From Harper’s, February 1955: W.W. Rostow on why communism may fail
I am by profession an economist and economic historian. The bulk of my academic life has been taken up with studying the world’s economic development during the nineteenth century. I have just ended three years’ work on the Soviet Union and Communist China. The task there was not to study Communist economies but to discern, if possible, the shape and prospects for change in the whole societies now dominated from Moscow and Peking: their politics, social life, foreign policy, and their economies.
The title of this article reflects perhaps the most important single idea about Communism which I have acquired during these three years of study.
I believe that Marx failed to understand the farmer. From that misunderstanding has flowed a century of Communist theory and practice, And, more important, from Communist theory and practice has arisen a set of problems whose solution or failure of solution may well wreck the international Communist movement—or force profound and wholesome change upon it.
Perhaps the most dangerous enemy of Communism is the stoic, passive peasant in Eastern Germany, Poland, the Soviet Union itself, China, and Northern Vietnam. He will certainly not revolt on his own under present circumstances; but even a police state cannot make him increase his output on the scale Communist plans require.
The passive figure of the peasant, trapped in totalitarianism, is joined as a potentially mortal enemy of Communism by the farmer in the Free World—notably in the underdeveloped areas and perhaps most notably, at the moment, by the awakening Indian peasant.
This, in any case, is my theme. I should like to develop it by tracing out how Communism has come to tangle at cross purposes with the peasant; the consequences of this generally quiet struggle: the problems which it creates for the Communist leadership; and the opportunities it opens to the Free World.
From the Web
Of all the dismal and discouraging numbers to have emerged from the world of newspapers—the sharp plunges in circulation, the dizzying fall-off in revenues, the burgeoning debt, the mounting losses—none seems as sobering as the relentless march of layoffs and buyouts. According to the blog Paper Cuts, newspapers lost 15,974 jobs in 2008 and another 10,000 in the first half of 2009. That’s 26,000 fewer reporters, editors, photographers, and columnists to cover the world, analyze political and economic affairs, root out corruption and abuse, and write about culture, entertainment, and sports.The membership of the Military Reporters and Editors Association has fallen from six hundred in 2001 to under one hundred today. In April, Cox Newspapers closed its Washington office, contributing to the dramatic decline in the number of reporters covering the federal government. The Boston Globe, The Baltimore Sun, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Newsday have all closed their foreign bureaus. Because of repeated retrenchments, the McClatchy newspapers, which include The Sacramento Bee, The Charlotte Observer, and more than two dozen other dailies across the US, cannot afford to open a South Asia bureau that’s been in the works for three years, or to keep a full-time correspondent in Mexico or even Baghdad, where its bureau has done such standout work. In “the good old days,” McClatchy editor Mark Seibel recently wrote, the organization could lay off reporters “and insist with a straight face that there would be no change in our ability to cover the news. No more. The last year of layoffs, cutbacks and consolidations have hurt. Bad.” —“The News About the Internet,” Michael Massing, New York Review of Books
The San Francisco-based Aspect Foundation sponsored all 12 of the Scranton students, some of whom were on State Department grants. On its Web site, the Aspect Foundation says it began in 1985 as “a small non-profit organization offering affordable study-abroad opportunities to students from around the world,” and now “students live with volunteer host families in more than 350 communities throughout the United States.” In 2008, the State Department gave 17 placement groups $39.4 million in taxpayer funds to manage programs involving exchange students. Aspect received $1.08 million of those funds. Carlos Villarreal’s family, however, paid their son’s way to America from Colombia, giving Aspect $13,000 for him to study here. Villarreal said he lived with a family that housed ex-convicts and that he had very little to eat. He said his mother’s repeated contacts with Aspect about his situation were ignored.”I lost a lot of body weight, and [it was] an unsafe environment which I felt uncomfortable living in, and it was nothing like I had envisioned my experience in America,” he said. The Rev. Elmer Smith told CNN he took in Villarreal as a favor to Aspect’s local coordinator, Edna Burgette, and denied he failed to feed him. “The boy had no place to go, so I took him in and I fed him,” Smith said. “He had a television in his room, he had heat in his room, he had air-conditioning in his room.” —“Exchange students live American nightmare,” Drew Griffin and Kathleen Johnston, CNN
Demise of hated shoe for middle-class children; swine flu, its impact on summer camp; wind turbine blades tend to blow away; furries, penis-biting; Wall Street Journal, in article on “cankles,” calls Hillary Clinton’s office for comment
He answers to “Rambo,” though he’s more of a Mad Max figure, or the William Wallace played by Mel Gibson in Braveheart. His wife and brother are dead—killed, here in Ramadi, by foreign jihadists—and he will cheerily tell you he has nothing to live for and cares little if he dies tomorrow. In the meantime, though, he intends to capture (his current, Coalition-friendly practice) or kill (his prior, preferred technique) as many of his enemies as possible, and he has proven himself supremely competent at doing so. He’ll be happy to show you movies of his handiwork, which he stores in his cell phone. He is an Iraqi police officer, although he is beholden to no particular precinct or supervisor and has no partners. His nickname comes from Americans impressed with his exploits, but he shows no particular pride in it. (To fellow policemen he is Fahed—Jaguar.) He is in fact a modest and unassuming figure, neither personally nor physically imposing, aside from the array of heavy weaponry he habitually carries on his tall, slight frame, and he possesses a discerning intellect that belies his moniker. He is an apt representative of all that is contradictory and ambiguous, disturbing and hopeful, here at the West Ramadi Iraqi Police Station…. I met Rambo on my first day here, and by the end of that day I had decided I wasn’t morally equipped for this assignment. I had been given a grand tour of the facility, a heavily sandbagged former youth center that mostly survived the firefights, mortars, rockets, and bombs that shattered downtown Ramadi in the years preceding the “Anbar Awakening” and our alliance with tribal leaders here. A large rubble pile at one corner of the compound revealed where a truck bomb had gotten through. My tour included the room where my soldiers and I would live, the Iraqi-run jail, the restrooms (a horror of sight and smell), and the Happy Shack. The Happy Shack is a decrepit little cinderblock structure in the weeds out back where, a few weeks earlier, a group of Marines had stumbled upon an agonized man hanging from the ceiling by a ratchet strap attached to his wrists, which were themselves bound behind his waist. (Yes, like that. He had been there an indefinite period of time, but long enough so that his shoulders were utterly destroyed.) Upon his arrest by the Iraqi police he had been kept out of sight of American forces and subjected to the Iraqis’ time-honored methods of interrogating high-value prisoners—the methods they would use routinely if we weren’t here watching them. The Happy Shack is, it should be noted, painted pink on the inside. —“The Devil You Know,” John B. Renehan, The American Scholar