Maurizio – Omnologos

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Posts Tagged ‘Stalin

No Equivalence Between Nazism and Communism

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From “The Most Evil Emperor” by Max Hastings, New York Review of Books, Volume 55, Number 16 · October 23, 2008, reviewing “Hitler’s Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe” by Mark Mazower, Penguin, 726 pp., $39.95

Mazower’s conclusion is that Hitler’s vision for Europe was doomed by the fact that it offered nothing save subjection to the nations beneath its sway […] In truth, membership in the German empire promised benefits only to Germans. All successful empires in history have exploited the support of at least some of their subject peoples. Berlin did not offer even lip service to international cooperation or mutual benefit.

Hitler offered only servitude to the occupied nations, in most places on the most brutal terms. […[ Hitler missed important opportunities to rouse the Arab world and India against the British, because such a notion clashed with his convictions of racial superiority. […] Berlin made no serious attempt to exploit the aid of occupied peoples hostile to Stalin.

From this point of view, Hitler’s Nazism does look like occupying a special place in history, as having no concern whatsoever on anybody else but the Master Race.

And yet…isn’t that what Europeans did in many of their colonies?

Written by omnologos

2008/Oct/23 at 21:35:16

Parallels between Lysenkoism and AGW

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(originally published in my climate blog “The Unbearable Nakedness of CLIMATE CHANGE“)

Timely broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s “In Our Time” series, about Lysenko and “lysenkoism”, the propaganda-based “science” that Stalin’s agricultural adviser managed to sell as “truth” from 1928 to 1962 at least.

In 1928, as America heads towards the Wall Street Crash, Joseph Stalin reveals his master plan – nature is to be conquered by science, Russia to be made brutally, glitteringly modern and the world transformed by communist endeavour.

Into the heart of this vision stepped Trofim Lysenko, a self-taught geneticist who promised to turn Russian wasteland into a grain-laden Garden of Eden.

Today, Lysenko is a byword for fraud but in Stalin’s Russia his ideas became law. They reveal a world of science distorted by ideology, where ideas were literally a matter of life and death. To disagree with Lysenko risked the gulag and yet he damaged, perhaps irreparably, the Soviet Union’s capacity to fight and win the Cold War.

The MP3 of the programme can be downloaded here.

What makes it relevant to the climate debate is the list of parallels that can be made between Lysenko’s “Soviet biology and genetics” and contemporaneous thoughts of Anthropogenic Global Warming:

(a) Results, and success are declared before an experiment has completed (at position 12m10s, in the mp3 file above). In AGW, just look at the innumerable papers that take AGW as established truth, even as the debate on “attribution” is still very much open among mainstream scientists.

(b) Proponents always declare “victory”, no matter what happens, and are always ready to shift the ground (mp3 position: 14m15s). That’s quite common in AGW circles: nowadays, if the planet warms up or cools down, it’s anyway compatible with AGW theory.

(c) Science is presented as a series of “solutions”, not simply as “knowledge” (mp3 position: 19m45s). AGWers cannot disentangle research from advocacy: for example, the IPCC is politically active, to the point of qualifying for a Nobel Peace Prize.

(d) According to the scientists, central planning is better than free capitalism (mp3 position: 35m45s). From Al Gore to London School of Economics’ Professor Lord Giddens, there is only one thought: free markets are not good enough, and a big State intervention is needed to save the planet from climate doom.

Ironically, the BBC guests laughed only up to a point to the witty remark made by one of them: that Lysenko’s personality and attitude would have made him a “guaranteed success in British science today” (mp3: 24m15s).

Even more ironic is the fact that Lysenko himself did come up with a geoengineering way to change the climate of Siberia (by planting trees in clusters, so that the weakest ones would sacrifice themselves to let the most resistant plants survive).

And in case you wonder: no, it didn’t work…

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/08 at 21:55:15