On this day, 1921: The Kronstadt Programme

On February 28 1921, in response to the growing authoritarianism of the Bolshevik regime, the Kronstadt sailors raised their 15 demands. By March 19, the Red Army had defeated the uprising, drowning it in a sea of blood, and in doing so defeated the last hope for a genuine revolution.


The Red Army takes Kronstadt, March 1921.

Image from Locust St.

Published in: on February 28, 2010 at 2:00 pm  Comments (3)  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Needed: a new left

Harry Barnes reflects on the 50th anniversary of New Left Review.

Previous post here.

Published in: on February 27, 2010 at 10:57 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

From the archive of struggle no.44

I have fallen behind on this task, not having done it for about 6 weeks. Below the fold are basically my personal choices from Entdinglichung’s Sozialistika series.

(more…)

Poumunk

Colin Ward

From SlackBastard:

[...] UK anarchist Colin Ward has died. His Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2004) is both very short and quite good, and his appeal as a writer was widespread, his many, generally pithy writings emphasising the practical dimensions of Anarchy in Action. (Revolution by the Book has an extract from Anarchy in Action here; AK Press is also publishing Autonomy, Solidarity, Possibility: The Colin Ward Reader later this year.) In addition to being the author of numerous books and pamphlets, Ward edited Anarchy zine for its first 100 issues (1961–1970), criticised by some as being reflective of anarchism’s absorption by the middle class.

OBITUARIES – 20: COLIN WARD, Paul Anderson, GAUCHE, February 17, 2010 | Colin Ward, RIP, Jesse Walker, Reason, February 17, 2010 | Colin Ward: pioneer of mutualism, Next Left, February 14, 2010 | Colin Ward Presente!, Dan Cull Weblog, February 14, 2010 | Colin Ward, Rob Ray, libcom, February 13, 2010 | Colin Ward, Ross Bradshaw, Five Leaves Blog, February 12, 2010.

See also : Anarchism in Action: Methods, Tactics, Skills, and Ideas, Second Edition (draft), Complied and Edited by Shawn Ewald.

Marxism etc

Bob versus the Moonbats: marxism necessary but not sufficient.

Some items of interest from The Commune: Beyond the party-state, beyond the big bang; El Alto, bastion of social struggles in Bolivia; Readings on the Paris Commune from Marx, Bakunin, Kropotkin and the Situationists; The early Russian revolution: Laurat in wonderland (this is part 1 of a text on Lucien Laurat’s book L’Économie Soviétique: Sa Dynamique, son méchanisme, by  João Bernardo of Passa Palavra; the original in Portuguese is here, with part 2 here, presumably awaiting translation).

Half a century of the New Left Review: Coatesy has a long and fascinating critical elegy, and Entdinglichung reminds us of the 1960 edition. Michael Weiss has a different take.

Trottishness etc

The departure of Lindsey German from the British SWP is raising some interesting discussions of party democracy in the UK left blogosphere. Among the contributions are these: “When Zinoviev is in the majority he is for iron discipline, when he is in the minority he is against it“; “Once Tiberius is dead I, Sejanus, will rule as Emperor in Rome”; “It was the best times, it was the worst of times”….; United fronts or just fronts?; The examination of the conscience (or lack thereof). Odd how it brings out the erudition in bloggers with these titles.

Uncle Hugo

From SlackBastard:

And finally, um, for reasons best known to himself, but perhaps related to the recent departure of significant sections of the International Marxist Tendency, Uncle Hugo’s best mate Alan Woods has attacked Bakunin In Defence of Marxism.

The last link is worth clicking on, as it gets you an English translation of The Third Chavez by Demétrio Magnoli in O Estado de Sao Paulo, apparently “Brazil’s main bourgeois paper”. I found it quite perceptive, and Woods’ reply too tedious to bother with.

Karl Marx created the 1st International, Friedrich Engels participated in the founding of the 2nd, Lenin established the 3rd, Leon Trotsky founded the 4th and Hugo Chávez has just raised the banner of the 5th. “I take responsibility before the world, I think it is time to rally the 5th International and dare to make the call,” he said in a speech lasting five hours, at the opening session of the extraordinary congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) to the applause of 772 delegates in red shirts.

