Museumisation of the Proletarian Past: Dhiraj Kr Nite

The socialist vision of progress and woman’s emancipation compelled the women to become employees and join manly professions, KM points out. Later, the dual currency policy incited the woman to partake in the ‘love making’ activities with Western tourists in order to earn the strong currencies, raise income, and afford western consumption goods in the second market. ‘Like their sisters in the west, they would have burnt their bras, had these been in the shops’. The KM organisers are at their best to express the essence of their ‘eclectic’, patriarchal nationalist world view: the ‘glorious’ capitalist world-view is still subservient to ‘Kulak’ nationalism.

Communist Museum and Eclectic Views of the Velvet Revolution in Prague, Czech Republic

BY Dhiraj Kr Nite
The Velvet revolution in the erstwhile socialist countries in Eastern Europe and its follow-up heralded the end of an era what Hobsbawm described as the short twentieth century. Communist Museum grafted in Prague, the centre of the Velvet revolution, stands as a constant critique of that proletarian past which the revolution was opposed to. I preferred to take a look on ‘Communist’ Museum (KM) than National Museum during my short sojourn in the city of Kafka, Prague, on November 1-3, 2011. My curiosity included a desire to have a comparative understanding of this one with Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, andgenerally of the museumisation project of Velvet revolution.Prague KM hosts a really small number of artefacts and a decent series of wall-papers and television commentaries over its subject. The subjects range from events of four decades of communist ways to progress, and criticism and fight directed against that.

Marx  from the view of Velvet Revolution in Prague

Marx from the view of Velvet Revolution in Prague

We know that no museums speak on its-own, nor artefacts assembled therein. The two museums of my current discussion are the project expressing variants of democratic polity and their mode of functioning. Apparently, they have not burnt down those disagreeable artefacts; significantly, nor have they declined to have dialogue (which would have been tantamount to banishing) with them in toto. They have opted for disparaging, incarcerating, and sanitising a few elements of the past and present of those societies.This option originates from indomitable confidence, which the new polity finds within it in the current politico-economic conjuncture. At the same time, the strategy of Prague KM is to freeze and hallow communism and left trajectory of the life as a moment. It amounts to, needless to state out, overlooking and overtopping of the dynamism of left trajectory, and its characteristics ability of auto-criticism. After all, no incumbent polity, hitherto known, gave way to the fundamentally new regime in as ‘minimal’ hostile manner as the proletarian polity. Prague KM also enables the Velvet revolution to clean-up the memory, including statues, painting and other artefacts of the dislodged polity from the public space by confining them at one small place.
Prague KM is a project of transmission of ‘eclectic’, patriarchal,nationalist opinions over the time of communist polity, its objective, functioning, and offshoot. Its target audience includes both the future generation and sympathisers of the dislodged polity. At the entry to the museum, it promises to present the dream, the reality, and the nightmare of communist past. The organiser of museum tells us through the first commentary over Marx and Lenin that both of them were mediocre, maniac, megalomaniac, and traitor to their own nations.

Lenin from the view of Velvet Revolution in Prague

Lenin from the view of Velvet Revolution in Prague

Other commentaries lay down a story as follows. The ‘Stalinist’ polity was crass materialism. It denied any place for spiritual, emotional life. However, my cursory walk around the city makes me wonder how have the religious symbols remained intact Prague? KM regards socialism as a fanatic movement of science that was at its best in manufacturing of competitive war machinery. The USSR had glory of, besides the early testing of nuclear and hydrogen bombs, the first intercontinental ballistic missile that was capable of carrying nuclear warheads (1955-56). In contrast, its workshops resisted a meaningful division of labour, and laggard in technological sophistication (in the 1950s). Rather, the proletariat devised powerful ways to oversee every other terrains of social life.The obsolete Marxian doctrine of progress saddled the working people with undue responsibility of excellence and performance, and propaganda war against capitalism and the USA. The children were initiated in auto-didactic learning, burdened with educational task of becoming all-rounder, and made to become indoctrinated social species. The working persons were drawn to excel in sporting and theatrical activities in order to generate glory for the polity at the international arena. The polity patronised art and literary creativity, known as socialist realism. The latter propagated the emancipator feature of proletarian vanguardism. It stressed on the exploitative antisocial element in capitalism and the USA front. It taught the people to sense glory in unboundefficiency and has had little concern for the situation of real income. KM, of course, misses any reference to the actually improved ‘quality of life’ against any threat of its deterioration, which unbound workload caused to labouring people during the early industrial revolution.

