Archive for January, 2010

In 1936 I was 10 years old

Friday, January 29th, 2010

In 1936 I was 10 years old starting the 4th grade at Corpus Christi School in Dayton, Ohio. I sang in the choir and was an altar boy. I looked at the world through rose-colored glasses even though we were in the middle of the Great Depression that had cost my father his job and our family its nice house. The depression left my father scampering to support the family in a succession of short-lived dead-end jobs. We moved at least once every year in my childhood because we could not afford to buy a house and had to make do renting houses that the bank had foreclosed on. The bank, probably not unlike today, was trying to eke out a few dollars while they had the houses up for sale. Every time a potential buyer would come to see our latest home, my sister and I tried our best to highlight the house’s tragic faults. It never seemed to work. Nevertheless my sister and I survived the great depression and had a childhood (for the most part) free of want, free of fear, free of persecution and often (not always) full of fun. We were reliable Catholics and Roosevelt democrats. Money and sports were constant topics of conversation and dispute at our house, but never politics or religion. My favorite subject in the 4th grade was geography.

In 1936 I could find Russia on our classroom maps (the Soviet Union on our newest maps), but I had no notion what it was like there. I discovered much later that it was in 1936 that Josef Stalin launched the Great Terror. From 1936 to 1938 (while I was moving up to the 6th grade where my favorite subjects were arithmetic and poetry) Stalin personally signed death warrants for 39,000 people, many of them old acquaintances and some of them prominent Bolsheviks who had helped him gain power in the 1917 Revolution. Scholars say that at least one and a half million Russians were shot in the next two years, all on orders from Stalin. One of the most chilling of the stories of the 1930s is told by the composer Dmitri Shostakovich in his memoir, TESTIMONY.

“Since time immemorial, folk sings have wondered along the road of the Ukraine. They’re called Lirniki … They were almost always blind men-why that is so is another question that I won’t go into, but briefly, it’s traditional. The point is, they were always blind and defenseless people, but no one ever touched or hurt them. Hurting a blind man-what could be lower? And then in the mid thirties the First All-Ukrainian Congress of Lirniki was announced, and all the folk singers have to gather and discuss what to do in the future. ‘Life is better, life is merrier,’ Stalin had said. The blind men believed it. They came to the congress from all over the Ukraine, from tiny, forgotten villages. There were several hundred of them at the congress. It was a living museum, the country’s living history. All its songs, all its music and poetry. And they were almost all shot, almost all of those pathetic blind men killed.”

There follows Part 2: THE RISE OF COMMUNISM from our new program WHAT’S TO BE DONE? A 10-part Guide to the 20th century Cold War and what it can teach us in the 21st century wars against radical Islam.

Part 2: The Rise of Communism

To understand the Cold War we need to go back not forty-three years, but at least one hundred and sixty years. In the middle of the 19th century the Industrial Revolution and Capitalism were rapidly making countries of Western Europe and North America the richest and most powerful nations on earth.

Workers, farmers and families of 19th century Western Europe and North America were richer, healthier and had longer lives than peasants, slaves and servants of all previous centuries. Many workers, however, were also more alienated from their work and their world. They could see more clearly now the gulf between their lives and those of the wealthy industrialists who owned and managed the new factories, mines and sweatshops. This combination of new wealth and new freedom coexisting with a breakdown of traditional religions and cultural values, newly perceived poverty and rampant exploitation paved the way for revolutionary change.

The most important catalyst for this change was a brilliant German scholar named Karl Marx. He wrote an influential book, Das Capital, in which he claimed to have discovered the scientific meaning of human history. Capitalism, he wrote, was the most powerful economic theory ever invented. And capitalism along with the industrial revolution was responsible for the greatest leap forward in human wealth in all history.

