Stalin Prize

James Endicott (1898-1993) was both a Christian missionary and a communist. Of Canadian background, he was ordained as a minister in the United Church. His claim to fame was active support of the communists leading up 1949 and then, back in Canada after more than two decades in China, speaking and agitating openly for support of the PRC. He was awarded the Stalin Peace Prize in 1952, for his work towards peaceful coexistence between communists and Christians.


endicott and zhou

This was a meeting between Endicott and Zhou Enlain in 1972.

Apparently, a potent weapon against the old bourgeois world is tractors. Here is Stalin, writing to the tractor works in Stalingrad, 1930:

Greetings and congratulations on their victory to the workers and executive personnel of the giant Red Banner Tractor Works, the first in the U.S.S.R. The 50,000 tractors which you are to produce for our country every year will be 50,000 projectiles shattering the old bourgeois world and clearing the way for the new, socialist order in the countryside (Works, vol. 12, p. 241).

No wonder ‘Tractor Drivers’ won the Stalin prize in 1939:

Revolutions have a tendency to spur all sorts of creative activities, not least among those the revolution benefits most – the common workers and farmers. One activity that intrigues me is children’s names. Russian parents were not the only ones to call their offspring Marks, Engelina, Stalina, and Ninel (or indeed Barikada, Ateist, Traktorina, and Elektrifikatsiy). It happened and still happens in India, in circles where the tradition runs strong.

Aware of this situation, the Russian Cultural Centre, in Thiruvananthapuram, organised a day where all those so named were gathered. As reported, Lenin opened the evening, while Stalin was master of ceremonies. Participants were greeted by Khrushchev, while Brezhnev and even Yuri Gagarin made speeches. The oldest person present was Stalin (at 58) and the youngest was a child named Pravda.

I’ve got to ask: where’s the creativity in naming kids in Australia?

(ht ll)

It’s always intriguing to look at the plans for the Stalin Prize that were not realised. Many were and you can travel across Eastern Europe and the former USSR to see many of them still in use, such as glorious constructions of Stalin Baroque. But when you look at the projects that were dreamed, planned, and even approved, but never built for whatever reason, you realise how massive the imagination really was between the 1930s and 1950s. A couple of my favourites, but you will find more here.

This one was for the Palace of Technology:

SP Architecture 04

This one for the Aeroflot headquarters:

SP Architecture 08

And here is a stunning residential building in Uprising Square:

SP Architecture 11

(ht sk)

2013 February Marshall Roland


I can say that I am not responsible for this one, but it does feel rather comfortable. I guess it goes with the glowing description of a speech I gave in China last year: ‘a velvet-gloved iron fist’ (David Jasper)

With significant reluctance, one of the greatest pleasures for a man or indeed woman comes to an end – my tiling. Over the last few weeks, in those regular breaks from writing, I have been cleaning carefully around each tile, removing traces of stray tiling cement:

As you may appreciate, this is a task only for the patient. But then the grouting began, filling in those trenches around 450 tiles or so.

A messy job at times, but satisfying (Mick Jagger obviously never tiled …):

I can certainly get some …

… satisfaction from this:

And this:

I … can … get … some …

… sa-tis-fac-tion …

Well, maybe not quite … I have already identified the next task or three: the kitchen floor, the walls, the exterior of our apartment block. You name it, I’ll tile it.

At last, the full version of the Lenin letter template, using only phrases and sentences from the man’s own letters:

Dear …,

I am writing under the fresh impression of your letter, which I have just read. Although you have resented my previous missives, I shall try to be mild and kind.

I know of no task more fatiguing, more thankless and more disgusting than to have to wade through this filth. Yet your senseless twaddle is so exasperating that I am unable to suppress the desire to state my opinion frankly.

You propose that we should [fill in proposal here, such as:] collaborate with magniloquent liberal windbags, that we should philander with reaction. Strictly speaking, this proposal is too ludicrous to merit serious consideration, the product of either a charlatan or an absolute blockhead. The only answer can be a bitter laugh. You may couch it in pompous, high-blown phrases, but it is really befouled and spattered with shit. All your talk about freedom and democracy is sheer claptrap, parrot phrases, the product of mean-spirited boors, and your education, culture, and enlightenment are only a species of thoroughgoing prostitution. It is a ridiculous and puerile attempt to be clever.

You either cannot think logically, or you are a liberal hypocrite, wriggling like the devil at mass. May I make one suggestion, as difficult as it may seem: scrape off all this green mould of intellectualist opportunism.


P.S. I cannot share your regret at not having met. After your tricks and your conniving attitude, I do not wish to have anything to do with you except in a purely official way, and only in writing.

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