Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Man versus The State

Another book that is on my must read list is Herbert Spencer's The Man versus The State. The Mises institute has a great commentary on this work, written back in 1884 but still full of relevant wisdom and accurate insight. Many of the gloomy predictions made by Spencer have come true due to his understanding of the role of government and its expansionary instincts. An interesting aspect to this classical liberal text was that it was written in 1884, and describes how British society was already heavily regulated, with many supporters of socialised rail, health, medicine and infrastructure.

A common misconception is that the 20th century saw the emergence (and fail) of socialism, but it seems that socialism is a slowly creeping phenomena and the 19th century had its share of supporters who insisted on an ever greater role for the state in providing welfare. The 20th century gave us more than a handful of examples of the blanket poverty that emerged from a socialist command economy. But once again, the classical liberal writers are spot on with their predictions.

Mises foresaw the inevitable doom and failure of communism, and Spencer clearly saw the endless expansion of the state at the expense of individual freedom and liberty.

But any open-minded person who takes the trouble today to read or reread The Man Versus The State will probably be startled by two things. The first is the uncanny clairvoyance with which Spencer foresaw what the future encroachments of the State were likely to be on individual liberty, above all in the economic realm. The second is the extent to which these encroachments had already occurred in 1884, the year in which he was writing.

The present generation has been brought up to believe that government concern for "social justice" and for the plight of the needy was something that did not even exist until the New Deal came along in 1933. The ages prior to that have been pictured as periods when no one "cared," when laissez faire was rampant, when everybody who did not succeed in the cutthroat competition that was euphemistically called free enterprise — but was simply a system of dog-eat-dog and the-devil-take-the-hindmost — was allowed to starve. And if the present generation thinks this is true even of the 1920s, it is absolutely convinced that this was so in the 1880s, which it would probably regard as the very peak of the prevalence of laissez faire.

Yet the new reader's initial astonishment when he starts Spencer's book may begin to wear off before he is halfway through, because one cause for surprise explains the other. All that Spencer was doing was to project or extrapolate the legislative tendencies existing in the 1880s into the future. It was because he was so clearsightedly appalled by these tendencies that he recognized them so much more sharply than his contemporaries, and saw so much more clearly where they would lead if left unchecked.

Spencer has some words that are astonishingly relevant to modern society, with western governments claiming credit for our advances and developments when they deserve no credit at all:
It is not to the State that we owe the multitudinous useful inventions from the spade to the telephone; it is not the State which made possible extended navigation by a developed astronomy; it was not the State which made the discoveries in physics, chemistry, and the rest, which guide modern manufacturers; it was not the State which devised the machinery for producing fabrics of every kind, for transferring men and things from place to place, and for ministering in a thousand ways to our comforts. The worldwide transactions conducted in merchants' offices, the rush of traffic filling our streets, the retail distributing system which brings everything within easy reach and delivers the necessaries of life daily at our doors, are not of governmental origin. All these are results of the spontaneous activities of citizens, separate or grouped.

And Spencer viewed income tax as nothing more than slavery:
No man has any claim to his property, not even to that which he has earned by the sweat of his brow, save by the permission of the community; and that the community may cancel the claim to any extent it thinks fit. No defense can be made for this appropriation of A's possessions for the benefit of B, save one which sets out with the postulate that society as a whole has an absolute right over the possessions of each member.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Government flushes more cash down the toilet

Why control your spending habits ? Why prioritise ? Why cut back ? Why even look at what you get for your money ?

Why indeed, when its not your money ! The mantra of government is spend, and spend so you get noticed in the media. And the Liberal Party are following that philosophy, with the name "Liberal" simply being a recognised business name or corporate logo, rather than a set of ideas and principles which are followed.

The mantra of the ALP, our opposition party, is "if you can't spend, then promise to spend" so that you get more favorable attention in the run-up to the next election. The ALP have all sorts of zany expensive ideas, like wind energy, solar power, $4.7billion to broadband and billions more into failing hospitals.

The Liberals are keeping pace, with their promises to "help out the farmers". Well, not directly you see. Peter Costello isn't heading down to the farm to grab a shovel or drive a tractor. No sir. He's got a much better idea. Mail out cheques to farmers. Cheques paid for by every Australian taxpayer. This announcement comes after the government has put together a $714m assistance package for farmers.

THE Federal Government today announced a $714 million package to help farmers hit by the worst drought in living memory.

