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Communism


  • Originally published 02/07/2014

    Pete Seeger: The Red Warbler

    A great folk singer who contributed much to the American story, he was fatally flawed by the leftism he imbibed with his mother’s milk.

  • Originally published 01/15/2014

    The Heroes of 1989

    There never was a dull moment in 1989 for fans of democracy and popular protest, twenty-five years ago.

  • Originally published 12/10/2013

    Nelson Mandela, Communist

    Yes, the fact that Mandela was a member of the South African Communist Party matters, but not in the way you think.

  • Originally published 08/15/2013

    Aging Chinese apologise for Cultural Revolution 'evil'

    BEIJING (AFP).- As a teenager radicalised by China's Cultural Revolution, Zhang Hongbing denounced his mother to the authorities. Two months later a firing squad shot her dead.Now after more than 40 years of mounting guilt, Zhang has ruffled the silence that cloaks China's decade of turmoil with a public confession.Such rare apologies have been welcomed as a potential gateway to the collective soul-searching that could bring healing -- but is blocked by a ruling Communist Party whose critics say is unwilling to confront its own responsibility."Back then everyone was swept up and you couldn't escape even if you wanted to. Any kindness or beauty in me was thoroughly, irretrievably 'formatted'," Zhang told the Beijing News last week."I hope that from my self-reflection other people can understand what the situation was like at that time."...

  • Originally published 08/15/2013

    American Stasi spy tells his story

    One of East Germany's top spies was actually an American soldier. Jeff Carney defected to the Communist state in 1983 and fed the notorious Stasi with reams of valuable information. He has now written a book about his experiences.Berlin's Marienfelde district in the fall of 1983: The day Jeff Carney helped save the world was just four hours old. Carney, a 20-year-old surveillance specialist with the United States Air Force, was sitting in the early morning in front of the equipment he used to eavesdrop on the East. He was on the night shift, and there was nothing special to report.Then his supervisor told him about a secret operation that was set to take place just a few hours later. It was a war game of sorts, and it involved US fighter jets that would come within threatening range of Soviet airspace, triggering alarm signals on the Russians' radar screen and a general state of confusion. The planners expected that the other side would become so unnerved over the maneuver that emergency response procedures would be set in motion, revealing them to US reconnaissance.

  • Originally published 08/06/2013

    Don't Overestimate the Cohesion of the Military during Revolutionary Moments

    As Jack Censer’s post has pointed out, the role of the military in revolutionary situations is critical to understanding them. Yet, it varies so much that finding common threads can be extremely difficult, and even then misleading. Yet, clearly, they play central roles. Perhaps one useful way of exploring that is to examine the extent to which the military is unified in outlook -- ideological, cultural, social, and hierarchically -- or divided, most likely between officers and rank and file men, which in turn can reflect social or ideological differences (although there could be other fault-lines, such as religion or ethnicity). Moreover, this can change as the revolution progresses.In the Russian Revolution of 1917, for example, both officers and men were unhappy with the tsarist government of Nicholas II as the year opened, with discussion of palace revolution emerging among high-ranking officers by the end of 1916 while rank-and-file soldiers (and lower level officers) were alienated by the ongoing war (World War I). Both immediately supported the February Revolution -- indeed a rebellion of rank-and-file soldiers in the capital city garrison played a critical role in toppling the regime-- and the new liberal provisional government.

  • Originally published 07/18/2013

    Stephen F. Cohen: Anton Antonov-Ovseyenko, Truth-Teller Who Exposed Stalin’s Crimes

    Stephen F. Cohen is a professor emeritus at New York University and Princeton University. His Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War and his The Victims Return: Survivors of the Gulag After Stalin are now in paperback. One of the last and irrepressible truth-tellers about the Stalin era, who themselves experienced the horror of those years, has died. Having lost both his mother and father in the 1930s, in the tyrant’s prisons of torture and execution, Anton Antonov-Ovseyenko was arrested three times (in 1940, 1941 and 1948) and spent nearly thirteen years in Gulag forced-labor camps, including the infamous complexes at Pechora and Vorkuta.Anton had one mission, as he passionately declared in my presence many times during our thirty-seven-year friendship: “To unmask Stalin, his henchmen and their heirs.” The first major result was Anton’s book Portret tirana (Portrait of A Tyrant), written in the 1960s and 1970s, long before it could be published in Russia, but published in English in New York in 1981 as The Time of Stalin. It remains one of the monumental works of historical truth-telling of the pre-Gorbachev and pre-glasnost era, along with Roy Medvedev’s Let History Judge and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago.

