Reading

Some material that has been on my to read list for a few weeks.

Shawn Hattingh: Venezuela and the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’: Beacon of hope or smoke and mirrors? (anarkismo.net)

“There are some hopeful signs. Sections of the Venezuelan working class have been willing to protest and go out on strike when they have felt that they have been attacked, or their interests undermined, by the state, capitalists, the PSUV and the ‘Bolivarian’ elite. It is here that the hope for the future of working class struggles in the country lies. If a genuine social revolution is to come about such struggles are going to have to be built on and transformed into a counter-power that can challenge the pro-US faction of the ruling class, imperialism and the ‘Bolivarian’ ruling class faction. This can be done by winning reforms today from the state, local capitalists and corporations from imperialist powers, and building on them so that momentum is gained in a revolutionary direction. By definition this also means such struggles will have to break with the state and organise outside and against it. The working class, therefore, needs to organise against the state and capitalists to force concessions from them; and not go down the path of embracing sections of the elite in the name of ‘Bolivarianism’. It is, for that reason, vital that the working class identify the ‘Bolivarian’ elite and the state as class enemies, and recognise the state for what it is: a central pillar and instrument of the ruling class, which can and does also generate an elite from its ranks.” [via]

Solidarité Ouvrière: Quelques notes sur la résistance ouvrière au nazisme

“On a tendance à voir dans l’Allemagne de 1933 à 1945 un pays entièrement nazifié, oubliant que le national-socialisme était une réponse de la bourgeoisie à la fois à la crise du capitalisme et à la combativité de la classe ouvrière. C’est d’abord contre le mouvement ouvrier allemand que s’est dirigée la violence terroriste de l’Etat nazi. Ainsi, de 1933 à 1939, 225.000 personnes sont condamnées pour motifs politiques à des peines de prison plus ou moins longues et un million d’Allemands et d’Allemandes sont envoyés en camp de concentration pour raisons politiques. De 1933 à 1945, 32.500 anti-fascistes allemands sont condamnées à mort et exécutées pour motifs politiques et on estime à 1.359 le nombre de personnes sont assassinées par des agents du régime nazi entre le 30 ja2nvier 1933 et le printemps 1936.” [via]

David Childs: Fritz Theilen: Member of the Edelweiss Pirates, the children who resisted Hitler

“Fritz Theilen was a working class lad, who as a leading member of the anti-Nazi Edelweiss Pirates narrowly escaped public execution. He was born in the Ehrenfeld district of Cologne, an industrial, working-class area, in 1927. Like most other school boys he was enrolled in the Hitler Youth. He was expelled in 1940 for insubordination but on leaving school at 14 he was taken on as an apprentice toolmaker by Ford motors, which had opened in Cologne in 1931. There he saw the exploitation of slave labourers.” [via]

Published in: on May 30, 2012 at 3:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Misk

[Some links via my usual source]

Against Martovism! Some fantastically po-faced Stalinism spotted in the Morning Star letters page.

When tweeting can get you hard labour: Against Socialist Unity’s support for the Chinese regime.

Obituary for an anarchist: John Brailey 1934-2012.

Edd Mustill: The Daily Herald is one hundred years old

Our operaismo: Extract from Mario Tronti’s memoirs. Not read it yet, but I like this from the NLR intro: it offers an illuminating contrast of the springtime of 56 and hot autumnn of 69, and draws a sharp distinction between classical operaismo and its distant echo, autonomism, which persisted on the counter-cultural margins of Europe’s cities from the late 70s, to emerge in more hygenic form in Hardt and Negri’s Empire at the turn of the century.

From the archive of struggle no.74

This material mostly comes from a bumper edition at Entdinglichung. This leads off with MIA’s pdfs of The Workers’ council. An organ for the Third International. For info on this, see here or here. This was from an overwhelmingly Jewish and New York based left faction in the Socialist Party, that merged in 1921 with the WPA, i.e. what became the CPUSA. (more…)

The hammer strikes

Syndicalism and gefilte fish

The Jewish Socialist Group has organised an event this week in London on “United Against Sweatshop Slavery: The 100th Anniversary of the Great 1912 Tailors Strike” – Wednesday night at the Bishopsgate Institute (scheduled to be in the same building as SWP/Respect renegades John Rees and Lindsey German doing a rather overpriced “A People’s History of London“, so be careful not to stray into the wrong room). Speakers include Donnacha DeLong, who blogs here. More details on Indymedia and the Facebook event. A couple of days later, on Sunday 27 May at 6pm, David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialists’ Group will lead a walk through the radical history of the East End, focussing on the 1912 strike, starting at Freedom Books in Whitechapel – details on Indymedia.

Other events: in Dublin, the anarchist bookfair is at the weekend – details here.

Jews and the left

I’ll probably return to this at some point when I have more time, but the YIVO conference earlier this month on Jews and the left sounds to have been fascinating. Some coverage: The Tablet, American Thinker, Commentary, Forward. Related, and following up my last linky post, read Ralph Seliger on Did the kibbutz really fail, responding to Michael Lerner.

