Seven months into the pandemic – yet back to square one

More on covid pandemic 2020

Seven months into the pandemic – yet back to square one

When I posted the first article under the heading ‘Journal of the Plague Year 2020’ on 23rd March of this year I didn’t (in my most fearsome nightmares) think I would still be posting about the crass incompetence of the Buffoon and his Government just under seven months later.

In that first post I bemoaned the fact that it seemed that society (or at least those who are in charge of its present day capitalist manifestation of it) hadn’t seemed to have learnt anything over the seven hundred years since the Black Death took with it at least a third of the population of Europe before it eventually fizzled out in 1351.

If the feudalists and the capitalists hadn’t been able to learn anything in 700 years I suppose it was foolish to believe they would learn anything in seven months.

The oppressors and exploiters haven’t moved on – there’s no incentive for then to do so as they consider they are masters of the universe and even if a few of them die their system will carry on without them. However, the rest of society is very different from what it was all those centuries ago.

Science, technology and education have all moved ahead in leaps and bounds. Even though there are still fundamentalist sects (which can include mainstream religions) that still live in an ideological past the majority of society – at least in the more established capitalist societies where workers have been able to extract a few concessions, including education, from the exploiters – looks at the world in a very different way from the subsistence farming peasant of the 14th century. Or so I would like to believe.

In Britain (without looking at the experience of other countries throughout the world) there are countless examples where working people have stood up against the failings of the ruling class. In Britain one of those examples was the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381 which had a direct connection to the consequences of the plague of 30 years before.

The capabilities, opportunities, knowledge and potential to make sure we never have to live through such chaos are there in a abundance. However, alongside those positives we still have the disease of subservience and a culture of parliamentary cretinism which prevents too many people from taking direct action outside of the electoral process.

In the last seven months the Tories have shown themselves incompetent and incapable of coming up with an effective strategy to deal with the issue at hand. But not for the first time and like the proverbial ‘bad penny’ they keep on bouncing back. The Parliamentary opposition in the form of the Labour Party is no different – and have constantly failed to deliver when they have been in the position to change society for the benefit of the majority. None of these groupings will ever change.

As we in Britain (as in many other countries worldwide) start to face another sequence of lock downs – whatever they may be called; local, partial, national, ‘fire break’, ‘circuit breakers’, or any other meaningless term some bright spark will invent – if we stick to the present system the future will just be a succession of ‘Groundhog Days’ where the future only offers us more of what has gone before. But probably worse.

I have little doubt that I’ll have to change the name of this collection of posts to Journal of the Plague Years 2020-2021 – if we are lucky.

Preparedness for a pandemic

In the last post I stated that there didn’t seem to be any specific plans for a pandemic in Britain – although in past years and even in the early days of he covid-19 outbreak we were ‘reassured’ that the Government had a considered plan in place. But I was wrong. However, you wouldn’t think so with the chaotic and uncoordinated manner in which policy has been made since the end of March.

I don’t know what’s worse, having a strategy and ignoring it or not having a strategy at all. It’s all about crimes of commission or omission.

The theory, and a few guidelines, can be read in an article entitled ‘How to prepare for a pandemic’.

For a detailed (very detailed) strategy was produced by Public Health England in 2014. Specifically two documents, the Pandemic Influenza Response Plan and the Pandemic Influenza Strategic Framework. The first is a very long document, with suggestions of who, what, when where and why at the different stages of any pandemic. The second is a much shorter overview of what should happen. (It has to be remembered that these documents where designed for a hypothetical outbreak and recognise that actions and decisions would be subject to change and alteration in the event the hypothetical becoming the reality.)

Annotated versions, where I’ve picked out the items I thought were the most important, are also available of the Plan and the Framework.

The problem is that the Government doesn’t seem to have read, or at least understood, documents which have been published in their own name. Public Health England (PHE) seems to have been marginalised from the start – not least because it places an emphasis on matters being dealt with at a local level – and has now been abolished because it was considered (probably by the puppet master Cummins) to be ‘not fit for purpose’. That’s why everything has been pushed into the hands of private companies and we can all see the pig’s ear they have made of everything they were paid a huge amount to do.

One matter that is stressed in the Plan is the necessity and infrastructure needed for testing, which has become such a contentious topic in the present pandemic. Again, if the Buffoon or his acolytes read that they don’t seem to have understood what were the implications.

Whitehall told to release secret 2016 files on UK pandemic risks. The Government has until the 23rd October to accede to the Information Commissioner’s Office request – or explain way not.

Protests against restrictions

There have been plenty of complaints about some of the lock down measures but little actual action. One minor one was the dumping of ice from the bars that were closed down in Central Scotland earlier in the month.

Students aren’t too happy about the food they’re being given when forced to self isolate, saying they are being given cheap junk food instead of decent, nutritious food.

This was announced, but little seems to have moved forward. England’s hospitality bosses prepare legal challenge to covid lock downs.

Deaths in the UK 2020

A report that looked into the total number of deaths in the UK in 2020, most of which would have been under the time of the lock down due to the pandemic, found that Britain didn’t fare too well in comparison with 20 other countries. This was mainly due to the manner in which the NHS had been run down, attacked as a social structure and starved of investment in terms of both materials and staff in the last few decades. In a sense, whatever the Buffoon had done we, in Britain, were on a hiding to nothing. This was highlighted in an interview on Radio 4’s World at One on 14th October with Professor Majid Ezzati, from Imperial College, London.

The ‘herd immunity’ argument

Life can go back to normal if we make it our common goal to achieve herd immunity.

Consequences of covid-19

Another to add to the list – covid may cause sudden, permanent hearing loss.

Protests that there should be more restrictions

Scientists want much stricter measures to curb what they consider is the infection rates getting out of hand – and have been saying so for some time;

Planned new rules for north of England are not enough.

UK at ‘tipping point’.

Sage scientists called for short lock down weeks ago

Two-week circuit breaker ‘may halve deaths’.

Covid the new Scrooge

First your holidays now covid has its sight on Christmas.

Fear used to ensure ‘compliance’

Man gets covid twice and second hit ‘more severe’. Even though of the millions who have caught the infection only twenty or so have been recorded as having been infected twice. Isn’t that statistically insignificant? If so, why does this make the headlines?

University of East Anglia party students fined £10,000.

More on ‘collateral damage’

Although it’s been mentioned before, as time goes by more details start to emerge. Three million patients have missed cancer screenings since start of pandemic. With a lcak of any strategy and with a possible ‘second lock down’ on the way these figures are not going to get any smaller. This could end up causing more suffering and deaths without any real advantage being achieved by the Government’s ‘response’ to the situation in the country.

