American History, Charles, Communism, Left-Liberalism, Political Discussion & Analysis, Social Behavior, Wars To Come
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What to Do When the Russians Come: A Survivor’s Guide (Robert Conquest)

One fine day in April, 1945, a cousin of mine was shot by the Russians. His name was Félix Straszer. His crime? None, of course. In February, Stalin had conquered and occupied Budapest, overwhelming determined and heroic Hungarian and German resistance. Two dead Russian soldiers had been found in the street, so the Russians rounded up all the men from the nearby apartment houses, collected them in the Gamma Optical Instruments Factory, chose ten at random, and murdered them. As it turned out, the two soldiers had been killed by other Russian soldiers in a drunken brawl, but that didn’t help Félix Straszer.

Such behavior, and vastly worse, multiplied thousands of times over, ever was and always shall be the behavior of the Left when it seizes total power. A few details may vary, due to local culture or the degree of military action, but none of the substance. A salutary and timely reminder of this basic truth is offered by a reading today of Robert Conquest’s 1985 book, What to Do When the Russians Come. With the benefit of hindsight, our first reaction on hearing about this forgotten book is that it must be a satire, and if not a satire, that Conquest got it wrong, contemplating and half predicting a Red Dawn-like takeover of America only four years before the collapse of the Soviet Communist empire. True, the Russians never came, but had they, what Conquest details would have taken place. He was not wrong in that. And his book of warning, not in the least satirical, usefully abstracts the universal conduct of the Left; it is therefore not a mere frozen slice of alternate history, but a living document with present-day application.

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Conquest, who was born in 1917 and died in 2015, was perhaps the world’s leading expert on the Soviet Union. Because he was an anti-Communist scholar, he was viciously attacked his entire career by other Western academics, who after World War II were, and to this day are, dominated by philo-Communists, eager to excuse the crimes of Communism (and of the Left generally), and to draw false moral equivalence between Communism and the Cold War governments of the West. In particular, Conquest’s books detailing for the first time the crimes of Stalin, both the purges of the 1930s and the earlier Ukrainian terror famine, were greeted with rage and contempt, although, no surprise, Conquest was proved completely correct after the fall of Communism.

This book advises the reader what to expect and how to behave under Soviet occupation of the American mainland. He would, Conquest warned, face horrors and hard choices. None of what Conquest wrote was fiction; Conquest merely transposed actual Soviet behavior, from 1919 Poland to 1984 Afghanistan, into a new geographical frame. We think of the 1980s Soviet Union as a sclerotic and slightly silly society, a fragile gerontocracy, and that’s true enough, in retrospect (and in those characteristics has many parallels to our own current ruling class, which I intend to explore in a future piece). But the Soviet Union in the 1980s was also a society, and government, with tremendous power that was still in the grip of a poisonous utopian ideology, and it gave little sign of crumbling. In the West, popular media focused not on the danger to the West, but rather obsessively on the risks of nuclear war, as in agitprop films such as The Day After. All correct-thinking people cooperated to broadcast a unified message, that the worst possible course of political action was to offer any substantive resistance to the Soviet Union. Ronald Reagan was therefore excoriated by our already-rotting ruling class, because he refused to play the game. “Here’s my strategy on the Cold War. We win, they lose.” So it happened.

Or that is how it appeared. As we can see now, however, the ideology of Soviet Communism did not die with the Soviet Union. It was smoothly absorbed into so-called liberal democracy with which, as Ryszard Legutko has ably outlined, and as Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn warned us before Communism fell, it shared most of its first principles. That’s not what the average citizens of the Soviet empire wanted—they wanted a return to traditional values and traditional society, a restoration of ordered freedom, not the destructive atomized individualism of the West. But then, nobody consulted them; the Communist ruling class simply made new friends with the Western ruling class, and enriched themselves while imposing the latter’s ideology. The fruits of this failure to destroy and cauterize the ideology underlying Communism we see today, with Russia and the Visegrád countries bitterly resisting increasingly fierce efforts by the dying American empire to complete imposing its ruling class ideology, globohomo, a sibling of Communism. It wasn’t supposed to be this way in the heady days of 1990, though in retrospect it was probably inevitable. It is strange how history works.

