Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Marx on India

So you know that one dude, the one who was like, "UHHH GUYS Industrialization really sucks for people who have to work in factories and stuff, so I'm gonna write them a manifesto about the history of dialectic oppression in Europe to substantiate the need for a proletarian revolution"??

Yeah, I think he was called Karl Marx, and since then, he's been pretty influential on economics, politics and the world in general.

So for my political theory class, we're reading his articles on India and China, which are really interesting, because despite what you'd think, HE'S JUST LIKE RACIST LIBERALS LIKE J.S. MILL, EDMUND BURKE AND ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE. Who'da thunk?

The only difference? When Marx writes, "Uhh so like guyys, I think it really sux how barbaric Indians are, you know, just sittin' in their little villages, stagnating with their lack of cooperation, communication or active interest in politics, you know, they're just like a bunch of half-savages with no history to speak of," he concludes this thought slightly differently than those damn bourgeois liberals.

His conclusion: "So yeah I mean, capitalism is really terrible in Europe, cuz it's like keepin' all the poor proles down and preventing them from having an economically sound and intellectually full life, ya know, being all alienated from their labor and stuff, but I guess it's kinda a necessary evil on the road to proletarian revolution, and like communism or something cool like that. At least it beats being Indian."


SLR out.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fidel's Inner Circle

Here's a dream that I had a little while ago in which I was in Fidel Castro's inner circle.

It started with Fidel giving a speech to his men. I and some other people he was close to were in a room right behind the stage. During the speech he started talking about one of his fallen comrades with whom he had been very close. He started getting emotional, but since he was all machismo, he didn't want his men to see him get emotional, and so he came into the back room and proceeded to yell the speech from behind the wall. It was pretty crazy seeing Fidel Castro in tears, seemingly vulnerable, and yet still inspiring power and awe. The men and I in the back room just stood there watching him.

After the speech, Fidel took me and one of his body guards down some narrow corridors and stairways into an empty room. Fidel had me watch as his body guard put a glass and metal cylinder filled with a clear liquid into a tube in the wall that would take the cylinder even farther underground. I asked if the liquid was Uranium, and Fidel said yes. As I was in Fidel's inner circle, I didn't want to ask him WHY he had Uranium. When he showed me another view of the tube, and I saw that the cylinder was hitting the sides quite violently as it went down. I decided to at least determine if I was in danger of blowing up. I asked him if the Uranium was stable, and he said that it was. It was as safe as tossing 16 pennies down the tube.

When Fidel and I turned around we realized that the body guard had disappeared. At that moment we realized that he was an informant and was going to betray us. There were two doors leading out of the room. I thought to myself, "I remember reading about this! If I can only remember which door he went through, then we can catch him before he can tell anyone about where we are and what we are doing!" Fidel opened the door to the staircase and started shooting up the staircase. On the wall, near the top of the staircase, I saw the shadow of a woman. I shouted, "Fidel! No!! It's not him!" Watching him shoot at the woman was like watching something on the history channel (not that I ever actually watch the history channel!). Images of the events that would follow flashed before my eyes, transparent picture layered on transparent picture. I was helplessly watching the first event that initiated the downward spiral of Fidel's power - it all started with the accidental murder of this woman.

The dream then jumped to a point after Fidel had fallen. There were only the faithful few left. I was to go to a cafe and meet with a man who would help me with my next assignment. I was to travel to a different country and continue the fight there.

Love and Communism,

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Epic Fail

Here's a lovely video by my favorite vloggers, the vlogbrothers. I thought it was appropriate.

It is also a good message to keep in mind if you are as bogged down with work as I am for... well... the rest of the semester. It could be worse!

Love and Communism,

Saturday, October 9, 2010

October 9, 1967

“I know you are here to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man.” - Che

Forty-three years ago, Ernesto "Che" Guevara was executed in a school house in La Higuera, Bolivia.

