Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Anderton praises fan of Berlin Wall and North Korea

Jim Anderton’s eulogy for one of the country’s apologists for the former east germany’s corrupt, brutal, Stalinist dictatorship and the North Korean slave state shows the sickening double standards applied by many on the left.
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Wolfgang Rosenberg wrote often in the New Zealand Monthly Review about how important it was to recognise the Berlin Wall was needed so that well educated intelligent east Germans could stay to rebuild the country and socialism, instead of being selfish and wanting to enjoy a better life. He preferred the imprisonment, the spying of the Stasi and the “shoot on sight” policy of East German border guards to freedom – or maybe Rosenberg simply didn’t believe those who told the world of the stifling horror of lies, torture and execution in the eastern bloc. He once waxed lyrically about how wonderful Pyongyang North Korea was because it had no congestion, unlike Wellington – ignoring that not having a car wasn’t exactly a choice for almost all North Koreans. He enjoyed his academic and political freedom, but didn’t think twice of singing the praises of those who stifled it at the point of the gun.
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Rosenberg sung the praises of Stalinist economics which was not only a complete disaster economically, but was backed up by pure bloody brutality, a litany of lies defended by brutal force, and was so loved that as Kennedy said “democracy may not be perfect, but at least we don’t have to build a wall to keep our people in”.
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If Rosenberg apologised for his rantings and defence of the undefensible I look forward to seeing it, but the evidence is that he sympathised with these murderous regimes to the end – his prominent role in the NZ-DPRK Friendship Society, which is used by the dictatorship in North Korea to prove in its propaganda that it is endorsed by foreigners (having foreign friends it says), indicates this, and New Zeal can confirm it.
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Anderton thinks Ruth Richardson was brutal… maybe he should look at those his friend once defended. Of course had Rosenberg had his way, I'd have been locked up by now for counter revolutionary activity... I wont miss you Wolfgang, sadly you never noticed your own views were closer to Nazism than you'd ever admit.
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UPDATE: There has been a request for the source of Rosenberg's statements about North Korea and the German Democratic Republic (east Germany), simply peruse back issues of the New Zealand Monthly Review in the 70s and 80s. You'll find a wealth of this doggerell.
UPDATE 2: The fetid authoritarian remnants of the Alliance are mourning too, pity they don't mourn all those murdered by the North Korean regime every day, or the deaths of those killed escaping east Germany. Murray Horton, part of the nationalist socialist CAFCA wrote this.
UPDATE 3: New Zeal unfailingly has posted a detailed profile of Rosenberg including one of the quotes I remember reading (my access to NZ Monthly Review is rather limited in London). He claimed in 1987 that "The Wall contributes to peace in Europe and to successful economic and social development in the GDR." Imprisoning peaceful people contributes to peace in his warped little mind. Rosenberg dismisses the likes of Peter Fechter, an 18yo shot by East German border guards as he attempted to flee to West Berlin (they'd get promises of watches for everyone they stopped/caught/shot) and left to bleed to death in the "no man's land" between East and West Berlin. US guards on the western side feared intervening as the Soviet/GDR soldiers would interpret it as an act of war, and GDR guards later retrieved his corpse.
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Rosenberg endorsed that wall, ignored the 192 killed trying to escape the GDR prison, the prison that had just over 3% of the adult population of the GDR spying on the rest of the population for anything that could be construed as being critical of the regime. What a hero! Read the book Stasiland by Anna Funder to see the totalitarian horror that Rosenberg endorsed.
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UPDATE 4: Chris Trotter has sung his praises as well saying "his encounters with the democratic socialists of "Red Vienna" had convinced him of the enormous creative potential contained within "ordinary" human beings. He never doubted that critical thought, free expression and mass organisation were the keys to unlocking this transformative social energy" Free expression is hardly compatible with the Berlin Wall, nor is critical thought compatible with the North Korean slave state. Trotter's delusion includes such claims as "a country where only intellectuals of the Right were accorded unfettered speaking rights." Try and have those rights in a university now if you aren't of the left?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm told by one who attended that The Internationalle was played and all were asked to stand for it.

Callum said...

Well, he is Jim Anderton. Absolutely nothing of value at all in him.

libertyscott said...

Remember Cullen called Anderton Jim Il Sung at the height of the Alliance/Labour cold war.

Anonymous said...