Speaking of history, Conquest identifies the Soviet Union of the 1980s as nastier than that of the 1960s, but not as bad as that of the 1950s, suggesting that the simple straight line from Stalin to perestroika that we are told sums up twentieth-century Russian history is, at a minimum, not complete. On the other hand, it’s also true that in the 1980s, some Soviet misbehavior was exaggerated. For example, I remember much being made on the Right about the Soviets air-dropping mines disguised as toys in Afghanistan. As we’ve seen innumerable times in the past thirty years, propaganda designed to drive public support for the American ideological empire and benefit those who gain from conflict, from lies about babies dying in incubators in Kuwait to lies about Viktor Orbán, is very common. It turns out, upon a little research today, that the Soviets used a mine, the PFM-1, that was almost certainly the source of such claims. The mine was painted green (for use in Europe, but then transposed to the rock and sand of Afghanistan) and looked a little like a bird. So, perhaps, there was less nastiness to the late Soviet empire than Conquest thought, although certainly it was bad enough.

Is Conquest’s book accurate about what would have happened in America if occupied by the Soviets, after perhaps a limited nuclear war or just as the result of a failure of will? Mostly yes, but I think he ignores that the Soviets never occupied any country nearly the size and scale of the United States. Thus, he paints a picture of massive looting, rape, and murder being the first experience Americans would have of a Soviet occupation. In the cities that would be true, to be sure, but even leaving aside armed resistance (of which more later), outside the cities it seems as if the number of soldiers required would be completely impractical to truly occupy the country. (For an updated analysis of this matter, you should read Kurt Schlichter’s analysis of the impossibility of Blue America militarily occupying Red America.) Control would therefore require local assistance, built up over time.

That control would depend on coopting Americans into a new ruling class, something the Soviets indeed had much experience with. Conquest spends considerable time transposing into the American context this usual political approach of the Soviets. A key would have been using compliant existing American political leaders as front men to staff institutions, providing a veneer of normalcy in the transition to totalitarian rule. Recruiting such men has never been hard when the Left seizes power. Some are looking for the main chance, some could be blackmailed, and many were ideologically sympathetic to the new rulers. (Czesław Miłosz’s The Captive Mind, which Conquest does not mention, deftly sketches each of these types in the Polish context, as well as has much else to say of the mental attitude of those under occupation.) We can even, looking backward, see who some of these men would have been. Take the odious John Brennan, director of the CIA under Barack Obama and a nasty exemplar of the rot at the core of the modern American state, who was a Soviet sympathizer in the 1970s (and no doubt long after), voting for the Communist Party candidate for President in 1976. He would have been a key man in the new system in Conquest’s scenario. Regardless of these shills and front men, the Communists would directly control all key levers of power, in particular the army and the secret police. And over time, they would fully cement power, bringing more areas of life completely into their orbit, and purging every level and aspect of society of any person deemed to be unreliable.

Plenty of ongoing violence would have awaited America too. The Soviets arrested, as a matter of course, entire categories of people, and either shot them or sent them all to labor camps from which many did not return. Conquest offers practical advice if you are a member of one of these groups, whether ex-military, clergy, wealthy (even a little above the norm), active in politics, or some other target category. This advice includes having warm clothing ready when the police come, what to expect from forced confessions, and physical and psychological fitness. Staffing America with camp guards, torturers, and secret policemen would be easy; Conquest estimates that, in any country, two to three percent of the population “will be ready to carry out, for power and payment, the most revolting tasks that any regime wishes to perform,” and that seems about right, looking at BLM and Antifa types, and highly relevant today. For those not an immediate target of the new government, keeping a low profile makes the most sense. Life will get harder, much harder. Consumer goods will be essentially nonexistent, and automobiles (and gasoline) will soon largely disappear. Barter will be common. But at least you’ll be alive and “free,” in the sense of not being in prison.

A good portion of the book is taken up with specific advice for individuals in various walks of life, from “Academic” to “Pharmacist” to “Youth.” It occurred to me, reading this data, that it was boring to me, because I know everything in it, but that a young person today probably knows nothing at all in it, and many would reject it as paranoid hysteria. After all, even before the fall of the Soviet empire, American schools rarely taught anything about the horrors of Communist domination, and since 1990, I am quite sure that schools teach exactly none of it.

Not coincidentally, Conquest’s description of academic life under Communism is eerily prescient, for it essentially describes today’s American academy, from the elevation of the politically correct and the degradation of any person suspected of not conforming, to snitches in classes reporting professors for any wrongthink , to the removal of any non-ideological text, to the requirement to “import Marxist-Leninist jargon into the most unlikely topics.” Merely substitute “woke” for “Marxist-Leninist,” and today’s universities, and increasingly all publicly-funded (and many privately-funded) schools, are indistinguishable from what Conquest describes. Thus, Conquest says of schoolteachers, “You too will have to teach your pupils versions of history that are entirely untrue.” We have the 1619 Project. “You too will lead them in ceremonies of loyalty to the regime.” We have race grifting and forced celebration of sexual deviants. “You will spend hours on teachers’ committees in which ways of improving the political education of the children is discussed.” We have forced participation in how to indoctrinate children in the filthy ideology today called “diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

