The Biblioblog Reference Library

[«] Posts From the Blog "STALIN'S MOUSTACHE"(#35)

March 18 2018, 2AM

One of the standard phrases used when speaking of the DPRK (North Korea) is ‘hermit kingdom’. It is meant to portray a country entirely closed off from the world. You can neither enter nor leave, so the assumption goes, and no country or indiv... [DPRK] ['hermit kingdom'] [international relations] [North Korea]

March 13, 3AM

In his book on China’s ethnic minorities, Colin Mackerras writes in regard to Tibet: ‘However, what strikes me most forcefully about the period since 1980 or so is not how much the Chinese have harmed Tibetan culture, but how much they have al... [china] [socialist market economy] [socialist state] [economic progress] [education] [security] [Tibet]

March 9, 4AM

The DPRK newspapers are full of stories concerning the celebration of international women’s day yesterday. KCNA has half a dozen reports, on a celebration at the People’s Palace of Culture, calls to continue displaying revolutionary mettle, t... [DPRK] [Marxism] [International Women's Day] [Juche-oriented women's movement]


As part of my preparation for the second chapter of my book on the socialist state, I am following good Chinese practice: to work carefully through the work of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, before dealing with Chinese developments. Having completed my s... [Engels] [socialist state] [bourgeois democracy] [Gewalt] [Role of Force in History]

March 7, 5AM

This has already gone beyond what might have been expected: another step towards Korean reunification. As multiple sources report in the two Koreas, a high level delegation from the south has recently concluded a two-day to the north. This is the third su... [another world is possible] [DPRK] [Kim Jong Un] [Moon Jae-in] [reunification]


Since it is difficult to get concrete details about the two sessions of China’s parliament underway at the moment, here is a table with Premier Li Keqiang’s proposals for targets in 2018: [china] [socialist market economy] [Li Keqiang]

March 5, 6PM

The all-important ‘two sessions’ (lianghui) are underway in Beijing. These are the National People’s Congress (NPC), the highest law-making body in China, and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which provid... [china] [communist party] [socialism in power] [socialist democracy] [socialist state] [Xi Jinping] [China's party system] [political civilisation] [two sessions]

February 27, 7PM

This book – subject to reviewer suggestions – may well be published later in 2018. It is called Red Theology: On the Christian Communist Tradition. It began as a collection of essays, but as I worked through the material, I realised my though... [Books] [Marxism] [theology] [Red Theology]


In preparation for the two sessions of parliament, the CPC Central Committee met to discuss – among other things – changes to the constitution. It is useful to see these in the wider context, since some international commentators have been mak... [china] [Marxism] [socialism in power] [socialist democracy] [socialist state] [Xi Jinping] [amendments] [Central Committee] [constitution] [new era]
These curious reports keep appearing. I have already mentioned the Ipsos survey from last year, which found last year that 87% of people in China are confident in the direction the country is heading. Now we have the Edelman Trust Barometer, which finds t... [another world is possible] [china] [Marxism] [socialism in power] [Edelman barometer] [trust]

12 AM

A detailed report from the World Bank, called Towards a More Inclusive and Sustainable Development has been raising interest in some quarters. Among many features of the report, it notes that China’s policies have enabled the “extreme poverty... [china] [communist party] [socialism in power] [socialist market economy] [poverty reduction] [World Bank report]

February 24, 11PM

They all made the – often difficult – step from religious faith to Marxism. Engels, with his Reformed background and the strong religious commitment of his youth, set the initial example. In his footsteps followed Louis Althusser, Henri Lefeb... [church] [Engels] [Marxism] [Stalin] [theology] [Kim Il Sung] [Louis Althusser] [religious faith] [Terry Eagleton]

February 23, 1PM

Yet another massacre in the United States, this time in Florida, indicating that the USA is a major abuser of human rights. As this article indicates, the US might want to learn a lesson or two from China in the full exercise of genuine human rights: The ... [Human Rights] [socialism in power] [United States]

February 22, 6AM

Christians have been in China, on and off, since at least the seventh century CE. At that time, the Church of the East – the largest Christian church in those days – made contact and established churches during the T’ang Dynasty (based i... [china] [church] [Marxism] [theology] [Christianity] [Nestorians] [new compact] [Roman Catholics]

February 20, 5PM

The second ebooklet has been published by ‘Culture Matters‘, under the auspices of the Communist Party of Britain. This one is called ‘Religion and Capitalism’, with a focus on Marx. You can read it as a webpage or as an ebooklet. &nb... [Marxism] [capitalism] [culture matters] [religion]

February 19, 8PM

Much happened at the recently concluded Munich Security conference, but I am particularly interested in the speech by the outgoing foreign minister of Germany, Sigmar Gabriel. Some interpreted the speech as an attack on China and its Belt and Road Initiat... [another world is possible] [china] [Marxism] [Fu Ying] [Germany] [Munich Security Conference]

February 13, 2PM

Verso Books has initially refused to publish an English translation of Domenico Losurdo’s book on Stalin, even though they have published other works by him. Those who know the press will not be surprised by this. However, a petition is underway to ... [Stalin] [Domenico Losurdo] [petition] [Verso Books]

February 9, 7PM

As CP pointed out to me today, international sport has taken the place of religion when it comes to dealing with international political issues. How so? In the middle of the nineteenth century in Prussia, the only language in which one could engage in pol... [DPRK] [theology] [Kim Yo Jong] [Kim Yong Nam] [Moon Jae-in] [Pyeongchang]


This one is causing no small brouhaha among reactionary Roman Catholics and others. Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, who is chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, made the following observations in an interview: “Right now, those who ... [another world is possible] [china] [Uncategorized] [appointment of bishops] [Roman Catholic Church]

February 7, 4PM

One of the top items in our next visit to the DPRK is the architecture. Since the USA destroyed nearly all the standing buildings (along with 20 percent of the population) in the Korean War, the country had to be rebuilt. The initial phase was heavily ins... [DPRK] [archictecture]

February 4, 3AM

China regularly publishes a own white paper on human rights problems in the United States, in light of the Chinese Marxist approach to human rights rather than the European derived approach, which is so often universalised in a colonialist fashion. Howeve... [Communism] [DPRK] [abuses in USA] [Human Rights]

February 2, 1AM

If you look beneath the media and political hype, there has been quite an upturn in the work and energy of DPRK friendship societies in my local area. One is the NZ-DPRK Society. Established in 1973, the long-standing chair was the Reverend Don Borrie. A... [Australia] [DPRK] [Australia-DPRK Friendship and Cultural Society] [NZ-DPRK Society]

January 28, 8PM

An interesting survey from Gallup, based on interviews and telephone conversations with 1,000 people in each country. The result: the global approval of US leadership in 2017 dropped to 30%, behind Germany on 41% and China on 31%. Both Germany and China r... [china] [Total Depravity] [Gallup poll] [Germany] [global leadership] [Russia] [USA]

January 23, 6PM

I have been intrigued for a while by another difference between corporate ‘news’ services (euphemistically called the ‘free press’) and sources from places like China or the DPRK (often dismissed as ‘state-run’). Apart ... [DPRK] [reunification] [Winter Olympics]

January 15, 11PM

January 13, 7PM

Apparently, someone in the United States regime just before Christmas issued a statement about religious freedom, mentioning countries like DPRK, China and Iran as places without such freedom. The Pyongyang Times – a news outlet in English and Fren... [Communism] [DPRK] [religious freedom] [revolutionary language]

January 12, 6PM

As I have been working with material from the DPRK, I came across a wonderful term, flunkeyism. In a basic sense, it means to pay undue reverence to and serve someone who is greater and stronger, exhibiting the characteristics of subservience. The term ca... [Communism] [DPRK] [flunkeyism] [Juche]

January 10, 9PM

The following is another section from the final chapter of my new book, Red Theology: On the Christian Communist Tradition. It deals with Kim Il Sung’s extensive engagements with Protestant Christianity. I have removed the copious references, since this... [Communism] [DPRK] [Kim Il Sung] [protestantism] [Reformed theology]
The following is a section from the final chapter of my new book, Red Theology: On the Christian Communist Tradition. It deals with Kim Il Sung’s extensive engagements with Chondoism, a distinctly Korean religion. I have removed the copious references, ... [Communism] [DPRK] [Chondoism] [Kim Il Sung]


In completing my chapter on ‘Religion and Revolution in Korea’, I found a great site for downloading recent statements on a range of issues. Volume 9 concerns human rights, which articulates some of the main points from the constitution. Of in... [Communism] [DPRK] [Human Rights] [freedom of religion]

January 9, 12 AM

What an image! Ri Son Gwon, chair of the DPRK’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (left), shakes hands with Cho Myoung-gyon, the Unification Minister of the Republic of Korea (right). And again: Amazing start to 2018, si... [DPRK] [South Korea] [talks]

January 2, 11AM

Well, things move fast sometimes. After Kim Jong-un’s new year address, the south has moved to welcome the opportunity for renewed talks to defuse tensions on the peninsula. The southern Yonhap news has been making some extremely positive noises abo... [DPRK] [sidelining USA] [South Korea] [talks]

January 1, 1PM

While I am on new year addresses by communist leaders, Xi Jinping has given an upbeat address as well. Notably, he has recovered the use of ‘comrade [tongzhi]‘ in all his addresses, after it had slipped out of common usage for a while. For exa... [china] [Communism] [comrade] [new year address] [Xi Jinping]
This one is a beauty and worthy of note. In his new year address (for Juche year 107), Kim Jong-Un deployed the standard genre of communist speeches. It focuses on achievements in the past year, the international situation, problems that need to be addres... [Communism] [DPRK] [70th anniversary] [new year address] [reunification] [Winter Olympics]

12 PM

In March, 2017, the South Korean ‘Ministry of Unification’ announced that it would increased the amount of ‘reward’ for a ‘defector’ from the DPRK. This is for ‘people who provide intelligence and knowledge that c... [DPRK] ['defectors'] [reward]

December 30 2017, 6AM

The following is the text of the preceding video: A central aspect of democratic practices in whatever type of democracy we are thinking about is the role of criticism. How does criticism work in the Chinese situation of socialist democracy? A common inte... [china] [Marxism] [socialist democracy] [Criticism] [foe] [friend] [self criticism]

December 29, 3PM

Two other aspects of the rural revitalisation under way in China: Red Army primary schools and rural revolutionary centres. Over the last ten years, more than 200 primary schools have been established in rural areas to specialise in teaching children abou... [china] [Communism] [communist party] [Red Army schools] [revolutionary training centres]

December 28, 1PM

A dubious achievement at the close of 2017: Australia was voted the least friendly country for Chinese in 2017. In an online poll, out of 14,667 respondents, 8,751 listed Australia as the least friendly, or 59.6%. Why? Treachery or betrayal was cited as t... [Australia] [china] [least friendly country] [Sino-phobia]

December 27, 2PM

The socialism of Karl Barth – the greatest theologian of the twentieth century – is reasonably well-known, but for many the following observation is a step too far: It would be quite absurd to mention in the same breath the philosophy of Marxi... [Communism] [Marxism] [Stalin] [Karl Barth]

December 25, 1PM

Today, the second day of Christmas, or St Stephen’s day, or indeed ‘Boxing’ day, also happens to be Mao’s birthday. He was born on this day, 26 December, in 1893 – 124 years ago. If you are in China, it is not a bad time to v... [Mao Zedong] [birthday] [Shaoshan]


It was a little hot yesterday on my 30 km ride to greet some new visitors from China. In fact, I have never been on a bicycle at this level of heat: Nice cool swim in the ocean afterwards! [bicycles] [46 degrees] [heatwave]

December 24, 6PM

This one was sparked by an item in the Global Times debunking a recent ‘report‘ from the former UK ambassador to China. This ambassador claims that more than 10,000 people were killed. But there is one catch: his ‘source’. It turns... [china] [Uncategorized] [myth of Tiananmen]


A couple of items recently from sections of the CPC, warning against overly enthusiastic adoptions of Christmas practices. From the youth league: ‘Communist Party members must be role models in abiding to the faith of communism. [Members are] not al... [china] [communist party] [Christmas]

December 21, 4AM

I am in the process of collecting into one volume all of Edgar Snow‘s interviews (in Chinese translation) with Mao Zedong. As I did so I came across this intriguing passage: ‘Speaking of your health, as we were not, judging from this evening you s... [Mao Zedong] [Edgar Snow] [going to see God] [Interviews]

December 19, 9PM

The first of a number of ebooklets has been published by ‘Culture Matters‘, under the auspices of the Communist Party of Britain. The booklet is called Religion: Opium of the People? and is being distributed widely by the good people at Cultu... [Marxism] [theology] [culture matters] [ebooklet]


The normal way to do business in Australia is open the cheque book and start handing over dollops of money to politicians and political parties. Soon enough, decisions will go your way and you will make even more cash. Indeed, the vast majority of those w... [Australia] [china] [Total Depravity] [buying influence] [doing business]

December 18, 7PM

Another good article in the Global Times concerning the CPC on the international arena, called ‘CPC’s role cannot be detached from Chinese influence‘. As China becomes a global power once again, some countries have begun expressing a clo... [china] [communist party] [socialism] [international influence]
A good piece in the Global Times about a Chinese student’s experience in the United States. It depicts the bias, if not racism, against Chinese students, who are often rejected now even if they have very good marks. But more importantly, it picks ap... [china] [students] [USA]

December 17, 7PM

Time for Christmas trees in our corner of the world. But of course, the star on the tree should be a red star: In the background is a socialist realist image of a miner from the DPRK (from my visit there) [Lenin] [Mao Zedong] [Stalin] [Christmas tree] [DPRK] [red star]
Socialist realism has had a bad press. Due to Cold War mindsets and the corroding effects of liberalism, many still see it as a crude ideological imposition on the freedom of artists, writers, film makers and so on. ‘Stultifying’, ‘stilt... [socialism] [Stalin Prize] [And Quiet Flows the Don] [Egyptian Earth] [socialist realism]


The CPC has ‘repressed’ Mao’s writings – or so the myth would have us believe. I am never quite sure whether this sort of observation is an article of unquestioned faith, myth, or simply a ‘fact’ that is believed by man... [china] [Mao Zedong] [Chinese sources] [Mao's writings]

December 15, 9PM

They are certainly busy up north in the people’s republic. As the United States undergoes a UN investigation for extreme poverty, with the investigator citing profound human rights violations in terms of private wealth and public squalor, and as the... [china] [Human Rights] [socialism] [white paper]

December 8, 8PM

It appears there is no resting for the post-19th Congress CPC. First there was a forum to examine what other other political parties could learn from the CPC, and yesterday the first forum on South-South Human Rights concluded. With over 300 delegates fro... [china] [Human Rights] [Xi Jinping] [Beijing Declaration]
There seems to be some concern in Australia over foreign ‘soft power’ and spying, if not influencing social and political processes. Anyone working for, promoting or even speaking favourably about a foreign entity may soon have to register as ... [Total Depravity] [Brexit] [European agents] [foreign agents] [greece]

December 5, 8PM

One of the narratives I hear from time to time concerning the CPC is what may be called Marxist orientalism. What I mean is that a number of international (or ‘western’) Marxists have assumed a position common among liberals as well. It goes l... [china] [Marxism] [Cricket] [Deng Xiaoping] [Marxist orientalism]


Back in 2001, China was admitted to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). As a major player in that move, the USA felt that it could crowbar China into becoming a capitalist market economy. At the time, China was defined as a ‘non-market economy’... [china] [Marxism] [socialist market economy] [World Trade Organisation]

November 28, 1PM

Following on from an earlier post, the latest update on China’s toilet revolution from Xinhua news. Although this is usually the topic of light-hearted commentary, the article makes it clear that this is part of the larger poverty alleviation progra... [china] [Marxism] [toilet revolution]

November 24, 4AM

‘How do you deal with slavery in the ancient world?’ Someone asked the person who had just given a paper on class as a ‘reductionist’ category. ‘Well’, came the reply. ‘You need to consider the situation of each individual slave. One slave m... [Total Depravity] [class] [liberalism]

November 21, 10AM

Welcome to China, where hammers and sickles are everywhere:   Before and during the 19th congress of the CPC (shijiuda), banners, signs and slogans were all over the country; Apart from following events very closely, I took myself to the loca... [china] [Mao Zedong] [Marxism] [socialism] [19th congress] [Xi Jinping]

November 16, 8AM

Despite my best intentions, I had first come to China some eleven years ago with a pile of preconceptions and ways of understanding socialism. One by one they have been challenged, undermined and then crumbled. Since then, I have been rebuilding my unders... [socialism] [Marxism] [china] [society] [politics] [socialist democracy] [socialist market economy] [Culture] [Theory] [new era]

November 13, 1AM

A characteristic feature of European-derived, or North Atlantic[1] approaches to communism is the narrative of betrayal: at some point, a communist revolution was betrayed by someone, betrayed itself, ran into the mud, ‘failed’. I was first struck by ... [Engels] [Lenin] [Mao Zedong] [Marx] [Marxism] [Stalin] [Uncategorized] [betrayal] [Western Marxism]
An article of faith among some ‘Western’ Marxists is that the ‘Great Cultural Revolution’ (1966-76) expressed the core communist position of Mao Zedong, indeed when communism itself began to be realised. Subsequently, the ‘revisionist’ Deng Xi... [china] [Mao Zedong] [Marxism] [cultural revolution] [reform and opening up]

November 10, 6AM

What a time to be in China! What a time indeed. Happenstance would have it that I was in Beijing for the nineteenth congress of the Communist Party of China. Usually, such events barely raise interest outside China, except perhaps for the rare Marxist act... [Uncategorized]

November 2, 3AM

The new politburo of the most powerful communist party in human history recently restated the oath of admission to the CPC. This was at the site of the first meeting of the CPC back in 1921. The English version of the oath: It is my will to join the Commu... [Uncategorized]
Following the abridged draft of an article on Marx and the state (I have now revised the first section), I have been able to do further work on what Marx says about the form of the state after a communist revolution. Fascinating stuff, which usually does ... [Marx] [after October] [state not in present political sense] [workers's state]

October 27, 2AM

This engagement with Marx is part of a much longer study of what happens to the state under socialism in power. Initially, I did not give so much attention to Marx’s observations on the state, for I had been told that Marx does not have a systematic the... [Marx] [commune] [dictatorship of the proletariat] [state]

October 26, 10PM

A fascinating post over at Propaganda called ‘We had more freedom then‘. The following are interviews with two Yugoslav artists, Goroslav Keller and Bata Knežević, discussing what it was like to work as a graphic designer during socialis... [socialism] [art] [freedom] [Yugoslavia]

October 21, 12 AM

A useful piece for those interested in the central function of Marxist contradiction analysis in a Chinese situation. Xi Jinping recently announced that the primary contradiction has now changed, ushering in a new era. And if you are still interested, it... [china] [Mao Zedong] [Marxism] [contradiction analysis]

October 19, 12 AM

An insightful interview with Yukon Huang in the Global Times, who has recently published Cracking the China Conundrum: Why Conventional Economic Wisdom is Wrong (2017). Crucial here is that neo-classical economic theory is unable to make sense of China&... [china] [Marxism] [socialist market economy]
The following infographics of Xi Jinping’s speech is borrowed from the website dedicated to the CPC’s 19th congress. [china] [Marxism] [19th congress] [CPC] [Xi Jinping]

October 18, 11PM

In what is clearly his most important speech yet, Xi Jinping spoke for three hours at the opening of the CPC’s 19th congress yesterday morning (18 October). You can view the full video of the opening and Xi’s speech here (with English transl... [china] [Marxism] [19th congress] [CPC] [Xi Jinping]

October 16, 11PM

Great video about Wang Zhongmei (also here). She is now a ‘chief welder’ at the China Railway Science and Industry Group, CPC member and now a grass-roots delegate at the 19th congress. [china] [Marxism] [19th congress] [CPC]


Even if you were in total hibernation, you couldn’t miss the fact that the CPC’s 19th congress opens here in two days with a major speech from Xo Jinping. Security is super-tight (another level of that extremely complex Chinese word, anquangan... [china] [Marxism] [19th congress] [Beijing] [CPC]

October 14, 5AM

Some time ago (2001) Michael Löwy and Joel Kovel put together the first Ecosocialist Manifesto. Since then there have been subsequent revisions and versions. However, neither of them have much time for the Chinese Communist Party, which is a shame really... [china] [Marxism] [19th congress] [communist party] [ecosocialism] [socialism with Chinese characteristics]

October 9, 11PM

A perverse piece by John Quiggin in The Guardian the other day, called ‘Socialism with a Spine‘. I cannot quite figure out if Quiggin is hitching his economics to Marxism at a convenient moment or whether some deeper affinity lurks somewhere. ... [Marxism] [socialism] [Western Marxism; myopia]


The 19th congress of the CPC will get underway in a few days here in Beijing. Security is super-tight at all levels, and a new website and wechat account will be available on Wednesday: and cpcnews19th. It will be an absolutely fasc... [Uncategorized]

October 2, 6AM

What a great time to be in Beijing. In about two weeks the most important Communist Party congress in history will take place here. It is the nineteenth congress of the CPC, which will assess developments over the last five years and lay out plans for the... [china] [Marxism] [19th congress] [CPC]

September 27, 9AM

In recent discussion in China, I have become more aware of different ways the Marxist tradition can be interpreted. You can take any core feature, such as the dictatorship of the proletariat, the withering away of the state, the distinction between social... [Engels] [Lenin] [Mao Zedong] [Marx] [Marxism] [Stalin] [betrayal] [clarification] [continuity] [Deng Xiaoping] [historical circumstances] [Interpretation] [socialism in power]


I have commented on this one from time to time before, but every now and then I encounter foreign Marxist who come to China with a preset idea of what socialism should be. Inevitably, China today does not fit the definition, so it cannot – they thin... [china] [Marxism] [socialism] [work in progress]

September 26, 1AM

This one came as a surprise to me, although it shouldn’t really. Many Chinese people are rather fond of Angela Merkel, whom they call Moke’er dama (dama being a term of respectful affection for an older woman, especially one’s father... [china] [socialism] [Angela Merkel] [Germany]

September 25, 2AM

In the aftermath of workshop on the ‘Socialist State’, I have been thinking about the category of enmeshment in order to understand Chinese socialism. It came up at various points in the workshop. For example, in a discussion over the issue of public ... [china] [Communism] [Marxism] [socialism] [Economics] [enmeshment] [the common]
Renmin Workshop on Socialism in Power 23-24 September 2017 Paper Abstracts Roger Markwick (School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Newcastle) Failures and Successes: Soviet and Chinese State-Socialist Reforms in the Face of Global Capitalis... [china] [Marxism] [socialism in power] [workshop]

September 20, 9AM

About seven or eight years ago, the foreign students I met in China were almost always studying Sinology. Since then, I have met more and more studying all sorts of subjects. Part of the reason is that the Chinese government keeps adding more levels of sc... [china] [Marxism] [foreign universities] [global power] [students]


Hedlund has provided an invaluable link to an article in the Asia-Pacific Journal on the myth of the ‘North Korean collapse’. Well worth a careful read, and it backs up my anecdotal impressions when I visited a couple of years ago. Keen to get... [Marxism] [DPRK] [North Korea]

September 16, 5AM

Here’s an interesting little fact: the DPRK’s economy grew by 3.9% last year. Officially, it trades with China, Russia, Thailand, Philippines, Pakistan, India and even … South Korea. Unofficially, it trades in small arms manufacture and ... [Marxism] [DPRK] [economy] [North Korea]

September 15, 8PM

A good article on a presentation by Ma Zhaoxu, head of the Chinese Mission at the UN in Geneva. Apart from pressing the point that human rights requires dialogue and cooperation, he also reiterates two crucial features of a Chinese Marxist approach to hum... [china] [Marxism] [economic wellbeing] [Human Rights] [sovereignty]

September 11, 1PM

This one has been on the way for some time. Last week the new Ordinance on Religious Affairs was published, which is to take effect on 1 February 2018. To publicise the new rules, we find Yu Zhengsheng, a senior political advisor, making the following poi... [china] [theology] [buddhism] [Christianity] [Islam] [Ordinance on Religious Affairs] [Three-Self Patriotic Movement]

12 PM

This one is more complex than one is led to believe. About 300,000 Rohingya (Muslims mostly) have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh and India. But what is actually going on? For some corporate media it is ‘ethnic cleansing’, providing stories that re... [china] [India] [Myanmar] [Rohingya]

September 7, 1AM

Two overlapping articles in the China Daily outline clearly the main Chinese position in relation to the Korean Peninsula (here and here). Apart from pointing out the uselessness of U.S. threats and sanctions, as well as the reasonableness of the freeze-... [china] [DPRK] [Korean peninsula] [Russia] [United States]

September 3, 7AM

An unexpected side-effect of the DPRK’s development of its nuclear self-defence capacities is the need for greater knowledge about the place. As various corporate news operators desperately scour the news sites from the DPRK, they begin to stumble a... [DPRK] [Marxism] [Juche] [KFA]

September 2, 11PM

On a related matter, China’s ‘toilet revolution’ seems to be gaining traction in its third year. Launched by Xi Jinping in April, 2017, it initially focused on tourist areas. And given the sheer size of China, this involved a significant... [china] [toilet revolution]
These news stories are worth following, concerning China’s ongoing poverty relief program. It is a cornerstone of the preparations for a transition to the ‘moderately prosperous, well-off and peaceful society’ (xiaokang shehui) – i... [china] [Marxism] [Human Rights] [poverty relief] [Xi Jinping]


My book on Stalin will be published soon by Springer Beijing. This book was far more work than usual, since it required a a complete rebuilding of my categories of analysis, from the ground up. It has also provided the basis for my current project on R... [Marxism] [Stalin] [socialism in power] [Springer]


With the Korean peninsula in the daily news, it is worth recalling a few facts behind the situation today. Let us begin with the Korean War, with none other than an observation from the U.S. air force. General Curtis LeMay, head of the U.S. Strategic Air ... [Marxism] [DPRK] [Korea] [United States] [war crimes]

August 29, 4AM

Two items today as I rest after the ride across Belgium and Germany (basic account and pictures gradually being loaded here). The first is a report on the continuing program to lift the remaining 43.35 million (as of the end of 2016) Chinese people out of... [china] [Marxism] [Chinese Dream] [second stage of socialism] [two centenary goals] [xiaokang shehui]

August 22, 8AM

I am completely out of things for a while, cycling more than 1,000 km across Germany on the Mittelland Route (d4). But I did notice this intriguing Chinese take on what is happening in the United States, with statues being torn down, violent skirmishes, e... [Total Depravity] [china] [cultural revolution] [United States]

August 8, 12 PM

A big tick of approval for Xi Jinping and socialist democracy with this one. According to an Ipsos survey called ‘What worries the world – July 2017‘ the vast majority of those surveyed in China – 87% – believe their country ... [Marxism] [china] [Ipsos world survey] [national confidence]

August 2, 3AM

Word in the CPC for a while has been that preparations are under way for a transition to the second stage of socialism (the distinction was first made by Stalin in the late 1930s). Until now, China has been in the first or preliminary stage of socialism. ... [china] [Marxism] [second stage of socialism] [Xi Jinping] [xiaokang society]

August 1, 10PM

As Lenin and the Bolsheviks realised after the Potemkin Mutiny in 1905, any communist revolution needs a military wing. This could be either its own force, or a process of winning over significant parts of the existing armed forces – or both. In Chi... [china] [Marxism] [90th anniverary] [People's Liberation Army] [Xi Jinping]


More than a decade ago, in early 2006, I was a guest for a couple of months of Ilisimatusarfik, the University of Greenland. The university is based in the capital city, Nuuk, on the milder west Greenland coast. For most of the time, I sat by a large wind... [Danish] [free speech] [Jyllands-Posten] [Losurdo] [Said] [Stanley Fish]

July 31, 6AM

This article was first published in an online journal called ‘State of Nature’. As is the way of online publishing, the journal no longer exists. So here is the article, updated and revised, on narratives of catastrophe: Reports of catastrophe... [Bible] [Economics] [catastophe] [environment]

July 25, 2AM

One of the realities of student life in China is ‘ideological education’. It is compulsory in middle school and in university. Obviously, such an approach has its benefits and problems. On the up side, I find that everyone knows the essential ... [china] [Marxism] [ideological education] [school] [university] [Xi Jinping]

