Tuesday, July 29, 2008


So apparently work has stopped on the Karl Marx mural, and if this Facebook group is to be believed, my post on the subject is what has led to the delay.

Looking at the rest of this work in progress, one can see what appear to be the onion domes of the Russian Orthodox church. Marx was not Russian, and had no personal connection there. It was his ideas, of course, that went on to destroy Russia, killing millions through murder and starvation, and sought unavailingly to destroy religious faith (which the domes represent) and free thought.

Good for the West End BIZ for apparently cancelling this work. To many of the business men and women of the West End, who have escaped tyranny around the world and work tirelessly in the (relatively) capitalist and free system, it would be insulting to see the money they work for go to government programs that pay artists to celebrate the very tyranny they chose to leave.


Blogger Sky Onosson said...

Hmmm... do we even know what the final mural would look like, or what the artist's intentions were? You assume a lot in your phrase "celebrate the very tyranny" - who said anyone was celebrating?

I don't know the artist, or have any connection with them, the mural, or the West End BIZ (or communism!) - but I'd prefer to keep a bit of an open mind before jumping to conclusions. For better or worse, Marx and his ideology have been a huge part of Eastern European history for most of the past century. Not finishing this mural isn't going to change that.

And, I am of Ukrainian descent, and certainly not standing up for Marx! I also live just a few blocks from the site of this mural, fwiw.

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your reactionary conservatism is not something I care to read.

Stick to talking about urban issues and leave your simple minded economic thoughts off the blog.

9:51 PM  
Blogger The Rise and Sprawl said...

Mr. Onosson, of course Marx had a profound influence upon Eastern Europe (and indirectly upon post-1919 Winnipeg), I just don't know if its worth celebrating. By depicting his face, I think that the mural does celebrate him.

Anon, while I do plan to continue to talk about urban issues, I don't write for yours or anyone else's (aside from my own and my wife's) enjoyment.

11:04 PM  
Blogger mrchristian said...

I agree with Endless Spin - maybe it was supposed to be Harvey Smith ;-)

11:49 PM  
Blogger Orest said...

Here's a photo of the artist with a sketch of the proposed mural (http://www.themuralsofwinnipeg.com/murals/Ellice0870A3.jpg). I can only make out Tatlin's "Monument to the Third International", the Karl Marx image, and the onion dome church. There appear to some crowd scenes but it's hard to tell the context.

Maybe the artist got some inspiration from here (http://www.sovietstory.com/trailer/

12:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whats the beef with Marx. Just because Russia didn't work doesn't mean this guy was a lightweight in trying to understand or better human evolution. Judging by the crap going on in the States where taxpayers are bailing out almost every entity that defines a capitalist free market model, seems like Marx here had some valid opinions.

Karl Heinrich Marx (May 5, 1818 – March 14, 1883) was a 19th-century philosopher, political economist, sociologist, humanist, political theorist and revolutionary. Often called the father of communism, Marx was both a scholar and a political activist. He addressed a wide range of political as well as social issues, and is known for, amongst other things, his analysis of history. His approach is indicated by the opening line Chapter 1 of the The Communist Manifesto (1848): “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”. Marx argued that capitalism, like previous socioeconomic systems, will produce internal tensions which will lead to its destruction. Just as capitalism replaced feudalism, capitalism itself will be displaced by communism, a classless society which emerges after a transitional period in which the state would be nothing else but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat

Seems to me this guy was a bold thinker. Besides, aren't most bloggers talking about a more social way of life.

3:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this blog, and I don't really care that much about another mural I won't like, but your summary of Marx and what his ideas "sought unavailingly to destroy" is rather Ben Stein-ish in its willful disregard of historical context. (In this it has much in common with the mural it opposes.) If you read Marx's writing you won't find him calling for forced settlements or insisting upon the destruction of free thought. Whatever monstrosities were wrought by many of his dogmatic followers, his ideas as they stand are highly compassionate and complex. Dare I say Christlike? I dare. (Jesus has also had some dangerous crackpot followers over the years.)

On that note, even about.com knows that Marx's critique of religion (as opposed to religious faith) is nuanced and humane, whatever other qualms one might have with it.

There I'm out of the closet: I like Marx. I also like Rick Astley though, so...

Great blog Rob!

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you ever actually read Marx, or did you just hear that he was responsible for Stalin's thuggery in some fairy tale?

Marx had a lot in way of critique of capitalism, but not much as a prescribed alternative. He died in 1883, well before the Russian Revolution.

You have a wonderful urban-focused blog. My advice: stick to what you know and do well. I look forward to reading more.

9:21 AM  
Blogger The Rise and Sprawl said...

Sure, one could isolate Marx' nice-on-paper ideas from those same ideas put into practice some decades later, but the artist of this mural apparently does not. (Note Tatlin's Monument to the Third International behind him, the Russian church domes, the crowds of presumably Russian people, and the early 20th century context set out by the West End BIZ according to the story in the Free Press today.)

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Jamie said...

I am always against any type of censoring of art, but in this case the artist is doing a commission for a private sponsor (West End Biz) and the sponsor has the right to dictate what kind of art they are going to get.

And in terms of the whole issue of the Marx figure, if the mural is designed to showcase some of the people that infulenced the West End in the early 20th century, I would not have a problem with Marx being there, but why make him the central figure? The prarie socialism that developed in Winnipeg after the first world war was a unique hybrid of farmer/worker populism and the european model that wen't so bad in the Soviet Union. The mural should show the faces of the Winnipeg residents that lead the movement, not just the lazy philosopher who's ramblings influenced them.

P.S What's with the sudden attacks on Rob just cause he is not a knee jerk socialist. I mean really who besides naive university students and overpaid profs are still Marxists in this day age?

Face it people, his system will never work. If you truly are a socialist look to the model of the European Scandavian states and their democratic socialism.

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would a mural depicting Nietzsche, Heidegger or Hegel...favorite philosophers of the Nazis (in the case of Heidegger, an open collaborater) provoke this type of reaction?

No, they couldn't, because anyone who invests the time into carefully reading them quickly sees that they were both misunderstood and misappropriated.

But Marx has become a shrill symbol for right-wing identity / character based politics to use as a bludgeon to score cheap points with people who have probably never even read Marx.

PS If anyone actually does go out there and reads Marx I'd suggest the preface to The German Ideology, and not the Communist Manifesto.

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hitler didn't have statues of Nietzsche everywhere.

Ever wonder how Lenin left his job in Zurich and led the Bolsheviks to victory? Takes dough, doesn't it? Who gave him the gold and sent him on the sealed train through Germany? Do your homework.


3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like the West End BIZ did not do thier homework.

Why would you approve something then change your mind?

Weakling. Stand behind your decisions.

I don't like the mural by the way. Why not honour the community in a more progressive manner.

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lenin was permitted by the German's to cross into Russia because it was in the German interest to sow unrest in Russia (Germany and Russia were at war in 1917). Trotsky, who came from a very wealthy family, was an effective fundraiser who helped the Bolsheviks raise lots of money. The Czar was an incompetant and reactionary figure almost universally hated; the more moderate alternatives to communist revolutionaries in Russia were also blunderers and were out manouvered by the Bolsheviks. It's too bad it worked out that way because Communism killed my great grandparents, and countless other millions.

end of story.

Seriously, please do your homework by going to the library, not watching conspiracy cranks on youtube.

And Karl Marx had something to do with it... But it's about the same connection as Marilyn Manson had with those Columbine students who shot up their high school.

1:02 AM  
Blogger Marek said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:31 PM  

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