March 27, 2013

Dutch Stalinism: More about the CPN

"Ik heb veel landen bezocht, en beyverde my overal achttegeven op de publieke zaak. Welnu, ik verklaar nergens zulke totale absentie van plichtsbesef, nergens zoo'n walgelyke onbekwaamheid te hebben aangetroffen als by 't bestuur der stad Amsterdam."
-- Multatuli, idee 308 [1]


1.  More about the CPN
About ME/CFS

Yesterday there was a brief Nederlog with a copy of a long Dutch essay I wrote about politics, ideology and the use of language, and also about the Dutch Communist Party CPN that my parents were members of most of their adult lives, and today there is some more about that party.

It probably will interest only very few
, I'm afraid, and there will be a change of subject in the next Nederlog, but then I do want to write in Nederlog about what interests me, and it does interest me because I was the oldest son of my communist parents, and spent the first twenty years - so to speak - in the shadow of that party.

I left it when I was 20, in 1970, which was rather strange, because in those years the
CPN got quite popular in Amsterdam, where I was born and lived then, and where I live now, alas [1], since at that time many students of my own age were joining it, for romantic or careerist reasons, and usually both, in the wake of the student revolts of 1968 and 1969, that the CPN was sympathetic to, or at least pretended to be.

Let me elucidate that last point, of the combination of romanticism with careerism, and also something that I wrote yesterday:
"Over politiek, ideologie en taalgebruik" (= "About politics, ideology and use of language")   is a fairly long essay about the Dutch CP  - called CPN - and the last link is to the English Wikipedia article on it, that says it was "officially disbanded" in 1991, the same year that the booklet "Alles moest anders" (= "Everything had to be different") was published, which was mainly by the effectively Stalinist careerists who used that party to get to positions of power, status and income in the Dutch universities and/or media."
My elucidation of these phrases is that my generation of leftist "marxist" "revolutionaries" excelled in doublethink, that enabled them to talk in public and think of themselves as revolutionary idealists, and behave as Stalinist careerists or apperatchiks:
"The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them... To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies – all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth."
-- George Orwell

All of the Dutch "marxist" "revolutionaries" I know of - and I am talking here specifically of those who attended university, who belonged to my babyboomer generation - none of whom descended from genuine marxist revolutionaries as I do, eventually - usually very soon, often already in the 1970ies - made a career in the capitalist system they claimed to want to bring down, and since then have all made 10, 20, and in some cases 100 times more money than I have, and more money than most Dutchmen have. Judging by their actions rather than their public poses, that was their end from the very beginning. [2]

This was not the case with the Dutch communists of my parents' generation, as I will now briefly explain, with a link that may interest a few Dutch readers.

1.  More about the CPN

The English Wikipedia article on the
CPN is quite well done, and you can learn there that
The CPN is one of the few Communist parties to be formed before the Russian Revolution.
My father joined it around 1935; my mother - I believe - around 1940. They were both sincere moral idealists, and both joined the Dutch resistance, that was not large, and mostly consisted of communists or radical christians, probably because it did require a strong faith. (My father and grandfather were arrested, and convicted by collaborating Dutch judges - almost all Dutch judges collaborated - to concentration camp imprisonments for the crime of "political terrorism".)

I know quite a lot about the party, but since I was born in 1950 and left it in 1970, by far the most that I know is from the 1950-ies and 1960-ies.

What I am presently concerned with is not the leadership of the party, for whom I have very little sympathy, but its ordinary members, of whom I have known quite a few, especially of my parents' generation, many of whom were sincere, courageous persons, who usually were communists for idealist moral reasons, and not to further their personal interests. In fact, many harmed their personal interests, because communists were discriminated as soon as the Cold War started. [3]

It would have been nice if there had been a decent history of the CPN, but most that I saw was biased and partial in several respects. [4] But it turns out that the Amsterdam daily paper Het Parool published in 1994 a series of brief pieces about the CPN, mostly as it was between 1945 and 1970, by a journalist called Paul Arnoldussen. It starts here, with these original titles (that translate as: "Everyday communism - Survey"):
The above link is to the introduction, and there are 12 pieces in all in the series.
You have to read Dutch to enjoy it, and even if you read Dutch you are not likely to be very much interested, but for someone like me, who knows most of the family names, who has met or seen quite a few of the individuals mentioned, and who also knows who were meant whose names were clearly avoided being mentioned (friends of my parents, in fact) it was all quite interesting.

