Friday, 20 March 2015

Chapter 16

ADMIRABLE and inexplicable are the ways bad news gets transmitted in prisons, besieged cities, and countries with censorship. In time of civil war in habitants are able to discern in the usual atmosphere of a city the indefinable signs of its doom. The authorities of the moment may very well post announcements that the situation is improving; the inhabitant knows that evacuation will begin tomorrow. He guesses that the first horsemen of the new terror will be seen the day after tomorrow in the withering silence of deserted streets- people with flowers will run ahead of the buglers… Houses will be searched… Suspects with blood at the corner of their lips will move off like automatons flanked by strange looking infantrymen with huge black sheepskin headgear… et cetera. The people of Kiev have known eleven occupations. The people here go about scenting their fear or their anticipation. For our fear is made of others’ hope; our hope is woven of their fear. City adrift. The foreign papers, smuggled in and passed from hand to hand with the greatest secrecy (your life depends on it), are saying- according to a dispatch from Stockholm- that this city has been taken. Another dispatch rectifies: “From our special correspondent: the National Army plans to enter in three days.” (You read it madam! The shoemakers will be back in their shops, the banks will reopen, praise God!) The Whites have reoccupied the old imperial residences, twenty miles away. The have tanks… The price of bread triples at the clandestine marketplace jammed by two thousand people. Of what value is the paper currency of a revolution about to receive the coup de grace?
Time for action; retreat is no longer possible. A puffy old archivist, having survived for months on frozen potatoes fried in castor oil, slowly forces open the drawers of the mahogany secretary of the presidency of the Senate, a beautiful piece of furniture from Emperor Paul’s period, but it must be done! His heart beats like a great bell. The time for daring came so simply. Tomorrow perhaps these archives will burn, yet the autograph letters of the great provocateur must be saved. He carries them against his skinny chest, and his halting step in the street is more joyful than if by some miracle he was twenty again and had delirious love letters to read over at night. He stifles a silent laugh on his pinched lips. A fatigue party of ex-bourgeois guarded by two women soldiers in short skirts is digging trenches in front of Trinity Bridge. The archivist contemplates their slow, probably useless labour for a moment: women in unfashionable coats clumsily push wheelbarrows full of wooden paving blocks; the men don’t seem to be in bad humour. “Let them take the city now, what do I care?”
They’re stealing the supplies from the Commune, they’re even selling non-existent supplies. Who’ll be here tomorrow? Money to escape, money to hide oneself, money to buy papers, money to betray, money to enjoy and get rich. Procuresses, whose telephone numbers are passed along discreetly, offer you charming ballet dancers. A grand dukr’s favourite? A sentimental one who clings? Or do you prefer a kinky one? Scattered around the egalitarian city subsist invisible seraglios where you can enjoy life forgetful of discipline, of assemblies, of the Revolution itself, provided you have jewels. And what else is there to do but take them, when you find jewels? Expropriated antiques dealers, who are probably nothing but looters, offer you precious miniatures: they will always keep their value, they’re easy to hide, easy to carry. You slip over the border one night, a little suitcase in your hand – guard your little suitcase well in the dark woods!- and you’re rich! Ah! Smugglers who are perhaps nothing but double agents of the Special Commission will guide you into Finland (or into an ambush0 for a few thousand rubles. But where to hide the jewels? Think about it carefully. In the heel of your boot? Too well known. A good new one: in the buttons of your overcoat. Under the matches in a matchbox you pretend not to care about. In your anus, as convicts do it… Men in black leather, like us, standing their turn of guard duty in the offices of the Executive, sell the supplies of the Commune, and even carloads of foodstuffs that have already been stolen. The thick face of a greedy peasant ill improved by years spent in storerooms of battleships smiles over the miniatures: Paul I (Kalmuk nose, red-rimmed eyes, and three-cornered hat), a marquess with a bluish complexion, Napoleon. And if the city holds? Take the kinky one or the sentimental one? The face flushes, transfixed by a sudden flash of hot blood. Both, Devil take me, I’m a male, what! and I’ve a fortune here… Five o’clock. It’s time for dinner at the table of the Executive- the only one where you get a succulent soup of cured horse meat. Then reports to the President- “State of food supply?” “Bad. Gromov, this can’t continue…” Gromov is nothing but zeal, frank explanation, and careless proletarian devotion. “Transportation. Those stinking railroad workers only think about their bellies; all speculators!” “Still, propose something; after all, Gromov!” “I propose requisitions in the marketplaces. Let’s go there army-style.” (We will take back from the marketplaces, to the sound of militiamen firing shots into the air and the panic of terrified women, the flour and rice sold yesterday to Andrei Vassilievich for two sprays of diamonds.)
The upper floors of the vast Institute are already empty. On the ground floor a throng reminiscent of days of uprising gloomily organises itself. Are the offices growing empty due to the mobilisation or due to flight? The President hasn’t the slightest idea. His step is listless. He walks down the straight corridor with his hands in his pockets, like a gentleman emerging from a small café. The doors of the former girls’ dormitories are numbered: No. 82 Party Committee, No. 84 Cadres Assignment Bureau, No. 86 Press, No. 88 Office of the International. The President enters this last one. In a dark, bare antechamber made out of deal partitions two young kids, page boys, are having a wrestling match, stifling their laughter for fear of being heard by the terrible secretary, who is correcting proofs of a message to the G.C.P. on the split of the Bremen group. They freeze on the spot at the apparition of the President. But his big unkempt head wears a vague smile. The boys suddenly grow bold: “We don’t have any more pants or shoes, look, comrade! Sign us a voucher, comrade!” Hot dog, he’s gonna sign the voucher! “Ask at the secretariat.” The President said it! Behind him the kids dance a silent jig: we’ll have shoes!
Spacious white room. The President dictates to the stenographer, a pale blonde. “Workers of the world!...” this evening the wireless will broadcast- to all! To all! To all! I- the final appeal of the Northern Commune. In the last analysis we have nothing left but that voice with which to oppose the squadron blockading the harbour and which, tomorrow, will disembark flat-helmeted battalions. “British soldiers and sailors, workers and peasants, will you forget that we are your brothers?” The President paces from one corner of the room to the other, emphasising the rhythm of his sentences. The stenographer steals a glance at him as, searching for his words in front of the window, he runs his hand through his rebellious hair. She is thinking that it’s always the same thing, that he has a handsome face, that she’s going to miss the distribution of herring at the sub-secretariat for Latin countries, that in case of an evacuation he will surely take her along in the presidential rail car….
The headquarters of a division moves into one of the railroad stations. The line of combat is edging into the outer suburbs. The frontlines of resistance and retreat for interior defence follow the contours of the canals. Certain intersections will be well defended. The survivors will retire along the river at the risk of being cut off twice… Then, dynamite and fire will reign. Kondrati states calmly:
“We’ll blow up the bridges. We’ll blow up the factories. We’ll blow up the Executive, the Special Commission, the old ministries. We’ll set fire to the warehouses in the harbour. We’ll turn the city into a volcano. That’s my solution.”
The President would prefer a different one. His big, bluish chubby head is glued to the telephone. His muffled voice tirelessly transmits the bad news four hundred miles away to the very heart of the Republic. No food supplies, no reinforcements. Enemy progressing irresistibly. Tanks. Yes, tanks. Troops demoralised, not very reliable. Conspiracies inside the city. We risk being taken in the rear. The troops on the northern front will give way at the first push; let’s have no illusions about it. The British fleet… That’s what I’m saying: untenable. Evacuation yes. Avoid useless massacres, save the live strength of the proletariat….
The full membership of the Special Commission was sitting, in accordance with the statutes, to judge the case of Arkadi. Fleischman, nominated to replace the accused, would then report on the situation at the front. Twelve heads in the small oak-panelled meeting room. Osipov presided. The case presented itself with irreparable simplicity.
Zvereva’s report, stated in terms of an apparent extreme moderation, ended with a veiled supposition of corruption. Nothing proved that Olga Orestovna Azin had not obtained the release of other individuals besides her brother and had not been paid by interested parties. An ambiguous passage in a deposition by Kaas reinforced this hypothesis. (This odious report had made Osipov decide to withdraw File No.42 from comrade Zvereva in order to give it over to Kirk; but some people saw this as an arbitrary measure; the President’s coterie, in private conversations which “somehow” got reported to the Central Committee, censured “this singular manifestation of comradeship…)
Maria Pavlovna, sent to Moscow in order to submit the dossier to the big chief, had found herself in the presence of a bony man so overworked that he looked like an old, careworn recluse. His thin shoulders stuck out under his green tunic. He was all nerves, concentrated movement, reserve, reticence, silence. Sharp profile, sharp pointed beard, sharp eyes whose absent stare transfixed his interlocutor inexorably, perhaps on account of its limpidity tempered by inner tension. Nothing on his desk but a great, massive inkwell made of rare stones from the Urals the colour of flayed flesh veined with blue violet presented by the proletariat of Ekaterinburg, “executioners of the last autocrat, to the inflexible Sword-Bearer of the Revolution, our great and dear- “No ink, naturally, in that beautiful closed inkwell, for the big boss signed his decrees with a fountain pen, a gift from the Quaker journalist, Mr. Pupkins. Maps of the front. Under the life-sized portrait of Karl Marx, between two windows, a bizarre panoply: masses of weapons made of huge nail studded roots; gnarled clubs hanging at the ends of hunks of rope; mutilated rifles with sawed-off barrels and amputated stocks; a sort of deformed cannon – a metal tube inserted in a tree trunk; and on a square of Bristol board a typed inscription: “Liquidation of the Tarasov Gang- Tambov district, February 1919.”
The chief opened the file. Zvereva’s report. The interrogations of Olga Orestovna Azin and Arkadi Arkadievich Ismailov (Arkadi was given his full name, which distanced him even further). The statements of the two defendants corresponded so closely that it appeared they had carefully agreed on everything in advance. The accused woman declared having been convinced of her brother’s innocence at the time. Arkadi had believed her. A month later she became his mistress. On this last point, it had been difficult to drag precise details out of her. A secret denunciation emphasised the fact that the investigation, arbitrarily removed from the hands of Comrade Zvereva, an irreproachable collaborator, had been turned over to a former syndicalist, Kirk. “A dirty business,” said the big chief. “I ought to go there…”
The door opened quietly. Someone brought in a red envelope. The chief turned his limpid eyes on Maria Pavlovna and asked:
“Generally speaking, isn’t your Commission too corrupt?”
The sudden start of the severe old woman, whom he had known for twenty years, having corresponded with her when she had lived in Paris, on Rue de la Glaciere, and he was residing in West Kanskoe, in the Altai mountains, on the Chinese border, made him add quickly:
“Don’t take offence, Maria Pavlovna. You know yourself how quickly people get demoralised, especially the young ones. Now: decide this matter yourself; I rely on you. I’ll come later on…”
This proof of confidence constituted perhaps the worst way of deciding; for at that time the suspicious shadow of the chief dominated the Special Commission.
Another complication: a scandal was brewing. The President, speaking before a big assembly of the Party, had permitted himself an allusion to the germs of corruption discovered in the redoubtable Special Commission itself. “We will purge the organs of the terror pitilessly,” he had cried in an oratorical flourish. “The sword of the proletariat must be clean.” The audience had applauded for a long time.
Arkadi belonged to the Kondrati group. The whole group felt threatened through him. They would turn the President’s outburst of demagoguery against him, no one having the right to divulge a case which had not been judged by the Party or by the Special Commission – but the sacrifice of Arkadi seemed imperative so that the coterie would not be smeared on account of his mistake.
Finally, the case of Zolin, although completely different, was vexingly present in everyone’s mind. This low-echelon agent of the Special Commission, who had made himself counterfeit seals in order to obtain foodstuffs for vouchers which he wrote out himself, had been shot with no discussion.
Article XV of the Internal Regulations was as precise as a guillotine blade. The debate was short, punctuated by long embarrassed pauses. Maria Pavlovna, the only member of the Central Committee present, said in a neutral voice:
“I propose the application of Article XV”
Osipov put it to a voice vote:
Fleischman, the first of the Kondrati group, voted “for.” When Terentiev’s turn to vote came, he took the floor. For a few moments only his big red face, his curling lips, and his low forehead were in the light. His porcelain eyes, of indeterminate hue, were rolling in every direction; his big round hands, as red as his face, made a few broken gestures, as if stammering.
“There’s nothing here but a whole lot of fuss over a woman. Arkadi’s clean. We have few men of his calibre. He’s worth more than I am, I tell you, a hundred times more! I tell you we can’t shoot him. I’m an ignorant man, see. Look at my big paws, look how I sign my name…”
He grabbed a pencil, made the motion of writing his name. He was looking around the room for some support, but the eleven faces were mute. Osipov, his cheek resting in his hand, was listening sadly. Terentiev, blushing, stammered.
“I believe in him. The Revolution can’t simply take a person’s word, I know. We have to offer our heads, it’s true, because we are without mercy. But I can’t! I tell you we can’t…”
He fell silent.
“Have you finished?”Osipov asked softly, “You’re voting against it?”
Kirk looked avidly at Terentiev. Six votes remained; this could be the decisive ballot. Terentiev’s face was flushed, his head bowed. The veins stood out on his neck, his ugly hands were lying flat on the green cloth. He was struggling with himself, his back against an invisible wall.
“No,” he said, choked, “I vote `for.`”
Kirk threw in “against” with a kind of fury. Too late; he was the only one. Osipov, the last, articulated distinctly:
“Me `for`. By eleven votes against one the application of Article XV passes.”
Late that night Kirk went and knocked at the door of Room 130 in the House of Soviets. Osipov, dragged out of bed in his shirt, barefoot, with his old riding breeches hanging loose around his skinny hips, greeted him anxiously.
“Well, nothing. You know, brother, we’re committing a crime.”
“A crime?” Osipov tossed back at him. “Because one of us got hit this time around? Don’t you understand that one must pay with one’s blood for the right to be pitiless? Do you by any chance imagine that we won’t all end up like that?
“I would have saved him if I could have. But you saw what happened, there was nothing left to do but share the responsibility. You’re a Don Quixote, with your lone horseman’s ways. Maybe that amuses you, but it serves no useful purpose.
“And then listen, this whole affair no longer has any importance. No more than your death or mine would have this week. You’ve come at a good time, for I’m completely exhausted. Go wake up Grichka in the guardroom, take my motorcycle, and have yourself driven over to Smolny. Six hundred men have arrived from Schluselburg. They have to be housed, fed, armed, and whipped into a fighting force. Work fast.”