The package comes on top of $430 million in exceptional circumstances funding announced by Prime Minister John Howard on September 17.

Assistant Water Minister John Cobb told a drought summit in Parkes in central western NSW the package would include direct grants to irrigators and more exceptional circumstances funding.

And the treasurer gives his own wisdom on the subject:

GOVERNMENTS may need to consider "exit packages" for farmers seeking to leave the land, Peter Costello says.

Going into a Cabinet meeting to discuss the increase of drought relief, the Treasurer said there was a danger the bush was heading back towards the worst drought in 100 years, with winter rains failing to bring an end to the dry spell.

Cabinet is discussing more generous income and assets tests, reducing the red tape for providing drought relief for those farmers in the horticulture industry who are in danger of losing their permanent plantings.

Mr Costello said the first priority had to be income support to keep food on the table. But he also acknowledged that long term decisions may need to be made.

“Some of course may be thinking about moving on from the farm and you have to look at exit packages for those that want to do that voluntarily,” Mr Costello said this morning.

Exit grants of up to $150,000 will be available to farmers to leave their properties and there will be an increase in the number of mental health counsellors from the package.

Here's a novel idea Mr Costello. Bugger off and let the farmers decide for themselves. If they can't survive as farmers, then let them be plumbers, accountants, doctors, cleaners or wherever else their labour earns the highest return. Its called the free market. And you help speed up the adjustment and allocation process by *NOT* subsidising or interfering with bail-out packages.

Aussie Police Commissioner is on the lookout for global warmenising

Thanks Mick Keelty for being the biggest moron ever appointed to be our top cop:

And as Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Keelty warned that climate change - not terrorism - would be the security issue of the century because of its potential to cause death and destruction on an unprecedented scale, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer urged the UN to use the climate change outcomes of the Sydney APEC summit as the template for a proposed new international agreement on combating greenhouse gas emissions.

Well there you go, you can just imagine a whole range of new and "modern" roles for the police to fulfil. Shutting down plants. Stopping carbon polluters. Arresting people for watching TV. Issuing fines if people turn on their air conditioners.

Wow.. there are so many things police can keep themselves busy with, who needs to bother with pesky murder, rape and theft crimes ?!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Great Youtube for the election

The LDP are finally starting to produce some videos. This one is about taxes. The truth is pretty devastating, and if more ads like this could get out there, people would pause before sticking to the 2 major parties at election time.

The Spencer Street Asylum

Few things are more amusing to me than the comments placed in The Age "your say" section. Sanity and rational thought are the exception, rather than the rule. And today's topic deals with the governments tough new laws against graffiti, banning the sale of spray cans to people under 18 unless they can prove its work related.

Any young people doing crafts or carpentry as a hobby are going to be screwed by these laws. But getting back to the issue of graffiti, it seems plain as day that it is a crime against a person's property.

What do the inmates at The Age have to say about this?

Well, I don't know. Will they also ban the printed, billed, postered, signed, glowing advertising that is presently raping our souls?

  • Posted by: James Wall on September 21, 2007 10:42 AM

So now a billboard = rape of your soul ?

How come global corporations are daily allowed to pollute my visual environment?.

What gives them the right to shove ads in my face every single waking moment?

Looks like the money men want to be the ONLY ONES ABLE TO GET ANY MESSAGE ACROSS?

Ban public advertising by corporations first, they have no right to constantly pollute the visual environment.

Leave the Graffiti artists alone but you can have taggers fingers cut off if you like, they are completley devoid of any imagination, sad little people who like to see their little squiggles, Sad.

  • Posted by: We Love Ha Ha on September 21, 2007 10:44 AM

You know they need their medication once they started using CAPS LOCK ! This guy is equating the voluntary and consenting placement of advertising on someone's property to the random defacing and vandalism of someone's property. Its those damn global corporations !!

There should be some laws concerning "street art" in the cbd as it is a great asset for our city. I think banning tagging is reasonable as it's just visual pollution, but all graffiti? I think the government (or even the Melbourne city council) should set up some kind of responsible graffiti program.

  • Posted by: Ez on September 21, 2007 10:58 AM

Ahh, what would an Age comments section be without calls for more government programs ! I tell you we have a shortage of government programs in Australia.

Meanwhile, it seems every other comment supports graffiti as a form of art, but not tagging or stencilling. Other readers celebrate Melbourne's graffiti as unique , internationally renowned, and even a tourist attraction.