What further strikes a reader of this book is how much of the Soviet program of thought control of the society as a whole has already been successfully implemented here by the Left. “Authentic news will be largely absent, and what there is will be highly dubious.” So-called mainstream news in America today is far less reliable than Pravda and Tass (the Communist equivalent of the Associated Press) were in 1985. As the average Russian knew at the time, but more so, the only purpose in reading the New York Times or watching CNN is to know what lies the ruling classes are trying to feed us, and to try to ascertain truth by reading between the lines or noting what is not said. “You will have to develop a feeling for the plausibility or implausibility of anything you hear. . . . Often you will have to suspend judgment until some later piece of information confirms or refutes what you have heard.” For example, and relevant to Dementia Joe’s turn to recognizing the Chinese probably artificially created the Wuhan Plague, “Particularly sharp concentration on the evils of China or some other foreign country may well imply that war is contemplated.” The problem is that, unlike the Russians or others under the Soviet heel, a great number of Americans seem very bad at this and easily subject to emotivism based on fabulism. For example, huge percentages of Americans believe laughable total falsehoods about the effects and dangers of the Wuhan Plague, simply because they have been consistently lied to and can’t bother to think for themselves, or even to spend a little time reading the actual facts disproving what they have been told.

Equally applicable to today is Conquest’s description of the Left’s hyper-politicization of social existence. “Then, as the Occupation tightens its grip, you will have to accustom yourself to the prospect of living a life that will be totally politicized. In all Communist countries, politics is an obsession, the central core of all thought and activity. You will find your life is heavily bound up with questions of your own orthodoxy; with matters of heresy, schism, blasphemy and back-sliding; and of the orthodoxy of the people around you.” “You will begin to practice the compartmentalized existence practiced by all people who survive under a Communist dictatorship.” This is certainly true here, and anyone in the professional-managerial elite, even in Red America, lives in fear of being named a heretic and punished. Often I have dinner with normal, apolitical people, who look fearfully around each time they realize they intend to enunciate a forbidden thought, such as that only two sexes exist, knowing that if a single person hears and reports them to the authorities they could be ruined. (I don’t bear this risk, which is why I more and more loudly declaim wildly heretical statements in public, for fun, hoping to cause a conflict.) The good news is that the resentment this inevitably breeds will be possible to weaponize when the fracture comes.

Under Russian occupation, there were still some sources of truth. Conquest says, “[I]f you wish to remain well informed, you will have to rely on rumor and on foreign broadcasts.” For us, foreign broadcasts are of limited use, since almost all English-language media has been completely corrupted. And rumor is a very poor guide to reality. On the other hand, we have the internet, undreamed of by Conquest, which allows open communication, if enough effort is put into circumventing the extreme censorship regime on all popular internet platforms. The problem with the internet, though, is the same as with rumor—separating lies and exaggeration from fact is very difficult. For example, again of the Wuhan Plague, I knew early on its danger was grossly exaggerated when videos circulated showing obvious lies, such as Chinese people dropping dead in the street (lies also pushed with the influenza pandemic in 2009), or purporting to show the Chinese government welding the doors of apartment buildings to imprison residents. Yet huge numbers of people blindly believed these, and believe innumerable other, lies, on this and many other topics, and those on the Right are far from immune to this problem. What might help us is the creation and dissemination of foreign-produced English-language media by reliable sources, perhaps the Hungarian and Polish governments, but such production is very expensive, and those governments aren’t rich (and moreover, as of yet, are still far too dependent on America and its German satrapy).

It might be objected that it is histrionic to compare today’s American Left to a Soviet occupation. Nobody is getting shot or raped in today’s America (except perhaps, as far as rape, the political prisoners increasingly being held by the Left, and a few people killed by the BLM troops of the Left, plus Ashli Babbitt). Wait a little, though—as I’ve said before, in my criticism of Rod Dreher’s Pollyanna-ish vision, the soft totalitarianism of the Pink Police State will inevitably morph into hard totalitarianism, and the death toll will mount rapidly, in direct proportion to Left power, unless it is first broken.

And what of resistance? Conquest offers a judicious endorsement of resistance, and offers hope that the Soviet empire will crumble soon enough. In fact, at a time when the CIA was telling us the Soviet economy was robust, Conquest says “The Soviet Union is economically far behind the United States. American technology is always a generation ahead of theirs. They have to turn to the United States for wheat. The Soviet economy is at a dead end.” Conquest suggests that escape from occupied America, if possible, makes sense because you might be able to return within a few years upon “the inevitable eventual breakup of the Soviet empire.” He’s optimistic about the “Youth”—they may, in their teens, be convinced Communists, but are likely to turn against it, and “you may find that the overthrow of Soviet power will come when you are still in the full vigor of, perhaps, your forties, when you will provide the leaders to build a new America and a new world.” “In Soviet-occupied countries, it has been the young who have formed the core of mass resistance whenever that has become feasible.” That’s probably going to be true here too. (It’s a silly myth that youth in the Soviet empire wanted Western clothes and music, and for that reason began to oppose the system. They wanted, as I say, neither Communism nor the West’s political philosophy, although to be fair the corrosion eating at the West was largely masked in the 1980s, and well-stocked grocery shelves were not something to sneer at.)

