“Today we have a new group of satirists who, at the same time that they bite the bourgeoisie, use only their lips, but not their teeth”
While he was contributing to the New Yorker as Syd Hoff, he was also contributing to the Daily Worker and New Masses as A. Redfield — the pseudonym he adopted for his radical work, The Ruling Clawss (Daily Worker, 1935) a collection of surprisingly relevant cartoons.
UVB-76 is a Russian short wave station that has enthralled and mystified enthusiasts for decades.
Red Song King Hao Di (Good Brother) sings "Without the Communist Party There Would Be No New China" (traditional recording), "The Words of Chairman Mao are Memorized by Heart” (info and lyrics), "Lake Water". [more inside]
Secret Papers Reveal Truth Behind Soviet Collapse - the Gorbachev files. 'During a research visit to the Gorbachev Foundation, the young Russian historian Pavel Stroilov, who lives in London today, secretly copied about 30,000 pages of the material archived there and made them available to SPIEGEL.' [more inside]
Sovlit.com is a very large and comprehensive site dedicated to the literature of the Soviet Union (both official and dissident), with summaries (fans of the genres might find the examples of Soviet science fiction and spy novels to be particularly interesting), biographies, and even some full translations of short stories from authors such as Isaac Babel, Vasily Grossman, Yevgeny Zamyatin, and others.
The £20,000 Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction has been won by Mao’s Great Famine by Frank Dikötter. Mao's quest to transform China through rapid industrialisation and the collectivisation of agriculture in the "Great Leap Forward" left up to 45 million people dead.
Winston Burdett, one of the original Murrow's Boys, was a reporter for CBS Radio. He covered World War II, the invasion of Norway, the Axis retreat in North Africa (mp3), the invasion of Sicily (mp3), the invasion of Italy (mp3) and the capture of Rome (mp3). But from 1940 - 1942 Winston Burdett was also a spy for the Soviet Union. [more inside]
Communist Space Babies. Title says it all, really. The tags were pretty easy too.
Shin Sang-ok (1926 - 2006) was a Korean movie writer, director and producer, who studied film in Japan and returned to South Korea, where he gained fame and became the uncontested leader of the film industry in the 1960s, in a time when regulations on the industry limited other studios. In the 1970s under the Fourth Republic of South Korea, the film industry was even further limited, which lead to Shin's studio being closed. Things went from bad to worse, when "the Orson Welles of South Korea" was kidnapped by request of Kim Jong Il, the son of North Korea's dictator, Kim Il Sung. The reason? Kim Jong Il wanted the nation's film industry to promote the virtues of the Korea Workers' Party to a world-wide audience. After being imprisoned for four years, Shin was reunited with his ex-wife (who was also a captive of North Korea) and the given relative freedom, producing seven films in North Korea. While setting up a distribution deal to share Kim Jong Il's vision with a broader audience for a Godzilla-like monster movie, Shin and his wife escaped and sought political asylum in the United States. Their freedom was possible because of that last film for Kim, entitled Pulgasari. But Shin's life in movies was not over yet. [more inside]
The Internationale, the anthem of international socialism, has been sung in many different ways. The original French. In Irish - Gaelic. In Russian. Hungarian. Romanian. By Billy Bragg. By Alistair Hulett and Jimmy Gregory. As Disco. As Chinese rock karaoke. As Gypsy guitar.
Celebrate the eight-hour work day, dance around a pole, affirm your patriotism to beat the reds, build your community through candy and flower filled baskets, and get caught in flagrante delicto: it's a very special day. Previously, previously
"The most important questions regarding North Korea are the ones least often asked: What do the North Koreans believe? How do they see themselves and the world around them?"
