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Running Gun Blues: Arms dealer uses David Bowie’s image to sell bullets?
09.18.2017
11:24 am
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The Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) conference took place last week in the Docklands in eastern London, and the event featured a creepy, unauthorized cameo by an unexpected star from the world of music. The event draws roughly 1,500 exhibitors from the world representing the world of, ahem, “global defence and security”—in other words, it’s the world’s biggest arms fair, and military delegations from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Pakistan showed up to do a little window-shopping for rocket launchers and the like. While the DSEI tries to keep a low profile in the media, it did not succeed in that goal, as more than 100 people were arrested for protesting the event.

An artist named Darren Cullen spotted the jarring visage of Aladdin Sane-era David Bowie peeking out from one of the displays and posted a picture to Twitter:
 

 
It’s a little bit hard to make out; here’s a blown-up version of the image:
 

 
The company that decided to incorporate Aladdin Sane into its display is the Cheshire-based firm Edgar Brothers, which has been in business for 70 years (note the 70th anniversary logo in the stand, at upper left). It touts itself as “one of the oldest, most well established importers and wholesalers of firearms, ammunition and associated products in the UK and Northern Ireland.” The photographer of the original image was Brian Duffy, who passed away in 2010. According to the Newham Recorder, “A spokeswoman for the Duffy Archive confirmed the photo had not been approved and that the stand had been removed on their request.”

Cullen has artwork on display at an art exhibition protesting the arms convention. Here’s Cullen’s account of spotting the image:
 

I was checking Instagram to see if any of the DSEI contractors were posting about being behind schedule due to the Stop the Arms Fair blockades and I saw this photo of the UK arms trade pavilion with a giant picture of David Bowie. It really stuck out to have someone like Bowie featured among this festival of violence, and just in really bad taste considering his own recent death.

[...]

I got in touch with the rights-holder of the photograph, the estate of the photographer Duffy, and just hoped to hell they hadn’t given permission for these bastards to use his image. They got back to me the next morning thanking me for bringing it to their attention and saying they had definitely not given permission and they’d been frantically trying to have the photo removed. The Duffy Archive were really on top of it, full credit to them. They finally got hold of a director at Edgar Brothers and the display was taken down straight away due to their complaint. As far as I know, they’re still in discussions as to what the next steps are. I hope the Duffy Archive hammer them for it.

 
One endeavors to imagine the conversation that preceded the construction of the stand:
 

Arms Dealer A: This display is a little bleak. We should make it more about “hope” somehow.
Arms Dealer B: I know! Let’s put in John Lennon! Everybody loves him.
Arms Dealer A: Eeesh, I don’t know. The “Imagine” guy? That might be a little much with him getting shot and all…
Arms Dealer B: How about ... David Bowie then? He died… normal.
Arms Dealer A: I like it. Let’s dance!

 
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade amusingly reminded Bowie fans that the rock star would not have endorsed the activities of Edgar Brothers:
 

DSEI and the UK government may be experts at pushing arms exports, but when it comes to David Bowie they are absolute beginners. The real heroes were protesting outside DSEI, while the scary monsters and super creeps were inside. We need to do all we can to keep the arms fair under pressure.

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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09.18.2017
11:24 am
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Test Dept to mark centenary of Russian Revolution with ‘Assembly of Disturbance’ festival
09.08.2017
07:53 am
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Test Dept, the industrial group that invented the “Stakhanovite Sound,” will mark the 100th anniversary of October 1917 with a festival at London’s Red Gallery. Along with the live premiere of material from Test Dept’s new album Disturbance, the lineup includes live performances by Puce Mary, Hannah Sawtell, Kris Canavan, Disinformation, Prolekult, and Fuckhead, and DJ sets by Trevor Jackson and Nina. There will also be installations, film screenings, talks, and an exhibition of Test Dept artifacts called Culture Is Not A Luxury!

The only industrial outfit explicitly committed to socialism—at least, none of the others worked with the South Wales Striking Miners Choir or wrote about Comrade Enver Hoxha—Test Dept promises to bring historical perspective to the nightmare we are living through. From the press release:

[T]he festival explores how one hundred years on from the Russian Revolution, which unleashed radical artistic forces that sought to build an idealistic new society, the current socio-political climate is also engendering a need for a profound shift in governance. As such, Assembly of Disturbance invites you to join an assemblage of artists to consider the prevalent and pressing intersection of art and activism, challenging and disrupting the current state of affairs in Britain, and beyond.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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09.08.2017
07:53 am
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Sexuality and politics signaled through ‘coded clothing’
07.28.2017
09:54 am
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BDSM emblem dress shirt from ThirdHex Coded Clothing.
 
ThirdHex Coded Clothing, a small fashion startup selling through Etsy, produces snazzy black dress shirts with small embroidered logos, not of its own brand, but of icons representing concepts such as anti-fascism, polyamory, BDSM, and vegetarianism.

Currently, the shop offers only eight designs, which are mostly geared toward the fetish community, left-wing politicos, and gamers. What originally fascinated me about the shop was the concept of “coding” through clothing. American consumers are used to seeing brand logos stitched onto dress shirts, but logos for concepts and fandoms communicate so much more than “I can afford a Chemise Lacoste.”

As a teenager when I was dressing in the absolute punkest way possible, I don’t know if it ever occurred to me that one of the reasons was to signal to other “punks” that I was one of them. It’s remarkable to think back about how I could go to a new town and instantly figure out who was “cool” (or “not cool”) just based on what kinds of t-shirts or shoes they wore. For better or for worse, the t-shirt has become the most common identifier people use to signal “where their heads are at.”

ThirdHex Coded Clothing owner, Christopher Kaminski’s seller-statement on his Etsy page resonated with me as an adult who doesn’t find band t-shirts appropriate wear for every occasion:

At the age of 18, I joined the Air Force and found myself without friends that shared interests. I quickly realized the value of having t-shirts that expressed my interests in topics like 80s goth bands to find like minded friends. Since then I’ve strongly used t-shirts to socially code through every major move but as I entered my 30’s I found my style to be incompatible with t-shirts.

When I moved again in my mid 40’s I found myself completely uninterested in t-shirts but wanted some way to still socially code. ThirdHex Coded Clothing was born out of that need.

I ordered a ThirdHex shirt with the “Antifascist Circle,” based on the symbol of the Iron Front, a few weeks ago. I found the product to be high quality and spiffy-looking when worn.

I talked briefly to ThirdHex owner, Christopher Kaminski about the concept of coded clothing.

Aside from appreciating the crisp aesthetic simplicity of the shirts and logos, what really struck me about your shop was your mission statement, in particular, the use of the word “coding” which really breaks down the intent behind a lot of folks’ fashion choices.

ThirdHex: Look at the people around you, really look. They’re all using accessories, grooming styles, colors, body language and more to passively communicate with you, some do it with more intent than others. This is social coding.  Ever drive behind a car with cool bumper stickers and think that they would be cool people to know? I know I have.

How did you first hatch the concept for the store?

TH: The concept didn’t hatch as a store, it started with personal use. I have a closet of t-shirts that I think I look sloppy in. I wanted to communicate with others in a more fashionable way. After I modified a couple of pieces for myself, I realized I was not the only one that would want this.

My favorites of your designs are the ones related to sexuality and politics, but my guess would be that the “nerdier” gamer designs are a hit. There’s something appealing about being an adult and dressing like an adult but still being able to signal in that way. I like the idea of a 40-year-old wearing a dress shirt with a D20 on it over a tacky XXXL all-over-print t-shirt made for teenagers. 

TH: The wives and partners of men that wear t-shirts all the time seem to agree with your statement. My customers aren’t always the end users of the shirts! More nerdy designs are on their way!

When you came up with this concept, did you envision these shirts being “daily wear” or more for conventions, events, and rallies?

TH: Daily wear, but both of course. It’s easy to find people with similar tastes or ideas at conventions. My designs are intended to help you find your community of people outside of those spaces.

Have you taken any inspiration from “hanky codes”?

TH: Not really, although the ideas are similar. I mostly took inspiration from brand advertising. Brands themselves are coded through advertisements. Advertisements sell an experience and attach a brand to it. Wearing that brand tells other people you like that advertised experience. I am simplifying the communication process and targeting peoples passions.

Finally, are there any plans to add women’s styles or (though I personally have no problem with all black everything) alternate shirt colors? Also, any thoughts on future designs?

TH: I do have a business plan that includes both eventually but add sizes to that mix and you end up with a crazy amount of inventory. It’s going to take some time and a big investment to get there. However, new stitch designs will roll out every month. 

ThirdHex Coded Clothing’s website is at Thirdhex.com.


