Poster urging people to come to demonstrate for lustration. Photo via Virlana Tkacz.
There was a discussion among Facebook friends condemning both the lustration effort by the Ukrainian government -- the parliament passed the law today -- and those lobbying the government to lustrate.
I'm all for lustration of the Communist Party or any other party that systematically engages in human rights violations and crime.
That's how this has to be seen: as the fulfillment of a human rights paradigm, not is negation.
Usually, the knee-jerk liberal reaction is to flee from lustration in horror and condemn banning of the CP as some illiberal act -- but that's wrong-headed.
I notice people never suffer from this problem when it comes to banning the Nazi Party or implementing de-Nazification. There, they see it as clear-cut. They need to acquire the same moral clarity about communism.
I fail to see why people can't lobby for lustration and have posters for it, when it is a tough sell given all the pressure Ukraine comes under for contemplating it. Yet lustration is more than fine. I'm all for breaking the conveyor belt of the Soviet Communist Party from history to today. It's ok to determine that someone who served in office in this party should not hold office in a new reform state.
Indeed, the CP is a criminal operation responsible for mass murder and crime on a huge scale throughout history. The very nature of the position of an obkomovets would inherently involve crime of false arrest, theft, fictional reports, etc. I understand Ukraine has criminal cases opened up against individual members on corruption charges. What's wrong with that?
The CP also politically and financially supported the Russian-backed insurgents. Why should its members get to hold office? If there is another party that also fits this description of engaging in crime and assisting the violent movements undermining democracy and the rule of law, why can't they be banned from public office?! (W0uld the Party of Regions fit this bill? I don't know, you tell me.)
The hysteria about supposed witch hunts against rank-and-file members is ENTIRELY misplaced. For refusal to bite down hard on this bullet, all the regimes of Eastern Europe except for Czech Republic have had to endure the Soviet legacy way more than is necessary. Lustration *is* about the rule of law.
Communism as an ideology and Communist Parties as vehicles for oppressive state power should not get a pass. They don't belong to the realm of free association as a liberal idea to express people's will or to express an interest group's will. They are conspiracies -- as in the criminal concept of conspiracy in criminal codes everywhere (not "conspiracy" in the sense of believing in some outlandish theory.)
Go right ahead and lustrate, and if someone thinks its unfair, let them sue. The rule of law has to mean decriminalizing society from communism's replacement of real civil society with its Soviet facsimile, which is Bolshevism, which isn't under the rule of law but at best under rule-by-law or more often lawlessness of "might makes right."
By the same token, I'm for banning the Communist Party because it's ideology is inherently criminal -- it involves revolution by force, confiscation of property by force, expediency of killing people, and so on. To pretend that communism is just some great utopian ideology that has never been properly implemented, or that this or that murderous regime is just an aberration is one of the greatest fallacies of history, tragically proven wrong again and again. So ban the CP. Why should you get to run a criminal organization that will deprive other people of their rights and property and maybe even their lives, just for free speech's sake?!
Human rights were devised as a balance system with Art. 30 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which says you cannot use one right to undo another right. So hey, that means religious freedom doesn't mean suppressing women's rights or free speech. And free speech and free association doesn't mean a pass on the criminality of using force to lie, steal, cheat, cover up. There is a boundary between human rights and crime. You don't have to devise an entire creaking edifice of "duties and responsibilities" as some socialist/authoritarian states try to do in order to recognize that even in America, free speech doesn't mean "inciting imminent violence" -- there is that limit on it. As there are limits to "time, place, and manner," i.e. endlessly urban camping to try to shut down the stock market or capitalism because you're a communist or socialist.
Too often, the debate about corruption in Ukraine or any of the post-Soviet states is about evil, fat-cat oligarchs in terms of them being capitalist, not communist.
But that's a caricature of a complex problem, and overlooks the fact that oligarchy is actually an end state of communism, not a beginning state of capitalism. People who became oligarchs generally leveraged or exploited the communist system to obtain state goods at fire-sale prices or converted party or soviet control over factories and so on into private control. It's not like they had a better idea for a hamburger and built up a fast-food chain by hard work and entrepreneurial skill -- although we can't reject out of hand the idea that some of the oligarchs are necessary because they have a system that manufactures things and creates jobs, and dismantling it by nationalization (by oppressive Soviet-style entities like "Novorossiya," is not something that can be done lightly. Change is hard; you can't put the fish in the fish soup back into the acquarium...or something.
I had this debate with none other than as Soros executive, Leonard Benardo, one night on Twitter. Read from the bottom up to get an idea. Naturally, the Soros liberal is for keeping the CP and not having lustration, and they use the power of the purse to shape the NGO agenda in this way.
When I persisted in explaining that banning criminal bodies that violate human rights *is* the human rights position and should be supported for the sake of human rights, I was told for my troubles that I should "stop reading Sydney Hook" -- as if a socialist who shed communism and embraced anti-communism and became disliked by the liberals and lefties as a result is somehow "wrong" for shedding communism and fighting it. He's not, of course. It was a good thing.
But I reject this preciousness of refusal to allow reforming states to ban CPs and lustrate as actually inconsiderate of true human rights values for all the reasons I've just stated: communist parties are engines of crimes and Soros of all people should understand why they should be banned and their leaders lustrated.
Oh, someone is sure to say, but shouldn't someone be free to advocate communism, even if you insist that implementing it always leads to human rights violations and crime? (Trust me, it does.)
