David Harvey’s Course on Marx’s Capital: Volumes 1 & 2 Now Available Free Online

For many people, the arguments and analysis of Karl Marx’s three-volume Das Kapital (or Capital: A Critique of Political Economy) are as relevant as ever. For many others, the work is a historical curiosity, dated relic, or worse. Before forming an opinion either way, it’s probably best to read the thing—or as much of the huge set of tomes as you can manage. (Vol. 1, Vol. 2. and Vol. 3.) Few thinkers have been as frequently misquoted or misunderstood, even, or especially, by their own adherents. And as with any dense philosophical text, when embarking on a study of Marx, it’s best to have a guide. One could hardly do better than David Harvey, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center.

Harvey’s work as a geographer focuses on cities, the increasingly predominant mode of human habitation, and he is the author of the highly popular, two-volume Companion to Marx’s Capital. The books grow out of lectures Harvey has delivered in a popular course at the City University. They’re very readable (check them out here and here), but you don’t have to read them—or attend CUNY—to hear Harvey himself deliver the goods. We’ve previously featured his Capital: Volume 1 lectures (at top, preceded by an interview with a colleague). Now Harvey has made his lectures on Capital, Volume II and some of Volume III available. Watch all twelve classes above or view them individually here. As Harvey admits in an interview before the first lecture, the neglected second volume of Marx’s masterwork is “a very difficult volume to get through,” due to its style, structure, and subject matter. With Harvey’s patient, enthusiastic guidance, it’s worth the trouble.

See many more video interviews and lectures from Harvey at his website.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Michael Pollan Explains How Cooking Can Change Your Life; Recommends Cooking Books, Videos & Recipes

Last year, we featured “How Cooking Can Change Your Life,” an animated short based on the work of In Defense of FoodThe Omnivore’s Dilemma, and Food Rules author Michael Pollan. If you want more — and the culinarily inclined fans of Pollan, a self-described “liberal foodie intellectual,” often can’t get enough — have a look at his extended presentation on the same subject above. (If you prefer an audio podcast, you can get an MP3 with audience Q&A and all here.) The talk came as part of an event held at the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), which confronts the daunting question of how people can “improve their family’s health and well-being, build communities, help fix our broken food system, and break our growing dependence on corporations.” Pollan’s recommendation, it may or may not surprise you to hear, comes down to one simple act: cooking.

Of course, anyone who decides to jump into cooking in the 21st century realizes how simple it isn’t, or at least how complicated we’ve made it. Pollan, as luck would have it, realizes this, so today we’ve rounded up some of his resources that can help you learn to cook better, or indeed cook at all. Surprisingly, the man himself has never written a cookbook. “While I enjoy cooking, I’ll leave the art of perfecting and disseminating recipes to the pros,” he writes. “That said, I believe that if you can read, you can cook, and I have a few cookbooks that I use regularly and recommend to those of you wanting good, healthy and basic recipes” — from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian to Chez Panisse chef Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food, and even (“when I have an ingredient I want to use but don’t know what to do with it”) epicurious.com.

You can find more Pollan-endorsed food reading, including Sandor Katz’s The Art of Fermentation and Michael Moss’ Salt Sugar Fat, on his lists at Omnivoracious and Barnes and Noble. He also offers a roundup of online cooking resources:

Pollan’s section on cooking classes and other ways to learn to cook, aside from a variety of suggestions of regional institutions, includes these useful options:

  • A “free, beautiful book full of recipes that fit a food stamp budget” called Good and Cheap.
  • SkillShare, whose “innovative platform allows almost anyone, anywhere to teach a project-based class either online to a global community or offline in their local community. You can search for cooking, brewing or bread baking classes in your region.”
  • LifeHacker and its “cooking advice, recipes and how to’s.”

And if you missed it, don’t forget to take Pollan’s own course “Edible Education,” free from UC Berkeley. I like to think he’d second my own advice on the matter: just cook something that sounds good, anything that sounds good, right now. Not that I dare inflict the result on friends and family until I’ve learned a little more — which is when all those links above come in handy.

