Day By Day

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Legacy Of the Cold War

Jonah Goldberg is emerging as one of the most interesting members of the national commentariat. He has a real gift for expressing complex truths in simple and often humorous language. Here he writes on the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War.
To me, the most obvious dangerous legacy of the Cold War would have to be the damage the Soviets did to the world. I don't mean the millions they murdered; those dead do not threaten us now, even if they should haunt us.

I mean the relentless distortion of the truth, the psychological violence they visited on the West and the World via their useful idiots and their agents. I'm thinking not merely of the intellectual corruption of the American Left (which even folks like Richard Rorty had to concede), but the corruption of reformers and their movements around the globe. Soviet propaganda still contaminates, while nuclear fallout does not. Lies about America, the West, and the nature of democratic capitalism live on throughout the third world and in radioactive pockets on American campuses.

The Soviet effort to foster wars of national liberation, to poison the minds of the "Bandung Generation," to deracinate cultures from their own indigenous building blocks of democracy, to destroy non-Marxist competitors interested in reform, to create evil and despotic regimes that are seen as "authentic" because they represent the "true will" of their subjugated and beaten down peoples: these seem to me to amount to the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War. Not least because it was those sorts of efforts that gave birth to North Korea in the first place.

Read the whole thing here.

I would tend to agree with minor quibbles. The propaganda campaign he references was not specific to the Cold War but actually antedated it, being more a legacy of the Popular Front movement of the 1930's that lingered on and was elaborated through the Cold War period. But his point regarding the willingness of the American, indeed the Western Left to embrace and propagate Soviet lies and distortions of history is certainly true. It is hard today for people to realize the extent to which mid-twentieth century discourse was dominated by Marxist-Leninist categories of expression. It permeated everything, and everywhere it was expressed Leftist cant corrupted intellectual discourse.