Haley Barbour and Walter Duranty

You don’t have to go all the way to Russia to find American support for a totalitarian regime. “Movement” conservatism, at its foundation, was all about maintaining a system of violent racial oppression in the South. Conservatives, who like to tar liberals as supporters of Communism, still haven’t dealt with that simple fact.

Wingnuts fervently believe two propositions:

– That all liberals are tainted by the fact that Walter Duranty supported tyranny in the Soviet Union in 1935.

– That no conservative is tainted by the fact that Southern conservatives (along with many Northern “movement” conservatives, starting with William F. Buckley) supported tyranny in the United States in 1965, and that many of them, including Trent Lott and – most recently – Haley Barbour, still haven’t come to terms with that fact.

In 1965, black people who tried to register to vote in the South were prevented from doing so by the illegal actions of public officials and faced the risk of systematic private violence abetted by the inaction of law enforcement agencies (including the FBI, headed by conservative icon J. Edgar Hoover). And to be a “conservative” in the South meant that you supported the continuation of that system in the name of “state’s rights.”

Most of those Southern conservatives started out as Democrats, but as the national Democratic Party moved in a more liberal direction on racial issues (starting with Truman’s desegregation of the military and Humphrey’s civil rights resolution at the 1948 Democratic National Convention) those Dixiecrats (and their children) overwhelmingly became Republican. And while today’s GOP pays lip service to Martin Luther King, it still gets its electoral margin from white people who don’t want a government that’s too friendly to black (or, now, brown) people.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

12 thoughts on “Haley Barbour and Walter Duranty”

  1. Mark is giving wingnuts too much credit. They don't know who Walter Duranty was. But they do know that communism and socialism and welfare-state capitalism are all Enlightenment children, and thus all essentially the same. There is some truth to this, at a fairly deep level.

    Some of the wingnuts are feudalists; some are theocrats; some are nihilists. They are very different in many fundamental ways. They may use the same words, such as "liberty", but do so in a very different way. But the Enlightenment is their common enemy.

    Yes, I know that libertarianism is another child of the Enlightenment, and some wingnuts call themselves libertarians. But that is just a ploy aimed at social respectability, generally of the feudalist wingnuts. (Real libertarians also exist, but they get drummed out of Cato.)

  2. Before you get too comfortable with your own facts, get the ones about me correct. I got my Pulitzer in '32, and I didn't support "tyranny in the Soviet Union." I just played a little loose with the facts. Think of it as one more thing Mark and I have in common.


  3. Perhaps liberals were equally comfortable with Soviet tyranny and non-Soviet tyranny.

    as in not at all. At least the liberals I know.

  4. I doubt Thomas.

    Since the 1930's, liberals were never comfortable with Soviet tyranny. But they weren't comfortable with US anticommunism, either, because it was a shield for jingoism, racism, domestic repression, and political advantage. (In that, anticommunism was kind of like Bush's War on Tair, for those of you too young to have lived through the world before 1989.)

    Nevertheless, there were many staunch anticommunist liberals. Most of the rest could best be viewed as anti-anticommunist–which is a far stretch from pro-communist. The judgment of the anti-anticommunists has been vindicated by history: Communism died on its own, but jingoism, racism, and repression in the name of political advantage still bedevil us.

    Yes, there were a few Rosseauvian fools on the left who worshipped Che and Mao as autochthonous gods. But they never had much to do with mainstream liberalism. And today's Rosseauvian fools are far more likely to worship Sarah Palin than Hugo Chavez.

  5. 1935? 1965?

    Hell, the date much more relevant the political landscape of today is January 6, 2001:

    …a joint session of Congress met to certify the electoral vote. Twenty members of the House of Representatives, most of them Democratic members of the Congressional Black Caucus, rose one-by-one to file objections to the electoral votes of Florida. However, according to an 1877 law, any such objection had to be sponsored by both a representative and a senator. No senator would co-sponsor these objections, deferring to the Supreme Court's ruling.

    What, exactly, was the CBC objecting to?

    Between May 1999 and Election Day 2000, two Florida secretaries of state, Sandra Mortham and Katherine Harris, distributed the scrub lists produced by the cleansing process to counties and ordered the 57,700 people identified as "ex-felons" to be removed from voter rolls. Together the lists comprised nearly 1% of Florida's electorate and nearly 3% of its African-American voters.[citation needed]

    You might recall that Katherine Harris was the Florida Co-chair of George W Bush's campaign. Nothing irregular about that. Oh no:

    The first list DBT Online provided to the Division of Elections in April 2000 contained the names of 181,157 persons. Approximately 65,776 of those included on the first list were identified as felons.

