On a roll, no.4

An incredibly slow moving series, highlighting, in reverse alphabetical order, some of the links on my blogroll.

Work of the Negative

This is a Marxist-Humanist blog by  Franklin Dmitryev, follower of Raya Dunayevskaya involved in the News and Letters posse. It mixes material on on-going anti-capitalist struggles from the US and the rest of the world, with theoretical material on Marxist-Humanism, by Dunayevkaya, Dmitriyev and others, for instance on eco-socialism.

Women’s History Month

This is a British feminist history resource, with a blog (mainly news about events) and resources (a TimelineLesson plansProfiles of women in historyUK women’s firsts10 things you didn’t know were invented by a womenWalks and
Links). There is stuff on women and activism including Labour women. Lots of useful stuff, and especially recommended for teachers.

Weimar: Art and Modernity

This blog is mainly huge numbers of fascinating images, mainly today with twentieth century German modernism. There is lots on Brecht, a little on Walter Benjamin, dada and on surrealism (from where I took the image below). And a very fine blogroll.

 Gregorio Prieto Muñoz, Lupanar de Pompeya, 1928

Voltairine de Cleyre: the Exquisite Rebel

Voltairine de Cleyre was an American anarchist born in 1866. She was close to the Wobblies but believed in an “anarchism without adjectives.” De Cleyre was based 1889 to 1910 in Philadelphia, where she lived among poor Jewish immigrants, and where sympathy for anarchist beliefs was common. There, she taught English and music, and she learned to speak and write in Yiddish. This nice-looking site has her biography, texts, links to lots of resources elsewhere, and (unlike most of the pages below) is regularly updated.

Victor Serge net

This is a site about the great Russian/Belgian revolutionary Victor Serge. Although full of great material, it is not well put together, and hard to navigate. There is a list of Serge’s novels; reproductions of some of his wonderful but less well known poems, mainly written while he was in exile in Orenburg; biographical material; images, including paintings by his son Vlady; information on the Victor Serge Foundation in Montpelier. I think the site is a production of Richard Greeman, world’s foremost Serge scholar.

Vlady

And this is a site about Serge’s son Vlady, an artist, who died in 2005. Vlady was based in his adult life in Cuernavaca in Mexico, producing extraordinary muralsdrawings and and paintings. The site includes writings, biographical materials and art.

Varian Fry Foundation Project/Varian Fry Institute

Varian Fry was the man who saved the lives of Victor Serge and Vlady Kibalchich. With co-conspirators  Miriam Davenport and Mary Jayne Gold at the Villa Air-Bel near Marseilles, his Emergency Rescue Committee helped smuggle artists, dissidents and others out of Nazi-occupied Europe into Spain, Portugal and North Africa, and on to America and the Caribbean. The Varian Fry Foundation site tells his story, with  biographical notes by Annette Riley Fry, material on the recognition of his heroism, and links to lots of web resources. The Varian Fry Institute is a division of the Chambon Foundation in LA, which celebrates those who saved the lives of French Jews. The Institute is working on a documentary on Fry by Pierre Sauvage. The site has material on Fry’s American colleagues and on Sauvage’s other activities. The framework of this site is noble American righteous gentiles; I prefer the more political take of the Foundation. Neither do justice to Fry’s French colleagues, for which I recommend Rosemary Sullivan‘s Villa Air-Beli, which gives a prominent place to Serge and also to Andre Breton. Further reading: A Tribute to Varian Fry from Holocaust Survivors and Remembrance Project; online biography by Barry Gewen.

Back some time for the letter T.

Brief politics notes

Phil Dickens: ON THE TRADE UNIONS AND “BORING FROM WITHIN”

Barry Winter: REMAKING OUR MUSIC

Ron Radosh: THE DANGEROUS LEGACY OF THE SIXTIES NEW LEFT

LadyPoverty: BUILDING SOCIALISM

Andrew Coates:  PLATYPUS VERSUS THE WEEKLY WORKER [link corrected – thanks Petey] 

Carl Packman: WAS SIDNEY WEBB AGAINST A JEWISH HOMELAND?

