April 24, 1955: Heads of state of African and Asian nations convene at the Bandung Conference.

Sixty years ago in Bandung, Indonesia, representatives from twenty-nine countries across Asia and Africa gathered to discuss their collective future in the turmoil of the Cold War and in the aftermath of, for many of these nations, the end of formal colonialism. Its principal organizers were Indonesia, Burma, Pakistan, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), and India. Also present were colossal figures of Third World decolonization and anti-imperialist efforts, to name a few: Jawaharlal Nehru, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Ho Chi Minh and Nguyen Thi Binh, Nelson Mandela, Ben Bella, U Nu, and Indonesia’s own Sukarno. China’s exuberant Zhou Enlai was also present at the conference, where he alternately worried and placated other leaders about his country’s intentions. 

Many of these leaders and the populations they claimed to represent constituted the whole of the national social and class hierarchy - that broad spectrum included the interests of the wealthy bourgeoisie, the peasants, the workers, the landlords and industrial elites. Even across those countries that gathered in Bandung, often the only common factor was a shared history of colonialism and anticolonialist struggle. Their leaders included self-described Marxists and conservatives and all else in between. Sukarno acknowledged this when he declared that the countries were united not by “skins” or “religion” but by “a common detestation of colonialism in whatever form it appears… by a common determination to preserve and stabilize peace in the world.” Their principal goals, it was decided, would be to promote universal human rights and national sovereignty, to combat neocolonialism, to replace war, arms proliferation, and coercion with peaceful arbitration as the principal means of international intercourse. There were also considerations of spurring economic development and attaining economic independence through coordination.  

The United States, naturally wary of a conference of Third World leaders with an independent agenda, did not officially send a representative. Adam Clayton Powell, a black representative in the U.S. Congress, was in attendance against the advice of the State Department. He noted that the conference was “anti-American foreign policy” and that it would “become an anti-white movement unless a narrow-minded and unskilled American foreign policy is revised.” Another American, Richard Wright, was in attendance; in 1956 he published The Color Curtain, an account of the conference, and observed:

What had these nations in common? Nothing, it seemed to me, but what their past relationship to the Western world had made them feel. This meeting of the rejected was in itself a kind of judgment upon the Western world.

Wright’s sentiment, and the sentiment of many intellectuals in the optimistic early years of postcolonialism, gave rise to a phrase: the “spirit of Bandung” - a blunt rejection of economic and cultural marginalization of the world’s exploited nations by its powerful ones, plus a great faith in global institutions like the United Nations, and a great faith in the potential for international coordination. Substantial and irreconcilable rifts divided these leaders and their national interests not long after, but much that transpired in these countries in the years following 1955, including conferences in Cairo (1961), Belgrade (1961), and Havana (1966), social reform attempts, postcolonial developmental efforts, etc., followed in the “spirit of Bandung.”

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain-20th Maine- 

“One of the Knightliest Soldiers”

(At the end of the first day’s fighting at Fredericksburg…)

“But out of that silence rose new sounds more appalling still; a strange ventriloquism, of which you could not locate the source, a smothered moan, as if a thousand discords were flowing together into a key-note weird, unearthly, terrible to hear and bear, yet startling with its nearness; the writhing concord broken by cries for help, some begging for a drop of water, some calling on God for pity; and some on friendly hands to finish what the enemy had so horribly begun; some with delirious, dreamy voices murmuring loved names, as if the dearest were bending over them; and underneath, all the time, the deep bass note from closed lips too hopeless, or too heroic, to articulate their agony…It seemed best to bestow myself between two dead men among the many left there by earlier assaults, and to draw another crosswise for a pillow out of the trampled, blood-soaked sod, pulling the flap of his coat over my face to fend off the chilling winds, and still more chilling, the deep, many voiced moan that overspread the field.”

Joshua L. Chamberlain is perhaps most widely known for his role in holding the Federal position on Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg. But before the war would end, the unassuming college professor from Maine would contribute much more than that.

Entering the Union army as a lieutenant colonel, Chamberlain would serve in more than 20 engagements, be wounded six times, and finish his service breveted Major General. His final honor would come when General Ulysses S. Grant designated him to receive the first flag of surrender at Appomattox Court House. The defeated Confederate troops, under the command of General John B. Gordon, anticipated the ultimate humiliation. Instead, they were met with honor and respect. Rising to the occasion, the general ordered his men to salute their vanquished foes.

 For this, Gordon remembered Chamberlain in his memoirs as “one of the knightliest soldiers of the Federal Army.”


Space Invaders: Sci-Fi in the Arcade Age

ALIEN (1979) / ALIENS (1986)

Friday, April 24 - 7:30PM, Egyptian Theatre, Hollywood, CA

Special presentation of rare behind-the-scenes material between films, and discussion with guests from the special effects department.


inauspicious-bossuet asked:

13, 17, 24

17. What historical item would you like to own?

Oh man ;.; hmmm. The alleged drawing Saint-Just did of Antinous that may or may not exist. That’s what I would want.

13. Something random about some random historical person in a random era.

19th century lesbian Anne Lister had GAME.

24. Most underrated historical figure?

I always say it, but Bayard Rustin.