Bobism

Tendance Coatesy with a wonderful post on the Bob Avakian Institute.

Mother Jones

Great article about a wonderful woman on the WSM website, also in the new issue of their Workers Solidarity.

From the archives of struggle

Below the fold, via Entdinglichung. (more…)

Monday music: New York mining disaster 1941

In memory of Robin Gibbs, and suggested by Entdinglichung, the Bee Gees

Brilliant lyrics. According to Wikipedia:

The song recounts the story of a miner trapped in a cave-in. He is sharing a photo of his wife with a colleague (“Mr. Jones”) while they hopelessly wait to be rescued. According to the liner notes for their box-set Tales from the Brothers Gibb (1990), this song was inspired by the 1966 Aberfan mining disaster in Wales. The song’s lyrics do not contain the song’s title.[1] However, some copies were pressed with the title “New York Mining Disaster 1941 (Have You Seen My Wife, Mr. Jones?)”, as the bracketed subtitle does appear in the lyrics of the song. In the second and third verses, the lyrical lines get slower and slower, as to indicate that life is about to expire for the miners.

There are stodgy stodgy, dreary covers by The Levellers and Martin Carthy, and a much better a cappella version by Chumbawamba: (more…)

Published in: on May 21, 2012 at 3:01 pm  Comments (1)  
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The anti-Stalinist left: some notes from the literature. Part II: The New York intellectuals

Part II in a short series of notes from the academic literature on the anti-Stalinist left.

THE AMERICAN ANTI-STALINIST LEFT AND THE NEW YORK INTELLECTUALS

In this edition, we focus on the American anti-Stalinists, especially the New York scene around James T Farrell, Dwight Macdonald and the Partisan Review. (more…)

The anti-Stalinist left: some notes from the literature. Part I: The French anti-Stalinist left

This post is the first in a short series that include extracts from the academic literature on the anti-Stalinist left. Part of the purpose of the series is to argue that there has been a strong a cohesive entity that could be called “the anti-Stalinist left”, a position I take in opposition to those who would simply say that some leftists have happened to be anti-Stalinist. Hence, it is not intended to form some kind of coherent narrative, but rather gathers together evidence from the literature for the existence of such an entity.

THE FRENCH ANTI-STALINIST LEFT

In this edition, we focus on the anti-Stalinist intellectuals associated with the surrealist movement, including Andre Breton and Georges Bataille.  (more…)

From the archive of struggle, no.73: sound edition

From Ubuweb:

Bertolt Brecht’s Audio Works A sweep of recordings and interpretations of Brecht’s plays and speeches, both historical and contemporary. Includes Brecht singing two songs from “Die Dreigroschenoper” (rec. 1928/29), his testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee (1947), plays by the legendary Berliner Ensemble from the mid-50s, as well as archival radio plays of Brecht’s work including “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui,” “Mr Puntila & His Man Matti,” “In The Jungle of Cities,” “The Life Of Galileo,”The Trial of Lucullus,” “A Respectable Wedding,” “Schweik in the Second World War,” and “The Threepenny Opera.”

George Grosz Das Gesicht der herrschenden Klasse: 57 politische Zeichnungen (1921); Mit Pinsel und Schere: 7 Materialisationen (1922)

Kurt Schwitters Anna Blume: Dichtungen (1919); Memoiren Anna Blumes in Bleie: Eine leichtfassliche Methode zur Erlernung des Wahnsinns für Jederman (1922)

***

Not exactly sure if thee fit here, but there’s a fascinating post at the Meretz USA blog about Inventing Our Lives, a new documentary on the history and evolution of the kibbutz movement, including some interesting details about the history of the Israel left (the Hashomer Hatzair linked Kibbutz Artzi Federation, the Mapam/Meretz socialist-Zionist tradition, and the alternative left Sheli party).

And Facing the War deploys an excellent paragraph by Lezcek Kołakowski to think about anarchist rhetoric in the anarchist movement and other problems of the left today.

And Julian Wright reviews some books about Jean Jaures.

***

Other material from Entdinglichung beneath the fold: (more…)

75 years ago today: the May Days

Thanks to Liz for a link to the wonderful Warwick Spanish Civil War archive, Trabajadores. It includes a timeline. Here’s where we are now, roughly:

Barcelona Bulletin
3-8 May
‘Events of May’ in Barcelona: Divisions between different Republican groups (Communists, socialists and anarchists) result in street fighting. Those killed include the trade union leader and socialist politician Antonio Sesé, and the Italian anarchists Camillo Berneri and Franco Barbieri.

