The original site for Stalin’s Collected Works – 18 volumes – in Russian has some severe viruses attached to it. So it is now available at the University of Newcastle. This is the only Russian text that has the original pagination included, as well as additional material such as the Short Course and Stalin’s orders during the Second World War.

As is no doubt the case in other parts of the globe, we have been talking from time to time about the – I admit it – most fascinating US election in recent memory. I am not a fan of bourgeois democracy, especially of the US variety. But the prospect of Trump winning has piqued my interest.

For instance, Julian Assange replied to the question as to whether he prefers Trump or Clinton: “Well, you’re asking me, do I prefer cholera or gonorrhea?” He may be a democratic liberal concerned with accountability, but at least he pinpoints the rottenness of the system.

Michael Moore has the “depressing news” that Trump will win. Moore may be a supporter of the ever-so-mild social democrat Bernie Sanders, but my sense is that he is right: Trump will win the election.

Meanwhile, as the material on the US election has begun to appear on Wikileaks (much more is to come), the Democrats have begun the propaganda – as Mary Dejevsky writes -of “All together now: let’s blame Putin.” If the Russians are meddling, who blames them, she asks, given the US interference in everybody else’s matters.

And John Pilger, who hits a few points and misses many, points out that the “danger to the rest of us is not Trump, but Hillary Clinton.” While Trump says the invasion of Iraq was a crime and that he doesn’t want to go to war with Russia and China, Clinton embodies the “resilience and violence of a system whose vaunted ‘exceptionalism’ is totalitarian with an occasional liberal face.”

In other words, Clinton is the imperialist warmonger (like so many Democrats, including Obama), while Trump is the one who embodies the awareness that the short-lived US empire is waning. There are simply too many problems in the USA for it to bother itself with the rest of world. His approach may trouble the hand-wringing liberals, and it may not be pretty in the USA itself, but the rest of the world will breath a huge sigh of relief.

 

 

 

A little on Roman cities in the pre-underwear age, as I am immersed in finishing The Time of Troubles. Although public baths had toilets, albeit shared in common, and although the most lavish peristyle house might have had a latrine next to the kitchen, most places did not. So people would relieve themselves on the street, in alleys, on stairways of houses, a corner of the bathhouse or even on tombs. A walk along the street would encounter many piles of fresh and not so fresh bowel movements. Apart from the smells and sights, a number of writings indicate how common this was.

You read to me as I stand, you read to me as I sit, You read to me as I run, you read to me as I shit (Martial, Ep 3.44).

And in various cities the following notices were scrawled:

Shit with comfort and good cheer, so long as you do not do it here (Pompeii).

If you shit against the walls and we catch you, you will be punished (Pompeii).

Twelve gods and goddesses and Jupiter, the biggest and the best, will be angry with whoever urinates or defecates here (Rome, Baths of Titus).

Whoever refrains from littering or pissing or shitting on this street may the goddesses in general favour. If he does not do so let him watch out (Salona).

Following on his statement that philosophy and the social sciences should flourish in China, Chairman Xi Jinping has made a major statement on the nature of socialism with Chinese characteristics (you can use the automatic translator in some search engines if needed).

The early Greek, Hesiod, had this advice for a young man (in Works and Days):

First get a house, a woman and a plough-ox – one bought, not married, who can also follow the oxen.

With a few weeks to go until Time of Troubles is due with the press, I am engaged in intensive reading and writing, which absorbs me for most of the day. Every now and then, I come across a delightful insight. This one comes from a study of Roman bathhouses.

People urinated into buckets in the middle of the street (and the urine was then used as detergent), men and women shared open toilets at the public latrines. Overall, in this pre‐underwear age, body parts that we today tend to conceal were much more on display.

From Yaron Eliav, ‘Bathhouses as Places of Social and Cultural Interaction’ (2010).

Carla Stea has written a great piece on the DPRK (North Korea) and UN Security Council Resolution 2270. It is called ‘The Crucifixion of North Korea, The Demonisation of the DPRK’ and is published in the Australian Marxist Review.