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!
East Germany suffers from a posthumous image problem. People think that life in the former GDR was a dreary round of dodging the secret police and mandatory attendance at Boy-Loves-Tractor films. Nothing could be further from the truth. Life in the GDR was fun. You could take pictures with ORWO Film (mildly NSFW. Five seconds of toplessness at 1:15). You could zip through the countryside in your MZ. You could fit every soccer ball in the neighborhood in your Wartburg. And for the ultimate in class-conscious, revolutionary mackitude, there was the Trabant. If these little clips aren’t enough, if you want a whole bunch of East German commercials, here’s a long video called Flotter Osten (Again, mildly NSFW: Same topless shot for about five seconds at 8:07).
If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do? (1971). This film based on the pro-Jesus/anti-Commie teachings of Baptist minister Dr. Estus Washington Pirkle (3/12/1930–3/3/05) warns what will happen to America if the citizens do not give up their depraved ways and turn to God and Jesus for salvation. Fun for the whole family! Also by Reverend Pirkle: The Burning Hell & The Believer's Heaven. Good times.
He fought battles on the Plain of Jars, hid his rebel faction in caves for nine years to escape U.S bombs and now has a huge museum in Vientiane. Laos' Kaysone Phomvihane is not the most well documented 20th century communist leader. And not everybody is happy about him of course. But if you want to judge him for yourself go to Laos and visit those caves or visit his humble residence and have a look at his tennis shoes.
At the end of the Korean War, James Veneris was an American POW awaiting repatriation. But when his time came, he—along with twenty other Americans and a Briton—declined to leave and chose to cast his lot with Mao and the Chinese Communist Party. Over time, almost all of these men became disillusioned with Marxism and eventually returned to their homelands. The Cold War that informed their decisions has become a chapter in the history books but the story of Western defectors to the Communist bloc is just now being written.
Diary of a Collapsing Superpower - "Seventeen years ago, the Berlin Wall fell, and two years later the Soviet Union broke apart. More than 1,400 minutes published earlier this month in Russia from meetings that took place behind the closed doors of the Politburo in Moscow read like a thriller from the highest levels of the Kremlin. They reveal Mikhail Gorbachev as a party chief who had to fight bitterly for his reforms and ultimately lost his battle. But in doing so, he changed the course of history and helped bring an end to the Cold War."
Conditions of the Working Classes in China is an essay that presents a Marxist perspective on the changes taking place in China. The author addresses the tensions between workers and employers, antagonisms between city workers and impoverished migrants from the countryside and the political fights between those who support the moves towards a market economy and those convinced that Mao had it right all along.
Fifty years ago, on October 23, 1956, Hungarians rose up in a violent revolt against the Soviet occupation and Communist domination of their government and country. The revolt was not materially supported by NATO or its allies, and - given the timing - was doomed to failure. Today, many of the heroes are forgotten. After 16 years of democratic government, Hungarian politics is still bitterly divided and Hungarians are unable to celebrate this anniversary with a single united National ceremony.
Riding the rails in Russia And I thought my guitar took up some space on the bus...
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. A key documentary artifact of the uprising is Magyarország lángokban (Hungary in Flames) [embedded .wmv], partly composed of footage shot by two young film school students using whatever equipment they could find. Narrowly avoiding capture by the Communists, the duo smuggled 10,000 feet of film out of the country in spare tires and potato sacks; there's much more to the story, but better to hear Vilmos tell it in his own words. [.rm] Eventually, they made their way to America, where László Kovács, ASC (Five Easy Pieces, Ghost Busters, more) and Vilmos Zsigmund, ASC (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Deliverance, more) became two of the most prolific cinematographers in Hollywood history. [more inside]
Is George Bush to Stalin as Irving Kristol is to Trotsky? When will we start hearing these sorts of claims from the right?
Your portrait painted like a propaganda poster. Become a socialist hero... in just 4 easy steps. To start, pick a poster from among the selection. Two weeks later, your painting is ready. (via STaAatCK)
US Border Patrol attempts to build a wall between Mexico and the US. Coyotes are not worried Mexico is already coming up with plans around it and the Americans are already coming up with a way to not pay for it.
Russian photographs 1917-1945 A collection of photographs from the Howard Schickler Gallery,including the Battle of Stalingrad, the Arctic, the collectivization of agriculture, and others. I liked the photos by Olga Lander, in particular.
[TotalitarianismFilter] Don't be asking your college librarian for a copy of that Little Red Book to do a class assignment, or your parents might get a visit from the good folks at the Department of Homeland Security. More evidence that the Bush administration cannot restrain itself when granted enhanced surveillance powers.
Those funny commies - china once again shows us how to do things with respect for the people. (newsfilter)
She interviewed Mussolini. She wrote plays for Eugene O'Neill's Provincetown Players. She got letters from Trotsky. Freud and Helen Keller were in her address book. She married journalist John Reed, and Diane Keaton played her in Reds. And she was nearly forgotten. Now, Louise Bryant is remembered. More here and much more here.