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Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

15 Great Films Adapted From Equally Great Novels

clockwork orange adaptation

Warner Bros.

How often does a film adaptation of a novel you love meet your expectations? Circle one: A) Always B) Often C) Rarely D) Never.

I’m guessing most people choose C, with a few falling solidly in the perennially disappointed D camp. There are, of course, those very few films that rise so far above their source material that we needn’t speak of the novel at all. I can think of one off the top of my head, involving a certain well-dressed mobster family.

Then there are adaptations of books that depart so far from the source that any comparison seems like a wasted exercise. Spike Jonze’s Adaptation is one intentional example, one that gleefully revels in its meta-poetic license-taking.

Perhaps no single author save Shakespeare, Jane Austen, or Stephen King has had as many of his works adapted to the screen as sci-fi visionary Philip K. Dick. The results vary, but the force of Dick’s imagination seems to make every cinema version of his novels worth watching, I’d argue.

But all this talk of adaptation brings us to the question that the internet must ask of every subject under the sun: what are nth best films made from novels—list them, damn you! Okay, well, you won’t get just my humble opinion, but the collective votes of hundreds of Guardian readers, circa 2006, when writers Peter Bradshaw and Xan Brooks took a poll, then posted the results as “The Big 50.”

The list includes those dapper mafiosi, but, as I said, I’m not much inclined—nor was Francis Ford Coppola—to Mario Puzo’s novel. But there are several films on the list made from books I do like quite a bit. In the 15 picks below, I like the movies almost or just as much. These are films from The Guardian’s big 50 that I feel do their source novels justice. Go ahead and quibble, rage, or even agree in the comments below—or, by all means, make your own suggestions of cases where film and book meet equally high standards, whether those examples appear on “The Big 50” or not.

1. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Stanley Kubrick’s take on Anthony Burgess’ 1962 dystopian fable replicates the highly disorienting experience of traversing a fictional world through the eyes of a Beethoven-loving, Nadsat-speaking, sociopath. Malcolm McDowell gives the performance of his career (see above). So distinctive is the set design, it inspired a chain of Korova Milk Bars. Burgess himself had a complicated relationship with the film and its director. Praising the adaptation as brilliant, he also found its bleak, sardonic ending, and omission of the novel’s redemptive final chapter—also missing from U.S. editions of the book prior to 1986—troubling. The film’s relentless ultraviolence, so disturbing to many a viewer, and many a religious organization, also disturbed the author who imagined it.

2. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

A film adaptation with an even more bravado ensemble cast (Danny DeVito, Brad Dourif, Louise Fletcher, Christopher Lloyd) and incredibly charismatic—and dangerous—lead, Jack Nicholson, Milos Forman’s Cuckoo’s Nest stands perfectly well on its own. But lovers of Ken Kesey’s madcap novel have many reasons for favorable comparison. One vast difference between the two, however, lies in the narrative point-of-view. The book is narrated by willfully silent Chief Bromden—the film mostly takes McMurphy’s point-of-view. Without a voice-over, it would have been near-impossible to stay true to the source, but the result leaves the novel’s narrator mostly on the sidelines—along with many of his thematic concerns. Nonetheless, actor Will Sampson imbues the towering Bromden with deep pathos, empathy, and comic stoicism. When he finally speaks, it’s almost like we’ve been hearing his voice all along (see above).

3. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

“Miss Jean Louise, stand up! Your father’s passing.” If this scene (above), doesn’t choke you up just a little, well… I don’t really know what to say…. The sentimental adaptation of the reclusive Harper Lee’s only novel is flawed, righteous, and loveable. Gregory Peck is Atticus Finch (and as far as adaptations go—despite the brave attempts of many a fine actor—is Ahab as well). And the young Mary Badham is Scout. Robert Duvall makes his screen debut as kindly shut-in Boo Radley, audiences learn how to pronounce “chiffarobe”…. It’s as classic a piece of work as the novel—seems almost impossible to separate the two.

