608?lang=de scroll down in the comments a bit to see the “poem” she identifies with. She wants the complete destruction of race and gender and everyone who disagrees is automaticly a Nazi. Had the allies and the Sovjets who fought the Nazis just known they were themselves Nazis…..

        In american society she is an extremist who hides her own extremism by acusing everyone who dosnt share her extremists views of being a proponent of widly hated fringe extremists views oposite of her own.

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    • “What does “white supremacy” even mean?”

      The meaning is determined in the political arena.

      “But I doubt she means that…..”White supremacy” as much as “racist” is far too good a smear to not enlarge its meaning to hurl it at people you don’t like.”

      There is an on-going conversation among SJW practitioners as to which terminology to use.

      “Making racism associated with Nazism”

      I doubt any making is required.

      “culturalism = racism this becomes white supremacy”

      I reject this equation.

      “It is clear that she dislikes ALL conservative impulses “

      I dislike most conservative impulses myself, especially most of the economically oriented ones. Many of the conservative positions with regard to social and cultural issues are agreeable to me.

      “In american society she is an extremist”

      She’s not an extremist. She’s in the mainstream of the intelligentsia.

      Grabbing the good words to describe one’s side is normal behavior. That’s the reason we used to have peoples’ democratic republics all over the place. The flip side is tagging your opponents with all the bad stuff like Nazism. There is no advantage to going sideways when challenging SJW ideology; combat it factually. One of the problems that we have is that there is very little organized opposition to the ideas put forth by people like Zuckerberg.

      I agree with some of your points. I just want to make it clear that IMO, Western Civilization can be defended on its own merits, and does not require the conclusion of white supremacy in order to do so.

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      • have oyu read the “poem” she linked too?

        Shes a SJW they always view culturalism as “racism”, now look she basicly takes the alt-right = Trump positions presenting him as a new Hitler. Now what has Trump ever said that is “racist” in the old meaning of the word? all his acusations against different groups were of culturalist nature (if at all) but the left still yelled RACIST, this shows very well that the mainstream left ascosiates culturalism with racism and thus taking pride in your civilisation as a westerner automaticly means you exclude others and think your culture and yourself as superior even if you dont claim it THUS you are a white supremacist, this is her argumentation.

        The attack on conservatism overall is masked as an attack on the the alt right and the ascosiation of Trump with the alt-right (and most conservatives are pro trump) as well as her broad attack on all things in classical antiquety that conservatives like shows that. you might dislike some conservative impulses but you dont undertake an attack on conservatives pretending to attack Neo-Nazis while implicidly ascosiating the two groups and trying to reduce a field in accademia to left wing propagands.

        I dont think even academia is THAT far gone. I am in academia after all and especialy old history 8like its called here in Germany) scholars tend to be more conservative then other historians. Even leftist professors are usualy not tumblr level of extreme, she is! Also while she indeed represents the far left in academia her positions are still acsepted but for the general public its different, when it comes to the avarege westerner she is an extremist. Most westerners still believe in only two genders and see this as natural and good.

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  2. It’s funny, but I was trying to think of a similar response to Zuckerberg’s article, and I kept thinking of Buttercup’s monologue to Humperdink from the Princess Bride, which has a similar rhythm to your post. Well done.

    Buttercup: You can’t hurt me. Westley and I are joined by the bonds of love. And you cannot track that, not with a thousand bloodhounds, and you cannot break it, not with a thousand swords. And when I say you are a coward it is only because you are one of the slimiest weaklings ever to walk the Earth!

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  3. Thanks for pointing to this article. Some of my old history friends are outraged now!

    The opressive western civilisation is still alive, even among historians!

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  4. “Your PhD does not entitle you to dictate other people’s heritage.”

    Are you denying her claim to a share of that heritage?

    She wants to claim the classics for “her side” and deny them to the deplorables.

    What is your authority or basis to affirm your interpretation of “the heritage” and denounce hers?

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      • People fight over it. They fight over who belongs to the tradition and who doesn’t. Just look at 128 giving the boot to Lenin to eject him from the Russian heritage. Look at the smashing of stained glass windows and the removal of monuments in the US. The very definition of heritage is to whom does it belong.

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      • “Lenin ejected himself”

        If so inclined, I could use the same logic and say that the globalist, open-borders types have ejected themselves from my American heritage.

