Category Archives: teaching kids to love capitalism

Walter Benjamin and Asja Lācis

Well, he might be the ‘Marxist you can take home to meet your mother’ (as Vijay Prashad once said to me) but here some Benjamin, plus one – Asja Lācis -, for unpacking in between the consequential chaos of homeschooling – its a reassurance for parents that comparatively home school is going to be ok so long as they are making sure its not only endless playing of the ‘game’ monopoly (well, and a whole lot more, including Disney, but an exemption for the magical thinking of Dorothy who seeks to make it over the rainbow with a couple of workers so their dreams come true. The Emerald City is no communist Utopia, but putting that self-appointed snake-charmer wizard guy in a hot air balloon should be a lesson too. And dropping a house on the wicked witch to the approval of the good witch leaves some room for interpretive license): Anyway, here is Andris Brinkmanis on Walter Benjamin and Asja Lācis:
‘During the hot 1968 season, the name Anna Ernestovna “Asja” Lācis (1891–1979) unexpectedly reemerged among young leftist cultural “archaeologists” as an unearthed ruin of a historical “dream city.” A crucial missing element of a certain political-cultural trajectory had been rediscovered. With it, Benjamin’s short essay “Program for a Proletarian Children’s Theater” regained the character of a concrete and dialectical political-aesthetical pedagogical praxis, based on real experience. His writings on childhood and pedagogy thus assumed a programmatic character too: to oppose the dominant “bourgeois” education and behavioral models by all means, locating the very foundations of the capitalist ideological edifice in early childhood education’.
And Asja:
“In times of struggle, art has to be both an ally and friend of those in conflict. In this century of struggle, we look for art in the magnificent, free life. In it the creative process reveals itself through an intense and free action of the spirit, through masses that flow united by a common exhilarating rhythm’.
Read it all here:

Xmas teaches kids to love capitalism #365shoppingdaystogo

Just leaving this gem here in the Crimbo file in anticipation of being grumpy about it next year as well.

Creepy Christmas Lenin [Ленин на ёлке]

by Ross Wolfe

Just in time for the holidays.

Needless to say, these creepy Christmas portraits were not Lenin’s idea. One can only guess how horrified he would have been if he had lived to see them. Christmas was abolished as an official holiday by the Bolsheviks starting 1918, roughly a year after the October Revolution. By 1935, however, Stalin’s government decided to reintroduce Santa to the children of the USSR. Poskrebyshev, a member of the Central Committee, enacted the reform.


Well, to expand a bit, it wasn’t Santa quite as we’d think of him. It was based on the old Russian version — Ded Moroz [дед Мороз], that is — different from Western Santas in several ways: 1. he isn’t jolly/fat; 2. rather, he’s tall and somewhat menacing. Some important modifications were made for (anti)ideological reasons: 1. ded Moroz no longer wore blue, as he had been turned red by communism; 2. now he wore a more festive hat instead of a boyar’s cap, as this would have harkened back to the feudal past.

Anyway, sometimes Santa was entirely superfluous. Lenin was all you needed. “I don’t know how to break it to you, little Vadim. God’s not real, and was never born, but I brought you some gifts anyway.”

Thanks to Anatolii Krasnopivtsev for the original post in Russian, which I just happened across today. Enjoy!


Xmas Teaches Kids to Love Capitalism

The ideal Present has arrived.

I rarely forward “Art” projects to lists, but since its the silly season and all things are excused in the interest of the ‘festival of teaching kids to love capitalism’, I though this would make a fine Xmas present for the person who has everything. It might take a little bit of doing (perhaps by interactive media lab people), but it would be great to have one of these with which to carve Marx’s beard into the Goldies back lawn.

Find out more here

And of course, not wanting to come over all Scrooge of past, present and future, just like last year (here) I send best wishes to you for 2008.

Trinket Crimbo







An old graffito favourite (I will post pics sometime) returned to mind this morning when I was rudely awakened by some god-bothering Bishop (Nazir Ali) on Radio Four’s Today Programme complaining in ever so slow plummy tones that something about diversity legislation – vaguely referenced as ‘political correctness’ – meant that some employers were stopping employees from putting up tinsel at work or employees were reluctant to put up workplace xmas trees for fear of offending co-workers of other faiths. This being an issue in the workplace strikes me as ironic and beside the point – as in missing the point by a whisker, but certainly missing. The trouble is – as the BBC went on to explain – they could find no employers who had actually ‘banned’ christmas; that there was no expectation that the churches would not be well attended come the day; and that calls for a return to celebration of the ‘summer festival’ that was colonised by Christianity were not really likely and frankly seem a bit, um, medieval.

Now it might surprise some that I am a fan of old Charlie Dickens, but maybe he did not make the connection between work, money and christmas clear enough when he got the ghosts to work their sentimental magic on old Ebeneezer. At least he made the connection, unlike the radio this morning. Maybe the BBC team were just filling the Today programme stocking with a seasonal puff piece, and I shouldn’t be bothered, but I do get misty eyed when I think of all the misery – work work work till you die, ho ho ho – that is inaugurated with the early years’ induction to capitalism that 25/12 and the fondly remembered fat fool (‘money bags’) entails.

Redistribute wealth in commemoration of the day after – 26 December is Mao’s birthday – instead of this conjunction of church and capital that jingles your bells in mockery of your creative labour – only a few coins left rattling in your pocket, creativity appropriated by the bosses, entombed in a data entry capsule, force fed on stale fruit cake to fatten you up for a slaughter that takes about 50 of your very best years…

Off to the beach then – bah humbug. ha ha ha. (the pic is from Xmas 1962)