Thursday, August 12, 2004

Academic Follies

I have now been done with my dissertation for five months. It will be at least another two months before my viva. In the meantime I have been applying for jobs and flogging my dissertation to publishers. The first front has not been very productive. I am still waiting to hear for four jobs in North America that start in September. I have the distinct feeling they are not even going to send me courtesy rejections. The book front is a lot more promising. I just sent the ms to a publisher in Reading. Of course a small publisher can put out 70 titles a year where as a big university is only going to hire one historian dealing with the Soviet Orient at the most. Which explains why I guy like me whose employment experience is confined mostly to serving coffee has two academic books out and a third on the way. Universities say they want faculty who publish, but from my standpoint I see no evidence that this is the case. I have a lot of publications. In fact most lecturers I know have far fewer. In truth I am told by insiders that lots of publications can hurt you. Nobody wants to hire somebody more proficient than themselves. At least if I go back to serving coffee they will have to call me Dr.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Israel's Stalinist Model

I can understand why the left in the US has always been pro-Zionists. It is the same reason the Stalin regime supported the creation of Israel and the expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948. The Zionists, particularly under Ben Gurion were part of the Stalinist left. In many ways despite the rise in power of the Likud, Israel continues to be a socialist state. A full 92% of the land is owned by agents of the state and reserved exclusively for Jewish use. The fact that the Zionists conciously modeled the "transfer" of the Palestinians on Stalin's deportation of the Volga Germans in order to obtain most of this land is a major reason why many Jewish intellectuals and supporters of Israel have always been soft on the USSR. They adamantly resist aknowledging the racist nature of Soviet crimes such as the deportation of the Volga Germans because to do so would expose the Israelis to criticism for copying the original model.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Divided by a common language

George Bernard Shaw once said that Americans and Britians were "two people divided by a common language." Which is another way of saying that the English, less so the Celtic peoples, are just wierd. Even after being in the UK for the better part of three years and speaking a dialect of the language as my native tongue I am acutely aware of being in an alien culture. Today I paid my rent. I paid it in cash by depositing it in the land ladies account. Evidently this is common in London. It was new to me, however.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Why Stalinism is more evil than Hitlerism

The official line among western intellectuals is that Naziism is uniquely evil and Stalinism is a distant runner up. I reject this line of thought. The usual reasons given are special pleading. That is that the Nazis targeted Jews whereas the Soviets merely targeted people. Or that the Soviets had lofty goals of equality whereas the Nazis were just plain racists. Of course the Soviets also targeted a number of groups for destruction which they defined in racialist terms. Some like the Chechens lost about a third of their population due to government repression in the 1940s. The Russian-Germans, Crimean Tatars and Meskhetian Turks all sufferred from various forms of official and unofficial discrimination until the very end of the Soviet Union. The Moscow Helsinki Group even compared this discrimination to apartheid in South Africa. I certainly don't buy the idea that somehow proclaiming progressive goals justifies evil means. In fact I think it makes it a lot worse. It is the very fact that the Soviets claimed to be acting in the name of laudable ideals and that tens of millions of otherwise bright people in Europe, the Americas and Australia went along with this crap and still do that makes Stalinism several magnitudes of order more evil than Naziism. Even today a lot of people don't think Stalin's murder of 15 million people was nearly as bad as Hitler's killing of 5 million Jews. Minimizers of Stalin's crimes still hold quite a bit of influence in US academia. Nobody would wear a shirt with a Swastika on it around London. But, I see lots of sickle and hammer shirts. This ability to maintain a positive PR spin decades after his death is an accomplishment of evil by Stalin that Hitler could never have dreamed of accomplishing. It also allows his evil to continue. Right now Putin is busy trying to finish Stalin's dream of physically eliminating the Chechen people. It would be quite absurd to imagine modern day Germany ever persecuting its growing Jewish population.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


I am currently living in a bit of limbo. I finished writing my Ph.D. dissertation months ago, but will not have my viva until at least October. In the mean time I have been applying for university jobs and sending out book proposals to have my dissertation published. I have not heard anything definite on any front. The upshot is that I have a lot of free time on my hands currently. Most of it I waste wandering around London. Some of it I will now waste inflicting my opinions upon anybody who pauses to read this blog.