Sunday, December 30, 2007

Time to tell Comrade Jim Bradley: Nyet

John Kolasky wrote in his 1970 book “Two years in Soviet Ukraine” how through the “heavy hand of censorship” the Soviet government controlled and censored information, which also included banning books, authors, or revising or censoring previously written works.

Kolasky (once a die-hard Canadian socialist) wrote: “In 1950, the publication of the collected works of Ivan Franko, a pre-revolutionary Western Ukrainian poet ranked second only to Taras Shevchenko in Ukrainian literature, was begun by the State. Franko has been hailed in the USSR as a great revolutionary and a socialist. In view of this, it is interesting how his collected works were “edited”.

“Chief of the editorial board was D.D. Kopytsa, a man devoid of talent, but securely welded, through faithful lackeying, to the Soviet party machine.” Kopytsa “was appointed to supervise the editing of the great poet’s works. In 1950, the second volume came off the press, followed in succession by the third through the eighteenth. Then came the first volume, followed by the nineteenth and the twentieth. This is a strange procedure: to have the first volume after the eighteenth. The explanation prevalent in Kiev was that Kopytsa was to write an introduction to preface the first volume while the others were being published. When the first volume finally came off the press there was no introduction; Kopytsa’s talents were unequal to the occasion!

Volume XIX is of great interest. It contains an article by Franko entitled, ‘What is Progress?” (Shcho take postup?), in which he outlined Marx’s basic solution to the problems of poverty, the social ownership of the means of production, to which Franko believed the world was moving. The article runs to thirty pages, but this is not the full text; about five pages have been cut. Why? The answer becomes obvious when we read some of the paragraphs that were left out:

Marx in his writings did not describe that future social order in which there will be social labour without exploitation and social consumption of the fruits of labour without injustice to anyone. These ideas were further developed by Marx’s comrades and friends, LaSalle and Engels.

The future peoples’ state is to become the all-powerful mistress over the life of all citizens. The state is to be man’s guardian from the cradle to the grave. It brings him up into the kind of citizen that it needs, guarantees him a salary and the necessities of life in accordance with his work and merits. Knowing the needs of all its citizens, it regulates how much and what should be produced in factories, the quantity of bread and food society needs, the length of time each citizen is to work and to rest….This faith in the unlimited power of the state in the future society is the main feature of social democracy. According to it, every man in this social order will be a state employee and a pensioner fro the day of his birth till he dies; the state will first give him the necessary preparation and then assign him his work and his salary, give him encouragement and recognition and benevolent support in old age or in case of illness.

In the first place, that omnipotent force of the state would weigh as terrible burden on the life of every man. Freedom of the individual and freedom of opinion would have to whither and disappear, for the state regards it as harmful and unnecessary. Training, having in mind not a free people but only useful members of the state, would become a formal and spiritless drill. People would grow up and live in such dependence, under such state control as is present unthinkable even in the most absolute police states. The peoples’ state would become a great peoples’ prison.

And who would be its wardens? Who would be at the helm of such a state? Today, social democrats do not speak clearly, but at all events those people would have in their hands such great power over the life and fate of millions of their comrades as has never been held by the greatest despots. And the old problem, inequality, driven out through the door, would return through the window. There would not be exploitation of workers by capitalists, but there would be the omnipotence of the directors, regardless of whether hereditary or selected, over millions of members of the peoples’ state. And having in their hands such unlimited power even for a short time, how easily could these leaders usurp it permanently

How prophetic were these lines of Ivan Franko. There is no need to go into the problem of why this passage was not included in his collected works. An article by Franko that had first been published in full in 1903, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire that persecuted him, was censored in the first socialist state that claims him as his own. But this is not all. In a footnote to the essay we find the following: “From the article it is evident that in regard to a series of questions, Franko did not elevate himself to the Marxist point of view.”

Franko's thoughts were prophetic indeed, years before the Russian revolution and the subsequent communist horror, and are still relevant today.

Take a look at Ontario's medicare system today, and how the concept has deteriorated, with all due best intent, into a patients' prison. Tommy Douglas made a lot of promises, but didn't describe the future perils and encroaching loss of freedom arising from socialized medicare either. We, as individuals, were convinced to believe that giving more power to the state was for our own good, and freely voted to institute this system!

Now, Jim Bradley along with his omnipotent Liberal wardens, seem intent to wield their state power without regard to the rights of individual patients to obtain their health care without state approval or interference.

We gave up our personal-choice for a supposed 'greater-good', with which the unlimited power of the state has inexorably moved to subjugate us as mere employee/wards.

Time to tell Comrade Jim Bradley: Nyet.

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