Saturday, August 6, 2011

Forensic Fun with Footnotes: Calumny, Plagiarism, Murder

Reading a book by Patrick J. Buchanan may be presumed to be anything but fun. The man is a lying thug from head to toe and his books are slick, slanderous forgeries. But some merriment can be recuperated from the experience if only one takes the time and effort to trace Buchanan's fraudulent "scholarly apparatus."

Chapter Four of Buchanan's The Death of the West, "Four Who Made a Revolution," shares with the Oslo mass murder, Anders Breivik's presumed "manifesto" the feature of being plagiarized from an unreliable source (the same source) who distorted his sources... and so on.

Listed second among the five friends who "were kind enough to read the text and to urge cuts, alterations and additions" was Bill Lind. Five of 49 footnotes are to authors subsequently included in the Free Congress Foundation pamphlet, "Political Correctness: A Short History of An Ideology," also plagiarized by Breivik -- William Lind (2), Raymond V. Raehn (2) and Gerald L. Atkinson. However, there are two additional footnotes to "Michael Löwy" that are clearly not from Löwy but again from Raehn. The true source is evident when one traces the footnote and compares Buchanan's text with Löwy's and Raehn's. The infidelities in Raehn's quotations are carried through, unmolested, into Buchanan's text.

'Who will free us from the yoke of Western Civilization?' -- Georg Lukács, Marxist Theoretician.

'The question is, Who will free us from the yoke of Western Civilization?'

Lukács's attitude to the powers at war was at once that of a (Hungarian) anti-absolutist democrat and a (German) romantic anti-capitalist. The 1962 preface to The Theory of the Novel offers a retrospective account of his position. 'When I tried at this time to put my emotional attitude into conscious terms, I arrived at more or less the following formulations: the Central Powers would probably defeat Russia; this might lead to the downfall of Tsarism, I had no objection to that. There was also some probability that the West would defeat Germany; if this led to the downfall of the Hohenzollerns and the Habsburgs, I was once again in favour. But then the question arose: who was to save us from western civilization?'

In Löwy's account Lukács is reflecting, critically, on his inchoate, pre-Marxist attitude, not stating some premise of his formulation of Marxist doctrine.

The first dissenting disciple was the Hungarian Georg Lukács, an agent of the Comintern, whose History and Class Consciousness had brought him recognition as a Marxist theorist to rival Marx himself. 'I saw the revolutionary destruction of society as the one and only solution,' said Lukács. 'A worldwide overturning of values cannot take place without the annihilation of the old values and the creation of new ones by the revolutionaries.'

Georg Lukács was the son of a wealthy Hungarian banker who began his political life as a key Soviet agent of the Communist International. His book History and Class Consciousness gained him recognition as the leading Marxist theorist since Karl Marx. And like Karl Marx his primary emotion was hatred. 'I saw the revolutionary destruction of society as the one and only solution to the cultural contradictions of the epoch,' was one of his expressed attitudes. In defending Bolshevism, Lukács stated: 'Such a worldwide overturning of values cannot take place without the annihilation of the old values and the creation of new ones by the revolutionaries.'

Löwy (p. 93):
What attracted the young Lukács to [poet Endre] Ady's lyricism was the fact that, unlike the Nyugat and Huszadik Szazad 'modernists', he rejected not only the old feudal Hungary, but also western bourgeois 'progress': "At bottom, this entire phase of my development was inspired... by discontent and revolt against the Hungarian capitalism that had sprung to life in the 'gentry'. These same feelings lay behind my unconditional admiration for Ady; yet not for a moment did they give me the idea -- generally accepted by the Hungarian intellectual left -- that a way out had first to be prepared by the introduction of western capitalist civilization into Hungary. . . . 'Even though my ideas were confused from a theoretical point of view, I saw the revolutionary destruction of society as the one and only solution to the cultural contradictions of the epoch.'

As should be clear from the context, the first part of the Raehn/Buchanan citation refers to Lukács's romantic anti-capitalist affinity toward a Hungarian poet. An older Lukács was reflecting on ideas he held as a youth in 1909. The second part of the citation comes from a different, transitional, period in Lukács's intellectual development -- in November 1918 before Lukács embraced Bolshevism. In fact, the article from which the quotation is taken contained his last argument against Bolshevism (not defending Bolshevism as Raehn claimed) before his unexpected conversion. Regardless, in terms of fidelity to sources, it is worth pointing out that the last nine words in the sentence attributed by both Buchanan and Raehn to Lukács were not Lukács's but Löwy's interpretation of the sense of what Lukács was saying.