Published in: on July 26, 2011 at 10:38 am  Comments (3)  
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75 years of the Spanish revolution

 

First, we are at war. And it is a war that will be long. We are poorly organized and our people do not know what war is. – Andre Nin, summer 1936

Phil writes:

On 19th July 1936, the working class of Barcelona and Madrid succeeded in defeating the army and repelling the fascists in their attempt to take over Spain. It marked the beginning of an anarchist revolution, the lessons of which remain relevant 75 years later.
There are numerous accounts and analyses of the revolution’s successes and failures in print and on the internet. This article from Do or die at the 70th anniversary provides a succinct overview, whilst An Anarchist FAQ goes into considerably more depth from a theoretical standpoint. The pamphlet Towards a Fresh Revolution, written by the Friends of Durruti in 1938, offers a radical position from in the midsts of the war as it raged on.
However, to mark the anniversary, I would like to draw people’s attention to the documentary Living Utopia: The Anarchists and the Spanish Revolution. Featuring personal testimonies from numerous anarcho-syndicalist militants who took part, it is in my view a fitting way to mark this anniversary of a significant milestone in revolutionary class struggle.

Robert writes:

July 19, 2011 marks the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, and the remarkable social revolution which followed. Gaston Leval (1895-1978) was the great chronicler of the positive accomplishments of the Spanish anarchists and people during the Spanish Revolution and Civil War. In the following short piece, published in Resistance Volume XII, No. 1, April 1954, Leval describes the process of collectivization which spread through various areas of Spain, often spontaneously, and the obstacles ranged against the collectives. Leval deals with the collectives in much greater detail in his book, Collectives in the Spanish Revolution (London: Freedom Press, 1975). I included excerpts from that book in Chapter 23 of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, Volume One: From Anarchy to Anarchism (300CE-1939), Selection 126, “Libertarian Democracy.” [READ THE REST]

The poster above, via La Bataille socialiste, is for an exhibition in Barcelona, that Sarah went to see. Sarah reports that the exhibition had English language editions of the POUM’s Spanish Revolution newsletter from 1937. Anyone has images of these or pdfs or text or anything, please let me and Sarah know.

 

More from Trebian, Andrew Blackman, Chris Hall, Stuart Christie.

Feast your eyes on images from Getty and at MSNBC’s photo blog.

Watch: Land and Freedom. Londoners note:

Haringey Independent Cinema are showing Ken Loach’s film land and Freedom on Thursday 21st July at 7.15pm, West Green learning Centre, West Green Road, London N15. More information from RAHN.

Listen: Stalinist songs of the Spanish “civil war” volume 1 (Pete Seeger, Ernst Busch) and 2 (Woody Guthrie).

Was George Orwell a fan of News of the World

I totally missed this.

It is Sunday afternoon, preferably before the war. The wife is already asleep in the armchair, and the children have been sent out for a nice long walk. You put your feet up on the sofa, settle your spectacles on your nose and open the News of the World.

See also:

Published in: on July 18, 2011 at 9:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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Stephen Schwartz remembers Jorge Semprun

Jorge Semprún Maura, political activist and writer, born 10 December 1923; died 7 June 2011)

How shall we remember Jorge Semprún, the writer and political figure who died on June 7, just before the seventy-fifth anniversary of the event that, more than any other, including his imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp, would define his life? I refer to the approach of July 17, 2011, which will mark the date in 1936 when Francisco Franco and his cohort of military officers rose against the second Spanish Republic. The ensuing three-year “Spanish civil war,” as most refer to it, and the distinct but coterminous “Spanish Revolution,” in the idiom of others, affected numerous prominent intellectuals, as well as millions of ordinary people in the twentieth century, many of who were much younger than Semprún and shared few of his direct experiences. [READ THE REST]

Image: Jorge Semprún (2010) Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

More from Ron Radosh.

