I'm a little confused. I see why many of Undelia's edits were removed, but why the part about Reagan opposing government aid to the poor? Isn't that a component of opposing big government, trying to cut welfare programs that would benefit the poor? I don't think that all of Undelia's edits should have been removed wholesale, since some of what was added seems factually accurate.
Why do you dislike my references?
Why were my edits unceremoniously and completely undone? Most of the edits were adding book citations so that claims were supported by some sort of sources. Does Conservapedia dislike facts and evidence? Or does it just dislike citations to viewpoints that don't harmonize with its own narrow agenda?
The question of whom to credit for the end of communism is a major one for historians and scholars. And there are a lot of scholars (I would say it's an accurate characterization to say most scholars) who disagree with those who credit Ronald Reagan for the end of the Cold War. I would've thought Conservapedia of all places would've appreciated trying to teach the controversy in a fairly even-handed way. Providing references to the "other side" in this debate doesn't strike me as contrary to Conservapedia's purportedly educational mission.
Obviously Conservapedia has its own conservative bias, which it is proud to wear on its sleeve. However, where I'm "biased" is that I'm not satisfied with assertions lacking grounding in sources. But it seems like Conservapedia is undermining its own objective of being "educational" by eschewing sound scholarly practices of documentation, references and -- gasp! -- presenting multiple sides of an issue, all so it can engage in unsubstantiated opinion. Wikipedia, for all its faults, likely would not arbitrarily remove several references and citations. One of their major flags, after all, is for articles with unsourced statements. Such articles appear endemic to Conservapedia, which one could attribute simply to it being so new and experiencing rapid growth, but given the way this particular entry has been butchered by administrators, it looks like unsourced statements might simply be official policy.
You do a great disservice to potential users by not only tolerating but encouraging such slipshod methods of scholarship. More than anything else, this will cause large numbers of people to reject the information in Conservapedia prima facie, and will lead more people to trust Wikipedia because it at least appears to uphold more rigorous standards. While I haven't prevented students explicitly from using Wikipedia (though I've strongly discouraged its use and urged them to consider its problems as a source), you have me leaning toward banning the use of Conservapedia outright, because the standards appear so low as to not even warrant further discussion.
Also, in simply removing my edits wholesale, I should point out that you removed several minor changes that had no business being expunged. For instance, adding "was born" in the sentence about how "Reagan was born and raised in Illinois ..." Also, I corrected the capitalization of "American president," since "president" (like other titles) should only be capitalized when used as an appositive before a proper name (e.g. President Lincoln, but Lincoln was elected president). See a style guide (Strunk and White, Chicago, etc.) for more on that.
- Please sign your comments if you can, using the signature button, so we know with whom we're speaking. Thanks.
- I did revert this entry because it tried to take credit away for Reagan for the fall of communism. I apologize if other edits were also removed in the reversion (rollback), but such is the nature of the Wiki software.
- We welcome well-supported facts here. We don't censor alternative views. But an entry is going to give credit to conservatives or Christianity or American where credit is due. If you want to insert a liberal view that attempts to deny credit to Reagan for the fall of communism, then it should be well-supported and near the end, after the credit is fully given. It can't be inserted in a manner suggesting that the issue is unresolved, or that we have no way of knowing whether Reagan deserves credit. He obviously does.--Aschlafly 14:18, 10 March 2007 (EST)
I think you are all too exciteable. This is the Conservative pedia, not Wikipedia. Go peddle your liberal, and liberal-sourced material elsewhere. --TK 21:04, 13 March 2007 (EDT)
Where's your evidence?
An interesting approach to documentation and sourcing. You accept a hypothesis (in this case that Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War), then refuse to tolerate any alternative explanations, no matter how well grounded. You claim that such "liberal" views require substantiation, and yet, when substantiation for them is offered, you excise the substantiation altogether. I'll note that no documentation whatsoever is offered in support of the hypothesis that Reagan brought the end of communism in Eastern Europe.
