Manu Chao: Desaparecido
Some radical history notes:
Big Flame history blog: on some other radical history projects on the web.
Democratic socialism: Happy birthday, Oscar Wilde, Fabian anarchist.
New and not so new archival material below the fold. (more…)
Dave Osler last week opened his post “What Amber Wellesley-Smith hates about Ed Miliband” with two truly brilliant sentences:
AS A working journo myself, I do fully appreciate that the designation ‘Red Ed’ has attractions for tabloid headline writers that ‘meat and potatoes continental European social democrat Ed’ can never hope to match.
But even though Mr Miliband is the offspring of the second-greatest Marxist thinker Belgium ever produced, the latter is actually a rather more accurate description.
Not surprisingly, the debate opens on who the greatest Marxist thinker Belgium produced. The obvious contender is of course Ernest Mandel, who was born in Frankfurt and grew up in Antwerp. Others include Abram Leon, born in Warsaw but grew up in Belgium and my favourite Victor Serge, who was born in Brussels to Russian exile parents (nominated by Skidmarx). Andrew Coates mentions the syndicalist Andrew Renard, who gave his name to Renardism. Bob adds Marcel Liebman, a close friend of Ralph Miliband‘s. He’s not exactly a great thinker, but there is also Georges Vereeken, who played a key role in Belgian Trotskyism and in the international support for the POUM. Then, from Wikipedia, I learn of Todor Angelov, Manuel Abramowicz, Albert De Coninck, Bert Van Hoorick and Charles Plisnier, although none of them really counts, as far as I can tell, as a great thinker. However, for a small country, what a lot of Marxist talent.
By the way, I have created a new category on the blog, “Milibandism“, for all the posts on Ralph, Ed, Dave and co. Don’t ever say I don’t ride the waves of fashion.
Amparanoia: Dolor, dolor
It’s that time of year again: the London Anarchist Bookfair 2010 is just a weekend or two away, in the East End on 23rd October. There are some history events as part of it:
A revolutionary centenary? The Cambrian Combine Strike and Tonypandy Riots of 1910
100 years ago a bitter-year-long coal strike erupted in the Rhondda Valley. Was it both the start and the peak of British syndicalism? And why did the Russian revolution kill this tradition? A talk by Dave Chapple, Chair, National Shop Stewards Network
Discovering Hidden History
Those who have seized ownership and control of the resources of society are very keen to also control what goes on in our heads. So a big part of radical history is digging out examples of resistance that the authorities have hidden. In this meeting we look at two examples (1) Joe Jacobs who lived very close to here and organised for 40 years after his fight against Moseley’s fascists in 1936 and (2) Walter Conway, from humble beginnings, was the main organiser for hospital medical services for ordinary people, in Tredegar , South Wales, before the national health service. Organised by: Radical History Network of North East London
Life Under The Jolly Roger: Reflections on Golden Age Piracy
In discussing his new book Life Under the Jolly Roger, Gabriel Kuhn will do his best to examine the political and cultural significance of these nomadic outlaws by relating historical accounts to a wide range of theoretical concepts — reaching from Marshall Sahlins and Pierre Clastres to Mao-Tse Tung and Eric J. Hobsbawm via Friedrich Nietzsche and Michel Foucault. Gabriel lives as an independent author and translator in Stockholm, Sweden. He has been involved in radical politics and publishing since the 1980s. Organised by: PM Press
From Proudhon to Kropotkin
This year marks the 170th anniversary of transformation of radical politics forever when Proudhon proclaimed myself an anarchist and that “property is theft”. Iain McKay (“An Anarchist FAQ”) will be discussing Proudhon’s ideas in light of a new anthology of his writings (Property is Theft, AK Press, 2010). He will show how Proudhon influenced revolutionary anarchism (and Marxism) as well as its impact of the biological theories of mutual aid and mutualism (Mutual Aid: An Introduction and Evaluation, AK Press, 2010). Organised by: AK Press & Distribution
Gustav Landauer and Revolution
“Landauer is the most important agitator of the radical and revolutionary movement in the entire country.” This is how Gustav Landauer is described in a German police file from 1893. Twenty-six years later, Landauer would die at the hands of reactionary soldiers who overthrew the Bavarian Council Republic, a three-week attempt to realise libertarian socialism amidst the turmoil of post-World War I Germany. Gabriel Kuhn lives as an independent author and translator in Stockholm, Sweden. He has been involved in radical politics and publishing since the 1980s. Organised by: PM Press
100 years of Swedish syndicalism. The story of SAC (The Central Organization of Swedish Workers) and perspectives on syndicalism from the IWW (UK) and Worker’s Initiative (Poland)
Midsummer 2010 marked the 100th anniversary of the Swedish syndicalist union SAC. In its history, the SAC has experienced low points and its membership has dropped below six thousand, but the continuity and strength of the organization is fascinating and unique, not least from an international perspective. Jan Abrahamsson describes the history of SAC, its victories and strengths, as well as its setbacks and strategic mistakes. Jan will be joined by Adam Lincoln from the IWW and Andrzej Klis from Worker’s Initiative. Together they will evaluate and discuss the present position of syndicalism in Europe and how we should approach the future. Organised by: SAC. Speakers: Jan Abrahamsson, Adam Lincoln, Andrzej Klis.
