In a nutshell, after a century or so, the paradigm which came from Marx – of a class struggle – had lost a good deal of its allure and was pushed aside by the new paradigm of racial, national and ethnic struggle. That grew out of the anti-colonial movements which reverberated in Europe and were overlaid by the Civil Rights Movement in the US. In the US, Civil Rights was something different to anti-colonialism, but both were seen to be part of one broader struggle of the people of colour against the white man, or as is sometimes put, the ‘Rest against the West.’ I remember for example Jesse Jackson, at the height of his considerable popularity in the US, made a visit to Cuba and launched into a litany of slogans, the theme of which was ‘our time has come’ and where the first person plural of ‘our time’ meant blacks in America, Latinos and other third-world people fighting against the West. It was seen somehow as all part of one omnibus struggle and this paradigm really was more exciting to my generation and subsequent ones – generations post-World War Two – than the older class struggle paradigm. The labour movement today, (certainly in the US, but I think throughout the West) is a less exciting, vibrant or inspiring than it was during my parent’s generation.
Now if you look at the world and see a drama of the ‘Rest against the West’, or the people of colour against the white man, and perceive that struggle as the main moral drama of the age, then Israel comes across as the Western white guys, whilst the Arabs and Palestinians are the anti-colonial people of colour. It doesn’t matter what the details of any episode are: history tells you that one side are the ‘good guys’ and the forces of the future while the other side are the forces of the past which need to be swept away.
Appalachian blues from the "King of the High Lonesome Sound", Roscoe Holcomb:
Looking like a hillbilly William Burroughs. It's a shame the camera spends so much time on the guitar rather than the man himself, but this, I suppose, was back when everyone wanted to learn the chords and hit the Greenwich Village folk clubs themselves. But no one could match that voice:
Holcomb sang in a falsetto deeply informed by the Old Regular Baptist vocal tradition. Bob Dylan, a fan of Holcomb, described his singing as possessing "an untamed sense of control"....
A coal miner and farmer for much of his life, Holcomb was not recorded until 1958, after which his career as a professional musician was bolstered by the folk revival in the 1960s. Holcomb gave his last live performance in 1978. He lived a self-described hard life working and suffered many injuries that affected him later in life. Suffering from asthma and emphysema as a result of working in coal mines, he died in 1981 at the age of 68.
Those of us left feeling somewhat deflated by the reappearance of Kim Jong-un after his 40-day absence, apparently recovering from some leg-related problem and not at all pushed aside in a coup led by his sister on account of his Swiss cheese addiction, can take some comfort from the fact that there is still room for doubt:
In North Korea’s propaganda conduct, a photograph of Kim is not just a photograph. Publicized images of Kim in particular are the product of a scripted choreography process and consequent selection and vetting procedures. It is in this context that the most recently publicized photographs of Kim Jong-un are quite perplexing.
It is difficult to see these images as being scripted according to the traditional rulebook that applies to media depictions of the Supreme Leader. Within these principles, presentations should have shown a smiling Kim Jong-un exhibiting his divine presence at the anniversary of the Korean Worker’s Party on October 10.
Why did Kim Jong-un miss such a golden opportunity, and why did he instead appear for a photo shoot in a residential area — which could have been arranged at any other time of year?...
In North Korea, coverage of the Supreme Leader’s on-site guidance is never released on the same day. This is due to a standard security measure that protects the exposure of travel details until the journey has been completed. Thus Kim Jong-un would not have visited the Uisung Scientists Residential District later than October 11 or 12. Photographs from the visit would then have been selected, possibly on the day, via the vetting procedures of the Institute for Party Records, then passed through the Propaganda and Agitation Department and finally distributed to Rodong Sinmun, KCNA and KCTV....
The photographs of Kim Jong-un released on October 14 shows him supported by a cane, but he is seen to be otherwise capable of movement. If Kim Jong-un were fit enough to make such a visit, why did he not make an appearance only one or two days earlier, for the important celebrations of the founding of the Worker’s Party on October 10?
During the 40 days of his absence, the “Supreme Dignity” of Kim Jong-un was damaged by a coterie of wild charges from the outside world ranging from speculations of mental illness, an overthrow, a coup d’etat, and even a claim that his sister Kim Yo-jong had nudged him aside. If there had been concern to remedy such damage surrounding the Supreme Dignity, his reappearance as the focal point and centre of the Party’s anniversary celebrations on October 10 would have made for a more magnificent and dignified statement than his on-site visit of a residential area.
Why did Kim Jong-un not take advantage of such a grand opportunity for redress?
By releasing a picture of Kim Jong-un with a cane, North Korea leaves open the suggestion that Kim Jong-un may continue to be absent from his public duties, until he properly recovers from his health problems. The reappearance photographs also leave questions: was the date of Kim Jong-un’s on-site guidance visit actually around October 11/12? If so, why did Kim Jong-un miss the Party anniversary celebrations that are arranged by the Party’s Organization and Guidance Department on October 10?
I'm not really convinced that there's an issue here. The indisposition of the Great Marshal will have been something of an embarrassment in the light of the supposed god-like status of the Kim dynasty. Perhaps a grand re-appearance at the Workers Party anniversary would only have served to highlight his previous absence. This way, gradually re-introducing him via a relatively humdrum visit to a residential home, the whole business can be more easily papered over and forgotten.
But who knows. There's certainly plenty for the Pyongyangologists to chew over here.
Anne Applebaum challenges the myth of Russian humiliation, whereby the story of the gradual democratisation of Central and Eastern Europe after the fall of the Iron Curtain - a notable success, by and large - is presented somehow as one of misguided American and Western triumphalism, foolishly goading the great bear on its home turf. On the contrary, we should have been more forceful:
[N]ot only was Russia not “humiliated” during this era, it was given de facto “great power” status, along with the Soviet seat on the U.N. Security Council and Soviet embassies. Russia also received Soviet nuclear weapons, some transferred from Ukraine in 1994 in exchange for Russian recognition of Ukraine’s borders. Presidents Clinton and Bush both treated their Russian counterparts as fellow “great power” leaders and invited them to join the Group of Eight — although Russia, neither a large economy nor a democracy, did not qualify.
During this period, Russia, unlike Central Europe, never sought to transform itself along European lines. Instead, former KGB officers with a clearly expressed allegiance to the Soviet system took over the state in league with organized crime, seeking to prevent the formation of democratic institutions at home and to undermine them abroad. For the past decade, this kleptocratic clique has also sought to re-create an empire, using everything from cyberattacks on Estonia to military invasions of Georgia and now Ukraine, in open violation of that 1994 agreement — exactly as the Central Europeans feared....
Our mistake was not to humiliate Russia but to underrate Russia’s revanchist, revisionist, disruptive potential. If the only real Western achievement of the past quarter-century is now under threat, that’s because we have failed to ensure that NATO continues to do in Europe what it was always meant to do: deter. Deterrence is not an aggressive policy; it is a defensive policy. But in order to work, deterrence has to be real. It requires investment, consolidation and support from all of the West, and especially the United States. I’m happy to blame American triumphalism for many things, but in Europe I wish there had been more of it.