Here is a video tribute to him:

If you are a history dork (as you hopefully are, considering the fact that you are reading this blog), here is an interesting website by the prestigious Peter Kornbluh that has pictures of declassified CIA documents detailing the United States' efforts to track down and kill Che: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB5/index.html.

And now, some more quotes:

“If you tremble indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine.”

“Whenever death may surprise us, let it be welcome if our battle cry has reached even one receptive ear and another hand reaches out to take up our arms.”

and of course,

“Let me say, at the risk of seeming ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.”

Rest in Peace, Che. Happy Death Day.

Love and Communism,

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Woman Who Got Christmas Cards From Hitler

This summer, I had lunch (which is to say I sat at a table for two and a half hours) with my grandmother and two of her lady friends from church. The two ladies in question are Italian sisters, raised in small-town eastern Pennsylvania, which combination ensures both a certain volume level and a positive talent for knowing everything about everyone.

They portray the oral tradition at its finest. They know who's been sleeping with whom, marital statuses of all the involved parties; his grandson is in and out of jail for car robberies; her nephew got written up for possession of. . . marijuana the other week. My cousin's boy just married his second wife - she's a schoolteacher, a real sweet girl - but the first one, well, she ran off after just a few months and took his money but all he was really upset about, he tells me, was that she took the dog. Yeah, he loved that dog.

Then, there's the woman who got Christmas cards from Hitler.
Yes. That Hitler. Mein Kampf, "Humanitarianism is the expression of stupidity and cowardice," Nazi-leading, Aryan-nation Hitler. The chain of thoughts that brings us from the restaurant proprietor's extra-marital ahem to this shocking piece of information is all but inexplicable. Somebody's (probably middle-aged) boy is working down at the nursing home and his mother used to talk about that place down on Main Street in Myerstown, and wasn't that right next to that hat shop? Oh yes... YES... that shop run by the woman who used to get Christmas cards from Hitler.

And for a moment, I completely stop listening. They're still talking, but my brain has stopped processing any of it in favor of some - in my opinion - far more important questions, like: Did Hitler even send Christmas cards? If so, to whom would the dictator of Nazi Germany have wish all the blessings of the season?! Then my liberal arts education and recent history classes take over, and I wonder, almost recreationally, how one might even go about verifying the authenticity of a claim like that. How could you prove that Hitler sent Christmas cards, and to whom, and what the hell might he have written?!

Talking to my mother on the phone later, we decide that you probably can't. The ladies may have elephants' memories, but the woman who got Christmas cards from Hitler has been dead for years (if you ask the ladies, she should have died in prison for getting cards from that man) and the chances that that story has even a particle of truth in it. . . well, it just seems unbelievably unlikely.

But even that raises an almost equally fascinating question: then where the heck did that story come from? The ladies may exaggerate grotesquely, and make completely inappropriate assumptions about people (at the top of their lungs in public places like restaurants), but I can't see them totally fabricating something like this. How would you think to fabricate something like this? Who was that woman who owned the hat shop, and what must she have done to deserve, more than fifty years later, having her name linked to an infamous dictator and mass murderer during the lunch buffet at the Lantern Lodge in Myerstown, PA.

And what would Hitler have possibly written in a Christmas card?


Chairman Meow

Okay, I have a few things to say about the ole Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party.

He is the most self-important man I had ever studied.

He enjoyed swims in the shit-filled, sewage-y Yangtze River.

He had a lot of sex.

He never brushed his teeth, because tigers don't brush their teeth.

These are facts that I have retained in my brain for three years, taking precedence over calculus, chemistry, American history, the rules of social interaction, the list goes on.

On one final, unrelated (but certainly historical!) note:

Expect similarly historically-informed content from me soon.

SLR out.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Instead of studying for my midterms, I'm going to take this moment to provide you with some entertaining, offensive, and overall ridiculous quotes by LBJ. Enjoy.

"Did you ever think that making a speech on economics is a lot like pissing down your leg? It seems hot to you, but it never does to anyone else."