All this and more

From Criticism etc:

Raya Dunayevskaya’s Marxism and Freedom has been translated into Arabic and published in a small edition. The project was undertaken by the Victor Serge Foundation, based in Montpellier, France, and organized by the American expatriate and Serge translator Richard Greeman (New York Review Books has just published his translation of Serge’s novel Conquered City). A brief account of a book release event held in the Moroccan coastal town of Benslimane (“On Socialism and Freedom in Morocco“) appears in the new issue of News & Letters. A fuller account of Greeman’s visit to the country (“Violent Crackdown in Morocco Fails to Halt Movement“) can be found on his Z Space blog. A PDF version of the translation of Marxism and Freedom can be found on the web site of the U.S. Marxist-Humanists.

and

The new issue of Against the Current features a long essay by historian Alan Wald on the U.S. Socialist Workers Party (“A Winter’s Tale Told in Memoirs“), of which he was a member in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It is safe to characterize the piece as largely an exercise in SWP nostalgia and nowhere near as interesting as his book The New York Intellectuals (1987), in which he discusses in penetrating depth the actual period of the disintegration of the SWP and Trotskyism as a whole (1939-1941). Wald, a sympathizer of the Cannonite tradition, instead places the decline in 1970s when the (in his account) semi-natural phenomenon of “radicalization” began to wane and the current leadership consolidated its position. Even though  this piece is disappointing, Criticism &c. looks forward to the third installment of Wald’s trilogy on American leftist writers (see Exiles from a Future Time and Trinity of Passion for the first two).

and:

Brown University Library’s Center for Digital Initiatives hosts a collection of scanned images of two important U.S. New Left/post-New Left journals, Radical America and Cultural Correspondence. The two journals, closely connected with the prolific historian of the left and left culture Paul Buhle, were among the more interesting intellectual by-products of Students for a Democratic Society.

Also, elsewhere:

Platypus: Ian Morrison: Trotsky’s Marxism // Lars T. Lih: October 1921: Lenin looks back

Principia Dialectica: Putting Counterfire’s John ‘Bonzo’ Rees to bed

Anthony Painter: The phone-hacking crisis calls for Ed Miliband to prove his dad wrong

The Free Voice of Labor:

Check out this fab doco on the American Yiddish anarchist paper Freie Arbeiter Stimme. Here is the blurb that goes with the video:

The Free Voice of Labor: The Jewish Anarchists” traces the history of a Yiddish anarchist newspaper (Fraye Arbeter Shtime – The Free Voice of Labor) publishing its final issue after 87 years. Narrated by anarchist historian Paul Avrich, the story is mostly told by the newspaper’s now elderly, but decidedly unbowed staff. It’s the story of one of the largest radical movements among Jewish immigrant workers in the 19th and 20th centuries, the conditions that led them to band together, their fight to build trade unions, their huge differences with the communists, their attitudes towards violence, Yiddish culture, and their loyalty to one another.

It is a pretty great story. What I would have liked to have seen would be the sites where tensions in such a movement lied. Where did the characters in this story depart in their politics? Where did they think their activism “worked” and where, with all that time to look back on the production of the paper, did they think they could have focused their energies more? [READ THE REST]

Below the fold, lots of rich material from Signalfire: (more…)

Published in: on July 14, 2011 at 2:39 pm  Comments (7)  
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On this day in 1995: Srebrenica, a “Safe Area”

From IISG:

Srebrenica, a safe area cartoon, Peter van Straaten, 2002, Van Straaten collection, Press Museum. BG PM4/179 of 215

On 11 July 1995 the Bosnian Serbian army enters the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica. Thousands of Muslims seek protection in the compound of the Dutch UN peace mission. Dutchbat stands idly by while the men are separated from the women and children and taken away in buses. The Bosnian Serbs murdered more than 7000 defenseless men as the Dutch soldiers return home at the end of July amidst elaborate praise. On 10 April 2002 the NIOD (Dutch Institute for War Documentation) publishes an official research report, “Srebrenica, a ‘safe area'”. One week later Prime Minister Wim Kok, who was prime minister during the terrifying disgrace in 1995 as well, decides to resign.