Anyway... I wrote the present Nederlog to provide a reference to the few who might be interested in the petite histoire of ordinary communists in Amsterdam between 1945 and 1970, and to make the point I made:

Most meant well, were honest, and got discriminated for their political allegiance and moral or civil courage.
If they were intellectually mistaken, as they were, they usually were so because of the combination of their honest moral feelings and their lack of relevant knowledge.
P.S. Mar 28, 2013: Corrected some typos and added a link.

[1] The "alas" is a play on words that refers to a saying of the Dutch writer Multatuli, who wrote "alas! I am an Amsterdammer" . The Dutch quotation I started with explains part of the "alas" in Multatuli's time and terms:
"I visted many countries, and tried everywhere to see how public interests were served. Well, I declare that I have found nowhere such complete absence of a sense of duty, and nowhere such despicable incompetence as in the government of the city of Amsterdam."
Since that was written circa 1861, things have radically changed:

Hundreds of billions of dollars were turned over the last 40 years in Amsterdam in the trading of illegal drugs that was protected, one must suspect for a consideration, by the mayors, aldermen and police of Amsterdam, who all showed great diligence and great competence in serving the interests of the Amsterdam drugsmafia. (A billion = 1000 million, a mere single percentage of which equals 10 million.)

You may doubt this, just as you may doubt 2+2=4, but the statement in the last link is simply a logical deduction from what can be found, under the link, in Dutch, in the Dutch Parliamentary Report on drugs of 1996.

You may also believe, just as you may believe 2+2=22, that the mayors and aldermen of Amsterdam, who gave their personally signed permissions for these sales, that happen in "the coffeeshops", where everyone can buy soft drugs in Amsterdam since ca. 1980, each and all of which require personal permission to deal in illegal drugs, given by Amsterdam's mayors and aldermen, that these political worthies all are such incredibly moral, noble, saintly, well-meaning and well-behaved politicians that they personally left all the profits to the honorable drugsmafiosi to whom they gave their personal permissions to sell illegal drugs.

After all, this is just what Dutch parliamentarians, judges, policemen, district attorneys, journalists and public pretend to believe, which is why the trade could continue for decades, and which is also why so many foreigners believe soft drugs are legally sold in Amsterdam: No, the trade in soft drugs in Amsterdam and in Holland is emphatically NOT legal. The legalization of soft drugs would make the dealing in drugs very much less profitable.

[2] I think in the end the reasons were mostly a combination of genes and education: Even in the 1960-ies I met very few "marxist" "revolutionaries" whom I could take serious either as marxists or as revolutionaries - almost all were posturing, as indeed were most hippies
at that time, and indeed doublethink aka hypocrisy explains that as well, as it also helps to explain much of the social behavior of all ordinary men.

Note this does not mean nearly all of them set out to be careerists, though a few did: It means nearly all of them had an ambivalent attitude to truth and honesty, that also is quite common in social life, where people tend to speak the truth if doing so is not against their own interests, but all play roles, and act according to the roles they play if that is in their interest.

[3] The first few years after WW II the CPN was quite popular precisely because the party had been active in the resistance against Nazism, and had lost many of their members for that reason: Arrested and shot, or sent to a concentration camp where they perished.

[4] In 1984 I wrote a letter to the "greatly talented" Gijs Schreuders in which I asked him to write a book with interviews with Dutch communists who did not belong to the leadership. He was more interested in writing his own lamentable history, that he eventually had published under the silly title "The man who failed" (in imitation of the very much more interesting and very much better written "The God that failled").

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate
search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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