Learn History so as not to repeat the worst parts – a review of Red Famine

This is the 100th commemoration of the October Revolution in Russia. 

You may remember an old TV game show “Name that Tune”.  The premise was that only a handful of notes can bring to mind entire melodies.  Contestants would bid on how few notes it would take for them to “name that tune”.  We know that just a few notes can do more than just remind us of entire melodies, they bring back all the memories and emotions associated with the times we have heard them.  The Church does a similar thing with scripture; it provides a brief snatch of Psalmody (e.g. a Prokimen) or imagery (as in the hymns) that activate the entire Psalm, story, or trope.  

But these things only work if the culture of the people has a common canon of melodies, stories, symbols, and tropes to draw from.  The wickedness and devastating human tragedy of the Soviet empire should be part of that canon.  It is were, then the words above; “this is the 100th commemoration of the October Revolution in Russia” would have brought a mix of images and emotions to mind.  It would hurt.  It *should* hurt.  A healthy culture celebrates the heroism of the past and encourages its people to emulate it; it also weeps over the evil of the past, repents of it, and vows to oppose it in the future.  But this cannot happen if we do not even know what happened.

A couple of books have come out recently that should be on every nightstand; Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands; Europe between Hitler and Stalin and Anne Applebaum’s Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine.  These are not easy reading; they describe not just the evil that claimed the lives of tends of millions of innocents… but how WE (human beings, not aliens from another planet) killed tens of millions of innocent fellow human beings.  Yes, there were heroes, but even their heroism cannot be understood apart from the vile and depraved context it worked against.

Here’s a bit of a review of Anne Applebaum’s Red Harvest.


Transatlantic Blog (Acton Institute)
Book review, ‘Red Famine’ by Anne Applebaum
BY Rev. Anthony Perkins • NOVEMBER 17, 2017 

RedFamineRed Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine. Anne Applebaum.
Doubleday, 2017. 496 pages.

“It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”
– Abraham H. Maslow in Toward a Psychology of Being.

And if that hammer is the power of the state, and if the wielder is unconstrained by morality or a worthy goal, then the result is bound to be a Hell on earth for everyone but the wielder. This was certainly the case of Stalin and what he did to Ukraine. Anne Applebaum’s Red Famine describes how the Soviet regime turned the breadbasket of Europe into an Armageddon where neighbor turned on neighbor, millions were starved to death, and the Communists showed themselves to be priests, crusaders, jailers, and torturers for the Evil One.

Read the rest here.  Better yet, buy and read the book.