Bread and Wine

Pietro Spina going incognito as a priest named San Paolo is most likely directly reflective of how Ignazio Silone felt as an anti-fascist socialist living in fascist Italy in the 1930s. In order to further his revolutionary socialist agenda, Spina sneaks back into Italy after fifteen years of being in exile, and refuses to return abroad, despite the access of ideological freedom which accompanies him there. An atheist himself, Spina becomes frustrated with the strong catholic sentiments and superstitious thinking which are the roots of the though processes of the peasants which he is trying to influence. During his journey, San Paolo falls madly in love with a girl named Christiana. “Dan Paolo took no notice of what Bianchina was saying because he was enchanted by Christina. A girl like this at Pietrasecca? He could not believe his eyes”. (80) This puts Don Paolo in a pickle, being that he is supposed to be a spiritual leader and Christina is most likely refraining herself from allowing to have feelings for him, although they may be present.


A part of the book which I found interesting was when Don Paolo goes to visit his friend Uliva, who’s morale is so low, and is so apathetic, he carelessly spits on the floor of his house as he wastes away. Uliva, a former cell mate and Don Paolo discuss their current thoughts about politics and life. Uliva is more interested in condescendingly criticizing Don Paolo’s optimism about the revolution than anything else, claiming his hopes are out of blind naivety. “I’ve seen you engaged in a kind of chivalrous contest with lie or, if you prefer it, with the creator…it requires a naivete that I lack. (172) I think it shows a lot about Don Paolo’s drive to stay optimistic about what he believes in as a communist trying to help the revolutionary cause, especially when he sees his former friend who used to share the same thoughts in such a state of disrepair.

How did the citizens of Italy view fascism in the 1930’s? Was the majority behind Mussolini? If the publics thoughts on him shifted dramatically, when did it and what was the event or events that caused it?


Gulag Archipelago and Labor Camp

In the Gulag Archipelago,  Solzhenitsynt describes the labor camps in which mass numbers of prisoners and political undesirables were literally worked to death. The first question this article elicits from me is if these prison workers had the same frame of mind Podlubnyi had in his diaries. The labor process was used as a means of rehabilitation for the mind of a law breaker or political deviant, and maximum efforts were vehemently supported by the state. The state was also extremely unsympathetic towards the humans rights violations that the prison laborers worked through on a daily basis. It was estimated that 1% of the original total of workers died per day, but the social protocol was that every worker “managed” their obstacles. Statisticians lied about the number of labor related deaths, and logically deduced that since there were 100,000 workers at the projects beginning, and 100,000 at its end, than there must have been zero total deaths, despite the fact that it all of these workers had been replaced.

the labor camps in which mass numbers of prisoners and political undesirables were literally worked to death. The first question this article elicits from me is if these prison workers had the same frame of mind Podlubnyi had in his diaries. The labor process was used as a means of rehabilitation for the mind of a law breaker or political deviant, and maximum efforts were vehemently supported by the state. The state was also extremely unsympathetic towards the humans rights violations that the prison laborers worked through on a daily basis. It was estimated that 1% of the original total of workers died per day, but the social protocol was that every worker “managed” their obstacles. Statisticians lied about the number of labor related deaths, and logically deduced that since there were 100,000 workers at the projects beginning, and 100,000 at its end, than there must have been zero total deaths, despite the fact that it all of these workers had been replaced.

The Gulag were a Soviet Union government agency that was used by Stalin as a form of political repression and social control. During this era, many civilians were arrested and unfairly tried because they were assumed to be political threats. Along side with labor camps, Stalin would also use purges as a form of political control. Although purges had been taking place since as early as 1921 by the Bolsheviks, they were very heightened during Stalin’s Terror in the 1930’s and greatly altered the social dynamic between the citizen and the state.

Did these workers have the same Soviet mindset as Podlubnyi? Did they see themselves as Stalin and the party saw them? What was the civilian populated that wasn’t under containment by Stalin thinking? How did societies structure fluctuate with paranoia?

Fascism by Benito Mussolini

Frequently and unfittingly placed side by side with communism, Mussolini’s fascism is characteristically both opposed to pacifism and communism. Rather than taking large strides to aim for a classless utopia, Mussolini’s fascism embraces and war, life’s everyday struggles, and rejects the notion that class conflicts are a dominant force in the metamorphosis of society, which is consistent with his notion that political equality is a myth. Judging from this document, Mussolini would argue that you need war and adversity to produce the worlds great men. Mussolini believes that fascism has already been the ideology of his era, given his observations on the human sacrifice people put forth for the state.