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Sunday, 15 March 2015

Agitation the greatest factor for progress - Mother Jones

Happy mothers day! its important to listen to our mothers, and the working classes mother is of course Mary Harris AKA Mother Jones.

Agitation the greatest factor for progress - Mother Jones
An extract from a speech by Mother Jones about the importance of agitation and the uselessness of voting, in combating the abuses of capitalist industry.
One of the most extraordinary organizers of the labor movement in the early twentieth century was Mary Harris, who took the name "Mother Jones." Born in Ireland, she became an organizer for the United Mine Workers, and, in her eighties, organized miners in West Virginia and Colorado. In 1905, she helped form the IWW. Upton Sinclair was so inspired by her that he used her as a model for one of his characters in his novel The Coal War, which chronicled the Ludlow strike and massacre. "All over the country she had roamed, and wherever she went, the flame of protest had leaped up in the hearts of men; her story was a veritable Odyssey of revolt." Here is a selection from an address Mother Jones gave to a mass audience in Toledo's Memorial Hall in 1903, as reported by the Toledo Bee. —Introduction from Zinn and Arnove's Voices of a People's History of the United States
"Mother" Jones, known throughout the country and in fact throughout the world as "The Miners' Angel," addressed a motley gathering of about 1,200 persons in Memorial hall last night. The lower hall was packed. The gallery was full to overflowing and some even crowded the steps leading to the building.
It was truly a motley gathering. The society woman, attracted by mere curiosity to see and hear the woman who has won such fame as the guardian spirit of the miners; the factory girl, the wealthy man and his less fortunate brothers, the black man and the white man, old and young, sat side by side and each came in for a share of criticism.
"Mother" Jones is an eloquent speaker. There is just enough of the down-east accent to her words to make it attractive and she has the faculty of framing pathetic and beautiful word pictures. Despite her sixty years and hex gray hairs, she is hale and hearty; has a voice that reaches to the furthermost corner of almost any hall but it is nevertheless anything but harsh....
"Fellow workers," she began," 'tis well for us to be here. Over a hundred years ago men gathered to discuss the vital questions and later fought together for a principle that won for us our civil liberty. Forty years ago men gathered to discuss a growing evil under the old flag and later fought side by side until chattel slavery was abolished. But, by the wiping out of this black stain upon our country another great crime—wage slavery—was fastened upon our people. I stand on this platform ashamed of the conditions existing in this country. I refused to go to England and lecture only a few days ago because I was ashamed, first of all, to make the conditions existing here known to the world and second, because my services were needed here. I have just come from a God-cursed country, known as West Virginia; from a state which has produced some of our best and brightest statesmen; a state where conditions are too awful for your imagination.
"I shall tell you some things tonight that are awful to contemplate; but, perhaps, it is best that you to know of them. They may arouse you from your lethargy if there is any manhood, womanhood or love of country left in you. I have just come from a state which has an injunction on every other foot of ground. Some months ago the president of the United Mine Workers [John Mitchell] asked me to take a look into the condition of the men in the mines of West Virginia. I went. I would get a gathering of miners in the darkness of the night up on the mountain side. Here I would listen to their tale of woe; here I would try to encourage them. I did not dare to sleep in one of those miner's houses. If I did the poor man would be called to the office in the morning and would be discharged for sheltering old Mother Jones.
"I did my best to drive into the downtrodden men a little spirit, but it was a task. They had been driven so long that they were afraid. I used to sit through the night by a stream of water. I could not go to the miners' hovels so in the morning I would call the ferryman and he would take me across the river to a hotel not owned by the mine operators.
"The men in the anthracite district finally asked for more wages. They were refused. A strike was called. I stayed in West Virginia,' held meetings and one day as I stood talking to some break-boys two injunctions were served upon me. I asked the deputy if he had more. We were arrested but we were freed in the morning. I objected to the food in the jail and to my arrest. When I was called up before the judge I called him a czar and he let me go. The other fellows were afraid and they went to jail. I violated injunction after injunction but I wasn't re-arrested. Why? The courts themselves force you to have no respect for that court.
"A few days later that awful wholesale murdering in the quiet little mining camp of Stamford took place. I know those people were law-abiding citizens. I had been there. And their shooting by United States deputy marshals was an atrocious and cold-blooded murder. After the crimes had been committed the marshals— the murderers—were banqueted by the operators in the swellest hotel in Pennsylvania. You. have no idea of the awfulness of that wholesale murder. Before daylight broke in the morning in that quiet little mining camp deputies and special officers went into the homes, shot the men down in their beds, and all because the miners wanted to try to induce 'black-legs' [strike-breakers] to leave the mines.
"I'll tell you how the trouble started. The deputies were bringing these strikebreakers to the mines. The men wanted to talk with them and at last stepped on ground loaded down with an injunction. There were thirty-six or seven in the party of miners. They resisted arrest. They went home finally without being arrested. One of the officials of the miners' unions telegraphed to the men. 'Don't resist. Go to jail. We will bail you out.' A United States marshal. .. sent back word that the operators would not let them use the telephone to send the message to the little mining camp and that he could not get there before hours had passed. The miners' officials secured the names of the men and gave their representatives authority to bail them out of jail the next morning. But when the next morning arrived they were murdered in cold blood.
"These federal judges, who continue granting injunctions, are appointed by men who have their political standing through the votes of you labor union fellows! You get down on your knees like a lot of Yahoos when you want something. At the same time you haven't sense enough to take peaceably what belongs to you through the ballot. You are chasing a will-o-the-wisp, you measly things, and the bullets which should be sent into your own measly, miserable, dirty carcasses, shoot down innocent men. Women are not responsible because they have no vote. You'd all better put on petticoats. If you like those bullets vote to put them into your own bodies. Don't you think it's about time you began to shoot ballots instead of voting for capitalistic bullets.
"I hate your political parties, you Republicans and Democrats. I want you to deny if you can what I am going to say. You want an office and must necessarily get into the ring. You must do what that ring says and if you don't you won't be elected. There you are. Each time you do that you are voting for a capitalistic bullet and you get it. I want you to know that this man [Samuel Milton] Jones who is running for mayor of your beautiful city is no relative of mine; no, sir. He belongs to that school of reformers who say capital and labor must join hands. He may be all right. He prays a good deal. But, I wonder if you would shake hands with me if I robbed you. He builds parks to make his workmen contented. But a contented workman is no good. All progress stops in the contented man. I'm for agitation. It's the greater factor for progress[.]"
Here the speaker changed her attention to the society woman. "I see a lot of society women in this audience, attracted here out of a mere curiosity to see that old Mother Jones.' I know you better than you do yourselves. I can walk down the aisle and pick every one of you out. You probably think I am crazy but I know you. And you society dudes—poor creatures. You wear high collars to support your jaw and keep your befuddled brains from oozing out of your mouths. While this commercial cannibalism is reaching into the cradle; pulling girls into the factory to be ruined; pulling children into the factory to be destroyed; you, who are doing all in the name of Christianity, you are at home nursing your poodle dogs. It's high time you got out and worked for humanity. Christianity will take care of itself. I started in a factory. I have traveled through miles and miles of factories and there is not an inch of ground under that flag that is not stained with the blood of children."
Taken from History is a Weapon

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Secrets and Lies in Pyongyang
The Honourable Chairman of the Youtube section of the Ministry of Agitprop

Yep its time for another Korea post, this time we have a newsflash from youtube's -self proclaimed- number one Marxist. Concerning an organisation known to many NK watchers the Korean Friendship Association (KFA). If you're not that familiar with the organisation they're global organisation of supporters of North Korea their three aims are 1: `Show the reality of the DPR Korea to the world` 2: `Defend the independence and socialist construction in the DPR of Korea` 3: `Learn from the culture and history of the Korean People - Work for the peaceful unification of the Korean peninsula` how a small and dispersed (they claim members in over 120 nations with offices in several like Norway and Thailand) band of well wishers could offer Pyongyang any practical assistance in any of these aims isn't really clear. Anyway they do have official offices and relations with the North Korean government and are usually the people you have to talk to if you want access to North Korean officials and permits.

Most documentaries about North Korea will have had to go through someone in the KFA, and most investors in North Korea use the organisation as their first point of contact.

It was founded in the year 2000 by a Spanish IT consultant called Alejandro Cao de Benós de Les y Pérez AKA Alejandro. Apparently not all is well in the KFA and a brave young(ish) whistleblower has stepped forward to disclose the truth.
They gave him some medals a book and some snazzy new threads

Well sort of, actually you'll notice that the Maoist Rebel (MR) at no point offers any evidence to substantiate any of his allegations. Which is strange given that at least some of the allegations should be easy to support. Like the comments that many North Korean officials are critical of Alejandro, if that's true their comments must have been made public and in English, since the MR does not have a privileged relationship with the North Korean government and can't speak Korean so these comments should exist and be easy to point to, but nothing.

And I'd be interested to know where MR is getting his figures for the alleged scams, how does he know Alejandro pockets €35,000's? That seems an oddly specific figure and yet no evidence is shown, no images or links to any further information.

I tried looking myself for information assuming MR was just being lazy but all I found were abusive articles about Alejandro being what's known as a useful idiot.

But there is something else, apparently MR's viewers also shared my problems with his `denunciation` prompting a second video on the subject. So now do we get some proof?

