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Orwell or Botvinnik?- 200 Words by Lev Khariton



 
 
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  #1  
Old July 8th 03, 05:05 AM
tomic
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Default Orwell or Botvinnik?- 200 Words by Lev Khariton

Orwell or Botvinnik?

200 Words by Lev Khariton

It is no secret that today we are living with a host (I would say a myriad)
of myths that we ourselves have built up over the years.

For example, George Orwell, doubtless an outstanding writer and in no less
degree a visionary, in his iconoclastic utopia “84” predicted the break-up
of the Soviet Empire. He is being remembered now, the year of his centenary
mostly by the ex-Soviet dissidents for his insight into the Soviet Communist
Kingdom. I wonder whether Orwell’s providential capacities were that
overwhelming to properly evaluate what was happening in America in the years
of McCarthyism and witch-hunt. Or, how would Orwell have responded to the US
expansionism today?

Similarly, if we talk about chess or rather Mikhail Botvinnik, the greatest
chess thinker and philosopher, we fall into the age-old sin of misbalancing
the good and the bad. As the old custom has it, Botvinnik is often depicted
as a stalwart communist who believed, bag and baggage, in Stalinist values?

As a case in point, I can make an appropriate reference to a new book
written by my good friend Yakov Damsky, a well-known Russian writer and
journalist. The book, “The Age of Chess”, was published in Russian in
Moscow. Profiling Botvinnik, as a chess player and personality, Damsky
points out that craving for a strong leader (“strong hand”) as millions of
his compatriots, Botvinnik advocated executing the innocent and downing the
country to extreme poverty. Frankly, I have never read any passage from
Botvinnik in which he advocated, explicitly or implicitly, the barbaric
massacre and impoverishment. It should be added that Damsky, as he
confides, when he was sick in hospital, received daily calls from Botvinnik
inquiring about his health. My question is: what is more important, the
human qualities of the first Soviet World Champion or all these ungrounded
rumors about Botvinnik’s political beliefs?

Suffice it to remember that Botvinnik was the first among the Soviet
intellectuals who openly supported the establishment of the State of Israel
in 1948. In the 60s he wrote a letter to the Soviet Government proposing a
drastic economic reform of the Soviet State which was absolutely contrary to
the dogmas of the Soviet leaders. He insisted on the development of chess
computers at a time when this idea in the USSR was considered as total
heresy. Botvinnik was one of the very few Soviet grandmasters who did not
sign the notorious letter against the run-away grandmaster Viktor Korchnoi
in 1976.

In his book “Achieving the Aim” Botvinnik wrote: “When I remember Palestine,
first of all I think about the hard-working Jews and Arabs living in this
wonderful country. Three years after the Chess Olympiad a war broke out
there (Six-Day War in 1967. L.K.). There seems to be no end to this war.
Peace, real peace is possible there only when the working people of this
land will not be bothered by the Arab petrol tycoons and the wealthy
American Jews.” These words were written more than thirty years ago, and we
can only admire Botvinnik’s foresight!

So, wasn’t Botvinnik as, at least, prophetic, as Orwell? Or less utopian?

Lev Khariton
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Any comments?

Goran Tomic




  #2  
Old July 8th 03, 03:15 PM
John Lamont
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Default Orwell or Botvinnik?- 200 Words by Lev Khariton

"tomic" wrote in message ...
Orwell or Botvinnik?

200 Words by Lev Khariton

It is no secret that today we are living with a host (I would say a myriad)
of myths that we ourselves have built up over the years.

For example, George Orwell, doubtless an outstanding writer and in no less
degree a visionary, in his iconoclastic utopia ?84? predicted the break-up
of the Soviet Empire. He is being remembered now, the year of his centenary
mostly by the ex-Soviet dissidents for his insight into the Soviet Communist
Kingdom. I wonder whether Orwell?s providential capacities were that
overwhelming to properly evaluate what was happening in America in the years
of McCarthyism and witch-hunt.


McCarthy was right, if a bit overzealous in the prosecution of his
beliefs.

Or, how would Orwell have responded to the US
expansionism today?


A blind squirrel could have predicted the break-up of the Soviet Union
(ok maybe notan actual blind squirrel), and US expansionism is simply
a reaction to internal pressures trying to tear us apart form within.
i.e. we (the U.S.) need something to bring us together. That is in
addition to the real threat of terrorism and other forces working to
harm the U.S. I've no idea what Orwell would think of all this, other
than perhaps to lament the loss of individual freedoms in the need to
protect the country as a whole.