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      • “If so inclined, I could use the same logic and say that the globalist, open-borders types have ejected themselves from my American heritage.”

        I think most of them still see themselves as american? But yes there are some leftists who dont and I dont see any reason why we shouldnt respect their whishes.

        Lenin was pretty radical, his view on internationalism would even today be shared by only a small part of the left.

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  5. “Are you denying her claim to a share of that heritage?”

    I doubt she actualy believes in the existance of a western civilisation and if she does she sees it as an evil entity that needs to be destroyed. She has voulonteerly excluded herself from it and declared herself its enemy. It is thus no longer her heritage.

    I believe people should have the right to quit their nations and cultures and join other once. For instance when Lenin proclaimed his hatered for Russia and the Russian people and declared his desire to remove all nations and create a new internationalist order he voulonteerly made himself not a Russian.

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    • She wrote that the Classic texts were sources of beauty.

      The part of her argument that I followed was that she wanted to deny the alt-right the right to claim the Classics as their own. She makes a claim for her interpretations and her political use.

      My general knowledge is that Lenin wanted to change what it meant to be Russian, and did for a while. Smarter people than me will have to say what his permanent contribution to the Russian character was.

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      • Im a specialist on the Russian revolution and could give you all of Lenins anti Russian and anti national quotes if you so desire. He didnt believe that what he did was a russian revolution but the spark of a world revolution that would abolish all nationalities and states. The capital of this structure should have been Berlin and not Moscow.

        As for her arguments, she clearly stated her dislike for “white men”. Now the problem is that classical antiqity was just about ONLY “white men”, if we go over into the hellenistic age we can find some people who wouldnt fit all cathegorisations of “white” (although they would fit some), including Mrs.Zuckerbergs ancestors, who contributed but only after assimilating to Greek or later Roman “hegemonic” culture become “Culturegreeks”. But such assimilation was just about impossible during the classical age.

        How does one put the classics in the service of the desire to make “whites” (including the descendants of the ancient Greeks and Romans) a minoritiy in their own homelands, reducing their culture to subordinate status everywere and breaking any power they could have even over their own homelands and in any way remain true to any thought offered in them I have no idea.

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      • Im a specialist on the Russian revolution and could give you all of Lenins anti Russian and anti national quotes if you so desire.
        You could make a guest post of that. 😉

        “White” is an awkward term because it really only works in specific contexts, but the entire Classical world–Greece, Rome, the Middle East, (Israel, Egypt, Persia, Anatolia, etc.) North Africa–is contained within “Caucasian.” I don’t know whom she thinks is “white” or “not white,” though. Maybe she thinks St. Augustine is POC because he’s from North Africa.

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    • I am not a specialist, but I am aware that the early communists sincerely thought that they were forging a new identity that was world-wide and which diminished, if not eliminated nationalist identities. They were idealistic dreamers, much like the early Christians. If you are Russian and want to reject Lenin as a Russian, go ahead, I don’t have a dog there.

      One does not need to be a white male to learn from a white male.

      I didn’t say that I approved or her appropriation of the Classic texts for her own political purposes. I merely asking what was the foundation for denying her claim vis-à-vis anyone else’s claim.

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      • “entire Classical world–Greece, Rome, the Middle East, (Israel, Egypt, Persia, Anatolia, etc.) North Africa–is contained within “Caucasian.””

        Well thats the thing if we speak of Greako-Roman civilisation it did spread trough Hellenism and later trough Roman conquest to several peoples who wernt “white” acording to some definitions (even though the Greeks and romans themselves were acording to all but the most extreme nordicist definitions). Roman and Greek settlers did establish culturaly Roman and Greek colonies all across the mediteranian, assimilating many natives into their culture and sometimes absorbing a few of their ellements as well (but the process of cultural influence by the Greako-Romans on the natives was much stronger then the other way around).

        What we see in antiquity was a hegemonic culture becoming supreme over other cultures “apropriating” what it saw as usefull in them and only acsepting natives as members of its own society if they assimilated into the hegemonic culture.

        Now this is ofcourse different from racial nationalism but very much in line with Trumps civic nationalism. The idea that no matter were your from but when you come to this country and internalize the dominant culture, you are one of its citezens.

