Thursday, 5 April 2012

Some good communist reading

I am reading And Red Is The Colour of Our Flag, by Oskar Hippe. Its really good, the memoirs of a committed german communist who took part in the reststance, was imprisoned by the nazis, and THEN spent another 8 years in prison in the GDR. Hippe's story reflects the fact that the german working class were screwed by Fascism, then endured the double betrayal of Stalinism. However, Hippe doesnt abandon his principles, and continues to argue for undiluted marxism and always for the workers. What a babe.
I think this is especially great given that the Stalinist dictatorship sure did sow a lot of false seeds about how rubbish communism is, but Hippe who remains a trotskyist managed to see Stalinism for the obscurity that it was..

It is good because the early chapters focus on Hippes upringing and, like most of these socialist books are really moving when describing the poverty that people endured. People were hungry! Really understandable why socialism was so appealing for Hippe. What got me most was the account of his doubly exploited mother and how the housework burden fell on her, as well as a horrible patriarchal husband, it demonstrates why early bolsheviks were also radical feminists..
The book also brings to life aspects in history- the sinister freikorps, Nazi germany, the chaos of east germany being brought under the control of Ulbricht. The inspirational power of Karl Leibnechts speeches, the irony that prisons built BY HITLER were recycled by the moscow controlled GDR regime to imprison dissidents and political unreliables.. And how truly rubbish it must be to have to spend your life in prison. Memoirs such as these are great for history students(aka me) because it reads easily but is subconscious revision.

More importantly there are political lessons which I really think young left wingers (like me) should hear about. The betrayal of Social Democracy in 1914- the Second International abandoned their perspective of, um, internationalism and became patriotic flag wavers in world war one... That worked out well for the working The true nature of Stalinism and the GDR is also gone into. Too long to recount here! Party splits and factions might seem petty to people like me who grew up in a time and country of relative money and stability, but these factions were and still are important, when one party are actively being instructed to forget their principles and the other is being persecuted for sticking by them..

I havent finished the book yet, but when I do I will say how it all ends... worth reading!

P.s I wrote this on my phone so excuse spelling mistakes :)

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