I love Kurt Vonnegut’s books. I really do. I read all of his books, in two different languages. I hold him as the intellectual and great writer of highest degree.
I picked up “Armageddon in Retrospect” from my book shelf last night anticipating a fabulous bed-time read. So imagine my surprise when in his Clowes Hall lecture I stumbled upon this passage
Communism is what Karl Marx hoped could be an economic scheme for making industrialized nations take as good care of people, and especially of children and the old and disabled, as tribes and extended families used to do before they were dispersed by the Industrial Revolution.
And then I on the next page I am seeing
The two greatest Americans of my lifetime, so far as I know, were Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Why these two people ended up in the same category from Mr. Vonnegut’s point of view is beyond me. He goes as far as favorably comparing Jesus and Marx (sic!). Keep in mind that he has experienced all joys of very long Great Depression, which according to many scholars was prolonged by FDR crazy money printing and even more insane attempts of centralized planning of economy and regulations of all sort of prices. Just to give you a flavor of some of the steps here’s the quite from contemporary work by John Flynn The Roosevelt Myth
During the campaign, Roosevelt had told the voters they would see no cruel jokes like plowing up cotton or not planting wheat or buying up crops to raise prices, all of which had been urged on farmers. He had a plan, he said, which would not cost the government a dollar. Whatever became of that plan we shall never know.
The AAA [Agricultural Adjustment Administration, a part of NRA – Cos] produced all sorts of dislocations in our economic system. For instance, we had men burning oats when we were importing oats from abroad on a huge scale, killing pigs while increasing
our imports of lard, cutting corn production and importing 30 million bushels of corn from abroad.
Just in case you might be curious how Mr. Vonnegut ended up being POW, bombed to hell along with the rest of Dresden, and other pleasant things offered by an advanced western civilization of North American continent, you might want to check what role FDR has played in bringing US into WWII (see Pearl Harbor by Percy Greaves, and Human Smoke by Nicholson Baker).
I can’t possibly imagine that Kurt Vonnegut wasn’t reading enough, or was ignorant, or intellectually dishonest when it comes to history. It is unrealistic to think that he didn’t know how many human causalities Marx’s ideas have claimed. The atrocities of collectivism and fascism are profound to be simply misinterpreted or ignored. How then such a humanist as Kurt Vonnegut can be in favor of methods and ideologies chiefly responsible for genocides, concentration and labor camps, mass-murdering and starvation of millions to death by fascist, socialist, and communist governments?
What is the explanation of such a discrepancy? Who were you really, Mr. Vonnegut? An ignoramus or honestly brainwashed? Or simply too blind to recognize the dangers of a bright future founded on the fallacies of individual and human rights sacrifices?
I am sure your books are helping new generations to get better. I am sure they will outlive my generation and perhaps the next one. I really hope that some of the ideas and people you are favoring so highly despite being a victim of the same will stop marching and spreading around our little planet producing nothing but mass-graves, starving orphans, homeless and helpless elders – all for the sake of safer and brighter future,
Merry Christmas everyone!