The congress was held in November. Then Chavez imposed energy rationing in the country, devalued the currency and introduced a dual exchange rate, nationalized a supermarket chain, suspended cable TV broadcasts and unleashed a bloody crackdown on student protests. [...]

Chavez is living his third incarnation, which is also the last. The first Chavez emerged after the failed coup of 1992, in the guise of nationalist and anti-American warlord mesmerized by the image of an imaginary Simón Bolívar. Under the influence of Argentine sociologist Norberto Ceresole, that original Chavismo flirted with anti-Semitism and dreamed of the establishment of an authoritarian, fascist-style state, which would reunify Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador in a restored Great Colombia.

A second Chávez could be discerned in outline in the spring of the first term in 1999, after the break with Ceresole, when the Leader drew close to Heinz Dieterich, a German Professor of Sociology in Mexico who came out of obscurity to formulate the concept of “socialism of the 21st century.” Chavismo reinvented itself and acquired left-wing collaborators, formed an alliance with Cuba and engaged in the project of building a state capitalism that was presented as a long transition towards a kind of socialism untainted by the Soviet legacy.

Brandishing a copy of The State and Revolution by Lenin, the Chavez of the extraordinary congress of the PSUV announced his conversion to the programme of the destruction of the “bourgeois state” and the building of a “revolutionary state.” This third Chavez was already implied in 2004, when the Leader got to know the British Trotskyist Alan Woods, and was fully manifest by the time of his defeat in the referendum of December 2007, shortly after the break with Dieterich. The PSUV is a result of Chavismo of the third period, as is also the proclamation of the 5th International.

The uses and abuses of history cont.

Bob posts on the Holocaust against the Roma and Jewish partisans in Greece, with lovely music. Chris Ford responds to Red Maria on Stepan Bandera (which I linked to here, to Will’s consternation). Graeme writes on an overlapping topic here.

Poumic

Stalinism and anti-Stalinism

At AVPS, an interesting discussion on what actually “Stalinism” is. At Coatesy’s place, Lindsey German and the Trotskyist Tradition, on democratic centralism, the SWP and Trotky’s ambiguous legacy. From Michael Ezra, some real Stalinists, those who defend North Korea.

Found via Bermuda Radical, here is Paul Kellog on Slavoj Zizek’s failed encounter with Leninism. (“The net effect of Žižek’s analysis is not to resurrect Lenin, but to resurrect Stalin – an utterly irresponsible project given the nightmare of Stalinism from which we have only just emerged. The article will offer some suggestions for a more fruitful approach to “resurrecting” the political legacy of Vladimir Lenin.”)

 

French Writer Albert Camus Smoking Cigarette on Balcony Outside His Publishing Firm Office Premium Photographic Print

Albert Camus

Lettrist discusses Camus The Stranger here. Meanwhile, an intriguing snippet from a Romanian magazine, via Eurozine:

Radu Cosasu writes that Albert Camus was “neither communist nor anti-communist”, a nuance difficult to digest for those “incapable of seeing the Left as anything but communist” (issue 310); and Sever Voinescu explains why such nuances are impossible for the moment in Romania: the country “never had an anti-communist Left; at most, and emerging just now, it has a Left that is indifferent to communism”.

Victor Serge

Not sure if I’ve already linked to this: Victor Serge: Revolution in life and literature, found via Marxist Update. Here is a snippet from a Jonathan Ree piece on JM Coetzee:

Susan Sontag would have agreed with Coetzee about the political significance of literature. The novel, as she remarks in her last, posthumous collection At the Same Time (Hamish Hamilton), exists to recall us to a sense of the interminable diversity that is the basis of what she calls “politics, the politics of democracy.” In a substantial essay on Victor Serge, she praises him for having combined political militancy with a serious engagement with the art of writing. As a mature novelist, she says, Serge was able to deploy “several different conceptions of how to narrate,” elaborating a capacious “I” as a device for “giving voice to others.” It was through his narratorial doubles that he liberated himself from what he called the “former beautiful simplicity” of the fight between capitalism and socialism, so as to produce books that were “better, wiser, more important than the person who wrote them.”

