the regimes in Eastern Europe [had positive achievements] in the fields of employment, welfare provision, education and women’s rights.For sure, everyone was employed: anyone unemployed was put to work burying the chap who arrived in the gulag just before him. And there was wonderful equality. It's easy to be equal when everyone is equally destitute. Women's rights were as far advanced as men's: nowhere to be seen. And as for education, don't let's get started: you were very well educated, if you didn't mind only knowing what the Party deemed necessary for you to know.Imagine my further surprise when I discovered that the same writer had written in the New Statesman in January, praising the last dictator in Europe, Aleksandr Lukashenko, for little more than making the trains run on time (src). So here, again, is the Excors Utilissimus:
After last month's presidential elections - in which Alexander Lukashenko was re-elected to serve a fourth term with almost 80 per cent of the vote - the arrest of opposition candidates and hundreds of their supporters led to the reappearance of the old "last dictatorship in Europe" headlines. But shocking as the scenes of police beating protesters were, it would be a mistake to equate Belarus with Burma, or Lukashenko with Joseph Stalin."Hey, guys, I know it's Europe's last dictatorship, but the fact that he wins unbelievably high percentages of the vote, that he arrests political opponents, and that he gets the cops to beat up protesters is just a misunderstanding! I mean, keep a sense of perspective: it's not like this is Burma or anything, right? And he's not as prodigiously evil as Stalin, so just let him alone, won't you?"You could re-write my opening quotation for your average Communist dictator, and this would be a decent enough summary of Clark's perspective on the world: Fraudulent elections? Who cares! Suppression of individual freedom? So what! Rejection of any sense of the private? A small price to pay! The gulags, the systematic murder of millions, collectivised slavery, liquidations of political opponents, social conformity to the Party's will? Bugs, not features!It is an interesting thing to see that while an apologist for the Nazis would be excoriated, probably even in the Mail (okay, probably); even so, this apologist for Actually-Existing-Now brutal tyranny is invited to write for the Guardian. You can't praise the Nazis (a sound editorial policy), but praising Uncle Joe and his trigger-happy chums is just fine (not so sound editorial policy).So, given Stalin systematically murdered millions; given Mao, Pol Pot and countless others were equally bad; given Kim Jong-Il starved his own country in his vicious and twisted ideological opposition to an economic private life; given the gulags, the collectivisations, the clamping down on any organisation independent of Party or State; given all that and more besides, why on earth do apologists for communism get a free ride from our media?