‘Protect the NHS’ message led to 90 per cent drop in hospital admissions.

More than 26,000 extra deaths this year, mainly in their own homes. A statistic which cries out for a more strategic approach to dealing with the pandemic – not just in the UK but other parts of the world as such figures will be duplicated in many countries.

Nightingale Hospitals

What has happened to England’s seven Nightingale hospitals? A good question as these have cost a fortune and most have never been used.

A few days later, as part of the campaign to create a climate of fear and aid compliance it was announced that those in the north locations were being brought up to a state of readiness.

Earlier in the pandemic some scientists were calling for the establishment of ‘fever hospitals’. If the number of infections is putting a strain on the normal hospitals, and reducing capacity due to distancing measures, wouldn’t it be a good idea to send all covid cases to these temporary hospitals from now on and create specialist teams which only deal with covid cases? If there were fears of a heightened risk of infection amongst staff (or other possible psychological pressures) then surely it’s not outside of the bounds of possibility to rotate those working there? Always the emphasis is on the problem and not the potential solution.

The shortage of nursing staff in the UK

There’s been a crisis in the NHS for years – and the way successive governments have sought to deal with staff shortages (and to save money by not training nursing staff in the UK) is by stealing valuable staff from the poorer countries of the world. This has been a disgrace and is a continuation of colonial exploitation by taking resources from the poor and giving them to the rich – although here (as with slavery) human resources. Self-sufficiency is the answer.

Hospitals battle coronavirus outbreaks as workforce shortages drive cancellation fears.

Testing

This issue continues to be problematic, aspirations not being matched by capabilities.

Used coronavirus tests handed out by mistake.

Trailblazing’ plans to cut travel quarantine.

Health and safety breaches at testing lab.

Test and Trace records worst week yet.

Boris Johnson promised a ‘world-beating’ system – but Government’s Sage committee says all three pillars aren’t working.

Buffoon ‘won’t hit target of 500,000 Covid tests a day by end of month’.

The Government can’t get the test, track and trace regime working but they can find time to give PC Plod more powers as they are to be given access to NHS self-isolation data.

The Buffoon promised a ‘world beating’ test, track and trace system. A report compared the UK with five other countries throughout the world. Britain didn’t come out to well. The results of this study were presented on Radio 4’s Inside Science on 15th October.

There are many conclusions from this study which should have an impact upon pandemic preparations in the UK in the future (that is, assuming we all don’t die due to the incompetence of our ‘leaders’). But what is obvious is that the majority of the problems that have arisen in the last seven months have been down to policy decisions of the last couple of decades (where both major political parties have been in control) which have basically decided that everything should be determined by the ‘market’, that economic liberalisation – which has been accepted as given by far too many people, including the working class – should decide what happens. Such an approach was questionable in the past but the pandemic has shown that such an approach is totally incapable of dealing with a medical, economic and political crisis.

People with suspected covid sent to non-existent test centre.

What was most interesting about this news is the way the Department of Health and Social Care reacted to this;

‘We are aware of an issue with an incorrect testing location in Sevenoaks. This issue has now been resolved and people are being redirected to the correct site. … NHS Test and Trace is providing tests at the unprecedented scale of more than 270,000 tests per day nationally and we are on track to achieve capacity for 500,000 tests a day by the end of October.’

In place of responding to the chaos all we are given is more spin, more smoke and mirrors.

Annual influenza vaccination

The Government extended the coverage of those it recommends should have a flu jab to those above 50 (and not 65 as is generally the case). However, this statement was made without the Government making sure enough of the vaccine was available and also establishing the infrastructure that would deal with a doubling of the numbers of those eligible for the injection. It also came across problems due to the virtual privatisation of this task with private chemists being able to provide the service. This matter was covered in a Radio 4, You and Yours item on 16th October.

Poverty in the United Kingdom

Two recent reports illustrate the level of poverty in the United Kingdom. The covid-19 pandemic hasn’t caused these problems – only exacerbated already existing issues. The level, depth and widespread nature of poverty in Britain has been a disgrace for decades. For that to exist in the fifth or sixth richest country in the world just goes to show the lies of capitalism that it is the best system for the majority of people.

In the 1970s there was a phrase that most people in Britain ‘were only one pay packet from destitution’. The truth of that has been demonstrated innumerable times in the past 50 years. The pandemic, by concentrating matters in weeks when it would normally show itself over years, has only made this dire situation more obvious – both to those who are losing their jobs and the rest of the ostrich population who have been happy to continue turning their backs on a situation which they might have found distasteful. Also those who thought they might have been immune from this particular disease of capitalism are now beginning to realise that no one who doesn’t have a private income and depends on their standard of living by their employment is entirely immune.

The first report, by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, entitled Poverty in Scotland 2020, concentrates its focus on the northern part of the United Kingdom. The situation in Scotland hasn’t improved significantly with the growth of the Scottish Nationalist movement in the country – no surprise as all nationalist movements devoid of Marxism-Leninism are bound to only benefit the local capitalist and not the majority of the population.

Although focussing on Scotland there’s no reason to believe the situation is not similar (if not worse) in the other parts of the UK.

The second is by Save the Children and is entitled Winter plan for children. It would more appropriately be entitled No winter plan for children. This report predicts severe problems for even more children and their families this coming winter with the pandemic only (again) exacerbating and already well entrenched and almost institutionalised system of child poverty.

This obscene reality should make any right thinking person in Britain angry but it sometimes becomes difficult when people were interviewed pre-December 2019 General Election leaving food banks and making positive comments about the Tory Buffoon for whom the same cretins were going to re-elect in a matter of days. Chickens coming home to roost?

Poverty campaigners estimate 1 million pupils have recently signed up free school meals for first time.

Again from Scotland – but applicable in the the rest of the UK – a warning about bad living conditions, poor housing and inadequate heating leading to a disproportionate amount of suffering being dumped on the poor.

A footballer campaigns for the extension of free school meals but he doesn’t realise that he is merely perpetuating poverty and is nowhere closer to eliminating it. His reward in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List only confirms the uselessness of his campaign – and how it is appreciated by the State.

Is re-infection a real issue?

Not really. A little over 20 people have been recorded as having been re-infected after an initial dose of the virus – out of the millions who had contracted the disease worldwide. That makes the numbers statistically insignificant so why are these few cases given such prominence in the media? A rhetorical question – it’s obviously designed to maintain the ‘fear of death’ level.

Peter Openshaw, from Imperial College London put this matter into perspective in an interview on Radio 4’s World at One on 13th October.