One less nutter to extol the virtues of the red flag. Good riddance!

Anonymous said...

"New Zealanders have prided themselves on their equalitarian society. Indeed for a person such as myself who was brought up in crisis-ridden, class-dominated pre war Germany, arriving in New Zealand in 1937 was like arriving in Shangri La, a country without poverty, where the working people were full of self respect, where Maori and Pakeha lived together without excessive friction, where farmers were well to do and the sick and old were sure to be looked after, and above all where there was no unemployment and consequently universal personal security.
Roger Douglas and his successors have changed all that. Rogernomics is the gravedigger of New Zealand's nation and proud traditions."
(Wolfgang Rosenberg, Introduction to New Zealand can be different and better, 1991).
We'll let Wolfgang speak for himself. He had a bit more experience of life than some of the angry accountants round here.

libertyscott said...

"He had a bit more experience of life than some of the angry accountants round here."

Nice he had the chance to experience it, funny how he never lived in the places he lauded - and had little compassion for those who tried to leave them. However anonymous, I'm sure if Wolfgang had had the same life, but was an Austrian school economist who praised Pinochet, you would have had little sympathy (and rightfully so).

The likes of Rosenberg fed propaganda from the murderous tyrannies of the communist world that there were Western sympathisers and friends - but then after all, what are a few hundred thousand lives murdered and starved for the sake of socialism, when you have Roger Douglas as your demon.

Anonymous said...

This week, I buried a Communist, Wolfgang (Wolf, Wolfie) Rosenberg, 92. Bill Willmott’s eulogy included the sentence “Unlike me, Wolf never obtained a Party card.” thereby revealing why Bill left the USA for New Zealand around 1970, to join the Sociology dept. at Canterbury (he retired round about 2000). I knew that Wolf had been a fellow traveler canny enough never to join the Party. Still, the video slide show of Wolf’s life that ran while we waited for his body to be carried in included 3 snaphots taken in North Korea. Indeed, Willmott’s eulogy praised the fact that Wolf devoted his last sabbatical, 1972, to a visit of the Soviet Block, China, and N Korea. Two sitting New Zealand MPs on the hard left, Anderton and Locke were in attendance. By eavesdropping on the conversation of the middle-aged woman seated next to me, I surmised that she was a Red of some sort.

Wolf had two sons, one a lawyer in Wellington; the other heads Canterburyy’s computer facilities. Wolf’s daughter spoke only for a minute, and made no mention of his politics. She looked and acted for all the world like a working class New Zealand (grand)mother barely keeping her head about water. Wolf’s grandchildren struck me as stereotypical happy go lucky Kiwi young people. The ceremony ended with everyone standing and singing (in a random mélange of keys) “The Internationale,” accompanied on electronic keyboard by a young woman who, I bet, will most likely never again be paid to play it. The hearse bearing his coffin was American. I wonder who besides me appreciated the irony; Wolfie disdained everything American.

Wolf was born 4 January 1915 in Berlin; his father was a banker. He graduated in 1933 from a distinguished Gymnasium; Albert Hirshman was a classmate. Wolf did not go to university, presumably because of the 3rd Reich’s ban on Jewish students. All who spoke at his funeral passed over in silence his Jewish ancestry, his having to flee the 3rd Reich because of it, and any consequences of the Holocaust for his extended family. His having been born German also received the same treatment, except that the daughter of his late sister read a short poem by Goethe in the original. A recurring and curious mantra in the eulogies was “Thank you Wolf for having come to New Zealand.” But absolutely no mention of from where…

After two years in the Stalinist USSR (something I first learned from this blog), Wolf emigrated to New Zealand in 1937 (the same year as Karl Popper), where he began an economics degree part-time. During WWII, he was a cook in the NZ Air Force (no one at his funeral mentioned his military service). I believe he was never posted outside NZ. After the war, he wrote a Master’s thesis, then spent his entire career teaching Economics at Canterbury, rising to the rank of Reader. From the fact that his oldest son has been a lawyer for 38 years, I infer that Wolf married around 1945. He was a fairly prolific author, but mainly, it seemed to me, of pamphlets published by vanity presses or their moral equivalent.

In the 1970s, he completed a law degree part-time, and worked as a lawyer for almost 20 years after his retirement from Canterbury, mainly defending drug dealers and gang members.