How is that resistance to manifest? Conquest in effect endorses partisan activity. I think he grossly underrates how feasible that would be—not only does he gloss over the sheer size of America, as I discuss above, but he very strangely claims, as a positive, that Americans own “nine million” private firearms. Even in 1985, Americans owned hundreds of millions of guns, not nine million, and now it’s probably close to a billion, an inconceivably great number of highly useful tools that last hundreds of years. Far more than Conquest suggests, resistance to tyranny would, if the moral fiber and determination of the resisters was up to the task, make Communist, or any Left, rule untenable very rapidly.

Thus, strangely, viewed from a certain retrospective angle, this is an optimistic book. We won, they lost. And while it seems like the ideological twin of Soviet Communism, today’s American Left, is on the ascendant, their grip on power is likely to fade just as quickly, and unforeseeably. It’ll probably need some aggressive pushing to get the job done, though. If you keep in mind the future this book outlines, you’ll feel more motivated to push.

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  1. Hans89 says

    Hey Charles just wanted to say your commentary is the perfect mix of realistic and bonkers. Not sure how you pulled it off but your takes oscillate from sharp and insightful to pretty much home spun truths that a young person like me forgot somewhere in the maelstrom of my schooling and socialization (aka state funded indoctrination).

    Just one question, why Christianity? Couldn’t Foundationalism be achieved with something like Judaism, Islam, hell even some Auguste Comte-eque church thing? It seems like as modernity progresses people take less and less values from higher powers, in my own case I’m for all practical definitions an atheist. The current “scientific mindset” added with say, a space fairing society doesn’t seem compatible with religious traditions. How will these ideas be enforced in your future, given mankind seems more and more atomized as the years go by. This isn’t a criticism of your faith I’m just curious about your thoughts on this.

    I’m a big fan of your content, keep it up, I’m certain your page will grow.

    • Charles Haywood says

      Thanks! Oh, on Monday the Foundationalist Manifesto should be published. It will address some of these questions!

  2. vxxc says

    Yes to all.

    If I disagree with anything its too passive.
    But so are Americans.

    Organize or perish, their grip tightens and their legitimacy grows daily simply with time.

    They know they need to get their own army, strange things afoot in Guard Personnel policy- all renlistment bonuses just suspended- all states, territories, all ranks.
    This is like the 90s active duty drawdown; the incentives go first. This is prelude to RIF; Reduction In Force aka mass dismissals. For them to hit all the States is unheard of …so much for gratitude.

    • Charles Haywood says

      Well, maybe it’s better if the Guard is dispersed, given how federalized it is. It would make it possible to reconstitute under new leadership.

      • vxxc says


        Sir. You will organize or perish.

        As for the Reconstitution this will happen after the military gets a real hard push, and the rest of you find out that it doesn’t exist anymore. Like the Republic we swore to, it’s actually gone. Wait, See.

        Said reconstitution will not be pretty. Stay out of that Rough Beast’s way.

        You will organize or perish.
        No offense.
        Nothing personal.

  3. Altitude Zero says

    As I recall, when Conquest’s ‘The Great Terror” was being re-released after the fall of the USSR and the opening of the Soviet archives, he was asked by his publishers if he wanted a new title for the updated work. Conquest snapped “how about “I Told You So, You F*cking Fools!'”. They settled on “The Great Terror Revisited” or something similarly anodyne…

    Conquest wasn’t always right about the USSR, but he came closer to being right than any other scholar of his generation, and for this he deserves our profound respect. Thanks for bringing his work to the attention of a new generation.

    (PS, according to the most reliable estimates, somewhere between 560,000 and two million Afghans died in the Soviet Invasion and occupation, so if they were not dropping exploding toys, there were doing pretty much everything up to that. The highest civilian casualty estimates caused by the US occupation are still lower than the lowest estimate of Soviet caused deaths, over twice the time period. Conquest was right, Brezhnev was far bloodier than Kruschev, even including Hungary)

    • Charles Haywood says

      It was Kingsley Amis, I believe, but close enough! And yes, that’s true; it was more of a side point, not an excuse of the Commies.

