Dancing for Gaia
Friday Ephemera

Projection Indeed

Readers may recall the Guardian’s Laura Barnett and her insights on the subject of arts funding, not least her belief  that “the government makes no specific social provision for artists.” Except insofar it does exactly that via publicly funded regional arts councils to the tune of almost half a billion a year. Ms Barnett’s latest piece involves an exhibition titled Star City: The Future Under Communism, which gathers together artists inspired by the space race and Soviet visions of the future. The self-declared communist Daoud Hamdani is invited to share his responses to the artworks on display:

I’m no art critic, but I was fortunate enough to be able to look at this exhibition from an informed, leftwing perspective – and I was very impressed... In one room, Jane and Louise Wilson’s film Star City, shot on location, is shown on all four walls using four projectors. It’s an all-encompassing, smothering experience, symbolising the capitalist state’s suppression of the individual for the sake of profit.

Mr Hamdani’s grasp of reality is such that it is not in fact his beloved communism that was “all-encompassing,” “smothering” and intent on “suppression of the individual.” Instead, these characteristics are assigned – one might say projected – to the freewheeling West, to which so many reluctant communists tried to flee.

The exhibition’s main theme is escapism – both through the space race and science-fiction. I took this to be symbolic of the escape from capitalist barbarism that the Soviet system as a whole achieved.

Readers may be surprised to discover that barbarism was unknown in the Soviet Union and other communist nations, where altogether more civilised standards were adhered to and 100 million souls died of entirely natural causes.

Mr Hamdani continues,

I walked away from this exhibition with a sense of the artists’ overwhelming conviction that socialism and communism are still the future. We’ve had the Soviet experiment. We’ll get it right next time.

Whether for reasons of space or sheer critical acumen, Ms Barnett leaves these assertions unchallenged. Ms Barnett is a commissioning editor on the G2 arts desk and “writes across the arts, with a particular interest in theatre, dance and world music.” Though not, one might suppose, with an interest in history. Mr Hamdani is a member of the Midlands Young Communists League. 

The Star City exhibition is at the Nottingham Contemporary until April 17. Related: An Unsustainable Evil and Mutterings in Bedlam.



'We'll get it right next time.'

No. No, you won't


It's a new high for The Guardian. Seriously, this guy is insane.

David Cabana

'We'll get it right next time.'
Translation: at least one billion dead.

Karen M

"I was fortunate enough to be able to look at this exhibition from an informed, leftwing perspective... I took this to be symbolic of the escape from capitalist barbarism that the Soviet system as a whole achieved."

Wow. It starts off funny then it just gets sick. What happened to old C.P. Scott and 'facts are sacred'?

carbon based lifeform

I can't tell if Laura Barnett is trying to do satire or just incredibly fucking stupid.


I'd go with incredibly fucking stupid.


"100 million souls died of entirely natural causes."

Well, it IS natural to die if you're forced to do hard labor in a gold mine in Kolyma during the dead of winter with no food and just the thin clothes on your back.

Or if you get TB in a gulag and have no access to antibiotics.

Or if you're stood up against a wall and shot in the head.

You people are just overly hysterical, is what.


“Wow. It starts off funny then it just gets sick.”

Yes, but this is what’s required of those who belong to the various micro-groups that champion communism in the UK. Few, if any, have first-hand experience of what life in such societies entailed, and would entail, and hence the outrageous fantasies. Unrealism, denial and projection are necessary to maintain the posturing. Those who believe surrender their probity. If you hear such people bloviate in person, you’ll see what I mean. Intellectual contortion is viewed as a measure of sophistication and cultivated dishonesty is the norm.

And the dishonesty is a feature, not a bug.

“In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control.”


Chris S

People who talk about the success of the solviet system never lived in it.


Next week in the Guardian: 'Downfall' reviewed by a Holocaust denier.

Bob Smith

"I was fortunate enough to be able to look at this exhibition from an informed, leftwing perspective"

A right wing perspective would be uninformed?


“Next week in the Guardian: ‘Downfall’ reviewed by a Holocaust denier.”

Well, quite. Maybe the piece was meant to be “edgy” and ironic or a joke; but if so it’s not a good one. If denial of the Holocaust isn’t considered funny or edifying, I’m not sure why it’s considered okay to deny the realities of an ideology that led to man-made famines and murder on a scale that’s scarcely imaginable.

Horace Dunn

Can we also note that the totalitarian menace is not yet entirely historical? China? Cuba?