See also:

•  Peter van Straaten collection in the Memory of the Netherlands

Previously: 6 April.

Forcing people to fall in love with the colour of life

Principia Dialectica: Juan Miro: 

Still Life with Old Shoe by Juan Miro, 1937

The big show of Spanish Surrealist Juan Miro’s life’s work at London’s Tate Modern art gallery is such an exciting exhibition anyone visiting might need a stiff glass of fizzy wine in the ninth floor bar before they descend to soak up the energy on display. The exhibition is hugely popular – which leaves you with a sense of both frustration and exhileration as you walk around – too many people! But, at the same time – so many people! How exciting it is to be alive at a time when so many people are receptive to the ideas that Juan and his fellow Surrealists were engaged in helping to create and spread in the 1920s and 1930s. [READ THE REST]

Also from Principia Dialectica: A report on Marxism 2011; Doug Henwood on the irrelevance of Leninism.

The smallest mass party in the world: An interview with Ian Birchall on Tony Cliff. (And a footnote from Andrew Coates, on an appalling article on Puerto Rico.)

Music: from Super Sonido:

It’s kind of a sad thing that the Gypsy Kings had to put crossover gypsy rock on the global map. It’s not that their music is all that bad – but every time I go to a mediocre Italian restaurant, much to my chagrin, I’m subjected to their music playing in the background. I’ve even heard Bandolero blaring out of a lime green convertible Mustang once. Oh lord.

Before all that, there was a true king of this genre: Peret – the Spanish Romaní singer, guitarist and composer, who was pretty much the embassador of the Catalan Rumbasound. If you are interested in this music please do check out the articles Soul-Sides has about Peret and Los Amaya (O-dub always has the finger on the pulse). What I wanted to add was that I found this in the KRMX lot of 45′s I have. So even though Peretis Spanish, his music was still heard in Latin America, although I am not quite sure what impact it had, if any. Either way, two really solid tunes from El Rey de La Rumba Catalana. Enjoy!

1. Peret: A Mi Las Mujers, Ni Fu Ni Fa

2. Peret: Lo Mato

Published in: on July 7, 2011 at 2:01 pm  Comments (1)  
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Orwellian 2: All his words and actions are forgotten, but the food he has eaten lives after him in the sound or rotten bones of his children

Inappropriate Plank: How much does free news cost?

Feeling hungry. Read Just add cheese:

Going in a bit of a different direction, I read a really cool quote I read today that I loved from the the opening of the book Heat, by Bill Buford and thought I would share….

“A human being is primarily a bag for putting food into; the other functions and faculties may be more godlike, but in point of time they come afterwards. A man dies and is buried, and all his words and actions are forgotten, but the food he has eaten lives after him in the sound or rotten bones of his children. I think it could be plausibly argued that changes of diet are more important than changes of dynasty or even of religion….Yet it is curious how seldom the all-importance of food is recognized. You see statues everywhere to politicians, poets, bishops, but none to cooks or bacon-curers or market gardeners.”

- George Orwell,The Road to Wigan Pier.

Published in: on July 2, 2011 at 2:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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On this day in 1971: Socialism on Other Planets

From IISG:

brochure J. Posadas, La Ciencia Espacial Bro 790/2

Close encounters and flying saucers also have a place in socialist theory. The posadists (supporters of Juan Posadas) in Latin America believed this concept was a logical extension of Marxist dialectical materialism. Posadas led a group of the Trotskyist Fourth International in Argentina. He was especially interested in the Chinese and Russian space programmes, and wrote a pamphlet in 1971 called La Ciencia Espacial. He envisioned the extension of the socialist revolution to outer space. Many pamphlets by Posadas and the Posadists can be consulted in the IISH library.

See also:

•  Pamphlets by Posadas
•  Quatrième Internationale Posadiste collection

 

Published in: on July 1, 2011 at 3:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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