Only one reader had the common sense to dismiss this fallacy:

If Graffiti is an art then why not paint on a piece of canvas, and sell it like other artists.

I'm sure you have a huge following of art followers that would actually pay, instead of upsetting people that don't appreciate your sytle of art.

Be enterprising and take a chance, you may actually become famous!

  • Posted by: Kaz on September 21, 2007 11:26 AM

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The greatest photo on the planet

Courtesy of Tim Blair, comes a picture that is just so .. awesome. The world's #1 environmentalist, setting a fine example of how to leave a small carbon footprint.

Al Gore is coming to Melbourne tomorrow where he is giving a public talk at the Docklands together with super alarmist bore, Tim Flannery. I think I'll go along with a giant banner saying "how many $'s worth of solar panels will it take to make the polar bears happy?"

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Vote for nobody

Where is our democratic right to abstain and not cast a vote ?

All political parties receive an amount of funding proportional to the number of votes they receive. So its definitely in their interest to maintain the status quo and force everybody to vote. But what if we don't care, or we don't approve of any of the parties running in the next election ? We have to vote for the least bad option then.

The Australian ALP, the champions of committees, bureaucracy, technocrats and regulation will not be getting my vote:

Mr Howard told Parliament Labor promises included 96 inquiries, such as a committee on federal-state relations and a climate change review.

He said there also were pledges for 67 new bureaucracies such as the Office of Strategic Interventions and the creation of a non-profit housing organisation.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The US Federal Reserve - more powerful than ever

The Mises blog has a scary and shocking article about the US Federal Reserve, the precarious state of the US economy and what could be a looming disaster. Most people I encounter give very little thought towards monetary policy and the role and powers of central banks around the world. But it seems everybody is out there complaining and feeling the effect of rising prices. Most people go on to blame phantom boogeymen, like the government or global warming, without looking at the role of the money supply and the central bank in all of this.

The scenario painted by the article is not a rosy one at all. Since 1999, the Federal Reserve has been allowed to accept all kinds of securities as collateral for loans, without matching the loans with a corresponding sale of US treasury securities. This has led to easy easy easy money and booming credit and lending by banks.

If sub-AAA MBS [mortgage backed securities] collateral pledged to the Fed were to fall in value while the Fed was holding them, the bank that deposited the MBS and took the loan would be required to deposit additional collateral or reduce its loan balance to an appropriate amount. In the case of securities with no market price, the need for additional topping up could be difficult to determine. In theory though, most of the risk associated with falling collateral values lies with the bank accepting the loan, not the Fed.

The main risk to the Fed would be if the borrowing bank were to go bankrupt during the course of the loan. Under such a scenario the Fed would take possession of the collateral and sell it in the open market to recuperate the funds it had lent the failed bank. If the market price for the collateral was significantly below the amount the Fed had originally lent out, the sale would not withdraw the total amount of dollars originally created by the loan. This is problematic because it would put the Fed in contravention of Section 16 of the act, specifying that all dollars must be properly collateralized. In other words, the Fed would have lent a certain quantity of new dollars into the economy, but with the sale of the collateral it would have withdrawn only a portion of this amount, leaving a large chunk circulating with no backing. In order to comply with Section 16, the Fed would be required to withdraw this amount of money from the financial system by selling a corresponding amount of treasuries from its surplus.

In a situation in which the Fed exposed itself to significant quantities of iffy collateral and multiple institutions refused to honor their obligations, the Fed would be required to sell massive amounts of treasures in order to withdraw unbacked cash from the financial system, in the process drastically reducing the money supply and making an already precarious situation worse.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Our government is a modern dinosaur

Man has evolved and progressed over centuries. The last few have been especially productive and never before have so many millions of individuals lived so well.

Government is not to thank for this. Don't let our politicians claim any credit for our wealth, our economy, our prosperity, science, medicine, education, space exploration, air travel, fertility, population growth, culture, arts, sports or entertainment.

ALS has a post that makes me yearn for the good old days of 1901. Not in terms of all of the items mentioned above. But in terms of the size of government. People were free to own property, to earn income, to enjoy liberty, and to keep what was rightfully theirs.

Back in 1901…

Back in 1901 there was only one Commonwealth public servant - Sir Robert Garran.

Back in 1901 the bulk of revenue was spent on schools and hospitals, but there were few, if any, government welfare/social security programs.

Back in 1901 the States had responsibility for income tax.

Back in 1901 not all States actually implemented an income tax, even though they had this power.

