|JFK And Solzhenitsyn|
By Robert Snefjella
In 1849, 28 year old Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky is sentenced to death for, in effect, entertaining forbidden ideas and keeping bad company. But at the last minute, in front of the firing squad, he gets news that leaves him dazed: He won’t be executed. Instead, he is to serve time in a Siberian prison for a few years. There, he endures very harsh conditions, and receives an advanced education in the criminal mind, as well as opportunity for unadorned study and reflection. He is freed in 1854, and later credits his prison ordeal with being, among other things, a salvation of sorts, an enforced deepening. (1)
Dostoevsky goes on to write outstanding works of world literature. In the 20th century, after the Bolshevik revolution, some of Dostoevsky’s novels will be deemed worthy of censorship.
In 1945, 27 year old future Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn is dazed to be arrested while serving as a military officer at the Russian front in Germany late in World War 2. He is sentenced to eight years in prison for vaguely expressing forbidden ideas in private letters. While in prison he is given a seeming death sentence: He is told he has but a few weeks to live, due to terminal cancer. (Triumphant over cancer, he actually lives until August 3rd, 2008.) Prison conditions are very harsh, but in retrospect Solzhenitsyn credits prison with, among other things, benefiting him, as a person and as a writer: extreme reality therapy?
In prison his writing career takes place with grim determination, largely in his head, through memorization, and furtively; he is awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1970, and doggedly continues to research and uncover and record, lost or stolen or distorted Russian history, almost to the end of his life. For years in the second half of the 20th century, in the USSR, his writing will be deemed worthy of censorship. (2)
In 1943, during the US-Japanese Pacific war, 26 year old PT boat commander and future US President Jack Kennedy swims doggedly, beyond exhaustion, for many, many hours in the ocean, after the destruction of his PT boat. This onerous near death experience, which includes saving lives, demonstrates a capacity for summoning great determination.
He will be a most unusual President, independent minded and bright and idealistic and courageous, trying to actively and creatively use the Presidency on behalf of the public good. This ensures continual conflict with the ideology and interests and prerogatives of many powerful people and institutions within the Established System of Power, national and international.
And for that he receives the death penalty, and there will be no reprieve: he is publicly executed on Nov. 22nd, 1963.
Noteworthy is the presence of at least two, perhaps three, future US Presidents in Dallas on that day. The designated patsy for the coup/murder, Lee Harvey Oswald, is publicly executed two days after JFK. (3)
The real story of both these murders, and the real story of JFK’s policies and accomplishments, will be distorted and censored from his death to the present day.
The truth about JFK becomes the forbidden. Unfettered public discourse in mass communications becomes a permanent threat to the forces that murdered him. By making free and full public discourse into the forbidden, by repudiating integrity, the murder of Kennedy ensures a process by which pathology metastasizes, into nearly every institutional nook and cranny, within America, to this very day; and this pathology does incalculable harm to the rest of the planet, endangering even the human prospect itself. A society cannot escape the consequences of jettisoning integrity.
Integrity is an essential part of real science, sound public policy, social well-being, and for any real love and sanity worthy of the names.
Integrity brings us near to courage, and the faithful witness; close to Kennedy and Solzhenitsyn.
In Feb., 1959, John Kennedy, in a speech to the US Senate, despite the cold war context, suggests that “As a nation we think not of war but of peace, not of … conflict but of covenants of cooperation, not …imperialism but of … new states freshly risen to independence.”
In 1960, during the Presidential campaign, JFK reveals his view of the proper function of the Presidency: “The responsibility of the President, therefore, is especially great. He must serve as a catalyst, an energizer, the defender of the public good and the public interest against all the narrow private interests which operate in our society.” And later “I believe that our … whole constitutional system can only operate under a strong President.” (4)
Again, despite the context of the cold war, in his inaugural address Kennedy called for a unified global struggle against not communism but “the common enemies of mankind: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.”
In April of 1961, the Allen Dulles dominated CIA attempts to snare the rookie President Kennedy in a trap. The attack on Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, planned before Kennedy’s presidency, and involving CIA manipulation of both Eisenhower and Kennedy, includes the supposition that the President will feel compelled to authorize decisive US military support: but Kennedy refuses to do so, which inspires much hostility towards him. (5)
In July of 1961, at a National Security Council meeting, Kennedy is presented with a Pentagon plan for a surprise nuclear attack on the USSR. Kennedy is disgusted by the proposal; presumably the advocates of initiating a nuclear war are disgusted by his disgust. (6)
September 1961, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev initiates a secret pen pal correspondence with JFK, and Kennedy soon responds. What begins as largely a debate between adversaries, evolves into a back and forth increasingly friendly secret correspondence, focusing on the common themes of the pursuit of peace and the danger and horror of nuclear war. (7)
In 1961, Alexander Tvardovsky, editor of the leading literary journal in the USSR, Novy Mir, receives a manuscript that keeps him up all night, spellbound, reading and rereading: it is called Shch-854, written by an unknown, an A. Ryazanksy ; it is a short novel about one person’s single day in a Soviet prison camp. It is realistic; it broaches forbidden themes; it is well crafted: thus the chances of it being allowed to be published seem very slim. (8)
Late 1961, bowing to strong pressures from CIA, military and policy heavyweights - advocates all of an aggressive pursuit of US global domination - JFK authorizes both covert attacks on Cuba Operation Mongoose and an increase of US military-esque personnel in Vietnam.