Because he taught a module of Principles, thousands of students were exposed to his Marxist and nationalist teachings. Rosenberg opposed New Zealand’s IMF membership, and believed that New Zealand’s draconian commercial policy, and exchange and capital controls, were needed to assure full employment. And by full employment he understood a job for everyone who wanted one; for Wolfie, all talk of a natural rate of unemployment smacked of bad faith apologetics for the reserve army of the unemployed. He was always keen to lecture to working class audiences. In 1972, Norm Kirk told his caucus to read Rosenberg. Robert Muldoon, after losing the 1984 election, told journalists that while he differed with Rosenberg on geopolitics, he often agreed with him on economic policy.

Wolf called himself a socialist and was eulogized as a socialist. He always spoke warmly of Soviet Block regimes, saying that they had banished unemployment, hunger, death from lack of medical care, and illiteracy. Nevertheless, he sent his two sons to Christchurch’s elite Anglican boarding school for boys, the one Sam Neill attended and the sort of place where students wear zebra stripped blazers. Wolf could always afford a new and large car, thereby revealing that he received reparation payments from the German government for being a German citizen victimized by the Third Reich. For decades, only two kinds of New Zealanders were allowed to purchase new imported cars: farmers, and those who could pay for them in hard currency. Descendants of dispossessed and murdered Jews who were not German citizens receive no such payments.

In the 1990s, I often saw Wolf’s name attached to letters to the Editor of various NZ prints. Those letters either attacked free trade and foreign ownership of NZ assets, or argued that the Maori drug dealers and gang members he defended professionally were more victims of social conditions than perpetrators. His views on the collapse of Communism are not recorded. One day I rang Wolf up and asked to meet him. He invited me over and we happily yacked for many hours. During that time, he told me he believed that the $NZ$/US$ exchange rate should be 40 US cents (his wish came true 2 years later and the good times rolled for a while), and that the rising foreign ownership of New Zealand assets would eventually come back to haunt us. He and his wife assumed I had immigrated to NZ to flee unemployment in the USA. I cannot recall Wolf saying anything pointing to his having been born into a well-educated central European family. 1-2 years later, he became blind, and he and his wife had to move into assisted care. I thought I had discovered a serene old man, but at least one eulogist said that the last decade of Wolf’s life saw his optimism erode. That was blamed on the infirmities of age, not on his having devoted his life to a Lost Cause.

Anonymous said...

Wolfie's 1991 jeremiad directed at Douglas and Richardson was simply wrong.

"New Zealanders have prided themselves on their equalitarian society."
But was it more egalitarian than Oz or Canada or Scandinavia or Ireland? I rather doubt it.

"Indeed for a person such as myself who was brought up in crisis-ridden, class-dominated pre war Germany..."
Unfair comparison, Wolf. Germany had lost a major war, and that led to a host of recriminations. Meanwhile, New Zealand had fought on the winning side.

"...arriving in New Zealand in 1937 was like arriving in Shangri La,"
Compared to a Europe afflicted with the Great Depression and fascism on the march, it was indeed Shangri-La. But NZ was lucky in that it was far from all that. It wasn't necessarily wiser.

"...a country without poverty,"
That claim leaves me sceptical.

"...where the working people were full of self respect,"
Not a NZ monopoly.

"...where Maori and Pakeha lived together without excessive friction,"
Because everyone agreed to close their eyes to 19th century violations of customary Maori property rights.

"...where farmers were well to do"
Thanks to land giveaways at the expense of Maori and the Crown, and to Commonwealth preference. After WWII, a strong system of agricultural subsidies emerged, inconsistent with a thriving farming sector.

"...and the sick and old were sure to be looked after,"
Germany had this since the 1880s, Italy since the 1920s, and France and the UK right after WWII.

"...and above all where there was no unemployment"
A married woman was never counted as unemployed, regardless of her desire to work. New Zealand was underpopulated and lacking infrastructure, hence there was plenty of work. Finally, the railways were an employer of last resort.

"...and consequently universal personal security."
The personal security was an illusion sustained by Commonwealth preference. 11 years after the UK joined the European Union, the illusion collapsed.

"Roger Douglas and his successors have changed all that."
Nonsense. Unemployment remains low,
economic growth decent, there is a fair old age pension, and NZ's public health care system is not as in bad shape as quite a few other OECD public health care systems.