Core viewsKey Point of Eclectic, Nationalist Critique; The Divinity did not Disappear under Communism

Prague KM points out that the communist fetishism with industrialism resulted in environment devastation. The unreasonable dozes of chemical and mechanical inputs left over the toxified soil, water and human body. This is an offshoot of the modern mode of resource use seen across the globe; we do not come across any such allusion to this point therein. Disdainfully, KM proclaims that the proletariat turned out privileged in these collectivised units of production.The old property owner-cum-producer, called Kulaks in village localities and had acquired property and natural sound reasoning through centuries of drudgery, were forced to join those production units. The socialist price formation laid down affordable nominal prices of items of consumption, which remained inadequately available on the shop shelf. The ‘second’ (black) market developed of these commodities, where the state patronised personalities and other individuals could access and afford them at competitive prices. The emphasis on self-sufficiency and autarky did not mean the absence of any test for ‘western’ consumer goods. The beneficiaries of the polity enjoyed it through gifts and their abroad visits. The KM presentation refrains from any overt mentioning of the currently placid bourgeois comment: ‘nationalisation, collectivisation or cooperatives bread inefficiency’. One may oops! We may also note circumvention of any concrete class-based depiction of entitlement question and emphasis on foul favouritism and cronies of the polity.Divinity did not disappear
The socialist vision of progress and woman’s emancipation compelled the women to become employees and join manly professions, KM points out. Later, the dual currency policy incited the woman to partake in the ‘love making’ activities with Western tourists in order to earn the strong currencies, raise income, and afford western consumption goods in the second market. ‘Like their sisters in the west, they would have burnt their bras, had these been in the shops’. The KM organisers are at their best to express the essence of their ‘eclectic’, patriarchal nationalist world view: the ‘glorious’ capitalist world-view is still subservient to ‘Kulak’ nationalism.

Recourse to a Love Making Industry for the Strong Currency and Enabling Income

Recourse to a Love Making Industry for the Strong Currency and Enabling Income

The Slogan (Title) of the Photograph is Telling

The Slogan (Title) of the Photograph is Telling

KM emphasises that the Velvet revolutionaries bore the brunt of totalitarian despotic communism, as it was. The latter gained legitimacy over the claims for vanquishing the Nazis and fascism. Despite the propaganda machine against the image of exploited and manoeuvred working-class in capitalist countries and the impending nuclear war from the USA, it cemented its domination through the ‘people militia’. The USSR’s tanks rolled over the unarmed people. In the league of 1968 Prague Spring, the velvet fighters have risked their life to stand for freedom of Czech humanity, and humanness and decency in general. We do not get any glimpse of the participatory nature of some of ‘celebrated’ socialist institutions, including the commune judiciary and factory council.

An Artistic View of Coming to a Fuller Life after the fall of Communist Polity

An Artistic View of Coming to a Fuller Life after the fall of Communist Polity

Artur Szarecki, a Polish PhD researcher at University of Warsaw, has shared his opinion with me on the downfall of socialist polity in Poland. To him, the grievance stemmed from inadequate availability of consumer items in the public cooperative shops to the people, whose working hours were humanly short and who enjoyed sufficient public time. They did not complain about public infrastructure. Secondly, the philosophy of end of dialectics, which was the foundation of one party system, degenerated into a moribund organ; yet, it was unable to fully oversee all shades of activities, such as the second market. The visionary person and beneficiary of the second market looked out for a right to elect leaders to rule and enabling necessary institutions. It means the velvet revolution is a twofold: the right to happily consume, and elect one’s own leaders to rule. These rights have also become the signpost of the People’s Left in our time. The future of this Left, this path of transition, appears bright. Notwithstanding this, Left thoughts have already refashioned itself by internalising some concerns, such as environment regeneration and integral humanism. We, the World Left, for a truly emancipatory and advancing society, are still striving to come up with an integral, organic answer to some of the questions posed in Prague KM, and practice that answer, if any, in our life. Our success on this front would ensure that Left is our immediate future. The World Left refuses to turn out as a museum!

Dhiraj k Nite

Dhiraj Kumar Nite, A Social Scientist, University of Johannesburg,  Ambedkar Univeristy Delhi. You can contact him through   dhirajnite@gmail.com.

Single Post Navigation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: