When our men finished singing, without a request from the army side, the militia started another song, which was also a quotation from Chairman Mao:

“A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained, and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.”

So they sang.


— “Ocean of Words”, Ha Jin

"Leszek Kolakowski: “Marx’s texts are regarded with abhorrence in the former Communist countries. One should read them only as one reads many dead classics – the physics of Descartes, for instance.”"

— “Great Books”, David Denby

"For forty years he had lived strictly in accordance with the vows of his order, the Party. He had held to the rules of logical calculation. He had burnt the remains of the old, illogical morality from his consciousness with the acid of reason. He had turned away from the temptations of the silent partner, and had fought against the ‘oceanic sense’ with all his might. And where had it landed him? Premises of unimpeachable truth had led to a result which was completely absurd; Ivanov’s and Gletkin’s irrefutable deductions had taken him straight into the weird and ghostly game of the public trial. Perhaps it was not suitable for a man to think every thought to its logical conclusion."

— “Darkness At Noon” - Arthur Koestler



FELT WHAT? EXPLAIN! tapped Rubashov, sitting up on the bunk.

No. 402 seemed to think it over. After a short hesitation he tapped: TONIGHT POLITICAL DIFFERENCES ARE BEING SETTLED… .

Rubashov understood. He sat leaning against the wall, in the dark, waiting to hear more. But No. 402 said no more. After a while, Rubashov tapped: EXECUTIONS?

YES, answered 402 laconically.

HOW DO YOU KNOW? asked Rubashov.



DON’T KNOW. And, after a pause: SOON.

KNOW THE NAMES? asked Rubashov.

NO, answered No. 402. After another pause he added: OF YOUR SORT. POLITICAL DIVERGENCES.


— “Darkness At Noon” - Arthur Koestler

"‘As soon as you appeared on this roof you made yourself ridiculous. It was your tone of voice. You spoke your words as though you denied the very existence of the shadows or of evil. Think, now: where would your good be if there were no evil and what would the world look like without shadow? Shadows are thrown by people and things. There’s the shadow of my sword, for instance. But shadows are also cast by trees and living things. Do you want to strip the whole globe by removing every tree and every creature to satisfy your fantasy of a bare world? You’re stupid.’"

— “The Master and Margarita” - Mikhail Bulgakov

"It is a frequent vice of radical polemic to assert, and even to believe, that once you have found the lowest motive for an antagonist, you have identified the correct one."

— “Arguably: Selected Essays” - Christopher Hitchens

"For man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments. This you may say of man—when theories change and crash, when schools, philosophies, when narrow dark alleys of thought, national, religious, economic, grow and disintegrate, man reaches, stumbles forward, painfully, mistakenly sometimes. Having stepped forward, he may slip back, but only half a step, never the full step back. This you may say and know it and know it. This you may know when the bombs plummet out of the black planes on the market place, when prisoners are stuck like pigs, when the crushed bodies drain filthily in the dust. You may know it in this way. If the step were not being taken, if the stumbling-forward ache were not alive, the bombs would not fall, the throats would not be cut. Fear the time when the bombs stop falling while the bombers live—for every bomb is proof that the spirit has not died. And fear the time when the strikes stop while the great owners live—for every little beaten strike is proof that the step is being taken. And this you can know—fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe."

— “The Grapes of Wrath” – John Steinbeck 


(Isaiah) Berlin takes his analysis a step further. He writes that such a

“search for perfection does seem to me a recipe for bloodshed, no better even if it is demanded by the sincerest of idealists, the purest of heard… To force people into the neat uniforms demanded by dogmatically believed in schemes is almost always the road to inhumanity.”


— “My Reading Life” – Bob Carr 


A conversation between two Bolsheviks in a Siberian gulag:

‘Listen now,’ he said, sitting up in bed. ‘Listen, my friend. This will be the last time I call you like this.’

‘Don’t talk like that,’ said Abarchuk. ‘You’re going to live!’