Well sorta I guess? MR reads from a clipboard citing two other people he's spoken too about Alejandro, that's better but it isn't really convincing. He doesn't show transcripts of these conversations nor link to where the people cited have been critical of Alejandro. It also doesn't help that one of them Mike Bassett doesn't say anything specific the allegations are all vague. The second case of the Norwegian businessmen isn't any good either because it doesn't tie with the earlier allegations. MR accused Alejandro of ripping off the North Koreans but the example given (or the way MR frames it) is a case of Alejandro not being able to deliver what he promised. That happens all the time in the business world "You pays your money, you takes your chances." Morally speaking not giving back the money is pretty poor form but unless he was contractually obligated to refund he doesn't have to.

Now I do think the end of this video was much better, many of the reasons MR gives for why evidence is quite possible. People do stay silent about the mistakes and poor behaviour and scamming of powerful colleagues for fear of reprisal in some form. But if you haven't found convincing evidence you can't denounce someone publicly, all you're doing is playing a he said, they said while she said game. Denunciations can be very damaging to political work and personal lives so you have a responsibility to make sure you are convinced of the allegations and have the proof to back it up, otherwise potentially you're causing great harm for an innocent.

If this Alejandro is doing or has done the things that some are saying he has, then he does need to be exposed, hell I'll even repost it here on the off chance it helps get the message across. But that doesn't mean you can just go off on a tangent about how awful you think someone is.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Chapter 15