Löwy (130):
Lukács had no hesitation in rejecting the argument of numerous conservative intellectuals that Bolshevism spelt the destruction of civilization and culture: 'Such a worldwide overturning of values cannot take place without the annihilation of the old values' and the creation of new ones by the revolutionaries.
What I have documented so far is garden-variety intellectual dishonesty. The next footnote, however, is a tour de force of calumny. Not only has Buchanan misrepresented his source but his actual source, Reahn, has misrepresented his source. Moreover, the chain of obfuscation and fantasy continues back through two more mendacious links.

As deputy commissar for culture in Bela Kun's regime, Lukács put his self-described "demonic" ideas into action in what came to be known as 'cultural terrorism.'

As part of this terrorism he instituted a radical sex education program in Hungarian schools. Children were instructed in free love, sexual intercourse, the archaic nature of middle-class family codes, the outdatedness of monogamy, and the irrelevance of religion, which deprives man of all pleasures. Women, too, were called to rebel against the sexual mores of the time.

In 1919, Lukács became the Deputy Commissar for Culture in the Bolshevik Bela Kun regime in Hungary, where he instigated what became known as Culture Terrorism. He launched an explosive sex education program. Special lectures were organized in Hungarian schools and literature printed and distributed to instruct children about free love, about the nature of sexual intercourse, about the archaic nature of the bourgeois family codes, about the outdatedness of monogamy, and the irrelevance of religion, which the Marxists said deprives man of all pleasures.

Children urged thus to reject and deride paternal authority and the authority of the Church, and to ignore precepts of morality, easily and spontaneously turned into delinquents with whom only the police could cope. This call to rebellion addressed to Hungarian children was matched by a call to rebellion addressed to Hungarian women. This was a precursor to what Cultural Marxism would later bring into American schools.

Buchanan again gives Löwy as his source for the description of Lukács's reign as deputy commissar for culture. Unfortunately for Buchanan's credibility, Löwy was himself citing a source, Victor Zitta, that he explicitly identified as "unserious", giving as an example a supposed incident where Lukács was alleged to have dragged the poet, Endre Ady "from his deathbed" to a ceremony that couldn't have taken place until months after the poet's death!

The bourgeois fury and indignation at Lukács’s profoundly subversive cultural policy has recently found an echo in the writings of one Victor Zitta. Portraying Lukâcs as a ‘fanatic . . . bent on destroying the established social order’, Zitta argues that education became ‘something perverse’ under Lukács’s guidance:
Special lectures were organized in schools and literature printed and distributed to “instruct” children about free love, about the nature of sexual intercourse, about the archaic nature of the bourgeois family codes, about the outdatedness of monogamy, and the irrelevance of religion, which deprives man of all pleasure. Children urged thus to reject and deride paternal authority and the authority of the Church, and to ignore precepts of morality, easily and spontaneously turned into delinquents with whom only the police could cope. . . . This call to rebellion addressed to children was matched by a call to rebellion addressed to Hungarian women. Among the numerous curious pamphlets published under Lukács’s auspices in the Commissariat of Education and Culture, one is singularly interesting, if not typical of Lukács’s cultural endeavours. Written by Zsôfia Dénes, it deals with “Women in the Communist Social System" … Zsófia claimed that in bourgeois society the mistreatment of women was shocking. . . . In her deliciously queer and hilarious pamphlet, Zsófia calls upon women the world over to unite and overthrow the chains imposed upon them by exploitive bourgeois-spirited males.

Löwy's characterization of unseriousness would seem to be corroborated by contemporary reviews of Zitta's book, which were scathing. Of course there is always the unlikely possibility that it was the critics who were biased, not Zitta but here is a sample of their observations:

Zoltan Tar, Slavic Review:
The book relies heavily on a confusing conglomeration of philosophical terms: alienation, objectification, reification, self-estrangement, and distortion or neglect of elementary sociohistorical facts. This confusion is partly due to the author's heavy reliance on secondary source material, some of which was written by official historians of the semi-Fascist interwar Horthy regime of Hungary. Based on these dubious sources Zitta accuses Lukács of a murder which he allegedly ordered during the 1919 Kun regime.