  4. Altitude Zero says

    No worries, you’re the last person on earth I would ever accuse of whitewashing the Soviets!
    I always doubted that story about exploding toys myself, but figured if anyone would do it, it was the Commies. I never saw why people felt the need to spread stories like that, the truth was more than bad enough. Of course, the mines actually did look like toy birds (I just looked them up, and yeah, they sorta do), and it’s possible that the Afghans believed it – after what the Soviets did to them, I’m sure that it was more than believable. I mean, all through the eighties, I heard about the horrors of the war in El Salvador, where an estimated 70,000 people died, combatants included, in ten years. Well, the Soviets killed half that many people, all civilians, in Afghanistan, in just nine months in 1985. And yet, all that has just been totally flushed down the memory hole today. Our hatred of the Soviets back then was well founded, as against their successors today.

      • Charles Haywood says

        I’ll definitely listen to that, although I’ve noted this before (as in the first paragraph of my Antifa review). I subscribe to that podcast, but for some reason rarely get around to listening, Probably the long episodes!

        • I’m a big Martyrmade/The Unravelling/Darryl Cooper fan. But I think his quality has dropped over the past couple years. Its seems that his podcast has devolved into looking for and explaining the absolute worst in human behavior. He is really good at this, and he doesnt flinch; but a lot of his earlier content combined this unflinching gaze with an empathy and curiosity and sometime vulnerability that was truly remarkable.

          I’m writing this mostly for anyone who tries out “The Anti-Humans” and doesn’t find it incredibly engaging. They should go back and listen to everything up through episode #14 (with grace given for delivery, etc. in the first couple).

  5. Altitude Zero says

    Of course, by “Their successors today” I mean the SJWs, not the current Russian Government, which seems to be doing as well as can be expected in cleaning up the mess the communists left, and which is irrationally hated by our alleged “elites”

  6. sashank tirumala says

    When it comes to internet, I highly recommend Urbit: It’s still cheap (though ETH gas fees are high these days) and it’s easy to setup if you have had any experience of using the command line (in Mac or Linux), which you might have had while setting up this website. My best pitch of this to someone like you, is that it was developed by Mencius Moldbug aka Curtis Yarvin to counteract the centralising forces of the internet. In Urbit, Facebook as an organisation wouldn’t make sense, instead there would be 100 Facebooks competing with each other (or serving different niches) and no network effects by design, which also reduces Facebook (or twitters) power of controlling the narrative/ censoring voices. Whether many people will adopt it, I don’t know. Right now Curtis has left the startup, gave CEO to his co founder and is busy grifting on the internet. The people who are in control of it are quite enthusiastic and are generally doing a good job of updating it and making it more user friendly. I personally setup an account, and went through it’s code but my opinion was that it seems to purposefully be written in a new language that is harder for someone to get used to if he’s coming from C/C++ (it’s reminiscent of much older programming languages, prolly stuff Curtis was trying to return to) so I never put in the effort to fully understand and develop applications for Urbit. It supposedly has a number of software features that makes servers much easier to setup which is what it is being sold as in Silicon Valley and that might be true but I find it hard to believe people will leave existing tool-chains for easier development alone. The main buy is the inherent decentralisation. Either way I recommend checking it out

    • vxxc says

      I’m not a coder but Yarvin wrote a new language and kernel (Hock, etc) for Urbit did he not?

    • Charles Haywood says

      Yeah, I keep meaning to look into Urbit. I may assign my son to do it; he’s extremely technically adept.

  7. vxxc says

    Mr. Haywood,

    Here is a book you might find interesting.
    Its about the Red Army’s disaster during Operation Typhoon- the 1941 advance on Moscow. There is a great deal to war..

    “The Viaz’ma Catastrophe, 1941: The Red Army’s Disastrous Stand against Operation Typhoon” by Lev Lopukhovsky, Stuart Britton.

    • Charles Haywood says

      Looks interesting. About to read Sean McMeekin’s new book, “Stalin’s War,” which (like his Bolshevik Revolution) history is, I think, somewhat revisionist and therefore subversive.

      • Ethan says

        Is there no place for revisionism in history? Our scholars may be more prejudiced against the West or in favor of Leftism, but these same faults may be found in other histories, except with the prejudices changed.

        Even beyond revisionism, I wonder if modern histories aren’t occasionally worth reading. You say that most histories written less than 30 years ago are immediately suspect. That’s true for obvious reasons. But sometimes historians have access to newly-discovered primary sources. Other times they make use of the discoveries yielded by modern methods of analysis. As wary as I am of reading new scholarship, it’s occasionally worth the trouble to sift through the obvious political fantasizing.

