Sightseers park to watch a Stratocruiser taxi across an underpass in Queens, New York, March 1951.
Photograph by B. Anthony Stewart, National Geographic
^ Chinese food stand in Lisbon
For a change today’s article will be more of an opinion-based article and will concentrate on China’s situation abroad, specifically in my home country of Portugal.
^ Portuguese and Chinese Flags
Portugal was known in the XIVth-XVIth century to be one of the european countries with the best international relations with asian countries such as China, Japan or Malacca introducing many things to other europeans countries such as tea to the english court. This influx of objects and ideas printed on books coming from asian countries made them fashionable to those who could afford importing them. Everything chinese or asian was associated to expensive, rare and quality.
Nowadays what can we say about these conceptions about China? Point of views have not only changed regarding chinese production but also towards chinese people. Because of China’s extraordinary economic growth, it has been qualified as “the yellow peril” as it was before in the XIXth century during the time of japanese expansion. This alone says a lot about today’s western concept on China.
Portugal, in comparison to other european countries as i see it, is more tolerant towards other nationalities living among them, even though this tolerance is selective; portuguese people would more easily accept people from Mozambique than spanish people.
When it comes to asian nationalities, some fit in easier than others. Indian people are the ones that most easily blend in with portuguese people because of our long history of being in India (Goa, Daman, Diu). Japanese people no matter how few usually get along well with portuguese people, even better with young portuguese people thanks to “Cool Japan” influence in Portugal yet chinese people don’t seem to have the same luck.
GERT’S SO FUCKING PUMPED HE DOESN’T KNOW WHETHER TO RIDE HIS MAGNESIUM FUCKING BIKE OR JUST THROW IT THROUGH THE STUDIO WALL AND RUN TOWARDS THE HORIZON UNTIL HIS LEGS GIVE OUT.
AND THERE’S A TRUCK AIRBRUSHED ON THE WALL. FUCK!!
PROPS TO TOM SOUTHAM FOR FINDING THIS ONE.
— Hooman Majd, The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran
Sacrificing their comfort and material prosperity, whole generations of the Soviet people lived for a dream of a near, happy Communist future to be enjoyed by their children as was promised by the Politburo. My generation is infinitely grateful to our grandfathers and grandmothers and to our parents’ generation for defending freedom and sovereignty of our country and for bringing it to the status of world power. However by the 1970s Soviet people were disillusioned with the myth of the forthcoming Communism. It became clear to all that the Party leadership had not merely changed by regressed, and that the leaders had got caught in a web of lies and privileges and they, as a social class, would inevitably become extinct like dinosaur species.
The underlying reason for the disillusionment was simple – the social and political class, whose job was to install the Communist ideals in the minds of the masses, lost faith in the same ideals. Communism turned out to be a utopia, a romantic dream of a rise of he renewed and perfect human being. Commissars were throwing millions of their countrymen and women into the hearth of history if those people had not lived up to the ideal of such a perfect human being.
Even the mistakes and the so-called “excesses” of the Communist Party were not the main people; the very ideas of Communism were doomed. People were denied one of the most powerful and ancient human instincts – that for a propriety. The Communist ideas depersonalized a man, estranged him from tools and means of production and took away a sense of belonging."
Hawks of Peace, Dmitry Rogozon, pg141
A Year in Pyongyang, Andrew Holloway, pg189
A Year in Pyongyang, Andrew Holloway, pg160
A Year in Pyongyang, Andrew Holloway, pg103
It never made much difference what destiny brought us to the still-glowing (and sometimes burning) embers of the Evil Empire after its collapse. What was important was who you wanted people to think you were, and then to become that.
Rent a nomenklatura flat of five stately rooms for a hundred bucks a month from an out-of-work multilingual philologist who specialized in Brecht and keep her as your maid; take on an eminent Moscow-trained geologist/botanist who specialized in the medicinal properties of saffron culled from that unique crocus bud found only in that certain valley outside the mountain fortress town of Shatili, and hire him as your driver/guide/slave for pennies; place an ad in local Russian weekly newspapers that read “thirty-five year old single European male seeks eighteen-year old female companion for fun and possible marriage, photograph in bathing suit required,” and see how many mothers send pictures of their daughters looking for an exit strategy from a good life gone suddenly sour… .
Let us be frank: the collapse of the former Soviet Union may have resulted in trauma and poverty for most of the people living there, but it was a god-sent cornucopia of career-enhancing opportunities for other, including me."
Georgia Diary, Thomas Goltz, pg88
Soldiers and guardsmen attempted to establish something akin to priority evacuation lines, but when the helicopter arrived, all semblance of order broke down. Screaming mobs stormed through the lines of gunmen, all determined to be the first aboard.
