It’s Wednesday and I’m finally sitting down to write a post about the weekend, I was working on Monday and Tuesday so didn’t get the chance.
I decided not to stay in London this time, I cycled to and fro between Paddington and Bishopsgate on both days. I only got lost once or twice and had a map which kept me on the right route, I gave myself plenty of time and it was actually a pleasant journey.
Much of my role at the conference centred around spoken translation, I translated an interview with a journalist from Pravda and did ongoing translation for Dr Abdelaziz, a delegate from Tunisia.
The journalist from Pravda seemed very interested in the Communist Party’s current attempts to rehabilitate its pre-Eurocommunist past. The party clearly takes a dim view of the Eurocommunist period, and they have good reason to. From 1977-1991 the party went into terminal decline, membership dropped, and eventually the Eurocommunist faction dissolved the old party and seized its assets. From here it’s obvious that the modern Communist Party would want to put that past behind them and draw their ideological and historical roots from a different time.
To put this in context the last two editions of Communist Review have featured a two-part series by Yuri Emelianov which deal with Stalin’s legacy in a positive light. Emelianov is affiliated with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), and Stalin is the mascot of the KPRF anti-corruption campaign. Some of their propaganda centres around reclaiming the Stalinist era as a ‘golden age’. There’s more I could say about this but in short the Russian party draw their ‘orthodox Marxism-Leninism’ from roughly the same handbook as the British one. Here we’ve come full circle with Pravda taking enough notice to send over a journalist to assess the situation and compare notes.
There were stalls in the upper hall, including one by Second Wave publications which was selling the first edition of Red Front, the ‘Quarterly Political Journal of Nepal.’ It turned out the guy manning the stall was one of the editors, I noticed his picture on the byline of one of the articles and asked him about it. The journal is a treasure trove of information on the situation in Nepal and I’m really glad I came across it.
Aside from the journal there were a few other really curious items on the Second Wave stall. They had reprints of Lenin’s State and Revolution, in the same style, font and layout as the Foreign Languages Press editions from China. My first copy of the book was a Chinese edition and I know the design very well, it’s easily recognisable. What threw me was that the stallholder insisted that it was printed in India. Sure enough I looked on the inside cover and it said ‘printed in India’. There’s probably an interesting story behind these reprints.
As for Tunisia, Abdelziz explained the situation in enough detail that it could do with a separate post. In summary: the electoral gains made by the Islamist Enhada Party amount to a turning point in the direction of the revolution. The economic situation in the country has not improved, extremist Salafis are pushing the limits of what is acceptable in a modern secular state and creeping corruption is starting to set in the new regime.
Abdelaziz was being shown around by Navid Shomali from the Tudeh Party of Iran. There’s a common historical path shared by the Tunisian and the Iranian revolutions, one which sees the forces of democracy and socialism take part in a revolution which results in a religious regime which is both anticommunist and antidemocratic.
My friend Daoud did a talk on ‘consumerism run riot’ which I recorded.
Apart from those details all I have left to say is that the conference was well attended (though not as well as last year) and there were lots of decent speakers and sessions.