Back in 1901 the size of the public service (Federal & State) was a fraction of its size today.

When I get the time I intend to do more research on Australia in 1901…

Charity is best left to the geeks

Terrific article in Wired Magazine.

Why we should count on geeks to rescue the Earth
by Clive Thompson

Bill Gates is an improbable humanitarian. He built a reputation as a nightmare boss at Microsoft, a totalitarian who screeched at employees he thought were stupid. He bludgeoned competitors with his illegal monopoly. And he's a nerd's nerd -- someone who seems perennially uncomfortable around people and only at ease dealing with the intricacies of software code.

And that is precisely why he's now saving the world.

As you probably know, Gates is aggressively tackling third world diseases. He has targeted not only high-profile scourges like AIDS but also maladies like malaria, diarrhea, and parasitic infections. These latter illnesses are the really important ones to attack, because they kill millions a year and are entirely preventable. For decades, they flew under the radar of philanthropists in the West. So why did Gates become the first major humanitarian to take action?

The answer lies in the psychology of numeracy -- how we understand numbers.

I've been reading the fascinating work of Paul Slovic, a psychologist who runs the social-science think tank Decision Research. He studies a troubling paradox in human empathy: We'll usually race to help a single stranger in dire straits, while ignoring huge numbers of people in precisely the same plight. We'll donate thousands of dollars to bring a single African war orphan to the US for lifesaving surgery, but we don't offer much money or political pressure to stop widespread genocides in Rwanda or Darfur.

You could argue that we're simply callous, or hypocrites. But Slovic doesn't think so. The problem isn't a moral failing: It's a cognitive one. We're very good at processing the plight of tiny groups of people but horrible at conceptualizing the suffering of large ones.

In one recent experiment, Slovic presented subjects with a picture of "Rokia," a starving child in Mali, and asked them how much they'd be willing to give to help feed her. Then he showed a different group photos of two Malinese children -- "Rokia and Moussa." The group presented with two kids gave 15 percent less than those shown just one child. In a related experiment, people were asked to donate money to help a dying child. When a second set of subjects was asked to donate to a group of eight children dying of the same cause, the average donation was 50 percent lower.

Slovic suspects this stuff is hardwired. Psychologists have long observed that our ability to discriminate among quantities is finely tuned when dealing with small amounts but quickly degrades as the numbers get larger. Our ears work that way, too. When a very quiet sound becomes slightly louder, we detect the difference right away. But once a noise is really loud, it has to increase dramatically for it to seem "louder." The same holds true for our judgments of weight and, of course, less tangible quantities like money. We'll break the bank to save Baby Jessica, but when half of Africa is dying, we're buying iPhones.

Which brings me back to Gates. The guy is practically a social cripple, and at times he has seemed to lack human empathy. But he's also a geek, and geeks are incredibly good at thinking concretely about giant numbers. Their imagination can scale up and down the powers of 10 -- mega, giga, tera, peta -- because their jobs demand it.

So maybe that's why he is able to truly understand mass disease in Africa. We look at the huge numbers and go numb. Gates looks at them and runs the moral algorithm: Preventable death = bad; preventable death x 1 million people = 1 million times as bad.

We tend to think that the way to address disease and death is to have more empathy. But maybe that's precisely wrong. Perhaps we should avoid leaders who "feel your pain," because their feelings will crap out at, you know, eight people.

What we need are more Bill Gateses -- people with Aspergian focus, with a direct sensual ability to understand what a million means. They've got to be able to envision every angel on the head of a pin. Because when it comes to stopping the mass tragedies of today's world, we're going to need every one of them.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

What would Orwell think of the blogosphere ?

The Guardian has an interesting article, some of which I agree with, on how Orwell would view the millions of bloggers posting furiously on blogs in today's world:

In 1946, Orwell said English was 'in a bad way'. In 2007, quite a lot of people would probably concede a dismay at the overall crassness of contemporary 'cyberprose'. But such is the general nervousness and incomprehension about the internet revolution that no one is willing to articulate this. It's also interesting to set Orwell's celebrated call to arms next to the practices of the internet because, among the guardians of cyber culture, the author of Nineteen Eighty-Four remains a household god. The same people who trumpet the 'democratic' qualities of the internet would probably cite his famous essay approvingly in any discussion of English today.
But this point I disagree with:
On closer inspection, Orwell's jeremiad turns out to have been misjudged. He was right that Forties English was 'full of bad habits' (dying metaphors, pretentious diction, meaningless words), but wrong to think that 'the decadence of our language', a typically Orwellian formulation, was irreversible.
From many points of view, the story of Anglo-American English from 1950, the year of his early death, to 1991, the year Tim Berners-Lee launched the worldwide web, is of a language going from strength to strength in vitality and range. Not coincidentally, it was during these Cold War years that the left-wing jargon that shaped the linguistic landscape of 1946 swiftly became derelict. Who, in the online fever of the new millennium, talks about 'the class struggle' or 'the dictatorship of the proletariat?