Similarly, if we talk about chess or rather Mikhail Botvinnik, the greatest
chess thinker and philosopher, we fall into the age-old sin of misbalancing
the good and the bad. As the old custom has it, Botvinnik is often depicted
as a stalwart communist who believed, bag and baggage, in Stalinist values?


Since when was he the greatest chess thinker and philosopher? His
"Chess as a science" method seems to contradict that a little.

......

Suffice it to remember that Botvinnik was the first among the Soviet
intellectuals who openly supported the establishment of the State of Israel
in 1948.


The state of Israel was always useful to the Soviet Union as a place
to exile unwanted Jews..

In the 60s he wrote a letter to the Soviet Government proposing a
drastic economic reform of the Soviet State which was absolutely contrary to
the dogmas of the Soviet leaders. He insisted on the development of chess
computers at a time when this idea in the USSR was considered as total
heresy. Botvinnik was one of the very few Soviet grandmasters who did not
sign the notorious letter against the run-away grandmaster Viktor Korchnoi
in 1976.

In his book ?Achieving the Aim? Botvinnik wrote: ?When I remember Palestine,
first of all I think about the hard-working Jews and Arabs living in this
wonderful country. Three years after the Chess Olympiad a war broke out
there (Six-Day War in 1967. L.K.). There seems to be no end to this war.
Peace, real peace is possible there only when the working people of this
land will not be bothered by the Arab petrol tycoons and the wealthy
American Jews.?


What absurdity. Israel is supported as a state in the middle east as
a fulcrum to leverage power against (in the past) Soviet influence in
region, and nowadays against an Arab/Moslem hegemony. I might add
that there was a time when the "working people" were safe from any
"Arab oil tycoons" or "American Jews" and that was the days of
British colonialism. Does anyone advocate a return to that? You want
peace in the middle East? Israel should A) Annex all disputed
territory and make it part of Israel proper. B) Declare all
non-Israelis still within it's borders after a certain amnesty period
citizens of the state. C) After this take a proactive aggresive
approach to any new terrorism. So if Hezbollah blows us a bus.. you
destroy a city.. This would start almost certainly another
Arab-Israeli war. After Israel wins that war, peace will then be
achieved.. Too radical you say? Fine, live with the threat of
constant terrorism.

These words were written more than thirty years ago, and we
can only admire Botvinnik?s foresight!


How do you admire a way of thinking colored by a state mandate towards
anti-capitalism? People were not free to say as they thought, so even
if they agreed wholeheartedly with the politburo, their views must be
taken with a grain of salt.


So, wasn?t Botvinnik as, at least, prophetic, as Orwell? Or less utopian?


no.

Lev Khariton
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Any comments?

Goran Tomic

  #3  
Old July 11th 03, 09:11 PM
Wijnand Engelkes
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Orwell or Botvinnik?- 200 Words by Lev Khariton

Botvinnik gave an interview to a Dutch magazine just after the Russian
anti-Jeltsin coup. He made no secret of his sympathy for the old-time
communist that just took power.

"tomic" wrote in message
...
Orwell or Botvinnik?

200 Words by Lev Khariton

It is no secret that today we are living with a host (I would say a

myriad)
of myths that we ourselves have built up over the years.

For example, George Orwell, doubtless an outstanding writer and in no less
degree a visionary, in his iconoclastic utopia "84" predicted the

break-up
of the Soviet Empire. He is being remembered now, the year of his

centenary
mostly by the ex-Soviet dissidents for his insight into the Soviet

Communist
Kingdom. I wonder whether Orwell's providential capacities were that
overwhelming to properly evaluate what was happening in America in the

years
of McCarthyism and witch-hunt. Or, how would Orwell have responded to the

US
expansionism today?

Similarly, if we talk about chess or rather Mikhail Botvinnik, the

greatest
chess thinker and philosopher, we fall into the age-old sin of

misbalancing
the good and the bad. As the old custom has it, Botvinnik is often

depicted
as a stalwart communist who believed, bag and baggage, in Stalinist

values?

As a case in point, I can make an appropriate reference to a new book
written by my good friend Yakov Damsky, a well-known Russian writer and
journalist. The book, "The Age of Chess", was published in Russian in
Moscow. Profiling Botvinnik, as a chess player and personality, Damsky
points out that craving for a strong leader ("strong hand") as millions of
his compatriots, Botvinnik advocated executing the innocent and downing

the
country to extreme poverty. Frankly, I have never read any passage from
Botvinnik in which he advocated, explicitly or implicitly, the barbaric
massacre and impoverishment. It should be added that Damsky, as he
confides, when he was sick in hospital, received daily calls from

Botvinnik
inquiring about his health. My question is: what is more important, the
human qualities of the first Soviet World Champion or all these ungrounded
rumors about Botvinnik's political beliefs?