THE LAST fine days of autumn passed, swept off by such a wave of events – all fatal, for they all either brought death, kept it at bay, waded it off, or insured it – that their very succession became a kind of calm. Thus, under a constant clatter of machinery, there arises a kind of silence in which man listens to his heart beating, smokes his pipe, and dreams perhaps of his wife in a waking sleep. The harvest had been brought in in the countryside. It was being hidden. Tillers who had fought under the red flags with their old scythes buried their wheat and sounded the tocsin at the approach of the Anti-Christ. Others, their sons, with red stars sewn into their old Imperial Army caps, arrived to search their barns. Workers, fearful of being stoned, harangued village elders. They were men caught between hunger, hatred, discipline, faith, war, fraternity, typhus, and ignorance. Around the edges of this bizarre continent, like feverish ant heaps, moved armies which melted into bands and bands which swelled until they became armies. In the land of blues and yellows – peaks and sand dunes- a noncom transformed into an ataman had railroad workers thrown into locomotive boilers alive. But, a son of the people, he gave the daughters of his old generals to his exasperated soldiers. From armoured trains the blind eyes of cannon peered out over steppes once overrun by Genghis Khan’s archers. Gentlemen with immaculate bodies daubed with cologne, wearing perfectly laundered underwear under the uniforms of the Great Powers, gentlemen who didn’t know what it meant to sleep in the open with lice at every hair and a good chance of getting killed the next day, watched the Russian earth pass by through the windows of Pullman cars. Their orders were dated Washington, London, Paris, Rome, Tokyo. They had Gillette razor blades, enough money to pay the old Chinaman of Irbit for the favours of his most heavily rouged courtesans, enough prestige, wealth, arrogance, gleaming shirt cuffs to humiliate and reduce to oriental obedience an entourage of penniless, ignorant, intriguing ministers watched over by camarillas of officers, and generals, admirals, supreme governors who still exercised their profession with a modicum of competence; they had ideas as polished and well-rounded as their fingernails: ideas about barbarism and civilisation, about the Jewish plague, about Slavic anarchy, German gold, Lenin’s treason, Trotsky-Bronstein’s madness, about the inevitable triumph of order, which means being able to go to one’s club or café and to take hot showers.
They brought along cases of canned goods: Amieux sardines, tuna, beef from La Plata, Prince’s herring: and when they decamped at the sound of rifle fire coming too close, in an auto jolting with the breath of panic, under the flag of the Geneva Cross, some yellow partisans, smelling of animal hide and soured goat’s milk, picked up these mysterious boxes lacking any sort of openings and turned them around and around in their shepherds’ fingers. Their wrinkled olive-coloured masks were fixed in terror and joy before the mirrors in the railway car, explaining to each other that it was really them, there, straight ahead – me, you, the one laughing there, that bearded fellow, that’s me!- delighted with self-discovery, for they were men of the desert and had never seen themselves.
And then one of them, face-to-face with his double, laughing at his double, became seized, without knowing it of course, by metaphysical vertigo. I don’t want my double to laugh when I laugh! I don’t want my double to exist! I want this mysterious spell to be over! He grabbed a stump of a rifle by the barrel and, raising his hand against himself, smashed the mirror with the butt, which was made of a gnarled root. For these were desert men who battled victoriously against the most terrible spells. That man was the equal of Prometheus. He dared to break the chain. He would have dared to steal fire; unless he was merely a brute whose muscles and whose anger harboured elemental forces. It matters little.
They found the sardines tasteless.
What does matter is that the station at Voskresenkoe (Resurrection) has been taken. Telegraph the Revolutionary War Council: a plasterer, a mechanic, a schoolteacher, bone tired and fast asleep in a round tent of motley skins. Telegraph the Kremlin that communication has been re-established. One more chance for safety (lighter, it is true, than a grain of sand from the plains) has been added to your side of the scale, Republic. One chance? Voskresenkoe has been taken in Turkestan; Rozhdestvenskoe (nativity) has been lost in Siberia. It matters little. Announce it to the press: “Progress in Turkestan. The valiant partisan army of Ali Mirza…”
“Ali Mizra? You know very well he went over to the enemy.”
“It matters little. Put: `The Revolutionary Council of the Army of the Red Partisans…`”
Deacon Epiphany sings expiatory masses at Rozhdestvenskoe (Nativity). A meeting at Voskresenkoe (Resurrection) decides that the station will henceforth bear the name Proletarskaya, which most of the inhabitants take for a woman’s name. where is Ali Mizra’s head at this moment? Let’s keep this unique photo for the Museum of the Revolution. Magnificent fanlike beard, glasses: you’d think he was a western businessman, circa 1890. But those machine-gun ribbons around his body, that tall turban of the sect, those Tommy’s puttees around spindly legs? Where did he come from? It seems that the turncoat’s head, tongue cut out, was stuck on the end of a pike in front of the tent of a Cossack ex-noncom (a fine waltzer) and left until there was nothing but a skull. The drunken ataman maintained that day that it was the skull of the Bolshevik, Lukin. A legend grew up that Ali Mizra was still alive. A pseudo Ali Mizra roamed the desert on horseback and slept in the ruins of Tamburlane’s forts.
It matters little.
Various bands, all of them liberators, roamed the roads through the high grasses of the plains in carts weighted down with machine guns and phonographs. Drunken cavalry raided little Jewish towns with old white houses leaning low to the ground; not low enough. And all the women, all the girls down to runny-nosed eight-year olds, had venereal diseases afterward. An American woman doctor went methodically through these horrified hamlets. She promised medicine and gathered statistics. The medicine never arrived, the statistcs were false. Other pitiless cavalries pursued the first. Four hundred bands (but why four hundred? It matters little), thirty armies which were no more than stronger, more organised bands, two great armies, the Siberian and the Southern, commanded by real headquarters staffs provided with real artillery, accompanied by authentic journalists and profiteers, all fell upon the Republic at bay, blowing the mort with every horn, sounding the charge with every bugle. Two lesser armies in ambush were getting ready to leap at our throats. Tanks were arriving from Cherbourg, rifles from London, grenades from Barmen, money from the whole universe. It was the end, the end, the end.
… This city at the very limit of this encircled land, this city, prey to famine, at the very limit of the end, lives on with the carelessness of the living! The days are in some respects alike for all the living; days most heavily loaded with glory or death (that will be seen later on, or not, for these are still ideas of the living) are the same as others; and as long as there is sour cabbage soup, as long as the sky is mild, as a streetcar comes by anyway (Hey, they’re running today!), as long as you’re in a good mood, it’s life as usual. “Quite fortunately,” philosophised my friend Kukin, “man has no antennae to feel his neighbour’s pain.” This peaceful harmonica player was in his own way a useful citizen. He was the first in his neighbourhood, in the centre of town, to have the idea of raising rabbits and chickens in a room; he sold, cheaply, bunnies and chicks born in a great parqueted salon with cupids hanging from the cornices. – Quite fortunately, the wild shrieks of sacked cities were not heard anymore than the insignificant little noise of skulls being cracked, production line style, with rifle butts or mallets, to save ammunition, after the enemy’s victories or ours. “If the human species,” Kukin went on, “could achieve a collective sensibility for five minutes, it would either be cured or drop dead on the spot.” I could never figure out if Kukin was a moron, a crackpot, or something much better. HARMONICA LESSONS FROM 2:00 TO 6:00 P,M,; REDUCED PRICES FOR SOLDIERS AND WORKERS. This notice helped him live. “I’ve always been a Socialist,” he declared, “for socialism promises a great future for music. And the harmonica…” it was he who told me the news of the events of the twelfth, which he knew twenty-four hours before the Party cadres and three days before the newspapers admitted it.
Conspiracies were hatched, unravelled – spiderwebs knocked down with axe blows- and irresistibly re-formed. The committees sat. in the name of public safety, Committees who wanted to end the dictatorship of the Committees, in coalition with others who wanted to set up their own, blew up an important committee in the middle of a session. Our old weapons – fulminate, bomb throwers’ valour, tyrannicidal faith- were absurdly turned against us. Committees having fraternal relations with the fratricidal Committees repudiated them. This tragedy occurred under red banners. Intestinal typhus was worse. What were people eating? “Tell me” – Kukin shook his head- “how does the Fourth Category live with their twenty-five grams of black bread a day? If it weren’t anti-Socialistic, I would establish a philanthropic rabbit hutch to feed the last surviving capitalists…”
Sixty-seven spies, counterrevolutionaries, foreign agents, ex-financiers, ex-high officers, monarchistic professors, vice-den operators, and unlucky adventurers were executed following the anarchist bomb attack. It filled two whole columns of 8-point type in the barely legible newspapers plastered on the walls. The southern front was going badly. Sixty-seven? The price in blood of a skirmish. Who among those sixty-seven would have spared us? We knew all too well what was happening on the other side of the front while Te Deums were being sung in churches and educated people were voting motions on the return to democracy. We could all see our own names, in anticipation, on similar lists. Did the statesmen of the great nations ever think of the number of this people’s children condemned to be carried to the cemetery when they ordered the blockade? The mildest of these ministers (all good family men) had more innocent blood on his neat, downy hands than old Herod, whose villainy had been highly exaggerated and who missed Jesus besides.