Well, I'm not for splitting hairs. People trying to reform Nazi Germany didn't do that, they banned the Nazi Party, the SS officials from office, and so on. The Marshal Plan implementators didn't fund the fascist newspapers and steered the discourse -- and that's ok. I think it was necessary then and necessary now in Ukraine. Someone might want to endlessly parse Art. 19, which is all that applies in Ukraine, not the First Amendment, and let them: "restrictions that are necessary and proper in a democratic society" really do mean shutting down the criminality of communism.
Oh, but someone is sure to say, shouldn't you shut down Right Sector? That's a completely silly argument because Right Sector doesn't run the state, isn't permeated through industry, wasn't in power for 75 years plus 23 in the post-Soviet twilight zone and so on. If Right Sector individuals commit crimes or human rights abuses, by all means prosecute them. If you collect enough of these cases and it seems their club is in fact an engine of crime and human rights abuse, then ban it on those grounds. We don't have that documented record for them that we have for communism.
So after arguing a number of rounds, for some reason, Lenny then invoked Raphael Lemkin, the author of the Genocide Treaty.
And that's all well and good but here is my problem with the Nuremberg Trial and the Genocide Treat that came out of it: they were crippled by the Soviets, so that the reason of political affiliation or class as a motivation for genocide was left out of the concept of the trial.
That was no accident, comrades, as the Soviets wanted to make sure nothing like the Nuremberg Trial ever hit them. And it never did, as a result. Because they practiced mass crimes against humanity based on people's class or political affiliation, and got a pass. To be sure, likely the case could still be mounted anyway due to the mass nature and cruelty and torture. Yet the concept -- that you can't jail and kill people over their race or religion should apply to their class or political views was never instilled.
And Raphael didn't put it in the Genocide Treaty, either, God bless him. To be sure, unlike other liberals and "progressives" of his day, he did take up the cause of the Armenian genocide and the Ukrainian genocide, calling them exactly by those names, to the criticism of others at the time. Good!
But he did this purely on ethnic grounds. And the Ukrainian Holodomor is not solely about ethnicity; Russians, Jews, Armenians, Roma, others were also killed, but the ideology of hate of the kulaks was not so much about their status as ethnic Ukrainians as it was about their being wealthy farmers (relatively speaking) hated by ideologically zealous communists who justified killing or exiling them in the name of purity of communism for their totalitarian state.
So, the world system is only as good as it addresses some of these categories, but the Soviet crippling -- and later Russian crippling of it -- has prevented addressing the mass crimes of Lenin, Stalin and their heirs.
Oh, you say, if you lustrate or ban a CP, aren't you merely making political affiliation or class in fact grounds for persecution?
Well, thanks for trolling, but no. Because it's not about somebody's affiliations, badges, pins, ID cards, past record, writings, thoughts, clubs.
it's about organized crime; it's about parties that merge with the state and take over entire cities, regions, territories and amalgate with the state to become engines of perpetual human rights abuse and crime. You care about human rights, right? So stop edge-casing, Fisking, and dodging the issue here, which isn't about somebody articulating their views on their blog, but about combatting the criminality of Sovietism that hides behind the liberal values of association when people take office and influence and control other people.
Either you're going to break the back of the conveyor belt of criminality and corruption - or you're not.
I think it's a good idea to first ban the CP or other criminalized parties that engage in systematic crime and human rights abuse -- and that includes funding the separatists - then lustrate on the basis of that definition in terms of those seeking higher office.
Not every cook or clerk that this evil party falsely claimed would rule the state -- because they envisioned it in fact merging with the state would have to be lustrated -- would be banned from employment or shunned because of lustration -- that's a red herring. As with de-Nazification, it's about higher offices where people actually wield power over others -- and can continue their human rights violations and crimes or not, based on that engine of crime, communism! After all, you lustrate to keep a person out of a job not because you just don't like their face -- say, like a racist discrimination.
You lustrate them so that they can't go on using the power of office to go on commiting crime and human rights violations. Hello!
Let's see how it plays out. I'm all for it. If anything, the parliamentarians lost their nerve (Western pressure, faction pressure) when they came up with this watering-down of the bill:
"All elected posts such as MPs, the commissioner for human rights, judges of the Constitutional Court have been excluded from this law (the law doesn't apply to them)," the lawmaker said.
The problem is that if you have communist judges in the Constitutional Court, you are right back where you started where people believe as an integral part of their job description that the rule of law isn't really the rule of law; that "revolutionary expediency" means not prosecuting certain things and over-prosecuting others. Ditto the human rights commissioner -- my God, what a terrible idea, to let just anyone, criminal, thug, mass murderer, CP boss, into this job. Indeed, that's exactly what you'll get.
As for "elected offices" -- well, they didn't finish the job there banning the CP. So, they'll get what they'll get.
Meanwhile, I've come up with this position I've thought about for many years precisely out of valuation of human rights, not their negation, and looking for the moral position, which the human rights industry often takes you far away from in its zeal to be politically-correct and retain their own power and influence.
Yeltsin was under terrible pressure from the Clinton Administration and others not to lustrate or ban the CP. People said half -- no, 2/3 of the Soviet parliament would empty out if you lustrated communists.
Had Yeltsin been able to a) try the CPSU for crimes against humanity and persons b) ban the CP on that basis c) lustrate on that basis the world would be a better place all around, just as the world was a better place after Nuremberg and de-Nazification. Some of the very characters you see in the Russian parliament now who were Communist apparatchiks in their day would not be there to cause their neo-Nazi and ultranationalist havoc you see them causing today had we had lustration.