‘I’d sooner undergo torture, but I have to say this… You listen too,’ he added, turning to the corpse. ‘What I’m going to say has to do with you and your Nastya… This is my last duty as a revolutionary and I must fulfil it… You’re someone very special, comrade Abarchuk. And we met at a very special time – our best time, I think… Let me begin now. First. We made a mistake. And this is what our mistake has led to. Look! You and I must ask this peasant to pardon us… Give me a fag. What am I saying? No repentance can expiate what we’ve done. I have to say this… Secondly. We didn’t understand freedom. We crushed it. Even Marx didn’t value it – it’s the base, the meaning, the foundation that underlies all foundations. Without freedom there can be no proletarian revolution… Thirdly. We go through the camp, we go through the taiga, and yet our faith is stronger than anything. But this faith of ours is a weakness – a means of self-preservation. On the other side of the barbed wire, self-preservation tells people to change – unless they want to die or be sent to a camp. And so Communists have created idols, put on uniforms and epaulettes, begun preaching nationalism and attack in the working class. If necessary, they’ll revive the Black Hundreds… But here in the camp, the same instinct tells people not to change, not to change during all the decades they spend here – unless they want to be buried straight away in a wooden jacket. It’s the other side of the coin.’


— “Life and Fate” – Vasily Grossman

"George Eliot reckoned all sensible people ‘early discern that the mysterious complexity of our life is not to be embraced by maxims’."

“Recollections of a Bleeding Heart” - Don Watson

"The NKVD’s grip on Stalingrad had not slackened. German prisoners working from both banks of the Volga had noticed that the first building in the city to be repaired was the NKVD headquarters, and almost immediately there were queues of women outside with foodparcels for relatives who had been arrested. Former Sixth Army soldiers guessed that they too would be prisoners there for many years. Molotov later confirmed their fears, with his declaration that no German prisoners would see their homes until Stalingrad had been rebuilt."

— “Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943” - Antony Beevor

"The obsession with secrecy meant that men not directly involved in Operation Uranus had not been told about it until up to five days after the start. At first sight, the most surprising aspect of this time of triumph is the number of deserters from the Red Army who continued to cross the lines to the surrounded German Army, thus entering a trap, but this paradox seems to be explicable mainly through a mixture of ignorance and mistrust. Colonel Tulpanov, the sophisticated NKVD officer in charge of recuiting German officers, admitted quite openly to one of his star prisoners, the fighter pilot Count Heinrich von Einsiedl, that ‘These Russians were most astonished to hear from the Germans the same story that had been put out by their own propaganda. They had not believed that the Germans were encircled.’"

—  “Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943” - Antony Beevor


The Soviet authorities executed around 13,500 of their own soldiers at Stalingrad - equivalent to more than a whole division of troops.

That the Soviet regime was almost as unforgiving towards its own soldiers as towards the enemy is demonstrated by the total figure of 13,500 executions, both summary and judicial, during the battle of Stalingrad.

Altogether, over three million Red Army soldiers out of 5.7 million died in German camps from disease, exposure, starvation and ill-treatment.

According to some estimates, there had been nearly 600,000 people in Stalingrad, and 40,000 were killed during the first week of bombardment.

In the whole Stalingrad campaign, the Red Army had suffered 1.1 million casualties, of which 485,751 had been fatal.


 “Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943” - Antony Beevor


The root problem (of unemployment) is in the fact of dependency and uselessness itself.

Unemployment means having nothing to do – which means nothing to do with the rest of us. To be without work, to be without use to one’s fellow citizens, is to be in truth the Invisible Man of whom Ralph Ellison wrote.

The answer to the welfare crisis is work, jobs, self-sufficiency, and family integrity; not a massive new extension of welfare; not a great new outpouring of guidance counsellors to give the poor more advice.

We need jobs… that lets a man say to his community, to his family, to his country, and most important, to himself, “I helped to build this country. I am a participant in its great public ventures. I am a man.”


Make Gentle The Life of This World: The Vision of Robert F. Kennedy” - Maxwell Taylor Kennedy

RFK’s prose means that he’s frequently remembered as the most ideological of the 1960s liberals, but this is historical revisionism. Ideologically speaking, Bobby would have been a member of the ‘Labor Right’. He was vilified by his contemporaries on the left for his principled opposition to communism and the welfare state. His economics and his values were very much of the progressive centre. He would have been a strong advocate of mutual responsibility had the term been used at the time.

"Some twat with a Trot poster came up to me on the way in and yelled ‘Butcher!’ Traitor!’ at me. I stopped and mustered as much visual contempt as I could, then assured him that if we win the general election then don’t worry, thanks to wankers like him, there will always be another Tory government along afterwards. These people make me vomit."

—  “The Blair Years” - Alastair Campbell