The Corner

Votes That Never Occur

In Impromptus today, I have some scribbles on China, and the dictatorship that rules that vast and ancient country. I also have some thoughts on how we in free countries react to that dictatorship. (For one thing, we lay on the dog for them in the White House.) (I’m not suggesting that we serve dog.) It is sometimes claimed that the Communist party has majority support, or at least widespread support, in China. You further hear this about Cuba: that the Communist party enjoys widespread support there. “If the people could vote, they would really show you!” But they never can, can they?

There’s good reason for that. There were a handful of real Communists in the Soviet Union. Experts I trust say there are a handful — a relative handful — of real Communists in China. They rule by brute force.

Some months ago, I was poking around about the Nobel Peace Prize. The winners for 1995 were the Pugwashers and their leading figure, Joseph Rotblat. The Pugwashers? I’m speaking of the men and women of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. This was an anti-nuclear organization, pretty blatantly fellow-traveling. Cry “McCarthyism!” if you want to. (But then, most NRO readers don’t want to.) The record is available for all to see.

The Pugwashers received awards and honors from many of the leading dictators of the Cold War: in Romania, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and elsewhere. They held a conference in Poland shortly after General Jaruzelski imposed martial law. Some people asked them not to go there, in a display of solidarity with . . . well, Solidarity, and the Polish people at large. The Pugwashers told them to get lost. The year before, they had denounced Israel for its destruction of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear facility. You might have thought that an organization calling itself anti-nuclear would be pleased. You would not have known the Pugwashers.

By the way, the man who accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for the group was John P. Holdren. I mention this name because he is the chief science adviser to the 2009 Nobel peace laureate, President Obama. I trust Holdren is better than the worst of the Pugwashers. (The 2010 peace laureate, a Chinese prisoner of conscience, is unavailable to comment on any of this. I don’t think Liu Xiaobo would have given the Pugwashers a peace prize.)

The Pugwashers’ founder was Cyrus Eaton, one of those big businessmen who loved, loved the Soviet Union. Indeed, he was more enthusiastic than Armand Hammer, whom he resembled. Eaton’s hometown, or home village, was a little place in Nova Scotia, Pugwash. (Very beautiful.) The first conference was held at his estate there, in July 1957. It must have been incredibly lovely. Eaton did not win the Nobel Peace Prize, but, quite naturally, he won the Soviet Union’s peace prize: the Lenin Peace Prize, which started out, in the late 1940s, as the Stalin Peace Prize.

They were kind of mean to old Joe, taking his name off things.

Around the time of the Pugwash Conferences’ founding, Eaton gave an interview to Mike Wallace: which can be heard here. He said what all the Communists and fellow travelers were saying — e.g., “There is more spirit of war in the United States than in any other country in the world.” When Wallace pressed him about the lack of freedom in the Soviet bloc — good for Mike! — Eaton said, “If you take a vote in those countries, you might be surprised.”

Yeah, but those votes never take place, do they? They just never do. 


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