"Rogernomics is the gravedigger of New Zealand's nation and proud traditions."
Ruth Richardson was dismissed 14 years ago, ending 9 years of radical reform. But NZ is no longer a social democratic paradise, and there's no turning back. But the sky has yet to fall.

It is true that NZ is having growing difficulties paying for its imports with its exports. And the underclass which emerged in the 1970s and 80s is proving persistent. But these things NZ shares with the USA and Oz.

Anonymous said...

His policies for NZ were very sound, would have avoided the brutal attacks on the working class and provided a much safer society based on the principles of solidarity, democracy and community power rather than the sneering snobbery and gross selfishness than passes for philosophy round this joint.
I don't know much about Wolfgang's views on these other topics. I have read his books on NZ topics and they seem intelligent, credible, moderate and more Keynesian than Kim Il Sungian.
He also has a much greater sympathy for the people who don't have the benefits of wealth in our unequal society. Frankly I find the kind of tough guy talk in some of these posts adolescent and emotionally retarded.
As for "socialism" in the Soviet Bloc, Russia was never a socialist society in my view, and the idea that North korea is communist is simply ridiculous. You just need to read Karl Marx to realize that their system is the antithesis of communism, a democratic classless society. And of course that's just one advocate . . . there are far more whom I identify with in the democratic socialist philosophy.
I don't seek to defend Stalinism, and as far as I can see Wolfgang Rosenberg never sought to establish stalinism in NZ. No doubt the same crawlers who slither to the top in our society would fare equally well in any dictatorship as well.
Considering capitalism's record - the worldwide genocide of indigenous peoples from Cortez in Mexico to Australia and NZ in the 19th century (hundreds of millions of deaths), the enslavement of Africans (that continued in the "land of freedom" for hundreds of years), mass starvation and poverty throughout the industrial revolution (right up to Ireland in the 19th century), misery of the Great Depression, then the continuing brutality, child labour, death and injury in the slave labour camps ("Free trade zones") of the modern world . . . yes, the ones where the "success story" of the free market are bled out of human beings everyday so we can enjoy our "life and beauty." And then we can say, well, at least they aren't starving!
Give us a break.
All socialism is at heart is extending the high and mighty liberal principles to everyone rather than just the few. The principles of socialism will remain and are of course highly relevant to a troubled world.
It's all going to be an academic debate soon, anyway, as the "life and beauty" system of free market capitalism reduces the planet to a smoking cinder.

libertyscott said...

7th commenter (anonymous) thanks for that, it is very enlightening and interesting.

9th commenter. They were so sound that they saw NZ's GDP per capita go from 2nd in the world to 22nd in 20 years. They were implemented by Muldoon and his predecessors, as they were in Argentina. I don't know if Wolfgang cared, clearly he was never poorly off in NZ, so I don't know how much wealth he redistributed (or how much you do by choice). You can dismiss the 100 million murdered or starved by communism - Wolfgang defended those regimes. I don't defend murder, and I don't believe laissez faire capitalism is about theft and murder, because it requires the state to defend people's individual liberty and property. A free society requires capitalism and a state to defend rights under it - almost all of the horrors you describe are because government intervene (depression) or fail to undertake their duties.

We now have over 15 examples of socialist regimes having existed in the world, and all have created rivers of blood directly. Socialism is fundamentally about initiating force against peaceful people in order to satisfy the bigotry and visions of a small few who wants to recreate society in their own vision.

Yes they aren't starving, unlike the millions of north Koreans in recent years or the tens of millions of Chinese and Ethiopians starved because of socialism - but then I am sure you never burnt their flags or protested against them.

It is hardly emotionally retarded and adolescent to be passionately furious about those who cheer on totalitarian oppressors. I oppose them all, but Wolfgang stood by those carrying a red flag - as did Sue Bradford, Keith Locke and plenty of others on the left.

You clearly hate successful people anonymous "crawlers who slither to the top", how fucking dare they? How fucking dare they work hard, study, sell something people want and people choose to pay for it? Fuck them all right? We should all be wallowing in the gutter - equally poor - no ambitions - and the brightest, most innovative, most successful and creative can get paid the same as the street cleaner.

The fundamental principle of socialism is to take from those who produce more than the average and give to those who produce less - which of course means why the hell should you bother producing more when there are lazy good for nothings who will sit around waiting for their "fair share".