Anti-fascist circle emblem
 

D20 gamer shirt
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Christopher Bickel
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07.28.2017
09:54 am
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How Trump is using LGBTQ people as pawns in a numbers game to consolidate power
07.27.2017
12:44 pm
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So this week, the Trump administration, already in the midst of an ongoing assault on the horrific-to-Republicans spectre of normal people getting to go to see doctors AND an effort to turn the Boy Scouts into the Trumpenjugend, staged a two-pronged official offensive against sexual and gender minorities.

Our tweet-happy president, all by himself, without alerting the Pentagon to the policy change or offering the Department of Defense anything resembling an implementation plan, informed the world that transgender soldiers would no longer be permitted to serve in the US armed forces. Then, hours later, the Department of Justice, directed by the increasingly beleaguered Attorney General/fucking evil elf Jeff Sessions, submitted a brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit stating that the Civil Rights Act did not apply to LGBTQ Americans.

That’s right—at a time when we’re supposedly locked into an epochal clash of civilizations against brown foreigners, people SO INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS that society must protect itself at all costs from letting them take a shit at the department store evidently aren’t fit to be trained to kill brown foreigners.

You KNOW what they’re doing, right? I mean aside from being toxic, spiteful, nasty, bigoted, chauvinistic pigfuckers who wield social privilege as a weapon; we’re used to them doing all that. This is different. This isn’t just hateful, this is tactical. They’re prepping to turn the midterms into an equality showdown so it won’t be a referendum on Trump. GOP mouthbreathers will be out in force telling voters “Look, those out-of-touch elitist Democrats are letting our fine fighting forces be overrun by trannies! They care more about protecting fags’ jobs than they care about protecting YOUR jobs!”

This is almost certain to work. It already happened in recent memory, when they used a handful of statewide marriage equality initiatives to mobilize a national troglodyte voter base against John Kerry. Just wait and see if I’m wrong. Hell, someone in the know already admitted it. Click for a more readable enlargement:
 

 
These scumbags are 100% on-script right now, and the Dems are fucked: if they do the right thing and stand for equality, they’re taking the bait. If they recognize this as bait and join the GOP in throwing sexual and gender minorities under the bus to keep the focus on Trump’s unyielding streak of outrages, then they will have not just thrown vulnerable sexual and gender minorities under the bus, but done so for electoral reasons, which DUH is fucking double-evil, AND they will have depressed their own voter turnout due to being no different than the Republicans on an issue as existentially significant as human rights.

Gerrymandering and racist voter ID laws that are definitely going to go national ASAFuckingP (the architect of Kansas’ SAFE Act has been appointed to Mike Pence’s farcical Commission on Election Integrity) will take care of the rest, and boom, midterm sweep, the Republicans retain or increase their majority in both houses, and the fascist takeover of the USA has an electoral “mandate.”

THIS is why they have governed and will continue to govern from a national electoral minority for decades to come: they know how to play these numbers games and they’re Machiavellian enough to handwave any pearl-clutching about “democracy” or “norms.” And the milquetoast DNC centrists who inexplicably STILL run the show in that utterly debased excuse for a national political party still think there’s intrinsic value in “taking the high road” and in playing the legislative chambers’ ineffectual rules-of-order parlor games. There is not. The vaunted “high road” has all too often been their road to defeat. The intrinsic value in being in government is in being the people who actually get to make the laws. The DNC’s failure to see the reality that’s repeatedly smacked them in the face has ceded those privileges to authoritarian monsters for the foreseeable future, while the people they’ve failed are left to gaze upon Trump’s works and despair.

I don’t pretend to know what needs to be done, but doing what we’re used to doing won’t accomplish shit while the corridors of power are overrun, and I sure don’t expect institutions to help. The idea that Speaker of the House/other evil elf Paul Ryan will move to impeach before mid-terms (if at all, ever) is laughable, and forget about treason charges. Horseshoe theory-poisoned major media have already been dutifully demonizing Antifa—what do you expect happens when the people who put their personal safety on the line to oppose fascism are summarily demonized while actual genocide fanboys are greeted with “let’s hear what they have to say before we go condemning them?” What gets normalized, then?

At anti-Trump demonstrations, police conspicuously opt to protect racists and fascists over the assembled masses of protesters who’re demonstrating precisely because they’re terrified of racist and fascist encroachment. The barbarians are at the gates not because they’re preparing to crash them but because they’re the gatekeepers. Something to think about while you’re making your 10,000th phone call to a disinterested Republican Senator to express your strongly-worded displeasure into the voicemail s/he doesn’t listen to. Vive la resistance.
 

