Thursday, October 28, 2010

500th Post! Egypt: The Gathering Storm

Written by Hamid Alizadeh and Frederik Ohsten
Thursday, 28 October 2010

Mohamed ElBaradei. Photo Elijah Zarwan

The tensions in Egypt are reaching boiling point. The crisis of the regime is reflected in a number of splits and growing opposition. The emergence of Mohamed Elbaradei on the political scene signifies an important change in the struggle against the regime. Until now, the masses have lacked a national point of reference to connect up the different struggles, but this is now changing. Revolution is developing just beneath the surface.

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Craig Bardo said...

Congratulations Ren!

SecondComingOfBast said...

Good going Rem congratulations. If Terri hadn't had the plug pulled she'd give you a great big slobbery kiss.

Larry Gambone said...

Congratulations on the 500th! As for Egypt and Iran, they sort of book end the Middle East. If they have revolutions and Egypt manages to keep out of the Islamist clutches, these latter will have been dealt a severe blow and the secular tendencies will be on the rise - like they were in the 1950s and '60s. Without the Islamic Fundi bogeyman what will US imperialism do for an enemy? Oh well, they seem to be gearing up to turn China into the new booga-booga!

Frank Partisan said...

CB: Thank you.

Pagan: Thank you. It's the Alzheimer's, Terri?

Larry G: Thank you. Check out on the recent article about the currency fights between nations and the speculation that is making people like Soros richer.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on your 500th post, Ren. Sorry I haven't been more active here (or even on my own main blog). I've been incredibly busy doing thesis work and building that archive. I will post that entry on environmentalism soon. A Trotskii translation along with.

But in answer to your question on my blog, the Bolshevik period was an incredibly creative period for architecture, as well as for the arts in general (dance, theater, music, propaganda). The Soviet avant-garde flourished from the beginning of the Revolution until the beginning of the 1930s, when socialist realism became mandated across the board. This came to be known as the "Stalinization" of art; you know, pictures of smiling Stalin gazing approvingly out onto a land filled with happy peasants and strong, muscular workers. In architecture, this meant a return to a more neoclassical style of building, with columns and arches and elaborately decorated facades, all things the modernists hated and considered wasteful. Here you get the sort of "wedding-cake" structures like the proposed Palace of the Soviets (1932), or like the more Gothic-inspired Stalinist skyscrapers in Moscow, like Moscow State University, designed by Rudnev. Stalinist architecture wasn't simply a regression to prerevolutionary architecture. It absorbed some modernist influences, but in the most perverse way imaginable. It combined a sort of eclectic reference to past historical styles with a strange gigantism and monumentality that had been absent in past architecture. The result was incredibly ostentatious and ultimately conservative.

This is an old narrative, the whole "Stalin crushing the helpless, earnest avant-garde that wanted to help the revolution," but it's for the most part true. It's a little more complex than this, of course; the modernists could have easily done more to help themselves. But pre-1932 architecture in Russia was incredibly innovative. Its avant-garde was related to the international avant-garde more broadly, but specifically tried to incorporate the revolutionary idea of transforming society through a reshaping of the built environment (architecture and town planning). Many avant-garde European architects, from France, Germany, Holland, Poland, and Czechoslovakia participated in the planning projects of the late 1920s and early 1930s. They were kicked out in the end by Stalin, as foreigners generally came to be distrusted after 1936-37. But there was a moment of great possibility, squandered of course by the monstrosity of Stalinism.

The Sentinel said...


Its been a while now.

Frank Partisan said...

Ross: I look forward to it.

Sentinel: Thank you.