July 21, 10PM

A great article in the Global Times on the waywardness of the Nobel Peace Prize. Out of a number of telling insights, let me select the following: The Nobel Peace Prize has shown increasing preference for those that embrace Western values, and has become ... [china] [cancellation] [Nobel 'peace prize']


One of the under-appreciated achievements of the Soviet Union, especially in the 1930s, was what may be called the domestic state. By this term, I mean that the state sees itself as very much involved in what were traditionally regarded as domestic roles ... [Marxism] [domestic state] [Soviet Union]

July 18, 3PM

The University of Newcastle’s news team has, believe it or not, posted a news item on my involvement with Chinese Marxism. It has its expected focus, but they quoted me fairly. Full text copied here: After 11 years of increasingly longer visits to C... [china] [Marxism] [Uncategorized] [University of Newcastle]

July 13, 5PM

Yesterday, Liu Xiaobo died of liver cancer at the age of 61. He was given the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, but was in prison at the time. He also died while still serving his sentence. Such a death is bound to spur the expected demonisation of China and Chi... [china] [Marx] [demonising China] [Liu Xiaobo]

July 7, 2AM

July 1, 7PM

Big celebrations this weekend in Hong Kong, with the 20-year anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to China. For some strange reason, corporate media is not making much of the important speech by Xi Jinping, who today is wrapping up a three day visit. Th... [china] [Marxism] [Hong Kong] [Xi Jinping]

June 28, 2AM

Recently published is a new book by the stakhanovite, Domenico Losurdo, called: Western Marxism: How It Was Born, How It Died and How It Can Rise Again. The brief description (found here) reads: Western Marxism was afflicted by a sort of myopia: it didn... [Marxism] [socialism] [Stalin] [anti-colonialism] [Domenico Losurdo] [Soviet Union] [Western Marxism]

June 26, 3PM

Lunli, they call it in these parts, or Gongchanzhuyi daode – ethics or communist moral principles. These are by no means abstract terms, debated by philosophers with little connection to real life. I encounter it day to day in a very concrete fashion. H... [academics] [Marxism] [china] [ethics] [communist morality] [Confucianism]

June 25, 10PM


June 19, 8PM

This project – involving Chinese and international researchers – seeks to provide the philosophical and historical framework for understanding the realities of socialism in power. Taking China, Cuba and the former Soviet Union as the principal... [china] [Marxism] [socialism] [communist party] [contradiction] [Cuba] [Justice] [Marxist human rights] [research project] [socialist civil society] [socialist democracy] [socialist market economy] [socialist state] [Soviet Union]
A ‘market’ is an economic mechanism, distinct from the state and primarily geared for profit and is thereby essentially capitalist. This is an extremely common assumption, but fortunately it is wrong. We have been too conditioned by Adam Smith’s eff... [china] [Marxism] [capitalist market economy] [socialist market economy]

June 8, 7AM

‘Understanding the world in terms of Mao’s contradiction method is part of our culture’, she said. ‘We have learnt this since “middle” school.’ For me, this was enough of a stunning discovery. Then I asked, ‘But have you read Mao’s “On... [china] [Mao Zedong] [Marxism] [Chinese culture] [Common Sense] [contradiction theory]

June 7, 3AM

I am happy to say that Springer Beijing will publish my book on Stalin later this year. I didn’t realise this until today, but Springer has the largest presence in China of any international press by a long way, publishing works by Chinese authors o... [Marxism] [Stalin] [book] [Springer Beijing] [Stalin: From Theology to the Philosophy of Socialism in Power]

June 6, 9PM

There is significant misunderstanding of the term ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics [zhongguo tese shehuizhuyi]’. Many foreigners – Marxists included – think it is a code for capitalism. Others think it means the complex intersections betwee... [china] [Mao Zedong] [Marxism] [Deng Xiaoping] [sinification of Marxism] [socialism with Chinese characteristics] [unleashing forces of production]

June 4, 3AM

I must admit I wasn’t going to read this story from Australia, but it is doing the rounds on the state-run media (ABC) and Fairfax media. The ABC calls it, “Australia’s sovereignty under threat from influence of China’s Communist P... [china] [socialism] [China bashing] [corporate media] [popular support] [state-run media (Australia)] [treason]
Given that the North Atlantic Left is situated well ‘before October’ (unlike China), its various branches have struggled to get across a convincing account of current ills. Thus far, it has been the Right that has managed to do so very well. Think of ... [Lenin] [Bernie Sanders] [Jeremy Corbyn]

May 17, 7AM

How is this for a timely intervention: last year I was asked to write a piece on the socialist imagination. So I decided to write ‘Xi Jinping’s China: Keeping the Socialist Imagination Alive’. It is based on a careful analysis of ‘... [china] [Marxism] [Xi Jinping]

May 14, 5AM

It’s all happening in Beijing this week, with the major Belt and Road Forum drawing representatives from 130 countries – and the expected levels of security. If there was any doubt about Chinese global leadership, then it is probably time to l... [china] [Marxism] [Belt and Road] [second stage of socialism] [Xi Jinping]

May 5, 6AM

In the 1930s and 1940s, there was the wonderful Anti-Japanese University in China, known as Kangda. It’s full name was the Zhongguo Renmin Kangrì Junshì Zhengzhi Daxue (Anti-Japanese Military and Political University). It later merged with the ... [china] [Marxism] [Anti-Japanese University]

May 2, 4AM

There is now an extraordinarily insightful paper by Fu Ying on the DPRK-USA tensions. She was the head of the Chinese delegation involved in bringing together the USA and the DPRK a decade or more ago and she is now chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Comm... [china] [Marxism] [DPRK] [nuclear weapons]

April 27, 11PM

Looks like it is the year of the state. I have written two articles, one on the nature of the socialist state, and another on the transition between bourgeois and socialist states. Currently, I am completing an article on the absolutist ‘Christian s... [Marx] [absolutism] [Christian State] [life of a monarch]
Way back in 1945, Stalin was told of the first nuclear test in the USA. He was sceptical. Why? You may have all the firepower in the world, he pointed out, but it is the quality of ground troops that makes all the difference. Stalin’s insights are s... [Stalin] [Total Depravity] [ground troops] [nuclear weapons]

April 18, 10PM

Might it possibly be the case that we will begin to hear more of the DPRK’s view? Perhaps it is the recklessness of that rogue state known as the USA, perhaps it is the destabilising drive from South Korea’s conservative government, perhaps it... [Marxism] [socialism] [DPRK] [Han Song-ryol]

April 11, 7PM

Since the DPRK (North Korea) is in the corporate news, and full of the usual misrepresentation, I thought I would reprise a section of an article I wrote a couple of years ago on Korean reunification – from the perspective of the north. Reunificatio... [Communism] [Marxism] [DPRK] [North Korea] [reunification]

April 10, 1AM

With increasing news that US border bureaucrats are asking travellers to hand over electronic devices and provide access (passwords etc.), so they can check your social media, email and so on, it is time either to give the USA a miss (there are better pla... [Total Depravity] [paranoid state] [USA]

April 5, 4AM

As part of my research on the socialist state, I have found that many indeed cite, rely upon and try to modify the influential definition given by Max Weber: ‘the state is the form of human community [Gemeinschaft] that (successfully) lays claim to the ... [Engels] [Marxism] [Gewalt] [Max Weber] [modern state] [territory] [violence]

April 4, 4PM

By and large the Social-Democratic parties (and I include here the ‘socialist’ parties) in Europe support the EU. The reasons vary, but the underlying justification is that the EU is in part a social-democratic project. It seeks to encourage liberal e... [Total Depravity] [European Union] [social-deomcracy]

March 15, 9AM

Over a quiet stretch in Beijing, I was able to read Xi Jinping’s first volume as president of China. As one would expect, it is a series of selected statement on key issues, called The Governance of China (Tan zheguolizheng), published in 2014. It is, I... [china] [Marxism] [The Governance of China] [Xi Jinping]

March 12, 8AM

I am working my way through Xi Jinping’s The Governance of China, enjoying especially a piece from 2013 called ‘Hard Work Makes Dreams Come True’. One of a number of statements on the Chinese Dream (which actually means at a minimum the... [china] [Marxism] [Chinese Dream] [workers] [Xi Jinping]

March 10, 5AM

The new book by Christina Petterson and I will be out soon. It is called Time of Troubles: A New Economic Framework for Early Christianity and is published by Fortress Press. The listed release date is 1 May, 2017. The book is the third instalment in a s... [Books] [Idols of Nations] [Sacred Economy] [Time of Troubles]

March 8, 8PM

One of the great myths concerning socialist collectivisation of agriculture is that it produced ‘man-made’ famines, since it is supposedly less ‘efficient’. This story is perpetrated by friend and foe alike. Example 1: The famine of 1932-3... [china] [Mao Zedong] [Marxism] [socialism] [famine] [Soviet Union]

March 6, 7AM

A host of good information about the ‘two sessions’ this year: the National People’s Congress and the China People’s Political Consultative Conference (modelled on and modified from the Soviet Union’s two levels of government... [china] [Marxism] [Uncategorized] [China People's Political Consultative Conference] [national] [Xi Jinping]

February 26, 10PM

I have spent the day reading Arrighi’s Adam Smith in Beijing. While I am not in agreement with all his arguments, he does provide some useful insights. The key theoretical point concerns the differences between capitalist and non-capitalist market ... [china] [Marxism] [Giovanni Arrighi]

February 23, 3AM

As preparation for the socialism in power project, I am working my way systematically through Losurdo. At the moment I am reading through War and Revolution, which offers a sustained riposte to the revisionist tendency (Nolte, Furet et al) that seeks to ... [Total Depravity] [British empire] [Genocide] [Henry Ford] [origins of fascism]

February 12, 9PM

In preparation for the MOOC on Chinese Marxism, I had  a Chines film crew over October and November of last year. We filmed in Beijing, but especially at the major sites of the Chinese Revolution: Shaoshan, Ruijin and Yan’an. I was even able to sit... [Mao Zedong] [Marxism] [Uncategorized] [Mao's room] [MOOC] [Ruijin] [Shaoshan] [Yan'an]



I am finally working through the many photographs from the ‘red tour’ filming from last November (for the MOOC), and came across these from Ruijin, where the first soviet was established in the early 1930s. This is also where the absolutely cr... [china] [Engels] [Lenin] [Mao Zedong] [Marx] [Marxism] [Stalin] [Marxist tradition] [Ruijin]


Earlier, I made a few comments on criticism in China, but here is the video shot for the upcoming MOOC on Chinese Marxism. By the way, make sure you circulate news of the MOOC and encourage people to enrol. It begins on 1 March. It’s free! [Marxism] [china] [Criticism] [MOOC on Chinese Marcism]

February 11, 3AM

I have finally completed my rather lengthy book on Stalin. Throughout, I have been struck by the absence of any serious engagement with Stalin by the vast majority of the international Left. To be sure, there are one or two exceptions, such as Losurdo and... [Marxism] [Stalin] [leaders are not gods] [thinking]


Oh wow, Newcastle had its hottest day on record today – 45 degrees this afternoon. And this is a relatively cool place, close by the ocean with its sea breeze. Up the valley, they hit 47 degrees. Out west, Ivanhoe had 47.6 degrees. So we have what t... [Newcastle] [Total Depravity] [45 degrees] [catastrophic fire warning]

February 1, 11PM

Over the last few years, I have become convinced by Losurdo’s argument that a socialist state must be a strong state. How else can you transform a society, economics and culture? How else can you develop world-leading affirmative action programs in ... [Marxism] [Stalin] [Losurdo] [strong state]


This book has taken me longer than most, since I have been extra careful to justify my arguments with reference to the texts. I speak of my book on Stalin, which should be complete in the next few days. But I cannot help offering a few teasers, one from t... [Marxism] [Stalin] [Thinking Through Stalin]

January 27, 6AM

The course itself begins on 1 March, but enrolments have now opened. The introduction page provides the final version of the invitation video, course syllabus and some other details. [china] [Marxism] [Mao to Now] [MOOC] [University of Newcastle]

January 24, 10PM

January 22, 3AM

What an amazing week. Between Tuesday and Friday, 17 and 20 January, the world shifted. On Tuesday, Xi Jinping addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, while on Friday Donald Trump became president of the United States. Their two speeches... [another world is possible] [china] [Marxism] [Donald Trump] [world leadership] [Xi Jinping]

January 17, 4AM

宁静致远:ningjing zhiyuan A quiet life enables one to accomplish something lasting. Or: tranquility yields transcendence [another world is possible] [Chinese saying] [Quiet Life]

January 16, 1PM

They all represent types of democracy. Ancient Greek democracy (where it existed) worked as follows. A pubescent boy would stand naked in the middle of the assembly. If the other men could see evidence of puberty, then the boy was deemed to be a man and a... [Total Depravity] [bourgeois democracy] [Greek democracy] [illiberal democracy]

January 13, 6AM

Occasionally I come across the comment that the greatest offence of my Stalin project is that I assume that Stalin could actually think. It may be surprising to some, but many deny him the ability to think, let alone think dialectically. Was he not the on... [china] [Marxism] [thinking]

January 7, 4AM

January 3, 6PM

This course, ‘From Mao to Now’, will be kicking off some time in the new year. All the filming, on site in China and in the studio in Newcastle has been completed, so now it is up the editing and production people. Here is an early version of ... [china] [Marxism] [From Mao to Now] [MOOC]

December 22 2016, 4AM

While doing the final (studio) filming for the MOOC on Chinese Marxism, we got talking about the role of criticism in relation to socialist democracy. The widespread and mistaken international image is that criticism is ruthlessly censored in China. This ... [china] [Marxism] [Criticism] [disrespect] [friend] [socialist democracy]

December 16, 7PM

For some perverse reason, I am thoroughly enjoying the finger-pointing and angst over supposed Russian hacking during the recent US election campaign. The fact that the Democrats are sore losers is the least interesting item here. And ludicrous is the cla... [Total Depravity] [Russian hacking] [US elections]


For quite some years now I have been seeing a great doctor, Neville Rothfield. From time to time, I have heard confirmations about his age, although I never actually dared to ask him directly. I knew all along that he was pretty experienced – I coul... [another world is possible] [Doctor] [nonagenarian] [retirement]

December 14, 11PM

And while we are on the topic, it may be worth pondering the following reflections – from you know who – on the 1936 soviet constitution relating to human rights. Again, we find that the underlying and primary right is to economic wellbeing: L... [Stalin] [economic wellbeing] [Human Rights] [Soviet constitution of 1936]


Related to my interest in a Chinese Marxist approach to human rights, I am also interested (via Losurdo) on the distinction between socialist populism, in which everyone is equally poor, and the socialist unleashing of the forces of production to improve ... [Stalin] [equality] [socialist populism] [socialist wealth]

December 3, 10PM

The film crew from the ‘Red Tour’ of November 2016 has put together a short documentary of the experience. It came through wechat, but I have copied the link here. The documentary is a little way into the page, but the page also contains some ... [china] [Marxism] [red tour] [Ruijin] [Shaoshan] [Yan'an]

November 30, 8PM

Something is definitely afoot here in China. A few years ago I gained the distinct sense that China was at a crossroads. Many possible paths were open, which people discussed endlessly. Such times are both dangerous and potentially creative. Now there is ... [china] [Marxism] [art] [literature] [Xi Jinping]

November 29, 12 AM

I have just completed eight amazing days of filming for the ‘Chinese Marxism’ MOOC that will be ready early in the new year. We travelled by plane, hard-seat train, bus and foot to get to what are still relatively remote places: Shaoshan (Mao&... [china] [Marxism] [collective and individual] [economic rights] [Human Rights] [sovereignty] [universal and particular]

November 10, 1PM

Last night I had the opportunity to speak and engage in discussion at the International Bookshop (at Melbourne Trades Hall) on the subject of Chinese Marxism. I talked about contradiction (socialism and capitalism), socialist democracy, a Chinese Marxist ... [china] [Marxism] [International Bookshop] [socialism in power]

November 9, 1AM

Obviously, I am referring to Donald Trump’s victory in the US elections, which I risked suggesting back in July he would win. I refer not to the parts of the world that relied on the myth of pax americana. I mean the many parts of the world that h... [Total Depravity] [2016 elections] [Donald Trump] [Hillary Clinton] [USA]

October 28, 7PM

October 27, 12 PM

This article from Xinhua News is worth a read, since it does not take the path of seeing Trump as an anomaly in the US elections of 2016. Instead, the dreadful option between Trump or Clinton is bad news all round. However, I like best the closing lines: ... [Total Depravity] [liberal democracy] [Trump Clinton] [US elections] [Xinhua News]


October 26, 3AM

October 25, 5AM

For some reason, this song came back to me recently. It is ‘Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner’ by Warren Zevon. As I pointed out some time ago, I like the line, ‘The deal was done in Denmark, on a dark and stormy day’. But as a ... [china] [Marxism] [Denmark] [keeping up the fight]

October 24, 10PM

I feel like a stranger in the world, especially Europe. Over the past week or two we have travelled across Europe, from east to northwest, and stayed in different places. It is turning out to be intimately familiar and disconcertingly strange. Why? After ... [Marxism] [Travel] [class] [Economics] [Europe] [migrants] [refugees]

October 16, 1PM

September 21, 9AM

Fidel Castro is renowned for his hours-long speeches (to which I would have loved to listen). But he is by no means the only communist leader who could regale an audience for hours on end. In May of 1927, Stalin made these opening comments to the students... [Stalin] [Fidel Castro] [speeches]

September 19, 5AM

More reports on the People’s Daily and Xinhua News on the China-Russia joint naval exercises in the South China Sea. And a series of articles in the People’s Daily analyse the USA as a ‘source of turmoil in the world’. It is keen ... [another world is possible] [china] [Total Depravity] [empire in decline] [Russia] [South China Sea]

September 14, 11PM

Strange how I need to read Chinese newspapers to find out details about the major joint naval exercises between China and Russia in the South China Sea. As I have pointed out before, their increasing closeness is perhaps the major geopolitical development... [china] [naval exercise] [Russia] [South China Sea]

September 11, 11PM

While working on another project, I came across a couple of statements that embody one of the core principles of socialism with national characteristics: Hence, in order not to err in policy, in order not to find itself in the position of idle dreamers, t... [socialism] [populism] [science] [Socialism with National Characteristics] [utopia]
I keep having a gut feeling that Trump will pull it off in the circus called ‘US democracy’. Yesterday, I had a somewhat interesting argument with an evangelist for the the ‘American dream’, for ‘freedom’ and ‘dem... [Total Depravity] [Donald Trump] [Hilary Clinton]

September 8, 4AM

This week has seen one of the more nasty and ugly developments in Australian politics, and that is saying something. In a classic case of dog-whistle politics, a senator was accused of accepting donations from a Chinese businessman, which implied that his... [china] [hysteria] [Yellow Peril]

September 7, 8PM

The journal Critical Research on Religion has recently published a symposium on my Criticism of Heaven and Earth series. The symposium originally took place as a conference a couple of years ago, although the pieces have been revised. Matt Sharpe, Geo... [Critical Research on Religion] [Criticism of Heaven and Earth] [Symposium]

August 31, 3PM

A comrade at the University of Newcastle, Roger Markwick, has written a great piece on the ‘new cold war.’ A specialist in Soviet and Russian history, he tracks the way NATO’s blatant provocations and aggressive stances are aimed at thre... [china] [Cold War] [nato] [Russia]

August 28, 3PM

As my research has moved into the complexities of socialism in power, first in the Soviet Union and now in China, I have been struck by what might be called structural anti-communism in many Russian/Slavic Studies and China Studies programs. This is not a... [china] [Communism] [Marxism] [anti-communism] [China studies] [Russian studies]

August 27, 2AM

As everyone knows, today is Hegel’s birthday (ht cp). And having been struck down with the flu virus that is afflicting all and sundry in these parts, I was reminded of the dialectic arising from the argument from design. To wit, God did not design ... [anatomy] [philosophy] [dialectic] [flu virus] [Hegel's birthday] [narcotics]

August 23, 4AM

And here is a sample video to see how I might go. I must admit I like the second one better. [china] [Marxism] [Uncategorized] [From Mao to Now] [MOOC]
With the China Road conference over (turned out to be a great event, although it took me a few days to recover – more later), I am turning my attention to producing a MOOC on Chinese Marxism. My paper at the conference concerned precisely this, so I... [china] [Marxism] [From Mao to Now] [MOOC]

August 4, 9PM

This is the real story of geopolitics at the moment: the increasing rapprochement between China and Russia. I have seen this at first hand in my own way, but when the two countries that make up the vast bulk of the Eurasian landmass get together, it means... [china] [cooperation] [Putin] [Russia] [Xi Jinping]

July 31, 10PM

Amazing things you find when researching for a book. In this case, I found an item on the Greek bean (broad bean), from Dioscorides and translated by John Goodyer in 1655: The Greeke beane is windy, flatulent, hard of digestion, causing troublesomme dream... [food] [hairy creatures of God] [broad bean] [Dioscorides] [Greek bean]

July 28, 5PM

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 includ... [Stalin] [collected works] [Russian]

July 27, 5AM

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 pr... [Total Depravity] [Clinton] [Trump] [world peace]

July 25, 6PM

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, ... [hairy creatures of God] [cities] [Rome] [shit]

July 18, 9PM

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 engine... [china] [socialism] [socialism with Chinese characteristics] [Xi Jinping]
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. [Total Depravity] [Hesiod] [house] [ox] [woman]

July 16, 10PM

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 bathhou... [hairy creatures of God] [pre-underwear age] [Roman hygiene] [urinating]

July 13, 4AM

Carla Shea 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. [Marxism] [socialism] [Australian Marxist Review] [DPRK] [UN Security Council]

July 12, 5PM

On 12 July, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague made a non-binding ruling concerning the Law of the Sea. The former regime of the Philippines (under Aquino) had made a unilateral application to have the Nanhai Zhudao (South China Sea Isl... [china] [philosophy] [Total Depravity] [Uncategorized] [Dutch East India Company] [freedom of the seas] [Hugo Grotius] [Permanent Court of Arbitration] [Philippines] [South China Sea]

July 7, 11PM

Despite, or perhaps because of, its faults, Copenhagen is one of the great cities in the world. From last April: [Travel] [Copenhagen]

July 1, 4PM

I haven’t been here for a while, but I am off to one of my favourite places in the world for a few days on my bicycle for some winter riding. [bicycles] [Newcastle] [on my own]

June 30, 7AM

Haven’t been blogging here as regularly as I would have liked, so I hope to be in form from now on. One of the great things about having Marxism as the state position, as well as having it as part of one’s culture, is the way it shows up regul... [china] [Marxism] [dictionary]

June 26, 6PM

My regular monthly piece on Culture Matters is now up, simply called ‘Jesus and Marx‘. [Marx] [theology] [Uncategorized] [culture matters] [jesus]

June 24, 5AM

Amidst all the brouhaha over Brexit, it might be worth getting some perspective. Some preach doom, while others point out that the island off the western peninsula of the Eurasian land-mass means little for places like Australia (a couple of percentage po... [china] [Brexit] [global shift] [grandson] [politics] [Russia]

June 17, 3AM

I am developing a sustained research project with some leading Marxist scholars in China – at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Renmin University and Fudan University. It is simply called ‘Socialism in Power’ and reflects a major development o... [china] [Marxism] [contradiction] [Justice] [socialist civil society] [socialist democracy] [socialist state] [the party]

June 15, 7AM

A belated farewell from a place that has really become my second home. We paid our respects to Chairman Mao (me for the second time) and had a bon voyage party. But I will be back in September, with a fancy title (distinguished research professor) and a n... [china] [Communism] [Marxism] [socialism in power]

June 3, 1AM

This is arguably the most interesting sign I have seen in my many travels in China. I found it over a urinal while walking the back streets of Nanjing in search of yet another section of the 700 year old city wall (do not ask me why I was in a urinal with... [china] [walking] [civilisation] [urinal]

May 31, 8AM

The China Road conference now has over 100 papers, of which more than 40 will be presented by leading Chinese scholars. The conference will take place on 13-15 August, 2016. Please note: the early bird registration is now extended to 15 June. The registra... [china] [China Road] [conference]

May 23, 5AM

Beautiful night over Beijing, with rain clouds in the last light: [china] [Beijing] [clean air] [night sky]

May 18, 7AM

How often do you hear a leader of a world power, a socialist one at that, say this? ‘It is time for philosophy to flourish’. The People’s Daily reports that Chairman Xi addressed a gathering leading philosophers and social scientists on ... [china] [Marxism] [philosophy] [research] [Xi Jinping]

May 16, 9AM

This is my last year teaching this undergraduate course at Renmin University of China (as well as the postgraduate course). Next year I move to a new agreement until 1919, so I will teach an intensive course on ‘Contradiction’, with close atte... [china] [Marxism] [theology] [contradiction] [Renmin University of China]

May 10, 4AM

Although I study Chinese language every day for at least a couple of hours, I know I will never appreciate the full range of its subtlety. Many expressions seek to soften a statement, modifying it ever so slightly so that one does not draw undue attention... [china] [modesty] [Language] [insult]

May 4, 6PM

With a low key announcement on their website, Midnight Oil tells they are back after a fifteen year break. It looks like there will be a world tour in 2017. This is one the great bands, full of passion and politics and powerful music. [music] [Midnight Oil]


Usually these sorts of comments begin with ‘you you’ve been too long in [place name] name when …’, but I prefer, ‘you know [place name] is becoming a second home when …’ So: China. You know it is becoming a second... [china] [air quality] [duck's blood tofu] [second home] [silly tattoos]

May 2, 7PM

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CALL FOR PAPERS: DEADLINE EXTENDED TO 15 MAY The China Road conference is sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the University of Newcastle, Australia. When 13 to 15 August 2016 Where Noah’s on the Beach Hotel... [china] [Newcastle] [Call for Papers] [China Road] [conference]

April 30, 5AM

It all depends on cultural interpretation. This morning, as I was enjoying a walk in a small park under some trees, I felt a spatter of something on my head and shoulders. Is it raining? I wondered. The sky was clear, or as clear as it gets in spring in B... [china] [pastimes] [walking] [golden gift] [luck]


The energetic people at Canterbury University in New Zealand/Aotearoa, Cindy Zeiher and Mike Grimshaw, have launched a new journal call ‘Continental Thought and Theory‘. The first bumper issue contains more than thirty contributions on the que... [china] [Marxism] [Continental Thought and Theory] [intellectual freedom]

April 27, 8PM

Is there a theory of the socialist state? We can draw together a theory from a careful study of the experiences and statements of the Soviet Union and China, the two places where a socialist state has begun to emerge. Why? They are the two largest countri... [Marxism] [socialism] [affirmative action] [anti-colonialism] [class] [communist party] [counter-revolution] [cultural revolution] [dictatorship of the proletariat] [socialist civil society] [socialist democracy] [socialist state]


I have recently participated in a Marxist conference in China (in Shanghai – not the one in Beijing mentioned in an earlier post). Many are such conferences in this part of the world, and they are increasing. But this one was a little different, for... [china] [Marxism] [irrelevance in China] [Trostky]

April 23, 4PM

About 3.5 billion. That is, half of the world’s population travels annually on the Beijing metro system. And within 5 years they wish to double to length of the system. [china] [trains] [Beijing metro] [number of rides]

April 22, 6AM

I continue to be impressed by the efficiency of Chinese ways of doing things. There is a long history of managing to get things done in the country with the largest population in the world. Today was no exception. By lunchtime, news was already doing the ... [china] [Marxism] [Domenico Losurdo] [opening ceremony]

April 19, 4PM

This always gives me a thrill, breaking into new areas for publishing ideas. Earlier, the People’s Daily in China published an article on the decline of bourgeois democracy in the United States. A few days ago, Chinese Social Sciences Today publish... [china] [Mao Zedong] [Marxism] [contradiction] [socialism with Chinese characteristics]

April 15, 11AM

I have become used to the relatively high cost of things in Denmark and I always assumed one would never find anything free. However, the other day we were walking through the forest and happened upon this intriguing site: I went in to look, finding what... [another world is possible] [bicycles] [hiking] [Denmark] [free camping]

April 12, 9AM

I have giving a reasonable amount of my energy this year to two projects and associated conferences. In a few months (13-15 August) is the ‘China Road‘ conference in Newcastle, but in less than a couple of weeks is another conference: The Inte... [Marxism] [china] [Conferences] [China Road]