        Now this is very diferent from what the modern left espouses. The modern left thinks that any hegemonic culture in any Western country is “white supremacy”, since the dominant culture is European the demand that newcomers have to adapt it to become true citezens (and not be Peregrines or Barbarians) and give up whatever of their own culture that the hegemonic culture dosnt like is “intolerant”. Instead they espouse multiculturalism, a system that never existed in the world since there ALWAYS was a hegemonic culture and not belonging to it made you second class in one way or another. Multikulturalism means that no culture is dominant and oficial (thus the desire to abolish christmas ect.) instead all peoples practice their cultures in private. Since the existance of a cultural majority in a country automaticly means that one culture is dominant (if you live in a capitalist democracy were the majority can vote and were the market will always cater to the majority) and minorities are thus second rate (most shops will mostly sell products that are to the tastes of the majority thus “discriminating” against the minorities), the cultural groups must be evenly spread demographicly for TRUE EQUALITY to exist. (consequences be damned!). As a historian I can say that such an order never existed and what came close to it proved to be highly unstable. But I guess if their projects fall apart they just blame it on racism not understanding that this kind of “racism” is just human nature. The Romans understood and so their empire lasted for such a long time. THe only culture they acsepted as at least somewhat equal was that of the Greeks, so a Greek could be a “roman” without assimilating. But this was only because Roman culture was highly helenised itself and the cultural differences between Greek and Roman were like that between French and German, which as we see on the example of the USA can be united in one nationstate.

        THe unasimilated Copts or Arameans never became truly roman even after they got citezenship. THis showed itself during the Arab conquest.

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      • “I merely asking what was the foundation for denying her claim vis-à-vis anyone else’s claim.”

        She herself dosnt believe in a western civilisation. You cannot be a part of something you dont even believe existing. Thus she has no right to its foundations.

        If the only groups she recognizes are “the opressors” and “the opressed” and she identifies with “the opressed” (even though she is one of the most privileged people in the world). She can claim all the achievements of the “opressed” (which are close to 0).

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    • “They also serve who only stand and wait.”

      John Milton via Dr. James Thompson

      I have a vertical view of my nation and my people, not a horizontal one.
      Rome could not and would not have been Rome without slaves and proles.
      There is nothing sacrilegious involved in learning about the history of slaves, women or the proletariat in Rome.

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    • “She herself dosnt believe in a western civilisation. You cannot be a part of something you dont even believe existing. Thus she has no right to its foundations.”

      “have you ever argued that we should study Classics because those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it? Or because Greece and Rome are important to study because they are at the foundation of Western civilization and culture? … Next time you hear either of those arguments made, remember: they are also made by a man…”

      It is not clear to me that she means to say that Greece and Rome are not foundational to Western civilization.

      If she does mean that, why does she want to deny it to various identified “enemies” and keep it for “her side?” Why fight over it if it is not valuable?

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      • “Engage them on their assumed definitions of “foundation,” “Western,” “civilization,” and “culture.” Point out that such ideas are a slippery slope to white supremacy. Seek better reasons for studying Classics.”

        I dont know if you know how postmodernists think but on this sentence you can see that she by putting “western” and “civilisation” in quotation marks shows that she dosnt believe it even exists. Most likly for her this are constructs made up by (evil) white males to exclude others and justifie their supremacy. She propably dosnt believe in a western civilisation and her way of argumentation is to make people stop believing in its existance by using arguments like “different cultures exchange ideas and people and it is impossible to realy say which idea originates in which culture since its all interwoven. Thus the idea to classifie some cultures into a “civilisation” is arbitrary and should be dropped. Trust me I heared all of this a hundred times as a historian.

        I also have nothing against studying the history of women and lower classes but thats not the problem the problem is that she wants to forbid us to study the upper classes, their works, creations and achievements unless under the lens of critical theory.

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      • She believes the classics to be valuable mostly because she sees that they have true artistic quality and thus as any great thing should belong to your side. and second and more importanty because many people still place worth on tradition. Thus the argument “X is how our ancestors did it and in the tradition of our civilisation thus we should do X” is still strong even though leftists reject it (they do use it but they have their own tradition of revolutionaries and “freedom fighters” they build on). She knows that many westerners have great respect for the classics because they see in them the foundation of their civilisation thus she understands how important it is to controll the interpretation of this period to indoctrinate people into her ideology. So it is not important if she places any value on the classics, what is important is that others place value on them and she wants to influence this others.

