Orwell turning in his grave?

The Municipality of Barcelona - Zone under surveillance

The Municipality of Barcelona – Zone under surveillance

Published in: on April 29, 2010 at 6:34 am  Comments (16)  
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Fred Halliday 1946-2010

Obituaries and archive at OpenDemocracy.

Published in: on April 28, 2010 at 4:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Belated

I can’t believe I missed the death of the talented singer songwriter Llasa de Sela age just 37 at the start of 2010. See Roland/Jams.

And some late additions to my Colin Ward obituaries: from Peter Marshall, author of Demanding the Impossible, from Critical Chatting, and from Robert Graham.

And one more for Michael Foot – the JC with a Jewish angle.

And two more obituaries, via Histomatist: The new issue of Socialist Review has a short article on the founder of the International Socialist TendencyTony Cliff (1917-2000) by Ian Birchall – at work on a forthcoming biography of this critically important twentieth-century revolutionary Marxist thinker. See also Sabby Sagall on the British actor and revolutionary socialist [sic] Corin Redgrave (1939-2010).

Talking of mourning (not that we’re mourning Redgrave), the New Centrist: “Pray for the twenty-nine West Virginia miners who lost their lives and their families. Then get active. Amending Joe Hill’s famous phrase, don’t only mourn, organize.”

Max Dunbar: All shall have prizes. On the Orwell Prize, Stephen Mitchelmore, Nick Cohen, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and George Orwell’s anti-pacifism. Related, did Christopher Hitchens read the SWP’s John Molyneux and blogger Snowball after reading Animal Farm?

Principia D: Eric Hobsbawm: The Marxist who never read Marx. (“Not judging by this survey of Post-war Italy, anyway. “) More on this in a future post, maybe.

From January, Kathedar Blog with two very good interrelated posts: on Alex Callinicos on imperialism and on Marx and the dialectic.

AF: Steps towards re-emergence of anarchism in Cuba. See also here.

Jamie Bartlett: Politics and the English language 2.0.

Continuing our anarchism vs Marxism discussion, these lapidary posts from Lady Poverty are well worth your time: Marx and Foucault; A note about Marx and FoucaultThe point, as it relates to Holden Caulfield and Karl Marx; Marxism vs. identity anarchism. And here, very much less to my taste, is a contribution from a Maoist: Anarchism or revolutionary Marxism? by Arindam Sen of the CPI(ML).

Also chronically belated: New Statesman: Jonathan Derbyshire interviews Terry Eagleton on nostalgia for 1970s socialism.

And some considerable time after Michael Foot’s death, this from Brian Brivati: Foot and Nye Bevan.

Wobbling around the world: a socialist belatedly discovers the IWW.

On Maoism: Richard Wolin remembers the Maoist 1960s, and Apoorvanand analyses Maoism in India, as does Dilip Simeon.

Wolin and Brivati come from Arguing The World, the now not quite brand new trans-Atlantic blog at Dissent. Here is one more from that: Alan Johnson: Žižek or Bobbio? (The blog title is familiar to me from the PBS documentary about the New York intellectuals I link to over to the right – I ought to know whose being quoted: Irving Howe?)

I meant to link to this article on William Morris discovering socialism in Iceland when it came out, then forgot, but was prompted after noticing it at Histomatist – seems kind of timelier now, as Morris would no doubt be enjoying the effects of the volcano on the global tourism and agri-industries.

Finally, how can I post these days without mentioning Hugo Chavez? This is from the Venezuelan anarchist journal El Libertario: Venezuela: the myth of “Eco-socialism of the XXI Century” The author is Professor and Researcher at the Simon Bolivar University in Caracas. This contribution is the revised excerpt from a longer article appeared in Spanish in the Journal of Economics and Social Sciences (FACES-UCV) entitled “XXI Century Eco-socialism and Bolivarian Development Model: the myths of environmental sustainability and participatory democracy in Venezuela “, 2009, vol. 15, No. 1, pp.187-223 

25 April 1974

Photo

Published in: on April 25, 2010 at 11:35 pm  Comments (2)  
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From the archive of struggle no.47

Independent Labour Party

La Brigada with timely blast from the past: Mr Asquith versus Labourism 1895.

