Not getting Orwell

The freedom of the internet sometimes makes you bump into people whom you, at first, sympathize with, and then at some point you discover, almost painfully, that while you share a common interest or viewpoint, you fundamentally came at it from different angles.

I always have had the idea that the history of the fight at the Eastern Front in the Second World War has been a victim of the cold war. Most of what we know, in the West at least, is the tale from the German side. The tale is almost that of a fantasy novel. The Germans, technically superior but numerically inferior, fight a foe with skilled tactics. The Russians combat that invasion with technically inferior systems by using numbers and blunt force tactics.

This is, of course, a very crude representation of reality but it is made by me to serve a point. The point being that one can invoke the idea of a numerically inferior force being able to best a numerically stronger enemy using better men, better weapons and better tactics. Hence, the Nato in Western-Europe, facing the specter of overwhelmingly superior Warsaw Pact forces, might stand a chance if they did what the Germans did, but learned to avoid what brought them defeat.

Of course the German generals, – those who survived -, would tell that tale. It was not their failure that defeat followed. And in the West we, no doubt, were all too willing to buy into that narrative. Even men like Milton Shulman, a man who wanted to set that narrative of the superior German warrior caste straight – Inadvertently bought into this narrative. He wanted to show on the one hand”what pathetic and petty figures these men really were.” 1). But at the same time Shulman reinforced the narrative by acknowledging the competence of the German command; “Why did a group of men with more training, more experience, and more passion for the art of warfare than any other contemporary group of similarly trained men fail to ensure victory[]?

So why did the German’s lose that fight?

[]These weaknesses might be summed up in three words – Hitler, discipline and ignorance.“2)

Here was, so to speak, the perfect military machine that eventually defeated itself. And, as Shulman will acknowledge, this defeat was mostly on the Eastern Front.3)

One fundamental problem was that for the Eastern Front it was hard to hear the Russian side. Not only because of barriers of language and ideology, but also because that side of story might not be a welcome one. What if the Russians eventually were able to field superior numbers, superior technology and use superior tactics? What if they were capable of winning a war without overwhelming superior numbers? Would this foe, now expanded with the sources of Eastern Europe and with only a few hundred kilometers to go to the Atlantic shore, not be unstoppable? Would not then the inevitability of nuclear war be a forgone conclusion?

Ironically it took the fall of the Sovjet Union to give a boost to a re-investigation of the history of the Eastern Front. What did the Sovjet sources tell us? Enter men like David Glantz who after the fall have been trying to see that war from the other side.

Of course, this history, and possible correction, would eventually surface somewhere on the internet. And of those who gave us a renewed narrative of the fight on the Eastern Front was TIK, who dutifully has been trying to tell that tale.

Now you might think TIK is somewhat like Glantz in this respect, – he often uses Glantz as his source -, but you would be far from the truth. You see, to be an historian you need to be a critical reader. And mind you, not just towards other people, but foremost towards yourself. Am I correct? Are my ideas right? And this is where TIK fails the most obvious.

I already showed in a post about his youtube movie about Hitler being a socialist how he cannot even maintain internal consistency. 4) But I ran into him again after I was curious what people say about fascism.

Now to understand his lack of self criticism I have to address it here, not so much as to be nasty to TIK, but in the hope that those who happen to watch his channel will be wary of what he is saying. Check, check and double check. Oh yes, you can check me too.

Now in that YouTube movie TIK has decided to read out the whole article by George Orwell named, “What is Fascism?” And I mean, verbatim. See below for the movie and below that for the article.

The essence of Orwell’s article is that Fascism, even back in his days(we are talking 1944) was used for about anything negative: “It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. “

And

Except for the relatively small number of Fascist sympathizers, almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. That is about as near to a definition as this much-abused word has come.

A key sentence here is this:

All one can do for the moment is to use the word with a certain amount of circumspection and not, as is usually done, degrade it to the level of a swearword.

And here is TIK’s comment to that youtube movie:

George Orwell wrote a short piece in 1944 asking the question: What is Fascism? George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair) died in 1950. His work is technically not in the PUBLIC (STATE) domain in the UK until the end of this year. If Orwell’s estate wishes to make a Fascist-copyright claim on this video, feel free. I’m not monetizing it anyway, and will simply take the video down.