Mussolini’s anthropomorphizes the state–describing it with human characteristic such as a conscience, will, and personality. “…The Fascist State is itself conscious and has itself a will and a personality — thus it may be called the “ethic” State….”. I believe the term “ethic” here is referring to the efforts of the individual for the state, and the sacrifices one must make and willpower one must have to persevere through life’s adversities to become greater.

How do fascism, naziism, socialism, and liberalism compare and contrast to one another? What events in Mussolini’s life, or the history of Italy, combined to form this political concept?

Brain Slave to the Machine

I found this reading to be invaluable insight into both the zeitgeist of the Soviet Union in the 1930’s and human psychology. Being born in the United States in 1993, I found this article to be both very fascinating and disturbing. Part of what I have been taught growing up is that it takes until somewhere in early adulthood to obtain a grasp of what you’re identity is as a person, and many never understand. I see the journey to understanding ones self as a fluid part of life, shapeless and easily distorted by pressure, but ultimately liberating. My conscience has been heavily influenced by a type of social revolution of cultural, religious, ethnic, and sexual acceptance brought about closely before the second millennium, and through my education I have been taught to transcend observed boundaries. Podlubnyi’s world is one which is hard to imagine myself in.

The first thing that surprised me was that Podlubnyi truly believes that he has been tainted with some sort of kulak blood, as if it were an inescapable genetic trait or a physiological, psychological defect. Podlubnyi spent his life as a prisoner of his own conscience, desperately digging an escape route from his kulak past to be identified as a worker of the state. The state truly owned him through what I would assume he would perceive as a somewhat transparent label which had been given to his father. Podlubnyi continued to lose sleep even when the state validated him as “working class”, as he continued to look towards guidelines for his thoughts and behaviors in order to be “free”.

The fact that suicide was brought about by a self-perceived uselessness towards the state also shocked me. Suicide to me comes about after extreme personal failure, but it is usually because of severe psychological depression or a severe implosion of ones life, causing one to see no purpose to continue. Although these may have been the thoughts and emotions of Podlubnyi, they were a product of the state’s influence on him rather than what I would perceive to be as a more personal affair. But perhaps the state was more personal to him than love or friendship would be to me, it is impossible to know.



Josephson, Paul, R. Red Atom: Russia’s Nuclear Power Program from Stalin to Today. New York, NY: W.H. Freeman, 2000.


Red Atom discusses how political and cultural ideologies shaped the rapid development of the Soviet Union’s nuclear power program and the drawbacks which it faced. The leading advocates of nuclear proliferation were central planners that had been schooled in the Stalin era, yet manifested an acute awareness of that period’s disasters. Josephson extends his analysis of the origins of the Soviet nuclear program to the current status of Russia’s nuclear state. He concludes that fusing a determinist ideology with an unknown, potentially hazardous energy source can produce catastrophic results for the culture, politics, and environment. Red Atom: Russia’s Nuclear Power Program from Stalin to Today is a relevant source because it explains both the original intentions and the unintended past and future consequences of Russia’s nuclear program.



Park, Chris C. Chernobyl: The Long Shadow. London; New York: Routledge, 1989.


Chernobyl: The Long Shadow discusses the disastrous environmental effects of the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown in 1986. Park discusses the long term impact the nuclear fallout has had on humans and the environment. Park explains the important lessons learned by the scientific and public policy community from Chernobyl on managing nuclear sites and disasters. This information is imperative when researching the topic of unintended repercussions from harnessing nuclear energy as it discusses health and radiation, nuclear containment, and human issues. This book offers an opportunity to assess historiographical debates regarding Chernobyl, through comparison with The Chernobyl Accident: A Comprehensive Risk Assessment. Both cover the backlash from the same incident, giving me an opportunity to better understand potential overlap or disagreements within the scholarship.


Poyarkov, Victor. The Chernobyl Accident: A Comprehensive Risk Assessment. Edited by George J. Vargo. Columbus, OH: Battelle Press, 2000.


The book revolves around the global environmental fallout that was the product of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. The goal of this book is to uncover the actual environmental drawbacks from the nuclear meltdown, and to dispel false common public preconceptions about environmental catastrophe. What is concluded in this book is that the best way to approach this accident is to carefully study the effects that Chernobyl had so we can advance our knowledge with dealing with nuclear waste and radiation protection. There are eight original authors, all of whom are Russian and Ukrainian scientists that had first-hand work experience at the Chernobyl power plant before the explosion. I would be more skeptical of potential bias if it had not been for the later publishing date of 2000. This will be a great book for my research project because the authors have personal experience of actually being a Chernobyl scientist, which is invaluable.  This source will be valuable to have to compare it to my other sources which focus on nuclear power plant management and sources involving Chernobyl.


