Heart of the World, The
Hieroglyph of Truth
"Hurrah for the Blackshirts"
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the Big Soviet Encyclopaedia (3rd ed., English version, v.5 p.186)
is keen to tell us about this important plant:
José Martí Havana Metallurgical Combine), a major metallurgical
enterprise in Cuba. Founded in 1961, the combine was created out of
three small ferrous metallurgy plants that had existed in prerevolutonary
Cuba and had manufactured small quantities of steel and rolled metal
products. The combine is being reconstructed with the assistance of
the USSR. In March 1967, two new furnaces with capacities of 70 tons
and 140 tons were added to the two existing open-hearth furnaces.
The "720" rolling mill and the "300" light-section
rolling mill were rebuilt, and other units were reequipped. It was
expected that the country's annual production would reach 350,000
tons of steel and 290,000 tons of rolled iron with the completion
of the modernization in 1973."
If you are interested
in this kind of industrial plant, you might also like to read about
the Altai Tractor Plant, or about
the East Slovakia Metallurgical Combine.
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of the World, The
[directed by Guy
Maddin, Canada, 2000, 6 mins, starring Leslie Bais, Caelum Vatnsdal,
Shaun Balbar, Greg Klymkiw]
At under six minutes,
this is probably the shortest film ever to be featured repeatedly on
many critics' end-of-year Top Ten lists, but just one brief glance at
Guy Maddin's howlingly deranged extravaganza reveals why. A berserk
tribute to revolutionary Soviet cinema of the silent era, with deliberately
scratched and blotchy imagery drawn from Bolshevik propaganda, Christian
iconography, Constructivism, Futurism, 1920s flappers and Edgar Rice
Burroughs adventures (and that's just scratching the surface!) and scored
by a pounding piano, percussion and orchestra track reminiscent of Mossolov's
"machine music" (actually sourced Georgi Sviridov's score
for a genuine Soviet film), it was designed for and demands repeated
viewings, as the rapid-fire montage of images and ideas is far too breathlessly
overwhelming to absorb in one or even a dozen goes.
Two brothers, Nikolai
("Youth, Mortician") and the Rasputin-like Osip ("playing
Christ in the Passion Play"), love the same woman, "Anna,
State Scientist" who has other things on her mind: namely, her
discovery that the Earth is literally about to suffer a fatal heart
attack within twenty-four hours, bringing death, destruction, apocalypse
and amusingly kitschy orgies crashing down on the collective head of
all mankind. But can Anna do anything about it, or will the fetid desires
of the evil top-hat-and-soup-strainer-moustache-sporting capitalist
Akmatov prove too much for her and the planet? Mere words cannot possibly
do this endlessly inventive, utterly crazed joy any kind of justice
- Village Voice critic Mike Rubin claims he watches it every morning
as a substitute for coffee, and one can quite see his point.
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lines are extracted from the Big Soviet Encyclopaedia's treatment
of this important topic (3rd ed., English version, v.6 p.593):
"It was precisely
the period of transition from capitalism to socialism that the Marxist-Leninist
conception of heroism was developed extensively. The distinctive feature
of this conception is the merging of individual exploits or the heroic
initiatives of particular groups with the heroic actions of the masses.
Heroism rests not only on the moral strength of the revolutionary
mass movement, the October Revolution, the building of socialism,
and the Great Patriotic War all gave rise to heroic exploits among
the people, both in armed struggle and in heroic day-to-day labour.
The heroism of labour was expressed in socialist emulation, shock
work, and Stakhanovism, as well as in the movement for a communist
attitude towards work. The initiators of these movements became national
heroes in the USSR. In Lenin's words, the task of achieving the victory
of socialism "cannot possibly be fulfilled by single acts of
heroic fervor; it requires the most prolonged, most persistent and
most difficult mass heroism in everyday work". Two honorary titles
created in the USSR were Hero of the Soviet Union (1934) and the Hero
of Socialist Labour (1938). In other socialist countries the heroism
of labour has also become a mass phenomenon."
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is the hieroglyph of truth.