Here then is a man who directly infringes a copyright by literally reading out the whole article verbatim and then calls the Orwell estate fascist beforehand because they might see it as an infringement.

Now you might take this as some form of statement, but fundamentally it shows how disrespectful this man is towards the memory of Orwell by basically directly doing the opposite of what Orwell is advocating: to use that word as a swear word. My impression is that doesn’t even get this. TIK seems too serious in this to understand the irony of his statement.

But even if it was Irony, it is still done in poor taste.

Notes:

  1. Shulman, Milton, Defeat in the West, First Edition, New York, 1948, page XIV,
  2. Shulman, Milton, Defeat in the West, First Edition, New York, 1948, page 3
  3. Shulman, 20
  4. https://meritcoba.com/2019/08/07/6459/

Sources

Milton Shulman’s book, Defeat in the West, can be read via the internet archive. https://archive.org/details/DefeatInTheWest/page/n39/mode/2up

Tik’s youtube movie can be found here:

George Orwell’s article can be found on this website:

George Orwell: ‘What is Fascism?’
First published: Tribune. — GB, London. — 1944.

https://www.orwell.ru/library/articles/As_I_Please/english/efasc

A splash quite unnoticed

XIR3675

According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling
near

the edge of the sea
concerned
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings’ wax

unsignificantly
off the coast
there was

a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning

 

William Carlos Williams – 1883-1963

I think you would agree with me that it would be a herculean task to respond to any video on youtube that is out there that requires one.  Addressing the flood would make a considered reaction almost impossible.

However, sometimes I feel that a response is required. And I felt this need regarding a video called Why they don’t tell you about Hitler’s “Shrinking Markets ‘.    The main reason for my unease with this video is that the maker of this video, a man who calls himself TIK, schools people on what history is. If you claim to know what history is, then leading by example would be a thing for sure.  The proof of the pudding is in the eating, though. So how edible is his course?

The case

It warrants to represent TIK’s argument in a proper manner. So let me lay out his case for you, so you can both check that I got it right and also understand the whole of his argument.

There are two ways to represent his argument. In a (very) short way and in the full way.

The short argument

Hitler was a socialist.

The long argument

They, the (Marxist-)Socialists who invaded the state controlled universities and schools since the Cold War era, if not earlier, want to prevent you from knowing about the shrinking markets because then they would have to tell you that Hitler was a socialist and that socialism, which means total state control of the economy and people – coupled with his racism caused the holocaust.
(note: I updated this long description to better reflect what was said on August the tenth)

I assume that you will agree with me that the short argument would be the easiest to respond to. The full argument is so complex in nature and raises so many additional questions that any response  will be very long indeed. So let me address the short version at the moment. That is, let’s see how TIK approaches this argument that Hitler was a socialist as a historian.

Screenshot - 7_9_2019 , 10_19_08 AM (1) Why they don't tell you about Hitler's _Shrinking Markets_ problem - YouTube - Opera

Socialism according to IEP

Before taking a look at TIK I want to point to another source first.  The reason is that the problem with the short argument is that we need to find a definition of socialism.  For this I make uses of the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy(IEP)   The IEP is a peer-reviewed encyclopedia. The reason I do so it not for the most obious reason, that is to show it conflicts with the definition that TIK gives, but rather to point out that there is no agreement even among socialists disagree on how socialism is to be realized. The IEP  gives the following definitions on socialism as an economic system and an ideology.

A socialist economy features social rather than private ownership of the means of production. 

Socialist ideology asserts the moral and economic superiority of an economy with these features.

But it adds a cautionary remark:

How, precisely, socialist concepts like social ownership and planning should be realized in practice is a matter of dispute among socialists. 

IEP points out that:

Considered as an economic system, socialism is best understood in contrast with capitalism.

Capitalism designates an economic system with all of the following features:

  1. The means of production are, for the most part, privately owned;
  2. People own their labor power, and are legally free to sell it to (or withhold it from) others;
  3. Production is generally oriented towards profit rather than use: firms produce not in the first instance to satisfy human needs, but rather to make money; and
  4. Markets play a major role in allocating inputs to commodity production and determining the amount and direction of investment.