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    • “by putting “western” and “civilisation” in quotation marks shows that she dosnt believe it even exists”

      Maybe she just means that she is rejecting the current consensus and wants to change it.

      You may well have her pegged. I thought the entire piece was a bit confusing, especially the way she strung all sorts of “enemies” together.

      If you do alt history, what about some thoughts on these two:

      Trotsky wins out and sends Stalin to Siberia.

      The Munich Soviet is an overwhelming success and the model spreads throughout Germany.

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    • The following is from a follow-up at her site.

      “Finally, if I had to do it all over again, I probably wouldn’t say that considering Classics “the foundation of Western civilization and culture” is “a slippery slope to white supremacy.” Most “slippery slope” arguments are weak, and this one is no exception — what I should have said was that while it is absolutely true that ancient Greece and Rome are foundational to our culture, we need to take care not to glorify that debt as the white supremacists do. We can acknowledge that influence and celebrate it while recognizing how problematic it is.

      But I’m also grateful to these men for providing material in support of my claim that bigots are deeply invested in the classical tradition. We have a lot of work to do, but it’s heartening to see that most of us can now acknowledge that we have a serious problem.”

      “ancient Greece and Rome are foundational to our culture, we need to take care not to glorify that debt as the white supremacists do.”

      I am not sure why she finds the influence and celebration to be problematic.

      Anyway, I am comfortable with my original question and statements.

      She likes to study Rome and Greece, acknowledges them as foundational, and wants to prevent white supremacists (and assorted enemies that she strings together) from using the Classics to strengthen “their” ideology.

      Upon what basis do you award the classics to one ideology over the other?

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      • Well ok now she speaks of “our” culture. This means you were right and she does see herself as its part.

        Still my other points do stand.

        “Trotsky wins out and sends Stalin to Siberia.”

        Little chance of that, but yes i have thought of this. Trotsky had even more radical collectivist plans then Stalin and his dreams of world revolution would have meant that he would have had more trouble getting the loans from the USA that stalin did to build up his military. I say with Trotsky the USSR would have fallen earlier. (all speculation though)

        The Bavarian reds were very weak, there is very little chance they could win. On the other hand Trotskys red army was quiet close to just overrunning everything between itself and Germany in its great “march to the Wisla” November 1918-March 1919, unite with red Hungary and the various communists in Germany but they were stopped by fierce Estonian and Polish resistance (this 2 new states build up their armies very fast), the necesety to fight the whites in their rear who trough offensives of their own forced the reds to divert troops to this fronts and the German freikorps movement. Just after germanys surrender 9.November 1918 all of eastern Europe was an empty, practicly stateless land ripe for the taking. Had this march sucseeded a new Red state would have stretched from the Reine to the Urals. Now this alt history would have been interesting.

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      • More like massive inner rebellions combined with an earlier intervention by UK, Japan and France (with the assistance of Poland and other border states). Under Trotsky the USSR would have been turned into an even more militerized society then it was under stalin. Since there would have been no US money and specialists to build up industry the preassure on the population would have been even greater. Constant attempts to stage revolutions around the world would have made the USSR an enemy of just about everyone thus I think the great powers would have used unrests inside the USSR to remove this troublemaker.

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    • “Since there would have been no US money and specialists to build up industry”

      What time period are you referring to here? You seem to be placing a great deal of emphasis on this US aid.
      Without the build-up of industry before WWII, wouldn’t Germany likely have prevailed over the USSR?

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      • “You seem to be placing a great deal of emphasis on this US aid.”

        Because Us investments and loans to the USSR in the first 2 5 years plans was cruicial to industrialisation/militariasation.

        I doubt the USSR under Trotsky would have even survived till WW2

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      • Oh yes, Lend/Lease program? Or did that name just apply to Britain? US wanted to make sure USSR stayed in the war against Hitler while US was still building up strength/the US greatly preferred that Russians die in the fight over Americans.

        I was so used to the American-o-centric view of WWII that I was quite surprised the first time I met a real Russian and they declared that Russia had won WWII! I just thought, “well, I guess everyone likes to take pride in their country and construct a narrative where they won,” but then I took a second look at the war and realized “oh, Russia actually DID much more of the fighting than the US did.” In retrospect I should have known that, but ah, youth.

        Anyway, yeah, I don’t remember the exact details but the US pumped a lot of money into the war before it had tanks built and ready to invade Normandy.