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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07.27.2017
12:44 pm
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She f*cking deserved this! Onion devastatingly calls out Senator on healthcare vote AND SAYS IT ALL
07.26.2017
02:18 pm
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Like many of you reading this sentence, I have spent nearly 100% of my waking hours so far this year feeling like I wanted to run out into the middle of a cornfield and scream my fucking head off as loudly as possible until I passed out from exhaustion or simply got bored of this activity and decided to stop. (Never underestimate the cathartic value of DIY primal scream therapy in Donald Trump’s America. If it worked for John and Yoko and it can work for you, too.)

But yesterday and today, the Senate votes on repealing the ACA has left me feeling especially sickened, angry and utterly drained. My hatred for “them” has grown by leaps and bounds. From Donald Shit’s remarkably idiotic “Obamacare is death” rant to watching John McCain vote, not once but twice, to revoke poor people’s ability to fight back against cancer, it’s all just gotten so goddamned nauseating. So grotesque. A brain-addled billionaire bully who doesn’t even know the difference between health insurance and life insurance who wants to upend 20% of the American economy and mess with people’s lives because he hates the superior black man who preceded him in office. Trump doesn’t even know what health insurance IS. Not even in the most general sense. But it’s named after the black guy, so… Sorry sick people!
 

#donaldshit

I mean my Twitter feed zaps me of much of my will to carry on. I’m glad I don’t bother much with Facebook, I’d have given up a long time ago.

But having said all that, I read something on The Onion just now that made me LOL and smile again in my heart. I didn’t think that was possible anymore.

An item, appearing sans the byline of the satirical genius who wrote it, takes aim at West Virginia’s GOP Senator Shelley Moore Capito who only a week ago forcefully rebuked her party’s plans to repeal the ACA without a backup plan:

“As I have said before, I did not come to Washington to hurt people. For months, I have expressed reservations about the direction of the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. My position on this issue is driven by its impact on West Virginians. With that in mind, I cannot vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan that addresses my concerns and the needs of West Virginians.”

Despite this “brave” statement—some Republicans just LOVE to get brave before they cave—we all know how she actually voted. Which is why this Onion item is such a perfectly cut diamond of truly incendiary political satire served with such a heaping helping of “fuck you, lady”:

WASHINGTON—As legislators gathered Tuesday for a critical vote that would go a long way toward finally repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) was reportedly struggling to weigh the interests of her entire constituency against absolutely nothing. “Honestly, it’s a tough call—on one hand, you have opposition to the repeal from a majority of Republicans, virtually all Democrats, and the entire healthcare industry, while on the other, you have not one sound argument or credible opinion,” said Capito, admitting she was, even now, having difficulty balancing her desire to keep as many West Virginians insured as possible with there being no reason whatsoever to do otherwise. “This is an agonizing decision. Sure, there are sound justifications for voting no on ‘repeal and replace,’ but then there’s emptiness, literal emptiness, when you look for reasons to vote yes. All I know is, I have to get this right somehow.” At press time, Senator Capito had resigned herself to the fact that both sides had valid points and she would just have to go with her gut when the time came.

Standing ovation to the uncredited author of this, one of the single most impressive paragraphs ever composed in the English language, I reckon.

If you know someone from West Virginia, be sure to send this to them or post it on their Facebook wall (especially the Republicans, it will go right over their pointed lil’ heads). And if you feel like tweeting it at Shelley Moore Capito just to make triple sure that she’s seen it, have at it, her Twitter handle is @SenCapito

Posted by Richard Metzger
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07.26.2017
02:18 pm
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There are Donald Trump condoms… for when you’re getting screwed
07.24.2017
10:18 am
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Buy a pack of three for $13.75 here.
 
I don’t know why there are Donald Trump novelty condoms, but there are, and here I am blogging about them. They exist and that’s just #sad, in my opinion. I don’t know how trustworthy these condoms are. Trump condoms? Nacho’s face hardly inspires confidence in such a crucially important product. I’d use them with extreme caution. I certainly doubt that they’re made in the U.S.A. if they’ve got his ugly mug on the packaging.

If you were about to fuck someone and he pulled out his Donald Trump novelty condoms, ask yourself seriously if you really want to go through with this? How important is your dignity to you, anyway?

Believe or not, there are several manufacturers of Trump jimmy hats. I’ve posted where to buy them underneath the images.


Get it here for $5.95.
 

Get it here for $5.95.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Tara McGinley
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07.24.2017
10:18 am
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Former Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain’s strange obsession with ‘Twin Peaks’
07.18.2017
07:03 pm
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A tweet from former presidential candidate Herman Cain’s official Twitter page from Monday, July 17th, 2017.
 
