Posts tagged New York Times

“I Write as I Please” 1935 book (Part VII)

The philosophical question was posed by Walter Duranty of “Does the end justify the means?”  What were the “means” used?  That is why I am glad I read what Duranty wrote in this book published in 1935 despite the six or so pages missed by the scanner.  I am on a quest to find out what might have been purposely left off for the Web readers to know. Anyone can download this book by the above title, all 347 pages of it.

So, W.D. answers that perplexing question with the Soviet Goal being for the “betterment of humanity there can be no loftier aspiration.”  Yet earlier he wrote about the human cost.  My husband, ever the economist, claims the price of the Soviets replenishing not only the human capital wasted but also the livestock killed off took a staggering amount of time into many decades to return to what it used to be when it was just individual peasants in the vast land of the former Soviet republics.

WD wrote a poem in ee cummings style to writing a piece he didn’t believe in 1917 about the war, but he got good marks for it from his editors “I plead guilty to adding a little color on occasion.” [if that is not an admission to lying, as Malcolm Muggeridge claimed Duranty did, I don’t know what is]

p. 310 – American objection to communism, it is not only foreign but coercive and therefore repugnant to our love of personal independence

p. 310 Bridge from “rugged individualism” to “capitalist collectives” without involving coercive or violence or any of the sufferings which during past five years have attended the birth pangs of Soviet socialization. [these were not “birth pangs” as if a hopeful child was born but the death throes of civilization!!!]

p. 314 – W.D. asks the question “Why did Russian people endure such hardship without revolt?”

1) ruling forces had no choice Lenin’s famous speech of “Kto Kavo” (who beats whom?) according to him, no compromise was possible

2) poor peasants had more to give than those who were not as poor

3) propaganda – emotional “sturm and drang” of Great War of West

Sabotage trials – Kulak hate, Japan threat, rise of Hitler, machivation of foreign capitalists

Lenin solved puzzle – communist party + 100,000 tractors and modern farm machiner = rural socialism

Soviet War fought on two fronts – industrial and agrarian

Turning point of industrial victory came in the beginning 1932

Initial success in Moscow, Leningrad [used to be called St. Petersburg] and Kharkov [city in Ukraine]

Bob Lamont – son of Secy of Commerce in 1932, made a trip to stock raising  station, NE Caucaus, conditions not so bad, hearkens back to 1921 Famine or whitewash stories sort of modern Potemkin village.

Kalmikov – president of autonomous republic of Kabarda – heart of cattle country

p. 317 – Bob Lamont said when livestock dies wholesale “You can’t treat your pigs the way you treat your peasants. Pigs won’t stand for it, can’t coerce them with exile.”

WD had not been back in NY since 1926 much better conditions than Soviet press led to believe.

W.D. had admired Hoover because of his help in A.R.A. up to this point but then he did not agree with Hoover when he said that Russia was an “economic vacuum”

W.D. also didn’t like when Ogden Mills – Secy. Of Tres. told him that the US will never stand for diplomat relations with a government of atheists and unbelievers

July of 1932 W.D. was invited to Albany, NY by Gov. Roosevelt – W.D. found him broadminded – profound knowledge of Soviet affairs [that’s probably because he read whatever Duranty wrote in the New York Times]

p. 323 – Kaganovich – Political Tractor – Finish five year plan in four years

W.D. in April 1933 – flew through Ukraine on way to Constantinople – Solution to agrarian problem

WD asked about mortality rates in Ukraine when he stopped through

p. 324 – nobody knew – new people had come to Ukraine in place, so 9/10s were really new and didn’t know how many Ukrainians had really died during the starvation period of 1932-33

Roosevelt recognized USSR in 1933.

p. 325 one of sorrows of life of a conscientious reporter is that sensational stories are always the most interesting but the drab ones often the most true. [not sure what W.D. meant by that]

WD accompanied Litnivov to D.C. who claimed it would take a ½ hour to work things out with the two countries in talks, it took 10 days

18 month stagnation of being after agreement

July 1935 Litvinov and Am. Ambassador Wm. C. Bullitt

p. 328 in Britain – the British Fear God and human thinking while the U.S. – Americans Honor the President as People’s Choice

p. 329 – possession of wealth is regarded as a shame, the attempt to use wealth for personal gain or advantage is juridically a crime

What I don’t understand about Walter Duranty is that he criticized rugged individualism while he was trying to make his mark in the world by reporting what he thought on the “Soviet experiment.” This book titled “I Write as I Please” essentially would make him money or at least personal gain.  I’d be curious to know how much money he DID make and how he lived into his final years.  I understand that he died in the 1950s in Florida.  Any historians are welcome to help me out on this, I’m loathe to go to Wikipedia to find out what might be a slant on this man in his favor.