Every man has a right to a Saturday night bath."

"Greater love hath no man than to attend the Episcopal Church with his wife." - I appreciate this, because I'm an Episcopalian. Also... so not true.

"I am making a collection of the things my opponents have found me to be and, when this election is over, I am going to open a museum and put them on display."

I believe the destiny of your generation - and your nation - is a rendezvous with excellence."

"I feel like I just grabbed a big juicy worm with a right sharp hook in the middle of it."

"I have learned that only two things are necessary to keep one's wife happy. First, let her think she's having her own way. And second, let her have it."

"I want to make a policy statement. I am unabashedly in favor of women."

"I'm the only president you've got."

"I'm tired. I'm tired of feeling rejected by the American people. I'm tired of waking up in the middle of the night worrying about the war." Whiny, isn't he?

"If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read: "President Can't Swim."

"If the American people don't love me, their descendants will." FALSE

"If you let a bully come in your front yard, he'll be on your porch the next day and the day after that he'll rape your wife in your own bed."

Jack was out kissing babies while I was out passing bills. Someone had to tend the store."

"Jerry Ford is so dumb he can't fart and chew gum at the same time."

Just like the Alamo, somebody damn well needed to go to their aid. Well, by God, I'm going to Viet Nam's aid!" - the Alamo? Really?

"One lesson you better learn if you want to be in politics is that you never go out on a golf course and beat the President."

Our most tragic error may have been our inability to establish a rapport and a confidence with the press and television with the communication media. I don't think the press has understood me." No shit - the credibility gap tended to piss people off.

Our society is illuminated by the spiritual insights of the Hebrew prophets. America and Israel have a common love of human freedom, and they have a common faith in a democratic way of life."....?!

"The CIA is made up of boys whose families sent them to Princeton but wouldn't let them into the family brokerage business."

The fact that a man is a newspaper reporter is evidence of some flaw of character."

"There are no favorites in my office. I treat them all with the same general inconsideration."

"There are plenty of recommendations on how to get out of trouble cheaply and fast. Most of them come down to this: Deny your responsibility." Plausible deniability!

There is but one way for a president to deal with Congress, and that is continuously, incessantly, and without interruption. If it is really going to work, the relationship has got to be almost incestuous."

"They call upon us to supply American boys to do the job that Asian boys should do."

"This administration here and now declares unconditional war on poverty." How'd that go?

"We are not about to send American boys 9 or 10 thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves."

"When I was a boy we didn't wake up with Vietnam and have Cyprus for lunch and the Congo for dinner."

"When I was young, poverty was so common that we didn't know it had a name."

When the burdens of the presidency seem unusually heavy, I always remind myself it could be worse. I could be a mayor."

"When things haven't gone well for you, call in a secretary or a staff man and chew him out. You will sleep better and they will appreciate the attention."

"While you're saving your face, you're losing your ass."

Whoever won't fight when the President calls him, deserves to be kicked back in his hole and kept there."

"You might say that Lyndon Johnson is a cross between a Baptist preacher and a cowboy."

These were delightfully provided by the website http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/l/lyndon_b_johnson.html. I tried to provide the best of the best for you.

Love and Communism,

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Stick Figures!!

This is the first in a series of stick figure drawings depicting historical events. These stick figure drawings are proudly displayed on my fridge, and this particular one is being held up by a Mount Vernon magnet. Oh, America...

Please note that while the photograph of this event was actually taken on October 9, 1967, the stick figure drawing takes place on October 8, 1967. I suppose that's better than if I had dated it October 10, 1967, considering that Che was shot about an hour after the photograph was taken.

On that note, get excited!! Che's death date is coming up, and there will certainly be some blog style celebration!*

*Please be aware that I am not at all happy that Che was executed. My historical nerdiness sometimes takes on a slightly morbid tone. For example, the highlight of my life was getting to stand in the room where Lincoln died.