Best photoshop of Stalin EVER. He was a sexy young Bolshevik, and now we’ve got the proof!!!
One of Czech companies producing model cars has just introduced the presidential limo Škoda Superb with a picture of Prague Castle in the background and… Miloš Zeman himself in 1:43 scale. The full set costs only 1,790 Kč (€ 66). Abrex, the manufacturer, initially planned to produce only 50 models, although the demand for president Zeman and his Škoda outgrew the supply after multiple press reports.
/ photo by Petr Topič
JE TO PLAZIVEEEEEJ
Although his ego is still larger than life…
Part 1: A Guide to the Romanovs
This is PowerPoint high art.
Soviet stamps from the 1960s & 1970s.
Discovered whilst dusting through the Historical-Hatred archives.
House of the Bulgarian Communist Party, Mount Buzludzha, Bulgary
Fiberglass, acrylic paint, iron
Dioramas reconstructing scenes from Mr. Ai Weiwei’s illegal detention in China in 2011, when he was held for 81 days in a secret prison guarded by a paramilitary unit. Six fiberglass dioramas depict, at half-scale, his often banal daily existence as a captive of the vast government security apparatus.
photographs by Cristiano Bendinelli for The New York Times.
Micky Wolfson talks to The #Wolfsonian staff about his collection and what’s to come! #museum #miami
That’s my leg on the left!
We Are “Big Brother”: Or, Why Your Obsession with Orwell’s 1984 is Misplaced and Wrong
In times of uncertainty and doubt, as a general rule, we tend to take solace in the wisdom and advice of our elders.
Various news sources have reported over the last several days that sales of George Orwell’s novel 1984 have skyrocketed in the wake of recent revelations that the National Security Administration (NSA) has developed a massive program of data accumulation with assistance from Internet companies and providers. Our collective digital footprint, including email, online account information, social media interactions, even our financial information, is being processed through massive supercomputers, ostensibly in the name of “fighting terrorism.”
According to Amazon’s sales information (as of 14 June 2013), the 60th anniversary edition of 1984 is currently their 46th best selling book, and has been in the top 100 for the last three days. For a bit of comparative context, the newest issue of the long-running graphic novel The Walking Dead is currently number 43 and Bill O’Reilly’s new book is number 54.
Orwell’s science fiction masterpiece has been an English-language classic since it was first published in 1949. The novel is a cautionary tale of a dystopian future world based on the Soviet Union. Originally a Soviet apologist, Orwell grew disillusioned with the Soviet system and its tyrannical leader Josef Stalin, whom he knew personally. For Orwell, the question that needed answering in 1948/49 was, “How could a utopia in which I believed so wholeheartedly end up so thoroughly corrupted?” His answer was Big Brother.
Based upon his disillusionment with the USSR, Orwell’s 1984 envisions a future world order in which the Soviet model of government—or at least Orwell’s understanding of it in the late 1940s—has spread throughout the West, culminating with the creation of a massive super-state named Eurasia. The citizens of Eurasia, controlled by the mysterious “Big Brother,” are monitored through television screens planted in every home, school, and public location. This massive surveillance effort is combined with a virtually ceaseless propaganda drive that brainwashes Eurasian citizens into supporting an ongoing war with rival superpowers Oceania and Eastasia. Those who resist the total control of “Big Brother” are isolated, imprisoned, and eliminated.
I understand entirely why Orwell’s novel, over fifty years old, would resonate today in light of the NSA surveillance program. I am also heartened to know that in times of doubt and distress, tens of thousands of Americans (perhaps more) are seeking wisdom in a classic work of literature, as opposed to the paid propagandists on cable television, whether Fox, MSNBC, or others.
However, I am deeply troubled by resonance of Orwell’s novel in particular, which is deeply flawed in its understanding of governmental power and control, not least in its overly reductionist characterization of “totalitarianism.” If we as a society are seeking answers, and rightfully so, I am worried that we are asking the wrong questions.
What do I mean by this? I mean that in Orwell’s novel, everyday society, that is to say people “like you and me,” are the hapless brainwashed victims of a massive power that stands over and above us—a dark, conspiratorial “Big Brother” who exists as an ominous shadow outside our ability to understand who, or what, he actually is. This is a comforting understanding of political domination because it divests “us” of our collective responsibility in creating, supporting, and nurturing “Big Brother,” (or, should I say “Big Other”?)