Poumly

Bella ciao, Iran: a song of freedom.

“Revolutionary syndicalism serves the proletariat, whereas anarchism is one brand of humanism”: Juan García Oliver interviewed.

The Politics of Saint-Making: Jacopedia on the Catholic Church and the Spanish civil war.

The Neoconservative Père et Fils: Michael Signer on Bill Kristol Sr and Jr.

Baudelaire, Benjamin, Gramsci: Blackdaffodil on three dead men.

Dirty rotten commies: the Slackster continues his tour of the “Marxist-Leninist” swamp.

The Death of Anna LoPizzo: the subversive historian on America’s hidden labour histories.

Debunking Ramparts: Ron Radosh on 60s New Left neo-Stalinism.

Flame On The Snow: Victor Serge on the Russian revolution.

Zinn’s legacy: David Adler on a leftist icon.

Endless blues: Stanley Crouch on Ralph Ellison.

Not a hero: Red Maria on Stepan Bandera.

Strange days indeed: Andrew Coates reviews Francis Wheen.

100 years in prison

From Takeda Yoshitaka via PM Press:

This is  a picture of the newly-discovered letter and its envelope. It looks like a blank piece of paper, but it actually contains a hidden message. (Photographed by Takeda Yoshitaka)

Kanno used a needle to inscribe the hidden message on the paper.

Kanno Suga (aka. Kanno Sugako, 1881-1911) was the only female among the twelve socialists who were executed in the High Treason Incident of 1910. A letter Kanno sent from jail to a journalist has been discovered in Abiko City, Chiba, Japan.  In the letter, Kanno insists upon the innocence of Kotoku Shusui (1881-1911), who was one of the other twelve who were executed. The letter looks blank, but it actually contains a hidden message. In order to avoid censorship, Kanno poked tiny holes in the letter, thereby inscribing a message on it. The message cannot be read unless the letter is held against the light. This year, 2010, happens to be the 100th anniversary of the High Treason Incident. Therefore experts are surprised by the fact that such a significant primary source remained to be discovered for as long as 100 years.

Read the rest.

Published in: on February 7, 2010 at 9:15 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags:

Some things I’ve read lately

La Brigada on George Orwell:

I observed the fiftieth anniversary of Orwell’s death by re-reading Crick’s biography of the man. It is a remarkably fine achievement. This incongruous story appeals:
‘When Queen Elizabeth [the late Queen Mother], whose literary adviser was Osbert Sitwell, sent the Royal Messenger to Secker & Warburg for a copy [of Animal Farm] in November, he found them utterly sold out and had to go with horse, carriage, top hat and all, to the anarchist Freedom Bookshop, in Red Lion Square, where George Woodcock gave him a copy.’

Oliver Kamm on British Stalinists Andrew Murray and Kate Hudson:

Murray and Hudson are members of a group called the Communist Party of Britain. You’ll find that Ms Hudson’s idea of nuclear disarmament, as urged to a party gathering in 2006, is unusual, for here was the message from the platform:

‘Keith Bennett of the Korea Friendship and Solidarity Campaign said that the current crisis on the Korean peninsula had not been caused by the North Korean nuclear test.

‘”The context is one of unfinished business of a national liberation struggle against US imperialism,” he asserted.’

The national liberation struggle he has in mind is the triumph of what – since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein – has no rival as the worst, most nightmarish tyranny in the world.

Murray once wrote a short book called The Communist Party of Great Britain: A Historical Analysis to 1941. It’s not dated but it was published in the mid-1990s by a short-lived group called Communist Liaison. Here’s Murray’s analysis of the Communist Party’s attitude to Stalinist terror (page 74, emphasis added):

“Over the whole period of the CPGB’s existence, its relation to the USSR has been probably the most controversial issue, both within and without the Party. The Party has clearly paid a price for its defence of the first Socialist state in the world, particularly when it has subsequently been proved that that defence was based on misinformation and misjudgments. Yet the party could only judge on the information it had, and even that had to be handled in the context of the international class struggle in which the USSR was seen as playing (and actually did play) the most important role on the side of anti-fascism, anti-imperialism and social progress. That things happened in the USSR which were inexcusable and which ultimately prejudiced Socialism’s whole prospect is today undeniable. Whether Communists in the capitalist world could or should have done more than they did is much more contentious.”