Hitch reads up on North Korea: "I have recently donned the bifocals provided by B.R. Myers in his electrifying new book The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters, and I understand now that I got the picture either upside down or inside out. The whole idea of communism is dead in North Korea, and its most recent "Constitution," "ratified" last April, has dropped all mention of the word. The analogies to Confucianism are glib, and such parallels with it as can be drawn are intended by the regime only for the consumption of outsiders. Myers makes a persuasive case that we should instead regard the Kim Jong-il system as a phenomenon of the very extreme and pathological right. It is based on totalitarian "military first" mobilization, is maintained by slave labor, and instills an ideology of the most unapologetic racism and xenophobia." Read the first chapter here.
The devil rides out - How Dennis Wheatley sold black magic to Britain.
Queens of Poland Long review/essay at the DRB on Michał Witkowski's Lubiewo (forthcoming in English translation as Lovetown; extract here), a book about gay life in Poland both in the days of communism and the subsequent Third Republic.
"The verdict was read out after a few hours. The Ceausescus were sentenced to death. They had ten days to appeal, but the sentence was to be carried out immediately. A nod to Kafka." 20 years ago on Christmas Day, the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena were sentenced to death by an impromptu revolutionary tribunal and executed by firing squad. The Times speaks with one of the men who was there that day. Footage of their trial. Translated transcript of the trial, courtesy of the very informative ceausescu.org. [more inside]
The American Imperialists have sent potato beetle by clouds and air to our Republic. He May Be a Communist.
"In hindsight, it’s often seen as inevitable that the two Germanys would reunite. But this, too, is a somewhat revisionist view. " Tim Mohr writes about the "awkward twist" about the fall of the wall, many of the protestors did not seek unification.
The BBC World Service has put together a special report on the 1989 revolutions in Eastern Europe (they also have a simpler portal). There is a wealth of material, including TV reports on key events from the BBC archives, interviews, a map timeline, a report on Catholicism's role in the 1989 revolutions, a first-hand report of what it was like to gather news in East Germany during that time and much more.
Why the Chinese support the Communist party Interviews with four elderly Chinese. Among the answers: "We used to live in a tiny house, over ten people all together, just a place of over ten square metres. Now I often say to my husband that life has been totally different for our grandchildren, not only from ours, but from their parents too. They have nothing to worry about, no need to worry about food, clothes."
I have proposed, in the past, that the Joint Dictatorship of the Proletariat of Oppressed Nations should disperse the Amerikkkans throughout the Third World instead of allowing them to remain in occupied North America. Here are some of my reasons.[more inside]
Arthur Ransome: Beloved Children's Author was a noted fan of the Lake District, and also Bolshevik Revolutionaries
Yet another 20th century English author in bed with the communists? Literally, in this case - Arthur Ransome might be best known for his 'Swallows & Amazons' books about children sailing in the idyllic Lake District, but before all that, he left his first wife (and a libel case that got him mixed up with Oscar Wilde's lover, Lord Alfred Douglas) to study fairy tales in Russia... only there he fell in love with Leon Trotsky's private secretary, ended up working for the Bolsheviks and also MI6. [more inside]
Real USSR is a blog containing commentaries on everyday life in the former Soviet Union. The liberal use of family and other amateur photos provides unusual insight into the daily experience of Soviet life. Topics range from 1940s homemade double-exposure photography to queueing to USSR - the birthplace of feminism. via
Bolek i Lolek and Reksio are both Polish cartoons with little dialogue and similiar animation style. Both cartoons originated in the 60s (during the Communist era in Poland), and were extremely popular for decades. Due to their general lack of vocalization (except for Bolek i Lolek's later seasons), both cartoons were easy to bring to other markets. Famously, Bolek i Lolek was one of the cartoons broadcast on Iranian television after the 1979 revolution. [more inside]
Imagine you're living in China, trying to work your way out of the family date farming business (which garners approximately $450 annually). You do all the right things. You apply for (and receive) Communist Party membership. You study literally to the point of collapse, and despite coming from coal-town origins, you score high on your gao kao ("high test," more-or-less the only thing that matters in getting into a Chinese university). Your already-poor family goes deep into debt to send you to college, and you even manage to come out with a degree. Classic rise-up-by-your-own-bootstraps tale, right? However, finally, when you go to apply for a job—your state-sanctioned educational, occupational, and political records are inexplicably, awfully gone. What has happened to that plain manila folder (!) that serves as your only legitimate, official history in Chinese society? Probably stolen and sold so a party official's child can get everything you worked so hard for. And then, of course, your family is detained by party officials when your parents demand to know where the hell your life went. Of course. [more inside]
Kommunalka - communal apartments - were begun by the Bolsheviks in Russia at the end of the Russian Revolution to address overcrowding in cities - and also to punish the bourgeoisie who had previously lived in comfort. Kommunalka were an enduring social experiment, where multiple families were assigned by the state to live together in close quarters with no expectation of privacy. It was not uncommon for tenants to spy on each other. Though communism ended in Russia almost two decades ago, Kommunalka still exist today.
