Archive for the ‘Totalitarian States’ Category

Film: Honor Diaries

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

The film Honor Diaries, which documents the accounts of seven women who have suffered some form of honor violence — beatings, genital mutilation, child marriage, etc. — is making news since critics, accusing the film of Islamophobia, have managed to have showings of the film banned at a small number of universities.

I have not seen the film, only the trailer.

Honor Diaries is available on iTunes here.

I may comment further after I have a chance to view the film.

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved

Share

Time for Congressional Hearings on Prosecutorial Overkill

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

The current story in the Wall Street Journal about how prosecutors in Milwaukee during an alleged political vendetta allegedly ruined the finances and employment prospects of Kelly Rindfleisch, 45, a former midlevel official in the Wisconsin governor’s office, over a misdemeanor e-mail infraction of sending of fundraising e-mails from her personal computer while employed in a government building, has generated outrage.

When the chief of staff to the Illinois governor made a similar e-mail infraction in 2010, he stepped down, but was not prosecuted.

The Milwaukee example dramatizes the plight of many poor people entangled as witnesses in criminal and drug investigations, whose lives are ruined as collateral damage, with little recourse. There are few checks on prosecutorial power in our society except the press, and few consequences for those prosecutors lacking a sense of proportion who may abuse their power. Many, many more people have been and are caught in predicaments like Ms. Rindfleisch.

The first purpose for the secrecy of grand juries is to protect the rights of citizens before felonies are charged, not to shield prosecutorial overkill or to make those prosecutors who abuse their powers unaccountable to anyone.

Years ago, Chicago columnist Mike Royko wrote an article about how he learned over time not to completely destroy with his journalism the life of a common, everyday person who made a mistake, to relent, and to not totally ruin the life of some “poor slob” who fouled up and had already suffered the consequences.

Erich Fromm once described totalitarian societies as societies without mercy, without forgiveness. Those who make politics a blood sport, and who destroy the lives of common citizens for no good reason, erode the very democratic nature of our society.

It is time for Congressional hearings on prosecutorial abuse. But it is also time for a wider, bipartisan discussion of how such abuse hurts innocent people, thus eroding justice and our confidence in our government.

As Euripides said in his play Trojan Women, “What the law permits, let shame forbid!”

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved

Share

Aphorism LXXVI

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Those who export their own repressive radical politics abroad engage in a destructive form of colonialism.

This includes political hobbyists who are pacifists and civil libertarians at home, but who support violent, inhuman, or manipulative regimes or schemes far away in the mistaken attempt to improve the lot of their chosen “pet” poor people.

The face of distant war brought close to the eyes is terrible indeed.

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved

Share

UN Report on Human Rights in North Korea

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

From the Jubilee Campaign, here is the link for the UN Report on Human Rights in North Korea. There is the link for the detailed testimony.

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved

Share

Catholicism and Socialism

Friday, January 31st, 2014

While preparing my notes for the course The Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church, I again came across the lines from Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno:

119. . . . Society, therefore, as Socialism conceives it, can on the one hand neither exist nor be thought of without an obviously excessive use of force; on the other hand, it fosters a liberty no less false, since there is no place in it for true social authority, which rests not on temporal and material advantages but descends from God alone, the Creator and last end of all things.

120. If Socialism, like all errors, contains some truth (which, moreover, the Supreme Pontiffs have never denied), it is based nevertheless on a theory of human society peculiar to itself and irreconcilable with true Christianity. Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.

Quadragesimo Anno, 119-120, http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_19310515_quadragesimo-anno_en.html, accessed 1/31/14

Such a strong papal statement from Pius XI in 1931 reminds us Catholics that while we may be participants in political life, we remain in a certain sense outsiders. This is not easy!

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved

Share

Dan Savage’s 30-Year Mandatory Abortion Fantasy

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Speaking on a recent Australian television show, and stating that “There are too many goddamned people on the planet,” “America’s most popular sex advice columnist” Dan Savage suggested that “Abortion should be mandatory for about 30 years” –

I wonder who is going to run the police state required to implement Mr. Savage’s fantasy.

© Copyright 2013, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved

Share

Aphorism LXX

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

The dreaming Chicago Left, allied with old Red true-believers, civil libertarians, New Left “progressive independents,” and life-style radicals, labored mightily, and brought forth a Rube Goldberg health care web application disclosing both Stalinist bureaucracy and American government purchasing systems for all that they are.

Social justice proposals that are to be implemented by government are always realized in bureaucracy. The mastery of bureaucracy is more about competence in performance, gained after constant study and relentless pursuit, than it is about naive good intentions and panacea promises.

Government, because of the complexity of bureaucracy and of procurement and other constraints, can never be the sole source of social justice. We’re lucky that we didn’t have to endure a violent revolution and over seventy years of human suffering to find that out once again.

Not that this revelation will matter to the true-believers, whose response to their own abysmal failures is ever: “Much more is needed of the same.”

