Posts tagged Walter Duranty

Missing Pages from Walter Duranty’s “IWAIP” book

Nothing like getting the actual book of Walter Duranty’s “I Write As I Please” in your hands published back in 1935.  I LOVE old books, the authors are NOT politically correct.  (I KNOW I am not politically correct with this blog on many levels!!!) These authors of old don’t know what will be considered taboo ahead of their years, how can they?  In this case I was reading Walter Duranty’s book off my computer while living in Astana, Kazakhstan.  Someone had scanned all 350 pages of them, except for six missing pages. Check out my blog entries starting around January 14, 2011 or this link  from my blog several months ago about Duranty’s old book.

I know things are moving quickly in the direction of  Kindle and Nook mode.  May be like purging the old b&w TV set to get the colored one, our technological age is like that. In fact my husband and I have done away with our TV ages ago and watch movies on our laptops. But we still like the handle of a book in our hands that we can put down and pick up again at will.  We have an e-Reader but haven’t felt inspired to download books into it yet, it seems kind of clunky.

But this is about missing pages that the scanner didn’t do and I thought there was some sinister plot of withholding information from the Internet reading community.  It was nothing like that at all except the person wanting to be politically correct.  Here’s what was missing

P. 48 – about war

p. 77 – Biblical story of David and Bathsheba and how King David was confronted by the prophet Nathan about having Bathsheba’s husband Uriah killed.  Duranty had felt like he had brought a date to a dance and he was likening that story with how a U.S. state department person stole his girl.

p. 230 – about Trotsky’s sad fate, (just a short paragraph that the scanner didn’t want to scan)

p. 242 – about the poem titled “Black Man” where the word “Negro” was used (oops, big no-no)

p. 333 – about the mass suicide at Red Square

If you are interested in reading about what Duranty saw and wrote about or maybe a better word would be “embellished” it is a worthy read and feels like you are reading off a Kindle.  I don’t know, it may be the thing of the future for Kazakhstan because books are so difficult to get into the country because of weight and expense.  We shall see how the libraries will be filled in a culture that formerly was an oral culture.  Having books and reading has such a western feel to it.

Leave a comment »

“One death is a tragedy…”

I believe it was Stalin (or was it Hitler) who is quoted as saying: “One death is a tragedy, a thousand deaths are merely a statistic.”  One can get hardened after being around so much death, I suppose Duranty had reached that point.  As I’ve posted earlier while focusing on Walter Duranty’s book “I Write as I Please” the past week, I’ve been reading John Noble’s book “I was a slave in Russia.”

This American survivor, who was trapped in Dresden at the end of WWII, saw MUCH death during his enslavement.  Naturally he tried to make sense of it and I thought I wouldn’t take any notes from this book because it is so dire but I am anyway.

p. 30 “I knew little about theoretical Marxism at that time, but in this attitude toward death I sensed the gulf that separated these MVD officers from the Christian civilization that man is an animal, no more.  To kill a man is no more significant than to kill a highly trained horse or a cow.  If the beast becomes unmanageable, it is killed.  If the man-beast becomes unmanageable, he is killed.”

p. 31 “In that joking [Red Army and Soviet guards about their political prisoners at Dresden] was summed up a startling different between these guards and the Nazi death squads about which those prisoners who had known both sometimes spoke.  The Nazis, they said, killed viciously, because they were convinced that the people being killed were actually their enemies.  The Russians killed because, almost literally, a number had been drawn from a hat, because some meaningless document in some meaningless proceedings had said to snuff out the candle. No ferocity attended the executions.  The reasons for the killings were as remote and irrelevant to the Russian guards as was the concept of death itself.  Their joking, then, was not forced.  When they patted a prisoner’s shoulder, the action came easily.  Life had to end for certain integers in the sate table of statistics. That’s all, comrade.  Nothing personal, comrade.”

Why do I bring up these quotes?  Because I believe as an educator here in Astana, we need to teach the Kazakh children to know logical fallacies from truth.  There also needs to be a rule of law and respecting of those laws in order for a civil society to flourish in our places of academia, especially here in Astana.  Students need to know that human life is important and that they are not part of the cogwheel that might be spinning uncontrollably at times. They need to be valued as individuals and not made to be a part of a conformist mold.

However, this group of people in Kazakhstan and also in Ukraine have gone through much brutality, which is what Duranty wrote about.  There was a manual written by an ardent communist about how to terrorize people and those under him followed it to the letter of the law.  The following what John Noble wrote is exactly what had been going on in Kazakhstan back in the 1920s and 1930s.  There is a reason why the Ukrainians call their dark period of “Holodomor” as Terror Famine in 1932-33.

