I think he’s a little fed up.
As it happens, she was “the most important British female spy ever recruited by the KGB”. From the 1930s she used her position as a secretary at the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association to pass ever more vital atom secrets to Stalin’s Soviet Union. In other words, she was a tool for one of the most murderous regimes ever seen, and continued blissfully betraying this country throughout the Cold War, and, as she later admitted, in full knowledge of Stalin’s slaughter. File after file she shovelled to her KGB handlers, to the point where she is credited by some with accelerating Russia’s acquisition of nuclear weapons by two years. She was only unmasked in 1999, thanks to the testimony of a Soviet defector; and after a brief hubbub it was decided by the then home secretary, Jack Straw (himself a former Trot), that at 87 she was too old to prosecute. I do not quarrel with that decision, but there is something in the eirenic tone of her valedictions that reminds me of the amazing indulgence we show – now that communism is meant to be dead – to commies, socialists and Lefty tyrants of all kinds.
Cycling through London, I check out the words on people’s T-shirts, and I was amused the other day to see the letters CCCP on someone’s chest. Yup, folks, that’s what the fashion-conscious British youth is wearing, a celebration of the great doomed Soviet experiment of 1917-90.
Remind me: who was the greater mass murderer, Stalin or Hitler? Well, Stalin is thought to have been responsible for about 50 million deaths, and Hitler for a mere 25 million. What Hitler did in his concentration camps was equalled if not exceeded in foulness by the Soviet gulags, forced starvation and pogroms. What makes the achievements of communist Russia so special and different, that you can simper around in a CCCP T-shirt, while anyone demented enough to wear anything commemorating the Third Reich would be speedily banged away under the 1986 Public Order Act?
Because it’s what we say, not what we do, that defines us? Or, because lefty youths are hypocrites? Or, because western education systems are run by socialists? Or because Lenin was right, the USSR was a blooming utopia, and I’m a fascist tool of The Man?
Boris Johnson asks an interesting question today, one which I’ve pondered frequently. Why are symbols of mass-murdering communist regimes considered so fashionable to wear and otherwise display? (Think CCCP t-shirts, Mao kitsch, the ubiquitous images of the murderous Che Guevara, etc.).
Mr. Johnson has no clue – but, as I said, I’ve given this a fair amount of thought, and I’ve arrived at a theory. I think that the key to this phenomenon lies in a mindset of arrested adolescence, a juvenile expression of rebellion against the perceived parental authority figure of the United States (and, more broadly, the western capitalist status quo).
To the earnest fashionista of the left, it’s inconsequential whether the symbols they’re wearing are associated with dictatorships responsible for much greater carnage than that perpetrated by Hitler. The fact that the regimes and mass killers being celebrated were enemies of the United States renders such niceties irrelevant. Dad doesn’t like it – and that’s enough to make it cool.
And so unwelcome reminders of the millions killed under 20th century communism are displayed with pride by young (and not-so-young) “rebels” – who, in doing so, inadvertently display the classic adolescent mentality of “rebellion” expressed via an utterly predictable conformity.
Well, that too. But really I think most of them are too ignorant to sufficiently make the connection between that guy with the cool look and the really nifty ideas (if only the capitalists weren’t so fascist, these things could be reality!) and that grown man with lots of power that caused the deaths and suffering of a couple million people.
It’s like that moment (when one is around 10) when one makes the connection between one’s mother and the photo on the piano with one’s mother with fatter cheeks and funny hair. The girl in the picture is actually the same person, and one’s mother has memories and a past when she was that (the same as one’s) age. It’s a little hard to take in, at first, and it requires the maturity to project an understanding of someone else’s consciousness, not available when one is very young.