An economic system is socialist only if it rejects feature 1, private ownership of the means of production in favor of public or social ownership. But must an economic system reject any of features 2-4 to count as socialist, or is rejection of private property sufficient as well as necessary? Here, socialists disagree

My point here is to show that even if there is agreement about the fundamental concepts of socialism, there is disagreement about how to realize it. And it is in particular important as we soon will see.

Socialism according to TIK

Now let’s have a look at how TIK defines the concept for us.

Socialism: you get money for free when you murder and steal from the bourgeoisie(or jews)(2:55).

Socialism: the technical definition is: the socialization of the means of production(4:14).

Socialism is the state control of the economy(8:03).

(Real)Socialism is the state(8:44)(23:09)

The true nature of socialism – total state control of the economy and people – totalitarianism(19:24)

The reason why I have listed all the definitions in is because TIK uses these different ones to make his argument.  I cannot find where TIK takes his definitions from as he doesn’t quote any sources. He names two books: Basic Economics and Economics in One Lesson. But neither Sowell nor Hazlitt define socialism. Nor do they refer to socialism in the way he does(thievery and murder for example), even though Sowell points out some of the traits of Socialist states, to which he never says that these traits are exclusive to those states.

Screenshot - 7_9_2019 , 9_55_36 AM (1) Why they don't tell you about Hitler's _Shrinking Markets_ problem - YouTube - Opera

It is perhaps of interest in this context to give a quote by Hazlitt. The underscore is mine.

When analyzing fallacies, I have thought it still less advisable to mention particular names than in giving credit.
To do so would have required special justice to each writer
criticized, with exact quotations, account taken of the particular emphasis he places on this point or that, the qualifications he makes, his personal ambiguities, inconsistencies,
and so on I hope, therefore, that no one will be too disappointed at the absence of such names as Karl Marx, Thorstein Veblen, Major Douglas, Lord Keynes, Professor Alvin
Hansen and others in these pages. The object of this book
is not to expose the special errors of particular writers, but
economic errors in their most frequent, widespread or influential form. 

Economics in One Lesson, page IX(1946 version).

In other words: where TIK uses Marx and Keynes, Hazlitt declines to do so because he knows very well that he would have to address each of them extensively. Sowell refers to Keynes a few times(six results on two pages). Marx is mentioned more. Hitler is hardly mentioned by either, and not in the context of socialism.

I supply this to point out that TIK doesn’t quote the sources he bases himself upon and that two books he mentions do not supply the definitions he uses. It follows that his definition must be his own. And his definition is has quite a certainty: socialism is the state. In others words: where IEP defines that socialist have a dispute.. TIK offers certainty. Unsourced, unfounded and unsupported certainty.

TIK vs the rest of the world

Now let me be clear here; TIK can, without restraint, claim that Hitler was a socialist. However, to make his argument TIK has to come up with a definition and one that at least most people can accept. Why? Because otherwise we cannot communicate concepts. If you define green as red and do not communicate that you do so, you will be in a traffic accident in no time and if you have followers believe the same, they will be too.  We have to agree on definition not only to communicate, but also to make the arguments work. And you have to stick to that definition.

Screenshot - 7_9_2019 , 10_15_47 AM (1) Why they don't tell you about Hitler's _Shrinking Markets_ problem - YouTube - Opera

And here is where TIK sinks his own boat. To argue his case he gives at the beginning of his video a list of  people whom he calls Marxist-Socialists. These people, so Tik explains,  all believed in shrinking markets.. just as Hitler did. Then when he defines socialism as state control of the economy or, to drive the nail home, the total control of the people and the economy, Marxist-Socialists by this definition are no longer socialists. As IEP states: Not only will communism (unlike socialism) do away with class, material scarcity, and occupational specialization, it will also do away with the state.  In other words. Marxist-Socialists cannot therefore be used to support his argument regarding socialists. He has refuted himself.

