A New Biography

Lenin: A New Biography


The special assistant to Boris Yeltsin radically alters the traditional image of Lenin with a biography based on secret Soviet archives, revealing the Founding Father as a cruel, totalitarian leader who was responsible for the worst excesses of the Soviet state.

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North Korea notifies Foreign Embassies of intent to launch missiles over Japan on Wednesday(r/NorthKoreaNews)

>The reason I used the term ‘doublethink’ is that it’s pretty obvious that the general population can both believe and disbelieve the propaganda simultaneously.

Well, I apologize then. I still think you’re missing the true meaning of the term as it was used in 1984 but I won’t quibble over an essentially irrelevant point.

>I’m not sure how closely I can draw parallels with ‘1984’ but everything I have read about the NK propaganda apparatus and people’s response to it makes that book particularly spot-on.

I would say not at all. I would say you missed the entire point of the work, no offense.

The pivotal scene takes place here:

>>Anything could be true. The so-called laws of Nature were nonsense. The law of gravity was nonsense. ‘If I wished,’ O’Brien had said, ‘I could float off this floor like a soap bubble.’ [if the Party desired it] Winston worked it out. ‘If he thinks he floats off the floor, and if I simultaneously think I see him do it, then the thing happens.’ Suddenly, like a lump of submerged wreckage breaking the surface of water, the thought burst into his mind: ‘It doesn’t really happen. We imagine it. It is hallucination.’ He pushed the thought under instantly. The fallacy was obvious. It presupposed that somewhere or other, outside oneself, there was a ‘real’ world where ‘real’ things happened. But how could there be such a world? What knowledge have we of anything, save through our own minds? All happenings are in the mind. Whatever happens in all minds, truly happens.

>>He had no difficulty in disposing of the fallacy, and he was in no danger of succumbing to it. He realized, nevertheless, that it ought never to have occurred to him. The mind should develop a blind spot whenever a dangerous thought presented itself. The process should be automatic, instinctive. Crimestop, they called it in Newspeak.

>>He set to work to exercise himself in crimestop. He presented himself with propositions — ‘the Party says the earth is flat’, ‘the party says that ice is heavier than water’ — and trained himself in not seeing or not understanding the arguments that contradicted them. It was not easy. It needed great powers of reasoning and improvisation. The arithmetical problems raised, for instance, by such a statement as ‘two and two make five’ were beyond his intellectual grasp. It needed also a sort of athleticism of mind, an ability at one moment to make the most delicate use of logic and at the next to be unconscious of the crudest logical errors. Stupidity was as necessary as intelligence, and as difficult to attain.

>>All the while, with one part of his mind, he wondered how soon they would shoot him. ‘Everything depends on yourself,’ O’Brien had said; but he knew that there was no conscious act by which he could bring it nearer. It might be ten minutes hence, or ten years. They might keep him for years in solitary confinement, they might send him to a labour-camp, they might release him for a while, as they sometimes did. It was perfectly possible that before he was shot the whole drama of his arrest and interrogation would be enacted all over again. The one certain thing was that death never came at an expected moment. The tradition — the unspoken tradition: somehow you knew it, though you never heard it said — was that they shot you from behind; always in the back of the head, without warning, as you walked down a corridor from cell to cell.

Big Brother makes you love him before he shoots you, “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.”

But now in this kind of a conversation (See Manufacturing Consent & Understanding Power by Chomsky for more) the sort of “double think” you’re really referring to exists in the US, and actually exists in every state… except for maybe in North Korea.

In North Korea everyone knows its bullshit. I mean, there are probably some people who are just hook line and sinker into the party rhetoric… but I think that dissension is much more wide spread than you might think or even as it is reported by the refugees. Much more common, for example, than it is in the United States, or any other country… and Orwell wasn’t writing 1984 with the 3rd world totalitarian states in mind, he was writing it as a warning to the 1st world democracies. He was saying (in 1948, as the Korean War/Cold War with Russia was starting)… I understand how this system works. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia! We’ve never been at war with Eurasia!

And the North Koreans are here saying, “Do you have any food? We’re eating our children.”

You ever notice that every time you listen to a North Korean refugee talk about how everyone else in North Korea completely buys into the rhetoric… that you’re listening to someone talk who managed to figure it out for themselves, and then willingly and knowingly risk having their entire family killed just so they could escape. What % figured it out and decided to stay in North Korea to try and save their family? What % figured it out and have labored/are laboring to assassinate Kim? What % figured it out and don’t give a shit and are just supporting the regime/military because it’s the only thing that feeds them?

>In fact, I would say that the worse things get, the more they are likely to want to believe the propaganda

Some. And the more likely others are to resist it.

>the alternative is too terrible to contemplate.

The alternative is a spontaneous revolution. Check out this book on Lenin for more information about just how quickly and spontaneously this happened and how Lenin (and the Communists) had absolutely nothing to do with it.

>So? All I’m saying is that the idea that it could suddenly break down because of the poor conditions is a false one.

And I’m saying that historically when conditions get so bad… that the state changes. Either through revolution, military coup, invasion, etc. It is an untenable situation for them to remain in. It will suddenly break down, one way or the other if they don’t get some food.

>My sources, are, admittedly few; Stratfor’s ‘Ferocious, Weak and Crazy’ and BR Myers’ ‘The Cleanest Race’

I’m familiar with Stratfor and don’t see any conflict with Ferocious, Weak, and Crazy. What’s ironic is that he says Iran is the pupil and North Korea is the teacher. In fact, this was Mao’s strategy for obtaining the nuclear bomb from Russia, and North Korea was the pupil. This used to be why China supported North Korea in the first place.

>>Not only did the North Koreans have to keep increasing their ferocity, they had to avoid increasing it so much that it overpowered the deterrent effect of their weakness and craziness.

This is what has now changed.

>>The North’s positioning is superb: Minimal risky action sufficient to lend credibility to its ferocity and craziness plus endless rhetorical threats maneuvers North Korea into being a major global threat in the eyes of the great powers. Having won themselves this position, the North Koreans are not about to risk it, even if a 20-something leader is hurling threats.

It is no longer superb by any stretch of the imagination and it hasn’t been for more than 3 decades. Here is an interesting article that mirrors what Putin recently said about the USA.

I like the term “rational insanity” for describing North Korea a lot more than I like “Ferocious, Weak, and Crazy.”

RE: The Cleanest Race?…

I would recommend this which another poster was kind enough to reference somewhere in the discussion over that, however criticism for this can be found here as well and you can make up your own mind. But I’d caution further investigation than simply using any one of these three sources too heavily.

>I don’t believe in Disney-esque, romantic notions like that.

It isn’t Disney-esque it is a proper hyper-realist interpretation of the social contract theory. Man is born free and this quality of “freedom” cannot be taken away externally. Man is free to do whatever is in man’s power to do. As much as I loathe Ayn Rand, she was right about one thing: “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”

At our hearts, at our inner most core, we are a wild animal. As a species we are the most dangerous and deadly predator in the history of our planet. And when we are hungry and social unrest reaches critical mass… well, a lot of people usually die. Or the state completely capitulates to the public demands. Anything to maintain power. This is Machiavelli. It is the darkest interpretation of our species. It isn’t Disney. It is a boot stomping on a human face – forever.

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Dmitri Volkogonov

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Lenin: A New Biography

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North Korea notifies Foreign Embassies of intent to launch missiles over Japan on Wednesday

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