One of the more fascinating aspects of reading carefully through Stalin’s writings is what may be called the scriptural dynamic of spirit and letter. As 2 Corinthians 3:6 puts it, ‘the letter kills, but the spirit gives life’. Stalin is clearly on the side of the spirit in interpreting the texts of Marx and Lenin. Thus, Marx’s thought applies to emerging capitalism, while Lenin’s thought is Marxism in the age of imperialism. To emphasise his approach, he tells a story provided by Swedish socialists:

It was at the time of the sailors’ and soldiers’ revolt in the Crimea. Representatives of the navy and army came to the Social-Democrats and said: “For some years past you have been calling on us to revolt against tsarism. Well, we are now convinced that you are right, and we sailors and soldiers have made up our mints to revolt and now we have come to you for advice.” The Social-Democrats became flurried and replied that they couldn’t decide the question of a revolt without a special conference. The sailors intimated that there was no time to lose, that everything was ready, and that if they did not get a straight answer from the Social-Democrats, and if the Social-Democrats did not take over the direction of the revolt, the whole thing might collapse. The sailors and soldiers went away pending instructions, and the Social-Democrats called a conference to discuss the matter. They took the first volume of Capital, they took the second volume of Capital, and then they took the third volume of Capital, looking for some instruction about the Crimea, about Sevastopol, about a revolt in the Crimea. But they could not find a single, literally not a single instruction in all three volumes of Capital either about Sevastopol, or about the Crimea, or about a sailors’ and soldiers’ revolt. They turned over the pages of other works of Marx and Engels, looking for instructions—but not a single instruction could they find. What was to be done? Meanwhile the sailors had come expecting an answer. Well, the Social-Democrats had to confess that under the circumstances they were unable to give the sailors and soldiers any instructions. “And so the sailors’ and soldiers’ revolt collapsed.” (Works, volume 9, pages 97-98)

A new church in Podgorica in Montenegro has a lovely fresco depicting our good friends, Marx, Engels and Tito, enjoying the warmth of hell (more here).

Marx, Engels and Tito in Hell

(ht cp)

The other day I suddenly realised that this is the first time in four years that I have been home for a full spring and summer. I’m thoroughly enjoying it: the days have that almost indescribable feel of the first heat of summer; the beaches are some of the best in the world in an unpretentious working town; swimming every day in the ocean; and reading Hegel’s Philosophy of Right and Marx’s critique. What more could you possibly want? There’s no other place quite like it.

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2012 June 045 (Newcastle)b

Some more pictures from our hike yesterday on a section of the Great North Walk – the last part that runs along some of the beaches around here.

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I’m not sure about this one. It was made for a children’s program called ‘Histeria!’ which ran from 1998 to 2000. Are there comparable efforts out there for worthwhile children’s shows and picture books?

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A curious angle on my new project: Embalming our Leaders. This one is an under water museum of leaders in Olenevka, Crimea. It includes Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Zinovyev, Dzerzhinsky, Kirov, Voroshilov, Gorky, and others. Specific picture here and here.

(ht sk)

I arrived in Berlin, just in time for Fest der Linken, but this was prefaced by a sign in a railway station toilet:



Ah yes, the spirit of the DDR lives on. In Rosa Luxemburg Platz, Die Linke and many communist groups from other parts of Europe were present:


There was an old friend:


He eventually went home, to bed in a local left-wing terror nest:


But then, Germans will be Germans … I happened upon this in the next toilet I visited:


On that dreadfully reactionary eastern European thinker, Lunacharsky notes perceptively:

Platonism was an aberration of the life instinct (Religion and Socialism, vol 1, p. 219)

By contrast, Marxism is an affirmation:

From the grave

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