Who are you kidding here? The abuse of English is now worse than it has ever been. There are a lot of politicians and journalists who still mention "class", and the proleteriat is a word that was never in widespread use in the West, except amongst a few hard-core communists.

Take a look at all of these empty and distorted words that are used today:
  • The "Environment"
  • Social justice
  • National interest
  • "Fair" wage
  • "Sustainable" living
  • Carbon neutral
  • "Environmentally friendly"
The way politicians and journalists refer to "The economy" is entirely incorrect, as is their definition of "The environment" and "fair workplace laws".

And the Guardian, being a left-wing rag, pretends that journalists really do care about the blogosphere and react to it:
There's another thing that Orwell the great freelance would have been quick to identify: in the blogosphere, no one gets properly paid; its irresponsibility is proportionate to its remoteness from the cash nexus. Worse, the blogosphere, to which all journalists are now professionally committed, not only challenges the old infrastructure of print, but it also sponsors a new prolixity.
Journalists still sit in their ivory towers and sneer at any fact-checking or criticisms arising from blogs. The Guardian live in a fantasy world.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Quote of the Day

From the always entertaining Daily Reckoning:

What DO we believe? If you give your word, keep it. And don’t do anything to transgress on anyone else’s person or property. Those are two simple rules. Anything else on top of them is meddling.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Attention Sydney-siders

If any readers are in Sydney this weekend, they should join the LDP free-trade rally at APEC this Saturday.

APEC 2007 is expected to be a large focal point for street protests by various left wing and socialist groups who object to free trade. With government leaders from across the region attending (including President Bush from the USA). It is also expected to be a high profile media event.

The LDP supports free trade and the material prosperity that it brings as well as the freedom it promotes. As such the LDP will be holding a peaceful rally in Sydney on the 8th of September to show support for the ideals of free trade. All party members and supporters of free trade are invited to attend.

The itnery for the day is as follows:-

Saturday 8th September 2007

9:00am - Meet at (To Be Advised)

9:20am - Make our way as a group toward Hyde Park.

10:00am - 11:30am - Take our message of freedom to the people.

Socialised health - what it really means.

The Liberty Papers has a post up about presidential hopeful John Edward's proposal to force people to have regular checkups and visit doctors. This would include forcing people to get dental and optical checkups, and women to go and have mammograms. I suppose that refusing to get a checkup means you would not be covered by the public health system.

Now my response to this is fairly obvious. I find it repulsive to force people to do anything. Its just another extension of the nanny state that controls, nurses and cares for you from the cradle to the grave. To be more precise, it tells you what you can do, what you cannot do, and does not allow you to nurse and care for yourself and your families.

Not only is the nanny state going to provide health cover, but because "the system" has to pay for your medical expenses, "the system" wants to make sure you look after yourself and have checkups, don't smoke or eat fatty foods, avoid drugs and harmful substances and force you to have regular checkups.

REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU WANT TO DO. If you opt into a public universal health system, then the government empowers itself to manage you, and your health, and your diet and your actions, because it has an interest in tackling"public health issues" - obesity, smoking etc.

Whereas if you accept personal responsibility for your own health, and manage your own health cover, you make decisions based on the fact that you are the only person who faces the consequences of your decisions, and not the taxpayer. It is nobody else's business to tell you when to have a checkup, or what level of health cover you need, or how much exercise you should do, or whether you can eat fast food, or enjoy a cigarette every now and then.

The Liberty Papers has a very useful summary relating to this:

If you accept the logic of government provided universal health care coverage, then Edwards’ proposal actually makes sense. After all, if the taxpayers are paying for your health care, we can’t let you do anything unhealthy now can we ?
We’ll ban smoking in practically every public venue, take trans-fats off the market, require food makers to slap labels on their product that are more confusing than anything else and, then, we’ll tell you that you don’t have the right to decide to seek medical care or not.