4. Apocalypse Now (1979)

Francis Ford Coppola and screenwriter John Milius—the Hollywood character so well caricatured by John Goodman in The Big Lebowski—transform Joseph Conrad’s lean 1899 colonialist novella Heart of Darkness into a grandiose, barely coherent, psychedelic tour-de-force set in the steaming jungles of Vietnam. Brando glowers in shadow, Robert Duvall strikes hilariously macho poses, Martin Sheen genuinely loses his mind, and a coked-up, manic Dennis Hopper shows up, quotes T.S. Eliot, and nearly upstages everyone (above). Roger Ebert loved the even longer, crazier Redux, released in 2001, saying it “shames modern Hollywood’s timidity.” Novelist Jessica Hagedorn fictionalized the movie’s legendary making in the Philippines. How much is left of Conrad? I would say, surprisingly, quite a bit of the spirit of Heart of Darkness survives—maybe even more than in Nicolas Roeg’s straightforward 1994 adaptation with John Malkovich as Kurtz and Tim Roth as Marlow.

5. Trainspotting (1996)

Danny Boyle’s adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s addiction-themed first novel—or rather collection of interlinked stories—about a scrappy bunch of Scottish lowlifes may be very much a product of its moment, but its hard to imagine a more perfect screen realization of Welsh’s punk prose. Character-driven in the best sense of the phrase, Boyle’s comic Trainspotting manages the estimable feat of telling a story about drug addicts and criminal types that doesn’t feature any golden-hearted hookers, mournful interventions, self-righteous, didactic pop sociology, or other Hollywood drug-movie staples. A sequel—based on Welsh’s follow-up novel Pornomay be forthcoming.

And below are 10 more selections from The Guardian‘s top 50 in which—I’d say—film and book are both, if not equally, great:

6. Blade Runner (1982)
7. Dr. Zhivago (1965)
8. Empire of the Sun (1987)
9. Catch-22 (1970)
10. Lolita (1962)
11. Tess (1979)
12. The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)
13. The Day of the Triffids (1962)
14. Alice (1988)
15. Lord of the Flies (1963)

So, there you have it—my top 15 from The Guardian’s list of 50 best adaptations. What are your favorites? Look over their other 35—What glaring omissions deserve mention (The Shining? Naked Lunch? Dr. Strangelove? Lawrence of Arabia? The Color Purple?), which inclusions should be stricken, forgotten, burned? (Why, oh, why was the Tim Burton Charlie and the Chocolate Factory remake picked over the original?) All of the films mentioned are in English—what essential adaptations in other languages should we attend to? And finally, what alternate versions do you prefer to some of the most-seen adaptations of novels or stories?

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Stanley Kubrick’s Obsession with the Color Red: A Supercut

In his book, Abject Terrors: Surveying the Modern and Postmodern Horror Film, Tony Magistrale talks about Stanley Kubrick’s deep and abiding obsession with the color red. He writes 2001: A Space Odyssey “commences Kubrick’s directorial fascination with vivid color, particularly the color red, that becomes the defining trait of the auteur’s subsequent cinema… [T]he particular use of red as the keynote color in Kubrick’s cinematic palette speaks directly to cinematic meaning: The color red underscores varying levels of physical and psychological violence present in Clockwork, The Shining and Barry Lyndon; forces the viewer to make a connection between HAL and demonic energies in 2001; and is associated with the carnal sexuality that is present in nearly every sequence of Eyes Wide Shut.” But it’s one thing to read about this obsession, and another thing to see it. Above we have ‘s “Red: A Stanley Kubrick Supercut,” which artfully weaves together footage from Spartacus, 2001, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut. Now you’ll see what Magistrale means.

