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May Day 2006: A Day Of Remembrance

Welcome to Catallarchy's annual Day of Remembrance. Contrary to the promises of ideology, nations whose governments pledged to create a workers' paradise usually became places of rampant slave labor. The plight of the less fortunate became even less fortunate. Today, we chronicle a small part of their lives.

How Many Did Stalin Really Murder? by guest writer Professor R. J. Rummel Read more »

Re-Education In Vietnam

Following the fall of Saigon in 1975, the communist regime which gained control of South Vietnam ordered the "re-education" of thousands of people. The goal was the re-habilitation of the individual through labor and education. The Ministry of the Interior oversaw the re-education camps which were considered separate from the prison system. Specifically targeted social classes included intellectuals, students, religious figures, merchants, political opponents, and even some Communists. Estimates for the number of people who were victim to re-education range from 500,000 to 1 million out of a population of 20 million.[1]

As with labor camps in other communist nations, conditions were often inhumane. Malnutrition, poor sanitation, disease, and torture was common. A letter by a camp prisoner with the pen-name of Ho Khanh describes the rampant hunger.[2]

In my forced labor camp in the highlands, the event that dominates everything is the experience of hunger. We are hungry permanently. All we can think about, day and night, is eating! During the first days of the harvest season we are allowed almost our fill of corn and manioc roots. But that lasts only a few days. During these days there are shining eyes and smiles. But very soon the camp administration shuts up the eating. The shining eyes and smiles disappear. We feel hungry again, so hungry that we think of nothing else. Many of us catch lizards to eat, knowing they provide proteins. Very soon the lizards of the whole area were exterminated. I know of a prisoner who one night caught a millipede on the ceiling, hid it under the mat, and in the morning roasted it on a fire and ate it. He said it was as good as a roast shrimp. There are those who are very clever to invent devices to catch mice and birds; they will roast and eat them while others watch with envy. Others catch grasshoppers and crickets. Whenever someone catches a snake, that is a feast. In our conversation, we only talk about eating and how to find things to eat. When we do not talk about eating, we silently think about eating. As soon as we finish lunch, we begin to imagine the supper awaiting us when we return from the fields: The food put into the mouth is like one breath of air blown into a vast empty house. What little food is given is chewed very slowly. Still, it makes no difference -- we feel even more hungry after eating. Even in our sleep, our dreams are haunted by food. There are those who chew noisily in their dreams...

Such food as mice, rats, birds, snakes, grasshoppers, must be caught and eaten secretly. It is forbidden, and if the camp guards learn about it, the prisoners will be punished.

I was assigned to carry sand and pebbles from the stream to the camp so that other prisoners can make bricks. I balanced two baskets with a stick across my shoulder. One day, by digging in the sand, I saw a beautiful white egg. I bent down, used my hand as a spade, and unearthed fifteen of these eggs. On my way back to the camp, I shared them with some of the younger prisoners. Everyone believed they were tortoise eggs. After boiling them, we discovered small reptiles already formed inside. They were hard to swallow, but we all tried to eat to get some protein in our body. During the period of my assignment to carry sand and pebbles I had the opportunity to try different kinds of young leaves. There are young leaves of yellow color, I chewed them and had the feeling that they possessed some protein. I also found the tips of some bamboo right on the edge of the spring. Bamboo has a sour taste. Even so, I ate many of these, hoping that they might provide some vitamin C.


Why resurrect the atrocities of the past? In this modern age, do they really matter?

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn provided a justification in a chapter entitled "The Bluecaps" in The Gulag Archipelago.

From the most ancient times justice has been a two-part concept: virtue triumphs, and vice is punished.

We have been fortunate enough to live to a time when virtue, though it does not triumph, is nonetheless not always tormented by attack dogs. Beaten down, sickly, virtue has now been allowed to enter in all its tatters and sit in the corner, as long as it doesn't raise its voice.

However, no one dares say a word about vice. Yes, they did mock virtue, but there was no vice in that. Yes, so-and-so many millions did get mowed down-but no one was to blame for it. And if someone pipes up: "What about those who . . . " the answer comes from all sides, reproachfully and amicably at first: "What are you talking about, comrade! Why open old wounds? " Then they go after you with an oaken club: "Shut up! Haven't you had enough yet? You think you've been rehabilitated!"

In that same period, by 1966, eighty-six thousand Nazi criminals had been convicted in West Germany. And still we choke with anger here. We do not hesitate to devote to the subject page after newspaper page and hour after hour of radio time. We even stay after work to attend protest meetings and vote: "Too few! Eighty-six thousand are too few. And twenty years is too little! It must go on and on." Read more »

May Day

This coming Monday, we are going to have our annual May Day commemoration. As in years past, we have a lot of content planned, and a few guest writers will be contributing. This is our one yearly event into which we put a lot of time and effort. We would appreciate any links to the index post from blogs, forums, email, etc. Tell all your friends, even the non-blog readers, about it.

I\'m not fat, I\'m big-boned

A Senate panel has concluded that FEMA is sorely ill-prepared for a catastrophic event such as Hurricane Katrina were something similar to happen in the future. Their recommendations? To dissolve FEMA.

And replace it with a new and improved "National Preparedness and Response Authority". The NPRA would remain within the Department of Homeland Security and continue to receive funding from it.

Cartman: I'm not FEMA, I'm big-NPRA. Read more »

Osama Plays The Race Card

Some random observations from translation of the tape released yesterday allegedly containing a message from Osama Bin Laden:

* He plays the race card: "The West is incapable of recognising the rights of others. It will not be able to respect others' beliefs or feelings. The West still believes in ethnic supremacy and looks down on other nations. They categorise human beings into white masters and coloured slaves. Read more »

Hunh. It didn\'t work when I was in college.

Not even after my roomate and I made a fancy "Tech International Testing Service" sign and posted it on our dorm room door. I guess we didn't have the credibility this guy clearly has.

Blues And Greens

David Friedman on hardwired tribalism: Read more »

Liberals And Leftists Again

Joe Miller has more.


Living through a market bubble is a lesson in psychology. At the top of the NASDAQ bubble, the denial ran thick. It was a new era. So what if Cisco was being projected to have a higher market capitalization than the entire US GDP in a couple of years? Read more »

Blog Of A Killer

Kevin Underwood, a man who confessed to killing a 10-year old neighbor, kept a blog and wrote about cannibalism and "weird fantasies". Read more »

Ninjas Of America Beware

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Lesson 1: Don't run across a college campus wearing a ninja mask.

Lesson 2: If you must, don't run past a group of federal law enforcement officers.

The American Way

John Lott is suing Steven Levitt.

"Freakonomics'' co-author Steven Levitt and HarperCollins Publishers Inc. were sued for defamation by former Yale Law School researcher John Lott, whose work Levitt discusses in the best-selling book.


Cap'n Arbyte embraces the future.

Radley Balko writes about the coming Hudson v. Michigan Supreme Court ruling in Slate.

Arnold Kling: "My idea of an assimilated immigrant is someone with a strong commitment to the Bill of Rights, separation of powers, and federalism." Read more »

Contradiction In Terms

Google and Earthlink have won a bid to provide San Francisco with Wi-Fi. Read more »