But history, Marx claimed, is a story of class warfare. In capitalism the new wealth is concentrated in a few hands, the owners of industry, the bourgeoisie. The workers, the proletariat he called them, are wage slaves. They would, his analysis showed, sink deeper and deeper into poverty until they rebelled and took power for themselves. They would then (with the leadership of the communist party) establish true socialist utopias where there were no longer any classes and where the means of production were owned by the workers. Production then will not be for profit, but for the welfare of all.

Marx along with a rich English industrialist partner, Frederick Engels, produced one of the most influential pamphlets ever written, The Communist Manifesto. The last paragraph of this pamphlet promised …

“The communists disdain to conceal their views. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Proletarians of all countries, Unite!”

Thus did Marx and Engels set the tone and the bible for what some would call a new secular religion–­communism. Marx did not call communism a religion. To him all religions were “the opiate of the people.” But communism, for its true believers, was indeed very like many religions of the past.

“I had the feeling,” wrote the famous Russian communist Leon Trotsky, “I was joining a great chain as a tiny link.” The infamous Russian dictator Stalin said that his communist faith “was not only a theory of socialism: it’s an entire world view, a philosophic system.” The British Marxist historian, Raphael Samuel put it this way: ” The ambitions of the Communist Party were unmistakably theocratic … Reports were handed down with all the majesty of encyclicals and studied as closely as if they were bible texts.”

This new scientific religion would solve once and for all the age-old problems of wealth and poverty, of health and disease, of crime and exploitation, of peace and war. It would replace the vicious world of greedy capitalists, exploited workers, hypocritical priests and phony democracies with true “people’s” democracies.  Instead of sin and penance and “pie in the sky when you die” it would produce a new man and a new woman who could live happily ever after in an earthly socialist paradise. That was the theory.

The only catch is that to get to this paradise it will be necessary, as the Manifesto says, to “overthrow all existing social conditions.” And this overthrow will require violence. As it turned out, the quest for a new earthly paradise did lead indeed to more violence than even Marx or Engels ever imagined.

In the late 19th century the communist vision was a powerful and exciting one that made many converts. The new Marxist vision (religion) was also soon splitting into many variations. Like the split in Christianity a few centuries before called the Protestant Reformation, there was more than one Marxist faith. Some followers became known as social democrats who believed socialism could arrive through peaceful democratic means. These social democrats (and there were many varieties) were one of the founding fathers of modern welfare states in Western Europe and North America.

Another offshoot, actually a small minority of Marxists led by a stern Russian named Vladimir Lenin, preached a much harder line. “To belittle the socialist ideology in any way” wrote Lenin,” to turn aside from it in the slightest degree means to strengthen bourgeois ideology.” In an influential small book published in 1902, WHAT’S TO BE DONE,” Lenin laid out his belief that the socialist vision demanded leadership by a tightly organized communist party that would not flinch at the necessity for violence in order to destroy bourgeois capitalism and its phony democratic veneer.

In the 20th century it was this most extreme form of the Marxist faith, Marxist-Leninism, that gained real power. In the wake of the First World War in 1917 dedicated followers in Russia led by Lenin, Josef Stalin and Leon Trotsky used guile and violence to overthrow a newly formed democratic government and proclaim the world’s first Communist state in Russia. They called it the Soviet Union. In one of his first speeches to the newly assembled Soviet parliament (which lasted just one day, to be replaced by a dictatorship the next day), Lenin kept it simple: “We will now proceed to construct the Socialist order.”

From the beginning Lenin was clear about the methods to be used. It was to be a dictatorship of the proletariat. “The scientific term dictatorship,” Lenin wrote, “means nothing more or less than authority untrammeled by any laws, absolutely unstructured by any rules whatsoever, based directly on violence.”

And so it was. Over the next 75 years the Soviet Union set records for radical social engineering, for totalitarian power, and for ruthless no-holds-barred deadly violence. In addition to violently assaulting “social conditions” in the Soviet Union itself, leaders like Lenin and Stalin created an international unit to support communist revolutions in all countries of the world.

