Thoughts on the DPRK

It is a well-known fact that there has not been any famine in North Korea since 1997, and that the famine that did exist was mostly the result of serious natural disasters and leftover destruction from the Korean War, not mismanagement. The videos repeatedly shown today as starving North Koreans are all from pre-1997. The US invaded North Korea on June 25, 1950 to consume it in the Syngman Rhee dictatorship that ruled in the South. In 1949 alone, there were 2,913 such incidents, some with thousands of troops. Finally, the North responded with a full invasion of the South. This is what the US government means when it says the North “started the war.”

Why is Revisionism the Enemy?

Recently a group of revisionists tried to liquidate your author’s arguments and activism by bringing up his past history of being in a variety of revisionist parties and over time changing his ideology. It is precisely because I was a member of these revisionist groups that I see revisionism for what it is. I was personally shown the ropes. But I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t buy Trotskyism or Maoism, I couldn’t follow the liberal line, and eventually saw they were all hot air and no substance.

The propagation of revisionist theories is the advocacy of bringing knives to a gunfight. It revises fundamental principles of the theory and advocates for our slaughter. Liberalized “anti-dogmatism” in the vein of the Kasamaites, Titoites, Brezhnevites and Maoists doesn’t have the strength to stop an international genocide. The reason we have to combat revisionism is for the success of revolution, and the reason we must succeed is to stop what can only be described as a genocide.

All one has to do is think of one case of suffering, and then try to imagine it multiplied exponentially. The utter depravity of what world capitalism brings about is enough to make one physically sick. Revisionists advocate peaceful co-existance and collaboration with the forces responsible for this state of affairs. This is the hallmark of all revisionists from Tito to Kautsky to Kasama Project.

The Quest for “Authenticity” in Art

“Authenticity” as preached by today’s critics is an idealist concept. The concept of “art” is an era of mechanical, industrial production frequently comes under fire by critics, who insist that the “passion” and “talent” of the art of old is all but lost on today’s youth culture, that Shakespeare is somehow more worthy of praise than modern writers, that the Rolling Stones had more “depth” and “character” than modern bands. While this notion may in some ways be right, it is wrong about quite a few of its major accounts.

The critics’ reactions to changes in the production of art-such as the fact that Van Gogh’s starry night piece now adorns many bedrooms throughout the US-are quite typical of intellectuals seeking the “real” in all things art-related. It makes me wonder how these same intellectuals feel about their books and essays being continuously reproduced, cited and read the world over due to the means of production-the publishing company-upon which they are dependant. Does that fact undermine their work’s “realness?” Does the mechanically reproduced plethora of copies diminish the “aura” of an original work of art, or do they increase it? Familiarity with copies of a painting will enhance response to the original when it is finally encountered. The work’s uniqueness is emphasized by reproduction. The only way this does not happen is if some of the original work’s revolutionary fervor is watered down by the other, copying works, in which case it is not the original work at all.

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The word “modernism” is intentionally ambiguous, and perhaps without realizing it is a fitting term for such a literary movement. In the most common usage it refers to the twentieth-century movement that began with the concept of the “modern” (obviously, since without this word how could one have modern-ism?) and ended up being a collection of authors and works characterized by efforts by the individual character and author to remold and reshape reality while reflecting its social ills. This is quite a simplistic analysis of an entire movement, but I will go into greater detail below.

Modernism took elements from realist literature in that it sought to realistically portray the growing social isolation and alienation of individuals caused by industrial capitalism. Characters are almost always withdrawn, and the entirety of the work contains a bitter cynicism bordering on absolute nihilistic despair. The main geographic sites for this movement were England and America post-Industrial Revolution, blooming during the periods between World War I and World War II, the main places where this system had taken hold. These first few decades of the new century begin with writers such as Joyce, Eliot, Pound D.H. Lawrence, who all stepped forward onto the literary scene by creating texts that were called highly experimental on content rather than merely form. This is the movement we now call “modernism,” though I don’t mean to use it in a reductive sense to imply that outside of these few head writers there exist no modernist movement.