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“I Write as I Please” 1935 book (Part II)

Walter Duranty was a good observer of the Russian people, I would term him a Russophile.  Maybe he sold his soul to be able to be a New York Times correspondent in Moscow at the time when so much was happening so quickly.  I have taken many notes off of the electronic pdf version of “I Write as I Please.”  What is interesting to me are the pages that were missed in the scanning process such as:  p. 48, 77, 230, 242, 333. There may have been others, I’m just saying that the person who scanned this whole 1935 edition didn’t want some things known about Duranty.  The following are my very rough notes from what I read relating to the Russian mentality from Duranty’s perspective:

p. 118 explanation of rushing the process of nationalism wanting to hasten the communist millennium

political anarchy replaced by order and strong central authority But: economic self-sufficiency had vanished

p. 125 – Russians are a romantic folk whose innate sense of drama is stronger than their regard for truth.

p. 126 Potemkin villages

p. 144 – They were Russians, you see, whose racial quality is to live intensely in the present and dismiss doubts or fears or horrid memories with the easy insouciance of children – Nichevo which means:  what of it or no matter

p. 146 – In 1921 – Red Army soldiers in uniform back from fighting Moslem rebels in Central Asia or from “liquidating” Makno’s anarchist movement in Ukraine

Ch. 14 – Red Star – Report the facts as I saw them but to avoid quoting statements of Soviet spokesmen or newspaper, “we do not want to risk the New York Times a vehicle for Bolshevik propaganda”

p. 166 Stalin 1933 said to Walter Duranty – “You have done a good job in your reporting of USSR although you are not a Marxist.”

Walter said of himself “…I’m a reporter, not a humanitarian, and if a reporter can’t see the wood for trees, he can’t describe the wood.”

p. 169 – Wm. Bolitho had taught me [WD] to think for myself or merely that the facts of the last 2 years spoke louder for the Bolsheviks than words create impression that I was tinged with pink myself.

The Wobblies or I.W.W. were not so long in the ideological theory stuff as the Russians

Russians “most would sooner talk than work, or even eat.”

“When you come to know more you will understand the superiority of Marxists in two respects of immediate practicality.  They know what they want and why the want it and are determined to sell it by fairness or foul.

Lenin speech in autumn 1921 – “Kto Kavo” “who beats whom?”

Sent it “mulnia” lightening – where news sent triple urgent

p. 194 Catherine the Great  said one good harvest in Russia atoned for ten years of bad politics

p. 196 W.D. gives Kulak definition

p. 197 “Do you really think America will ever go communist?” W.D. refused to be sidetracked by moral issues or by abstract questions

Chapter – A Prophet with Honor

p. 202 – spring of 1922 – chasm between West and Soviet thinking – Polish Catholic priests were given capital punishment

p. 203 – “Who were these foreigners anyway who dared to tell Russians how to conduct their own affairs?” He [the main priest] has abused Russian hospitality if it is a bigger crime and he is a foreigner

West thinks “anyone accused is innocent until proven guilty” but in Eastern countries and in Russia, “the accused is guilty otherwise he would not be at trial.”  Anglo-Saxon race fights savagely against pre-determined by a preliminary inquiry, otherwise it is injustice

After priest was killed one Russian who worked with foreigners said, “Life of one man had robbed the Soviet of the fruits of 2 years of patient diplomacy.”

Buchkevich execution did more to retard American recognition of USSR for 10 years

(to be continued)

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“I Write as I Please” 1935 book by Walter Duranty

Anyone who has followed me and my blog for any length of time starting in 2006 in Kyiv, Ukraine knows that I am NO FAN of Walter Duranty. As many of my readers might or might not know, he was a British man who wrote articles about Russia for the New York Times.  I downloaded off the Internet [must be public domain by now] the book Duranty had written that was published by Simon and Schuster in 1935 in New York titled “I Write as I Please.”  Dedicated to Duranty’s friend and mentor, Bill Ryall, who later was known as William Bolitho, it was an interesting read for me just looking at the chapter titles.