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    • I am having trouble finding a reliable source that indicates that US investment was of any significance. I did find where Ford built some tractors. The following seems reliable and indicates that there wasn’t much to the US involvement in the economy.

      “Foreign capital was invited in;
      however, despite well-known exceptions, there was very little response, with
      less than 1 percent of industrial output being produced in foreign-owned firms
      by 1928.
      The NEP led to a recovery of output, with national income and industrial
      and agricultural output in 1928 estimated at more than 10 percent above their
      1913 levels. However, both for ideological reasons (sheer dislike of the activities
      of middlemen) and because they doubted the government’s ability to extract
      sufficient resources for industrialization from the agricultural sector under
      the NEP, the Bolsheviks were moving away from the mixed economy after
      1925.

      The protracted debate over economic policy that took place between 1924
      and 1927 ended with the adoption of the first five-year industrialization plan
      in 1928.14
      The private sector declined rapidly, reflecting not only the disappearance
      of the Nepmen but also the collectivization of agriculture, which had not
      been part of the first five-year plan.I5”

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      • Do you realy want me to bring out all the numbers? It would be a bother and I dont know why you are so focused on that. But if you want I can do so.

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    • “Do you realy want me to bring out all the numbers?”

      No, no need for that, just point us in the direction of some good sources.

      I’ve seen the argument advanced before, I just can’t seem to remember where.

      Like

    • From wiki:

      The Lend-Lease policy, formally titled “An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States”, (Pub.L. 77–11, H.R. 1776, 55 Stat. 31, enacted March 11, 1941)[1] was a program under which the United States supplied Free France, the United Kingdom, the Republic of China, and later the Soviet Union and other Allied nations with food, oil, and materiel between 1941 and August 1945.

      The first five-year plan (Russian: I пятилетний план, первая пятилетка) of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was a list of economic goals, created by General Secretary Joseph Stalin and based on his policy of Socialism in One Country. It was implemented between 1928 and 1932.

      1928 _____1941

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      • You misunderstand. Land lease was much later. Im not talking about Land lease, Im talking about US credits and loans during the first 2 five year plans, Im talking about american engineers overseing the construction of most of the important soviet factories and industrial objects like Alber Kahns construction buero designing over 500 large industrial objects in the USSR.

        But you said you didnt want exact data and a detailed description so why go further into the topic?

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  6. Wait, I had something for this… oh, right:

    Perhaps in the smoke of those fires the tyrant and his tools flattered themselves that the voice of Rome, the independence of the senate, and the conscience of mankind were vanishing away; and they proceeded to expel from Rome the teachers of philosophy, and banish the members of every honourable profession, so that nothing might be left to put them to shame. Colossal, indeed, was the exhibition of abjectness offered by us: our forefathers had shown the world to what heights freedom could soar; we, when we dared neither to speak nor listen for terror of the informers, showed to what slavishness humanity could sink. Our mouths were closed, and even our memories themselves would have become a blank had we been as able to forget as we were to keep silence.

    Now, at last, our courage is reviving.

    — some old white guy in a book or whatever (c. 1,000,000 B.C.)

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  7. As for writing a guest post on Russian history I dont think I could come up with anything that would be inside the content of this blog. Since this blog is interested in the left I guess I could write something on the nature of Bolshevism or one of the Russian variants of anarchism or leftist peasent populism. Sadly I dont know how to write that to an audience not allready familiar with the details of late imperial Russian society or with the ideology of the European left in this period.

    But if I have time I could write something more fitting to the content of this blog, for instance Russian colonisation of the finish north and intermixture (genetic and cultural) with the Finns who once lived in much of modern Russia. Or Russian colonisation of the “wild field” on its southern and eastern borders, the constant wars with the stepe nomads, eventual Russian victory and conquest of this lands, folowed by their colonisation and various forms of dealing with the natives. Or I could write about the truly strange and unique cossak phenomen, a mixture of ethnic and cultural groups forming into its own new culture on the border between farmers and pastoralists.

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  8. Today I learned a new trick, I can turn a word upside down with turnwordsupsidedown.com or similar:

    ǝsuǝsuou

    Demonstration:

    A word turned upside down:

    ollǝɥ

    Are we turning the world upside down here, or are we talking in an echo chamber?

    Like

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