New Left Review

I’m not sure if I already linked to Stefan Collini’s piece in The Guardian on NLR at 50, an exceptional piece of writing in the noughties Grauniad. A piece with a similar slant, by Nikal Saval, appeared in n+1 magazine. Here’s our occasional contributor Michael Ezra reminding us of a less glorious moment in the NLR‘s history.

Ramparts

Comrade Ezra again, from David Horowitz’s old redoubt, Ramparts.

Class War

And here’s Michael again, with extracts from Bash The Rich: True-Life Confessions of an Anarchist in the UK.

Socialist Workers Party

Mark Perryman in 1995 on Tony Cliff and his cult. (Yes, Michael again.)

Herblock

On a great anti-communist cartoonist. (Not Michael.)

Below the fold: selected highlights from the Marxists Internet Archive and Entdinglichung’s Sozialistika: (more…)

Max Shachtman, Hal Draper and the anarchists

This is rather belated, but Radical Archives has published something very important to my topic, an appreciation of Hal Draper’s analysis of Stalinism in a 1956 New York anarchist publication. RA sets the context:

View and Comments was published by the anarchist Libertarian Labor League in New York City. The cover of #13 also features an ad for a “May Day Meeting” at the Libertarian Center in New York, which was billed as featuring “Speakers from the following organizations: Independent Socialist League, Industrial Workers of the World, Libertarian League, Solidaridad Internacional Antifascista, Young Socialist League and the War Resisters League.”

Little attention has been paid to the intersection between post-Trotskyist Schachtmanite Marxism and anarchism. The evolution of certain “Left Schachmanites” paralleled the evolution of other thinkers who originated in Trotskyism but moved to a libertarian socialist position. This trend was represented by groups such as the Johnson-Forrest Tendency (which included C.L.R. James, Grace Lee Boggs and Raya Dunayevskaya), Socialism ou Barbarie (which included Cornelius Castoriadis, Claude Lefort and Jean-François Lyotard) and Solidarity (UK)  – as well as individual theorists such as Dwight Macdonald, Murray Bookchin and Daniel Guerin. Other non-Trotskyist Marxists were also moving towards anarchism, including Fredy Perlman and the Situationist International.

The majority of the ISL eventually entered the Socialist Party of America. However, some members (including Hal Draper) disagreed with this move, and later formed the Independent Socialist Clubs, which then became the Independent Socialists (IS). The Revolutionary Socialist League (RSL) split off IS in 1973. Over the years, the RSL became increasingly anti-Leninist as members moved towards anarchism, and it dissolved in 1991. Later, on the same day, a number of former members co-founded Love and Rage with a group of anarchists, in particular the Revolutionary Anarchist Bowling League. In 1993 Love and Rage split between those who favored a network and those who favored a more centralized apparatus (which included the RSL members), and the later became the Love & Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation (LRRAF). A couple RSL members, including writer Wayne Price, passed through LRRAF and later entered the North Eastern Federation Of Anarchist-Communists (NEFAC).

Response to Arundhati Roy: Jairus Banaji

Read this.

Published in: on April 17, 2010 at 4:00 pm  Comments (2)  
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Poumerast

In this issue, some Trotskyist stuff, and then some Orwellia, and finally some dispatches from the real world.

From the Archive of Struggle no.46

I’ve been down on Alan Woods lately, for his support of the soft-Stalinist authoritarian populist regime of Hugo Chavez, which in turn has supported the repression of the working class in the Islamic Republic of Iran. So, in the spirit of ecumenicism, I have been spending time at his website, and am dedicating this special edition of From the Archive of Struggle to Woods and his guru Ted Grant.