“With that kind of logic you could execute anyone. Nobody counts anymore. Even the numbers don’t count anymore.”
“You’re catching on. It’s about time. That’s just the kind of logic we need. Today is the twelfth. The question is whether or not the city will hold until the twenty-fifth. If not, every kind of logic will be bad, for they’ll be killing us. If it did does hold, any logic is good.  Right now, in order to prevail, we must survive, my friend.”
“Well, we don’t have much chance of that.”
“Do you think so? Then sixty-seven isn’t enough. Let’s avenge ourselves in advance: that may increase our chances. And then: what else would you propose?”
The last dabs of sunlight on the great dome of St. Isaac’s vanished and the summer ended. The beautiful broad river- along whose granite banks the rotting hulks were fast being stripped bare- carried the bacilli of cholera, dysentery, and typhus down to the sea. This river was deserted. The absence of boats created great voids between the bridges. The golden spires rising above the Fortress, the Admiralty, the Old Castle, like old-fashioned court swords, turned pale in a whitening sky. In the Summer Garden the statues grieved over dead leaves; the grille at the gate imprisoned exiled goddesses. The straight streets were a little emptier than last spring, with their pavements collapsing here and there, their flaking facades more leprous, an even greater number of broken panes and shop windows abandoned as if in the wake of unspeakable bankruptcies followed by auction sales and abscondings… All of that had no importance. Sokolova was dancing at the Little Theatre in The Green Butterfly. They paid her in flour. The great tenor Svechin was about to make a new appearance at the Opera in The Barber of Seville. Tamara Stolberg was playing Vincent d’Indy in the great hall of the Conservatory. You could get up to twenty pounds of potatoes in the market for a worn-out suit of evening clothes; but they wouldn’t give you more than five lumps of sugar for a brand-new silk hat. “There’s only the circus still buying them,” explained the old-clothes dealer. And the circus was about to close: some of the stable boys were contemplating devouring its emaciated lions, who were fed on bread crumbs. Leather sofas attained fantastic prices, for obscure master cobblers had discovered ingenious ways of making boots, high-button shoes, and even little high-heeled slippers for elegant ladies out of them…
The Superior Council for Regional Economy was working on reorganising the management of industry: hence conflicts with the Commissars of Transportation, Supplies, and Agriculture; friction with the Central Council, intervention by the Regional Committee of the Trade Unions, underhanded opposition from the Executive of the city, displeasure in the Central Committee of the Party, deliberations in the Council of People’s Commissars, a proposal to convoke a special conference of economic institutions, exasperated complaints from the High Commission for Army Supply, which…
Fleischman made a special trip back from the front to draft, in haste, with the Kondrati faction, new theses on the vertical organisation of industrial sectors (cf. the Resolution of the Seventh Congress of Soviets, Title IV of the Resolution of the Eighth Party Congress, Circular No. 4827 of the Central Committee;- don’t forget to quote Engels’s letter to Sorge of march 1894) when the event of the twelfth took place.
Rain began to fall on four thousand men. They came out of their crumbling trenches and crossed over waterlogged fields to seek shelter in immensely dismal villages. These starving Ivans, Matveis, and Timochkas saw nothing but absurd horizons all around them. Winter was coming, snow in the trenches, frozen hands and feet, hungry stomachs, and the poor neglected earth! Virgin Mother of God, Saviour Christ, Revolution, leaders of the world Proletariat! When will all this end? Or is there no one who cares about us, who understands us, no one to cry to that we have had enough? Some escaped into the woods. That’s where the Greens were. How to invent a new colour, no longer be White or Red or Green, no longer fight against anyone! We have taken the land, declared peace, shown we have had enough, but it’s never, ever over. Some escaped to the other side of the front, because there was more to eat, it seemed. Enough of Jewish commissars with nothing but exhortations to resist on their lips! Let them get killed all by themselves defending their Kremlin! The people of the soil have had enough, do you understand? (But they would return, for on the other side of the front it was worse…)
The White Army, wearing British uniforms, attacked on the twelfth. The 6th Division melted before it. A few men were killed fighting desperately in the wet hay, under the rigid gestures of already bare branches. They searched among their corpses for the dirty Jew in order to spit into his filthy hirsute face. Thus died the author of a Goethe’s Philosophy. This time it was really the end; the city would be taken inside of a week.
It was raining dully. The Professor and Valerian found the situation satisfactory. Kaas was informing. “But” said the Professor, “the clever bastard is only informing on his own people. He hasn’t fingered any of ours. He’s holding on to his trump card, for our chances are improving. Seems he is even recognising that old fool, Lytaev, in my place!...”
“Rather imprudent of him,” observed Valerian.
“Kaas is never imprudent. He has the excuse of having barely met me; and I can hear from here, acting scrupulously: `I think I recognise him, but I wouldn’t be able to testify that…` Nothing is more convincing.”
In the comfort of his large, untidy study, under Repin’s portrait of Tolstoy, they were preparing proscription lists. “Kaas’s is the most complete.” The Professor resembled a rain-washed Polynesian idol made of varicoloured painted wood. His heavy square chin fell over an academic necktie- although he was not a professor, naturally. The yellow corneas of his eyes glowed, streaked by tiny red veins. High, bare skull tinted green under the lampshade, bony nose like a triangle stuck in the middle of a petrified face. Several of the sixty-seven touched him rather closely: that’s why his absent stare resembled the passive glaze found in glass eyes.
The city couldn’t know anything; but an indefinable anxiety wandered through it, pouring out of the rain, carried in by deserters, hawked in the lines by women who had read a manifesto from the Whites. “The hour of punishment approaches….” It was on one of those days that Zvereva made a surprising discovery. The suspect Danil Petrovich Gof was in reality named Nicholas (Kolia) Orestovich Azin and he had been arrested under that name a year before. The object of a clearly unfavourable investigation, he had been released at the time on an order signed by Arkadi, through inexplicable negligence. The suspect’s sister, closely watched, saw no one outside of a few aged relatives of no interest for File No.42; but she did get visits from a military man of extremely Georgian appearance. She went on an excursion with him to Detskoe Selo Park. She was dressed all in white under a big straw bonnet with a pink ribbon; he was rowing. The informer had rented a rowboat and succeeded in passing by this couple several times. He thought he had recognised an influential personage from the Special Commission itself… At this point Zvereva felt overwhelmed by an even greater happiness than that of the love-struck girl in her lover’s boat. The precious Kaas revealed that he had long known about an affair between a member of the Commission and a young woman of the upper middle class and had thought of taking advantage of it one day.
The river rolled toward the sea in dull, glaucous green masses. Driving rain poured down on the city out of a dirty white sky. Water streamed through barren fields, coastal moors, forests of pines, and bare birches. Across mud-soaked fields and rough, shapeless roads streams of grey men stampeded toward the city pursued by columns drunk with unhoped-for victory. The new President of the Special Commission got the latest dispatches from the front at three o’clock. The situation was getting desperate. There was a knock at the door. It must be Arkadi. It was.
“What’s the news?” he asked, seeing the blue ribbons of telegrams on the table.
“Bad,” said Osipov without raising his head.
Arkadi shrugged his shoulders. Fresh troops or the city is lost. But why was Osipov hiding his face? Arkadi waited. He was never afraid. Yet when at last he saw Osipov raise his pale forehead – that blank, weary face, incredibly sad- he felt a vague premonition of some terrible trouble.
“What have you done, old brother?” Osipov said heavily at last. The words wrenched out of him like blocks of clayey earth breaking loose from the sides of trenches ruined by rain.
Osipov rose, anguished.
“What? What? Do you know Olga Orestovna Azin?”
“Did you have her brother released in February?”
They got to the bottom of things immediately, and that bottom was deep as an abyss.
“Well,” said Osipov, “I have to arrest you.”
“You don’t have any doubts about me, I hope.”
“I don’t have any doubts about you, but what can I do?”
Osipov added, nearly whispering, as if to excuse himself:
“The warrant was countersigned by Terentiev.”
Him or another…
A dull, painful silence made the room grow larger. The ticktock of the clock on the mantel – Cupid and Psyche- wore out seconds void of all content. Arkadi looked through the window at the fine rain streaking an unforgettable yellow façade with thread-lines, broken, yet infinite. And, speaking aloud, as if in a dream, he said something stupid:
“Dirty weather. We ought to have that façade repainted blue.”
“What have you done, my poor old friend, what have you done!”
muttered Osipov, perhaps out loud, perhaps to himself. They shook hands.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Most Illogical: A Response to Matthew Continetti
"I believe that the Captain feels that Star Fleet's mission has always been one of peace" Mr Spock