All in this together!

It’s just a sign of their insensitivity. Members of Parliament could be due a £3,000 pay rise. Will it make those who are being made redundant or put on short time angry? It should, but the British have accepted more in the past so no reason for the politicians to have too many fears of the gates of Westminster being stormed ala Petrograd in 1917.

Dominic Cummings continues to use the system to his advantage – this time by avoiding council tax.

Care Homes – and the re-writing of history

Jeremy Hunt, who a few years ago was the Health Secretary and oversaw the break down of the NHS and the care system, continues to attempt to re-write history. Following on from his attempts highlighted in the last post he continues to paint himself as reasonable and caring whilst at the same time trying to divert criticisms away from the Buffoon’s Government. Hunt may resent being pushed to the sidelines but his loyalty is still to the Tory Party and his class.

In an interview on Radio 4’s World at One on 13th October he claimed that the reasons the percentage of deaths in care homes was so high (an estimated 40%) during the outbreak earlier in the year was due to causes which have now been rectified. Those were: agency workers transmitting the disease from one home to another; patients not being tested on leaving hospital and being sent to a care home; and a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

He approaches these problems as if they were not identified at the time (which is a lie) and that the Government was the entity to sort the issues (which is another lie). A drop in infections generally and not as many old and vulnerable people to kill pulled the Tories out of their mire. The most recent pronouncements by care home providers (let alone those who care for people in their own homes) don’t paint too promising a picture for the coming winter months.

The panic-mongers

It never does any harm to introduce a bit of peripheral ‘research’ to increase the fear levels and introduce a bit more baseless panic. Your mobile phone and cash in your pocket might be out to kill you! If certain circumstances are manipulated you can prove anything. However, they are only ‘infectious’ when kept in the dark – a bit like the population of the country.

Corruption accompanies any crisis

The issue of corruption and contracts being awarded without proper process have come up a number of times in the last seven months. The only difference is that the numbers keep on getting bigger. At the moment there’s a legal case being brought by some Members of Parliament against the Government (doesn’t that illustrate the failings of the British ‘democratic system’ not its strengths?) for Ministers ‘keeping the public in the dark’ over private contracts.

Consultants’ fees ‘up to £6,250 a day‘ for work on covid test system – and they still can’t get it right.

Government pays BA and Virgin £70 million to fly PPE from China – PPE travels in First Class.

Nationalists

In the (rejected) pandemic strategy adopted in 2014 (illustrated above) it was hoped that the four ‘nations’ that comprise the UK would act in concert. In your dreams! The nationalists, whichever their variety, will always seek to make their own decisions – whether it is for the benefit of the whole island or not. The latest example if the so-called ‘three tier’ lock down system.

There are still things going on behind the scenes

Obviously it’s the pandemic that’s hogging the headlines but we should not forget that government still carries on. And in the UK we have a government of self-seeking Tories with a huge Parliamentary majority. In such a circumstance so-called ‘rebels’ can make a lot of noise but they know that their future is secure as there will always be enough toadies (not wanting to risk their lucrative positions) to ensure the Government gets its way. That was the case of maintaining food health standards after Britain leaves the European Union at the end of this year. (Start dipping your chicken in the local municipal swimming pool – if it’s still open – to know what it will taste like in a year or so.) Under normal circumstances there would have been much more noise and the outcome could have been very different. Almost certainly there are other matters just going through on the nod which will come back to bite the British population in the not too distant future.

More on covid pandemic 2020

How many days from a second national lock down – if only a ‘circuit breaker’?

More on covid pandemic 2020

How many days from a second national lock down – if only a ‘circuit breaker’?

It’s now just under seven months since measures were taken in the United Kingdom in an effort to control the covid-19 pandemic – the ‘first lock down’. From the beginning it was obvious the British Government didn’t have a strategy in how they were going to deal with this (not totally unexpected) catastrophic event. Now approaching winter there still isn’t one.

Restrictions that are due to come into force in the next couple of days in Scotland will almost certainly be emulated – although possibly in a watered down manner – in the rest of the four ‘nations’ that make up the UK.

The problem with these new restrictions is that once they are imposed how do you then relax them or remove then all together? The logic of the case made by some scientists and some politicians (although there is starting to be an element of criticism of the actual tactics from both the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ in Britain) is that such restrictions will have to remain in place until a vaccine (if an effective one is ever produced) can curb the worse excesses of the disease.

Numbers of infections fluctuate – sometimes understandably (as with the return of schools, colleges and universities) sometimes for no apparent reason. Statistics of infections, hospitalisations and deaths are used to justify particular actions and it is only some time after the change in policies that they can be analysed and the ‘truth’ of the situation fully understood.

The economy is in free fall and even though this is a characteristic of capitalism this one is different in that the capitalist representatives in government (not only in the UK but throughout most of the world) are actually causing the crisis by their sheer inability to come up with imaginative and effective solutions to the problem because they lack any strategy at all.

At present in Britain the so-called ‘hospitality sector’ (pubs, restaurants, hotels and leisure activities) is in the sights of those about to pull the trigger. Whether it will have any effect is debatable but as has been the case since the very beginning, it gives the impression (no more) that the Government is ‘doing something’.

To continue to follow the same sort of policies that were used in epidemics and pandemics centuries ago has patently shown itself not ‘fit for purpose’ in the 21st century world. Those who oppose the lock down tactic (it’s a misuse of the word to call it a strategy) merely hope and pray, with all fingers crossed, that the virus will just get fed up killing people and go away.

Those who call for a more proactive approach to both save lives and reduce the huge, still hidden, impact of closing down a modern society at least have a strategy.

Preparedness for the pandemic

I’m sure that, for years, we in the UK were told that the country had made preparations in the event of a global pandemic. The buying and storing of Personal Protective Equipment was, presumably part of that. However, I have been unable to come across anything that indicates there was a strategy to deal with such an event.

Everything that has happened in Britain since news of the outbreak in China first became common knowledge has been a ‘knee jerk’ reaction to the situation as it was perceived at the time or the political pressures under which the Government might have been – always hiding behind ‘the scientific evidence’.

However, nothing approaching anything that could be classified as a strategy – or if it does exist I haven’t been able to find any proof of it.

Last year, the Global Health Security Index (from the World Economic Forum) considered the United Kingdom second in the world for pandemic readiness, in first place was the United States. Events since the beginning of the year have proven the saying that the first shall be last.

What went wrong. It has been argued that in Britain it was because the Buffoon sabotaged the system.