On James Connolly and the Easter Uprising
*Ted Grant: Connolly and the 1916 Easter Uprising [1966]
*Ted Grant and Alan Woods: James Connolly and the Easter Uprising [2001]
*Fightback: Ireland: Easter then and now – Socialism the only way out! [2010]
On Trotskyism and Stalinism:
* Ted Grant: Stalin Versus Marx [1946]
*Ted Grant: New Purges in Russia [1946]
*Ted Grant: Stalin Liquidates Two Republics [1946: on the roots of the Chechen conflict]
*Ted Grant: Opposition at C.P. Conference—Reformist policy criticised [1947]
*Ted Grant: Stalinist land programme wins peasants – Chiang’s conscripts roped to prevent escape [1949: on the Chinese revolution]
*Ted Grant: The General Strike and the “Communist Party” [1971]
*Ted Grant: Jan Sling arrest—“Communist” Party apologies [1972]
*Alan Woods: Introduction to the Indonesian edition of The Revolution Betrayed [2010]
*International Marxist Tendency: For the Fifth International [2010]
On British politics:
*Ted Grant: The I.L.P. at the Crossroads [1945]
*Ted Grant: Tories in Conference—A bankrupt policy [1948]
On German politics:
*Ted Grant: German Workers Vote Labour—Demonstrate Opposition to Nazism [1946]

Down with the revisionists, running dogs, etc!

Apparently,

Alan Woods is under attack again not from a Brazilian right wing analyst as was the case two weeks ago, but from loud-mouthed TalCual editor/publish Teodoro Petkoff, who dedicates an editorial to the Welshman…

Like in the Brazilian article, Petkoff referred to Woods as the latest of Chavez’ “political advisers” and the man who got Chavez to admit that he was a Marxist-Leninist … like Petkoff once was when he was a 60-70s guerrilla.

What Petkoff does is amplify the Brazilian piece, adding trinkets such as calling Heinz Dieterich — a “German charlatan” — and Chavez “catching measles” from the “heavy brick of Hungarian Marxist, Istvan Meszaros.”  Alan Woods is quickly dismissed as one of that “handful of castaways who left the shipwreck of the USSR … a solitary soul looking for a sponsor … without a refreshing or new idea.”

Here’s Wikipedia on Petkoff, ex-Stalinist turned liberal social democrat. I can’t find the article on-line, but just Woods’ reply (see here). I’m a bit of a fan of Istvan Meszaros, and would like more politicians to read his work. Any readers who can provide more info on all of this, please do.

Meanwhile, as already reported, Woods’ Iranian comrades have deserted his micro-movement, due to his apologies for Chavez’s support for the tyrannical regime in Iran. Here is the newly launched website of the Iranian Revolutionary Marxists’ Tendency. Here is a website, KarlMarx.Net, which is associated with the IRMT and their supporters. Among the documents are something very interesting by Pat Byrne (who I think is from the Alliance for Green Socialism) on the origins of the slate system for leadership voting in Leninist parties (also published at Tendance Coatesy, with better formatting to make it more readable, and by A Very Public Sociologist), and a Marxist reply by John Gandy to Woods’ series on anarchism mentioned here. There is also an interesting document on the split in the IMT from the Learning from Our Past group here.

Also read: David Osler’s review of Richard Gott on the Bolivarian revolution.

Also read: LabourStart’s news from Iran: Journalist who wrote about and defended union workers gets long jail term 2010-04-07 [Radio Free Europe]; IFJ Urges Iran to Release Detained Journalists 2010-03-22 [IFJ]; ‘New minimum wage rate spurs widespread indignation’ 2010-03-16 [Iran Labor Report]; ‘Forcing hunger on Iranian workers in the new year’ 2010-03-16 [Iran Labor Report]; Worker Protest in the Age of Ahmadinejad 2010-03-16 [Middle East Report]; Where Life Reeks of Death: Working Women and Child Laborers2010-03-07 [Iran Labor Report]; Union Leaders Under Attack 2010-03-07 [Iran Labor Report]; Workers’ Protest in Isfahan 2010-03-07 [Iran Labor Report]; IFJ Condemns Closure of Newspapers in Iran 2010-03-06 [IFJ]; ‘Kaleidoscopic’ Worker Protests Grow in Iran 2010-02-26 [In These Times].