After spending several years trying to destroy religious and mediating institutions, it’s only a matter of time for, out of sheer desperation, the present architects of social justice to turn again to “public-private partnerships” with the same organizations previously on their hit list to solve their embarrassing problem.

© Copyright 2013, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved

Share

Watch the Film Katyn

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

The 2007 Polish film Katyn, directed by Andrzej Wajda, which chronicles the 1940 Soviet massacre of about 22,000 Polish officers and intelligentsia at three different locations, is now available on Youtube with English subtitles. I highly recommend the viewing of this sombre and telling film. The end of the film is one of utmost violence, so I forewarn the sensitive.

In 1990, Mikhail Gorbachev and a number of authorities admitted that Stalin and the Soviet leadership were responsible for ordering the Katyn massacre, after 50 years of Soviet lies, suppression, exile, and execution of the relatives of the victims and of those who brought the truth forward.

During World War II, both Churchill and FDR and their administrations hid the truth about Katyn in order to keep the alliance with Stalin. Generations were compromised by the lies of Katyn.

The story of Katyn reveals the truth about history, politics, and of the amazing Polish people, to whom civilization owes a debt.

How anyone could remain a Marxist-Leninist communist after Katyn proves St. Thomas Aquinas’ theory of invincible ignorance.

More can be learned about the film Katyn here.

If you are not afraid of the painful truth, watch this film.

© Copyright 2013, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved

Share

An American Professor Who Sent a Colleague to Death in the Gulag

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

The witticism attributed to Henry Kissinger that academic quarrels are so intense because there is so little at stake does not reveal the sometimes life-and-death nature of such disputes. Universities have been the hotbed of conflict since their founding. King Louis IX sent in the royal archers in 1255 to quell attacks against the Dominican friars prior to the seating of St. Thomas Aquinas at the University of Paris. History provides many other examples of riots and mayhem at universities. Occasionally, one learns of acts of deliberate murder.

I recently found a striking example of an American academic who wrote his friends in the Soviet Union circa 1927 complaining about a visiting professor who was then arrested upon return to Russia, and later sent to the Gulag and ultimately to his death.

The victim was a friend of Pitirim Alexanderovich Sorokin, one of the greatest sociologists of the 20th Century, born of a nomadic tribe called the Komi in the north-east of European Russia, who was by 1927 working at the University of Minnesota. He invited a fellow Komi, a noted economist named Nikolai Dmitriyevich Kondratiev, to visit the University of Minnesota. Here’s the story of Kondratiev’s demise, from Sorokin’s colleague Carle G. Zimmerman:

Kondratieff (sic), an agricultural economist and student of business cycles, visited Minnesota in 1927 and stayed with Sorokin. A number of prominent American scientists were pro-communist at the time. One was a forester at the Ag campus where I had an office. He upbraided me for associating with Sorokin and Kondratieff and told me he was going to send a report about Kondratieff back to Russia. Later I learned that Kondratieff was arrested immediately after returning to Russia from the trip to see American universities. However, he was not given the final “treatment” until the Stalinist purges of 1931.

Sorokin, the World’s Greatest Sociologist: His Life and Ideas on Social Time and Change, University of Saskatchewan Sorokin Lectures No. 1, 1968, p. 19.

Both Profs. Sorokin and Zimmerman moved from Minnesota to Harvard, where they achieved great distinction, and Minnesota lost thereby the corresponding opportunity for such distinction.

I find the story above a rather amazing example of how an unnamed American Stalinist true-believer professor contributed ultimately to the death of a distinguished colleague.

So perhaps academic squabbles are not so inconsequential after all. . .

I’ve added some of the information above to the Wikipedia page for Kondratiev, so history can remember. Here is the permanent Wikipedia link for my changes, just in case this information is vandalized or removed from the Wikipedia article.

© Copyright 2013, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved

Share

Those Who Fund Violence Should Forfeit Their Wealth

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

Petrodollars have placed Middle Eastern factionalism on the world’s center stage, and have resurrected an ascendant Persian empire in opposition. These two Middle Eastern regional forces are bombing each other for dominance in several factional and sectarian uprisings that have spread into Africa. The rest of the world is bankrolling this conflict by enriching the bankers of violence. No military action can stop this process in an of itself.

One way to reduce conflict in the Middle East and Africa therefore is to turn down its throttle — to systematically over time reduce the oligarchic concentration of wealth that is fueling the conflict. This reduction involves minimizing the flow of the world’s dollars to the bad actors.

Those who fund violence should pay a heavy financial price–the loss of their wealth–for doing so.

It’s time for the rest of the world to ride a bike, buy a hybrid, or take the bus, and for the petrodollar-funded financial sponsors of regional conflicts to be publicly identified and denied resources through every means of economic differentiation and penalty available, from consumer boycotts even to the point of having their wealth seized or embargoed by the international community. The international information economy could help realize such a strategy.

Such a strategy may not reduce the will to violence, but may reduce its means.

The fuel of violence must be made the most costly fuel of all.

© Copyright 2013, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved

Share