April 3, 3PM

These days it seems that journals are happy to enable the first fifty readers to access a new article without direct access to the journal. This seems to be the case with another new article, ‘Concerning the “Warm Stream” within Marxism&... [Marxism] [Ernst Bloch] [International Critical Thought] [warm stream]

12 AM

A new and absolute bumper issue of Crisis and Critique is just out, edited by Agon Hamza and Frank Ruda. It concerns none other than Joseph Stalin. I have a rather long piece in it called ‘A Materialist Doctrine of Good and Evil: Stalin’s Revision... [theology] [Stalin] [reading Stalin] [doctrine of good and evil]

March 29, 12 AM

As part of our research for The Time of Troubles, we have come across the class struggle of grain, or perhaps the in-grained class struggle. Our focus is the Hellenistic era in the eastern Mediterranean. When we enter our era, barley and two basic types... [Books] [Economics] [barley] [beer] [class struggle] [grain] [wheat] [Wine]

March 28, 12 AM

Like tiling, one of the great pleasures of life is … to sew. It has been some years since I have had a sewing machine. In the meantime, I have satisfied myself with occasional bouts of hand sewing. But for my last birthday, I bought a sewing machine... [pastimes] [curtain] [sewing]

March 25, 2AM

In October, I am off to one of the great places in the world: Transylvania. It is for a conference in Baia Mare, but the experience is much more than merely a conference. If you can go, go. I’ll be talking on socialist theory and practices concernin... [china] [research] [Travel] [multiculturalism] [Romania] [Transylvania]

March 11, 7AM

The usual material you find trotted out in the corporate media is that China is an authoritarian state that suppresses any form of ‘democracy’. For some reason, they fail to explain what actually happens here, which is the gradual development ... [china] [Marxism] [elections] [socialist democracy]
The word about the place here in China is that Chairman Xi Jinping (yes, that is what his Chinese title is, mistranslated at ‘president’) is the most theoretically aware and sophisticated leader since Chairman Mao. People are saying that he ha... [china] [Marxism] [Marxist political economy] [state owned sector] [Xi Jinping]


During the ‘two sessions‘ in Beijing in early March, security is tight. Extra guards and police have fanned out through the city, even in my local communal dining hall, where I can get a freshly cooked meal for less than AUD $2.oo. Cyber secur... [china] [Marxism] [internet access] [two sessions]

March 9, 5AM

Like any language, Chinese has its myriad subtleties that affect the whole meaning of what you might be saying. Let me give a simple example. The question, ‘can you speak Chinese?’, might be said in at least two ways: Ni hui shuo hanyu ma? 你会说... [china] [Li Dazhao] [pitfalls] [sogou] [triumphs]

March 8, 3AM

The full website for the China Road conference is now up, with the deadline for panel and paper proposals on 1 May, 2016. See the website for registration, travel and accommodation suggestions. The China Road conference is sponsored by the Chinese Academ... [china] [13-15 August] [China Road] [conference] [Newcastle]

March 7, 7AM

I rather like this article, even though it uses the problematic term ‘West’. The original article can be found at thew CPC’s flagship newspaper, The People’s Daily. I would also mention the Taiping Revolution, in terms of religious... [china] [socialism] [biases]
Following on from my last post, a chart of the major issues dealt with at the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC): [china] [socialism] [two sessions]

March 6, 4AM

Socialist democracy, that is. Each year, soon after I arrive in Beijing and the National People’s Congress (NPC), the top legislative body, and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) meet for t... [Uncategorized]

March 5, 9AM

I have spent the last 1 year and 8 months diligently learning Chinese, for about 2-3 hours day. The script – reading and writing – I find relatively easy. And I can speak bad Chinese all day if you ask me. In fact, I try to do so each day, thi... [Uncategorized]

February 29, 8AM

in the midst of the thrill of travel, I am also drawn back to home. Many things make me homesick, including this: [Uncategorized]

February 28, 5AM

I am becoming a little bemused by the way people simply do not believe me when I say the air is clear and the sky is blue in Beijing. It has been this way for the whole week I have been here. I have been out running every day. To be sure, we will get a ba... [Uncategorized]

February 27, 10PM

While working on Time of Troubles, we’ve found it necessary to return to the issue of coinage. For example, a common argument made concerning Hasmonean coinage in Galilee in the century or so immediately before the turn of the era is that such coina... [Uncategorized]

February 26, 7AM

This song is doing the rounds, picking up the great tradition of protest songs with a perfect balance. You can find it here, since I don’t have access to youtube in China: Come Home (Cardinal Pell) –... [Uncategorized]

February 24, 11PM

They say it marks a significant stage in learning a new language – when you begin to dream in that language. In my case, I have been studying Chinese for almost two years, with up to 4 hours a day at times. Last night, I found myself engaged in a dr... [china] [dream]

February 19, 4AM

Things only get worse in Geogia for the miners. After a series of strikes at the Chiatura manganese mine, many have been sacked. Comrades in Georgia, which I plan to visit later this year, are organising a campaign. My small contribution: [Marxism] [Chiatura] [Georgia]

February 17, 8PM

This is the material I really enjoy: the turning of Marx’s thought into Chinese idiom. In this case I mean the three twos: the ‘two inevitabilities’, the’two ruptures’ and the ‘two impossibilities’. The ‘two... [china] [Marx] [two impossibilities] [two inevitabilities] [two ruptures]

February 16, 2AM

As we work our way through material for Time of Troubles, we are struck by many things, such as the rampant economics imperialism of the last couple of decades, or the assumption that the ‘economy’ refers only to commercial activity and that ... [Bible] [Economics] [greece] [menstruating women] [Rome]

February 13, 5AM

February 7, 5PM

The book is now out of print, which is a shame, but Another Vietnam is a stunning collection of photographs from Vietcong photographers of their side of a long, long war they won. It makes you wonder what the situation would be like if the DPRK had won t... [another world is possible] [Communism] [Photographs] [vietnam] [winners]

February 1, 3PM

Some photographs, taken by me and Aina Skoland (who was in our group). As you can see, people like to dress well and go about their daily lives as one might expect.   [socialism] [Travel] [DPRK] [North Korea] [people]


January 24, 2AM

Yes, indeed. This is from the train that took me last year from Pyongyang to Beijing. A preparation for a series of photographs on the DPRK (North Korea) – which I have at last finished processing: It reads: xian ren zhibu, which would be better tr... [china] [walking] [DPRK] [North Korea]

January 21, 4PM

Another gem from G.E.M. de Ste. Croix. In his discussion of the viability of Marx’s approach to class, he mentions as an aside the chances of becoming an individual saint in the Roman Catholic Church. Of the thousands of saints, only 5 per cent have... [church] [Marxism] [G.E.M. de Ste. Croix] [ruling class] [saints]


It is always a great pleasure to reread Geoffrey Ernest Maurice de Ste. Croix’s great but thus far understudied work, The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World (winner of the Deutscher Prize in 1982). I am working through the book again in the ... [Marx] [reading] [G.E.M. de Ste. Croix] [Time of Troubles]

January 19, 8PM

Joseph Ryan Kelly has just let me know that an interview, which we did last November on the Sacred economy book, has just gone online at Marginalia, a project by the Los Angeles Review of Books. [Sacred Economy] [MRB radio] [radio interview]

January 15, 10PM

This is the outline of a book we (Christina Petterson and I) are working on at the moment. It is due with Fortress Press by the beginning of July. In many respects, it is the companion work to the widely acclaimed book, The Sacred Economy of Ancient Isra... [Books] [Economics] [book outline] [Time of Troubles]

January 13, 9PM

I am rereading Moses Finlay’s The Ancient Economy for our book called The Time of Troubles (outline soon). Despite the flaws of Finlay’s study, it is still a great read. For example: Or when Thucydides (7.27.5) tells us that more than 20,000... [Economics] [Moses Finlay] [Thucydides]


Two stray thoughts that have no obvious connections. First, I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone can see David Bowie as in some sense ‘radical’. I do not mean the famous ‘theatrical’ comments about fascism in the 1970s... [weird] [david bowie] [DPRK] [North Korea] [radicalism]

January 7, 4PM

A new website has just been launched by the Communist Party of the UK, along with a range of other people, called Culture Matters. I have the first post of what should be a number on the complex issue of Marxism and religion. [Marxism] [theology] [culture matters]

December 30, 4PM

In an earlier piece, I commented on the struggle over ‘traditional’ and simplified’ script in China, noting that Taiwan’s decision to keep the traditional script was a deeply anti-communist move. The same could be said of Hong Kong... [china] [anti-communism] [madam] [taitai]
In the process of writing a second article for the flagship Chinese newspaper, the People’s Daily (first article here), I am working my way through a journal called Marxist Studies in China. It’s published by the Institute of Marxism in the C... [Stalin] [new modernisation] [Russia]


As part of my bed-time reading, I continue with Anecdotes of Kim Il Sung’s Life. Towards the end of the second volume is his assessment as to why the communist governments in Eastern Europe were overthrown by coups. In the late 1980s and early 1990... [socialism] [Uncategorized] [1989] [collapse of socialist countries] [Kim Il Sung]


Among the many intriguing delights of Pyongyang is the Juche friendship wall: Plaques from nearly every country in the world represent the various Juche study groups and DPRK friendship groups. I even managed to find one from Australia: Many of the plaq... [another world is possible] [Australia] [DPRK] [Juche wall] [North Korea]

December 29, 10PM

Now here’s a new year gift with a difference: a rap video featuring none other than Xi Jinping. Rough translation: The Reform Group is Two Years Old 2015 Gotta eye the reform group in 2015 It] pushes economic development and a wealthier society [It... [china] [flies] [foxes] [Rap] [tigers] [Xi Jinping]

December 25, 2AM

I finally needed a new mobile phone, unlocked so I can use it in different places. And since I feel people can contact me way too much already, I steer clear of anything that smacks of a ‘smart’ phone. But what to do? In the end I opted for a ... [pastimes] [Uncategorized] [seniors phone]

December 22, 12 AM

The website concerning the first China Road conference in the southern hemisphere is now up at the University of Newcastle (screen grab below). This is obviously a notice to save the date and begin thinking about a potential conference paper or panel pro... [china] [Marxism] [philosophy] [China Road] [Chinese Academy of Social Sciences] [University of Newcastle]

December 19, 4PM

Is this a new low in efforts to demonise refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere? The Danish minority government, run by Venstre and supported by the Danish People’s Party, has proposed that the bags and clothes of refugees be searched for mo... [Total Depravity] [cash] [Denmark] [jewellery]


Since Pete and I like this type of artwork, which is still very strong in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a few more samples from my visit earlier this year:   [art] [Marxism] [DPRK]

December 17, 3PM

I am finally making my way through the many photographs from my visit earlier this year to the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (North Korea). A sample: [art] [Travel] [DPRK] [North Korea]


We have often heard of Trotskyite opinions of Stalin: the latter was a man of limited intelligence and poor writing skills, who betrayed the socialist project and embodied the bureaucracy in himself. Far less often do we hear of Stalin’s views on Trotsk... [Stalin] [Uncategorized] [Trotsky]

December 15, 9AM

Yesterday, a visiting comrade from the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) told us this popular joke from Bulgaria: A woman wakes in the middle of the night and sits up in bed. She leaps out of bed and rushes to look in the medicine cabin... [Communism] [Bulgaria] [joke]

December 14, 2PM

Despite all that has been written about the economic powerhouse that China is becoming, the basic approach to life and economics remains largely the same. A recent survey of Chinese women produced the following results: 65.23% subscribe to ‘jianku p... [china] [Economics] [careful calculation] [keeping within limits] [loans] [random spending]

December 13, 4PM

Many strange things happen in Russia, but this is one of the more intriguing. Not so long ago, I was told while in Russia that one could not speak of Marxism directly in many circles. Marxism is a dirty word, I was told; indeed, there are no Marxists of a... [china] [Marxism] [reassessment] [Russia] [Soviet Union]


I have been meaning to write something on the increasing shift in Russia to appreciating the positives of the Soviet era. Or rather, the increasing numbers of Russian scholars at Chinese conferences drawing upon the Soviet experience for common ground wit... [Marxism] [theology] [Kim Il Sung] [Prayer]

December 8, 9PM

I am working on an article that will eventually form part of the Stalin book, called ‘The Delay of Communism’. I came across yet another text from Stalin where the poet of old comes to the fore, now in terms of reinterpreting Marx’s 11th... [Marx] [Stalin] [11th thesis] [contemplating proletariat's rear] [lying down on]

December 7, 4AM

Having recently spent more than five hours asleep at Frankfurt airport (but also having spent too much money on dodgy ‘airport hotels’ in the past), I stumbled on this intriguing site: Sleeping in Airports. All you might want to know and more,... [sleep] [airports]

December 3, 2AM

I like this one. It is an idiomatic expression usually translated as ‘Let me explain’. The Chinese is: 你听我说 (nǐ tīng wǒ shuō). A more literal translation is: you listen, I speak! [china] [Chinese idiom] [let me explain]

November 30, 2PM

I am working my way through a fascinating journal series called Marxist Studies in China. The journal began in 2008 and, as one would expect, covers a range of topics. Last night I was particularly intrigued by an article by Cheng Enfu and Hu Leming, cal... [china] [Engels] [Marx] [Stalin] [Bureau for Translation] [reading Stalin]

November 29, 2AM

It has taken a while, with preliminary studies and articles before I managed to gain a clear sense of this book. So, a revised outline: The focus of the book is the thought of Ioseb Besarionis Dze Jugashvili in relation to philosophy and religion. Much of... [Books] [philosophy] [Stalin] [theology] [reading Stalin]

November 24, 1PM

I have been to more conferences than I care to remember and have often listened to old, old fogeys spouting forth. But one of the more fascinating experiences is when some very old man or woman ends up delivering a mish-mash of odd ideas, if not simply ra... [academics] [hairy creatures of God] [Conferences] [old fogeys]

November 22, 10PM

(I posted this one over at Voyages on the Left, but thought I would post it here too.) ‘Where are you from?’ I asked. ‘Syria’, said the young man. ‘Do you speak English?’ I asked. He smiled and shook his head. Some minutes later, his friend a... [trains] [Europe] [refugees] [Syria]

November 17, 5AM

In light of all the hyperbole over the recent attacks in Paris, it may be worthwhile to remind ourselves of the modern history of ‘terrorism’. To begin with, it was the favoured mode of the radical Anabaptist groups in the sixteenth century. I... [theology] [Uncategorized] [history] [terrorism]


I have always dislike alarm clocks: they wake me up when I do not want to be woken up, to go somewhere I do not want to go, to do something I do not want to do for the sake of someone I do not want to see. Recently, an enterprising Swede has come up with ... [anatomy] [sleep] [alarm clocks] [slapping]

November 8, 11AM

On Friday evening at the Historical Materialism conference in London, I had the opportunity to deliver the Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Lecture. I must admit, I was somewhat nervous, but Gilbert Ashcar, the chair, put me at ease. He enabled me to redirect m... [Marxism] [theology] [Deustcher Lecture] [historical materialism] [London]

November 3, 8AM

I am increasingly drawn to the Taiping Revolution of 1850-1864, especially in light of Samir Amin’s observation: it was the ‘ancestor of the “anti-feudal, anti-imperialist popular revolution” as formulated later by Mao’. However, what no stu... [Bible] [china] [Marxism] [Deutscher Lecture] [revolutionary Christianity] [Taiping Heavenly Kingdom]

November 1, 6AM

An interesting report from the Grattan Institute on higher education funding for teaching and research has just appeared. Among a number of points, I enjoyed these the most: 1. There is little direct connection between research and teaching. I suggest it ... [academics] [universities] [research]

October 30, 7PM

The Deutscher Memorial Prize Committee informs you of the title and venue of the 2014 winner’s Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Prize Lecture   Roland Boer – Marxism, Religion and the Taiping Revolution Hosted by Historical Materialism 2015... [Marxism] [theology] [Deutscher Lecture] [Historical Materialism London]

October 29, 12 PM

At the recent World Cultural Forum, held in Beijing and sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, I happened to hear a rather intriguing paper. It offered comparisons between some major European countries, the USA, Japan, South Korea and China,... [china] [confidence in government] [income equality]

October 24, 3AM

Have you ever met people who are afraid of trees, animals, or indeed anything that resembles nature? Our strata executive seems to made up of such people. For them, trees are dangerous, threatening to overwhelm us all unless we fight them and subdue them.... [hairy creatures of God] [weird] [nature haters]

October 21, 8PM

On a recent rail journey around Australia (stories here and here), I checked my email once in two weeks. For some reason, the removal from my daily life of one significant source of consistent interruption meant that I could relax in a way I have not don... [pastimes] [trains] [Email] [semi-retirement]
I am somewhat thrilled that The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review has just published my first article on Stalin. It appears in issue 42.3 and is called ‘Against Culturism: Reconsidering Stalin on Nation and Class’ (247-73). Abstract: This article argue... [Marxism] [Stalin] [reading Stalin] [Soviet and Post-Soviet Review]


As part of a rather crazy rush conferences in China last week, I went from one in Nanjing celebrating 120 years since the death of Engels to the World Cultural Forum in Beijing. It was organised by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and had many Russi... [china] [Marxism] [world cultural forum]

October 15, 7AM

A conference celebrating 120 years since the death of Friedrich Engels has just come to a close here at Nanjing Normal University. We even had a representative from the CPC discipline committee welcoming us to the conference. It was sponsored by the Marxi... [Uncategorized]

October 7, 2AM

October 5, 2AM

On our recent 9,000 kilometre rail journey, on one of the trains we were given a little bag with lost of interesting items. One such item had this on the back: The long list of items are fair enough, but ‘positive energy’? I couldn’t he... [Australia] [trains] [weird] [positive energy]

September 28, 7PM

On our journey across the Gulf Country – the Gulf of Carpentaria – we happened upon this intriguing piece of art amongst the graffitti of a rest stop: One cannot help wonder what situation generated this one. [anatomy] [hairy creatures of God] [mum's tits]

September 19, 1PM

We’ve begun a journey on the largest rail circuit in Australia and will disappear for a couple of weeks from any regular internet or telephone networks – still possible in the vastness of Australia. This entails The Ghan from Adelaide to Darwi... [another world is possible] [trains] [Spirit of Queensland] [The Ghan] [The Innlander] [XPT]

September 18, 8AM

Apologies for the shameless self-promotion, but I have been in Auckland for a couple of days and then Beijing. Let me begin with the Beijing events, the main one of which was the preliminary ‘conference of experts’ for a funded project called ... [china] [Marxism] [theology] [Auckland] [Beijing] [Sinification of Maexism]

September 16, 5AM

Having completed a meeting with the Academy of Marxism here in Beijing (a subdivision of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), I am pleased to provide the following preliminary announcement. It will soon appear with more details on the University of Ne... [china] [Marxism] [Asian Century] [China Road]

September 13, 4AM

In my long journey of learning Chinese, one the greatest pleasures concerns the myriad measure words. Every time you use a number with an object numbered, you need a measure word. The ones to use have an internal logic that defies me. For example, long na... [china] [pastimes] [learning Chinese] [measure words]

September 6, 4PM

I have at last completed my careful reading of the published works of Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili (Stalin). On the way, I have found that few actually do so, for the attitudes to Stalin seem to be set. This is especially so among the many on the Lef... [socialism] [reading Lenin] [reading Mao] [reading Stalin] [socialism in power]
On 5 March, 1946, Winston Churchill delivered his infamous ‘Iron Curtain’ speech in Fulton, United States. Soon after Stalin was interviewed concerning his response to the speech. He was, understandably, somewhat taken aback, since there had b... [Stalin] ['iron curtain'] [Churchill] [reading Stalin]

August 30, 4PM

I am delivering the following public lecture at the University of Auckland, on 9 September. PUBLIC LECTURE IN THEOLOGY What has Marxism to do with Religion? ‘Opium of the people’ is one description of religion that we find in the work of Marx and Enge... [Marxism] [theology] [shameless self-promotion] [University of Auckland]

August 29, 2AM

By the early 1930s, Klara Zetkin was suffering from the heart problems from which she would soon die. In the meantime, she needed injections of camphor to raise her blood pressure. On the occasion of one such injection, the nurse administering the stimula... [hairy creatures of God] [buttock] [camphor] [Klara Zetkin]

August 21, 4PM

Against the standard position that Stalin saw enemies all around him and was seeking world conquest, it is worth recalling comments like these. This is from 1947, in response to an interview question: Let us not mutually criticize our systems. Everyone ha... [another world is possible] [post-war cooperation] [reading Stalin]

August 16, 12 AM

Yesterday, the first of my articles was published in the People’s Daily, the CPC’s main newspaper in China. It is called ‘The Fundamental Limitations of US Democracy’, and may be found here and here (among a number of sites). Howe... [another world is possible] [liberal democracy] [People's Daily] [United States]

August 14, 4AM

It is usually suggested that Stalin agreed to let the Soviet Union join the United Nations when Roosevelt offered him the power of a veto at the Yalta conference in February 1945. One should be wary of such spin, since Stalin had already – at confer... [Stalin] [reading Stalin] [United Nation]

August 10, 11PM

In an earlier post concerning my winter swim in the ocean, I mentioned that the water was somewhat chilly but that the swim was glorious. Of course, I used some poetic license to emphasise the water’s temperature. My mother decided to write me an em... [swimming] [brass monkey] [winter]

August 9, 12 AM

By 1942, the German Wehrmacht had suffered its first and stunning defeat at Stalingrad. Here the tide of the Second World War turned. Stalin reflects at some length on the reasons, one of which he puts down to the German propensity for orderliness. In thi... [Stalin] [German orderliness] [reading Stalin] [Stalingrad]

August 8, 11PM

I have always marvelled at the old fogeys, who manage to swim throughout winter in these parts, even in water that would make a normal person blue with cold and suffering the effects of the cold on motor control. I speculated that perhaps such people had ... [swimming] [pleasures of age] [winter swim]


Earlier I wrote a post on Stalin’s definition of cultural revolution, in which education played the central role. On that occasion I called the pentecost of languages and people. But by 1939 he began to include the creation of a Socialist intelligen... [socialism] [Stalin] [cultural revolution] [intelligentsia]

August 6, 8PM

In the 1930s, appreciation and even veneration of Stalin was on the rise. One example was a proposed children’s book concering Stalin’s own childhood. He was not impressed. When this item is cited, it is usually done so to point out that Stali... [Stalin] [childhood] [Children's stories] [reading Stalin] [veneration]


This observation speaks much not only of role of the communist party (as part of a dialectic of transcendence and immanence), but also of the direction of any veneration: The leaders come and go, but the people remain. Only the people are immortal, everyt... [Stalin] [immortality] [people] [reading Stalin]
As I read through History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), commonly known as the Short Course, I am increasingly intrigued by the genre of communist historiography. This was the first time a communist party was in power and had t... [Communism] [Stalin] [historiography] [reading Stalin]

July 31, 6PM

I must admit I have a love of pocket watches, carrying one of my collection around with me at all times. So I was thrilled to read this, an address given to collective farm workers from Tajikistan and Turkmenistan in December, 1935: Secondly, that the gov... [pastimes] [pocket watch] [reading Stalin] [Stakhanovism]


In a long and important piece on the Stakhanovite movement, Stalin has this to say about the speed of trains. Keep in mind that the movement was part of the extraordinary and rapid transformation achieved through industrialisation and collectivisation: We... [trains] [reading Stalin] [Stakhanovism]

July 29, 5PM

I am delving now into the profound shifts in the understanding of human nature during the 1930s in the Soviet Union. Stakhanovite passion and the repeated purges of ‘red terror’ were two sides of the same process, which we may understand as a ... [socialism] [reading Stalin] [Stakhanovism]

July 28, 8PM

China continues to accumulate an eye-watering sovereign fund (now over four trillion dollars), which still confounds those who work within the assumptions of neoliberal economics. Even though the situation in China today is much more developed that in the... [china] [socialism] [reading Stalin] [reserves] [sovereign fund]

July 25, 6PM

两 岸 猿 声 啼 不 住 Liang an yuan sheng ti bu zhu: The monkeys on both banks are still gibbering. [academics] [china] [Conferences] [Meetings] [monkeys]

July 22, 10AM

This piece by Zsuzsanna Clark reflects on growing up under communism in Hungary and compares it to her life in the UK today. It is cross-posted from the Prole Center, and apparently appeared first in the Guardian, of all places. I am intrigued by this pie... [Communism] [Hungary] [socialism in power]

July 21, 7AM

Earlier, I posted about Stalin’s strong stand against anti-semitism and the tough penalties for any form of racial abuse in the USSR. Here is another piece. In his report to the seventeenth congress of the CPSU(B), Stalin once again comments on fas... [Communism] [Stalin] [fascism] [racism] [reading Stalin]

July 14, 2AM

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 m... [Communism] [Stalin Prize] [theology] [James Endicott] [peace]

July 12, 9PM

This one is cross-posted from the Prole Center, which cross-posted it from Liberation News: By Marcel Cartier. I had the unique opportunity to spend several days in three different parts of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, more commonly just r... [another world is possible] [DPRK] [North Korea]


Are we witnessing the end of the myth of Western classicism? By this I mean the myth that ancient Greece, with its philosophers, drama, art, culture and pretence at democracy, is the foundation of ‘Western’ – that is, European – culture. The effor... [Total Depravity] [greece] [Grexit] [Myth of classicism]

July 11, 3AM

This is one I am watching now, dreaming of cycle touring in China in coming years. It is about six retired people, from Guangzhou, who ride more than 3,000 km from north-west China and into Tibet, passing through lhasa and then to Everest base camp. The f... [china] [cycle touring]

July 10, 3AM

My great weakness is collecting t-shirts with socialist themes. So I could not help myself on my first trip to the DPRK (North Korea). The first is innocent enough: See you in Pyongyang – as one does. Innocent enough. Yet I did find that in my acc... [another world is possible] [DPRK] [North Korea] [Paradise]

July 8, 4AM

I keep being struck, whenever I travel between China and Australia, of the strange sense of two worlds or two planets … and two Chinas. Let me put it in terms of a couple of conversations I had during the last few months in China. The first was held... [china] [Newspapers] [two worlds]


‘At times I regretted not being a Protestant, so that I might be more of a philosopher without ceasing to be a Christian’. Joseph-Ernest Renan, author of the Life of Jesus (1863). [theology] [protestantism] [Renan]

June 30, 7AM

I have today signed the contract on a new and rather exciting grant. The project is called ‘Chinese Marxism: Concerning the Sinification of Marxism in Chinese Academia’. The project and its grant are significant on a number of counts. First, i... [china] [Marxism] [Beijing] [research grant] [socialism with Chinese characteristics]

June 29, 6PM

The propaganda on which we were raised had it that the Second World War came to an end through the decisive action of the United States in dropping a couple of atomic bombs on Japan. Then, US troops immediately moved to the Korean Peninsula to ensure that... [another world is possible] [socialism] [DPRK] [North Korea] [reunification] [South Korea]

June 26, 11PM

I am working my way through Farnham Maynard’s Religion and Revolution (1947). He was canon of St Peter’s, Eastern Hill, Melbourne, from 1926 to 1944. He saw socialism arising from Christianity, especially the Anglo-Catholicism he championed. ... [church] [socialism] [Stalin] [theology] [Farnham Maynard] [League of the Militant Godless]


I am writing an article on Farnham Maynard (1881-1973), who was a priest in the Anglican Church of Australia in the middle of the twentieth century. He wrote a number booklets and contributions to books on Christianity and communism, which were texts of s... [Marxism] [religion] [theology] [Farnham Maynard] [Jack Blake]

June 25, 7AM

I was reminded of this great little story by an email request, since I mention it in an article in Philosophers for Change. Engels used it in his speaking tour of Germany in 1845. It had a great effect in showing how ridiculous a capitalist system is: Let... [another world is possible] [Engels] [Marxism] [capitalism] [cotton bale]


Cross posted from Bible and Class Struggle: This academic colloquium on Radicalism, Violence and Religious Texts will take place at the University of Auckland from 10-11th September 2015. José Clemente Orozco – Christ Destroying His Cross What is th... [Bible] [Marxism] [Auckland]

June 21, 4PM

Many are the reasons as to why one would want to visit the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. For some it is way off the ‘beaten track’. The fact that many people think you cannot travel to the place at all reinforces this sense. For some it pro... [Communism] [Travel] [DPRK] [mystery] [North Korea]