Slavoj Žižek recently gave five talks under the title Masterclass - Notes Towards a Definition of Communist Culture. It sez 'ere, "The master class analyses phenomena of modern thought and culture with the intention to discern elements of possible Communist culture. It moves at two levels: first, it interprets some cultural phenomena (from today’s architecture to classic literary works like Rousseau’s La Nouvelle Heloise) as failures to imagine or enact a Communist culture; second, it explores attempts at imagining how a Communist culture could look, from Wagner’s Ring to Kafka’s and Beckett’s short stories and contemporary science fiction novels." Audio of Zizek's talks and subsequent discussion is now online: Part I Utopias; Part II Architecture as Ideology; Part III Wagner’s Ring as a Communist narrative; Part IV Populism and Democracy; Part V Environment, Identity and Multiculturalism. Those who like to watch the beard in motion will find links to video of some of the talks posted here.
Bonsoir, Monsieur COK!
Dans un formidable élan de générosité notre patron adoré nous offre enfin la possibilité de voir son FILM sur la toile!
A short film about efficiencies in bomb manufacturing.
Dans un formidable élan de générosité notre patron adoré nous offre enfin la possibilité de voir son FILM sur la toile!
A short film about efficiencies in bomb manufacturing.
Peasant! Free your pregnant wife from work, don't allow her to pick up heavy items since this will harm her and the child. An excellent collection of vintage soviet propaganda, public health, and infographics posters from 20s to 30s, many with full translations.
June 4, 2009 marks 20 years since Poland's first semi-free election under Communism. The election marked the beginning of the end for Polish Communism with its overwhelming mandate for the pro-democracy movement, Solidarity. Today, the world recognizes Poland's accomplishment.
Everything you ever wanted to read about left-wing political theory but were afraid to look up. [more inside]
Apparently some members of the far-right have figured it out! Environmentalists are communists! Being green is tantamount to an attack on "Western culture, and the Judeo-Christian and Islamic religions". Think this is just an American phenomenon? Think again...
He's a madman, she thought as he made love to her again. Oh my God, after twenty years of being the most rational Bolshevik woman in Moscow, this goblin has driven me crazy! Oh joy! It's time for the annual Bad Sex Award. Shortlist is up at The Guardian.
The czech magazine Respekt, known for its investigative reporting, has published a story claiming prize winning author and anti-communist dissident Milan Kundera denounced a young exile who was back in Prague to the communist secret police. [more inside]
In the 1950s, American Communists fled to China. The idealists returned home and got book deals. But one pragmatist remained behind. [more inside]
One nation under God. The "bold conservative" GOP Congressman Paul Broun from Georgia is intent upon removing a vexing comma from that phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance, which was amended in 1954 when President Eisenhower was moved by a sermon by one Reverend George M. Docherty on the need to defend America from the "militantly atheistic communism that has already enslaved 800 million of the peoples of the earth, and now menaces the rest of the free world."
