L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 63, January 15, 2000
World Doesn't End!
Che Guevara In, Joseph Stalin Out
by Vin Suprynowicz
Special to TLE
Although the editors waited till Christmas weekend (a famously slow
news moment, almost guaranteeing front-page coverage in the Sunday
papers) to announce their fully justified selection of Albert
Einstein as "Man of the Century" ... the 450-page "coffee-table"
hardcover Time/CBS News book "People of the Century" (Subtitled "One
Hundred Men and Women Who Shaped the Last Hundred Years") actually
landed on my desk last week.
I am neither surprised nor will I raise objection to finding therein
honored (is that the right term?) Franklin Roosevelt, John Maynard
Keynes, Mao Tse-Tung, or even Ho Chi Minh, who probably should have
been shot for his treatment of U.S. Prisoners of War, but who (we
also note for the record) had long hoped the United States would come
to his rescue against French colonialism, indicating history might
have taken a different turn had the Republican party nominated Robert
A. Taft instead of the cynical interventionist Eisenhower, and had
someone subsequently shot or otherwise discharged both the Dulles
But Che Guevara? Mikhail Gorbachev? The Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini?
They make this Time magazine "Top 100" list while Joseph Stalin and
Pol Pot fade into obscurity? One would think Stalin's vast cemeteries
alone did more to "shape the last 100 years" than the proletarian
posturings of a proletarian wannabe like Che.
What is this, really? A list of people who appeared in posters on New
England college dorm room walls in the 1960s and '70s? The
Time-Warner editors apparently want to give us lots of Communists,
but only the "nice" Communists.
Nor is it surprising -- though it is somewhat silly -- that the
editors of this book, compiled on Sixth Avenue in New York, would
reveal themselves so Americentric, so "popular culture" oriented as
to include "The Kennedy clan," Marlon Brando, Pete Rozelle (!),
Marilyn Monroe, Harvey Milk (!), Jim Henson (!), Aretha Franklin,
Oprah Winfrey (!), Diana Princess of Wales (!), and Bart Simpson
among -- once again -- "the one hundred men and women who shaped the
last 100 years."
Not Mickey Mouse or Gertie the Dinosaur or Wile E. Coyote or Daffy
Duck or even Mr. Peabody and his pet boy Sherman, mind you: Bart
I know: Such lists are compiled as much to spur debate and discussion
as anything else. Perhaps we should be grateful they at least omitted
Hillary Clinton, Dianne Feinstein, Reinhard Heydrich, Janet Reno, Lon
Horiuchi, Felix Dzerzhinsky, and Charles Schumer.
I'm not writing to ask why Aretha Franklin (yes, she has a great
voice, as did Ima Sumac and Eartha Kitt, both of whom are missing)
stands in for real American musical genii from Scott Joplin and
George Gershwin through Fats Waller and Chuck Berry. (Christopher
John Farley credits Ms. Franklin with "making her own ... Curtis
Mayfield's pop gem 'Something He Can Feel.' " Given her status in the
industry by 1976, one wonders if a "bigger" woman wouldn't instead
have told the producer of the film "Sparkle": "Honey, you let Lonette
and Irene sing it in the movie; why don't you release them on
your soundtrack album?")
I was just wondering whether anyone else found anything odd about the
Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, Ayn Rand, Thomas Alva Edison, George
Patton, James J. Hill, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, John
Moses Browning, H.L. Mencken, Louis Brandeis, Milton Friedman, Frank
Lloyd Wright, Robert A. Taft, Douglas MacArthur, Billy Mitchell,
Clarence Darrow, Edward R. Murrow, Henry Miller, Nikola Tesla, Mark
Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Arthur Conan Doyle, Dr. Albert Hofmann,
Aldous Huxley, Robert Heinlein, George C. Marshall, Ernest Hemingway,
Igor Sikorsky, George Bernard Shaw, Werner von Braun, Erwin Rommel,
Isoroku Yamamoto, T.E. Lawrence, D.H. Lawrence, Frank Herbert,
Timothy Leary, Richard Evans Schultes, Steve Jobs, Thomas Szasz, John
Needless to say, these people are NOT among the "One Hundred Men and
Women Who shaped the Last Hundred Years," while Lucille Ball and
Eleanor Roosevelt and Estee Lauder and Pele the soccer player ...
All in all, a slightly silly book.
The actual writing? It ranges unpredictably - seemingly accidentally
- from Salman Rushdie's refreshingly meaty and thoughtful revisionist
essay on Gandhi to Arthur Schlesinger's seemingly endless lube job
for FDR (those who opposed him did so not because the tyrant
introduced the "withholding tax" and immolated the concept of limited
government in America, we are informed, but merely because the New
Deal "reduced the power, status, income and self-esteem of those who
profited most from the old order," though "happily" the men who "sat
in their clubs denouncing him" have all now "died off. Their children
and grandchildren mostly find the New Deal reforms familiar, benign,
Ah, yes. Love for the gentle ministrations of the IRS, DEA, and BATF
now perfumes the air like flowers in the spring.
FDR, the disciple Schlesinger informs us, "was not a perfect man. ...
He could be, and often was, devious, guileful, manipulative, evasive,
dissembling, underhanded, even ruthless. But he had great strengths.
He relished power. ..."
Well. Thank goodness there were redeeming qualities.
The historian Schlesinger even asserts "Stalin had to break the Yalta
agreements" to take over Eastern Europe, dismissing Winston
Churchill's first-hand testimony that the doddering FDR scribbled
down on a napkin which countries Stalin would be allowed to dominate
-- and that Stalin kept the napkin.
The book's puffery ranges from the hilarious analysis of Robert Reich
to the merely banal insights of Kurt Loder. Reich proclaims that the
"deficits are good for us" central planning nostrums of John Maynard
Keynes are now fully vindicated, as though Murray Rothbard hadn't
debunked the old Nazi sympathizer years ago. Loder's lunchbox essay
on the Beatles, all liner notes about Ed Sullivan and the breakup,
includes no useful analysis of the black American blues root music
which Lennon & McCartney and Jagger & Richards (also missing) had
studied so devoutly, and did such a far better job of "bringing home"
to America than the crew-cut, white-suede-shoed Pat Boone crowd,
which was the best the States could offer in those years while Elvis
was away in the army, studying to become a self-parody.
Speaking of which ... where's Dick Clark?
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas
Review-Journal. His new book,
Send in the Waco Killers: Essays on the Freedom Movement, 1993-1998,
is available at $24.95 postpaid
from Mountain Media, P.O. Box 271122, Las Vegas, Nev. 89127; by
dialing 1-800-244-2224; or via web site
OR MAYBE FROM ANOTHER BODY PART, A LITTLE LOWER, AND FURTHER BACK
"He always was kind of crazy, but not to say stuff like that. I don't
know if it came from his heart, or it came from his head or just
stupidness." -- John Rocker's teammate Andruw Jones, who lived in
Rocker's home for six months, commenting on Rocker's behavior.
[Do ya' think Commissar of Baseball Selig could get a package deal on
counseling and throw in Rocker's boss, Ted "Wahoo" Turner? -- ed.]
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