June 19, 7PM

If you believe the steady stream of items propagated by the corporate media and government agencies, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) is a ‘totalitarian dictatorship’ with closed borders. People are not allowed to enter and it... [Travel] [DPRK] [North Korea]


I have been discussing the Danish election results with Christina this afternoon. For a small country, the results may not seem important, but they may be read as harbingers of the situation in Scandinavia more generally. Initially, the results may seem d... [Total Depravity] [Denmark] [Scandinavia] [welfare state] [xenophobia]

June 17, 8AM

While I write my next story on the carefully guarded, if not manufactured, ‘secrecy’ of the DPRK in order to entice foreigners (such as the mythical fifth floor of the Yanggakdo Hotel), here are a few useful websites for anyone who may be inte... [Travel] [DPRK] [North Korea] [tour operators] [web sites]

June 16, 12 AM

Most would hold that the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea (North Korea) bans religion of all sorts, indeed that it has become a truly atheistic state. However, the various constitutions (1948, 1972, 1992) guarantee freedom of religion and... [Communism] [theology] [Chondoism] [Korean Federation of Christians] [North Korea]

June 14, 11PM

The lecture takes place tomorrow (Tuesday) at 19:40, as part of the series, ‘Perspectives: Lectures in Humanities’. And here is a lovely poster, produced by a very talented student: [another world is possible] [Marxism] [Love and pain] [public lecture] [Renmin University]


‘Brazen American imperialist aggressors’ – this is perhaps my favourite phrase from my first visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It appeared in a video shown at the museum of the Korean War. The video set out an alternative narrati... [Communism] [demilitarised zone] [DPRK] [imperialist aggressors]

June 8, 5AM

The Communist Party of China has launched a series of books, in English, explaining its functions and roles. More in the People’s Daily. Actually, I’ve been commissioned to write one or two articles for the People’s Daily, one on the s... [Books] [china] [Communist Party of China] [People's Daily]

June 4, 6PM

The new issue of Critical Research on Religion is generating a good deal of debate, or at least the editorial is on the journal’s facebook page. The editorial is called ‘How Can Mainstream Approaches Become More Critical’ and was writte... [Critical Research on Religion] [theology] [critical religion] [Imperialism]


I have always been fascinated by Harbin, the capital of China’s most north-easterly province, Heilongjiang (Black Dragon River). Built as part of the first Trans-Siberian railway, it formed a major hub on the strip of land the Russians were allowed ... [china] [children's story] [Gogol bookshop] [Harbin]

June 2, 11PM

Or what is China for that matter? It is becoming clearer in some of the more astute research that the Soviet Union was not a federation, not an empire, not a colonising power, not a nation-state, but an entirely new state formation.[1] A federation assume... [another world is possible] [reading Stalin] [Soviet Union]

May 25, 1AM

Earlier, I commented on a glorious pleasure of age: the afternoon nap with snoring. I have them now on an almost daily basis. But I have always envied the ability of an old professor to nod off during a lecture given by someone else. He or she may give an... [pastimes] [nap] [pleasures of age] [snoring]

May 24, 6AM

I usually don’t mention news stories, but this one intrigued me. It is tucked away in a small corner of the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) webpage and is entitled: ‘China pollution: Beijing’s improved air quality a result of go... [china] [air pollution] [Beijing] [blue skies]

May 23, 11PM

What gender do Chinese couples prefer for a first child? I must admit that until now I had assumed the conventional wisdom of the international media: traditional Chinese couples, especially in rural areas, prefer a boy first. Indeed, such an image sugges... [china] [boy] [Chinese couples] [girl]

May 14, 1PM

I have commented a number of times on one of the deep paradoxes of Stalin’s era in the Soviet Union: he was in many respects the architect of the world’s first and – until now – most ambitious and far-reaching affirmative action pr... [another world is possible] [affirmative action] [reading Stalin]

May 12, 10PM

For many a year I have been looking forward to this time of life: when an afternoon nap becomes irresistible. (One of the many pleasures of age, which I have been noting from time to time.) I mean not the occasional nod at a meeting, or the brief kip on a... [Uncategorized]

May 11, 8PM

The University of Newcastle is offering the following PhD scholarships to high calibre international applicants. This is – as usual – extremely competitive. A few details: A high quality, international University partner Agreement of the sup... [Marxism] [philosophy] [PhD scholarship] [University of Newcastle]

May 10, 3AM

In 1947, Stalin’s found himself assessing a thesis on Carl von Clausewitz, the German theoretician of war. Not a bad example of how might assess a doctoral thesis: The thesis contains too much philosophy and abstract statements. The terminology take... [Stalin] [hymns of praise] [reading Stalin] [thesis]

May 7, 3AM

Australasia’s own Historical Materialism conference will meet again this year: 17-18 July at the University of Sydney. More information here, but I have copied the call for papers. Historical Materialism Australasia 2015: Reading Capital, Class &... [Australia] [Marxism]

May 6, 3AM

The Sacred Economy of Ancient Israel is out. Permit me to say that I like the way this book has turned out, largely due to careful and detailed attention from the people at Westminster John Knox Press. It is part of the Library of Ancient Israel series. ... [Books] [Sacred Economy] [Westminster John Knox]
In December, 1933, Stalin did an interview with a correspondent from The New York Times. Already there is a glimmer of the potential for the cooperation between Stalin and Roosevelt in the Second World War, although his comment on United States solipsism... [weird] [reading Stalin]

May 3, 8PM

One of the enjoyable aspects of heading off a cycling tour or mountain-hiking (in Australian lingo, it’s ‘bush-walking), is the absence of any internet or even phone contact. Increasingly, the pleasure applies at home. The internet has been of... [another world is possible] [internet]

May 1, 7AM

Today, on Mayday, we had the inaugural Stalin Prize film night. More than I expected gathered to watch the epic Fall of Berlin (winner in 1950). We drank vodka, soaking it up with various nibblies. Some extraordinary scenes, such as the one when a mad an... [films] [Stalin] [fall of Berlin] [reading Stalin]

April 30, 11PM

In an address to the first all-union congress of collective-farm shock brigaders (1933), Stalin deals with the processes of admitting individual peasants into collective farms. Some such farms were a little wary of accepting individual peasants who may no... [Stalin] [brown eye] [collective farms] [peasant woman]


Can a religious person join the communist party? One would expect that the answer would be a resounding ‘no’. Is not Marxism a materialist philosophy and political movement, with no time for the mystifying effects of religion or indeed for reactionary... [china] [Communism] [Engels] [Lenin] [Marx] [Cuba] [party membership]

April 29, 10AM

Having just returned from a lively panel on ‘Marxism and Theology’ at the New York Historical Materialism conference, I have been asked whether I would be interested in a panel on my Deutscher-prize book, In The Vale of Tears, for the Sydney e... [In the Vale of Tears] [Marxism] [Historical Materialism Australasia] [Historical Materialism New York] [shameless self-promotion]

April 28, 5AM

Is the communist party of China a bunch of mean, nasty and greedy old men, terrorising and suppressing a fearful population? Do they merely use socialism as a thin veneer for outright greed, maintaining power by authoritarian means when needed? I have hea... [china] [Communism] [Communist Youth League] [pioneers]
Recently I visited New York – the first time in 15 years – and had the pleasure of sitting next to an American man travelling with me from Beijing to New York (over the north pole). We talked for a little and then he asked me what I do in Chin... [weird] [Joseph McCarthy]

April 18, 7PM

I must admit that I have given in to buying an air cleaner for my apartment in Beijing. In general, the air is improving here, with weeks at a time having clear skies. On these days I go for a run outside, and use some outdoor exercise equipment. But the ... [china] [air cleaner] [Beijing]
I realise that the question of socialist exploitation may seem like an oxymoron, since socialism is supposed to abolish exploitation of one person or group by another. But I am interested in whether socialist exploitation is possible and perhaps necessary... [socialism] [exploitation] [modes of production] [synchronicity of non-synchronicity]

April 12, 2AM

Some initial dates for the ‘Socialism with “National” Characteristics’ lecture tour, China 2015 15-16 April, Fudan University, Shanghai: ‘Socialism with National Characteristics: Theory and Practice’ 20-21 May, Xiangtan... [china] [lecture tour] [Socialism with National Characteristics]
As I work through the material concerning the industrialisation and collectivisation drives of the 1930s (actually starting in the late 1920s), it is becoming clearer that it this period and its enormous upheavals were crucial for Stalin’s rethinkin... [Stalin] [Total Depravity] [materialist doctrine of evil] [reading Stalin]

April 4, 5AM

The accusation that Stalin was an anti-Semite is a strange one. Neither Stalin’s written texts nor his actions indicate anti-Semitism. Indeed, they indicate precisely the opposite, as I will show in a moment. So those who wish to make the accusation hav... [Communism] [Stalin] [Anti-Semitism] [reading Stalin]

April 2, 4AM

My new Chinese name has been something of a hit. As I told both of my classes here at Renmin University, they began to smile and then laugh. Why? Bo Guoqiang is not only a strong name, it is also typically Chinese. Or at least it was for people of my gene... [china] [Communism] [Party] [Renmin University]

March 24, 6PM

The 1936 Constitution of the USSR contains two biblical verses: He who does not work, neither shall he eat. From each according to his ability, to each according to his work. The first is clear enough, being drawn from 2 Thessalonians 3:10. But the second... [Bible] [Stalin] [2 Thessalonians] [Acts 4] [constitution] [reading Stalin] [USSR]

March 22, 5AM

Three features of a Bolshevik: If we really want to maintain and develop a Bolshevik tempo … the main thing is to have the passionate Bolshevik desire to master technique. And when we have done that we shall develop a tempo of which we dare not even... [dreams] [Stalin] [Bolshevik desire] [Bolshevik tempo] [reading Stalin]

March 21, 5AM

For some time now I have been pondering, and asking advice, concerning a Chinese name for myself. I am after a proper Chinese name, rather than a version that sounds like my name: 罗兰博尔. The family name was little trouble, since a reasonably commo... [china] [Chinese name]

March 16, 10AM

One of curious pleasures of getting older is that I become more and more optimistic, about life, the world, everything. However, this is not as it should be. Men my age tend to become cranky, realising that they are actually mortal. So what should I do? I... [weird] [cranky old men]

12 AM

International Critical Thought has just published issue 5.1. I am taken with a couple of articles from the issue. The first is by Chen Ping, called ‘Has Capitalism Defeated Socialism Yet?—Kornai’s Turnaround on Liberalism, and the Evaporation o... [china] [Economics] [eastern Europe] [International Critical Thought]

March 13, 8AM

The Occupy Movement – with its slogan ‘we are the 99 per cent’ – may perhaps not be willing to acknowledge the origin of that idea. But it comes from none other than Ioseb Besarionis Dze Jugashvili, more commonly known as Joseph S... [another world is possible]


Changes are afoot at the Bible and Critical Theory journal. Specifically, in 2016 there will be two new managing editors: Caroline Blyth and Robert Myles. They both blog at the Auckland theology site from time to time. Meanwhile, through 2015, they will... [Bible and Critical Theory] [Auckland] [Dunedin] [new editors]

March 11, 10PM

In the midst of the frenetic enthusiasm of the collectivisation drive, Stalin published his famous article, ‘Dizzy with Success’. It called on comrades not to get carried away with enthusiasm, not to run too far ahead and damage the process. A... [another world is possible] [Stalin] [church bells] [enthusiasm] [purges] [reading Stalin] [Stakhanovism]

March 10, 8PM

Strange how “Blue Skies in Beijing” is not a headline. If you believe international reports, Beijing is constantly shrouded in impenetrable smog, like being inside a cigarette. To be sure, it can get pretty bad on some occasions, but it can al... [pastimes] [Beijing] [blue skies] [smog]

March 6, 10AM

As I settle into Beijing for a while, with much peace and quiet and opportunities for writing (and the pleasure of being in a country where the government is mainly the Communist Party), I have been enjoying my favourite restaurant. I treat myself to a me... [china] [food] [Beijing heaving] [eating in China] [lung slice]
Stalin and women: this conjunction usually evokes salacious details of Stalin’s somewhat active life as a young man, leaving a number of offspring across Russia. But in this he was no different from many other young Georgian males. Far less known is... [another world is possible] [socialism] [feminism] [reading Stalin]


In the midst of the foi furieuse of the Stakhanovite period, when everything was being made anew at extraordinary speed (and with massive disruption), the government of the USSR felt keenly the lack of trained specialist in all areas of work. So in an add... [hairy creatures of God] [Stalin] [reading Stalin]
More snippets as I near the end of my reading of Stalin’s works – not a task too many take on, assuming all manner of positions without reading what the man himself wrote (and edited). The first concerns ‘Bolshevik grit’ – st... [Lenin] [Stalin] [Bolshevik grit] [reading Stalin]

March 3, 7PM

Comrade Joe seems to have been a man of more talents than one might imagine. From time to time, he offers observations on nothing less than queer theory. For example: Is it not strange that our theoreticians have not yet taken the trouble to explode this ... [Stalin] [queer theory] [reading Stalin]

March 2, 7AM

The Sacred Economy of Ancient Israel is due out by the end of the month, in the prestigious Library of Ancient Israel series with Westminster John Knox. But I have been sent (thanks Dan) the endorsements that will adorn the first pages of the book and the... [Sacred Economy] [shameless self-promotion]

March 1, 8AM

In 1934, H. G. Wells travelled to the USSR to interview Stalin. A few delightful snippets from that interview: Wells: Now I have come to ask you what you are doing to change the world … Stalin: Not so very much… Stalin: You, Mr. Wells, eviden... [Uncategorized]

February 23, 8PM

Accounts of the Great Depression (1929 to the late 1930s) usually use terms such as ‘worldwide’ and ‘global’. Trade declined by 50%, heavy industry came to a virtual standstill, unemployment went as high as 33% and so on. Obviously... [another world is possible] [Communism] [five-year plans] [Great Depression] [reading Stalin]

February 22, 6PM

Did Stalin have an idea to which the USSR was striving? It may be called the vision of the future commune, based on the massive collectivisation drive of the late 1920s and 1930s. In between the lines, we may catch a glimpse of the idea that communism is ... [another world is possible] [future commune] [reading Stalin]
Stalin was not averse to taking the piss out of trendy Bolshevik talk. As part of his typology of useless Bolsheviks, he speaks of the bureaucrat, the red-tapist, the big-wig and the wind-bag. Here is the characterisation of the windbag: I have in mind th... [Total Depravity] [reading Stalin] [windbag]

February 18, 3AM

In response to all the well-wishing on his fiftieth birthday, Stalin wrote: Your congratulations and greetings I place to the credit of the great Party of the working class which bore me and reared me in its own image and likeness. And just because I plac... [Bible] [Adam] [reading Stalin]

February 17, 8AM

I’ve been meaning to post this one for a while. It is from the Siberian Times, which has the intriguing slogan, ‘What happens in Sibera stays in Siberia … unless it is covered by The Siberian Times’. This is a great piece, called &... [another world is possible] [New Year] [Siberian Times] [USSR]

February 16, 2AM

In 1929, Elena Mikulina published a work called Emulation of the Masses and Stalin provided a forward. The work was written by a young, unknown writer, and caused many among the intelligentsia to mock the work. In reply, Stalin writes (with a biblical all... [reading] [literary snobs] [reading Stalin]

February 14, 7PM

More from the interview with Ludwig, now on the question of fate: Ludwig: My question is the following: You have often incurred risks and dangers. You have been persecuted. You have taken part in battles. A number of your close friends have perished. Y... [Stalin] [theology] [fate] [Mysticism] [reading Stalin]
In the fascinating interview with Emil Ludwig from 1931, Ludwig about Stalin’s smoking preferences: Ludwig: You are smoking a cigarette. Where is your legendary pipe, Mr. Stalin? You once said that words and legends pass, but deeds remain. Now bel... [Uncategorized]


I am reading a fascinating interview of Stalin, made by Emil Ludwig on 13 December, 1931. The interviewer asks some searching questions and draws out of Stalin some revealing answers and even contradictions. The interview begins with this question concern... [Stalin] [Emil Ludwig] [Peter the Great] [reading Stalin]

February 12, 5PM

The first is called ‘Stalin, Affirmative Action and the Pentecost of Language‘, and the second, ‘Why a Marxist Entrepreneur is not a Contradiction in China‘. [china] [Mao Zedong] [Stalin] [contradiction] [Political Theology Today] [reading Stalin]


Back to reading Stalin, which I would like to complete by the end of February. This on one grain as the currency of currencies, in the midst the intensified class struggle with the kulaks: Grain should not be regarded as an ordinary commodity. Grain is n... [Stalin] [grain] [kulaks] [reading Stalin]

February 11, 11PM

The great bunch at Materializmi Dialektik have published the latest issue of Crisis and Critique. An added pleasure is that my article on Confucius and Chairman Mao appears here as well, close on the heels of Slavoj Žižek. [Mao Zedong] [Confucius] [Crisis and Critique]
We tend to call it plunder or loot when boots crash through doors, heads are separated from shoulders, women and children are carried off, and the produce of the land is appropriated. We prefer to speak of tribute or tax when tax gatherers replace soldier... [another world is possible] [plunder] [tax]

February 10, 4PM

In these parts, we’re engaged in a fascinating or horrifying struggle – depending on your perspective. I mean visions of what a city should be. On the one side is the Artist’s Impression bunch. We’ve all seen the increasingly slick images of a pro... [Newcastle] [artist's impression] [cities] [faux grunge]

February 9, 3AM

That was the hottest ride I have ever done: 420 km in 4 days, from Armidale (up north) to Newcastle. On the hottest day, the temperature topped 45 degrees. On the others, it hovered between the high 30s and low 40s. That’s hot enough to melt the bit... [Australia] [bicycles] [Armidale] [magical places] [molten bitumen] [piss in bottles] [possum bridges]

February 3, 4PM

The third of my China series on Political Theology Today is now up – a revised version of the article on the Hong Kong Protests and Christianity in China. [china] [Hong Kong] [Political Theology Today] [protests]

February 1, 3PM

For those not in the know, Scott Morrison is one of the head-kickers in the increasingly hated Liberal-National government of Tony Abbott (in Australia). Morrison has made a name for himself as former immigration minister, actively victimising asylum seek... [Total Depravity] [liberalism] [Scott Morrison]

January 28, 1AM

Unfortunately, it is still fashionable is some parts of the global Left to write off the USSR, especially the period under Stalin. So it is useful to remind ourselves of what was achieved. Here are some details from the report to the 16th congress in 1930... [another world is possible] [reading Stalin] [USSR]

January 27, 6PM

While on the topic of tractors, we can’t forget Pasha Angelina (Praskovia Nikitichna Angelina). The story goes that after the first collectivisation wave, in 1933 Pasha organised an all-female tractor brigade in the Donetsk region. It exceeded its q... [another world is possible] [Pasha Angelina] [reading Stalin] [Soviet feminism]

January 26, 4PM

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 Tracto... [Stalin Prize] [reading Stalin] [tractor drivers] [weapon]

January 25, 4PM

Some of the most fascinating material in Stalin’s Works (from volume 11 onwards) concerns the theoretical debates over collectivisation. The campaign, of course, remains the butt of much anti-communist ranting, with assertions that it ’cause... [another world is possible] [philosophy] [collectivisation] [old and new] [reading Stalin]


We used to be known as a paradise for workers, for all sorts of reasons. One was the world’s first legislation for the minimum wage, back in 1907. Much of the rest of the world followed our example, although we’ve usually been in front with th... [another world is possible] [Australia] [maximum wage] [minimum wage] [paradise for workers]

January 23, 2PM

Every now and then you come across a real shocker of a book. I refer to Jasper Becker’s book on Beijing, called City of Heavenly Tranquility. While it attempts to provide a potted history of Beijing, the underlying thesis is that Beijing’s re... [china] [bad books] [Beijing] [Jasper Becker] [Oxford University Press]


We are looking for a French-English translator for: Jean-Michel Rey: Le christianisme avant le Christ The essay is for the first volume in the Religion and Radicalism series with Palgrave Macmillan. In this case it will be all glory and honour, for we c... [Books] [Jean-Michel Rey] [translation]

January 22, 11PM

Stalin refers to both. You’ve gotta love his definition of an old Boleshevik: Things have come to a sorry pass, comrades, if the only reason why we are called old Bolsheviks is that we are old. Old Bolsheviks are respected not because they are old, ... [another world is possible] [Bolsheviks] [Plato] [reading Stalin]


The other day, when I was strolling through the local shops, I came across a big screen full of graceful Chinese dancers prancing about. Intrigued, I stopped to ask the smiling man about them. ‘Shen Yun,’ he said, ‘traditional Chinese da... [china] [Total Depravity] [con-artists] [Falun Gong]

January 20, 3AM

For some reason, strenuous exercise on a real scorcher of a day is very addictive. Each summer I feel it. The mercury climbs above 35 degrees (in the shade), the humidity weighs like a hot blanket, and the sun beats down. I have an uncontrollable desire t... [pastimes] [weird] [bliss] [exercise fix] [heat]

January 18, 3AM

From time to time, Stalin addressed the Institute of Red Professors. Now that is a worthy name for an institute. Actually, it is the alternative title for our ‘Religion, Marxism and Secularism‘ project at the University of Newcastle. But I am ... [Newcastle] [Stalin] [Ernest Burgmann] [Red Professors]

January 16, 5PM

We are perhaps most used to the Cultural Revolution in relation to China – the extraordinary decade of revolutionary upheaval that is still to be fully assessed for its drawbacks and benefits. However, the term ‘cultural revolution’ actually goes ba... [another world is possible] [Stalin] [affirmative action] [cultural revolution] [Pentecost] [reading Stalin]


The speeches from the fifteenth congress of 1927 would have to be one of Stalin’s rhetorical triumphs. Stylistically, it runs through the calm methodical style he had developed for such occasions, deploying his famous catechetics, to subtle sentence... [another world is possible] [Anti-Semitism] [bureacracy] [reading Stalin] [Storyteller]

January 15, 12 AM

Stalin may have made the odd mistaken prediction, but in regard to China he was on the money: Great popular revolutions never achieve final victory in the first round of their battles. They grow and gain strength in the course of flows and ebbs. That has ... [china] [Mao Zedong] [Stalin] [reading Stalin]

January 14, 3AM

I love this stuff, with its sheer euphoria at a world-historical breakthrough. This is Stalin on the 10th anniversary of the October Revolution. It is about this time that he consciously claims his own breakthrough from the ‘national question’... [another world is possible] [Stalin] [anti-colonialism] [national question] [reading Stalin]


While the Newcastle rail saga now has more twists than a bad Russian novel (let’s say, Dostoevsky), it has also been able to produce a new term for terrorism. The context: 1. Deeply corrupt government decision to cut railway line for the last 2.5 km... [Newcastle] [philosophy] [Total Depravity] [immenent] [terrorism]

January 12, 10PM

For some reason this poetic description of the GPU, or Cheka, reminds me of Genesis 3:24: From that time on, the GPU has been the terror of the bourgeoisie, the vigilant guardian of the revolution, the naked sword of the proletariat (Stalin. Works, vol. 1... [theology] [Cheka] [cherubim] [reading Stalin]


In response to a question from workers’ delegates to the Soviet Union, concerning the charge that Stalin was really a counter-revolutionary, Stalin replies: We must assume that it is true. We must assume that the Comintern and the C.P.S.U.(B.) are b... [Total Depravity] [cannibalism] [counter-revolution] [incest] [reading Stalin]

January 11, 10PM

Whoever would have thought that collectivisation would generate so much in terms of philosophy and theology? Volume 11 of Stalin’s Works is of course the great collectivisation volume, when attention turns from the ‘Opposition’ (Trotsky... [philosophy] [theology] [colectivisation] [industrialisation] [reading Stalin]

January 10, 1AM

Amid the tsunami of affirmations – from left, right and wherever else – of freedom of speech, I have been searching. Did Charlie Hebdo ever lampoon freedom of speech? Did they ever lampoon the right to insult? Charlie Hebdo is now world famous... [Total Depravity] [Charlie Hebdo] [freedom of speech] [lampoon]

January 8, 4PM

A new piece on mine on Chinese Democracy is now up on the Newcastle Herald website. The paper actually publishes material on socialism from time to time, which I’d like to think is an acknowledgement of the radical, working class traditions in the H... [china] [socialism] [democracy] [Xi Jinping]

January 7, 4PM

One of the abiding Cold War myths was that Stalin, or perhaps the Russian Communist Party directed the world-wide revolutionary movement through the Comintern. I hear it even today from old Trots, who suggest that one group or another used to follow Stali... [Stalin] [Comintern] [reading Stalin]

January 6, 5PM

Earlier I cited a text from Stalin that can now – in hindsight – be seen as an unwitting prophecy of 1989 and 1991, when capitalist encirclement finally took its toll and sought payback for 1917. Now another text that may be seen as a forebodi... [socialism] [Stalin] [collapse of USSR] [Prophecy] [reading Stalin]
Now there’s an apparent oxymoron: Stalinist democracy. But Stalin has a strong position on democracy, socialist democracy that is. It may come as a surprise to some, but he is actually in favour of it. The dictatorship of the proletariat is the hig... [another world is possible] [democracy] [reading Stalin]


The good lefties at Haymarket Books – a non-profit operation of the Centre for Economic Research and Social Change – have a massive book sale running until 12 January 2015. 40% discount! Add HOLIDAY40 in the checkout stage. That means the five... [Criticism of Heaven and Earth] [Haymarket Books] [sale]


In his thoroughly entertaining address to the fifteenth congress in 1917, Stalin homes in on defects within the party. One of these concerns rowing with the current: A third shortcoming. This consists in the desire of a number of our comrades to swim wit... [another world is possible] [applause] [reading Stalin]


That should probably be ‘my slide into deeper disappointment’ – with Stephen Kotkin’s ‘biography’ of Stalin. Yes, scare quotes, since the effort is more like Kotkin’s rambling notes on the history of Russia –... [academics as wankers] [reading Stalin] [Stephen Kotkin]

January 2, 3PM

Every now and then I am still tempted to have a cigarette, especially when travelling. But since I don’t actually like cigarettes, I opt for some nicotine gum. It feels like a treat, a little like the decaf coffee I have about once every six months.... [another world is possible] [Asceticism] [heaven]


In the midst of his long congress reports, full of methodical passages and catechism-like questions and answers, Stalin could also deploy words with biblical and poetic power. Such as this one from late in 1927, in response to some who felt that the Sovie... [Stalin] [bleeding bourgeoisie] [reading Stalin]

December 31 2014, 7AM

A somewhat idealistic story for the new year, over at Voyages on the Left. [hiking] [Mao Zedong] [Hunan] [Mount Yuelu] [Zhaoshan]

December 29, 7PM

Lenin of the acerbic pen certainly knew how to end a letter, but has he met his match with Stalin? Here’s Lenin: 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 y... [another world is possible] [letter style] [reading Lenin] [reading Stalin]


The further I dig into Stephen Kotkin’s biography of Stalin, the more exasperated I become. Four further points, to add to earlier observations (here and here). 1. He is unable to control the material, so that at times you gain the impression that h... [Marxism] [Stalin] [bourgeois historians] [reading Stalin] [Stephen Kotkin]


I have become quite intrigued by the way Ernst Bloch’s ‘non-contemporaneity’ (Ungleichzeitigkeit) of the present, or in shorthand the ‘contemporaneity of non-contemporaneity’, enables one to understand philosophically the rea... [Ernst Bloch] [Stalin] [contemporaneity of non-contemporaneity] [reading Stalin]

December 27, 9PM

Stupidity should not be confused with revolutionary spirit (Stalin, Works, vol. 9, p. 260). [Communism] [reading Stalin] [stupidity]
The rush of Christmas is over, with three generations filling our household. So now I can relax … and study a little more Stalin. Mao Zedong is usually credited with developing a peasant basis for socialist revolutions, thereby breaking with the pro... [china] [Mao Zedong] [Stalin] [agrarian revolution] [peasants] [reading Stalin]

December 26, 6PM

Is it possible to mistake Joseph, the husband of Mary, with Joseph Stalin? A Russian school boy did exactly that in a nativity play in Russia. As Sputnik reports: A schoolboy from St. Petersburg mistakenly played the role of the Biblical character Josep... [Stalin] [theology] [reading Stalin] [Saint Joseph]

December 22, 6AM

An update on my study of Kotkin’s much-hyped first volume of his Stalin trilogy. Although it is not quite the cartoon script of Montefiore’s two books, it really is a stunning collection of caricatures and derived positions. Before I mention t... [Uncategorized] [caricatures] [Kotkin] [reading Stalin] [Stolypin]