In many countries they succeeded. Dedicated communists in China, in Korea, in Cuba, in Vietnam, in Poland, in Hungary, in Czechoslovakia and in other countries of Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia were able to take power in the 20th century with the aid of Soviet Union money, arms and propaganda­–often with the aid of the Soviet army as well. These new communist dictatorships like their Soviet model proceeded to act with effective violence to overthrow existing social conditions. By the middle of the 20th century communist governments controlled over one third of the world population. To many observers, communism seemed well on its way to conquering the entire world population as Marx and Engels had confidently predicted.

Reliable estimates are difficult because communist regimes were always very good at lying, at controlling the press and thus at concealing crimes against their own people from their own people, as well as from the outside world. The consensus among scholarly researchers today, however, is that the pursuit of a socialist utopia in the Soviet Union alone cost at least 60 million Soviet citizens their lives. These deaths came from political assassinations, government-sponsored massacres, government-induced famines, and forced labor in slave-labor camps (gulags) under such inhuman conditions that early and painful death was the inevitable result.

In addition to these Soviet crimes, Communist regimes in China led by Mao Zedong murdered at least 40 million Chinese citizens. Scholars today say that number jumps to considerably over 100 million if you count deaths caused by two ill-fated utopian programs launched by Mao, the “Great Leap Forward” and the “Cultural Revolution.”

Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam and many countries of Eastern Europe also proved to be deadly to their own citizens-and to existing “social conditions” like private property,  private businesses, religions, privacy,  scientific, social and philanthropic associations, and even sports, hobby and arts groups. Perhaps the small country of Cambodia must take the prize as the most murderous of all. Under the Communist leader Pol Pot, his Khmer Rouge partisans brutally slaughtered 2 million Cambodians. That is 2 million out of a total population of 7 million!

These horrendous totals, notice, are larger than the total battlefield and civilian casualties, including Nagasaki and Hiroshima, of all countries in the First and Second World Wars combined. That gruesome total was “only” 33 million!

Note too that these almost unbelievably large casualties due directly to government-caused crimes to their own citizens in the 20th century communist world-well over 100 million human beings-are at least twenty times as large as the well-known genocide of 6 million Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and handicapped people in the Holocaust carried out by Hitler’s Fascist regime in Germany.

Many intelligent and well-meaning people in western democratic countries were taken in by this new “scientific” religion of Communism. France and Italy after the 2nd World War, for instance, had large communist parties with prestigious intellectual leaders like the philosopher Jean Paul Sartre and world famous artists like Pablo Picasso. Those communist parties in both France and Italy came close to winning post-war elections and taking power.

In the United State and Canada communist parties were always small. Only a tiny minority of intellectuals, politicians and workers were dedicated communist party members. However, a much larger group of intellectuals, writers, artists, scientists, academics, business and union leaders, movie-makers and ordinary citizens were “fellow travelers.” That is, without belonging to the party, they were sympathetic to its goals, forgiving as to its means and dependable supporters of its actions.

With this background in mind, what actually happened in the second half of the 20th century during what is called the Cold War? And what relevance, if any, does this Cold War have for our 21st century challenges?

Stay alert next week for Part 3: The Cold War: Truman, Stalin and Korea

In the meantime you might want to check out CAPITALISM AND DEMOCRACY, RELIGION AND DEMOCRACY and SCIENCE AND DEMOCRACY. See the review below from School Library Journal.

Capitalism and Democracy (Democracy: The Basics Series). DVD. 50 min with tchr’s. guide, quiz. Hawkhill Assocs. 2008, 2009 release. ISBN 1-55979-222-1. $109.

