Archive for March, 2010

the end

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

A more exciting time can hardly be imagined and yet I don’t remember it at all.  Bard college in the hudson valley of NY was an extraordinary place for me.  I met my lifelong friends there.  I really dug into and estrablished my academic and philisophical roots that ground me to this day, and I had a lot of fun.  However it would be hard to imagine a place that was such an island.  No one had a TV.  Of course the Internet didn’t exist for any intents or puropses from 84-89 and we were in the middle of nowhere really,  five miles from the nearest “hick” town and 90 miles from NYC.  I didn’t read the paper (I read enough for class thank you, didn’t read for fun) so the events of those years happened beyond my perspective, except for the quick influx of activism puntcuating the two presidential elections, and the Iran-Contra Affair, which I do remember driving across the river to the Kingston Mall to be able to watch on a TV in a bar. 

By time November and December of that year happened I had moved with my then girlfriend to San Diego and was living in a hastilly built illegal room inside a garage of a house rented by students in Solana beach.  The Internet still didn’t exist and I hadn’t re-acquired my following of current events that I had enjoyed in High School.  It is very hard for me to believe that I was so completely out of touch.

Regardless I did, as I have told you, Visit CZ, Poland and Hungary in 1992 when my brother Ed was living in Prague.  My parents came for a short visit as well and we ventured into west CZ to find the farm my Dad had bivouacked in in WWII.  It was a great trip.  I’ll try to bring in pictures.

Given what you know now, from White and other sources (we’ll get to Ambrose and Kissinger later) should it be a suprise that events occured as they did in Poland, CZ, the GDR and the other countries of Eaastern Europe?  How were the events similar to and different from one another?  How were they similar to and different from the events of 56, 68 and 1981?  Enquiring minds want to know.  CRS

National Communism

Monday, March 8th, 2010

A curious phrase, “national communism”.  It would seem a bit contradictory.  Communism is supposed to “world-wide” of course.  No room here for that pesty “nationalist” stuff.  But recognizing the road to communism was long and hard I suppose one has to make room for the continuance of nations – at least for a while.  The East Germans, Poles, Hungarians and Yugoslavians certainly thought so.

What is most suprising to me here here is that the era of Soviet domination of the communist movement is so short.  1945, from the end of the war and Yalta and the recognition of spheres of influence to 1953 and the death of Stalin.  The Poles, to a certain extent, and the Yugoslavs and the Chinese more so, really bgin to chart their own course.  One can’t help but wonder had the events of Hungary been handled a little bit differently, and this was alluded to in Kissinger I think, then maybe the Soviet tanks would not have rolled through Budaphest.  Of course they did, and they will again in Czecoslovakia in 1968, but allow it to be asserted that by the mid 50s there were challenges to Soviet domination throuout Eastern Europe.  

So all of this is still deep background to the era that your Documents exams will be focused on. You will be (are) examining the 70s and 80s, but “own knowledge” I think might rightly draw a bit from these larger circles of causality.  Please remember to bring in a copy of your documents tomorrow to the extent that you have them.  I would at least like to look at a few together in class, recognizing them potentially as drafts if you like and I would like them all in and done by Thursday.