Way back when, my folks used to justify their attitudes towards communism with statements such as “if Tony Benn likes it so much, why doesn’t he go and live in Russia?” When I was young and spotty I tended to cringe with embarrassment at their lack of sophistication.

Years later, having met numerous dissidents from the old Eastern Bloc, having travelled in the former Soviet Union and China and having several close friends who have travelled in Cuba and much of South America, I was forced to shed that spurious mantle of adolescent superiority.

Perhaps the “Tony Benn” question that my folks asked is simplistic. But I can’t help wondering why, decades later, it has still not been satisfactorily answered.

And, in truth, now that I have a number of friends who suffered horribly under vicious, inhuman regimes, I have little patience for the turds who admire such regimes or for the trivial, silly Guardian types who seem to think that sympathy for them is a mark of sophistication.


David, you are such a fine and excellent skewer of pretension, both political and otherwise. I just had to say that.

But... here on the other side of that great gulf of ocean between our countries we have our own pretenders to the leftist throne.

"In an e-mail statement, editor Matthew Cardinale says Springston was asked to leave APN last week “because he held on to the notion that there was an objective reality that could be reported objectively, despite the fact that that was not our editorial policy at Atlanta Progressive News.”"

Seriously, how could any sane person make that statement.




Thanks for that.


From the Young Communists website:

“Midlands Communists take to the streets! Derby Communists (both CP and YCL) distributed 500 of a locally designed leaflet to new students at Derby University and Derby College. It offered 5 good reasons why you should be a Communist as well as inviting them to a ‘Big Red Welcome’ - a discussion on this, on student life, as well as activity in the town. The initiative was met with great interest... Two applications for membership came in on the Monday.”


The above rather encapsulates the Young Communist phenomenon.

Spiny Norman

Daoud Hamdani redefines "detached from reality".

Anyone who still believes the myth of Communism after the brutal truth of the 20th Century can only be described as delusional.


They remind me of the caricature of a WW1 General; "Just one more big push and it'll be over for Christmas."
How can anyone be so ignorant or detatched from reality as to imagine that Communism/ Marxism/ Socialism can ever work? It has been tried many times, every time it has failed, and left ruined economies and millions of corpses in its wake. I'm a pretty easy going guy, but whenever I see some moron wearing a Che or CCCP T-shirt, it makes me so angry I really feel like punching them in the face. How can people celebrate such evil?
Sorry for the Rant, but it's something I feel quite strongly about.

sackcloth and ashes

'They remind me of the caricature of a WW1 General; "Just one more big push and it'll be over for Christmas."'

The key difference was that Haig, Foch and Pershing eventually got it right.

Spiny Norman

"...whenever I see some moron wearing a Che or CCCP T-shirt, it makes me so angry I really feel like punching them in the face. How can people celebrate such evil?"

Not so much "celebrating evil" as being rebellious, a make-believe revolutionary. Most (but not all) of those indulged adolescents have no idea how much innocent blood was spilled to make those images notorious, they just know they're notorious, making them uber-cool.


They're also fascinated by power. Tyrants "make things happen"; they can impose their glorious will on the society, thereby short-circuiting the mess of democratic assent.

Some moron in the NYT (Freedman? Too lazy to look) has been musing about how the Chinese government has it good — they want something to happen, they just "make it so" without having to persuade a bunch of ignernt rednecks to stop voting against their own interests.


I feel an urge to juxtapose.

“The intellectuals’ vain search for a truly socialist community, which results in the idealisation of, and then disillusionment with, a seemingly endless string of ‘utopias’ – the Soviet Union, then Cuba, China, Yugoslavia, Vietnam, Tanzania, Nicaragua – should suggest that there might be something about socialism that does not conform to certain facts.” (Friedrich Hayek, “The Fatal Conceit,” 1988.)

“We’ve had the Soviet experiment. We’ll get it right next time.” (Daoud Hamdani, The Guardian, 2010.)


"I took this to be symbolic of the escape from capitalist barbarism that the Soviet system as a whole achieved."

It's time to realize that no being can hold such bullshit to be true and be a member of the human race. These are either pitiably moronic creatures the only possible value of which might be as shark-hunt chum, or malevolent frauds who deserve to hang separately prior to their use as shark-hunt chum.


Its peculiar creatures like Mr. Hamdani that push me a wee bit close to appreciating General Pinochet

The comments to this entry are closed.