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Handmade Animation Shows You “How To Make a 1930 Paramount Record”

The history of American music—the blues, jazz, gospel, etc.—has been told, and sold, so many times over that it seems hard to justify yet another retrospective. And yet, I for one am very happy to see the huge two-volume box set The Rise & Fall of Paramount Records appear on the scene. Granted, I can’t cough up $800 for, in total, 1600 remastered digital tracks, 12 LPs, 900 pages of artist bios, portraits, discographies, and fully-restored advertisements from the Midwestern musical powerhouse of the 20s and 30s. And that’s not to mention the beautiful, period packaging, “first-of-its-kind music and image player app… housed on custom metal USB drive,” and more. But even those of us too skint to afford all the glorious swag can sample some of the fruit of the enormous labors that went into this joint production of Jack White’s Third Man Records and folk guitar hero John Fahey’s Revenant Records (if only by proxy). And we can learn a little about the labors that went in to making the original records themselves.

Paramount records label

Just above, we have a beautiful handmade video by Kelli Anderson which “recreates the inner workings of the defunct Paramount Records Factory (where records by artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson, Louis Armstrong and Charley Patton were pressed in the 1920s and ‘30s).” Made “entirely from paper atop a plywood set,” the stop-motion animation simulates the production of Paramount’s “race records,” accompanied by Charley Patton’s 1930 “High Water Everywhere, Part 1,” whose “thick, analog noise,” Anderson writes on her blog, “is a reminder that some of history’s most inventive musicians were recorded on the most inferior equipment of their day.” She quotes Dean Blackwood of Revenant, who writes that the Paramount factory “sat perched above the Milwaukee River riverbed. Dirt from that riverbed was one of the key ingredients in their shellac dough, which was lower on shellac content and higher on unexpected components like riverbed clay, cotton flock, and lamp black.”

But from these humble, dirty, cheap materials came a sound like no other—one that can never be duplicated and which deserves the highest quality preservation. Just above, see a video trailer for volume 1 of the massive box set, and read much more about this project at Third Man’s site (Volume 1, Volume 2).

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Spike Lee’s List of 95 Essential Movies – Now with Women Filmmakers

Image by José Cruz/ABr CC-BY-SA-3.0

Last year, independent film icon and NYU professor Spike Lee turned to the crowdsourcing site Kickstarter to raise $1.25 million dollars for his latest film. To drum up publicity, he published his list of 87 “essential” movies that he hands out in his graduate film classes. And it is a very idiosyncratic list. Some great, overlooked movies like Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep and Steve James’s Hoop Dreams make the cut while other inclusions are more puzzling — Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto, for instance. Or Abel Ferrera’s Bad Lieutenant. The list’s exclusions, however, raised eyebrows. Citizen Kane (?!) somehow didn’t get a mention. Neither did Seven Samurai. Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus somehow won out over 2001: A Space Odyssey. And such canonical directors as Yasujiro Ozu, Ingmar Bergman, Fritz Lang, John Ford and Charlie Chaplin were left out entirely.

But the internet really took Lee to task for the list’s most glaring omission – there are no women. To that last issue, Lee made amends. In his updated blog entry – “Thank You For That Coat Pulling” – Lee revamped the list to include eight movies by five female directors, bringing the total to 95.

Three of the four women ever to be nominated for a Best Director Oscar wound up on the list – Wertmuller, Champion, Bigelow. I guess Lee isn’t a fan of Sophia Coppola.

Lina Wertmuller managed to get four films on the new list – a feat not shared by any of her male counterparts. That’s right, she bested Kurosawa, Kubrick and Hitchcock. In her heyday, Wertmuller courted controversy by combining sex and left wing politics, which sounds right up Lee’s alley. Fairly or not, Wertmuller’s reputation hasn’t aged well, mostly because feminist critics pilloried her movie for being misogynous. And Guy Ritchie’s unfortunate remake of her 1974 movie Swept Away, starring Madonna, did little to burnish her prestige.