        (Thankfully, really good modern historians like Stephen Ambrose, David McCullough, and the late Hugh Thomas still exist; but they are not revisionists!)

        Also, glad to know that the Futurist Manifesto is soon to be published. Your articles here seem like a long preamble to a finished piece.

        • Charles Haywood says

          Oh, absolutely. I meant revisionist as a compliment in McMeekin’s case; most history of Russia for a long time has been tainted by, or has wholly been, Communist apologetics. McMeekin, for example, proves definitively the massive funding Lenin got from the Germans, in gold, something long denied by both the Communists and their friends in American academia, for obvious reasons.

          So yes, certainly, some modern histories are worth reading. You just have to be very careful. But one benefit of the internet is that it’s pretty easy to figure out, most of all by who attacks a book and how, whether the book is worth reading.

          Manifesto coming this week, I think. But don’t get too excited; it’s more summary in one place than something completely new. I will not reveal the Key to Everything, I’m afraid, if that Key is required to be something startling and unexpected.

          • Professor Emory Bortz says

            Charles, rest assured that I’ve already made the decision to sign the Social Contract, thereby elevating you to Caesar.

            However, as we have yet to reach that stage and thus remain in the current dispensation … I demand that you produce the Manifesto forthwith! Your performative compliance in this matter is my positive right as a sovereign individual!

          • Pythian says

            You might find Viktor Suvorov’s revisionist histories interesting; he goes much further than McMeekin, in claiming that Stalin planned to invade Western Europe while Hitler was focused on the Western Front. Hitler realised Soviet forces were massing for an invasion and invaded first. Puts Barbarossa in a very different light. “Icebreaker” and “The Chief Culprit” I believe.

          • Charles Haywood says

            I’ll check them out. One problem is that prices of any such used book have been going up, up, up; it’s nearly impossible to find, especially hardcovers, for less than $50, and often for ten times that. I’ve complained about this elsewhere, and no doubt there are good reasons for it, a combination of algorithms and supply-and-demand, but it’s annoying.

  8. vxxc says

    I can’t praise Mr. Haywood enough for his work here , all.

    He is one of the few speaking the truth;
    We aren’t likely to talk our way out of it, and we are most unlikely to ever see The Republic again.

  9. vxxc says

    In line with above;

    The first Commander by any title who gets access to The Federal Reserve Discount Desk- I mean unlimited money- wins.

    All of it. Wins it all.

    There is no Ceteris Paribus, not even close.

  10. Hey Charles,

    Been meaning to ask:

    I have been wondering for a while, from a moral standpoint, what circumstances must be in place for armed resistance to be a legitimate option. For example, armed resistance over the DMV might be overkill (though maybe the American Revolutionaries wouldn’t agree), but armed resistance against mass genocide is clearly something most of us would agree is necessary.

    I can gather from reading your work for the last several years that you have no problem with armed conflict, and even view it as an inevitability. My question for you is: is this a purely pragmatic approach, ie: it has to be this way so no point bellyaching about it? Or do you have a more thoroughly developed ethical stance on what circumstances warrant such?


    • Charles Haywood says

      I actually addressed this at length a few years back, in my piece On Rebellion. I might update it a bit, and this does not answer tactical, only moral, questions. But I think it is what you are looking for from me!

  11. Francis Miville says

    Robert Conquest pretends to be the first big efficient critic of the Soviet System. That’s the main big lie about his work. When he published his first works about USSR in the Sixties everybody in the West including the leftmost leaning knew it was a dictatorship not very different from the worst fascist examples, just one notch below the Nazi Empire.

    Among the biggest factual errors provided by Conquest is that most of the Soviet violence was exerted through the means of Gulags. The mortality by the tens of millions induced by that regime happened on the frontlines of three main wars : the Civil War of 1917-1921, the Ukrainian and anti-kulak Civil War of 1930-1933, and WWII proper, which was won against the Third Reich by Soviet contribution for more 90% of the effort. In the penitentiary system proper less than one million died, and most of the Gulag inmates were real predatory criminals that had traditionally prospered out of peasant pillaging, not dissidents. There were very few idealistic dissidents in Russia, they were not part of the traditional culture, somebody lucid like Chekhov was alone of his kind among so many thousands that he spent his writers’ life in utter solitude.

    There were less prisoners labouring for free, and less prisoners over all (though the population was then bigger) under the worst years of the Stalinist regime than in the US under Clinton by the time prisons for profit reestablished slavery for all practical purposes. These data about Soviet Gulags were collected by officers who were proud of their cruel performance and had an interest to embellish upwards the figures they provided to their superiors.

