How did Pol Pot become leader of the Khmer Rouge?
What did prominent communists like Khieu Samphan do in Sihanouk’s Cambodia?
Were there limits to Sihanouk’s power and tightrope act?
Time Period Covered 1960-1963
We begin with a reflection on how Cambodian history can permeate even seemingly mundane spaces, before looking in on a secret communist seminar led by the new leader of the Khmer Rouge. This episode functions as a revisit of some loose ends left as the Cambodian communists began taking their own steps toward having an independent movement from the Vietnamese, as well as how the roles in that party began taking shape. We learn about the mysterious death of Tuo Samouth, as well as the circumstances that precede the vitally important year of 1963.
Apologies for some audio hiccups, this one was recorded in a different location.
Philip Short Pol Pot: History of a Nightmare
David Chandler The Tragedy of Cambodian History, Brother Number One, A History of Cambodia
Ben Kiernan How Pol Pot Came to Power
Milton Osbourne Sihanouk
Elizabeth Becker When the War was Over
Norodom Sihanouk My War with the CIA
How do you build a society out of the theories of Marx and Engels? Who was Lenin and why is he such an important communist figure? How did communism come to Indochina?
Beginning with Lenin being sent into the fragile Russian Empire in 1917, this episode is a discussion of the evolution of Marxism from 'theory' to 'practise'. This creates a new version of the 'doctrine': 'Marxism-Leninism'. The Russian Revolution in 1917 represents the entrance of a new civilisation onto the globe, one fuelled by the energy of communism. A young Vietnamese man sees this ideology as a potential way for his country to be freed from colonialism, as do many others. The reign of Lenin gives way to Stalin, and terror, as we expand our vocabulary of 'communism' in order to better understand the actions of the Khmer Rouge.
What is the proletariat? Who wrote the Communist Manifesto? What was the context in which it was written?
Time Period Covered 1842 – 1900
This episode is intended to function as an introduction to the ideas of Marx and Engels, and more broadly to 'communism'. We begin with some common phrases used by the Communist Party of Kampuchea and their cadre that highlight the ideology of the movement. We then depart Southeast Asia for Europe in the midst of the Industrial Revolution, and look at the work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels as they form a new view of history based on economics and class, and they forecast revolution.
Friedrich Engels The Conditions of the Working Class in England
Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels The Communist Manifesto
Henri Locard Pol Pot's Little Red Book: The Sayings of Angkar