A friend of mine hipped me to the weird tweets coming from idiotic 2012 presidential candidate and Fox News “personality” Herman Cain. It appears that over the last five or so days Cain has been tweeting images from David Lynch’s television series Twin Peaks along with short rants.

If you’ve successfully blocked memories of Mr. Cain out of your mind, let me help you with that. This is the same guy that once referred to strategic U.S. ally Uzbekistan as “Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan” so it’s probably not all that surprising that his Twitter account would be a bit unhinged. However, this new stuff seems a bit nutty even for Cain. I mean, he even went so far as to post a photo of Morning Joe‘s Joe Scarborough next to a picture of John Nance in character from Eraserhead. What are you doing Herman Cain? I don’t know if I should get behind this or get to the bottom of it. Perhaps some of our more investigative-minded DM readers will be able to figure out the meaning of these strange dispatches. For now, I’ll leave you to check out screenshots of Cain’s Twin Peaks related tweets below and after the jump…
 

July 18th, 2017.
 

July 17th, 2017.
 

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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07.18.2017
07:03 pm
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Bad Bunny: True children’s stories of violent, drug-fueled family life presented as a kids’ book
07.07.2017
10:48 am
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Childhood is sometimes described by those privileged enough to know as the best years of our lives. This may be the case for the few but not always so for the many.

An American educational charity called Youth Ambassadors, which helps underprivileged kids reach their full potential, has come up with a rather simple idea to highlight the often grim reality of how some young people spend their childhoods. It’s a fake children’s book called Welcome to My Neighborhood.

It’s presented just like any other kids picture book with friendly, cuddly bunnies, cats, and mice telling the story of their lives. The big difference is this ain’t no Beatrix Potter or Wind in the Willows. This is a collection of disturbing true stories of domestic violence, drugs, crime, murder, and prison as recounted by disadvantaged children from some of America’s most deprived places. Not even the seemingly family-friendly illustrations can disguise the brutality of the children’s lives as drug-addict Daddy Rat beats his kids, the Bunny Brothers whack people, and Mister Fox is a gung-ho, trigger-happy cop.

Whether Welcome to My Neighborhood will actually make any real difference to the plight of these youngsters other than being something the chattering class will smile knowledgeably about over their quinoa salads and tofu chai latte, I ain’t so sure. But it’s certainly 10/10 for originality and effort. Download a PDF of this book here or, if you’re interested in doing some good, find out how to help Youth Ambassadors here.
 
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More sad tales, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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07.07.2017
10:48 am
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That time Mary Hartman and Patti Smith unwittingly formed a fantasy presidential ticket, 1976
07.05.2017
04:06 pm
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Any discussion about the presidency in 2017 has to start with the notion that about 90% of Americans living or dead would be an improvement over the current occupant of the Oval Office. Having said that, it’s much more fun to contemplate an actual presidential hopeful of several decades ago that really might have been waaaaaaay better in many respects than ANY of the 45 men we’ve had as president so far (okay, actually 44).

I refer to Mary Hartman, the doubly eponymous main character from Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Norman Lear’s groundbreaking and addictive soap parody from the mid-1970s that starred Louise Lasser and also did so much to introduce the country to the prodigious talents of Mary Kay Place, Martin Mull, Dabney Coleman, and Doris Roberts. (One of the most astonishing aspects of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was that it was produced five days a week for more than a year, meaning that it left behind a remarkable 325 episodes in its 2 seasons. Today you can buy the entire series on DVD of course.)

You probably didn’t know that Mary Hartman was a presidential candidate in 1976, the year that Democrat Jimmy Carter narrowly bested the Republican incumbent Gerald Ford. And if you didn’t know that, then it’s extremely unlikely you knew that Patti Smith was her running mate. I’m not a constitutional scholar, but I will assert with a high degree of confidence that the Constitution does not bar fictional characters from the presidency. As for Patti Smith, who is definitely not fictional, she became the ticket’s VP pick without any consent or even knowledge that it was happening, but she graciously accepted the bid after the fact.

The whole thing was a kind of prank or stunt by the Fluxus practitioner and “mail art” pioneer Jerry Dreva, a native of South Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the early 1970s, Dreva and some of his fellow Wisconsinites, finding themselves in Southern California, founded a collective known as Les Petites Bonbons that specialized in mail art pranks.
 