So as I'm sure everyone with an internet connection is aware Leonard Nimoy passed away recently. Naturally as a Star Trek fan I was saddened by the news and there were plenty of people sharing my grief.

Not everyone felt the same way of course and that's fan the man couldn't possibly have made the same impact on everyone's lives. One contrary response though seems to have struck quite a raw nerve with some was the blog post of Matthew Continetti the editor of the Washington Free Beacon. I've never heard of either before but the post was widely linked to amongst Trekkies, usually to universal derision.

And I can see why, Mr Continetti claims to be a fan of Star Trek and he can cite many episodes and films from Star Trek but like the guy who claimed Star Trek was Communist I don't believe Mr Continetti paid much attention.

 Its not just that we interpret the character of Spock differently, he makes claims that are false and deliberately twists others to make a point.

Take this early paragraph as an example:

Not only do Spock’s peacenik inclinations routinely land the Enterprise and the Federation[1] into trouble, his “logic” and “level head” mask an arrogant emotional basket case. Unlike the superhuman android Data[2], a loyal officer whose deepest longing is to be human, Spock spends most of his life as a freelancing diplomat[3] eager to negotiate with the worst enemies of Starfleet. He’s the opposite of a role model: a cautionary tale.
 1: Spock's "Peacenik" inclinations are reflective of Federation society, Kirk and McCoy and every other member of the Federation who isn't shown to be crazy or under alien control behaves in much the same way. Spock's peaceful overtures are often dictated by the rules of the Federation. If Continetti claimed to not like Star Trek at all this would be fine but he praises many other characters who behave the same.
2: Case in point Data, unless Mr Continnetti got confused with Data's evil brother Lore it is simply a gross inconsistency to criticise Spock but praise Data.
3: This is simply false Spock spent most of his life in Star Fleet before becoming a diplomat for the Federation, he broke off official ties with the Federation late in life (more on this from both of us later).

He also seems to have written his piece purely as platform to bash Obama which seems a rather odd thing to do. From the opening

“I loved Spock,” said President Obama, reacting to the death of actor Leonard Nimoy. Why? Because Spock reminds him of himself. The galaxy’s most famous Vulcan, the president wrote, was “Cool, logical, big-eared, and level headed, the center of Star Trek’s optimistic, inclusive vision of humanity’s future.” Just like you know whom.
It continues on like this till the end.

Spock cares only for himself. He returns to the Enterprise in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) only because he believes the superior intelligence of V’ger might help him finally purge all human elements from his soul. True, he sacrifices himself for the good of the ship in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982)[1], but Spock’s renunciation of self is not as total as we are led to believe. He knows he has a fallback position[2]. He knocks out McCoy and—without the doctor’s consent—transfers part of his consciousness to his old friend.
 1: He cares only about himself, except for the time he didn't.
2: Actually no he doesn't, this `fallback` relies on something he couldn't possibly have known about at the time. What Spock was actually trying to do was fulfil a Vulcan burial ritual.

It also conveniently leaves out important plot details and context in order make the case against Spock more damming. Though curiously many of the things brought up don't actually involve Spock at all and are about the actions of other characters in relation to Spock.

The crew then spends the following two movies breaking countless regulations to bring Spock back to life. They steal the Enterprise, illegally pilot it out of Space Dock, trespass on the Genesis planet, blow up the Enterprise, hijack a bird-of-prey and kill its entire crew[1], take the stolen Klingon vessel to Vulcan, and return to Earth despite a travel ban imposed by the president of the Federation at the beginning of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986). Illustrating the absurdly liberal future envisioned by Gene Rodenberry, where there is no money or human want or, apparently, rule of law, despite all of these crimes Kirk and Spock and company are rewarded with a brand new ship at the end of the fourth film[2].

1: Said Klingons were planning on harnessing a device that could destroy all life on planets, they also attacked the Enterprise, destroyed a scientific vessel and murdered Kirk's son, and they attacked the Enterprise first. Also isn't hypocritical to criticise something for being peace loving, and then two paragraphs later condemn them for fighting back? 
2: Again misleading, the charges against the crew were dropped because they had saved earth from destruction.