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100th Anniversary of Enver Hoxha

From the EMEP, the legal wing of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Turkey

We’re here for celebrating the 100th birthday of Enver Hoxha. He was the resolute defender of proletarian socialism, the leader of the International Communist Movement and of the anti-revisionist struggle, the great friend of the oppressed peoples and the architect of the revolution and socialist construction in Albania.

After the 22 years of his dead, we must talk about his struggle to build socialism in Albania and help to the international workers’ movement. We don’t need to compliment him, but we need to introduce him to the new generations. Because, his struggle against all types of revisionism, such as Kruschevism, Titoism and Euro Communism; his resistance to defend Marxism-Leninism; and his estimation on the imperialist strategies of the Soviet Union have great importance.

It’s obvious that, preserving the proletarian character of Marxism-Leninism; developing and practising it by analysing the concrete situation lies on the bases of this big resistance and comprehension. Comrade Enver Hoxha characterised the reason for the attacks of these counter revolutionary currents and the imperialist bourgeoisie on Marxism-Leninism, and the importance of defending it as follows: “It is not a coincidence that the imperialists, the bourgeoisie and the revisionists are directing the sharp point of their spear at our victorious doctrine Marxism-Leninism. Without Marxism-Leninism there can be no genuine socialism.” (Report to the 8th Congress of the PLA)

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A Nice Cup of Coffee

[An article I wrote on Dec. 22, 2009]

If one looks up volumes written on the subject of coffee, most likely they will take the form of table books or cookbooks with very little instruction, aside from a few attractive pictures of the drink, and perhaps some rudimentary tours of its various flavors, coupled with only a very few frustrating teasers of tips on how to make it. It is difficult to find any detailed exploration of coffee. In addition, aside from books totally centered on the subject, even the best breakfast books contain no explanation of the flavors of various types of coffee, nor do they explain the exact difference between espresso and cappuccino, brewed coffee or French press, or what are the costs and benefits of a Turkish grind.

This is very odd, seeing as how not only has coffee been one of the foundations of global civilization and trade as we know it, but also given the fact that the method of making coffee is the center of many disputes.

In Europe and America it has only a few hundred years of history, contrasted with hundreds of thousands in Africa, and yet as a worldwide commodity coffee is on the level of cereal grains and crude oil. Most of the modern workforce cannot start the day unless they have a cup of coffee. Indonesian students rise in the wee hours to have breakfast consisting of boiled bananas and coffee even from the age of eight. The coffee industry currently employs millions. All this, and yet finding information about it is still a matter of trial and error. When looking through my head for the recipe for my perfect cup of coffee, I find many points which I have had to acquire myself over years of consumption.

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Crisis & Capital In Wuthering Heights

The majority of Victorian literature is the product of the petty-bourgeois class, and Wuthering Heights is no different. The tumultuous ideological storms contained within demonstrate a crisis in the ideology of the 19th century Victorian petty-bourgeois class to which Emily Bronte was born. Frequently, novelists and intellectuals have a reflective role to play at a point of history where a crisis has impacted the prevailing base and has thereby begun the upward quake to the very spires of the ideological superstructure. The crises in the areas of estate, racial tensions and the family unit are all explored, but more than anything else, Wuthering Heights marks the crisis of individuality versus custom, since the contradiction between the social expectations of class privilege and the selfhood advocated by the rising neo-liberal capitalist system is the very essence of Victorian bourgeois consciousness.

From the start, Bronte seems more interested in showing the reader a world that is beset by the same conflicts as her own rather than an escapist daydream. Terry Eagleton says that “Wuthering Heights is […] an apparently timeless, highly integrated, mysteriously autonomous symbolic universe” (1), which utterly defies the prevailing methodology of fiction literature to remove the reader from the discord of his existence. Most fiction novels come close to portraying what we would call “myths,” that is, the illusory resolutions of real contradictions within society for the purpose of the story in such a way as to validate ideology and the societal status quo. Although it is inherent to fairy tales and children’s stories that the hermetically-sealed bubble of this world never be burst, oftentimes with adult novels this purpose is stricken by strains in achieving its “proper” ideological closure. Indeed, the novel itself loyally reproduces the various disasters assaulting Europe, manifested in individual characters.

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Content is Chief, Form is Chaff?