I should add that "liberal" is a very misleading and damning characterization of these views, since the thesis that Reagan wasn't responsible for the fall of communism derives more from any number of factors in which Reagan had no bearing whatsoever. The references provided and then unceremoniously removed without explanation explain these in more detail. For instance, Jan Kubik's work on the emergence of civil society and Solidarity in Poland shows how important the Catholic Church and especially the election of a Polish pope, John Paul II, helped to galvanize opposition in Poland. The pope's first visit to Poland in June 1979 provided a major source of inspiration and rehearsal for the opposition and the blossoming of civil society. The fruits of that emerged in the summer of 1980, when a wave of strikes gave birth to Solidarity, the independent trade union that played a major role in undermining Communist authority in Poland, and also in fostering opposition in other parts of Eastern Europe. You'll note that John Paul II became pope in 1978 and Solidarity emerged in August 1979, both of which occurred long before Reagan became president. Moreover, the work of Solidarity had little support from the United States, or from outside of Poland in general. Much of the limited American support lent to Solidarity (and I place emphasis on the idea that it was limited and had little bearing on Solidarity) actually came from the AFL-CIO, which provided some funding and supplies (things like printing presses). Even though Solidarity was forced underground when Poland came under martial law in December 1981, it continued to exist and function as an illegal organization, and civil society continued to develop beyond it. The reemergence of Solidarity in early 1989 came not as the product of external factors, but rather from a recurrence of the persistent economic problems that dogged the Communist regime throughout its existence. The regime reached out to Solidarity. To the extent that pressures from without even played a role, these would've been marginal, and would have emanated mainly from the Kremlin. But, in truth, even that was negligible, since Moscow did little more than to tell the Polish regime that it was on its own.
Similarly, works by Timothy Garton Ash, Gale Stokes and Vladimir Tismaneanu point to the systemic weaknesses of communism within Poland. Some of the important factors they cite are economic weaknesses and a growing crisis of legitimacy that prevented Communist regimes from persisting in hardline methods of repression. At the same time, these factors also led to the genesis of opposition movements within Eastern Europe (groups like Solidarity in Poland, Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia, the Prayers for Peace in East Germany).
The United States and Ronald Reagan don't receive credit in these explanations not due to pervasive "liberal bias," but rather because these factors that are seen as more important (and I should add as someone who has read widely in the scholarship, these are the most commonly cited explanations for the collapse of communism) and the role of the United States or of Ronald Reagan could only have been peripheral at best. It was limited largely to symbolic acts (such as Reagan's speech at the Berlin Wall), but even these symbolic acts were directed more at the West and American constituents than at the people living in Communist countries.
I believe this very point was made in one of the edits that an administrator purged.
To give primary credit to Ronald Reagan or the United States for the end of the Cold War would to engage in staggering ignorance of the domestic and systemic factors that undermined Communist regimes, and to marginalize unfairly the many ordinary people and dissidents in Eastern Europe who helped to bring down communism from within. In addition, Reagan in particular deserves little credit for these developments because he was relatively late to the scene. The systemic factors, and in many cases the opposition movements as well, long predated Reagan's presidency, which had little bearing on them.
Now, call me biased, but I think that offers a very well-developed and -substantiated account of other explanations for the end of communism. Nothing in that strikes me as excessively "liberal." Indeed, the only "liberal" thing about it is that it doesn't engage in the same sort of pooh-poohing of Reagan that blindly credits him without offering substantiation.
If someone cares to offer more substantive reasons (citing references for this explanation would be a welcome change) for why Reagan deserves credit, then this entry and discussion can go somewhere.
But simply asserting that Reagan ended communism because you said so, then placing the onus on critics of this position to refute it using evidence, and then suppressing evidence that contradicts the a priori thesis/assertion: this doesn't exactly give Conservapedia's entry the ring of truth, or much in the way of credibility for that matter.
It would seem, based on the actions taken with respect to edits on this entry, that Conservapedia's "educational" mission would be more accurately described as disseminating conservative propaganda rather than presenting facts and seeking "truth."
You may castigate me for propagating a "liberal" viewpoint, but my true "bias" is that I like some sort of substantiation for sweeping generalizations and disputed claims. I merely attempted to present the alternate explanations that are mostly widely accepted among experts and scholars. You can criticize those groups for "liberal bias," but as I've made clear, there's nothing inherently liberal in these approaches. Moreover, a better response would be to offer your own facts and sources to support your claims, rather than engaging in knee-jerk censorship of someone who deigns to cite references and offer substantiation.