In 1962, there is consternation at the highest levels of political power in the USSR: The unpublished novella Shch-854 has escaped into the public underground and is being widely hand copied in the USSR. It is later given the title One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
The author’s real name has turned out to be Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
Khrushchev and sidekick Anastas Mikoyan read manuscript copies of Shch-854, and the tale is said to have induced a trickle of tears in this tough pair. Khrushchev arranges for the entire Central Committee of the USSR to receive copies, and they read the forbidden, and wrestle with the dilemma: What troublesome processes might they unleash by allowing the publication of a work of literature which contradicts the make-believe world of officially sanctioned narratives? But on the other hand, is panic by the power structure over a mere novella’s foray into reality not a confession of utter political and ideological weakness? (9)
In the spring of 1962, JFK takes on, in effect, The System, in what is usually described as a confrontation with US Steel. The Establishment, through steel industry magnates, attempts to show who is boss to a presumably politically puny rookie President. They brashly announce that they are reneging on an agreement reached with the US government on price ceilings on steel. JFK is not amused and strongly pushes back with his available Presidential powers and influence, including the deployment of Attorney General brother Robert and the Justice Department.
JFK: “…those with great power are not always concerned about the national interests.”
Kennedy wins the short term confrontation with big Steel, but stung by this upstart President’s display of independent spunk, The Powers That Be see to it that Kennedy’s policies are increasingly spun in mass media in negative terms: as naïve, wrongheaded, disastrous, leftish, etc. The oligarchic tentacles in the US are widely and deeply intertwined. Steel industry executives and directors hold key positions in many other major institutions, including banking and the Council on Foreign Relations.
Professor Donald Gibson, in his illuminating book, Battling Wall Street: The Kennedy Presidency, which I rely on heavily in this article, summarizes the consolidation of the US elite power structure in this way: “By the early 1960s the Council on Foreign Relations, Morgan and Rockefeller interests, and the Intelligence community were so extensively inbred as to be virtually a single entity.” Or, more succinctly, via Michael C. Ruppert: “The CIA is Wall Street ….” (10)
Globally, early in JFK’s presidency, there are portentous events: In August and September of 1961, the USSR explodes 3 hydrogen bombs in the atmosphere.
In 1962 the US begins a massive program of nuclear testing in the South Pacific: 24 by the end of that year.
In October of 1962 JFK is given photographic evidence of nuclear-capable Soviet ballistic missiles being installed in Cuba.
Meanwhile, back in the USSR, in October of 1962, a consequential decision is taken, largely through Khrushchev’s support: Solzhenitsyn’s unsettling novella is to be allowed to be published. Some of Khrushchev’s colleagues are not amused.
JFK is urged by some policy and military heavyweights to respond to the nuclear-capable missiles in Cuba by initiating hot war with Cuba, Soviet presence notwithstanding. The premises promulgated in support of such an attack include the CIA’s wildly mistaken ‘intelligence’ guesstimates pertaining to the scale of Russian military presence and capabilities in Cuba. (11)
Between JFK’s and Khrushchev’s compromises, and a lot of luck, nuclear war doesn’t happen.
At the Pentagon and CIA there is anger over JFK’s refusal to launch war, and his willingness to bargain with Khrushchev.
Partly due to concern about the implications for human health from atmospheric nuclear testing itself, Kennedy attempts to mobilize support for a cessation of atmospheric testing. He faces strong military, intelligence, political and public support for nuclear tests. But his ardent leadership on this issue brings unexpected, rapid success and in June of 1963, having gained much public and some political support, he unilaterally suspends US nuclear atmospheric testing. This infuriates hard-line cold warriors. (12)
Kennedy commits further heresies against cold war ideology.
He proposes to go to the moon jointly with the Soviets: cultivating cooperation and friendship instead of animosity and fear.(Khrushchev likes this idea, which does not endear him to his own hard-line cold warriors.)
