Thursday, April 25, 2013


Sometimes we can derive quite a bit of significance from a little tiny part of the reading.  Choose one small quote -- 3 sentences at most -- reproduce it below, and then comment briefly on how it connects to the overall significance of the long march.


"Valar Morghulis."

Valar morgulis -- translated from old Valyrian as "all men must die" -- is one of the most poignant quotes from Game of Thrones.  The literal meaning is obvious, but given how ubiquitous death is in Season 3 so far, we clearly see that there is a more pressing connection to the season's content at large. etc.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The march within the march

I mentioned today that the Long March was a journey not only for the Communist Party but also for Mao himself.  What does the chapter reveal about the lengths which with both go to in order to reach Hunan Province?  How does this further contribute to the creation of Mao's cult of personality?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The conditions of the Long March

This was a short reading--partly due to the fact that we discussed Boston on Friday, so we have not yet gotten into the whole concept of a 'party mandate' for Mao.  This reading--albeit short--mentions many factors that contribute to the status of the communist party by the time of the 'Long March' in the mid 1930s (I will go over the historical context of the March in class).  Comment on some of these conditions below--whether it is the Status between China and Japan, the continued quest for a Communist leader, Chiang Kai-Shek's son, or any other issue that comes to mind...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mao's Party Mandate

We talked a little in class about how Mao, although not the perfect candidate, was emerging as the likely leader of the Communist Revolution by the late 1920s.  Pay class attention to the middle of the reading (c. pp. 246-247) and comment on how it reveals more information about Mao--how is he the key personality to lead the Communists/what has he done to achieve this status?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Critical Period

This article is interesting to me because it shows the difficulties the Communist party faced in the late 1920s, and begins to hint at why Mao was emerging as a potential figurehead for the party.  What strikes you about the rational behind the Soviet's thinking?

Also, be sure to watch the video about how to annotate a PDF--I will upload it shortly after practice this evening.

Monday, April 15, 2013

"Vice Guide" reflections and "The Peasant Question"

First, briefly comment on your reactions to "The Vice Guide to North Korea."  Pick a scene that you found compelling and explain how it connects to other themes of single party states that we have been discussing in class.

How do you see Mao's saying, "the only way to seize power is through a barrel of a gun" manifest itself in his treatment of the peasant population?  How is this similar or different from the experience in Soviet Russia?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why Mao didn't reinvent the wheel

This blog is not a diatribe about how 'uncreative' Mao was.  After all, he temporarily dabbled in the Hunanese independence movement, until many of his followers either latched onto the movement for selfish gain or eventually lost interest.  When Mao became more interest in the Communist party, it is at first because of his love for anarchism in general, but eventually he turns specifically to the Bolshevik model.  Why didn't Mao create a unique brand of communism for China?  Why did he do what the Russians had already done?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Education and Militancy

Li Dazhou claimed that one of the failures of capitalism is the lack of education among the working class. And as the old adage goes, "Ignorance is bliss."  Consider other circumstances in which withholding information from a group of people is a way to control them--like how Frederick Douglass became much more aware of his oppression after learning how to read.

Is there any connection between education and militancy?  Why is it that so many protests in history have been instigated by students?  What is it about this demographic that makes them prone towards fighting oppression?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Formula for a Dictator

I experienced pangs of deja-vu while reading about the May 4th revolutions, which is not surprising as there appears to be a clear formula emerging about the proper circumstances that allow a dictator to arise.

What did you notice about the May 4th movement that provided an opportunity for Mao?  What is he doing in 1919?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Art as individualistic or 'what sells'

I have another paradox to throw at you--after reading this article, on the one hand I thought that censored or propogandized art is not art at all.  Art, after all, is meant to be an individualized form of self-expression--even if a class full of students is meant to draw from the same model, they will likely all render a different end result.

But, at the same time, art--whether it is visual, musical, or otherwise, is ultimately meant to please a mass audience, or else, the artist will fail to make a profit, so there must be a certain degree of conformity in the production process.  As I was saying in class today, "50 million Nickelback fans can't be wrong."

So what are your thoughts?  To what extent is art already censored to a certain degree, thus making the propoganda process unnecessary?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Miracle healings, state of hypnosis, etc

At one point, the reading mentions the possibility that the people of the Third Reich and Stalinist Russia   are under a state of hypnosis.  The author seems critical of this notion, and remains steadfast that the people willingly believe in the cult of personality of their leader, even if deep down, they are rational enough to doubt this kind of perfection.

What do you believe?  Is it possible that the cult of personality can 'hypnotize' the masses into a state of total submission?  Or do the people willingly do this to themselves?  What about the reading convinces you to reach your conclusion?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Cult of personality (kinda/sorta) and does this guy have any heart at all?

First, I am curious about what you all got out of the notion of the 'cult of personality' as mentioned regarding Stalin in the first article by Avdienko and the second article by Yevtuschenko.  The first article is by one who is brainwashed, and the second by one who criticizes the notion of a cult of personality--arguing that there were many opponents of Stalin that existed during his lifetime, but remained silent until after his death when it was safe.  What camp do you fall under--was the obedience to Stalin that of blind devotion or of smart subservience?

Lastly--what do you make of the man commissioned to shoot innocent Russians in the gulags?  How do we account for his utterly disassociated personality in a job that he calls, "easy work, like like felling timber"?