I need to look up and order the book written about Duranty titled “Stalin’s Apologist.” In one of the last chapters of his own book, where he wrote the way he wanted to, Duranty claimed he was not Stalin’s apologist. “I had no intention of being an apologist for the Stalin administration” [p. 278]  That may be true at the beginning of his journalist career in Moscow but after each progressive year he became more PINK!  The more recent book about Duranty should shed some more light as to what he was doing in the pocket of Joseph Stalin.  Thought the chapter titles were enlightening:

Ch. 1 – Baptism of Blood

Ch. 2 – News Not Fit to Print

Ch. 3 – Enter Litvinov

Ch. 4 – White Front!

Ch. 5 – Balts, Barons and Bolsheviks

Ch. 6 – “The Poor do Stink”

Ch. 7 – Exclusive

Ch. 8 – The Brave Man Dies But Once

Ch. 9 – From Bolitho to Lenin

Ch. 10 – “The Bad Years”

Ch. 11 – Volga Famine

Ch. 12 – From A.R.A. to N.E.P.

Ch. 13 – Love Among the Ruined

Ch. 14 – Red Star

Ch. 15 – Lenin and Stalin

Ch. 16 – The Founding Fathers

Ch. 17 – A Prophet with Honor

Ch. 18 – Lenin’s Funeral and Trotsky’s

Ch. 19 – A Cantor with Pegasus

Ch. 20 – I Write as I Please

Ch. 21 – Retreat from Moscow

Ch. 22 – War of the Titans

Ch. 23 – Collectives Spell Civilization

Ch. 24 – I Re-Write as I Please

Ch. 25 – Moscow Re-visited

Ch. 26 – Time Forward

More quotes from this book from the notes I took after I read through the downloaded version.  Who needs a Kindle? You may be wondering what this has to do with Kazakhstan. I’m glad you asked. I am trying to get to the bottom of this mystery of cover-up and what was REALLY happening in Russia, Ukraine AND Kazakhstan during these trying years of the 1920s and 1930s leading up to WWII.  Unfortunately, Duranty was a Russophile and there is not much he wrote about Ukraine or Kazakhstan.

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April 30, 1936 correspondence and “I Write As I Please”

I’ve been privileged to come across some old letters on my husband’s side of the family.  When one works with history from the 1930s, it’s like a detective uncovering clues as to what real, ordinary people actually wrote and what they thought at the time.  No air brushing of the unvarnished truth from what was really going on, or was there?  I’ve followed the writings of British journalist Walter Duranty who wrote for the New York Times. He tried to convince and further dissuade Americans that there was NOT an actual famine going on in Ukraine in the early 1930s. Apparently in 1930 he was  in Kazakhstan because he was interviewing Trotsky who was exiled in Alma Ata (Almaty). Though trying to have the veneer of an objective journalist, he was clearly “Stalin’s Apologist.” [a book written about Duranty to that effect]

Back to Jessie Gray’s letter of April 30, 1936 that spurred on my search for the book on the Internet titled “I Write as I Please” written by Duranty in 1935.  Thanks to what she wrote in a small town in Kansas, I will show what reality was for people besides writing about family gatherings, church, food, town gossip, etc.  In the letters I have been going through there is little mention of world or national politics so this letter is a gem.  I am used to my own Norwegian relatives (i.e. S.A. Olsness) who wrote MUCH about current events back in their time.

The following was sent to the family round robin dated April 30, 1936:

Dear ?

I see by the papers they acidized the Tudor Morgan well last week so I suppose it is not as good a well as desired.

At 12:30 today noon a 6 foot 2 1/2 inch Negro lady (who was here 7 years ago) was at the M.E. church with 3 other Negros to give a concert.  The lady has a man’s negro voice, is part French and English with an Indian Chief for a grandfather.  A peculiar character who looks like an Indian.  She sang a base solo – “Beware,” a solo Arzy once had.  There weren’t many present, mostly school folks.

Some rain this week not over 1 1/2 inch if that. The grass is clean and one can step out for a weed [cigarette] without getting his shoes so dusty now.  Last year it was May 10 before we had moisture.

We have bank night here Tuesday now.  We are never lucky so probably won’t join the crowd. No one got the cash the first night ($25.00) so the 2nd night the amount was $37.50 and a wealthy lady got it, of course.

Lill’s got a 2nd hand press and lineotype in Hutch; it better for a daily than their other. They got it ready to use yesterday, after 3 weeks work evenings at Cornwell’s when they weren’t working.  Lills are in the south rooms next to the Capitol and will be until they rebuild. They have done little to clean the fire debris.  The insurance company will rebuild for them.

Mother is reading over some old letters she has saved. Grovers, Roses, M.J.s’ etc. She mentioned the “yr.” was not on one, but the month was.  So, after all, if a letter is saved, the year is more important than the day, hour, etc.