Happily, I knew from prior experience in war-torn Azerbaijan how to get on an MI-8 in a disaster zone.
Let me tell you how: while the mass of refugees kick, scratch and jostle with each other in front of the main door, go around to the back of the chopper. Place one foot on the wheel, hoist yourself up on the fuel tank, kick in the portal window and dive through, performing a somersault to clear your path among the bodies inside. Never go in feet first, as it is unlikely that you will make it: someone else who is already inside (myself, for example) will try to force you back out. If you have any girth, it is a good idea to strip down to your shirtsleeves because bulky sweaters, jackets, and dangling objects like a camera may impede your entry. I am solidly built guy of 5 ft. 10 in. and 185 pounds, and I only just fit through an MI-8 window, so gauge yourself accordingly. Go in head first and roll.
Once inside, try to get people to move toward the back of the chopper to make room at the door and windows for more. Wailing loads of refugees have the collective sense of sheep and tend to gather at the front of the chopper and block the door. Don’t be bashful about using force. Climb over the screaming infants and weeping grandmothers to the door to control the numbers of people getting aboard. This, too, may require getting a bit rough, but your life depends on keeping the combined weight aboard the chopper down to a reasonable overload, so do what you have to do. The MI-8 is designed to carry twenty-four people, and luggage, but in a refugee zone this usually goes up to sixty or even eighty people. Although it is difficult to make a head count, never, ever fly aboard a MI-8 with more than a hundred people. If you cannot evict enough folks to being the total number down to two digits, like ninety-nine, get off because the bird will likely crash, and everyone, including yourself, will probably get killed. Once the rotors start and the chopper lurches off the ground, position yourself behind the flight engineer so you can peer into the cockpit. This is actually a pretty useless exercise but it is a good distraction, because the alternative is to stare at the mom behind you in the chopper body, and that is the last think you need to do to keep your wits. An additional aid to help do exactly that is to regard yourself as dead until you are probably alive again, meaning back on terra firma."
Georgia Diary, Thomas Goltz, pg 186-187
Georgia Diary, Thomas Goltz, pg88
Georgia Diary, Thomas Goltz, pg49
The Chechens were almost always associated with the concept of crime in the realms of the old Soviet Union. I had heard of this before, but barreling down the potholed, ice-coated highway from the airport to Grozny in a brand-new Jeep Cherokee with no license plates, the criminal connection took on a new piquancy.
“Do you want a nuclear device? Women?” asked out driver, Emran, who was vaguely associated with the tourism agency that had hired the plane that had brought us to town.
“What about this car?” I had playfully suggested, obliquely referring to a line of business the Chechens reputedly had a hammerlock on: supplying ex-Soviet motorists with used Mercedeses and other fancy, formerly forbidden cars, allegedly acquired in Poland or the former East Germany.
“For $13,500, cash, its yours,” said Emran.
Har har har! We all laughed."
— Chechnya Diary, Thomas Goltz, pg45
Ridiculous communal aspirations aside, the biggest question to emerge from the ruins of the USSR was quite simply: What was Russia?
Up until 1991 and the meteoric rise of Boris Yeltsin, “Russia” almost did not exist. In Yeltsin’s words, it was a “ghost state,” a place that had physically defined borders but almost none of the other usual trappings of nationhood, in the usual sense of the word – or even those institutions that the Kremlin had bestowed upon the other fourteen Union Republics that made up the USSR, and even the non-Russian, ethnic-based entities that made up the Russian Federation itself.
There was no Russian Academy of Sciences.
There was no Russian police force.
There was not even a Russian Communist Party.
The reason for this, of course, was the virtual identification of “Russia” with the USSR during the seventy-year Soviet experiment, both inside the USSR and outside of it. The official language of the USSR was Russian. The official culture, from the Bolshoi Ballet to vodka binge-drinking, was Russian. When citizens of the USSR as disparate as Abkhaz from Georgia and Tajiks from Uzbekistan traveled abroad, they were regarded as and almost always accepted themselves as “Russians,” even if their bloodlines contained not one drop of slav-ness, and even if their domiciles were in Sukumi or Tashkent.
None of this seemed to make much difference, so long as the USSR was a closed system where everybody listened to and obeyed the dictates of the Politburo in the Kremlin. Elections might be held for the local Sovyet, or parliament, in, say, the Komi Autonomous Republic on the Arctic Circle, but everyone knew that the institution was just window dressing. It was the Central Committee in Moscow that made the real decisions."
Chechnya Diary, Thomas Goltz, pg30-31.