The form of a poem or story (as opposed to its content) is not merely ornamental or window-dressing, nor is it merely “fleshing out” the content. It has its own life within the text, and forms as simple as the note arrangements of classical music or the rhyming pattern (or lack thereof) of a piece of poetry can better expose the need that the production of the work fills. Take-for a ready example-the lines of the Devil in John Milton’s Paradise Lost. When Satan speaks, the parameters of the rhyming schemes seem to melt away, replaced by whatever the character seems to want to say instead of what the syllable count allows. The flow of the poem is thus disrupted greatly by his presence. He ends every line with a violent or intense word, appropriately as he speaks of “dripping poison” into other’s lives to make up for his own bitterness at his inability to experience “sweet interchange.” In this way, the formlessness of those verses showcase the character’s desire for chaos and destruction, in this case of the poem structure, and his intense hatred for all things orderly and peaceful with the enjambment of each line.

The Concept of the “Other” in Kim

Kipling seems to fancy himself as the first Eric Schlosser. In his story Kim, the presence of the concept of the “other” is scarce, even nonexistent, to the point of a noticeable, glaring omission. British, Indian and Tibetan cultures have minor contradictions with each other, but none is presented as particularly “domineering” over one another even within the context of colonial relations. No one is demonized; no one is more advanced or nobler than the other. Whatever ideologies might justify it, there is no particularly sharp mention of the destruction of previous forms of social organization (symbolized by characters such as the Lama), which seem merely dizzied rather than lost. Without realizing it himself, since this is the nature of ideology to fill the gaps and to consist on what the text hides, Kipling has constructed here a highly differentiated examination of pre-globalization before such a term existed. One cannot separate the full explanation of imperialism from late nineteenth-century colonialism and the necessary spread of capitalist production that comes from those particular stages. Such a spread, such as that from Britain to India, is globalizing, and imperialism has the ability to hide cultural and ethnic conflicts as much as it has the power to aggravate them for monetary and political gain. This is what we see a slice of in Kim.

Scott’s Denied Bourgeois Mentality

Sir Walter Scott may have denied traditionalism and the ruling class culture of his time personally, but his novels provide no alternative to those bourgeois doctrines and rather in the values of that system find their own comfortable justifications for existence. To illuminate the question of class ideology and how it is reflected in Sir Walter Scott’s works, one only needs to examine aspects of the author’s life and how the prevailing culture influenced him. Following the path of cultural analysis, one can then investigate Scott’s works and see that his main characters follow the dominant bourgeois ideology. Whether or not this was intentional and the secondary, more passionate characters are meant to be the “true heroes” of the novels, the existence of the heroes themselves demonstrate Scott’s capitulation to established bourgeois perceptions of idealism and heroism.

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William Blake’s “Nurse’s Songs”

In order to grasp their meanings, the two versions of the “Nurse’s Song” in both William Blake’s the Songs of Innocence and the Songs of Experience are to be read not through what they show literally, nor even what they appear to mean (the obvious “red herring” interpretation), but rather what they hide. At their joined ideological base, both works reveal a stunning critique of the bourgeois and feudal culture. Ultimately Blake resists the dominant ideology, first by opposing it, albeit unintentionally, then by strongly affirming it in a satirical manner. All of this is accomplished through the actions and the shifts in perspective of the unnamed nurse character, which in the end reveal the true purpose of the two works.

Much like the two volumes in which they are contained, the two “Nurse’s Songs” seem at first to be examinations of human development and mental stages of life. The poem features children at play in the hills while their elder nurse watches over them. Eventually she bids them to come back inside when the daylight begins to die. The youths, of course, then plead for the right to stay out for as long as the smallest amount of light exists. Immediately, a few subtleties jump out at the reader.

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Blake’s “Visions of the Daughters of Albion”

The main character Oothoon in The Visions of the Daughters of Albion is a liberation figure challenging not only male chauvinism and marriage but the institution of slavery and imperialism in general. The female protagonist Oothoon, a sex slave who is raped by the slave driver Bromion, is clearly made to represent both the fertile, virginal and innocent lands of the pre-colonialism New World and the oppression of the women of Blake’s time, who were, like slaves, treated as property of their husbands. In the course of his poem Oothoon becomes the ultimate symbol for liberation both as a woman and as a slave. Even though the author slyly created Oothoon as a European woman whose skin is described as “snow white” in order to elicit sympathy from European readers that a dark-skinned woman might not have received so heartily, she still becomes the voice of subjugated races.