Down with the revisionists, running dogs, etc! Part 2

Moving on from Ted Grant to his evil twin Gerry Healy, possibly the most destructive force ever on the British far left. Or, rather, to Healy’s disciple Corin Redgrave, whose death recently I’ve only touched on in passing. Read: Corin Redgrave: Traitor to MarxismGerry Healy and the WRPThe Daily Telegraph, Corin Redgrave and a Libel CaseCorin Redgrave, authoritarian figureCorin Redgrave: scenes from a political life; and What has the Left got to be so smug about?. And, from the archive, No One Likes Us, We Try Not To Care.

The girl with the dragon tattoo

Talking of Trots, Marko follows Nick Cohen, Max Dunbar and Christopher Hitchens in reviewing dead Swedish Trot Stieg Larsson, the “man who wasn’t really all that left-wing.”

Orwellia

Having already posted this, here is another Orwell Prize nominee, Madame Miaow, on George Orwell. Recommended.

Meanwhile in the real world

Tolpuddle guides go on strikeKyrgyzstan: colour revolution and permanent revolutionU.S. and Colombia Cover Up Atrocities Through Mass GravesThe Rights of Mother Earth: Bolivia Births a New Revolution; The harvest of death in Canada; India’s coalfire workers.

Amidah: Defiance

From a review of Yehuda Bauer’s The Death of the Shtetl, on the Jews of the Eastern European shtetlach (shtetls) in the Nazi age.

Partisans with PPsh SMGsSome were saved by erstwhile German Communists who had hidden their party membership and were in the Wehrmacht. Many young Jews saved themselves by fleeing into the forests and joining Soviet partisans, not all of whom welcomed them but needed them, if only temporarily, to kill Germans and their allies. (Soviet anti-Semitism would flourish after the war) Some few managed to live to tell the tale but recognized that it was merely chance that allowed them to live. All came close to death. “Some of them thought it had been the work of God, but most knew better: the same God, if he existed, had failed to protect their loved ones.”

From an interview with Bauer:

MO: In the book, you use the term “amida” to signify defiance, was there defiance in the shtetl?

YB: There certainly was defiance in many shtetlach — there was also a total collapse of society and the lack of any kind of defiance in other shtetlach. I tried to find out why there should have been just widely different types of reaction in communities that were geographically and socially so near to each other.

MO: How did the partisans fare?

YB: There were many, probably thousands, of Jews that were murdered by Soviet partisans, and there were thousands who survived because they joined the partisans. It is far from being a black-and-white story, and I tried to explain why that should have been so. Most people who survived owed their lives to either the few people who hid them and fed them, or to Soviet partisans. At least one major partisan commander (Vassily Chernishev [“Platon”]) was recognized as a “Righteous.” Some of the murderers among the partisans are also known by their names.

From another review:

Here is how Bauer describes the phenomenon of Amidah in his earlier book, Rethinking the Holocaust:

“The Hebrew term amidah…means literally “standing up against,” but that does not capture the deeper sense of the word. When I speak of resistance, I mean amidah, and that includes both armed and unarmed actions and excludes passive resistance, although that term is almost a non sequitur, because one cannot really resist passively. When one refuses to budge in the face of brutal force, one does not resist passively; one resists without using force, and that is not the same thing.

What does amidah include? It includes smuggling food into ghettos; mutual self-sacrifice within the family to avoid starvation or worse; cultural, educational, religious and political activities taken to strengthen morale; the work of doctors, nurses and educators to consciously maintain health and moral fiber to enable individual and group survival; and, of course, armed rebellion or the use of force (with bare hands or with “cold” weapons) against the Germans and their collaborators.(Rethinking the Holocaust, p. 120.)