The idea of ‘socialism with national characteristics’ is usually attributed to Deng Xiaoping’s famous statement concerning Chinese characteristics. And it is often dismissed as an excuse to do anything, whether Marxist or not. But the id... [Lenin] [Mao Zedong] [Marxism] [Stalin] [Deng Xiaoping] [national characteristics]

December 21, 3AM

When I was in Beijing, a somewhat aristocratic Englishman was asked what he thought of Australia. ‘I have been there only once he said’, with evident disdain, ‘but it struck me as very British?’ I was somewhat nonplussed, wondering... [Australia] [sign of intelligence]

December 17, 7PM

I awaited Kotkin’s biography on Stalin – the first of three volumes – with much anticipation, since the blurb promises a balanced and humanised Stalin, which goes against standard accounts. It claims the book is nothing less than the def... [Stalin] [Stephen Kotkin]


Is it possible that one may have special insight into the soul, whether living or dead? The ‘deep’ thinker is able to plumb the depths of truth, of the human condition, of life itself. When discussing a philosopher’s complex and controversial reason... [academics as wankers] ['deep' thinker] [typology of scholars]

December 14, 5PM

Many critics seem to assume so, for some strangely polemical reason. Saint Joe simply points out: Nobody in our Party is absolutely “infallible.” Such people do not exist. (Works, volume 9, p. 78). [Communism] [infallibility] [reading Stalin]


Intriguing what unites people across the political spectrum: the deeply corrupt decision to cut the railway line to Newcastle. The corruption is obvious: the line is supposed to be cut by two stations, a total of about three kilometres. It will be replace... [Communism] [Newcastle] [Communist Party of Australia] [save our rail]

December 12, 10PM

Not according to comrade Joseph: What is the economic essence and economic basis of socialism? Is it the establishment of a “paradise” on earth and universal abundance? No, that is the philistine, petty-bourgeois idea of the economic essence of socia... [socialism] [Paradise] [reading Stalin]

December 10, 3AM

I am absolutely loving the Bible and Critical Theory Seminar this year. Great papers; great venue – we’re meeting in the upper room of The Governor’s Cafe, now owned by Bible and Critical Theory member, Eric Rephhun (thanks, Eric). Duned... [Bible and Critical Theory] [Bible] [Dunedin]
While having a great time at the Bible and Critical Theory Seminar in a cool Dunedin, I cam across this definition of socialist prophecy from you know who: As you see, this is almost a prediction. (A voice: “Yes, almost!”) It is almost a prophecy of t... [socialism] [Prophecy] [reading Stalin]

December 6, 7PM

In response to greetings from the Tiflis Railway Workshops, Stalin tries to hose down all of the adulation: I must say in all conscience, comrades, that I do not deserve a good half of the flattering things that have been said here about me. I am, it appe... [Stalin] [reading Stalin] [warrior-knight]


By the second half of the 1920s, Stalin’s attention turned to the unfolding revolution in China. He is quite clear that it should be as much, if not centrally, an agrarian revolution of peasants, along with the relatively small working class (the id... [china] [Stalin] [English Labour Party] [reading Stalin]
One of the more fascinating aspects of reading carefully through Stalin’s writings is what may be called the scriptural dynamic of spirit and letter. As 2 Corinthians 3:6 puts it, ‘the letter kills, but the spirit gives life’. Stalin is ... [Engels] [Marx] [Stalin] [reading Stalin] [spirit and letter]

December 5, 1AM

Christianity is the real loser in the Hong Kong protests of the last few months. It has become clear that some Christian groups continue to be at the forefront in organising and supporting the protests. The groups are mostly of a Protestant evangelical va... [china] [religion] [socialism] [colonialism] [Hong Kong] [Matteo Ricci] [protests]

December 2, 9PM

Most people would probably not know that the Communist Party of the USSR (Bolshevik) also had a policy on amputation. Stalin elaborates on the policy in 1925: We are against amputation. We are against the policy of amputation. That does not mean that lead... [hairy creatures of God] [Stalin] [amputation] [reading Stalin]


Stalin may not have had the acerbic edge of Lenin’s letter style, but he prided himself on going straight to the point. With that in mind, here is a letter template from Stalin, drawing upon various phrases from his correspondence: Comrade …, I am ver... [Stalin] [letter template] [reading Stalin]

December 1, 2AM

Not only did Stalin study Holy Scripture for almost 6 years at the Tiflis Spiritual Seminary, but he also made annotations on the Bible in his library, priding himself on memorising long sections. And it shows, as in this lyrical appeal at fourteenth cong... [Bible] [Stalin] [reading Stalin]

November 30, 2PM

Not according to the man himself, as he writes in a letter from 1926: I object to your calling yourself “a disciple of Lenin and Stalin.” I have no disciples. Call yourself a disciple of Lenin; you have the right to do so … But you have no g... [Lenin] [Stalin] [disciple] [reading Stalin] [veneration]

November 28, 9PM

I have been reading with much interest Grigory Ioffe’s Understanding Belarus and How Western Foreign Policy Misses the Mark (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008). Clumsy title, I know, but intriguing book. He deals with post-1991 Belarus, on language, i... [another world is possible] [Belarus] [eocnomy]

November 27, 9PM

This article now appears on The Conversation, with a lovely picture of Xi Jinping: [Uncategorized]

November 24, 5PM

This image (sent by SD) at Amazing Lookalike! reminded me of a childhood fantasy. The figure on the right is the Mekon, the arch-enemy of sci-fi hero Dan Dare. Are they related? Asks Amazing Lookalike! Probably not, but what about that childhood fantas... [sleep] [weird] [alien experiment] [childhood fantasy] [Mekon]

November 23, 1PM

Christina sent me this great quotation from William Pietz’s prescient article, ‘The “Postcolonialism” of Cold War Discourse’ (Social Text 19/20, 1988): ​This [a 1951 book which lent an academic respectability to the new the... [socialism] [Hannah Arendt] [reactionary]


Fredric Jameson used to argue for what may be called a dialectic of totalisation. In some cases, a universal master narrative actually fosters a diversity of voices, which in some way gain the possibility to speak. Jameson was countering the postmodern ba... [socialism] [Stalin] [reading Stalin] [universals]

November 21, 4PM

How does one come to understand China? Many are those who wish to do so, especially in light of China’s growing global influence. I am not so interested in the motivations for seeking to understand China, ranging all the way from the personal to the geo... [china] [Mao Zedong] [reading Mao] [zhongguotong]

November 20, 11PM

In his extended struggle with Trotsky, Stalin turned to a detailed study of Lenin. Both sought to claim the legacy of Lenin, in what may be called a ‘scriptural dialectic’, in which the texts interpreted can lead to both positions. It was also... [socialism] [Stalin] [collapse of USSR] [reading Stalin]


Almost 20 years ago I actually used a diary for a while. It was given to me by some friends in an activist group who felt that I was forgetting too many things. The friend who had the idea used to have a massive diary, into which he put all sorts of thing... [pastimes] [diary] [Writing]

November 17, 3PM

It’s now official: In the Vale of Years is listed as the winner of the Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Prize at the prize website. The award was for the book and for the whole Criticism of Heaven and Earth series, which is just as well, since I have al... [Criticism of Heaven and Earth] [In the Vale of Tears] [Deustcher Prize]


On 30 November, I will be be part of a panel on ‘Religion and Marxism’. It is part of the ‘Sunday Marxism’ series here in Newcastle, organised by the Socialist Alliance. Political progressives often associate religion with bad thi... [Marxism] [religion] [Socialist Alliance] [Sunday Marxism]

November 15, 3AM

I have a free Jethro Tull ticket to give away: at the Palais Theatre, Melbourne, 15 December. I bought this one first and then a second concert opened up in Sydney on 12 December. Although I have done a one-two concert in the past, I figure that after mor... [music] [Jethro Tull]

November 14, 8PM

As many may have been aware, I am working towards a book called Saint Iosif: Stalin and Religion. Preparation entails a careful reading of his written works, from which I have posted from time to time. To my knowledge, few actually read Stalin these days,... [Books] [Marxism] [theology] [reading Stalin] [Saint Iosif]

November 12, 9PM

My good comrade at Louisproyekt has just written a lovely review of my work, called ‘Roland f**king Boer?‘ This is arguably the review of reviews, for he calls me an ‘asshole’, ‘clown’ and full of ‘garbage’.... [Books] [Criticism of Heaven and Earth] [In the Vale of Tears] [best review ever] [Deutscher Prize]

November 11, 3PM

A wonderful piece of advice from Comrade Stalin on the practical wisdom of peasants: To illustrate how tactlessly the peasants are approached sometimes, a few words must be said about anti-religious propaganda. Occasionally, some comrades are inclined ... [Communism] [Stalin] [God] [peasants] [reading Stalin]


Travelling from the tiny seaside town of Oarai to Tokyo, I boarded an ancient rattler of a rail motor: It was perhaps the weirdest rail journey I have ever taken. The theme plastered all over the station and the train was ‘Girls und Panzer': Car... [weird] [girls und panzer] [Japan]

November 7, 3AM

Today marks the 97rd anniversary of the Russian Revolution. But something curious is happening. Members of the communist party of course celebrated it, as is their custom: But on Red Square itself, another procession was taking place. Here too red flags ... [Stalin] [1941 re-enactment] [Great Patriotic War] [Red Square] [Russian Revolution]

November 5, 4AM

In a fascinating piece from 1926, Stalin reflects rather deeply on economic questions in the construction of socialism. He speaks of socialist accumulation, socialist surplus, and – my favourite – socialist thrift: The ability to expend funds ... [another world is possible] [socialism] [reading Stalin] [socialist thrift]

November 3, 5AM

This country would have to be one of the most repressed I have ever visited, with an extraordinary return of the repressed at all sorts of levels. On the one hand, everyone is impossibly polite, nice, tidy and meticulously rule-abiding. Everyone bows at t... [anatomy] [Travel] [weird] [a new world of toilet seats] [Freud] [Japan] [prostitution] [return of the repressed]


It may come as a surprise to some, but Stalin has quite a lot to say about democracy, especially in the protracted debates with the ‘opposition’ (and Troysky) in the 1920s. Among other formulations, one of the best on democracy is as follows, ... [Stalin] [democracy] [Mars] [purges] [reading Stalin] [Women's Weekly]


Forget the propaganda about the Shinkansen (‘new trunk line’) trains in Japan. Images and stories would have you believe they are sleek, aerodynamic things that race about this tiny country at high speeds. Not true, for they actually look like... [trains] [Japan] [Shinkansen]

November 2, 1AM

A new article of mine is up at Philosophers for Change: The ‘Failure’ of Communism. [china] [Communism] [Lenin] [Stalin] [Bulgaria] [Romania] [USSR] [Yugoslavia]

November 1, 4AM

Earlier this week I had to get from China to Japan. Since flying is a crap way of travelling, I took a ship from Shanghai to Osaka. Two days it takes, across the East China Sea. The ship was the Suzhou Hao: Simple and with none of the silly additions, li... [china] [ships] [East China Sea] [Japan] [Suzhou Hao]

October 31, 2AM

Another wonderful snippet from our good friend, Comrade Joseph. Now it is Lenin and the ‘rock of salvation’ of Christianity: The fact that Russia, which was formerly regarded by the oppressed nationalities as a symbol of oppression, has now, a... [Lenin] [Stalin] [jesus] [reading Stalin]
One of Weber’s key theological mistakes concerns the doctrine of election. I know this point has been made before, but it is worth repeating – not least since I keep coming across it in other works as though it were a self-evident truth. Weber suggest... [theology] [Calvin] [doubt] [Weber]

October 21, 1PM

We need Stalin now – in Newcastle. Recently, the lid was partly lifted on systemic corruption among the political and business elite: wads of cash in brown paper bags, ‘washing’ illegal ‘donations’ through front organisations... [Newcastle] [Stalin] [corruption]

October 20, 12 AM

In the fashionable cynicism of post-USSR times, it is difficult to recapture the sheer euphoria at the achievement of the USSR itself. In 1922, after long and difficult negotiations, the excitement could hardly be contained. Here is Stalin in December of ... [another world is possible] [Stalin] [constitution] [USSR]

October 18, 1AM

From time to time I come across these types of simplistic oppositions: Judaism is collective, whereas Christianity is individualistic. ‘Eastern’ Orthodoxy is collective, while ‘Western’ Christianity is individualistic. Roman Catholicism is collect... [theology] ['Eastern' Orthdoxy] [Collective] [individual] [Judaism] [protestantism] [Roman Catholicism]

October 17, 1AM

I have been reading what is called the ‘resistance genre’ of histories of the Stalin era – Fitzpatrick, Viola, Edele and others. They tend to follow a social history approach, focusing on everyday life in the 1920s and 1930s. People, the... [another world is possible] [socialism] [Stalin] [reading Stalin] [totalitarianism] [working]

October 16, 5AM

Yes, as of today we have a new research project at the University of Newcastle. It builds on the former Religion and Radicalism project, but is bigger and better. A whole bunch of Marxists have joined us, from history, sociology, education, economics, and... [Marxism] [religion] [News from Newcastle] [secularism]

October 15, 12 PM

At last! A naked neighbour. For years I have been staggering around naked, first thing in the morning. I look for clothes in the sunroom, ponder the universe while looking over the harbour, have breakfast, make bread – all stark naked and with the c... [anatomy]

October 14, 3PM

It seems as though many people do not realise Stalin wrote anything. As Christina tells me, they express surprise when she tells them I am reading through all of his written work – not that I should be reading it, but that he wrote at all. Ah well, ... [drinking] [Stalin] [reading Stalin] [vodka]

October 12, 12 AM

So it seems as though the ‘hybrid Color Revolution-Arab Spring’ template is now at work in Hong Kong. No surprises there. Serbia, Ukraine, Venezuela, Egypt, and so on – they have seen variations on the template, in which Washington outso... [china] [colour revolution template] [Hong Kong]

October 10, 7PM

One of the tricks of developing new positions within a tradition is to assert your fidelity to the tradition while building a new argument out of the old. In the struggle between Trotsky and Stalin, the tradition was named ‘Leninism’, and each... [another world is possible] [Stalin] [light from the east] [light to the nations] [socialism in one country]

October 8, 7PM

It was of course the constitution of the USSR. The constitution of 1924 contains this crucial declaration, indicating that one of the key factors involved ethnic diversity (or what it likes to call the ‘national question’): The will of the peo... [another world is possible] [Stalin] [Constitution of the USSR] [ethnic groups] [reading Stalin] [religion] [women]

12 AM

Go to any Hunanese restaurant, or any Chinese restaurant in a foreign country, and you are likely to find ‘Chairman Mao’s Braised Pork’, or something with a similar name. It is well known that he loved to eat a dish of braised pork belly... [Mao Zedong] [brain food] [pork belly]

October 7, 2PM

RecentlyI completed the Great North Walk, through the bush and mountains from Newcastle to Sydney. Apart from the sheer pleasure of an empty mind, at times I thought that Captain Obvious had been in these parts. Take this helpful sign:   Not long before... [hiking] [firing range] [Great North Walk] [wheelchairs]

October 6, 8AM

The more I read and hear about it, the more I am puzzled: the new secularist fad in religion studies and biblical criticism. Studies in religion has been engaged in a turf war for some time, or, to shift the metaphor, in teenage rebellion against its pare... [Bible] [religion] [theology] [new secularism] [teenage rebellion]

October 4, 2AM

Ever the biblical student, Stalin writes to comrades in Czechoslovakia regarding Matthew 25:13: Advantage must be taken of the lull to strengthen the Party, to Bolshevise it and make it “always ready” for all possible “complications”; for “ye ... [Stalin] [Bible] [Matthew 25:13] [reading Stalin]
So how did Stalin deal with dissenters, critics and opponents? Expel them, exile them to Siberia, even kill them? Apparently not. Actually he was constantly warning others not to do so, both at home and in the international communist movement. As he wrote... [another world is possible] [Stalin] [critics] [dissenters] [reading Stalin]


How is that for a somewhat strange juxtaposition: Stalin and feminism. Of course, the real achievements of the Bolsheviks are usually written out of any history of feminism, since as we all know, it is really a Western phenomenon. The catch is that the li... [Stalin] [International Women's Day] [reading Stalin]

October 3, 5PM

As Lunacharsky once pointed out, Trotsky never did anything without looking in the mirror of history. Or, more fully, in Revolutionary Silhouettes: Trotsky is undoubtedly often prone to step back and watch himself. Trotsky treasures his historical role a... [Communism] [mirror of history] [Trotsky]

September 30, 7PM

1 October it is, when Mao Zedong declared in his Changsha accent the people’s republic: [china] [Mao Zedong] [National Day] [People's Republic]

September 29, 9PM

In his ‘Lenin and Herrenvolk Democracy’, Losurdo makes an insightful observation on the policy of ex-colonial powers in relation to their former colonies. Hong Kong was, of course, forcefully stolen from China after the first opium war (1839-4... [china] [colonialism] [Hong Kong] [UK]


Probably something like this, as he said to the wealthy, middle-class students in the 1968 protests in Italy, especially at Valle Giulia: When yesterday at Hong Kong you and the policemen were throwing blows, I sympathized with the policemen! Because poli... [Police] [students] [Hong Kong] [Pasolini] [Valle Giulia]

September 28, 7PM

This is from 1918, but sounds eerily like today: Before the revolution the Ukraine was exploited by the Western imperialists quietly, so to speak, without “military operations.” French, Belgian and British imperialists organized huge enterprises in... [Total Depravity] [reading Stalin] [Ukraine]

12 AM

As $600 million dollars are thrown by the Australian government to bolster anti-terror activities, it is worth considering the leading causes of death in Australia. These are from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (see also Crikey) and cover the years ... [Total Depravity] [causes of death] [falling off chairs] [falling out of bed] [gastro] [terrorism]

September 27, 1AM

During the civil war (the white armies were sponsored by the ‘entente’), one of Stalin’s many roles as a military commissar was to oversee the restoration of vital rail lines. Imagine him as transport minister today! To Comrade Lenin. I ... [Stalin] [reading Stalin]

September 26, 5PM

Bible and Critical Theory Seminar: Program for Dunedin ’14 Here is the program for the 2014 Bible and Critical Theory seminar, to be held in the Upper Room of the Governor’s, 438 George St, Dunedin (please note the change of venue), 10–11 December.... [Bible and Critical Theory] [Dunedin 2014]


One of the great things about being in remote parts for a while is that you miss out on the news. So I returned from the latest bicycle tour to find out that the pugilist Tony Abbott (our despised prime minister) has finally managed to pick a fight. A box... [Australia] [Total Depravity] [moderate intelligence] [picking a fight] [pugilist] [Tony Abbott]

12 AM

Why is a long-distance bicycle tour always too short? A week seems way too short, since I still want to be on the road, pedalling to the next stop. Anyway, the ride to Canberra went through some serious mountains, with some climbs feeling like walls: Som... [another world is possible] [bicycles] [bumnuts] [Canberra or bust] [meat pies]

September 18, 2PM

As we set off today to ride to Canberra, about 500 km, I decided to do the following in 2017: to ride the 5000 or so kilometres from Perth to Newcastle: View Larger Map [bicycle] [iconic bicycle ride]

September 16, 4PM

The Australian coal industry is scrambling today with the news that China’s National Development and Reform Commission has banned the import of sulphurous or dirty coal. Any coal with more than 16% ash and 3% sulphur is out from 1 January 2015. And... [Australia] [china] [air pollution] [coal]

September 15, 1AM

One of the great contributions to literature is what may be called the socialist footnote, or, rather, the communist party footnote. These immensely pleasurable texts appear, for instance, in the footnotes for each volume of Stalin’s Collected Works. He... [Communism] [socialism] [Footnote] [reading Stalin]

September 14, 3AM

As promised, here they are: a few shots of the grand-grand-grand-grand … son (75th generation) of Confucius (Kong Zi). Kong Xianglin is his name, speaking at the World Confucius Forum: Since he spoke in Chinese (of which I actually understood a li... [another world is possible] [Confucius] [Kong Zi] [World Confucius Forum]

September 13, 4AM

I have just met one of the descendants of Confucius. Kong Zi’s great-great-great … grandson is Kong Xianglin, and he spoke today on the old man himself at the World Confucius Forum, held here in Adelaide. I held forth on Confucius and Mao Zedo... [hairy creatures of God] [Confucius]
The third Historical Materialism conference in Australasia has come and gone, consolidating itself as a regular highlight of the Australian Left. A chance to meet old and new comrades, along with many stove-pipe pants, lush beards, grungy outfits, piercin... [Marxism] [Althusser] [Australian Left] [blindspots] [Historical Materialism Australasia] [insights]

September 10, 5AM

Bad accountants! At least according to Stalin: No branch of economic activity can make headway without proper bookkeeping. But unfortunately our accountants do not always possess the elementary merits of the ordinary honest, bourgeois accountant. I ha... [Total Depravity] [accountants] [reading Stalin]
In his fascinating piece, ‘The Foundations of Leninism’, Stalin decisively claims Lenin’s heritage against the arrogant quirkiness of Trotsky. Among other gems is what Stalin calls the ‘Leninist style in work’. Now what does ... [another world is possible] [Lenin] [Stalin] [American efficiency] [Leninist style of work] [reading Stalin] [Revolutionary sweep]

September 8, 5PM

That wonderful site, ‘Philosophers for Change’, has agreed to publish another of my pieces, called ‘In Defence of Engels‘. Get yourself over there, even more for the rest of the material. [Economics] [Engels] [politics] [economic theory] [Military] [Philosophers for Change] [Religion and Radicalism]

September 4, 4PM

This morning I arrived at the Historical Materialism conference of Australasia and realised I had forgotten to bring a toothbrush. So I began to wonder: where is the collective toothbrush? You know, the old brush with bent bristles that sits proudly on t... [another world is possible] [Communism]

September 3, 5PM

Christina and I have been discussing this one on and off for a few days. From time to time, I come across the argument that the more students you encourage to enter the educational system, the lower the standards become. I continue to be surprised by the ... [universities] [students] [thick rich] [unashamed populism]
The other day we were discussing alternative ways of funding research and I suggested – in all seriousness – that Big Tobacco may be interested in funding a project on ‘Smoking Communism’. Immediately Castro and his cigars, Stalin ... [Communism] [smoking] [reading Stalin] [smoking communism]

September 1, 12 AM

Mao didn’t restrict the famous and much-debated ‘Five-Year Plans’ to the realm of economics. He also had a personal one, expressed in 1957: I, too, have a five-year plan. I’d like to live for five more years. If I can live for another ... [Mao Zedong] [smoking] [five-year plans] [reading Mao]
Never one to shy away from turning a statement on its head, or rather, feet, Mao points out that the brain-washing is actually a very good thing. In a speech to Chinese university students going to Moscow, he said: Some foreigners say that our ideological... [Mao Zedong] [brain-washing] [reading Mao]

August 31, 7PM

Why use ten when two commandments are enough (Matthew 22:35-40)? So also Stalin: The first commandment: Don’t allow yourselves to be provoked by the counter-revolutionaries; arm yourselves with restraint and self-control; save your strength for the comi... [Bible] [Stalin] [commandments] [Matthew 22] [reading Stalin]

August 30, 11PM

The good chairman certainly has some great lines on intellectuals, much better than my ‘Typology of scholars‘. For instance: I’ve always said that intellectuals are the most lacking in intellect. The intellectuals cock their tails in the... [academics as wankers] [Total Depravity] [Footnote] [intellectuals] [reading Mao]


My colleague at the University of Newcastle, Roger Markwick, has written a great piece in the Newcastle Herald about the situation in Ukraine. Roger is a well-respected specialist on Russian history, with a couple of books and many articles focusing on th... [politics] [Total Depravity] [nato] [Putin] [Ukraine]

August 29, 12 AM

Domenico Losurdo well-reasoned and elaborately researched book, Stalin: The History and Critique of a Black Legend, has not as yet been translated into English. Originally published in Italian in 2008, it has been translated into French, Spanish and Germa... [Stalin] [book review] [Domenico Losurdo] [reading Stalin]

August 28, 7PM

I am preparing for a lecture at the OzAsia festival in Adelaide in a couple of weeks. The title is ‘Confucius and Chairman Mao: Then and Now’. Mao is quite ambivalent about Confucius, often mentioning him favourably and using many of his sayin... [china] [Mao Zedong] [bullshit] [Confucius] [sinification of Marxism]

August 27, 7AM

We – Sean Durbin and I – are putting the final touches to a new book series with Palgrave Macmillan. It is called ‘Religion and Radicalism’ and will publish monographs and edited volumes. But what does religion and radicalism mean ... [Books] [politics] [religion] [book series] [Palgrave Macmillan]

August 25, 1AM

Idols of Nations: Biblical Myth at the Origins of Capitalism (Fortress Press) is now out. You can find the book by clicking here or on the image in the side-bar. It may be a little cheaper on other sites. [Books] [Idols of Nations]

12 AM

A few announcements to come, such as the ‘Religion and Radicalism’ book series with Palgrave Macmillan, and the final stages of planning for a research program in ‘Religion, Marxism and Secularism’ at the University of Newcastle. S... [Mao Zedong] [Marxism] [philosophy] [reading Mao] [Religion and Radicalism] [University of Newcastle]

August 24, 1AM

Privatisation or outsourcing: the ideologues of these tendencies argue with perfectly straight faces that they entail reductions of the state. Sell off electricity, public transport, education, water, medical care – each one is not the state’s... [politics] [big state] [neoliberalism] [outsourcing] [privatisation]

August 22, 6PM

This is now the official name for our home: [philosophy] [sages]


Given the interest in an earlier picture of me on a tropical throne, I thought I would add a few to fill out the scene. It is not so often that one takes a camera to the toilet, but then this is no ordinary affair. My only regret is not having the ca... [hairy creatures of God] [odd animals] [chicken] [horses] [throne] [tropics]

August 21, 7PM

The first was in 1939, although the reason was ambivalent: ‘Whether Europe’s new era will end in nationalist chaos, good or bad internationalism, or what not, the era will be new—and the end of the old era will have been finally precipitated by ... [Stalin] [man of the year] [reading Stalin] [Time Magazine]

August 18, 3PM

Up in Kuranda, near Cairns in the tropics, I was sitting in an old reclining chair. As I did so, my brother’s partner said, ‘That chair is the same as your wok’. ‘What do you mean?’ I said. ‘He [my brother] said, “... [food] [reclining chair] [wok] [women]

August 17, 3PM

What a glorious few days it has been: the state member for Newcastle – Tim Owens – has resigned from parliament after admitting to receiving bribes and lying to the Independent Commission Against Corruption about it. The member for the neighbo... [Total Depravity] [curruption] [Newcastle Godfathers]


2,500 km over two and a half days – from Newcastle to Cairns in the tropical north and all the way in a regular train seat. One of the best rail journeys in a long time. A few highlights, from the journey and around Cairns itself (Kuranda to be exac... [Australia] [trains] [Travel] [Cairns] [Kuranda] [massage] [Sunlander] [toilet doors] [tropics]

August 12, 6AM

A couple of months ago, I suggested that Newcastle had come up with a novel way to avoid corruption: instead of having developers hand over wads of cash to politicians in order to influence decisions, some of us (not me) elected a mayor who is a developer... [Total Depravity] [brown paper bags] [corruption] [Newcastle]

August 11, 10PM

No less iconic than Joseph Stalin’s moustache was his pipe. But what did he put in it? Once he settled on his favoured cherry root pipe, his tobacco of choice was ‘Herzegovina Flor.’ So close did the connection become that the tobacco wa... [smoking] [Stalin] [Herzegovina Flor] [pipe] [reading Stalin] [tobacco]

August 10, 1AM

In a forthcoming work, I propose to investigate Stalin through an unexpected approach: his intimate relation with religion. Hopefully, it will play a small role in the reassessments of Stalin under way by Losurdo, Roberts et al. Chapter One: At the Spirit... [another world is possible] [Stalin] [reading Stalin] [Saint Iosif]

August 6, 5AM

This evening at my Chinese class we were discussing once again the various ‘measure words’ used when speaking of different objects. These words typically go in between a number and the object being numbered. To make things even more puzzling f... [china] [hairy creatures of God] [flat cat] [flat things] [learning Chinese] [measure words]