Monday, September 03, 2007

A movie worth seeing

Reason magazine has a summary of a very rare film that focusses on the sheer madness and totalitarianism of communist Russia:

Every so often someone in Hollywood uses his power to break the movie colony's rules. Consider this year's Total Eclipse. Odd as it may seem, this is the first serious American film set against the background of the 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact, the deal that allied Europe's two totalitarian powers against the West and helped plunge the world into war. With an ally on the eastern front, Hitler sent his Panzers west while Stalin helped himself to the Baltic states and invaded Finland. A film like this could easily have turned out as big a didactic dud as the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's 1982 bomb, Inchon, with Laurence Olivier as Gen. Douglas MacArthur. But this time the verisimilitude of the script, carried by some outstanding performances, is the source of the film's dramatic power.

Dustin Hoffman's persuasive portrayal of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin obviously emerges from his close study of how power and perversity converged in the dictator. Likewise, Jurgen Prochnow sparkles as Hitler's foreign minister, Joachim Von Ribbentrop, and so does Robert Duvall as Vyacheslav Molotov, his Soviet counterpart. Duvall's delivery of Molotov's line that "fascism is a matter of taste" is a key moment, and deserves at least as much admiration as Duvall's famous quip from Apocalypse Now about the smell of napalm in the morning. The Molotov speech has drawn some objections for being over the top, but it was not invented by screenwriter William Goldman (Marathon Man); it's an actual quote.

The sheer unexpectedness of the film is almost as shocking as its content. In one of the film's more chilling sequences, the Soviets hand over a number of German Communists, Jews who had taken refuge in Moscow, to the Gestapo. Modern audiences may find this surprising, but that incident too is taken from the historical record. Indeed, former KGB officials are credited as advisers on the film, whose cast also includes some of their actual victims.

There has simply been nothing like it on the screen in six decades. It has taken that long for moviegoers to see Soviet forces invading Poland and meeting their Nazi counterparts. Audiences would likely be similarly surprised by cinematic treatments of Cuban prisons, the Khmer Rouge genocide, and the bloody campaigns of Ethiopia's Stalinist Col. Mengistu, all still awaiting attention from Hollywood.

Total Eclipse is rated PG-13 for violence, particularly graphic in some of the mass murder scenes, images of starving infants from Stalin's 1932 forced famine in the Ukraine, and the torture of dissidents. Director Steven Spielberg (Schindler's List) deftly cuts from the Moscow trials to the torture chambers of the Lubyanka. More controversial are the portrayals of American communists during the period of the Pact. They are shown here picketing the White House, calling President Roosevelt a warmonger, and demanding that America stay out of the "capitalist war" in Europe. Harvey Keitel turns in a powerful performance as American Communist boss Earl Browder, and Linda Hunt brings depth to Lillian Hellman, who, when Hitler attacks the USSR in September of 1939, actually did cry out, "The motherland has been invaded."

Painstakingly accurate and filled with historical surprises, this film is so refreshing, so remarkable, that even at 162 minutes it seems too short.

Never heard of Total Eclipse? It hasn't been produced or even written. In all likelihood, such a film has never even been contemplated, at least in Hollywood.

Indeed, in the decade since the Berlin Wall fell, or even the decade before that, no Hollywood film has addressed the actual history of communism, the agony of the millions whose lives were poisoned by it, and the century of international deceit that obscured communist reality. The simple but startling truth is that the major conflict of our time, democracy versus Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism--what The New York Times recently called "the holy war of the 20th century"--is almost entirely missing from American cinema. It is as though since 1945, Hollywood had produced little or nothing about the victory of the Allies and the crimes of National Socialism. This void is all the stranger since the major conflict of our time would seem to be a natural draw for Hollywood.

Though of global dimension, the conflict encompasses millions of dramatic personal stories played out on a grand tapestry of history: courageous Solidarity unionists against a Communist military junta; teenagers facing down tanks in the streets of Budapest and Prague; Cuban gays oppressed by a macho-Marxist dictatorship; writers and artists resisting the kitsch of obscurantist materialism; families fleeing brutal persecution, risking their lives to find freedom.

Furthermore, great villains make for great drama, and communism's central casting department is crowded: Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Hönecker, Ceaucescu, Pol Pot, Col. Mengistu--all of cosmic megalomania--along with their squads of hacks, sycophants, and stooges, foreign and domestic.


Click the link above to read the rest.