Mousseau, Timothy A. and Anders P. Møller. “Landscape Portrait: A Look at the Impacts of Radioactive Contaminants on Chernobyl’s Wildlife.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 67, no. 2 (2011): 38-46. Link


The purpose of this article was to address the popular misconception that the Chernobyl disaster had a smaller impact on the surrounding wildlife than it had on humans. The study found that there was a significant decrease in the reproductive habits of birds, a general decline of their overall health, and higher mutation rates than normal in the region of the Chernobyl site. The study was conducted by collecting sperm samples and analyzing them. This article will be helpful to my study because it offers a different aspect of environmental impact than my other sources–wildlife. For the environmental element of my paper, it will be important to try and draw connections to the Rogachevskaya article which also focuses on nuclear environmental issues.



Rogachevskaya, Liliya M. “Issues of Radioactivity and Sustainable Development Within Urban Groundwater Systems in Russia.” NATO Science Series. Series IV, Earth and Environmental Sciences 74. (2006): 251-257 Link


This article focuses on the contamination levels of the underground water supply in Russia since the dawn of the Soviet nuclear industry in the 1950s. The author claims that while the levels of radiation in the Russian water system are existent, they are not at levels associated with having detrimental effects on human health. She concludes that economic and social factors have more of a significant health impact in terms of contaminated water. This article is important to my research because it provides insight on what scientists and engineers should be focusing on to maintain nuclear sustainability, and how water contamination is not a source of major health concern. I am unaware of any potential biases the author would have in this area of study.


Scheblanov, VY, MK Sneve, and AF Bobrov. “Monitoring Human Factor Risk Characteristics at Nuclear Legacy Sites in Northwest Russia in Support of Radiation Safety Regulation.” Journal of Radiological Protection 32, no. 4 (2012): 465-477. Link


This article explains how the Norwegian government and the Russian Federal Medical–Biological Agency are advocating for better protection for workers from remnants of radiation from nuclear waste in nuclear storage sites. The article discusses the importance of advancements in techniques workers use to store hazardous nuclear waste as a factor in promoting worker safety. Additionally, the article offers suggestions on how to reduce potential factors which leave workers more vulnerable to radiation poisoning by quantifying human risk, and consistently monitoring human psychological health. This article will be very useful to my research as it is imperative to understand how to safely and properly dispose of nuclear waste in order to make it a sustainable source of energy. One important component of this article was that it was written in 2012. What do we know about the authors?


Stulberg , Adam N., Vladimir A. Orlov, and James Clay Moltz. Preventing Nuclear Meltdown: Managing Decentralization of Russia’s Nuclear Complex. Ashgate, 2004.


The central focus of this book is a deeper look into the security strategies which the Russian federal agencies had to implement in order to safeguard Russia’s nuclear complexes in both military, but especially civilian contexts. This book illuminates the wary steps that federal agencies took to prevent nuclear disaster. Moltz, Orlov, and Stulberg present valuable material which gives the reader a rare look at civilian criminology in relation to nuclear power plants. The book covers the different security strategies used from region to region. This book is valuable for my research project because it presents a connection to the nuclear industry to civilian life that my other sources do not, while still maintaining relevance to my research topic of being about the unintended consequences of Russian nuclear development. Both Scheblanov’s article and Stulberg’s article probe the inner workings of security in nuclear power plant sites but land on different focal points. It will be valuable to combine these two different elements of inner and outer security dilemmas.

Philosophy and Metropolis

Metropolis, created in 1927, is the grandfather work of the dystopian genre and reminds me of the epistemology of Rene Descartes and The Matrix (1999), which has deep philosophical roots which revolve around skepticism. The central theme of this movie is about capitalism, and the stark contrast it can create between the working class and the elite, and class relations in general.

Rene Descartes, a famous 17th century French philosopher who questioned the legitimacy of our sensory perception in relation to what was considered “real”, may have had influenced Fritz Lang, the writer and director of Metropolis. What led to this thought was how Freder, the protagonist, did not even know the underground half of the society existed before he unknowingly travelled there.

There are two sides to Metropolis: the above ground and below ground. Above ground lays a vast, utopian city with a thriving economy and beautiful gardens. It is depicted as a dreamscape, with the primary color being white which gives a luxurious, heavenly vibe. Metropolis’ power source comes from underground, where the working class industrialists slave over machines in life threatening working conditions. Freder, who is the protagonist, spends his time dwelling in a beautiful garden, until he follows Maria, a woman which he is immediately taken with, underground. Freder’s initial response to this unfamiliar realm is fright, especially when he witnesses the explosion of a machine which results in the injury of many workers in black uniforms. His initial shock to exposure to a world which existed but he was unaware of lays considerable groundwork for reoccurring themes in the entire science-fiction genre, and undoubtedly had influence on the Wachowski Brothers, the writers and directors of The Matrix.