I made five posters and put them up. They are for a Y.W.C.A. Book tea Mon. eve at Beaman’s. James Tanner will review “I Write as I Please” by Walter Duranty, a news reporter sent to Russia and was there 11 years or more to study their problem.

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Troubling News: Digital Age Plagiarism

Plagiarism is nothing new, especially for this writing teacher who can spot it a mile away. The key to early detection is to have students do a lot of “in-class” writing. Then you can easily discover when they submit other hard copy assignments, why they did such a stellar job.  Turnitin.com is also another quick way to find out when the student might have copied some quotes that are not their own words.

I remember one “student” of mine in Ukraine who was a lazy, black leather jacket guy enamored by his cell phone handed in a “funny” essay.  He didn’t mean for it to be hilarious and he certainly wasn’t laughing when he got his final grade from me.  But this one paper was a piece his girlfriend had written.  This character hadn’t even bothered to change the wording of when she was a little girl, she loved to figure skate. If he had just improved the “little girl” part I still might have wondered why he would love to “figure skate.” Where I’m from in Minnesota, guys play hockey they do NOT figure skate!

I think since these students who plagiarize don’t bother to read much, they figure their writing teachers don’t read their incoming assignments either.  Therefore, I read with great interest a recent New York Times article on this very topic of the digital age and what to make of this age old problem of plagiarism.  This article titled: “Plagiarism Lines Blur for Students in Digital Age” written by Trip Gabriel, had some good examples given by researchers on this sticky topic.

Thankfully Susan D. Blum, an anthropologist at Notre Dame has written a book on this important topic, published by Cornell University Press titled: “My Word!: Plagiarism and College Culture.” In her ethnographic research of  234 Notre Dame undergraduates she wrote:

“Today’s students stand at the crossroads of a new way of conceiving texts and the people who create them and who quote them.” She went on… “the idea of an author whose singular effort creates an original work is rooted in Enlightenment ideas of the individual. It is buttressed by the Western concept of intellectual property rights as secured by copyright law. But both traditions are being challenged.”

“Our notion of authorship and originality was born, it flourished, and it may be waning,” Ms. Blum said.

According to Times author, Trip Gabriel, ‘Ms. Blum contends that undergraduates are less interested in cultivating a unique and authentic identity — as their 1960s counterparts were — than in trying on many different personas, which the Web enables with social networking.'”

Respondents to surveys who believe plagiarism should be considered “serious cheating” by lifting words off the web has dropped from 34 percent to 29 percent on average in the past decade, according to the New York Times article.  I have my own theory as to why this may be true that no anthropologist would dare touch.

I believe the more people who are turned off by church and using the Bible as a text to be referenced, the less you have people taking the time in giving proper attribution to where they find their sources.  In other words, days of old you had people who wrote in lofty, well thought out script, they also adhered to the Bible as being the true Word of God.  If one does not tamper with His Word, you probably won’t be messing with other people’s words either.

I’m wondering what Muslim countries do about getting their ardent students to refer back to the Koran as a way to prove a point.  Do their holy teachers instill in their young students to reference the Koran by giving proper references? [Christians always want to know the “street address” of where something was quoted from. For example, look up Jeremiah 29:11]  I doubt it, but then I’m walking into very murky territory. Again, I don’t know much about the Koran and if it is held up as holy text the same way the Bible is by true believers of Christianity. I’d have to say that the people in Kazakhstan only have a superficial knowledge of what is in the Koran.

My main point is that the western world has moved away from using the Bible as a text to adhere to or to gain instruction from.  The deconstructionism and the postmodern era has done a number on many of the words we held on to for dear life.  Why on earth would other universities from developing countries want to emulate what we have going on at our western universities if we have western professors who make a living tearing down words we held as true? Most specifically, does our new university in Astana want to follow the western traditional practices of originality or follow the path of “anything goes,” take what you can off of the 21st century Internet writings?

Troubling problems to deal with…stay tuned.

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“Me Write Pretty One Day” about Kazakhstan

For a Christmas present I was given a book by an American teaching colleague, he knew I needed something to read over our winter break.  The following is an excerpt from “Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David Sedaris (p. 142-148). Published in 2000, it was a New York Times #1 National Bestseller. Unfortunately, Sedaris’ book after only ten years is already dated concerning what he writes about computers. In this particular chapter, it is definitely pre-9/11.  Still, I found it amusing and you might too.  In some cases, I have encountered people who share Sedaris’ views about computers.