  • Originally published 07/11/2013

    Anton Antonov Ovseyenko, Who Exposed Stalin Terror, Dies at 93

    “It is the duty of every honest person to write the truth about Stalin,” Anton Antonov-Ovseyenko, a Soviet historian and dissident, wrote in the preface of his seminal book “The Time of Stalin: Portrait of a Tyranny,” published illegally in 1981.A survivor of the gulag whose parents died in Stalin’s purges, Mr. Antonov-Ovseyenko spent a lifetime in almost fanatical devotion to that duty, working until his death on Tuesday in Moscow at 93 to expose the darkest truths of the Soviet era.His books cracked through the shell of Soviet censorship that surrounded much of the Stalin-era brutality, offering readers at home and in the West a vivid portrait of tyranny and violence....

  • Originally published 06/21/2013

    Germany recalls 1953 anti-Soviet revolt

    BERLIN — The German president recalls it as an electrifying moment. One of Berlin’s most resplendent avenues is named simply the “Street of June 17” in remembrance. But the heady, short-lived uprising by hundreds of thousands of East Germans 60 years ago on Monday has never lived in history as the more famous anti-Communist revolts that followed — in Hungary and Poland in 1956, in Prague in 1968 and in Poland again in 1980-81.Joachim Gauck, the first Easterner to be president of the reunited Germany, was 13 at the time, living in the Baltic port of Rostock, he told Parliament in a quietly emotional speech on Friday. “But I remember very clearly the sense of euphoria that the dockworkers were on strike,” Mr. Gauck said. “I was sure that something new was under way.”It took 36 more years before East Germans rose up en masse again, and the Berlin Wall fell. And now, almost 24 years after that, Mr. Gauck sits in Bellevue Palace, and Angela Merkel, another Easterner, in the Chancellery. So commemorations of the 60th anniversary were infused not just by Germans’ penchant for marking round dates but also by a sense of putting the 1953 uprising on more of a pedestal....

  • Originally published 06/21/2013

    Gyula Horn, Helped Part Iron Curtain, Dies at 80

    Gyula Horn, a former leader of Hungary who in 1989 literally ripped a hole in the Iron Curtain, helping to set off months of tumultuous change in which Communist governments in Eastern Europe fell one after the other, died Wednesday in Budapest. He was 80.The Hungarian government announced the death. He had been hospitalized since 2007 with what was reported to be a brain malfunction.Mr. Horn’s life encompassed much of the history of 20th-century Hungary. His father, a Communist, was executed by the Nazis occupying Hungary in 1944. Gyula (pronounced JOO-la) also became a hard-line Communist, serving in militia units that hunted down government opponents during their revolt in 1956. The rebels lynched his brother, also a Communist.As foreign minister, as Moscow’s grip on Eastern Europe slipped, Mr. Horn proved nimble as a newly minted, nonideological, pragmatic reformer in helping to lead Hungary away from Communism. Elected prime minister as a Socialist in 1994, he angered Hungarians by cutting social programs to stanch raging inflation....

  • Originally published 06/13/2013

    Netanyahu helps dedicate upgraded Holocaust exhibit at Auschwitz

    OSWIECIM, Poland —For decades, the Communist-era memorial to Jewish victims at the barracks known as Block 27 in the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex of death camps stood dilapidated and mostly ignored.“No one visited. They opened the doors, that was it,” said Avner Shalev, chairman of Yad Vashem, Israel’s vast and authoritative Holocaust memorial museum and research center.Key artifacts had gone missing. The history presented in the signage was inaccurate, at best, and dominated by Soviet propaganda....

  • Originally published 04/08/2013

    Georgia's On Again/Off Again Relationship with Joseph Stalin

    Stalin in 1945.During the 1990s, post-Soviet Georgia initially struggled to foster democracy. Its government was marked by former Soviet bureaucrats and widespread corruption. However, after the largely peaceful, pro-democratic Rose Revolution of 2003, Western educated Mikhail Saakashvili became president and rekindled hopes for democracy in post-Soviet Georgia. Since his inception, the new president has initiated a wave of reforms in order to bring Georgia out of Russia’s shadow and into the Western spotlight. Saakashvili’s reforms included restructuring of Georgia’s police forces, streamlining the bureaucracy, and facilitating economic growth, but also crackdowns on the separatist regions of Svaneti, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Though the latter endeavor eventually failed, Georgia under the tenure of Saakashvili accomplished a substantial rapprochement with the United States and Europe in a bid to include his country into NATO and the European Union.