Suffice it to remember that Botvinnik was the first among the Soviet
intellectuals who openly supported the establishment of the State of

Israel
in 1948. In the 60s he wrote a letter to the Soviet Government proposing a
drastic economic reform of the Soviet State which was absolutely contrary

to
the dogmas of the Soviet leaders. He insisted on the development of chess
computers at a time when this idea in the USSR was considered as total
heresy. Botvinnik was one of the very few Soviet grandmasters who did not
sign the notorious letter against the run-away grandmaster Viktor Korchnoi
in 1976.

In his book "Achieving the Aim" Botvinnik wrote: "When I remember

Palestine,
first of all I think about the hard-working Jews and Arabs living in this
wonderful country. Three years after the Chess Olympiad a war broke out
there (Six-Day War in 1967. L.K.). There seems to be no end to this war.
Peace, real peace is possible there only when the working people of this
land will not be bothered by the Arab petrol tycoons and the wealthy
American Jews." These words were written more than thirty years ago, and

we
can only admire Botvinnik's foresight!

So, wasn't Botvinnik as, at least, prophetic, as Orwell? Or less utopian?

Lev Khariton
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Any comments?

Goran Tomic






  #4  
Old July 11th 03, 09:30 PM
Charles Blair
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Orwell or Botvinnik?- 200 Words by Lev Khariton

Sorry for being off-topic, but I've wondered, as somebody involved
at one time in electric power generation, whether Botvinnik ever made
any public comments about nuclear power, particularly after Chernobyl.
  #5  
Old July 14th 03, 06:06 PM
Wlodzimierz Holsztynski
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Default Orwell or Botvinnik?- 200 Words by Lev Khariton

"tomic" wrote in message news:
...

Orwell or Botvinnik?

200 Words by Lev Khariton

[nice, interesting article]
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Any comments?

Goran Tomic


-- Let's always remember about Botvinnik's
contribution, his Botvinnik's Chess School.
It has enriched chess not just in the
former Soviet Union but indirectly
the whole of Chess.

-- Late in his chess career Botvinnik avoided
large tournaments but he didn't avoid
playing against the toughes competition.
Indeed, he played in the prestigous Soviet
team championships.

The following incident is described by Tal
in his autobiographic text and superb collection
of his games.

Before their last game with Tal, Botvinnik
had a plus 1 life score against the grandmaster
from Riga. It was clear that he had an inferior
position, clear enough for the captain of
the Botvinnik's team to start a motion toward
arranging a draw. Botvinnik only waved his
captain away and resigned the game a few moves
later.

This clearly and nicely shows what kind of a man
Botvinnik was. Thus while I believe that Keres
and Bronstein were at certain critical moments
under a subtle or crude pressure from KGB, I don't
believe for a moment that it had anything to do
with Botvinnik. On the contrary, based on what I have
read about Botvinnik and by Botvinnik, I believe
that Botvinnik wanted his victories to be fair
and purely within the sport, on the chess board
only. That he would never value them otherwise.
He wanted the real thing, authentic, not anything
superficial, fake.


Best regards,

Wlod
  #6  
Old July 15th 03, 01:33 AM
Nick
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Posts: n/a
Default Orwell or Botvinnik?- 200 Words by Lev Khariton

(Wlodzimierz Holsztynski) wrote in message . com...
...
The following incident is described by Tal in his
autobiographic text and superb collection of his games.

Before their last game with Tal, Botvinnik
had a plus 1 life score against the grandmaster
from Riga. It was clear that he had an inferior
position, clear enough for the captain of
the Botvinnik's team to start a motion toward
arranging a draw. Botvinnik only waved his
captain away and resigned the game a few moves later.

This clearly and nicely shows what kind of a man
Botvinnik was. Thus while I believe that Keres
and Bronstein were at certain critical moments
under a subtle or crude pressure from KGB, I don't
believe for a moment that it had anything to do
with Botvinnik. On the contrary, based on what I have
read about Botvinnik and by Botvinnik, I believe
that Botvinnik wanted his victories to be fair
and purely within the sport, on the chess board
only. That he would never value them otherwise.
He wanted the real thing, authentic, not anything
superficial, fake.