The scene in which Freder reacts upon his submergence into the industrial, dystopian world is closely mirrored in The Matrix, when Neo passes out from a combination of fear and inability to grasp world he could never sense, but always existed. Although I believe The Matrix’s main themes have more biblical roots, I could not help but draw the connections it had with Rene Descartes and Metropolis.

What connections does this movie have with the fear of the evolution of science and Bertrand Russels ICARUS or the future of science?

Neo-Traditionalism from Modernization

In the 1930’s, the Soviet Union’s intentions were to create a more strongly collected, unified nation. While nations were an inevitable product of modernization through the massive uprooting and relocation of the working classes, there was a shift from a nation being modern in it’s fundamentals to focusing on the primordial roots of the citizen. What spawned from creating a national identity through the conduit of modernization was Neo-traditionalism. Neo-traditionalism in essence is the simultaneous cooperation of both modern and traditional aspects, and was the Soviet Union’s unexpected outcome. A pre-industrial state could not be considered a modern nation, because modernity cannot exist without the technology. However, industrialization exterminates old folk culture and is a catalyst for new culture. As the sense of nationalism developed, the game began to change with shifting ideologies with the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks saw nationalism as something which was on a different plane than class, and socialism would be the unifying principle. However, Soviet affirmative action made class and ethnicity an issue because of discriminatory institutions, a product generated by over zealous statism. The Neo-traditional outcome of modernization is what shaped Soviet nationalities.

This article made me think of how we view the ethnicity of each other in America. When people ask me what I am in regards to ethnic background, I say I am South African and Irish. Most people would answer this way I believe, even though all who were born in America are Americans. What is the line between immigration and a true, newfound sense of nationality? Why do many of us feel a sense of pride to our ethnic backgrounds despite the fact that we have never experienced the culture?

Both the Surrealist Manifesto and the Futurist Manifesto revolve around the intention of bringing about an artistic revolution through shattering conventional creative barriers by releasing the creative potential of the unconscious. Each manifesto longs for a revolution—to uproot and destroy contemporary understandings and criticisms of artwork with an explosion of abstract aggression.
The Futurist Manifesto was written in 1909, and opposes established teachings and forms of knowledge. It starts with a very long story of various sequences with a nonsensical plot which has no chronological importance. It reminds me of the type of disjointed puzzle which comprises our every night dream sequences, which I believe to be the purpose.  It describes teachers as being “gangrenous” and glorifies the destruction of libraries and museums, a blatant rebellion against public and popular learning establishments. F.T. Marinetti exclaims that war is the only cure for the world, and the essence of art is violence and injustice.
Does Marinetti think that violent artwork can be the only true way to properly express yourself, due to the fact that the human mind is violent by design?
The Surrealist Manifesto claims that surrealism exists and it is the foundation of a revolution. The liberation of the mind itself, a difficult concept to understand, is the basis for surrealism. The unlocking of the creative elements of the unconscious mind and “detached” nature is what surrealism revolves around.
Is the revolt described in the Surrealist Manifesto similar to the one described in the Futurist Manifesto? What does it mean in the Surrealist Manifesto when it states, “It is a cry of the mind turning back on itself, and it is determined to break apart its fetters, even if it must be by material hammers!”?


Starting from scratch, Magnitostroi, a Soviet Union steel plant in 1929, evolved from an premature industrial environment to a site with 250,000 people in three and a half years. (64) Located in the remote Urals, the plant was entirely dependent on long distance train for its imports, including labor force. The labor force in Magnitostroi was mixed, ranging from educated urbanites to peasants and proletariat. The problems that these workers faced, despite the rough working conditions, was their lack of prior experience with industrial machinery. The relationships between the different classes were disjointed, and crash courses were taken by inexperienced peasants to equip them with four years work experience within six weeks. The Soviet Union at the time had a hyper rationalized economy with heavy industry as the top priority, and the working conditions were extremely poor.

The ideologies of the socialists caused inner turmoil at the steel plant, people were considered traitors if they did give maximum relative effort in comparison to their fellow workers, which caused them to turn or one another and even have each other arrested. As socialist competition increased, so did the pace, which caused many mistakes and setbacks to due sloppy management.


Bibliography Interwar.doc 24.0 KB

My research project will focus mainly on the repressive political system run by Stalin in the Soviet Union from 1930 to 1950. During this era, Stalin used an oppressive political machine in order to gain control over the political sphere. Two ways which Stalin executed this tactic was through mass purges and The Gulag. The Gulag was a Soviet Union government agency which spearheaded the labor camp movements. Stalin’s purges of The Party was also a form of political control. Millions of Party members which he deemed as unfit were killed. I will be explaining the political and social strains and affects that this had on the Soviet Union during this time period.