Gr 9 Up-While many individuals may assume that capitalism and democracy are only possible when mated with each other, this well-crafted program presents a comprehensive examination of the relationship between the two theories. Consisting of two distinct divisions, the nicely paced and superbly narrated film reviews the historical development of both the economic theory of capitalism and the governmental concept of democracy and explains how capitalism and democracy are connected today. The historical account begins at the earliest stages of human society and smoothly progresses to today’s complex world with hints at what might occur in the future throughout the world. A rich variety of artwork, video, and photographs help illustrate the connections between capitalism and democracy and enhance the impact of the presentation. New terms are subtitled as they are introduced. There are two interactive review tools for post-viewing use. The guided questions option reviews key points to generate discussion, while the mastery quizzes focus on essential topics and themes from the program. While most teachers will find these assessment devices lacking in substance, their inclusion is a nice bonus. A valuable resource.-Dwain Thomas, formerly Lake Park High School, Roselle, IL

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President Hawkhill

P.S. Our giant 2010 sale is still on! Seventy percent discount on all DVDs, ninety percent discount on remaining VHS tapes. See our web site:

“What’s To Be Done?”

Monday, January 25th, 2010

At the beginning of the 20th century in 1902 Vladimir Lenin wrote a short book, “What’s To Be Done?” In it he gave his recipe for making Russia (and then the world) communist. The key, he wrote, was small tightly-controlled intellectual leadership that would use any and all means, including extreme violence, to gain power. Fifteen years later his organization, the Bolsheviks, did gain power in Russia and proceeded to give birth to the world’s first communist country, the Soviet Union of Socialist Republics. Within a few decades communists controlled one third of the world’s people. By 2000 the cold war had ended and only one-half of one percent of the world’s people is still controlled by Marxist-Leninist power. Just 2 small countries, Cuba and North Korea.

At the end of the 18th century, a small group of patriots led by George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson gained power by free election in the new world of America and established the world’s first democratic (they called it republican) government, the United States of America. Within the next two centuries democracies became the world’s most admired and imitated countries. By 1950 democracies made up about one third of the world’s peoples mostly in Europe, North America and Australia. By 2000 democracies are the governing system for more than sixty percent of the world’s peoples on all continents.

This rise and fall of communism, in my view, was the most dramatically important story of the 20th century. The western democracies won the Cold War that brought down totalitarian Marxist-Leninism. So now in 2010 the democracies have been challenged by a radical Islamic ideology that promises to destroy the “Great Satin” America. So for us today in the western democracies, who are under attack, we need to ask … “What’s To Be done?”

The script for my answer is now finished, in draft form at least. It is longer than most of my previous programs but I am planning nevertheless to publish it on one DVD with a menu that will let teachers choose from 10 sections. They can do it chronologically as it is written or they can jump from section to section in whatever order they choose.

I am going to post all ten sections on the Hawkhill News and Bill Stonebarger’s Blog (see our web site: Just to make it more fun I will post the sections in order but one at a time like an old-fashioned serial story. I would greatly appreciate any comments, criticisms or corrections from readers. This is only the first draft and I will take any of your comments in mind before recording the final version.


A 10-part guide to the 20th century Cold War with speculation as to what it can teach us in the 21st Century war against radical Islam.

Part 1: Introduction:

The Cold War in the second half of the 20th century pitted the western free-market democracies against the communist command-economy dictatorships. The United States led the democracies. The Soviet Union led the dictatorships. The democracies won.

The war against terror of the 21st century pits the western free-market democracies against radical Islamic theocracies. The United States is leading the democracies. A small terrorist group called Al Qaeda is leading the theocracies. So far neither side has prevailed.

This Cold War of the 20th century was the longest-lasting, most expensive and most deadly war of all human history if your criterion is the number of human casualties.

How long the war against terror will last is unknown at the present time. It has already proved expensive and deadly.

Most of the casualties due to the Cold War were not on the bloody battlefields of Korea or Vietnam (nor even of the Second World War itself, out of which the Cold War was born). Horrific as all of those battlefield and civilian casualties were, most of the violent deaths in the 20th century came from totalitarian regimes murdering their own citizens! The atrocities of Hitler’s National Socialist (Nazi) regime in Germany are well known. The atrocities committed by totalitarian Communist regimes against their own people before and after the Cold War are not as widely known or acknowledged.