However, another report (from April this year) stated that the British Government KNEW it wasn’t prepared for a pandemic – even before covid-19 outbreak. Briefings recommended preventative measures – but these were, seemingly, just ignored.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Most countries in the world have followed the ‘easiest’ way to deal with the pandemic by closing society down and hoping it will all go away – basically putting their heads in the sand. China was probably the guilty one here. They had no imagination and locked society down as they had no imagination (or preparation and/or strategy) to deal with such a pandemic – and then the rest of the world (equally lacking in preparation, imagination or strategy) did likewise (that is, apart from Sweden).

However, from the start there have been many who have argued for a different approach and as knowledge of who covid-19 effects the most their voices have gotten louder. Let the majority of the population get on with their lives (with certain minor changes to habits), protect the most vulnerable in society and deal with covid-19 as the world has been dealing with such diseases for centuries.

On 7th October a group arguing for this approach published what is strangely called ‘The Great Barrington Declaration’. It was signed by a thousands of people from the scientific community as well as members of the general public. You can add your name by going here.

One of the signatories, Sunetra Gupta, explained their thinking on BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme on the 7th October.

The ‘so-called’ Swedish Experiment

‘So-called’ because the majority of the establishment, both political and scientific (and their toadies in the media) who are the ostriches which are dominant in the argument at the moment, try to denigrate anything which differs from their orthodoxy. Although slanted to the present method adopted by the Buffoon in the UK a BBC Radio 4 programme, The Briefing Room, on the 24th September, had a look at what had happened and was happening in Sweden.

Infections in England

A look at the statistics towards the end of September asks if there is a North-South divide in England when it came to infections.

One of the problems of local lock downs is that there is no strategy established how to get out of the situation of increased restrictions. Added to that infections tend to increase rather than fall. This has been put down to the continuing confusion that reigns throughout the nation.

Fragility of the NHS

NHS staff took more than 500,000 sick days due to mental health issues in May – and the situation would probably get worse as time goes on as the pressures of dealing with the pandemic increase.

Covid impact on NHS capacity in England to last ‘several years’.

Breast cancer missed for thousands of women because of covid related screening delays. Up to a million might have missed out on scans.

There are doubts of the resilience of the NHS in the coming winter, some predicting a ‘triple whammy’.

Covid could cause a ‘tsunami of cancelled NHS operations’.

Women’s health is bearing the brunt of the covid pandemic.

Patients face being sent to back of NHS queue as waiting lists reviewed.

Lies damn lies and statistics

Statistics tell us a lot – and then they don’t. Most people have probably encountered statistics in the last seven months in a way they have never before in their lives. That’s a good thing as they can help us to understand what is happening – but the problem with statistics is that they can be (and often are) manipulated for various causes.

A ‘reassessment’ of figures from the early part of the year (the study upon which the Buffoon used to justify his ‘500,000 dead’ speech) is now suggesting that going down the ‘herd immunity’ route – as opposed to the total local down that was followed – could have been the way to save lives. (N.B. This is from an article in the Daily Telegraph which is starting to bang this particular drum quite noisily at the moment.)

The difficulties caused by the ‘asymptomatic’ character of covid-19 has been highlighted in a study which looked at how infections were manifested between April and June of this year.

Coronavirus Act

The act brought in to ‘deal with the pandemic’ contains quite draconian powers. This was pointed out when the act came in on 25th March. It has to be ‘reviewed’ every six months (as was the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1973). The Irish related law first had a proper discussion in the early days but eventually just went through on the nod. It will be interesting to follow the fate of this latest law – once laws are introduced governments are very reluctant to see them abolished, especially when it gives them carte blanche to impose local restrictions under whatever pretext.

On the 29th September the extension was backed by 330 for to 24 against and was discussed for 85 minutes. It will be an indicator of the way British society is heading if the debate is shorter in six months time.

Postmortem of how the ‘first wave’ was handled

Did the NHS 111 Covid helpline fail hundreds of families?

Anyone want an unused ventilator? The Government acquired 14 times more ventilators than were needed for the pandemic. However the National Audit Office considers it was best to be safe than sorry. After all, in the present spending spree £569 million is nothing – and we should never miss an opportunity to pass fortunes from the public purse to the private sector. A little bit of pre-planning and preparation for such a pandemic might have mitigated this mad rush to buy what is now looking like useless hardware.

Vulnerabilities to the virus

Some people might have been born with less resistance to the covid-19 virus.

Vulnerabilities to the covid infection are a mixture of nature and nurture. A new one to be added to the nature list is our connection to our very earliest ancestors. If your ancestors had intimate contact with Neanderthals, and thus share genes, then this also makes you more vulnerable. However, it’s not certain what that means as a report released at the beginning of this year came to the conclusion that all modern humans have Neanderthal genes

As knowledge of the virus increases it has been reported that loss of smell may be clearer sign than a cough.

Scientists study whether immune response wards off or worsens covid.

Testing

A new global test will give results ‘in minutes’. However, as pointed out in the last post, it’s the richer countries that are hoovering up all these cheap and quick test kits – and for themselves and not the poorer countries of the world.

Airport testing to be launched within weeks. This test would cost £150 but would, in theory, cut quarantine time in half. So still slightly self selecting in that many people will be excluded due to the cost.

16,000 coronavirus cases missed in daily figures after IT error. This was blamed on Microsoft (for not making Excel accept more than a million lines), Public Health England (this from Matt Hancock who put the responsibility for the failure on the ‘legacy system’) or Uncle Tom Cobley and All. In fact anyone but the Buffoon and his Government.

NHS tests threatened by Roche supply chain failing. This is a crazy one. Why is such a major capitalist enterprise totally unable to get the logistics right when making a location change? Supposedly the move was in preparation for the UK leaving the European Union. Why didn’t they foresee the problems? Was it all due to cost cutting – which is often the case for such failings? And why did they carry out the transition in such a cavalier manner in the middle of a pandemic when their testing equipment was vital to the process of dealing with covid-19? They’re making a fortune out of the suffering of the British people but they are still incapable of providing an efficient service. And, no doubt, they will suffer no sanction for their incompetence.

First there was going to be testing at airports – then there wasn’t. If, when is still in doubt. Welcome to the land of the ‘world beating’ testing regime. Why does anyone even want to come to the UK?

A Tory’s ‘re-writing of history’

Jeremy Hunt, at one time in Matt Hancock’s position as Health Minister, sought to re-write history when discussing the failings in the testing regime on BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme on the 5th October.