 
One thing about mail art is that it tends to announce the location of its projects. The Hartman/Smith ticket mailing, which appears to have numbered about 1,500, actually has a return address on it, 629 Madison Ave., in South Milwaukee, so it might be the case that Dreva had returned to his home state by that time. It’s not clear. Dreva passed away in 1997.

There is incredibly little information about the Hartman/Smith project. In a 1984 issue of High Performance, Suzan Carson wrote that “Dreva livens up the most boring presidential election in memory with two flyers promoting the candidacy of Mary Hartman for president and Patti Smith for vice-president of the United States.” She also added that Smith accepted the nomination as “president of vice” (har har) at a Milwaukee concert. That concert was probably held at Milwaukee’s Oriental Theatre in March 1976—anybody reading this remember that show?

Earlier this year, there was an auction on Canadian eBay for a “small collection of late-1970s works by mail-art pioneer Jerry Dreva, including glossy prints for the Mary Hartman / Patti Smith campaign in 1976,” which also included several other amusing mailings by Dreva from 1976 and a little bit later, and I’ve reproduced some of those here for the fun of it.

It’s a shame Mary Hartman didn’t get elected president—it would have been fun to watch the Supreme Court tussle with that legal conundrum. Of course I suppose it’s likely that Smith would have become president instead. Or maybe Hartman would have stayed president—and done more good for the country than Donald Trump will ever do.
 

 

 
More of Jerry Dreva’s postal tomfoolery after the jump…..

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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07.05.2017
04:06 pm
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Ralph Steadman’s grotesquely brilliant illustrations for Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’
06.19.2017
12:04 pm
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George Orwell had difficulty in getting Animal Farm published in the 1940s. His satirical fable about a farm being taken over by a cowardly, power-mad pig was seen as an undisguised and rather offensive attack on Soviet Russia and its leader Joseph Stalin. As Orwell later explained in his introduction to the book, it was not considered the done thing in 1940s Britain to criticize their war ally Russia and especially its leader Stalin in any way. (Sidebar: Orwell’s introduction was not included in the book on its first publication and is still missing from most editions today.)

Due to the war, any criticism of Uncle Joe was not tolerated—even if there was ample evidence that things might not be as jolly as the Russians liked to pretend. The media (including the BBC) and its allies in left-wing intelligentsia swallowed wholeheartedly every piece of propaganda issued by the U.S.S.R. which was then spewed out as fact.  But Orwell was never one to be swayed by the heady eau de cologne of fashionable politics. Orwell actually believed in a practical socialism—not one that resulted in the oppression of the majority by a tiny minority as was the case with Stalin, whose dictatorship had murdered up to 60 million.

Eventually, after a series of surprising knockbacks from British and American publishers (including one from T. S. Eliot at Faber & Faber), Orwell’s tale was successfully published by Secker & Warburg in August 1945 and has never been out of print since. However, its release was not well received. Certain critics tried to damn the book with faint praise or dismiss it as “clumsy” and “dull.” Now, clumsy and dull are not the kind of words I would ever associate with Orwell’s fastidious writing or with this allegorical masterpiece.

Orwell first had the idea for Animal Farm after seeing a small boy whipping a horse:

“...I saw a little boy, perhaps ten years old, driving a huge carthorse along a narrow path, whipping it whenever it tried to turn. It struck me that if only such animals became aware of their strength we should have no power over them, and that men exploit animals in much the same way as the rich exploit the proletariat.”

Orwell wrote Animal Farm between 1943 and 1944, during the height of the Second World War. He also added in some of his own personal experience of having witnessed firsthand the Communist purges during the Spanish Civil War which revealed to him “how easily totalitarian propaganda can control the opinion of enlightened people in democratic countries.” Orwell intended his novella as a warning and a condemnation of Stalin’s vicious dictatorship and his corruption of socialist ideals.

Political cartoonist David Low was the man who first illustrated Orwell’s political parable. While Low’s work was satirical and well-matched to Orwell’s prose, his illustrations pale when compared to the scabrous beauty of Ralph Steadman’s grotesque scratchings. Steadman provided illustrations for the 50th anniversary edition of Animal Farm in 1995.

I’d be hard put to think of any other artist who so effectively depicts the grim satire at the heart of Orwell’s tale. Steadman’s drawings seem to be on the verge of exploding with fury at the raw injustice of life or, in this case, the political allegory of the endless brutal horror of Animal Farm.
 
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See more of Ralph Steadman’s gonzo illustrations, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.19.2017
12:04 pm
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