Also on the list is Julie Dash’s Daughter of the Dust, a lyrical landmark of indie cinema about Gullah women living on one of South Carolina’s barrier islands, and French director Euzhan Palcy’s little seen Sugar Cane Alley is about blacks toiling in the sugar cane fields of rural Martinique.

Indiewire notes that Lee’s additions bump the gender disparity up from 0% to about 8.7%. That’s not a lot, but according to Celluloid Ceiling’s 2013 report, it’s better than it is currently in Hollywood. Of the top 250 earning movies last year, only 6 were directed by women.

You can see Lee’s original list below:

lee essential 2.jpg.CROP.article568-large

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Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring lots of pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads.  The Veeptopus store is here.

Naropa Archive Presents 5,000 Hours of Audio Recordings of Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs & Other Beat Writers

Schools like Harvard, Oxford, and the Sorbonne surely have qualities to recommend them, but to my mind, nothing would feel quite as cool as saying your degree comes from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. If you aspire to say it yourself, you’ll have to apply to Naropa University, which Tibetan Buddhist teacher (and, incidentally, Oxford scholar) Chögyam Trungpa established in Boulder, Colorado in 1974. This rare, accredited, “Buddhist-inspired” American school has many unusual qualities, as you’d expect, but, as many of us remember from our teenage years, your choice of university has as much to do with who has passed through its halls before as what you think you’ll find when you pass through them. Naropa, besides naming a school after the late Kerouac has hosted the likes of Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Philip Whalen, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

But you don’t actually have to attend Naropa to partake of its Beat legacy. At the Naropa Poetics Audio Archives, freely browsable at the Internet Archive, you can hear over 5000 hours of readings, lectures, performances, seminars, panels, and workshops recorded at the school and featuring the aforementioned luminaries and many others. “The Beat writers had intervened on the culture,” says Waldman in an interview about her book Beats at Naropa. “It wasn’t just a matter of simply offering the usual kind of writing workshops, but reading and thinking lectures, panels, presentations as well. The Beat writers have been exceptional as political and cultural activists, investigative workers, translators, Buddhists, environmental activists, feminists, seers. There’s so much legendary history here.” Emphasis — I repeat, 5000 hours — on so much.

To help you dive into this legendary history, we’ve rounded up today some previously featured highlights from Naropa. Begin here, and if you keep going, you’ll discover varieties of Beat experience even we’ve never had — and maybe you’ll even consider putting in a Kerouac School application, and doing some cultural intervention of your own.

Enter the Naropa Audio Archive here.

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Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Read Free Digital Art Catalogues from 9 World-Class Museums, Thanks to the Pioneering Getty Foundation

OSCI image ipad

We’ve previously featured the various pioneering efforts of The Getty — from freeing 4,600 high-resolution art images (and then 77,000 more) into the public domain, to digitally releasing over 250 art books. Now they’ve put their minds to those rare, beautiful, and highly edifying specimens known as art catalogues. “Based on meticulous research, these catalogues make available detailed information about the individual works in a museum’s collection, ensuring the contents a place in art history,” announces their site. “Yet printed volumes are costly to produce and difficult to update regularly; their potential content often exceeds allotted space. One could say they are like thoroughbred horses confined to stock pens.” But now the Getty has offered a solution in the form of the Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative (OCSI), creating an online platform for free catalogues — and not just the Getty’s, but those of any art institution.

renoir catalogue


You can access the first set of art catalogues released under the OSCI initiative here. As you can see, where the Getty goes, other institutions follow: The Art Institute of Chicago has released catalogues on the work of Monet and Renoir. The Smithsonian Institution’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery has a catalogue on The World of the Japanese Illustrated Book, which sits nicely alongside LACMA’s catalogue on Southeast Asian Art. Other titles include Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century from the National Gallery of Art; The Rauschenberg Research Project from SFMOMA; Discover the Chinese Painting & Calligraphy Collection at the Seattle Art Museum; The Tates’s The Camden Town Group in Context; and the Living Collections Catalogue from the Walker Art Center.