    In May 2000, DBT discovered that approximately 8,000 names were erroneously placed on the exclusion list, mostly those of former Texas prisoners who were included on a DBT list that turned out never to have been convicted of more than a misdemeanor. Later in the month, DBT provided a revised list to the Division of Elections (DOE) containing a total of 173,127 persons. Of those included on the "corrected list", 57,746 were identified as felons.


    Voter demographics authority David Bositis, a senior research associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, DC,…noted that based on nationwide conviction rates, African-Americans would account for 46% of the ex-felon group wrongly disfranchised.

    Some how, in the end, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_Central_Voter_File#Demographics_of_the_purge_list&quot;…blacks accounted for 88% of those removed from the rolls…."

    So, there was a hugely successful operation to disenfranchise African-American voters which almost certainly cost Gore Florida's electoral votes and the presidency. And when Democratic senators had the opportunity to act, they did what? They sat quietly with their thumbs up their butts and handed victory to Bush in the spirit of collegiality, comity, blah, blah, blah.

    (Yes, yes. Had they done the right thing the House would have ultimately installed Bush into the White House. But the Dems would have signaled that they weren't going to roll over every time the opposition growled in their direction, as they have done ever sense. And the world would likely be a different, maybe even slightly better place today. Warning: the preceding assumes the Democratic Party leadership actually would have wanted a different outcome. This, of course, is an assumption that is connected to reality by the barest of threads.)

    Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Ralph Nader is a meglomaniac.

  6. Ah, yes, Walter Duranty. Remember how he used to say, "Good night, Mrs. Stalin, wherever you are."?

  7. liberals throughout the cold war–present company excepted, I’m sure–were comfortable with Soviet tyranny. And we see echoes of that, faintly, in support for Castro even today.

    I think you may want to review the sorts of regimes conservatives were comfortable with.

  8. This:

    Today’s GOP pays lip service to Martin Luther King, it still gets its electoral margin from white people who don’t want a government that’s too friendly to black (or, now, brown) people.

    That's all you need to know about today's GOP, which really, isn't all that different from the GOP of the 60s, you know, the strongly anti-communist group that had no problem undermining the democratic process in other countries so long as "OUR Sonuvabitch" was running the show.

    Tainted? Nah, just good ol' fashion flag-waving patriots.

  9. Don't forget the part where they say liberals are tainted by conservative opposition to civil rights during the '60s, because they were Democrats.

    I have heard this used in complete earnest. Recently. Thomas's bit about Democrats saying "give us back that racist vote" is at least a slightly more creative variant.

  10. I'm not sure how to interpret the logic of this post. Is the reasoning good for both the Duranty and Barbour case? Only one of them? Neither?

    Is the reasoning bad depending on which side gets hurt by it?

  11. Is the reasoning good for both the Duranty and Barbour case? Only one of them?

    Only one. Unless you can find a recent DNC chairman and other prominent Democrats who speak warmly of Stalinism.

    In other words, no they are not remotely equivalent cases, which makes the conservative obsession with Duranty – a reporter, not a Democratic leader – all the stranger.

  12. Taxpayers support this?

    A very disappointing post from someone with this resume: "Professor of Public Policy at the UCLA School of Public Affairs and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches methods of policy analysis, political philosophy, and drug abuse and crime control policy."

    Klieman uses "wingnut", "liberal", "conservative", "Republican", "Democrat", without definition. Those last, party labels, are fine, but "wingnut" is a vacuous pejorative, while "liberal" and "conservative" mean too many different things to contribute to a coherent discussion. Today in Japan, the LDP is the business establishment opposition to socialists and in Austria, "liberal" still means the more laissez faire orientation. When Mussolini excoriated liberals and wrote, in "What is Fascism?", that fascists and socialists have more in common with each other than either have in common with liberals, he used "liberal" in the same sense that Milton Friedman used it when he applied that label to himself, in __Capitalism and Freedom__, to mean, basically, libertarian.

    How long must a policy be in place before its supporters merit the label "conservative"? After the fall of the Evil Empire, some American journalists referred to Russian defenders of State-monopoly enterprise as "conservatives". Would not this make, for example, defenders of Social Security, against privatization, defenders of the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel's exclusive position in receipt of the US taxpayers K-12 education subsidy, and defenders of the US Postal Service's legal monopoly on first class mail "conservatives"?

    Political parties are marketing organizations for candidates. Ideology is the flavoring that brings repeat customers, the flame-broiling or special sauce. Dr. Kleiman writes: "And while today’s GOP pays lip service to Martin Luther King, it still gets its electoral margin from white people who don’t want a government that’s too friendly to black (or, now, brown) people."

    Perhaps the Republican party, which originated in opposition to slavery, "still" offers the best option to voters who favor legal neutrality with regard to race, who "don't want a government that’s too friendly to black (or, now, brown) people" or white people, for that matter.

    Talk policy and you will find the temptation to descend into insults and ill-considered labels easier to resist,

Comments are closed.