Published 20 March 2009 · Main Posts More about ‘On the Idea of Communism’ Jeff Sparrow The Birckbeck Institute for the Humanities’ conference ‘On the Idea of Communism’ seems to me an utterly fascinating phenomenon, not so much in and of itself (there are academic conferences held on all manner of topics), but because the massive response it provoked – this is an event featuring some of the most difficult and abstruse philosophers in Europe and yet it attracts the crowd of a sporting event – hints at how deep the yearning is for an alternative to the status quo. I wrote about this in my book on Guido Baracchi: that, for most of the twentieth century, the presence of Official Communism demonstrated, to the Right as much to the Left, that the world could be changed, a fact with massive significance for the entire political culture. Since 1989, that sense of an alternative has vanished, something which explains a lot about the mixture of cynicism and apathy which characterised popular attitudes to politics over the past twenty years. None of which is to suggest any nostalgia for old school Stalinism, a political system responsible for more murders than can be tabulated. Indeed, any revival of a Left worthy of the name depends upon a rigorous re-assessment of crimes with which too many leftists were complicit — it’s not a good sign, one has to say, that some of the Birckbeck speakers apparently enthused about the Chinese cultural revolution. Anyway, those rambling are all a preface to links describing some of the conference presentations. Jeff Sparrow Jeff Sparrow is a Walkley Award-winning writer, broadcaster and former editor of Overland. More by Jeff Sparrow Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 25 May 202326 May 2023 · Main Posts The ‘Chinese question’ and colonial capitalism in New Gold Mountain Christy Tan SBS’s New Gold Mountain sets out to recover the history of the Gold Rush from the marginalised perspective of Chinese settlers but instead reinforces the erasure of Indigenous sovereignty. Although celebrated for its multilingual script and diverse representation, the mini-TV series ignores how the settlement of Chinese migrants and their recruitment into colonial capitalism consolidates the ongoing displacement of First Nations peoples. First published in Overland Issue 228 15 February 202322 February 2023 · Main Posts Self-translation and bilingual writing as a transnational writer in the age of machine translation Ouyang Yu To cut a long story short, it all boils down to the need to go as far away from oneself as possible before one realizes another need to come back to reclaim what has been lost in the process while tying the knot of the opposite ends and merging them into a new transformation.