August 5, 12 AM

One of curious features of the self-described leaders of the renewal of communism is a type of non-party communism. It appears in the collection of contributions called The Idea of Communism, published by Verso in 2010 and arising from a conference in Lo... [Stalin] [Alain Badiou] [Bruno Bosteels] [Idea of Communism] [non-party] [reading Stalin]

August 4, 11PM

Mao the monk? It may well have been the path he chose in life. Zhang Kundi, a young friend of Mao, tells of a 1917 hike in the mountains in Hunan, with regular swims in the Xiang River due to the heat. On the top of Zhaoshan (Zhao Mountain) was a monaster... [hiking] [Mao Zedong] [swimming] [Hunan] [monk] [mountains] [reading Mao]

August 3, 12 AM

Stalin tended to make long friendships, especially with those he could trust. One of those was Molotov (the ‘hammer’), or Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Skryabin, later to take up many senior posts including that of Foreign Minister. In his memoirs,... [Stalin] [love] [Molotov] [reading Stalin]

August 2, 2AM

Another travel story at Voyages on the Left, called ‘Stalin, the Priest and the Donkeys‘. Meanwhile, I am writing a longer piece on Stalin and anti-Semitism (from Losurdo). [hairy creatures of God] [Stalin] [donkeys] [Georgia] [Priest]

July 30, 11PM

Paraphrasing the well-known words of Luther, Russia might say: ‘Here I stand on the border line between the old, capitalist world and the new, socialist world. Here, on this border line, I unite the efforts of the proletarians of the West and of the pea... [Marxism] [theology] [Luther] [reading Stalin]

July 28, 10PM

A new travel story story – of sorts – over at Voyages on the Left. This one follows Joseph Stalin, or Osip as the locals called him, to the Arctic Circle in Siberia: ‘A Sign of Intelligence.’ [Stalin] [Travel] [Evenki] [reading Stalin] [Siberia] [solitude]

July 26, 6PM

The pleasure increases with age: the discovery of unexpected ideas by means of disciplined and sustained reading. In this case I refer to Joseph Stalin and the origins of the connection between Marxism, anti-colonialism and thereby post-colonialism. Here ... [socialism] [Stalin] [anti-colonialism] [national question] [post-colonialism] [reading Stalin]

July 25, 10PM

Let me begin with Joseph Goebbels: While National Socialism brought about a new version and formulation of European culture, Bolshevism is the declaration of war by Jewish-led international subhumans against culture itself. It is not only anti-bourgeois, ... [Stalin] [Total Depravity] [George Patton] [Joseph Goebbels] [Judaeo-Bolshevism] [reading Stalin]

July 23, 11PM

More great material from Losurdo’s book on Stalin. In his long demolition of the myth of Stalin’s anti-Semitism, Losurdo also makes a few observations on Winston Churchill’s racist views. To begin with, in the famous ‘iron curtain&... [politics] [Total Depravity] [racism] [reading Stalin] [Winston Churchill]

July 21, 10PM

In his collection of articles on anarchism from 1906-7, in response to intense anarchist activity in Georgia, Stalin offers his fullest exposition of dialectics (at this point). He closes with this telling rebuttal: Lastly, the Anarchists tell us reproach... [hairy creatures of God] [Stalin] [anarchists] [dialectics] [goats] [reading Stalin]


Look what happens when you stay away from the incessant news cycle for a day or two: suddenly two universes are created. In those two universes, two very different Ukraines emerge, two Vladimir Putins, although only one plane has crashed. In one universe,... [Total Depravity] [weird] [Putin] [Tony Abbott] [two universes] [Ukraine]

July 20, 1AM

BIBLE AND CRITICAL THEORY SEMINAR 2014 Deadline for proposals: 31 August 2014 The Seminar calls for papers at the intersection of critical theory and the Bible. We interpret “critical theory” broadly to include not only the seminal work of the Frankfu... [Bible and Critical Theory] [2014] [Call for Papers] [Dunedin]
More great stuff from Losurdo’s book on Stalin. He devotes a section to what he calls the reductio ad Hitlerum: the concentrated and intense process by the anti-communist propaganda machine to make out that Stalin was no different from Hitler. Amon... [Stalin] [Hannah Arendt] [Molotov-Ribbentrop pact] [reading Stalin] [reductio ad Hitlerum]

12 AM

I have just received yet another collection of Stalin’s writings, this one called Stalin on China. But what drew my eye on opening it is the preface by Chen Pota, from 1949: On the basis of concrete analysis of the concrete conditions in China, Sta... [china] [Stalin] [great scientist] [reading Stalin] [teacher of world revolution]

July 19, 12 AM

A student in China first stated it clearly: ‘I like Putin’, she said. As she explained, I realised that I don’t necessarily like him, but I admire him. Why? Basically, because he has the nous and nerve to stick it NATO, the EU and the US... [politics] [corporate media] [Malaysian Airlines] [Putin]

July 18, 5PM

Stalin was rather fond of the Bible in his library, reading it often and memorising quotations. So it should be no surprise that occasional echoes should appear in his writings. This one appears in his speech after the October Revolution, given to Finnish... [another world is possible] [Bible] [Stalin] [Luke] [Magnificat] [October Revolution] [reading Stalin]

12 AM

I am thoroughly enjoying Domenico Losurdo’s book on Stalin, not least because I am thrilled at being able to read the French text with relative ease. Plenty of food for thought, but three items struck me recently. First, one of the great achievement... [another world is possible] [Communism] [Lenin] [Stalin] [affirmative action] [concentration camps] [Gulags] [Losurdo] [state] [USSR]
Everyone is keen to blame someone else for the shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines flight over Ukraine today. But you have to ask: who in their right mind would fly over an area where anti-aircraft weapons are in daily use? Only the day before, the armed... [politics] [civil war] [Malaysian Airlines] [Ukraine]

July 15, 3AM

I could write of the beautiful woman with the sad face, or the strange man living in a tent in the middle of the track. Instead, I would like to write of an empty mind. I first noticed– if I can put it that way – my empty mind on the third day of a re... [hiking] [mountain climbing] [empty mind]

July 10, 1AM

You have to give it to Stalin for some creative thoughts regarding communism. In the afterglow of the stunning victory over Hitler’s Germany in the Second World War, he explored the many possible paths to communism. On one occasion (March 1945) , he... [socialism] [Stalin] [English monarchy]

July 9, 2AM

July 8, 10PM

Always best to write a review of a book you haven’t read – so the first review of Idols of Nations on Amazon: First of all, the Bible is no myth. Second, these Bible bashers are pro-Marxist, anti-Christian and anti-capitalists. There total go... [Idols of Nations] [Amazon review]


On two occasions now, Alain Badiou has cancelled a trip to China – at the last minute. To be sure, he had good immediate excuses, such as his adopted son being in prison. But by the time he cancelled, the date and appearance had been fixed, notices ... [Alain Badiou] [china] [Real]

July 6, 8PM

Is this an allusion to Paul? Stalin writes in an early study of the party: Just as every complex organism is made up of an incalculable number of extremely simple organisms, so our Party, being a complex and general organisation, is made up of numerous di... [Bible] [Stalin] [1 Corinthians] [body] [Party]


I have been out for a few days, bushwalking with all of the many comforts it brings. To begin with, I encountered flat tracks on which to stroll: Excellent accommodation: Fresh food with great variety and wonderful cooking facilities: Easy to find wate... [hiking] [mountain climbing] [caves] [food] [freedom] [luxury] [mountains] [water]


Yes, why do artists tend to congregate in working class places? Is it because of cheap (that is, free) studios and accommodation? Is it because they are poor and will use any place, anywhere. I’ve been thinking about this on and off over the last fe... [art] [artsy fartsy] [bohemian culture] [Negri] [operaismo] [working class]

June 29, 5AM

I was going to post more on Stalin’s pipe and his preferred tobacco, but this evening I had one of those great experiences you have from time to time. It was the Garage Blackboard Lectures, held in an old garage somewhere in Melbourne, on a freezing... [Bible] [Communism] [theology] [Delivery from Slavery] [Dick Boer] [Garage Blackboard Lectures]

June 26, 3AM

Stalin’s pipe became – along with his moustache – one of his famous attributes. he received many gifts of pipes from around the world, but also has his favourite. The pipe was also a signal of responses to people and ideas. The three key... [smoking] [Stalin] [approval] [disapproval] [pipe] [thought]

June 25, 8PM

What has been achieved as a result of the Maidan coup in the Ukraine? 1. Hundreds of people shot, burned and slaughtered; thousands wounded. 2. Trashing of its own cities (Kiev, Odessa, Mariupol, Slavonic) 3. Loss of Crimea through a referendum. 4. Potent... [politics] [Total Depravity] [economic disaster] [Maidan] [Ukraine]

June 23, 6PM

As the battle for Stalingrad – the turning point of the Second World War – raged, Stalin worked night and day with his team of talented generals. He exhibited a phenomenal memory, had no time for ‘yes-men’ and paid attention to the... [Stalin] [Stalingrad] [tobacco]


Shameless self-promotion: the left-wing group at Iştirakî have recently published a Turkish translation of an article of mine on Lenin and religion. It appears as ‘Lenin ve Din.’ If you read Turkish, get yourself over to this site, since t... [Lenin] [theology] [Iştirakî] [Middle East] [religion]

June 22, 6PM

The multi-volume diaries of Joseph Goebbels provide a fascinating insight into German assessments of the Red Army during Operation Barbarossa in 1941. The German ‘intelligence’ had concluded that the Red Army was under-prepared, ill-discipline... [Stalin] [Bolsheviks] [Joseph Goebbels] [Moscow] [Operation Barbarossa]


You have to hand it to those wonderfully visionary people who lay the foundations of the modern USA, the land of freedom and democracy. As Benjamin Franklin put it: If it be the Design of Providence to extirpate these Savages in order to make room for Cu... [politics] [Total Depravity] [Benjamin Franklin] [divine providence] [indigenous people] [rum]

June 19, 3AM

The foreigner’s moment of transition is upon me: China is becoming familiar. This is a curious time, when much of what struck me on the first few visits starts to seem like normal. What was different is no longer so; what I once noticed I no longer do, ... [china] [Mao Zedong] [socialism] [West; East; bourgeois democracy; socialist democracy]

June 17, 7PM

More than 100 newly declassified documents in the US have revealed how the CIA printed Russian-language copies of Boris Pasternak’s classic novel Doctor Zhivago during the cold war in an attempt to sow unrest among Soviet citizens. So reports T... [Communism] [Boris Pasternak] [CIA] [Cold War] [Doctor Zhivago]


After an all-night booze-up in Moscow by Churchill and Stalin, the former often stated in public, ‘I like that man.’ [drinking] [Stalin] [booze] [Winston Churchill]


Two wise old women gave me an insight into this question. One of them asked me a couple of years ago: ‘How are things?’ ‘Nothing to complain about,’ I said. ‘That doesn’t seem to stop many people from complaining,’... [another world is possible] [complaining] [intelligence]

June 16, 12 AM

Drawn from a recent study in The Future of the Biblical Past, this table provides a schematic overview of the history of the relations between universities and theological colleges in Australia. The paradox here is that precisely because we don’t ha... [Australia] [universities] [theological colleges]

June 15, 4AM

Hegel certainly provided plenty of material for his right-wing followers, especially concerning the state: The state consists in the march of God in the world, and its basis is the power of reason actualizing itself as will. In considering the Idea of the... [philosophy] [Euro-elitism] [Hegel] [march of God] [state]

June 13, 4PM

Take any bourgeois-radical party— in France, let us say. It will unfailingly call itself a socialist party—“Radical Socialist,” “Independent Socialist,” etc., etc. Before the electors, the masses, the “lower orders,” these parties alwa... [socialism] [Stalin] [European left] [social-democrats]


Even at Jinan railway station, Shandong province (the birthplace of Confucius):   [china] [weird] [raidy boer]

June 10, 4AM

Will Stalingrad get its name back? Putin may well have given his tacit support for the restoration of the name ‘Stalingrad’ to the town of Volgograd. Stalingrad was its name between 1925 and 1961, until the irresponsible Khrushchev dumped the ... [Stalin] [Putin] [Stalingrad] [Volgograd]

June 9, 6PM

The other night some of us were telling stories of the more risible impressions of Australia that we have encountered in our travels, and even at home. A few items: 1. No books? I remember a review of a book written by one of my teachers at Sydney Univers... [Australia] [weird] [hunter-gatherers] [no books] [no culture]

June 8, 9PM

Idols of Nations: Biblical Myth at the Origins of Capitalism, published by Fortress press, should be out any day now (here and here). So in yet another moment of shameless promotion, a few endorsements: A fascinating study unearthing the biblical element... [Idols of Nations] [Fredric Jameson] [James Crossley] [Ken Surin] [shameless self-promotion]

June 7, 2AM

What is it like to live in a country torn apart by civil war – at an everyday level? A few glimpses from correspondence with some friends in Kiev: You caught me just at the moment when I am thinking about what is happening and how to “tell” you ... [politics] [Total Depravity] [civil war] [everyday life] [Ukraine]

June 6, 5PM

Do you want to know what the capitalists want? All power to the capitalists—that is what they want. Do you want to know what the capitalists want? The triumph of the interests of their purses, even if it means the doom of Russia—that is what they want... [Stalin] [capitalists]


A few portraits from the last four months, from different places between Henan and Sichuan, from the countryside to the city: As an Iranian woman in Jinan said to me: God must have been in a very good mood when he created Ch... [china] [socialism] [portraits]

June 5, 1PM

Is this Stalin’s Luther moment? We must discard the antiquated idea that only Europe can show us the way. There is dogmatic Marxism and creative Marxism. I stand by the latter. Stalin, Collected Works, vol. 3, p. 200 [Marxism] [Stalin] [Martin Luther; dogmatic Marxism; creative Marxism]

June 3, 10PM

Corruption is almost always boring, for it involves three factors: power, money and sex. You would think that someone, somewhere, might come up with an original type of corruption. Perhaps defrauding yourself would be a good start, especially if you happe... [politics] [Total Depravity] [corruption]

May 30, 7AM

One of the best ways to foster interest and enthusiasm for the revolution is to have fun with it. In this case, I mean the Cultural Revolution. This evening, I was taken to a Cultural Revolution restaurant here in Chengdu. We were greeted by Chairman Mao,... [Uncategorized]

May 29, 7AM

As the ‘tigers and flies’ anti-corruption campaign works its way through the system, not only is Chairman Mao being invoked regarding the frugal life of party cadres, but so also are ancient proverbs – such as: Even if you have 10,000 he... [Uncategorized]
I am thoroughly enjoying my first visit to the legendary province of Sichuan, in Chengdu to be precise (and being shown around by the able and wise Wu Hua). However, this evening I was in for a real surprise. As we walked to the lecture room, I came acros... [Uncategorized]

May 26, 6AM

It used be a joke with a serious edge to it: Stalin’s time will come, I used to say. Well, it may now be the case, with Domenico Losurdo, Grover Furr, Geoffrey Roberts, David Glantz and others leading the way. I have agreed to write a book on Stalin... [Uncategorized]

May 24, 5AM

On 23 July, 1921, the first national congress of the Communist Party of China was held in Shanghai, at 76 Xingye Road in the former French Concession. Today, almost 100 years later, I introduced my grandson to this famous place: ​ [Uncategorized]

May 17, 3AM

It is not for nothing that Alexandra Kollontai, Clara Zetkin, Rosa Luxemburg and others were suspicious of the suffragettes – that upper middle class movement that bolstered the bourgeois project in the late nineteenth century. An eerily similar sit... [Uncategorized]

May 16, 3PM

One of a series of papers inspired by my gradual immersion into local questions: ‘Is China Communist?’ The article is available over at Philosophers for Change. [Uncategorized]

May 12, 6AM

Yesterday I went to my favourite restaurant in these parts (cheap and wonderful food). However, you need to order the food by writing down the items on a piece of paper, which they collect and take to the kitchen. Previously, I have relied on others to do... [Uncategorized]

May 8, 11PM

This poem was penned (or brushed) by Mao after an argument with his first wife, Yang Kaihui. A wave of the hand, and the moment of parting has come. Harder to bear is facing each other dolefully, Bitter feelings voiced once more. Wrath looks out of your ... [Mao Zedong] [love poem] [Yang Kaihui]

May 5, 5AM

I’ve got to hand it to the students at Renmin, who have come up with this great poster for my public lecture here on 13 May at 19:00. The lecture series is organised by the students and I am the first one to hold forth. Shameless self-promotion, I k... [Uncategorized]

May 3, 3AM

On a recent visit to Beijing with his parents, my grandson took quite a liking to a Dutch children’s song. I bounced him vigorously on my knee and sang a chorus, ‘Hop, paardje, hop; hop, paardje, hop’. When I stopped, he dug his heels in... [Uncategorized]
​ And I have the lingering pleasure of having given a paper at this very academy, which is linked with the Academy of Social Science. [Uncategorized]

April 29, 5AM

I am just back from a couple of days in the mountain villages of rural China. Only a local can do this, so three of them took me for a tour – visiting people, hiking up past the dragon shrines and into even more villages. Meanwhile, over many shots ... [Uncategorized]

April 23, 5AM

I must admit I am still a bit pumped from my visit to Mao’s birthplace in Shaoshan, Hunan province. The food here is simply great, with heaps of spice that makes you cough and your nose run, yet sits easily on the stomach. Maybe that’s because... [Uncategorized]

April 21, 3PM

Over the next few days I will be holding forth in Xiangtan University (in Mao’s birthplace) and then Nankai University (Tianjin). For those who may be attending, the abstracts: Xiangtan University ‘The Need for a "Warm Stream" in Mar... [Uncategorized]


‘Nakedness,’ ‘feet,’ ‘secret parts’ – these and other terms are usually understood as euphemisms for genitals in the Bible. But in my research for ‘The Matriarch’s Muff’ I have found that the Bib... [Uncategorized]

April 20, 5PM

‘May I have a photo with you?’ Again and again I encounter this request in China. It matters little where I am – walking the street in a town, visiting a Buddhist temple, climbing a mountain, or simply minding my own business in a quiet space. And I... [Uncategorized]


I have just returned from a great time in Kaifeng, the ancient imperial capital from a millennium ago. In Henan University, Kaifeng, I met Liang Gong, who is fostering a program of biblical criticism with a particular focus on Marxist biblical criticism. ... [Uncategorized]

April 14, 5AM

CALL FOR PAPERS BIBLE AND CRITICAL THEORY SEMINAR 2014 Deadline for proposals: 31 August 2014 The Seminar calls for papers at the intersection of critical theory and the Bible. We interpret “critical theory” broadly to include not only the seminal wor... [Uncategorized]

April 11, 2PM

The third of a series on sex and love in the works of a youngish Mao. I am drawing from a string of pieces from 1919, which were inspired by the suicide of a Miss Zhao, who killed herself in the marriage sedan that was taking her to a wedding she did not ... [Uncategorized]

April 9, 7PM

Henan University, Kaifeng, Henan, 16-19 April: ‘Western Marxist Approaches to the Bible’ Xiangtan University, Xiangtan, Hunan, (Mao’s birthplace), 22-24 April: The Need for the ‘Warm Stream’ in Marxism Nankai University, Tian... [Uncategorized]

April 6, 10PM

‘If we are unable to read the script, then we are unable to read’. So it is said concerning the ‘traditional’ Chinese script. The saying is really a lament concerning the most recent process of simplification of the script. Of cour... [Uncategorized]

April 3, 8PM

Thanks to LL for this one. [Stalin] [comrades]

April 2, 5PM

Is Australia racist? This question comes up from time to time, both in the local commentariat and internationally. It may be prompted by an event in indigenous politics, or by the brutality of off-shore detention for asylum seekers arriving by boat, or by... [Australia] [Asia] [Identity] [Pacific] [racism]

March 30, 6PM

In a string of pieces from 1919, Mao deals with the questions of sex, love and marriage. These were prompted by the suicide of a Miss Zhao, who killed herself in the marriage sedan that was taking her to a wedding she did not want. One of these articles c... [Mao Zedong] [Sex] [desire] [love]


The first of a couple of posts on sex, love and intimate life from a youthful Mao Zedong. Initially, he moves between sex as a necessary instinct and then as an unstoppable wind from a great gorge (so to speak): Whatever is natural is both true and real. ... [Mao Zedong] [Sex] [desire] [instinct] [motive force]

March 29, 5AM

In 1920, Mao and his friends established the Cultural Book Society in Hunan. This was to be – through spreading new modes of thought – one part of a larger effort to establish an independent state of Hunan. In each of the books sold, the follo... [Books] [Mao Zedong] [reading] [1920] [Cultural Book Society] [Hunan]


On my recent overnight flight from China to Australia, I found myself seated in a row of four with two seats free and a woman at the other end of the row. Dinner was eaten, a movie watched and then each of us sttempted to get comfortable for the night. We... [anatomy] [sleep] [Travel] [Bible] [hand] [Marxism] [thigh]

March 24, 9AM

I can say that while teaching in China I am enjoying the process of setting young and active minds on the correct path. To that end, I tell them: 1. The United States is a very strange country, unlike any other. For that reason, they should not generalise... [Uncategorized]

March 22, 11PM

Marx’s first carbuncle appeared in 1863, growing from a boil on his back to the size of a fist. Eventually the doctor was called. He cut widely and deeply into Karl’s back, letting loose an immense amount of blood and pus. For convalescence, t... [Uncategorized]

March 21, 8AM

One of the features I have begun to notice about Chinese intellectual life is that it is inherently engaged with social and political problems. Often, a scholar will identify what is regarded as the core problem of China as a whole and then seek a solutio... [Uncategorized]


Early in 1851, Marx wrote to Engels one of his many letters, this one concerning ground rent. Early in the letter, he informs Engels: An inverse relationship of the fertility of the soil to human fertility must needs deeply affect a strong-loined paterfa... [Uncategorized]

March 19, 7AM

One of the collaborative research projects we are developing with Fudan University concerns the alienations and structural limitations of the public sphere. That sphere is supposed to be where ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ are found, w... [Uncategorized]

March 15, 1AM

The last text before Mao begins turning to communism is a fascinating series of comments on Friedrich Paulsen’s A System of Ethics. On the question of evil. Mao disagrees with Paulsen and writes: We should emphasise only whether or not the reality a... [Uncategorized]

March 14, 11PM

Last night I took the old slow train from Shanghai to Beijing. Now that the 1300 km run is covered by the sleek G-trains, which manage the distance in less than five hours, older trains are few and far between. The overnight sleeper is almost all that is ... [Uncategorized]

March 11, 3PM

It does make you realise that Napoleon, Hitler and NATO have at least one thing in common. [Uncategorized]


Karl Marx ‘was half Dutch’ [half Nederlands was], wrote his daughter Eleanor in 1893. Why? The first hint begins with her recipient, who was none other than Franc van der Goes, a family member. But the full story is that Marx’s mother wa... [Uncategorized]

March 8, 12 AM

When Paul Lafargue was living with the Marxes in 1866, he made his intentions regarding Laura quite plain so that the whole family knew. Marx was not so impressed, so he wrote: If you wish to continue your relations with my daughter, you will have to give... [Uncategorized]

March 7, 11PM

After being accused of all manner of things, from being a bourgeois swindler of workers to master-minding global revolts, especially the Paris Commune, Marx reflects in a letter to Ludwig Kugelmann (1871): Up till now it has been thought that the growth o... [Uncategorized]


So it is happening. The parliament of the autonomous region of Crimea, which has steadfastly refused to recognise the coup in Kiev, has voted to leave Ukraine and join Russia. To ensure that every thing is done properly, a referendum will also be held on ... [Uncategorized]

March 6, 5AM

At least two things strike me whenever I return to China: the blessed absence of bourgeois democracy and the laughable nature of much international media reporting on places like China (or indeed anywhere else of interest in the world). A good example is ... [Uncategorized]

March 4, 2AM

Did the Ukrainian far right deploy a Leninist party structure to seize power? Four models have been deployed in analysis. 1. It was simply a peaceful protest by concerned citizens who wanted peace, prosperity and freedom. To do so they had to overthrow an... [Uncategorized]

March 3, 6AM

Today I sauntered into the toilets here, minding my own business. As I did so, I smelled the scent of a cigarette. But I could not find the culprit … until I realised that it came from one of the cubicles with a squat toilet. Someone was puffing awa... [Uncategorized]
Having completed what began as a revision and ended up being a largely new book (Marxist Criticism of the Hebrew Bible), my attention now turns to a project I have been wanting to undertake. It is called Intimate Life and focuses on issues such as love, s... [Uncategorized]

March 2, 4AM

Here at Renmin – or the People’s – University of China (Beijing) they have the rather appealing practice of holding a small ceremony for signing the contract. Here I am with some of my new colleagues from the Literature Program: You can... [Uncategorized]

February 28, 8PM

The Information Office of the China State Council has issued its annual human rights report on the USA for 2013. They do this every year, since the US’s own report curiously omits itself from any analysis. The Chinese report highlights: 1. PRISM, th... [Uncategorized]


Two new pieces in other places. 1. ‘Nudging: Can Reform Make a Better Society. A Response to Charles Mathewes and Christina McRorie.’ At Political Theology Today. 2. ‘The Racism of Adam Smith.’ At Philosophers for Change. [Uncategorized]

February 26, 6AM

It is perhaps not recognised as often as it should be that Lenin, and Stalin following him, were fully in favour of Finnish secession and independence: ‘There is at present a movement in Finland for securing national freedom, and there is also the f... [Uncategorized]
"I have always been suspicious of so-called ‘politicians’, afraid that this was not a good kind of thing to be. Today, I’ve truly been given proof of it." Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 1, p. 393. [Uncategorized]

February 23, 8AM

Attacks on Russian Orthodox Churches, looting in Kiev and other cities, beatings of Russian Ukrainians, arrest warrants for most of the ministers of the former government – these are some of the ongoing manifestations of the breakup of Ukraine after... [Uncategorized]

February 22, 8AM

Over the three months or so of the Ukrainian protests, the hypocrisy of Western commentary was clear to nearly all, with its chant of ‘peaceful’ protests. Yes, they were throwing ‘peaceful’ Molotov cocktails laced with napalm, wiel... [Uncategorized]
Protests in most places seem to follow a certain ritual. The protestors march, chant slogans, hold banners, occupy some part of the city, pass out condoms. Occasionally, a few may storm a building and break window or two. For their part, the police don &l... [Uncategorized]

February 21, 6AM

People in these parts think there are piles of coffee shops stacked on every corner, but I guess it seems that way when there were none before. Actually, they are sparse indeed and only to be found in the bigger places. Even so, few locals drink coffee. I... [Uncategorized]

February 19, 5AM

From the endless summer at home, I have arrived in the late winter of Beijing, a city that with its official population would hold the whole of Australia. The unofficial population is of course much higher. The air was pretty thick when I arrived, due to ... [Uncategorized]

February 12, 2AM

I am looking for high quality PhD candidates who wish to study Muslim Marxism. Two such Marxists immediately come to mind: Tan Malaka (short for Ibrahim Gelar Datuk Sutan Malaka), one of the heroes of Indonesian independence; and Hussein Mroué from Leb... [Marxism] [theology] [Hussein Mroué] [Islam] [Tan Malaka]

February 7, 3PM

Many, many years ago my father acquired an old pedal reed organ. Having been constructed some 100 years ago, it had been partially reconditioned in 1962. It’s bellows leaked air, so my father patched up the holes with medical tape. Still, he would p... [woodwork] [Estey organ] [kitchen sink]

February 6, 7PM

A new church in Podgorica in Montenegro has a lovely fresco depicting our good friends, Marx, Engels and Tito enjoying the warmth of hell (more here).   (ht cp) [Engels] [Marx] [hell] [Montenegro] [Tito]

January 30, 7PM

Two new items on the situation Ukraine, which will have profound implications for the geopolitical situation, and not only in Europe. First, a sign that those in eastern Ukraine have little sympathy with the protesters in Kiev and western parts. This com... [politics] [breakup] [civil war] [Ukraine]

January 28, 3PM

Having recently demolished our kitchen, I realised how much crap there really is in a kitchen. Endless cupboards made out of some substance – chipboard – that continues to exude fumes for its entire life, a stove, a fridge, a sink, plumbing, b... [woodwork] [bowl] [fire] [junk] [kitchen] [water]


Two new posts of mine have appeared on the Political Theology Today blog 1. Adam Smith, Storyteller 2. 100 Years of Political Theology: Roland Boer’s Top Ten [politics] [theology] [Adam Smith] [Political Theology] [Top Ten]