Most of the casualties of the war with radical Islamic theocracies have been in the Middle East and in Afghanistan, though almost 3000 were in the U.S. when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001.

Let’s look first at the “cold” war between communism and democracy, and follow with a look at the 21st century war against Islamic terror. They have some similarities but also sharp differences.

When I was in college some sixty years ago, the Cold War was just beginning—or so the standard version of the story goes. Some list the beginning two years after the end of the Second World War in 1948 when the war-time Prime Minister of Britain, Winston Churchill, accompanied by the new U.S. President Harry Truman, gave a speech at Fulton, Missouri.

“From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia; … all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow.”

Forty-one years later a key link in that iron curtain was opened when the Berlin Wall came down. Two years after that a Russian flag replaced the Soviet flag over the Kremlin and the Soviet Union was no more. The Cold War was over. The democracies had won.

What happened during those forty-three years? More important, why? What was it about the Cold War and that made it so long-lasting, so expensive and so deadly? And what lessons, if any, does the cold war have for us in the 21st century?

Stay alert next week for Part 2: The Rise of Communism.

In the meantime you might want to check out THE COMMUNIST CHALLENGE, which is Part 4 of our well received program, DEMOCRACY IN WORLD HISTORY.

Here is a review, for instance, from Education Reviews Online at the University of Buffalo, NY.

Democracy in World History

Distributed by Hawkhill Associates, Inc., 125 Gilman St., Madison, WI 53703; 800-422-4295
Produced by Bill Stonebarger
Directed by Bill Stonebarger
DVD, color, 194 minutes (6 DVDs, approx. 30 minutes each)
Sr. High – Adult
American Studies, Economics, European Studies, History, Middle Eastern Studies, Political Science

Reviewed by Michael J. Coffta, Business Librarian, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

Highly Recommended

Date Entered: 6/18/2007

This voluminous work sets out on the daunting task of discussing hundreds of years of the evolution of democracy in a swift manner without seeming cursory. Democracy in World History accomplishes this with a balance of detail, analysis, and identification of overarching themes related to strings of significant world events. The series does an excellent job in demonstrating linkages of events and movements. It also does a superb job of examining common threads among different civilizations. For example, it makes comparisons between Roman and medieval and industrial civilizations in the context of slavery. The viewer never feels overwhelmed by jargon, but is skillfully acquainted with terms such as Divine Right, human rights, industrialization, enlightened despotism, etc. The most notable aspect of this series is its overall consistency. The narration has the feel of a grandfather’s storytelling. Casual references, such as referring to microbes as “beasties,” and the like give this series a relaxed but informative tone. Make no mistake, however, that this is a rigorous rendering of the history of democracy. Scripts for each DVD are available on the Hawkhill web site.

Not simply a recording on a disk, the filmmaker has taken full advantage of the medium, by including a good deal of interactivity on each DVD volume. “Guided Questions” (usually in multiple-choice format) provide instant feedback and links the learner back to the portion of the “movie” with the information pertinent to the question.

This is an outstanding body of work, and is highly recommended for high school audiences and higher. It is important to note that while the volumes are interrelated, they also stand independently as solid surveys of the historical eras.

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President Hawkhill

P.S. Don’t forget, we still have our huge 2010 Sale on where we give 70% discounts on all DVD programs, and 90% discount on all remaining VHS programs. See our web site:

“poo-pooing” a science

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Some readers did not like my last News and blog. An old friend in California who recently retired from a career running AID projects in Africa emailed back that my Hawkhill News came at the same time that the tragedy in Haiti was the big news. That tragedy made my feeble “playing with numbers re Mississippi” unwelcome to him. Another friend and former student of mine in Ohio criticized my criticism of the EPA on the grounds that many thousands of people in his home county in Ohio stood to benefit from reductions in parts per billion in the air. And finally a reader from Colorado who specializes in water issues wrote: “I feel like you’re stretching to make a point. In actual fact, changes on the order of a few ppb for exposure to a number of different contaminants can make major differences in human (as well as animal) physiology, if you look at endocrine disruptors, we’re down to ppt (parts per trillion). I don’t know the science behind the ozone levels and correlations to health care costs, but I think you owe it to your readers to study that in some detail before you come out essentially wholesale poo-pooing that science.”

