Wednesday marks the anniversary of the birth of the Nobel prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda, a man hailed as one of the greatest of his time and whose richly quotable love poems have provided ample ammunition for playboys the world over. He is taught on all serious literature courses, his collections are readily available as cheap paperbacks on Amazon and his work appears in various modern anthologies.
Neruda has been firmly taken to the bosom of the literati. His legacy could not be more different than that of Roy Campbell a South African poet, considered by both T.S. Elliot and Dylan Thomas to be one of the finest poets of his time. Campbell’s work is not taught on “serious” literature courses, his collections are generally hard to come by, quite often costing a pretty penny and he is distinctly absent from any modern anthologies.
The reasons for this disparity in fame are quite plain to anybody who knows the biography of both men. Neruda sided with the communists during the Spanish Civil War, wrote fawning odes to Stalin and Lenin and served as a senator for the Chilean communist party. Campbell sided with the fascists during the civil war after witnessing the murder of his friends at the hands of the communists, was devoutly Catholic and used his work to excoriate the libertine values of the literary intelligentsia.
Campbell later expressed regret at his Franquista support, going on to fight for Britain during WW2. Neruda also distanced himself from his Stalinist poetry, although he still praised the Soviet Union, Castro’s banana republic and reserved a special ire for Soviet dissent writers, including Boris Pasternak. The repentant Campbell has been expurgated from history while the semi-repentant Neruda will be known through the ages.
The Campbell/Neruda dichotomy represents an incredibly dangerous propensity the elites and intellectuals have exhibited over the last fifty years, but particularly since the fall of the USSR, to be hard on fascism but soft on communism. When called upon to hold communism to account they fail time and time again.
When in 1999 Melita Norwood, an 87-year-old UK grandmother was uncovered as having spied for the Soviet Union for over forty years, during which she passed on nuclear secrets, calls for clemency were heeded and no further action was taken. Arguments for age-related mercy aside, can anyone seriously suggest had she been found to have spied for the Third Reich such leniency would have been exercised?
Imagine for a moment if you will Theresa May had appointed to her campaign team an individual who as late as November 2016 had been a Hitler-praising member of the BNP. Her position would rightly become instantly untenable and the Conservatives would be deemed unelectable. Yet in May this year, Corbyn appointed Andrew Murray to his election team, a man who left the British Communist party in November to join Labour, is on record praising the successes of Joseph Stalin, and has expressed “solidarity” with North Korea.
To stretch your imagination even further for a moment consider what would happen were Theresa May and Philip Hammond to deliver speeches underneath a swastika? But switch the swastika for a hammer and sickle and both pretenders to No 10 and No 11 have done so. Think of the outrage that would be unleashed if MIT were to publish a book entitled, “Fascism for kids”, yet this year they found it perfectly acceptable to publish “Communism for Kids”, a book so dripping with lies and propaganda it would make a Soviet censor blush.
Contrast the sheer amount of documentaries produced on Nazi Germany by the BBC and other major channels with the distinct lack of films made about the horrors of the Soviet republics.
Why is there such double standard? There are many components to the reason for this hypocrisy, aptly explained by US conservative Dennis Prager in a semi-viral YouTube clip. But the most terrifying reason for the softballing of communism was displayed for the world to see in November last year upon the death of Fidel Castro. Obama offered his condolences saying history would judge Castro’s legacy refusing to condemn the dictator. Trudeau fawned in the most disgustingly sycophantic manner calling him a, “remarkable leader”. Ireland’s socialist president Michael D. Higgins said without a hint of irony that Castro was someone who sought, “freedom for his people.” But the winner of the most nauseating eulogy of all had to go to Corbyn who called him a, “champion of social justice” (remember that statement the next time you hear him call for social justice in Britain, in his eyes Cuba is a, “socially just” society.)
For a brief moment the masked slipped and we all got a good look at the real thoughts of many of these people. They briefly forgot the “democratic” part of their democratic socialism and could not bring themselves to defame the hero of their youthful heady Marxist days. The most terrifying reason for the establishment’s soft line on communism is that while they may have reservations about the road taken by these dystopian despotisms they see nothing wrong with the destination.
(Image: Andrew Kitzmiller)