This whole "money" thing got you down? Two artists in their late twenties moved to NYC for a few years and freaked out by the cost of living, so they decide creating an American kibbutz, minus the dining hall wiener schnitzels, up state is the way to go.
70 year old Pak Doo-Ik will lead North Korea's prestigious Olympic torch bearers to Beijing this summer. In the 1966 World Cup at Middlesborough, Pak scored the goal that lead his team to a stunning 1-0 upset win over Italy (video). Pak Doo-Ik and the team returned home as heroes, but ultimately fell under the suspicion of North Korean leadership. The team underwent "mental re-education" and were exiled, Pak Doo-Ik spending ten years as a forest laborer. Dear Leader Kim Jong-il later allowed Pak to coach North Korea's national soccer team, and a fascinating 2002 BBC documentary brought Pak Doo Ik back to the international stage.
One rather strange minor cultural phenomena you experienced as a kid growing up in 60s and 70s Britain was a number of television programs that originated from beyond the Iron Curtain. Most infamous was the downright scary The Singing Ringing Tree from East Germany (Radio4 doc), later spoofed by the Fast Show but there were several others... [more inside]
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor. The Holodomor was the starvation of millions of Ukranians at the hands of the Soviets. The Ukranian government is using this year to push for greater recognition for the genocide. Ukranian communities in Australia, Canada and all over the globe are holding events all year in the lead up to this years Holodomor day on November 25.
Jeffrey Lewis brings you The Complete History of Punk Rock and Its Development on the Lower East Side (1950-1975) in eight and a half minutes. [more inside]
"If Communists liked what we did, that was their good luck," said Lee Hays, founding member of the Almanac Singers. A fascinating portrait of one of the linchpins of the politically engaged folk movement of the '40s and '50s. Hays sang beside the more celebrated (and, on one important day in Bob Dylan history, infamous) Pete Seeger on such classic Almanac albums as Talking Union. [Listen here.]
Suicide bombers in Valhalla "Sverige fights back! I'll see the heroes in Valhalla, inshallah." Where can you find an eclectic mix of Fascists, Libertarian Socialists, Trotskyists, National Anarchists, DPRK apologists, Dixie lovers, Christian Reconstructionists and Islamists all in one place? [more inside]
The Rise of China and the Future of the West: Can the Liberal System Survive? "China's rise will inevitably bring the United States' unipolar moment to an end. But that does not necessarily mean a violent power struggle or the overthrow of the Western system. The U.S.-led international order can remain dominant even while integrating a more powerful China -- but only if Washington sets about strengthening that liberal order now." [more inside]
The pleasant but hagiographical Pete Seeger: The Power of Song (production company website w/ trailer) is playing in New York and Los Angeles. The movie is entirely uncritical... prompting this response by Ron Radosh who is interviewed in the film, but whose critical comments were left out. But most interesting is this followup article by Radosh describing Seeger's response and a new song against Stalin. The filmmaker comes out worst in Radosh's account... [more inside]
Delirious Moscow: a survey on stellar and interstellar Soviet constructivist architecture, or, buildings in the time before Stalin (with pictures).
Dead Road - Museum of Communism in the Open. "It was one of the most ambitious projects of the Stalin era, known as the 'railway of bones'. At least 10 people a day died during the four years of its construction [actually 1947-1953], but unlike most of Uncle Joe's grand designs it was never completed and now sits unfinished in the tundra, an icy road to nowhere." The transpolar railway was built by labour camps^ 501 and 503 and construction was stopped after the amnesty following Stalin's death in 1953; 800km, about half, was built. Some sections are currently in operation, but much is abandoned: depot and locomotives in Dolgoe, Dolgoe itself, labour camps, more spectacular decay. (Previously: Norilsk, which was supposed to see an extension of the line.)
SimCity 2008, Scenario: Beijing. Prepare your city for the 2008 Olympics. Raze slums, build luxury hotels, and stadiums. Make the nation, and the world, proud!