While I’m here, some gleanings from Entdinglichung’s latest: an obituary for Indian Marxist Vinayak Purohit (1927-2009), some new texts on Libcom: Antonio Gramsci: An Address to the Anarchists (1920); Socialisme Ou Barbarie (SoB): Open letter to members of the PCI and the “Fourth International” (1949); London Edinburgh Weekend Return Group (Jeanette Mitchell/Donald Mackenzie/John Holloway/Cynthia Cockburn/Kathy Polanshek/Nicola Murray/Neil McInnes/John McDonald): In and against the state (1979); Pierre van Paassen (Socialisme ou Barbarie): In Barcelona. Meeting with Durruti and the taking of Sietamo (1939).
New at RAHN: The variously radical life of Estelle Sylvia Pankhurst, and a new edition of Women in the Spanish Revolution by Liz Willis (1975).
Below the fold, some new releases from AK. (more…)
First, an endorsement for TC’s “blogging notes”:
While waiting for the results of this morning’s start of the French Day of Action against Pension Reform here are some long overdue Blogging Notes.
Phil, the Very Public Sociologist (whose site covers with verve Theory, Politics and grass-roots activity) observed a few months back that many left Bloggers had got the taste from their time on the UK Left Network Yahoo list. The hard-fought wars played out on this forum have no doubt shaped us. Some predicted that Blogging would mean we ended up ploughing our own course, with ever-decreasing contact with reality. Has this happened? It is interesting that many of these Blogs successfully integrate activism, writing immediate posts, and articles for the socialist press.
Amongst those which are always of interest are: Organised Rage – Mick covers of a wide range of issues, particularly Irish ones, and his obituaries of labour movement figures – the latter of great value. Harpy Marx writes of her London activism, with film reviews and wonderful photos. Her in-depth knowledge of welfare makes her a leader in the field. Stroppy, a collective Blog, is entertaining with a direct insight into the doings of the London RMT. Marashajane in Union Futures integrates her work as a member of the Labour Representation Committee with East London left union and Labour politics. Anna Chen produces a professional Blog with wit. Her defence of China is carried further by Socialist Unity. Dave’s Part, Dave Osler’s Blog, manages to directly address the kind of political issues a wider public talks about. Dolphinarium swims on, in-between month-long glasses of wine.
Harry’s Place – whose founder believe or not originated on UKLN – has defended Israel more and more vociferously. Its Ezraitist phase, fighting the Cold War by re-heating Google left-overs, overshadows its continuing useful role as an exposer of Islamism and its apologists.
Other Blogs worth noting: Shiraz Socialist – for its against-the-grain attacks and good sense about Islamism. Rosie Bell, raising the cultural tone. Bob From Brockley offers an indispensable round-up of left Blogging, and recently wrote a superb history of the RCP/Living Marxism. Poumista covers with rigour the kind of left the Tendance comes from. The Spanish Prisoner does great film reviews, and – a real source of new information – explains life on the Dole as an American leftist. Entdinglichung covers such a range of European leftist news, history and theory, that one wonders how he manages it. Beyond the Transition is essential reading on the former Eastern Bloc.
