20th century Russian -isms


The history of Russian modern politics can be confusing. To that end, here is a basic overview to clarify some of the main -isms of Russian left wing politics of the 20th century:

  • Communism is a political philosophy. It is a redistribution of wealth, capital and all the means of production away from the capitalists and to the workers.
  • Marxism is a philosophy. It is a critique and analysis of capitalism; the analysis of history through the lens of class struggle, and application of Hegelian dialectics to labour and economics, known as dialectical materialism.
  • Leninism is a historical style of government. It is a socialist revolution led by the working class under the strong leadership of a Revolutionary Party – a style of government which became known as Democratic Centralism.
  • Stalinism is a historical style of government. It is the rule of an authoritarian vanguard party which represses opposition and free speech, frequently purges dissidents, and mainly implements state centralization and collectivization of industry.
  • Trotskyism is a political theory. It is the idea of permanent revolution in which the needs of the worker are central to everything. As opposed to Stalinism, it holds that the cause of the proletariat is universal.

“When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.” – Hélder Câmara

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Beguile [Verb.]


To deceive or delude.

From Middle English begilen, begylen. Compare Middle Dutch beghijlen.

‘I know, sir, I am no flatterer: he that beguiled you, in a plain accent, was a plain knave.’ – William Shakespeare, King Lear, Act II, Scene ii.

Joy out of Effort


George: Why would I spend seven dollars to see a movie that I could watch on TV?

Kramer: Well, why go to a fine restaurant, when you can just stick something in the microwave? Why go to the park and fly a kite, when you can just pop a pill?

Seinfeld (1995) Season 7, Episode 10; “The Gum” [pc. 710]

What is a Christian?


‘Nowadays it is not quite that. We have to be a little more vague in our meaning of Christianity. I think, however, that there are two different items which are quite essential to anybody calling himself a Christian.

The first is one of a dogmatic nature — namely, that you must believe in God and immortality. If you do not believe in those two things, I do not think that you can properly call yourself a Christian. Then, further than that, as the name implies, you must have some kind of belief about Christ. The Mohammedans, for instance, also believe in God and in immortality, and yet they would not call themselves Christians. I think you must have at the very lowest the belief that Christ was, if not divine, at least the best and wisest of men. If you are not going to believe that much about Christ, I do not think you have any right to call yourself a Christian.

Of course, there is another sense, which you find in Whitaker’s Almanack and in geography books, where the population of the world is said to be divided into Christians, Mohammedans, Buddhists, fetish worshipers, and so on; and in that sense we are all Christians. The geography books count us all in, but that is a purely geographical sense, which I suppose we can ignore. Therefore I take it that when I tell you why I am not a Christian I have to tell you two different things: first, why I do not believe in God and in immortality; and, secondly, why I do not think that Christ was the best and wisest of men, although I grant him a very high degree of moral goodness.’

– Denonn. L.E., Egner. R.E. Ed. 1961. The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell London, United Kingdom: George Allen & Unwin (1962) p. 585-586


Bertrand Russell delivered the lecture Why I am not a Christian (of which this is an excerpt) on March 6, 1927 to the National Secular Society, South London Branch, at Battersea Town Hall.

Isolating Morphology


‘Chinese is a language with isolating morphology – in which each word tends to be a single isolated morpheme. An isolating language lacks both derivational and inflectional morphology. Using separate words, Chinese expresses certain content that an inflecting language might express with inflectional affixes. For example, whereas English has an inflectional possessive (the boy’s hat) and a so-called analytical possessive (hat of the boy), Chinese permits only hat of the boy possessives. Chinese also does not have tense markers, and on pronouns it does not mark distinctions of gender (he/she), number (she/they), or case (they/them). Where English has six words – he, she, him, her, they, and them – Chinese uses only a single word, though it can indicate plurality with a separate word. The sentence below illustrates the one-morpheme-per-word pattern typical of Chinese.

wo gang yao gei ni na yi bei cha
I just will give you that one cup tea.
‘I am about to bring you a cup of tea.’

Even more than Chinese, Vietnamese approximates the one-morpheme-per-word model that characterizes isolating languages.’

– Finegan. E. 2008. Language, Its Structure And Use Stamford, CT, United States: Cengage Learning (2012) p. 54

24/ix mmxv


A baby puffin is called a puffling.

The peak weight of Khalid bin Mohsen Shaari was 610 kg. In August 2013, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia ordered him to be hospitalized and lose weight.

The brain cannot feel pain, even if you stick a knife in it.

The Parsi people of India leave their dead to be eaten by vultures.

Crocodile dung, blacksmith water, Weasel’s testicles, mercury, animal intestines, cola and other carbonated drinks, an acacia and honey tampon, an opium or lemon diaphragm and brewed tea with Beaver testicles have all been used as contraceptives.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

The Crime of Poverty?


‘America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American humorist Kin Hubbard, ‘It ain’t no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.’ It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: ‘if you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?’ There will also be an American flag no larger than a child’s hand – glued to a lollipop stick and flying from the cash register. […]

Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say Napoleonic times. Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.’

Vonnegut. K. 1969. Slaughterhouse-Five New York, United States: Random House (2007) p. 128-129