Friday, April 24, 2009


Poland is banning all "authoritarian" images from clothing. That means, specifically, that I won't be able to wear my Che T-shirt there, as Che was a communist and communism as a whole is now not allowed as an element of Polish fashion... unless, I suppose, the designer can avoid the label of "propaganda" by putting an asterix next to, say, a hammer and sickle, with a note describing the horrors of the gulag or the limits of Cuba's parliament or the shortcomings of a command economy or something.

Are Trotsky and Stalin memorabilia to be treated the same, though? Are there gradations to Poland's rules? If so, are the gradations based on the degree of political liberalism espoused by a given communist luminary, i.e. could I wear the T-shirt of a political reformer like Gorbachev or Zhao Ziyang? Or are the rules based on theory versus action, i.e. could I wear a T-shirt with Marx and Engels or Gramsci but not Lenin? Was Lenin a complete authoritarian or did his successors just mess things up? What is Poland's verdict on the Cultural Revolution---democratic excess or authoritarian purge?

Wait, isn't banning certain political images... authoritarian?

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