Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"Objectively" Bolshevik jargon?

Jonathan Chait takes perennial dumbass Robert Kagan to task. Kagan wrote:
His [Obama's] strategy toward Iran places him objectively on the side of the government's efforts to return to normalcy as quickly as possible, not in league with the opposition's efforts to prolong the crisis.
Kagan provides no evidence here, either. He simply falls into the neocon habit of using the word "objectively" to avoid the need for reason * * * In fact, it's anything but "objective" that Obama's restraint is helping the Iranian government. It's a highly subjective proposition, one that Kagan does absolutely nothing to defend.
True enough. But where does this "objectively" tic come from?

Presumably, Orwell's at fault:
Objectively, whoever is not on the side of the policeman is on the side of the criminal and vice versa. In so far as it hampers the British war effort, British pacifism is on the side of the Nazis, and German pacifism, if it exists, is on the side of Britain and the U.S.S.R. Since pacifists have more freedom of action in countries where traces of democracy survive, pacifism can act more effectively against democracy than for it. Objectively the pacifist is pro-Nazi.
Leaving aside its status as "the worst thing Orwell ever wrote," I never thought about the origin of this obnoxious phrase, until I was reading in Service's biography of Stalin, where Stalin is railing against the Czechs' interest in the Marshall Plan (p. 505):
Whether you wish it or not, you are objectively helping to isolate the Soviet Union. You can see what's happening. All the countries which have friendly relations with us are refraining from participation in this gathering whereas Czechoslovakia, which also has friendly relations with us, is participating.
Ah so. A little googling finds Lenin extending the Red terror to anyone who "gave help objectively" to the regime's foes. In other words, never mind what someone *thought* he was doing; the Bolshevik leaders, from their panoramic theoretical viewpoint, were the ones who could decide what one was "objectively" doing (remember, History is at work, not "subjective" individuals), and order one shot or incarcerated accordingly.

Not at all a surprising locution for the neocons, of course, whose Leninist qualities we were reminded of the other day.

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