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The New York Times’ Summer Fling With Communism

The Times’ opinion pages seems to be nostalgic for Soviet communism, given its recent headlines.

To commemorate the centennial anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, The New York Times has been running a “Red Century” series in its opinion pages, but its August pieces have been dubiously praiseworthy of Soviet communism.

The love affair with the communist bloc even reached sexual levels, when the Times published an article praising communism’s effect on women’s sex lives.

The first piece of August, entitled “Lenin’s Eco-Warriors,” praised the first Soviet totalitarian for his conversation projects:

Much of the answer begins with Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. In 1919, a young agronomist named Nikolai Podyapolski traveled north from the Volga River delta, where hunting had almost eliminated many species, to Moscow, where he met Lenin. Arriving at the Bolshevik leader’s office to seek approval for a new zapovednik, Podyapolski felt “worried,” he said, “as before an exam in high school.” But Lenin, a longtime enthusiast for hiking and camping, agreed that protecting nature had “urgent value.”

Two years later, Lenin signed legislation ordering that “significant areas of nature” across the continent be protected. Within three decades, some 30 million acres (equal in area to about 40 states of Rhode Island) from the European peaks of the Caucasus to the Pacific volcanoes of Kamchatka were set aside in a system of 128 reserves.

Fred Strebeigh, the author of the piece, then criticized future Soviet leaders like Joseph Stalin and Nikita Khruschev, not for systematic state repression or genocide (in Stalin’s case), but rather their opposition to natural conservation.

Things heated up later in August, when the Times published an essay by Kristen Ghodsee, entitled “Why Women Had Better Sex Under Communism,” that argued that women had better lives under communism than liberal democracy:

Some might remember that Eastern bloc women enjoyed many rights and privileges unknown in liberal democracies at the time, including major state investments in their education and training, their full incorporation into the labor force, generous maternity leave allowances and guaranteed free child care. But there’s one advantage that has received little attention: Women under Communism enjoyed more sexual pleasure.

Ghodsee cited various anecdotes that, she thought, proved that women had it better under communism than their current situation. According to her, “work-life balance” under communism improved women’s sex lives, but she failed to mention how getting dragged off in the middle of the night by state security services affected libido.

The author even seemed to lament the fall of communism and its affect on women. “The result [of the collapse of communism], unfortunately, has been that many of the advances of women’s liberation in the former Warsaw Pact countries have been lost or reversed,” Ghodsee wrote.

And the Times’ most recent edition of the “Red Century” series praised the Soviet Union’s handling of racial issues under Lenin when compared the United States. The piece detailed the story of a few African-Americans who visited the Soviet Union for artistic purposes.

“In the Soviet Union, racial equality was not merely incidental but a state project. Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet state, saw in the development of a black proletarian consciousness the greatest potential for revolution in America,” Jennifer Wilson, the author, wrote.

Of course, she mentioned much later in the article, the African-Americans later abandoned the Soviet project when they discovered their commitment to racial equity to be a “myth.”