“The very system of Communist arrests inevitably led to a system of torture that was as much mental as physical. Arrests were made to terrorize the citizens, in sweeping, indiscriminate raids.  Men were arrested as they walked the streets, as they dined or sat in the homes of friends.  They were arrested anywhere, anytime, without explanation.  Everyone in the city was kept poised on the edge of terror.  There was a plan to it all, and it was remarkably effective even beyond its terrorizing results.  When a load of prisoners newly yanked from home and street were thrown into cells, the first topic of speculation naturally was, “Why was I arrested?”

Tomorrow I will show much happier photos of Kazakh babies and students and my new office.  Things are actually looking UP for me!!!

Leave a comment »

“I Write as I Please” 1935 book (Part VIII – final)

This book by Walter Duranty has certainly created a life of its own with my blogging about some of his more “radical” statements that are out there for the whole world to see (except for those six pages that the scanner didn’t scan and make available on the Web)  Finding those pages might yield a sequel of this series of posts once I get my hands on a real copy of this 1935 book with the above title.  Difficult to do right now as I live and teach in Astana, Kazakhstan.  Libraries brimming with books in English, especially OLD books, are a next to rare sight in this part of the world.

Yes, page 333 is missing and it is getting to the juiciest parts where Duranty really does write the way he wants, no holds barred.

Missing page 333???

p. 334 Lenin thought his body would be burned instead it was embalmed and placed in a 1 million dollar mausoleum [WD leaves out the fact that Stalin had created this hero worship. Stalin knew that the Russian people needed someone or something to worship besides God, might as well be a dead man. I saw Lenin’s waxened body when I toured Moscow in the summer of 1976]

Steamer Chelyuskin was caught in the Arctic ice just north of Behring straits

p. 336 – Soviet stratosphere flight

p. 337 – fighting plane across Front in 1918 taking greater risks than Lindbergh, Miss Earheart, Admiral Byrd or Amy Johnson.  [WD doesn’t understand the competition of trans-Atlantic or trans-Pacific flights, apparently Stalin had gotten involved in the competition by supporting the best pilots experimenting with faster planes]

great airplane Maxim Gorky crashed in spring of 1935

“Rodina” – birthplace or homeland  – of USSR, used to be called “Socialist Fatherland”

p. 339 the thing that distinguishs a real working Socialist system from a pseudo-Socialist system is the abolition of the power of money and the profit motive and of the possibility for any individual or group of individuals to gain surplus value from the work of others.

David Lawrence in July 20, 1935 Sat. Evening Post

p. 340 – not a question of “I do on what I get but of what we do and what we get – definite of the difference between Socialism and individualism

WD asked “Am I wrong in believing that Stalin is the greatest living statesman and that Litvinov is the ablest foreign minister?” [K.N. answer to W.D. “YES!”]

W.D. relates a Russian folklore of Koshchei Bea smetny Koshchei the Deathless revived smiling after decapitation, life was found in the duck’s egg, but Hero crushed egg and giant died. Where is life found for the young Soviet nation? Worth as a diamond “Not mine for me but ours for us.” [K.N. what I want to know is did W.D. share the profits of this book with other people or did he have a little nestegg to retire with on his own?]

Deathless life of USSR.

The end!!!

Leave a comment »

“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.

Comments (1) »

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

Walter Duranty maybe never intended to become  Stalin’s apologist but what he wrote towards the end of this book is rather damning. He wrote in passing about Stalin’s speech of “Dizziness with Success” where everything was in Bolshevik tempo and high gear concerning industrialization and agriculture.   See what you think:

p. 283 – “Crux of struggle came in the villages where an attempt was being made to socialize, virtually overnight 100 million of the stubbornest and most ignorant peasants in the world, that is, to force them into new and unfamiliar ways and expect them meanwhile to go on producing food…The dispirited peasants were galvanized into action, the crop was planted and the harvest of 1933 was the greatest Russia had ever known.”

On page 286, clearly Duranty and others don’t understand about farming – farms can’t be run like a factory which Henry Ford supposedly had said. Assembly line factories have a more controlled environment than fields where floods or pestilence could wipe out a whole harvest, acts of God and weather impact farming results as well. One can’t have farming quotas like you can in factories?  Why was this so difficult for the Bolsheviks to understand?  Collectivization was “inspired” to create a kind of factory and cogwheel mentality of those who worked the fields. (another name for that might be “slaves.”)

p. 287 – 1918 15 million peasants in Russia

1928 – 25 million

avg. acreage were 10 acres and the methods of cultivation was obsolete

must be thorough reform of agrarian system, 125,000 farms with an avg. 2,000 acres with modern machinery

Education can come to most backward section of population, Progress was thrust on them

W.D. met exiled kulaks on trip to Central Asia in 1930 – meeting of steel on Turk-Sib railway north and south, meet at part north of Ili river

p. 288 – local dignitaries – shock workers and their families while the fields for miles were dotted with round felt tents of Kazakh nomads.