All of these readers have good points and I stand corrected if not totally repentant. In my defense I don’t mean really to wholesale “poo-poo” environmental science, much less the legitimate and often useful work of the EPA. For one thing, I admire very much the chemistry that is indeed able to detect ppb (and now even parts per trillion!). And I admire the enormous progress we have made in cleaning up the air, earth and water just in my lifetime. My point is (and I think that was Mark Twain’s point in the Mississippi story) that there is a point of diminishing returns for anything, including environmental pollutants. Sure, we probably could save a few lives (or even a few hundred or a few thousand lives) by extreme control of smokestacks, river effluents, toxic waste in landfills, etc, etc. Getting rid of that last fraction of a percent, however, may not be worth the cost. For instance:

We would probably be killing way more than a few hundred or a few thousand–probably  in the range of hundreds of thousands or even millions of people–by drastically curtailing energy production, manufacturing output, innovative advances in drugs, agricultural production, etc., etc. These unintended results of extreme measures in environmental control (including current climate change proposals) would translate very quickly to soaring unemployment, rising crime, lower living standards, disastrous spikes in world-wide poverty, less and poorer health care, etc. etc. We would end up sending even more of our manufacturing to China, doing less for Haiti, abdicating leadership in combating radical Islam, letting the AIDS and malaria epidemics in Africa get worse, etc. etc.

Another for instance–personally I do think it would be wise for us to phase out coal and oil, but it will take a lot of time and it is not yet clear what the best alternatives are. I think nuclear power would be fine and non-polluting (I know many environmentalists would disagree). Solar is a possibility, but the solar-voltaic variety at least would use a lot of rare earths, some which could also be quite dangerous in the environment. Not to mention that almost all of the rare earths now come from a single spot in China where the pollution is really horrendous. As some wag said “there is no free lunch.”

One prominent biochemist who agrees with me on this issue is Bruce Ames, the world-renowned biochemist at the University of California-Berkeley. He is the inventor of the Ames Test, the world-wide standard laboratory test to decide whether a given chemical is carcinogenic or mutagenic. A web site interview might interest some of my readers:

Here is one relevant quote from the interview: “‘I’ve gotten very suspicious of a lot of the activists because I just feel that they are not good problem solvers. If you push in the wrong direction, then you’re counterproductive. If we are spending $125 billion a year on EPA regulation, and it’s not effective, that kills people, because it diverts resources from important things and it takes money that could be used for starting new companies and generating wealth and generating money for science.”

Bruce Ames is also one of the scientists interviewed for our popular DVD program: SCIENCE AND SOCIETY: GLOBAL ISSUES OF THE 21ST CENTURY. Other scientists and environmentalists on that same DVD include: Richard Burgess, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Bernard Cohen, University of Pittsburgh; Richard Lindzen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Thomas Lovejoy, Smithsonian Institution; Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute; Howard Odum, University of Florida; Jeremy Rifkin, environmental activist; and Julian Simon, University of Maryland. You can get this DVD and 100 others now at a whopping 70% discount in our new 2010 sale. See full description on our web site.

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President Hawkhill

Current Events

Monday, January 11th, 2010

A friend in California sent me this gentle reminder that age brings problems.

A nice old couple in their eighties are both having problems remembering things. During a checkup, the doctor tells them that they’re physically okay, but they might want to start writing things down to help them remember. Later that night, while watching TV, the old man gets up from his chair. ‘Want anything while I’m in the kitchen?’ he asks.