Dear Wlod,

I agree with your assessment of Mikhail Botvinnik's sporting character on the
chessboard. I believe that Botvinnik was a very proud sportsman with complete
confidence in his own abilities, who never could have taken any pride in his
victories if they had been knowingly dishonestly gained. In the absence of
sufficient evidence to the contrary, I do not accept the contention that
Botvinnik sanctioned any external coercion on his opponents to constrain them
to play at any less than their best against him.

'Sportsmen played to win, but not to win at any cost. Sport was seen as part
of a way of life that was governed in its entirety by spiritual values and by
moral purpose. To win by cheating, for instance, was not just unspeakable.
It was pointless.'
--Norman Davies (The Isles: a History, p. 986)

--Nick
  #7  
Old August 12th 03, 03:16 PM
I.M. Provement
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Orwell or Botvinnik?- 200 Words by Lev Khariton

"Or, how would Orwell have responded to the US
expansionism today?"

I do not know how Orwell would have thought about expansionism, but I
know how I feel. Expansionism at any time and place is the result of
excess stored energy or energy greater than the immediate
surroundings. America just happens to be the country with the most
energy and is now in the process of diffusing and spreading its
energy. I think this is some kind of law of matter that more
concentrated substances will always flow to a state of less
concentration. America today is like the blue dye added to a cup of
water, a potent blue that will eventually become a dilluted blue.
This law of energy and matter moving from a greater concentration to a
lesser concentration along paths of least resistance can also be seen
in chess games. The parts of the position with more concentrated,
energetic material will flow into areas of the board that offer least
resistence. Of course the best players, Botvinnik included, knew how
to handle opponents who offered the greatest resistance. Resistance
like anything else that happens on the chess board can only be done by
making legal moves or by letting material stand on squares (refraining
from making legal moves).
Thanks
  #8  
Old August 15th 03, 01:34 AM
Nick
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Default Orwell or Botvinnik?- 200 Words by Lev Khariton

(I.M. Provement) wrote in message . com...
Lev Khariton wrote:
"Or, how would Orwell have responded to the US expansionism today?"

I do not know how Orwell would have thought about expansionism, but I
know how I feel. Expansionism at any time and place is the result of
excess stored energy or energy greater than the immediate
surroundings. America just happens to be the country with the most
energy and is now in the process of diffusing and spreading its
energy. I think this is some kind of law of matter that more
concentrated substances will always flow to a state of less
concentration. America today is like the blue dye added to a cup of
water, a potent blue that will eventually become a dilluted blue.
This law of energy and matter moving from a greater concentration to a
lesser concentration along paths of least resistance can also be seen
in chess games. The parts of the position with more concentrated,
energetic material will flow into areas of the board that offer least
resistence. Of course the best players, Botvinnik included, knew how
to handle opponents who offered the greatest resistance. Resistance
like anything else that happens on the chess board can only be done by
making legal moves or by letting material stand on squares (refraining
from making legal moves).


"Here I lay it down that Imperialism, of which petrifacts such as the
Egyptian, Chinese and Roman empires, the Indian world and the world of Islam
may remain in existence for hundreds of thousands of years, and out of
conquering zeal invade one another--dead bodies, amorphous, lifeless masses
of men, the spent material of a great history--is to be taken as the typical
symbol of the end. Imperialism is pure civilisation. In this outward form
the destiny of the West is now irrevocably set. The energy of culture-man
is directed inwards, that of civilisation man outwards. For this reason I
see in Cecil Rhodes the first man of the new epoch. He represents the
political style of a Western, Teutonic, particularly German future. His
phrase 'expansion is everything' contains in its Napoleonic form the most
real tendency of every mature civilisation. This applies to the Roman, the
Arab, the Chinese. It is not a matter of choice. It is not the conscious
will of individuals or of whole classes or peoples that decides. The
expansive tendency is a fate, something daemonic and huge which grips, forces
into service and consumes the late mankind of the world-city stage, whether
it wills it or not, whether it knows it or not."
--Oswald Spengler (Der Untergang des Abendlandes: The Decline of the West)

--Nick
  #9  
Old August 15th 03, 01:26 PM
michael adams
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Posts: n/a
Default Orwell or Botvinnik?- 200 Words by Lev Khariton

Nick wrote:

(I.M. Provement) wrote in message . com...
Lev Khariton wrote:
"Or, how would Orwell have responded to the US expansionism today?"