Spock is the reason Sybok captures this just-off-the-assembly-line Enterprise in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) and comes very close to delivering it to an insane, frightening god entity that sounds like Orson Welles[1]. Most damning to his reputation, however, has got to be the mess Spock creates in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)[2]. Unbeknownst to his best friend, Spock has taken up secret negotiations with the Federation’s mortal enemy, the Klingon Empire[3], to dismantle the neutral zone and end the military dimension of Starfleet. Then Spock decides the best person to accompany the Klingon high chancellor to a galactic peace conference is Kirk, whom the Klingon’s despise (in the words of the great John Schuck: “There shall be no peace as long as Kirk lives!”) and who hates them in return. What a brilliant idea[4].
 1: Not quite Sybok already gotten aboard with his followers, Spock refused to shoot an unarmed man (whose his half-brother). Spock also redeems himself by vanquishing the evil God entity.
2: Funny considering that in Star Trek this is said to be his greatest achievement.
3: Indeed, he did so as special envoy to the Federation Council, given the sensitive nature of the talks it was kept secret as are all high level negotiations. And why would he or why should he tell Kirk about his work when there was no reason too?
4: Er, yeah it actually was a brilliant idea, since it worked. This sort of thing happens all the time in the real world too, they even directly referenced Nixon's overtures to Mao Ze Dong, "Only Nixon could go to China" as an example.

To quote Tuvok "Spock's suggestion, so controversial at first, proved to be the cornerstone of peace."

Furthermore, Spock volunteers Kirk for the job without the captain’s permission[1]. His decision thoughtlessly plays into the hands of the interstellar conspiracy to foment war between the Federation and the Klingons[2], because the plot’s leaders see Kirk as the perfect fall guy for the assassination of Chancellor Gorkon[3].

1: Kirk is in Star Fleet, AKA the space Navy, being volunteered for things without giving your conent first is how the military works. 
2: ???? How could he think about something he didn't know about. You might as well say JFK thoughtlessly played into Lee Harvey Oswald's hands when he picked Dallas to go on tour.
3: So? The plot was going to go ahead anyway, the plotters didn't make it look like Kirk personally murdered the Chancellor they made it look like the Enterprise fired on the Klingon ship, and had two plotters beam aboard and kill him. They clearly had the capability to do both no matter which ship was assigned to the job.

Spock’s ethnocentrism, combined with “illogical” romantic attraction, leads him to promote one of the conspirators, Lieutenant Valeris, to a bridge position wherefrom she manipulates the investigation into Gorkon’s death, conceals evidence, and murders two co-conspirators. Some judge of character, that Spock.[1]

1: ??? The whole point of a conspiracy is that its hidden, and so you can't have one if the conspirators themselves can't hide there agenda. You can't have a conspiracy plot if the characters aren't fooled at least in the beginning. Notice how Continetti doesn't cite an example of behaviour of Valeris that should have tipped Spock off to this plot he knows nothing about. How would you possibly pick up on a co-workers plot to murder someone anyway? This is just gratuitous.

Then, when Kirk surrenders himself to General Chang, Spock plants a ridiculously conspicuous Viridian Patch on Kirk’s shoulder so he can trace the captain’s whereabouts. But he has no need to track Kirk because the captain’s trial is broadcast across the quadrant and the Klingon judge says specifically where Kirk and McCoy will be imprisoned[1].

1: And Spock would know of this ahead of time how? Seems like a complaint about a precaution that wasn't necessary.

A routine planetary scan of Rura Penthe would have alerted the Enterprise the moment Kirk emerged from the energy shield[1]. Was Spock hoping the Klingons would see the patch and murder him and McCoy for attempting to escape? We’ll never know[2].
 1: Would it? Entire episodes have revolved around atmospheric interference preventing accurate scanning.
2: ??? Okay I hope this was a joke, I don't think it is because the tone is so similar to every other point made. Why would Spock want Kirk dead? This accusation isn't even consistent with the naive peacenik Spock is constantly depicted as. And how would planting a tracker on Kirk's back lead to Klingons murdering him anyway? Wouldn't they just remove the tracker?

If you haven't seen Star Trek Six: The Undiscovered Country, then here's how it ends, the plotters are all exposed and defeated. This means the peace treaty is signed by the Klingons and the Federation, the treaty lasts for many years and we see in the Next Generation that the Klingons have moved from implacable foes of the Federation to an occasional ally. Relations between the two powers have grown so much that they have officer exchange programs. Relations were so close that a third power the Romulans felt they had to break the two apart and on several occasions tried to engineer a coup, once leading to a civil war within the Klingon Empire.

Kirk eventually figures out the murder mystery and once again saves civilization[1]. But Spock’s colossal blunder[2] does not stop him from disappearing from the Federation decades later and turning up on Romulus[3], where he begins unauthorized negotiations with yet another illiberal adversary of the Federation[4]. This time he has befriended Romulan Senator Pardek, with whom he hopes to arrange for the unification of the Vulcan and Romulan peoples.
But of course Pardek is playing Spock for a fool[5]. Reunification is a guise for an audacious Romulan invasion of Vulcan that draws inspiration from the Soviet taking of Iceland in Red Storm Rising (1986)[6]. It is only because the Enterprise-D has been sent to the neutral zone, and Captain Picard and Lieutenant Commander Data have been dispatched to Romulus to locate and secure Spock, that the plot against the Federation is revealed before it’s too late[7].
 1: He saves civilisation by getting both sides to agree to the peace treaty.
2: A blunder so massive it leads to a lasting peace between two embittered enemies.
3: Apart from the presence of Spock and a power hostile to the Federation the two aren't really equivalent.
4: Actually he doesn't, he goes to Romulus to teach dissidents about the Vulcan way of life, he hopes these teachings will help bridge the divide between the Romulans and the Vulcans and lead to a more peaceful galaxy. He doesn't directly negotiate with the Romulan government, Senator Pardek is posing as a reformer and works with Spock. Its Pardek whom pushes Spock to talk to other Romulan officials.
5: It's almost as if spies are sneaky and two faced. Also Spock sees through Pardek eventually just not in time to prevent his capture.
6: I'm afraid I couldn't verify this, I'd be interested to know if there is information that this book was an inspiration. Claiming peaceful intent to cover an invasion is hardly unique though.
7: Indeed how dare Spock a man who lives in a cave conversing with Romulan students not know that the Tal Shiar a secretive organisation of spies and assassins were using him to further a plot he had no contact with until the final act of the episode?

To further underscore the pettiness of the complaint that Spock can't see through a Romulan plot I bring up an earlier Next Generation episode that's very similar. Series 3's The Defector, which is about a defector, this defector turns out to be a senior Romulan Admiral. The Admiral defects to the Federation because he learns of a plan to launch an invasion of the Federation, the Admiral believes the conflict would devastate Romulas, hence his defection to prevent the war from starting. However it turns out to have been a sort of loyalty test, the invasion plans were fake and the Admiral was supposed to come across them. So if a Romulan Admiral with many years of experience with Romlan intelligence and deceit couldn't see through a scheme cooked up by his fellow officers is it really surprising that Spock was also fooled when he mostly interacted with Romulan youths?

I also find it noteworthy that Commander Sela and Proconsul Neral believe there is a chance that Spock will actively cooperate with their plan[1]—evidence that the ambassador’s loyalties aren’t clear even to the Romulans[2]. What’s more, despite inadvertently starting yet another war,[3] Spock insists he remain on the home world of the most aggressive and conniving galactic power.[4] In a massive (but unusual) lapse in judgment[sic], Picard agrees.
1: I've re watched both part one and two of reunification, I believe the scene mentioned takes place at 33:55 of part two. I have to say that scene reads more like they think Spock may cooperate due to his captivity aka Coercion, rather then divided loyalties. They also threaten to kill him after he says no the first time. He continues to refuse afterwards.
2: The fact they've already prepared an elaborate back up suggests they actually were sure that he'd refuse.
3: This simply isn't true, there is no war as a result of the events of Unification.
4: We seem to have yet another contradiction, if the Romulan Empire is such a threat then surely Spock remaining behind to promote a subversive movement whose goal is peaceful coexistence and reconciliation is a good thing. Either the movement will spread and triumph bringing about peace and stability, or it won't in which case the Romulan military and intelligence service still have to devote considerable energy and resources to combating it, both outcomes would result in a diminished threat. During the Cold War both the USSR and USA invested considerable resources in supporting dissident movements in the opposing sides nations for that same reason.