Some points from this cretin’s few minutes on the radio;

the argument for localism was put from the beginning – but there was the issue of lack of finance

he tries to give the impression he is speaking in reaction to the recent failure (16,000 tests not being recorded and no contact tracing of their contacts) when it was the Government who went for the centralised system from the start

the 100,000 tests per day was just a publicity stunt brought out when criticism of the Buffoon was getting more intense

it was never stated that dealing with large numbers of tests needed large centralised laboratories

a centralised system meant that public money could be shovelled into the bulging bank accounts of private companies – going local would mean giving money to local authorities

there has not just been one ‘glitch’ – the system has been a disaster from the start

going local now will allow the Buffoon and his lackeys to blame others if things go wrong in the future

from the beginning (if they had anything approximating to a strategy) the Government should have identified all the places with capabilities for testing and should then have told them what to do, requisitioning their spaces and personnel if necessary, at no cost to the public purse, as private companies have been given billions of pounds of public money already

criticism of the present failings is not ‘the benefit of hindsight’

he just reiterates the arguments that local tracing is more efficient – but these arguments were not accepted by the Government months ago

The Buffoon’s policies of the past – and the future?

The 10pm curfew for pubs came under a lot of scrutiny as there didn’t seem to be any scientific proof for it (other than other countries had done it so it must be right) and was full of contradictions.

Asking over-65s to shield is ‘age-based apartheid’.

Leak reveals possible harsher three-tier England covid plan.

NHS Track and Trace app

How does the NHS app work? A short introduction from Radio 4’s World at One on the day of the launch of the app in England and Wales, 24th September.

Difficulties started to show themselves the day after the app was launched.

Problems also arose on Day 3 – with users unable to share the results of any tests via the app.

NHS tracing app problem that left tens of thousands of tests unlogged – but it was supposed to have been fixed quite quickly.

‘I spoke to one person in four months‘.

Police told not to download NHS covid-19 app

Covid fatalities

At the end of September it was estimated that about one million people have died in the last ten months due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Now that’s a lot of people – but this has to be placed in context.

Let’s have a look at some of the other causes of death worldwide.

Water and sanitation

829,000 – 2016

Tuberculosis

Over a million every year. It’s the world’s deadliest infectious disease.

AIDS

Estimated 770,000 in 2018. This figure has gone down substantially since the peak in 2004.

Hunger and hunger-related diseases

Around 9 million every year. NINE MILLION! In a world where in some countries obesity is becoming one of the most serious problems and the amount of food waste is almost unimaginable.

Malaria

About 435,000 in 2017.

Influenza

Around 646,000 people each year.

Hepatitis C

Around 400,000 each year.

Most of all these above statistics relate to those who are the poorest in the world. Note that these cases of ‘common’ diseases of the poor are every year. They have been dying in the past, the present and there’s no indication that these numbers will reduce significantly in the future – not with all the effort being placed on developing a vaccine for the rich – whether that be relative or absolute.

If covid-19 had stayed where it should have, i.e., in the East and the southern hemisphere, there’s no shadow of a doubt that all the resources that have been devoted to finding a vaccine would not have been brought into play.

Although the number of cases in the UK has been growing it is still far from the dire consequences predicted a couple of weeks ago. Even with an increased number of cases the growth is actually slowing down – apart from blips that occur when the testing system breaks down.

One law for us and one law for them

It was only for a few days but all the bars in the so-called ‘Mother of Parliaments’ didn’t have the same restrictions placed on them as all such places in the rest of the country. In itself it’s only a small issue but it’s a clear indication (even though these ‘us and them’ have been regular occurrences in the last six months) that the rich and ‘powerful’ don’t think that they should be included in any restrictions imposed on the majority of the population.

And even the Buffoon’s father can’t be convinced to ‘play the game’.

Return of University students

It shouldn’t have been a surprise that cases of infections would increase once students went or returned to university. Student accommodation is probably where you find the highest concentration of people in such a small space anywhere in the UK – apart from gangsters who run slave operations. In some ways this may not necessarily be a bad thing and here this blog doesn’t disagree with the Buffoon’s Government on this matter.

Although testing positive the symptoms in the vast majority of cases are minor – if not non-existent. And an element of ‘herd immunity’ in a University context may not be a negative consequence.

However, PC Plod doesn’t accept the anger of students being locked into their halls of residence after they were told that going to university would be ‘safe’.

Paranoid – or are they actually watching you?

Monitoring of workplace computers has existed for many years. Now, using the pandemic as an excuse, companies are extending this to those who work at home.

Flu vaccine

Elderly facing winter flu vaccine shortage. This is unbelievable and just demonstrates, yet again, the lack of strategy and general ‘joined-up thinking’ of the Buffoon and his Government. Ever since the drop in infections in August there was talk about how a serious flu outbreak this coming winter would exacerbate the covid pandemic. Instead of planning for this, organising the vaccine procedure and getting on top of things from the beginning the neo-liberal fundamentalists just left it to the ‘market’ to decide priorities.

Care Homes

After the high percentage of deaths in the ‘first wave’ occurring in the care home environment you would have expected there to have been major efforts to ensure this is not repeated in any potential ‘second wave’ or even natural increase in infections due to the arrival of winter. But this is Britain and that’s not the case. Instead of creating a steel wall around these most vulnerable they are being left at risk due to the poor testing regimes still in place.

A report by Amnesty International states that the treatment of residents and staff in care homes over the last six months has been a ‘violation of human rights’. However this criminal neglect of the most vulnerable doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon.

Elderly care at home

BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours looked at how this situation was still fraught with problems on the 29th September.

And a strategy?

The word is being used more now – but there’s no substance behind it.

More on covid pandemic 2020

J.V. Stalin: The Discussion with Sergei Eisenstein on the Film ‘Ivan the Terrible’

Ivan the Terrible - in the film

Ivan the Terrible – in the film

More on the USSR – including other writings of JV Stalin

J.V. Stalin: The Discussion with Sergei Eisenstein on the Film ‘Ivan the Terrible’

Introduction

So far on this blog, when it comes to Socialist Realism, the emphasis has been on how it manifested itself in the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania. This has through an analysis of the distinctive (and often very impressive) Albanian lapidars but there have also been articles addressing paintings, art in general as well as looking at architectural representations such as mosaics and bas relief on and in buildings.

There have also been posts about how Socialist Realism was seen in the People’s Republic of China during its socialist period (which tragically ended very soon after the death of Chairman Mao in 1976).

A beginning (small at the moment) has also been made on the country which was the first to develop the Socialist Realist theory and practice, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). So far this has been quite limited to a start on a look at the magnificent decorations of the metro stations – in reality the biggest art galleries in the world (especially in Moscow and Leningrad).

An equally small contribution has also been started in the public art of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

All these projects related to the above countries are ongoing.

