It happened today - January 13, 2016

Never walk out of a voting body in a huff. Never. I know it can seem tempting. But history doesn’t encourage the practice.

For instance, on Jan. 13 1950 the Soviets stormed out of the UN Security Council because it wouldn’t unseat “Nationalist China” (Chiang Kai-shek’s regime holed up in Taiwan) for the Communist kind run by Mao Zedong from Beijing in, well, actual China.

In fact the Soviets restormed out. They’d walked out a few days earlier, returned for a vote on their own resolution to boot Taiwan out on the 13th and, when it failed by a 3-6 vote, stomped out again, hurling typical Radio Moscow abuse about “reactionaries” and “lawlessness”. And out they stayed until the Korean War erupted thanks to their ally in North Korea, the comically misnamed People’s Democratic Republic of Korea, invading South Korea.

It was pretty silly. After all, they must have known the invasion was coming. They caused it. And yet when the Security Council met to consider it they were sulking outside instead of sulking inside where they could veto the American-backed resolution that, on June 27, authorized UN military action for the first time.

Now you may say that it didn’t matter much. The United States and its allies, including Canada which was able to send a force to this one conflict larger than our entire military establishment today, would have intervened anyway. But it gave the whole operation an attractive public relations veneer that it was formally “the UN” not the Western imperialist and their running dogs fighting against the armies of the maniacal Kim Il-sung and, eventually, Mao Zedong as well.

You’d think the Soviets of all people would have grasped this dynamic, especially as Stalin was still in power. And he’d been around when the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party, basically its Communist Party, split when some relatively moderate members got so tired, bored frustrated and sore that they left the Second Party Congress in 1903 which promptly gave Lenin organizational control and, in appropriate Newspeak fashion called the minority that prevailed the Bolsheviks or “majority faction” and stuck the less iron-bottomed, grim majority with the label Mensheviks or “minority faction”.

Again, Lenin’s faction probably would have seized power, repressed and slaughtered the Mensheviks anyway. But the smaller factions who opposed Lenin within the RDSLP should not have left no matter how long-winded the orators and petty the points of order of their adversaries. Once you join an assembly, even this one, you leave your legitimacy behind when you stagger out to bed, for coffee, to breathe fresh air (people smoked inside rooms back then) or just to retain your wavering sanity.

There are plenty of grounds for not joining an organization. And some for quitting it decisively and permanently, laying out your grounds for denying its legitimacy. But don’t boycott or walk out in the middle of proceedings. They’ll just vote without you. And no matter how smart or dumb, well-meaning or villainous you are, you don’t want that to happen.