We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

History from below

As if an answer to my suggestion to document the communist history in Eastern Europe through the lives and eyes of individuals, the PLOTKI, an on-line and print magazine about culture and society in Central and Eastern Europe, invites contributions to a project Changes from Below:

The project “Changes From Below“ aims to collect pieces of research which highlight personal stories behind movements against ‘‘communist’’ dictatorship in Central and Eastern Europe.

… Whilst historical investigation on resistance to ‘communist’ rule often focuses on historical ‘grand events’ such uprisings as Prague Spring 1968, Hungarian Autumn 1956, 17 June 1953 in GDR or Poland in the 80’s, Plotki wants to research the smaller stories, personal experiences and the rumours which slipped through the historical sieve and serve them up via various artistic means such as writing, photography, graphics, film or audio. We are thinking about the Orange Alternative in Poland who attended illegal meetings of dwarfs, and were arresting for handing out tampons to women; the spontaneous ‘community supported agriculture’ networks that evolved during Ceausescu’s dictatorship in Romania, and that kept urban people alive by illegally supplying them with food; or Czechoslovakia’s Society for Happier Contemporary Times; or the diversity of ecological movements as the Umweltbibliothek (an environment documentation centre) in East Berlin, Ekoglasnost in Bulgaria or groups of people concerned with ecological damage in Bohemia; or factory self-management in Yugoslavia; or the protestant churches resistance in GDR; or the countless other inspirational, exciting and quirky forms of resistance which once inhabited the region.

Great stuff and worthwhile effort, no doubt. Just one minor gripe – what’s with the quotation marks/inverted commas around the word communist?!

6 comments to History from below

  • Dale Amon

    So when can we expect some of your war stories m’luvly? 🙂

  • Not really. 🙂 Alas, I don’t work to a dealine and in a middle of too many projects already. But one day I do plan to do something like that myself.

  • Paul Marks

    The quote marks around the word “communist” are due to the influence of the idea that Marxist regimes in Eastern Europe were not “really” Marxist, because they were bad, and Karl Marx had noble aims.

    The fact Karl Marx was shameless liar and charlaton whose only “noble aim” was his lust for power ….. – well this would pose problems for important people in the West.

    This is because (as you know) a lot of what is taught in Western univerities (and schools) in many different subjects (from history to literature) comes from Marxist ideas.


    Technically (as you also know) the Eastern European nations were not “communist” they were in the socialist “stage” – with “advanced” communism (where such things as material scarcity would de facto no longer exist, and there would be divide between haves and have nots) a thing for the future.

  • Nick E

    Anyone interested in reading a fascinating novel about 20th century Communism should check out Peter Nadas’ “Book of Memories”. Very cool,

  • Ian B

    “Illegal meetings of dwarfs”?