japanese illustrated books

You can learn more about the project, its development, and its potential in the short Getty video, “The Future of Digital Publishing in Museums.” Do note that, while you can, of course, view this wealth of catalogues on a computer, you’ll want to use a tablet for the optimized experience. And the more the OCSI initiative develops, the richer a reading experience you’ll have on any device; it not only provides users detailed art images, but also the options to “overlay them with conservation documentation, discover scholarly essays in easy-to-read formats, take notes in the margins that can be stored for later use, and export citations to their desktops.” And thus yet another unexpected benefit of the internet emerges: we are all art historians now.


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Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

The Red Menace: A Striking Gallery of Anti-Communist Posters, Ads, Comic Books, Magazines & Films


By its very nature, propaganda distorts the truth or tells outright lies. It targets our basest impulses—fear and anger, flight or fight. While works of pure propaganda may pretend to make logical arguments, they eliminate nuance and oversimplify complicated issues to the point of caricature. These general tendencies hold true in every case, but nowhere, perhaps, is this gross exaggeration and fear mongering more evident than in times of war.

Socialism 1909

And while we’ve all seen our share of wartime propaganda, we may be less familiar with the decades-long propaganda war the U.S. and Western Europe waged against socialism and Communism, even decades before the Cold War era. It may surprise you to learn that this offensive began even before the start of World War One, as you can see above in a British Conservative Party poster from 1909.

Russian anti-Communist 1918

Representing socialism as an ape-like demon strangling some sort of goddess of “prosperity,” this striking piece of poster art sets the tone for almost all of the anti-Communist propaganda to come in the wake of the Russian Revolution. At least since this early graphic salvo, Communists and socialists have generally been depicted as terrifying monsters. See, for example, an early, post-WWI example of Russian anti-Communist propaganda above, portraying the Communist threat as an apocalyptic horseman of death.

German anti-Communist 1919

Norwegian anti-Communist

As the perceived threat increased, so too did the scale of the monstrous caricatures. In the post-WWI era German and Norwegian posters above, Godzilla-sized Communists lay waste to entire cities. Below, in “Bolshevism Unmasked,” an example from the Second World War, the skeletal Communist destroyer straddles the entire globe.

Bolshevism Unmasked

Occasionally the racial dimensions of these depictions were explicit. More often, they were strongly implied. But a 1953 Cold War example below is particularly unsubtle. Showing a scene literally right out of a schlocky Paramount horror film, featuring actress Janet Logan, the text tells us, “In case the Communists should conquer, our women would be helpless beneath the boots of the Asiatic Russians.” At the top of this rather lurid piece of agit-prop, we’re also told that “many American men would be sterilized” should Russia win the “next world war.”

If Russia Should Win

In the 50s and 60s, pop culture media like film and comic books lent themselves particularly well to anti-Communist propaganda, and they were exploited relentlessly by government agencies, production companies, and corporations. Films like I Married a Communist (below) and The Red Menace (top), both from 1949, offered sensationalized pulpy takes on the red scare.


In these peak Cold War decades, anti-Communist sentiment flourished as the U.S.’s former ally the Soviet Union became its primary enemy. Comic books provided the perfect platform for the broad strokes of anti-Communist propaganda. As psychiatrist Fredric Wertham waged war against the corrupting influence of comic books, advertisers and the government found them increasingly effective at spreading messages. “If there was any entity that believed in the power of comic books to indoctrinate and instruct as Wertham did,” writes Greg Beato at Reason, “it was the U.S. government.”

Is This Tomorrow?