    Robert Conquest’s body-count figures are right only as regards the conduct of the Soviet Wars. But the problem is that Soviet Union at each one of these three main junctures confronted an enemy that very explicitly promised to be far more mortal. Wherever and Whenever the Whites seemed to win over temporarily they killed more people than the Reds : apart from the pogroms proper they instigated they killed all workers and peasants caught knowing to read and write too well.

    The kulaks in Ukraine were not merely pesants who possessed two cows or more, as a rule they were peasant employers, not peasants, their culture was one of utter despise for all menial work, and they had declared that revolted landless pesants needed to be killed and to be replaced. As for WWII, Hilter’s very explicit project was to exterminate two thirds of all Slavic People and enslave the rest, while the Bolsheviks purported to cull off “only” 8%. There were no good guys at each one of these three murderous junctures and the Reds just happened to be more “moderate” fascists, fascistic though there were for sure.

    Once you realize that Stalin was the horrible character he was mostly as a military commander in chief in WWII, you have then to compare him with the French commanders in chief of WWI or the imperial British ones in India : Stalin is just average. After all the British Empire also fancied themselves as bringers of progress to retarded people like the Soviet militants were.

  12. robert says

    Hi – I came upon this while doing another recent search to see if anyone remembers this book now that pretty much all of it seems to be coming to fact in Ukraine (as it has for decades in Moldova, then Georgia, then Chechnya, then Georgia again, then Ukrainian Crimea, then the warlord ‘states’ of eastern Ukraine .. and in most of the rest of the states that russia in all its guises has attacked and annexed for about 600 years actually).

    But back to the present… Well not- I’m an old ‘sovietologist’; studied ‘soviet’ geography & everything related to that as well as ecology in undergrad & grad programs. I spent years of my life all over the ussr & x-ussr starting in 1992.

    For years I considered myself part of the ‘new citizen diplomacy’ that went along with the ‘collapse of communism’ as it was called at the time. I felt that by studying on the universities and institutes there, doing joint fieldwork & publications, and living there as a normal person and friend (that is, without some subsidy to live apart from the people as most foreigners there do/did). And making friends, speaking the language, and appreciating the parts of the culture & history that ought to make a people resilient, creative, & dignified. For most of the last 30 years I’ve considered myself a ‘rusophile’ as I called it since I spent most of my time in Ukraine, belarus, & russia).

    Anyway, I stopped feeling this way (belatedly I now admit) about 2015 after the Crimean takeover & the clandestine war to seize territory in eastern Ukraine. By then I was able to finally see that the last ~25 years (at that point) of what I considered my main interest in life had been in many ways a waste of time. And I had been increasingly ignoring the growing list of post-soviet russian aggression & other crimes, thinking that the russian people weren’t like that and surely they would turn away from putinism. However I was well aware since the crowning of putin that the post-soviet 1990s yeltsin clusterfuck leading so same parallels the rise of hitler as a response to self-inflicted national embarrassment & shame). It just took me a while to be able to drop my /hope/ that russia really was better than that.

    As mentioned I gave up in 2014 & can barely stand to read russian anymore, even scientific literature, let alone have any hope for their ability to behave as a civilized, cultural nation in the world. They are convinced that they are the master race (read about dugin and the so-called ‘russian world’) and while there is a lot of resistance, not nearly enough to prevent their marching cheerfully under their commanding god-putin into death and war. In my opinion just like nazi germany they will need a defeat (=destruction) and national ‘expiation’ to be able to get over their mass insanity. I wish we could just lock them in their insane cage and throw away the key.

    Anyway, back when I first read this book ca. 1993, with my youthful newfound love of a new culture, I considered it ‘overblown’, exaggerated (and also poorly edited). The last criticism remains (it’s hard to imagine how the otherwise well-written and well-edited Conquest allowed his name on such a book!). I imagined that, while maybe some of these things had taken place in the past, it was improbable – given what I thought I’d learned by then of the russians and soviets.

    I can’t tell how many times I heard different variants of ‘there is no stronger brotherhood of peoples in the world than the russians and Ukrainians (I can’t even capitalize russian now!). Or seen, heard, read, etc. all the soviet and post-soviet ‘peace’ propaganda, war dead memorials, & ubiquitous moaning about what the ‘hitlerites’ (as they called the nazis – with which they had previously cheerily entered a nonaggression divide & seize pact, let’s remember, before the deal went sour)

    Anyway, now it feels like the bastards were just waiting for the chance to do it themselves. Pretty much everything – the rape squads (which sounded so overblown to me in 1993), the civilian targeting, the kill lists, the reeducation camps, the large-scale kidnapping for cultural reprogramming (all these happened in the Baltics & elsewhere before), etc., etc. has come to pass in the actions of the russian invaders.