In short, Murray believes that it’s an open question whether the Communist Party would have been right to protest against the Moscow Trials and the Great Terror.

Terry Glavin on the uses and abuses of history:

My good friend Peter Ryley has composed an important protest against that similarly popular abuse of history which sets out to simplistically conflate socialism with fascism and thus elide crucial distinctions between authoritarianism and totalitarianism. Equally detestable though these tyrannies may be, there’s no excuse for falling for propaganda so silly that it will have you playing games of connect-a-dot between Naziism and liberalism.

To properly interrogate this contemporary fad, you will unavoidably encounter its evil twin, which is to say you will find yourself staring at the ugliest face of European pro-Islamofascist leftism, as noted a while back by the always interesting Anti-German Translation. Their headline sums it up well enough: The Racism of Radical Islam’s Useful Idiots.

For further and necessary proofs of Peter’s case, historical evidence is in abundance in Enzo Traverso’s The Aporias of Marxism. He notes that too many German Jews kept faith for too long in the resilience of the identity they had incorporated within German society, and they were not alone in their mistake: “The workers’ movement was no more ready to deal with the catastrophe.” There were warnings, of course, most presciently from Leon Trotsky. But they want largely unheeded, owing to eejits making a similar kind of silly “liberalism equals fascism” mistake that’s popular today. “However, in 1933, Nazism unleashed its attack on the workers’ organizations, not on the Jews. Nazi anti‑Semitism developed gradually and inexorably, passing through several stages: first discrimination and the questioning of emancipation again (1933-35); then economic depredations and the adoption of a policy of persecution (1938-41); finally extermination (1941-45). The destruction of the workers’ movement was not a gradual process: it was, in fact, one of the conditions for the consolidation of the Nazi regime.” And some people obstinately refuse to learn from the great errors of history: “Marxist literature of the interwar period tended to explain Nazi anti-Semitism as a ‘tool’ of the ruling classes, without seeing in it a new phenomenon.”

Also: Bob’s father remembers Bertrand Russell. Max Dunbar and Paul Sagar on the left and China. Eamonn McDonagh on the smearing of Jacobo Timerman. Engels Defrocked and other book reviews in the Socialist Standard. RIP Nina Fishman.

On this day

From the Daily Bleed.

Severino di Giovanni.jpg1931 — Severino Di Giovanni dies in a shoot-out with the police.

Typographer. He fled to Argentina in 1923 to escape Italian Fascism, where he joined the Anarchist Circle (Renzo Novatore) in Buenos Aires & printed & published the review “Culmine”.

He organizes a demonstration for the release of Sacco & Vanzetti, but when they are executed on August 23, 1927, Di Giovanni turns to violent actions with the Scarfo brothers (Alejandro & Paulino); many bombs are set off, especially aimed at North American interests. For example, on December 25, 1927, the National City Bank was bombed, & on May 3, 1928, the Italian consulate.

This spiral of violence is condemned by the anarchists of FORA (Fédération Ouvrière Régionale Argentine) & “La Protesta.” See Osvaldo Bayer, Severino Di Giovanni, the idealist of violencia (1970).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6AgtgLbaTw

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Severino_Di_Giovanni

1935 — James T. Farrell finishes his Studs Lonigan trilogy with the final volume, Judgment Day.

1935 — Canada: Emma Goldman‘s four lectures in Yiddish this month continue to be her most successful in Montreal, drawing an audience of 200 when Emma speaks on “the element of sex in unmarried people” today, & raising money for the first time in Montreal when she speaks again to the women’s branch of the Arbeiter Ring on Feb. 17.

During the month Emma decides to return to France in the spring after receiving further discouraging reports from friends who have met with Labor Department officials in Washington, D.C., about chances for readmission into the Land of Freedom.

As other possibilities close, she looks increasingly to her proposed book venture as a means of support; she also pursues the idea of a sustaining fund as she inquires about receiving an advance from a publisher.

Source: Emma Goldman Papers

1936 — México: Workers strike the Vidreria Monterrey.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 202 other followers