Not only is this understanding of “totalitarian regimes” wrong—whether Nazi Germany, Stalinist Soviet Union, or any other—but it is also extremely dangerous, because it fundamentally misunderstands the nature of political domination and control. Political regimes are built, supported, and sustained by the efforts of those over whom they rule. It is a combined effort from the top down and the bottom up.
In short, “we” as a social collective are complicit in our own domination just as Soviet citizens became “everyday Stalinists” and “ordinary men” in Germany could become “willing executioners.” This is not to say that every single person living in the USSR, Nazi Germany, or the USA in the 21st century, was/is collectively guilty for the crimes of their respective regimes. However, these regimes were/are based on the active and complicit consent of those who live under them.
This is a well-documented phenomenon in historical literature, which (nearly) universally rejects the more simplistic, “top-down” understandings of repressive dictatorships that were forwarded by an earlier generation of intellectuals, including Orwell. Indeed, the Soviet secret police arrested hundreds of thousands during the Stalinist purges of the 1930s and 1940s, but quite often it was everyday people who did the denouncing, whether to “settle scores” with people they did not like or to achieve some material gain (a new apartment, better job, etc). Similarly, Hitler maintained his popularity in the 1930s not because he “brainwashed” the people into hating Jews, but because he cleaned up the streets by arresting communists, shutting down gay bars, and sweeping away the “riff raff.”
Shadowy conspiracies of evil powers existing outside the every day sphere of human comprehension are exciting to think about, but “we” as a social collective should be seeking to understand our own blame and responsibility in our surveillance state.
What do I mean by this? Well, for instance, that nearly nothing about this NSA surveillance program was unknown to anyone who paid the slightest bit of attention to American politics last month, last year, or at any time since 2001, when the George W. Bush administration rammed through the “Patriot Act” (a rather Orwellian name for a law, to be sure). This information is shocking because it is now confirmed by an “outside” source; knowledge of it has existed for years.
Most of us did not pay attention to this knowledge because we were more concerned with catching shadowy circles of “terrorists” who hated our freedoms and wanted to destroy our “way of life.” Even now, millions of Americans are perfectly willing to sign away their fourth amendment rights (ironically many of them will scream to no end about their second amendment rights, but perhaps they have yet to read that far ahead). The commonality between the “terrorists” and “Big Brother,” again quite ironically, is that both are conjured phantoms of malevolence—exaggerated caricatures of pure metaphysical evil.
We are not “brainwashed” by an ominous Big Brother. He is nothing more than a reflection of our own collective paranoia, bigotry, and selfishness. Our current situation did not occur above and beyond us, we allowed it to happen, we wanted it to happen. We are Big Brother.
So Orwell has answered the question, “How is our world dominated by shadowy powers with the ability to crush the will of those whom they dominate?” But we should be asking different questions that—because they require us to look in a mirror—will bring much more disconcerting answers.
Is your life as interesting as it sounds?
Ha. Well, sure, I’ve had some pretty crazy experiences over the years. But all lives sound more interesting when you recount them later. At the time, they usually involve a lot of grocery shopping and laundry. :)
Kotva Shopping centre in Prague, 70’s
I love this mall. I used to get pizza on occasion from a vendor in a shop in the lower right hand base of it. This picture should be the cover to a Com Truise album.
I hate to say it, but this building is kind of a craphole now. They built a shiny new mall across the street in a former Habsburg army barracks.
Prague by V.Soukup (Lesser Town bridge towers)
I used to live about 50 feet to the right of this picture. My friend’s father had to guard this tower during the Prague uprising at the end of WWII. He stood at the window to the right for hours on end with a hunting rifle. Once, when he left the window to use the bathroom, the tower was shelled by fleeing Nazis. When he came back the window was destroyed.
The tower to the left is today used by the Club for Old Prague, a preservationist society. Both towers look very different from this picture.
SouthernCity.Prague.by Viktor Kopasz,2010
Jižní město is a massive public housing project on the outskirts of Prague that houses hundreds of thousands of people. They were built in the communist era—a testament to the prefabricated housing designs of the interwar Czech avant-garde. Also, many of my friends grew up there. Unlike American (and many West European) housing projects, middle class people also live(d) in them, including professors, doctors, and lawyers.