Patriotism and Progress are high sounding words and noble as Ideas but are they always worth the pain they cost?


Leave a comment »

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

If you look at the index of Walter Duranty’s book, it is chock full of names and places, five pages worth.  As a journalist Duranty knew to include as many people as possible which may have brought this book up on the charts of the New York Times bestseller list, if they kept track of such things back then.  People like to see their names in print whether in a newspaper article or in a book, so he knew that all who were “readers” would like to buy a copy of this book which was published so long ago.  Yet, there are many things that remain the same or history definitely repeats itself.  I’ll continue where I left off with what I think are interesting quotes:

p. 212 – Liatsis theory of Red Terror and warning and example [other references to who wrote the manual on terror and how to get people to do what the communist regime wanted them to do]

“His Majesty’s Opposition” – English phrase – W.D. learned to read between the lines of the Soviet Press. “Bewildering difference between Russian and non-Russian and Bolshevik and non-Bolshevik mentality.” [I have the same problem here in Astana, what is Kazakh and not Kazakh, what is post-Soviet and what is just human nature?]

In the spring of 1930, Walter Duranty went to Alma Ata where Trotsky was first exiled to do an interview.  So few references to Central Asia so to me this is interesting.  Christopher Robbins, in his book “Apples are from Kazakhstan” writes about Trotsky’s exile to Kazakhstan.

I like the following poem that Duranty quoted, it fits with living here in Kazakhstan, especially in the capital city of Astana:

p. 240

There was an owl who in an oak

The more he heard the less he spoke

The less he spoke the more he heard

Soldiers, imitate that wise bird

p. 247 – “The tempo of life by which the Bolsheviks /////[can’t read my writing] the rush of their progress, the haste of their desire to catch up and surpass the capitalist world in material achievement, has been too swift to allow any of them to pause awhile by the wayside, and think.”

p. 249 Three old enemies of newspaper:  time, space and selection

How to handle news in Russia – 1st rule – believe nothing that I hear, little of what I read and not at all of what I see

p. 278 – “I had no intention of being an apologist for the Stalin administration” [whether he intended or not, he was the mouthpiece that many people listened to, especially Governor Roosevelt from New York, who later opened up relations with U.S.S.R. in 1933 when he became President.]

(to be continued)

Leave a comment »

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

Back again with more Walter Duranty quotes from his book “I Write as I Please.” I suppose it might be considered arrogant for a writer to have that as his title but as a journalist for the New York Times,  he always had editors that made him write a certain way. (Perhaps he had Stalin’s minions also edit what he wrote, but that’s another issue)  He probably had a very tight internal self editor because I believe he did write well.  However, a hero of mine, Malcolm Muggeridge, another British journalist simply said that Duranty was a “Liar.”  What parts did Duranty write as lies, that is for history to judge. He did admit to embellishing a story to make it more readable.

So, I didn’t think I’d actually ever write this but I am glad Duranty wrote this book published in 1935 because he documents what historian deniers of the Terror Famine would rather have people NOT know about what happened in Kazakhstan and Ukraine and other former Soviet countries. (I’ll include quotes about that tomorrow)

p. 207 “In other words, I had become affected by my environment and was beginning to lose the perspective and critical detachment which every foreign correspondent must retain at all costs.  A reporter who stays too long in Russia at one time is liable either to lose sight of the differences and to accept as natural and normal events as circumstances which are unnatural and abnormal to his readers, or else to find that the difference gets on his nerves to such a degree that he swings over to the other extreme and reports everything from a sour and jaundiced angle.”

Here’s what spurred this book on and who he dedicated this book to, his journalist friend William Ryall Bolitho.  Bolitho gave him some sage advice:

p. 258 “Capitalize your knowledge and experience and capacity for putting words on paper in a way that will interest your readers”

YOUR book, the book that comes from YOU out of YOUR consciousness and is not something that you are writing as you think you ought to write or as someone else wants you to write.  The only books that matter must be written with conviction and must be true to the people who write them.

The reason this stuff gets across is that its true to the people who write it – that’s the basic principle.  Second, a book should be actually true and well written.  A book written with conviction but true and without hokum – the result is bound to be right.

The better you write it and the more interesting the subject, the more right is the result.

Don’t write what they want you to write – write what YOU want to write, as YOU want to write it.”

Today I started reading a book by John Noble titled “I Was a Slave in Russia.”  I keep gravitating to these kinds of books for some reason.

(to be continued)

Leave a comment »