Northern Iowa Wind Symphony
Ronald Johnson, conductor
Hate Mail: Well, as I recall the events of August. 20, 1968 in Prague had a huge impact on my thinking about the reality of Marxism after they couldn't hide its real nature behind Stalin. Not to mention the Cultural Revolution in China was going on at that time, which I believe even the present day government admits to killing c. 30 Million, just as part of that mass murder. Mao's total body count is far larger than that.
I'm still reading lefties of my age cohort and younger who are promoting the Maoist Progressive Labor Party (the guys who destroyed SDS the next year when they couldn't mount a putsch and take it over) as some kind of great and wonderful thing. I see it as, if anything, worse than the German American Bund and other efforts to mount a PR campaign for the Nazi regime in the run up to the war. The Nazis didn't start the serious mass killing until relatively late in the Nazi regime. Decades later I was still reading people like Alexander Cockburn trying to draw the distinction between the moral atrocity of Stalin and Hitler based on the fact that under Stalin a Jewish man who was willing to be in the Red Army was not included in the mass murder well after 1968, I don't recall him commenting on Stalin's last purge that didn't quite get off the ground because he died in his own filth before he could really get down to killing, a result of the, in his mind, "Jewish Doctor's Plot". Such writers were also apologists for the dreary, oppressive and not entirely unblood-soaked Brezhnev regime, as well.
As for Susan Sontag's conveniently omitted statement that someone who had gotten everything they knew from the Reader's Digest of the 1950s and 60s might end up more right than someone who read things like The Nation, perhaps she never really knew anyone who got their information from such sources of right-wing, crypto-fascism. Living in the provinces, someone who was living among many such people instead of living the life of a New York City culture vulture, I can tell you that while they were not dupes of communism, they were equally duped by fascists, racists, segregationists, opponents of equality and political and economic justice. Sontag's lack of imagination that came up with that dichotomy is telling, apparently she didn't see that there were entirely viable alternatives to that one two-step she knew.