And your request for a signature is laughable. It has echoes of "Big Brother," and given the fascistic censorship witnessed in this article, I'd rather not risk being unceremoniously blocked for not blindly toeing the party line. The truth may not be determined democratically, but the authoritarian methods on display in Conservapedia have proven no more reliable.
-- "Karol Wojtyla"
- None of us are perfect, probably all of us have overlooked signing our edits or our discussion at some time or another. But it is common procedure and helpful in discussion. Even months later, it is helpful in reading through a discussion to see who is making what points in what sequence. Terryeo 23:49, 12 March 2007 (EDT)
- I made the edits turning "most" into "some" and "other". The reason being is that it is more accurate to say that than to claim "most historians". There is plenty of literature that supports the claim that Reagan's willingness to meet the Soviets expansion-by-proxy and military buildup forced the Soviets into an arms race that they could ill-afford, and that this helped to break an already-faltering Soviet economy. There is also plenty of personal commentary from citizens of the former Soviet client-states who say that Reagan's opposition to the Communists gave them hope.
Your entry wasn't expunged; your points are still there. Personally, I think they are valid ones and that you simply overstated the level of agreement amongst historians.
I hope this helps you to understand why I made what I considered to be minor edits. --Dave3172 15:41, 10 March 2007 (EST)
Agreed, although I'd still like to see some references for the literature that credits Reagan's policies. But I would add that there's substantial agreement, at least among historians who study the Eastern bloc, on the question of whether Reagan's role was that important. Reagan appears very little in that literature, so I'm wondering where the sources/references are that give him so much credit. After all, the Second Commandment says sources must always be credited and cited. We can continue to debate those sources on the discussion page, but I think the bigger point is that there's no widely accepted monocausal explanation for the end of communism, so it would be more appropriate to provide sources for the different theses, and to also expound on those interpretations. In other words, rather than simply saying "Reagan ended the Cold War," someone needs to elaborate on the reasoning behind that. Otherwise, it violates the Sixth Commandment (don't give personal opinions in entries).
- I agree with your central contention - there is no monocausal explanation for the fall of Communism. There were several separate forces that converged to break a flawed system. In fairness, though, I think that if you re-read this article you'll see it is more even-handed than you give it credit for. Most every single acclamation given to Reagan is qualified. And, as I pointed out before, your alternate sources were not deleted.
- I would go so far as to say that, for a Conservative site, it is close to the most balanced article on the site. Perhaps you would like to write an article on the Fall of Communism that explores the other causes? --Dave3172 16:13, 10 March 2007 (EST)
My apologies to Dave3172. I wasn't accusing you of censorship. Rather, it was an earlier iteration of this page [], which user Aschlafly rolled back wholesale. In that iteration, there were several references to texts supporting some of the alternative explanations for the fall of communism. While Dave3172 is right to note that the fall of communism would warrant an entry unto itself, what seemed more inappropriate was Aschlafly's decision to expunge many book citations (the earlier version was even more substantiated than the current version), with his stated reason:
"But an entry is going to give credit to conservatives or Christianity or American where credit is due. If you want to insert a liberal view that attempts to deny credit to Reagan for the fall of communism, then it should be well-supported and near the end, after the credit is fully given. It can't be inserted in a manner suggesting that the issue is unresolved, or that we have no way of knowing whether Reagan deserves credit. He obviously does."
User Aschlafly refuses to accept that, contrary to his personal opinion, the question of Reagan's credit for the end of communism is, in fact, unresolved. As other users have also tried to indicate, there are a wealth of alternative explanations that don't lend support to the "credit Reagan" thesis. And, at least in scholarly circles, it could be argued that there is substantial agreement that Reagan was not the primary or even a significant factor.
What I think is lacking for this entry, and would be worthy of inclusion on a separate entry for the fall of communism as well, would be some substantiation for the argument that Reagan deserves credit. As the article currently stands, and at least in the various iterations I've seen previously, it hasn't provided any support for this argument, aside from the anecdotal evidence of Reagan's speech in front of the Berlin Wall, the importance of which, I might add, seemed more to bolster Reagan's standing as a Cold Warrior and anticommunist in the West, rather than to make any significant impact on developments on the other side of the Iron Curtain (a point I recall seeing in an earlier, since censored version of this entry).
