Bird’s Eye View – Memory hole / Doublethink / Big Brother

Memory hole

‘The Russian Education Ministry has announced plans that will require children as young as seven to study history, as part of a wider push to promote “patriotic” education amid the war in Ukraine. “Historical education will begin in schools from the first grade,” Education Minister Sergei Kravtsov said at the opening of an exhibition called Everyday Nazism which is due to be shown at a nationwide schools forum, The Power is in the Truth. “[In our teaching of history], we will never allow it [to be written] that we somehow treated other nations – our fraternal nations of Ukraine and Belarus – poorly. We will do everything in our power so that historical memory is preserved.” The plans will lower the age of children taking compulsory history lessons by three years, and will see historical education incorporated into existing parts of the school curriculum. Kravtsov also said that from Sept. 1, schools will start each week by singing the Russian national anthem and raising the Russian flag’ (, 19 April,

As George Orwell warned, those who control the past can control the present. Putin long ago joined the ranks of dictators for whom ‘yesterday’s weather can be changed by decree’ —a power Orwell attributed in 1942 to Franco, Hitler and Stalin. If an event in the past is no longer regarded as useful to the authorities all reference to it is destroyed. A people who cannot remember where they used to be are in no position to challenge where they are now. Historically controlled, the present is something that workers come to accept as an unquestionable normality. Orwell was not merely inventing nightmares. In Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia the deletion from the record of history of disruptive facts was a carefully organised campaign.


‘Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce… Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living’ (The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. Karl Marx, 1852,

Mazda Majidi and Derek Ford ‘s recent article titled ‘Clarifying and inspiring revolution for 130 years: Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Programme‘ (, 2 April, is both tragic and farcical. The Gotha programme was drawn up to unite the two sections of the German working class movement, the General Association of German Workers, and the Social Democratic Workers’ Party. They combined to form the Socialist Workers’ Party of Germany at the Gotha Congress in 1875. The Critique of the Gotha Programme consisted of marginal comments made by Marx on the draft of this party programme. The Critique remains popular among those who worship certain dead dictators or their modern counterparts because Marx refers to a transitional period between capitalism and communism (socialism) and to another between an early and a later stage of communism during which there will not be full distribution according to needs. As the authors remark, the ‘..Critique was a key resource for Lenin’s study and publication of The State and Revolution. Lenin expanded on the transition between the first and second stages of communism and justified the dictatorship of the proletariat.’ But as Marx notes in Critique just after dealing with the transitional period ‘… to force on our Party again, as dogmas, ideas which in a certain period had some meaning but now have become obsolete verbal rubbish’ ( seems apt for other notions which we would do well throw in the dusbin of history and are found aplenty, alas, on, including imperialism, Marxism-Leninism, national liberation, socialism with Chinese, Cuban, etc characteristics, and workers’ states.

Big Brother

‘Future society will be socialist society. This also means that with the abolition of exploitation, commodity production and buying and selling will also be abolished and, therefore, there will be no room for buyers and sellers of labour power, for employers and employed—there will be only free workers… Where there are no classes, where there are neither rich nor poor, there is no need for a state, there is no need also for political power, which oppresses the poor and protects the rich. Consequently, in socialist society there will be no need for the existence of political power’ (Anarchism or Socialism? 1906,

Ironically, the author of this piece would thirty years later, in a complete volte-face, declare the USSR to be socialist. That same year, on the 28th August, Pravda proclaimed him divine: ‘O Great Stalin, O Leader of the Peoples,Thou who didst give birth to man, Thou who didst make fertile the earth, Thou who dost rejuvenate the Centuries, Thou who givest blossom to the spring… ‘ And a mere mortal observed:

‘There are in the USSR privileged and exploited classes, dominant classes and subject classes. Between them the standard of living is sharply separated. The classes of travel on the railways correspond exactly to the social classes; similarly with ships, restaurants, theatres, shops, and with houses; for one group palaces in pleasant neighbourhoods, for the others wooden barracks alongside tool stores and oily machines… It is always the same people who live in the palaces and the same people who live in the barracks. There is no longer private property, there is only one property – State property. But the State no more represents the whole community than under preceding régimes’ (What the Russian Revolution Has Become, Robert Guiheneuf, 1936).

And today, ‘Russian elites and oligarchs are probably some of the best in the world at hiding their wealth…’ (, 11 April,

Photo by Kirill KukhmarTASS via Getty Images

Next article: Saving what’s Left: Mélenchon bucks the trend? ⮞

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