“Her defence of China is carried further by Socialist Unity.” Carried a little too far in my view!
Also, a doff of the hat to Kellie, for History by Radio, with lots of wonderful radio and history links, including these:
I’ve also been revisiting the How We Got Here history podcast from PRI’s The World. From August, Jeb Sharp interviews film maker Yael Hersonski on her documentary A Film Unfinished, an investigation into the making of Nazi propaganda footage of the Warsaw Ghetto from 1942. More on the project from Bloomberg.
More recently from The World, yesterday in fact, Lisa Mullins interviews Cuban artist Inverna Lockpez on her experiences in joining Castro’s revolution, and how she became a casualty of the revolution. Comic artist Dean Haspiel has drawn an adaptation of her story, Cuba, My Revolution. His account of the project is here, and there’s an exhibition of art from the book currently at the Kentler International Drawing Space, Brooklyn. Inverna Lockpez’s own art is here. In the later part of the interview, she talks about coming to the US in the ’60s, still a liberal, but experiencing a difference with fellow artists of the American left:
…I could not talk about Fidel with my friends, with my artist friends, because they adore him, and they adore Che [...] Che Guevara is an idol for so many individuals, and they don’t know who Che was really, and after fifty one years people are still looking at Fidel like the saviour, the one that has stood against the Americans.
Finally, from the afore-mentioned Shiraz Socialist, the great Jim Denham channelling James Cannon again, this time on the miracle that is the rescue of the Chilean miners. Jim has single-handedly made me reconsider by very negative views of Cannon, views accumulated as a disciple of Al Richardson and Sam Bornstein.
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Another fallen comrade: Tiziano Bagarolo.
This week’s dose of anti-communism: “Leftists Defy Sandinistas As Labor Strife Hits Peak”, by Stephen Kinzer, New York Times, April 14, 1988.
Los Hermanos Zaizar: La muerte de Zapata [corrido]
Left sectariana: Phoenix Class War post their “joke of the day”, on the Maoist wingnuts of the American RCP at Burning Man festival (note: not to be confused with the British ex-Trotskiyist party of the same name).
Memoires of a democratic socialist: on Michael Foot, Tony Benn and Roy Hattersley.
Tory Francophones: Tawfiq Chahboune posts a quotation from George Orwell on Tory MPs cheering as British ships taking aid to Republican Spain were sunk by the fascist Italian navy – Tawfiq asks if anyone can corroborate this. The resulting comment thread is of an exceptionally high standard, in particular the contributions of Michael Rosen.
Death of an anti-fascist: In this comment thread, Nick Wright also posts the Morning Star obit for its former correspondent Sam Lesser. It’s an odd piece of prose, which manages to smuggle in a good deal of petty and vulgar sectarianism for an obituary. It is also (in typical Morning Star fashion), oddly reticent about Stalinism. It notes that Lesser “was sent by the Daily Worker to cover the 1952 show-trial of Czechoslovakian Communist Party general secretary Rudolf Slansky and 13 other party leaders – an experience which left a deep scar”, but does not explain how he lived with this pain during the subsequent three decades he continued with the Morning Star, including coverage of Budapest in 1956 (where he replaced the great Peter Fryer) and Prague in 1968.
The Spanish cockpit: Darren points me in the direction of a long text I’m not sure if I’ve linked to before: “Spain Turns’ by Roberto, from the International Review, Vol.2 No.3, New York, April 1937. It’s long, and most certainly worth reading. The Socialist Standard adds these further reading recommendations: From the September 1936 issue of the Socialist Standard: The Civil War in Spain; From the May 1937 issue of the Socialist Standard: The SPGB and Spain; From Issue 18 of the journal Subversion (published 1996): Spain 1936, The End of Anarchist Syndicalism?; From the August 2006 issue of the Socialist Standard: For Whom The Bell Tolled.
Petain and the Jews: Modernity points us towards recent research on Vichy France and its shameful record.
This week’s dose of anti-communism: Roger Scruton from 1991.
Also from the archive: The Western Socialist on the Yom Kippur War (1973).
Finally, wearing badges is not enough.
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Lady Poverty channels CLR James, and reflects on belief systems via Jeff Conant on the Zapatistas.
Antonio Aguilar: Corrido De General Zapata