And loads of great material from entdinglichung:

aus gegebenem Anlass:

* George Orwell: Mein Katalonien (Nemesis)

Manifesto & Policy of the POUM during the Barcelona May Days (La Bataille Socialiste)

* Augustin Souchy: The Tragic Week in May (The Struggle Site)

* Grandizo Munis: The Spanish Left in its Own Words (Marxists Internet Archive)

* Hugo Oehler: Barricades in Barcelona (Revolutionary History)

* Waldemar Bolze: Where are the Real Saboteurs? (Revolutionary History)

* Andreu Nin: The May Days in Barcelona (Marxists Internet Archive)

* Katia Landau: Stalinism in Spain (Marxists Internet Archive)

75 years ago: bloody end of May days, Barcelona

The Barcelona offices of the CNT.

Image via Wikipedia

May 7
The fighting in Barcelona concludes, with more than 500 dead and over 1500 wounded. Many are still under illegal arrest in several Communist-controlled police stations, militia barracks and secret prisons.
May 8
In Barcelona, police find the horribly mutilated bodies of 12 murdered young men. Eight of the bodies are so mutilated that they cannot be identified. The four identified bodies belong to young anarchists, illegally arrested together with eight friends on May 4 outside the Communist militia barracks in Barcelona, when they were passing by on a truck with “CNT” written on it. The names of the identified young men are: Cesar Fernández Neri, Jose Villena, Juan Antonio, and Luis Carneras. Police also found the dead bodies of the Italian anarchist professor Camillo Berneri and two of his friends, who were arrested during the May incidents by Communist militias. (As squads of Communist Party of Spain members (apparently under orders from Joseph Stalin) took to the streets in order to hunt down leading anarchists, Berneri had been dragged from his home and murdered. His body, riddled with bullets, was found during the night, near the headquarters of the Generalitat de Catalunya.)

Via Wikipedia

Also read:

75 years ago: May days, Barcelona

Bank note from the Generalitat de Catalunya, 1936.

Image via Wikipedia

May 5

Luis Companys obtains a fragile truce between the different fighting groups, on the basis of which Rodriguez Salas, now blamed for the police action against the telephone central, has to resign. Communist commandos are still arresting people. Wikipedia

May 6

“Neutral” police troops from Valencia arrive in Barcelona to stop the fighting. The 5,000 Assault Guards (chosen more or less carefully for their political opinions, to ensure a “neutral” force and the trust of both sides) occupy several strategic points throughout the city. The workers abandon the barricades and the telephone central is handed over to the government. When the Assault Guards enter the city and passed by the central building of the anarchist CNT, several hundreds of them salute the black and red Anarchist flag on the building. Nevertheless, reprisals against the anti-Stalinist left are starting throughout the Republic.

Published in: on May 5, 2012 at 9:14 am  Comments (3)  
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75 years ago: Homage to Catalonia (and Orwell’s hotel tips)

…They had taken my rifle away again, and there seemed to be nothing that one could usefully do. Another Englishman and myself decided to go back to the Hotel Continental. There was a lot of firing in the distance, but seemingly none in the Ramblas. On the way up we looked in at the food-market. A very few stalls had opened; they were besieged by a crowd of people from the working-class quarters south of the Ramblas. Just as we got there, there was a heavy crash of rifle-fire outside, some panes of glass in the roof were shivered, and the crowd went flying for the back exits. A few stalls remained open, however; we managed to get a cup of coffee each and buy a wedge of goat’s-milk cheese which I tucked in beside my bombs. A few days later I was very glad of that cheese.

At the street-corner where I had seen the Anarchists begin firing the day before a barricade was now standing. The man behind it (I was on the other side of the street) shouted to me to be careful. The Civil Guards in the church tower were firing indiscriminately at everyone who passed. I paused and then crossed the opening at a run; sure enough, a bullet cracked past me, uncomfortably close. When I neared the P.O.U.M. Executive Building, still on the other side of the road, there were fresh shouts of warning from some Shock Troopers standing in the doorway—shouts which, at the moment, I did not understand. There were trees and a newspaper kiosk between myself and the building (streets of this type in Spain have a broad walk running down the middle), and I could not see what they were pointing at. I went up to the Continental, made sure that all was well, washed my face, and then went back to the P.O.U.M. Executive Building (it was about a hundred yards down the street) to ask for orders. By this time the roar of rifle and machine-gun fire from various directions was almost comparable to the din of a battle. I had just found Kopp and was asking him what we were supposed to do when there was a series of appalling crashes down below. The din was so loud that I made sure someone must be firing at us with a field-gun. Actually it was only hand-grenades, which make double their usual noise when they burst among stone buildings. …

 

Dave Spencer’s left

Read this obituary for a comrade, Dave Spencer, at Shiraz Socialist. And read his own political memoir too, taking us from the Young Socialists and Gerry Healey’s Socialist Labour League to Tony Cliff, the IS and the shop stewards, to the Labour Party and beyond.

He is also commemorated here in The Commune, along with a couple of incisive letters on left unity.

Published in: on May 2, 2012 at 1:57 pm  Comments (1)  
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Happy May Day

For these and other wonderful images, click here.

Published in: on May 1, 2012 at 9:00 pm  Comments (2)  
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