However, so far, there has been little presented on the most important technological development in the field of arts of the 20th century – cinema.

VI Lenin, the first leader of the first Socialist State, realised from the very beginning the importance of literature and art in the development of the dictatorship of the proletariat, without which a workers state wouldn’t be able to exist. He also understood the importance of the moving image in this task.

As did JV Stalin and the article below shows that he took a very active interest in how the Soviet Cinema industry was developing – what messages and values it was trying to transmit in the socialist education of the Soviet working class and peasants.

Anti-Communists constantly distort events to twist them to fit into their anti-working class agenda. Not surprising as capitalism and imperialism will do and say anything which they think will strengthen their hold on the majority of the people of the world and to undermine anyone who seeks to challenge their political and economic control.

Many people might have heard/read about Stalin’s intervention regarding Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District in 1934. This criticism was accepted by the composer – and even today the work isn’t considered to be one of Shostakovich’s best. What probably isn’t widely known is that Stalin’s criticism came from a very deep understanding of Russian folk culture and he considered it important for Soviet artists (in all fields) to create artistic works to which the majority of the Soviet population could relate.

His intervention with Eisenstein about the two films of Ivan the Terrible primarily concerned historical accuracy – to which Eisenstein was playing fast and loose. In a socialist society artists have obligations to the people which do not exist in a capitalist society. After all, Eisenstein’s ability to have the luxury of following his artistic ideas was paid for by the working people. Stalin in this interview was reminding the film maker (and by implication all other artists) about his obligations.

Ivan the Terrible - sketch by Eisenstein

Ivan the Terrible – sketch by Eisenstein

Introduction by Revolutionary Democracy

One of the consequence of the anti-Stalin campaign initiated by the CPSU in 1953 has been that a number of facets of Stalin’s interventions on cultural questions are virtually unknown in the Communist movement. It is a telling commentary on this state of affairs that Paresh Dhar in his review of Asok Chattopadhyaya’s book Martiya Chirayat Bhabana – Silpa Sahitya Prasanga (in Bengali) can write that ‘what is most striking is that by a special research work, Asok has unveiled Stalin’s numerous involvements with art and literature of which we never heard before’, (Frontier, May 24th, 1997).

This discussion took place between Stalin, Zhdanov and Molotov from the political leadership of the CPSU(b), and S.M. Eisenstein and N. Cherkasov at the end of February, 1947. It was an integral part of the attempt by the Bolshevik party in the post-war period to raise the artistic level of Soviet culture and to eliminate weaknesses in ideological and political content.(1) Prior to the discussion the Central Committee of the CPSU(B) had, on September 4th, 1946 taken a decision on the film Glowing Life. Parts of the decision which bear on Ivan the Terrible are cited here:

‘The fact of the matter is that many of our leading cinema workers – producers, directors and screen writers – are taking a light-hearted and irresponsible attitude to their duties and are not working conscientiously on the films they produce. The chief defect in their work is failure to study subject matter… Producer Eisenstein betrayed ignorance of historical facts in the second series of Ivan Grozny, depicting Ivan Grozny’s progressive army, the oprichniki, as a gang of degenerates reminiscent of the American Ku Klux Klan. Ivan Grozny, a man of strong will and character, is shown as a spineless weakling, as a Hamlet type… ‘

‘One of the fundamental reasons for the production of worthless films is the lack of knowledge of subject matter and the light-hearted attitude of screen writers and producers to their work.’

‘The Central Committee finds that the Ministry of Cinematography, and primarily its head, Comrade Bolshakov, exercises inadequate supervision over film studios, producers and screen writers, is doing too little to improve the quality of films and is spending large sums of money to no useful purpose. Leading officials of the Ministry of Cinematography take an irresponsible attitude to the work entrusted to them and are indifferent to the ideological and political content and artistic merits of the films being produced.’

‘The Central Committee is of the opinion that the work of the Ministry’s Art Council is incorrectly organized. The council does not ensure impartial and business-like criticism of films for production. It often takes an apolitical attitude in its judgement of film and pays little attention to their idea-content. Many of its members display lack of principle in their assessment of films, their judgement being based on personal, friendly relations with the producers. The absence of criticism in the cinema and the prevalent narrow-circle atmosphere are among the chief reasons for the production of poor films.’

‘Art workers must realise that those who continue to take an irresponsible, light-hearted attitude to their work, may well find themselves superfluous and outside the ranks of progressive Soviet art, for the cultural requirements and demands of the Soviet theatregoer have developed and the Party and Government will continue to cultivate among the people good taste and encourage exacting demands on works of art.’ (Decisions of the Central Committee, C.P.S.U.(B) On Literature and Art (1946-1948), Moscow, 1951, pp. 26-28.)

1. An earlier criticism of the films of Eisenstein (Strike, The Battleship Potemkin, October, and The General Line) was published in 1931: I. Anissimov, ‘The Films of Eisenstein’. This has been reprinted in Bulletin International, 64-67, April-July 1983, pp. 74-91. (In French).

J.V. Stalin: The Discussion with Sergei Eisenstein on the Film ‘Ivan the Terrible’

We were summoned to the Kremlin at about 11 o’clock [In the evening – Ed.]. At 10.50 we reached the reception. Exactly at 11 o’clock Poskrebyshev came out to escort us to the cabinet.

At the back of the room were Stalin, Molotov and Zhdanov.

We entered, exchanged greetings and sat around the table.

Stalin. You wrote a letter. The answer got delayed a little. We are meeting late. I first thought of giving a written answer but then I decided that talking will be better. As I am very busy and have no time I decided to meet you here after a long interval. I received your letter in November.

Zhdanov. You received it while still in Sochi.

Stalin. Yes, yes. In Sochi. What have you decided to do with the film?

Eisenstein. We are saying that we have divided the second part of the film into two sections, because of which the Livonsky March has not been included. As a result there is a disproportion between the different parts of the film. So it is necessary to correct the film by editing the existing material and to shoot mainly the Livonsky March.

Stalin. Have you studied History?

Eisenstein. More or less.

Stalin. More or less? I am also a little familiar with history. You have shown the oprichnina incorrectly. The oprichnina was the army of the king. It was different from the feudal army which could remove its banner and leave the battleground at any moment – the regular army, the progressive army was formed. You have shown this oprichnina to be like the Ku-Klux-Klan.

Eisenstein said that they wear white cowls but we have black ones.

Molotov. This does not make a major difference.