The discussion in this book notes that, “Unarmed Amidah in the Kresy was limited by the impossible external circumstances, although it did exist in some places and was expressed in ways that were specific to the areas discussed here.” (And note how in this later book he capitalizes Amidah.)

More on this topic.

Published in: on April 15, 2010 at 3:05 pm  Comments (3)  
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Anna the hero of Gdansk dies in Smolensk disaster

Jim mourns Anna Walentynowicz.

Added: as does Stephen Diamond.

Added: as does Francis Sedgemore.

Published in: on April 13, 2010 at 11:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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Spring/Autumn notes

Spring up here, but Autumn down there. Some extracts from Andy’s notes:

Anarchism / History

Wisdom earned the hard way – “The Tragic Procession: Alexander Berkman and Russian Prisoner Aid” [Review]:

It is not news to report that the Bolsheviks destroyed the anarchist movement in the Soviet Union. But how, and what were the consequences? These reprinted bulletins from the Joint Committee for the Defense of Revolutionists Imprisoned in Russia and the Relief Fund of the International Working Men’s Association for Anarchists and Anarcho-Syndicalists Imprisoned or Exiled in Russia show it as it happened. They ‘shed a little light on the struggles of our comrades and keep their names alive’ (p.x)…

See alsoBlack Flag: Bulletin of the Anarchist Black Cross (April 14, 2009) | The Unknown Revolution, 1917-1921 by Voline (1882-1945) | Leninist critiques of anarchism (March 25, 2010).

State/Politics / Trot Guide

Another call for unity on the left, this time by SA in Victoria (Socialism of the 21st century’ and left unity): “In Victoria this year we will most likely have both federal and state elections. It would be a real step forward if all socialist groups publicly supported the candidates of other socialist organisations (Socialist Alliance, Socialist Party, Revolutionary Socialist Party and Communist Party of Australia) and advocated a first-preference vote for them.”

The Socialist Equality Party — the Australian section of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), the world party of socialist revolution — is not included in this list, probably not without reason, as the SEP only make reference to the SA in order to denounce it, whereas the SA do what most everybody else does with regards the SEP, and ignore it.

    Links — which is published by SA nee DSP — has published a statement by COSATU on “the brutal murder of Eugene Terre’Blanche on April 3, 2010″. Oddly, for an Australian-based publication, Links is most popular in the US, and by a fairly wide margin.

It’s unlikely — to put it mildly — that SA or any of the other Marxists parties will trouble any former lawyers as they make their way to their rightful place to a seat in State Parliament — although stranger things have happened. For my money — and keep in mind I live below the poverty line — the only possible exception would be inner-city Melbourne, where several seats — Brunswick, Melbourne, Northcote and Richmond — which are otherwise the property of Labor are under pressure from The Greens.

See alsoWhat happened to the Left? (February 27, 2010).

[...]

History / Media / Music

History is Made at Night – The Politics of Dancing and Musicking is neat-o, especially1990: Trafalgar Square Memories (March 31, 2010), which is all about how the Militant saved the day… or not.

The bad old days will end is “Home of the Freedom Pass Anarchists and the wonderful world of professional wrestling, psychogeography, allotments and the class struggle.” The author writes: “On the day that I retired from my final job as a lockkeeper I left the following on the wall… I started work at fifteen years of age. Worked on the river and at sea but I also worked in factories and fields. In the circus and in films. I never achieved much. But I never crossed a picket line. Never judged a fellow worker by their colour or creed nor sucked up to the bosses for my own ends. Pretty much sums it all up.”