I'm not the one to provide such documentation. Frankly, in my studies of this question (and it was a subfield for one of my M.A. exams, so I've read in the scholarly literature quite extensively) I'm yet to encounter anyone who has presented a very extensive or, in my opinion, compelling argument for crediting Reagan. I am generally familiar with some of the reasons conservatives have given in support of the "credit Reagan" thesis, which user Dave3172 recounted above. But I have not encountered and cannot think offhand of what sorts of books, articles and other sources might lay out this argument at greater length. I would strongly encourage someone -- anyone -- to present those reasons more lucidly. As a teacher, I want to present my students with as many different interpretations as possible, and with the reasoning behind such arguments, so I can teach them to evaluate claims and sources more effectively. It would only be appropriate to include such material in Conservapedia, and I would think that especially on Conservapedia there would be contributors better able to provide that dimension of the debate.
As it stands, I do agree with user Dave3172 that the Reagan entry is rather even-handed and balanced. And in general I think the two of us are on the same page in terms of what we'd like to see.
But as a matter of course, I think it's always better to have too many references rather than too few. This is especially true for encyclopedias. In my mind, an encyclopedia should serve as a quick reference for basic facts, but also as a mere starting point for finding more extensive treatments of various issues and questions. Even if an editor happens to doubt the credibility of a source, it's better to allow users to know what sources are being used and to enable users to access those sources and make assessments of their credibility for themselves. If only more people learned those skills and the ability to read critically, and with a healthy skepticism, my job as an educator would be infinitely easier.
The real source of my aggravation lies in user Aschlafly's cavalier attitude toward sources and evidence that don't support his personal opinions. And while such attitudes are bound to be endemic on any wiki (whether Wikipedia or Conservapedia), which was part of the stated reason for the launch of Conservapedia, I find it troubling that Aschlafly of all users, as a founder or administrator of Conservapedia (if I understand correctly) is engaging in precisely the same behaviors that Conservapedia's founders deemed so troubling and problematic in Wikipedia. It just strikes me as highly hypocritical for user Aschlafly to be just as guilty of censoring viewpoints with which he disagrees.
Evidence that Reagan helped to end the Cold War.
I assume this stuff is copyrighted, so I'll just give names and page numbers. These aren't historians, mind you - they're witnesses to history.
Margaret Thatcher on Reagan's impact with ending the Cold War "Statecraft" p. 10-11. Also included in this passage is testimony from the last Soviet Foreign Minister Alexandr Bessemertnykh.
A quote from Lech Walesa, leader of Solidiarity on the back of Peter Schweinzer's book, "Reagan's War."
I can provide more evidence, if necessary.
By the way, when the Soviet Union imposed martial law on Poland because of Solidarity, Reagan did take crucial action, and the results can not be underestimated. He revoked Poland's most favored nation trading status, which meant Polish goods faced a high tariffs on exports to the US. Most importantly, he banned the sale of oil and gas technologies to the USSR. Both of these actions put tremendous pressure on the Soviets to settle the strike on terms favorable to the Americans.
You got that last part absolutely wrong. The Soviet government didn't impose martial law on Poland. The Polish regime of Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski declared it because the alternative was to watch its own collapse and allow Poland to descend into complete chaos. The Soviets were not a factor -- repeat: not a factor -- in the end to the Solidarity crisis. In fact, we now know based on documents in archives in Warsaw and Moscow that have become available since the fall of communism that the Kremlin was prepared to allow Poland to "go its own way" in 1981. This was not Moscow's preference, for obvious reasons, but after Soviet leaders assessed the likely outcome of a crackdown (a la Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968 or Afghanistan in 1979), they ruled out the military option. Some of the reasoning behind this was that Soviet leaders feared the repercussions of intervention, which they surmised would have brought an end to detente. However, equally important was their conviction that the Poles would fight back, and that the Polish Army could not be trusted to remain loyal to the Communist regime in the event of a Soviet invasion. The decision to crack down on Solidarity was left entirely to the Polish leadership. (For more elaboration on this, see Vojtech Mastny's article "The Soviet Non-Invasion of Poland in 1980-1981 and the End of the Cold War," and Matthew Ouimet's "The Rise and Fall of the Brezhnev Doctrine in Soviet Foreign Policy.")