Stalin. Your tsar has come out as being indecisive, he resembles Hamlet. Everybody prompts him as to what is to be done, and he himself does not take any decision… Tsar Ivan was a great and a wise ruler, and if he is compared with Ludwig XI (you have read about Ludwig XI who prepared absolutism for Ludwig XIV), then Ivan the Terrible is in the tenth heaven. The wisdom of Ivan the Terrible is reflected by the following: he looked at things from the national point of view and did not allow foreigners into his country, he barricaded the country from the entry of foreign influence. By showing Ivan the Terrible in this manner you have committed a deviation and a mistake. Peter 1st was also a great ruler, but he was extremely liberal towards foreigners, he opened the gate wide to them and allowed foreign influence into the country and permitted the Germanisation of Russia. Catherine allowed it even more. And further. Was the court of Alexander I really a Russian court? Was the Court of Nicolaus I a Russian court? No, they were German courts.

The most outstanding contribution of Ivan the Terrible was that he was the first to introduce the government monopoly of external trade. Ivan the Terrible was the first and Lenin was the second.

Zhdanov. The Ivan the Terrible of Eisenstein came out as a neurotic.

Molotov. In general, emphasis was given to psychologism, excessive stress was laid on internal psychological contradictions and personal emotions.

Stalin. It is necessary to show the historical figure in correct style. For example it was not correct that in the first series Ivan the Terrible kissed his wife so long. At that period it was not permitted.

Zhdanov. The film is made in the Byzantine style but there also it was not done.

Molotov. The second series is very restricted in domes and vaults, there is no fresh air, no wider Moscow, it does not show the people. One may show conversations, repressions but not this.

Stalin. Ivan the Terrible was extremely cruel. It is possible to show why he had to be cruel.

One of the mistakes of Ivan the Terrible was that he did not completely finish off the five big feudal families. If he had destroyed these five families then there would not have been the Time of Troubles. If Ivan the Terrible executed someone then he repented and prayed for a long time. God disturbed him on these matters… It was necessary to be decisive.

Molotov. It is necessary to show historical incidents in a comprehensive way. For example the incident with the drama of Demyan Bedny Bogatyp. Demyan Bedny mocked the baptism of Russia, but in reality acceptance of Christianity was a progressive event for its historical development.

Stalin. Of course, we are not good Christians but to deny the progressive role of Christianity at that particular stage is impossible. This incident had a very great importance because this turned the Russian state to contacts with the West, and not to an orientation towards the East.

About relations with the East, Stalin said that after the recent liberation from the Tatar yoke, Ivan the Terrible united Russia in a hurried way so as to have a stronghold to face a fresh Tatar attack. Astrakhan was already conquered and they could have attacked Moscow at any moment, The Crimean Tatars also could have done this.

Stalin. Demyan Bedny did not have the correct historical perspective. When we shifted the statue of Minin and Podzharsky closer to the church of Vasily Blazhenova then Demyan Bedny protested and wrote that the statue must be thrown away and that Minin and Podzharsky must be forgotten. In answer to this letter, I called him ‘Ivan, do not forget your own family’. We cannot throw away history…’

Next Stalin made a series of remarks regarding the interpretation of Ivan the Terrible and said that Malyuta Skuratov was a great army general and died a hero’s death in the war with Livonia.

Cherkasov in reply said that criticism always helped and that after criticism Pudovkin made a good film Admiral Nakhimov. ‘We are sure that we will not do worse. I am working on the character of Ivan the Terrible not only the film, but also in the theatre. I fell in love with this character and think that our alteration of the scenes will be correct and truthful’.

In response to this Stalin replied (addressing Molotov and Zhdanov) – ‘Let’s try?’

Cherkasov I am sure that the alteration will be successful.

Stalin. May god help you, – every day a new year. (Laughs.)

Eisenstein. We are saying that in the first part a number of moments were successful and this gives us the confidence for making the second series.

Stalin. We are not talking about what you have achieved, but now we are talking about the shortcomings.

Eisenstein asked whether there were some more instructions regarding the film.

Stalin. I am not giving you instructions but expressing the viewer’s opinion. It is necessary that historical characters are reflected correctly. What did Glinka show us? What is this Glinka? This is Maksim and not Glinka. [They were talking about the film Composer Glinka made by L. Arnshtam. The main role was played by B. Chirkov.] Artist Chirkov could not express himself and for an artist the greatest quality is the capability to transform himself. (Addressing Cherkasov) – you are capable of transforming yourself.

In answer to this Zhdanov said that Cherkasov was unlucky with Ivan the Terrible. There was still panic with regard to Spring and he started to act as a janitor – in the film In the Name of Life he plays a janitor.

Cherkasov said that he had acted the maximum number of tsars and he had even acted as Peter 1st and Aleksei.

Zhdanov. According to the hereditary line. He proceeded according to the hereditary line.

Stalin. It is necessary to show historical figures correctly and strongly. (To Eisenstein). You directed Alexander Nevsky. It came out very well. The most important thing is to maintain the style of the historical period. The director may deviate from history; it is not correct if he simply copies from the historical materials, he must work on his ideas but within the boundary of style. The director may vary within the style of that historical period.

Zhdanov said that Eisenstein is fascinated by the shadows (which distracts viewers from the action), and the beard of Ivan the Terrible and that Ivan the Terrible raises his head too often, so that his beard can be seen.

Eisenstein promised to shorten the beard of Ivan the Terrible in future.

Stalin. (Recalling different actors from the first part of the film Ivan the Terrible) Kurbsky – is magnificent. Staritsky is very good (Artist Kadochnikov). He catches the flies excellently. Also: the future tsar, he is catching flies with his hands! These type of details are necessary. They reveal the essence of man.

…The conversation then switched to the situation in Czechoslovakia in connection with Cherkasov’s participation in the Soviet film festival. Cherkasov narrated the popularity of the Soviet Union in Czechoslovakia.

The discussion then touched upon the destruction of the Czechoslovakian cities by the Americans.

Stalin. Our job was to enter Prague before the Americans. The Americans were in a great hurry, but owing to Koniev’s attack we were able to outdistance the Americans and strike Prague just before its fall. The Americans bombed Czechoslovakian industry. They maintained this policy throughout Europe, for them it was important to destroy those industries which were in competition with them. They bombed with taste.

Cherkasov spoke about the album of photographs of Franco and Goebbels which was with Ambassador Zorin at his villa.

Stalin. It is good that we finished these pigs. It is horrifying to think what would have happened if these scoundrels had won.

Cherkasov mentioned the graduation ceremony of the Soviet colony in Prague. He spoke of the children of emigrants who were studying there. It was very sad for these children who think of Russia as their motherland, as their home, when they were born there and had never been to Russia.