I feel its worth recapping the episode in some detail as Mr Continetti yet again leaves out some very important details. Yes Spock does disappear from the Federation and turns up on Romulas, yes he is working closely with a Romulan Senator called Pardek, and yes Pardek is revealed to have been part of a plot to use the reunification movement to aide the conquest and annexation of Vulcan. But one very important thing to keep in mind is that the reunification movement itself is real, it exists and has supporters across Romulas. Another key thing to remember is that Spock doesn't naively go along with Pardek's schemes. On the contrary he's incredibly cautious, the reason he continues to go along with Pardek is in his own words an attempt to discover the Romulan governments ulterior motives."If the Romulans do have an ulterior motive it is in the best interests of all concerned that we determine what it is, so I will play the role that they would have me play." The charge that Spock starts a war is simply facetious, after the plot has been exposed a Romulan Warbird destroys the invasion force (over 2,000 lives) and then withdraws. That isn't a war, its a cover up. Furthermore his decision to remain behind is proven to be correct, either Mr Continetti is being dishonest or he stopped watching the show afterwards. The dissident movement continues to grow in the later episode Face of the Enemy we find that it has succeeded in infiltrating the military and the government.  

What follows is a couple of paragraphs about the new Star Trek movies with Spock played by Zach Quinto, I'm ignoring these since the argument boils down to Spock being unable to see into the future, though his criticism does include stating that Zoe Saldana is out of Quinto's league, and that Spock relieves himself of command in a crisis because he's emotionally distraught, which seems to me like a pretty good thing to do, but there you go.

Mr Continetti moves from galactic intrigues to discuss Spock's family life, but again his argument is mired with the same poor techniques.

Spock is rude to his father.[1] “I never knew what Spock was doing,” Sarek (Mark Lenard) tells Picard in “Unification 1.” “When he was a boy, he would disappear for days into the mountains. I would ask him where he had gone, what he had done; he’d refuse to tell me. I forbade him to go; he ignored me.” Spock and Sarek fight constantly throughout the Trek continuity, despite Sarek’s offering his son countless diplomatic opportunities that Spock invariably messes up[2]. Then Spock ignores his father for years as Sarek suffers from Bendai Syndrome and dies[3].

1: This is pretty accurate though again Mr Continetti paints a one sided picture, Sarek and Spock both share blame for their strained relationship. For example Sarek disapproved of Spock joining Star Fleet instead of the Vulcan Science Academy, and this lead to a rift between the two in their early years. Sarek was also a proponent of a purely logical philosophy and disapproved of Spocks (who contrary to common perceptions had grown beyond it) inclusion of other influences.
2: I'm not aware of Sarek offering Spock any diplomatic opportunities, or how Spock squandered them. Spock went into Star Fleet for most of his life and then when he did go into diplomacy its clear from remarks both characters make that they were often on opposing sides. In Unification its revealed that the cause of the rift between the two towards the end of Sareks life was caused due to disagreement of negotiations with the Cardassians.
3: Sarek didn't try to reconnect either from what I could gather.

Here's the thing about Spock and Sarek, its made abundantly clear that the relationship between the two was frayed and that the attitudes of both weren't exactly helpful. Spock event laments in unification that the only interactions they had were argumentative. Sarek is shown to be unyielding and demanding of his son, so unless Spock was willing to bend completely to his fathers will there doesn't seem to be anyway for the two to have healed their rift. In Journey to Babel Sarek's introduction involves publicly snubbing Spock showing he wasn't above rudeness and being petty.

And Obama likes this selfish jerk? The coolness the president so appreciates in Spock is a thin veneer over a remarkably arrogant and off-putting detachment from human suffering[1]. Dr. McCoy, played by the charming DeForest Kelley, bitingly exposed this truth about Spock’s nature again and again. Discussing the Genesis Project in Wrath of Khan, for example, Spock lectures McCoy, “Really, Dr. McCoy. You must learn to govern your passions. They will be your undoing. Logic suggests—”
But McCoy won’t hear it—and he’s right. “Logic? My God, the man’s talking about logic; we’re taking about universal Armageddon!”[2]
1: Remembering Spock once killed himself to save his mostly human crew. 
2: I confess, this doesn't make much sense to me, McCoy exclaiming that Spock is talking about logic when Spock said he was talking about logic doesn't seem very compelling. And how is it a bad thing to think logically about something as powerful as the Genesis project? How does this expose an arrogant and off putting detachment to human suffering? This discussion takes place after they learn of the device being used to terraform lifeless planets. The only human suffering at this point is at the hands of Khan and his minions, whom Spock works very hard to defeat. Again later in this very film Spock will sacrifice himself to save the crew of the Enterprise. Even if you accept Mr Continetti's assertion that Spock had a way out he still irradiated himself to save the crew. Surely if he were so callous he'd run to an escape pod?
Note the Facial lesions

All Spock can do is pretentiously raise his famous eyebrow.
Spock is ashamed of his humanity. He flees it. In Star Trek VI Kirk tells Spock, “Everyone’s human.” Spock says he finds that sentiment offensive[1].
 1: ??? Star Trek takes place in space, that space is populated by thousands of intelligent species, so yes assuming all those species are like humans is offensive, its the galactic equivalent of assuming everyone is like an American, or a Brit. Pointing out the inherent offensiveness of this statement does not automatically infer shame.

My favorite scene in “Unification 2”: Spock and Data are alone, collaborating on a technical project. Spock muses on the Vulcan aspects of Captain Picard, which Data finds curious because Picard has been a model for his emulation of humanity. Spock can’t understand why Data would want to be more human[1]. “You have an efficient intellect, superior physical skills, no emotional impediments,” he says. “There are Vulcans who aspire all their lives to achieve what you’ve been given by design[2].”
“You are half human?” Data asks.
“Yes,” Spock says.
“Yet you have chosen a Vulcan way of life?”
“I have,” Spock says.
“In effect,” says Data, “you have abandoned what I have sought all my life.”
The two look at each other in silence.
1: Curiosity does not equal incomprehension.
2: Spock is not one of those Vulcans, in another scene with Picard he explains he has moved beyond a purely logic based view.

It’s in this scene where Data’s superiority to Spock is most apparent. Data not only has the mental and physical edge over practically everyone[1], he is curious and earnest and humane, while Spock is moody, flip, detached, and self-consciously superior[2]. Data wants to fit in, while Spock displaces his anxieties over his bicultural heritage onto his family and work relationships. Data’s words and actions are the result of blind unerring computation[3], while Spock is a creature of inner conflict and envies his famous and high achieving father[4]. I’d pick Data over Spock for my first officer any day[5].
 1: Funnily enough this scene where Data supposedly proves his superiority is the result of Data needing Spocks assistance to crack Romulan computer codes.
2: Depending on the episode this could be a pretty accurate description of Spock but not in Unification. In Unification he apologises, concedes points and praises others, in this very scene he compliments Picard and shows fascination with Data.
3: Can you be both curious and earnest  and blindly adherent to computation?
4: Is he? Where's the evidence of that?
5: So would I, but I don't have to trash one to validate the other.

The piece ends on a conclusion much more interested on bashing Obama then Data so I won't bother with it. Except for one point, in the list of reasons why Obama (and presumably Spock) is a bad President Mr Continetti lists not directly intervening in Syria"like Spock, has derided the notion of helping to end the slaughter of the Syrian Civil War as illogical" which is a very curious line for Mr Continetti to take. Not just because I can't think of a single occasion where Spock derided intervening in a civil war, but also because when I was looking up Mr Continetti's other articles I noticed this one
which argues against Obama intervening in Syria. Going so far as to label it a trap. Now its clear from a brief glance at that text that Mr Continetti thinks "Obama's War" doesn't go far enough but concedes the use of military force, which would mean that the USA is intervening in the Syrian Civil War, just not to the degree that Mr Continetti would like. And makes the Spock connection even more spurious, unless Mr Continetti was referring to an episode were Spock endorses photon torpedoing a planet but resist sending security teams to the surface.

Either way It would seem that Mr Continetti's uses the same bag of tricks (disregard for context, twisting of meanings, outright fabrication, inconsistent criticism) in other areas.

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