Pat Robertson calls for the assassination of Hugo Chavez. Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition of America and a former presidential candidate, said on "The 700 Club" it was the United States' duty to stop Chavez from making Venezuela a "launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism."
What A Revolutionary Laff Riot. Something I found interesting, even comical to contemplate, while clicking around: "Earlier in the day, we joined one of the feeder marches, chanting, "Soldiers Turn Your Guns Around, Shoot The Profit System Down!" While march organizers argued with the cops about what street to take, we made speeches linking the war to inter-imperialist rivalry and calling on students, teachers, workers and soldiers to destroy this system with communist revolution." And no, that does not mean I'm a PLP supporter, nor am I urging U.S. troops to mass mutiny (any more than I'd urge pigs to fly). I mean, hey, can anybody seriously picture "Petrograd 1917" happening in today's America?
Micros[censored] Helps China [censored] Bl[censored]s. "This topic contains forbidden words. Please delete them."
"Our demands most moderate are , we only want the earth". Today is the birthday of James Connolly.
Student Attacks Against Teachers: The Revolution of 1966 At the Middle School attached to Beijing Teacher's College, Yu Ruifen, a female biology teacher, was knocked to the ground and beaten in her office. In broad daylight, she was dragged by her legs through the front door and down the steps, her head bumping against the cement; a barrel of boiling water was poured on her. Though she died after approximately two hours of torture, it did not satisfy the students. All other teachers in the "ox-ghost and snake-demon team" were forced to stand around Yu's corpse and take turns beating her.
While looking to cook something new, I found a woman's story of growing up in Romania and her immigration to the United States.
The beginning of the end for Dear Leader? This Times (of London) report is filled with telling details.
Was Mario some Communist propaganda? "If anything can be said about Mario, it is that he seems to wear quite a bit a red . It’s on his name, it’s the color of his suspenders, his super mushrooms, his flag, even his hat." He does kinda look like an 8-bit Stalin, but a more important question must be asked: "Is Mario a drug pusher?"
Going to see a movie? Be sure to get the Maoist Internationalist Movement's perspective first. Harry Potter: "This Disney-esque fantasy film deserves not to be banned under the dictatorship of the proletariat." Yaaay!
Dsicipline, Strength, Beauty, Youth 'Bodies in Formation' is a wonderful exhibition of photographs and ephemera, that illustrates Soviet-era mass gymnastics displays in eastern Europe. Via plep.
Fools for Communism: "the world’s final redoubt of communism is not Havana or Pyongyang but American college campuses. 'The nostalgic afterlife of communism in the United States has outlived most of the real Communist regimes around the world....A sizable cadre of American intellectuals now openly applaud and apologize for one of the bloodiest ideologies of human history, and instead of being treated as pariahs, they hold distinguished positions in American higher education and cultural life.'" Here's also History News Network's interview with the authors of "In Denial: Historians, Communists and Espionage": "The facts of history that they [communist sympathizers] got wrong can be, in their view, rationalized, redefined, minimized, or otherwise set aside in service to the idealized future they seek. Many have learned no lessons from the failure of communism; they will ardently pursue the same goals by the same means, albeit under new names."
The fojbas are basins near Trieste and the Adriatic Sea, which served as mass graves during the massacres that followed World War 2. Those accused of collaborating with the fascists, or of opposing the communists, or who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, were killed and then deposed there. In 2000, the Slovenian magazine Mladina, known for its irreverence, put a Tetris-style game called Fojba 2000(flash req'd) on its site. In the game, you drop the bodies of either partizani (partisans) or domobranci (fascist Slovenes) into a pit, while jolly oompah music plays in the background. (More Inside) (Shamelessly ripped verbatim from The Glory of Carniola)
Prague's latest attraction - the Museum of Communism : it's interesting how the times have changed in eastern Europe...
Chinese Communism comes to a (seemingly) screeching halt. Lost in the brouha over Spain was the report that the Chinese National People's Congress voted yesterday to protect private property rights. Some regard this as more symbolic than actually guaranteeing any concrete rights while others believe it is indicative of the growing importance of private business currently fueling the Chinese economy. The words 'Human Rights' were also put into the constitution for the first time.
Comrade, is Piglet revisionism getting you down? Don't be an enemy of the people. Brush up on your Maoist theory with the Mao of Poo.
An elderly enemy combatant of the state has been denied entry into the United States for our safety and the republic is strong thanks to the decision. Who was it you ask? 77 year old Ibrahim Ferrer and five bandmates nominated for Grammies won't be allowed in the US today. Avowed communist Ferrer (lead member of the terrorist group "Buena Vista Social Club") said "I am not a terrorist. I couldn't be one. I am a musician." but don't believe him, he's a communist after all and a damn good one at that. Red Dawn!
Beyond the Fall. The former Soviet block in transition 1989-1999. Outstanding photojournalism.