The irony, of course, was that the West widely believed (rather erroneously, as we now know) that Moscow had been calling the shots in Poland. So, despite the fact that it hadn't ordered the crackdown and resigned itself to the possibility of a non-Communist Poland, the Kremlin still faced the loss of benefits that had come with detente.
I'm also perplexed by your claim that the end of the legal Solidarity movement (and it's much more accurately characterized as an independent trade union and opposition movement than a strike, since hundreds of strikes occurred in this period in Poland) saw the Soviets "settle the strike on terms favorable to the Americans." Martial law was about the last thing the Reagan White House would've wanted. Or perhaps the next-to-last thing, since only a direct Soviet invasion of Poland could have been worse from an American standpoint.
However, even if you point to the end of detente and the economic hardships this brought to the Soviet Union as a major causal factor in the fall of communism, it's still debatable how much credit Reagan deserves for that. Many of the moves in that direction, such as the end of American food relief to the Soviet Union, had been initiated by Jimmy Carter following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and prior to Reagan's presidency. Under Reagan those policies may have been pursued to an even greater degree, though it is likely that, had he won a second term in office, Carter would have followed much the same course (especially if you recall that his national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was a Pole). Much of the basis for crediting Reagan with the collapse of communism seems to dwell on his outspoken opposition to communism, and to having been in the right place at the right time. Given the array of systemic weaknesses, the developing opposition movements and the long-brewing crises that culminated in East-Central Europe in 1989, and in the Soviet Union over the following two years, it is highly probable that communism would have collapsed roughly when it did regardless of who lived in the White House in the 1980s.
Furthermore, I'd be interested in seeing the verbatim quote from Walesa. A professor said that Walesa gave a talk in Seattle some years ago where one of the audience members asked him if he thought Reagan or Gorbachev deserved the most credit for the collapse of communism. Walesa replied, "No, it was the Holy Father!" by which he meant Pope John Paul II (since Catholics refer to the pontiff as the Holy Father). So from the perspective on someone who obviously "witnessed" (and also shaped) history, you can see what people on the ground thought.
Reagan tesitified in 1947 before the HUAC -- even before the Hiss & White episodes; McCarthy didn't produce his list til 1950, and was a Senate Committee. RobS 18:03, 12 March 2007 (EDT)
Flipping through some of the history pages, I see that PraiseTheLard mentioned Reagan's role as head of SAG in blacklisting supposed Hollywood Communists. However, I notice that this was repeatedly removed by other editors.
My question: why? This really happened, and I don't think the facts are in dispute. Thus, shouldn't it be included in an entry on Reagan, especially as it was one of the more notable (or notorious, depending on one's perspective) things he did in the years before he became governor*, and it can be seen as a stepping stone to politics, as well as an early sign of his zealotry as a Cold Warrior.
- Unless, of course, you consider the classic Reagan film "Bedtime for Bonzo" (1951) to meet these criteria. But it's already in the entry under miscellanea.
- Why? Yes, Reagan did testify in 1947 regarding subversive communist influence in SAG; Joe McCarthy started his investigations in 1950 of government employees and contractors doing business with government. Now, unlike Wikipedia, we can't fit a square peg in a round hole. For example, for several months I was in dispute resolution over things like people who died in 1948, 2 years before McCarthy, who nevertheless were victims of McCarthyism. Or all the atomic physicists who ended up on the Hollywood Blacklist. Or McCarthy, who never served in the House, sat on the House Un-America Activities Committee. Now these are quite simply facts any child has access to, nonetheless, it is the policy of Wikipedia not to allow some of this information into the sum total of human knowledge. So unless you can somehow prove that 1947 = 1950, Ronald Reagan in no way shape or form can be said to have any conection with "McCarthyism". RobS 23:42, 12 March 2007 (EDT)
- If you read my comment on the removal more carefully, you'd notice that I never mentioned McCarthy or McCarthyism (I had nothing to do with the edits that included and removed that information, which is why I was questioning the actions of those involved). What I was trying to call attention to (and clearly failed to do so) was why information on Reagan's anticommunist activities, such as his role in blacklisting people in Hollywood for alleged Communist sympathies, was removed. What I suggested ought to have happened was that the incorrect information linking Reagan to McCarthyism could have been removed, but the other information outlining his anticommunist activities in conjunction with SAG and the Hollywood Blacklist should have been retained. Something about not throwing out the baby with the bathwater. -- "KW"
- KW, Thanks for the clarification. There is much confusion regarding the so-called Hollywood blacklist. What you find is (A) deliberate efforts to cite HUAC as the source of the blacklist (B) deliberate efforts and distortions to cite McCarthy as serving on HUAC at the time.
