The “Nature” of Communism

A key aspect of the Soviet Union’s quest for true Communism was becoming waste-free and efficient. Every single resource was utilized for the common good of the state; this included people, materials, machines, and even nature. Unused land was waste, and waste had no place in the Party’s strategy.

Looking back, particularly with today’s heightened emphasis on preserving the environment, it is easy to see the ways in which these policies of brutal extraction from the land would lead to future consequences.… Read the rest here

Fleeing Franco

Hywell Davies Fleeing Franco delivers an interesting perspective on the Spanish Civil War, showing the tight relationship between Wales and the Basques. Davies does an excellent job communicating the children’s viewpoint in addition to that of the Welsh, but due to his background, it is possible that there is a bias. Davies was born and raised in Wales and teaches there. In addition, Fleeing Franco was published by the University of Wales Press. He relies on interviews and newspapers to get a sizable amount of information and uses his secondary sources to frame that information and create a narrative.… Read the rest here

A Lesson in Charity

Hywel Davies’s book Fleeing Franco is a touching account of the lives of the Basque refugee children who were displaced from their homes during the Spanish Civil War and taken in by various humanitarian groups in Wales.  Although Davies does present pithy summaries of the political and social events surrounding the period, the text is primarily composed of several detailed vignettes that follow the lives of individual refugee children and the characteristics of the Welsh communities that came to their aid.  … Read the rest here

Bias in Fleeing Franco

Hywel Davies’ Fleeing Franco is a study of Spanish refugee children who were sheltered in Wales during the Spanish Civil War.  Davies examines how the cultural and geographic similarities between the Welsh and Basque people led to a connection that resulted in the Welsh providing more effort toward supporting the Republican army than the rest of Britain.  He also shows how the Welsh peoples’ more left leaning politics played a role in their willingness to provide aid.… Read the rest here

Basque and Wales during the Spanish Civil War

Wales and the Basque region of Spain have many similarities. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, bringing violence to the Basque lands, the Welsh felt a heighten sense of solidarity with the Basque people. In “Fleeing Franco” Hywel Davis examines how the Welsh showed their support for the Basque by sheltering Basque children during the war. He argues that many factors led to the Welsh taking in these children and that it was a result of the overall Welsh response to the Spanish Civil War.… Read the rest here

Fleeing Franco

Fleeing Franco is a book written by Welsh historian Hywel Davies in 2011. It deals with the Welsh repatriation of Basque children during the Spanish Civil War. While the book is well researched, and presents an uplifting thesis about the largely uniform acceptance of the Spanish children in an already poverty-stricken nation, Davies does seem to present a slightly biased view on the matter. For example, he makes a point of vilifying the leading Welsh politicians, by stating their pro-Fascist attitudes, in favor of returning the children to Spain after the War, while stressing his opinion that those working with the children were following a humanitarian call rather than a political opportunity.… Read the rest here

Perestroika and 100 wilted flowers

Perestroika and glasnost  were terms Gorbachev used to embody his cultural reforms and openness to Western influence. The Chinese, too, had a period of openness. In 1956 Mao said that,  “The policy of letting a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend is designed to promote the flourishing of the arts and the progress of science.” This “100 Flowers Movement” was ended in 1957 with political persecutions. Both Communist powers handled political dissonance in the second half of the 20th century differently, with the USSR embracing and the Chinese silencing controversy.  … Read the rest here

The Soviet Union: The “Project of the Century?”

“The stagnation of BAM propaganda after its initial formulation indicated the ideological staidness that, by the early 1970s, had gripped the corpus of Soviet governance like some form of mental rigor mortis. While official representations of BAM remained stagnant, the real world around these representations did not. Perhaps this helps to explain the events of the Brezhnev era, a time during which the government refused to acknowledge reality to a greater degree than any regime before it in Soviet history.” – Christopher Ward, Brezhnev’s Folly

The excerpts we read from Brezhnev’s Folly demonstrate how the Baikal-Amur Mainline Railway (BAM) construction project, which Brezhnev proclaimed to be the “project of the century,” perfectly mirrored the social and political environment of the Soviet Union at the time. … Read the rest here

Einstein’s religious views

“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” This is one of Einstein’s famous quotes on religion. However, it is important to for me to mention that Einstein was not religious in a way most people would think he was. He shared the views of Baruch Spinoza- the 17th century Dutch philosopher. Spinoza believed that God had no personality. He also believed that God, nature and universe are equivalent, and that each person through his actions can have an effect on the others.… Read the rest here

God: 1, Humanity: 0

Smart people succumb to the comfort of dimwitted platitudes like the rest of us. Perhaps it reassures them. In his essay “Science and Religion”, Einstein disappoints by choosing what Freud referred to as “a dull Christian ending” in reference to Dostoevsky’s limp of an epilogue at the end of Crime and Punishment. What a shame that Einstein did not use that beautiful mind of his to come up with an original cosmology! Instead he chooses the safe path, the idea that, in the words of Dostoevsky in the Brothers Karamazov, “without God everything is permitted”.… Read the rest here