Irving Louis Horowitz, The Sociological Quarterly

VICTOR ZITTA has written an unusual book, made so more by the biographical elements included in the analysis than by the analysis itself. The work is the product of an emigre's desire to settle accounts with an intellectual tradition that he was part of. It expresses a sense of guilt at the world he left behind no less than the one he has come to. He has gone about this study of Georg Lukics as one writes about a deviant father; from the point of view of a son who wants to go straight. At this level, the book represents an apologia pro vita sua in the special form of criticism as vengeance.

At the intellectual level, we are promised too much and provided with too little. At one and the same time this is a book on a book, an analysis of Lukács's History and Class Consciousness, but displaying even at this level all the chief elements of a chronique scandaleuse, including cheap expos6s. In the process of self-redemption and sin remission, Mr. Zitta is guilty of some sins of commission. Lukács is credited with all kinds of evil deeds. It is stated as a fact drawn from an anonymous author that during the Hungarian commune days Lukács gave orders to kill a medical student on the charge of being counterrevolutionary. This, after a discussion of how remarkably free of terror the early days of the Bela Kun regime were. Along the same lines are unproved charges against Lukács that an international art exhibit which he helped organize had missing items in it; and that these were stolen by Lukács and sold to Western businessmen, presumably for personal and family plunder.

The recourse to private correspondence serves to legitimize a questionable sort of notation system. Mr. Zitta is careful to insert a footnote when he is accusing Lukács of sins, but invariably, the footnotes prove no such sins. The notes generally have reference to an isolated phrase in the paragraph and are irrelevant with respect to biographical charges against Lukács.

John O'Neill, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research:

At first slight, the massive, multilingual, and bibliographical scholarship that has gone into Zitta's text would seem to assure it of a place as the principal English introduction to Lukács. But this is not what Zitta has achieved. To have done so would have required a relation to his subject which his pseudo-psychoanalytic method vitiates. Zitta is neither the patient student of Lukács nor the profound analyst.

Laurent Stern, The Journal of Politics:

The high points of Lukács's intellectual activity during this period are The Soul and the Forms (1911), Theory of the Novel (1914-15) and History and Class Consciousness (1923). Since these books bear clearly the imprint of Lukács's development, a biography can be written based on them, if the biographer (1) has some competence in the intellectual pursuits of his subject and (2) possesses understanding and critical judgment to distinguish between reflections concerning Literature or Philosophy and autobiographical remarks. The reviewer regrets to admit that he finds the author wanting on both counts.

Zitta resorts to two surrogates for a serious discussion: (1) he relies on documents of questionable value, especially concerning the Hungarian Soviet experience in 1919, which prompts him to speculate whether Lukács was implicated in murder; (2) he relies on gossip. Zitta claims having "obtained orally" from this reviewer the information that Karl Mannheim and two scientists of world renown have associated with Lukács. (p. 132) Zitta places this association arbitrarily after Lukács became a communist.

Annette T. Rubinstein, Science & Society:

This book by an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Marquette University is a curious conglomeration of serious study in terms of valuable bibliographical research, a close if tendentious reading of early Lukács material (1905-1923), much of which has long been disowned by its author, a highly colored religious and, I think, incorrect philosophical polemic conducted with at least verbal propriety, and a wildly irresponsible series of often simplistic historical and slanderous biographical or critical-biographical statements. Here the most absurdly tenuous conclusions are presented as literal statements of fact and generally discredited or interested individuals are quoted as authoritative scholarly sources.

Often this sort of interpretation is inextricably intertwined with equally blatant misstatements of historical fact, blandly offered without a shred of evidence. For example, Zitta tells us that, as Deputy Commissar of Education for the short-lived Hungarian Commune. Lukács, with the help of his comrades, undertook what might be called a cultural brain-washing campaign. To a self-estranged man this came quite naturally. The campaign called upon the techniques congenial to his and his comrades' souls: he was to devise measures which would reproduce on a mass-scale what he and his comrades had undergone on an individual scale, namely self-estrangement. First of all, anxiety had to be induced in the Hungarian political patient by various arrangements which would deprive him of the ability to predict his daily routine and behavior. . . . Second, guilt-feelings were to be inflicted by devising rules and decrees designed not so much for the sake of their observance, but to enable random punishment. . . . Third, doubts had to be created about all values which were in touch with the previous order. . . . Totalitarianism is thus prescribed on recipe by self-estranged persons who exterminate the environment where self-identity is possible.