His arguments are shaky in another way too, as he when he defines socialism as totalitarianism. In other words: socialism has become synonymous to totalitarianism.  If socialism is the same as totalitarianism then it has lost any meaning as a separate concept. In other words: anyone striving for totalitarianism has now become a socialist too and any socialist has become a totalitarian. It might again be important that in this TIK doesn’t support what he says with sources. Again, he must be using his own definitions.

You could of course argue that socialism and totalitarianism share common traits, but then you have to argue that point where they differ. Or you can argue that socialism is a subset of totalitarianism, but then you have to argue that point. TIK does neither. He makes a blanket statement by making the one equal the other.

Another way he digs a hole to fall in himself is by defining socialism as the state. Again this includes a lot of people who support the idea of a state but who might not see themselves as socialist. Take conservatives. And again, he doesn’t name any sources.

Screenshot - 7_9_2019 , 11_28_01 AM (1) Why they don't tell you about Hitler's _Shrinking Markets_ problem - YouTube - Opera

TIK further expands on this idea in his slide where he equates group to tyranny and the individual to liberty.  And he explains this via etymology: Public is the same as the State. And the group is the same as tyranny.

Screenshot - 7_9_2019 , 10_50_35 AM (1) Why they don't tell you about Hitler's _Shrinking Markets_ problem - YouTube - OperaScreenshot - 7_9_2019 , 10_50_50 AM (1) Why they don't tell you about Hitler's _Shrinking Markets_ problem - YouTube - Opera

Now this creates another problem. Just like Marxist-Socialists are no longer socialist, anyone who strives for the common good now supports tyranny by definition.  As he says: there  And would it be superfluous again to point out that he doesn’t name any sources for his claims?

The result of his redefinition of terms is now that some people are no longer socialists, while a lot of other people have become socialists.

The point

To drive this point home: TIK is totally free to claim that Hitler was a socialist. My post is not to respond to that claim.

Most don’t even know the meaning of the terms, and when, you point them out – backed by a host of sources and examples from their own literature(actual evidence) you get told that you don’t know what you are talking about(23:35).

As pointed out: TIK’s  definitions are totally his own and keeps being changed by him during his 28 minutes of diatribe.  He hasn’t presented any ‘host of sources’ to support his definitions. TIK refers to books by Sowell and Hazlitt, neither used in his video, nor does he illustrate that they support what he says. The  Marxist-Socialists cannot be used according to his own definitions as they are no longer socialists. He fails to make a coherent argument by playing fast and loose with definitions and failing to source them.

Crescendo

Vidal (loftily): As far as I’m concerned, the only pro- or crypto-Nazi I can think of is yourself. Failing that—

Smith: Let’s, let’s not call names—

Vidal: Failing that, I can only say that—

Buckley (snarling, teeth bared): Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in your goddam face, and you’ll stay plastered—

Gore Vidal vs William F. Buckley 

And then this final thing. What to say about a man who complains about his ideas being suppressed, but showing himself all too eager to hamstring the free exchange of ideas? If you deny that Hitler is a socialist, you deny the holocaust is the kind of argument that has no place in history.  TIK goes even a step further. He claims that socialists actually promote the holocaust(22:06).  History works when it allows for the free exchange of ideas. TIK has done himself a great disservice, he shows himself not to be the historian he claims to be.

The irony

TIK mentions a world wide socialist conspiracy to dominate the narrative, but doesn’t name the people involved, nor explains how it works on a global level, nor how it works  for privately owned  universities or for countries run by non-socialist governments for decades. He never supports anything he says.  But most ironical is it that he references men as David Glantz and Rainer Zitelmann in t and his other videos, both whom have studied at the same state controlled universities. But then I guess, checking his sources isn’t his strong suit.

David Glantz
Born in Port ChesterNew York, Glantz received degrees in history from the Virginia Military Institute and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff CollegeDefense Language Institute, Institute for Russian and Eastern European Studies, and U.S. Army War College.

Rainer Zitelmann
Zitelmann studied history and political sciences at the Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences and completed his doctorate in 1986 under Prof. Dr. Karl Otmar Freiherr von Aretin with the grade of “summa cum laude”, the subject being the goals of Hitler’s social, economic and interior policies.