Tuesday, January 1st, 2013


This one just snuck out as the new year was about turn (enjoying it in the village of Herrnhut, Saxony). It’s a piece with Monthly Review, assessing Gennady Zyuganov’s speech from 27 October and focusing on the issue of Marxism and religion.

One of the (many) great things about being in the east of Germany is that the memory of the GDR is all about, especially in everyday life. Take the crockery:

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These remain preferred items. But why? Each item is made to the same dimensions as all the other items of the same type – cups, plates, bowls, jugs and what have you. They might have different decorations on them, but the dimensions are the same. Why? Obviously, it means that they all stack well, saving space. But more importantly, it indicates the futility of providing endless varieties in the the name of ‘choice’. Instead, come up with a design that is efficient, simple, and attractive. Once you have it, why would you change it?

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People hunt these items down for precisely that reason – in home, hotel, dormitory accommodation …