6 MIN READ - The Cautious Optimism Correspondent for Economic Affairs and Other Egghead Stuff submits recent events in his home of San Francisco as an excellent example of history repeating itself.
|San Francisco Mayor London Breed kicking off Potemkin
Village preparations for APEC summit visiting dignitaries
After decades of being plagued by an ugly homelessness problem of its own creation, this week San Francisco city government is aggressively clearing tents and drug-addicted vagrants from many sections of downtown.
Namely, those blocks that will be visible to next week’s APEC summit international delegates.
From the Los Angeles Times:
”Fresh paint. Street cleanings. Homeless sweeps. Colorful art. Workers… beautified the city, days before politicians, executives and journalists from around the world descend on San Francisco for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference… APEC is made up of 21 member economies, including the U.S., China, Japan, Russia and Canada.”
”Blocks away from the Moscone Center, where the summit's main events will be held, Christie Palominos sorted through her belongings… ‘They’re clearing out the homeless people because they don’t want them to see this,’ she said.”
Read free version of L.A. Times story at:
SOVIET UKRAINE #1
From Robert Conquest’s “The Harvest of Sorrow,” the first comprehensive western account of the Holodomor famine:
”Edouard Herriot, the French Radical leader, twice premier of his country, was in the USSR in August and September 1933… A visitor to Kiev describes the preparations for Herriot. The day before his arrival the population was required to work from 2 a.m. cleaning the streets and decorating the houses. Food-distribution centres were closed. Queues were prohibited. Homeless children, beggars, and starving people disappeared…. The streets were washed, the hotel he was to stay in was refurbished, with new carpets and furniture and new uniforms for the staff. And similarly in Kharkov….”
”Certain villages were set aside to show to foreigners. These were ‘model’ collectives — for example ‘Red Star’ in the Kharkov Province, where all the peasants were picked Communists and Komsomols. These were well housed and well fed…”
”One witness describes the preparations made to receive Herriot at the collective farm ‘October Revolution’ in Brovary, near Kiev: ‘A special meeting of the regional party organization was held in Kiev for the purpose of transforming this collective farm into a ‘Potemkin village’…It was thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned, all communists, komsomols and activists having been mobilized for the job. Furniture from the regional theatre in Brovary was brought, and the clubrooms beautifully appointed with it. Curtains and drapes were brought from Kiev, also tablecloths. One wing was turned into a dining-hall, the tables of which were covered with new cloths and decorated with flowers… Some steers and hogs were slaughtered to provide plenty of meat. A supply of beer was also brought in. All the corpses and starving peasants were removed from the highways in the surrounding countryside and the peasants were forbidden to leave their houses…’
‘…A mass meeting of collective farm workers was called, and they were told that a motion picture would be made of collective farm life, and for this purpose this particular farm had been chosen by a film-studio from Odessa... Those who were picked by a special committee were given new outfits brought from Kiev: shoes, socks, suits, hats, handkerchiefs. Women received new dresses. The whole masquerade was directed by a delegate of the Kiev party district organization, Sharapov, and a man named Denisenko was his deputy…'
'The organizers decided that it would be best for M. Herriot to meet the collective farm workers while they were seated at tables, eating a good meal. The next day, when Herriot was due to arrive, now welldressed workers were seated in the dining-hall, and served a hearty meal. They were eating huge chunks of meat, washing it down with beer or lemonade, and were making short work of it. The director, who was nervous, called upon the people to eat slowly, so that the honoured guest, Herriot, would see them at their tables… The people begged to be allowed to keep the clothes and shoes, promising to work or pay for them, but to no avail. Everything had to be given back and returned to Kiev, to the stores from which it had been borrowed.’”
Read Robert Conquest's "Harvest of Sorrow" online free at:
SAN FRANCISCO #2
From the L.A. Times:
”San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a press conference Thursday that the tattered urban images people see on social media about San Francisco capture a snapshot in time in certain neighborhoods, ignoring the rest of the picturesque city. ‘I see a lot of beauty all over San Francisco…,’ she said. ‘My hope is that people will have the opportunity to experience San Francisco for themselves and tell the whole story.’”
”Later in the day, Breed and Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a new plant nursery and education center in the Soma neighborhood. Newsom, who met China's president last month, said before a big event like the APEC summit everything’s got to 'get dialed up' just like when people clean up their house before they have visitors.”
”’This place is beloved and its best days are in front of it, not behind it,’ he said. ‘And all those doomsdayers. All those negative folks. You know what? They haven’t offered anything.’”
SOVIET UKRAINE #2
“When the famine became widely reported in the USA and a Congressman, Herman Kopelmann of Connecticut, drew official Soviet attention to it, he received the following answer from Foreign Commissar Litvinov:”
“‘l am in receipt of your letter of the 14th instant and thank you for drawing my attention to the Ukrainian pamphlet. There is any amount of such pamphlets full of lies circulated by the counter-revolutionary organizations abroad who specialize in work of this kind. There is nothing left for them to do but spread false information and forge documents.’”
”The Soviet Embassy in Washington also claimed that the Ukraine’s population had increased over the Five Year Plan period by 2% per annum, and that it had the lowest death rate of any Soviet republic!"
”…Stalin had a profound understanding of the possibilities of what Hitler approvingly calls the Big Lie. He knew that even though the truth may be readily available, the deceiver need not give up. He saw that flat denial on the one hand, and the injection into the pool of information of a corpus of positive falsehood on the other, were sufficient to confuse the issue for the passively uninstructed foreign audience, and to induce acceptance of the Stalinist version by those actively seeking to be deceived. The Famine was the first major instance of the exercise of this technique of influencing world opinion…”
”[Roman] Terekhov, First Secretary of the Kharkov Provincial Commitee, told Stalin that famine was raging, and asked for grain to be sent in. By an odd anomaly, Terekhov was one of the few Ukrainian apparatchiks to survive the Yezhov terror a few years later, and was able to recount the story in Pravda in Khrushchev’s time."
"Stalin’s retort to his frank remarks was, ‘We have been told that you, Comrade Terekhov, are a good speaker; it seems that you are a good storyteller, you've made up such a fable about famine, thinking to frighten us, but it won’t work. Wouldn’t it be better for you to leave the post of provincial committee secretary and the Ukrainian Central Committee and join the Writers’ Union? Then you can write your fables and fools will read them.’”