- The simple fact of the matter is (A) the "blacklisted" actors and writers were blacklisted by the MPAA (the same group that issues movie ratings and the Oscars); (B) the US government did not blacklist the Hollywood actors; (C) McCarthy's Committee, which had nothing to do with the blacklist in the first place, would not possess legal authority to investigate anyway. McCarthy's Committee only had legal jurisdiction to investigate the US Government or government contractors.
- Now, it is argued that some Hollywood films had business relationships with the US Government in the making of films in WWII. Yes, this is true. To that extent, if there were a pretext to investigate Hollywood studios, screenwriters, and actors who were acting as government contractors, why didn't McCarthy investigate them.
- Needless to say, unravelling the a half century of deliberate distortions and deceptions is messy indeed. RobS 18:19, 13 March 2007 (EDT)
- P.S. Reagans credentials as an anti-Communist aren't really something we need to speculate about; attempts to "link" Reagan to some of the unpleasant aspects of "McCarthyism" is something we need to be concerned about.
Can we limit the speculation and the removal of facts/sources to include unsubstantiated opinion?
Someone earlier today inserted a line at the end of the survey of various interpretations of the end of communism to the effect of "Nevertheless, Reagan was the personal driving force behind the fall of communism." Given the multitude of other interpretations presented in this article and elsewhere on the talk page, it seemed inappropriate to add that line as a way of denying the existence of controversy in this debate and asserting a personal opinion as manifest fact. As it stands, and as I reverted it, the article never claimed that any single interpretation was "right." Instead, the main idea (and what I would hope would be more important for an encyclopedia) is that the issue is not clear cut, and to present the basic contours of the debate.
Similarly, I noticed that a user changed the section on the presidential legacy regarding SDI/Star Wars, removing the information about how the principle of atmospheric-based missile defense (the foundation of SDI) has never been tested successfully. Moreover, the same user changed the line that said (and I paraphrase from memory), "Even though many conservatives claim SDI gave the U.S. considerable leverage vis-a-vis the Soviet Union, most analysts of Soviet policy note that such considerations were of minor concern and that internal considerations played the paramount role in Soviet policymaking." In its place, the new line (again, I paraphrase) said simply that "SDI gave the U.S. considerable leverage against the Soviet Union." Any notion that the existence of leverage is disputed was summarily excised.
While I understand that many (most?) of the users of Conservapedia likely believe Reagan to have been the driving force behind the end of the Cold War, and to have though that SDI brought the Soviet Union to its knees and spurred the collapse of communism, I underline that these are only individual opinions. They may be based on certain sources, but they remain interpretations and not cut-and-dry facts. At the very least, there should be documentation and evidence to support these sorts of assertions. But I also think that, given the level of contention over these questions in academic and political debates, a better approach for Conservapedia, or any encyclopedia for that matter, is to present the controversy and the various sides, rather than unilaterally presenting one perspective as absolute fact.
It's my understanding that this was a major motivation for creating Conservapedia as an alternative to Wikipedia, to include viewpoints that were being summarily removed on Wikipedia. I'm all for presenting alternative viewpoints, but I think what's essential to give Conservapedia any broad credibility is to not provide only the viewpoints lacking on Wikipedia, but to present all the viewpoints. If you only want to present certain viewpoints, well, it is called Conservapedia, but you should probably stop claiming to be encyclopedic in nature.
**Reagan, while President of SAG, opposed Communist infilteration of the guilds in Hollywood, however he was also instrumental in fighting for actors who were painted by McCarthy's broad brush, and got their names removed. He did just that in helping a young actress, Nancy Davis, who he eventually married. --TK 21:07, 13 March 2007 (EDT)