January 27, 3AM

More material from the Ukraine. First, from the earliest days these lovely lads have been doing security work for the protesters in the central square in Kiev: Armbands with Ukrainian swastikas, I believe. A necessary item of the ‘security guard... [politics] [breakup] [swastika] [Ukraine] [Voice of Blood]

January 26, 3AM

Two friends from Kiev have sent me some of the latest, expressing the feelings of those who are horrified by what is happening. One hints that the far right senses a chance for a coup. On Saturday, the leaders of the rioters – known as the ‘th... [politics] [Total Depravity] [breakup] [riots] [Ukraine]

January 24, 1AM

Peaceful protest of concerned citizens? So much of the press around here would have us believe that the bunch above are out to burn some candles and sing songs of peace, for the love of Ukraine. Actually, they are part of Svoboda, the All-Ukrainian Union,... [politics] [neo-fascists] [protests] [Svoboda] [Ukraine]

January 22, 7PM

The indefatigable Dialectical Materialist Collective from Kosovo has just published the first – and bumper – issue of the new journal, Crisis and Critique. As you will see, I follow on the heels of none other than Slavoj Žižek. My contribu... [china] [Crisis and Critique] [Dialectical Materialist Collective] [socialist democracy]


I have a new piece on the Philosophers for Change website – on ‘Lenin and Religion’, in concise and accessible form. Thanks to Sanjay for enabling this one, and for some great images. [Lenin] [theology] [Philosophers for Change]
Yesterday was the 90th anniversary of Lenin’s death. As one might expect, the Russian Communist Party and other supporters – as they do on such occasions – were out on Red Square in Moscow to mark the moment: [another world is possible] [Lenin] [90th anniversary] [Lenin's death] [Red Square]

January 21, 7AM

In a subtle and complex piece, ‘Marxism and the National Question’ (1913), Stalin explicitly links the policy of the RSDLP on national self-determination with religion. Here he writes of both freedom of religion and the need to agitate against... [Stalin] [theology] [freedom of conscience] [national question] [reading Stalin] [self-determination]


In the midst of his discussion of the elections in St. Petersburg of 1912, Stalin has this little gem on bourgeois diplomats: When bourgeois diplomats prepare for war they begin to shout very loudly about “peace” and “friendly relations.... [politics] [Stalin] [diplomats] [reading Stalin]
Not many people are engaged in reading Stalin these days, which is a pity. Saint Iosef actually writes rather well, as I find when reading Stalin in bed before drifting off to sleep. For instance, take his leaflet on the First of May: As far back as last ... [another world is possible] [Stalin] [Golden Calf] [kingdom of workers] [Mayday] [reading Stalin]

January 20, 3AM

Our friend, GWF, has a knack of turning out some juicy observations. Take this one from The Philosophy of Right (319), on freedom of the press: To define freedom of the press as freedom to say and write whatever one pleases is equivalent to declaring tha... [philosophy] [freedom of the press] [Hegel]

January 17, 8AM

Among the more than 100 problems to be tackled by the ‘Problem Study Society,’ founded in 1919, is the following: 36. The problem of drilling traffic tunnels under the Bering Sea, the English Channel, and the Straits of Gibraltar. Faced with i... [Mao Zedong] [Bering Sea] [English Channel] [reading Mao] [Straits of Gibraltar] [undersea tunnels]

January 16, 2PM

1. Constantly insist that Marxism is discredited, outdated, and totally dead and buried. Then proceed to build a lucrative career on beating that supposedly ‘dead’ horse for the rest of your working life. 2. Remember, any unnatural death that occurs... [Communism] [anti-communism] [tips]


Whoever uses an air conditioner is a wimp. As the real heat-waves of summer are upon us, many people in these parts flee indoors and turn on the air conditioner. At home, at work, in a car – wherever you happen to be, an air conditioner is availabl... [Australia] [bicycles] [swimming] [air-conditioners] [heat] [summer] [wimps]

January 14, 4AM

In the unending cycle produced by bourgeois democracy, that curious regime of conservatives and liberals in power in Australia for a little while are starting to sound more and more like a hysterical minority. The tired old game of school curriculum refor... [Australia] [conservatives] [feminists] [gays] [greenies] [hysterical minority]

January 13, 4PM

Happened to stumble upon this review of Criticism of Heaven: What a brilliant, wide-ranging, boundary-scoffing book. Boer rampages through Western Marxist thought for almost 500 pages, dissecting and challenging the theological and Biblical aspects that ... [Criticism of Heaven] [shameless self-promotion]

January 10, 2AM

This is without a doubt the calendar to get for 2014. The Russian Orthodox Church – no less – has produced a calendar for this year, with each month offering a stage in Comrade Iosef’s biography. The church website reveals a sample for ... [Stalin] [2014 calendar] [Russian Orthodox Church]

January 7, 3AM

As part of my research concerning the alienated nature of the public sphere (which is normally assumed to be the domain of ‘democratic freedom’), I have been reading Hegel’s The Philosophy of Right. As I do so, I keep coming across all ... [academics as wankers] [barbarians] [Hegel] [planets] [women]

January 6, 3AM

‘Don’t swim after eating or you’ll get stomach cramps and drown.’ ‘Wait an hour after eating before swimming’. These and more are part of the common folklore, repeated ad nauseam to children in summer as they holiday by... [food] [swimming] [myth]

January 5, 4AM

Some more from the fascinating notes made by a youngish Mao on Friedrich Paulsen’s A System of Ethics. Here he reflects on death. To accept it and die, what is there to regret? That the living must die is the law of all natural things, that what co... [another world is possible] [Mao Zedong] [death] [Life] [reading Mao]

January 2, 5AM

At long last, the Bible and Critical Theory Journal is settling into its new home – the University of Newcastle‘s Nova website. A few bumps on the way to resettling, but we have made it. This is a rich bumper issue, 9:1-2, for 2013. Actually, ... [Bible and Critical Theory] [Bible and Critical Theory 9:1-2] [University of Newcastle]

January 1, 2AM

Too often do we neglect the fact that Hegel was German through and through. Every now and then it shows through with one of those sentences that brings you up short. In the midst of his long and rather unoriginal ramble on the question of evil, he writes:... [food] [evil] [Hegel] [sauerkraut]

December 31 2013, 6PM

One of the most derided item in Marx’s works is the idea of primitive communism. To be sure, it has some problems, such as the narrative that moves from undifferentiation to differentiation. But did Marx pinpoint something all the same? One of the d... [another world is possible] [Communism] [Sacred Economy] [ancient Southwest Asia] [Marinaleda] [primitive communism] [subsistence survival] [village-commune]

December 29, 3PM

Has the French President, François Hollande, recalled a trace of socialism? The new super-tax on those earning over 1 million euro is set to go ahead. In a nice twist, it will be companies and employers who pay the 75% tax if they pay an employee over t... [another world is possible] [Australia] [Total Depravity] [François Hollande] [French super-tax] [mean little people] [Tony Abbott]

12 PM

You have to admire the sheer idealism of early socialist policies, such as the policy on drunkenness by the Georgian branch of the party in 1909. Stalin writes: ‘drunkenness is regarded as an inevitable evil under capitalism, which can be abolished ... [another world is possible] [Total Depravity] [drunkenness] [reading Stalin]


You know the ones. They lie at the foot of the toilet, are somewhat soft and plush, and massage your feet when you have a piss:   The problem is that they are always stained, since the prime purpose of such mats is to catch stray drops of piss. They... [Total Depravity] [piss catchers] [toilet mats]

December 28, 5AM

Are pigeons the answer to internet speed and safety from spying? An intriguing suggestion from the Internet Monitor suggests so. A snippet: In 2009, a South African marketing company targeted South Africa’s largest Internet Service provider, Telkom, fo... [odd animals] [internet] [pigeonet] [pigeons]

December 27, 10AM

During the wave of counter-revolutionary measures at the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, the RSDLP (Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party) was facing a crisis. Arrests, exile, repressive government measures, decline in membership, loss ... [Stalin] [reading Stalin] [RSDLP] [Russian Revolution]
There’s plenty of ways to do this – piss off everyone else at a seminar – but I recently experienced an excellent example of how to do this. Begin by spreading your arms to encompass everyone present and saying, ‘thank you for comi... [academics as wankers] [paradigm of crap]

December 23, 3PM

The publication of the fifth volume, In the Vale of Tears, means that The Criticism of Heaven and Earth is complete. Ten years in the making, with 2000 pages of text, it deals with Western Marxism and religion. And you can get it as a box set – th... [Criticism of Heaven and Earth] [shameless self-promotion]

December 22, 3AM

At this time of year, more people than usual tend to stay the night for whatever reason. The polite thing to do as a host is provide clean sheets, clean towels, and a clean bathroom (at least). But then you have to wash the whole damn lot after they leave... [sleep] [Total Depravity] [bathroom] [guests] [sheets] [towels]

December 21, 7PM

Perhaps one of the most important texts by the young Mao is comprised of the extensive notes to the Chinese translation of Fredrich Paulsen’s A System of Ethics. Obviously, it pays close study, but it is not so easy to find. A few moments from over... [Mao Zedong] [body] [lovers] [reading Mao] [spirit]


When the 28-year old Stalin attended the London Congress of the RSDLP (Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party), he first encountered Trotsky. The assessment: Trotsky proved the be ‘pretty but useless’ (Collected Works, vol. 2, p. 52) And in an... [Stalin] [flunkeys of capitalism] [reading Stalin Trotsky]

December 20, 1PM

People are always surprised when I mention that gypsies have been living in Australia for more than 200 years. In fact, the great Australian poet, Henry Lawson (anglicised from Larsen), had a mother with gypsy background. Current estimates put the number ... [Australia] [gypsies]

December 18, 12 PM

A new piece on the reverend Thomas Malthus, one of the not-so-great classical economists, and the doctrine of evil is now up on Political Theology. [Idols of Nations] [doctrine of evil] [Thomas Malthus]
What is the Chinese version of having an argument with yourself? The mind questions the mouth and the mouth questions the mind (Journey to the West, p. 1710). [philosophy] [china] [mind] [mouth]
Following on my last post about silly questions people ask about Australia, here is a list of items my grandparents brought with them when immigrating to Australia in the late 1950s (from the Netherlands). They believed that these items were not available... [Australia] [weird] [Immigration] [living in trees] [Omo] [pot srcubbers] [prehistoric]

December 17, 2AM

Recently the Australian Tourism Board posted a sample of the questions potential visitors ask before coming to Australia, along with answer from the tourism board (copied below). However, I have one to add that may possibly trump them: Q: Where does the s... [Travel] [weird] [Australia] [tourist questions]

December 15, 10PM

Some interesting statistics concerning bourgeois democracies. In a Eurostat study of 2004, people in the EU’s original 15 countries – almost all bourgeois democracies – were asked to evaluate their level of satisfaction with their form... [politics] [bourgeois democracy] [EU] [Latin America]


Less known than it should be, China actually has eight officially recognised parties apart from the Communist Party. These are non-communist parties with a total membership of 700,000 and actually provide invaluable feedback for the government in its cont... [china] [politics] [non-communist] [political parties]

December 14, 1PM

Most European cities are supposed to be human-centred affairs, where everyone gently walks about on quaint streets, enjoys those completely wanky things called ‘culture’ or ‘history’, or breathes the supposed ‘soul’ of ... [Travel] [alienation] [cities] [Europe]
It’s a standard line that a good traveller arrives with a mind and body open to new experiences, realising that much can be learned from the place visited. By contrast, a bad traveller arrives with preconceptions and proceeds, not surprisingly, to f... [Travel] [bad traveller] [faded empires] [good traveller]
I continue to be simultaneously amused and befuddled by European tribalism – that strange notion, asserted in both extreme and subtle fashions, that each of the little countries in that part of the world are quintessentially different from one anoth... [Total Depravity] [Travel] [Europe] [tribalism] [UK]


Loathe as I am to join the flood of material on Mandela after his recent death, it seems as though everyone wants a piece (and is able to get it) from Mandela. It is oddly reminiscent of the death of Tolstoy a little over 100 years ago. Conservatives, ari... [politics] [apartheid] [capitalism] [Nelson Mandela]

December 13, 4PM

Yesterday, Mika (who is visiting here with Elisa from Finland), mentioned this intriguing observation by none other than Mussolini: Nothing is more relativistic than fascist mentality and activism [attività]. If universal relativism and action are equ... [politics] [European spirit] [fascism] [Mussolini] [relativism]


I can’t help noticing a similar feel to these two paintings, one of Thomas Müntzer (from Mühlhausen) addressing the peasants in 1525 and the other of Lenin addressing the workers in 1917.   [Lenin] [Thomas Müntzer]

December 12, 2AM

The other day I suddenly realised that this is the first time in four years that I have been home for a full spring and summer. I’m thoroughly enjoying it: the days have that almost indescribable feel of the first heat of summer; the beaches are som... [Marx] [Newcastle] [swimming] [beach] [Hegel] [Philosophy of Right]

December 11, 9PM

Deng Xiaoping’s well-known slogan from 1982, ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’, was really a condensation of Mao’s earlier and more elaborate reflections on Western influence: To nourish her own culture China needs to assimi... [Mao Zedong] [Chinese traditions] [reading Mao] [Western influence]

December 9, 10PM

With thanks to Koryo Tours. The first is ‘North Korea in 2 minutes’: The second is ‘Comrade Kim Goes Flying’: [Communism] [Travel] [films] [North Korea]

December 8, 3PM

One of the most frequent works Mao cites is Stalin’s Short Course, but he also has some rather nice things to say about Saint Iosef. In a piece from 1939 called ‘Stalin, Friend of the Chinese People’, Mao wrote: On the Twenty-first of D... [Mao Zedong] [Stalin] [reading Mao]


Alongside his preference for self-sufficiency and the importance of Chinese traditions, Mao was also quite aware of the importance of international conditions for the success of the Chinese Revolution. The Soviet Union was pivotal. To begin with: The Sovi... [Mao Zedong] [Stalin] [Chinese Revolution] [Japanese surrender] [reading Mao] [Red army] [Second World War]

December 7, 10PM

I am more keen than ever to get to North Korea in the next year, especially after reading Robert Myles’s account of his travels there. The question is what I should do, for there are many options. I may want to cycle through different parts: Or go ... [bicycles] [hiking] [trains] [Embalming Our Leaders] [North Korea]

December 5, 5PM

A number of blog items have appeared recently on other sites: The Revelations of Belarus The Art of the Moscow Metro Stalin’s Seven Sisters These are on ‘Voyages on the Left’, while the following is on Political Theology: John Locke, the... [Idols of Nations] [Travel] [Belarus] [John Locke] [Moscow Metro] [Stalin's Seven Sisters]

December 3, 9PM

After recently witnessing yet again the devastation caused by neo-classical economic ideologues in the USA and by the European Union, I can’t help wondering: Why would anyone think that the economic model touted so vigorously by ideologues in the US... [Economics] [Total Depravity] [EU] [Ukraine]

December 2, 3AM

Nice to be home, even after a great session at the Society of Biblical Literature on my book, The Sacred Economy (more on that soon). Above all, it is wonderful to greet our pet spider, who dwells in a corner by the dining table.   It is a treat to... [food] [hairy creatures of God] [home] [moth] [spider]

November 30, 2PM

‘What is this? Brown water?’ He said with a look of disgust after sipping from his cup. ‘Isn’t it supposed to be coffee?’ I said. ‘Americans make such bad coffee it barely deserves to be called coffee at all,’ he said. ‘I once spilled a cu... [Economics] [coffee] [neoliberal economics] [USA]
The powers that be like to tell us that an economic crisis affects everyone. In the same way that bankers, business leaders, and politicians suffer in an economic crash, so do the little people such as workers, farmers, and so on. We’re all in it togeth... [Economics] [crisis] [Haiti] [September 11]

November 23, 12 PM

This one would have to be one of the highlights of making the trek to Baltimore. The SBLAAR – Society of Beer Lovers & Assorted Academic Research – is having an informal reception today (Saturday) at Christ Lutheran Church from 7pm–10pm... [drinking] [Baltimore] [beer] [He/brew(')s Beer or H(om)ebrew] [SBLAAR]

November 22, 6PM

We’ve just completed three days by train across the strangest country in the world, the USA. The Southwest Chief runs from Los Angeles to Chicago, and then the Capitol Limited runs onto Washington (and a local train takes you to Baltimore). Three da... [trains] [weird] [Capitol Limited] [Southwest Chief] [USA]


The USA feels more and more like travelling to Mars or some other alien planet. We arrived to find a frenzy of memorials to JFK (John F. Kennedy, for dolts like me who don’t realise what the shorthand means), who was assassinated 50 years ago. Yet b... [politics] [Total Depravity] [anti-communist thug] [John F. Kennedy]

November 16, 12 AM

I’m not sure about this one. It was made for a children’s program called ‘Histeria!’ which ran from 1998 to 2000. Are there comparable efforts out there for worthwhile children’s shows and picture books? (ht sk) [Marx] [animation] [children] [Television]

November 14, 12 AM

I am working on an articles called ‘Towards a Materialist Doctrine if Evil’, which may form the basis of a chapter in a book on Stalin. So here are some first and possibly provocative thoughts on the crucial role of the Red Terror in such a do... [Lenin] [Mao Zedong] [Stalin] [theology] [doctrine of evil] [reading Stalin] [Red Terror]

November 13, 3AM

One of the most fascinating pieces by the young Mao is ‘A Study of Physical Education’ (1917). After his theoretical considerations, he comes to the nub of the matter: what is one to do? He does nothing less than propose his own gym routine. T... [Mao Zedong] [pastimes] [exercise] [gym] [nude] [reading Mao]

November 11, 2AM

I rarely agree with his politics, but Paul Keating (former Australian PM) is one I curiously can’t help admiring. He still has a way of cutting through and saying things in a way that make you stop and say, ‘shit yeah’. Today, in his spe... [politics] [Total Depravity] [First World War] [Paul Keating] [Remembrance Day]

November 8, 5PM

As I opened the second volume of Stalin’s Collected Works, which I bought from a second hand bookshop in Kansas (!), a slip of paper fell out with the following notice: This material is filed with the Department of Justice where the required stateme... [politics] [Stalin] [Cold War] [Foreign Agents Registration Act] [reading Stalin]

November 7, 3AM

The burden of growing up in China. A youthful Mao reflects: The study of how to be a citizen is the study of the history, geography, political doctrine, and artistic climate of one’s country … Certainly, the study of being a person or a citize... [Mao Zedong] [research] [china] [Germany] [Japan] [reading Mao]

November 6, 7PM

No sooner is the hardcover of In the Vale of Tears published than the paperback appears. Or rather, the good lefties at Haymarket plan to publish the paperback in June 2014. The front cover image is already available: [In the Vale of Tears] [Haymarket] [shameless self-promotion]


Is it possible to construct a Maoist Christology? Earlier, I noted some reflections from the young Mao on Jesus, only to come across yet more. He begins by noting Confucius’s famous observation: ‘The superior man wishes to be slow in speech an... [Mao Zedong] [theology] [jesus] [reading Mao] [speech]


The Norwegian University of Science and Technology has come up with an easy way to measure what they call your fitness age – without having to exhaust yourself on a treadmill (with the same result). They have put the calculator here. For me, the vit... [bicycles] [hiking] [mountain climbing] [swimming] [walking] [Yoga] [fitness age]

November 5, 9PM

Following my earlier post concerning the Strong Party of Kosovo, I have just been informed (by Agon Hamza) that the party won two seats in the municipal assembly of Prishtina. And this in the face of concerted attacks by the main parties. The national el... [politics] [elections] [Kosovo] [Strong Party]

November 4, 11PM

In his long and intriguing piece from 1906-7, called ‘Anarchism or Socialism?’, Stalin writes on the fortunate reality that human beings walk upright on two legs. One can only imagine what the philosophy of a quadruped might look like. It is w... [philosophy] [Stalin] [bipeds] [Consciousness] [quadrupeds] [reading Stalin]
The standard line on Stalin’s relationship to Lenin is that the man of steel borrowed and then developed or twisted (depending on your perspective) some of Lenin’s key concepts, which the latter had developed from Marx. A close reading of Stal... [Lenin] [Stalin] [arms] [dictatorship of the proletariat] [reading Stalin]


Last Sunday, elections were held in Kosovo for mayors and local councillors. One of the more interesting parties that contested the elections is the Strong Party. With the slogan, ‘we always promise!’, the party has appealed to young people di... [politics] [Kosovo] [Strong Party]

November 3, 3PM

Volume five of The Criticism of Heaven and Earth series is at last published. In the Vale of Tears: On Marxism and Theology V brings to a close my study of Western Marxism and religion, offering a statement of my own response to that tradition. To my c... [In the Vale of Tears] [shameless self-promotion]


This came up tonight, with a visitor who is here for a couple of months – Mika from Finland. He reminded me that Alexandre Kojève - famous for his lectures on Hegel in 1930s Paris and for being one of the architects of the European Common Market &... [another world is possible] [KGB] [Kojève]

November 1, 11AM

Does Clive Palmer express the truth of bourgeois politics? For those not in the know, Clive Palmer is the billionaire miner who leads a brand new political party called PUP, the Palmer United Party. Formed only 12 weeks before the elections on 7 September... [Australia] [politics] [Clive Palmer] [Palmer United Party] [truth]


Mao might have his criticisms of useless scholarship and writing, but he also has some suggestions as to how one might write: Articles should store up forces within. Emerging from Longmen, the Yellow River rushes all the way down to Tongguan. As it turns ... [Mao Zedong] [research] [reading Mao] [Writing] [Yellow River]
More from the young Mao, even before he was a communist: China has freedom but the Western countries have despotism. China’s politics and laws are simple and  taxes are light, but the Western countries are just the opposite (The Writings of Mao Zed... [politics] [china] [freedom] [reading Mao] [West]


Begin with purple flesh from the hump of a camel (tuo geng) and stew. Meanwhile, take the milk from a mare, agitate it until it ferments and turns into yoghurt (tong jiu). Eat the stewed camel hump, while drinking the fermented mare’s yoghurt, and t... [drinking] [food] [camel broth] [camel hump] [mare's milk yoghurt]

October 31, 2AM

Someone said, ‘I see, in history, some great men did not regret even the sacrifice of their own lives and families.’ The sages and worthies who wanted to save the world have acted thus, such as Confucius (at Chen and at Kuang), Jesus (who died... [Mao Zedong] [theology] [jesus] [reading Mao] [Socrates]

October 30, 6AM

Following Mao’s example in identifying three problems and then addressing each in turn, I have been pondering three traps of the intellectual life. 1. Institutional thinking. The institution – university, school, or whatever – becomes th... [academics] [Total Depravity] [I deserve it] [institutional thinking] [linear thinking]

October 29, 3AM

Quirky signs with unwitting senses – part of the pleasure of travel in distant places. This is the name of a well endowed cafe at Leipzig railway station. Not to be outdone, the ship from Riga to Stockholm sports a somewhat different culinary exper... [anatomy] [ships] [smoking] [trains] [asiahung] [signs] [wc cafe]

October 27, 5PM

Mao was in the habit of swimming across the Changjiang (or Yangtze River), especially in spring and summer. He also liked to swim across the Xiang River in his home province of Hunan. Every now and then his conversations were recorded, such as this one: P... [Mao Zedong] [swimming] [American imperialism] [Changjiang (Yangtze River)] [reading Mao]

October 26, 8PM

This one came up this morning, for some reason or other. Thinking back, I realised that the last time I lost my temper was in 2007, after my youngest daughter had driven me to distraction (she was 16 at the time). Since then, I’ve mellowed somewhat ... [another world is possible] [temper]

12 PM

A suitable subtitle might be: party struggle as a mode of philosophy. Running through Stalin’s early debates with the Georgian Mensheviks (published in Proletariatis Brdzola) are the matters of dialectics, class, politics and philosophy. All of them... [philosophy] [politics] [Stalin] [immanence] [queer knight] [reading Stalin] [transcendence]

October 25, 5AM

Some advice from Mao on how the brain functions: Lenin and Stalin often advised people to use their brains, and we should give the same advice. This mechanism, the brain, has the special function of thinking. Mencius said, “The office of the mind is... [Mao Zedong] [brain] [knitting the brow] [reading Mao]

October 24, 7PM

Nudism was a particularly strong feature of the USSR, as also in East Germany. Lenin was, of course, a nudist, along with Krupskaya and many of the Bolsheviks. But what about Stalin? I have yet to find out more information on that one, but he is a long-te... [anatomy] [Stalin] [swimming] [Crimea] [Fox Bay] [nudism] [reading Stalin]


Following on from my earlier post on social democracy as the natural partner of the free market, I read with interest Guy Rundle’s recent piece in the Arena magazine (also found here). Interesting argument: Kevin Rudd had an emancipatory vision of A... [Economics] [politics] [Australian Labor party] [capitalism] [Guy Rundle] [Kevin Rudd] [social democracy] [Tony Abbott]


A new post on Arminianism and Calvinism (challenging Weber’s dodgy thesis) is up at the Political Theology blog. If you accept Weber’s premises (which I do not), then it was Arminianism, not Calvinism, that provided the enabling ethic of capit... [blogs] [Economics] [Arminius] [Calvinism] [capitalism] [Hugo Grotius] [Political Theology]

October 23, 4AM

Comrade Iosef was quite the orthodox socialist, it appears. In his article, ‘Briefly About Disagreements in the Party‘ (1905  - it actually goes on for quite a while), he subscribes to the position laid out in the Erfurt Program of 1891, and ... [Communism] [Stalin] [compass] [Erfurt Program] [Kautsky] [reading Stalin] [ship]

October 22, 3PM

This is a place where you should publish at least one article: Memoria Ethnographica. The journal is published at the North University Centre of the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca. It is based in Baia Mare, in the Maramures district of Transylvania ... [research] [Call for Papers] [Memoria Ethnographica]

October 21, 3AM

Comrade Iosef is a pretty good read, although few do take the time to read his work carefully. Here’s some of his thoughts on useless scholarship. To begin with, he hasn’t got much time for metaphysicians: This reminds me of the Russian metaph... [academics as wankers] [Stalin] [anatomist] [metaphysicians] [reading Stalin] [scholars]
Precisely because of his own education, Mao had little time for the majority of scholars and their institutions. After mentioning Lenin and Stalin as positive examples (in ‘On Practice’), he notes their opposite: The saying, ‘without ste... [academics as wankers] [Mao Zedong] [articles] [intellectuals] [reading Mao] [speeches]

October 20, 3AM

At last, the comprehensive reading of Mao and Stalin has begun (by me, that is). So, I guess it’s time to begin a series of posts on ‘reading Mao’ and ‘reading Stalin’. To begin with, Mao’s approach to typographical err... [Mao Zedong] [birthdays] [misprints] [plain living] [reading Mao] [street names]

October 19, 2AM

My article on the 2013 Australian elections is now published in The International-Marxist Humanist journal. It’s called ‘Enter the Genuine Conservatives: Australia’s Election in 2013.’ It basically explores the argument that Tony... [politics] [conservatives] [International Marxist-Humanist] [Roman Catholic Social Teaching] [Tony Abbott]

October 18, 8PM

As a writer who happens to be connected with universities (for a pittance), the issue of publishing is somewhat important. I have also been involved extensively in major editing roles over the years, with both journals and books. A question that keeps com... [Books] [research] [library genesis] [open-access] [publishing]

October 15, 6PM

Well worth a regular visit: Materializmi Dialektik is run by a group of Marxists in Prishtina, Kosovo. [Marxism] [Dialectical Materialism] [Kosovo]


Sergey put me onto this one. The Tbilisi News has a number of reports of the progress in resurrecting Stalin’s massive statue in his home town of Georgia. Most of them are linked to a rather puzzled reporter for none other than the Wall Street Jour... [Stalin] [Georgia] [Gori] [resurrection]

October 14, 3AM

While on the trail of Thomas Müntzer, we were staying in the old mill in the town of Allstedt (Saxony-Anhalt). At the foot of the stairs is a box of free books, some of them hailing from the time of the DDR. Rifling through the collection, Christina cam... [another world is possible] [music] [children's songs] [East Germany] [May Day] [Sputnik]

October 12, 2AM

A new piece over at Political Theology Today on ‘How to Read Ancient Texts’. Obviously, I’m not the first to reflect on that perennial question, but these reflections relate directly to how one reads texts in relation to socio-economic ... [Sacred Economy] [socio-economic life] [texts]