See alsoRefuting the stupid left’s charge sheet against Orwell (March 29, 2010).#

Also from History is Made at Night:

Stars Campaign for Inter-Racial Friendship: rock against racism in the 1950s? (Trad jazz versus the White Defence League)

Dancing at the Peckham Experiment (anarchism, social democracy, and dancing)

On Hugo Chavez, defender of Iranian theocracy, and his defenders in the Trotskyist movement:

Via Andy again, and relevant to this:

Iranian Revolutionary Marxists’ Tendency: The Clique and Chavez’s policy towards the IRI

Criticism of Chavez by Iranian labour activists and Marxists is nothing new. (more…)

The Black Jacobins, 2010: Haiti, CLR James (and George Orwell)

From Airforce Amazons:

There was a story in the paper last week about the discovery of a copy of the Haiti’s Declaration of Independence from the original printing in 1804, found in the British National Archives by Julia Gaffield of Duke University. (more…)

Published in: on April 10, 2010 at 11:31 am  Comments (2)  
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Anarchism versus Leninism

I’ve still not followed this up, but Andy brings to our attention a whole spate of recent Leninist critiques of anarchism. The most sophisticated is Marxism and anarchism byPaul Blackledge in International Socialism Journal. Most of the others are by crude defenders of ortho-Marxism like Alan Woods. Slightly different, and worth reading, are Steven Strauss’ socialist indictment of Noam Chomsky (Freedom Road Socialist Party) and “The Historical Failure of Anarchism” [pdf] by Christopher Day, then of Love and Rage.

The question is, I suppose, why are Leninist so keen right now to take up arms against anarchism? Is it a sign that anarchism is ascendant, that anarchism has better expressed working class rage at the economic crisis at a time when the left should be growing but isn’t?

Corin Redgrave and the falsification of history

Jim Denham versus Foyle’s War.

Letters from Barcelona

9780230527393A book I want to read: Letters from Barcelona: An American Woman in Revolution and Civil War edited by Gerd-Rainer Horn, letters by American socialist Lois Orr and some by her husband Charles Orr.

Letters from Barcelona provides a unique insight into the mentality and actions of an entire generation of socialist activists caught up in the maelstrom of cataclysmic events in interwar Europe. Based on carefully chosen representative selections from the copious letters sent by the young protagonist to family and friends in the United States, the atmosphere described in these letters vividly recreates the challenges, the hopes and the disappointments associated with living in Barcelona in the first year of the Catalan Revolution and the Spanish Civil War. These letters reconstruct the vibrant atmosphere of the campaign for a self-managed socialist society, stymied and ultimately crushed by the twin challenges of fascist and Stalinist dictatorships. The primary documents are placed into a larger context by the editor’s introductory remarks on the nature of the Catalan Revolution and the place of Lois Orr’s writings in the emerging literature on women’s autobiographies.

(more…)

On the stupidity of intellectuals

Thomas Sowell, via neo-neocon:

Bertrand Russell, for example, was both a public intellectual and a leading authority within a rigorous field. But the Bertrand Russell who is relevant here is not the author of landmark treatises on mathematics but the Bertrand Russell who advocated “unilateral disarmament” for Britain in the 1930s while Hitler was re-arming Germany. Russell’s advocacy of disarmament extended all the way to “disbanding the army and navy and air force”—again, with Hitler re-arming not far away. The Noam Chomsky who is relevant here is not the linguistics scholar but the Noam Chomsky of similarly extravagant political announcements…

Visiting the United States in 1933, George Bernard Shaw said, “You Americans are so fearful of dictators. Dictatorship is the only way in which government can accomplish anything. See what a mess democracy has led to. Why are you afraid of dictatorship?” Leaving London for a vacation in South Africa in 1935, Shaw declared, “It is nice to go for a holiday and know that Hitler has settled everything so well in Europe.” While Hitler’s anti-Jewish actions eventually alienated Shaw, the famous playwright remained partial to the Soviet dictatorship. In 1939, after the Nazi-Soviet pact, Shaw said: “Herr Hitler is under the powerful thumb of Stalin, whose interest in peace is overwhelming. And every one except myself is frightened out of his or her wits!” A week later, the Second World War began, with Hitler invading Poland from the west, followed by Stalin invading from the east.

Talking of Stalin’s fellow travellers, read this review of a book about Arthur Ransome, British ruling class Stalinist useful idiot/spy.

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