I haven’t written anything for the last several days because I’ve been preparing for my London-Moscow-Washington DC trip. I leave for
Blog posts will certainly continue while I’m abroad. I’m hoping that writing in country will add some perspective on the subjects I address. If anyone is in
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By Sean — 11 years ago
Lyndon linked me about Nashi’s “Connecting with the President” or the “President’s Liaison Officer” campaign, so I’ll return the favor by liking his lucid breakdown of Nashi’s marketing-activist tactics. As he concludes:
The idea of using Nashi partisans as electronic “go-betweens” to/from the President (the passers-by receive special SIM-cards which will also be able to receive “all essential information about the movement’s activities,” per this description of the event) is an intriguing modern take on the Soviet idea of a loyal vanguard, though it’s supposedly an exercise in “modern democracy” (“sovremennaia demokratiia”).
I agree. What strikes me is not only how media savvy this all is, but also how these methods can be found among activists on the left and the right all over the world. The question all this poses for me is how much of Nashi’s participation in Russia’s “modern democracy” is symbolic of democratic practice around the world?Post Views: 153
By Sean — 12 years ago
Slovenian Lacanian philosopher Slavoj Zizek is a personal favorite. I am currently reading, among many things, his long essay called “Lenin’s Choice” in Revolution at the Gates, a collection of Lenin’s writings from 1917 that Zizek edited. His article, “The Two Totalitarianisms” from the London Review of Books is a year old, but I find it fascinating and worthy of attention. Here is an excerpt:
Till now, to put it straightforwardly, Stalinism hasn’t been rejected in the same way as Nazism. We are fully aware of its monstrous aspects, but still find Ostalgie acceptable: you can make Goodbye Lenin!, but Goodbye Hitler! is unthinkable. Why? To take another example: in Germany, many CDs featuring old East German Revolutionary and Party songs, from ‘Stalin, Freund, Genosse’ to ‘Die Partei hat immer Recht’, are easy to find. You would have to look rather harder for a collection of Nazi songs. Even at this anecdotal level, the difference between the Nazi and Stalinist universes is clear, just as it is when we recall that in the Stalinist show trials, the accused had publicly to confess his crimes and give an account of how he came to commit them, whereas the Nazis would never have required a Jew to confess that he was involved in a Jewish plot against the German nation. The reason is clear. Stalinism conceived itself as part of the Enlightenment tradition, according to which, truth being accessible to any rational man, no matter how depraved, everyone must be regarded as responsible for his crimes. But for the Nazis the guilt of the Jews was a fact of their biological constitution: there was no need to prove they were guilty, since they were guilty by virtue of being Jews.
I won’t give away any more of the plot, except to say that in my opinion, Zizek is absolutely correct to state: “We should also admit that we still lack a satisfactory theory of Stalinism. It is, in this respect, a scandal that the Frankfurt School failed to produce a systematic and thorough analysis of the phenomenon.” Couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, Slavoj, this won’t happen until people begin to see Stalinism as more than just gulags and mass shootings. It was that, for sure, but it was more. Hence the reason a film like Goodbye Lenin! can be see with loving nostalgia, while Goodbye Hitler! would be immediately and rightly denounced as apostasy.
By the way, I would also like to point out that Zizek has an article in the most recent issue of the London Review of Books called “Nobody has to be Vile.” This time he denounces the ideological phenomena of the “liberal communists.” Also worth a read.Post Views: 114
By Sean — 12 years ago
Stalin and Hitler were possessed by the devil. So says Pope Benedict XVI’s so-called “caster out of demons” and founder of the International Association of Exorcists, Father Gabriele Amorth. In an interview with Vatican Radio, Amorth said,
“Of course the Devil exists and he can not only possess a single person but also groups and entire populations.
“I am convinced that the Nazis were all possessed. All you have to do is think about what Hitler – and Stalin did. Almost certainly they were possessed by the Devil.
“You can tell by their behavior and their actions, from the horrors they committed and the atrocities that were committed on their orders. That’s why we need to defend society from demons.”
Who would have guessed? But Amorth would know. He has conducted over 30,000 exorcisms. And in an interview in 2001, he revealed that he talks to the Satan everyday, “I speak with the Devil every day. I talk to him in Latin. He answers in Italian. I have been wrestling with him, day in day out, for 14 years.” So there you have it.
More fascinating is the fact that according to Vatican archival documents, wartime pontiff Pius XII attempted a “long distance” exorcism of Hitler. Sadly, it seems to have failed.Post Views: 169