Sunday, October 04, 2009

Don't trust, but verify

Robert Kaplan:

Throughout the 1980s, I had been coming as a journalist to Yugoslavia. It was a lonely task because few were interested in what was going on in the place, or where it might be headed. On every trip to Belgrade, I paid a visit to the apartment of Milovan Djilas. After the first visits, our conversations become eerie affairs, because I realized Djilas was always right. He was able to predict the future. His technique was a simple one for an East European, but a difficult one for an American: he seemed to ignore the daily newspapers and think purely historically.

There was a time when I ignored the daily news because, instinctively, I did not trust it. I've since changed my ways, having discovered upon close study just how untrustworthy it is! Now I make it a point to watch the headlines -- and my back.

It was interesting to come across this characterization of Djilas. Formerly the #2 Dude under Tito, he was expelled from the Yugoslav Communist Party, unsurprisingly, for being a communist. That kind of shit never sits well with people in high places!

Anyway, I've been reading his Conversations with Stalin, and aside from being intriguing reading, his insights on the travails of party communism almost make you wish the old man Kropotkin and his anarchist legions had taken control of the state -- at least those fuckers distrusted it!

Increasingly, I find the best critics of communism to be communists. For one thing, they begin with the advantage of knowing something about their system, with the added advantage of knowing a thing or two about others. Sadly, this cannot be said of those employed in defense of capitalism, who steadfastly refuse to understand anything about either; hence "the big kablooey in which we currently reside," as IOZ ably noted.

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