June 8, 2013
On Valentin González, 'El Campesino'
1.  On "El Campesino"
2.  On being different
3.  More on "El Campesino"
About ME/CFS


Well... I believe I am still somewhat paying back my walk of over six weeks ago, but I also seem to be getting out of it. Then again, sleeping remains quite difficult.

1. On "El Campesino"

Here is an item I do not know how to classify, and that I also cannot tell you very much about, so instead I shall also talk a bit about myself, and about why this man, Valentin González, aka "El Campesino", who lived from 1904-1983, interests me - although by now almost everyone who is not Spanish never heard of him, as indeed will also be true, thirty years after his death, of most Spaniards.

Even so... see the Wikipedia about him, which is fairly brief, and amounts to this:

He was a communist miner, who quickly rose to a leading military position in the Spanish Civil War of the 1930ies; he emigrated in 1939, after the defeat of the army, to the Soviet Union; there he started out as a high officer, got married, and got a daughter; he then quickly fell into disfavour for being honest; got locked up in a Soviet concentration-camp - from which he escaped, twice, the second time successfully. He also never admitted anything to the NKVD.

This is indeed a bit better than is on Wikipedia, and that is because I know of him through rereading Conquest's "The Great Terror", doing a search, and finding his impressive 1952 autobiography, that you'll now find on my site:

Incidentally: "El Campesino" is Spanish for "The farmer".

One of the several reasons I am interested in this man, who in many ways is rather unlike me, is that, as I have said on several places on my site, the only diploma I am proud of are not my university-diplomas but is my Norwegian 1977 diploma that qualifies me as a livestock farmer, who was therewith declared capable of running Norwegian livestock farms, as "jordbruksavloysar", that is, as a replacement for farmers who had fallen ill, wanted a holiday, etc.

This was quite serious in intention, and it might have been a lot better for me if I had done that in Norway - instead of briefly after receiving the diploma, going back to Holland, where I started to study philosophy, and rapidly got removed the first of four times from the University of Amsterdam.

2. Being different

But a bit about myself.

I am different from anyone I ever met, and the main reasons, as far as I can tell, are these four:
  • My education is quite different from most people, and was mostly poor, money-wise, by genuinely communist parents, who both had been in the Dutch Resistance, that also made my father and his father political prisoners ("political terrorists" according to the Dutch judges, of 1941, who convicted them) in German concentration-camps, that my grandfather did not survive.
  • I definitely gave up that marxist faith in 1970, when I was 20, which was very "unhandy" of me, so it turned out, because the next year was the first of 25 years of something rather like Stalinist communism in the universities of Holland, during which in the University of Amsterdam the communist (later: postmodern) students mostly ruled, from 1971-1991. [1]
  • It so happens that I am very intelligent and very theoretical: I read more than anyone I know; I have no TV since 1970; and I always had very many theoretical interests, again many more than anyone I know.
  • I fell ill at 28, as did the woman I lived with, with a real disease that no bureaucrat ever took serious, and I was always much discriminated for my opinions, that are indeed often not quite the ordinary ones. [2]
It's very difficult to establish the relative importance of these factors, although the second is the least important as to what makes me rather different from anyone else I know.

The first difference and the third are probably the most important - but I really do not know their relative strength, and I also am by now too old and too ill to care, except to insist that both differences are large, whatever ordinary men may say against me - and nearly everyone is ordinary, I found during the last 63 years, and almost no one can help much about that, either.

Let me simple say that both my background education and my talents are extra-ordinary - and add that I really don't care if you don't like that, because combined with the other two points I got 35 years of constant illness plus constant discrimination for it, and I may have been more scolded for being different from the rest than almost any other Dutchman, and that also includes several forced removals from the university of Amsterdam, that happened to no one else in Holland since 1945, and was basically for asking questions.

But back to my theme of today.

3. More on "El Campesino"

I know of "El Campesino" since 1992, when I - belatedly - finally first read the first printing of Robert Conquest's "The Great Terror", incidentally a book I warmly recommend to you, in any version, both because of what it describes and also what it may predict.

As it happened, I mostly or totally forgot about him until rereading that book recently, when I also found that not only was he a fairly famous Republican general in the second half of 1930-ies, in the Spanish Civil War, but he also had been locked up in Soviet concentration-camp, and had been the 1 in a 1000 or so that did not sign forced falsed confessions and had twice escaped from these
concentration-camps, the second time succesfully.

Now these things make somebody very special - and I could now use internet, which I could not do when I first read about him.

I am glad I did and today found and read:
which is very good: Simple, direct, honest and indeed also mostly about the horrrors of Stalin's Soviet Union, which came to anyone who did not fully conform.

In any case: With a background like I have, this man stands out as one of the very few real men, who was not a conformist, who was not rich, who was a great general, who did not betray his ideals, even though most around him did, and who escaped from a Soviet concentration-camp, and who wrote and published the truth about them.

For those who have Spanish (mine is alas not good enough), there is also this, of which I list the first of five parts, from a 1982 45 minutes Spanish documentary:
Please note that, on my equipment, this starts with an ugly high tone, but it  really starts at 1 minute, and from then on is OK. I looked at all of it, in fact getting little of the spoken Spanish, but the man clearly was quite alive and bright then, although he was so poor that he and his wife could not afford dentures.

Well... he was a really great man, of whom there are very, very few.

[1] O yes! The main reason is that in 1971 - in "answer" to many demonstrations by students in France, England, Germany and Holland - minister Veringa handed the Dutch universities effectively over to the students:

From 1971 till 1995, when a new law undid it, the Dutch universities were ruled on a 1 man = 1 vote basis, where everyone who worked in the university - from toilet cleaners, secretaries, and doormen, to professors, lecturers, and of course each and all of the students - got 1 vote, to vote each year what were effectively Soviets: The University Council and the Faculty Councils. And these had the power, in the universities, and in the faculties, more or less like parliaments.

It is this fact that made the Dutch universities radically different from each and any other university, outside the then still existing "socialist" states (but these again differed, since the surrounding societies were "socialist". and also were not run on this utterly insane and extremely corrupt system).

It is still not really discussed: The pretense is that it did not exist (and indeed it does exist no more since 1995 - when it had existed for its 25th year, continuously).

[2] Where the background is in fact the mostly communist, later post-modernistic opinions that were the rage in the University of Amsterdam, where a classical liberal with strong philosophy of science ideas like me, was almost non-existent, and if anyone did exist - there were perhaps one or two more, or so - they were neither ill and especially not outspoken, as I was.

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)

       home - index - summaries - mail