György Márkus, Science & Society:

...the fantastic misorientation of Prof. Zitta on questions of Hungarian cultural history... begins on the very first page, where it is stated that Lukács was the editor of "the famous literary monthly" Nyugat and of the Huszadik Század. Both statements are incorrect. On page 23 Lukács has already become the founder of the first journal, but perhaps that is not a miracle, because on page 30 we learn that he was active in Nyugat circles around 1903, which is all the more astonishing because Nyugat- the most important journal in pre- war Hungary- was not founded until 1908. But perhaps the best ex- ample of the total irresponsibility of the author is the story about Lukács and Endre Ady on pages 101-102. It is stated that "Lukács contrived somehow to drag E. Ady to a ceremony before the House of Parliament on March 1, and proclaimed the dismayed and helplessly protesting poet . . . the 'Saint' of the Commune." Now the facts of the matter are that: First, E. Ady died on January 27, 1919. Second, on March 1 the Communist Party was underground and any meeting before the Parliament was quite out of the question. Third, the Hungarian Commune was established on March 27.

And while some persons, if we are to believe Zitta, were active after their deaths, others were poets and members of "the revolutionary generation" in their early childhood (see page 43). Miklós Radnóti (in the book incorrectly spelled Radnóthy) figures as one of the members of the revolutionary generation of the 1910's. (Radnóti, one of the most outstanding poets of the years before and during the Second World War, was born in 1909).

Here is Patrick J. Buchanan again, commenting on the massacre in Oslo:

Predictably, the European press is linking Breivik to parties of the populist right that have arisen to oppose multiculturalism and immigration from the Islamic world. Breivik had belonged to the Progress Party, but quit because he found it insufficiently militant.

His writings are now being mined for references to U.S. conservative critics of multiculturalism and open borders. Purpose: demonize the American right, just as the berserker’s attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson was used to smear Sarah Palin and Timothy McVeigh’s Oklahoma City bombing was used to savage Rush Limbaugh and conservative critics of Big Government.

No. Patrick J. Buchanan is not responsible for the acts committed by Anders Breivik. Nor is William S. Lind responsible for those acts. To paraphrase Mary McCarthy, "Every word they say is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.'" Anyone demented enough to act on the basis of what they say is undoubtedly just looking for a pretext and will clutch at any straw. What Mr. Buchanan, Mr. Lind, Mr. Reahn and their ilk ARE responsible for, though, is calumny, which, according to the Catholic Dictionary, is a mortal sin.

Calumny {from The Catholic Encyclopedia)

(Latin calvor, to use artifice, to deceive)

Etymologically any form of ruse or fraud employed to deceive another, particularly in judicial proceedings. In its more commonly accepted signification it means the unjust damaging of the good name of another by imputing to him a crime or fault of which he is not guilty. The sin thus committed is in a general sense mortal, just as is detraction. It is hardly necessary, however, to observe that as in other breaches of the law the sin may be venial, either because of the trivial character of the subject-matter involved or because of insufficient deliberation in the making of the accusation. Objectively, a calumny is a mortal sin when it is calculated to do serious harm to the person so traduced. Just as in the instance of wrongful damage to person or estate, so the calumniator is bound to adequate reparation for the injury perpetrated by the blackening of another's good name. He is obliged (1) to retract his false statements, and that even though his own reputation may necessarily as a consequence suffer. (2) He must also make good whatever other losses have been sustained by the innocent party as a result of his libelous utterances, provided these same have been in some measure (in confuso) foreseen by him. In canon law the phrase juramentum calumniae is employed to indicate the oath taken by the parties to a litigation, by which they averred that the action was brought and the defence offered in good faith.

1 comment:

  1. As might be expected that the European press is linked to the populist right parties Breivik incurred to oppose multiculturalism and immigration from the Islamic world.

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