I do not know how Orwell would have thought about expansionism, but I
know how I feel. Expansionism at any time and place is the result of
excess stored energy or energy greater than the immediate
surroundings. America just happens to be the country with the most
energy and is now in the process of diffusing and spreading its
energy. I think this is some kind of law of matter that more
concentrated substances will always flow to a state of less
concentration. America today is like the blue dye added to a cup of
water, a potent blue that will eventually become a dilluted blue.
This law of energy and matter moving from a greater concentration to a
lesser concentration along paths of least resistance can also be seen
in chess games. The parts of the position with more concentrated,
energetic material will flow into areas of the board that offer least
resistence. Of course the best players, Botvinnik included, knew how
to handle opponents who offered the greatest resistance. Resistance
like anything else that happens on the chess board can only be done by
making legal moves or by letting material stand on squares (refraining
from making legal moves).


"Here I lay it down that Imperialism, of which petrifacts such as the
Egyptian, Chinese and Roman empires, the Indian world and the world of Islam
may remain in existence for hundreds of thousands of years, and out of
conquering zeal invade one another--dead bodies, amorphous, lifeless masses
of men, the spent material of a great history--is to be taken as the typical
symbol of the end. Imperialism is pure civilisation. In this outward form
the destiny of the West is now irrevocably set. The energy of culture-man
is directed inwards, that of civilisation man outwards. For this reason I
see in Cecil Rhodes the first man of the new epoch. He represents the
political style of a Western, Teutonic, particularly German future. His
phrase 'expansion is everything' contains in its Napoleonic form the most
real tendency of every mature civilisation. This applies to the Roman, the
Arab, the Chinese. It is not a matter of choice. It is not the conscious
will of individuals or of whole classes or peoples that decides. The
expansive tendency is a fate, something daemonic and huge which grips, forces
into service and consumes the late mankind of the world-city stage, whether
it wills it or not, whether it knows it or not."
--Oswald Spengler (Der Untergang des Abendlandes: The Decline of the West)

--Nick


Eeeeeeee, thar be sompthing reel daemon inspired about oor Oswald,
eeeeeeeeeeeeee, oor Oswald seem like he be growing toothbrush mustaches
now, eeeeeee, looks 't demon gottit Oswaldy good &
pooper....eeeeeeeeeeee, Oswaldn 'ee be possessed by 't
demon..eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee..

  #10  
Old August 29th 03, 09:44 PM
Nick
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Orwell or Botvinnik?- 200 Words by Lev Khariton

(Nick) wrote in message m...
(Wlodzimierz Holsztynski) wrote in message . com...
(snipped)
If one wants to be critical of other's views one should
about the Western pro-Soviet, pro-Stalin intellectuals,
who were either stupid (Sartre) or corrupted or both.


"...I must be a Bolshevik
Before the Revolution, but I'll cease to be one quick
When Communism comes to rule the roost,
For real literature can exist only when it's produced
By madmen, hermits, heretics,
Dreamers, rebels, sceptics--
And such a door of utterance has been given to me."
--Hugh MacDiarmid


"For Stalin--by 1928 already Party General Secretary for six years--the
non-Russian nationalists, especially those who possessed no industrial
proletariat and had fought against the Bolsheviks during the Civil War,
were anathema, and he set out to destroy their societies and cultures
even more completely than those of the almost equally unfortunate Russians.
In the Buryat's case that meant eliminating their taishas, who still commanded
allegiance within their clans, dispensed justice and owned vast herds, and
their lamaseries, centres of the national faith and of learning. Stalin's
anti-Buryat campaign began in 1929 and peaked in the late 1930s, though
lamaseries were still being demolished in the 1940s and 1950s....

Until perestroika, all the above was a taboo subject. Soviet writers referred
to the execution, imprisonment, deportation or starvation of a sizeable
proportion of Buryatiya's population, as well as the demolition of nearly all
its historic buildings, as the 'forced reduction of Lamas' and 'liquidation of
kulaks as a class'. Western Communists--wittingly or unwittingly--went along
with the euphemisms. A travel book titled 'Dawn in Siberia', written by one
G.D.R. Philips and published in 1942, is a prime example....Thanks to Moscow's
vigilance, readers are assured, Buryatiya is now flourishing:

'...More and more of the things which make life broader and fuller, more
pleasant and more inspiring, become available to this little people in the
heart of Asia as they go on from Socialism towards the full Communism which
they still only dimly appreciate.'"

--Anna Reid (The Shaman's Coat: a Native History of Siberia, pp. 86-90)

Evidently, it was much easier for G.D.R. Philips to 'appreciate' Stalin's
ruthless policies toward the Buryat people since he did not have to live with
the consequences that they did.

'It is generous, nay, it is but just, to take the part of those who are absent,
if not flagrantly culpable.'
--Samuel Richardson (Sir Charles Grandison)

--Nick
 




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