October 11, 11PM

As one does, I have been reflecting on how I relate to my grandson, Zac, while reading Jameson’s The Hegel Variations. What fascinates me is the way Zac looks intently at me (all over my face, I’m told), responds and gurgles and chatters, kno... [Opa] [philosophy] [absence] [Consciousness] [Fredric Jameson] [my grandson]

October 10, 8PM

The manuscript for Idols of Nations went off to the press (Fortress) a month ago, so here’s some details, the preface, and a table of contents: Idols of Nations: Biblical Myth at the Origins of Capitalism Roland Boer and Christina Petterson Minneapo... [Idols of Nations] [preface] [table of contents]

October 8, 3AM

In the very long list of hotel rules in Minsk (part of one’s contract), we found the following: [Travel] [Belarus] [Minsk] [Runglish]

October 5, 9PM

Reblogged from The Weekly Bolshevik:   In the West, when Stalin’s name is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is the “millions of deaths” under his “ruthless regime”. For decades, fascist and capitalist propagandists alike perpetu... [Stalin] [Deaths] [USSR]


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 on... [another world is possible] [Stalin Prize] [India] [revolutionary names]


Forget the Great Wall, hutongs in Beijing, shopping in Shanghai, the Forbidden City – the best places to visit are the key points in the Chinese Revolution. Yan’an is an absolute must, for here the Central Committee and the Red Armies establis... [china] [Norman Bethune] [Revolutionary Memorial Hall] [Yan'an] [Yangjialing]

September 30, 10PM

A curious angle on my new project: Embalming our Leaders. This one is an under water museum of leaders in the Crimea. It includes Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Zinovyev, Dzerzhinsky, Kirov, Voroshilov, Gorky, and others. (ht sk) [Embalming Our Leaders] [Lenin] [Marx] [Stalin] [Crimea] [under water museum]

September 28, 8PM

The Chinese may have the most efficient and comprehensive rail network in the world, the Scandinavians may have the most expensive trains, but those soviet-era Russian trains leave everyone well behind when it comes to comfort. They comprise one of the le... [another world is possible] [trains] [built to last] [comfort] [Red Arrow] [soviet era]


This one is due out soon with Duke University Press, edited by Peter Thompson and part of the renewed interest in Ernst Bloch: Description The concept of hope is central to the work of the German philosopher Ernst Bloch (1885–1977), especially in his m... [Books] [Ernst Bloch] [Privatization of Hope]

September 21, 7AM

The truth is finally out: social democracy loves the free market, always has. Over the last few years, a reasonable section of the commentariat has noted the supposed shift of social democratic parties to liberal economic policies. The story goes: once up... [politics] [Bob Hawke] [Economist] [free market] [Labor] [Paul Keating] [Saul Eslake] [social democracy]

September 19, 2AM

Belarus is a kick-arse country, usually off the radar for most. What’s so good about it? We arrived on a slow train from Moscow to find a country that is a model for what the Eastern Bloc should have done after 1989. Belarus had the balls to resists... [Communism] [Lenin] [Belarus] [KGB] [USSR]

September 17, 5AM

Just completed a PhD? If so, you are probably completely sick and tired of the whole process. The last thing you want to do is engage in further research, since the PhD thesis was like scaling a Mt. Everest of information, ideas, and directions. Who would... [Books] [research] [PhD] [second book]

September 16, 11AM

Having just arrived in Minsk by slow train from Moscow, I found myself once again thanking God for communism. Apart from the hammer and sickles liberally sprinkled throughout Belarus, you’d never have had this without communism:   That shaving... [another world is possible] [Communism] [Belarus] [Minsk] [Sputnik]

September 15, 11AM

What should one do in Moscow? Apart from paying your respects to Lenin (done, with a story to come), the next most important thing is to tour Stalin’s seven sisters. There’s plenty of Stalin-era buildings in town, but these are truly magnifice... [another world is possible] [Communism] [Stalin]

September 14, 11AM

Want to see Stalin’s seven sisters in Moscow? Or the well-kept soviet architecture of Minsk? Or even the fascinating Lenin museum in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital? Comtourist is the place to go, dedicated to all things communist, past and present. Add... [Communism] [Travel] [Comtourist] [man in seat 61]


Yes, we went to see them – again. For me, this was the ninth time since 2005. So now I’ve seen Tull in Australia, UK, USA, Denmark, Norway, and Russia. They seem to like turning up in places where I happen to be. [music] [Travel] [Jethro Tull] [St. Petersburg]

September 13, 8AM

Yes indeed, the man of steel himself:   I guess he’ll join Mao and Lenin when he gets home. [Uncategorized]

September 10, 7AM

Apparently, Adam Smith lived with his mother and was, as one commentator puts it, ‘unmarriageable’. Perhaps the reason may be found in one of his common practices: He became one of the sights of Edinburgh, where he was given to rambling the s... [academics as wankers] [Idols of Nations] [Adam Smith] [Marriage] [peculiar affected voice]

September 7, 7AM

Can’t resist this one. Here’s my grandson, Zachary Ian Boer, born to Sam and Karen the day before yesterday:     I’m already teaching him to say ‘Opa’. [another world is possible] [grandson] [Opa]

September 5, 4AM

Having been tipped off at the Bible and Critical Theory Seminar, I am now in wikipedia. And sparkling entry it is too, in the List of Notable Australian Presbyterians. To wit: “Roland Boer – Self-proclaimed Christian Communist and biblical s... [academics as wankers] [Biblical Studies] [Australia] [Notable Presbyterians] [Wikipedia]

September 3, 10PM

Power/Religion: A Revanche of Reaction or a Metaphor of Revolution? Venues: Helsinki (University of Helsinki) and St Petersburg (European University at St Petersburg and Russian Christian Academy for Humanities) Date: September 10–15, 2013 After a shor... [politics] [theology] [conference] [Helsinki] [Power/Religion] [St. Petersburg]

September 2, 9PM

One after another, women tell me there is something creepy about Tony Abbott, the leader of the Liberal Party in Australia and possible prime minister after this Saturday’s elections. His eyes dart about, as though looking for a suitable “obje... [politics] [Total Depravity] [lecher] [Tony Abbott]


This question arose during a recent, brief stay in hospital. I had my third bout of atrial fibrillation in the last 17 years and went to emergency. They pumped me full of various drugs for the next 24 hours – flecainide, metropol, and amiodarone. No... [anatomy] [philosophy] [atrial fibrillation] [causation] [heart]

August 30, 12 AM

The other day as I was out at the shops, I was pondering my chapter in Idols of Nations called ‘Adam Smith the Story-Teller’. But I needed a piss, so to the toilets near the shops I went. Minding my own ‘business’ and deep in thou... [anatomy] [Total Depravity] [Adam Smith] [toilet sex] [visible hand]

August 29, 4PM

Wealth of Nations really is a massive jumble of material, reading much like a compendium into which Adam Smith threw his opinions on the world, the universe, anything. I fail to see how mind-numbing and seemingly endless accounts of herring preservation, ... [academics as wankers] [Idols of Nations] [Adam Smith] [Travel] [universities] [young men]

August 26, 12 AM

Probably the most abused slogan from Adam Smith is his “invisible hand.” Even though it appears only three times in his writings, it has made more than one economist drool and not a few theologians see divine traces. First, the appearances: in... [anatomy] [Idols of Nations] [Adam Smith] [hidden penis] [invisible hand]

August 24, 10PM

What is the real cause of a famine? A bad season perhaps, or greedy grain speculators. No, for Adam Smith, a famine has never arisen from any other cause but the violence of government attempting, by improper means, to remedy the inconveniencies of a de... [academics as wankers] [Idols of Nations] [Total Depravity] [Adam Smith] [famine] [grain speculators]


It is probably not known as much as it should be that Adam Smith, the supposed ideologue of free market capitalism, was actually suspicious of foreign trade, especially the carrying trade: The great object of the political oeconomy of every country, is to... [Uncategorized]
That spinner of tales, Adam Smith, provides the answer: It is not the multitude of alehouses, to give the most suspicious example, that occasions a general disposition to drunkenness among the common people; but that disposition arising from other caus... [Economics] [Idols of Nations] [Total Depravity] [Adam Smith] [ale-houses] [Guns]


The farce that is known as an ‘election campaign’ is still upon us here in Australia. Two weeks to go before we are relieved from the inanities and mindless drivel. However, the most interesting item seems to have slipped by the notice of mos... [politics] [Total Depravity] [Australian elections] [bourgeois democracy] [young people]

August 23, 7PM

Ethnocentrism is run of the mill stuff for the classical economists, often in virulent form. China causes them particular headaches, given its wealth, population, and sophistication. Isn’t Western Europe, especially England, the most advanced place ... [china] [Idols of Nations] [Adam Smith] [ethnocentrism] [polemic]

August 22, 6PM

Gotta love Adam Smith, writing as he does from a ruling class perspective. So he writes of the working class man: The torpor of his mind renders him, not only incapable of relishing or bearing a part in any rational conversation, but of conceiving any gen... [Economics] [Idols of Nations] [Adam Smith] [intellectuals] [working class]

August 21, 8PM

The Reverend Thomas Malthus may well have provided the possibility of a new pick-up line. Let’s begin with his two laws of human nature, established by the “Being who first arranged the system of the universe”: First, That food is necess... [Idols of Nations] [Sex] [Total Depravity] [pick-up line] [Thomas Malthus]

August 19, 6AM

I must admit, I still don’t get the excitement over the classical economists such as Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Thomas Malthus, John Stuart Mill. Intelligent they are not; dull ideologues of the ruling class they are. For instance, here is the ̵... [Idols of Nations] [English workers] [ideologue] [John Stuart Mill] [savages]

August 18, 5PM

Some more shameless self-promotion: Equinox has published the paperback version of my Nick Cave: A Study of Love, Death and Apocalypse. And they are offering a 25% discount. Here’s how: 1. log in here. 2. When you get to the appropriate point, add ... [Books] [25% discount] [Nick Cave] [shameless self-promotion]

August 17, 6PM

One of the most enjoyable parts of spending time in former and current communist countries is the way space is produced. I have tried to express this in my piece called “Berlin Epiphany.” Different modes of production and social formations pr... [another world is possible] [Communism] [Alexanderplatz] [East Germany] [murals] [Walter Womacka]

August 16, 3AM

Upon returning from China, my author copies of Lenin, Religion, and Theology were waiting for me. Nice welcome home: It weighs in at 360 pages and is available from Palgrave Macmillan and the usual outlets, some of which will give you a look inside the... [Lenin, Religion, and Theology] [Palgrave Macmillan] [reading Lenin]

August 14, 5AM

During my recent trip to China, I was asked: ‘Do you think China’s problem is that we don’t believe?’ ‘What do you mean?’ I said. ‘A Western religion like Christianity assumes that you must believe’, my companion said. ‘You must have an ... [china] [politics] [theology] [Belief] [Burton Mack] [Graham Ward] [Slavoj Žižek]

August 13, 4AM

The man certainly gets around. Another shot from Lenin in Antarctica (see also here): This one is, I believe, from Cuba or thereabouts: Lenin and Krupskaya near Shushenskoe, Siberia: Perhaps this is the reason he gets around so well: All of this remin... [Lenin] [walking the earth]

August 12, 7PM

This one is certainly not celebrated or even mentioned when the disciples of Adam Smith wax forth: he was deeply suspicious of paper money, speaking of being ‘suspended upon the Daedalian wings of paper money’ (Wealth of Nations, II.2.86). And... [Economics] [Idols of Nations] [Adam Smith] [paper money] [useless professions]


I know this one has achieved quite a bit of coverage here in Australia and in some places overseas, but for those readers not up on the election campaign happening here … yesterday, the leader of the Liberal Party, Tony Abbott, opined: ‘No one... [politics] [Total Depravity] [know your enema] [suppository of wisdom] [Tony Abbott]

August 11, 9PM

This year’s BCT seminar is all set to go on 6-7 September. So here’s the program. Full paper proposals here. Venue is the Trinity Bar, Surrey Hills, Sydney. Friday, 6 September, 2013 1000-1130     Roland Boer The Power of Chusing Moral Goo... [Bible and Critical Theory] [program] [seminar]
Good question. The last issue appeared in the second half of 2012 and nothing has appeared since. The reason is simple: we are transferring servers to the University of Newcastle. But it is taking a little longer than expected. The latest word is that it ... [Bible and Critical Theory]


In his little parable of the potato, Adam Smith opines that oats are worst (look at the Scottish), wheat a little better (peruse the English), but potatoes … he veritably drools over the Irish: The chairmen, porters, and coalheavers in London, and ... [Idols of Nations] [Adam Smith] [drooling] [Irish] [potato]


Walking along the streets in Yan’an, in northern Shaanxi Province, we heard this song blaring out in the centre of town: Ye, it was musak, or piped music, providing us all with a tranquil atmosphere on a lovely summer’s day in the mountains. ... [anatomy] [Total Depravity] [Khia] [My Neck My Back] [piped music] [Yan'an]

August 10, 10PM

One of many parables by that great story-teller, Adam Smith. It’s point is that difficulty, filth, and dishonour result in higher pay. So we read of the journeyman tailor, smith, and collier, only to come across the closing lines of the parable: Hon... [Economics] [Idols of Nations] [Adam Smith] [executioner] [parable]

August 9, 3PM

Ever notice how people who challenge bourgeois democracies are called ‘whistleblowers’ rather than ‘dissidents’? Dissidents of course exist only in oppressive ‘regimes’, courageously challenging totalitarian dictatorshi... [politics] [Bradley Manning] [dissidents] [Edward Snowden] [regimes] [whistleblowers]


Adam Smith may be noted for borrowing the ideas of other people, for his story-telling and myth-making, but on one matter at least he fails abysmally. That is the question of sex. All I have been able to find is this: Poverty, though it no doubt discourag... [Sex] [Adam Smith] [myth-maker]

August 8, 11PM

Yes, he’s in Antarctica too, at the “Pole of Inaccessibility” – the old Soviet base established in 1950: (ht sk; Cookson69) [another world is possible] [Lenin] [Antarctica]

August 7, 4PM

This is found in the Law Faculty of Humboldt University, which used to be part of East Germany:   It is sometimes called the Marx window, but the focus is much more on Lenin, as the details show: Shows what can be done with such a format when yo... [Lenin] [DDR] [Humboldt University] [Shows] [stained glass]


It’s easy to become bored with political scandals. The same, unoriginal trio keeps turning up: sex, money, and power. So full credit to a certain Australian politician for at least an original twist. As ‘The Drinks Business‘ reports: Pet... [Total Depravity] [originality] [penis] [red wine]

August 5, 11AM

Some people may already know that I have accepted a position at Renmin University of China, in Beijing. For those interested in fancy titles, I will be the Xin Ao Professor of Literature there. It entails one semester a year in China. But why? Why would I... [china] [Renmin University] [socialism with Chinese characteristics]

August 4, 3PM

August 3, 4PM

These are from his Principles of Political Economy (1821). Needless to say, he’s not in favour of republics or democracy, and rather likes the aristocracy: And when we consider how very difficult it is, under any circumstances, to establish a well-c... [Economics] [Idols of Nations] [aristocracy] [democracy] [republic] [Thomas Malthus]

August 2, 4AM

After a visit to the great revolutionary centre of Yan’an, where the reds reformed after the Long March in the 1930s, I have found a few more items to add to my collection. Yan’an is of course the ‘cradle of the revolution,’ the ba... [another world is possible] [Mao Zedong] [Yan'an]

July 31, 7PM

Malthus’s Essay on the Principle of Population is a book everyone should read, partly for its sheer lack of insight and dubious arguments, but also for its unwitting pearlers. Some choice moments: On higher wages for workers: It is a general compla... [Sex] [Total Depravity] [reason] [Thomas Malthus] [wages]


Here they are, the final paper proposals for the Bible and Critical Theory Seminar. This crazily stimulating event will happen in about five weeks time, this time at a pub in Sydney. Date: 6-7 September 2013 Venue: Edens Room, Trinity Bar, Surry Hills, S... [Bible] [drinking] [Bible and Critical Theory Seminar] [paper proposals]

July 30, 8PM

In the rather obnoxious town of Ljubljana in Slovenia – from where Žižek hails - one finds eventually finds the university. This is the institution where he has spent most of his working life. Before the main building you may notice a circle of o... [academics as wankers] [Total Depravity] [Ljubljana] [Zizek]


There’s nothing particularly new in the liberal economic arsenal, since they’ve been trotting out the same stuff for more than 200 years. Take the incredibly naive Thomas Malthus, for instance, on age pensions, support for single mothers and f... [Economics] [Total Depravity] [Malthus] [old] [single mothers] [unemployed]

July 29, 8PM

A new piece on that topic over at Philosophers for Change. (Sanjay chose the rather intriguing pictures for this one). [another world is possible] [Communism] [Christian communism] [Philosophers for Change]


As part of my reading for Idols of Nations, I have to work my way through some mind-numbingly dull material. Hugo Grotius is bearable to a point, but John Locke and Adam Smith and the others are dead bores. ‘Utter tedium’ barely captures it, ... [Economics] [Sex] [Total Depravity] [John Locke]

July 28, 11AM

One of the things you notice after being in eastern Germany for a while is the continuous ideological warfare against the GDR. It happens at so many levels, from everyday conversation through to official policies by the government. One of the most pernici... [another world is possible] [socialism] [East Germany] [GDR] [petition]


One of the more stunning parts of east Berlin is the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park. It’s the main memorial to the Soviet taking of Berlin – yes, it was the Soviets who captured Berlin and put an end to Hitler’s efforts. 5,000 of ... [Lenin] [Stalin] [Berlin] [Soviet War Memorial] [Treptower Park]

July 27, 7AM

July 25, 4PM

Mention to anyone that you are going to spend some time in Beijing, let alone work there for a few months a year, and the knee-jerk response is: ‘how can you breathe there? Isn’t the air terrible?’ The American Embassy seems to be respon... [another world is possible] [air quality] [Beijing]

June 28, 8AM

ONE DAY LEFT! CALL FOR PAPERS BIBLE AND CRITICAL THEORY SEMINAR 2013 Deadline for proposals: 30 June 2013 Please send paper proposals of 150-200 words to: Roland Boer: Roland.Boer(at) Sean Durbin: sean.durbin(at) Details Dates for... [Bible and Critical Theory] [BCT 2013] [Call for Papers]

June 27, 1AM

For those not in the know concerning the intricacies of Australian politics, Kevin Rudd is once again prime minister. He was axed three years ago for Julia Gillard, and now she has been axed for Kev from Queensland. I am not usually one to comment on Aust... [politics] [Total Depravity] [Julia Gillard] [Kevin Rudd] [leadership]

June 24, 1PM

‘What is good?’ asked Plato, ventriloquizing through Socrates. By that he meant: how do we characterise a wealthy, noble, ruling class male? So also with a word like German Adel (edel). As the Germans around me point out, the word means aristo... [politics] [Adel] [corruption] [edel] [good] [Plato]

June 23, 4AM

The other night, I happened to be on a bicycle at a northerly latitude. Not only had the last light finally faded by 11.30 pm, but the glimmer of dawn began not long after 2.00 am. (Don’t ask why we were out on a bike at those hours). Soon after 2.0... [hairy creatures of God] [birds] [northern summer nights] [sleep deprivation]

June 22, 10AM

Is Walt Disney the one to blame for the Disneyfication of the world? Yes is the usual answer to this question. Disney is supposed to have had a dreadful effect on the way the world is perceived, experienced, and travelled. Think of the analogy with the Ma... [Travel] [Disney] [Disneyfication] [Epcot Center] [Ljubljana]

June 19, 2AM

When I first began serious long distance cycling, some 25 years ago, I would often turn up at my parents’ place after a long ride. Each time, my father would wax forth about the bicycle he left behind in the Netherlands when he emigrated to Australi... [bicycle] [myth] [reality] [Rudge]

June 16, 9AM

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 w... [Stalin Prize] [architecture]


The Germans may have their Würste, in all manner of intriguing formations, as I have noted earlier. But on one thing at least the Danes comprehensively beat the Germans – in the grossness of their sausages. To wit: They call this a Fransk Hotdog,... [anatomy] [odd animals] [Denmark] [Germany] [Sausages]

June 12, 2AM

Walking around Berlin, you can’t help notice the advertisements for a new show at the Pergamon Museum, called ‘Uruk Megacity‘. While you might forgive the curators for trying to lure visitors, the question is whether Uruk was really a ci... [Sacred Economy] [fancy] [Uruk]

June 6, 1AM

Sara Ahmed, the icon of liberal progressive thought, has proposed the theoretical neologism of ‘stickyness’. It’s not when honey drips on your fingers, or when you wear your undies for a week. It concerns words and ideas that are associa... [academics as wankers] [Sara Ahmed] [stickyness]

June 4, 1PM

I arrived in Berlin, just in time for Fest der Linken, but this was prefaced by a sign in a railway station toilet:   Ah yes, the spirit of the DDR lives on. In Rosa Luxemburg Platz, Die Linke and many communist groups from other parts of Europe wer... [another world is possible] [Marx] [Berlin] [DDR] [Die Linke] [pinkeln]

June 2, 2AM

I am close to completing my article on the novel Q. Not only does it breathe the spirit of Engels, Kaustky and Bloch on the revolutionary decades of the Reformation (as well as expressing Gramsci’s longing that the Reformation had happened in Ital... [reading] [theology] [Travel] [old scars] [Prophets] [Q] [Reformation]

May 28, 9PM

We have already had the garden variety domestic squabble, in which women regularly crushed their men’s testicles. Some other common features of arguments have also turned. To begin with, there’s biting from the laws of Eshnunna: If a man bites... [odd animals] [Sacred Economy] [biting] [doors] [quarrels]
It is pretty clear that ‘prices’ in the ancient Near East had very little to do with mechanisms of demand and supply. Customary if the best way to describe them, and even the various petty potentates weighed in by inscribing such prices in cla... [Sacred Economy] [beer] [customary price] [grain] [silver]

May 26, 6PM

Most law collections are pretty boring reads. Hammurabi is a snore, with grandiose claims to his achievements in bringing justice, peace and well-being to all. Not so the Middle Assyrian Laws. Here we do come up against sheer difference, for the mind can ... [hairy creatures of God] [Sacred Economy] [Assyrian laws] [cut-off lips] [lead] [rutting bulls] [sodomy]
The celebrate the establishment of a branch of Alain de Botton’s ‘School of Life’ in Melbourne, a new item with that title is over at the Political Theology blog. [academics as wankers] [Alain de Botton] [care of the self] [Michel Foucault]

May 25, 6AM

On the universal anachronism of studying the ancient world, it is one thing to rattle on about narratives of difference, false universals and the imperialism of neoclassical economics. It is another thing to put it this way: It is gross ethnocentrism to a... [Sacred Economy] [ethnocentrism] [neoclassical economics]
A significant source for The Sacred Economy is Soviet-era research on the ancient Near East. Apart from Igor Diakonoff, to whom you will find occasional references in other works, one of the great pleasures in doing this is to include many references to ... [Sacred Economy] [Soviet scholarship]

May 24, 5AM

‘A room of your own’ is a comparatively modern concept, which has, through many centuries, been filtered down from the great houses of the wealthy. Shared rooms, shared attics, shared beds, shared lives have been and are the common lot of most peop... [Sacred Economy] [shared space]

May 23, 3AM

We don’t seem to know, for, as Marc van de Mieroop points out: ‘ Archaeological evidence of latrines in houses is lacking, and public toilets do not seem to hаvе existed either’ (The Ancient Mesopotamian City, p. 159). Out in the vi... [anatomy] [odd animals] [ancient Near East] [toilets]

May 22, 5PM

The scribes of ancient Egypt certainly had their hands full with even the most simple of letters. For instance: It is the servant of the estate Sekhsekh’s son Inetsu who addresses the lord (may he live, be prosperous and healthy), Sekhsekh’s s... [Sacred Economy] [Total Depravity] [altruism] [boat parts] [Egypt] [pomp]


One of my arguments in The Sacred Economy, at least in the chapter called ‘On Fluid Bodies: Clans, Households, and Patrons,’ is that the ancient Near Eastern clan included both human beings and domestic animals in a continuum. I base this on ... [anatomy] [hairy creatures of God] [Sacred Economy] [ancient Near East] [animal] [fluids] [human]

May 20, 3AM

Those great lefties at Haymarket Books have just released the paperback of Criticism of Earth: On Marx, Engels, and Theology. This is the one that thoroughly re-examines all that the duo had to say on theology. Nice price too. [Criticism of Earth] [Haymarket Books]

May 19, 9PM

That is no spelling error, for ‘extraordinariation’ one of the many stunning insights from some unsolicited books I received today. They are by one David Birnbaum, whom one must admire infinitely for giving his life to self-publishing a string... [academics as wankers] [weird] [not philosophy]

May 18, 5PM

As I work through the proofs of In the Vale of Tears, I am reminded of Max Horkheimer’s finely dialectical  definition of theology: Theology has always tried to reconcile the demands of the Gospels and of power. In view of the clear utterances of... [In the Vale of Tears] [Max Horkheimer] [theology] [dialectics] [gospels] [power]

May 17, 11PM

I am just back from another four days of scrambling up mountains, hiking through gullies, entertaining leeches, encountering lyrebirds who have not read the textbook that says they are supposed to be shy, and being out of range of any type of communicatio... [anatomy] [hiking] [mountain climbing] [BO] [deodorant] [hair] [smell] [soap] [sweat]

May 13, 3AM

CALL FOR PAPERS BIBLE AND CRITICAL THEORY SEMINAR 2013 Deadline for proposals: 30 June 2013 Please send paper proposals of 150-200 words to: Roland Boer: Roland.Boer(at) Sean Durbin: sean.durbin(at) Details Dates for seminar: 6-7 ... [Bible and Critical Theory] [Call for Papers]

May 11, 9PM

A staple of ancient Near Eastern study is the pattern of imperial and cultural collapses. Thus, the Sumerian expansion, running through from the revolution of Uruk to the elaborate and rather extraordinary organizational achievements of “The Kingdom of ... [Sacred Economy] [ancient Near East] [crisis] [ruling class lament]


More for my study called Saint Joseph: The Man of Steel and Religion: In the city of Yakutsk, a sub-arctic city, major port on the Lena River, and capital of the Sakha Republic in Russia, a new statue of Stalin has been unveiled. Despite opposition from ... [Saint Joseph] [Stalin statue] [Yakutsk]

May 9, 2AM

I ask this question as one who has a foot in Europe and a foot in Australia – in terms of ancestry, personal life, religion, and writing. I spend a reasonable amount of time in both, and definitely know how to enjoy myself in either place. But what is i... [Australia] [Travel] [barbarism] [space] [tribalism]

May 7, 11PM

Ein feste burg ist unser Gott: Karl Kautsky, Communism in Central Europe in the Time of the Reformation, p. 277. Or, if you want a version that’s been taken off the streets and institutionalised: [politics] [theology] [Ein feste burg ist unser Gott] [Karl Kautsky] [Marseillaise] [Reformation]


I have been thoroughly enjoying a careful reread of Karl Kautsky’s much neglected Vorläufer des neueren Sozialismus, especially the second volume. The translation is known as Communism in Central Europe in the Time of the Reformation. Not a bad t... [politics] [theology] [Christian communism] [Karl Kautsky]

May 4, 3AM

Since the itchy-fingered DG challenged me to substantiate my claim that I live on no more than $50 a week in the very expensive Land of Oz, here is a standard weekly budget: $2.25  - 1.5 bags of rolled oats $3.00 – half a bag of powdered milk, used... [bicycles] [food] [budget]

May 2, 7AM

Spotted in Fürstenwalde a couple of weeks ago: [another world is possible] [DDR] [Fürstenwalde]


So it’s official: the CIA fostered even communist sympathisers – artists and the rest of that desultory bunch of alcoholics – in its culture war with the USSR and global communism. At one point, Dismayed at the appeal communism still had... [Total Depravity] [CIA] [Congress for Cultural Freedom] [long leash]
A new collection, edited by Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek, on Ernst Bloch. Out with Duke University Press soon. I have a piece in it called ‘The Privatization of Eschatology and Myth: Ernst Bloch Versus Rudolf Bultmann’. Bloch would have ... [Books] [Ernst Bloch] [Privatization of Hope]