  • Originally published 04/01/2013

    Jonathan Freedland: Review of Jonathan Sperber's "Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life"

    Jonathan Freedland is an editorial page columnist for The Guardian of London.The Karl Marx depicted in Jonathan Sperber’s absorbing, meticulously researched biography will be unnervingly familiar to anyone who has had even the most fleeting acquaintance with radical politics. Here is a man never more passionate than when attacking his own side, saddled with perennial money problems and still reliant on his parents for cash, constantly plotting new, world-changing ventures yet having trouble with both deadlines and personal hygiene, living in rooms that some might call bohemian, others plain “slummy,” and who can be maddeningly inconsistent when not lapsing into elaborate flights of theory and unintelligible abstraction.

  • Originally published 03/26/2013

    Cuba to pay tribute to Eric Hobsbawm

    HAVANA, Cuba, Mar 20 (acn) The International Colloquium “Changing history, changing the world” under way at Havana’s Juan Marinello Cuban Institute for Cultural Research until Thursday, will be dedicated to British Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm.Hobsbawm (Alexandria, 1917 - London, 2012), considered one of the most important historians at a world level and a key thinker of 20th century history, will be honored by way of an analysis of his intellectual work, by renowned Cuban and foreign researchers.Sponsored by the Antonio Gramsci Department, the meeting will bring together specialists from Great Britain and Latin America, like Jean Stubbs, Fernando Martinez Heredia, Pedro Pablo Rodriguez, Jorge Ibarra, Maria del Carmen Barcia, Nils Castro and Robin Blackburn, sources of the institute told ACN.

  • Originally published 03/26/2013

    Time Magazine: Was Marx right?

    Karl Marx was supposed to be dead and buried. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and China’s Great Leap Forward into capitalism, communism faded into the quaint backdrop of James Bond movies or the deviant mantra of Kim Jong Un. The class conflict that Marx believed determined the course of history seemed to melt away in a prosperous era of free trade and free enterprise. The far-reaching power of globalization, linking the most remote corners of the planet in lucrative bonds of finance, outsourcing and “borderless” manufacturing, offered everybody from Silicon Valley tech gurus to Chinese farm girls ample opportunities to get rich. Asia in the latter decades of the 20th century witnessed perhaps the most remarkable record of poverty alleviation in human history — all thanks to the very capitalist tools of trade, entrepreneurship and foreign investment. Capitalism appeared to be fulfilling its promise — to uplift everyone to new heights of wealth and welfare.

  • Originally published 03/03/2013

    Developer pledges to continue Berlin Wall removal

    A German property developer has rejected calls to halt work to remove one of the last remaining stretches of the Berlin Wall, despite angry protests against the plan.Maik Uwe Hinkel says work to move a 22-meter (yard) section of the 1.3 kilometer (3/4 mile) section of the wall will resume next week...

  • Originally published 01/28/2013

    Mark Joseph Stern: Did Chernobyl Cause the Soviet Union To Explode?

    Mark Joseph Stern is a Slate intern.At 1:23 a.m. on April 26, 1986, Reactor 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded, following a disastrously ill-judged systems test by undertrained technicians. As surplus energy surged through the reactor, its core combusted, immediately killing nearby workers and exposing others to deadly levels of radiation. In the nearby town of Prypiat, Ukraine, people woke up to respiratory distress and nausea. Emergency response workers encased the reactor in a concrete sarcophagus and, unprepared for exposure to radioactivity, became stricken with severe symptoms of radiation poisoning. Tens of thousands of Soviet citizens filed into Chernobyl to help, considering it their patriotic duty; all were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation with no warning from the government. It took two days for the explosion to be announced, in vague terms, on the national news; not until Sweden discovered a radiation cloud that had drifted across Europe was the true extent of the Chernobyl explosion revealed.

  • Originally published 01/24/2013

    Cardinal Jozef Glemp, longtime leader of Poland’s Roman Catholic church, dies at 83

    WARSAW, Poland — Cardinal Jozef Glemp, the longtime head of Poland’s influential Roman Catholic church at a time when it played a key role in the fight against communism, has died. He was 83.Jozef Kloch, a church spokesman, said in a statement that Glemp died Wednesday evening in Warsaw. Glemp had been ill for many years, and the Polish news agency PAP said he had lung cancer. Earlier in the day Warsaw Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz had asked the faithful to pray for Glemp, noting that his condition was deteriorating.Glemp oversaw the church at a critical time in its history and in that of Poland, a largely Catholic nation....

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