“It was my father’s dream that one day the people of the world would be connected to one another through a network of blocky, refrigerator computers, much like those he was helping develop at IBM.  He envisioned families of the future gathered around their mammoth terminals, ordering groceries and paying their taxes from the comfort of their own homes…

Call me naïve, but I seem to have underestimated the universal desire to sit in a hard plastic chair and stare at a screen until your eyes cross.  My father saw it coming, but this was a future that took me completely by surprise.  There were no computers in my high school, and the first two times I attempted college, people were still counting on their fingers and removing their shoes when the numbers got above ten.  I wasn’t really aware of computers until the mid-1980s…

Due to my general aversion to machines and a few pronounced episodes of screaming, I was labeled a technophobe, a term that ranks fairly low on my scale of fightin’ words.  The word phobic has its place when properly used, but lately it’s been declawed by the pompous insistence that most animosity is based upon fear rather than loathing.  No credit is given for distinguishing between these two very different emotions.  I fear snakes.  I hate computers.  My hatred is entrenched, and I nourish it daily.  I’m comfortable with it, and no community outreach program will change my mind.

I hate computers for getting their own section in the New York Times and for lengthening commercials with the mention of a Web site address.  Who really wants to find out more about Proctor and Gamble?  Just buy the toothpaste or laundry detergent, and get on with it.  I hate them for creating the word org and I hate them for e-mail, which isn’t real mail but a variation of the pointless notes people used to pass in class.

I hate computers for replacing the card catalog in the New York Public Library and I hate the way they’ve invaded the movies.  I’m not talking about their contribution to the world of special effects.  I have nothing against a well-defined mutant or full-scale alien invasion—that’s good technology.  I’m talking about their actual presence in any given movie.  They’ve become like horses in a western—they may not be the main focus, but everybody seems to have one.  Each tiresome new thriller includes a scene in which the hero, trapped by some version of the enemy, runs for his desk in a desperate race against time.  Music swells and droplets of sweat rain down onto the keyboard as he sits at his laptop, frantically pawing for answers.  It might be different if he were flagging down a passing car or trying to phone for help, but typing, in and of itself, is not an inherently dramatic activity.

I hate computers for any number of reasons, but I despise them most for what they’ve done to my friend the typewriter.  In a democratic country you’d think there would be room for both of them, but computers won’t rest until I’m making ribbons from torn shirts and brewing Wite-Out in my bathtub.  Their goal is to place the IBM Selectric II beside the feather quill and chisel in the museum of antiquated writing implements.  They’re power hungry, and someone needs to stop them.

When told I’m like the guy still pining for his eight-track tapes, I say, “You have eight tracks? Where?” In reality I know nothing about them, yet I feel it’s important to express some solidarity with others who have had the rug pulled out from beneath them.  I don’t care if it can count words or rearrange paragraphs at the push of a button, I don’t want a computer.  Unlike the faint scurry raised by fingers against a plastic computer keyboard, the smack and clatter of a typewriter suggests that you’re actually building something.  At the end of a miserable day, instead of grieving my virtual nothing, I can always look at my loaded wastepaper basket and tell myself that if I failed, at least I took a few trees down with me.

When forced to leave my house for an extended period of time, I take my typewriter with me, and together we endure the wretchedness of passing through the X-ray scanner.  The laptops roll merrily down the belt, while I’m instructed to stand aside and open my bag.  To me it seems like a normal enough thing to be carrying, but the typewriter’s declining popularity arouses suspicion and I wind up eliciting the sort of reaction one might expect when traveling with a cannon.

“It’s a typewriter,” I say. “You use it to write angry letters to airport authorities.”

The keys are then slapped and pounded, and I’m forced to explain that if you want the words to appear, you first have to plug it in and insert a sheet of paper.

The goons shake their heads and tell me I really should be using a computer.  That’s their job, to stand around in an ill-fitting uniform and tell you how you should lead your life.  I’m told the exact same thing later in the evening when the bellhop knocks on my hotel door.  The people whose televisions I can hear have complained about my typing, and he has come to make me stop.  To hear him talk, you’d think I’d been playing the kettledrum.  In the great scheme of things, the typewriter is not nearly as loud as he makes it out to be, but there’s no use arguing with him.  “You know,” he says, “you really should be using a computer.”

You have to wonder where you’ve gone wrong when twice a day you’re offered writing advice from men in funny hats.  The harder I’m pressured to use a computer, the harder I resist.  One by one, all of my friends have deserted me and fled to the dark side.  “How can I write you if you don’t have an e-mail address?” they ask…

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