Social conditioning is also examined as a force in society, since all three characters are chained (literally on the accompanying plates) by the conventions of the society they inhabit and the patriarchal, property-oriented and colonialist attitudes thereof. Bromion says explicitly to Oothoon, “Thy soft American plains are mine, and mine thy north & south: Stampt with my signet are the swarthy children of the sun: They are obedient, they resist not[.]” The double meaning here is transparent.

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William Blake’s “Songs of Innocence” & “Songs of Experience”

William Blake’s Songs of Innocence is often thought of as the lighter, happier of the two collections of poems known as the Songs, the other of course being its polar opposite—the Songs of Experience. Upon the first reading of the text this proves to be superficially true, in that the Innocence songs are more uplifting. Upon further inspection however, there is undeniably a dark cloud of foreshadowing hanging over the work. Almost no poem in the collection is completely free from darkness, even if the characters inside the text do not outwardly recognize it. The introduction seems happy enough, with a fanciful cherub figure instructing the narrator to write his song down on paper so that it might be preserved forever and “all may read.” The underlying acknowledgement of the ephemeral nature of man-made creations boasts of an unusual maturity for a so-called “Song of Innocence.”

Soon after this, the verses of “The Ecchoing Green” subtlety speak of the process of aging and the passage of time by portraying a group of “old folk” reminiscing about their younger days when they played sports on the Green, which is now “darkening,” literally and figuratively. This disturbing trend continues with “The Blossom,” which contrasts contention with existence, personified in the happy sparrow, with suffering, personified by the sobbing robin. At the same time this depicts the two opposing views of society—the classes who benefit from it and those that suffer from it. The most infamous examples of this are “The Chimney Sweeper,” in which child laborers are comforted by the bourgeois idea “if all do their duty, they need not fear harm,” and “Holy Thursday,” in which Blake uses negative imagery of angels and metaphor to ridicule the pious idea of pity as a virtue. Class consciousness is considered to be a facet of “experience,” but the reader should remember that children are also aware of injustice, which Blake is aware of and shows to be so.

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Communism & Fascism: Same Thing?

I am sick to death of all these idiots comparing Stalin to Hitler and Nazis to Marxist-Leninists. It is time to face facts: comparing Communists with Nazis is objectively pro-fascist. It is completely unrealistic and only helps out the other side, including the fascists, Nazis, reactionaries and monarchs. It only assists them in whitewashing and cheapening the crimes of the Nazis and turning Nazism into a mere insult, a cliché, rather than the true danger it is.

Not only that, it indirectly blames Communism, the force that destroyed fascism, for the rise of fascism, by placing them both in the same so-called “totalitarian” category. This succeeds only in removing the blame from the CAPITALIST CLASS, which are the true people to blame for the rise of Hitler, Mussolini, Pinochet and Franco, since fascism is the last resort of a desperate and violent bourgeoisie that is losing its power. Hitler may have risen to power by speaking out against the big capitalists, but that was only because socialism was very popular in Germany at the time, and once he was elected Chancellor he did everything he could to save big German capital. Not to mention the very first people he sent to the gas chambers, before even the Jews, were the German communists, as shown in the popular “first they came for the…” quote, in which the first thing he says is, “First they came for the communists…”

All the reactionary ivory tower intelligentsia are eager to put forward this analysis of the swastika and the hammer & sickle being comparable only because throughout history intellectuals have been the willing puppets of the ruling class, whether it be kings, slaveowners or automobile moguls.

Fascism and Communism are not the same thing; in fact, fascism is merely the logical conclusion to bourgeois democracy. This is elementary common sense. Capitalism leads to fascism. Every wise human being knows this. So do not doubt—those intellectual idiots who prance around saying “Stalin is worse than Hitler” are objectively on the Nazis’ side and are working on their behalf.