Stalin. It is unfortunate for these children. They are not at fault.

Molotov. Now we are giving a big opportunity to the children to return to Russia.

Stalin pointed to Cherkasov that he had the capacity for incarnation and that we have still the capacity to incarnate the artist Khmelev.

Cherkasov said that he had learnt a lot while working as an extra in the Marine Theatre in Leningrad. At that time the great master of incarnation Shaliapin acted and appeared on stage.

Stalin. He was a great actor.

Zhdanov asked: how is the shooting of the film Spring going on?

Cherkasov. We will finish it soon. Towards spring we are going to release Spring.

Zhdanov said that he liked the content of Spring a lot. The artist Orlova played very well.

Cherkasov. The artist Plyatt acted very well.

Zhdanov. And how did Ranevskaya act! (Waves his hand.)

Cherkasov. For the first time in my life I appeared in a film without a beard, without a moustache, without a cloak, without make-up. Playing the role of a director, I am a bit ashamed of my appearance and I feel like hiding behind my characters. This role is a lot of responsibility because I must represent a Soviet director and all our directors are worried: How will a Soviet director be shown?

Molotov. And here Cherkasov is settling scores with all the directors! When the film Spring was called into question, Cherkasov read an editorial in the newspaper Soviet Art regarding Spring and decided the film was already banned.

And then Zhdanov said: Cherkasov saw that all the preparations for Spring had perished so he took on the role of a janitor. Then Zhdanov spoke disapproving of the critical storm which had come up around Spring.

Stalin was interested to know how the actress Orlova had acted. He approved of her as an actress.

Cherkasov said that this actress had a great capability of working and an immense talent.

Zhdanov. Orlova acted extremely well. And everybody remembered Volga-Volga and the role of the postman Orlova had played.

Cherkasov. Have you watched In the Name of Life?

Stalin. No, I have not watched it, but we have a good report from Kliment Efremovich. Voroshilov liked the film.

Then that means that all the questions are solved. What do you think Comrades (addresses Molotov and Zhdanov), should we give Comrades Cherkasov and Eisenstein the opportunity to complete the film? – and added – please convey all this to Comrade Bolshakov.

Cherkasov asked about some details in the film and about the outward appearance of Ivan the Terrible.

Stalin. His appearance is right, there is no need to change it. The outward appearance of Ivan the Terrible is fine.

Cherkasov. Can the scene about the murder of Staritskova be retained in the scenario?

Stalin. You may retain it. The murder did take place.

Cherkasov. We have a scene in which Malyuta Skuratov strangles the Metropolit Philip.

Zhdanov. It was in the Tver Otroch-Monastery?

Cherkasov. Yes, is it necessary to keep this scene?

Stalin said that it was necessary to retain this scene as it was historically correct.

Molotov said it was necessary to show repression but at the same time one must show the purposes for which it was done. For this it was necessary to show state activities on a wider canvas and not to immerse oneself only with the scenes in the basements and enclosed areas. One must show wide state activity.

Cherkasov expressed his ideas regarding the future of the altered scenes and the second series.

Stalin. How does the film end? How better to do this, to make another two films – that is second and third series. How are we planning to this?

Eisenstein said that it was better to combine the already shot material of the second series with what was left of the scenario – and produce one big film.

Everyone agreed to this.

Stalin. How is your film going to end?

Cherkasov said that the film would end with the defeat of Livonia, the tragic death of Malyuta Skuratov, the march towards the sea where Ivan the Terrible is standing, surrounded by the army, and says, ‘We are standing on the sea and will be standing!’

Stalin. This is how it turned out and a bit more than this.

Cherkasov asked whether it would be necessary to show the outline of the film for confirmation by the Politburo.

Stalin. It is not necessary to present the scenario, decide it by yourselves. It is generally difficult to judge from the scenario, it is easier to talk about a ready product. (To Molotov.) You must be wanting to read the scenario?

Molotov. No, I work in other fields. Let Bolshakov read it.

Eisenstein said that it was better not to hurry with the production of this film.

This comment drew an active reaction from everybody.

Stalin. It is absolutely necessary not to hurry, and in general to hasten the film would lead to its being shut down rather than its being released. Repin worked on the Zaporozhye Cossacks Writing Their Reply to the Turkish Sultan for 11 years.

Molotov. 13 years.

Stalin. (with insistence) 11 years.

Everybody came to the conclusion that only a long spell of work may in reality produce a good film.

Regarding the film Ivan the Terrible Stalin said – That if necessary take one and a half, two even three years to produce this film. But the film should be good, it should be ‘sculptured’. We must raise quality. Let there be fewer films, but with greater quality. The viewer has grown up and we must show him good productions.

It was discussed that Tselikovskaya acted well in other characters, she acts well but she is a ballerina.

We answered that it was impossible to summon another actress to Alma-Ata.

Stalin said that the directors should be adamant and demand whatever they need. But our directors too easily yield on their own demands. It sometimes happens that a great actor is necessary but it is played by someone who does not suit the role. This is because the actor demands and receives the role while the director agrees.

Eisenstein. The actress Gosheva could not be released from the Arts Theatre in Alma-Ata for the shooting. We searched two years for an Anastasia.

Stalin. Artist Zharov incorrectly looked upon his character without any seriousness in the film Ivan the Terrible. He is not a serious Army-General.

Zhdanov. This is not Malyuta Skuratov but an opera-hat.

Stalin. Ivan the Terrible was a more nationalist tsar, more foresighted, he did not allow foreign influence in Russia. Peter 1st opened the gate to Europe and allowed in too many foreigners.

Cherkasov said that it was unfortunate and a personal shame that he had not seen the second part of the film Ivan the Terrible. When the film was edited and shown he had been at that time in Leningrad.

Eisenstein also added that he had not seen the complete version of the film because he had fallen ill after completing it.

This caused great surprise and animation.

The discussion ended with Stalin wishing them success and saying ‘May god help them!’

They shook hands and left. At 00.10 minutes the conversation ended.

An addition was made to this report by Eisenstein and Cherkasov:

‘Zhdanov also said: ‘In the film there is too much over-indulgence of religious rituals.’

Translated from the Russian by Sumana Jha.

Courtesy: G. Maryamov: Kremlevskii Tsenzor, Moscow, 1992, pp. 84-91.

This text is taken from one of the pages on the Revolutionary Democracy website, specifically J.V. Stalin: The Discussion with Sergei Eisenstein on the Film ‘Ivan the Terrible’

We thank those comrades for permission to reproduce the interview here.

More on the USSR – including other writings of JV Stalin