    I am surprised, and feel a little like a fool for essentially being used (for supplies, funding, gifts, payments, legitimacy, bribes, etc.) all those years I spent there, but don’t regret believing that something better was possible, even if in russia and belarus at least , it wasn’t (yet).

    I was always apalled at how passive the people were – to corruption, to the rise of organized crime (and associated organized-crime worship that was so popular in the 90s as a sort of insane ‘national pride’ that they were able to do anything, even if it was so wrong, besides fumbling over a disastrous third world ruin of a state. I always encouraged whoever whenever & wherever I could to be more active, to protest, to not accept, to not support or glamorize, to piss and moan, whatever one could to avert the increasing decline of an already ruined civilization and transformation into a complete dictatorial criminal state and culture (ha! now I’d be arrested for that!). But most people just indicated they were too lazy, apathetic, or dumb to bother.

    Or, as we saw later, were killed, imprisoned, or if lucky forged into exile if they dared be a journalist, civil servant, politician, or any sort of person who didn’t worship lord putin (lukashenko, kadyrov, etc.) loudly enough. Worse yet, many were happy to worship, increasingly driven to the satanic type of nationalist evil that has destroyed any hope for honest national dignity and replaced it with yet more of the racist, fascist, violent mob mentality that drove hitler, pol pot, mao, milosevic, etc., etc.

    Well, Ukraine despite lingering soviet & russian influence & corruption did better than russia & ukriane. And putin, with whatever bee in his bonnet of insanity, particularly hated that and thus everything about Ukraine to the point he told his slobbering masses that Ukraine did not exist so Ukraine must be destroyed…

    Well, anyway. I admit I didn’t read too far into this website, but based on what I saw I’m guessing there’s maybe some sort of rightist bent (since I saw blaming the ussr on leftism and ‘post-liberal’ along with some orabnist this or that). Maybe I’m mistaken; and wish I had more time to read more. I did see the various Zevon, et al. quotes at the bottom, so maybe I’m mistaken and this is all about what people have to say when it is intelligently & coherently stated (as my long-winded typing into this tiny box increasingly departs from!)

    It’s hard to say that putinism and putinist russia is anything other than hard right, so maybe we ought to not fixate so much imagining that the left is to blame, but unexamined, unregulated, idiot-driven authoritarian movements. ussr, china, north korea, ddr – they claimed they were ‘leftist’ but they never were; they were built on lies, coercion, co-option, bullshit, and violence.

    So maybe it ought to make us re-examine what really is left and what is right. Is trumpism – with its racism; xenophobia; Christian nationalism; & immense aversion to democracy .. even reality and outright anti-intellect & stupidity – is this ‘rightist’? It seems that in many ways ‘right’ has been destroyed and replaced with something far more sinister, driven by the cultivated desire of masses of people; driven by a small group of power-mad demagogues telling them they are being cheated, to destroy their ‘enemies’ to elevate themselves (with the main goal of course being the elevation of the drivers to uncontrolled power).

    Maybe it ought to be seen as what it is (which I don’t even have a name for!). Is putinism, likewise racist, xenophobic (and the russians are the most racist people I’ve ever met, to an alarming and embarrassing degree; this is something most people realize very soon after arrival there), Christian nationalist, & immense aversion to reality though less idiocy and more nazi-style precision) rightist? One thing’s for sure, it’s driving masses of people to destroy their country, kill their neighbors (many formerly friends, even family), and lose their own souls, to elevate putin to an immensely wealthy and unstoppable god.

    Maybe it is, like sovietism, just another manifestation of human mob rule and intense need to belong to the ‘good’ group even if others must be destroyed to do so. Mass history & explicit fact tells this; no need to ‘discover’ some mass coverup conspiracy to see that. And the best antidote to that is education, cultivation of intelligence & independent thought, civil society and – I’ll say it: liberal democracy – including equality, human and minority rights, functional non-military democratic government structure, free voting, a strong media (depends on an educated and intelligent electorate!), rule of law, a fair court & prison system, constitutional grounding, separation of church & state, enforced reasonable laws & regulation to maintain a quality and healthy society. russia, like the ussr, pretty much flunks all these even if it seemed for a brief moment in the 90s…

    So – what was I saying? – Oh, yes – What to do when the russians come is now more than ever a useful description of the behaviors of unhinged mobs of idiots convinced that they’re the master race out to destroy the untermenschen. I no longer consider it an exaggeration because of recent fact (I still think it was poorly written and edited though).

    (sorry so long-winded; I expect that even if I were to pass all the inevitable ‘prove you’re a human’ puzzles that will probably follow ‘post’ nobody’ll see or read this anyway (maybe the blog like most is abandoned anyway), but sometimes I get into a typing craze while organizing my thoughts around this or that idea of the moment.)

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