Notes: Episode 45, Communism (Part 1)

As with every show, I’ll list any corrections or clarifications here. If there’s anything I’ve overlooked, please contact me by email or in the comments and I’ll edit the notes to reflect the new information.


8:13 – It would be fair to criticize at this point that I’m making judgements about communism based on its most ideal and theoretical form. That being said, that’s also a bit of an unfair standard; we judge some of our most dear economic and political systems by their ideal and hypothetical forms, and write off deviations from that as aberrations from a pure and flawless idea. It’s not unheard of to talk about issues with democracy like voter suppression, gerrymandering, first past the post ballot counting, representative systems, voter turn-out, etc. as flaws with the base idea, but more often than not it turns into a “no true Scotsman” scenario where it’s not democracy’s fault that those things happen. When it comes to discussions about communism, the ways in which the system’s implementation deviate from the ideal are usually blamed on the idea itself. It’s understandable in a geopolitical climate where the default state of communism is to be criticized, but we should still recognize that it is a double standard.

9:10 – Boy am I glad this didn’t turn out to be Churchill, based on how strongly I come out against him being the source. It turns out the earliest known source for the quote (or at least the sentiment being expressed within) is Francois Guisot, who said “Not to be a republican at twenty is proof of want of heart; to be one at thirty is proof of want of head.” Republican in this context refers to the more liberal political movement in France at the time, and by the turn of the 20th century had been co-opted and re-framed to be about socialist tendencies. Churchill almost certainly used a version of it himself, but the sentiment has been around for a very long time in one form or another.

44:10 – This is probably my favourite question I’ve been asked on this show up to this point. It’s an incredible question, and I answered badly mostly because a question this good deserves a calibre of answer involving research and time writing in a dark library and probably liquor. If I had to write an essay on communism at any point, I’d be incredibly tempted to scoop this question as a starting point.

49:55 – Whoops, I did end up putting my foot in my mouth here. I was mostly correct about Central and South America (with the exception of Guyana and Suriname, which were European colonies until after the Second World War, and French Guiana which is still technically a French province), but I did miss a fair number of Caribbean islands that were European holdings again until the mid-20th century. While it’s still true that Che was mostly agitating in nations that were already independent (at least from European direct influence), there were quite a number of nations that had not yet become independent at the end of the 19th century.

55:42 – Wrong again! The Arab Spring was indeed an allusion to the 1848 Spring of Nations, as well as the 1968 Prague Spring (which had in turn been named after 1848). Solid catch by Ethan.

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