But private entities did their share in the comic book war against Communism as well. Witness a particularly wild example, Is This Tomorrow?, above. Published by the “Catechetical Guild Educational Society” in St. Paul, MN, this 1947 comic implicates government regulation of business, social welfare programs, anti-religious sentiment, and “people giving up their silly ideas about ‘sacredness’ of life” in a fiendishly orchestrated plot to take over America. Workers who embrace Communist doctrine are little more than dupes and pawns. You can read the whole feverish scenario here.

red menace anti soviet propaganda 3

These cartoon scare tactics may seem outlandish, but of course we know that red scare propaganda had real effects on the lives and livelihoods of real Americans, particularly those in the arts and academia. Freethinking, left-leaning creative types and intellectuals have long been targets of anti-Communist paranoia. The American Legion Magazine cover above illustrates the fear—one still very prevalent now—that college professors were bent on corrupting young, malleable minds. “Parents,” the magazine states, “can rid campuses of communists who cloak themselves in ‘academic freedom.’” At the height of the red scare, many college professors, like Stanley Moore at Reed College, were dragged before the House Un-American Activities Committee and summarily fired.


More confident, it seems, than the propaganda of previous decades, the Cold War variety shrunk the Communist threat back to human dimensions. But Communists were no less monstrous than before—only more insidious. They looked like your neighbors, your co-workers, and your children’s teacher. Instead of purveyors of brute force, they were depicted as devious manipulators who used ideological machinations to pervert democracy and cripple capitalism. As in the American Legion college professor cover story, education was often posed as the cultural battlefield on which—as the heated Canadair ad above states—“Communism could take the citadel from within” by spreading “doubts about the old ways” and insinuating “ideas of atheism, regimentation and false idealism.”


Post-WWII, of course, the greatest threat was not a full-scale invasion—it was total nuclear annihilation. It was a grim possibility—as Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove satirically pointed out—in which no one would win. Web Urbanist points us toward one particularly chilling and dishonest piece of propaganda distributed by the government. In the poster above, we are assured that “After total war can come total living.” Unless the happy couple is gazing out over a manicured suburb in the afterlife, this scene of “total living” post-nuclear war is absurd given the strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction. Nevertheless, what the poster depicts is an analogue of the Soviets’ totalitarian ethos—it’s a future of total ideological purity, in which the Earth has been cleansed of the hulking monstrous hordes of Communism, as well as, presumably, the crypto-Communist teachers, artists, intellectuals, and bureaucrats who threaten from within.

via Web Urbanist/io9/Kuriositas

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Wittgenstein Day-by-Day: Facebook Page Tracks the Philosopher’s Wartime Experience 100 Years Ago


Last week we told you about an ambitious video series — The Great War — that will document how World War I unfolded, week-by-week, over a four-year period, from 1914 to 1918. A new video will be released every Thursday, and it will reflect on what happened during the same week 100 years prior. When complete, there should be close to 300 videos in the series.

Today, we’re staying in the same time period, but getting even more micro. Wittgenstein Day-by-Day is a Facebook page that “tracks [Ludwig] Wittgenstein’s diary entries as they were written 100 years ago,” writes Levi Asher on his blog Literary Kicks. During World War I, Wittgenstein served on the frontlines in a howitzer regiment in Galicia and was decorated several times for his courage (more on that here). While fighting, he continued writing philosophy — texts that would be gathered in Notebooks, 1914-1916 – while also recording his experiences in his diaries. Today’s entry on Wittgenstein Day-by-Day reads:

Wednesday 18th November, 1914: In his private diary, LW reports hearing more thunder from the front-line, as well as machine-gun fire and heavy artillery fire. He records feeling pleased that their commander is again being replaced by their Lieutenant. He notes that he has done quite a lot of (philosophical) work, and is in a good mood. However, he also notes that in his work there has been at a standstill, as he needs a major incident to move forward (GT2, S.22).

Continuing his thought from yesterday, LW tells himself that it is all simply a matter of the existence of the logical place. ‘But what the devil is this “logical place”?’, he then asks himself (NB, p.31).

You can like and follow Wittgenstein Day-by-Day on Facebook. And, while you’re at it, do the same with Open Culture’s FB page here.

via Literary Kicks

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