Martin Jacques: Our nominee for the Shaw-Duranty-Thurow Prize

Monday, 2 April, 2012

Shaw in Russia The Irish-born playwright George Bernard Shaw became an apologist for totalitarianism after being invited to visit the Soviet Union in 1931. In his intellectual conceit, the author of such works as Major Barbara and Pygmalion turned a blind eye to the murder of millions in the name of Communism, and he expended a lot of energy in chastising those who were unable to grasp that a proletarian paradise was being built on earth by Stalin and his willing butchers.

Shaw was not the only useful idiot, of course. At the height of the genocidal Ukrainian Famine in 1933, Walter Duranty, the New York Times‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning Moscow correspondent, wrote: “There is no actual starvation or deaths from starvation but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition… Any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda.” Talking of the New York Times, MIT professor Lester Thurow was both an economics columnist and an editorial board member of that newspaper, and as late as 1989 he wrote: “Can economic command significantly compress and accelerate the growth process? The remarkable performance of the Soviet Union suggests that it can… Today [the Soviet Union] is a country whose economic achievements bear comparison with those of the United States.” Two years later there was no Soviet Union.

Daily, now, we are told that our century belongs to China. It is only those too blind to see who cannot accept this inevitability, say the thought leaders. “Why do we continue to ignore China’s rise? Arrogance” scolded the Observer last week as it headlined the latest attempt by Martin Jacques to stir us from our ignorance. And resistance is futile: “But, kicking and screaming, forever looking backwards to the age of the west, we will, nevertheless, be dragged into the age of China. Time waits for no country. Over the next decade, we will increasingly come under China’s spell,” exclaims Jacques, filled with the rapture.

One person who won’t be coming under China’s spell over the next decade, however, is Neil Heywood.

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