Based on fieldwork among Ulaanbaatar's dispossessed youth, this article explores the 'work of hope' in post-socialist Mongolia. Using anthropological writings on presentism and hope as my theoretical point of departure, I show how the concept of hope allows for the potentials of the moment to overflow the possibilities of the present. The article describes a number of lucky-and not so lucky-events that took place during a day spent with a group of young men cruising around the city in an old Cadillac. Hope emerges as a social method for momentarily integrating heterogeneous assemblages otherwise dispersed across the post-socialist city-in this case, people's metaphysical capacities and their economic assets-into chains of creditors and debtors, which are only barely holding together within an overarching context of failure.
The Work of Hope in Urban Mongolia
Morten Axel Pedersen
Franz A. Birgel
Characterized by Siegfried Kracauer as "the first and last German film that overtly expressed a Communist viewpoint," Kuhle Wampe (1932) is also noteworthy for being the only film on which Bertolt Brecht collaborated from beginning to end, as well as for its controversial censorship in the tumultuous political context of the late Weimar Republic. When set against the background of the 1920 Motion Picture Law and the censorship of two other high-profile films—Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin and Lewis Milestone's All Quiet on the Western Front—the political history of Kuhle Wampe highlights the indecisiveness, fragility, and fears of the German Left as the Nazis prepared to take power.
Helen Hundley, Peter Jordon, Alexander D. King, Victor L. Mote and Kathryn Pinnick
David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye, Toward the Rising Sun. Russian Ideologies of Empire and the Path to War with Japan (Dekalb, Ill.: Northern University Press, 2001) 329pp. £31.95 (hb); $42.00 (hb) ISBN 0-87580-276-1 (hb)
Anna Reid, The Shaman’s Coat: A Native History of Siberia (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2002) 226pp. £20.00 (hb). ISBN 0-2976-4377-0 (hb)
Kira Van Deusen, Raven and the Rock: Storytelling in Chukotka (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999) 216pp. £20? (hb) ISBN 0-295-97841-4 (hb) Matthew J. Payne, Stalin’s Railroad: Turksib and the Building of Socialism Victor L. Mote
Matthew J. Payne, Stalin’s Railroad: Turksib and the Building of Socialism (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2001) 384pp. £23.00, ISBN 0-8229-4166-X
Jennifer Considine and William Kerr, The Russian Oil Economy (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Press, 2002) 360pp. £69.95 (hb), ISBN 1-84064-758-2 (hb)
Who Were These Men and Why Did They Not Crush Mass Protest in 1989?
Uwe Krähnke, Anja Zschirpe, Matthias Finster, Philipp Reimann and Scott Stock Gissendanner
More than twenty-five years after the revolution that toppled the German Democratic Republic, we still know little about the personnel of the organization that should have prevented it: the East German Ministry for State Security (Stasi). This article reports on an individual-level investigation of the entire Stasi leadership cadre of the Karl-Marx-Stadt district with information on socioeconomic status, careers, institutional constraints and organizational culture. Although a generational cleavage was evident, we argue that Stasi leadership was so deeply convinced of socialism’s superiority and so thoroughly habituated to the bureaucratic routine of the normal “party soldier” that it was caught utterly by surprise with no plan to annihilate massive opposition from within.
Andrew Gamble and Rajiv Prabhakar
Asset egalitarianism is a new agenda but an old idea. At its root is the notion that every citizen should be able to have an individual property stake, and it has recently been revived in Britain and in the U.S. in a number of proposals aimed at countering the huge and growing inequality in the distribution of assets. Such asset egalitarianism is fed from many streams; it has a long history in civic republican thought, beginning with Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, but has also featured in the distributist theories of G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc; the guild socialism of G.D.H. Cole and the ethical socialism of R.H. Tawney; the market liberalism of the Ordo Liberals and some of the Austrian School, particularly F.A. Hayek; and more recently the market socialism of James Meade, A.B. Atkinson and Julian Le Grand, and the market egalitarianism of Michael Sherraden, Samuel Bowles, Herbert Gintis, Richard Freeman and Bruce Ackerman. There are also important links to the proponents of a citizens’ income as a different approach to the welfare state (White 2002) as well as to the ideas of stakeholding (Dowding et al. 2003).
The issues raised by Mihaela Miroiu are complex ones, and there is much about her position that is persuasive and with which I would happily agree. Primarily, that we can barely speak of feminism as the pursuit of individual autonomy during socialism. For, I would argue, communism is a collectivist ideology by definition, so why look there for something that was never meant to be included? Communism was not started to incorporate personal autonomy; its social base is mostly in people for whom other values are more important than autonomy, and it worked for gender equality for other reasons than women’s (or men’s, though this was less problematic) autonomy.
Reflections of a
Marilyn J. Boxer
Today, to a historian of the relationship of European socialism to feminism, Mihaela Miroiu’s assertion that, despite the existence of ‘islands of feminism’ in communist regimes, there was no ‘communist feminism’ comes as no surprise. But in the heyday of the 1970s women’s liberation movement, very many feminists would have argued otherwise! Although the term ‘communist feminism’ itself was (and is) rarely heard, ‘socialist feminism’ exercised a powerful, formative influence in ‘the West’, as evidenced by the widespread admiration of testimony drawn from Mao’s China, Castro’s Cuba, and the USSR of Lenin and his successors.
The contributions to this issue of Theoria both revisit some of the themes that have come to shape the journal as an editorial project and invitingly open up new areas of enquiry and debate. Thus the challenges posed by poverty on a global scale, the problems of inequality and distributive justice, the legacy of the failure of socialism in Eastern Europe and aspects of the ‘postmodern moment’ in late twentieth century thought are, once again, challengingly engaged with. At the same time new agendas for research and theoretical reflection are identified.
Commemorating National Socialism and Communism from the perspective
of 1989 often results in an uneasy conflation of German
guilt and victimhood. When the events of 1933-1989 are presented
as one long authoritarian period, war and tyranny can easily be construed
as external forces that simply befell the German nation.
While memories of national guilt are divisive, memories of victimhood
unify and simplify an otherwise ambiguous past. The 1995
restoration of Berlin’s Neue Wache is emblematic of this conflation
of guilt and victimhood. As the central German memorial to all victims
of war and tyranny, the Neue Wache neither distinguishes
between dictatorships, nor between perpetrator and victim.
Elizabeth Strom and Margit Mayer
National and world events shape all cities, but in Berlin they have a
physical presence. For Berliners, the Cold War was tangible, manifested
as a wall and death strip guarded by armed soldiers and attack
dogs. Today that wall is gone and, if national power brokers and the
real estate development community have their way, Berlin will soon
be a “normal” European city and German capital. Not only will the
ghosts of the Nazi past be exorcised, but any tangible inheritance of
the postwar period—in East Berlin the legacies of state socialism, in
West Berlin the strange fruits of a subsidized economy—will disappear.