JFK privately agonizes over Vietnam and begins the process of withdrawing from Vietnam, by issuing secret National Security Action Memorandum 263, on October 11th, 1963. (This was promptly rescinded by Lyndon Johnson after the coup.)
With regard to international development, Kennedy expressed ideas and proposed policies that were a repudiation of an imperial, or colonial, or neo-colonial approach. He sought ‘win-win’ policies: rising living standards for all, via broadly-based poor-country modernization. He opposed the traditional control system by which underdeveloped countries were kept weak, as feudalistic pawns, to be subjugated and exploited. (13)
Throughout his shortened Presidency, Kennedy repeatedly demonstrates a capacity to learn, to question intelligently, to adjust his views, and to make independent decisions. He displays a tendency away from ideologically-based, or cold war assumptions-based, or group-think, cliché-based, policies, and towards creative and pragmatic measures that promote general well-being, peace and real broadly-based progress, both nationally and internationally. (14)
The System that he confronts had developed from a plutocratic one, firmly in place by the late 19th century, with the vast concentrated wealth and corporate power that is exemplified by Rockefeller and Morgan interests. Plutocracy gained decisive effective sovereignty over the Republic via the establishment of the Federal Reserve in 1913. The US money system was thereby placed under obscure private control. The money power that the American Constitution had given to Congress, could now be wielded in such a way as to chronically corrupt and trump the political system, and prioritize elite interests over the broad public interest. (15)
Since World War 2, a massive military/industrial and secret police/intelligence component had been amalgamated with the long-standing oligarchical/plutocratic power.
Given the System's global reach, the destruction of Kennedy and his positive peaceful policies ushered in an ongoing global catastrophe. This includes the United States’ leadership in the serial commission of the greatest crime, according to Nuremberg: wars of aggression, destruction of entire countries. At home a police state is firmly in place and a multiplicity of societal dysfunction has been embedded, for example world leading cancer and depression and incarceration rates: Evil has triumphed. (16)
Khrushchev too made enemies, and who knows to what extent his soft moments when it came to Ivan Denisovich or his affection for Kennedy were important irritants to his colleagues. Nearly a year after his partner Jack Kennedy’s execution, Khrushchev is deposed. Copies of Ivan Denisovich begin to disappear from Soviet libraries. Khrushchev dies of natural causes in 1971, his funeral an official non-event.
Meanwhile, Solzhenitsyn continues to wreak havoc on the USSR’s leaderships sensibilities by a dogged monumental effort to record and disseminate the real history of the USSR under the Bolsheviks
In 1971 the USSR’s Powers That Be arrange for Solzhenitsyn to be poisoned, and if the intent was to kill him, it narrowly fails.
In 1974, the Soviets try to cut their losses and Solzhenitsyn is expelled from the Soviet Union, but he has managed to safely smuggle out the manuscript for his masterwork, The Gulag Archipelago: the history of the vast horrific penal colonies of the Soviet Union.
Solzhenitsyn’s great enduring gift to the Russian people is that he has provided the necessary basis the bitter truth - for a possible redemption, a cultural transformation, away from pathology and dysfunction based on criminality and lies, and towards recovering social health based on bravely facing the truth.
In 1978 Solzhenitsyn challenged both sides of the cold war divide with these words, harkening JFK, and identifying spiritual deepening as primary: “[Life ought to be] the fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty so that one’s life journey may become above all an experience of moral growth: to leave life a better human being than one started it.” (17)
It is not just the Soviet Union that found Solzhenitsyn’s determination to unearth the truth unsettling, unacceptable.: His final work, Two Hundred Years Together, a detailed examination of the history of the Jewish-Russian intertwining, has been shunned by English language publishers.(18)
Who knows whether there is any cause and effect relationship between Solzhenitsyn’s efforts and current extraordinary Russian leader Putin? Putin combines an acute intelligence with traditional values, and a willingness and capacity to speak publicly, often spontaneously, both forthrightly and with remarkable coherence; he seems in many ways heir to Solzhenitsyn.
And like Kennedy, Putin also avows a concern for the public good and for national sovereignty and creating cooperative dynamics between countries. He combines these with strength of character that is reminiscent of Kennedy.
And so Putin is deeply disturbing to the ongoing Hegemonic ambitions of the System. The System’s global mass media disinformation capabilities have thus been duly deployed, really to an unprecedented extent , to demonize Putin.
It was a most fateful coup, in 1963: To banish from public discourse sincerity, integrity, accurately describing the real. These became the forbidden. Falsehood was empowered. The real was made furtive.
When one consistently confuses the imagined with the real, one is deemed mad: being 'out of touch with reality', is the layman’s definition of insanity.
Robert Snefjella is a retired organic farmer and contractor living in the province of Ontario, Canada.
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