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North London cemetery,
most famous as the home of the body of Karl Marx, who is buried in its
Eastern half. Marx was buried on 17 March 1883, the occasion for Engels'
famous graveside oration. His wife, Jenny Marx (née von
Westphalen) is also buried here. Lenin and other delegates to the Second
Congress of the All-Russian Social Democratic Party, held in London
in 1903 when the party split into Bolshevik and Menshevik factions,
visited the grave. Marx's body was moved in 1954 to its present location
in the cemetery, and Bradshaw's monument was erected over the grave
in 1956. George Eliot, Michael Faraday,
Herbert Spencer and Dante Gabriel Rossetti are buried elsewhere in Highgate
Cemetery, as are various relatives of Charles Dickens. Near Archway
There are some valuable
pictures of the cemetery elsewhere on the web. And
if you are interested in graveyards, you might also be interested to
read about the Père Lachaise
cemetery elsewhere in the Dictionary.
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[directed by Michael
Powell, UK, 1932, 77 mins, starring Jerry Verno, Janet Megrew, Ben Welden,
Powell would go on to be acclaimed as one of Britain's greatest film-makers,
this very early work will never be classed alongside The Life and
Death of Colonel Blimp, Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes
and Peeping Tom in any list other than a complete Powell filmography.
His Lordship flopped on its original release (indeed, it was
apparently booed at the premiere) and long thought lost until a print
resurfaced in the 1990s.
It's certainly no
masterpiece (it was a "quota quickie", a low-budget film made
to enable British cinemas to meet the compulsory quota of British films
imposed by the government in 1927), but it is historically interesting
for its treatment of class via the story of Cockney plumber Bert Gibbs
(Jerry Verno) who discovers that he's a hereditary peer (via his Labour
politician father), and is forced to conceal this revelation from his
girlfriend Leninia (whose very name betrays her political stance). Subtle
it isn't, but it does provide at least a passing insight into the multiple
confusions and hypocrisies underlying middle-class attitudes to left-wing
politics and class divisions in 1930s Britain.
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for the Blackshirts"
A famous example
of the Daily Mail's longstanding
commitment to impeccably balanced and unbiased coverage of controversial
political events. This headline appeared on the front page of the 8
July 1934 edition, and accompanied a piece on Sir Oswald Mosley's British
Union of Fascists that read, in part: "If the Blackshirts movement
had any need of justification, the Red Hooligans who savagely and systematically
tried to wreck Sir Oswald Mosley's huge and magnificently successful
meeting at Olympia last night would have supplied it."
emphasised the paper's unstinting support -- on 15 January 1934, the
BUF was described as "a well organised party of the right ready
to take over responsibility for national affairs with the same directness
of purpose and energy of method as Hitler and Mussolini have displayed".
This betrays the paper's similar enthusiasm for Fascist parties elsewhere
in Europe, especially Adolf Hitler's burgeoning Nazi movement ("The
sturdy young Nazis are Europe's guardians against the Communist danger").
As early as 24 September 1930, the paper's proprietor Harold Harmsworth,
Lord Rothermere, wrote:
Germans have discovered, as I am glad to note the young men and women
of England are discovering, that it is no good trusting to the old
politicians. Accordingly they have formed, as I would like to see
our British youth form, a Parliamentary party of their own. [...]
The older generation of Germans were our enemies. Must we make enemies
of this younger generation too?"
On 10 July 1933,
"I urge all
British young men and women to study closely the progress of the Nazi
regime in Germany. They must not be misled by the misrepresentations
of its opponents. The most spiteful distracters of the Nazis are to
be found in precisely the same sections of the British public and
press as are most vehement in their praises of the Soviet regime in
Russia. They have started a clamorous campaign of denunciation against
what they call "Nazi atrocities" which, as anyone who visits
Germany quickly discovers for himself, consists merely of a few isolated
acts of violence such as are inevitable among a nation half as big
again as ours, but which have been generalized, multiplied and exaggerated
to give the impression that Nazi rule is a bloodthirsty tyranny."
These effusive compliments
did not go unnoticed. On 7 December 1933, Hitler himself wrote to Rothermere:
like to express the appreciation of countless Germans, who regard
me as their spokesman, for the wise and beneficial public support
which you have given to a policy that we all hope will contribute
to the enduring pacification of Europe. Just as we are fanatically
determined to defend ourselves against attack, so do we reject the
idea of taking the initiative in bringing about a war. I am convinced
that no one who fought in the front trenches during the world war,
no matter in what European country, desires another conflict."
The above citations,
plus numerous similar articles that ran right through the 1930s, may
explain why the Mail has been oddly and indeed uncharacteristically
muted when it comes to championing its glorious past, especially at
a time when its rivals are falling over themselves to produce "historic"
reprints of memorable editions from decades earlier.
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