‘Will you get me a bowl of ice cream?’ ‘Sure’ ‘Don’t you think you should write it down so you can remember it?’ she asks. ‘No, I can remember it.’ ‘Well, I’d like some strawberries on top, too. Maybe you should write it down?’ He says, ‘I can remember that. You want a bowl of ice cream with strawberries.’ ‘I’d also like whipped cream. I’m certain you’ll forget that, write it down.’ she says. Irritated, he says, ‘I don’t need to write it down, I can remember it! Ice cream with strawberries and whipped cream – I got it, for goodness sake!’ Then he toddles into the kitchen. After about 20 minutes, he returns from the kitchen and hands his wife a plate of bacon and eggs. She stares at the plate for a moment. ‘Where’s my toast?’

My own memory is still pretty good. In fact the tale above is actually a kind of bait and switch to get you to think about my new program, THE COLD WAR AND 9/11, that I hope to release in 2010 . This program will rely, in part that is, on my memory. Unlike many of my readers (not all I am sure) I have been lucky enough to have lived through the depression of the 1930s, the Second World War, the Cold War times of Truman, Stalin, Churchill, McCarthy, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Gorbachev, Reagan, etc. And I haven’t forgotten a thing.

This new script is still another link in my current chain of programs designed to teach “Education in Defense of a Free Society.” This phrase was coined by a former teacher of mine at NYU, the philosopher and staunch anti-communist democrat, Sidney Hook. For earlier programs in this chain see DEMOCRACY IN WORLD HISTORY.

Here is the opening section in THE COLD WAR AND 9/1. In another week or two I will post the entire working script on the Hawkhill web site.

The Cold War of the 20th century pitted the western free-market democracies against the communist dictatorships. The United States led the democracies. The Soviet Union led the dictatorships. The democracies won.

The war against Radical Muslim terror of the 21st century pits the western free-market democracies against Radical Islam theocracies. The United States is (by default) leading the democracies. A small terrorist group called Al Queda is leading the Radical Islamic theocracies. So far neither side has won.

This Cold War of the 20th century was the longest-lasting, most expensive and most deadly war of the 20th century, maybe of all human history if your criterion is the number of human casualties.

How long the war against terror will last is uncertain. It has already proved expensive and deadly however.

Most of the casualties due to the Cold War were not on the bloody battlefields of Korea or Vietnam (nor even of the Second World War itself, out of which the Cold War was born). Horrific as all of those battlefield and civilian bombing casualties were, most of the violent deaths in the 20th century came from totalitarian regimes murdering their own citizens! The atrocities of Hitler?s National Socialist (Nazi) regime in Germany are well known. The atrocities committed by totalitarian Communist regimes against there own people are not as widely known.

Like the 20th century Cold War, most of the casualties in the war against Radical Islam have not been soldiers on the battlefields of the Middle East and Afghanistan, nor even civilians in the US when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were bombed on 9/11. Like the communist tyrannies of the 20th century, the overwhelming number of casualties in the 21st century war on Islamic terror have been citizens of Muslim countries themselves, impoverished, humiliated, maimed and killed by their own brothers and sisters.

Let’s first look at the history of the cold war between communism and democracy, and then take a closer look at the current war against Islamic terror. We will find they have similarities as well as sharp differences.

Bill Stonebarger

A Dog’s Purpose?

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Welcome to the New Year. Besides deciding to have a huge sale on our website, I also decided to make this New Year memorable in new ways. When you are in your 80s you realize that is not always easy, so be kind and bear with me.

One new way is to pass on wisdom from others. The following came to me on this, the first working morning of the New Year, from my lovely and wise daughter-in-law in Baltimore, Tanya Stonebarger.


A Dog’s Purpose

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, “I know why.”

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.

He said, “People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?

The Six-year-old continued, “Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.

Live simply.

Love generously.

Care deeply.

Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.

Take naps.

Stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you’re not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.


And have a wonderful happy new year. Here at Hawkhill we will try to keep up the good work for another good year.

Warm best wishes,

Bill Stonebarger, Hawkhill Owner/President

P.S. Don’t forget to check out our truly huge sale, a one-time bonanza for school libraries and classrooms.